Are you an atheist vegetarian or vegan?


It seems like recently I’ve read a lot about atheists who are also vegetarian or vegan. Is this common? If this is you, did your atheism affect your decision to commit to your diet?

I personally don’t know any vegetarians. I’m sure there are some in Toledo, but I’ve never actually met any. It’s definitely not common where I’m from, either. Several years back I met a man from India who was a vegetarian. That’s honestly the last I can remember. 

I grew up eating a pretty traditional Midwest meat-and-potatoes diet. While my husband and I don’t eat as hearty of meals now, there’s still a lot of meat involved. 

I know this isn’t going to make me popular, but being from a rural area I was raised with the mentality that animals on the farm are raised to die. That is their purpose. I guess that was enough justification for me — actually, I just try not to think about where meat comes from. I’m a pretty sensitive person and I personify just about anything with eyes. Also, I get grossed out really easily. Yeah — up until now I just tried not to think about it.

I honestly think if I ever decided to become a vegetarian the people around me would laugh and not take me seriously. Not that I’m really thinking about it; I’m just curious. 

I would love to hear about your experience.

Comments

  1. rgmani says

    Atheist and vegan here. Even though most of my family in India is vegetarian, my dad and I ate meat sporadically for many years. I decided to go vegetarian some 20 years ago for health reasons. A little under a year ago, I decided to go vegan. Everything I have read and seen about animal agriculture, climate change and the threat of pandemics convinced me that being vegan is was the only ethical way to live. My atheism had nothing to do with my decision. A very good friend of mine who is quite religious went vegan himself at around the same time for basically the same reasons and completely independent from me.

  2. kestrel says

    Can’t help you. I live on a farm and raise my own food, and yes, that includes meat. I process my own right here on the farm, by myself. The animals are all kept as happy as possible – I make sure their social groups are OK with them, I make sure they live happy little lives with enough food and space and other things that help them be happy. I try to be as sensitive as possible and see any stresses or other things that might bother them, and make sure those things don’t happen. And then yes, I eat them.

    In order to live, other things have to die. I don’t think what we eat should live horrible lives of desperation first; but no matter what you eat, something has to die – whether it’s a lettuce plant or a quail.

    Sorry I’m no help.

  3. anat says

    Atheist from age 17, vegetarian from age 42, aspiring to be dairy-free now at 54. So far sticking to cage-free eggs where possible. I’ll probably never be vegan enough for the purists, but I do lean this way in general.

    The reasons for my choices have to do with my appreciation of the cognition and emotional lives of at least some animals (humans have the power to decide to raise them to be eaten, but that doesn’t mean the animals do not suffer in the process), my wish to reduce my carbon footprint, as well as attempting to adopt as many elements I can of the recommendations of Dale Bredesen for the prevention of cognitive decline (the only animal products that are really compatible with his protocol are some types of fish and eggs; he allows using small amounts of meat or sharp cheese as a condiment, but not as a main dish. also recommends minimal amount of protein just to keep nitrogen balance).

  4. Al says

    You should try it! It’s easier and tastier than ever these days. I don’t think my atheism directly influenced my diet but I can see how it might – if there’s no god that specifically made animals for our personal enjoyment, perhaps animals…aren’t meant for our personal enjoyment! And are even worthy of some modicum of respect.

  5. says

    I am nearly vegan.

    It doesn’t happen much anymore, but I long made an exception for sushi a couple times a year. Then I moved to Vancouver, BC where sushi was plentiful and cheap and I made a few more exceptions per year for a while, but I’ve gotten out of the sushi habit again, and now I’ve been sushi free for a couple years.

    In the meantime, I have occasionally eaten eggs when they’re in a larger dish, especially challah. Usually that’s b/c it’s either a kid’s birthday or because I’m at someone else’s house and they’re trying to feed me something and didn’t really know that vegan means no eggs. The animal product is already used, and for me at that point it’s merely a matter of being polite.

    I’ve also eaten bacon 2 or 3 times in the last 20 years. My doctor actually gave me a list of things with some important nutrients that they thought I wasn’t getting enough of. Fish was on the list. Bacon was on the list. Sometimes I use that to justify my lapses. But the truth is that when i’ve broken vegan, I did it more because I wanted to do so than any medical necessity. Though it’s also true that I’m not a “good vegan” in terms of making sure I get rare nutrients from plant sources, so I do have some nutrition problems and it is good for my body to eat some of those animal sources of nutrients every once in a while. I’m not saying it’s not nutritionally useful for me, I’m just saying that psychologically that’s not what drives my decision when I break vegan.

