Archive for the ‘Failure to Thrive’ Category

Comparison of current and former animal product limiters

Monday, March 12th, 2012

The results of a survey from Western Washington University on current and former “animal product limiters” has been released in the journal Appetite.

With a cross-sectional survey that is not randomly selected, it is pretty hard to draw any strong conclusions, but I thought there were some interesting findings:

  • Current animal product limiters were more likely to have made changes to their diet gradually than all at once.
  • Current animal product limiters were (much) more likely to be part of a vegetarian group.
  • The biggest reasons former limiters gave for not continuing with their diets were: difficulty preparing food (35.2%), boredom with food options (41.2%), and cravings for meat (54.9%).
  • More details can be seen in the abstract.


    Haverstock K, Forgays DK. To Eat or Not to Eat: A Comparison of Current and Former Animal Product Limiters. Appetite. 2012 Mar 1. Epub ahead of print. | link

    Ginny Messina: Being Picky

    Friday, July 1st, 2011

    Ginny Messina: Being Picky About Vegan Nutrition

    Fight Veg Recidivism

    Monday, June 27th, 2011

    Help combat veg recidivism, as discussed in this post by Erik Marcus that appeared on Psychology Today’s site, by “liking” Vegan For Life (click here to like).

    Thank you!

    Response to Paleosister

    Thursday, December 16th, 2010

    I received a ping back from an ex-vegan and ex-animal rights activist, Paleosister. She writes:

    > “Jack Norris, who I remember seeing speak at AR 2003 and greatly admired, writes that we should try to consume as little animal flesh (and other animal products) as possible. Quite frankly, you’re missing the point, Jack. The world is being destroyed due to agriculture; entire ecosystems are ruined—the habitats’ of animal populations destroyed—because of the foods vegans and the left are promoting.”

    Some background: Paleosister is another person who failed to thrive on a vegan diet. She writes about that:

    > Another common response is simply disbelief that it’s really possible to experience a physiological change with just a bite of meat….the first time I sat down to eat meat, I thought, “that is the strangest thing. I actually do feel better!” Then, for the first time in nearly a decade, I didn’t have suicidal thoughts for an entire hour!

    First of all, I want to say that I feel bad that Paleosister had poor health and suicidal thoughts as a vegan. It is a serious problem that some people don’t thrive on the vegan diet, and we should not blame the victim.

    I suspect that part of the problem is that vegan propaganda often includes the message that “diets based on whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables provide all the necessary nutrients.” For one thing, they don’t – they don’t contain vitamin B12. But the mantra also simplifies the situation regarding a lot of other nutrients.

    For too many years, groups promoted such an idea. Instead of making sure that vegans were getting enough protein, we talked about how it was impossible not to get enough protein. Instead of telling vegans to get enough calcium, we told vegans that calcium isn’t important. Instead of telling people to get a regular source of vitamin B12, we downplayed the need. Instead of telling vegans to get a normal amount of fat, we have promoted very low-fat diets.

    In fairness, much of the vegan community has changed its tune since the 1990s and now many urge vegans to make sure they get enough of these nutrients. Also in fairness, some research has indicated that low-fat vegan diets can help effectively treat heart disease and diabetes. And since studies have shown vegetarians (vegans and lacto-ovo) to have good health over time, and many of us feel just fine, we didn’t think there was a problem.

    Paleosister apparently did not find any help for her health problems when she looked. I do not know what she tried, nutrition-wise, and what she didn’t. She says:

    ➢ It’s not the placebo effect. It’s most likely not even the effect of any nutrient we know of.

    It is highly unlikely that there are any essential nutrients required by a large portion of the human population that are not currently known – the success of soy infant formulas and tube-feedings indicate this. However, there are a variety of non-essential nutrients that some people might not make enough of when following a vegan diet, especially if their bodies have been dependent on those substances from animal products up until the point of going vegan.

    The fact that many children whose mother’s were vegan from conception and who are vegan from birth (except breast-milk), grow and thrive, is proof that meat, dairy, and eggs are not needed to produce healthy human bodies (at least in many cases).

    I am becoming more and more concerned about promoting “healthy eating” along with veganism. So often, when someone goes vegan, they make other changes that they think are for the better – no more junk food or very low fat. It seems safer, from the perspective of animal protection, that new vegans eat as closely as they were to the way they previously had eaten so that they feel similarly; that is, unless they were previously feeling badly due to poor diet.

    We should also not view ex-vegans who failed to thrive as our enemies. Who can blame someone for eating meat if they felt terrible as a vegan? I understand that we believe animals have a right not to be killed, but there would be a very strong incentive to reshape such views if we felt miserable if we didn’t eat animal flesh. It would be nice to be able to work with such people who still care about animals but cannot be vegan, rather than vilifying them; or their vilifying us for that matter.

    Our message needs to become more nuanced if we want to minimize the problems we see with failure to thrive.

    Now back to the point that Paleosister says I don’t get:

    > The world is being destroyed due to agriculture; entire ecosystems are ruined—the habitats’ of animal populations destroyed—because of the foods vegans and the left are promoting.

    No matter what humans eat, there is going to be environmental harm. I do understand that monocrops are generally bad for the environment, but I do not agree that vegan foods, in general, are significantly worse than grass-fed animal foods.

    In the U.S., most animal foods are made using monocrop feeds. It does not seem realistic to feed 300 million people (or six-billion), grass-fed animal products as the bulk of their calories.

    If most people switched to a vegan diet, an enormous amount of land currently grown for feed crops could be turned back into natural ecosystems, and that would be a huge gain. And at the same time it promotes an ethic of respecting the lives of animals.

