Given how well my first two cheese sauce recipes went down last week, here’s two more. They’re a bit more complicated but I’ve made pasta and cheese in all of these methods and can vouch for the fact that it will scratch an itch, even if it’s not remotely nutritious (more advice on making this meal more nutritious at the bottom). Some of these are more realistic than others, as a general rule of thumb, the harder it is to make, the more realistic it comes out, so it’s up to you how much effort to expend in making vegan cheese sauce. I oscillate – sometimes I don’t care enough to take any time and other times I’m spending half an hour on that perfect vegan cheese sauce recipe and smoothing out lumps with my hand blender (that’s a pro-tip, btw). It all depends on how hungry or rushed I am vs how much I miss cheese sauce.
Cheese sauce 3. Using vegan cream cheese, method C:
1.5 cups pasta per person (pasta of your choice)
About 2 tablespoons of cream cheese per person (you may need more)
About 1 tablespoon of soya milk per person (also works with rice milk, not sure about others).
About 1 tablespoon of cornflour.
1. Cook the pasta and drain.
2. In a small non-stick pan (ideally), on a medium heat, spoon your required amount of cream cheese into the pan and add about 1 tablespoon of soya milk per person to start with.
Stir it together while it’s heating until it’s all warm and sauce like.
3. Add the cornflour (sieving it into the pan with a fine mesh sieve is the best way to avoid lumps, but work with what you’ve got) and combine well with a fork.
4. Once the sauce has reached the right consistency, serve it all up – put the pasta in bowls and pour the sauce over the top.
About 3-4 dairy free cheese slices per person (Tofutti or Violife are the UK brand leaders),
1. Cook the pasta and drain.
2. Put the pasta back into the pan. Tear the cheese slices up and drop them into the pan.
3. On a medium heat, stir the cheese slices into the pasta. Need it cheesier? Add more cheese!
4. Serve it in the right number of bowls and eat it.
Nutrition: To make these more nutritious, use cauliflower or broccoli (or some of both) instead of pasta. I like to also throw in a serving of frozen or fresh peas to ensure there’s some colour on my plate. A handful of peanuts will help you achieve your day’s protein goals. I strongly recommend you don’t use lentils – they don’t work well in this sauce.
You can make any of my recipes gluten-free by subbing the pasta for GF pasta.
Stay tuned for next Monday when I will put up the all-singing all-dancing Oven Baked Vegan Mac-N-Cheese Recipe that you will want to get your hands on.
This article outlines the problems with vegetable iron sources – and the solution (and it’s not necessarily meaty).
The science bit:
Iron is a mineral. It’s also an element, which means it’s on the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. The fact that everything in the universe is made of chemical elements is why it makes me giggle when people come out with all that “it’s natural there’s no chemicals in this product” nonsense. Every atom is a chemical element of some sort, and every molecule is a combination of atoms – a chemical..
Iron has the chemical symbol Fe and is one of the transition metals, it’s moderately reactive, that is to say that it’s not as reactive as the group I and group II metals (zinc, magnesium, potassium, sodium, calcium… you should watch a video about some of these if you haven’t seen them react in water). It’s still fairly reactive though, when compared to copper, gold, silver, or any of the group 4 or group 0 elements (such as carbon, which is in group 4).
The nutritional bit:
We need a small amount of a lot of different metals in our body – we call these minerals, because it sounds nicer than calling them either metals or chemical elements. We need 8-18mg of iron in our bodies every day. That means eating some broccoli on Monday isn’t going to cut it by the time Tuesday rolls round, and it’ll be long used up by Thursday.
The funny thing about dietary iron is that there are two types. Iron likes to behave differently under different circumstances because it does weird stuff (copper is similar in this respect), so it actually does make a difference whether your iron came from an animal or non animal source. In biochemistry, they actually have two different names for these two sources of iron – animal-derived iron is called heme iron (which is what you have in your body after your body has processed it) and plant-derived iron is called non-heme iron. The iron you find in your blood is always heme iron.
Basically, if you eat heme iron, the animal you got it from has already done the hard job of turning the non-heme iron into heme iron, which means you can absorb more of it, and you absorb it faster, and less of it is needed or wasted. If you eat non-heme iron, you are the one who has to do the job of turning it into heme iron before it can get to your blood stream (to make hemoglobin – see how they both have the same word stem). This makes it a slower process, and means you should eat more of it, because its less absorbable.
For vegans, this can pose a problem but being aware of it means that you can easily overcome it. The solution is to just eat more iron-containing foods, such as the ones I’ve listed in my table of vegan nutrition in this article. You do need to be aware of this though, because it means the Recommended Daily Allowance / Daily Value for iron doesn’t give you a true picture of how much iron you need to consume as part of your daily vegan diet. The medical associations who made that stuff up were doing it under the assumption that you eat an “average American/British/Insert Your Country Here diet.” For most vegans, that’s not you, which means you need to fiddle those numbers a bit and get more iron than the omnivores, so you get the same amount of iron in your blood as they get in theirs.
The medical bit:
If you don’t get enough iron, you will become anaemic. Anaemia is a decrease in the amount of red blood cells, because without iron, you can’t make red blood cells. They are the ones that carry oxygen around your body to release energy (which is the whole point of breathing and the process is called respiration). If you don’t have anything to carry the oxygen, you will constantly be tired and weak, and you will probably also be thirsty and dizzy and confused. Contrary to popular belief, you won’t go pale until the anaemia has reached a very severe level, so don’t rely on that as an indicator.
The list of symptoms of anaemia are:
Weakness, fatigue, general malaise, poor concentration, poor temperature regulation (feeling too hot or too cold for no reason). Some people also get depression, shortness of breath and in some cases, palpitations or angina can be present, due to increased heart rate as the body thinks it’s been exercising (anaerobic respiration) due to the lack of oxygen getting around the body.
Eventually, anaemia can kill you. Brittany Murphy and her boyfriend both died from pneumonia, which was a complication of the severe anaemia that they both had.
Not all of these symptoms will affect everybody, and the only reliable way to tell is to go to a doctor and get a blood test done. They will invariably want to put you on iron tablets, but be careful because I was given some last January that were called “Ferrous Fumarate” and they were made with gelatin, so that was a waste of money. Also be aware that in the UK those iron supplements that you get on prescription are also available over the counter, and if you pay for your prescriptions you should ask for the price because they’re usually selling for half the price of the prescription charge (and they’re not the ones you’ll find on the shelf – they’re more effective).
If you have anaemia, it’s a really good idea to take the iron tablets (I have some that are called ferrous sulphate which are vegan, but it will depend on the manufacturer as to which type are ok because different pharmacies use different brands which have different recipes, so always check). Making changes to your diet will help maintain your current iron level, but eating more iron-rich foods won’t be enough to increase your iron levels as much as is needed to overcome anaemia because you’re losing more blood cells by the minute due to the fact that you exist.
Side effects of iron tablets depend on which ones you get but I found the following side effects:
1. Standard off the shelf iron supplements – diarrhea, feeling too hot, stomach discomfort. They also don’t have enough iron in them to resolve anaemia (they have 14mg and the Ferrous Sulphate have 200mg).
2. Ferrous Fumarate – the idea made me feel sick due to the gelatin, so I didn’t actually take any.
3. Ferrous Sulphate – greenish tinge to stools, looser bowel movements, but nothing too spectacular. Sometimes they give me mild headaches.
In the long term, you are better off just eating more iron-rich foods. In the short term, get some supplements until you feel better. To prevent anaemia, always make sure you’ve eaten a bit more iron than you think you need. Remember, it’s not the general vegan diet that’s caused the anaemia, it’s your individual food choices within that vegan diet – so you have the power to fix it without necessarily having to resort to stopping veganism. Don’t deny the problem though if you have one because anaemia is really serious and totally curable.
Obviously doctors (and everyone else) are very quick to blame the vegan diet for anaemia, and for good reason, but do bear in mind that it doesn’t make you exempt from the other causes of anaemia which are more serious, so if your anaemia persists for several months while you’ve been taking supplements, go back to your doctor so he or she can thoroughly investigate the problem and make sure they didn’t overlook a serious blood disorder or something else important. If this is the case, it may be your sad duty to stop being vegan and include some meat in your diet to keep yourself alive.
If that happens, try not to be too hard on yourself. It may be that once you’ve got your iron stores high enough, you can be vegan again.
I was first diagnosed with anaemia in 2010. I spent 3 years in denial of the problem, until in late 2013 I developed a chronic blood loss problem that lasted 3 months. The blood loss caused the doctor to test for anaemia. This time, I eventually had to accept the diagnosis, from a different doctor, based on a different blood test. I was so anaemic that I had to take the iron tablets twice a day and I was also told, in no uncertain terms, that if I did not start including red meat in my diet I would never be able to function normally. For the first six months I made sure I ate red meat every second day. Then I tapered it down to about once a week. Then I left off unless I craved it, because in my experience my body tells me what it needs. Then I stopped completely, on 31st December 2014.
It’s two months since I stopped with the red meat regime and returned to being vegan. I’m now about 60-40 fruitarian to vegan, and I thoroughly researched the sources for nutrients before I considered changing my diets, which is what led to this vegan nutrition food sources table.
I do still take the Ferrous Sulphate when I need it, such as over the past week where the dizziness (technically it’s classed as vertigo, because it’s defined as “the feeling that you or your surroundings are moving” which is coupled with a feeling of disorientation and confusion, and always my first sign of anaemia, along with dry lips and skin) returned and I had to leave school early on Friday, leaving my classes in the hands of a cover teacher and losing half a day’s pay. I hate missing school for both of those reasons. So I’m back on the iron tablets again, due to the return in the last couple of weeks of the chronic blood loss problem, and I’m hoping that by catching it early this time, it will mean I don’t have to eat meat again. I’m also taking Vitamin K to help with the clotting.
I’ve always been a big fan of eating whole, unharassed, clean vegetables. I really love the simplicity of it. I think it’s one of the things I love most about my rabbits – we can pretty much eat the same food. However, I didn’t always know how to eat. My biggest mistake when I first became vegan was that I tried looking for foods in the supermarket that were beyond the fruit and veg aisle. I found myself frustrated with the conventional foods and convenience foods in the parts of the supermarket that I’d always bought food from, the fact that dietary staples such as Packet Pasta (an example would be Kraft Macaroni), vegetarian frozen food, vegetarian chilled ready meals, curry sauces, snacks and even drinks were full of animal products. I had many a meltdown in the supermarket where I would just walk out of the shop and sit in my car and cry, because I didn’t know what to do, I was certain I wasn’t going to eat that crap, but I didn’t know what to eat.
Something my aunt told me recently, when I told her a vegan friend has found out she’s gluten intolerant, was “she’s going to have to learn to cook then.”
This is the big myth that keeps us all subjugated and enslaved to a world of shit food.
You don’t have to learn to cook. You don’t need to learn to cook.
You need to learn to eat.
A lot of “so you want to be vegan” type books (apologies if this book is real, I’m categorizing a type of book here) tell you that you need to eat more whole foods, that you can get “meaty” foods like tofu, Facon (fake bacon), scheeze (fake cheese) and so on, to replace the meat in your food.
Meat loss is not the problem.
All these eating books have built up the idea that you need to replace the meat with a solid, meat-textured object, that you only need to check the ingredients are animal free, and that if you do, POP! You’re vegan.
This type of eating is unsustainable, and really it undermines the fundamental principles of veganism. Instead of trying to find foods that you used to eat which happen to be vegan, and attempting to subsist off those (beans on toast anyone), or trying to “veganize” foods which are not vegan, or imitate foods, here’s a staggering thought:
How about try eating totally different foods, including lots of fruit and vegetables, and see where that takes you?
I’m only being slightly sarcastic here because it wasn’t until my mum died of cancer in December that I realised what I’d been doing wrong with my eating habits this entire time. We all do it. It’s so ingrained into us from birth that we must eat a particular way and when we question it we’re told it’s because of nutrition and when we get ill we’re told it’s because we’re not eating a particular way. On paper, I’ve always thought I understood this concept of “changing the way you eat” and thought it just meant, “stop eating animal products” and “move away from meat and two veg nonsense.” It’s so very much bigger than that.
What if the answer was to totally break free from all the things you think you know about cooking, all your kitchenware, all your dishes, steamers, microwave, etc etc? And then, once you’ve started listening to your body, identifying what it needs, and acting on it, you could maybe add some of those things back in?
After I got the news about my mum, I couldn’t eat anything other than raw vegetables for a week.
I didn’t understand why. My 22 year old sister, across the country, was spontaneously having the exact same problem. We both fundamentally knew, no matter what anyone told us was the cause of our mother’s death, that food was the key. In our house growing up, a meal would be chicken nuggets and chips, with maybe a tablespoon of tinned peas or sweetcorn. Snacks were crisps, biscuits and in summer, home-made ice lollies made from that stuff you dilute. We never had real fruit juice, fresh vegetables or fruit. Sometimes at Christmas there would be tangerines. When we went to clear her house, we found receipts for food shopping. Ready meals full of processed meat and other junk. I had changed the way I ate when I first left home at 18. Moving in with an Aunt while I finished school had been a culture shock. The idea of eating two freshly cooked vegetables with the evening meal literally astounded me. I felt so healthy. I didn’t even consider the possibility that this was only a moderately healthy meal. I still filled my face with chocolate and crisps, now adding biscuits and cakes to the list.
Sometimes, when I’m reading about nutrition and I come across some of the delicate balances of nutrients that we humans need, I wonder how it is that some people are still alive. I wonder how my sister and I didn’t grow up with some serious developmental disorders due to what we were eating.
I went to university. I became vegetarian. I felt like I’d never been healthier. I swapped sausages (which I’d always detested) for vegetarian sausages. Chicken nuggets became vegetarian nuggets. Chips (fries) were still chips. Pot noodles and spaghetti hoops were still the same too. Crisps (potato chips) were still a daily dietary staple. So was chocolate. I struggled with my weight, constantly fighting to get down to a 10 (US6). I exercised and didn’t understand why I was tired all the time. It literally didn’t occur to me that my poor diet was making me ill.
Fast forward two years. I became vegan. I took the “3 week vegan challenge” and, once the three weeks were up, I never really got round to eating eggs or dairy again. I felt healthier, stronger, happier, more outgoing, my grades soared and I was finally on track to get the degree classification I’d been obsessing over for the past two years. Never had I felt better. All my life, I’d been plagued by stomach pains, stomach cramps, trapped wind, bloating and a constant feeling of nausea. I had actually associated that nausea with feeling full. When I became vegan, after the first two weeks, all these problems went away. I realised that it wasn’t normal to feel like this, and that I had the power to avoid it. That was when I first started wondering if I was lactose intolerant. I had a few false starts in the first year; every time I slipped up, I felt the familiar nausea and pains in my stomach. It became a big decision-making factor in what I ate. And nothing vegan ever made me feel like that.
Two years later, I’d become quite ill. I’d been working at McDonalds and eating fries for lunch every day, or a hash brown if I was on the breakfast shift. Milkshakes started creeping their way in. And ice creams. Soon I was feeling sick all the time again, and I had forgotten why this happened. I thought it might be gluten, I was adamant that it couldn’t possibly be milk. After six months off gluten and feeling only slightly better (probably because my favourite food was pasta and cheese sauce), I had to concede that it was milk. I was being sick several times every day. I got very ill with a mobility problem and was in bed most days, with no money to buy good food. I finally cut out milk and, while some of my problems improved, others got worse.
I had cut out milk, but I hadn’t replaced it with anything. Yes, I was drinking soy milk instead of regular milk in my tea, but there was also the lasagna, mac and cheese, yoghurt; I had replaced them with totally different milk-free foods, but I hadn’t replaced the nutrients. Primarily, the protein.
I didn’t realise this until a fitness instructor was sat next to me at lunch one day and she looked at my food, tapped the plastic container and demanded “where is your protein?” in a particular tone that the written word cannot emulate. I looked at my food. I looked at her. Nettled at criticism of my food, I said, “I have protein with my evening meal.” She told me it wasn’t good enough. We never spoke much again, but in the back of my mind it got me thinking. Where was my protein?
