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I've been vegetarian for over 2 years and recently been thinking about cutting out all animal products from my diet for a number of reasons but I am extremely interested, above all, to stay very healthy! So a great balanced vegan diet is what I am looking for.
So far everything is looking great! But then comes along the Vitamin called B12
Oh, I know about this vitamin, I used to eat loads of eggs to make sure I don't get a lack of that one! But I've given up on eggs recently... so now what? I do a bit of digging and I'm hitting a brick wall.
Here is my problem.
I am a great believer in NATURE. I think that we are created in a way that doesn't need us to modify foods or kill animals to live. I think everything we need to live healthily is available with NO need to modify other foods to give us what we need. So why does every vegan site recommend vitamin B12 "fortified" foods!??
I had to look up fortified to make sure I am getting this 100% right [Fortified - To reinforce by adding material]
"Adding" now that's a big issue for me. There may be no down side to "adding" B12 to my food but my issue is why do we need to add it there!? Obviously nature didn't decide that we need to add B12 to corn flakes!
I can't begin to tell you how much I am against modified foods, I don't give a damn about any research showing benefits or down-sides. I want my food as nature intends, end of story, no if's or but's.
So that's my dilemma... It seems a vegan CAN'T get enough B12 without some tricks first, so is it really a diet of "nature"?
My second dilemma is I don't want to go back to vegetarian but my health is important to me so it seems I will have to get some of this "fortified" food.
*disclaimer* I am a vegan noob, please forgive any idiot statements from me, I am just trying to learn how to do this the right way. Thanks
*UPDATE* A lot of people have started to post on this topic recently so here's a quick update from things that have changed/found out in the 10 months that have gone.
As a lot of you have recently been posting, B12 is not something that Vegans actually need worry about, it turns out that the recommended amount is grossly exaggerated and simply eating fortified cereals a few times a week will satisfy your B12 requirements BUT if you feel more comfortable taking supplements then keep taking them, there is no harm in that. And please don't misunderstand me, B12 is important to everyone's bodies, so don't brush it aside and forget about it. Remain active in ALL of your nutritional intakes.
As for the nature side of the vit B12 subject, lots and lots of people have said here and I agree with them that it still can be found naturally in the ground on our fruit and veg but these days the use of chemicals and environmental pollutions make getting your B12 this way a little risky if you don't know exactly how they have been grown.
And lastly, the sanitation of our daily lives and foods have also played a big part in the demise of naturally consumed B12. As well as the fact that our organism was not intended to eat cooked food, which kills B12 many times and reduces our chance of getting enough B12 naturally.
The good thing about this thread is that there is A LOT of great info gathered here in one place so if anyone does want to learn for themselves about B12 then the good people of VegFriend have stepped up and posted some great info and links so thanks to everyone for contributing! And a very big thanks for helping me get to where I am now... Fully Vegan and Fully Happy with it.
Much love to you all. A happy ending
The site veganhealth.org has lots of useful information, including about B12. There is a specific page concerning B12 and the "naturality" issue, too: http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/natural .
I find this thread a bit unsettling because the main issue is being totally ignored... the well being of non-human animals. There were times in history that humans had to eat meat to survive. This is no longer true. It is also no longer true that we can easily get B12 from its original source, so we can choose to supplement it. But the real issue isn't whether or not you can be healthy eating a vegan diet. Of course you can as thousands of healthy vegans, including professional athletes, proves. The question is whether the issue of supplementing B12 is worth participating in the torture and slaughter of other beings over.
I'm the original poster of this and firstly I wrote this roughly 10 months ago so a great deal has changed in my life since then, not least becoming Vegan and becoming more compassionate and understanding to animals in that time.
But why be unsettled? Does it really matter how a person becomes vegan? Do you think that the cow that didn't have to die today because I became vegan cares that my primary reason why MY health? Why is it a bad thing in your mind for people to care about themselves before they can help others?
To me it makes much more sense to make sure that the choices I make are not going to damage me so then I can go out and do a hell of a lot of good for others because I have my good health and then nothing can stop me. If I choose to do something that I wasn't sure if it would damage me or not then I would be doing myself and MY FAMILY an injustice and be hurting them much more if my children saw their father getting seriously sick from making a wrong choice.
