Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Vegan No More

This past Friday, the vegan world got rocked by an announcement from a formerly vegan blogger who went back to eating meat. Tasha, the former Voracious Vegan, made this announcement on her Voracious Eats blog in a post titled A Vegan No More. Tasha's post nearly perfectly echos numerous aspects of Lierre Keith's Vegetarian Myth, describing how her time as a vegan left her suffering bouts of depression, low energy, B-12 deficiency, and numerous other physical and psychological troubles, and that somehow out of these troubles that very literally boggled her mind, she managed to come to a well-reasoned truth, that the only way to restore her health was through the consumption of animal products once again. She even goes so far as to echo Lierre's signature line that “life requires death”. Ginny Messina over at The Vegan RD does an excellent job of pointing out this similarity with Lierre's book, along with discussing how poorly several of her health issues were addressed by a doctor who seemed set on merely echoing the Weston A Price Foundation's selling points.

One thing this event emphasized for me, however, was the importance of skepticism in the animal rights movement, both in the message we sell to non-vegans and in correcting the misinformation we hear from other vegans.

In the post Tasha describes how she had been told, and had unskeptically accepted, that a vegan diet would be a miraculous panacea for her health.

Everything I had ever been told by vegans had said that this was the optimum way for humans to eat.

Just as I described in my Why Skeptic post Tasha describes how her beliefs were impacted simply by her desire for them to be true.

I wanted veganism to work. I wanted desperately for it to be right, for my ethics to outweigh my physiology.

When these unrealistic hopes and nutritional misinformation she had been fed didn't pan out, she was all too ready to gobble up an entirely new set of pseudo-scientific claims when a few bits of her previous worldview were shown to be false.

I listened patiently, refuting her [the doctor's] claims with the knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years. After all, I wasn’t just a regular vegan, I was a hardcore, self-righteous and oh so judgmental vegangelical. I never passed up an opportunity for some preaching. She was prepared. Just as patiently she explained how many of the ‘facts’ I was quoting were just plain wrong, or had been presented in a way that distorted the truth. It was horrifying and I almost passed out in her office because I was so worked up.

What if instead of blindly believing that a vegan diet would be a panacea of health Tasha had taken advice from Ginny of the Vegan RD, Jack Norris, or any registered dietitian following the advice of the American Dietetic Association. Had we taken the time to address misinformation within our own ranks we could have prevented this meteoric impact into the animal rights movement. Now, we are instead left with a smoldering ruin of Weston A. Price inspired naturo-babble.

I think Ginny (the Vegan RD) makes an excellent point about what causes some vegans to fail.

I believe that a lot of vegans get sick and return to eating meat when all they needed was more sound information about vegan diets and less misinformation from the pseudo-scientific anti-vegan world (as well as the pseudo-scientific pro-vegan world.)

The enemy of success in the animal rights movement is not anti-vegan information, but misinformation on both sides.

I have talked with Jamie of Skeptical Vegan and we have agreed to go through several of the new pseudo-scientific claims being made by the Voracious Eats blog in greater detail.

One of the best bits of skepticism I saw in response to the Voracious Eats post, however, was a comment left on Reddit in response.

I am a meat-eating omnivore and I'd love to be validated but this piece just has a funny smell to it. We very quickly go from health problems to painting vegans as self-rightous woman-haters. It feels like in an earlier draft they were perhaps anti-semetic puppy-kickers but it got switched before publishing.

Seriously, how many closet meat-eating vegan bloggers would out themselves after a simple email?

While I can agree that maintaining a healthy vegan diet can be difficult and perhaps impossible for some people I just can't believe this article which is so obviously playing on misplaced emotions to persuade the reader.

I assure you that there are no closet meat-eaters behind the scenes at this blog.


  1. As a 15-year vegan and a Registered Dietitian I agree that many vegans emphatically believe in some outrageous health claims. We need to do more about that.

    But another point is that this is just another person who swings to extremes. I don't think the 'vegan world got rocked' by one person giving up. It's a reality that less than 1% of the US population is vegan and it attracts people closer to the fringe. I don't think this is necessarily bad because great minds do exist on the fringe, but it is a reality we need to accept.

    Great post!

