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Outside of Animal Welfare, Is There An Argument FOR Plant-Based Diets? Not Really.

And just when you thought you’ve about had it with bad news this year, you come to find out that Airbnb is placing a global ban on parties — it seems like it shouldn’t have been a shock, since it banned parties on New Years after the same on Halloween. Not only do you basically have to do the owner’s chores before leaving, now you can’t even throw a little soiree at your Airbnb. Unbelievable.

Let’s move on to a lighter subject and talk about… veganism? Let’s dive in.

We give a lot of plant-based products a hard time here on the Daily Tonic, and for good reason! So much of what is touted as a healthier plant-based alternative out there today is just a highly processed junk food gift wrapped in strong marketing. 

But is it actually possible to optimize your health on a vegan diet? Or is going plant-based simply bad diet advice? 

For the sake of being a bit more objective here, let’s have a discussion purely on the nutritional merits of a plant-based diet and not dive too deep into the ethical side. For us at the Daily Tonic, it is pretty clear that a diet that sources all of its animal products from a regenerative and ethical system is actually the best way to eat if animal welfare is your number one concern. While the impact is a bit more indirect, plant-based foods are far from harmless when it comes to animal welfare and environmental impact. But that isn’t what we are focusing on today. 

All of that aside, can a vegan diet stack up against an omnivorous one purely on the merits of nutritional quality? 

The short answer is that no, it can’t and it doesn’t matter if a Netflix documentary told you otherwise. Vegan advocates will often argue that vegetables, fruits, and whole grains provide superior nourishment of essential nutrients when compared to animal products like milk or red meat. They also often claim that the consumption of animal products results in an unnecessarily high intake of saturated fats, protein, and cholesterol. 

Well, let’s start off with the fact that humans are naturally omnivores. Evolutionarily speaking, we have adapted to eat significant amounts of meat and other animal products. To go against that alone seems a bit misguided. If we take a quick look at our history, it is clear that many modern-day diseases simply did not exist back in the day when we collectively ate a lot more meat and saturated fats. 

There is also no scientific evidence to support the fact that animal products are harmful when consumed as part of a balanced diet. Even in cases where large epidemiological studies have shown negative health outcomes associated with higher intake of animal products, it is now clear that a healthy user bias is largely responsible for those results.

It is also important to note that some very essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12 or heme iron, are very difficult to get through plant sources, but are easily obtained through high quality animal products. 

When it comes to building and maintaining muscle, plant proteins generally provide less amino acids than animal proteins and cause less of an anabolic response. We’ve discussed at length in past Daily Tonics why muscle is so important as we age, so chalk that up as another big win for animal products over plant-based ones. 

The key takeaway? Once you peel back the layers to the plant-based narrative, it gets really tough to make a compelling argument in favor of a vegan diet. The Western diet consisting of overly processed junk is a big reason why we are collectively so sick as a society, but that doesn’t mean that animal products are to blame.

Let’s say that the quintessential meal of this Western diet is a fast food meal made up of a cheeseburger, fries, and soda. Is the problem there the beef patty and cheese, or is it the bun, potatoes fried in canola oil, or the soda? 

What do you think?


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