All vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and all animals in their natural environment get enough B12. Most species consume B12 in their diet, but ruminants such as cattle and sheep have extra stomachs which allow bacteria to produce B12 internally provided the animals are consuming enough cobalt. Our great ape relatives consume up to 5% animal products with even the gorilla consuming up to 1% as insect contamination of their natural diet of leaves and fruit. In addition, gorillas and chimps do not spray their foods with pesticides (synthetic or organic) nor wash their food nor sanitise their water. In this natural environment all the great apes get enough B12 but when taken into captivity and fed the plant foods consumed by humans they require B12 supplements to avoid risk of B12 deficiency. Like the other great apes, humans do not get enough vitamin B12 from modern sanitised plant foods and water and therefore vegans stand to benefit from fortified foods or supplements.
This does not mean that a vegan diet is somehow "unnatural" for humans, but shows how humans have used their intelligence to transform all aspects of their environment. Fortunately, along the way humans have also perfected ways of getting B12 direct from bacteria (the ultimate source of all B12) and making it available in a convenient, clean, cruelty-free form through fortified foods and supplements.
The Vegan Society recommends that all vegans get at least 3 micrograms of B12 per day from fortified foods or supplements to ensure that inadequate B12 intakes do not detract from the benefits of a vegan diet.
Why is vitamin B12 important and how can I make sure I’m getting enough? ( Source: Dr.Nandita Shah)
As vitamin B12 is produced only by bacteria which dead animal products are full of, this is the only nutrient lacking in a modern day plant-based diet where foods are sterile, irradiated, and even sprayed with pesticides, and even the water is chlorinated and dead. It’s important to get B12 from other sources such as fermented foods like miso, tempeh, idli, dosa or Marmite. Some foods are fortified with B12, like breakfast cereals and soya milk.
Anyone, even non-vegetarians can have a B12 deficiency. In the case of non-vegetarians, it is not because of deficient intake, so B12 tablets will not help. It’s because of a lack of intrinsic factor - so they need injections of B12. It’s important to know that if you became a vegan midway in life and not in childhood there is always a possibility of B12 deficiency due to the lack of intrinsic factor.
To ensure you are getting enough, you can also take a B12 supplement. B12 is required in minute amounts and can be stored. We need about 5 mcg per day but not all the B12 we take is absorbed. A 20 mcg supplement every day should be enough. If the dosage is higher it can be taken less often, say every alternate day or every 3 days. It’s better to take just B12 instead of B complex (The best form of B12 to take is Methylcobalamine rather than Cyncobalamine (For more information see ‘Pointers’ under ‘Try Vegan’.)
Symptoms of B12 deficiency:
Since B12 is stored, depending on your absorption, you may not have deficiencies are the first three years of being vegan. However, even during this time it’s important to check blood levels of B12 and take supplementation. Here is a list of possible symptoms of B12 deficiency –
Anaemia, weakness, breathlessness, lack of focus, numbness, cramps, allergic reactions, acidity, depression, faintness, and it can even lead to heart attacks.
One good Indian supplement is Methylcobal by Wockhardt. This can be taken everyday if the B12 levels are low or 3 times a week to maintain B12 levels. The cost of this is about Rs 6/ day. This can be sucked in the mouth or dissolved under the tongue. For less expensive solutions – a B-complex tablet which contains B12 (methlycobalamine or cyncobalamine) can be taken. There are several on the market for about Rs 1 per day. An even more cost effective solution is a course of injections of B12. These could be taken once or twice a year as a preventive or if the B12 levels are low, it could be taken on the following schedule.
Vitcofol is available in a vial of 10ml which is 5, 2ml injections. 2 vials (20ml) may be taken – the first vial of 10ml twice a week for 15 days and after this the next 10 ml vial - 2ml each week for 5 weeks. This method brings the B12 levels up quickly. A 10ml vial of Vitcofol costs around Rs 20 only so the whole treatment costs only Rs 40 + the cost of taking the injections.
Side effects are rare but do occur and can include mild diarrhoea, anxieties and panic attacks, heart palpitations, insomnia, breathing problems, chest pain, skin reactions or hives. These usually pass off.
