A Vegan with Low Protein? (Yes, It Is Possible) : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday May 9 | BY |
| Comments (44)

goats get protein from grass
Goats do get protein from grass, but you can’t argue that you do too — unless you have four stomachs.

Today, I’m going to answer a question from a Renegade Health reader…

I haven’t done this in a while because I’ve been busy traveling and working on some things behind the scenes, but I have to say, this is one of my favorite things to do (and write.)

In this article, I address questions about a vegan mom (and author) actually being low in protein.

Let’s get right into it, since I’m sure many of you are curious about possible low protein on the vegan diet…

I’m a Vegan with Low Protein, Anxiety, and Low Cholesterol

I am vegan, I’m actually a blogger and an author and a speaker. I am very much enmeshed in the vegan world and it is something that I believe in very strongly, from an ethical perspective.

However, a few years ago I had a baby, and I have never felt the same since. I’ve never regained my energy and my hormones seem to be out of whack. I am constantly fatigued and suffer from intense anxiety. Some of this is lifestyle related, since I tend to push myself very hard. Too much on my plate!

I recently began seeing a naturopath because, well, I can’t keep living like this. Yesterday I got my blood tests back and it seems that my cholesterol is very low, which I think is related to the hormonal issues. I know you experienced something similar.

Apparently I am showing protein depletion. Could there be anything more ironic or cliche for a vegan to hear?!

Between the protein and the cholesterol, I am feeling a bit heartbroken. It reminds me very much of what you went through. For me, for now, I feel like I really need to try and correct these issues within the context of my vegan diet. So I guess my question to you is – Any tips?

– Name Witheld for Privacy

Hey — we’ll call you Vegan Mom — Vegan Mom, thanks for writing in.

My heart goes out to you since everything you are writing about seems very close to what I experienced.

So I want to address this from about a dozen or so angles. This way everyone who’s reading will understand how complicated a thought process it may take to get you back on the right track. There are layers of issues and decisions to make here, so I want to be clear and I also want everyone to understand that while I do not consider myself a vegan anymore, I do respect someone’s decision to be one — as long as they’re not putting themselves or their families in danger. This is why blood testing is so important — it eliminates the diet back and forth and gives you tangible information to work with.

Nice job on the blood tests

First, of course, I want to applaud you for getting your blood tested. You’re one of the very few that get it. Unfortunately, your results are not perfect and I’m sure that caused you a little bit of stress. Everything would have been much easier if they were. Believe me, when I got mine back, I was humbled and quite distraught — they were telling me my diet wasn’t working.

Change is the hardest thing…

Second, outside of any dietary change you may or may not make, the fact that you are a speaker who talks about the vegan diet puts you in a very interesting dilemma. What you’re doing — the way that you’re doing it and teaching — isn’t exactly working.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the vegan diet is wrong — I’ve seen it work for many people and not for many others — it just means for your body and how you’ve approached it something is amiss.

There are a lot of psychological and emotional issues that come up when this happens.

Some are… what if everything I teach is not right? Have I harmed anyone else? How on earth can I change and keep myself healthy if I need to? Will no one listen to me anymore if I change my diet? Can someone who is considered an author and a health expert can’t feel this way? (Don’t worry, I’ve been in this brain trap before… you’re not alone.)

Regardless of any change you make, this anxiety and stress-creating talk has to stop. Chances are you will get better and this talk — in the meantime — will only slow you down.

You also have to know that you’ll have experienced personal growth for whatever decision you make — vegan or non-vegan, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist.

Babies can deplete you

Third thing I want to know is that if you were breast feeding your baby, you likely have depleted some of your nutrient stores. This happens frequently for many moms — not just vegans.

Babies need protein and fat for their bodies and brains to grow. So maybe you’ve given your baby a bunch — which is good — but depleted yourself — which is not. Your low cholesterol, hormones, fatigue and anxiety may be linked to low essential fatty acids.

Obviously, if you didn’t breast feed this isn’t as valuable of a consideration, but the pregnancy could have depleted you as well — just not for as long.

Is your cholesterol really that low?

Many of the vegan doctors and researchers would say no. Other non-vegans would say absolutely yes. My cholesterol was at 110 and I can’t say I felt good. It’s now at 175 or so (with a perfect HDL to LDL ratio) and I have almost completely brought my hormones up to their normal levels. (My testosterone is still a little low.)

