Vegan Objections and How to Answer Them
If you have been eating a plant-based diet for any length of time, or even if you are just thinking about it, you’ve probably heard some of these “vegan objections” from friends and family. As soon as you tell people that you have decided to eat a vegan, or plant based diet they may start in with all the reasons why you shouldn’t. Or maybe they will just have questions.
Often they will try to convince you that a vegan diet is unhealthy, impractical, not recommended by their doctor, or some other excuse. I’m sure they mean well, but usually they are just misinformed.
I’m not out to convince anyone that they have to give up animal products, but I do want you to be able to defend the choices you’ve made.
- “I wouldn’t know what to eat without animal products.”
- “I’ve read that the Paleo diet is the healthiest and most natural for humans.”
- “You shouldn’t eat all those lectins and phytates in beans and grains.”
- “Every culture through history has included animal products in their diet, so they must be important.”
- “My doctor told me I need meat (or other animal products)”
- “Fruit is full of sugar that causes Candida overgrowth” (or some other imaginary problem)
- “But I like meat, or cheese, or eggs.”
- “I tried a vegan diet and my health suffered.”
- “Everyone is unique, so we all need different diets.”
Scroll down to take a look at each of these arguments in turn.
What Is Left for Vegans to Eat?
I can’t believe how many times I’ve heard the statement, “I wouldn’t know what to eat without animal products.” Sure, it takes a little time, effort, and creativity to change the habits of a lifetime, but you can find an endless variety of whole plant food recipes available at the click of a mouse.
Just do a quick Internet search and you will find thousands of recipes and plant-based meal plans. In a pinch, you can just grab a piece of fruit or a carrot with a handful of almonds!
An easy way to start out is to replace:
- meat with beans, lentils, split peas, or bean dips – enjoy with grains, nuts, or seeds for good amino acid balance (in the same meal, or even the next day)
- eggs with flax meal, chia seeds, chick pea flour, aquafaba (or another egg substitute) for baking. There is even a whole cookbook on the subject (though it does use a lot of tofu and nutritional yeast, neither of which are recommended by Anthony William) – The Vegan Eggz Cookbook
- dairy products with nut or seed milks, vegan nut cheeses, ice creams, and yogurts (be sure to read ingredients, because some dairy substitutes contain artificial ingredients and soy)
Healthy Vegan Substitutes for more options.
Vegan Pantry Staple Foods for what to stock in your pantry.
Stick to Whole Foods
Remember that most dairy alternatives are not whole foods. Most nut, grain, and bean milks have the solids removed, except for hempseed and cashew milks (if not strained). Vegan cheeses, ice creams, and other products made from these milks are the same, and there are often gums and other thickeners added. Use in moderation.
If you like to eat out, try ethnic restaurants. Most ethnic cuisines have many dishes that are vegan, or can easily be adapted by leaving out the animal products, i.e. bean burrito minus the cheese, veggie Chinese dishes, Middle Eastern (falafels, humus, tabouli), Ethiopian (pretty much anything without meat), Japanese (veggie sushi, rice noodle soup). Branch out and explore new cuisines!
See What Vegans Eat page for more specific ideas.
The Paleo Diet Argument
The Paleo and Ketogenic Diets are fairly recent low carb diet fads that have a good side and a bad side. They stress eating whole, natural foods and lots of vegetables. That is good. But they also tell people to avoid beans and grains, which are valuable additions to the vegan diet.
They also discourage fruit, except for berries, but fruit actually has some of the most healing nutrients of all. Don’t be afraid to include a wide variety of fresh, organic fruit in your diet every day. (See more on fruit below.) These diets also recommend large amounts of meat, fish, eggs, and saturated fat, which have been shown in many scientific studies to be detrimental to health.
Ketosis can be helpful for short-term healing. That is why some form of fasting is used in so many healing centers. In fasting, or a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are eliminated or strictly limited. This causes the body to use fat and protein as fuel, rather than glucose.
