Health

Not Only Can Veganism Give You Nutritional Deficiencies, But It Could Make You Harder To Date

By Andrea Mew··  8 min read
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Veganism has taken over as a lifestyle and a badge of honor, especially if it’s driven by environmental or ethical factors.

And hey, it’s actually pretty noble to take such a strong stance against the somewhat disturbing mass-production techniques used in livestock, poultry, and fish industries. Many corporations infamously pump their fish and animals full of excessive hormones and practice overfeeding to get them to produce more meat. But there’s a lot of unnecessary pressure and shame that gets pushed on dairy and meat-eaters to become vegan or at least “flexitarians.” 

Call It What It Is, Plant-Based Is a Trend

Mainstream media and social media celebrities both have unmatched influence over what fads the general public decides to adopt. Last year, Katy Perry joined the roster of celebs going vegan and shared that she was bringing her dog – a questionable choice for the vegan lifestyle – along on the journey. Ariana Grande gets articles written up on how she, among other vegans jumping on the bandwagon, is choosing the “smartest way to eat now.” Lizzo, a top celeb in the body-positivity movement, plastered her vegan “fried chicken” recipes on TikTok.

Recent data has shown that interest in veganism has quadrupled, and more people are turning to dairy-free lifestyles despite not being lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy.

The romanticization of Meatless Monday and dairy-free dishes swarms our Insta feeds. Veganism gets endless free PR from Kim K, Lizzo, Madelaine Petsch, Zac Efron, Sia, Ellie Goulding, Madonna, Jared Leto, Olivia Wilde, and many more, and as a result, the vegan retail food market is projected to increase sales fivefold by 2030. 

Plant-Based Living Will Likely Leave You Nutrient-Deficient

Honestly, we’re not really built to be vegans. Our anatomy and biology point to the fact that we evolved to chew and digest meat and animal products. That doesn’t mean that we need to be full-on carnivores, however, as we thrive best on omnivorous diets. Pushing a diet that rejects animal products even in moderation could lead to undernutrition.

For one, following a vegan diet could lead you to develop anemia. Your blood might not clot right, and as a result, healing from bruises could take much longer. Our bodies evolved to need natural sources of iron and B12 to maintain blood cells and prevent anemia. Vegans are chronically low in B12 and folate and have to supplement or consume fortified vegan foods to make up for it. 

Animal products are the only natural source of vitamin D3.

Iron deficiencies and the lack of omega-3s from a vegan diet can also leave a lady lacking in her cognitive health. It’s not a joke when people say that veganism gives you major brain fog. Take it from trendsetter Miley Cyrus who literally had to start eating fish again because she claimed her brain wasn’t functioning properly.

The trendy vegan diet might also throw the thyroid health out of whack. Our bodies already don’t produce iodine naturally, so when the vegan diet causes a deficiency, supplementation might be necessary to prevent hypothyroidism.  

The vegan diet can also cause vitamin D3 and calcium deficiencies. I hate to break it to you, but animal products are the only natural source of vitamin D3! Is it worth potentially developing osteoporosis and weak, brittle bones just to be on the trend bandwagon?

Plant Protein Can’t Compete with Real Meat

Plant-based people will swear up and down that they can naturally get enough protein – or even shift the narrative to say that we don’t need that much protein at all – without eating meat, dairy, or animal byproducts. 

And hey, there are nuggets of truth to the sheer volume of protein that you can consume on a vegan diet…but that’s also one of the problems. You have to consume a pretty high volume of food to meet your daily protein requirements.

Beans and legumes are awesome, and when paired with the right carb can become a complete protein, but you’d typically have to eat more to feel full and meet your protein goal. At that point, you’re eating less protein and more carbs. You’re getting wild amounts of fiber and sugar, but lacking in the protein department.

To counteract this, many vegans supplement with processed, plant-based protein powder. This isn’t a knock on protein supplements per se – I love some good whey. But soy protein, pea protein, and hemp protein can bloat you and apparently have higher levels of heavy metals and carcinogens than their whey counterparts.

The most aesthetically pleasing, Instagram-worthy vegan protein and nutrition brand Alani Nu lures young ladies in with feminine packaging and claims that they don’t have fillers or gimmicks while actually containing guar gums, silica, and seed oil-based ingredients. It’s not really fair to market a health claim that doesn’t actually check out. 

Soy protein, pea protein, and hemp protein can make you bloat.

It’s not just powders and supplements, however. Plant-based meats that are “disrupting” the meat industry are everywhere on grocery shelves where real meat products once were. 

The Impossible brand does plant-based chicken nuggets, sausages, ground beef, and meatballs. The Beyond brand is infamous for its beet juice that makes its patties “bleed” like real meat would. Vegan meat alternatives have ravaged the industry, with 71% of Americans having tried at least one product.

Even fast-food chains are chomping at the bit to put plant-based meat alternatives on their menus like Del Taco, Carl’s Jr., White Castle, Fatburger, Subway, and many more. No matter what the campaign is, marketers are trying hard to rebrand veganism to appeal to younger, impressionable consumers as well as older, stubborn consumers.

They’re Selling It…Really Hard

Have you noticed that plant-based marketing teams veer away from terms like “meat-free,” “vegan,” and “vegetarian” to try to boost the appeal and sales of their products? Those words have a lot of negative connotations, so it’s much sexier to market your product with an entirely new name or use words that evoke positive feelings like “veggie.” The results are kind of weird.

It’s not pea milk, it’s “Ripple”! By the way, Ripple even admits: “We don’t claim that making plant-based foods will save the world…but we think it can help. And we know it makes us happier and healthier.”

71% of Americans have tried at least one vegan alternative product.

It’s not grainy, beany bacon, it’s “Benevolent Bacon”! This company calls its food “enlightened.” As if you reach nirvana or something by eating vegan bacon.

It’s not liquidy mung bean paste, it’s “Just Egg”! Spoiler alert: it’s not just eggs. And it’s not appealing. Not even when the marketing team tries really hard to sell it to Millennials and Gen Z with slogans like “The chef’s kiss of eggs” and “These are eggs on a mission.” Doesn’t it just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that your mung bean paste is showing the “industrialized egg system” who’s boss?

In another bizarre, unsexy example, one of the top fake chicken nugget brands is literally marketed as “Simulate Nuggs.” They claim to be the most “advanced” nuggets on the market. Oh, and the company thinks that their nuggs will “kill you slower.” That's reassuring.

Would You Date a Vegan?

Whether it's because vegans notoriously shame those who don't have the same beliefs or their lifestyle doesn’t mesh well with meat-eaters, surveys have shown that a fair amount of non-vegans wouldn’t date someone who is plant-based.

For some couples, shared food is an integral expression of their love language. While other couples may not be bothered whatsoever by eating different meals every night, it’s very common to do grocery shopping together, share a dish or some tapas together on dates, or cook and bake as a fun date-night-in activity.

Veganism can also cause rifts in relationships because it politicizes food and makes eating (something you need to do to survive) a moral move. If the vegan in the relationship isn’t plant-based out of ethics, their identity in the movement might come off as hypocritical since they’re dating someone who enjoys the thing that they detest three times a day.

Closing Thoughts

Plant-based lifestyles aren’t suitable for the masses, yet celebs and influencers will glamorize their vegan or flexitarian diet. So many celebs have publicly set the record straight now that they’re not vegan anymore for personal health reasons. YouTube is rife with videos titled “Why I’m no longer vegan” or “I’m not vegan anymore” that get hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views. There’s a reason why so many people are giving up on the vegan lifestyle, despite how hard the food industry is marketing plant-based products to the masses. 

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  Nutrition
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