Who’s up for a mouthwatering tofu steak and a heaping side of kale and quinoa? (Bonus points if you can pronounce that last one, let alone choke it down.) Then you, my friend, might be ready for the next step in all things dietary and dire: veganism. We’ve all at least heard the term or knew some PETA-loving Feminist Studies major at college who purported to be one, but do we even really know what the hell it is? Veganism is essentially a strict vegetarian diet that includes zero animal or dairy products. In the hierarchy of all things plant-based and animal-free, it’s pretty badass and can be very difficult to adapt and adhere to. There is also controversy as to whether or not vegans are better off than their carnivorous contemporaries. That being said, here’s why veganism sucks:
Malnutrition is an unfortunate risk associated with a diet otherwise aimed to maximize your health and longevity. It can be a huge challenge to consume the right combination of nutrients when animal proteins are taken off the table. There are countless stories of people who attempted veganism for weeks, months, or years, only to develop vitamin deficiencies that lead to various health issues. Even the CDC acknowledges that vitamin B12 deficiency is much higher in vegan and strict vegetarian populations. What are the long-term consequences of malnourishment? Uh, it ain’t good (like anemia, fatigue, and other ailments that make you less fun to be around).
Depression and anxiety have also been associated with the malnutrition sitch. In fact, a German study from 2012 concluded that veganism and very strict vegetarian diets in Western cultures seemed to elevate the risk of mental disorders. It could not be proven, however, that chronically crunching down on arugula caused depressive and anxious tendencies, though it strongly correlated such a dietary lifestyle to these disorders. Could it be that the Feminist Studies major from college was already a kook simply searching for more societal causes when she decided to save the whales and eat only kale? Or did the insidious effects of B12 deficiency slowly eat away at her mind and tuition fund?
Expensive health food stores and high-priced organic produce can make veganism seem like a diet for the privileged. In theory, if the entire U.S. became vegan just for a day, billions of pounds of crops fed to livestock, billions of gallons of water, and millions of gallons of gas would be saved. Those are some compelling numbers, but unfortunately, going to Whole Foods twice a day to load up on their salad bar, buying health-conscious products, or even shopping at your local farmer’s market can add up to twice the price of what you might consume with processed foods or animal products. Holy chow!
Now that we know why veganism sucks, let’s take a few cues from Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, and Ben Stiller–all three are vegans. Here’s how you, too, can do it up right in three easy steps.
#1 Stick to a mostly plant-based diet
If the thought of never eating at Shake Shack again has you all shook up, relax. Simply reduce your meat and dairy intake while also trying to increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains you consume. Who doesn’t crave a handful of nuts on a regular basis anyway?
#2 Hit the salad bar every day
It doesn’t have to be at Whole Foods, but get into the habit of eating a robust amount of colorful veggies tossed and chopped to perfection. What the hell, throw in some grilled chicken strips or some shrimp. Just don’t tell President Clinton.
#3 Stock up on healthier snacks
If soy isn’t your thing (what, you got a problem with man boobs?), opt for some omega-rich foods like guacamole, walnuts, and peanut butter. If you’re smart enough to keep sorbet in your freezer, I guarantee some chick will come across this glorious frozen treat and quietly think you’re the quintessential host.
Barbara Purcell is a NYC-based yoga instructor with anger issues. In addition to eating overpriced celery, she specializes in Pilates, yoga, and slow inhalations. She has been featured on Tyra Banks, Playboy Radio, and Cosmo Radio, empowering others to put the “ho” in holistic. Check out her website here.
Barbara put 30 Rock’s Dot Com through the wringer in Is Yoga Manly? Kevin “Dot Com” Brown Tests It for Us.
Still craving meat? Check out our Kickass Vegetarian Recipes for Meat-Eaters.