Nutritional deficiencies with a vegan diet?? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 19 Old 11-12-2010, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really, REALLY want me and my family to begin eating a vegan diet.  I have done a lot of research and have seen a lot of conflicting information regarding nutrient deficiencies, ie low iron, calcium, B vitamins.  So, I'm confused.  Do any of you who follow a vegan diet have issues with these deficiencies?  If so, how do you supplement?  If not, what do you specifically eat that covers all your nutrient requirements?  I have an idea of what we would need to eat to cover everything, but want to know from those of you who are vegans what you eat just in case I might be missing something.

 

As an aside, do you notice a cheaper grocery bill eating vegan vs a regular carnivorous diet?  My reasons for going vegan are numerous and this is something I am curious about. 

 

Thanks!


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#2 of 19 Old 11-12-2010, 04:20 PM
 
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I've been vegan now for 4 years, and I just had a bunch of tests run. They checked my levels for iron, B12, serum calcium and bone density, and vitamin D. I did come back low in D, but not nearly as low as my mom, aunt, brother and cousin (all omnivores) did. Everything else came back perfect. I do take some supplements- I take a basic multi vitamin, 1200 mg of calcium citrate, and I've added 1000 iu of D2 daily. I also take a weekly chewable B-12.

I generally try to eat 6 servings of whole grains, 2-3 servings of nut-legume proteins, 3 pieces of fruit, and 5-9 servings of veggies, including at least one dark green and one orange veggie every day. A fairly typical day's meals looks like this:

Breakfast: Firm tofu, pressed and fried in a teaspoon of olive oil with salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. Eaten on a slice of whole wheat toast topped with sautéed spinach and lemon juice. 2 mandarin oranges, coffee.

Snack: hummus and carrots and crackers

Lunch: big salad topped with shredded cabbage, black beans, corn, bell pepper, and a mango-avocado pumpkin seed oil and sugar free dressing. A couple of corn tortillas.

Snack: pomegranate

Dinner: baked yam with hummus, quinoa and maple baked lentils.

Dessert: Apple crisp with oat and pecan topping.
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#3 of 19 Old 11-12-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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Catnip, can I come eat at your house tomorrow? eat.gif 

 

I have been vegan for a little over a year, and I don't have any deficiencies in iron or B12.  Don't know about Vitamin D, but I suspect a little due to cold winters indoors.  I take a vegan multivitamin and/or B12 tablet once or twice a week (when I think of it).

 

My whole family is lacto-ovo besides me, so I buy no meat but do buy organic eggs and dairy at the grocery.  Between nutritional yeast, ground flaxseeds, tofu and vegan convenience foods like Veganaise and veggie patties I probably don't save much money compared to meat eaters.  I guess I don't know.

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#4 of 19 Old 11-12-2010, 07:09 PM
 
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We drink three big green smoothies a day and actually don't do multivitamins any more since we get lots of iron and calcium that way. We're actually feeling better than we ever did before. For vitamin D, we all get out for a walk every day and soak up as much sun as we can. What's interesting, though, is that even meat eaters can be B12 deficient.(Check this out http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20030618/vegetarian-diet-b12-deficiency) I've read that B12 is produced by microorganisms, so that would mean that cooking meat could actually kill the organisms producing the B12 and that could explain why even people who eat meat can be B12 deficient.


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#5 of 19 Old 11-12-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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There is definitely a lot of conflicting info out there bout nutrition in general and vegan nutrition specifically!  I have been vegan for 13 years, and I have had bloodwork done many times, because I like to keep tabs on my nutritional status.  Vitamin D is the only thing that was low for me last time I had bloodwork done, and I don't think that's a vegan thing - vitamin D deficiency is basically an epidemic in the U.S. at this point.  I think most people, whether vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eater, have potential to be low in certain nutrients.  A lot of research suggests that in general, vegan diets tend to be healthier than non-vegan diets, but I believe it's a good idea for everyone, vegans included, to be mindful of what we eat and to check nutritional status with labwork from time to time.  

 

If you're looking for really accurate, reliable, and up-to-date info on vegan nutrition, I suggest Jack Norris's nutrition website:

 

http://www.veganhealth.org/

 

He's the best.  Very thorough, very honest, and very reliable.  Good luck!

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#6 of 19 Old 11-12-2010, 08:32 PM
 
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I've been vegan for 11 years, and the only deficiency I've ever gotten was very slight, asymptomatic anemia towards the end of pregnancy, which is very common and runs in my family. I've had lots of blood tests done during my three pregnancies, and a few other times, and other than the barely-there anemia a couple of times, my levels for everything have always been perfect. I only take vitamins during pregnancy. My daughters are 8 and 9 and have had their blood tested a couple times as a precaution, and they always had perfect levels, too, and are generally super healthy.


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#7 of 19 Old 11-13-2010, 09:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erinmattsmom88 View Post

 

As an aside, do you notice a cheaper grocery bill eating vegan vs a regular carnivorous diet?  My reasons for going vegan are numerous and this is something I am curious about. 

 

Thanks!



Depends on what kind of meat you are buying. I have a group of friends that buy organic, free-range, hormone-free, nitrate-free etc... meat at wholeslae prices and my jaw just dropped when I saw how much they spend even at wholesale prices. For example, they are currently ordering Thanksgiving turkeys at $2.99 a pound!! That doen't sound too bad until I realized theya re ordering 20 pound turkeys. That is a $60 turkey!!! Yikes!


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#8 of 19 Old 11-13-2010, 09:59 AM
 
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I have had blood work done and I definately have to supplement. However, I had the tests taken when I ate meat. I was anemic and my D levels were low. My most recent tests were all normal and that's with taking a pre-natal vitamin, vitamin D supplement and following a vegan diet. Go figures.headscratch.gif


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#9 of 19 Old 11-13-2010, 10:06 AM
 
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vitamin D breaks down very fast from, say fish, and the amount found in milk isn't really close to enough to keep it at healthy levels, though it probably keeps people from being deficient enough to have rickets.  That would be why plenty of omnivores are D deficient... they need more sunlight (sans sunscreen) or to supplement thumb.gif


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#10 of 19 Old 11-13-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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For our family of 3, our average grocery spending looks like this:

Once a year: 50 pound bag of organic sugar for canning (about $50)

Every six months, I take advantage of a 10% off my total purchase at my food co-op and spend about $200 completely restocking non-perishable staples like beans, nuts, grains, flours, frozen veggies, Earth Balance, etc. This includes laundry soap, dish soap, most of our vitamins, toilet paper and other household purchases.

About once a month, a minor restock run at the co-op, about $100.

Every 2 weeks, bread, peanut butter, soymilk, spinach at Costco, about $60.

Every 2 weeks, alternating weeks with Costco, about $60 at Trader Joes, nuts, raisins, tofu and pasta.

Each week: $50 split between the co-op and the farmers' market buying fresh produce.

Our total average grocery and cleaning supplies bill works out to about $150 a week, with almost all organics. There will be a few weeks, especially in the summer, where we buy a bunch of fruit where it is more.

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#11 of 19 Old 11-14-2010, 06:40 AM
 
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i don't have any nutritional deficiencies that i know of. i am going to get blood work done this month though, so maybe we'll find something. my last blood work done while pregnant didn't point to any problems other than low iron which was resolved with iron supplements. i take a b12 and a vit d supplement almost daily, and a multivitamin occasionally. low iron is something i've dealt with my whole life, including while omni.

 our weekly grocery bill is about $100 a week right now. we eat very simply and mostly not organic (unfortunately, it's just not in the budget). you can eat as cheaply or as expensively as you want as a vegan... really! the spendy vegan items would be just as easily replaced by spendy omni items. we eat a fair amount of lentils and beans and tofu... tempeh, seitan, and other proteins are more of a treat. both my husband and i have fast metabolisms and active lifestyles, so we also eat more than a normal amount of carbs... pasta, rice, and potatoes. items like mayo, icecream, chocolate, yogurt, cheeze, etc are pretty rare treats for us. the only analogue i buy with any regularity is sandwich slices for my husband's lunch.  most of our budget goes to fruit, vegetables and coffee!

