Confessions of a Vegan Nutrition Student
The Summer prior to my senior year as a nutrition major, I found veganism. I finally was living consistent with my beliefs about animals and I also felt better physically. My digestion improved, my energy levels soared and the few extra pounds I was carrying fell off. But when school resumed in the Fall, I went back to classes that taught the government standards for health and nutrition which are largely financed by the dairy and beef industries.
The White Lie
For example, the government standards for health and nutrition recommend 3 daily servings of dairy milk. Professors repeatedly told us that it was important to “ensure our clients get those 3 servings daily”. I also remember being told that “dairy was one of the most nutritious foods humans could consume”. Bang! That was the sound of me hitting my head on my desk.
Most of us don’t believe everything the government tells us, so why do we blindly believe so much when it comes to the government nutrition guidelines? Numerous studies not sponsored in whole or part by the dairy/beef industries have shown that animal protein is harmful. Animal protein has been linked to the development of a whole host of health problems in humans, including osteoporosis, digestive disorders and cancer. Yet, that is not being taught in college nutrition classes.
Eggs & Animal Liver?
In addition to the dairy myth, we were also taught that eggs “were healthy” and that animal liver was “one of the healthiest foods” for humans. Bang, bang – my head is really starting to hurt at this point!
There were a few times when I was pleasantly surprised by my professors. A handful of times they would discuss the benefits of plant-based diets. We were taught that high amounts of saturated fat- especially animal fat – leads to the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And we learned that the phytoestrogens in soy actually protect women from developing breast cancer – the opposite of what the dairy industry tries to promote.
Eating Animals Is Bad For the Environment
On one occasion one of my professors even acknowledged the correlation between animal agriculture and environmental degradation! That same professor also honestly acknowledged that animal flesh was not necessary for human health. I happily nodded along during such classes, excited that not everyone was blindly following the government standards.
Until more people – students, professors and the public in general – begin to question the government standards for health and nutrition, students will continue to be taught many myths as they prepare for nutrition careers in hospitals, long-term care residences and schools. My sincere hope in writing this is to encourage anyone reading to take a more careful look at the standards set by the government for nutrition and health, the studies behind them and the research which shows that the government isn’t always right, especially when it comes to health and nutrition.
For general information on the nutritional benefits of plant-based diets:
For information on the dangers of dairy & how to eliminate it:
http://nutritionstudies.org/12-frightening-facts-milk/ , http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prostate-cancer-and-organic-milk-vs-almond-milk, http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/health-concerns-about-dairy-products, http://www.veganseatwhat.com/#!dairy-replacement-chart/cid, http://www.godairyfree.org/dairy-substitutes/how-to-substitute-butter, http://vegan.com/dairy-free/, http://www.notmilk.com/zerodairy.html, http://freefromharm.org/farm-animal-welfare/what-about-humanely-raised-milk-and-dairy-products/, http://weanimals.org/gallery.php?id=90#ph1 http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-15181/the-1-reason-to-ditch-dairy.html
For information on the connection between environmental destruction and factory farming:
http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/, http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/shocking-facts-on-how-factory-farms-cause-water-pollution/, http://www.stopfactoryfarms.org/environmental-effects-of-factory-farming/,
Note from VEW: The writer of this article requested to remain anonymous. VEW agreed to honor that request after verifying credentials and academic background.