I got wrapped up in other things such as teacher training, and my nutrient stores got even more depleted, until one day, early last year, I realised I couldn’t carry on. I was working 70 hours per week and not getting enough time to eat. I got diagnosed with anaemia and I knew it wasn’t the only problem. I looked at all my proteins in the cupboard and I could have cried. Quinoa, advertised as a complete protein, is one of the worst sources of protein of everything ever. White pasta has more protein. My Quorn, a vegetarian substitute for meat, which I was only eating for the protein because I hated the stuff, but it said on the label “good source of protein” was the second worst offender. In some cases, less than ten grams of protein per 100g. I believe, after years of false advertising, that they changed the labelling in the last 3 months because it’s a terrible source of protein. Nuts, textured vegetable protein and tofu all did a lot better. Nuts were the best. And lentils were really good as well. Mushrooms were another shocker, with hardly any protein in them. As a comparison, I looked at the meat that my boyfriend kept in a particular freezer drawer. The salmon, lamb, and chicken were all good sources of protein – but even the salmon was not as good as peanuts and pistachios.
I went around all the foods in my kitchen and I felt like my eyes had opened. I suddenly had a basis to found my dietary principles on. I was still eating a lot of processed and convenience foods, but I figured at the time that it was fine as long as I got my protein. However, I had noticed that I was struggling to get my five-a-day fruit and veg.
That was where I was at when my mum died.
Then my attitude to food was turned on its head even more.
Instead of eating for “taste” or “favourites” or “comfort” how about eating for nutrition? So, eat things that will enable you to get 45g of protein a day, eat enough things containing vitamins and minerals, get your 90g of carbs and 70g of fat. Ensure that the protein includes the right amounts of each amino acid, and that the fat contains essential fatty acids.
As long as you are doing that, it doesn’t matter how you eat. You can eat that as a meat eater, a vegetarian, a vegan, raw vegan, fruitarian or sproutarian (sorry, juicearians, if you even exist, it’s impossible to get all your nutrients from your specific diet).
When my mum died, and I was just eating vegetables, I began researching raw food diets because they have almost become fad diets. I did a series of articles on them, which explained what they all were and weighed up how easy it was to get each nutrient from each diet.
I then took that one step further and identified ten vegan sources for each nutrient, because I was sick of people saying that it was an unhealthy diet.
While I was researching all these different diets, I became very attracted to fruitarianism. I thought the ideals of the diet were beautiful, and reminded me of a renaissance garden of Eden type fantasy. Having researched it, though, I knew it wasn’t the healthiest diet to follow 100%. I know that some people do anyway, but on the other hand there are people who eat nothing but junk food – neither of these is optimal but it won’t kill you straight away, so people keep doing it. I felt myself changing inside. I felt that fruit was the answer. I had never really been interested in fruit before, so this was a revelation.
So at the moment, I’m a 60% fruitarian, 40% vegan (cooked). For this reason, I eat breakfasts and lunches that are fruit and nuts. Some days, like proper fruitarians, I will graze throughout the day. Other days, I feel the need for a “conventional meal” so I prepare all my fruit and nuts and put it in a bowl to eat. It makes me feel like I’ve actually eaten, and is easier to keep track of what I’ve eaten.
Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve felt like I’m functioning at a much higher intellectual level than before – no, I don’t mean it’s made me smarter, I mean, I was struggling with processing power, my brain wasn’t processing things very quickly and was struggling to take in new information. Not only that, but I was feeling very tired through the day, pretty much four hours of tiredness, followed by four hours of wakefulness. Since I’ve been eating fruit for my daytime meals, these problems seem to have disappeared.
I’ve started eating fruits I never would have considered before – I always used to worry about buying fruit, because like many people, I would constantly buy it, eat a small amount, then it would go off, then I would throw it away. I got so mad at my wastefulness that I stopped buying fruit for years after a particularly bad incident with a bunch of bananas. Making a commitment to eat fruit during the day eliminates this problem because the fruit just gets eaten. I’ve gone from having no fruit in a week (just veg) to having four to six pieces in a “meal.” I enjoy food shopping a lot more and I finally feel like I’m getting enough of everything. I’ve also stopped skipping meals since I’ve been seeing fruit as a viable alternative to regular meals – before, I would often skip breakfast and lunch on the basis that I would look in the cupboard and feel like I just didn’t have the food I wanted to eat – but I didn’t know what food I was craving.
Another thing I really like, for why I skipped the raw vegan step entirely, is that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment or cooking skills to be a fruitarian. Raw Vegans cheat a bit and use all sorts of weird and wonderful food processing techniques to make their food look and taste like “real food” whereas fruitarians just accept their food in the shape and size and flavour that it comes in, and eat it whole and unaltered. I really feel like it makes me connect with what I’m eating and where it came from in a way that raw veganism could never do for me. I’ve found myself drinking a lot more water since I’ve started eating fruit, too, which generally improves my wellbeing.
I don’t think I am never going to be a full-time long term fruitarian, because I feel that other foods also have value, but I do enjoy a good fruit fest and think that if you’re having the same problems that I was, the addition of fruit and nuts to your balanced diet could be your answer.
Having had a merry old Veganuary and nearly being at the end of Vegruary, I have been giving some thought to the things I eat and the quantities in which I eat them.
I renewed my pledge to eat vegan at the beginning of this year after doing some very in-depth research into food sources for all the different nutrients and making sure that I knew a) How much of each nutrient I needed and b) Where I could reasonably be expected to get this from on a day to day basis. I do still struggle to get enough fat, but I generally get a lot of fruit sugar which converts to fat which should help me with the chronic underweight problem I have been struggling with for the last five years. Two months in it feels like its helping.
As a female, I need the following nutrients every day (some of these vary from time to time depending on my needs and activity levels, and the US and UK figures didn’t match most of the time either so I’ve generally gone with the US figures as they’ve sounded more reasonable for a lot of things, but in some places I either used the UK figures or went with what I know has been working for me – eg protein is 5g more than the UK Recommended Daily Allowance because that’s what I need):
50 grams of protein. This should proportionally come from specific amino acids which I’ve listed in the chart accompanying this article. I get mine from lots of lentils (which also count towards your five a day – yay, but are totally lacking in essential amino acid methionine – boo), nuts, seeds and tofu (which is actually more of a treat than a dietary staple these days). When I’m training for outdoor pursuits, I need more protein as protein = muscle. When I’m growing my hair I also need more protein as protein = hair. Protein in fact makes most of the things in the human body so you need loads of it to fix stuff and grow stuff. Protein is made of lots of amino acids, which are the things in protein that your body needs in different amounts, so it’s not enough to eat protein – it’s got to be the right sort.
70 grams of fat. This comes from oils such as coconut oil, sunflower oil and vegetable oil in the vegan diet. It can come from olive oil as well, although you shouldn’t fry with it as it requires a fairly low temperature before the molecules break down and release free radicals. Fat is where you get your essential fatty acids, however, so you do need some in order to get those, which are also called Omega 3 and 6, although you can supplement with linseed oil or flaxseed oil. UPDATE: Also nuts are good sources of fat (sorry for omission)!
90 grams of sugar (aka carbohydrates). This should mostly come from complex carbohydrates such as starchy foods like pasta, rice (GF), potatoes (GF), with extra healthy points if it’s wholegrain rice/pasta. I also like amaranth (GF), quinoa (GF), pearl barley and noodles.
18g of fibre (fiber, in American). This is easy peasy as a vegan you don’t really need to think about it (unless you’re a juicearian but I’ve made my thoughts on that very clear). All fruits and vegetables count towards this and you don’t need to faff around with All Bran or other nonsense because it’s in the plants. In fact, my dentist could tell I was vegan a few years back by the wear on my back teeth because of having such a high-fibre diet. I don’t worry at all about this one because I did track it for a while but almost everything I eat counts towards my fibre intake.
I also need the following vitamins:
Vitamin A: 700 micrograms (with an upper limit of 300 micrograms because vitamin A can cause cancer in long-term high doses).
Vitamin B complex: B1 (thiamine) 1.4 milligrams (upper limit 50 milligrams); B2 (riboflavin) 0.9 milligrams; B3 (niacin) 14 milligrams; B5 (pantothenic acid) 5 milligrams; B6 1.3 mg per day; B7 (Biotin) RDA/DV currently undecided by health organizations, should be sufficient in the average vegan diet, excessive supplements can cause unpleasant side effects such as acne, greasy hair, mood swings and water retention; B9 (folic acid) 1 milligram, although when I start trying for a baby I will need more and will supplement; B12 (cyanocobalamin) (no Daily Value or Recommended Daily Allowance established).
