What about vegan?
Vegan, what is that?
Throughout March I had a vegan special running on my German speaking blog. But first of, what is actually meant by the term “vegan”? Vegan – that is plant-based or animal friendly eating. Nowadays there are even certain labels to mark vegan foods, e.g. the vegan flower label or the V-label.
Apart from certain labels the term “vegan” is actually not protected by law. What exactly is meant by the term can vary quite a lot, there are even different “types” of veganism, if you want to call it that.
Basically Vegans not only do not eat fish or meat, but also abstain from animal byproducts like dairy products, honey, etc.
A special form of veganism is for example “raw veganism“. People following this diet eat only plant-based food that is raw and uncooked. Foods dried at low temperature also work for raw vegans.
Organic veganism aims at eaten clean, non-GMO and only organic plant-based food.
One quite extreme branch of veganism is called fruitarianism. The aim is not only to not harm animals in any way, but to also not hurt the plants. Mainly fruits are eaten and those should ideally have fallen of the plant themselves. They should not be harvested by plucking or picking as that would hurt the plant.
Most vegans choose veganism not only as a diet, but as a lifestyle. Animals therefore should not be harmed for human food production, but just as much they should not be harmed in any way. Vegans choose animal friendly closing (e.g. no fur), cosmetics (e.g. no animal testing) and more.
That animals have to die for pelt/fur or leather is actually known by many and there are practical alternatives like fake fur or imitation leather. Yet, even here we can find scandals. One rather recently was about bobble cups with supposedly fake fur bobbles, which turned out to be made from real fur. Brands like Tom Tailor were involved in this scandal. Falsely declared fur on labels is actually common, but should be harshly condemned.
I’m following a German speaking blog on WordPress writing about knitting and more. It was this blog that actually made it known to me first that shearings can be quite a bloody business. Up until then I thought, like maybe many others, that sheep are shorn, but hey, that doesn’t hurt them, right? Well, in the interest of production profits and following the motif of “time is money” sheep are often harmed when shorn.
There are brands and producers paying attention to the sheep. Best way to find out is to inform yourself before purchase. Who opposes the farming of animals in any way will see no alternative in this though. Yet, plant-based fabrics are an option then, e.g. made from linen, hemp fibre, etc. Those are completely cruelty free.
There are many reasons as to why to go for a vegan lifestyle, some are:
- physical health
- mental or psychic health
- animal protection
- protection of the environment
Not just since the publication of the controversial China Study by T. Colin Campbell more and more people are reporting physical or emotional improvement when eating vegan. Yet, the China Study is not only about eating vegan. The German title “Die wissenschaftliche Begründung für eine vegane Ernährungsweise” (The scientific explanation for a vegan diet) is rather misleading, because what the study found is a link between other aspects of eating (not just meat/fish, dairy…) and the prevalence of some diseases. Therefore one should abstain from added sugar, added oils and more, the authors argue. And this has in itself not much to do with eating vegan.
What actually caught my attention far more than the China Study is the documentary Kung Fu Quest (with English subs). The documentary enables one to see how traditional Shaolin monks live still today. Some insights about vegetarian respectively vegan eating are featured as well:
Vegetables are easier to digest. Sheep and cattle are fed on grass. Yet, they have very enduring stamina. Meat gives you the power of meat. Grass gives you the power of nature. […]
When we took their [the animals’] lives, what condition were they in? Rage.
Animals undoubtedly were in an aggravated state of mind. Even organic meat is “produced” – meaning killed – in giant butcheries. No animals is petted to death. The stress hormones released by the animal when dying or awaiting death in line, watching his or her friends die, will go into the meat that we will eat. That’s what means. Rüdiger Dahlke describes this in his many books he has written (e.g. Peace Food) on vegan eating as well.
Therefore I do not wonder, that some who suffer from depression report improvement of their mental and emotional state when changing for a vegan diet.
But also some cardiovascular diseases can be prevented or the condition of the patient can be improved by eating a vegan diet.
Whether a plant-based diet will help you individually you’ll have to try. I am not here to persuade or coerce you into eating vegan. It is just when going vegan and suffering from histamine intolerance there are some things to take into account.
Is that really healthy? OR
Won’t I suffer deficiencies respectively malnutrition?