 

yesterday:

 

oatmeal with soy milk, agave nectar and mashed banana, coffee

fruit

leftover soup (tofu, potato, spinach)

pasta with tomato sauce/pesto

more fruit

toast with almond butter

black bean burgers with avacado, tomato and pickle, sweet potato fries

more fruit

 

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#12 of 19 Old 11-14-2010, 07:06 AM
 
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I always get to be the long-term vegan although it sounds like there are some other long-termers here too :).  I've been vegan for 22 years.  I don't get blood work done constantly, but every few years when it is done, it has always been normal (homocysteine, cholesterol [HDL is very high and LDL very low w/ total 120ish], iron, etc.).  When my oldest dd was born 12 yrs ago I hemorrhaged due to a three day induction involving way too much pitocin.  I recall that nurses being shocked that I didn't come out anemic when they checked my blood work the next day since I had lost so much blood.

 

I do think that B-12 is the one thing you have to watch.  Our bodies store it for a while, but you can become low over time if you aren't eating food that is supplemented with B-12 or taking a B-12 supplement.

 

I don't think that much about diet anymore, so I don't know what a "typical day" looks like, but here are some ideas of what we eat:

 

Breakfast:

-oatmeal with molasses and raisins

-cereal with soymilk (not junky cereal)

-homefries: potatoes, onions, peppers, maybe tofu

-scrambled tofu with veggies

-pancakes or waffles ;)

 

Lunch:

-often leftovers from dinner

-bean and rice burritoes

-veggie sandwiches

 

Dinner:

-pasta or gnocchi with various sauces such as traditional red sauce, primavera, or onions, mushrooms, and this really yummy apple-sage "sausage" we've found (gluten based)

-veggie fajitas

-quinoa salad

-wheat berry salad

-veggie salad

-pumpkin curry

-stir fry veggies and brown rice

-chili or other bean dishs

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#13 of 19 Old 11-15-2010, 05:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your replies.  You all gave me great information and ideas.  I especially love the veganhealth.org website.  Great info there too.  Well, I am going to begin the transition this week.  I think I'll do OK, but DD is a total carnivore.  She loves her steak, chicken, ham slices, etc.  I will take it slow with her.  However, I am ready to go, as is DP.  The only thing I don't think I will be able to give up is cheese.  So, I guess I will be 95% vegan??  If that's possible.  I am still a little worried about calcium/vit D intake for us all.  I will just have to pay particular attention to what we have to eat to get enough of that.  We live in the northeast and in the last week and a half, it has been cloudy almost everyday :(.  Vitamin D will be a challenge up here this winter.  Will have to get supplements for sure.  I can't wait to try new recipes.  Hopefully, they won't be too time consuming since I chase a 2-year-old and 6-month-old around all day!!!  Once I get established with this new way of eating I will become more efficient at it, I'm sure!!!  Wish me luck!!!


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#14 of 19 Old 11-15-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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Not to pressure you, but thought I could tell you my story about cheese as some motivation. I was veggie for 4 years before becoming vegan, and my whole life I LOVED cheese. I ate quesadillas every day, loved mac and cheese and extra cheesy pizza, ate hunks of plain cheese whenever I could... and so on. I really thought there was no way I could do without cheese. One day I was chatting with a couple of vegans who pointed out that male dairy calves are sold for veal. I had never even thought of what must happen to all the baby cows, and I felt terrible, but still didn't feel ready to give up cheese. Then I started working for an environmental group, talking to people about polluted runoff, and learned about how so much of the runoff into the Long Island Sound came from dairy farms, and I really started to feel like I needed to make a change. This was towards the end of 1999, and I decided to go vegan for my millennial resolution. I was literally eating cheese as I watched the Time Square ball drop, and I teared up a bit as I chewed the last piece. So clearly I was a major cheese addict.

 

Fast forward 4-5 months. I can no longer stand the smell of cheese, I can smell it in the supermarket cheese aisle and it makes me nauseous. Also, I lost about 15 lbs after giving up cheese, and felt soooo much better.

 

I do like a couple brands of fake cheese, but some of them taste too cheesy for me. I still like to make quesadillas with the Daiyo (mozzarella only, the cheddar tastes funky to me)  and Vegan Gourmet cheeses, but for the most part, cheese just really doesn't seem like anything edible to me anymore.

 

So you may think you can't do without cheese, but I bet if you gave it up for a short period you would start feeling differently about it. Why not give it a shot?

 

Good luck with your diet changes!