It’s always important to check your B12 levels once in a while. In India, this can be done, by checking the serum B12 or serum homocysteine levels at a laboratory with a simple blood test. If the serum B12 is low or if the serum homocysteine levels are high, this means that B12 is needed. (High homocysteine levels may also be due to a deficiency in folic acid or B6).
The importance of maintaining normal B12 levels cannot be overemphasized.
Where do I get my protein/calcium/iron? (Source: Dr. Nandita Shah)
Almost all plant foods contain protein, making it difficult for someone following a plant-based diet to be protein deficient. As long as you are consuming enough calories you will be getting enough protein. Of course, some foods are more protein-rich than others. Some good sources are peas, beans, lentils, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, tofu and other soya products.
If you are still worried, ask yourself the questions - where do the cows and goats get their protein? How many people do you know who suffer from protein deficiency? We have been conditioned to think that we can get better or more proteins from animal products. Protein excesses cause diseases like osteoporosis, kidney stones, gout etc.
Contrary to popular opinion, milk is not the best source of calcium. Your calcium needs can easily be met by eating plant foods like sesame and sunflower seeds, almonds, beans, broccoli, spinach and other green leafy vegetables, soya milk and tofu. Calcium is a mineral, found in the soil. You can get it from plants just like the cow does.
Some good sources of iron include: leafy green vegetables, dried figs and prunes, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains and nutritional yeast. Eating iron-rich foods with foods containing vitamin C will assist iron absorption, while drinking tea (which contains tannins) or eating foods containing calcium with iron-rich foods will have the opposite effect. Cooking in cast-irons pans also adds extra iron to your food.
How much protein do we need each day?
Most of us eat more protein that we require. Actually, it is difficult not to get enough protein therefore there’s no need to count how much protein you’re getting. The problem today is that we get too much protein.
Protein is a food for growth and repair and the amount found in human milk is enough for a new-born. The human baby doubles its weight in six months and triples it in one year, after which the rate of growth decreases. Human milk contains 1.5 to 2.7% protein. Therefore if we get 3% of our calories coming from protein, we should have enough. The amount of protein in human milk is similar to the amount in fruit juice. Grains, nuts, and seeds, provided much more protein than fruits do. Therefore it is unlikely that someone consuming enough calories is ever going to suffer from protein deficiency.
If you need a guide, some nutritionists say that you should get 1g of protein for every kilogram you weigh.
How can we be sure we are getting complete proteins when we are on a vegan diet?
In the early 1970’s, Frances Moore Lappe wrote a book called Diet for a Small Planet, in which she put forth her theory that in order to get the same amino acid combinations (complete proteins) in the vegetarian diet as in the meat-eater diet, one needs to combine different kinds of protein-containing foods in the same meal (for example, rice and beans).
Later, she retracted her statement, agreeing with other nutritionists with the theory (now known as fact), that our bodies are actually able to convert one kind of amino acid to another and that as long as we get a variety of whole, protein-containing plant foods in our diet, we will get all the protein we need. Hence, eating a variety of whole grains, nuts and seeds, vegetables and legumes throughout the week will provide us with all the protein we need to grow and thrive.
What Dr.Nandita Shah says....
Do I need to take vitamin supplements on a vegan diet?
You may want to take a supplement of vitamin B12 as this is lacking in a plant-based diet (see above).
Vitamin D is best obtained from direct sunlight (not through windows, or sunscreen). Indian women may avoid sunlight in order to prevent tanning. At least half an hour of direct sunlight perday is necessary for normal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption.
As for other vitamins and nutrients, as long as you’re eating a wide variety of plant-based whole foods, you should be getting everything you need.
Do we need spirulina for optimum health?
No. Spirulina is high in protein and chlorophyll. (The molecule of chlorophyll is similar to that hemoglobin with the iron replaced by magnesium.) However, it is possible to get all this from other foods as well. Green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds also can provide them. Whether spirulina provides B12 is controversial. Different sources have different views.
What are possible sources of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a very important nutrient for calcium absorption.
