By Published On: 5 April 2014492 words2.5 min read

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Veganism and Co-Existing Health Issues

By Linden Mackey, Guest Contributor

[fusion_dropcap color=”” boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”1px” class=”” id=””]I[/fusion_dropcap] had the opportunity to talk to a co-worker about being vegan after she read some of the blog posts on YDV. She is not the first person I have encountered who wants to eat more compassionately, but faces additional dietary restrictions that make eating vegan more challenging than it would be otherwise.

One of these additional dietary obstacles is being gluten-intolerant, which requires excluding the protein gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, and often in alternative meat products), an issue that increasingly more people are facing.

The other is being allergic to soy. I was surprised to learn that the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates soy among the nine most common food allergens.

One of my oldest friends has been advised by her doctor to avoid eating soy since she is on a course of Tamoxifen as continuing treatment for breast cancer. (Although there are conflicting studies about the impact of soy with regard to breast cancer, without delving deeply into it myself, I wouldn’t feel comfortable suggesting to my friend that her doctor is giving her incorrect advice.) She asked me how much I rely on soy as a source of protein – and the answer is, quite a bit. I would definitely be more challenged with my diet if I could not eat soy products.

I also spoke to someone the other day that had been vegan for many years, but began eating animal products again when living at an altitude of over 6,000 feet and suffering from debilitating weakness due to an iron deficiency (women living at higher altitudes have been shown to potentially need iron supplementation). She clearly was aware that adequate iron can be found in plant foods from her prior choice, but felt in those circumstances, it was advisable to eat at least some meat.

I realize that just because I have not found it especially difficult to follow a vegan diet (despite occasional bitching about the lack of restaurant options), there apparently is a fairly high percentage of people who stop being vegan/vegetarians because of the ‘inconvenience.’ I don’t think that’s an acceptable reason if you chose to be vegan for moral/ethical reasons – I don’t see how you can ‘un-do’ the knowledge of animal exploitation and abuse and speciecism in your heart once you fully take it in to begin with.

But I also can’t imagine how challenging being vegan would be if you also had to follow additional dietary restrictions for genuine health reasons. Presumably if you tried hard enough you could craft a reasonable vegan diet around additional considerations (to judge from the vegan/gluten-intolerant websites and cookbooks).

It’s a tough place from which to advocate when I myself don’t have to balance my animal-rights convictions with other serious health-related restrictions. I admire those who manage to exist honorably in both spaces.

Photo: Rowena

By Published On: 5 April 2014492 words2.5 min read

Share This Story!

Veganism and Co-Existing Health Issues

By Linden Mackey, Guest Contributor

[fusion_dropcap color=”” boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”1px” class=”” id=””]I[/fusion_dropcap] had the opportunity to talk to a co-worker about being vegan after she read some of the blog posts on YDV. She is not the first person I have encountered who wants to eat more compassionately, but faces additional dietary restrictions that make eating vegan more challenging than it would be otherwise.

One of these additional dietary obstacles is being gluten-intolerant, which requires excluding the protein gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, and often in alternative meat products), an issue that increasingly more people are facing.

The other is being allergic to soy. I was surprised to learn that the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates soy among the nine most common food allergens.

One of my oldest friends has been advised by her doctor to avoid eating soy since she is on a course of Tamoxifen as continuing treatment for breast cancer. (Although there are conflicting studies about the impact of soy with regard to breast cancer, without delving deeply into it myself, I wouldn’t feel comfortable suggesting to my friend that her doctor is giving her incorrect advice.) She asked me how much I rely on soy as a source of protein – and the answer is, quite a bit. I would definitely be more challenged with my diet if I could not eat soy products.

I also spoke to someone the other day that had been vegan for many years, but began eating animal products again when living at an altitude of over 6,000 feet and suffering from debilitating weakness due to an iron deficiency (women living at higher altitudes have been shown to potentially need iron supplementation). She clearly was aware that adequate iron can be found in plant foods from her prior choice, but felt in those circumstances, it was advisable to eat at least some meat.

I realize that just because I have not found it especially difficult to follow a vegan diet (despite occasional bitching about the lack of restaurant options), there apparently is a fairly high percentage of people who stop being vegan/vegetarians because of the ‘inconvenience.’ I don’t think that’s an acceptable reason if you chose to be vegan for moral/ethical reasons – I don’t see how you can ‘un-do’ the knowledge of animal exploitation and abuse and speciecism in your heart once you fully take it in to begin with.

But I also can’t imagine how challenging being vegan would be if you also had to follow additional dietary restrictions for genuine health reasons. Presumably if you tried hard enough you could craft a reasonable vegan diet around additional considerations (to judge from the vegan/gluten-intolerant websites and cookbooks).

It’s a tough place from which to advocate when I myself don’t have to balance my animal-rights convictions with other serious health-related restrictions. I admire those who manage to exist honorably in both spaces.

Photo: Rowena

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