Since we tend to store toxins in our fat, ketosis can be a quick way to detox. However, flushing out all those toxins at once can actually cause an overload of toxins in your bloodstream, and that puts a lot of stress on the liver and kidneys. For a safer and more gentle detox, I recommend the Medical Medium 28 day raw fruit and vegetable cleanse.
Fasting, as well as a low-carb diet, causes ketosis, which can help you lose weight and detox temporarily. However, as with fasting, a low-carb diet should only be used short term, for a couple of months at most.
Our bodies are designed to use glucose as our primary fuel, which means we need carbohydrates from whole foods to stay in the best of health. Ketosis is a healing mechanism our bodies can use in times of injury or illness. Once we are healed, I have found that following the Medical Medium protocol, including plenty of fresh fruits, will bring the best results.
The term “Paleo Diet” is actually a misnomer. The modern version is not even close to what our ancient ancestors ate. The small amount of meat they did eat was very much leaner and they had to work hard to get it. Most of their diet consisted of leafy greens, roots, and fruits. Our ancient ancestors also ate a whole lot more fiber than even most vegans eat today. And they didn’t live very long!
I am very concerned that we are going to see a huge rise in heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, kidney disease, colon cancer, and diabetes as a result of the popularity of the modern high-meat, high-fat Paleo and Ketogenic diet fads.
It is true that these diets often make people feel better in the short term, because they tend to lose weight and have more energy due to removing refined junk foods, gluten, and dairy products from their diets. Long term, I predict that we will see a lot of serious health problems cropping up. Time will tell.
More information about Paleo diets – https://nutritionfacts.org/video/paleolithic-lessons/
Lectins and Phytates
Some people will tell you to avoid lectins and/or phytates. This is a relatively new argument, born of the Paleo craze, The Plant Paradox book, and the Blood Type diet, all of which have been debunked by many scientific studies.
It is true that lectins and phytates can interfere with some mineral uptake. If you are mineral deficient, you may want to focus on high-mineral foods like Atlantic seaweeds and Hawaiian Spirulina. But ALL plant foods contain lectins and phytates, so avoiding them is impossible, especially on a vegan diet unless you thoroughly cook all your food.
Lectins are found in all plant foods, a big clue that they are relatively harmless. People are most concerned about lectins in legumes (beans, peas, lentils, cashews) and the solanum or nightshade family of vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant). Yet, unless you have a negative reaction to them, these are all healthy foods to include in your plant-based diet.
Potatoes (in the nightshade family) are highly recommended by Anthony William, and Dr. Greger strongly recommends beans. You can destroy lectins by boiling for 15 minutes, which you would always do with beans, anyway. Sprouting beans and seeds will also reduce lectin levels. In any case, I wouldn’t worry about them unless you have a serious digestive problem or mineral deficiency. Then you might want to temporarily avoid unboiled cashews, beans, and nightshades until you heal your gut.
According to Dr. Greger, phytates are actually good for us. Low phytate consumption may even be an osteoporosis risk factor!
Phytates are found in all plant foods, particularly seeds, beans, grains, and nuts. Phytic acid can be partially reduced by soaking and/or sprouting. Fermentation, particularly sourdough fermentation, also removes phytic acid from foods.
Bottom line, humans have been eating lots of beans, grains, nuts, seeds, and the nightshade family for thousands of years. Large populations have maintained health for many generations on diets mainly consisting of potatoes, or rice, along with vegetables and fruits.
However, if your digestion is compromised, you may not feel well after eating these foods. It is best to avoid foods that bother you, at least for awhile. Try avoiding them for a few months, then eat one serving of them every third day to see if you tolerate them better. As your digestive system heals, you will probably find that you can eat these foods without any problem.
I highly recommend the Medical Medium 28 day raw fruit and vegetable cleanse for gut healing, along with his recommendation to drink 16 oz of fresh celery juice on an empty stomach every day.
