roy fire

To be or not to be Vegan…. that is the question.

roy fire
To be or not to be Vegan…. that is the question.

The topic of a vegan diet and lifestyle has been a hot topic for the past few years.    Fast food restaurants have even been jumping on the bandwagon offering a meat free friendly alternative.  Meat eaters are often ridiculed, and attacked.  In 2018 its almost as hard to be a good old fashioned carnivore as it is a republican.   You can go online and google search your heart out and find numerous claims how healthy and good for the planet and animas it is…… but is it?   Much like politics  this topic for whatever reason is a polarized topic with very little grey zone, just heated opinions, with very little fact or evidence.  Most pro vegan arguing by dropping propaganda film names like “What the Health,” and “forks over knives”   Both enjoyable films, and if you watch either you will definitely second guess your consumption of animal products.  Keep in mind, these are films created to sway the viewer from consuming animal products, much like Fox news wants your conservative vote and CNN would like your liberal one.    Before I get into why i like or dislike the vegan diet, let me preface that I have been both.   I was vegan long before it was an identity calling card and a “lifestyle’  It was something I did because I care for animals deeply and I thought it was a healthier way to live.  You can look at pictures below for yourself and see the difference, but I'm going to go through 8 reasons why I chose not to be vegan any longer.   I’m sure many of you will try to contradict my opinion with social media posts of “vegan bodybuilders” who are in amazing shape…. Let me pull the veil away from the fantasy and shed some light on reality.   Steroids, testosterone, hgh, are technically vegan.   Those guys could eat garbage and look like that with the amount of pharmaceuticals they are using.  



1. A vegan diet never sustained any traditional culture

Dr. Weston Price, a dentist with a passion for nutrition, traveled the globe to discover the secrets of healthy, happy people. He recorded his findings in the 30’s in the landmark book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. From the Inuit in Alaska to the Maori in New   Zealand, Dr. Price revealed that the diets traditional to each culture, although dependent on geography, followed a strict set of dietary laws.

Perhaps the most striking commonality is an unerring reverence for animal foods. No traditional culture subsisted on a vegan diet, a fact that Dr. Price found particularly interesting.

2. Vegan diets do not provide fat-soluble vitamins A and D

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t get vitamin A from carrots. Vegetables provide carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, while animal sources such as liver and pastured egg yolks provide true vitamin A. Many people believe that carotene can be converted into vitamin A, but this conversion is usually insignificant. First, it takes a huge amount of carotene to convert to a moderate amount of vitamin A. Second, when there is poor thyroid function, impaired digestion or a a lack of healthy fats in the diet, this conversion won’t happen.

In the same way, useable vitamin D (natural vitamin D3) is only found in animal products such as pastured egg yolks, cod liver oil and dairy products from grass-grazing animals. Traditionally, ancient cultures that lived in darker environments relied heavily on these vitamin-D rich foods (for example, Scandinavians ate copious amounts of salmon and grassfed butter). The myth that we can obtain vitamin D from mushrooms is false… mushrooms contain vitamin D2, which is extremely poorly absorbed.

Vitamin A and Vitamin D are particularly essential for immune regulation, digestion, fertility and hormone balance.





3. Vegan diets often rely heavily on soy

Soy, soy, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more… your hormones go berserk!

10 years ago, a vegan diet equated to vegetables interspersed with soy milk, soy cheese, soy bacon, soy protein, soy cereal, tofu, and tempeh. Now, the health problems with chronic soy consumption are becoming more mainstream and many vegans have reduced their soy consumption. Even so, a vegan diet often relies on a moderate amount of soy products  – especially soy protein powders and soy protein bars.

The primary concern with consuming soy in any form is the phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogens can mimic estrogen in the body, causing a chain reaction of hormone imbalances. Although studies showing the hormonal effects of consuming soy are controversial, I believe the research indicates that we should play it safe rather than sorry. For example, one study showed that infants consuming soy formula had concentrations of blood estrogen levels 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than normal estrogen levels!

Read more, studies and sources: Exposure of infants to phyto-oestrogens from soy-based infant formulaStudies showing the adverse affects of dietary soy, Is Soy Bad for You or Good For You?  (a great summary of research on soy and why it may be biased)



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4. Vegan diets do not provide vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is the shuttle that transports calcium into your bones. You can eat as much calcium as you want but it won’t strengthen your bones unless it is accompanied by vitamin K2. This is one reason why calcium supplementation has been shown to increase the risk of plaque formation – the body can’t use the calcium for building bones so it stores it in the arteries.

