This is what will happen if you eat vegetarian, especially if you go vegan for any length of time. Maybe not all of these things. But some of them. You will wear our your insulin receptors. The human body was never meant to absorb that amount of sugar. You can call it “complex carbohydrates” if you want, but it’s sugar. The hypoglycemia will make you shake, sweat, and crave, god, those cravings. You’ll feel like you’re going to die if you don’t put food in your mouth every three hours, every two hours, then every thirty minutes after you eat. Hypoglycemia is its own emotional hell; the sudden weepiness, the temper fits, the instability. It’s inexplicable when you’re living I, and you also think its normal, just life. It’ll get worse every year. And yes, obviously you could do this to yourself as an omnivore. The standard US American diet contains vast quantities of sugar, with or without the meat. But it’s hard to avoid as a vegetarian unless you live on eggs and cottage cheese, and impossible to avoid as a vegan.
You will destroy your bones and joints. You won’t get enough minerals; unless you pretreat every seed (grains, nuts, beans), the phytates will bind with what few minerals you are ingesting; and you won’t have enough dietary fat to absorb whatever is left. And you won’t have enough vitamin D to build bone matrix, or enough zinc to build collagen.
The, polyunsaturated fats, unstable and rancid, will wreck your blood vessels, your heart. Without protective saturated fats, adequate protein, and enough vitamin D, you will be at tremendous risk for cancer, especially the kinds that kill. Remember the hunter-gatherers don’t get cancer. Remember who does.
The high omega-6s (and the nonexistent emga-3s) will create inflammation everywhere. Your joints, your blood vessels, your gut, your liver, your nerves, your brain are all potential victims. Maybe you’ll get fibromyalgia. Maybe you’ll get Alzheimer’s. Maybe you’ll have unnamed low-level pain where everything aches and you hate to be touched or jostled. It’s because everything’s inflamed.
On the low-fat and vegan versions especially, you’ll have menstrual problems, fertility problems. Jorge Chavaro and his colleagues at the Department of Nutrition at Harvard found that women who ate two or more servings a day of low-fat instead of full-fat dairy foods increased their risk of ovulation-related infertility by more that four-fifths. That’s 85 percent. You’ll get fibroids, cysts, endometriosis. If you do manage to have a baby, you’re five times as likely to have a child with birth defects.
You’ll strain your thyroid until you damage it. You may even kill it. I think of a twenty-four-year-old vegan I talked to. Arthritis in her kness, crippling menstrual pain, and a daily dose of synthroid. “Do you really think your body was meant to fall apart at age twenty four?” I urged. My information unmoored her but she was desperate. I know exactly how she felt. But her boyfriend was a vegan;so were most of her friends. I don’t know where she landed in the end.
You may destroy your stomach like I did. You hair will dry out, thin and your skin may get so dry it hurts. Your immune system, built from protein, won’t be strong enough to protect you. And it may kick into overdrive from all the plant lectins and their molecular mimicry. Remember who gets autoimmune diseases and who doesn’t.
You’ll be cold. Then you’ll be freezing. You’ll be tired and you won’t know why. Everything will become such an effort. You won’t understand how other people have the energy to go to school and then to work and then out dancing. It’s no normal to be that tired. I’m telling you; it’s not normal.
And then there’s B12. The sticking point. Just accept it; there are no non-animal sources of B12 and you can end up blind or brain-damaged without it. B12 deficiency also leads to infertility, miscarriage, and maybe Alzheimer’s. Just take the damn supplements. Here’s what you’ll do to your kids; neurological damage that could well be permanent. Breast-fed infants of vegan’s mothers can have brain abnormalities from lack of B12. Kids on vegan diets” demonstrated neurological impairments that persisted, even when animal products were added later” Similarly, B12 levels in the blood of formerly vegan children remained low even after animal products were added back into their diets. And vegan children scored substantially lower on tests measuring spatial ability, short term memory and ‘fluid intelligence, ‘defined as ‘the capacity to solve complex problems, abstract thinking ability and the ability to learn”. Another study found “major skin and muscle wasting---in 30% of the macrobiotic infants.
One researcher put in bluntly; “There have been sufficient studies clearly showing that when women avoid all animal foods, theirs babies are born small, they grow very slowly and they are developmentally retarded, possibly permanently….There’s absolutely now question that it’s unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegans”.
In one small community of vegans, twenty-five infants had protein and frank calorie deficiencies, anemia from a lack of both iron and B12, rickets, zinc, deficiencies, and retarded growth. One baby died, weighing at five months less than when she was born”. I know what I did to myself being a vegan; I shudder when I think of what I could have done to s child.
