When someone asks me what for heaven’s sake I eat if I eat no animal products, I sometimes say: lettuce — lots of it. And on Shabbat and Festivals a carrot on top.
I mean, it’s not fair to them because they really have no idea, but I sometimes get a bit tired from people who refuse to think outside of their own little box. Often I add: vegans may eat all fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, roots and fungi.
Do you know how much that is? You know how many delicious roots they sell for food? And grains and grain produce? Do you know how many sorts of beans and legumes there are? And seeds and herbs? And how many combinations you can make with them, one tastier than the next?
If it’s so tasty, salt is often unnecessary. Bread and porridge yes, but I now don’t salt my pasta or veggie soups anymore. There is enough taste in real food. Yes, when you cook white rice or white pasta, you’re in trouble. Take the original whole variety and even herbs are seldom needed.
Yes, Jews who do not eat legumes on Pesach do have a problem. Also bread en other grain products are out (pasta, wheat-meat (saitan), etc.). Rabbis have said that those vegans may eat legumes because they have no alternatives. That is not true. For protein there are still all the tree nuts of the world. And quinoa and matzoth have protein too. (Did you know that “Shmurah Matzoth” are wholewheat?)
One of the sources of carnivores’ lack of understanding is that meat / fish / cheese and egg eaters see these dishes as the “main course” and the rest as “side dishes.” It’s like declaring part of your garden “weeds” so that you can hate and destroy them. “What a beautiful bed of flowers.” “No, those are weeds.” “O.”
It took me over five years of eating a vegan diet until I realized that I don’t divide food up into side dishes and protein-rich main courses. Rather: we need as food: fibers, things that taste good, protein, starches, fats, vitamins and trace elements, and essential fats and amino-acids. Well, different foods might have one or more of those components. Beans have fibers, protein and starch. Fruits have fibers, potassium and vitamins. How different from: meat for protein, fat for fat, starch for calories, salad for fibers and vitamins and sauces, gravy and dressings for taste.
We do not need alcohol, caffeine, refined produce, white flour, or worthless non-foods with good taste. Why the latter not? Because if you eat from Nature’s richness, good taste comes with it built-in. Last Shabbat, I was someone’s guest. He had cooked veggies in aluminum foil in the oven. Unbelievable! All the taste stayed in. Everything really tasted as if otherwise their tastes had been watered down!
So, I’m at a wedding party and the waiter says: We have no vegan meals. I say: Impossible. The law in Israel says that every restaurant must have vegetarian and vegan dishes. But we don’t. So I ask: Do you serve potatoes and other roots without meaty dressings? Vegan! Eggplant with techina? Vegan! Beans dishes without meat? Vegan! Mushrooms? Vegan! Salads without egg-mayo, fish or meat? Vegan! Wholegrain bread? Most likely vegan! Fruits and nuts? Vegan! I tell you: you can’t eat it all — so much.
Strict vegans must take supplements. That’s not because we really need animal produce. Rather, the present diet of vegans AND animal eaters are deficient — sometimes in different ways.
- Vitamin B12. You must take this. The human body has a reserve of years of this vitamin – that’s how vial this is – and we don’t need a lot but without it we die. Don’t play around with this. No plant need this / has this and no animal can go without. Then where does it come from? From bacteria in intestines if the soil the animal eats from has enough cobalt (a metal ion). Some animal intestines are such that they can absorb the B12 that’s made in them. However, in many animals the B12 is excreted rather than absorbed. So modern people and clean stable animals need supplementation because they do not eat enough feces. When we get older, B12 is harder to absorb, so we need more of it. You can’t overdose on this.
- Vitamin D. No human food has enough Vitamin D. It is added to cow milk products. Take Vitamin D. Never leave home without it. You probably only get enough of this (made in the skin from sun light) if you have a dark skin, live in the tropics and walk around half undressed hours a day — but then you’ll die from skin cancer. This is a very important vitamin. Don’t go easy on it. You can’t overdose on this.
- Iodine. Does not seem enough in most diets. In many countries, salt is supplemented with iodine. If you have no such foods, you might need it added. However, too much of this is not healthy, so wait and see.
- Lysine. A vegan who eats plenty of beans and grains will generally get enough protein, although it might be hard to get enough of the essential amino-acide lysine.
- Calcium. Seems no problem if you eat enough and varied vegan foods.
- Iron. If you eat enough and varied, you probably will get enough of this. However, the vegan variants are a bit harder to absorb than the animal-originated Iron. Yet, you do not want an iron poisoning, so play it cool.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Regular medicine does not acknowledge a need for this. I would say: take it so that they won’t tell you in 40 years: too bad you never took this.
- And now the most important supplement:
Do not live (rather: die) by proclamation. Don’t declare that your diet is healthy because you want it to be. Rather, let your family doc order a whole battery of lab tests to check if all is really fine. Then you can learn if you need to eat more of certain stuff or need to supplement.
To be continued …. Next time I will review: Types of vegans, Jewish religious articles and principles, Being vegan is not good for everyone, and Good reasons for being a vegan.