But your cholesterol level matched with your symptoms does make me think that your hormones could be as wacky as mine were. I’d recommend getting your hormones tested specifically to see if that’s true.

Coconut oil can raise cholesterol, so you may experience some additional boost with that, but it doesn’t contain DHA or EPA which are essential fatty acids that will do more than just raise a number. They’ll actually work to improve your mind and your mood. You can get these from algae oil, so there’s no need to jump the vegan-ship just yet. My concern with taking the coconut oil is that if you’re not getting enough omega 3’s in your diet, it will skew your ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 even more.

We’ll actually have a complete EFA test coming out in the next few months that will be one of the best ways to determine if your algae oils are working as good as a fish oil to straighten out your ratio of omega 3 to 6 to 9. (Is that a Chicago song?!)

As for the protein, again, there’s no need to jump the vegan-ship yet. Take a highly absorbable plant protein powder like Sunwarrior or Warrior Food and see if those numbers improve. But, be sure to keep monitoring your blood work. You don’t want to assume it’s working when it’s not.

So this is probably point where everyone is thinking that I’m going to tell you it’s just best to switch to the Paleo diet or something like that.

Not true.

No need to jump ship yet, but you may need to correct your situation fast.

I have a “try plants first” approach. See if you can improve it with that. If you can’t, then you have to ask yourself the bigger questions.

Of course, some of the non-whole-foodists would argue that you should just try some clean animal products and it might solve your issue. They may have a point.

But I think the final decision is up to you.

You have to balance your blood work, your health and your ethics — and at the same time you have to be flexible when your ethics make you sick.

So be open to change, be open to experiments and go with what makes you the healthiest person you can be.

Keep us posted!

Your question of the day: Any ideas you can share with Vegan Mom?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Lance says:

    Wow! GREAT article. This was really encouraging to read because I have been trying to eat more Alkaline (lots of cucumbers, avos, celery) and I actually feel less healthy than I did when I used to eat for my blood type (more of a metabolic profiling approach to eating). I think getting blood work would be a great idea for myself as well b/c until I do that I’m just going off my own sense of well-being.

  2. I would suggest everyone reading this post to research Dr. Weston Price’s research found within his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Clean animal sources may provide exactly what your body needs.


    I was a vegan for many years however could not sustainably thrive. This does not mean I cannot possibly find a way. Just simply that by incorporating some clean wholesome animal products (avoiding dairy) like chicken, fish, bison, eggs, etc. Two to three times a week or so that my body tends to function at a higher capacity.

    In the end you will need to experiment. As well question if all life is equal is it anymore right to take life from vegetation than animals in order to sustain your own?

    At different stages in your life it may be necessary to adapt accordingly. Sometimes a more cleansing diet like a vegan diet is what you may need? Other times a more anabolic diet with animal protein may be what you need?

    You must become your own advocate in the end and test with laboratory tests as Kevin suggests.

  3. Basia says:

    My cholesterol was in the 120s (two years in a row!), and my ratios were off when I ate a vegan diet. Problem was, my doctor didn’t recognize this as a problem, and I was tested for all sorts of illnesses/issues (Lyme, thyroid, etc.) to address my complaints of fatigue. Just using intuition, I started eating pastured hens’ eggs–from a vegetarian farmer at a local market–which was ethically acceptable to me. It worked. A year after eating eggs regularly, my cholesterol numbers/ratios (last summer) were great, and I felt better. Since then, I’ve added some coconut oil to my diet too, so I’ll see what that does by the end of this summer at my next annual. My guess is that having too low cholesterol is a more widespread problem among vegans and possibly vegetarians than most people realize. So I couldn’t agree more–get tested, and see what works for you.

  4. Antonio says:

    I have also been there. For sure it’s a shocker when you get the news, but you feel it way before the objective data comes in, except you are in denial so you drag it out. It gets to the point where there is nothing left to take out of the diet to feel better, so the obvious solution is the opposite … what should I be PUTTING BACK in my diet ! For me I went for the fish oils (Omega -3), eggs (protein and fat) and some fish (protein – omega-3) plus, and really important, B12 (Methylcobalamin) supplementation. You will have to figure out for yourself what will work for you. Remember your roots and what created you in the first place. It could take several generations for a body to convert to plant based foods and thrive.

