In addition, meatless diets are proven to be beneficial for our health. Studies show vegetarians usually have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes, and a few cancers.
We know animal products are packed with calcium, iron, and of course protein. A vegetarian diet can easily get all of these nutrients from plants, milk, cheese, and eggs. A vegan diet can also get all of these nutrients, through soy [no, soy doesn’t give you titties], beans, nuts, lentils, grains, and more. And while there are countless reasons to switch to a plant-based diet, it’s true that they can put you at higher risk of deficiency for some nutrients if you’re careless.
Specifically, polyunsaturated fats, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, and zinc are the most common deficiencies in vegan diets.
You should be able to find most of these nutrients in select plants or plant-based foods that are high in at least one of these nutrients [or in the case of vitamin D, the Sun]. All it takes is a quick google search to figure out which foods to target and a trip to the grocery store. Then, you only need to make sure you eat a specific veggie once in while.
If that sounds complicated, there are alternatives. All that’s needed to replenish your body of these nutrients is a large bowl of cereal, using a fortified plant milk and/or fortified cereal. Most of the plant based milk alternatives are as expensive as cow milk and almost all are fortified, even when unspecified [an easy way to check is looking at the nutritional value chart and checking to see if the product contains the nutrients listed above in large quantities]. For those scared of the label “fortified”, don’t forget that livestock consume insane amounts of fortified foods and are injected regularly. In comparison, a few extra nutrients in your oat milk shouldn’t be much of a concern.
If you’re not a fan of any of the fortified plant milk or cereal options [there are lots of flavors for each], you can always evaluate which nutrients you may be deficient in based on your diet, and complement with a daily supplement.
And of course, there are also meat substitutes. These do more than just look and taste like meat, they also provide many of the same nutrients. Plant-based meats have made significant leaps to get closer to the real thing, and they’re now near indifferentiable from real ground meats. As these alternatives continue to progress and become more widely accepted, they will inevitably end up costing much less than actual meat. With similar tastes and textures, these alternatives also bring similar nutritional values to the table, so protein should cease to be such a polemic topic with vegan diets. [refer to protein efficiency if you don’t believe it’s possible].
Need to talk to an expert for this, sources vary way too fucking much:
And because we always have to go the extra mile to explain vitamin B12, let’s give it a go. If our ancestors had plant based diets, how did they manage in a time where there were no supplements or fortified foods?
Well, short answer is, our ancestors had a more nutrient dense environment. Soils were richer in nutrients since they were not being over-exploited for agriculture or damaged by pollution.
A lot of these nutrients were picked up by precipitation runoff or erosion [or infiltration blablabla], ultimately winding up in rivers, streams, lakes, or underground storage [aquifers? For prehistoric wells??]. Humans used to drink directly from those sources [or with the use of a well], without the water treatment processes we know today. Plants were also more nutrient-dense, as they weren’t subject to monoculture and had richer soils to pull nutrients from.
In developed countries, modern day drinking water is the safest water any species on Earth has ever known. Unfortunately, water used to be our source of vitamin B12 [originating from bacteria in the soil – need a fact check on this section], where now humans and livestock need supplements. Livestock need B12 supplements where cobalt soil content is low, since B12 synthesis requires cobalt [4.5% cobalt].
Note that it takes 5-7 years to become B12 deficient if no B12 is consumed after a certain date. But then can’t we just take a megadose every few years???
Swine and poultry need supplements or injections.
Ruminants can synthesize it after 6-8 weeks old, given that there’s enough cobalt in the soil.
In any case, no matter your diet, it’s a good idea to get your blood tested every few years. You’ll see what you’re missing, and if you’re at risk for a few of the most common death causes, like high blood pressure or sugar.