So everyone always meets that person who tells you “Oh, I tried being vegetarian once but then I realized I wasn’t getting enough vitamin Q,” picking from a laundry list of nutritional deficiencies to use as an excuse. I had a coworker last month who sited vegetarianism as the cause of her anemia. But You really almost never find any of these people saying “I was vegan but…”
Thinking about this, I think I know why. To a lot of the vegans I know, we look at vegetarians not so much as animal rightists but rather just bloodmouths who like to look special. If you deconstruct the two ideologies, veganism usually says “All sentient life has a right to its own existence and I, nor any other have a right to get in the way of that. I cannot rape imprison another, rape another, kill another etc just because I enjoy it. That is not right and not something I’m comfortable participating in.” On the other hand, vegetarianism comes from a point of view more lenient on the torture and exploitation of those you believe were born lower than you, but says “I was told this is wrong, and there’s sufficient evidence to support that, but I still believe that I’m entitled to be abusive and so I’ll compromise by slightly narrowing my abusive behavior against others.” Still believing at the end of it all that they’re supreme and superior, the vegetarian assumes that this “compromise” that is somehow assumed to be okay with the non-consenting victim is enough, and they look at themself as a better person for “giving up” what they still feel is their right to abuse*.
This is where this becomes relevant to health. This idea of giving up what you’re entitled to leads to that and only that – giving something up. The false virtue in vegetarianism comes from this feeling of giving up and being chastised, the vegetarian is oh so noble because they no longer get to enjoy their precious abuse and as such, they maintain this idea of going without. Vegetarians, so bent on “giving up”, don’t think to replace. They’ll cut something out but then many times won’t think of what nutrients are being lost and what effective plant sources could be used instead. This is why you see nutrient-rich foods like kale being praised and hyped in vegan circles but ignored by most vegetarians. Veganism on the other hand de-objectifies non-human animals and does not view them as a food to give up, but rather just not as a food at all. This mentality leaves plant-based foods as the only real food and rather than placing the eater in the position of someone who has “given up” food it just forces them to look more carefully at what’s available and shows them a different variety, which in turn allows them to sculpt a complete diet from this variety.
Looking at this comparison of “giving up” versus adopting an entirely new spectrum, to me it’s obvious why vegetarianism seems so much more susceptible to nutrition-based issues. Vegetarians put out without bringing in. Obviously these eating habits aren’t uniform throughout the entire respective vegetarian and vegan communities, but it does work as a solid explanation for the phenomenon of vegetarians appearing to get sick more.
*I decided to include this footnote because I’ve been down this road enough to now that every other house on it is occupied by an angry vegetarian waiting to jump out and tell you about how much they actually do care about animal rights. Though this is an entirely different discussion, you still claim to be entitled to abuse others based on species and in the end the mentality isn’t that different from bloodmouths’, if it really is at all. “If you cared, you’d change.”
“but it does work as a solid explanation for the phenomenon of vegetarians appearing to get sick more.”
An appearance is all it is.
There is no real phenomenon of vegetarians experiencing health problems as a result of dropping meat from their diet.
It’s just a big fat pile of crap composed of vegetarians who are quick to blame their health problems on an absence of meat, doctors with poor nutrition education (and often a bias in favor of animal products) and imposters/shills claiming to be sick vegetarians (for all the obvious reasons).
If you’re seeing vegetarianism mentioned more than veganism, it’s likely because there are far more vegetarians than vegans, and because vegetarian is now a well-understood household term while vegan is not.
Personally, as far as actual nutritional deficiency goes – I believe that far fewer people who “tried to go vegetarian” stopped because of nutritional deficiency than the ones who claim it.
Chances are, if they aren’t logical enough to eat vegetarian foods that are nutritionally complete, they weren’t doing it in the first place and were most likely deficient before they even cut out meat.
And thats just the ones who did actually have deficiencies. I think a lot of people use it as a cop out to go back to eating what they are used to.
I know far more anemic omnivores that vegans/vegetarians. In fact, I’ve only ever once known a veg*n who was deficient in -anything- and she also suffered very badly from an eating disorder.