• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

July 24, 2012

The Vegan Myth

Share
Special Offer

For others, going vegan can pay off, initially at least. A vegan for almost two years, Susan Stella Floyd, 33, from Austin, Texas, lost 10 pounds within the first two months. But three months later she regained the weight--and 10 more pounds. She partially blames her "very carb-heavy diet." And while veganism promises healthy cholesterol, Floyd's levels were borderline high. Because a vegan diet may lack appropriate amounts of good fat (like omega-3's and vitamin B12), some vegans may suffer from elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine (associated with blood vessel damage) and lower HDL (aka good) cholesterol. Both, notes one 2011 study, can actually increase the risk for heart problems and stroke.

After reading books on veganism and working at a health foods store, Bonnie Farrell, 26, from Portland, Maine, figured she was prepared to go vegan. She ate mostly raw foods and also started to bike everywhere. A diet consisting mainly of fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, combined with the sudden rigorous exercise, helped her drop 25 pounds. "I took it as a sign that my body was thriving," she says. Instead, the opposite was happening. Her energy levels would skyrocket, only to crash and leave her extremely fatigued. She became consumed by near daily panic attacks. Rounds of testing with two different doctors revealed a deficiency of several vitamins and minerals. Her adrenal system, which regulates stress, had "burnt out"; her thyroid was malfunctioning. "I felt like my body was locked in a prison," Farrell says.

What's going on outside isn't always pretty, either. "Vegan clients have walked into my office with scaly skin because they reduced their fat intake too much," notes Volpe. Dental health may suffer, too. Vitamin deficiencies speed up tooth decay, and overconsumption of carbs produces a highly acidic environment in your mouth, damaging gums and weakening enamel, explains Chicago dentist Dr. Rana Stino. That may explain why after almost two decades sans cavities, Floyd had four. Worse, Farrell was shocked she needed seven fillings--all in one visit. "It was terrifying," she says.

There's no problem with trying veganism, but go in without a game plan and you could put your health in danger. "Meet with a registered dietitian or your doctor first, preferably one who specializes in vegan diets," says Volpe. Then follow up with them if you don't feel right, as they can help make adjustments.

Eventually, Crosby Helms, Stubbart, Floyd, and Farrell all tried eating meat and/or dairy again, this time conscientiously dining on grass-fed, organic fare. "I felt deeply satisfied after my first bite of fried eggs and cheese," says Floyd, who no longer deals with crazy cravings and now has "awesome" cholesterol--which she links, ironically, to a return to eggs and bacon. A year after forgoing veganism, Farrell revisited her doctor. "My thyroid was running normally again, my nervous system was balanced. I felt like myself again. Why didn't I stop sooner?"


Share
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
One winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Lancôme ($389) and a year’s supply of hair products from Garnier Fructis ($90), as selected by the Sponsors.

One winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from Lancôme ($389) and a year’s supply of hair products from Garnier Fructis ($90), as selected by the Sponsors.

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From Health and Fitness
How to Prevent a Food Hangover

Indulge in your Thanksgiving dinner without going completely comatose.

10 Expert-Approved Secrets To Hack Your Hangover

Nothing is a bigger buzzkill after a great night out than a throbbing hangover. Get on with your day as quick as you can with these tricks.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue