You have probably noticed I’ve been writing a lot about health lately. And some of you might even be ticked off at me, which is totally ok. I still love you anyway. It started a while back when I wrote a post about vegan junk food and I got A LOT of response. The funny thing is, most of it was positive response in one way or another.
I had a few different types of people:
The healthy vegan
These were the folks that just loved every thing I had to say, told me I was great and well made my day. They are proud of their healthy vegan ways!
The in the closet healthy vegan.
This was an interesting group of people, and there are a lot of you. I got a lot of e-mails from people saying that they really believe every thing that Dr.Esselstyn, Dr.McDougal, Dr.Furhman, Dr.Campbell, Dr.Popper, Novick, Dr.Barnard, Dr.Lisle say about nutrition – stay away from vegan junk food, don’t eat extracted oils, things like that – but they feel that in their community it is looked down upon to be a healthy vegan. This to me was like how in HS it was really hard to not smoke, even if you knew it was bad for you.
These folks said that they wish there were healthy vegan communities in their cities, and that a lot of the vegan get together parties are about unhealthy food.
Someone wrote to me “Sometimes I feel like a vegan bringing vegan food to a potluck with meat, everyone looks at my dish like it will jump up and strangle them.”
and someone else who said “If I skip the new vegan bakery or new vegan donuts everyone thinks I’m a health freak and they tell me I’m going way too far with my ideas of health.”
Honestly, this group surprised me, I didn’t know it was “uncool” to be healthy. If so, I’m the nerdiest, most uncool kid in HS, in the vegan world I might be the chubby awkward girl with the big glasses and bad fashion sense (NOT that I’d know anything about that). Let it be known, I’m the uncoolest Vegan in the unpopular crowd if you have to love junk food to be cool in the Vegan community. Now if I could only get a Vegan themed pocket protector. J
The unhealthy Vegan
I got an alarming amount of emails from vegans who have gained weight, become pre or t2 diabetics and who have high cholesterol – AS Vegans. Some who have been vegan for a long time. Again, I’ll say we KNOW that animal products are dangerous, horrible and disease causing. However, there are foods that are “Vegan” that are just not healthy – like extracted oils, sugar, high salt foods, processed foods (most of them anyway). So, if you are Vegan and rely on junk food in anyway, you are at risk of the same S.A.D. diseases as people who consume animals, they might happen a little slower, they might not be as severe in some cases, but it can still happen. Many people who go Vegan believe that just the word “Vegan” means “healthy” when that is not always the case. Healthy is whole, unprocessed plant based foods, it is not what Dr. Campbell calls “fragmented plant foods”.
Sadly, there are a lot of Vegans who forgot the VEG part of VEGan. And sadly, there are people who are suffering because of it, many who are ashamed to admit anything to their friends or family.
Which leads me to… ex-vegans
Since the original post I’ve been working with about 35 “ex-vegans” I’m happy to report that all but one are now vegan again, and thriving this time. Most of these folks were devastated to give up on Veganism. They had fallen into the Vegan junk food trap, and got sick. They stopped eating tons of leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, fruits and so on, and started eating more and more processed foods, and were hooked on oil, salt and sugar. When they got sick, most of them had doctors who told them it was because they were Vegan, and most of them decided that for their health they should follow their doctors advice. (I’m simplifying A LOT here). But you get the point. For the most part, they did not get much in the way of good information about nutrition, and never transitioned out of the vegan-processed foods. There is a really bad stigma about ex-vegans. The biggest thing I learned from the past month is that most ex-vegans truly did not want to become ex-vegans, they (for the most part) felt they had no choice.
Like this person “I cried for weeks and gagged when I had to start eating dairy and some meat again, I hated myself. My doctor told me that I could not be vegan anymore if I wanted to be healthy. I got pre-diabetes, after being vegan and gained a lot of weight, and had some other problems. I lived on a diet of Amy’s, Gardein, Tofurkey, Coconut Bliss and dayia, if I had vegetables they were fried in oil. I just wanted to be vegan, I love animals, but I didn’t bother thinking that there was an unhealthy way to be vegan, because all the news about vegans being healthy just talks about vegan junk food and how you can eat all your old favorite foods, just Veganized. Well, that clearly turned out bad for me.”
The ex-vegans turned Vegan again are all doing really well, some are even of medication now. If you happen to be friends with one of these folks, please be kind and know that they need your support and encouragement.
These were people who experienced what Vegan chef, Abbie Jay experienced. If you have not read AJ’s book, “Unprocessed” she talks about being Vegan for over 30 years and becoming VERY sick and getting colon cancer still. She switched to a WHOLE FOODS 100% plant-based diet and was able to rid her body of all the bad stuff. She found out the hard way that you can’t rely on processed Vegan food to live, not even in daily or weekly small amounts. Her story is not unique, this is happening a lot, by the number of e-mails I got, I promise if you have had trouble, you are not alone.
Another e-mail said: “I had developed some health issues since going vegan. I didn’t eat a lot of junk food, I don’t think, but I do use oil to cook, and about weekly or maybe a few times a week I’ll have a vegan dessert or cupcake. All of my vegan friends suggested I was doing something wrong, not taking enough B12 or D2, but I did all of that. I read the book “Preventing Heart Disease” and realized I had been going about my Vegan diet the wrong way. I eliminated oil and processed foods and in 2 weeks my health issues resolved. I love being vegan, I am an activist as well, it is the biggest part of my life, but just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I have to eat unhealthy processed foods. The animals need me to be healthy!”