As already mentioned, there are several types of veganism. You’ll have to choose what suits you and what tastes good according to you.
It is obvious that the so-called “soy pudding vegans” are not living healthier than any “omni-eater”. What I mean to soy pudding vegans are those who just substitute meat, schnitzel and sausages with soy schnitzel and alike. These people actually eat just like they have eaten before going vegan. Nowadays there are so many vegan processed foods available – it has become an industry and quite a lucrative one – that is everything but healthy, when one pays attention to labels. Spreads, cheese substitutes and more contain everything from citric acid (not lemon juice!) to humectants and preservatives like e.g. sorbitol and more. Even agave syrup praised as healthy sugar alternative is just a myth – it’s a fructose bomb. It looks similar when it comes to other sugar alternatives like xylitol which is produced in a complicated and overindustrialised way. For dogs it is toxic in only small amounts by the way. It can cause bloating in humans. Xylitol also has a laxative effect. Mostly it is used for oral hygiene, supposedly preventing tooth decay.
Many plant-based milk alternatives have sugar (or agave syrup) added, also binders and thickeners are no exception and the name giving main ingredient – almond, oat, rice or whatever (besides water) – is actually only included in a 3 to 7 percentage rate.
If only eating fried vegetables, one also does not live healthy. Of course, eating this once in a while is totally normal; it’s the mix that counts.
Pages like The Unhealthy Vegan are fun, and offer delish recipes, but you’ll have to get the balance right and mix it up.
Generally there are some myths around when it comes to malnutrition when eating vegan. Yet, when eating a well-balanced and organic diet – except for vitamin B 12 – one will live healthier than most “regular eaters”.
- Myth #1 – calcium
When omitting dairy you’ll suffer a deficiency in calcium, right?
Actually dairy contributes to overacidification of the body. Too much phosphorus in milk will disrupt the calcium balance. Rumor has it that milk is not such a calcium boost as the dairy industry likes us to believe.
Calcium can be found in many foods, e.g. in green veggies like broccoli, (spinach), mangold, many herbs, almonds, etc.
Also the level of vitamin D is quite important to be able to absorb calcium.
- Myth #2 protein
Generally this is another myth. Legumes, nuts and some veggies and also grains contain protein. “Normal” vegans don’t suffer from a protein problem.
Yet, when suffering from histamine intolerance, nuts and legumes can (!) cause problems. You’ll have to try in small amounts to find out what and how much of that works for you. Seeds like pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds and macadamia nuts can be good alternatives for you.
- Myth #3 iron
This is not really a myth, because it is true plant-based iron is harder to absorb by the human body. Yet, vitamin c can increase the absorption.
Significant amounts of iron can be found in e.g. in millet, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds, lentils, peach and spinach. And also in parsley, fennel, cress and carrots.
Vitamin c e.g. can be found in parsley, broccoli, bell pepper and salad.
You do best to combine iron-rich and vitamin-c-rich foods in a meal to get the right amount.
- No myth – Vitamin B 12
When omitting animal products completely from your diet chances are to suffer a deficiency in vitamin b 12. This can only be found in animal products. Yet, we humans are “animal products”, too, of course and we are able to produce vitamin b 12, provided that our gut flora is intact. This is often not the case and so supplementing vitamin b 12 is advised by many. Thankfully “supplementing” in this case does not have to mean “pill taking”.
Microorganisms which can be found on uncleaned fruits and veggies can provide vitamin b 12. Organis is key here – and actually, from your own garden would be best in that case.
Nori or chlorella algae are also a great source for vitamin b 12. Aagain, look for organic produce. Vegan sushi (nori) can be an option on a regular basis.
To go vegan when suffering from histamine intolerance requires some knowledge about nutrition to prevent deficiencies. The reduction of meat consumption, especially pork, I can generally advise though.
If you are already living vegan be sure to inform yourself and get your vitamin and mineral levels checked regularly.
For everything interested in a plant-based diet I’ll write some more in the upcoming posts about veganism for a month or so.If you follow through with it is completely up to you of course. Maybe a comprise like on the blog Just about vegan or like we do here is another option for you. I’ll write what exactly we are regularly eating here in another post.
(c) The Histamine Pirate