  2. Tasha would spend extended periods of time undertaking "hunger diets" replicating and experiencing the effects that deficient diets have on impoverished masses of the world.

    She never even considered that THAT was wreaking havoc on her body-not the vegan diet herself.

    Plus, the amount of processed vegetable oils/products she ate in "faux dairy" desserts is troubling.

  3. well yes, such "hunger diets" could definitely have contributed to a nutrient deficiency.
    I find that practice somewhat disturbing and maybe not the most respectful of the folks who HAVE to eat like that, kinda trivializing it, useless like Mormons she fasted and gave the equivalent food to the poor

    her statement about the Lipid Hypothesis is just plain false, I posted a response to it today on SkepticalVegan

  4. yep

  5. Thank you for a sane response to another ye old 'Weston Price' conversion story. Those of us who've seen it before aren't going to be rocked. But it is sigh-worthy to see it again. I applaud veganskeptic and others who are attempting to educate the vegan public so we needn't be subjected to yet more histrionic 'coming out as meat eater' stories.

  6. Most of the things Tasha talks about from cold hands, to hair loss, to low energy, to skin problems, to dull hair, to anemia, could, potentially, be just from iodine deficiency, both from not eating sea vegetables and from eating plants grown on iodine impoverished soils (maybe imported from iodine defient places like the UK?). Related:

    This study shows mild iodine deficiency as a baseline in parts of Saudi Arabia:

    Fish in particular can be high in iodine, but red meat and dairy has a bunch, too.

    Did she supplement have enough iodine? There is also some disagreement about how much iodine we really need to be healthy. Maybe her gut bacteria was off, too, somehow (did she take probiotics)? If most people and their doctors were vegan, this would all just be common knowledge, as well as how to fix it. Maybe it is possible, but I just find it hard to believe she was B12 deficient if she was taking regular supplements for that, unless there was something really unusual going on in her digestive tract. Or maybe whatever supplement she was using was of a very low quality? It's really hard to know what went on, or what might have been done differently.

    Anyway, what's saddest to me about her post was in her not celebrating what a big win it is environmentally, ethically, and healthwise if she was 90% to 95% vegan compared to eating a SAD diet with much more animal products (even organic ones). She was indeed a brave pioneer but it sounds like she did not get enough support, and in that sense, the vegan community can perhaps be faulted in ways discussed at beyondveg in terms of "failure to thrive" being hard to talk about. If there is something good to come of this whole episode, it could be better support somehow (communities, tools, doctoring, training whatever) for vegans (or near vegans) with problems to help sort them out. And also for vegan-leaning people to find ways to eat the least animal products even if they remain convinced they need some. As she said in her followup post: "If more vegans would realize that this is a legitimate issue for many well meaning people, perhaps more energy would be expended trying to solve it and create ways for these kinds of people to remain healthy as vegans."

    1. I like how you mad a redundancy in using diet after the acronym for the standard American diet. It really helps to show your bias. Also, If a vegan diet were sufficient, it would not require supplements to replace vital nutrients found in animal sourced foods.

      This is a classic case of "the pendulum has swung back too far." Yes, eating large amounts of charred meat can result in a multitude of health problems in the long term, but that certainly does not warrant categorical avoidance of teh most densely nutritious food sources available.

    2. I am 28,I Have been a vegetarian since birth and a vegan for 15 years. (strict, no closet meat or dairy or egg eating) I don't take supplements. I sustained this lifestyle as a competitive gymnast and 5 years as a college gymnast I am and was perfectly healthy. Healthy bones, healthy teeth and my blood work always comes back great from physicals

  7. find it disturbing to think that a certain diet would lead to the need of suppliments.

    a quick google shows mushrooms, spinach, and kelp as sources of iodine.

  8. To me It's simple, If you are blood type A or AB you may do better on a Vegetarian Diet. I assume that this Lady is a Blood type O or B, who do better on a meat diet. And before you object to this out of hand read some research on it or speak to people about it. I have been vegan, I tried it, for me it did not work, but for others it may.

    I also think that the people who over reacted to her story should be ashamed of themselves. there is room on this earth for all, meat eaters and vegans. the fact that a tiny portion of people are vegans, although they are more than welcome in a peaceful world really says it all.