    Oh, and I also use honey when I bake focaccia, which is multiple times per year.

    So that’s me: nearly vegan, but not at all up to the standards of religious vegans.

    Now that you have an understanding of the extent to which I avoid animal products (and don’t), I’ll say this about the relationship between my atheism and my veganism: I went mostly vegan years before I was ready to call myself atheist, and the only effect atheism seems to have is that I go to shul and other Jewish religious functions less often now than I used to do, which means I’m less often grabbing a bite of challah on a friday night.

    That’s about it. They’re pretty firmly disconnected for me.

  6. Dorfl (who can't log in and apparently flags a 'possible impostor' check) says

    I’m an atheist and a vegetarian. The two are unrelated though. I grew up in Sweden, so being non-religious is pretty much the default.

  7. Roeland de Bruijn says

    I am both an atheist and a vegetarian.
    I was raised religious, but have always expressed a disbelief. This came to a head when I was 14-16 years old.
    I have been vegetarian for longer, my sister started, and then I followed when I was 9.

    I think both the vegetarianism and the atheism come from the same place. Thinking about what you want to be, and who you are. And not taking for granted what you are told. Also having parents who are willing to work with that.

  8. says

    There are ethical reasons for adopting a vegan diet. There are health reasons for adopting a diet with much less meat in it. A vegetarian diet seems to me to be a very strange choice.

  9. says

    I perceive very strict diets akin to cults (diet cults?). Obsessing over a trace amount of some “bad ingredient” in your food and worrying about making sure that your food is completely pure seems like almost religious behaviors to me. Never mind how some people on strict diets actually manage to feel guilty (sinful?), impure, and sick after having accidentally swallowed a small amount of the forbidden food.

    Eating more of the healthier plant foods and less animal foods that result in greater greenhouse gas emissions compared to plant-based foods seems rational for me. I am fine with having a vegan meal or ending up with eating only vegetarian foods for a week in a row. But I cannot possibly imagine myself ever being vegan or vegetarian, because these diets, by definition, require adherents to obsess about what they eat.

  10. Ben says

    I am an atheist vegetarian. My atheism influenced my decision to stop eating meat only in the most indirect way: I heard the argument that convinced me to live without eating meat on an atheist podcast which I probably would not have listened to if I would have been a theist and thus not being exposed to atheist voices and opinions.

  11. Katydid says

    I was a vegetarian for several years, but the higher carb load (everything is a carb, even the protein) pushed my body into diabetes. Doctors: “We never see anyone your size who’s diabetic!” Yeah, well, you don’t have to be overweight to be diabetic. Look at Mary Tyler Moore; she was a professional dancer before she was an actor, and she was diabetic. Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up eating nothing because the crops failed, and she was diabetic. If you have the genetics for it (nature) and you push the body (nurture), you will get it. If you pay attention to nutrition, vegetarian food and vegan food is very carby–even if you stay away from the processed foods. Dirty little secret: vegetarian and vegan food can be junk food, too.

    So, what do I do? I have sought out farmers who raise animals humanely–and they are out there, particularly the smaller farmsteads! Go to the farm, look around. The best situation is when you ask to visit and the farmer says, “Sure, come anytime!” Look at the animals. Do they look healthy? Does their environment look well-kept? We know animals who go outside are healthier and better for you–for example, eggs from pasture-raised hens have a higher level of Vitamin D. So do pasture-fed cows.

    I could write a whole dissertation on this but I’ll refrain. Good questions to ask the farmer is about where their animals are slaughtered; depending on the state’s regulations, some can be processed right on the farm. I have helped to process chickens. It’s a sad day, but it’s over quickly and the chickens don’t realize a thing.

    I bought a freezer so I can buy meat in bulk, which helps the farmers out. I’ve split an entire cow with friends, I’ve bought 30 pounds of pork, I have whole chickens I’ve bought and sectioned into parts myself. As a steady customer, I’ve had “preferred buyer” status for bacon, which goes fast. During the pandemic, I knew I had meat in the freezer and I was less-pressed about supermarket stock.

