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.'.......