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#15 of 19 Old 11-15-2010, 09:27 PM
 
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I also never thought I could live without cheese. 4 years and counting. And I LOVED cheese, it was my absolute favorite food ever. I'd advise building a good repetoire of no-cheese meals and then try going off it for 2 months. See how you feel after that.

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#16 of 19 Old 11-16-2010, 04:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, I can commit to trying life without cheese.... *gasp*  Last night we had homemade mac and cheese (woops) butternut squash and steamed spinach with sea salt.  Then, DP decided to make chicken wings!!  His excuse was that he had bought the wings before I declared this week the start of our transition.  Oh well.  I let him do it.  The worst for me will be not sprinkling cheese on pasta dishes.  Love, love, love freshly grated pecorino romano, parmesan (I'm Italian).  I guess if I am going to do this it has to be 100%, right?  No excuses. 


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#17 of 19 Old 11-16-2010, 06:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erinmattsmom88 View Post

Yeah, I can commit to trying life without cheese.... *gasp*  Last night we had homemade mac and cheese (woops) butternut squash and steamed spinach with sea salt.  Then, DP decided to make chicken wings!!  His excuse was that he had bought the wings before I declared this week the start of our transition.  Oh well.  I let him do it.  The worst for me will be not sprinkling cheese on pasta dishes.  Love, love, love freshly grated pecorino romano, parmesan (I'm Italian).  I guess if I am going to do this it has to be 100%, right?  No excuses. 


there's vegan dairy free cheese-like toppings, I believe... or maybe try nutritional yeast instead?


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#18 of 19 Old 11-24-2010, 01:59 PM
 
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I've had a very similar experience, although I may not have been quite as into cheese before :-D As a long time vegetarian I didn't know how horrible the dairy industry is. Even worse than the meat industry in a way because the poor mothers give birth and have their baby taken away from them every year :-( As a mother I just can't have anything to do with that. And anyone who thinks the mother cows don't mind their babies being taken away should go watch. There is a great video Bob Barker did about it I'll go find. It was one of the things that REALLY helped me to go vegan. In my limited experience the reliance on dairy is mostly because people don't know how to cook without it, but then once you do, there's no going back :-)
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by katroshka View Post

Not to pressure you, but thought I could tell you my story about cheese as some motivation. I was veggie for 4 years before becoming vegan, and my whole life I LOVED cheese. I ate quesadillas every day, loved mac and cheese and extra cheesy pizza, ate hunks of plain cheese whenever I could... and so on. I really thought there was no way I could do without cheese. One day I was chatting with a couple of vegans who pointed out that male dairy calves are sold for veal. I had never even thought of what must happen to all the baby cows, and I felt terrible, but still didn't feel ready to give up cheese. Then I started working for an environmental group, talking to people about polluted runoff, and learned about how so much of the runoff into the Long Island Sound came from dairy farms, and I really started to feel like I needed to make a change. This was towards the end of 1999, and I decided to go vegan for my millennial resolution. I was literally eating cheese as I watched the Time Square ball drop, and I teared up a bit as I chewed the last piece. So clearly I was a major cheese addict.

 

Fast forward 4-5 months. I can no longer stand the smell of cheese, I can smell it in the supermarket cheese aisle and it makes me nauseous. Also, I lost about 15 lbs after giving up cheese, and felt soooo much better.

 

I do like a couple brands of fake cheese, but some of them taste too cheesy for me. I still like to make quesadillas with the Daiyo (mozzarella only, the cheddar tastes funky to me)  and Vegan Gourmet cheeses, but for the most part, cheese just really doesn't seem like anything edible to me anymore.

 

So you may think you can't do without cheese, but I bet if you gave it up for a short period you would start feeling differently about it. Why not give it a shot?

 

Good luck with your diet changes!


Claire, book reading, tree loving, coffee drinking wife to K, and happy SAHM to ds G Feb '09 home birth, dd C ~ free birthed June '11, and now a new lil surprise due October 2012 joy.gif

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#19 of 19 Old 11-28-2010, 05:09 AM
 
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We are dairy free, and I used to love cheese, hey I still do, but I can't stand what the dairy industry is doing, even organic.  So many local organic farms I know are treating cows so terrible- abuse, and I decided that if I ever eat dairy again, I will only get it from an animal I milked and raised myself. 

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