Veganism is gaining in popularity every single day as more and more people wake up to the horrific cruelty of the meat and dairy industries. Most doctors agree, 99.9% of people can thrive on a properly balanced vegan diet. The evidence is now overwhelming. But has anyone died from veganism? Let’s have a closer look behind the sensationalist headlines.
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Has Anyone Died From Veganism?
No … but you can find one or two stories online where veganism has been blamed for the death of a child. The parents were just unhinged. It’s almost impossible to die of malnutrition. I mean, the 1981 IRA prison strikes notwithstanding, how many hunger strikes actually resulted in a death?
So I’m not in the business of lying to you. In truth, there are a few rare cases recorded where a vegan diet resulted in the death of a child. These cases are extreme examples and completely due to the parents having little to no understanding of nutrition.
Take the case of poor little 6 week old Crown Shakur who died of starvation because his parents fed him mostly soy milk and apple juice. I mean, anyone with a functioning intellect would know this carry on is not going to end well.
Both parents were convicted of cruelty, involuntary manslaughter and murder. Quite how you can be guilty of involuntary manslaughter and murder is beyond me, but then I’m no lawyer.
Then there was Ezra Sage O’Leary who’s vegan parents fed him mostly fruit and at 18 months old, the little boy died of complications associated with starvation. He was half the weight of a normal child his age.
The other children in the family also had some serious health issues due to deficiencies in their diet. The neglectful parents were charged with first degree murder and aggravated child abuse along with two other lesser charges.
Like I said, these two examples are extremely rare cases where a child has been unlucky enough to be born to parents who knew very little about the nutritional needs of a growing human body.
Embarking on a vegan diet without this knowledge is dangerously foolhardy and resulted in these two poor souls losing their lives.
Vegans Need Good Nutritional Knowledge
With the rise and rise of veganism it is more important than ever to spread this message. A good grounding in the basics of human nutrition is essential if you want to live a happy, healthy vegan life.
More importantly, if you’re responsible for others who are relying on you to provide them with a balanced diet then this knowledge is essential. To fulfil your moral obligations to your dependents, you must educate yourself.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you in this regard but to put it simply, a good varied mix of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and pulses is key. Nearly every nutrient the body needs is available in nature without the need to kill an animal.
Yes, there are some nutrients that are not easy to obtain from plants and most vegans will need to supplement with omega 3 essential fatty acids, vitamin D and vitamin B12. Calcium and iron are also worth focussing on.
If you’re raising vegan children then it’s especially important to pay attention to their nutritional needs. A growing human body does need a bit more protein than a fully-formed adult, for example.
From the NHS in the UK, here’s a great round up of what vegans need to think about, nutritionally.
If you fail to understand these core principles and try to live on vegan junk food or limit yourself to only a few different types of vegetables then you’re storing up problems down the road.
It’s the reason many vegans quit the lifestyle. They fail to nourish their body and as a result, the body turns round and says “hey, I don’t want to die yet – give me what I need!”. So that person goes back to the animal protein and concludes that veganism is unhealthy.
You Can Live a Long & Healthy Vegan Life
I’m sure, like me, most vegans have questioned their choice to follow this compassionate lifestyle. Ethically, of course, I have no qualms whatsoever.
I’m comfortable and at peace knowing my dietary choices do not contribute towards the horrendous suffering of farmed animals … or at least, contribute a lot less. I’m a realist.
Nutritionally, I have sometimes wondered if we’re doing the right thing. Especially since we’re trying to raise our beautiful daughter and send her off into this abundant life as a vibrant and healthy human being.
Yes, her ethical code is important to us but her health even more so.
Thankfully, my wife has been ‘on it’ from day one with the nutrition. Our thirteen year old has now been vegan for over half her life and she is thriving. Her growth is perfectly normal. She is strong, fit and mentally sharp.
Compared to her peers, she seems to be healthier than most. But then I suppose we would say that! Some of her friends often don’t have any decent food in their school lunch box. It’s not just vegans who need nutritional education it seems!
We cook fresh nearly every evening and mix things up as much as possible. We supplement with omega 3 (DHA and EPA), a comprehensive multi-vitamin/mineral and a vegan vitamin D / B12 oral spray for that extra boost, especially in the winter months.
We also take a high strength vitamin C and zinc liquid product derived from black elderberry to maintain optimum immunity. Especially important in these times of Covid-19 where her school is reporting new cases nearly every day!
Paying attention to these essential nutritional elements has allowed us to truly thrive on our vegan diet. I can honestly say I’ve never felt better.
Endless Examples Of Long-Term Healthy Vegans
At this point I think it’s worth mentioning a guy known as MegaVegan on Twitter. He has been plant-based since the tender age of 5.
He’s now 65 years old and his health and vitality are something to behold. People like this are a real inspiration and conclusive proof that you can live optimally on a vegan diet. As long as you’re aware of your body’s needs.
Another amazing example for me, much closer to home, is my mother in law. She is now in her eighties and while she is not officially vegan, her diet has consisted of plants almost exclusively. She takes a splash of cow’s milk in her tea, morning and afternoon and occasionally eats a little cheese and butter.
She has been vegetarian her entire life. Never has a piece of dead animal passed her lips since the day she was born. Animal protein barely figures in her diet whatsoever.
She had her annual medical check up a couple of months ago and the doctor was shocked to conclude she has a medical age of around 60 years old. Her body is akin to someone’s 20 years her junior. The doc particularly noted her heart health stating he had never seen such vitality in someone of this age.
She has some issues with arthritis and a dodgy hip but those ailments are common in someone her age. My wife works with the elderly and when she draws comparisons to some of her clients, the difference is truly astounding.
I can only conclude, a plant-based diet is highly unlikely to result in malnutrition if you’re aware of what your body needs to sustain itself optimally.
As for the sensationalist headlines you see like “Death By Veganism” (an article I found in the NYT authored by Nina Planck), the phrase ‘click bait’ comes to mind.
Examples of veganism being responsible for someone’s death are, thankfully, very few and far between and are due entirely to the ignorance of those concerned.
Veganism Done Right Won’t Kill You!
Far from it.
I hope this article has helped put your mind at rest if you’re considering taking up the vegan lifestyle. Especially if you’re concerned about your health.
Yes, we go vegan for the animals but if it results in you getting sick then one, that is not a great advert for our cause and two, you’re more likely to quit if you’re feeling unwell on the diet. Neither do the veganism movement any good.
As with most things in life, there will always be those extreme examples the nay-sayers latch on to trying to prove their tenuous point. The crazies shout the loudest.
What I can say is if I look at my vegan and non-vegan friends I know who has fewer health problems … and it’s not the meat eaters!
When you consider the human race kills 77 billion land animals every single year for food (this number is increasing too) I think we can safely confirm which group is responsible for more death on this planet.
It’s not vegans!
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Thanks for reading!