  5. Lauren Benoit says:

    Without mentioning lab results for total protein or albumin, how do you know your protein is low? You won’t get this information from globulin, WBC, RBC, or BUN, none of which you give numbers for anyway. Your problem may not be protein at all. I think you need more information before pinning your low engergy on lack of protein.

  6. Vegan Mom says:

    Kevin, (and everyone who’s commented), thank you so much for this. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to see. You’ve given me some hope and I really really needed that right now.

    I had meant to include in my original email that I am still nursing. I suspect that it’s depleting me, and lactation suppresses hormones so that is most likely contributing to my imbalance as well. I definitely need to wean . . . that’s just a hard thing to push before they’re ready.

    I supplement with D and my levels are great, I also take a DHA/EPA supplement and I appreciate the advice about upping that if I increase my coconut oil. I’m very interested in the testing kit!

    I just want to say, to anyone who’s reading this and who relates, PLEASE GET YOUR BLOOD TESTED! I held off for way too long because it seemed expensive and a hassle, but I just wish so much that I’d done it sooner. It is worth it more than I can possibly express, to finally know why I have been feeling so awful, and that I’m not just imagining it, and that, best of all, there’s probably something I can do about it.

    Alright, that’s my testimonial. =)

    Thanks so much again Kevin!

  7. Christine says:

    People are vegans or vegetarians for a variety of reasons – the silliest reasons are those not based on healthy dietary choices. Being sick is an unethical burden on your family and the community.When it comes to acting ethically then the most effective way of changing whats available on the supermarket shelf is to buy the ethically raised meat. Farmers merely respond to market forces. My advice would be to go get some free range organic eggs and meat before your child grows up and leaves home with someone who has some energy.

  8. Trinka says:

    Perfect timing! Now i know I’m not losing it! I have been fit, low fat, exercising vegan for 25 years, and had thrived for most of those years. When I hit 35, however, The bottom fell out. I had just discovered soy, setian, diagnosed with celiac disease, and suddenly my happy vegan body was not happy. I had remained the same weight until Hit 35, and I had suddenly gained 100 lbs on a non-junk food vegan diet. I also experienced very low energy, despite taking b12 supplementation. I went to a naturopath doctor who suggested I stop the soy, and add organic eggs, avocados,coconut oil and occasional clean meats to my diet, and after 4 months of this, and working out (which I had done throughout my life), I’m finally feeling long lasting energy with a loss of fat and a gain of lean muscle mass. As much as I enjoyed the vegan diet, my body finally said it’s time to change.

  9. BONNIE says:

    For blood work Life Extension has a geat sale going on. Check out http://www.lef.org

  10. Andrew Chin says:

    Hello Vegan Mom,
    Yes, the coconut oil is a good idea. It can raise your cholesterol, but only on the HDL side. However, it can take up to 5T per day to raise the cholesterol to a significant degree. I don’t believe you need to worry too much about distorting the omega 6 to omega 3 with coconut oil. It’s mostly saturated fat, and the second most prevalent fat is omega 9, or monounsaturated fat.

    For protein, perhaps spirulina or chlorella would be a good choice. It has more of the sulfur-bearing amino acids, and vegans have a greater tendency to be deficient in these types of amino acids. This can lead to connective tissue disorders like sclerodoma and rheumatoid arthritis. If you are still premenopausal, you probably don’t need to worry too much the high iron content, although postmenopausal women and men should pay attention. Hemp is also a good source of sulfur-bearing amino acids, as well as an excellent protein source overall.

    Vegan sources of protein also tend to be low in leucine, which is essential for building muscle. Chlorella and spirulina both have a fair amount, about 60% the amount found in whey protein concentrate. Another great option would be almonds, which makes sense because almonds are considered a good food for building muscle.

    Hope this helps!


  11. Ann Scott says:

    How are your other levels, iron, etc. Is something getting in the way of you absorbing protein. Have you experimented with living foods, e.g. sprouted legumes, nuts and seeds?

