Is it Possible to be Healthy on a Vegan Diet? [Part One]


In my last post in this series on veganism, I looked at anthropological evidence to establish that as a species in our natural habitats, humans are omnivores, and we thrive on an omnivorous diet. But although we are still humans (most of us, anyways), we don’t quite live in our natural habitats anymore, so what applied to the natives that Weston Price studied doesn’t necessarilyapply to us. In a modern-day setting with greater access to a variety of foods, can humans thrive on a vegan diet without needing to supplement? Is it biologically possible for humans to get what they need on a diet devoid of animal products?

In this two-part post, I’ll try to answer that question by looking at some of the nutrients that are hardest to come by on a vegan diet. In part one, we’ll look at three nutrients that are vital to bone health: vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin K2. Read more →

Yay! I’m a published author! (sorta)

First of all, I apologize for the cavernous, yawning time-gap between my last post and what will (eventually) be my next substantial post. (This one doesn’t count.) I’m just finishing up my freshman year of college, so I have papers to write and exams to study for, but after that the blogging will return! And I will finish my series on veganism. Promise.

But I wanted to do a quick celebratory post because I just found out that the research I did last semester will be published in the PIT journal, which is UNC’s undergraduate journal for peer-reviewed scholarly articles! It’s just a small, unknown university publication that nobody will ever read, but I’m still excited (: My article is called Are We Putting Our Eggs In The Wrong Basket?: Why we should question the USDA Dietary Guidelines, and I posted it on my blog a few months ago if you want to look at it! Note the excessively long title; apparently that’s the hip thing to do if you’re writing journal articles. I’m so hip.

The most amusing thing I found in doing my research is this: the studies that the Dietary Guidelines Committee decided to scrounge up to prove that cholesterol should be limited – wait for it – actually prove the exact opposite. Yes, all of the studies they cite show that cholesterol, especially from eggs, does not increase risk for CVD, and in many circumstances, actually decreases risk for CVD. So I guess now we can cite studies that prove the opposite of our point, and just hope that nobody actually looks at our references! Whew, that sure makes research a lot easier. It’s just so tedious trying to come up with conclusions based on the evidence, y’know?

In all seriousness, don’t take everything you read at face value. Even if you trust the source, it would behoove you to check their references to make sure nothing sneaky is going on. In fact, I strongly encourage you to check MY sources for things I write on here! I’ll always do my best to never lead you astray, but I can never guarantee I won’t miss something or make mistakes.

In other news, I just made an important realization: I don’t think I use the word ‘behoove’ enough. I think I’m going to insert it awkwardly strategically into the policy brief I have to write before Thursday.

Are Humans Herbivores?

Are Humans Herbivores?

This is part three of my series on veganism. Follow the links to read part one and part two!

One source of disagreement between vegans and meat eaters is the question of what humans are supposed to eat. Many vegans claim humans are herbivores, while meat-eaters assert that humans are omnivores. So what are we, anyways? Herbivores? Carnivores? Omnivores? Most of you probably know the answer to this already, but it doesn’t hurt to look at the evidence. To answer this question, it makes sense to start with what humans eat in their ‘natural habitat,’ when they’re completely undisturbed by modern civilization. As such, this post will look at what traditional hunter-gatherer cultures ate! Read more →

Plant-Based Diet or Plant-Based Diet?

Plant-based diet?

This is part two of a series on vegan diets. If you haven’t read part one, you can read it here!

