9 Documentaries That Could Turn Anyone Vegan

Recently there have been more and more films and documentaries that focus on the environment, animal rights and veganism. This is fantastic because documentaries and films have such strong impressions on people that they can really drive change, so make sure you share them with friends and family for maximum impact.

This post will list some of the most effective and popular films and documentaries so you don’t end up scrolling through Netflix for hours on end unable to decide what to watch. I will try to add both the popular films for people who are completely new to these ideas, and some more obscure but interesting pieces for existing environmentalists that are looking for more. As usual I won’t list them in any particular order:

Image credit goes to Cowspiracy.com

One of the most well known documentaries about the effects of animal agriculture on the environment, this film, directed and produced by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, is charged with facts and logic that people have a very hard time arguing against. Leonardo DiCaprio became executive producer for a new cut version released to Netflix in 2015, and since its creation it has become something of a symbol for vegans around the world.

The good thing about this documentary is the way in which it lays out all the facts in an easy to understand and thought provoking way (even though the figures are astounding). It focuses on the environmental impact of animal agriculture, but doesn’t ignore the ethical and health factors, and doesn’t rely on shocking or horrific imagery so it can be watched by anyone.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit cowspiracy.com for more information.

Image credit goes to peaceablekingdomfilm.org

This is an award winning documentary that tells the story of several traditional farmers who re-examine their relationships with animals. In doing so, their consciences show them that the only way to live is by going vegan. After realising their mistakes they set up sanctuaries for farm animals, it’s a truly touching story.

There is a newer version title, Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home  created by the same producer (James LaVeck) and director (Jenny Stein) in 2009 with a different star cast.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit peaceablekingdomfilm.org for more information.

Image credit goes to letlivefilm.com

A wonderful documentary directed by Marc Pierschel that explores the ethical, environmental and health reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle. Six different individuals are interviewed about their vow to remain vegan for life including a vegan chef who used to be a butcher, and a farm sanctuary owner who used to be a factory farmer.

‘Live and Let Live’ shows how veganism has evolved from its origins in 1944 London to one of the fastest growing movements worldwide, with increasing numbers of people realising what’s on their plates matters to animals, the environment and ultimately themselves.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit letlivefilm.com for more information.

Image credit goes to forksoverknives.com

‘Forks Over Knives’ is a documentary that focuses on the health aspect of modern diets; the damage caused by animal products and the benefits of plant-based diets. Solid correlations are made between animal products and degenerative diseases that are so problematic (especially in the west) today, all of which is presented and backed by strong scientific and medical evidence.

The major story line in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. The filmmakers also document several real patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and reveal how plant based diets help them to recover.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit forksoverknives.com for more information.

 

Image credit goes to getvegucated.com

A socio-comical documentary, ‘Vegucated’ follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers who agree to go vegan for six weeks. This journey starts as a method of weight loss, but they soon start to uncover the dark truth of animal agriculture, and turns them against the industry they had so recently patronised.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit getvegucated.com for more information.

Image credit goes to mayibefrankmovie.com

‘May I Be Frank’ is a documentary about the moving story of an unhealthy and overweight, middle-aged, Italian-American man who discovers that a plant-based diet can help him feel and look better after he visits the vegan restaurant ‘Café Gratitude’ in Berkeley, California. The Café Gratitude employees suggest an experiment, which he accepts and undergoes a life-changing transformation that you don’t want to miss.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit mayibefrankmovie.com for more information.

Image credit goes to nationearth.com

‘Earthlings’ is one of the most talked about documentaries around, and for good reason. Directed by Shaun Monson, music by Moby and (the English version) narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix, this film pulls no punches, and has been responsible for an awful lot of change. Not for the faint hearted, earthlings reveals the truth about the horrific way we treat animals without omitting the actual evidence, so many people have a hard time watching it (although if you can’t watch it, then you need to reconsider your consumption of animal products!).

The documentary is split into five parts that deal with different aspects of animal exploitation: pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. The use of hidden cameras reveals the true horrors that occur on a daily basis and provide a very real, and very disturbing picture of the way humans treat fellow earthlings.