Vitamin C: 40 milligrams per day, no upper limit.
Vitamin D: This utterly depends, see my article on Vitamin D. I aim for 10 micrograms which is what the US dietary guidelines state, even though the UK ones say 5 micrograms is sufficient. Since I’ve increased my vitamin D intake, I have noticed a whole raft of problems such as fatigue and irritability have gone away and I’m more cheerful, energetic, and getting things done.
Vitamin E: 15 milligrams per day. I don’t worry too much about Vitamin E because my skin tells me when I need to eat more Vitamin E, by drying out. Then I crack out the avocados.
Vitamin K: 90 micrograms per day. I regularly exceed this though, and I make sure to never take Vitamin K and Vitamin E at the same time of day (I usually wait at least four hours between eating a meal with one and the other), because they fight each other for absorption and your body will preferentially absorb the Vitamin E, making you think you’ve got enough K when you haven’t.
And the following minerals:
Calcium: 700 milligrams per day. Soymilk is fortified and tofu often is too.
Copper: 2 milligrams per day. Should be easily available in the food I eat.
Iron: 18 milligrams per day because I’m female. Men only need 8 milligrams. Don’t ask me why. The NHS also says women un the UK only need 14.8mg but that just goes to explain this anaemia epidemic they keep pretending isn’t happening, so they can sell you iron supplements which are pressed with pig gelatin (EWWWW. Sidenote – the two supplements are ferrous fumarate and ferrous sulphate; ferrous fumarate are gelatinous and very non vegan and non halal and non kosher, ferrous sulphate are vegan, both can be bought over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription in the UK, they both provide the same amount of ABSORBABLE iron).
Magnesium: (this is a DIFFERENT mineral to manganese – look them up on the periodic table if you don’t believe me, Manganese is Mn in the transition metals and magnesium is Mg in group 2): 270 milligrams per day (UK) or 310 milligrams per day (US). I go for the US figure. This is easily acquired through vegan food.
Manganese: (this is a DIFFERENT mineral to magnesium – look them up on the periodic table if you don’t believe me, Manganese is Mn in the transition metals and magnesium is Mg in group 2). This is very easily acquired through vegan foods so be careful not to overdo it. I need 2 milligrams per day, but am safe up to 11 milligrams. I did look into this and found that, in spite of what the NHS website says (it says the upper limit is 4mg), there are apparently no adverse effects shown from excessive manganese and the tolerable upper limit was set artificially on flawed data from a narrow demographic and small sample size anyway, and also it’s impossible to get less than about 6mg from the vegan diet because it’s in nearly everything we eat.
Potassium: 3500 milligrams per day. Don’t overdo it. It’s the same potassium that they drop into water and that burns with a lilac flame (remember high school science??), and turns the water alkaline, so be careful. I will get an article written on the whole pH alkaline diet fad that has been circulating, but I need to look into a few more things before it will be ready.
Phosphorous: 550 milligrams per day (UK) or 1000mg (US).
There are other minerals but generally even most of the ones I’ve mentioned here will take care of themselves.
Here is my table of all the sources of these nutrients. I tried to get up to 10 sources, but where there are less, it’s usually because there are poorer sources but you’d have to eat a lot of them. For Vitamin D, the sources listed are all there are (unless you want to waste huge amounts of money on algae, which hasn’t been proven to have absorbable Vitamin D in it anyway). Remember D2 is abundant in the vegan diet, but D3 is not, the daily value doesn’t distinguish between the two.
Obviously this isn’t a complete essay on the entirety of vegan nutrition, and your mileage may vary based on age and gender, but this table is the culmination of my research in this area so far, and I thought it might provide a helpful starting point for people who are struggling or who are wondering why they are craving chocolate all the time (see the amount of nutrients in cocoa powder to find out). I will continue to research this area and write more articles on it. Happy Vegebruary!
My table of comparisons between the diets discussed in this series, using vegetarianism and macrobiotic as baselines for comparisons, click to enlarge:
In this series, I examined raw veganism, fruitarianism, sproutarianism, juicearianism and breatharianism to find out what they were, what the advantages and disadvantages were, and, as per my table above, whether they were nutritionally sound. I also produced this handy infographic:
In conclusion, there are a lot of restrictive diets out there, many of which are founded on religious or philosophical concepts. Whilst researching this article I found out about The Creationist Diet, which I will discuss in a future post – Creationist vs Paleo diets. Of the diets discussed, I would strongly suggest that anything below a raw vegan diet is not fulfilling all of the basic nutritional requirements of a person. Raw veganism sounds really interesting as a concept (I actually think the concepts behind sproutarianism and fruitarianism are also pretty interesting) but obviously you would have to spend a lot of time researching and finding out about how to get the exact nutritional requirements from these foods without eating too much “filler” (fruit sugars, chlorophyll etc) in the process.
The 75% concept is a good idea – I would like to see more people in all these different sects of veganism advocating following 75% (their diet) and 25% (to take it up with nutrients). I would be particularly intrigued to follow a 50-50 diet between fruitarianism and sproutarianism to see what the effects were like, because their nutritional deficiencies do complement each other although I would only want to do this for a short while due to it being extremely difficult to get enough protein from fruit and sprouted seeds by volume (and I have had a protein deficiency in the past, I don’t want to go through that again). I have future plans to road-test raw veganism, fruitarianism, sproutarianism and 50-50 fruit-sprout-arianism, to be able to give a full and detailed review (and just to have experienced these things; in case you hadn’t noticed I’m all about getting the experiences). I will not be including juicearian and breatharianism/ineida, however, because they are just bloody stupid, and I can live without the experiences of abdominal pain, diabetes or death.
I also found out that some people use the term aquatarian to describe a water-only diet (and some people use it to describe pescetarians, presumably because they want it to sound nicer). Personally, I would like to see a water-organisms-only diet (fish, sea vegetables, seafood and water) and I would describe that as aquatarian. Presumably that would have too many nutrients for anyone to actually sell it to people. I would guess the water-only drinkers don’t live long enough to design or make a website, as none of them have one, just commentary hints about how “only water is pure” and how water has all the vitamins you need (which is absolute rubbish).
I’m going to offend someone with this; this entire paragraph is specifically talking about breatharianism: The breatharians with websites are obviously lying. If you can’t see that we need to eat and drink to live, you are either extremely gullible (possibly raised within a strict dogmatic faith), or you’re a spoilt middle class or upper class idiot with too much money and not enough sense, because anyone who has genuinely gone hungry or been surrounded by hunger in a situation beyond their control knows they need food to live. Find a real religion or spiritual system (or devise your own that works just for you) which will give you a sense of fulfilment and personal destiny, a spirituality or sense of purpose. Steve Pavlina has some great ideas about the mysteries of the cosmos – check him out: http://www.stevepavlina.com
If you’re getting angry because I’ve criticized your diet, learn what’s making you so angry here: http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/lunch-att/lunch-attitudes-1a.shtml Please note that this article explains the pathologies behind lunch identification but it falsely assumes that only vegans and raw vegans are capable of such a thing – failing to understand that the militant attitude of some plant eaters was directly caused by the same lunch identification (and worse) from omnivores – in other words, the meat eaters have spent the last 150 years disparaging vegetarian and subsequent diets, so of course vegans have grown to learn a logical set of reasoning to explain their choices to the next ignoramus who asks. I am not a vegan (I was not a vegan when I wrote this all as one long article before I published part 1 in December – I’m vegan now, and still totally comfortable with what I eat), but have been an omnivore, a vegetarian and a vegan (and all sorts of other things) in the past, and I am comfortable in my eating habits, so am able to make this observation. Also bear in mind there are a hell of a lot more omnivores so they each have to be less negative to wear a vegan down to the point where they reciprocate. Not that it stops the omnivores from going too far consistently (have I now pissed off every dietary group???).
This is important, because a lot of the anti-vegan propaganda focusses on the fact that veganism has a coherent rationale and that every vegan will tell you similar reasons for eating vegan. That rationale was developed as a response to what the article calls “dietary bigotry” – and in the first place, the bigotry was travelling from omnivores towards vegetarians and this fixation on trying to change other people’s diets and “convert them to meat eating” arises out of a chronic insecurity, which caused a reciprocal problem in the vegan community and downwards. Additionally, if the reasons are appealing to the vast majority of vegans and play a part in the decision making process, then it stands to reason that people will cite similar reasons for going vegan.