Our Original Diet
Most cultures now include some kind of animal products in their diets, but it may not have always been so. If we go all the way back to biblical times, the original human diet appears to be vegan. The book of Genesis quotes God as saying, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
I personally don’t think “God” told anyone what to eat, but this passage shows that at one time it was strongly believed that only plants were food for humans. Hebrew mythology aside, this information was considered important enough to include in their most sacred text. So, I wouldn’t take it lightly.
Even though most cultures eventually included animal products, that may have more to do with moving away from places where there was an abundance of wild fruits and vegetables than it had to do with dietary needs.
Great apes in Africa, where scientists believe human life began, still live on a whole foods plant-based diet, much like what our earliest ancestors ate. Yes, some of them occasionally eat bugs and small animals, but their diet is almost entirely plant based. Since their anatomy is very similar to ours, it stands to reason that we would thrive on the same diet.
That being said, we humans like more variety and creativity in our cuisine. Humans have been known to eat just about anything that can be made to taste good, but that doesn’t make it healthy. We can get away with a lot of experimentation, but our bodies still thrive on a diet of leafy greens, raw fruits, vegetables, and seeds (nuts, beans, gluten-free grains).
Doctors and Nutrition
Most doctors know very little about nutrition, and even less about vegan nutrition. It is just not a focus in medical schools. At best, they may have a couple of weeks worth of nutrition classes out of all their years of training. The rest of the time they learn about anatomy, surgery, and how to prescribe drugs. The idea of curing disease with good nutrition is simply not part of their training, and prevention is low on the medical school agenda.
So why take a doctor’s advice when they say you need to eat meat, or some other animal product? It’s like asking a plumber what you should have for dinner. Though, the plumber will not lose any money if you make healthier choices.
I believe doctors mean well and want to help people. However, doctors are trained to fix acute problems and to treat chronic diseases with drugs and surgery. Unfortunately, drugs and surgery rarely cure. They only suppress symptoms, and they usually have very negative side effects. The real cures have to come from a nutritious diet, adequate exercise, eliminating toxins, and a generally healthy lifestyle.
The good news is that there are some doctors who do take nutrition seriously. Thanks to the work of tireless researchers and plant-based doctors like Drs. Michael Greger, T. Collin Campbell, Ornish, Barnard, Esselstyn, McDougall, Fuhrman, Klaper, and Goldhamer, the facts are now in and easily accessible.
Multiple scientific studies show the clear benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet. The facts are irrefutable.
Need a Plant Based Doctor?
If you are ill, or you want to get your blood tested by someone who knows what to look for, check out this list of doctors who understand plant based nutrition. They are more likely to find a way to help you heal – https://www.plantbaseddoctors.org/find
Candida & Fruit Myths
There has been a lot of hype in the media about avoiding fruit, because it contains sugars that could feed Candida. Actually, Candida is a natural yeast that grows in the gut, and there is no scientific evidence that it is harmful. In fact, studies have even shown that there is no correlation between Candida growth and sugar consumption – https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-candida-syndrome-real/
That being said, eating refined sugar has been shown to suppress the immune system for several hours, so don’t imagine you can get away with a diet of Twinkies and candy. On the other hand, some whole-food sugars, like raw honey and fresh fruits, have been shown to support the immune system.
Avoiding fruit means avoiding the plentiful vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that only fruits can provide. Also, because our bodies need some sort of fuel in the form of calories, the missing fruit calories will have to be replaced by fats or starches.
Fat Calories & Vegan Objections
Fats provide absolutely no nutritional value beyond the omega fatty acids that we need in very small amounts (about 1 Tbs./day). Furthermore, an excess of fatty foods will contribute to thick blood, high cholesterol, diabetes, and clogged arteries. A high-fat diet also puts a heavy burden on the heart and liver.
The recent media promotion of high-fat diets has largely been financed by the meat, egg, and dairy industries. If you look at the funding for studies showing the benefits of a high-fat diet, you will notice they have been paid for by those industries and processed food companies.
