Log in
Healthy Eating
36,343 members5,777 posts

PLANT BASED HEALTH SPECIAL SERIES: WHY WOMEN THRIVE ON ANIMAL PROTEIN...

BY DR LARA BRIDEN

As a biologist and a clinician, I’m a practical person. I don’t adhere to any particular theory or “diet philosophy” but am instead open to any way of eating that demonstrably supports the vitality and wellness of my patients.

For me, that’s the fundamental test: “Is this diet working for my patient? Is it nourishing her? Is she thriving?” And: “Is this diet supporting healthy regular ovulation and menstruation?” (Because ovulation is a useful barometer of general health.)

“Is this diet working?” is actually a fairly easy bar to clear for most whole food diets because the body is remarkably adaptable.

One of the few whole food diets that routinely does not pass my “patients thriving” test is an exclusively plant-based or vegan diet. Over the years, I’ve spoken to many patients who wanted to thrive on a vegan diet but did not. Instead, they felt well for six to twelve months and then started experiencing problems like fatigue and irregular periods.

When some of those same patients finally got back onto animal foods, they said things to me like:

“Since I switched back to an animal protein diet, I cannot even describe the energy I have!”

“If I don’t eat enough protein, I end up on the floor in tears.”

“Meat, as a female, makes you feel so much better.”

“Vegans really should tell you how awful you’re going to feel doing that diet.”

These are just anecdotes, of course. Some of my readers insist they do well on a vegan diet, and maybe that’s true, but I have not personally spoken to even one patient who was thriving on a long-term vegan diet.

I say “long-term” because a short-term vegan diet can deliver benefits such as clearer skin, lighter periods, and less brain fog–benefits which almost certainly come from avoiding dairy, not meat.'.......

ancestralhealthnz.org/plant...

16 Replies
oldestnewest

Hi Dottie,

Thanks for sharing this - I will look forward to reading it later.

Zest :-)

2 likes
Reply

Shockingly intelligent woman! :)

2 likes
Reply

Any doctor who say this 'Sometimes I meet a patient who feels strongly that she will not eat animal products and I don’t pressure her. Instead, I say: “It’s your choice, of course, but we are going to have to lower our expectations about how healthy you can be.” and does not provide any scientific research to back up this assertion does not deserve to have our attention. That statement amounts to malpractice does it not ?

2 likes
Reply

Anecdotal stories and quotations don't do it for me. Come back with research that can be verified please.

2 likes
Reply

Thought you might say that andyswarbs. Yes this is 'one' naturopaths' conclusion that she has drawn after seeing many female clients who have not done well long term on a vegan diet. But there are many, many more stories like this and research that has been carried out too, so she's not the only one saying this by far and what reason has she to lie about, or exaggerate her findings ????

1 like
Reply

Come on. Someone who wastes time and energy reporting things like being in floods of tears for not eating enough protein. I can understand a patient being uneducated or misguided but what does it say about the doctor? Surely the doctor should have calmed her down and told her to eat more good carbs. That would more than satiate any protein deficiency and help address the emotional issue head on. Instead she just panders to the notion that meat is somehow necessary and leaves the patient uneducated.

2 likes
Reply

My naturopath said she thinks a vegan diet is the best diet but she says she just doesn’t have the will power and I think that’s what it all really boils down to unfortunately.

1 like
Reply

Well, as a vegan myself, I know that there are a few problems that new vegans run into. Very commonly, they fail to eat enough because with fiber you feel fuller so you think you've eaten enough. This leads to people complaining about starving when they simply need to eat more. Also, there are sometimes actual problems with digestion related to gut bacteria. But these are usually problems caused by their previous poor diets and show up when they begin asking more of their digestive system. Instead of fixing it, they often retreat back to their previous diets of hamburgers and soda.

1 like
Reply

I enjoyed reading your letter Dottie2011, thank you for sharing your knowledge!! :)

2 likes
Reply

Thank you happygirlami. :)

1 like
Reply

I have been vegan for 18 months now and strangely enough I feel the best I ever have my whole life... With respect I will say as I am not a preachy vegan it’s just a personal choice and I have always been a meat eater. After doing extensive research into a plant based lifestyle I became aware that it is the animals that are unfortunately pumped full of hormones which we then ingest.

TMI perhaps but I have regular periods & ovulation. Cured my IBS, lowered my blood pressure and my psoriasis is now completely gone🤞🏼 As well as other noticeable health benefits. Not to mention becoming a better cook 🤣

Each to their own though 🌱

4 likes
Reply

That's good to know sunrise11, remember though it is only 18 months that you have been on the vegan diet and that's not very long, so deficiencies/health issues 'could' still occur further down the line, or maybe not! ;)

Best of luck to you anyway, it's just good to keep these things in mind I think.

1 like
Reply

You're welcome Dottie2011 :)

1 like
Reply

I think if you want to know how well a vegan diet is going then ask vegans who have stuck with it. It works for me and I have so much more energy which I would say are the exact words of most vegans. Also I have got rid of a health problem that the dr said I was going to have to take tablets for the rest of my life. It works for me 🙂 A cruelty free life has got to be better for you whatever way you look at it. I eat loads and I am slim. Without knowing I am vegan the doctor said to me he wished more of his patients looked like me. The problem is most people eat for pleasure not health. I have been vegan for 3 years my partner for 7 we both do hard physical work and could not do this if we felt tired, washed out and undernourished!

1 like
Reply

Great post, I love meat & fish.

I had boiled eggs today, only 2 as I dropped 1🙃.

My body loves good protein, just finished dinner which was chicken with lots of vegetables.

1 like
Reply

cambridge.org/core/journals... shows that vegans and vegetarians have at least as good health outcomes as omnivores and on some indicators fare much better.

This takes the whole debate to a better level than mere anecdote and personal experience. After all once we die we will not be able speak as to the effect diet had on our health outcomes, so no personal anecdotes are possible. Although more research is needed, particularly on the long-term health of vegans, the findings are enough to suggest that a reduction in the consumption of animal products, especially red and processed meats and high-fat dairy products, in developed and middle-income countries is likely to have a beneficial effect on the health of the public.

Meanwhile if we want anecdotes, then the Venus and Serena Williams are not bad anecdotes for how sustainable a well planned plant based diet can be to be at the top of your game.

Reply

You may also like...