However, the pathologies described in the article are good and accurate and worth being aware of if you find yourself becoming obsessed with diet. The real question then would be what to do about it, but I think that your approach to that would be highly personal and utterly depend on your circumstances, such as what you were currently eating and how far gone you were. There is a fine line between conscious eating and silly eating, and only you can judge where that line falls. Unless you end up ill, in which case leave it to a qualified doctor.
Here are some signs you should not ignore in any vegan diet:
1. Constant tiredness – this is a symptom of many nutritional deficiencies, including protein, vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. It’s also a symptom of excessive tryptophan, one of the amino acids that is plentiful in the vegan diet. Excessive tryptophan causes “serotonin syndrome” which can be deadly. 2. Constant difficulty doing “brain-intensive” work, e.g. reading – this is another symptom linked to the above, and implies a deficiency of protein, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium and calcium. 3. Constipation/diarrhea for more than 3 days – this is a big sign that something is wrong in your digestive system. Once you’ve solved the short term symptoms (with either a laxative or an anti-diarrhea pill) you need to start going through what you are eating and how you are preparing it to find out the cause of the problem – this can be caused by contaminated foods, such as lentils, which haven’t been heated quite enough to kill all the bacteria, also food intolerances, fibre intolerance, dehydration and excessive iron intake. 4. Hair loss (excessive) – Protein makes hair. If you don’t have enough protein, your hair falls out. It shuts down non-essential systems, and hair is one of these. Zinc and magnesium deficiencies also cause hair loss. 5. Irritability – This is another sign of protein deficiency, as well as vitamin D, vitamin B12, and a host of other things. If you have periods, do check that it’s not just the week before your period – PMS and PMDD both come with irritability as standard. 6. Pica – the need to eat things that are considered “non food” e.g. coal, glass, ice. You have a food deficiency. To identify what the deficiency is, find out what the “non-food” item you’re craving is made of, and see if any of its composition is a mineral (or other nutrient, but it’s most commonly minerals such as iron). Try supplementing with that mineral and see if the pica goes away. 7. Hallucinations and delusions – You have a severe B12 deficiency, get thee to a doctor and get some supplements as well. 8. Inability to “get going” – This is an extension of tiredness/fatigue/concentration problems, and is down to lack of energy – i.e. carbohydrates. Try a piece of fruit, try checking if you have any other symptoms, and if it’s still a mystery, go to the doctor. 9. Constant hunger – You’re hungry, even though you’re eating loads. It’s because you’re not getting the right stuff inside you. Try mixing it up and eating something really random that you wouldn’t usually try, such as nuts, goji berries, mushrooms or couscous. 10. Unexplained bruising and bruising far too easily, with the bruises not fading after the usual time – this is a vitamin K and iron deficiency. Usually accompanied by some other symptoms such as fatigue. Supplement with vitamin K and iron. 11. Your period has stopped – This is a big sign of malnutrition which I mentioned before with the video in Part 1. If you usually have a period (and there are a host of reasons you might not, e.g. not having the right equipment, being on long term contraception, pregnancy, medical problems etc) and your period suddenly stops happening, check you’re not pregnant. If you’re definitely not pregnant, you need to get more food into your diet. Amenhorrea is never something to ignore as it is a sign that something fundamental is wrong with your body, even if you feel well. I would consult a doctor if you absolutely will not change what you eat, but I don’t know what else they would say.
With all of the above symptoms, you need to take a step back, assess whether your diet is really giving you the nutrients you need. This can be really difficult to do when you’re still in the middle of it, so I would recommend trying supplements first, if you can find any that fit your diet rules, then have a think about whether there are any foods you could get that suit your vegan-subtype that would be a better long term solution to include in your diet. Personally, if I was having problems with a diet, I would revert back to regular vegan or even ovo-vegetarian for a period of time, build up my nutrients so I’d got a good store of them, then try again. I have a milk allergy so there is absolutely no way in hell I’d ever eat milk or milk derivatives, which is why I don’t discuss the role of milk in the diet.
In all of the places where I have mentioned a “doctor” I mean a medical professional who has spent many years training at a medical school and works in a medical setting with the ability to identify your ailment accurately and find a solution to it. Retired doctors, pharmacists, nurses, holistic therapists, dentists, voodoo dancers, village shamans, hairdressers etc etc, all have good intentions and can have some good advice, but there are times when you just need to see an actual current qualified doctor who is up to date with latest developments in their field and has the power to prescribe you something that has been tested rigorously to make sure it actually works – and someone who you can hold accountable if it doesn’t work, because they have a vested interest in getting it right – or they can lose their licence to practise medicine.
Vegan Fad Diets for the Thoughtful 3: Sproutarianism
If you’re looking for information on sproutarianism, you’ve come to the right place! This article answers the question: what is sproutarianism? This article also talks about what the advantages and disadvantages of the sproutarian diet are.
Here’s my table of comparisons between vegan diets (macrobiotic and vegetarian are there for baseline data), click on the picture to enlarge it:
When I first saw this mentioned on Wikipedia, in the same sentence as “juicearianism” and with no linking page, I thought it was going to be an even stupider fad diet. Not so. So it turns out that where juicers are fashionistas looking to get pretty, sprouters are looking to share the fundamental interconnectedness of the universal life force, man. The claims are ludicrous, but the diet actually has more nutritional value than either juicing or fruitarianism, if it’s done right.
The diet started with Hippocrates Institute founder Ann Wigmore, who apparently passed the Sproutarian diet down to Viktoras Kulvinskas, whose book Survival in the 21st Century: Planetary Healers Manual (which I discussed in the introduction to this series, see vegan diets part 1) seems to be the only book that actually talks about Sproutarianism in any great depth, although he does advocate a combined fruit and sprout diet.
The Rules: You can only eat sprouted vegetable seeds. There may be other rules, but since all findable information is incoherent (the first 5 pages of the google search for “sproutarianism” and a few related terms), this is all I can glean.
Good points: Potent veg! Aris LaTham, a food scientist and fruitarian, believes the original intent for Sproutarianism was for it to be used to heal sick people, and that it is too potent to be eaten all the time. Potency certainly seems to be both a positive and an issue, if the author of the Sproutarian is anything to go by. I would place this diet as verging on the psychonautical. I have heard from Steve Pavlina that Raw Veganism causes you to feel emotions more strongly, if that’s the case then it would follow that eating sprouted seeds could feasibly increase perception in a different way.
Bad points: There’s also a distinct lack of information on the topic that doesn’t all come from the one source – lots of books mention it in a brief paragraph, but there’s literally only one website solely devoted to it and the information isn’t at all helpful because there’s an explanation as to what they eat, but it undermines itself with bad science such as claims that we don’t get enough vitamin D3 if we shower every day. Confused? That’s because D3 comes from a change that takes place in your cholesterol when it’s exposed to the sun (so when you go out in the sun, the cholesterol in your body chemically changes into vitamin D3), it isn’t a water-soluble vitamin and really has nothing to do with how often you shower. To find out more about vitamin D, see my article, The Mystery of Vitamin D. There’s also a safety risk involved with eating sprouted seeds; the NHS have put out a warning about the number of food poisoning outbreaks that can be linked to contaminated sprouts, including salmonella and e-coli: Read more here
I’d also like a better list of which sprouts are edible/inedible, including conditions under which they can be eaten, for example in The Sproutarian, he claims he eats fermented sprouted quinoa and sunflower seeds, with some very unappetizing photos, but it’s all rather confusing as to what actual processes are taking place, how he’s eating them, what he’s fermenting them in etc, for example the nutrition/toxin levels would differ depending on whether you drank the water (is it tap water or something more sinister?) they were fermented in or whether they were washed thoroughly (does this wash away the nutrients?), and whether the sprouts are stood or fresh. I tried sprouting sunflower seeds and quinoa but neither of them did anything in water, despite what the internet said, so I think you need “special seeds” to sprout, not just supermarket ones, but I have no idea where to get them or what they are called or how much they would cost.