Starch Calories & Vegan Objections
Starches can be a valuable source of calories as long as they come from whole foods. However, high-starch foods, such as beans and grains, are often acid forming. Though we need to eat some acid-forming foods, they should only make up about 20% of our total diet.
Most organic fruits and vegetables are alkaline forming, including acidic lemons and limes. It is the mineral content that determines whether a food will create acid in the body or not. So, if you do choose to limit fruit intake (but please don’t), look for alkaline-forming whole food starches, rather than fats, to replace those calories.
Here’s a good list of acid and alkaline forming foods – http://www.keytohealthclinic.com/alkalinediet.php
Dangers of High Carb with High Fat
Apparently, high sugar plus high fat is the worst combination of all. So a high-fruit diet is probably not compatible with a high-fat diet, unless you want to put yourself at risk for diabetes and other health complications. If you want to maintain optimal health, you will have to choose between high fat and high sugar/carbs.
The choice is obvious to me. Carbohydrates, both whole-food fruit sugars, and complex carbohydrates from whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables provide the essential minerals and vitamins we need. Fats do not. So, do yourself a favor and put that fruit fear out of your mind. Replace most of your dietary fats with fruits and healthy whole-food starches.
You Like What Is Familiar
As for the “liking” argument, it doesn’t hold up any better than liking smoking, or liking to take drugs. If it is not good for you, WHY keep doing it?
Eating animal products is just another bad habit that undermines your own health, as well as harming animals. You can break it by replacing it with better habits. In time, your tastes will adapt to a new diet. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Give it time and don’t kick yourself for backsliding.
It is not a contest. Make changes at a pace that works for you. Every whole foods vegan meal you eat is a step toward better health for you and for our planet, and a better life for some animal. Just keep making those substitutions and one day you will realize that you don’t even miss the animal products.
If you need help breaking food addictions or overcoming food cravings, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is an excellent tool. I can teach you the basics in less than an hour, so you can try it on yourself whenever cravings come up. Email Bernadette Wulf
It is true that there are many unhealthy vegans and vegetarians in the world. That is sad, because they mean well, but they don’t know about, or follow, good nutritional guidelines. I totally understand, because I was once one of them.
Even though I spent a lot of time researching nutrition over the last 50 years, there were still missing pieces that I only discovered recently. I wanted to eat a healthy diet without causing harm to animals ever since I was a teenager. Many years later I became convinced by The China Study, that animal products are one of the main causes of degenerative diseases.
It seemed obvious that a diet close to vegan was best, and eating whole foods was a no brainer. Yet, I didn’t have all the information I needed for optimal health until I discovered Anthony William and Dr. Greger.
Dr. Michael Greger
Dr. Greger has finally provided us with abundant scientific research confirming the value of a whole foods vegan diet. He and his team of researchers read and evaluate every single scientific study on health and diet in the English language! In study after study, he shows that those who eat a whole foods plant-based diet have far less occurrence of degenerative diseases. I highly recommend listening to his videos and reading his blog posts and his book, How Not to Die. It could save your life!
The Medical Medium
Anthony William, The Medical Medium, gets his information from a being he calls “Spirit.” I know, it is very unscientific! Don’t let that turn you off.
Personally, I only began seeing real improvements in my health when I started following Anthony William’s recommendations. I am now in my mid-60s and I have more energy than I’ve had in decades.
I rarely catch a bug anymore, even when I hang out with snotty-nosed toddlers. My nails are getting stronger (and that also means my bones). I have less respiratory congestion than I’ve had in decades. My back feels much stronger. I have more stamina for physical activities than I’ve had in many years.
It has been a gradual process. I started out in life with lots of respiratory problems that have taken different forms over the years. Thanks to Anthony William, I now realize that viruses were at the root of my health issues. By following his anti-viral protocol, and other suggestions, I feel like I can finally reclaim the health I should have had for the last six decades. I only wish I had discovered his information a lot sooner.