  12. Mark says:

    There are many protein myths and this is likely the most controversial subject in nutritional science. Here are the most common myths:

    1) One must eat animal protein to obtain the full complement of essential amino acids.

    2) Animal protein is superior in quality to plant-based protein.

    3) Protein is required for energy production.

    4) Fruits and vegetables provide very little protein.

    5) Animal protein is relatively easy to digest.

    6) Animal protein is an efficient source and is well absorbed.

    7) One must combine complementary plant-based proteins at the same meal to create a complete protein.

    8) Our bodies loose protein daily and very little is recycled.

    9) It is best to maintain a very positive nitrogen balance.

    10) Protein helps regulate blood pH.

    11) A high protein diet slows aging.

    12) A high protein diet helps balance blood glucose.

    Anyone interested in anti-aging should read about methionine restriction. It is this single amino acid that is responsible for accelerating aging not excess calories.

    Cancer cell growth is stimulated by high animal protein intake.
    Cancer cells can not successfully divide on a methionine restricted diet. My cancer treatment protocol lowers total protein intake and
    specifically methionine to the lowest level possible. This alone is a very effective cancer treatment. Animal proteins are very high in methionine. Soy is also very high.


  13. Sonia St. Claire says:

    What a great article Kevin. I know some vegan raw foodists that are so arrogant with an elitist attitude,that they won’t have their blood tested at all because they think they know it all.

    In fact, one man ended up so sick on raw food and refused to have his blood tested because him, and mainly his wife, don’t believe in doctors. He ended up passing out one afternoon and his cognitive decline was so bad, he didn’t remember his name or what day it was. Finally, they had to go to the doctors and get him tested. Turned out he was vitamin B12 deficient. He could have saved himself so much worry and concern by having a yearly check up, then one can eat and supplement accordingly. Just because you go to the doctors doesnt mean you have to take their drugs. Common sense prevails.
    Sonia. Queensland, Australia.

  14. Tara Gillette says:

    hi vegan mom,
    pregnancy can cause a yeast or other imbalances. my biggest suggestion is to find a chiropractor or healer in your area that uses muscle-testing commonly called kinesiology to determine your problem and what supplements will help. ask around your friends or the owners of local health food stores. find someone who comes highly recommended, and won’t cost you an exorbinate amount. treating
    yourself without asking your body what it needs is often a waste of money. what kills yeast in my body won’t work in yours. you may also need specific probiotic support etc.
    love and healing to you!!!

  15. Rachel says:

    I just got back from the naturopath and I am blood type “O” with hypoglycemia, candida, and my neurotransmitters are out of whack…not to mention all of my food sensitivities (who knew you could be intolerant to garlic?) She told me vegan isn’t for me. For sure not right now. I’m bummed, big time! but I know that for now, I have to get my health in order. My advice to vegan mom? Make sure you’re healthy. If you can do it by being vegan…that’s fantastic! If you need to eat other foods, hopefully it’s only temporary. Most importantly…love yourself, have compassion for yourself and for all that is…and trust your intuition. Obviously you’ve been vegan for ethical…the world needs you strong and healthy so you can continue to teach compassion and love and heal our beautiful planet. Namaste! <3

  16. Carmella says:

    I was going through nearly an identical issue, everything was out of whack. I was going through menopause and had some blood issues. I wanted to add that wheatgrass juice daily, it’s a complete wholefood, including protein. Ive used it for years for balancing every system in my body. I am hypoglycemic and usually can’t drink fresh juice from indoor grass due to its glucose content, and most powders on ther market taste, blech.
    Recently I found Sweet Wheat, a freeze dried wheatgrass juice in capsules. I took 4 to start thinking it would equal 2 ounces and I had amazing energy all day. I added 2 more caps in the afternoon and boom, my hot flashes stopped. Im 52 and realised wheatgrass juice balances every system in your body. It balanced my hormones! thats amazing that it addressed an imbalance like that. It’s also the best blood and liver cleanser. She may need more each day at first with a condition but imagine the impact on vegans to be able to take as much wheatgrass juice they want in caps. Im using 6 caps a day with omegas and probiotics, blood tests and hormones are stellar and have never felt better.