    Extremist on all side cause all the problems. some say they are all vegans ;) perhaps this is a bit harsh lol

  9. Tasha's symptoms closely mimic those that anorectics go through. Lierre Keith had a similar list, and she wasn't even vegan. Starvation will fuck you up.

    Last Anonymous, you're annoying. My blood type is O; I still feel better after several years of veganism and the only time I've ever experienced the symptoms Tasha had was when I. Was. Starving. Human beings are not magical creatures that need vastly different diets... no species has that goin' on; individuals may need more of a specific nutrient (like tyrosine for PKU) and to avoid specific foods (like a strawberry allergy), but the massive variation in diet your quack of a guru is talking about is just complete bullshit.

  10. @Last Anonymous, blood type diets are total bunk

    1. I was a vegan who had diabetes. No, I lived in Hong Kong and ate freshly made organic tofu and all the beans and nuts I could touch. But I got diabetes afterwards. Too much carbs put into my body isnt a sound option (oh yes, beans and nuts are proteins AND carbs, you know). Then I discovered blood type diet, and I am an 0! I have to eat meat to survive. So sorry you who say its bunk. It works for me after 10 years of veganism. I want to save the planet like you too, but f*** that, I have to live first. You may prosper with that diet, but not I. By the way, ever heard about Ram Jogi ? He eats all the meat and fathers a child at 94. Go Google him, "Ram Jogi Indian Farmer". It's sad that you say we dont need vastly different diets. I see we do. So fuck you and your rhetorics.

  11. She's just a WEAK SELL-OUT that never cared in the first place. Hipsters go home.

    1. Agreed. Well said. End of story. I am a nurse practitioner, and I can tell you that with skin issues, fatigue, and whatever other sypmtoms she was having, the answer was absolutely NOT adding back in cut up parts of carcass, and teat liquid meant to grow BABY COWS not humans. WEAN yourselves already. if you don't want to kill the animal yourself, you should stop with the bellyaching and learn how to really cook and really live well...which is something everyone must do ESPECIALLY those who ingest dead animal parts, but have the intestines and pH levels to digest legumes, beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, grains, etc. I think people who blame an ideology or belief system about a social justice, for their very 1 dimensional diet which failed them need to rethink both. Get off the me me me rollercoaster you POS.

    2. I think the vegan community needs to embrace omnivores who for ethical and environmental reasons try to eat a mostly vegan diet. This spewing of hatred makes me not even want to try. Isn't every meatless meal helping your cause. If everyone would just start consuming more whole, raw veggies and fruits and less meat products be a good place to start? Why the hatred, wheres the love, the compassion!?!

    3. hello vegangster

      i think you lack compassion.

      if every vegan is like you America is going to have another civil war hahaha.

      btw if you want, feel free to bring a rifle to my farm and shoot me to free my cows in Colorado.No, I am a proud "compassionate" farmer who treats my animals the right way.
      want to save some carbon footprint ? stop eating soy stuff transported from South America and go buy the beef at a local farm

    4. " if you want, feel free to bring a rifle to my farm and shoot me to free my cows in Colorado"

      What a ludicrous and utterly low-brow offer!

  12. The only "pseudoscience" here is, as usual, the bullshit vegan propaganda on display.

    "Skeptical Vegan" is an oxymoron. If vegans were capable or critical thought, they wouldn't belong to a cult of lies and terrorism like the AR movement.

    1. terrorism? gal darn you darn terrorist vegans who don't like mega corporations telling them what they need to eat based on the corporation making money and not applying any facts whatsoever....

      heck yeah! those pesky gol darn vegans need to PROVE that the big industry is lying, because my momma told me that i should trust the biggest corporation. my pappy told me that the bigger the better, and i had assumed he was talking bout his pee pee, but no, he was really talking about corporations, so now i trust them with all my heart. anyone who works to expose lies of the biggest intdustry that i have trusted my entire life is a terrorist, fascist nazi, fucking un patriotic POS.

      cult of lies. you are a dumb ass mutha fucka. all you have to do is read the internet, look at video, photos, and the like. you don't have to be a rocket scientist twat. you just need deductive reasoning. guess you missed that part growing up. too busy shoppin at walmart? too busy snacking on a big mac jerkwad?