I get the distinct impression that Sproutarians grow all their own food and that they eat it while it’s still in the soil but I’m really not sure because it’s not actually explained anywhere. Aside from the references I’ve listed, all the other references to sproutarianism are people either regurgitating the same 2 lines:
“Sproutarians are raw vegans who eat sprouted seeds…”
The rest of the references are people criticizing the diet based on those 2 lines. I haven’t included such sources because they didn’t impart any additional information to me that I could use in this article.
Conclusion: I’d really like to see a more reliable or academically written source stating what foods are eaten, describing how they are eaten, explaining where all the nutrients can be obtained from and evaluating how effective this diet is, using references (not just ones with further information on low-level nutritional concepts, but ones fully showing the jumps of logic necessary to arrive at a Sproutarian diet) and referring to case studies of sproutarians. Perhaps I will have to convert for a few weeks just to write a view from the inside.
Do you have any more info on sproutarianism? Please contact me using the comments if you have any references about sproutarianism as I would really love to write a longer, better researched, authoritative article than this one.
Update: I did my own experiment into sproutarianism which you can read about, but it was only over three days so I’d still like to hear any more information about sproutarianism and sprouting.
Today, I’m discussing Fruitarianism and Juicarianism. I decided to do them both together because some people get them confused – and for good reason, since they both involve lots of fruit. Here’s my table of information for the diets examined in this series (with macrobiotic and vegetarianism being included for baseline comparisons). Click to enlarge:
The garden of Eden, an idyllic, beautiful, perfect place where man and woman lived innocently at one with the Earth. Even most Christians believe Eden was a metaphor for our different state of existence before God changed us as a species due to the Original Sin. Fruitarians? They see Eden as a valid and workable diet plan. It really sparks the imagination and I can see why people would try this as a way of connecting with their environment through consumption. But from a nutritional point of view it’s a terrible idea. Some religions follow this way of eating, and it was incorporated into the original Creationist Diet (a real diet, which I will compare to the Paleo Diet when I’ve researched them both).
The rules: You must only eat fruit, right? Actually, according to http://www.thefruitarian.com there are many different interpretations of what it means to be a fruitarian:
“Here are some common definitions associated with a Fruitarian diet:
Wikipedia: Fruitarianism involves the practice of following a diet that includes fruits, nuts and seeds, without animal products, vegetables and grains.
Dictionary.com: a person whose diet consists chiefly of fruit.
UrbanDictionary.com: A person of extreme dietary discipline who eats only the reproductive offshoots of plants.
Princeton.edu: People whose diet consists of 75% or more fruit.
Fruitarian.com: The fruitarian diet consists of RAW fruit and seeds ONLY!”
So there’s a lot of scope here for trying different configurations of fruitarianism and seeing which one suits your body best. At a 75% fruit mark, this also allows you to bring in other foods, although it would depend on your individual beliefs as to what you would eat in the other 25%.
The Benefits: Getting back to nature and to a natural diet that can be eaten without processed or chemically-enhanced food seems to be an underlying theme to many of these diets, but fruitarianism does it in a way that still involves a lot of variety, with people using very different decision making processes to select foods – for some people, reducing their carbon footprint is important, for others, decisions are made by only eating local foods that would have been found if there was no city where they lived, and for others still, it’s about developing and following instincts about which fruit they should eat. Aside from the environmental benefits to eating fruitarian, adherents claim (the same as raw vegans) that they get significantly more energy from their foods than they did “before” however, I would argue rationally that it’s the developed consciousness of eating and sense of interconnectedness that is causing them to select foods that naturally contain more energy (plus all the fruit sugars), rather than adhering to any restrictive doctrine as critics have accused.
The Drawbacks: Deficiencies all over the place! As a fruitarian, if you avoided nuts/seeds, there are many vitamins, minerals and amino acids that you couldn’t get. The problem is still present to a lesser extent even if you do eat nuts and seeds.
Sugar intake! The biggest issue is that there is far too much sugar (specifically fructose) in fruits. According to Dr Mercola, an advocate of unbiased un-moneyed medical information: “Fructose, a simple sugar found in fruit, is preferentially metabolized to fat in your liver, and eating large amounts has been linked to negative metabolic and endocrine effects. So eating very large amounts – or worse, nothing but fruit – can logically increase your risk of a number of health conditions, from insulin and leptin resistance to cancer.
For example, research has shown that pancreatic tumor cells use fructose, specifically, to divide and proliferate, thus speeding up the growth and spread of the cancer.”
Steve Jobs, often lauded as the “different thinker” who was the most famous fruitarian so far, died of pancreatic cancer. Ashton Kutcher, in preparation for his role in the Steve Jobs film, ate a fruitarian diet for six months and had to stop due to pancreas problems. Additional to pancreas problems, as mentioned in the quote above, sugar converts to fat in the liver, so eating crazy amounts of carbohydrates (the scientific name for sugar, prolific in fruits) will make you gain weight, as you can see for yourself from the number of people seeking help for weight gain in the 30 Bananas a Day forums.
Inadequate dietary fat intake! The main sources of fat in a fruitarian diet are avocado and coconut fat. On the “80/10/10” diet that is referred to by many fruitarians and raw vegans, 80% of the calories are carbohydrates, 10% fats and 10% protein. This produces problems with huge amounts of sugars (carbohydrates is the fancy name for sugars, remember), and insufficient amounts of protein and fat. “Fat” is a blanket term and covers a group of substances, and you need to eat a variety of these, not just two sources. Essential fatty acids are highly difficult to get into a 100% strict fruitarian diet, or a 75% fruitarian, 25% raw vegan one, as these need to come from food sources that don’t exist in these dietary configurations (amendment on January 7th 2015: you can get the correct amounts of essential fatty acids – the two we need are Omega 3 and Omega 6 – from eating a lot of linseeds or supplementing your diet with cold pressed linseed gelatin free capsules – although the companies don’t explain how they make the capsules so these might not be 100% raw-friendly).
Inadequate dietary protein intake! All proteins are not created equal, and it’s an oversimplification to just say “I will get all my protein from nuts.” They are very high in protein (pistachio nuts are one of the highest sources of protein of anything ever) but protein is a collective name for a group of substances made up of amino acids, and it’s the amino acids that you actually need. Saying “there’s protein in nuts” is like saying “there’s vitamins in an orange” both statements are true, but they don’t tell you which protein (or vitamins in the orange) are in the nuts, and this can and does lead to protein deficiencies which can make you lethargic, sluggish, confused and tired. Some amino acids are extremely difficult or impossible to obtain in the fruitarian diet.
High fibre issues! You will shit like a cow in a field for a few weeks until your body gets used to the fibre in all this fruit. It will be watery, smelly and prolific both in frequency and volume. Even then, you will still never shit the same until you change your diet. Fruitarians often explain this discrepancy and the associated digestive issues of bloating and flatulence as “your digestive system changing to attune itself to the fruitarian diet.” I’m not so sure about that, but one thing’s for certain – anything that gives you diarrhea is going to stop you absorbing water, leading to dehydration (which will make it seem like you’re losing weight).
Vitamin deficiencies! There are issues getting enough iron, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, selenium and iodine. Vitamin K is often mentioned, but there are plenty of fruitarian sources although planning is required to obtain adequate intake. Here is a list of fruits containing vitamin K: http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-009104000000000000000-w.html?maxCount=38
The ideal behind fruitarianism is a very romanticized one, I could imagine a lot of upper class Georgians partaking in it, but it is lacking in a lot of major nutrients and more studies need to be done to find out how this affects the human body over various lengths of time. As a conclusion, I think doing this for any period longer than a few months is not safe, and alternating between this and a less restrictive diet is probably necessary for optimum health. It is certainly not a diet you can get by without seriously thinking about what you eat, and planning every meal carefully to avoid large-scale deficiencies.
As extreme diets go, juicearianism is out there. Some people see a diet consisting only of liquids to be the antidote to the wholesale tooth decay problems associated with raw vegan and fruitarian diets. Certainly, the high fibre content of raw vegan and fruitarian foods damage tooth enamel, but the strong acids released from the plant cells when they’re juiced or blended also damage your teeth – in the form of acid erosion. Juicing as a long-term diet solution or incorporating repeated short-term juicing episodes (several days – between 4 and 40 – of only drinking juice) into your regular diet is extremely dangerous.
