Becoming a Vegan

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    Apr 26, 2007 1:50 AM GMT
    I decide that I want to become a vegan. I was just wondering what types of vitmains and minerals should I pay particular attenion to because of my lack of animal food intake. I am a nursing student so I know things like the B-complexs are a group of vitmains that I have to look out for, but I was wondering if there was anything else?
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Apr 27, 2007 6:01 AM GMT
    I'm sure Heather Mills knows about this- goolge her. She is a bigtime animal activist and does not eat meat. Paul Mc Cartney's ex wife.
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    Apr 27, 2007 8:04 AM GMT
    I've been a vegetarian for 14 years and I have no idea how to answer your question. I eat lots of tofu, nuts, beans and salads. I do eat eggs and cheeze, however, so I'm no help. For me it is all about maximizing protein intake, and eating as many raw or steamed vegetables as I can.

    I cook most of my own meals, and I am really good at it, and you should note that cooking skills can make veganism a lot easier. YOu need to take responsibility for preparing all of your food, and if you're not good in the kitchen, it might be problematic. A lot of times, I end up cooking totally vegan without intending to. Get yourself a George Forman grill, and cook your tofu on there. Amazing.

    Please dont' become a junk food vegan. That is not good.
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    Apr 27, 2007 10:30 AM GMT
    What is a junk food vegan?
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    Apr 27, 2007 1:47 PM GMT
    The two obese junk food vegans I know eat a diet containing very little fruit or vegetables and lots of grain and soy. Eat a feedlot animal diet... live in a feedlot animal body.

    As for supplements, a very important one for vegans is B12. And, to make absolutely sure it's actually being absorbed, use a sublingual B12 supplement that delivers it directly into the bloodstream, preferably one containing the methylcobalamin form of B12, which is a bioactive form.
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    Apr 27, 2007 2:10 PM GMT
    I went veggie at a young age, around 14. According to some experts I suffer from nerve damage now because of fat, protein and B vitamin deficiency from that time. Something like babies deprived of fat not developing normal brains. With my body and blood type and athletic pursues it was totally stupid to punish my body because of my political beleifs. I suggest you try the neanderthal diet which is basically a diet based on eating no man made food. You can stick it to the big food corps and fast food guys that way and your body will grow heakthy.
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    Apr 27, 2007 2:33 PM GMT
    I have been a vegan on and off again in the past (for me, I don't care that much about the animals, but I view flesh as not being a terribly healthy food source).

    As someone else mentioned, you need to take a vitamin B12 supplement. B12 in our diet only comes from animals. Unless you have a medical condition called pernicious anemia, where your immune system destroys the cells in your stomach that produce the protein necessary for absorbing B12 (called intrinsic factor), you should have no problem absorbing straight B12. Your body stores it, so even without a supplement it would take 1-3 years at least before your levels got low, possibly longer. Even so, supplementing is VERY important, because very low levels of B12 can lead to serious nerve damage (you would have other symptoms, like fatigue and anemia first). I would recommend telling your doctor about the diet change, too, since he/she might want to check your levels every year or two just to be safe.

    That is the ONLY essential vitamin you can't get in a standard vegan diet. Frankly, vegetables are much better sources of just about every other vitamin (including all the other B vitamins) and most minerals. Veggies have less iron than meat, but you are male (no monthly bleeding) so your risk of developing iron deficiency is very low. The body has no way of excreting iron (it just recycles inside us) so supplementing is most likely not necessary (just eat your green leafy veggies like spinach, kale, etc.) If you aren't going to be getting your calcium and vitamin D in soy or rice milk, you should take a calcium supplement with vitamin D, too.

    Really, a standard male multivitamin (no iron) that has 100% RDA of B12 should cover you. Or you could just chew a viactive calcium chew with vitamin D and take a daily B12 capsule.