    Ginny Messina on The Voracious (Ex-)Vegan

    Monday, November 22nd, 2010

    If you haven’t heard yet, Tasha the The Voracious Vegan has gone back to eating meat (I had never even heard of Tasha before she went back to eating meat).

    Ginny Messina responds to the ex-Voracious Vegan’s blog post about her journey: Do Ex-Vegans’ Stories Make the Case Against Vegan Diets?

    One comment from me. Tasha writes:

    My first bite of meat after 3.5 years of veganism was both the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. Tears ran down my face as saliva pooled in my mouth. The world receded to a blank nothingness and I just ate, and ate, and ate. I cried in grief and anger, while moaning with pleasure and joy.

    This is the exact same reaction I have every time I eat a Jokerz candy bar!

    Let Them Eat Meat Interview

    Friday, August 20th, 2010

    Rhys Southan of just posted an interview he did with me about veganism.

    Click here.

    Can My Recommendations Prevent Failure to Thrive?

    Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

    A couple weeks ago, I was made aware of the website and blog, Let Them Eat Meat, written by Rhys Southan. He had mentioned me in a post and someone forwarded it to me. I spent a few minutes looking around the site and found it very interesting. Rhys is an ex-vegan and the site is basically a criticism of many aspects of the vegan movement, some of which I can’t say I disagree with. He was vegan for many years, didn’t feel healthy, mentally or physically, and went back to eating meat and felt a lot better.

    In a post of June 7, Rhys says that some vegans are claiming that if you follow my nutrition recommendations, you will not fail as a vegan. He goes on to say:

    There was a point when I was lazy about B12 pills and relied on supplemented nutritional yeast and soy milk (the vegan health argument at that time downplayed the need for B12, which convinced me this was adequate), but I got into taking B12 more regularly after enduring Restless Legs Syndrome for a few months.

    Still, I didn’t follow Norris’ exact recommendations. For one thing, I didn’t know who the hell he was. And even if I had, Norris is constantly revising his recommendations in response to new research, and the B12 dosage Norris now stands behind was posted in March of this year, so that wouldn’t have helped anyway.

    I would like to clarify some of this:

    1. Though my recommendations have helped many people (who were not coming even close to following them), I do not think that following them insures that someone will have no trouble being vegan.

    2. My recommendations do not need to be followed exactly to get most of the benefit. If you followed my pre-March vitamin B12 recommendations, you should not feel any different in the short term than following the new recommendations. Tweaking my B12 recommendations is for preventing long-term, chronic disease, not for daily feelings of well-being.

    3. For the main nutrients I focus on (B12, omega-3s, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, vitamin A), I probably change my recommendations for any given nutrient no more than once every 5 years, and I rarely change them by much. My vitamin B12 recommendations change in March was the first I’ve made since about 2003.

    4. If new evidence shows me that my recommendations need to be changed, I change them.

    5. Restless leg syndrome could very well be from a vitamin B12 deficiency and my recommendations now or at the time might have helped this aspect of Rhys’ health; and it’s possible they could have even improved his mental issues as well. But, that said, see #1 above.

    I am interested in reading more of Rhys’ site and possibly responding to things I find of interest, such as the below. Perhaps this is a good place for me to state for any new readers that I am a vegan to prevent animal suffering. There are some worthwhile health benefits, but those are side-benefits for me.

    Rhys states in his post linked above:

    In my case, when I grocery shop, I buy mostly organ meats. And when I go to a restaurant, I look for the organ option the way a vegan looks for the vegan option. I do this because I think fewer animals will need to be raised and killed if more of the animal parts are used. In that sense, I am accomplishing exactly what vegans are — fewer animals are being born. (But I recognize that my consumer choices are almost totally insignificant in this regard; like veganism, this is a symbolic gesture).

    That’s probably true – just like in voting, your vote is unlikely to make a difference. But if enough vegans create a critical mass such that less animals are raised, it is probably in proportion to how many vegans there are and, at that point, one vegan could make a real difference to some animals.

    Please note that I don’t allow comments through that are impolite or disrespectful.

    Are there Medical Conditions Requiring Animal Foods?

    Thursday, April 2nd, 2009


    Are there any medical conditions which require someone to eat flesh?
    Are there any that prevent someone from being vegan?


    There are certainly people who feel like their health suffers when they don’t eat meat, unfortunately.

    As I’ve posted about recently, there are some conditions which might make it difficult to eat a normal vegan diet, such as having herpes, being allergic or intolerant of soy or wheat, and having trouble absorbing iron.

    And although research shows that a plant-based diet is a good way to treat early chronic kidney disease, once someone has to be on dialysis it can be difficult. This is because most plant foods are either high in phosphorus (as is dairy) or potassium. People on dialysis tend to need large amounts of protein and it’s hard to get it from plants without also getting phosphorus. You can take calcium tablets to try to prevent phosphorus absorption but this strategy is limited.

    Vegetarian Diet for Kidney Disease Treatment, by Joan Brookhyser, RD, CSR, CD, is a book about how to be vegetarian or vegan while on dialysis. So, it can be done but I do not know how often it is done.

    Finally, there might be some people whose bodies don’t make enough of a nutrient that can only be obtained, at this time, from animal foods.

    I once corresponded with an animal advocate who thought his body did not produce enough cholesterol and it was causing him to pass out. He did have very low cholesterol (under 100 mg/dl) which may or may not have been the problem. He said that when he ate cheese, he felt much better and didn’t pass out. We tried to figure out what else it might be, such as not enough calories or fat, but we did not succeed. However, I do not think that cheese, or any other animal product, has magical properties. If the cheese really was solving his problem, then there must be some molecule(s) in the cheese that can be uncovered as the cause.

    Eventually, we might be able to produce all such molecules without harming animals, particularly if in vitro meat becomes a reality.