How it’s different to fruitarianism: It’s vastly different to fruitarianism because, while the fruits are raw, you throw away large parts of the fruit to make juice. When I first heard about this diet, I just thought people meant that they drank smoothies all the time, I had no idea anyone would try to subsist on fruit juice. Of all the diets I researched for this article series, juicearianism scored 43 on nutrition, compared to a score of 129 for ovo-vegetarian (dairy free vegetarian). That’s 1/3 of the nutrients. That’s not calories, or fat, or anything bad, that was scored purely on the bits that you actually need to take into your body to survive. Without 2/3 of your basic nutrients, you would become very ill after a few weeks.
The Benefits: Adherents claim they lose weight. Maybe it’s because all their hair falls out (presumably they lose weight because they’re not actually eating anything).
The Drawbacks: EVERYTHING ABOUT THE JUICEARIAN DIET IS STUPID!! I was trying to write this article from an impartial and enquiring minds point of view and every other diet (except breatharianism but that doesn’t really count) I’m discussing in this article series does seem to have some merit to the idealism and philosophy behind it. Juicearianism is just stupid. According to WebMD, the juicing fad leaves you lacking in protein and dietary fibre. This will cause constipation, dizziness and hair loss, all side effects experienced by juicearians, which they pass off as “healing” when caused by juice and “dangerous” when caused by starting to eat real food again.
In the words of the Wall Street Journal: “The question isn’t just whether these techniques work. It’s whether the body is overwhelmed by toxins to begin with.” This for me is the fundamental problem – there’s an assumption that we need to get rid of toxins, and that drinking lots of glasses of fruit juice will accomplish this. It’s all just a ruse to get you to buy a $400 juicer (according to webMD) as part of a $5 billion industry (according to Marie Claire). The consequences of following this diet can be seen in this article about “juicerexia” – which shows how juicing can lead to anorexia: http://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/news/a7601/cleansings-dirty-secret/ What is really unfortunate is that the people selling juicers and juice books don’t seem to care that they are making people seriously ill.
“Healing reactions are very individual. Not everybody will experience the same flare-ups. The more toxic your body, the more severe the reactions may be.”** (see bottom of page about reference)
Because if you get ill from a diet that doesn’t actually provide all the nutrients your body needs, of course it’s your fault not the stupid diet. The double standard given by this website is that, when reintroducing foods, sodium is to be avoided because it will cause nausea and headaches (which are clearly bad) but that headaches and nausea caused by juice isn’t a sign that something’s wrong, it’s a “healing reaction.” I particularly dislike the fact that people are taking it upon themselves to instruct other people in what to eat, but their prose demonstrates clearly that they have no idea whatsoever about nutrition or health, and are supplementing their idiotic rhetoric with a carrot dangled in front of their dupes – that they will lose weight. They don’t even have an idealistic philosophy. And half of the proponents are selling juicers or directly profiting from the sale of juicers. This diet is Darwinism in action. Disclaimer: If you like juice, great! I have absolutely nothing against fruit juice or using a juicer to make fruit juice (as opposed to juicearianism), however I do strongly believe you should make sure you drink it as part of a balanced diet that includes some actual food of any description. Living off juice for any period of time is dangerous, and will shorten your lifespan. If I have offended you I hope that it at least provokes you to think again about the safety of what you are doing – and I hope that you do that thinking during a time when you are getting adequate Vitamin B12 intake so you can think clearly about it.
In closing, I’ll leave you with some of the comments by doctors on the whole “juice detox” fad, where people subsist off juice for up to a week – this isn’t even a discussion of long-term juicing – because it’s such a stupid concept. My bold for emphasis:
“Consuming more vegetables is great, mainstream doctors and nutritionists agree. But they dismiss the detox claims as a confusing jumble of science, pseudoscience and hype. They argue that humans already have a highly efficient system for filtering out most harmful substances—the liver, kidneys and colon.”
“If you’re confused, you understand the issue perfectly,” says Edward Saltzman, an associate professor at Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University.
“Nobody has ever been able to tell me what these toxins are,” Donald Hensrud, an internist and nutrition specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says about the myth of “detoxing” and “toxins.”
Peculiarly, the firsthand accounts of people following juicearianism for preposterous lengths of time all end rather abruptly, like this individual, who claimed to do a 92 day juice diet, but presumably had to stop after 17 days, because that’s his last blog entry: http://jimmybraskett.wordpress.com/
This poor fool thought that subsisting on only juice would make her look pretty. Clearly, it wasn’t the cosmetic surgery purchased by the profit the author mentions in the title: http://curezone.com/blogs/fm.asp?i=983127 Alas, this one, also, ends rather abruptly.
[Wellness] Fad Diets for the Thoughtful 1: Introduction and Raw Veganism
In this 5 part article series I am going to examine a range of restrictive diets branched downwards from Veganism. I have split it into five parts to make it readable and interesting, since the article is 12 pages long as I finish it off in Open Office, and that’s without the pictures.
Veganism is awesome. I’m going to put that out there first of all, because I believe it is true. Next I’m going to state that at the time of writing, I am not currently a vegan (I have been in the past, and will be again in the future). I believe it is our natural state of existence, and that, whilst the transition to cooked meat was a necessary one, millions of years of evolution ago, we are now reaching a point where transitioning back away from meat eating is necessary for a plethora of reasons. I will discuss these somewhere else. What I want to talk about in this series are the diets that branch downwards from veganism in the “even more restrictive” state. Anything that includes foods that are not strictly vegan were not included because they wouldn’t branch downwards mathematically. Don’t understand? Try reading up on databases. So we’re looking at the data set “diets that are considered at least vegan” and they are sorted in descending order of restrictiveness (see my delightful and informative infographic).
This article assumes you understand the principles and ideology of what being vegan is about, as well as a basic idea of what it entails. If that’s not you, go and look it up. I’ll wait.
All of these diets are discussed and explained in Viktoras Kulvinskas’ book Survival in the 21st Century: Planetary Healers Manual, a book written in 1975, now into its 34th edition at which point it abruptly went out of print. He also co-founded the Hippocrates Institute. Bear in mind when reading it that the body of knowledge about nutrition was vastly different, a lot of foods weren’t commercially available which are dietary staples nowadays, and the general diet of the omnivore and vegetarian were also quite different to what these groups eat now. I would argue that while some of his work is groundbreaking, particularly his “new diet” that was predominantly raw vegan, with significant amounts of fruit and sprouted seeds, at the same time, he thinks he has a scientific basis but doesn’t actually understand the underlying scientific principles, and some of what his book develops into is just plain ridiculous, like the concept that we are evolved to subsist on light and sound (the first mention of breatharianism I could come across). We have no means of converting either light or sound into energy. If you’re confused about the vitamin D connection, please read my article “The Mystery of Vitamin D” to find out how we make vitamin D – it’s not infused into our bodies by the sun, the sun does play a part but it doesn’t “synthesize” vitamin D as a lot of people believe.
So why did I put the words “fad diets” in the title? I believe, despite the fact all these diets have been around since before 1975, that they surge and recede in popularity at different points in time. We have been treated to a few years of “juice diets” being a fad, and are now seeing a rise in raw veganism, and whilst many people are lifelong followers of raw veganism, there is currently a growing number who are following the diet for a few months to lose weight – for these people, raw veganism is a fad diet. Fruitarianism and sproutarianism have never really been fad diets – but I predict that in a few years’ time, fruitarianism will be the big thing, as people search ever more deeply for answers to the fundamental question that drives almost everything that we do in life: “what’s for dinner?”
I have quantified the nutritional value of each of the diets listed above, and put this information into a table, to show how easy (or possible) it is to get the basic nutrients from them, this was so I could speak with a little more authority about these diets as I wanted to know whether foods actually existed in the categories that could provide all the nutrients humans require. One limitation of this sort of data is that it doesn’t actually show what volume of food you would need to eat to get the assorted nutrients. If you would like to know more about which foods contain which nutrients, all the data I used to compile my table came from this amazing database: http://foodinfo.us/SourcesUnabridged.aspx?Nutr_No=502
And here is my table (click to enlarge):
Table of comparison of vegan diets
Raw food diets are really trending at the moment, and raw veganism, once the domain of tree-dwelling anorak-clad protesters is now becoming much more mainstream. If veganism is as out-there and uncommon as vegetarianism was 30 years ago, raw veganism is as common as veganism was five years ago. It’s much more talked about by people in social situations, although the conversations do still tend towards insecure ridicule in the “what are your shoes made of?” vein. As you can see from my table, Raw Veganism scored 97 for total nutritional value, compared to 110 for veganism and 121 for ovo-vegetarianism.