Before diving into the meat main part of this series, I think some clarification is necessary. Not all vegan diets are created equal, and the type of vegan diet in question is going to have a huge impact on every topic I want to discuss: nutrition, sustainability, anthropology, and ethics, to name a few. Other than the fact that all vegan diets are devoid of animal products, they can be as different and varied as the people who choose to eat them. As with anything, it’s a sliding scale, but for my purposes I’ve split them into three main categories. I’ve also tried to give them names that will make it easier for me to reference that particular type in the future (: Read more →

Veg*n is Not a Curse Word

Food Love

Yesterday, Alex Jamieson told the world that she is no longer a vegan. If you don’t know who she is and really don’t care, just bear with me for a minute. Alex is best known from the documentary Super Size Me, where her then-boyfriend Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonalds for 30 days. Alex used a vegan approach to get Morgan’s health back on track after his 30 day McDiet, and she has since been a leading voice for health and nutrition in the vegan community. I would encourage you to read her post, but here’s the gist: Alex discovered that at this point in her life, her body needs some animal products to be healthy. Her post yesterday was the first time she’d publicly announced her decision to incorporate some animal products into her diet. Read more →

Fried Bananas (a dessert-free dessert)

Wow, it’s been forever since I’ve done a post! Life is crazy as usual, although not quite as crazy as NC weather. (It was 61 degrees yesterday, and now it’s snowing. You tell me how that makes sense.)

Anyways, I wanted to share this recipe with you! As usual, the term ‘recipe’ is used loosely here. I don’t usually eat ‘desserts,’ even ‘paleo’ desserts, because I don’t do well with excessive amounts of nut flour or sweetener, even if it’s honey or coconut sugar. I call this recipe a ‘dessert-free dessert’ because it feels like you’re eating this:

Bananas Foster

…when you’re really eating this:


At least, that’s how I like to see it.

Read more →

Look Out, World! Sweden’s Going Low-Carb

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that when it comes to nutrition, the United States is missing something. I’ve already written about why the Dietary Guidelines are wrong about cholesterol, but it’s especially interesting to note that Australia, Europe, Canada, India, and Korea do not support upper limits on cholesterol intake in their national dietary recommendations [1]. They still believe that saturated fat should be severely limited, so I’m not sure they quite have the whole picture, but at least they recognize that limiting cholesterol intake does nothing to reduce rates of heart disease. Why is the US missing it?

But here’s one country that isn’t missing it: Sweden. Sweden is going low carb. Read more →

A Microbial Revelation


This weekend, I experienced a crazy paradigm shift. For the better part of four years, I’ve been investigating how people can get healthy and stay healthy, and I’ve been almost entirely focused on food and nutrition. Sure, I looked at other things as well – stress, exercise, sleep – but to me, what determined whether you were sick or well was diet. All you had to do was figure out what foods your body liked best, eat those, and you’d be good to go! Maybe some choice supplementation here or there, especially for tough cases like mine, but nutrition was definitely most important. Read more →

Remember the Microbiome!

Human Food Project

Human Food Project!

Hey everyone! This is going to be a really quick post because this week is a little crazy, but I wanted to tell you about a petition that I really think you should sign! It only takes about 30 seconds, and if you care at all about the health or well-being of yourself, your friends and family, or other Americans, this pertains to you. If you DON’T care about the health or well-being of yourself, your friends and family, or other Americans, then you should probably find a different blog to read.

I’m going to do a much bigger post (probably a series) on the human microbiome in the future, because it’s truly a fascinating topic, and one that is near and dear to my heart. There are countless microbes hanging out in your gut at this very moment, and the makeup of your gut flora can largely determine whether you suffer from obesity or diabetes, chronic inflammation, or a weak immune system, not to mention the more obvious connection with digestive health. You can visit the Human Food Project website for tons of information on the human microbiome.

Anyways, back to the petition! This is a petition to make sure that the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines, set to be released in 2015, address gut flora and the microbiome. As you can see from the above links, your gut flora essentially determines whether you’re healthy or you aren’t, so don’t you think it deserves a mention in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? I’d hazard a guess that the vast majority of Americans don’t even realize they have a microbiome, much less that it could be the reason they’re obese and diabetic. So please, take 30 seconds and sign the petition so that we can make sure the 2015 Dietary Guidelines address the human microbiome!

Coriander-Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Fish and Carrots

These carrots are amazing. And easy. And that’s a terrible picture of them, but you should try them anyways! I ate them with some fish (talbot, to be exact), which was also delicious. Read on for the recipe!

Read more →