Following a plant-based diet is an important tool for reducing animal suffering. But what about human health? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a vegan diet? Unfortunately, there's a lot of bad science out there about nutrition in general and vegan nutrition in specific.
One of our core values at Compassionate Action for Animals is integrity. We want to present the most accurate information available on vegan diets. We need to look at all of the science on the topic, not just those studies that say what we want to hear. By presenting the full picture about veganism we can demonstrate our trustworthiness on this topic and others. When animal advocates are not credible on one topic, people will start to doubt everything they say. After all, if we weren't forthright about nutrition, maybe we're shading the truth about what goes on in factory farms.
With that all said, what do we look for when evaluating information on nutrition? Realistically, very few of us will ever get an advanced degree in biology or dietetics, and even fewer of us will go on to conduct research on vegan diets. We have to rely on experts to do that for us. But lots of people claim to be experts! Who can we trust?
We look for experts who evaluate all of the scientific information on the topic. They don't cherry pick just the studies that support a plant-based diet, they don't exaggerate health claims for plant-based diets, and they don't shy away from the potential problems that come with this diet. A trustworthy expert is never afraid to change their mind in the face of compelling new evidence, and they're willing to call out bad science, even when it comes from within the animal advocacy movement.
Two of our favorite writers working in this area are Jack Norris of Vegan Outreach and Ginny Messina. Both Jack and Ginny take the scientific process seriously and are interested in providing the best facts available about vegan diets.
Together they co-wrote the best contemporary book on vegan nutrition, Vegan for Life. If you're interested in becoming and staying healthy on a plant-based diet, this is a must-read book. We also recommend their blogs, JackNorrisRD.com and TheVeganRD.com. They regularly look at the latest scientific developments in vegan nutrition, answer questions from readers, and provide good recommendations on staying healthy. We also recommend VeganHealth.org, a site Jack Norris maintains. It contains a wealth of articles on a variety of topics related to vegan health.
Because we care about animals, we also need to care for ourselves. When we are living examples of how to be a healthy vegan, our appeals to others for diet change are more effective. We will be much more effective animal advocates when we are prepared to answer basic nutrition questions. The more we know about all of the issues related animals and plant-based diets, the more effective we are as animal advocates.