The sequel to ‘Earthlings’ is called ‘Unity’ and was released in 2015, but also look out for the third part ‘Beings’ which will arrive in 2020.

Here is the trailer (WARNING This trailer contains disturbing material):

Don’t forget to visit nationearth.com for more information

Image credit goes to theghostsinourmachine.com

Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur challenges our view of animals as food and clothing as well as animal-tested goods and animal entertainment in this award winning documentary. Throughout the film Jo-Anne photographs animals on fur farms and at Farm Sanctuary, among other places, and seeks to publish her work. One of the core messages of this film is to re-evaluate how we look at animals; to start looking at animals as individuals instead of objects. The film as a whole is a plea for animal rights.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit theghostsinourmachine.com for more information.

Image credit goes to speciesismthemovie.com

Director Mark Devries sets out to investigate the world of of factory farms and reveal their secrets, as well as exploring the idea of speciesism, which is essentially the way humans assume superiority over other animals. Sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, this documentary sets out to make you rethink the way in which we treat animals and why we feel so high and mighty in an attempt to dispel the illusion of human superiority and look at animals in a new light.

Here is the trailer:

Don’t forget to visit speciesismthemovie.com for more information.

Thank you for reading this list, I hope you found something new to watch and share! With that in mind please remember that sharing these documentaries is just as important as watching them, it is essential that the information and ideas they express is distributed so that people will start seeing the truth. Animal lives, the environment and even your personal health are affected by the exploitation of animals, but people simply do not know enough to change. Going vegan is the only way we can ensure our planet avoids destruction, the only way to avoid unimaginable suffering on an unprecedented scale and the only way we can progress as an ethical, intelligent species.

Please like and share this list to help your friends and followers discover new documentaries, and consider following me on Twitter and Google+, and liking my page on Facebook, thank you.

Image Credit:
Cowspiracy – Visit cowspiracy.com for more
Peaceable Kingdom – Visit peaceablekingdomfilm.org for more
Live and Let Live (featured image) – Visit letlivefilm.com for more
Forks Over Knives – Visit forksoverknives.com for more
Vegucated – Visit getvegucated.com for more
May I Be Frank – Visit mayibefrankmovie.com for more
Earthlings – Visit nationearth.com for more
The Ghosts in Our Machine – Visit theghostsinourmachine.com for more
Speciesism: The Movie – Visit speciesismthemovie.com for more

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How and Why to Help Bees: Top 10 Tips

You’ve most likely heard that disaster is heading our way in the form of bee populations declining, but not everyone knows exactly why this is bad or what they can do to help. Hopefully this article will help you understand the importance of bees (and other natural pollinators) and give you some ideas on what you can do to help bees, and save the planet.

Nature’s Matchmakers

The reason bees are considered so important is because they are natural pollinators, taking pollen from the male part of the plant (anther) to the female part (stigma) and triggering the formation of the fruit, seed or nut. Some plants can pollinate themselves, but others rely on animals to help them reproduce which is why natural pollinators are so important. Bees are especially good at this job because they tend to visit the same plant species in one outing, leading to an even distribution of pollen from other plants of the same species instead of randomly spreading pollen to different plants, in other words their pollination is of higher quality.

Bees are able to pollinate so well due to certain characteristics such as stiff hairs that catch pollen and leg pockets that store it, allowing for efficient transportation from plant to plant. They are responsible for pollinating around one sixth of the planet’s flowering plant species and approximately 400 types of agricultural plant. This is an extraordinary amount, experts suggesting that bees are responsible for around one third of everything we eat!

Impending Disaster

'dying bee' by oliver.dodd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Now we know why bees are so important for the planet, why do they need saving? There are several factors that have led to huge drops in global bee populations that are threatening the environment and our very existence. Without bees doing the work of pollinating plants, humans would have to step in to do it manually, yes that’s right manually, which simply wouldn’t be possible. Imagine how much time, money and how many people it would take to use small brushes to pollinate food plants in the US alone each year, food prices would soar as availability dropped and starvation would follow. Even Albert Einstein appears to have commented on the issue saying:

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

So what is causing bees populations to drop?