You cannot get Vitamin D from indirect sunlight (e.g., through a window), or if you are wearing sunscreen. In the past we could get some Vitamin D from milk, because cows in the past contained a lot of sunlight. However, nowadays animals do not get much direct sunlight on factory farms, and so they do not make Vitamin D. cows milk is often supplemented with vitamin D (which is manufactured from the skins of animals). Fish is also a source of this vitamin. Vitamin D is stored in the body. Getting vitamin D from supplements can cause hypervitaminosis D which can be dangerous. The best way to get Vitamin D is through direct skin contact with sunlight, and without sunscreen.
The chances of sunburn decrease with increase intakes of antioxidants (which are found in fresh fruits and vegetables). More information on vitamin D as well as other health information see www.naturalnews.com
Are vitamins and fortified foods effective?
Getting vitamins and minerals from whole foods is much better than getting it through vitamins and fortified foods, because nature always puts nutrients in the right proportions. Too much of one nutrient (eg. Vit. C) may impede the absorption of another (eg. Vit. B). Similarly calcium supplements may diminish the absorption of iron. Also the whole is much more effective than a part. Lycopene is known to be an anti-carcinogen, but this is true not as a separate nutrient, but in the whole form, as a tomato. Sometimes taking supplements can cause a lot of problems, for example vitamin D is necessary for bone formation but too much vitamin D – 3 can actually mobilize calcium away from bones. Too much vitamin D is toxic and causes bone loss.
Don’t coconuts have too much fat?
Coconuts are a complete food. Coconut oil or coconut milk is less healthy, being refined products with some or all of the fibre removed. Nature is wise enough to make fatty foods like coconut full of fibre or very sweet foods like sugarcane full of fibre. This high fibre content naturally limits our intake of them. For example you are unlikely to get through more than one mature coconut in a day or a stalk of sugarcane. However if you have just the refined products then it’s a lot easier to consume the milk from more than one coconut or sugar from more than a stalk of sugarcane. This is dangerous. Fibre naturally slows down the absorption of food giving us lasting energy and not being a toxic shock for the cells in our body.
Do people who consume a lot of extra virgin olive oil, like in the Mediterranean, have better health?
Fat from different sources is still fat, even though extra virgin olive oil might be slightly better for you. Many people have noted that Mediterranean people have less heart disease than others and attributed it to the olive oil in their diet. The reason that people from Mediterranean regions had (in the past) less heart attacks than Northern European nations is because they ate less meat and more fresh fruits and vegetables not because they use olive oil. Now, though most with globalization there is not much difference in the amounts of meat eaten in different parts of Europe.
One more thing about oils: cold-pressed oils are the best oils to cook with. This is because cold-pressed oils are not cooked; when you cook oils they can become carcinogenic. If your heart health is suffering, or if you have diabetes, it is best to cut all oils out of your diet. Otherwise simply try to eat a minimal amount of cooked oil and only use a little cold-pressed oil (on your salads, for example).
If oils are bad for health, why do they say we need natural oils?
Too much oil is bad for one. The reason natural oils are good for us is that in nature, oils are found in whole vegan foods accompanied by fiber. Fiber provides a natural mechanism for slowing down the intake of oils so that we are not likely to get too much at once. We feel full quickly and stop eating the oil-containing food. On the other hand, refined oils come with no fiber; so its easy to consume too much. This excess oil is stored as fat in the body. For example, nuts and seeds and coconuts contain natural oils, but when one consumes these as whole foods, one also consumes fiber. You would have to eat a lot of nuts, for example, to get the equivalent of one tablespoon of oil, but only a few French fries to get the same amount. Excess fats contribute to diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease.
Is soy a harmful food? There are articles that claim that soy causes breast cancer, thyroid cancer and other problems. What about the fact that 90% of the soy is genetically modified these days? Should we eat soy products?
Soy is a bean that is rich in protein. Compared to animal protein, soy is better because it contains no cholesterol, no fat, and does contain fibre.
