Is Veganism Fundamentally Flawed? The B12 Conundrum.

We hear that vitamin B12 is only present in animal products – that we can’t get it from plant-based foods. It’s in eggs, fish, meat, dairy and poultry. So, this raises some very tricky questions for vegans:

Do we need B12 – and if so, what for?

If B12 only occurs in animal products, does this mean we need to eat at least some animal-based food?

Are B12 vitamin supplements ultimately derived from animal sources?

How the hell does a vegan get vitamin B12?

Satisfying, plant-based food.

How do you feel satisfied with a plant-based diet?

Can you feel full from vegetarian or vegan food?

My mother has contacted me as she’s having my brother over for dinner.

‘He’s declaring himself as vegan,’ she says, ‘Can you recommend something for a main course, which of course will have to be substantial enough to feed the big lad?’

I am thrilled on two counts:

1) I’m flattered my mother has contacted me for cooking tips, and

2) I’m stoked my brother’s vegan.

But my mother’s question raises what I feel is a regular query – how do you feel satisfied with vegan food?

What vegetarian recipes fill you up?

I made some suggestions for my mother. What about Indian food? A dal served with rice, some chutney, a bhaji and maybe some poppadoms and a bread. Wholly satisfying. What about sushi as a main? Indonesian yellow curry? Bean burgers and chips? I suggested my mother might try what Collette and I made for Christmas – a vegan haggis with neeps, tatties and a whisky sauce with thyme. However, in the end I just felt a bit silly making suggestions – surely my brother can just be fed until he’s had enough food.

Meat eaters will often say that beans and pulses simply don’t satisfy like animal food products do. Many of us are used to a diet that includes animal products and if there is no meat on the plate it can feel like something is missing. I have certainly had that very sensation during my transition to a plant-based diet. I’ve been raised to consider vegetables, legumes and grains as a side dish to the main event. Nowadays, if Collette and I don’t find a vegan-friendly restaurant when we’re dining out, we’re often happy eating a selection of the side dishes. It works out tasty, certainly more varied and often cheaper.

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What are the facts about whether vegan food can fill you up?

An interesting study by the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports concluded that meals based on beans and peas are more satiating than pork and veal based meals. The study fed 43 men. When fed with beans and peas the men ate fewer calories in the next meal compared with those who had been fed pork and veal equivalents. The findings of this study seem to add weight to the argument that our reliance upon meat to satiate is at least to some degree psychological.

Though there may be a psychological barrier to cross to consider that plant-based foods will satisfy even big lads, it is possible. I’m 100kg and my weight hasn’t changed at all since I’ve ditched the meat. So when a vegan comes around for dinner, don’t panic, food without animal products can be as satisfying as food with. It’s just a matter of perception, challenging your own belief system and adjusting engrained habits.

Thanks for reading.

Pete

For recipe ideas check out our recipes page.


We serve a varied, nutritious and inspiring, plant-based diet on retreat.