The term CCD, colony collapse disorder, is used to describe the death or disappearance of bees from a hive and has become a major concern for governments. After several studies, evidence suggests that a combination of factors are affecting bees:

  • Shrinking habitats: As more and more land is used for development, bee habitats and foraging space is obviously being destroyed. Bees rely on large areas to forage, flying up to three miles from the hive in search of food. The problem is that large areas of wild plants and trees are destroyed for humans to build, and every time the space needed by the bees is taken away.
  • Poor nutrition: Farms are becoming monocultures of commodity crops such as wheat and corn which provide very little in the way of nutrition for bees, meaning the hive cannot be sustained; bees are literally starving to death. Also in attempts to maximise honey yields (especially in the US), the entire stock of honey is removed and replaced with cheaper high fructose corn syrup for the bees to eat during the winter. Honey contains all the nutrients, including bee specific hormones and enzymes, that are needed for the bees to remain healthy and boost their immune system against the viruses and parasites that now threaten them.
  • Parasites and viruses: One of the most destructive parasites are Varroa mites which are closely associated with CCD on a large scale. They are resistant to pesticides and have been a cause for concern since the 1980s. Chemical giant Monsanto hastily introduced chemicals to combat parasites and viruses, but instead made the problems worse. They produced an insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) derived from genetically modified corn which affected the bees, breaking down the stomach walls and essentially stopping them eating. This caused bees to become extremely weak and vulnerable to viruses and parasites, however powerful lobbying from powerful chemical companies such as Monsanto has kept these chemicals in use (even today) causing the continued destruction of bee populations worldwide.
  • Insecticides, pesticides and fungicides: Carrying on from the previous point, harmful insecticides are still being used in large quantities. Designed to kill off ‘pests’ that attack crops, these chemicals also kill off other insects, including bees. Chemicals such as neonicotinoids cause acute poisoning that destroys the central nervous system of bees, affecting entire hives even when used at what are considered ‘safe levels’. Bees take contaminated nectar back to the hive causing extreme toxicity and vulnerability to viruses and parasites which then spread. As said in the previous point however, these chemicals continue to be used due to the influence of the likes of Monsanto who place profits before lives.

As you can see bees are facing terrible issues thanks to human influence, so now we need to make changes to avoid their extinction. The effort must be made from both bottom up and top down action, but this affects us all so do your bit to help bees!

Top 10 Tips to Help Bees

'Bijenhotel Grimbergen Belgium' by Geertivp is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