One of the reasons that cancer has become an epidemic is because we are eating too much protein. Protein is a food for growth. If we take milk or meat or soy in large quantities when we are no longer growing, this will translate into obesity and other growths like cancers and tumors. Our problem today is not soy, but the protein addiction.
Genetically modified foods have been proved harmful in lab animals. Not just soy, but corn, and various other vegetables these days are genetically modified. It’s best to choose organic non-GM foods.
Eating meat or dairy is an indirect way of eating soy, especially GM soy. Large amounts of soy are fed to farm animals to make them grow fast. So whether you choose tofu and soy milk or dairy and meat, if you consume these in large quantities you are likely to suffer cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The only way to prevent these diseases is to eat what nature intended us to - a variety of vegan fresh whole foods.
A little soy will not cause harm.
Is soy difficult to digest?
Soya is a bean and some people find beans difficult to digest. Always listen to your body. Don’t eat the things your body does not digest well. It is not necessary for vegans to consume soy. Remember that after weaning no milk is necessary. It’s not necessary to consume soy milk.
Is ‘Pure Milk’ good for you? Please tell me whether PURE MILK is vegetarian, assuming that it was milked from cow without depriving the calves and also without inflicting any pain to cow and in a place of maximum hygiene?
What is PURE MILK and how many people are able to obtain it, if it exists? Even those who do have their own cows and are not exploiting them, drink milk and consume milk products whose origin is unknown when they eat or drink products that are purchased.
Like any mammal the cow or buffalo produces milk only for its young. Today cows and buffaloes are artificially inseminated at the earliest, and then again within 2 months of delivery. Thus they are milked while they are pregnant and by the time the flow lessens the next calf is born. The technique of artificial insemination can be compared with rape.
A cow that is made repeatedly pregnant is productive for about 4 to 5 pregnancies - up to 6 to 7 years of her life. After this she is often disposed of by slaughter (age 7). An unexploited cow can live to 27 years.
In most cases the calf is deprived of the first milk (the colostrum), which is sold as a delicacy. Female calves get the first and last sips of their mother’s milk only. Male calves are often left to die of starvation. (In the West they are sold for veal often on the very day they are born).
When a cow’s udder is manipulated by humans or machines the cow undergoes injuries, which lead to inflammation and sepsis. This is why commercial cow feed contains antibiotics. On the average a glass of milk contains 7 drops of pus.
In India milk is transported in non-refrigerated trucks through long distances. Earthworms or urea is added to the milk to prevent spoilage.
Do you still believe in pure milk that is suitable for human consumption?
If milk is not good, what about curds (yogurt)?
Although curds are more digestible than milk, they still have the same composition of high protein and fat and no fibre, they contain growth hormones, pus pesticides, antibiotics and they cause the same suffering to the cows to the same extent that milk does.
What can be used to substitute eggs in baking?
Just because you’re trying a vegan diet doesn’t mean you can’t eat baked goods. Baking without eggs is easier than you think! Eggs added to recipes act as binders, holding the ingredients together, or as leavening agents, adding lift and texture. Depending on the flavours and textures needed in the recipe, ingredients such as banana, apple sauce, fruit juice, soya milk, tofu, soya or bean flour, cornstarch or ground flaxseeds to name a few, can be used as substitutes. Sometimes the egg can even be omitted from the recipe altogether without affecting the results.
For more detailed information on baking without egg, look at the section on ‘Egg Replacers’ under ‘Vegan Dairy and Meat Alternatives in the ‘Recipes’ section.
Aren’t free-range eggs and organic meat more humane?
Although free-range conditions may be better than those in factory-farms, they are not more humane. Since only hens can lay eggs, male chicks are either killed or raised for food in inhumane conditions. The hens are then slaughtered when their production drops after only one or two years (though chickens can live up to 12 years). The term ‘free-range’ is ambiguous in many countries. Very often this may just mean they have access to the outdoors, but there are no criteria regarding the size of the outdoor area, the number of birds per square foot, etc. All too often free-range is more of a marketing gimmick than real freedom for the hens.
Organic meat comes from animals who are raised for human consumption and who have been slaughtered in the same way as factory animals. Just because meat is labelled organic does not make it more humane.