  17. Bronwyn says:

    I’m blood type O too and was diagnosed nearly ten years ago with severe reactive hypoglycemia. I also had very low cholesterol. My diet now largely consists of meat, eggs, full cream dairy and vegetables – all organic, free range and ethically farmed. My cholesterol is higher but healthy, my weight is normal and I’ve never felt better. A couple of fairly recent publications I’ve found useful are “Trick and treat” by Barry Groves and “Why we get fat” by Gary Taubes.

  18. Hey Kevin,

    Lots of good information in your response, but what you didn’t mention is that often low protein is not related to what you’re getting (or not getting) in your diet but how much you’re absorbing (or not absorbing) as a result of low stomach acid or pancreatic function. (or dysfunction in other parts of your digetive tract)

    Taking protein powder or eating animals can bring the protein up not because it solves the problem, but just because of math! If your protein absorption is 50% of what it should be and you double your protein intake, you’ll get more absorbed and it may look like the problem is solved. It’s not.

    Low stomach acid leads to low protein as well as low minerals. Zinc is one of the most important minerals for hormone balance. Low stomach acid leads to low zinc. Low zinc makes it harder to make stomach acid.

    It is important to evluate for low stomach acid and correct. Stress is one of the major causes of poor digestion. Cortisol turns down digestion and long term chronic stress (as in pregnancy, nursing and being a high achiever) digestive function can be impaired leading to fatigue, hormone imbalance and a host of other symptoms. Cortisol also “Steals” precursor molecules that create progesterone, estrogen, DHEA and testosterone, leaving hormones out of whack.

    I recommend a salivary adrenal test, including 4 readings of cortisol, DHEA and SIgA to determine if adrenal stress is at the heart f it all.

    GI bugs (dysbiosis) can contribute to poor protein absorption and utilization, so I would also look into a comprehensive stool analysis.

    As for the fats, my understanding from clinical and biochemical study is that coconut actually HELPS with the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. It increases the conversion from dietary omega 3 found in flax, chia, hemp and other plant sources to EPA and DHA, those that are in algae and fish.

    Kevin, I have been using the fatty acid test you mention on many of my patients and on students in classes for many years and it helps me to recommend dietary and supplement programs that work well for balancing fats and hormones.

    Complex issue I see all the time, and I have seen many many people overcome ti without resorting to animal foods.

    For the record, even though I have been a vegan for almost 27 years, I am not opposed to recommending animal foods when it’s needed. But like you I exhausst all teh plant based solutions before resorting to aminal foods – unless the person prefers to go the animal route.

    Thanks for writing aobut complex nutritional topics. I am all for throwing out the dogma and getting to what’s really happening. I think la lot of people are too quick to throw in the towel and blame their healt challenges to the vegan diet when chronic stress and an imbalanced vegan diet is really the issue. I suspect your vegan momma is willing to go to great lengths to correct her imbalances with vegan diet Leave no stone unturned.

    Good Luck to you Vegan Mamma.

    Love, Health and Joy,

    Dr. Ritamarie


  19. Samantha says:

    I remember talking to a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor who told me that in China, right after a woman gives birth she eats black chicken soup (made from a black chicken- I can’t remember what else they add to it though) b/c birthing not only depletes a woman’s nutrients etc but also her chi-energy/essence, a lot of which the baby takes and it can wreak havoc if you don’t get your chi flowing properly b/c the human body, like everything else is all about balance. So I would look into TCM as well b/c there are lots of herbs and/or acupuncture techniques a doctor of TCM can administer, as well as help with your diet while you’re getting well again. The black chicken soup idea is obviously not vegan, but there’s nothing wrong with eating something non-vegan just to get yourself well-that’s the most important thing. Spirulina, chlorella and hemp can be good sources of protein; it just depends what your body likes/needs. Some people do well with them, other people don’t.

  20. dude. the vegan mom didnt tell you what she ate, just that she doesnt eat animal products. she may not eat any live food and may not eat much in the way of raw veggies, fruit and leafy greens – which is true for MOST VEGANS that I know.
    and your suggestions weren’t around making sure she ate lots of greens, ripe fruit and veggies, but eating processed oils and taking processed plant proteins.
    THIS is the problem with the vegan movement. its about NOT eating meat rather than eating fresh whole foods.
    ALSO, your picture shows a goat. That’s a straw-man you can easily knock down with the 4 stomach comment. how about a chimp?
    Mothers milk is very low in protein, contrary to what you said in your response as well.