  1. Plant bee friendly plants: Providing bees with forage is a great way to give them a helping hand. The best way to do this is plant patches of specific flowering plants (I will provide a list of examples below) since bees like volume of forage, a sq. meter is a good estimate. Avoid horticultural plants that are double or multi-petalled, these usually have extra petals instead of anthers, and bees prefer flowers that are blue, purple or yellow. Don’t forget that many plants we consider weeds, such as clover, are actually perfect to help bees, so letting your lawn or garden live a little can be a huge help. Here are some examples of plants that bees like:
    • Achilliea millefolium (Yarrow)
    • Verbena spp. (Verbena)
    • Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
    • Salvia spp. (Sage)
    • Lavandula spp. (Lavender)
    • Helianthus spp. (Sunflower)
    • Aster spp. (Aster)
    • Borago officinalis (Borage)
    • *Remember to buy seeds or plants that aren’t treated with pesticides, and if possible it is best to get native plants.*
  2. Plant Wildflowers: Set aside an area in your garden to allow wildflowers to grow freely, making sure to grow native plants. This will provide some excellent foraging spaces for the bees without taking much effort or space (unless you make your entire garden a wildflower paradise!). Certain grasses can be be quite resilient so you may have to opt for stronger plants such as Rhinanthus minor (Yellow Rattle) which can out-compete the grass. These areas are great not only to help bees, but many other insects and animals and can be quite a beautiful addition to any garden.
  3. Don’t Kill Bees! Many people get scared at the thought of bees because they don’t want to get stung (or may even be allergic) however we must understand that bees are not out to get you. Most bees are herbivores, and will not attack unless really provoked, and in fact will avoid doing so since they will die if they sting a human. Stay calm and still if a bee is around or lands on you, they will detect both the carbon dioxide from breath (usually someone screaming or shouting) and pheromones released with fear or anger that can stress out the bee and cause them to attack. However for the most part simply trying not to get in the bees’ way as much as possible by avoiding entrances to hives or paths to plants is the best way; don’t get in their way and they will leave you alone. The insects to look out for are actually things like wasps and hornets etc. that are carnivores and are much more likely to sting you and are attracted by things like sugary drinks.
  4. Provide Habitats and Help: Many people are now familiar with the concept of ‘bug hotels’ and the like, but did you know these are great for bees too? A friend asked me recently how these could help bees “because bees live in hives”, this is true but there are many species of bees that are solitary. They usually burrow underground or into wood to lay their eggs and spend their time foraging alone, so providing a safe place for them to stay is a great way to help (and making a bug hotel can be very fun). Don’t forget that bees need water too, so put out a shallow bowl or basin of water with some stones in for the bees to crawl on and let them have a drink, they’ll thank you!
  5. Don’t Use Pesticides: As you read before chemicals can have disastrous effects on bee health, so avoid using chemicals on your garden especially when plants are flowering. Chemicals may be an easy way to make your lawn or garden look pristine (and unnatural if you ask me) but they are causing terrible damage to wildlife. Try to find organic, chemical free methods of pest control to avoid causing damage and attract lots of pollinators.
  6. Try to buy local, organic produce: Farms that supply supermarkets use huge amounts of chemical pesticides and monocultural methods to meet demands, and as we have seen these are some of the main reasons behind bee population loss. So by trying to buy produce from local farmers that you can verify whether the food is coming from a monoculture or not you can avoid personally contributing to destructive farming. This is also a great way to contribute to your local community and reduce your food miles. You can also grow your own fruit and vegetables, which is a very rewarding project! Obviously if you aren’t vegan yet, buying honey from local raw honey is the best but not consuming honey at all would be better (you won’t add to global demand or exploit bees for their food).
  7. Allow Your Vegetables to Bolt: Allow a few leafy vegetables to ‘bolt’ (go to seed) after harvest. Seeding plants are the best for bees stocking up on food before the colder parts of the year. Unlike wasps that die out, bees just slow down and wait for Spring so make sure you help them gather supplies and they’ll be much better equipped to last.
  8. Spread the Word: One of the best ways we can help is by educating others; sharing your knowledge can have a ripple effect and do so much more good. Many people are only vaguely aware of the issues at hand, so spreading the word can alert them to the problems and kick them into action. You can share with friends and family, or even take the initiative to educate your local community as long as people are made more aware you are doing a great job. Children need to be shown that compassion is the key and shown that they can help, they are the ones who will carry these thoughts on and avoid making the same mistakes.
  9. Tell Councils and Governments That Bees Need Our Help: Not all the effort has to come from us at a household level, in fact top down pressure from councils and governments is necessary to change policies and make the world a friendlier place for bees. You can write letters, sign or start petitions and campaign to help natural pollinators, because when people stop calling for change the councils and governments will ignore the problems and allocate funding elsewhere. Only by fighting hard can we ensure the future of bees and thus the environment (and ourselves!).
  10. Consider Learning to Become a Beekeeper With Sustainable Practices: You can actually take beekeeping courses, as long as they are sustainable practices, and directly look after hives yourself. You can obviously keep bees without harvesting honey, which is great for vegans, but you have to learn about splitting hives etc. Although another option is to keep Mason bees which are solitary, don’t produce honey or wax, are resistant to Varroa mites and are excellent pollinators.

