Legitimate Concerns for Vegans
By Joel Fuhrman, M.D.www.drfuhrman.com
There are some plausible reasons why a person might think that people should include some animal products in their diets. Primates and primitive humans did not consume a strict vegan diet. Even if they did not kill and eat animals, small insect matter and bacteria were always present on wild food. Modern washed and sanitized food even makes a natural, whole-foods vegan diet incomplete. There are three weaknesses of a vegan diet:
- Plant foods contain no vitamin B12 (which all vegans should take).
- Some vegans have a need for more taurine (or other amino acids) and may not get optimal amounts with a vegan diet. A blood test can be checked to assure adequacy.
- Some vegans may not produce ideal levels of DHA fat from the conversion of short-chain omega- 3 fats found in such foods as flax and walnuts. I advocate that people who do not eat fish should supplement with DHA or get a blood test to assure adequacy.
These three areas of potential deficiency on a vegan diet are easily remedied by taking supplements. Obviously, there are loads of advantages of a vegetarian diet that also should be considered, but that is not the topic for this issue of the newsletter. A poorly designed vegetarian diet or one that is not supplemented properly with vitamin B12 and vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) can be dangerous. However, these considerations cannot be used as an argument to justify dietary recommendations that include lots of high-saturated-fat animal products.
I advocate a diet rich in micronutrients, especially antioxidants and phytochemicals, and the largest percentage of everyone’s diet must be from unrefined plant foods—no matter what your genetic “type.”
In order to do this, you must understand the nutrient density of all foods and eat more foods higher on the nutrient density scale. (Animal products are very low in nutrient density.) This nutrient-per-calorie density principle is what my book Eat To Live is about.