Let’s Debunk: Veganism—fruitful or fraudulent?


When you think about veganism, you often think of the ideal, healthy lifestyle: a balanced diet of an assortment of colorful fruits, nutritious greens, and nourishing nuts. But the oversimplication of this diet masks the unhealthy mindset among many vegans and, consequently, why 84 percent of vegans resort back to an omnivore diet. 

Veganism hit its peak in popularity in 2019, the so-called “Year of the Vegan,” with global meat consumption declining by 17 percent and 500,000 individuals pledging to commit to veganism entering “Veganuary” of 2020. 

In response to the sudden demand for not only vegan foods but vegan clothing and cosmetics in 2019, stores quickly created new, sustainable measures to show support for their growing vegan customer base. For example, Hermes and Dr. Martens experimented with new fungus bags in replacement of leather. 

YouTube likewise became a popular outlet for vegans to post “What I Eat in a Day”s and give tips on maintaining their vegan lifestyle in 2019.  

However, only three years after the 2019 vegan movement, veganism has become a rather trite and unsupported diet which individuals are unwilling to adhere to. A primary cause behind this sudden decline? The malnutrition and exacerbation of eating disorders among vegans. 

It is important to acknowledge that there is nothing wrong with the vegan diet itself—rather, the damaging incentives behind why individuals often opt to go vegan. In fact, if people are educated on how to maintain a nourishing diet as a vegan and enter veganism with the healthy mindset of improving the environment, no one should prevent them doing so. 

Considering the unhealthy motivations entering veganism, however, Amber Alexander, a six-year vegan, notes on her Youtube channel that a large majority of vegans often begin their veganism journey with the incentive of losing weight, including Amber herself. 

“When people say veganism is a cult, the [vegan] YouTube community legitimately was a cult,” Amber said. “I was following these crazy vegan people who were pushing high carb-low fat, raw till’ 4, and 80-10-10 (80 percent carbs, 10 percent fats, 10 percent protein) diets… The only way you can track these diets is by downloading a calorie counting app which I used for years during my childhood.”

With the prevalence of calorie-counting apps and the constant need to read nutrition labels, vegans can often exacerbate their eating disorders. For example, a vegan lifestyle called the “clean eating movement” often worsens an eating disorder called orthorexia among vegans. With social media platforms praising the consumption of only fresh and unprocessed foods, many grow unhealthily obsessed with the concept of being healthy to the extent in which they will rather go malnourished or starve themselves completely.

However, vegan diets, not limited to simply fad ones, have all shown to cause vegans to become physically weaker than meat-eaters, with significantly lower calcium and protein consumption which results in greater likelihood of fractures. 

If individuals decide to go vegan, they must acknowledge that malnutrition is inevitable when consuming only vegetables, grains, and fruits. According to The Vegan Society, a vegan must balance their diet with necessary supplements, such as vitamins, selenium, and iodine. 

Due to the psychological and physical strains that veganism may perpetuate, vegans often seek to escape veganism and return to omnivore diets, yet are guilt-tripped from doing so by fervent vegans, like That Vegan Teacher, who coerce viewers to transition into veganism through profanity and animal rights threats on social media. 

However, if their mental and physical health are at stake, they should prioritize their health over others’ criticism. Many ex-vegans can still improve the environment as omnivores by maintaing a predominantly plant-based diet while consuming bits of fish and dairy for health purposes.

Once these ex-vegans better educate themselves on how to maintain a healthy vegan diet, they may reinstate it into their lifestyle. 

If individuals’ driving incentive is not to improve the environment, nor are they truly knowledgeable about how to maintain a well-balanced diet through veganism, the mental, psychological, and social strains are simply not worth the price of a malnourishing and often fad diet.