    2. vegangster...wow....hateful much? Yeah, you're really a great representative of the vegan movement. Where is your tolerance and respect for other points of view? I'm pretty sure no meat eaters will be influenced by your venom. Great job.

  13. I hope that Tasha will switch back to the right way... but still let us not be too angry with here...

    1. She has switched back t the right way... Eating meat :)

  14. @ anonymous... do you even go to school here?

  15. Interesting thoughts.
    Please check out the following vegan critical thinking site


    Hope you like it

  16. After reading about the Voracious Vegan's "A Vegan No More" post all I could think was, "this woman is clearly anorexic." I'm not a doctor but I see it all the time; everything about her posts pointed to her turning to veganism to mask anorexia. I'm like a year behind the other posts but I really needed to get that out there.

  17. @ anonymous 4:50am
    go fuck yourself :). cheers!

  18. Given the extreme lengths that vegans have to go to in order to make up for nutritional deficiencies in their diets, how can they even begin to claim that their way of life is more healthy or natural? Most people on earth would die horrifically if they were to stop eating animal products because we simply aren't built for that. if we were, they why in the blue hell do vegans need to take supplements or "fortified" foods or exotic yeast just to get their B12? The healthiest diets are BALANCED ones. Good on you guys for eating your fruits, vegetables, greens and legumes. Most of you would fare better if even 50% of the time you replaced your tofu with chicken or fish.

    1. I'm guessing from the "tone" of your writing that you are not likely open to considering the question of comparative anatomy and physiology of true carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores as compared to human anatomy and physiology. But just in case:

      Dr. Milton Mills:


    2. surfgeorge: you need to shut up. aswell as every other vegan on this page.

      b12 in certain " plants " is not bio-available to us. you cannot use the argument WHERE DO ANIMALS GET THEIRS FROM THEN. they absorb and process things differently than we do hence us being humans and them animals.

      beta carotene is very difficult to convert. there are many many factors, and studies show most people don't convert it. Even if you did " optimally ", 25,000 iu lf " beta carotene " , would convert OPTIMALLY to around 1 thousand iu's of real vitamin A. That means 5 or 6 sweet potatoes a day to HOPEFULLY get just the minimum daily value to prevent deficiency. It's not optimal for our functioning.

      Vitamin D3 is not found in plants, and no " mushrooms " is not an arguement. The minimum to raise your levels above 60 has to be 8,000 iu's +. 10,000 iu's is the rdv my vitamin D3 experts. ONLY FOUND IN ANIMAL PRODUCTS when you can't get it from the sun.

      Saturated fats are only found in animal products. NO SATURATED FATS ARENT BAD, our entire body is made up saturated fat, and cholesterol aswell as the brain. Without it you'd be dead.

      True EPA and DHA are only found in animal products. ALA must be converted to them which is very inefficient being as plant sources of ALA go bad so quickly.

      Cholesterol is only found in animal products. We can only make 10 percent for our mylin.

      Vitamin K2 is only found in animal products.

      All the essential amino acids are only found in animal products ( many non essential have been discovered to be essential ) such as taurine.

      This is just a small list, theres much more but ican't sit all day writing this crap. Vegans are morons who don't understand nutrition. You compare use to other animals.? really? thats your arguement is to look at the anatomy of a carnivore?

      Thats why we are humans and they're animals. We have INTELLIGENCE to THINK. We can cook, cut, slice, pick, make things, make tools, we dont fricken need claws and big teeth because we can .. THROW IT ON THE FIRE DUR DUR DOOOYYYYYY LOL

      Fricken idiots. Thats why monkeys are in the jungle scratching their asses, and we're traveling in space. Big difference. Go learn fricken retards.