And another “I went vegan after I watched Earthlings. I was having some issues sticking to being healthy, but was assured by some people in the community that it was ok to indulge, and that the way I was tackling veganism was too extreme, I got the McDougal book which says exactly what you say, so I thought I was too extreme and started to include processed foods, boy that was a mistake, I got hooked and I got sick. I wish I had learned right from the beginning instead of having to back track, even if it took me like three more weeks to be totally vegan, it would have been much better to learn how to be healthy from the start, rather than back tracking. Now I’m starting over with McDougal, it is really not that hard, once I got over my addiction to processed food.”
The hate mail. I got a few (but not a lot) hate letters. People who said that people need junk food or transition food to be vegan. So here is the thing, in some cases, I agree with you. However, I was just at an immersion program where I watched 100 S.A.D. eaters turn healthy 100% plant-based OVER NIGHT. No oil, sugar, salt, processed foods, overnight. They were totally fine in about a day or two (in the bad cases). They did not NEED processed foods, and in fact because they did not have them they started out in a really good place, a place where they did not have to adjust later on.
But for some, transition food helps. It helped my husband a lot when he first started. However, he had a time line, he had a plan to TRANSITION. So my advice on processed junk foods? Transition, but have a plan, maybe 2 months to not only being 100% Vegan, but off all processed foods (except for the very occasional treat).
I am grateful for vegan food items, it means that an animal did not have to suffer and die for that food to be made. What I wish was that Vegan food makers would start to make healthy Vegan foods, stuff on the go for people who really need that sort of thing. The same people who marketed tobacco, and then dairy, are now moving into the Vegan (junk) food world, because the same principle applies – get people hooked and addicted, and sell it to them, making them think it is perfectly fine, even healthy. It is something I fear is going to happen more and more in the next few years.
And just like we found out the tobacco industry was a fraud, the dairy industry was a fraud, I fear that the word “fraud” and “vegan” will start to be paired together if the processed junk foods start doing what we know they will do, make people sick.
This is not a judgment, in any way shape or form. I don’t know if I can express that enough. I know this all seems extreme to some of you, and I know I might seem crazy. However, it is truly that I care passionately about Veganism and the future of it, and I care deeply about the people in the movement.
I have an awesome life; I get to meet Vegans across the entire country. I get to travel full time and join your meet-ups, potlucks and get together. I absolutely love all of you out there who are Vegan, and who are on the path. And that is why I want to see everyone healthy and well.
I am in a unique position; I know what it is like to suffer from a disease that could have been prevented. I hated my life for years, because I was sick. Becoming a healthy Vegan changed my entire life, my entire outlook on life, and it saved my life at the same time. I owe a lot to many of you – even those who do not agree with my health positions.
Know that I respect and admire you, no matter your state of health. You have the right to choose about your health and what (bad) food you put in your body. The only reason why I am passionate about this is because I care, a lot, and I hope more than anything that comes through.
So if you sent me hate mail, seriously, it’s ok, I even understand why you did. I’m not upset, and I apologize sincerely if I hurt you, offended you or upset you in anyway.
I am also willing to be wrong. I am constantly consulting the top doctors and the most respected RD’s in the field to make sure what I’m writing is backed by science, and studies that meet the highest standards of evidence. I promise you that if I feel that I have said something wrong, I will be the first to tell you and apologize. There are some topics that I have not written about, for that very reason – I don’t have ALL of the fact, and I don’t want to guess or presume. I only write about things that have been proven out for decades, not just fly by night ideas or studies that I cannot personally see all the data on.
And mostly, I urge you to do your own research. While I have my certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell, I am not an MD, DR or RD. I urge everyone to seek out the most respected names in the field, the people you probably recommend to your non vegan friends all the time, but might not be aware of their beliefs about health.
Look for people who continue to educate themselves and are on top of long-term studies. Look for people who scrutinize studies, if they reference a study and do not in the same post or comment pick apart the study, ask them for the exact study and all of the parameters of that study. For instance the “Mediterranean diet” has about a billion holes in it. Like which countries were exactly included, which parts of the diets were included, and which part of history they were examined in. It is ok to be critical, even of your peers, the doctors, RD’s you look up to. They should all expect and welcome it.
In the end, it is ok if you disagree with me, that is what makes us unique people. Just know that the reason I write so much about health is because I care so much about this community, and I want to see people thrive and never have to suffer needlessly. Just like the other living beings that we all care about, I care deeply about humans, especially Vegan humans I want us all to be healthy, vibrant and free of suffering.
On that note, I’m going to make some changes to my blog, just little things. I realize that my focus is not so much on the very important parts of Veganism – animal rights. There are so many amazing animal rights activists who have so many things to say that need to be heard. My site really is focused on food and health. I want to be sure I represent myself in a good way, and represent this part of Vegansim as well as I can. At the same time, I don’t want to misrepresent Veganism, because Vegansim is MUCH more than health and food, and I completely respect that and want to be sure that I do not make it just about that. Someone who I admire a lot recently told me “write what I know” so that is what I’m going to really focus on – what I know.
They won’t be big changes – just focused changes.
I just want to add – if you need any help making some healthy changes, I’m here for you, and I will do all I can to help you out! I want to see Vegans embrace the health revolution that needs to happen in this country! Because, Vegans are awesome.
For more information about going on a healthy 100% plant-based (Vegan) diet. Please check out the following books, books that have helped 1000′s and 1000′s of people make great healthy changes, with few very little effort.
The China Study (Dr. Collin Campbell)
Dr.Barnards Program for Reversing Diabetes
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (Dr.Esselstyn)
Anything by Dr.McDougal
Eat to Live (Dr.Furhman)
The Pleasure Trap (Dr.Doug)
Solving America’s Healthcare Crisis (Dr.Popper)
I appreciate all of you – a lot, I wish everyone health and happiness.