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From: Pumpkin (
Subject:         Nutrients lacking/not absorbed?
Date: October 24, 2006 at 2:34 am PST

In Reply to: Re: Is John Robbins vegan? posted by Warren Green on October 19, 2006 at 5:29 pm:

I've heard variations on that story many, many times. People are so wedded to their animal foods that they are sure they must be lacking something when eating a vegan diet. I think it's generally in their head more then their physiology. " body wouldn't absorb iron." Well, there is not much iron in a small serving of fish or chicken, so that would do little. There is abundant iron in green, leafy vegetables, and the form of iron in vegetables is generally well-absorbed in humans. However, if the person is eating a poor-quality vegan diet, there well may be nutritional problems. And absorption problems (a disease condition) may occur in vegans as well as SAD-eaters. Low measured blood iron may be a function of infection, poor absorption due to an undiagnosed disease condition (celiac for example), poor diet in general, or other causes. And of course, in our modern sanitized society, vegans should be taking B-12 regularly (sublingual is recommended).

Peronally, I agree with Drs. Campbell etc. that it is unproductive to be obsessive about keeping every speck and molecule of animal products out of your food. But I'm not an ethical vegan. However, nothing I've read convinces me that anyone "needs" animal products in their diet for any reason other than psychological.

There is a current fad for eating wild cold-water fish in order to get more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids into the diet. There are some studies suggesting that *some* people, notably diabetics, may have a problem converting the omega-3 pufas into a beneficial form of fatty acid. People who are reasonably healthy should be able to get along fine with vegan sources of omega-3's, such as tree nuts, green leafy vegetables, flax seeds. There is certainly evidence that populations without regular access to significant amounts of cold-water fish were nonetheless able to acheive good health and longevity. High omega-3 fish oils definitely are shown to be heart-helpful, but mainly in those eating a SAD diet.

Also, I know that some authors who recommend a generally vegan whole foods diet do go to quite a bit of effort to NOT be perceived as "vegans" because of the negative perception the general population has of AR activists and holier-than-thou vegan food purists. I'm not sure how much of the fish eating (an annual bite of Thanksgiving turkey for Dr. McDougall) is about perception and how much is about health. At any rate, it is true that neither population studies nor clinical studies have been able to discern any health differences between vegan and 0.95% vegan diets.

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