So now you know a little more about bees, why they are important, what the issues are and a few ways to protect them. As I said before one of the important aspects of fighting to help bees is to share knowledge and awareness, so share this article and do your best to protect the pollinators!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the website to receive updates for new content, you can also follow the Fox Eyed Man on Twitter, Facebook, Google+Tumblr and now Instagram for further discussions.

Image credits:

Featured Image: ‘Bee-apis‘ by Maciej A. Czyzewski is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

 ‘dying bee‘ by oliver.dodd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bijenhotel Grimbergen Belgium‘ by Geertivp is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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Top 5 Vegan Health Myths

This article has been written to dispel some of the myths that surround veganism in an attempt to lay out the facts. This article is not supposed to be an attack on meat eaters, I am not suggesting that vegans are ‘better than you’ I am simply trying to make the facts truthful and clear regarding links between health and a vegan lifestyle. This article is designed to address only the health aspects and will not include arguments for other concepts within the vegan movement such as environmental concerns or animal welfare.

I have tried to be as objective as possible, since health is a silly thing to lie to oneself or others about, and misinformation could be detrimental. Also note that I am not personally a medical professional, I have only conducted research examining recent scientific studies and evidence, but the following should not be treated as medical advice and should not replace recommendations by trained medical professionals or your personal judgement.

I hope this article will provide you with some useful information and make you rethink some of the vegan health myths which are are now either outdated or have been disproved.

Without milk you won’t get your calcium

Calcium by The Fox Eyed Man

One thing that is often assumed about vegans is that without dairy products they will be deficient in calcium and thus more vulnerable to issues with bone density and health. However, recent studies are increasingly suggesting that this simply isn’t the case. What many people don’t realise is that common, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, broccoli, nuts and beans (to name a few sources) provide an excellent source of calcium (and indeed iron and essential proteins among other goodies), even potentially more than dairy products can provide. It is very easy to obtain adequate calcium (and iron) on a vegan diet, and because of its ready availability it should not be a concern even for vegan athletes (Fuhrman & Ferreri, 2010). With athletics in mind, it is worth remembering that bone density and health is directly linked to exercise and activity, the more active you are the better your bone health. Of course this is dependent on diet and lifestyle on an individual basis, since anybody can be inactive and have poor diets.

A study by Appleby et al. (2007) showed that vegans had a similar bone fracture rate to meat eaters and vegetarians, the (the minute difference possibly due to the lack of leafy vegetables in their diet). This has led to the conclusion that everyone should be monitoring and supplementing their calcium intake whether vegan or not. It is also interesting to note that there are continuing debates within scientific communities over whether high animal protein intake can in fact cause calcium loss through urination due to blood acidity (Kerstetter et al. 2003). Just as a warning for everyone, urine calcium loss is also linked to sodium intake, some suggesting that each gram of sodium in a diet can cause 20mg calcium to be lost, so diets high in sodium are associated with reduced bone density (Bedford & Barr, 2011).

You might be shocked to hear that most people around the world are in fact technically lactose intolerant. This is because the production of lactase, the enzyme produced by the gut that is required to break down lactose, stops after children move on from breastfeeding. This is natural since the body no longer requires milk from the mother when it can digest solid foods, so why do people rely on the breast milk from other animals when their body cannot digest human milk, let alone that of another species.

Therefore the myth that vegans cannot get enough calcium without dairy milk is simply not true. Vegans should make sure to monitor calcium intake, but if they are eating a healthy diet (like everyone should!) it should never be a concern. That said, I would advise everyone, vegan and not, to supplement their calcium intake with either vitamin pills or fortified foods, simply because osteoporosis is a concern for so many ageing people and the dietary causes are still not fully understood, and osteoporosis is an awful fate for anyone. So by making sure to get enough calcium rich greens and pulses, and exercising regularly any vegan can have perfectly healthy bones.