    Good luck with the veganism! I think I feel healthier when I don't eat meat, and I still eat little meat. I just try to buy from small farms that treat their animals well. Plus, once I tried soy cheese and yogurt (bleech!), I realized that full veganism just wasn't going to work for me. ;-) I need my triple-cream brie!
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    Apr 27, 2007 3:59 PM GMT
    Isnt that saying something against vegetarianism then if B12 is only available in an animal?
    i suppose it is natural to suppliment your body for the rest of your life lol
    i love how only in america such an extravagant lifestyle is acceptable... with such affordable feed stores as wild oats around... while we complain about what foods we eat most of the world is fu*&%n starving to death.
    I LOVE dead animals and always will.
    They are yummy and they make great collars coats sweaters cuffs and rugs.
    :-)
    oh yeah... and they taste good too!
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    Apr 27, 2007 10:51 PM GMT
    Do you understand what goes on in other cultures. People around the world eat mostly plant foods and little meats. It is one of the reason that we are the fattest country in the world. Secondly the meat products we have to today are nothing like what nature made orginally. Animals are feed food that is unhealthy for them making the meat inside them unhealthy. Lastly, studies show that people eating a vegan/veggie diet have less chronic illness and longer life spans. So before you comment on a fourm, know what you are talking about.
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    Apr 28, 2007 1:50 AM GMT
    I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for six years. B12 comes from microorganisms in animals, and not animal tissue directly. Contrary to what dxntwnslc82 implies, producing multivitamin supplements that include B12 does not involve animal slaughter. So if you take a standard multivitamin everyday, you won't have any b12 problems, which take forever to develop anyway.

    You should be careful about your essential fatty acid (EFA) intake. People ideally should consume omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs in a 2-to-1 ratio. Flax had these EFAs in that 2-1 ratio, but it's pretty much impossible to restrict your EFA sources strictly to flax; most veggie foods, and particularly most nuts, have high omega-6 levels compared to their omega-3 content. If you consume way too much omega-6 relative to omega-3, it leads to inflammation. (The typical American consumes a 23-1 ratio; grain-fed beef is high in omega-6.)

    Being a little off the ideal 2-to-1 ratio isn't that big of a deal, though. So take flax, and check out those Smart Balance products... they actually list the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, and their peanut butter has a 1.3-1 ratio, which is nice to balance out foods that have higher levels of omega-6.
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    Apr 28, 2007 1:06 PM GMT
    The biggest source of Omega 6 in modern diets is the huge quantities of polyunsaturated seed oil. Soy is loaded with Omega 6. I no longer buy salad dressings, mayo, and anything else made with vegetable oil. I use butter, virgin coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.

    And, I get my Omega 3 from fish and fish oil supplements because it is already in the bioactive long-chain forms. The short-chain Omega 3 in flax and other seeds first has to be converted by the body to the long-chain forms, and that process is very inefficient. I figure that with only 5-10 percent of the Omega 3 from flax being converted and used by the body, it's better to take fish oil and not subject myself to the flax oil's substantial oxidative load on the body. If you're going to eat flax, make sure your diet contains lots of antioxidants.

    As for obesity in America, I'd wager that the fault lies more with refined carbs than meat. In my own case, I got fat from all the grain and beans in my largely vegetarian diet. When I shifted to a less agrarian, more hunter-gatherer diet, 30 pounds melted off in 5 months.
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    Apr 28, 2007 1:33 PM GMT
    Hey, my friend....I have been vegetarian for about 2 yrs now and give you major propts for going vegan. Frist off, I can recommend a multi vitamin called Alive that is made by Nature's way. You won't believe everything that is in these tiny little pills (well, not so tiny). Also if you goodle vegan bodybuilding or vegan athletes you will find a multitude of websites on the subject. There is a website called www.vegweb.com full of thousands of vegetarian and vegan recipes. I'd be lost without it. Soy Protien Isolate is going to become your best friend as well as lentils, tofu, seitan, and tempeh.
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    Apr 28, 2007 1:49 PM GMT
    Here's a shocker for you all...Both a meat eating diet and a plant-based diet are healthy for you. It's all about quality of food and balance of nutrition. If you eat meat, that's fine in my book, but choose all natural or organic meat. Balance that meat with lots of good healthy veggies and fruits along with whole grains.

    If you don't eat meat, the same rules apply just minus the meat. It's about having a quality, well balanced lifestyle.

    I am a vegetarian but I see nothing wrong with eating meat....it's part of nature. To each there own...just make the right food choices for whatever your culinary taste is.

    -Dennis
  • sfnicolas

    Posts: 121

    Apr 28, 2007 2:45 PM GMT
    My first year as a veggiehead in '88 was vegan, but I missed my ice cream and cheese too much!

