Plant-based progress

Twenty years ago I stopped eating meat because I felt it was better to not eat meat than to eat meat. The reason for stopping was because I had seen something on TV about the way animals were treated in factory farming. My reasoning was that this was pointless cruelty to animals* because we can survive well without eating meat. 

Stopping eating meat brought some inconveniences. There was not yet a large supply of meat substitutes in the shops. In addition, it was socially uncomfortable. Many people asked why I stopped eating meat. They also often explained that they themselves liked meat way too much to become vegetarian. 

Now, 20 years later, I am making the switch to a completely plant-based diet. All nutricients that we ingest through eating animal products (with the exception of vitamin B-12**) come from plants. It's hugely inefficient to get those nutricients by feeding them to animals first and then eating those animals. It is much more efficient to obtain them directly by eating the plants. It is unnecessary, inefficient and harmful to use animals as an intermediary or filter. By stopping eating animal products, we also stop taking in antibiotics and hormones at the same time (since animals in factory farms are given these on a large scale). 

A lot has changed in the meantime. Many people in my environment have stopped eating meat and even some who no longer eat animal products at all. Preventing senseless animal suffering remains an important argument for veganism. In addition, there are countless other good reasons to eat completely plant-based. In short: it is better for your health and better for the environment (read more). The great thing is that as an individual you can make a small contribution to realizing the progress the world needs by switching to plant-based foods. Nowadays you don't have to so be afraid of disapproving looks. More and more people are getting used to the idea that eating meat and dairy isn't great. In addition, you can now choose from a wide range of delicious vegetable products in shops and restaurants. 

Would you like to know more about this topic? Then watch the documentary The Game Changers*** (see below). In that documentary you get answers to many questions that are often asked, such as: are we as a human species not more suitable for a meat diet than for a plant-based diet? and: can you be strong and healthy as a vegan? 

* I speak of cruelty because animals (just like us) are sentient beings, who can experience suffering and well-being. 

** Vitamin B12 is also not produced by the animal itself, but by micro-organisms such as bacteria. Animals get it by drinking groundwater that contains vitamin B12. People who do not eat animal products can easily get vitamin B12 by adding it to their diet (for example in the form of tablets). (More info

*** A reader pointed out to me that the documentary is insufficiently evidence-based and does too much cherry picking. Here you can read a review that does a fact check.


Coert Visser said…
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► A new study from Montreal shows that vegans outperformed omnivores in endurance tests. Vegan athletes had higher endurance levels and could work harder before they became exhausted.

The research refutes the idea that you have to eat meat to be strong. A vegan diet can improve athletic performance through complex carbohydrates in vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts. Documentaries such as "The Game Changers" show that professional athletes are successful on a plant-based diet.

The study highlights the importance of carbohydrates for endurance. Vegans had higher VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake) and performed better at submaximal endurance. These findings refute the popular belief that vegans perform less.

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Coert Visser said…
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► This study by Storz et al. (2023) analyzed the dietary intake, laboratory biomarkers, supplementation behavior, and B12 status of young, healthy, physically active omnivores (meat, fish, dairy), lacto-ovo-vegetarians (no meat and fish, but dairy and eggs), and vegans (no animal products) from Germany.

The study found that plant-based diets, especially the vegan diet, showed favorable patterns in lipid metabolism and blood sugar control but had the lowest food intake of B12. Vegans had the lowest dietary B12 intake (0.43 µg/d), compared to omnivores (2.14 µg/d) and lacto-ovo-vegetarians (0.98 µg/d). Analysis of B12 status revealed that omnivores and vegans had adequate B12 status, while lacto-ovo-vegetarians had a poorer B12 status. Fewer lacto-ovo-vegetarians used B12 supplements compared to vegans (51% versus 90%).

Key findings indicated that B12 status, iron status, and lipid metabolism had the greatest impact on health status in the different dietary groups. The study emphasizes the importance of B12 supplementation for vegans to maintain adequate B12 status.

This research sheds light on the nutritional differences and health markers among people with different diets and highlights the importance of B12 supplements for vegans to prevent deficiencies. It also emphasizes that plant-based diets can have beneficial effects on lipid metabolism and blood sugar control.
Coert Visser said…
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► In a study from 2023, published by JAMA Network Open, the health effects of a vegan diet were compared to those of an omnivorous diet in identical twins over an 8-week period. Forty-four twins participated in this test. Half of each pair of twins consumed a vegan diet, while the other half ate everything.

The results showed that the twins who followed a vegan diet had better outcomes. They had lower 'bad' cholesterol levels, lower insulin levels, and they lost more weight compared to the twins who ate everything. This suggests that a healthy vegan diet may be better for the heart and metabolism than a diet where you eat everything.