Being vegan today is easy. Being a vegan today means there are a whole range of meat and dairy replacement products available to you that were just not there (apart from tofu) 10 years ago. Only 10 years ago, being vegan was not so easy. A vegan 10 years ago, was very much reliant on making her food herself using simple, wholefood ingredients that were nutrient-rich and unprocessed. Today, vegans have the option of making their favourite non-vegan dish using meat and dairy replacements as needed. In combination with the fact that many vegans often don’t have a very varied diet, this makes them incredibly prone to nutrient deficiencies.
We are most commonly aware of Vitamin B12, iron, calcium and zinc deficiencies in vegans, which often take years to be noticed (our body is a brilliant artist when it comes to survival and knows all sorts of tricks to make up for nutrient deficiencies and cover them for a long time). More recently, science has shown that long-term vegans are also in danger of a Vitamin K2 deficiency; an essential nutrient required to help calcium getting built into bone and prevent the mineral embedding in arteries – so helping towards arteriosclerosis. If you are not a natto (fermented soy bean dish) fan, you may want to start looking into good supplements to maintain strong bones in old age, as otherwise only non-vegan products have a lot of Vitamin K2.
So veganism, particularly today, does not immediately equate to a healthy diet. Just because you don’t have to count calories, does not mean other factors can be discounted. Indeed, many vegans I know regularly use processed products in their daily life and much of their daily calorie intake comes from carbohydrates (with lentils and beans far between). Now carbohydrates are not bad per se, but if these are processed carbohydrates in the form of, for instance, sugar or bread, instead of wholefood grains and vegetables, your diet may contribute towards elevated blood sugar levels that can result in Type 2 Diabetes.
You are contributing to a fantastic cause in this world, when it comes to animal production as well as our environmental health; however, to be a successful advocate in the long-term, I want to encourage you to put some of this passion into looking after yourself correctly, too. Instead of counting calories, start counting nutrients and how to get them into your diet to be on top of this game. We need more people like you who are willing to stand up for such a cause! As a Health Coach I know that for some people veganism may not be an option health-wise, but if you are one of those people who feel on top of the world with this type of diet, don’t neglect yourself and make sure to nourish yourself in every way possible.
You’ve got this!
Bio: Bettina is a Health Coach and Yoga Teacher at A Vibrant Life. She strongly believes in whole body wellbeing through small daily habits that nourish ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, so allowing us to thrive in all areas of our life. You can find more information about her on her website www.avibrantlife.eu where she regularly blogs and shares information all about healthy habits.