I'm thinking about going Vegan. Some issues during my research so far! Why do Vegans need science to stay healthy by creating B12 themselves if this is a truly natural lifestyle?

I've been vegetarian for over 2 years and recently been thinking about cutting out all animal products from my diet for a number of reasons but I am extremely interested, above all, to stay very healthy! So a great balanced vegan diet is what I am looking for.

So far everything is looking great! But then comes along the Vitamin  called B12

Oh, I know about this vitamin, I used to eat loads of eggs to make sure I don't get a lack of that one! But I've given up on eggs recently... so now what? I do a bit of digging and I'm hitting a brick wall.

Here is my problem.

I am a great believer in NATURE. I think that we are created in a way that doesn't need us to modify foods or kill animals to live. I think everything we need to live healthily is available with NO need to modify other foods to give us what we need. So why does every vegan site recommend vitamin B12 "fortified" foods!??

I had to look up fortified to make sure I am getting this 100% right [Fortified - To reinforce by adding material]

"Adding" now that's a big issue for me. There may be no down side to "adding" B12 to my food but my issue is why do we need to add it there!? Obviously nature didn't decide that we need to add B12 to corn flakes!

I can't begin to tell you how much I am against modified foods, I don't give a damn about any research showing benefits or down-sides. I want my food as nature intends, end of story, no if's or but's.

So that's my dilemma... It seems a vegan CAN'T get enough B12 without some tricks first, so is it really a diet of "nature"? 

My second dilemma is I don't want to go back to vegetarian but my health is important to me so it seems I will have to get some of this "fortified" food.

*disclaimer* I am a vegan noob, please forgive any idiot statements from me, I am just trying to learn how to do this the right way. Thanks


*UPDATE* A lot of people have started to post on this topic recently so here's a quick update from things that have changed/found out in the 10 months that have gone.

As a lot of you have recently been posting, B12 is not something that Vegans actually need worry about, it turns out that the recommended amount is grossly exaggerated and simply eating fortified cereals a few times a week will satisfy your B12 requirements BUT if you feel more comfortable taking supplements then keep taking them, there is no harm in that. And please don't misunderstand me, B12 is important to everyone's bodies, so don't brush it aside and forget about it. Remain active in ALL of your nutritional intakes.

As for the nature side of the vit B12 subject, lots and lots of people have said here and I agree with them that it still can be found naturally in the ground on our fruit and veg but these days the use of chemicals and environmental pollutions make getting your B12 this way a little risky if you don't know exactly how they have been grown.

And lastly, the sanitation of our daily lives and foods have also played a big part in the demise of naturally consumed B12. As well as the fact that our organism was not intended to eat cooked food, which kills B12 many times and reduces our chance of getting enough B12 naturally.

The good thing about this thread is that there is A LOT of great info gathered here in one place so if anyone does want to learn for themselves about B12 then the good people of VegFriend have stepped up and posted some great info and links so thanks to everyone for contributing! And a very big thanks for helping me get to where I am now... Fully Vegan and Fully Happy with it.

Much love to you all. A happy ending

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Clothes and machines I use to enhance my human potential! I have nothing against science, in fact I LOVE science! And because of this love of science and FACT this is what has created this situation for me... I want to know the FACTS.

If you read my other posts on this page you will see I am not against fortified foods, I am NOT against science, I am not a hypocrite either as you have suggested!

I never said I want to live in the woods as close to nature and all that stuff that your going on about, you misread or misinterpret what I write. I am not a hippy, I am someone who wants to understand, I want to know why nature is not giving enough B12 with animals or science.

It is that simple

And I will add that I have decided to become vegan but that again is not my issue here! My issue is that I am not convinced but I feel I have no choice because I don't want animal products AND THAT IS NOT NORMAL!

You could maybe see this as acceptable but I can't, I am different to you! :O

I have also been reading your posts and am getting somewhat frustrated over the fact that you are asking for answers but going on about it even after several people have given you quite satisfactory ones. Mine: the body produces B12 itself in the intestine, which it does, though maybe due to conditioning no longer in sufficient amounts. Another person's: in a natural world, as nature intended, you wouldn't clean your food as well as you do now. It comes off the fields sanitised, you wash and/or cook it again and the B12 that would naturally be found in leftover insects, bacteria and other small organisms too small for the eyes to see are clinically cleaned off. Those alone would give you sufficient B12, but can't any more these days in our very clean world.

Maybe you can stop the discussion by accepting that nature does - or would if used as in the past or in other cultures with less clean water and disinfectant - provide B12, your own body does, but just to be on the safe side from a health point of view, it's a good idea to take a supplement.  

Elizabeth, I replied to your post but I guess I should of been more clear that I am trying to find some facts here. You say that "the body produces B12 itself in the intestine, which it does, though maybe due to conditioning no longer in sufficient amounts" but where did you get this information from? I would love to see it and then I can finally get over this whole issue, trust me, I am more frustrated by this topic more than anyone! I just want answers! But can you understand so far I only have guesses and opinions put forward to me. And don't get me wrong I am so grateful for that because it provides me with leads in which to investigate! :)

The one about the soil is a good example of what I mean about opinions though, I asked him to back that up with some facts and he wrote back saying "To be honest, I formulated this explanation off the top of my head while remembering some of the many things I have read in the past when I started vegetarianism". I fully appreciate that contribution and it does at least provide another lead for me to investigate but so far it's not looking like a reliable explanation but I will keep on it.

Maybe to some people, these two explanations are good enough to just forget about the whole thing but unfortunately, for me, I'm not convinced.

Really all I want is to find the facts, so please don't get frustrated by me not accepting an opinion on a forum...

