I’m sorry to hear that you were unable to thrive on your version of a vegan diet. Many others, including myself, and many professional athletes, have a much more positive experience.

Just like an omnivorous diet, a vegan diet can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the choices you make. In my books, the key to thriving on a vegan diet is to build MOST of your diet around whole foods — whole grains, legumes, veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts.

You are probably better off having a homemade bean burger than a fast-food Beyond Burger, but this is not the point. I wrote this article to compare Beyond Burgers to the alternative that most consumers are contemplating: a fast food cow burger. This is what North Americans are currently eating, and need to get away from. A typical fast food cow burger comes from factory farmed animals, which makes them the natural comparator. At no point do I try to suggest that a Beyond Burger is nature’s perfect food.

As for the specific nutrients you mention, here is my perspective:

  1. Cholesterol. I don’t mention this in my article as either a pro or con. I have never seen any scientific studies on the need to consume cholesterol as we age. No national or international bodies list it as an essential nutrient.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids. I agree that many of us could benefit from consuming more of them, though beef is not the answer. A 3.5-ounce serving of grass-fed meat averages about 80 milligrams of omega-3s. Regular beef has half as much. To put this in context, the RDA is 1,00 mg for women and 1,600 mg for men. Seafood, including algae oil, and seeds trump beef. The same size serving of salmon has 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s. A tablespoon of flax oil has 7,000 mg of omega-3s per tablespoon — a lot, even if you factor in that only 5–10% is converted to DHA. The safest best is to go for an algae-based supplement (this is where the fish get it!). https://medium.com/@chanapdavis/fishing-for-omega-3s-seas-seeds-c75a729901f9?source=friends_link&sk=f6b4fbfbdf9ab406ebac8f12da38f657
  3. Choline. Agreed, it’s an essential nutrient to keep an eye on, especially if you don’t consume some of the richest sources (beef liver and eggs). However, it’s not that hard to make up for what you would otherwise get from a ground beef burger (under 100mg) using plants. A cup of quinoa and a glass of soy milk will do it. Vegans can get enough choline though the little bits that add up throughout the day but need to be mindful about it. Yet another reason not to shun tofu (don’t buy into soyaphobia!), as it’s one of the best plant-based sources. You can learn more on choline here. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/

I appreciate the chance to clarify these issues as I’m sure others have wondered these same things!

Regards,

Chana

Founder, Fueled by Science

https://fueledbyscience.com/

Written by

Scientist (PhD Genetics @Stanford) * Mother * Passionate about science-based healthy choices * Lifelong learner * Founder: Fueled by Science

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