The first image that comes to mind when you hear the word Vegan is of a very serious and humourless person. A person who is obsessed with animal rights and saving the planet from carnivores and capitalists.
With very few exceptions the vegan is a sad creature whose every waking hour is spent in the tedious tasks of preparation and consumption of plant-based food.
They are doomed to spend a large chunk of each day peeling vegetables and eating endless bowls of beans and salads
And of course there is the “dirty little secret” of chronic flatulence which drives many of their closest friends away.
No one wants to spend time with a person who is constantly belching an invisible cloud of methane gas out of their rear end..
But despite the apparent joylessness and monotony of the vegan diet there must be some positive aspects to the vegan lifestyle or no one would be doing it.
It is usually assumed that vegans enjoy superior health and longevity when compared to their meat-eating cousins. Is that true?
Well consider this. You may be surprised to know that not all the foods eaten by vegans are as healthy as they are made out to be.
For instance vegetarians need to eat a lot of processed grains to get a balanced diet. But, most grains are unfit for human consumption. We humans only started to eat grains as a staple part of our diet ten thousand years ago.
In evolutionary terms that is a mere blip, and we have not evolved as a species to be able to eat grains yet. All grains are members of the grass family which requires a separate stomach to allow the grasses to be fermented before passing to the main stomach where the food is actually digested.
A lot of people are allergic to the gluten in wheat, with some of them suffering serious illness, whilst the bulk of the population suffer from silent chronic damage to their bodies during the course of their lives.
Well what about salad? Surely salad is healthy?
Yes, if you have washed ALL of the pesticide off it with hot water while wearing rubber gloves.
And, as long as you did not buy it at a café where the low paid kitchen staff probably infected it with fecal matter during it’s preparation.
My vegan friends often tell me that by eating meat, I am eating decayed flesh with all sorts of toxins and poisons in it.
But only recently we had a big health scare with frozen berries from China. People have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A after eating these frozen berries that were contaminated with human faeces. Yuk!!!! Give me a healthy T-bone steak any day!
But being a vegan keeps you slim and physically active doesn’t it?
Well lets check out the animal kingdom. Who are the fatties?
Usually its the vegetarians like the massive hippos or huge elephants. These animals spend their entire day eating, farting and defecating. What a life!
Who are the lean and sleek members of the animal kingdom?
You guessed it right. its the meat- eaters like tigers, leopards and panthers.
There is also another dirty little secret that people don’t talk about with the vegan diet.
An American nutrition expert recently claimed that a strict no-meat diet could put a major dent in your libido. She noticed that up to half of her vegetarian patients were reporting being too tired to make love when they got home from work. Her studies showed that the lack of libido was directly linked to a diet low in zinc which is vital in the production of sex hormones. As she pointed out, the best sources of zinc are foods that are off-limits for vegans like eggs and red meat. This effect would also be magnified by the very low fat intake of many vegans, because fat is also a key component that is required in the production of testosterone.
Maybe the low libido and missing out on a healthy and abundant sex life could explain how miserable and depressed so many vegans seem?
But a more sinister reason for the bad tempered nature of so many vegans is the extremely low fat levels that a vegan often carries. These days everybody is obsessed with obesity and losing weight. But it is just as dangerous to be under-weight. Many people following a rigorous vegan diet look painfully thin and gaunt. They often have alarming low fat to bodyweight ratios.
Several studies have linked low fat diets with increased risks of depression and suicide. Researchers where surprised to find that individuals with the lowest cholesterol levels had increased incidences of deaths from suicide, violence and accidents. Since those early findings, subsequent studies a link to low fat diets with depression and impulsive behaviour.
Scientists have posited that low fat diets negatively affect serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that works to inhibit impulsive behavior. It is often found that individuals with abnormal serotonin function have thoughts of suicide and impulsive, hostile behaviour.
As anyone who has watched lectures and debates on Youtube will have noticed, the vegans and vegetarians are always the ones on the attack with quite nasty personal attacks on the speakers from alternative points of view when it comes to diet. I watched one video where a well known vegan guru joked and laughed about the death of Doctor Atkins who was famous for promoting a high fat, high meat intake as part of his diet
OK time to wrap this up. Whole books have been written about the pros and cons of going vegan. So far in this post we have only scratched the surface of the reasons that people chose this challenging lifestyle.
My take home is that you become a vegan at your own risk. Humans have been eating meat for a lot longer than some of the meat substitutes like wheat and rice. Some people can’t even tolerate wheat, because our bodies haven’t even had time to evolve the capacity to digest it properly.
And eating a weird diet that is different to what normal people eat is a recipe for social exclusion and resentment. As a person with several vegan and vegetarian friends, I have seen people’s reaction when told that I am bringing a vegan to a dinner party or similar gathering.
The response is often one of despair as the host realises that they now have to prepare two menus so as not to make the vegan seem unwelcome. Although, most people will bend over backwards to accommodate people with special needs, they do it under sufferance and with quite a bit of resentment. Eventually it becomes too much of a bother and the vegan tends to shun the company of their former carnivore friends. There is a danger of them becoming a zealot like some sort of militant reformed smoker on a crusade to change other people’s behaviour.
I watched one extremist on Youtube who was even forcing his dog to live on vegan food! I kid you not!
But having said all that, we need to be realistic and recognise that the vegan lifestyle is still as popular as ever and it is something that many people will consider trying. Although the vegan lifestyle is most popular with adolescent females and gay men, there are instances where heterosexual men have tried the lifestyle at some stage of their lives. It is not an easy choice and one suspects that there is probably quite a high drop-out rate. There are no reliable figures for how many people are actually living the vegan lifestyle and how rigorously they are adhering to the principles of zero animal products in the diet.
I can certainly understand that some people will have a passionate, almost religious belief that humans should not kill and eat their four-footed friends. If you are a person who holds those beliefs, then by all means be a vegan.
But you should not kid yourself that it is a superior diet for your health compared to a well rounded omnivore diet that combines meat and vegetables. The sort of diet that humans have been eating for over a hundred thousands of years