Q: How healthy is being a vegan?
A: Perfectly healthy, provided you plan your diet appropriately. The nutrients to watch for are vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids. There are sources for each of these, however, that don’t require you to give up on a vegan diet.
Calcium and vitamin D can be acquired relatively easily through fortified soy milk and snacks such as almonds and hazelnuts. It is still recommended that these periodically be augmented with a calcium supplement, but the need for this should be infrequent.
If you are an American, then iodine won’t even be a problem, as America iodizes its table salt. If you live in Britain or Ireland, however, animal products are used for iodine delivery, so that becomes something of an issue. Fortunately, kelp is rich in iodine, and it can be found in pill form at many health food stores.
Iron is the most difficult nutrient to deal with. Studies have shown that iron is less well absorbed by those on vegetarian and vegan diets, though the cause is still unknown. To compensate, iron-rich foods can be used as a supplement. Many vegans opt to use molasses for this purpose, as it is inexpensive and somewhat easy to control the dosage of.
This doesn’t cover everything, of course, and you should consult a doctor before beginning any sort of change in diet. But this should demonstrate that the situation is not as extreme as you may have heard.
Q: OK, I made my vegan friend who pointed me to this website leave the room. How healthy is being a vegan, really?
A: Is she actually gone?
Q: Yeah, I locked the door. Also, how did you know she’s a she?
A: Oh, thank Christ. She’s here all the time. I swear, half the posts on the message board are just from her. But I guess some people are born activists.
Look, if I’m going to play the odds, you’re a male of college age who’s interested in banging her, and you—
Q: Hey, let’s be realistic here; I’m not just—
A: Just shut up and listen. Or… read, I guess. You’re a horny dude, and she’s a sexy young thang. You came to California for school, and you’re a little overwhelmed by all the new lifestyle choices available to you.
Q: Uh, not all of them…
A: So you’re thinking about becoming a vegan because it will open new… “doors,” let’s say. In a perfect world, that would be fine. There are supplements, like I said earlier.
Q: Oh, that part was real?
A: It’s all real. And thanks for actually making that one a question. The misuse of the “Q:” was starting to get to me.
Q: You’re welcome. Er, I mean… You’re welcome?
A: Yes. I am welcome. Now, there’s a little more that you need to understand before you can leap into this. First, think about cheeseburgers.
A: Now think about bacon.
A: Now think about them… together.
Q: I have to say, I’m not seeing a downside yet.
Q: Neither am I seeing a point.
A: Er, right. Sorry. I got a little distracted by thinking about bacon cheeseburgers, as well. And that is my point, really. With those foods being so delectable, why would any right-thinking human give them up?
Q: Well, there are some things that are better than food. “Doors,” for instance.
A: But you can live without “doors.”
A: No, it’s true! You can’t—Did you just ask three dots to piss me off?
A: Fair enough. But, seriously. You die without food. You won’t die without “doors.” And you need food more often. I’ve never heard anyone rap about “I got 99 problems, but a steak ain’t one.”
Q: Go on…
A: So who would give those things up?
Q: Hm. Earlier you asked why any “right-thinking human” would give them up. So I have to guess that it would be someone who is not right-thinking.
A: You’re smart. And I like that. You used previously-learned information to skip about 20 steps in this process. But it also worries me a little because smarter people are easier to lie to.
Q: So you plan on lying to me? Also: really? I’d think it would be the other way around.
A: In reverse order: Yeah, it’s true. See, people who are smarter can validate and rationalize anything to themselves. So if you tell them that there’s an exception to a situation, they’re more likely to believe it because they can imagine how it would work. But people who are more… simple-minded would stay bluntly focused on whatever it is that they were originally told. They’re harder to sway because they keep coming back to it.
It’s easier for them internalize something called Occam’s Razor, sometimes called lex parsimoniae. Despite the Latin name, it’s actually only a principle, not a law. It’s incorrectly believed to state that “the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one,” but this is—ironically—oversimplified and incorrect. It only suggests that we should tend toward simpler theories until a theory comes along that has greater explanatory power. Just as it would be a fallacy to add extraneous agencies to a theory, so would it be fallacious to “simplify” and reduce all the questions of the universe to solipsism and cogito ergo sum. And the definition of “simplest” can change based upon the discipline in question, anyway.
Q: You sound like an elitist.
A: Says the guy who’s thinking of becoming a vegan.
Q: And the lying?
A: No, I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to tell you the unvarnished truth, and it’s going to be easy for her to convince you that it’s not true because it’s so radically different from what you currently accept as reality.
Q: How about you just tell me, and I’ll judge for myself?
A: You were on the right track, but picked the wrong word. These people are right-thinking, but they are not… human.
Q: Seacrest out.
A: Wait, hang on!
Q: Hang on so you can tell me how all vegans are aliens, or something?
A: No! That would be absurd. As far as I know, there aren’t any aliens. This is worse! Lizard people. Denying their true nature by forswearing meat and going deep, deep undercover to infiltrate the human race. They stay away from meat and other animal products to prevent their behavior from revealing their lack of humanity. They’re still lizards at heart, and you’d recognize one immediately if it ever tore into a steak or a side of ham.
Q: This is stupid. I’m going to go through that door, then go through another “door,” then go eat a bacon cheeseburger. I don’t care anymore. I’d rather be a hypocrite than insane.
A: Wait! Close the browser window before you go! They can find me through the computer!
A: I’m doomed…