Here I will try to answer some frequently asked questions about veganism.
Q: How do you get enough (fill in the blank)?
A: It’s easy to get the right nutrients if you eat a variety of healthy, whole foods. Sure, there are plenty of unhealthy vegans. There are plenty of unhealthy people eating the Standard American Diet (appropriately abbreviated SAD) as well. You can get all of the protein you need from nuts, beans/legumes (including soy), and seeds, eaten along with whole grains. There is plenty of calcium and iron in dark, leafy greens, beans, and nuts. I would caution that it is important to take a good quality sublingual B12 supplement, and in general, it’s not a bad idea to take a multivitamin no matter what diet you choose.
See the Vegetarian Resource Group Web page for detailed information about vegan nutrition.
Q: Don’t you miss eating meat?
A: Nope, I sure don’t. I have found that when a craving strikes, it’s usually a craving for a sauce or topping. Does anybody really eat hot wings for the chicken? No, it’s the sauce! How about barbecue? All about the sauce! Guess what? All of those sauces can go on other things too, like tofu or chickpeas or French fries.
*Update: I did recently start to miss meat (specifically, bacon) and decided to start eating a small amount of it again. I don’t think it has to be all or nothing. I’m going to continue to eat vegan the vast majority of the time, but I also want to support humane livestock-raising practices, get my iron stores up, and satisfy my bacon tooth once in a while.
Q: Why do you choose to eat vegan?
A: There are too many good reasons not to, including my health, the environment, and compassion. In grad school I was having some serious digestive issues and realized that it got worse after having a steak. I started doing some research and couldn’t ever go back. It’s a healthier decision for me. I’ve hardly ever had to take antacids since then and I’ve lost weight (but not TOO much). The carbon footprint of the cattle industry is HUGE, and of course, there is animal welfare. I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong for animals to die, but I definitely think it’s wrong for them to live inhumane lives. If you want to see what I’m talking about, just Google some images of chickens in battery cages. For more reasons, see the Vegan Outreach Web site.
Q: Doesn’t soy contain high levels of estrogen?
A: PLANTS DO NOT PRODUCE HUMAN HORMONES! And there is no solid evidence that so-called phytoestrogens actually mimic estrogen. See this great article by John Robbins. And keep in mind that hops (an ingredient in beer) contain more “phytoestrogens” than soy. Also, keep in mind that meat and dairy from factory farms contain tons of actual hormones, including estrogen. That said, you will notice if you follow my blog that I do not get all of my protein from soy. I try to eat lots of other types of beans and legumes, because variety is the key to a well balanced diet.
Q: Isn’t it hard to eat vegan all the time?
A: I don’t find it difficult most of the time. Occasionally somebody gives me a hard time, but he/she is usually just a jerk anyway. I can find something good at almost any restaurant. (Here’s a great guide to ordering in restaurants). Cooking at home is the best way to go, and luckily, we live in the age of information, so free recipes are easy to come by! Here are some links to get you started:
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.