The rules: Raw vegans do not eat or use any animal products, of course. The plant-based foods they do eat must not have been heated above 104-120F (40-49 degrees Celsius) at any point in their production cycle, and also must not contain certain additives deemed unfitting with the raw vegan philosophy. Some proponents advocate a 75% raw vegan lifestyle to ensure particular nutrients are still part of the daily diet, but many others state that their diet is as complete as a vegan one in terms of nutrition, therefore including 25% of cooked food makes no sense. I’m not in possession of any nutritional software, so couldn’t say who is right, although I do know the vitamin content of bell peppers changes when they’re cooked (I really want a program that accesses a database of nutrients; I could write one, but I’d need to populate a database with all known edible plants so I could use it wherever I was, so if you know of one that’s ready-made, or have made one that you’d like reviewing, drop me a line). Aside from not eating cooked food, the biggest difference between raw veganism and veganism is lack of soy-based products – staples such as tofu, soymilk, dairy free chocolate and cheese – because of the production methods. For me, that’s the main appeal because I feel like I can be overly dependent on soy, and I particularly was when I was vegan. Tofu is my favourite food ever but I wonder how many great things I’m missing out on because I gravitate towards tofu.
See my table pictured above to see how raw veganism fares compared to other diets.
The rationale: Some adherents dislike that food is damaged and devalued (nutritionally) by the cooking process. Others wish to eat as our evolutionary ancestors did. Others forgot to pay their electric bill then realised they didn’t need to (joking, but if this is you, what a cool way to make lemonade out of lemons). Others still find it is more in keeping with a nomadic, tent-dwelling lifestyle as they travel around experiencing new places – what is more enticing than pitching a tent in the pouring rain and NOT having to try and get a stove working? Whatever the reasoning, it will vary from person to person (“that’s right, we’re all individuals” – Monty Python). Their solution is to eat food that is closer to its original state.
The drawbacks: According to some prominent ex-vegans, who are as quick to attack veganism as they are to stuff a hot dog in their face, raw veganism is deficient in certain nutrients. Vitamin K has been cited (see my upcoming article on Vitamin K – a.k.a. Vitamin Kale) as one deficiency. Vitamin D is the big one. Vitamin B12 is also mentioned by some. Your standard vegan criticisms. By and large, raw veganism when done sensibly with correct planning and eating for nutrition, not to satisfy a quota of bananas, will yield as much nutrition as a vegan diet, although some of the food quantities and varieties will need to be varied. The biggest problem with raw veganism is a distinct lack of cholesterol – essential for vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D3 is a poorly understood and often forgotten little vitamin, which I have written another article about. Recent studies, outlined in my vitamin D article, show that within our lifetimes, a vegan vitamin D source will not only be able to be established, but also made on a large enough scale for everyone. Why is the research happening which underpins this? Because of the growing number of vegans, and their vitamin D deficiency – it has driven forward research, which will solve the problem very soon. Personally, I see no issue with supplementing with a vegetarian vitamin D source, and a vegan vitamin K source, if you need these vitamins. Vitamin A deficiency is quoted sometimes, but you can get provitamins A from vegetables such as carrots, and because we are not “true carnivores” like cats or dogs, we can convert the provitamin A into retinol, which is the bit we need, although we are not as efficient at this as “true herbivores.” Vitamin B12 deserves more consideration because it’s the source of more misinformation than any other concern-vitamin in the vegan diet.
The B12 Myth:
The vitamin B12 fallacy goes like this: “there’s no plant source of vitamin B12.” **WRING YOUR HANDS AND GRAB A SAUSAGE!!** Here’s a shocker: There’s no animal source of vitamin B12 either. Or fungi. Let’s think back to high school biology: Of the five types of organism, plant, fungi, animal, archea and bacteria, only archea and bacteria can produce vitamin B12. These bacteria are usually found in your gut and most people don’t need supplementing. Vegans don’t specifically exclude bacteria from the diet, as this would be impossible unless everything they ate was bathed in strong chemicals prior to intake, so the classification of vitamin B12 as non-vegan is misleading pro-meat-eating sensationalism. Due to bacterial symbiosis (the interrelationship of bacteria with other organisms), there are sources such as chlorella (an algae, designated vegan source of B12 because they can make more money from labelling it “the only vegan B12 source” then charging you six times the price of the others), streptomyces griseus and pseudomonas dentrificans, both of which come from soil, not animals. It has been shown that smokers, users of oral contraceptives and many pharmaceutical products are all at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency due to them preventing absorption in the stomach. This is not seen as a health risk, presumably because there’s far too much money to be made by big (and small) pharma companies by selling you a drug that causes B12 deficiency and then selling you a B12 supplement, then selling you meat because they’ve convinced you to eat it again due to alleged B12 deficiency. Let me repeat: Vitamin B12 supplements are as vegan as home-made bread, licking your fingers or giving someone a kiss.
Raw veganism has come under a lot of fire, and whilst I’m not actually a raw vegan, I got very fed up whilst reading for this article with the sheer amount of rabid-ex-vegans (no prefix to vegan, note, despite the fact they were all actually ex-raw-vegans and most of them hadn’t even ever been vegan) who couldn’t be bothered to use the correct title for the diet they were lambasting and who kept calling it veganism without distinguishing, as if invalidating one was to invalidate the other.
The experiences these people have had with raw-veganism are often the cliche’d “oh this is so easy I’ll just eat salad for every meal” with no forward planning or consideration of the nutritional requirements of their bodies – something every vegan, raw or cooked, needs to be in tune with. Then they invariably got ill. They psychologically fixated on meat as the cure (remember, these people live in extremes – cheese, egg or a hot bowl of baked beans would not be dramatic enough). They ate some, and within minutes (instantly in one case) felt better (can anyone say “hallelujah”). That’s psychosomasis at its best. Then they have to shout so loudly to justify that they’re not raw vegan anymore (and they were probably the loudest drum bangers when they were raw vegan, too, evangelicals often are) – to convince themselves that they didn’t fail (they probably didn’t fail personally), but were failed by a “system” “group” or even “cult” of raw veganism. This is a logical fallacy because, whilst some raw vegans can be a bit pushy, it assumes that a greater group of individuals were responsible for their personal choices – unless you are actually in a cult with a controlling leader, this is unlikely to be true. Raw Veganism is a difficult diet to follow, and people following it sometimes underestimate the level of forward planning needed to go through with it, but it doesn’t satisfy any of the prerequisites for being a cult (see breatharianism, in part 4, for a real cult). What a paranoid conspiracy. These ex-raw-vegans clearly aren’t getting enough vitamin B12 in their sausages. I wonder why that could be. ^_^
You can find a lot of these people at letthemeatmeat.com (which I thought was Let The Meat Meat when I clicked through google, until I saw their website title). The lesson here is, don’t just eat what you can eat, eat what you need to eat, in the right quantities, in order to get your nutrients every day.
Whilst researching the raw vegan diet, I did come across a video on Youtube which explained that one of the potential problems that the videomaker experienced was that she lost her period for several months. I fully agree with the lady in the video – if you lose your period, don’t ignore it.
One of the themes I’ve seen both in raw vegan and fruitarian circles is women thinking it’s okay to lose their periods and encouraging others to ignore it too. Amenhorrea is never “unimportant” it signals that you’re doing something wrong. It is one of the first side effects of anorexia. If you lose your period, you need to go to the doctor, find out why, possibly see a nutritionalist and work out how to go forwards safely. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watchv=4hjSCFN8REk
I am going to conclude (and remember I’m not a raw vegan) that raw veganism is a difficult to follow, but valid and nutritionally sound diet as long as it is followed by intelligent people who understand the concept of vitamins, minerals, and balanced diets, and aren’t afraid to supplement in a sensible way and shift their food values around to get the optimum balance for their own body, but that 75% raw sounds more achievable and sustainable over a longer period of time. The main thing to remember, though, is everyone is different, and people are affected differently by different diets, and it’s ok to stop following a particular diet (even if you were banging the loudest drum in favour of it) because it’s not working for you, there’s no shame in admitting that you need to eat differently, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else needs to eat differently too (eat being the operative word here).