After reading this article on VegSource.com I had to share because it hits close to home. I have never hidden the fact that I have reached the place I am now by starting as a vegan for health (read more about my journey here.) Granted, it wasn’t just a fad diet for me, it was survival so I understand that I was far more vested. On the other hand, when I went vegan (diet wise) I had to do a lot of reading to make sure I was eating properly and more importantly that my little vegan was getting all the right foods she needed. The thing is that when you begin reading this info, especially when doing so on the web you can’t help but come across animal rights issues which in my case forced me to change. Of course, not everyone will make the change, but I would love to see the percentages.
On the flip side, I work with a lot of college students and over the years I have given away at least thirty of the 1983 version of The McDougall Plan because I could get them on amazon for a penny, plus it shows the science side as well as includes some super easy, tasty recipes. Many people teased me that I was like a religious fanatic handing out Bibles.
Why did I give them out? Same story every time: Kid is away from home for the first time with an idealistic view on life and is given a PETA pamphlet showing the abuses of the meat/dairy/egg industry and decides immediately that they are going vegan. The reaction is great however these kids have no idea on how to feed themselves, they are living on fast food which means by throwing the Vegan thing in they are living on french fries, bread and whatever other limited options (only limited if you don’t know what you are looking for which is how it was in these cases) of ready-made vegan food are out there. It never fails, after a month of this abuse to their bodies the become sluggish, depressed, too thin and their skin gets a grey/green tone. This is when I give them the book and tell them that if they are going to continue on this vegan path, they must learn about the health aspects. A handful of the people I have given this book to over the last 8 years are still vegan and super healthy to boot. The rest never took the time to read it or if they did, didn’t follow the advice given and are the ones that are now self-proclaimed Ex-Vegans who will argue how important dairy is for calcium, why you need meat for protein and how the amino acids in eggs are so crucial to humans.
Again, before I go on I need to emphasize that this is only my personal experience and I would love to hear yours, but all the Ex-Vegans I know that bash veganism for being unhealthy are the ones who did it for animal rights. Let me make it clear, I know LOTS of people who went vegan for animal rights that are still healthy, happy vegans! On the flip side, most of the people I know that have dabbled into a vegan diet for health, even if they didn’t stick 100% don’t bash vegans for being less healthy, quite the opposite, in fact. Most of them still eat mostly vegan and freely admit that they just didn’t have the will power to go all the way. All I am hoping people get out of this is that, those doing it for health may not be the big enemy so many vegans think they are and some like my family may go down the animal rights path eventually. Regardless, they are saving animal’s lives on their journey, even if not intentional, which should make all of us happy. As vegans, we also need to make sure we are education new vegans who are strictly doing it for the animals so that they don’t give up, because they are unhealthy.
I highly recommend you read the article on VegScource.com which prompted my tangent:
Alas, I have met many ex-vegans who tried veganism for health, but didn’t stick to it because they believe it wasn’t healthy. Most says something like, “my body craved protein” or “I couldn’t sustain my energy level without fish.” Some just say, “I like cheese, so I eat it, but in smaller quantities.” Because they hadn’t yet opened their hearts to ethical veganism and the animals that are abused and killed, they didn’t have the moral fortitude to do the work required to figure out how to be healthy without animal products. For most people it is easy, but for some, they need to be much more diligent about what they eat and if they don’t have a moral reason to work that hard, it is very easy to just go back to what is easy for them. I also know many people who went vegan for ethical reasons who now each much better, and some who continue with terribly poor eating habits. I’ve been vegan for 19 years and my attention to health has grown with age – but so has my commitment to the ethics of animal rights.
I agree that we should help every person who goes vegan for ethical reasons have the information they need to make good national decisions and stay healthy. And we should help every person who goes vegan for health reasons learn about the philosophical and ethical logic behind animal liberation.
This is why an open line of communication for vegans of all types is so important in order for us to all learn from others journeys. I also feel that with positive outreach and constant education that we can create change. I was fortunate to meet vegans on my path that let me ask questions and educated me with patience so that I was able to find my way. Thanks for taking the time to respond with a completely different perspective!!