Vegans need to take loads of supplements

Supplements by The Fox Eyed Man

This follows on nicely from the previous myth, but extends to include a variety of vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamins D & B-12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. This a funny one in the sense that essentially everyone needs to take supplements of some sort. What I mean by this is that many foods are fortified by manufacturers with vitamins, an easily recognisable example is breakfast cereals, they often have big labels advertising the fact that they contain some of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals. Many people don’t realise that the reason this is seen as necessary is because we have moved too far from the diets we are designed for, for example a variety of nuts, pulses and seeds, leafy green vegetables and fruit are great sources for these vitamins and minerals… exactly what vegans have given up animal products to embrace. Even the milk that you think is full of vitamin A and D only has those vitamins because they are added afterwards to make sure people get enough.

I’m not saying that a vegan diet provides all the things we need, but neither does a meat based diet, so both require supplements of some kind. Vitamin D is essential for helping to absorb calcium (see above), and is a concern for most people since humans have moved from their evolutionary origins in Africa (this is seen as one of the driving causes of white skin pigmentation as people moved north). Since we obviously don’t produce as much vitamin D from exposure to the sun as we move into more northern latitudes we should be supplementing our natural vitamin D (this is a classic example of cultural adaptation). People with dark skin find it harder to produce vitamin D, but anyone living in places that aren’t mainly hot and sunny (for example anywhere above the equator) should really be supplementing their vitamin D, especially during the winter (Craig, 2009).

One of the most prevalent concerns about veganism is the fact that B-12 is no longer found in large enough concentrates to be absorbed naturally through a plant based diet. This concern is real because B-12 is essential and most people don’t want to have to take supplements for such an important vitamin. Most people think that B-12 comes from meat, however the actual source of B-12 is bacteria found in soils, which are now all but depleted in most places, and gut bacteria in animal digestive tracts. Since most farmed animals don’t eat a natural diet which includes traces of soils and faeces this means that the B-12 you get from meat… is given to the animals as supplements in their food/injections (Stewart, 2013)[Cobalt is the dietary supplement needed by ruminants to synthesise B-12]. So everyone is actually taking B-12 supplements, but vegans are the ones getting it more directly.

Vegans need to regularly consume fatty acids such as omega-3, but these are readily available from many sources such as walnuts, flax and hemp seeds, canola oil and many soy products (Craig, 2009). Everyone should make sure to get enough of all the above vitamins and minerals, vegan or not, so make sure to check your diet to make sure you are either eating foods rich in goodies or at least taking supplements, and try to get out in the sunshine as much as possible but be careful not to burn! (remember you should wait around 10-15 minutes in the sunshine before applying sunscreen to allow for sufficient UV absorption).

Vegans aren’t healthy

Healthy by The Fox Eyed Man

This myth is becoming less and less popular through time as people realise that veganism is actually a very healthy and fulfilling lifestyle, studies showing that veganism is sometimes even considered the more healthy lifestyle (Clarys et al. 2014). Countless vegan athletes continue to perform either as well as or better than athletes that consume animal products, and the vegan diet is becoming synonymous with glowing health and longevity.

As you can see above there is ever growing evidence that obtaining the right amounts of vitamins and minerals can be easy on a vegan diet, and the idea that vegans lack protein is now outdated. The adequate combinations of essential amino acids can in fact be obtained solely from plant sources (Young & Pellett, 1994), and come without the added hormones, antibiotics and unwanted fats (plant proteins instead come with good fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals). In fact the consumption of plant proteins instead of animal proteins is suggested to decrease risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer due to activity by providing “non-essential” amino acids that promote increased glucagon activity (Krajcovicova-Kudlackova et al. 2005; McCarty, 1999).

As mentioned before there is a rise in the number of plant based athletes around the world, and they are certainly making waves. For example at the time of writing this article Patrik Baboumian is the strongest man in Germany… he has been vegan for years. There is increasing evidence that meeting the dietary needs for competitive athletes is entirely possible (Wirnitzer, 2014; Fuhrman & Ferreri, 2010) and has even been said to produce leaner more energised athletes.