Lots of animal products are also fortified with B vitamins

In an attempt to make my question/problem more clear I have come up with a more clear question

Why do Vegans need science to stay healthy by creating B12 themselves if this is a truly natural lifestyle?

If we can come up with a definitive answer to this then I will be extremely satisfied!

Just imagine if a meat eater or vegetarian asked this question... don't you think it is embarrassing or suspicious that there is no definitive answer to this question?

That's a very good answer, I like that! And I fully agree that without question the Vegan lifestyle, morally, is the best thing for both humans and animals. I'm not sure a definitive answer is impossible though, I'm confident that science holds the answer to my question but I'm not so confident I will find it, if that makes sense.

Wayne, I've read most of this thread and wanted to add something that I thought of while reading your frustrations. I find this topic you started very interesting, so thank you. Have you considered the consequences and how "un-natural" being a meat eater or even vegetarian are? I am a nurse and see way too many people on pages full of medications because of things that I attribute to their meat and animal product packed diets. It is by no means natural to eat medicine as food in middle age and elder age people as so many in our culture do. I don't think the average person not working in the medical field realizes how many medications the average person is taking, many of which are correlated with their diets. I find a b12 supplement much more closer to "nature" than the pages and pages of lab/science created medications that our meat eating counterparts are taking. Just a thought to add to the pot. What do you think?

Have you considered the consequences and how "un-natural" being a meat eater or even vegetarian are?

Yes, I have considered it very deep and concluded that ANY animal product is totally un-natural! I don't want to consume it.

And oh I agree with your statement about B12 not being anywhere near as bad as most medical products produced in the labs. I have looked into this and there seems to be very little evidence to cause concern about taking B12 in what I deem to be un-natural ways. But that doesn't mean I'm fully satisfied with this situation, I still have doubts about Veganism... It just doesn't all fit together perfectly but it's damn close (I could could over 50 positive verses just 1 slight negative) and so far that will have to do for me but I wouldn't say I am a happy vegan and that is not good.

I know what you mean, I faced the same questions myself. Bacteria present in the small intestine which produces it, but it is not properly absorbed and therefore utilized in our body, most scientists believe that there was a use for our appendix in the fact that it was able to cultivate this same bacteria in a way in which could be absorbed in our body, but due to our increased consumption of meat over years, our bodies have becomes less and less dependent on our appendixes and bacteria present within them as our main source of B12, whereas gorillas, on the other hand, have a largely dominant appendix from where B12 can be absorbed effectively. Due to these changes, we don't necessarily need supplements as B12 is found in bacteria not only in our stomachs, but in yeast and soil, which is the source from which herbivorous animals and grazers attain theirs. In order for us to attain these bacteria, one can simply eat organic foods, or foods which haven't come into contact with pesticides which kill of this bacteria. Another option is not to rinse the vegetables either as this ensures that some soil remains attached which contains larger amounts of the bacteria needed for efficient B12 intake, no supplements or pills required

I have recently come across the exact same information! But it came with a disclaimer that there is insufficient evidence available so they don't support this choice, you should only proceed while getting annual B12 check ups and that you should not attempt it if you are pregnant or breast feeding because the risk is unjustified.

Do you still have the link from where you read that information?

It seems this could be the answer I am looking for because others have said the same thing also. Plus there is so much evidence to show how our body functions have changed over many thousands of years so this explanation is definitely feasible. But my question is; Is it a theory or is there sufficient evidence to suggest this could be true?

Wayne Bond,

I personally don't find the vegan diet to be 100% natural either, or humans 100% herbivore. I would define us "naturally" as "Herbivorous Opportunists" or "Opportunistic Vegetarian"; implying that we survive primarily on vegetation yet we supplement with animal products on some level (insects, eggs, meat). I would believe our natural diet is similar to that of the apes. They are not vegan, technically, they eat insects, bark, and likely larva too. Some even eat other species of lesser primates every now and then. Living this way gives them all the nutrients they need. If you wish to live in this manner you needn't worry about B12.

Also as I said before B12 comes from the bacteria. Your not going to find ONE source that's going to hand deliver you all the information you want. Somethings you have to put together yourself by learning from multiple sources. Do some research on B12 and you'll find out where it comes from and what it is in. Feces and saliva of humans and animals have this bacteria. Insects have it too. That is why I said to you earlier that in a natural environment you would have gotten B12 by eating soiled or contaminated vegetation. Carnivores get theirs from eating herbivores, who get theirs from eating contaminated grass/leaves or the insects on them.

I seriously believe this sanitized lifestyle we are living today is the whole reason for this B12 dilemma. We clean thoroughly everything eat. Then, on top of that, we have personal oral hygiene that comes in and practically finishes off what B12 is left.

Again, this is the conclusion I have came to for "myself" based on many things I've read during my earlier vegetarian days. I don't do too much reading nowadays about this stuff so I don't know what has changed or what has been discovered. Enlighten me if you come across something...

Yeah I am also leaning towards the same line of thinking to be honest. There seems to be no definite answer to this but that in itself kind of backs up your theory of our sanitized lifestyles being the root cause of this whole situation (by destroying the evidence I suppose you could say).

Also this is kind of backed up in some way by totally unrelated studies that show a little bit of dirt and germs are actually necessary for our immunity to stay strong! Those who grow from childhood living in an extremely clean/sanitized environment tend to get sick much easier and recover much longer. To me, that in some way backs up the theory of modern life changing how our bodies function... very interesting.

I will definitely post any future findings here but there seems to be no active research on this subject so it looks like a good 'ol guestimate will have to do.

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