"If humans were never meant to eat meat, we never would have. Period. You don’t see wild rabbits mistakenly chowing down on roadkill because they forgot they’re only supposed to eat plants."
Veganism is renowned as being the key to long life, and a plant-based diet is becoming increasingly popular with younger people in particular. But is it really as healthy as it seems?
Having been a meat-eater all my life, I recently cut down on meat and, after a few months of what I like to call ‘casual vegetarianism’, I decided to go vegan for lent, to see if I could do it. The result? Yes, I could do it… at the expense of feeling constantly starving.
Whilst it’s true that there are many foods you can eat as a vegan, hitting your daily intake of protein is challenging if you don’t want to include beans in every meal or go wildly over your recommended daily calorie intake by obtaining it from nuts.
And then there’s the issue of vitamins such as calcium and B-12. Sure, plant-based ‘milk’ is fortified with the former but does anyone really want to drink enough of that to hit their daily intake? And B-12 can only be obtained through animal products or a supplement, so in order to keep your nerves in good working order and avoid blindness in later life, it’s necessity to be vigilant with your multi-vitmains.
One of vegans’ favourite arguments is the ridiculous claim that not only do humans not need to eat animal products, but that we aren’t meant to. They will happily refer to a series of photos comparing human teeth with carnivores and herbivores, and swear blind that our teeth are most similar to that of a horse, skirting over the fact that we have canines specifically designed for ripping through flesh.
If humans were never meant to eat meat, we never would have. Period. You don’t see wild rabbits mistakenly chowing down on roadkill because they forgot they’re only supposed to eat plants. Humans would not be dependent on vitamins we are only able to obtain by eating animal products if we could get adequate amounts solely from plants.
I lasted 32 days of eating nothing but plant-based foods (with one accidental slip in the form of a packet of Walker’s salt and vinegar crisps containing whey protein, for some reason), and for the first week or so, I really believed that this could be a new way of life for me; better for the environment, better for the animals… And then the meat cravings started.
Having not had meat on a regular basis for a few months before trying out veganism, I knew that my sudden need for animal protein must be at least somewhat a result of a deficiency. But I was taking all the right vitamins, even drinking soy protein shakes to hit my minimum RDA of protein, so why was I craving meat so badly?
My only conclusion is that humans need animal products in order to thrive. Yes, you can survive on a plant-based diet but that does not mean you’re getting everything your body truly needs.
I tried every meat substitute out there, and even found some bacon that was so good I believed for a while that I would never crave pig meat again.
When I caved, I did a little experiment and made a bacon sandwich in two halves: one with vegan margarine and vegan bacon, the other with my beloved Lurpak butter and crispy, streaky bacon.
There was no contest.
The meat won hands down and, beyond the taste, I hadn’t felt so satisfied with a meal in weeks. No matter how large and nutritious the vegan meals I’d been living off had been, within an hour of finishing, I’d be snacking on crisps, and could easily gorge my way through the better part of six packets without breaking sweat.
It was like nothing I could put in my body would be enough to satisfy it and, to make it worse, I was becoming thoroughly sick of potatoes.
At the end of the experiment, I have come round to the mindset that, whilst the meat and dairy industry can be cruel and there’s no denying that you’ll probably live longer if you exist on carbohydrates and plant oils, living as a vegan is a constant struggle against your own nature (no matter how much vegans preach that they find animal products disgusting) and even vegans who have maintained such a diet and lifestyle for as long as ten years are giving it up in favour of going back to what is truly the natural way for humans to eat.