    3. Well, if vegan and vegeterian diets are considered healthy and nutritious enough for the USDA and the UK NHS, then I'm more than happy to continue with my lifestyle. Taurine, really? Personally, since I'm neither a cat nor suffer from hepatic, heart or renal failure its not something I'll worry about. Saturated fat? Not only found only in animal foods- thats too narrow an interpretation because cononut oil, palm oil and cocoa butter alone all have some saturated fat. As you can probably tell, I'm not going to address the suggestion its good for us since I happily place my trust in reputable medical doctors and not the dubious and vegan hating paleo/primal/raw milk crowd which the above post smacks of. As to B12? Its found in soil and in untreated bodies of water. Its a product of bacteria. Thus, vegans can supplement with b12 (via fortified foods or pill form) and still be considered 'vegan/vegeterian'. It comes from the original source (which, interestingly, appears to be more readily available as its not bound to protein and doesn't have to be broken down in the stomach first). Bonus. Also, it should be noted that people omnis can be deficient in b12 too- its not just a vegan/veg problem, as is the case for many other vitamins/minerals (eg meat eaters can be deficient in folate, vit D, magnesium, Vit C, iodine). Even fibre. But notice how nobody ever points out about that. In regards DHA, began form is found in the same algae that fish eat. Rather than eat fish though, we instead get it from the original source, the algae. Simple. Vit D3? One word- lichen. How about cholesterol? Its vital, no doubt. But we don't need to ingest it in order to be healthy. Indeed, it's considered to be so vital to our bodies that we make all we need- we don't need to ingest any extra from meat. As for pre-formed Vitamin A? There's a reason why the USDA consider it to be a 'retinol activity equivalent' and why there isn't any RDA of it preformed. As long as we get enough beta-carotene, we're good and this is still taking into account the lower conversion rates. I see no cause for meat-eating here. As for the old predictable protein whine? All plant food contains it. A well balanced diet and meeting a 2000 calorie intake means we're just as good as omnivores. What about the magical K2? Again, no RDA for K2. And if there was? Happily, it seems we'd get it supplied to us via bacteria in our gut (which makes the issue of K2 a moot point to being with). But what if it turns out that we do need K2 from an outside source? One word- natto. Its loaded with K2. So really, the only difference between onmivore and vegan/veg diet is that we cut out the middle man (the animal) and let our bodies make any necessary conversions. If we need (b12) or choose to supplement just like an onmi might (examples being DHA, Ca, Fe etc) we would use vegan sources. Most importantly for some though, including myself, is that our lifestyle means we get to minimise suffering by not trading the contents of our wallets for an animals life. We don't pay for them to be transported to a slaughter house or to be walked to the killing room having no idea whats about to befall them (sadly, I've heard that they can go crazy if they smell blood in the air). Lastly, we choose not to ask other human beings to do the dirty work for us, just for the sake of our taste buds. And as for the comment about humans being intelligent? Thats highly debatable, considering that lots of us are willfully destroying the planet (check out the IPCC reports). In my eyes, that alone makes the ass-scratching monkeys smarter.

      As a side note, I would implore anybody to check out the Plant Positive videos on Youtube. They're amazing.

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  20. Eat. A. Damn. Cheeseburger.

  21. Stop eating meat in America will not f***ing save the world ! Nobody is going to export that spare meat you dont eat to Africa, and even if they do, only the wealthiest elite class in those countries can buy. Not the starving kids.

    The best thing you can do for the planet is to buy everything local and save energy.

    Want to feed African kids ? Go to Africa and bring food directly to them.

    Or just topple those damn corrupted governments.

  22. FYI the background on your site is really really visually distracting almost to the point of headache-inducing. This seems like an interesting post but I stopped reading it because scrolling down made my eyes hurt! Except that I did scroll down to make this comment, haha. Just thought you might like to know.

  23. Christie! You are so right! I think the creator should change it ....it was and still is so distracting, I can't focus on any of the words - my eyes are vibrating. Haha

  24. Have you made another post about Lierre Keith's book? If so, I would like to read it. I wish this blog were on Wordpress so I could repost easier. Do you have a Facebook page devoted to it?

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  32. I thought I smelled a lack of internal consistency in Tasha's post and the claims about grain crops destroying the environment seemed outright absurd along with the idea that vegans/vegetarians support the patriarchy by being easy to manipulate because of their nutrient deficient brains. I've noticed a theme in former vegan animal consumption advocates and that is a staunch disconnection from their own body; living in their head and functioning more on idealistic principles rather than following the natural urges of their own body and deeper than that an extreme need to be irrefutably correct and never wrong to a degree that they engage in willful ignorance and blatant hypocrisy.