Plants Provide Everything We Need for Health Except Vitamins B-12 and D
Every nutrient needed for human health is available in plants, except for vitamin D, which comes from exposing our skin to sunlight, and vitamin B-12, which comes from bacteria that are usually washed off in our modern, sanitary world. Some B-12 is available in animal products, because animals don’t wash their food, but even meat eaters are often deficient.
- Everyone (vegan or not) should supplement with a good B-12 like VeganSafe, especially everyone over 50. You cannot get too much, and deficiency can cause pernicious anemia, which can be life threatening!
- Vegans (and anyone else who doesn’t regularly eat wild, cold-water fish) should also supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids, ideally EPA and DHA from algae. You can eat a couple of tablespoons of ground flax seeds per day and your body will convert some of the Omega 3 to EPA and DHA, but apparently not very efficiently. I would rather supplement and be safe! Also, eating a small amount of coconut oil with Omega 3 foods and supplements appears to enhance conversion to EPA and DHA.
- Most of us also need to supplement with vitamin D. There are vegan forms available in most natural food stores. Studies show that D-3 seems to be better for longevity, but D-2 will also help maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
Everyone Is Different?
It is true that we are each unique, as are all animals. Yet, we don’t see zebras eating meat, gorillas drinking antelope milk, or mountain lions climbing cherry trees to fill up on fruit. Animals all eat pretty much the same diet as the rest of their species. So why do some humans react negatively to particular foods, while others thrive on them?
There are probably whole books written on this subject, but I suspect it all comes down to the microbiome. Depending on what we have eaten and been exposed to in the past (chlorine, fluoride, vaccines, drugs, toxins, antibiotics, etc.), our gut bacteria can be very different from another person’s. That is one reason I suggest making gradual changes in your diet.
I Learned from Experience
Because I didn’t know any better, I treated my body like a human guinea pig. I jumped from one dietary extreme to another, trying to find my ideal diet, but I didn’t take all those bacteria living in my gut into account. They let me know in no uncertain terms that they were not happy with all my radical changes.
I suddenly started getting severe hay fever every spring, which meant a month or two of constant sneezing and runny nose! Not fun, and NOT my idea of health! Of course, people suggested that it was because I stopped eating meat. In a way it may have been true, but only because I made the switch too fast.
The gut bacteria that liked living on meat and the SAD diet protested. I hadn’t yet replaced them with bacteria that preferred whole plant foods, so I wasn’t digesting anything very well. And guess what I replaced the meat with – cheese! Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire! Cheese is much worse than meat, from a health standpoint.
I didn’t yet know that I could be healthy without ANY animal products, so I just replaced one type with another. That obviously wasn’t working very well, so I tried a raw vegan diet and loaded up on nuts (something many raw vegans do). That led to more digestive issues and more experimentation. I’ll spare you all the phases I went through.
Eureka! I Found it!
On it went for decades until I discovered Anthony William and started following his advice. I learned that I had been feeding VIRUSES in my body by eating eggs, dairy, soy, corn, gluten, natural flavors, MSG, citric acid, and canola oil. Those were all foods that supported an unhealthy microbiome.
As soon as I stopped feeding the viruses, everything started getting better, gradually. I really needed a website like this one to show me what I was doing wrong, but it didn’t exist yet. So I created this one to save you from having to go through all the years of experimentation I went through.
To those who say that everyone needs a different diet, I would say that may be true as long as people have different gut bacteria. However, it is not entirely true, any more than it is true for individuals of any other species.
It is much more likely that everyone needs a different amount of time for their microbiome to adapt to eating the diet that is best for all of us – an organic, whole foods plant-based diet with lots of raw fruits and vegetables. The good news is that your gut bacteria WILL gradually change as you add more plant foods to your diet. You can also take a good probiotic supplement to speed up the process.
Looking for Answers to Other Vegan Objections?
If you want to read about other vegan objections, I recommend doing a quick search on the Internet. You will find lots more objections and good ways to answer them. Here’s a good place to start – https://vegyouth.com/choosing-veg/common-objections/