“Would you still be vegan, even if there were proven health consequences?”

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What Is Vegan Deficiency Syndrome?

You may be surprised to know that there is no such condition called, “Vegan Deficiency Syndrome.”  In fact, there is not even an ICD-10 code to describe problems associated with a vegan diet.  What is ICD-10?  It is the code reference manual for, “International Statistical Classification of Disease,” commonly used when making a formal medical diagnosis, and/or billing 3rd party insurance.

With that said, there is the probability that a vegan diet could lead to some form of deficiency.  It is completely irresponsible to defend the vegan lifestyle by ardently arguing, “vegans get all the nutrients they need, just like everyone else.”  But,…do they?

To round off the argument, it should be noted that omnivore diets are also susceptible to deficiency.  Few of us pay close attention to what we consume, or consider the health impact.

What Are The Symptoms of Vegan Deficiency?

Symptoms of deficiency is best defined by the nutrients lacking in the given individual.  For instance, Creatine is responsible for muscle energy and proper CNS functioning.  Creatine is easy to get in an animal based diet.  If you are experiencing fatigue, it could be difficult to determine whether or not it was a problem caused by low levels of Creatine; the symptoms of B12 deficiency are similar.

B12 deficiency is a common problem in the general population, especially for vegans.  Some members of the raw vegan community deny this very critical issue, a game that I am unwilling to play.  In fact, vegans must take a vegan derived B12 supplement to avoid low level serum B12.  If not, the consequences are dire!

So, if there are no clear set of symptoms to look out for, then what should you do?  I suggest that you pay attention to your body. You know your normal biorhythms.  If you notice that you are feeling a bit, “off,” see your GP for a workup.  (Aside: Quit questioning the integrity of your GP just because he/she is not vegan!  Trust them, they are not idiots!)

What The Critics Say About Your Vegan Deficient Diet

Critics will challenge your vegan choice.  Ignore the rhetoric by acknowledging that there is a grain of truth in what they are saying.  Eating a vegan diet, in reality, requires significant attention.

The following is a list of resources by critics.  Get to know the embedded links within the list.  You will be better informed about what you are up against.  And again, remember that critics are not speaking lies.  There is some reality attached to the points they are attempting to make. Once you know the criticism, you can mitigate the risks they identify:

  1. Dr. Mercola:  “How to Avoid Common Nutrient Deficiencies if You’re a Vegan”:  Your body needs animal-based foods.  I know that a large number of individuals disagree with this statement but that is my belief after 30 years of practicing nutritional medicine.
  2. Winston J Craig:  “Health Effects of Vegan Diets.”:  However, eliminating all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Micronutrients of special concern for the vegan include vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n–3 (omega-3) fatty acids.
  3. Sharon Kirkey:  “Sorry , Vegetarians.  A New Study Says Eating Green Won’t Lower Your Risk of Early Death.”Out of 16,836 deaths in total (6.9 per cent of total), there were 80 deaths in vegetarians (5.3 per cent) and 16,756 deaths (6.9 per cent) in others (which includes pesco-vegetarians and semi-vegetarians.)  After adjusting for other factors, such as age, smoking and alcohol consumption, and a history of ever being diagnosed with high blood pressure or conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke the researchers found no evidence that any of the variations of vegetarian diets had a protective effect on early death.
  4. Roisin Lanigan:  “Vegetarians are Unhealthy and ‘Mentally Disturbed’, Says New Research”{…} vegetarians are ill more often, more susceptible to physical and mental disorders and generally have a lower quality of life than people who eat meat. They’re more at risk of cancer, have more heart attacks and are more likely to suffer from psychological disorders.

The MOST Important Question

Many mainstream vegans make the critical error of using poorly informed arguments and cherry-picked peer reviewed literature, to support their dietary choice.  This has created an atmosphere of discord.  We should be encouraging the discussion, not about dietary choices, but instead directing the conversation towards ethics.

It is both logical and important to question the safety of any dietary choice, being omnivore, herbivore, or carnivore in nature.  Many vegans gawk at any questioning about the safety of a vegan diet.  I suggest your question is valid and that you should be able to listen and respond with ethical conviction.

In the end, there is one simple question that every vegan must ask themselves.

“If you knew that a vegan diet required specialized and target dietary attention in order to avoid detrimental vegan deficiency and/or long-term health complications, would you still be vegan?”

If you fall on the side of ethics, you would choose veganism without hesitation.  Dietary veganism eventually falls short in this regard.

Thus, while being a dietary vegan is a great place to start your journey, in the end, it is the ethical impact of the vegan choice that keeps us on this challenging path.  Veganism is simply the right thing to do, not just for you, but for the planet.

Vegan Deficiency Syndrome – What The Critics Are Saying was last modified: November 10th, 2017 by Jerod Killick
  • In the end it simply means to stop overthinking it. We are committed to this lifestyle regardless of the positive or negative health benefits.