Unlike vitamin K1, plants do not provide vitamin K2. (The one and only exception to this rule is natto, a fermented soybean product. One problem, however, is that natto is, for the majority of humans and animals,

repulsive to eat). Like other fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin K2 is found fatty sources – Mother Nature packages the vitamin with the cofactors required to absorb it. You’ll get vitamin K2 in pastured egg yolks, milk and cheese from grassfed animals, liver, beef, and chicken.



5. Ethical omnivorism supports a healthy planet

What is ethical omnivorism? I define it as choosing sustainably-raised animal products from small, local producers. With a little planning and careful selection, can be relatively budget-friendly. I think people should eat less meat, but a much higher quality to support the demand for pasture-raised meats. $1 hamburgers have no place in an ethical omnivore world. 

Our ecosystem relies on a self-regulating balance of  predators and prey. This system worked well with humans and their prey until we began inhumane farming practices that compromise the wellbeing of animals, the health of humans, and the health of the planet.

But just like Confined Feeding Animal Operations aren’t the answer to a healthy planet, neither is veganism. Vegan diets ten to demand a higher quantity of cereal grains and soy, crops which wreak havoc on our ecosystem due to mass farming techniques. On the other hand, grass-grazing animals can nourish stripped soil and even reverse desertification!

Read more and sources: Joel Salatin on Grassfed Beef (video), Reversing Desertification with Grassfed CowsEat the Yolks.


6.  Real Food > Fake Food

How do you create cheese, milk and meat without cheese, milk and meat? With a slew of non-foods including stabilizers, gums, thickeners and highly processed protein extracts. Yummy.

Let’s consider the example of Earth Balance, a non-dairy butter often used in vegan diets.

    •       Ingredients in a Earth Balance: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto color.

    •       Ingredients in butter: butter.

Humans have been eating butter for thousands of years. We only started producing canola oil in the last century. Butter is real food, but canola oil is a freak of nature. Similarly, pea protein and natural flavors are highly processed non-foods.

Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware that processed vegan products are just that – highly processed. Still, many vegans reach for these options on a regular basis.

Read more: 7 reasons to never use canola oil6 reasons to avoid non dairy milks.



7.  You must take life to have life

Many people choose veganism because they think it cruel to take a life, but something dies no matter what you eat. For example, field mice were demolished in order to grow the corn for a box of vegan cereal.

Further, plants are living beings, capable of communicating with each other and the world around them. Controversial but intriguing research, discussed in this documentary, indicates that plants can even sense and respond to human emotions!

Nutritional Therapist Liz Wolf sums it up perfectly in her book Eat the Yolks:

If we truly believe that no living thing should have to die for our dinner, we shouldn’t eat at all. If we truly believe that all life deserves equal respect, why not equalize ourselves by embracing the elegant fact that we are all, as Nelson writes, “driven by the same hungers that motivate any other creature— the squirrel in the forest, the vole in the meadow, the bear on the mountainside, the deer in the valley”?



8. Animal fats offer unique nutrients

Have you heard that flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds and chia seeds are all excellent sources of omega-3? That may be true, but these plant sources provide a form of omega-3 that is not well absorbed by the body.

The omega-3 in plant sources, such as flaxseed and walnuts, is ALA. ALA must be converted to EPA or DHA in the body to be useable. Unfortunately, the conversion between ALA and EPA/ DHA is extremely low. One study showed that women convert about 21% of ALA to EPA and 9% to DHA. The conversion rates for men are even lower.

Further, as Chris Kresser points out in his article on vegan nutrient deficiencies, “the conversion of ALA to DHA depends on zinc, iron and pyridoxine—nutrients which vegetarians and vegans are less likely than omnivores to get enough of.”

Fats from sustainably-raised animals provide unique health benefits not found in plant sources:

    •       EPA and DHA, the active forms of omega-3 vital for cognitive function, are found only in animal sources such as fatty fish.

    •       Fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2 are found in fatty animal products (discussed above).

    •       Cholesterol, a vital ingredient for healthy hormones, can be dietarily obtained only through animal sources. Yes, the body can produce cholesterol, but dietary cholesterol is a key part of wellness including memory, liver health, and digestion.

But don’t cholesterol-rich saturated fats cause heart disease? Nope! Saturated fats were wrongly blamed for heart disease with the help of poor research and sleazy food politics. Now, even mainstream sources are acknowledging the science.  For example, the 2014 June cover of Time Magazine announced, “Eat butter. Scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong.”



Matthew Felker