1. Bone density decreases over time.
There’s a common argument that if a vegan takes a calcium supplement, drinks almond milk, eats dark-leafy vegetables, or eats calcium-fortified foods, that they’ll cover their nutritional requirements. Guess what folks? Your solution isn’t in a pill, and just to clarify; if a food needs to be calcium-fortified, it’s not supposed to have higher levels of calcium and maybe you should just eat the foods meant to provide calcium. However, this isn’t meant to convince you to change your ways because guess what? Your choice not to eat meats or meat-derived products is commendable.
What I can say is that women are at-risk post-menopause to develop osteoporosis (and anemia, but we’ll get to that later.) If you add a vegan lifestyle to this common ailment, you promote an environment in your body that leads to “Oh my hip! I’ve fallen and can’t get up!” As you age, no matter your fitness level, a broken bone can decrease your quality of life and even shorten your lifespan by a number of years. And that’s in supposedly healthy adults meeting their nutritional requirements. Adding the risks involved with a plant and legume only diet is nonsensical.
2. It’s pretty easy to develop anemia.
Another argument is taking an iron-supplement or again, eating more dark-leafy vegetables. When someone’s iron-deficient, their blood doesn’t clot, hemoglobin production stalls, and oxygen moves slower in the bloodstream. That means if you bruise or cut your hand open slicing your asparagus stalks, it takes longer to heal. Being young helps alleviate some of those risks, but in the end your body will slow itself down. A bruise that doesn’t heal quickly enough causes health-risks in and of itself.
Did you know that people take blood-thinners to make their blood move easier in their respective vessels? Did you also know that the risks involved in taking those are lack of or slower clotting blood? A medical professional warns you that your blood won’t clot. That’s a side-effect of taking a medication. You’re eating in a way that promotes risks doctors warn patients about. You know what else promotes risks doctors warn you about? Drinking and eating fatty foods. And a vegan would never catch themselves doing that.
3. Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
What’s that? Plant-based diets almost have no B-12 unless they’re fortified? You mean to tell me that a naturally occurring food that doesn’t provide what your body needs requires fortification to help meet health requirements? Huh.
B-12 is another wonderful water-soluble vitamin that helps move oxygen in your blood--you know, the main reason blood moves to begin with. Your blood circulates in the body from your feet to your head. Your brain needs oxygen. The blood brings it oxygen. B-12 makes that happen. It also provides maintenance to your Central Nervous System. Did you know that after 50, your body decreases or loses its ability to absorb B-12? Vegan diets promote risks associated with your body losing its ability to do something naturally.
4. Meeting protein requirements.
This is probably the hottest argument in the non-vegan/vegan world. Vegan-diet advocates swear they can reach a full amino-acid profile and meet their daily protein requirements without ingesting meat or meat-based products. I won’t argue you can’t get some very valuable protein-sources from a plant-based diet. Kudos to you vegans out there that know which plant-based foods provide the most protein; I’m still learning many of them. The problem with an all plant-based diet and its accompanying protein consumption is do you know how much you need to eat to meet your requirements?
Your protein requirements as a sedentary individual are much less than that of an active person. It’s usually a good measure, for sedentary or not, to eat 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. That means the average individual should be ingesting 100+ grams of protein. Vegans, you can reach your 100 grams with an all plant-based diet. However, let me show you an argument vegans fail to address. Below is a link to a suggested meal-plan for a vegan's diet in a day:
That’s four meals and a moderate amount of food. It scraped by with only 77 grams of protein. How many grams of carbs did it have? There’s 120g in the first meal alone. The first meal by itself only housed 23g of protein an amazing amount of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are sugar. You’ve ingested the equivalent (in sugar) of 2 ½ sodas. You know what high-carbohydrate diets promote? Getting fat. You know what else? Diabetes.
The point here is yes, protein sources are available to vegan-based diets. However, the carbohydrate and fat levels are in ridiculously high ratios. That’s pure energy you’re eating there. If you can’t burn that energy off it stores as fat. Even if you don’t develop diabetes, your insulin levels spike up and down all day. If you’re an active individual, your protein requirements are much higher, and with that, your bone density and nervous system are tested and taxed. No one wants to go for a run and break a bone in their foot because their body couldn’t handle the stress.
If you’ve made it this far and hate my guts for displaying why the human body needs to have things outside of an only plant-based diet, take heart in this: look at the teeth in your face. You have canines. Do cows have canines? No. You know what do? Wolves. Look at the difference in their diets. We’re omnivores, and as such are biologically predisposed to meeting certain dietary requirements. You think Hondo Cro-Magnon told himself, “You know? Let’s not hunt today. Instead, let’s go pick some nuts.” No. No he didn’t. He picked nuts on the way to chasing that gazelle down and eating it.
With that being said, even if you’re a high-protein consuming carnivore; don’t overdo it. Take some advice from the vegans; plant-based diets are wonderful alternative sources to many vitamins and minerals you probably neglect in your own diet. A multi-vitamin isn’t a perfect solution to deficiency problems. Eating one type of way, training one type of way, and living one type of way leaves other aspects of those respective endeavors lacking. This includes mentally, spiritually, or educationally. Drink a beer every now and then; read a book too. Hell, jump out of an airplane every once in a while. Eat all types of foods in proper moderations to reap the benefits of all, and minimize the risks of neglecting what your body needs. Because no one wants to feel 90 when they’re 30.