    So, I switched to lacto-ovo and have been happy with it ever since. I eat a wide variety of food sources, without taking any vitamins or supplements (Muscle Milk being the rare exception.)

    My protein sources besides dairy would be nuts, non-peanut nut butters, tofu, and seitan.
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    May 17, 2007 12:56 PM GMT
    Studies have shown that some people who never eat any known B12 still have it in their bodies. The best guesses are that bacteria manufacture it inside them, or in some of the vegetables they eat. Your body can store B12 for years, and you only need a few micrograms a day, so it's not reasonable to assume problems with B12 arise from a vegan diet alone in the short term. There is a good article about B12 here:

    http://www.pamrotella.com/health/b12.html
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    May 19, 2007 12:12 PM GMT
    I live in Fairfield Iowa, home of Maharishi University of Management, and there are a lot of lacto-vegetarians here. The MDs at the local Ayurveda clinic are finding B12 deficiency quite common among patients who eat one serving or less of dairy per day.

    And, I'd be wary of vegan sites that try to minimize the importance of B12. Vegetarians who do not supplement their diet with vitamin B12 tend to have elevated homocysteine levels:

    http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/hcy

    Sublingual methylcobalamin is a particularly good B12 supplement.
  • DogFishDude

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    May 20, 2007 8:52 PM GMT
    I've been vege and periodically vegan - about 95% these days - and only "supplement" I've taken recently is omega oils from flax seed in my fruit/tofu/silk smoothie each morning. I have good energy and am fairly active.
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    May 26, 2007 4:02 PM GMT
    Dead cow is YUMMY! No vegan for Chucky.
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    May 26, 2007 4:57 PM GMT
    I agree, Chucky. Although, at this very moment, I'm happily munching away on a bowl of tempeh, broccoli, red bell pepper, celery and grated fresh ginger simmered in coconut milk, I love a nice rare steak.
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    May 26, 2007 5:16 PM GMT
    Checking in again. Just wanted to add that I don't take any supplements for anything. In order to get my B vitamins (including B12) I like a bagel with Butter and Marmite once or twice a week.

    Marmite: You either love it or hate it.
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    May 26, 2007 5:51 PM GMT
    I never could acquire a taste for those gooey salty yeast extract concoctions. But, I love the dry nutritional yeast powder and flakes; it's great on popcorn, as a thickener for sauces, an emulsifier for salad dressings, etc.

    And, just to pick a small nit, although Marmite is technically a food and not a supplement, it's only a source of B12 because it's fortified with it.
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    May 26, 2007 9:49 PM GMT
    Paradox, Marmite is crazy, I'll admit, but I am an extremely unconventional person, and love the taste. I don't mind that b12 is injected into marmite and not naturally occurring, I'm just happy to get b12 from a non animal source. Taking supplements of any kind seem to nauseate me.

    RE: Nutritional yeast flakes and powders...anytime I eat ANYTHING with these ingredients, I get really bad headaches and nausea. Weird.

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    May 27, 2007 1:11 AM GMT
    Peter: Nina Planck's column has drawn a huge amount of criticism. For one thing she is equating a diet of soy milk and apple juice with a responsible vegan diet, which, of course, it is not. Basically, that couple starved their child.

    Also, Nina Planck is in the grocery business and promotes consumption of meat. She has no formal education in science or nutrition.

    Although it's clear a vegan diet might not be right for everyone all the time, she has, um, thrown the baby out with the miso soup.



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    May 27, 2007 2:55 AM GMT
    Well. first of all, developing childeren should not go vegetarian as they need FAT for proper neural development. You would end up with irreversible neurological damage if you do not have enough fat in your diet as a child.

    I do not have a background in nutrition, but basic science sort of indicates we as human beings are omnivores... If we are indeed vegetarian primates, we would have certain types of enzymes and bacterial cultures in our guts to digest tough plant sugars, fiber, etc... Cows even have multiple chambered stomachs for exactly this purpose... I do not think we are designed to eat only plants...
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    May 27, 2007 3:08 AM GMT
    Oh one more thing to point out...

    Anyone who works in a hospital can tell you this:

    Thin and frail patients, when hit by a serious disease, waste away quickly and die fast...

    While those patients who are a bit meatier or even a bit chubby tend to survive devestating disease better.

    NO, I am not referring to obesse patients.