    I think your response was knee-jerk and not well thought out.

  21. Tara says:

    I totally agree with this article. I had my blood tested almost a fortnight ago and was really, really disappointed with the results especially since I was feeling so good. It caused me an entire week of stress just trying to work out the whys and wherefores.

    I came to the decision that some animal protein is required even if that is only twice a week and it is organic. So organic eggs and wild fish are back on the menu. All dairy and beef are still off for the time being.

    I couldn’t help but feel that if we were meant to be vegan then B12 and protein supplements would be totally unnecessary. I still believe a predominantly plant food diet is the best.

  22. Stephanie says:

    for cholesterol issue, I’ve read eating sugar (yes, sugar) can help. I’m really into dr. ray peat’s philosophy these days and a healthy thyroid+ enough sugar seems to do the trick for many people…just saying

  23. Velda says:

    Kevin, your response was thoughtful and very well stated. You have such insight and you are thoughtful of where a person’s thinking and feelings are. Lot of information in there that also gives a good platform for more research if a person would want to. Also, the responses from the readers are so informative. What great work you do, Kevin. Bless you!!

  24. Rebecca Cody says:

    Two years ago I was treated by Dr Lodi in Arizona for breast cancer. Part of the program was a very well designed raw vegan diet, and I got lots and lots of green veggies and other good veggies, coconut, a tiny bit of fruit and berries, some nuts and seeds – and a few months later my protein and B12 levels were low. Also, when I got back home to the cool Northwest I couldn’t stay warm on a raw vegan diet. I kept turning the heat up to 76 just to keep from being uncomfortable all the time. Other than that, I still felt good, and my finger nails got really, really strong, but I’ve added back animal protein two or three times a week – mostly eggs from pastured chickens – and I’m looking forward to my next test results in a couple of weeks.

  25. fred says:

    I agree with consulting the Weston Price information, and maybe other people such as Dr. Mercola and his Nutrition Typing test, etc. I like the trend of paying more attention to what our bodies tell us we need, which may or may not include some high quality animal products.

    I especially appreciate Kevin and Ann Marie for their honesty and integrity on these issues…I have a lot of respect for those two, and thanks!

  26. Tiffany says:

    How do you know you don’t have a problem absorbing protein? Enzyme supplements maybe needed.

  27. carvacrol says:

    I’ve read plenty of places that a great way to lower your cholesterol is to follow a vegan diet. But I’ve been a vegan for around 30 years and my cholesterol is on the high side and the ratios are all wrong. I’m sorting this out at the moment. So don’t take everything you read at face value. get tested and find out what’s happening with you.

  28. Devi says:

    My suggestion is to first make sure you are getting enough sleep-switch off with a trusted significant other. Sleep really effects hormones – not scientific, but personal observation. Then make sure you are getting some nuts for oil (Fat stuff) and protein. You are the best judge of what you need – just follow your instincts. Congrats on being a new mom!

  29. Jesse says:

    You’re probably undereating, that’s the main way you would be deficient in those things. I would say your solution is really simple: just up your calories drastically!!

  30. Pam Dix says:

    Thank you for addressing this topic, Kevin. I, too, have recently had blood work done to find that my hormone levels are at menopause. I have been driving myself crazy trying to fix every symptom with food (raw vegan preferably). Now I know what I’m dealing with and food is not going to fix it … I’ve suffered enough and it’s time for BioIdentical Natural Hormone Replacement. Within 48 hours of starting them, I am a NEW person!

    I have also added a little egg and fish into my diet and it’s helped tremendously with my fatigue. Being a vegan for over 10 years and very adamant about healing with raw living food has made this transition difficult, but very enlightening. I am now able to listen to my body and be open minded about what it is telling me. I am now listening in a new way! Balance, that’s what it’s all about.