  12. avalus says

    I switched to mostly vegetarian a few years ago. First because of health problems and now I just don’t really miss meat all that much. (However I recently tried ground cricket “meat” and found it was pretty nice. Does that count as meat tho? I don’t know!)

  13. anat says

    Katydid, if you are still interested in relying less on animal foods while eating in a way that is good for people at risk for diabetes do look into the Bredesen protocol. The basis of the diet part of the protocol is non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds). No starchy foods, little simple sugars in any form, the minimal amount of protein needed to maintain nitrogen balance. One of the goals of the protocol is to keep control of blood sugar, as the damage from poorly controlled blood sugar is one of the things that can start the chain of events leading to Alzheimer’s Disease.

    To those who seek humanely-raised (and killed?) meat – how sustainable is this lifestyle if expanded to all of humanity? Compared to other forms of raising animals for food how does it compare in externalities per amount of meat produced?

  14. Katydid says

    I agree with kestrel: for someone to eat, something must die. An egg, a carrot…something dies. I also agree that an animal’s life does not have to be horrible–and in fact, in a lot of non-feedlot situations, they’re not at all horrible.

    Is vegetarian/veganism actually healthier, though? For some people the answer is yes, but for many the answer is no. Have you looked at the ingredients in, say, vegan cheese? Vegetarian “buffalo chicken” wings? The fake ground beef patties? You’d better be fine with tons of soy and sugar and other things that set off people’s sensitivities.

    I’ve been following a Paleo-ish diet for about a decade now. I say Paleo-ish because I do include dairy products. Some people can’t, or choose not to.

  15. blf says

    There are plants which believe in magic sky faeries? (Reads the OP’s question again.) Ah…

    I’m an omnivore currently preparing a homemade veggie bean soup for lunch. (Well, the food processor is preparing it, I‘m just typing getting hungrier — it smells quite good…) Most of my non-plant foods are seafoods (generally locally-raised / -caught), but I’m largely clewless on how sustainably it’s all done. As I think I’ve mentioned before, almost everything (vegs, seafoods, meats, eggs, …) is purchased from local shops and outdoor market stalls, in small quantities (except during the Covid-19 lockdown), for best quality and to reduce both food- & packaging-waste.

    Like others have mentioned, my diet shifts around every few days, sometimes there will be several days where it’s probably essentially all-veggie, then a fine steak, followed by a bunch of mixed veggie and/or seafood days, and so on. For the most part, it’s a so-called “Mediterranean diet” with lots of veggies, seafoods, and olive oil. Especially, perhaps, the olive oil — I sometimes wonder if I should just drink the stuff… 😉

  16. Katydid says

    @anat, thanks for the info on the Bredesen Protocol. I will look it up. I worked with a nutritionist before becoming vegetarian and still ran into trouble, health-wise. I do not believe that in the USA, nutritionists are trained very well. They are taught one skill and when that skill doesn’t work for everyone, they throw up their hands and blame the person with the bad outcome. Hence the constant outcries by doctors of “You can’t possibly be diabetic because you’re not at all overweight.” I am physically fit and I compete in triathlons (or, I did pre-pandemic), but my body’s ability to manage carbs is broken. It was probably never perfect but went undiagnosed on an omnivore diet. The carb-heavy vegetarian diet broke it. I can maintain my health perfectly well on a Paleo-ish diet.

    In my area, small farmers who sell to the public are usually into Weston-Price types of nutrition.

    There’s a fallacy out there that claims that people who are not interested in a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle must of course be eating nothing but 10 pounds of meat at every meal. That’s absolutely not true. My lunch today was a cold zucchini fritter. BTW, anyone who bemoans the water use an animal has, has probably never tried to grow zucchini, cucumbers, or melons.

    To keep this from becoming too personal or just plain too endless; in summary, I’ve found a way of eating that matches my body’s requirements. Every body (not a typo) is different. My way involves eating meat, so I seek out humanely-raised meat.

  17. rgmani says

    Don’t like getting into arguments on the internet because people tend to talk at each other rather than to each other. However, I have seen some of the typical misdirections from non-vegans here so I can’t resist elaborating further.

    @kestrel

    In order to live, other things have to die.

    The issue isn’t whether or not something has to die. All living beings will eventually die. The issue is whether they are sentient, whether they can suffer. That is the basis on which we draw the distinction between plants and animals. You say you raise your own animals in humane conditions. Good for you, then. You are not as complicit as the rest of us (and yes, I include myself because I was consuming animal products until about 10 months or so ago). However what you are doing is not an option for most people in the world. There are 7.5 billion people on the planet, around 7 billion of whom are omnivores. The world population is growing and should get close to 10 billion by 2050 (that is an increase of approximately 30 percent). Not only is the population increasing but so is the per-capita consumption of animals products – which means we need to increase our production of animal products by perhaps 40 percent. The only conceivable way of doing this at a price people can afford is large scale industrial farming. Backyard farms won’t cut it. Factory farms are hellholes for animals and they are only going to get more and more prevalent unless we can reduce the world’s consumption of animal products in some way. Factory farms are major contributors to climate change (see the UN report “Livestock’s Long Shadow”) and may be the breeding ground for a pandemic that makes Covid-19 feel like a walk in the park (see articles on H5N1 and H7N9). For all sorts of reasons, it is imperative that we reduce or eliminate our dependence on animal exploitation.

    @Katydid

    Is vegetarian/veganism actually healthier, though? For some people the answer is yes, but for many the answer is no. Have you looked at the ingredients in, say, vegan cheese? Vegetarian “buffalo chicken” wings? The fake ground beef patties?

    With respect, this is a strawman. All that the words ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ tell me is what someone won’t eat. If you want to be healthy on a vegan diet, the majority of what you consume should be whole plant foods – stuff like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. You are picking the worst processed foods that happen to be vegan and using that as an example of a vegan diet. You might as well have added french fries, Oreo cookies and Coke to the list of vegan foods. A whole foods plant based diet is probably the healthiest diet around unless you have food sensitivities that prevent you from adopting this diet.

  18. says

    anat @#14

    do look into the Bredesen protocol

    Is there scientific evidence supporting it? I hadn’t heard about this one before, but a quick Google search suggests that this thing sounds like just yet another quackery.

    For example, see:
    https://respectfulinsolence.com/2016/06/24/the-mend-protocol-for-alzheimers-disease-functional-medicine-on-steroids-revisited/
    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/mend-protocol-for-alzheimers-disease/

    (At least, vegetables, avocados, nuts, and seeds are healthy foods that you can eat often. But claiming that a diet can prevent Alzheimer’s sounds fishy.)

  19. anat says

    Andreas Avester, see the following: https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/reversal-of-cognitive-decline-100-patients-2161-0460-1000450.pdf – this is a report on 100 patients at various stages of cognitive decline who saw improvements following the protocol. There is more to it than diet alone – the full protocol combines diet, supplementation, aerobic exercise, weight training, sleep optimization, brain training, stress management, reducing exposure to certain environmental toxins (mostly molds and heavy metals). The diet mostly helps control blood sugar and prevents or reduces inflammation. Unfortunately Bredesen himself decided to sell his soul – instead of continuing his academic and clinical research into AD he is now selling supplements, but the work is being continued by others. I am aware of several ongoing clinical trials testing such multi-modal approaches.

  20. Katydid says

    @ Andreas: In the USA, there’s been a lot of talk n scientific circles about certain types of Alzheimer’s being “Diabetes Type 3”.. that is, the result on the brain of long-uncontrolled high blood sugar. My elderly parents both have Alzheimer’s after years of badly-controlled blood sugar (as I said earlier, genetics and available food choices…). While the medical studies are still ongoing, I am leaning toward there being something to it, seeing as how I’m watching it play out in real life.

    @rgmani: I recognize your type. We’ve got them at work, constantly “just asking questions” of the on-site cafeteria. The cafeteria serves the Standard American Diet including a daily pasta bar, a salad bar, and pre-made sushi (some of it vegetarian). Despite the fact that pretty much nobody should be depending on that cafeteria for daily fare, the vegans are constantly outraged and demanding to know why the cafeteria is not serving them endless vegan options (you know, besides the daily choices of pasta bar, salad bar, and the veggie sushi). You know, because veganism is SO MUCH HEALTHIER….except when it’s not.

    Clearly you have no interest in respecting anyone’s opinion but your own. Fruits, grains, and legumes are absolutely catastrophic for the health of many people, and starchy veggies are absolutely not good for many others. I disclosed my own experience with certified-nutritionist-guided vegetarianism that injured my health, but you are absolutely on your soapbox and facts simply don’t seem to filter in. Pity.

  21. rgmani says

    @Katydid

    I recognize your type.

    With all due respect, you do not know “my type” – whatever that means. I tried to correct a couple of incorrect statements made by some people. The rest of your assumptions about me hold no water whatsoever. Please try asking what my opinions are before jumping to whatever conclusions may come to your mind. I am not responsible for whatever stereotype of vegans you may have in your head.

    Fruits, grains, and legumes are absolutely catastrophic for the health of many people, and starchy veggies are absolutely not good for many others.

    Please note that I said “a whole foods plant based diet is probably the healthiest diet around unless you have food sensitivities that prevent you from adopting this diet.” Did you miss the part after the “unless”? It seems to me that I fully acknowledged that this diet is not for everyone. I did not for a moment say that you should be eating a vegan diet. I also fully acknowledged that “vegan” does not equate with “healthy” since all sorts of foods that are terrible for you are technically vegan.

    I disclosed my own experience with certified-nutritionist-guided vegetarianism that injured my health, but you are absolutely on your soapbox and facts simply don’t seem to filter in.

    I did not address this part of your post at all – in any way. I corrected your equating of vegan food with fake meat and vegan cheese – that’s it. By the way, vegetarian is not the same as vegan – since eggs and dairy are full of saturated fat and cholesterol. No vegan food has cholesterol and very few have any saturated fat (coconut being an exception). Consumption of saturated is associated with an increased diabetes risk.

    Just to make sure you do not jump to any further unwarranted conclusions about me – let me add the disclaimer that I am not trying to invalidate your experience here. You should plan your diet based on what your doctor and dietitian say and not what some random dude on the internet says.

  22. Katydid says

    Have you noticed that people who are vegetarian/vegan are very much like religious fundamentalists?

    Just like I don’t need a lecture about who Jesus is, I do not need a lecture about what a vegetarian or veganism is. I was one, for a decade. It did not end up working for me. But just like religious people rant and rave about people who leave the faith because it doesn’t meet their needs people who are fundamentalist about vegetarian/veganism are outraged that anyone leaves that diet.

    Pro tip: Yes, everyone knows there’s a difference between vegetarians and vegans, but rather than write that out each time, a lot of people use a forward slash to indicate either/or status.

    The point I made so many posts ago is that just because a food is vegetarian OR vegan (can you understand me now?) does not necessarily make it healthy. Aside from all the junk foods on the market that comply with vegetarian and/or vegan requirements, there are the foods that many people may not be able to tolerate. Try meeting the nutrition needs of someone with soy sensitivities who breaks out in hives and someone with legume sensitivies and yet another who can’t tolerate wheat because of celiac issues. Throw in another with throat-closing allergies to strawberries, peaches, and apples and you quickly see how implausible a plant-only diet can be.

    Well, I am just falling-down-on-the-floor grateful that you grant me your approval to eat what is best for me! I mean, I only said that HOW many posts ago, and you jumped right in to vegansplain to me why I was completely wrong.

    P.S. I also have an active OR26A gene that makes cilantro taste foul to me. Want to vegansplain about how I don’t really think cilantro tastes like dirty soap?

  23. brucegee1962 says

    I’m a non-vegan vegetarian (I eat milk and eggs, and yes, I’m aware that their harvesting can cause suffering too). I got this way because of an ethical principal that I apply in other situations as well. I’d put the proposition this way: “It is unethical to cause suffering to another creature without a good reason.” Suffering isn’t too hard to figure out — it seems pretty clear that just about any creature with a nervous system must be capable of suffering. The tricky part is figuring out what constitutes a “good reason.” And that’s a judgment call — it varies from person to person.
    So there aren’t really absolutes — just lots of balancing. As others have said, no one can live perfectly so as to cause NO suffering whatsoever. If I drive down the street, I’m going to kill bugs with my car — even just living in a house, I’m interfering with the lives of animals living around me. But there’s nothing to feel ashamed about taking my own personal needs and abilities into account.
    Now, it just so happens that, as a middle-class American, It has actually been fairly easy for me to give up meat — just pick up veggie burgers rather than hamburgers. (It also helps that my wife is a committed vegetarian who happens to be a great cook.) But if I was stranded on a desert island, and the only thing between me and starvation was a herd of wild pigs — I wouldn’t think twice about putting my survival over theirs. Likewise, if I had dietary or budgetary restrictions, those would change the equation as well.
    There was a while when I was a partial vegetarian — I mostly stuck to plants when I was alone, but if I went to a party and someone served meat, I’d eat it. So at least to me, back then, social and budgetary considerations were “a good reason.”
    I don’t have a problem with just about anyone who’s making an effort to cut down. But I do have a question for people who have dismissed all the arguments for at least cutting down on their meat intake. Is “I like the taste” really enough of a good reason to justify the conditions in a factory farm?

  24. Katydid says

    @BruceGee: who in this comment thread has said (paraphrasing) “Screw the animals, hooray for factory farming ‘cuz I likes mah MEAT?” Otherwise, I agree with what you said; diet is a personal issue and no one approach fits all.

    @Anat; I went away and did some reading on Bredesen and what he’s doing isn’t actually all that unique. A lot of people are following the basic ideas without buying all the supplements he sells.

  25. says

    rgmani @#18

    You are picking the worst processed foods that happen to be vegan and using that as an example of a vegan diet. You might as well have added french fries, Oreo cookies and Coke to the list of vegan foods. A whole foods plant based diet is probably the healthiest diet around unless you have food sensitivities that prevent you from adopting this diet.

    There exist vegan junk foods just like there exist junk foods made from animal products. Of course, it is wrong to “pick the worst processed foods that happen to be vegan and use that as an example of a vegan diet.” But it is also just as wrong to pick the worst non-vegan processed junk foods and use those as an example of a non-vegan diet. And vegans make this fallacy a lot. Whenever they want to argue that a vegan diet is healthier, they will compare a healthy vegan diet versus the Standard American Diet full of junk food only to happily conclude that among these two alternatives the whole food plant based diet is healthier. Well, duh! Of course, any whole food diet is better than standard American junk food diet. But guess what—healthy non-vegan diets free of junk foods exist!

    A whole foods plant based diet is probably the healthiest diet around unless you have food sensitivities that prevent you from adopting this diet.

    Now this is simply factually incorrect. Give me the healthiest vegan diet you can possibly come up with, I will add some healthy seafood to it, and the resulting diet will be even healthier. It is impossible to be vegan without supplements (at least B12, possibly also a few other vitamins and minerals), and vegan dieticians, like Messina and Norris, also recommend a bunch of fortified foods as well. In my opinion, a diet that makes supplements mandatory cannot possibly be called “the healthiest diet around.”

  26. rgmani says

    @Andreas Avester

    There exist vegan junk foods just like there exist junk foods made from animal products. Of course, it is wrong to “pick the worst processed foods that happen to be vegan and use that as an example of a vegan diet.” But it is also just as wrong to pick the worst non-vegan processed junk foods and use those as an example of a non-vegan diet.

    Completely agreed. You can be healthy or unhealthy on any type of diet. My objection to the original poster was that he/she was asking the question “is veganism more healthy” and then started talking about vegan junk foods. No health conscious vegan is going to eat large quantities of junk foods. So when talking about veganism and health, bringing up junk food feels a lot like a strawman. Now the next point you made is much better.

    Give me the healthiest vegan diet you can possibly come up with, I will add some healthy seafood to it, and the resulting diet will be even healthier.

    This objection to my statement is a good one to make. I disagree with it but don’t have the time right now to elaborate. But it is an objection that deserves a carefully considered answer. Please take a look at the Adventist Health Study. It is one of the most remarkable studies conducted because it follows a large, diverse group of people for many years, the vast majority of whom share a commitment to health and, for the most part, smoke and drink very little. So, there are few confounding factors that need to be adjusted for. It is also remarkable because the population consists of significant numbers of different dietary groups – namely Vegans, Lacto-ovo-vegetarians, Pesco-vegetarians, Semi-vegetarians and Nonvegetarians. It is interesting to see the health outcomes for each different type of diet.

    There are also a couple of specific ways in which being vegan might be worse, health-wise than being an omnivore one of which is susceptibility to strokes (vegans, for some unexplained reason, may have a slightly higher incidence of stroke than omnivores). However, that being said, I stand by my statement that in the absence of any food sensitivities, a whole foods plant-based diet is on balance the healthiest possible diet.

  27. Katydid says

    @rgmani: No health conscious vegan is going to eat large quantities of junk foods.

    Key here is the modifier “health-conscious” (it needs a hyphen). There are absolutely boatloads of vegetarians and vegans who eat convenience foods, just as there are absolutely boatloads of meat-eaters who eat convenience foods. You were, indeed, picking the worst of the SAD (Standard American Diet) and claiming veganism is healthier. Well, no kidding. So is Paleo, so is Keto, so is Atkins, so is The American Heart Association Diet. So, what’s your point?

    As a vegetarian for more than a decade, I saw plenty of vegetarians and vegans go for the unhealthy vegetarian and vegan foods. They’re plentiful.

    On the other hand, it’s remarkably easy to eat healthily when you don’t restrict your choices. I can slice some beef on top of a mixed green salad and simply and affordably added the following nutrients I wouldn’t have gotten from just the green salad: protein, iron, zinc, selenium thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, phosphorus, pantothenate, magnesium and potassium. Beef contains other nutrients of interest including choline, monounsaturated fat and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

    No supplements needed, which is good because there have been an awful lot of studies in the USA about the usefulness of supplements. Thanks to Orrin Hatch and the Mormons in Utah, pretty much anything can call itself a supplement without having to provide any nutrients. Additionally, a number of stings have found that various supplements don’t actually have what they claim to have in them. There was a lot of non-nutritive filler such as dirt in some brands.

    You really do sound like the crazy fundamentalist Christians who are ride-or-die about how their way is THE ONLY WAY. If it works for you, great, have at it. I spent a decade in that life and it did me harm. We’re all different, only I’m not the one insisting my way is the only way.

    • rgmani says

      @katydid

      You really do sound like the crazy fundamentalist Christians who are ride-or-die about how their way is THE ONLY WAY.

      Please point out to me where I said that my way was the only way. I personally believe that a whole foods plant based diet is on balance the healthiest diet and I have attempted to back it up with some data (the Adventist Health Study that I linked to in my previous post). I can post links to additional studies if I find the time (sorry but I don’t have every link on hand). However, there are plenty of exceptions to my statement, one of which I pointed out in my previous post. Vegetarians have a higher stroke risk than omnivores (from the EPIC-Oxford Study which unfortunately clubbed Vegans and Vegetarians together) – so if you have a history of stroke in your family, you might be well advised to add some meat to your diet.

      I have also specifically mentioned (in my first reply to you) that people with food sensitivities may not be able to follow this diet. Heck, I have lots of people in my own family with all sorts of food sensitivities. One individual in particular has so many life-threatening allergies to nuts and legumes of all kinds that they are being advised by other family members (advice with which I concur) to add a little meat to their diet. This may not seem like much to you (or a non-believer, former omnivore like myself) but I come from a South Indian Brahmin family where even the thought of eating meat is anathema. Having a deeply orthodox individual give this sort of advice is nothing short of earth-shattering.

      I hope this convinces you that I am not some kind of vegan fundamentalist. I have good reasons for my conclusions and am willing to admit to plenty of exceptions to what I feel is a generally true statement.

  28. Katydid says

    @Andreas; I enjoyed the posts on your blog awhile back about using whole parts of the animal. When I started buying meat from a local farmer, he would often just give me cuts like tongue and heart and oxtail because people turned up their noses at those parts, but after learning how to cook them, the whole family finds them really delicious. I also get jointed bones (like cow knees or chicken backs) to toss into the crockpot for collagen-rich stock.

    @rgmani; as an ominvore, I find that my cholesterol is nothing I have to worry about. I get bloodwork every few months and I’ve never had a problem with that. Cholesterol levels are 2/3 genetic and 1/3 diet, and my diet suits me much better than the vegetarian one did.

  29. Katydid says

    @Anat, you are absolutely right about the pronouns and @Andreas, my sincere apologies and my promise that I will not make that mistake again.

  30. sinned34 says

    I’m an atheist omnivore. I’ve been trying to cut down on all-around calories in order to shed some extraneous stores of fat, and so I don’t eat as much meat as I used to, but I certainly would never become a vegetarian. I absolutely would not ever go vegan.
    Just got my bloodwork done and I seem to be pretty healthy at this point. I have zero plans to change my diet other than shrinking the total amount I currently eat.
    I know two vegetarians and one vegan. I actually changed the clearing agent that I use in homebrewing beer so that the vegan felt he could partake in imbibing the beverages I brew. It’s his lifestyle choice, and I don’t have a problem making small changes to accommodate him.

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