So as you can see it is a myth that vegans can’t be healthy, there is much evidence that suggests otherwise. This is of course dependent on lifestyle of the individual, there are still many unhealthy vegan foods (like fries for example) so it’s not enough to say a vegan lifestyle will make you healthy. However this isn’t limited to vegans, everyone should plan their diet and activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it’s clear that this is achievable as a vegan.

Vegan diets aren’t suitable for children

Children by The Fox Eyed Man

First I would like to remind you of the points above. As evidence suggests, the human body can get the nutrients it needs from a plant based diet and can be an extremely healthy way to live. HOWEVER this does not mean that a child’s diet and activity shouldn’t be monitored to make sure they are getting everything they need to grow and develop healthily. This applies to EVERY parent, not just vegans. I have seen parents condemning vegan parents for not providing their children a healthy diet, whilst continuing to feed their own children a diet filled with sugar, processed meat and rarely any vegetables.

Just like anyone else a vegan diet can be a perfectly healthy one for children as long as it is planned properly, and there is no evidence of physical or intellectual impairment in vegan children that are well cared for (Sanders, 1988). There was a story that hit the headlines recently of an Italian child that was rushed to hospital because it was supposedly malnourished from its vegan diet. However, since the author was so busy condemning vegans the fact that it was neglectful parenting, not the vegan diet, which had caused the harm was ignored. This leads to a worldwide expectation that vegan diets are bad for children when in reality they can be extremely healthy and provide all the nutrients for normal healthy development.

Soy contains oestrogen and lowers testosterone

Soy by The Fox Eyed Man

Until relatively recently it has been widely believed that soy was a source of oestrogen that could throw of the body’s natural hormone balance and cause testosterone levels to drop. However so much evidence has been produced that disputes these claims that this myth is now considered outdated.

The reason these claims were made in the first place is that soy contains phytoestrogen compounds called isoflavones which have chemical similarities to oestrogen. However, even though they are similar these compounds do not affect the body in the same way; isoflavones found in soy do not affect reproductive hormones (Hamilton-Reeves et al. 2010; Maskarinec, 2006). It is even increasingly considered that these isoflavones, especially genistein and daidzein, are linked to reducing risks of many hormone-dependent cancers, cardiovascular diseases and age related conditions (Pilšáková et al. 2010; Atkinson et al. 2005; Constantinou et al. 2005; Ravindranath et al. 2004; Lee et al. 2003). One of the reasons for the misunderstandings about isoflavone activity in humans was due to tests conducted on rodents, whom now are understood to process isoflavones differently to humans.

Therefore the myth that soy is harmful due to oestrogen activity and reduction of testosterone is now considered false. What I will say is that effects of high soy consumption have not been extensively tested and cannot be assumed to be as benign, so I personally would suggest moderation when consuming soy (also the closer to raw, natural soy the better). This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone as there are more products made with soy alternatives becoming available everyday such as hemp milks etc.

Myths Debunked!

I hope this article has been informative and not too difficult to read, I have certainly enjoyed researching and writing it. These are but some of the negative myths surrounding veganism that are either untrue or twist words to make veganism seem like an impossible and unhealthy lifestyle. Both vegans and non vegans should be careful to monitor their health in today’s world, which is not as natural as you are led to believe, but as I have shown above veganism can certainly be a healthy lifestyle.

References:

Appleby, P., Roddam, A., Allen, N. & Key, T. (2007). Comparative fracture risk in vegetarians and nonvegetarians in EPIC-Oxford. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61, pp.1400-1406.

Atkinson, C., Frankenfeld, C.L. & Lampe, J.W. (2005). Gut Bacterial Metabolism of the Soy Isoflavone Daidzein: Exploring the Relevance to Human Health. Experimental Biology and Medicine 230(3), pp.155-170.

Bedford J.L. & Barr, S.I. (2011). Higher Urinary Sodium, a Proxy for Intake, Is Associated with Increased Calcium Excretion and Lower Hip Bone Density in Healthy Young Women with Lower Calcium Intakes. Nutrients 3(11), pp.951-961.

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