  31. Rachel says:

    I’d like to add one important thing to my previous post: My naturopath wants me eating a diet high in raw veggies, fruits, nuts/seeds, coconut oil/butter, avocado, and other healthy oils, low in grains (things like quinoa, whole grain rice, etc.) 2 oz. protein 3 times per day and 1 oz. for my three snacks. Even though I need animal protein in my diet (for now), she is still advocating a whole food, high raw diet. Just wanted to mention that. 🙂

  32. Hello says:

    Don’t forget energy intake! I’ve read studies where athletes were eating as high as 1.2kg protein/ kg weight and still not getting enough protein all because their energy intake wasn’t high enough to balance what they burned. I know a breastfeeding woman does not equal an athlete but maybe the concept is the same. It’s really hard to get enough kcalories on a vegan diet, at least for me. And pregnancy and lactation require about 400-500 extra kcalories per day. ( Breastfeeding burns about 700-800 kcalories but it recommended moms only eat about 450 more kcalories to help burn off the pregnancy fat.) I also read that breast feeding woman need extra micronutrients, DHA, and, of course, protein. About 25 g extra protein are recommended per day for breastfeeding women. So maybe eat more protein dense foods? as well.

  33. Hello says:

    Also, I’ve read a few articles involving coconut oil on pubmed. It definitely increases cholesterol; both HDL and LDL go up.

  34. LynnCS says:

    So much good info in your post and in the comments. I need to go back and re read them to glean some more info for my own use. I was 100% raw vegan for 6 mos. I felt good for most of it. As time went by, I started to feel bad and by now I have been really sick. Yesterday I started adding more protein into my diet in the form of Sun Warrior Protein Powder and some nut butter, cheese etc. Had to do something. I am 73 and I was failing. Don’t know what else to do right now, but have called for a doctor’s appointment to get tested. I feel better today, but it is a warmer day today, so I feel better. Thanks for the info and thanks to all your posters.

  35. Nikki says:

    I’ve been vegetarian for about 11 years and went vegan last August… Just about a week ago I went back to ‘vegetarian status’ because I decided to eat some yogurt. I can’t say I feel any difference with or without the dairy.

  36. RadiantTara says:

    Being Vegan almost killed me, including being raw for several years. I was at death’s door with Pernicious Anemia(and I ate so much spirulina and kelp I probably look like a fish) and auto-immuune challenges. I wont blame everything on Vegan but it did not help and certainly hurt some of my functions.

    Hard fast dogma is not good. There are a million variations of the right ‘diets’ because we are so unique. Just because something works for ‘Carol Alt or Alicia Silverstone”(just throwing names out there) doen’t means it is even supposed to work for each of us.

    And honestly, those with deep pockets are often at their special doctor offices getting vitamin and nutraceutical drips of the latest and best cocktails so I trust very little of what most say. Show me your numbers please!!! We should demand all of them show us their latest test before every lecture, including the dogmatic doctors!!!

    I am still not a big meat eater but be careful not wanting to change course for the sake of maintaining a ‘label’. The idea of all these labels is a manmade need to belong and relate. WHOLE FOOD, WHOLE FOOD, WHOLE FOOD, made by nature, not man, hard to go wrong with that.

  37. todd says:

    Three things I’ve noticed in 20+ years of nutritional studies which I didn’t see mentioned in any comments so far:
    1. Potatoes are the only plant which doesn’t provide enough protein for the human nutritonal need. (Of course, always depends on how other plants are grown — what nutrients are available to the plant as it grows, so that it may provide us the supposed nutrients that it should contain.)
    2. Bee pollen contains every nutrient a human could possibly need. Research it yourself. Bees are one of humanity’s saviors.
    3. While almost everyone learns that we breathe in oxygen from the atmosphere, process it in our bodies, and exhale most of that same oxygen later as carbon dioxide; very few seem to learn the following: our atmosphere is mostly comprised of nitrogen (the main component of protein) — we naturally also inhale nitrogen; however, upon exhalation, only about 20% of the nitrogen is ever exhaled. Consider what our bodies are doing with that retained nitrogen.

  38. joe says:

    If one has high cholesterol its a signal for yeast [candida] systemic overgroath.the liver makes cholesterol to chelat mycotoxins out of the body.if cholesterol is lower then 100 whach out for cancer.did you know that there are more chicken on our planet than people.egg is the most nutrient rich food on the planet.a chicken lay 200 eggs ayear only can hetch 25.

