Are Vegans More Motivated By Health Concerns Or Their Love Of Animals?
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on November 18, 2017 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
The vegan diet has grown tremendously in popularity over the past decade or so, thanks in no small part to the Internet. From a logistical standpoint, the benefits to the diet seem rather obvious. This is largely because excessive consumption of meat and dairy products have been linked to myriad debilitating conditions. There’s substantial scientific evidence to the diet’s advantages, too. Some studies have shown that a vegan diet can lower cholesterol levels, help you lose weight, and greatly reduce your risk of premature death.
Cut From The Same Cloth
Another obvious element of veganism is that most subscribers to the diet share the same opinions on animal welfare and environmental awareness. In fact, when you Google “Reasons for Vegan Diet,” the first text box that pops up has nothing to do with health benefits. Instead, the reasons for the diet that are given the top spots proclaim that “Animals Want to Live,” and “The Egg and Dairy Industries Cause Immense Suffering and Death.”
This isn’t exactly a surprise because anyone who has spoken to a strong advocate of veganism has probably heard all about animal cruelty or animal agriculture’s impact on the environment. It seems such vegans are more motivated by ethics than the desire to improve their own health.
Vegans Weigh In On The Lifestyle Choice
Earlier this month, Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment began publishing research based on a survey of over 40 vegans. When participants were asked why they chose the diet, the majority of them revealed that they were basically on a personal mission to rid their lives of anything involving animal cruelty. In addition to animal food products, many participants were against buying clothing made from animals or cosmetics that were tested on animals.
The researchers suggested that using ethics, not science, as the main selling point for veganism might explain why the numerous health risks of the diet are reportedly known by so few. For example, most participants said they couldn’t imagine going back to a diet that involved animal products, even if they became pregnant. Previous research, however, concluded that a vegan diet is particularly dangerous for pregnant women as well as young children.
Overshadowing The Risks?
The risks of veganism stem from deficiencies in vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and high-quality protein. These deficiencies can be easily offset with supplements that contain more than enough of the recommended amounts of the aforementioned nutrients. But what the German researchers highlighted was that most peoples’ perception of a vegan diet is simply eating a lot of plant-based foods and avoiding meat and dairy products. They don’t think of supplements and the dangers of not taking them, even though the supplements are arguably just as important to the diet as the associated foods.
To ensure safety, the researchers encouraged more communication about the necessity of supplements for vegan diets. Rather than solely promoting the horrors of animal cruelty or the benefits of plant-based foods, proponents should speak just as frequently about taking vital supplements on a regular basis. If this was the case, switching to a vegan diet might be viewed more widely as a reasonable health choice rather than a membership in the army against animal cruelty.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan