By Dr. Stanley “Lee” Kurisko
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post for MediBid that I have since realized was completely wrong. My article, “Why Vegetarianism is Bad for You” scored over 50,000 hits but was based on incomplete and inaccurate information. Fortunately, the article is no longer on the internet to misinform people.
The turning point for my view came serendipitously when I was listening to a Youtube lecture on nutrition. The speaker, Dr. Michael Gregor, made a point that was pivotal to my entire perspective. I had long labored under the misconception that Vitamin B12 can only be obtained from animal products. I believed that if vegans must supplement with Vitamin B12, that this indicated that a plant based diet is therefore not physiological and perhaps there were other hitherto unrecognized nutrients that we can only get from animal foods that make plant-only diets unhealthy.
The fact is vitamin B12 comes from bacteria and not animals. In a natural living environment prior to modern civilization, it was quite easy to obtain enough B12 without eating meat by simply taking a few sips of water from a stream or lake or pulling some vegetables or tubers from the ground with the attendant dirt that comes with it. The fact is, in our modern sterile world, water is treated to prevent disease (That’s good. Who wants cholera?) and food from the grocery store is generally clean (with the exception of meat which can be loaded with disease causing bacteria).
Knowing the true source of B12 changed everything for me and I sought out Dr. Gregor’s book, “How Not to Die”, and my perspective radically changed. I have since sought out information beyond Dr. Gregor’s book, and there is copious compelling consistent scientific information that dispels concerns regarding adequacy of protein and calcium from plant based diets.
Up until then I had been trying to follow a Paleo diet, mostly eating foods that would be available in nature without processing. This made sense to me that was a healthy way to go. I have since learned that Paleo, although probably better than the standard American Diet, is far from optimal for health. I avoided processed and packaged foods, but did not avoid dairy because I liked my cheese and yogurt and was, at that time, not sufficiently compelled by any claims of harm from it. I have since learned otherwise.
The good Dr. Gregor is no lightweight. All of the information is his book is evidence-based, meaning that he has peer reviewed studies from the world scientific literature to back his claims up. He does not base his information on speculation, but on the best objective scientific information currently available.
There are several legitimate concerns about eliminating animal products from the diet. How can we get enough protein from plants? Won’t our bones dissolve without animal products, in particular dairy? There has never been a vegan civilization. Doesn’t that prove that we should eat meat? Isn’t eating meat normal and natural? What about zinc? Don’t we need the Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil? What about all of those carbs from eating plants? Won’t they make you fat and diabetic? What about gluten? Isn’t that going to kill you? These are great questions that I will discuss in future posts.
All photos used are sourced from: https://www.pexels.com/photo-license/