Are eggs from happy free-range organic chickens bad?
We can think about the subject of eating free-range chicken the following way. First, if you are on a vegan diet for ethical reasons, you must be aware that male chicks are crushed and killed (because they are not egg-layers), on both factory-farms and free-range farms. So consuming free-range chicken is not ethical. If you are on a vegan diet for health reasons, remember that free-range chicken and eggs contain relatively high amounts of fat and cholesterol, so even if you avoid a few toxins by eating free-range chicken, you are still hurting your health by eating it. And lastly, when we think of free range organic chickens, we think of happy birds. But this can be any misleading, because there is no real definition of the words “free range”, except that the animals are not in cages. They still may be very closely packed and in very dirty conditions. And they are still forced to produce extremely large numbers of eggs a year, and when they are spent, they go to slaughter just like any other egg laying hen.
How can I handle any social challenges I may face?
You are bound to encounter social challenges when switching to a vegan diet. It’s important not to lose sight of why you have adopted a vegan diet and keep this in mind. Do not be afraid of what people may say about your dietary restrictions. Be true to yourself and explain why you are vegan. Be well-read so that you will be prepared to answer questions. Don’t preach, just explain patiently why eating a plant-based diet is important to you and you may find that people will be inspired to follow your example.
Will I still be able to eat out / in social situations?
There are many restaurants to choose from which offer vegan choices, especially those offering Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian or Burmese cuisines, which traditionally do not contain dairy products. So if you ask for a vegetarian dish, it will most likely be vegan also (check for eggs in the noodles though). When ordering in a continental restaurant, ask for dishes usually made with cheese/ butter/ cream to be adapted. For example, pizza is delicious even without the cheese, and you can also ask for pasta dishes to be served without cheese.
If you’re invited to a friend’s home for dinner, ask if you can bring a dish. This way your friends can also discover how delicious vegan meals can be. Invite your friends over for dinner and prepare a meal they won’t forget, which includes a vegan dessert! Once they see the possibilities and how you are benefiting from a vegan diet, they may be inspired to follow your example and also try vegan.
Is a vegan diet safe for children? How can I encourage them to adopt a vegan diet?
A carefully planned vegan diet which includes whole foods can meet all of your children’s nutritional requirements and is the healthiest diet you could give them. By setting an example yourself and teaching your children to make healthy food choices, you will also be giving them a lifetime of good eating habits - and good health!
Patiently explain why a vegan diet is important, not only for good health but also for animal welfare and the protection of the environment. Take their favourite foods and recipes and veganize them by substituting the animal products for plant foods. Prepare tasteful meals and occasional vegan desserts. If they enjoy the food, then they will enjoy being vegan.
Don’t children need milk?
Every mammal produces milk only for its young. The nutrients in the milk of every animal is suitable for the growth of its own species. Milks of animals that grow quickly have higher levels of protein. The human child grows to full size in 18 years, so the rate of growth of a human being is much slower than that of most other animals. This is why human milk contains less protein than cow’s milk. We don’t need the extra protein nor the extra growth hormones which come to us through cow’s milk even when where children. Vegan children are less likely to suffer from colds, coughs, or even frequent infections.
What is the relationship between kidney disease and protein intake?
Acid yielding high protein foods leech calcium and magnesium from the bones to maintain the body pH. These get deposited in the kidneys in the form of stones.
Bacteria that cause urinary tract infection, multiply freely in an acid medium. Consuming alkaline foods, like fruit help make the urine alkaline. This prevents bacterial growth. Urinary tract infections can usually be controlled by consuming a largely fresh fruit and juice based diet for a few days, as this will serve to make the urine more alkaline.
Would a vegan diet help patients with cancer?
Cancer cells don’t survive well in alkaline environments, but thrive in acidic environments. This is why alkaline yielding foods reduce our chances of getting cancer. All animal proteins, are acid yielding, and so are sugar, salt, vinegar, tea, coffee, alcohol, colas, and preserve foods. Of plant foods, fruits and vegetables are the most alkaline, grains and nuts less so.