Now I know how easy it is to be Vegan. 10 months ago I didn't. So I started a journey of learning for myself, not just trusting some videos or papers. Not just thinking about how the animals feel, I have to think about how my wife feels, how my two children feel too! So I have to be sure what I am doing is not going to hurt ANYONE. It turns out being Vegan hurts no one. It's just perfect.
Please don't be unsettled by people becoming vegan because you're right, it is about the animals... and they don't give a damn about why someone becomes vegan, they just need it. Love for all vegans, no matter how you got there.
I completely respect and am in favor of critical thinking and fact finding. But the issue of why humans choose vegansim is critical. If we choose veganism for anthropocrentric reasons then the root cause of oppression hasn't been challenged. I believe that anthropocentric reasons can be useful motivators to start the process, but ultimately, as I said, nothing changes if those motivators aren't challenged.
Well you're wrong because shortly after I became vegan for my selfish reasons I then moved on to thinking about it from the animals perspective and now have been directly involved in saving many many animals lives from homeless kittens too terrified cows! If I had not self analysed my lifestyle then those animals would surely be dead.
Sometimes the 'direct way' is not the ONLY way. And in my opinion, there most definitely is no 'right way'.
Clearly you didn't read my reply.
My take on this is that there are a lot of us here that are concerned enough about animals to want to find ways to be healthy without eating them, or their eggs or milk. It is not as easy for some people to be healthy as it is for others. Some people have health issues that cause them to require more vitamins/minerals than other people do. Especially if they have had toxic exposure to mercury or pollutants.
In my job, I sell organic cotton clothing, I deal with a lot of people with mcs (multiple chemical sensitivities) that have extreme health problems. General health advice on eating, vitamins and minerals, or supplements that may apply to most people, do not apply to everyone.
Being healthy is not always a simple matter. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy. Sometimes it's a matter of being able to function at all in daily life.
I agree. From my personal perspective, I have observed some vegans concentrate too hard on just one dimension of veganism but for me there are 3 important issues to address in this world and I can't say which one has greater importance. In alphabetical order they are:
1. Animals Welfare
3. Human health
If animals are 'your thing' then thats fine but don't look down upon people who arrive at veganism because of health or because they worry about the planet. It's a bit of an oxymoron if you ask me.
Oh, and Aleta, I don't know if you seen my reply to your other post but you don't need to worry about B12 on a vegetarian diet at all, don't even think about it, you got it covered but if you do want to be extra sure then buy B12 fortified cereals (extremely easy to find). And I hope you can become vegan some day when you fully get on top of your health issues. Your health comes first, always.
I wouldn't go so far as to tell someone not to worry about B-12 at all. I eat a very healthy and varied diet and I started showing signs of B-12 deficiency. My Dr. recommended I supplement with a low dose (500 mcg) to start, and that completely took care of my symptoms.
I agree. Some people need more of certain vitamins and minerals. It's very individual. Especially if you have had health problems or exposure to toxins like mercury, or have had to use a lot of antibiotics.
Being vegetarian or vegan may not cause a person to need supplements, but other factors can. I was extremely low on vitamin D and had to take a prescription dose for a while. Our modern lifestyles, exposure to pollutants, diets that are depleted because of modern agriculture, stress, and just our natural individuality can cause us to have special needs.
Thank you for that very thoughtful post. I too am trying to at least be more vegan, and hopefully eventually total. I have been vegetarian for over 30 years. And have tried to go vegan in the past, but failed because I have digestive issues that make it impossible for me to digest almost every ingredient I see in vegan recipes.
I can't advise you about vitamins like B12, but as far as natural food goes, well, it's pretty hard to come by. I try to eat natural unprocessed, organic food as much as possible. But in these times it is impossible to get foods with all the nutrients we need without some supplementing. Especially so because our lifestyles and exposure to pollution, etc. causes us to need more than we might otherwise. And food is grown in depleted soil, then shipped long distances. It's just not fresh, so it loses nutritional potency. And the fruits and veggies we buy are usually hybrids and not naturally evolved to be what they are.
I am looking forward to a reply regarding supplements and vitamin B12. And am wondering if anyone knows just how much dairy one would need to consume to avoid needing supplements. It may only be a very small amount.
Ah, but I do not at this time have a healthy gut. I am working on it though.