Is veganism good for you? Many people want to know. For years people have been told that more vegetables makes a diet healthier. While this may be true, an all-plant diet or even one that contains small quantities of animal products can cause severe deficiencies in important nutrients. Vegans should eat high quality meat and other animal products because vegan diets exclude important nutrients such as vitamin K2, vitamin B12, and CoQ10, vitamins which are necessary for good health.
One reason vegans should eat meat is because their diet is extremely low in Vitamin K2, which is necessary for good health. Vitamin K2 is a vitamin found in cheese, egg yolk, beef, chicken breast, chicken liver, and butter from grass fed animals. People deficient in Vitamin K2 can acquire numerous health problems, such as cancer. “A study recently published by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) has revealed that increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent. The authors point out that the benefits of K2 were most pronounced for advanced prostate cancer, and, importantly, that vitamin K1 did not offer any prostate benefits” (Kresser). Vitamin K2 is usually thought of as being the same as K1, but it is not. K1 is a vitamin that prevents excessive bleeding, while “Vitamin K2’s biggest function is to prevent the accumulation of calcium deposits in your arteries. When calcium deposits form in your arteries, your risk of heart disease goes up. Vitamin K2 removes calcium from your blood, and moves it to the bones and teeth. Therefore, vitamin K2 is essential for strong, healthy teeth and bones, as well as a strong, healthy cardiovascular system. Vitamin K2 is also a powerful antioxidant, and as such can prevent a range of health problems, including cancer and obesity” (FitDay). It is also believed that vitamin K1, which may be obtained from leafy green vegetables, can be converted into K2 the way it is in animals. However, while “your body does produce its own vitamin K2, it doesn’t produce adequate amounts” (FitDay). The only way to get this vitamin in a vegan diet is by eating fermented foods, such as natto, but even these foods supply nowhere near the necessary amount of vitamin K2. Vegans need to eat meat, because by eating a vegan diet, they are increasing their own risk for cancer and other such health problems that are prevented by consuming adequate amounts of Vitamin K2.
Vegans also need to eat meat because they are often deficient in Vitamin B12. “A vegetarian diet frequently is low in vitamin B12 and high in folic acid, which may mask a vitamin B12 deficiency” (Dunne 32). Vitamin B12 is found in meat, seafood, milk products, and eggs. Higher quality animal products often contain higher amounts of B12. B12 helps the absorption of many other vitamins and is necessary for metabolism and the production of DNA and RNA. Daisy Whitbread, who received a Master’s degree in Nutrition at King’s College, London says this: “A slight deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression, while a long term deficiency can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin B12 can only be manufactured by bacteria and can only be found naturally in animal products” (Whitbread). Also, “Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may take 5 or 6 years to appear, after the body’s supply from natural sources has been restricted” (Dunne 32). This may be why vegans do not always show obvious signs of deficiency, even when their diet could not possibly contain a substantial amount of B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency must be caught in its early stages, because if it is not, permanent damage may be done. Contrary to the belief that vitamin B12 can be overdosed, “No cases of vitamin B12 toxicity have been reported, even with large doses” (Dunne 32). Many vegans are vitamin B12 deficient, because none of the foods they eat contain naturally occurring B12.
Vegans also need to eat meat because they can become deficient in Coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is “a vitamin-like nutrient”…“a key element in energy production and antioxidant protection” (Zimmerman). Your body can, and does, produce its own CoQ10, but not in amounts sufficient as a sole source. According to Kelley Herring, sufficient amounts of Coenzyme Q10 can prevent, “Cardiovascular disease and hypertension, Cancer, Gum disease, Mitochondrial disorders and chronic fatigue, Obesity and diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Gastric ulcers, Allergies, Migraine headaches, and Muscular dystrophy” (Herring). It is recommended that you eat 30-100 mg of CoQ10 daily. The top sources of Coenzyme Q10 (per 4 oz.) are beef heart (13 mg), sardines (7 mg), mackerel (5 mg), beef liver (4 mg), beef (3.5-4 mg), pork (3-4.5 mg), pork liver (2.5 mg), chicken (1.5-2 mg), tuna (1.5 mg), lard (1 mg), butter (0.8 mg), and eggs (0.1-0.4 mg). Higher quality and grass-fed meats and animal products may contain even higher quantities of CoQ10 per ounce. While there are vegan foods that contain CoQ10, all of them contain less than 0.1 mg of it per 4 oz. In a vegan diet, it would take a ridiculous amount of those specific “CoQ10 rich” foods to get enough CoQ10 to support a person’s body. Again, vegans need to eat meat and other animal products because their diets are missing CoQ10, which is a necessary nutrient and supports the heart.
In conclusion, vegans need to eat meat because of the several nutrients that they cannot get enough of in a meat-free diet. Vitamin K2 is one nutrient that vegans cannot get enough of, and nutrients such as K2 are necessary for a person’s health. In addition, vitamin B12 is impossible to get in a vegan diet without taking supplements of B12 grown in bacteria. Lastly, Coenzyme Q10 is extremely difficult to eat enough of in a vegan diet. A person would have to eat nearly twenty pounds of spinach to get the minimum amount of CoQ10 recommended daily. Because of its nutrition problems, veganism is not a healthy diet. Each of us need to be sure to include a substantial amount of high quality meat, milk, and eggs in our diet.
Works Cited List
Dunne, Lavon J., and John D. Kirschmann. Nutrition Almanac. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990. 32. Print.
Herring, Kelley. “CoQ10 Supplements… Eat Your Heart Out!” U.S. Wellness Meats. 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.
Kresser, Chris. “Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient.” Chris Kresser. 6 May 2008. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
“The Function of Vitamin K2.” FitDay. Internet Brands, Inc. Web. 6 Dec. 2015.
Whitbread, Daisy. “Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).” HealthAliciousNess. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.
Zimmerman, C.N. Marcia. “Coenzyme Q10: The Miracle Antioxidant.” Nutrition Express. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.