Soy will make all of the above worse. You can do a lot of this damage on the standard American diet just as easily. The polyunsaturated fatty acids, the sugars, the omega-6’s, the plant lectins; it’s all there and call deadly, in the grains and their oils that we were never meant to eat. But you can fix it as a carnivore. You can’t as a vegetarian.
And then there’s your brain; the depression, the anxiety. Some proportion of you, especially the teenage girls, will end up with full-blown anorexia from trying to be vegetarian. PETA puts their ads with fluffy chicks and baby pigs in magazines aimed at teen girls. Never mind their endless misogynist ads, the live naked supermodels in cages; I can’t forgive them for going after teenage girls. One study found that only 17 percent of vegetarian girls consumed enough protein. It’s only a matter of time until the tryptophan-deprived brain becomes a disease, then a demon. In another study of teenagers, “all vegetarians weighed themselves more often and were more likely to say that they were dissatisfied with their bodies than non-vegetarians.” So it begins. PETA is willing to sacrifice these girls for the cause. I’m not.
You will not live longer. I remember absorbing the “fact” that vegetarians lived longer. Two years, five years seven years” I didn’t know the details but I repeated it to anyone who asked. And of course it’s not true. What is true is that people who choose vegetarianism are a health-conscious group; they also don’t smoke or drink and they exercise. Those are the variables that create a longer life span. Compared to the average US American, Seventh-Day Adventists have lower rates of “hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, colon cancer, prostate cancer, fatal heart disease in males and death from all causes”. Because Seventh-Day Adventists are supposed to refrain from meat; politicized vegetarians have raised these numbers as a battle cry. But comparing Seventh Day Adventists to the average US American is absurd, because they are also forbidden to drink alcohol and coffee and they are slowed to smoke. They eat substantially more fresh food and substantially fewer doughnuts. Of course they’re healthier. If you want to claim that their health is a function of their vegetarian diets, you need to find a cohort to compare them to; a group of people whose diets and lifestyle match that of the Seventh Day Adventists except for meat. Guess what? Those people exist. They’re called Mormons. Mormons also abstan from alcohol, coffee, smoking and lots of the generalized junk if SAD. But they eat meat. Guess who lives longer? Surely you’ve guessed the punchline: Mormons.
But even putting aside all the lifestyle differences that many vegetarians embrace-the abstention from cigarettes and alcohol, the exercising-the all cause death rate for vegetarian mean (0.93%) is still a little higher than for omnivorous men (0.89%). For vegetarian women, it’s substantially higher (0.86%) than for omnivorous women (0.54%)”. As early as 1970, vegan women were shown to have higher death rates from heart disease than nonvegan women. And vegetarians are 2.5 times as likely to die from metal and neurological diseases. Nobody told me that. I’m telling you.
And I’m telling you again that people on low-fat diets are twice as likely to die from violent death or suicide. Death if forever. So is suicide, especially for the people who find the body. My friendship circle lived through a spectacular suicide and yes she was an abuse survivor, but weren’t we all? She was also a vegan. Her mood disintegrated from depression and fits of anger to paranoid rages until she killed herself. Do I know for a fact that she would have found a way through if she’d eating some real food? No. The distance between endurance and despair can be measured in so many variables. But I know for myself that a little serotonin can go an awfully long way.
I know what you want to be true, vegetarians. You want to open the circle of concern to everything sentient. With all your hearts, you want us humans to be meant for cellulose or seeds or berries or anything that you believe can’t fell pain. And I’m telling you the truth; it doesn’t work. What you are mode of—bones, blood, brain, heart—needs animals. This is not the universe you wanted. But it’s the way the world, always alive and always hungry, works. You can try to live on those other things—the cellulose you can’t digest the seeds that fight back, the berries and their sugar. If you’re like me, you’ll do it until you’re half dead. If you’re smarter than me, you’ll learn. You want to open that circle, but in fact there’s no way out of it. We’re all of, seeded and feathered, rooted and furred, already in it.
Somewhere inside you is an animal that wants to eat. There’s no dishonor in that animal. She’s the same animal who wants to curl up around her sleeping beloveds, to keep them safe and warm. She’s the same animal who comes alive at the smell of rain. She’s an animal who belongs here. She’s four million years old. She’s in the shape of your teeth, the empty bowl of your one stomach. She’s in your stalwart heart, a hundred years strong, surrounded by animal fat. She’s in the fold of your brain, and the messages needed an answer. Your animal found language, art. She answered. She drew what mattered. Go look. The pictures are still there. She left them for you; take, eat, this is the body we have made, predator and prey together. This is the pact, the prayer, our true first communion, not wine, but blood; we are all part of each other. Bow your head and take aim. The take your turn. (Taken from "The Vegetarian Myth" by Lierre Keith)