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To Be Vegan…or Not To Be Vegan

February 8, 2017

This is a question that has been an ongoing, central topic in the world of nutrition.  It is a topic that incorporates humanity, belief, science, culture and personal preference.  If a person decides to live on only plant-based foods, is that enough?

Will plant-based foods give a person everything they need in the diet alone?  Are there risks?  There is no clear-cut answer for right or wrong.

There are about 7 million Americans that follow some sort of vegan diet.  It is a personal choice to decide if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 provide three balanced diets. Of the three balanced diets options, two include meat, and one is vegetarian. The best way to make a good, healthy, informed decision is to understand the pro’s and con’s for living this lifestyle.




A Vegan diet reduces overuse of antibiotics. ~70% of antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock like pigs, chickens and cows. This happens because many animals are living in close, confined housing and disease can spread. Antibiotics prevent the spread of illness among the animals. On the flipside, many opponents feel vegetable production causes a lot of the same environmental problems. Eating meat has been a central part of human evolution for 2.3 million years.
The Vegan lifestyle is argued to be more environmentally sustainable. Scientists have shown that making 1# of animal protein uses 100 times more water that 1# of grain protein. Many Vegans believe that increased meat manufacturing causes pollution.  Evidence shows that our taste buds were created to crave the savory flavor of meat. Meat has always provided ALL of the Essential Amino Acids (building blocks for protein), in one single serving of protein, making it complete.
It is cruel and unethical to kill animals for food. Vegans may believe that animals have emotions and are living things that can continue to breed and live if people select vegetarian options instead.  Many argue that eating meat has been a central part of human evolution for 2.3 million years.
Vegans argue that with food product development and the large acceptance of their guidelines, it is easy to live a Vegan lifestyle and consume a diet complete in all vitamins and minerals. Eating meat is a natural part of the cycle of life and “food chain”. Every living thing dies at some time, that way other things can prosper. It is how nature works.

The Choice of a Vegan Lifestyle After Bariatric Surgery

The goal after any bariatric surgery procedure is to eat wisely and live a healthier lifestyle. To live this lifestyle you must make the effort and plan every day. It is very possible to live a vegan lifestyle after surgery. You can still pack in good protein in a small volume living a plant protein based lifestyle. You will still have a nice variety of protein choices: tempeh, tofu, whole grains, legumes, soy, hemp, seeds, and nuts to name a few. It is recommended to take a daily multivitamin and calcium supplement as well.

You will have to decide what is best for you and your body and your beliefs.  Individual decisions on lifestyle should take into consideration age, medical history, medications, fitness level and overall health.

It is important to recognize that whether you choose to live a Vegan lifestyle or not, everyone can adopt a healthy “environment” lifestyle in other ways.  They may use solar panels, ride a bike to work, grow their own vegetables or fruit or help conserve water and electric.

A person’s actions make a difference - it is everyone’s responsibility to be “earth friendly” and contribute to conserving our planet's natural resources.  It is part of our culture to be accepting of religious concerns with foods, food preferences, and medical food restrictions.  It is with this understanding that restaurants and social places that include food, offer Vegan meal options.  The choice is yours - Be smart in your selections and whatever you choose, you will benefit from a healthy diet.



Sharon George, MS, RD, CDN received her B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University. She completed a second Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition at L.I.U.C.W. Post and received her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Hofstra University. She has been published in OH Magazine and Bariatrics Today. Sharon has dedicated her career to Bariatric Nutrition for the past 15 years at the New York Bariatric Group.
Read more articles from Sharon!