To be clear: vegetarians do not eat meat. Vegans take this further and also forgo eggs, dairy, and even honey. Some people flip back and forth: I have friends who are weekday vegans.

This article will look at some common arguments for and against veganism. You vegans don’t get off easy though: there are a number of doctors with great concerns for vegan patients.

Note: this is a look at the main issues, not a forensic examination. We can probe the height, width and depth of this in another article.

What’s Wrong with Meat?

There’s plenty to worry about with your meat, particularly its source. Hormones and antibiotics are a great concern to vegans. Reports indicate a definite link from red meat to prostate cancer and arterial clogging. There are claims that animal proteins cause inflammation and water retention. Much of your meat source is fed corn and even sugars to fatten them up quickly for sale. (The television show Dirty Jobs once showed how dead cattle were ground up and used to make chicken feed.) Thus, many meat animals are unhealthy.

Is there proof that meat is the villain here? Do studies differentiate from lean meat and processed meats, like ham, bacon, sausage, and deli turkey? Does it matter what type of meat is consumed?

There are three things worth observing in my opinion:

  1. Avoid all processed meats, including frozen prepared meals and meat with chemical additives.
  2. Avoid fried and grilled meats. Carcinogens are believed to be from high temperature cooking. Slow cooked meats may avoid this danger.
  3. Look for the best meat you can find and afford. As Newsweek magazine once showed, cage-free and organic are terms that do not describe the packed conditions often present. Real free range is healthier as they can move around, as well as be outside. I recently purchased free range, natural grass raised venison and elk. A serving had 4 grams of fat. Dare you look at the amount of fat in the average steak or hamburger? Lean 90/10 beef has four times the fat of venison.

What’s Wrong with Dairy?

The main concern appears to be Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH). Like MSG, there are sure to follow similar chemical compounds that will establish similar results but with various substitute names. More and more milk labels read “No BGH.” A cow given BGH reputedly produces twice the amount of milk over its lifespan… hard to resist for farmers, impossible to resist among corporate-owned industries.

Other objections to dairy includes possible links to cancer, lactose sugar impact, and resistant infections from antibiotics. Low level reactions, such as indigestion and headaches, can occur until a dairy free diet is introduced.

Proponents of dairy products see little issue with this. Again, many dairy cattle never get outside the barn in the modern milk industry. You may see a study where those who eat dairy are much more likely to die of a heart attack. Again, are they comparing people with a healthy diet that includes dairy or an unhealthy diet with dairy? Do they compare vegans to vegetarians who consume dairy? Can they differentiate the type of dairy consumed, such as fat free versus those who consume whole milk and cheese?

With dairy, try a brief change to check for intolerance to lactose or casein. We can conclude that fat-free is your best option. Some with mild issues can consume lactose free milk, yogurt, and fermented cheeses without complications. Look for grass fed organic milk. Note that 1% milk is 20% calories from fat while 2% milk has 38% of its calories from fat.

What’s Wrong with Veganism?

Vegan heart attacks? Yes, indeed. The issue includes vegans who eat junk foods like potato chips, french fries, even stir fried vegetables. There is a lot of vegetable oils that are considered dangerous to your health, especially hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Many oils lose their nutritional value when heated to high temperatures. They may even endanger your health. While coconut oil has been touted by the coconut oil industry as having health benefits, it is extremely high in saturated fat (coconut milk gets 63% of its calories are from fat.) Why avoid saturated fats in meat, then get it from coconuts? The danger is there. Doctor Michael Colgan is one of the experts who has staked his reputation against coconut oil from the very beginning.

One study said that eating meat causes inflammation… obviously vegans avoid this. However, other studies showed much inflammation from gluten (another diet altogether.). A better study showed inflammation occurred in those eating meat fed a corn-based diet, but not in the group with grass-fed meat. I only trust studies with real people. Mice and rats are not humans. Besides, the test changes the proportion of the amount that a human would consume. In other words, don’t test mice with the equivalent dose of twenty servings a day for a human.

You can definitely gain fat on a vegan diet. If you currently eat a lot of fatty meats, cheese, and ice cream; then you will lose weight on any diet where you eliminate those items. There are a good number of vegans who simply want to save animal lives. Extended time as a vegan will reduce the flora in your intestines that aid the breakdown of those proteins. This is probably why vegans who return to a meal with dairy or animal proteins usually feel awful after. Go back slowly and take probiotics if you are vegan for several months.

What Are My Best Choices?

Oil-free cooking may be your healthiest choice. It will immediately reduce the amount of fat in your diet. There are a number of companies providing non-stick enamels that can truly do what they promise. They are safer than Teflon and durable.

Protein powders can help you break the bad meat habits that are currently clogging your arteries. We can all benefit from eating healthy greens, like spinach and kale. Proteins from lentils, peas, and all the beans are worry-free alternate sources of the proteins you need. Choose fat-free dairy products. Limit cheese severely or eliminate it altogether. Despite the convenience, steer away from processed foods. Processed soy products have little nutritional value and can still have high fat levels. Consider a better soy option such as Fearn Soybean Soy Flour. Give yourself time to adjust to a new diet completely. Don’t give up if you fail from time to time.

I have been pleasantly surprised how many people have made half of their weight loss goal with Zwift. Daily exercise can do wonders. Share your story with us or join your fellow Zwifters currently riding off the pounds, kilograms, and a few stones. Join ZwiftOff on Facebook.