Briefly, a whole food vegan diet without excess protein will help prevent cancer because:
- many antioxidants are found in fresh vegetables and fruits
- relatively low amounts of protein in one’s diet help fight cancer
- high fibre diets like the whole food vegan one help to prevent cancer
- the vegan diet generally contains fewer toxins/carcinogens
Raw foods are very effective in preventing and reversing cancer. For an informative account of a successful case of cancer reversal, see this link.
What diet would increase circulation?
First, always keep in mind that exercise helps with circulation. However, any diet which doesn’t result in thickening of the blood is helpful. So reducing fatty foods and animal products is essential to retain good circulation.
Why would an organism invite germs or insects to kill it when it is sick?
Nature is a perfectionist and it doesn’t like to keep anything, which is not ‘whole’ alive. For example, miscarriages happen because there is a problem with the fetus. This is nature’s way of getting rid of imperfections.
When we are unhealthy or ‘imperfect’, we invite disease in order to destroy us.
Pests only attack unhealthy plants. Germs attack unhealthy animals. When we don’t have all the nutrients we need, our immune system does not function at its best. Though antibiotics kill germs, they don’t raise our immune system. The end result is that we can succumb to the same infections again since we did not get any healthier.
Although acute diseases, which, were prevalent in the past like typhoid or cholera can be controlled today, by controlling these, we are pre-disposing ourselves to chronic diseases instead. For example, the chlorination of water has prevented cholera by killing germs but this can lead to cancer because chlorine is a carcinogen.
How can I be vegan in a temperate climate like Ireland where local fruits and vegetables are limited or not always available in winter?
A good book to read is A Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing. This book is the autobiography of a couple who lived in upstate Vermont where the winter is six months long. Helen and Scott Nearing lived without money transactions. They lived on what ever they grew and stored. They describe how they grew their own food and exactly what they ate during each season. They also describe the many foods they saved for the winter months, like cabbage, carrots, turnips and potatoes. This book shows that it is possible to grow your own food and have enough to eat during the winter, and how exactly to do that. It’s even healthier to eat locally grown seasonal foods.
There is one more argument. Man originated in Africa. And though we have evolved, we have not evolved to the extent that the anatomy of a person that lives in the temperate zone is different from that of one who lives in the Arctic. Our digestive systems are just the same. Just as a polar bear in a zoo in Singapore will survive best on the same diet that it would have eaten in the Arctic, we survive best on a whole-food plant-based diet no matter where we live.
I tried a vegan diet for four weeks. I was constantly hungry and felt the need to eat all the time. I also lost a lot of weight and had a lot of gas. Why did this happen?
Changing from a standard diet to a healthy vegan diet, we are de-addicting the body and go through withdrawal symptoms as a result. A smoker starts to cough when he stops smoking because the body, realising that smoking has stopped decides to cleanse. A radical change of diet requires a period of time to adjust and some patience. Weight loss can be due to cleansing. This is temporary, and after a period of a few months the body should go back to its optimum weight. Whether you are overweight or underweight to start with, a healthy diet and, listening to your body should mould your body so that you look and feel your best.
Changing to a vegan diet from a non-vegetarian diet can also be a challenge because a high-protein diet gives a feeling of fullness. Your stomach is full due to the protein, which takes so long to digest. This is not the case on a vegan diet. To overcome this feeling of emptiness, it is all right to eat more. After time, when you take your body adjusts, you will see that this need to eat more diminishes.
Many complain that a vegan diet causes gas. This is where food combining comes in. To make it simple, avoid mixing any kind of fruit, or dried fruit like raisins and apricots with your meals. Try having simpler meals, and fresh meals. With correct food combining, this gas should disappear.
Before making a drastic change, it’s better to read a lot and prepare yourself. Learn to make dishes you like, and take things slowly. The period of time needed to make a transition depends on each person. A minimum period of one month is needed to get over withdrawal symptoms. This is why people who have bad diets could start with a fast as a way of quick cleansing. Easing into a new diet may be more successful for some if done under medical supervision.
If you feel physically weak after becoming vegan, how can you tell if you are suffering from nutritional deficiency, or simply from withdrawal symptoms from being off of meat and animal products?