  39. kt mm says:

    I love the last sentence that says it all: “So be open to change, be open to experiments and go with what makes you the healthiest person you can be.” With the emphasis on the go with what makes…. 🙂

  40. Faye says:

    Thanks Dr.Rita for detailed info. I think so many vegans are too quick to throw in the towel & run back to animals, but I think if you are really committed you can solve most issues regarding deficiencies. I do a lot of research & have also noticed that calorie restricted (CR) people have lowered WBC counts acc. to most lab references. I think most references are determined from a rather unhealthy population & true health will have different values. For example as a runner my heart rate is always lower than the gen.population so out comes the EKG machine. Also in school I was taught that RBCs are made in the bone marrow but new research indicates they are made in the villi in the intestines & bone marrow is a backup. I also think that B12 is a problem for vegans because methylcobalamin,etc. as well as selenium is farmed out of the soil. I have noticed that this is not a problem for all vegans. I think it depends on the richness of the soil from which the produce is grown. So vegan people renew your commitment & try to work through these things so we can help each other.

  41. Faye says:

    I failed to mention in previous rant that the calorie restricted (CR) group that usually tests at a lower than recommended WBC count are reported to age slower and live longer. So I think their bodies don’t produce as many WBCs because they have lower inflammation & need less WBCs than the gen. population. My point is all of these parameters for blood cells are based on a population that is not living an optimally healthy lifestyle so for those of us who are eating to live & not living to eat we have to realize the outcome is going to be different.

  42. QC says:

    Thanks Kelvin for the article.

    I’ve had similar experience with even lower cholesterol. I’ve also been vegan for 6 years, just got my blood tested for hormonal deficiencies.

    If… if one day I really need to incorporate eggs & seafood into my diet. How should I eat them? Boil them in water? or just eat them raw? I’ve been raw for almost 3 years now. Not quite sure what to do…


  43. Stephanie says:

    Hi Kevin. I didn’t have time to read the other posts yet but I will try to do that later.
    Vegan Mom’s pedicament is a lot like what happened to me when my son was born in 2000. When he was 6 months old I finally figured out something was wrong and it wasn’t post pregnancy either. After numerous tests they discovered my protein was low and referred me to a renal specialist. My kidneys were spilling all my protein out via the urine and my arthritis was out of control. Both of which were autoimmune problems. Unfortunately I didn’t know about the vegan diet yet and I let them put me on chemotherapy for FIVE years. It started out with just 3 meds but the more meds I took the more I needed to counteract the side effects. Finally, after taking 11 meds for 4 years I decided enough was enough. I was miserable and it was getting worse. I started researching and learned about candida, then diet and then I learned about the vegan diet and went raw. The cleaner my diet got the faster I dropped the meds. I was no longer as tired and I could think clearer. Oddly enough, when I was raw vegan for almost 3 months my immune system stopped attacking my kidneys and my protein levels came back up. When try to eat anything other than raw vegan my autoimmune system goes haywire again and attacks my kidneys. The only difference is that my cholesterol was 862 when they finally did a kidney biopsy to decide what poison to give me. They chose citoxan which also put me into premature menopause at the ripe old age of 40. I’m not complaining about that because I was done having children but it just goes to show the effect meds can have on our endocrine system. I did take natural thyroid for a time but once I had done the clean eating for a short time I didn’t need it anymore. I still relapse from time to time because I still step off into the other world of food and get sidetracked for a bit. The sidetrack gets shorter every time and my son has learned what makes him feel good and what doesn’t so it’s not a total failure. I’m glad you’re more flexible these days cause one size fits all has never worked. Even when a completely clean diet is good for healing it doesn’t usually have good long term results for everyone. I still think one of our biggest issues is developing and misidentifying food sensitivities. Congratulations on the future baby and God Bless.

  44. LynnCS says:

    Dr. Ritamarie. Thanks for your post. I have signed up for your free 7 day program. Anything will help. I really don’t want to resort to animal products and don’t think I will, but I am having a lot of symptoms. I fear blood sugar/insulin probs as well as adrenal probs. I always think I am doing the right things, but still don’t feel well. Fruit/no fruit, oil/no oil etc. etc. Looking forward to your 7 day posts.

    Thanks Kevin, as always for bringing a balanced view to us.

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