Vegan myth debunked.
Plus: The best weekend recipes for you to enjoy!
Friday. Yesterday, we wrote about antibiotics in our meat and what the FDA is doing (or not doing) about it. A few readers responded, pointing out that we didn't offer a solution. If the FDA isn’t doing its thing, what can we do? You could buy meat and animal products from local organic farms or brands that don’t use antibiotics or hormones. Eat Wild is a great resource to find a local farm near you. There is truly nothing better than being able to visit and talk to the people who grow and raise the food that ends up on your family’s dinner table.
Speaking of meat, let’s move on to another topic that might ruffle some feathers: is there any good reason to go vegan or vegetarian? Or is plant-based being healthy all just a myth? Let’s dive in.
Is There A Vegan Myth?
There’s a big push for vegan and vegetarian diets in today's world. We often hear these diets are the best for losing weight and getting healthy. But when you look into it, things aren’t so simple. Animal-based foods have essential nutrients that our bodies need. So, why do so many people think plant-based diets are the best? There are three big reasons we could point to for this.
What happens if you follow the money? There’s a lot of money in selling plant-based foods. Companies make big bucks from products like veggie burgers and other plant-based items. They keep telling us that meat and dairy are bad, hoping we’ll buy their products instead. This idea has been around for a long time, and companies spend a lot of money to keep it going because fear sells, and they are the only ones with (a very profitable) solution. Keep in mind that you can slap on a patent on a unique recipe for plant-based (fill in the blank). You can’t do the same for eggs, milk, meat, or fish. This makes plant-based alternatives profitable and potentially very lucrative investments.
Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods— you name it. Walk down any aisle of your local Whole Foods or health food store, and you will find all sorts of brands peddling plant-based eggs, milk from nuts you hadn’t even heard of, fake meat, fake sausage, fake chicken, and cheeses made from who knows what.
Second, when people switch from eating junk food to a plant-based diet, they often feel better at first. This is what some call the “vegan honeymoon.” For a while, maybe months or even years, you might lose weight and feel good. However, over time, insufficient protein and missing other nutrients can lead to health problems like fatigue, stomach issues, and muscle loss.
The truth is there are some significant health benefits from ditching bad food and eating more vegetables, but that doesn’t mean a vegan diet is better than an omnivorous one that avoids processed foods and refined carbohydrates. If you are eating primarily whole foods, you’ll feel great and maintain a healthy weight. That doesn’t mean ditching meat is the key to optimal health. That just means the Standard American Diet sucks.
The third reason is all about our history. Humans have always been hunters. We’ve been good at catching all sorts of animals for food. But sometimes, hunting didn’t go well, or the weather made it hard to find animals. That’s when our ancestors would eat plants instead. These plants were a backup plan to keep us going when meat wasn’t available.
This backup plan is part of why humans have survived for so long. We can get by on less ideal foods for a while. Maybe it was just for a season or during a tough year, but it helped us stay alive. Now, some people are trying to live on this backup plan for their whole life. It might work for a bit, but in the long run, it’s just not the best for our health.
The key takeaway? It’s important to think about where our food comes from and what our bodies need. Animal-based foods have important nutrients that we can’t ignore. And while plants are good for us, they shouldn’t be the only thing on our plate. Eating an optimal diet is all about balance and understanding what keeps us strong and healthy in the long run. Adequate protein and critical nutrients like iron, vitamins B12, and choline are all key components in that equation, and animal foods are undeniably the best place to get those nutrients.
Now, before anyone slams the “Not Good. Make Edits.” button below, let me say this: if you feel strongly about a vegan diet and it is working for you, great! Don’t change what isn’t broken. Just be aware of the increased likelihood of certain nutrient deficiencies, and make sure you are being intentional about covering all your bases. You can thrive on a plant-based diet. You just have to be honest with yourself and acknowledge that it will take a little more effort.