Generally, if you feel low energy in the first few days or weeks following a switch to a vegan diet, it may be because of a cleansing action of the body. Protein, like sugar or alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is addictive. When you stop it there are withdrawl symptoms followed by cleansing. This is akin to smokers who start coughing only when they stop smoking. This is because the body does not waste energy cleansing as long as it sees that the toxic substance is regularly consumed. Depending on how unhealthy the earlier diet was, the withdrawal period could be shorter or longer after which energy levels should rise and a sense of well being should ensue.
If the weakness starts after several months or years of changing the diet, you may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency, most notably a B12 deficiency. (It is difficult to suffer a protein or iron deficiency, if you are eating a variety of whole foods) A simple B12 supplement, in addition to adding a regular serving of dark green leafy vegetables or a fortified source of B12, like fortified soy milk, to your diet may relieve your symptoms. Some people are unable to absorb B12 in which case they may need injections of B12. Others have low levels due to alcohol, tea and coffee. It’s a good idea to have annual checkups for serum B12 (see note on B12).
Is honey vegan?
Bees naturally produce honey for themselves and not for us; honey is therefore not meant for human consumption and is not considered to be a vegan food. Bees are unfortunately often killed in the production of honey. Also, honey does not contain fibre, which is what our bodies need.
What do you think of the macrobiotic way of eating?
There are many good healthy ways of eating. There is macrobiotic cooking. There is ayurvedic cooking. All of these are definitely healthy ways of cooking. If you prefer one over the other, the choice is yours. It is best to learn to use our own body as our best doctor. We can learn different types of cooking, and see which one suits our own body the best.
Do we need the appendix to digest raw food?
The appendix is an organ that has lymph nodes, which protect you from infections. You don’t need it to digest food. You can have your appendix removed and not have any digestive problems.
Plants are also living beings so why can you kill them and not animals?
Some animals are herbivores and some animals are carnivores and yet others are omnivores. Because of our anatomy and the structure of our digestive system we are not omnivores as is commonly believed, but herbivores. To explain it simply, unlike an omnivore, we’re unable to kill, tear apart, and devour the animals that we eat, with our own anatomy. Nor do we eat the whole animal, as do carnivores or omnivores. We take off the skin, then, we take out the bones and then hack it, cook it and eat it. An omnivore does not need to do this, and will eat its prey from head to tail, hair and all. Nature is not usually wasteful.
Nature does not prefer any one species over another. When a lion attacks a zebra he manages to get the weakest of the herd. This helps the survival of the species by strengthening the gene pool. When we raise animals food we actually weaken them before eat them. We are not strengthening any species. However the plants need us and other herbivores to eat them in order to propagate their seeds, and even to prune them. In nature all life is interconnected and every species has its own niche.
In 1997 the FAO, and WHO, released a document called Livestock’s long shadow, which explains how the livestock we raise for food produce more greenhouse gases than all the vehicles on the planet It. We are destroying ourselves through global warming and we are destroying our health by eating animals that are not meant for our anatomies.
What happens when bean seeds are sprouted?
When bean seeds are sprouted, enzymes are activated which cause beans to grow. These enzymes can help in human digestion also. Soaking and sprouting beans provides a way to eat legumes (dried beans and peas), for those who are attempting to eat a raw diet.
How do we know what our bodies are telling us to eat?
In general, if we have been on a whole food, vegan diet for 6 months or more, our bodies will tell us which foods we need by giving us a craving for that food. Before that, food addictions can get in the way of healthy cravings.
If organic fruits and vegetables are not available, should we peel our produce?
When a coconut tree is sprayed with pesticides at the bottom of the tree pesticides are found in the water of the coconut above. This means if we are eating foods that have been sprayed with pesticides it’s not possible to remove the pesticides just by peeling because many of the pesticides penetrate the whole fruit. Besides this plants that need pesticides to survive will not be nutrient rich compared to organic plants so it is worth making the effort to find an organic source in your area. This may take some time, but ultimately once the demand is there to supply will follow.