Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Misunderstanding Vegans as People Just Eating Lettuce

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.

Shabbat shalom

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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