The Vegan Diet Episode! Pros & Cons of Being Plant-Based, The Environmental Impact, Keto, & More! | The Hart of Health Podcast
Joané and Jonathan: (00:02)
Hi. I’m Joané Hart and I’m Jonathan Hart; this is the Hart of Health. A show where we focus mainly on health and self-optimization. We like to talk about our experiences and knowledge when it comes to health and biohacking. Hope you enjoy the show.
Hey everyone. So on today’s podcast, we’re going to be talking about the vegan diet. Yay.
Yay. We’ve been wanting to do this one for a while.
It is quite a controversial subject.
It is indeed. Not really against veganism.
Yeah. I think we both agree that it is possible to remain healthy on a vegan diet.
Definitely. But you just have to be careful and put some planning behind what foods you’re going to eat. Make sure that you get all the necessary nutrients which you should do on any diet really; doesn’t matter what it is.
Yeah. And I don’t think it is possible for everyone to do.
Yeah. I went plant-based for like three days, once it sucked, I felt so horrible and it was just enough. I don’t want to try it again. Like I know people can say that. No, but you should try it for longer. No, I don’t want to do that, but I think it can work for a lot of people.
I’m thinking of people like Kayla Peterson; she tries to re-introduce broccoli and then goes into a depression for a month. I don’t think her being plant-based is going to work for her specifically.
Are you sure it was broccoli? Wasn’t it some other type of food? We’ll put that into the description. Whatever made a difference.
Yeah. I think she’s tried a few times to introduce plants again.
I think soy really messed her up.
Yeah, I know that, but that was before she even went carnivore.
Yeah. Like she started cutting out a lot of foods too, and then eventually got to just meat and greens. And when she cut out the greens, a lot of her symptoms mostly disappeared; like arthritis, pains, the mental health struggles. The carnivore diet is great. I kind of wish we did the carnivore diet challenge in January. I had a bit of FOMO because it was like world carnivore month.
Yeah. But we decided against doing that for some reason.
I kind of realized too late that it was world carnivore month, but we did some cool challenges in January though.
Yeah, we decided to kick it off with the easy whole foods challenge.
That was basically just ate anything that you would be able to make yourself.
Using raw natural ingredients.
Yes. So nothing very processed. I did a challenge where I fasted for 16 hours or longer a day. And I also did a few extended fasts. So, I did a three-day fast, which I started just before the start of the new year. And then I did two more 48-hour fasts during January. I’m currently doing a 48 hour fast, but it’s February. So it doesn’t count as part of the January challenge.
Yeah. So I think you had a bit of a harder January and I had a bit of an easier January, but now my February is proving to be much more challenging. Because I’m going vegan for February and seeing how this goes. So far it’s tough. It’s definitely way more challenging than going whole foods.
Yeah. Because before this, your diet is basically 80% animal-based.
I think it’s quite a shock for your body to go plant-based.
Yeah. Obviously, it’s, it’s quite a change, but I’m trying to get it to work because I do think you can be healthy, like making sure that I’m getting a lot sun for vitamin D making sure that I get nutritional yeast for B12 and trying to make sure that I give enough protein and not underdo the calories too much. Yeah.
It’s been harder for you to get to the number of calories you would normally eat in a day because you also decided to go lower in fat.
Yeah. Just because a lot of people who advocate for vegan diets are very against high-fat diets.
And if you’re going to go high carb, which you tend, tend to do when you do go on a vegan diet, then it’s not the best idea to have meals that are very high in fat and carbs at the same time.
Yeah. It’s like a double whammy. Yeah. You don’t want both of them at the same time.
Yeah. You have to choose sometimes as high carb, low fat or…
Low carb high fat. So what would you say you like about the vegan diet most?
Oh, now that I think of it, the pretty salads and smoothie bowls you always see people make. Just the colourful vegetables, like you can just make such beautiful plates of food with that. And ph, I love hummus. I used to make that a lot. I don’t know how sensitive my body is to legumes now; and if I’d be able to handle like chickpeas and lentils, I haven’t really eaten those types of foods for very long because, because of the lectin content, but I do really enjoy them. So I’m quite jealous. Like I love eating lentils and beans and chickpeas and meat and vegetables, I’m an omnivore, but since cutting out beans and lentils, I do miss it.
Yeah. I, I tried to avoid beans, that’s just more for the digestive distress. But yeah, what I like about the vegan diet is it actually brings people into experimenting and changing their diet. So, one of my passions is, you know, using diets to find out more about yourself and what works for you and what doesn’t. And I think going vegan is a cool way to experiment. I mean, you know, it can actually can show you what you can do by changing your diet. And I think it also depends on what diets you were eating before that will obviously determine how big of a difference choosing whatever diet you go on makes. So, if you’re eating pretty normal, (processed foods and pizzas and whatever sugar), and then you go vegan, you are probably going to notice a much bigger difference, especially if you do whole foods vegan.
Then if you were more like whole foods like paleo or primal before.
Yeah. So if you were whole foods before you went vegan, you probably noticed much less of a difference.
It’s always so frustrating. It’s like if you followed a really unhealthy diet and you eat a lot of junk food and you drank a lot of soda and you wanted to lose fat and you just cut out that stuff you tend to lose fat quite quickly. But if you already follow a whole foods diet; you stick to healthy foods, like 80% of the time, but you’re not losing fat, then it’s even harder. Because then what do you change? That 20%? That’s 20%, but your life gets hard. And then when you’re at 90% because I feel like I’m at 90% and my body’s not budging.
Yeah. But I’ve noticed with the fasting that it’s drawn a lot of improvements, I think. I think you just need to keep cycling it, you know? I feel like if you try and restrict yourself too much for too long, it ends up being negative to losing weight.
Oh yeah. Don’t worry. Like my binge eating takes care of that for me. Like I just have to wait because like in a few days I’ll overeat and then the calories will go way up and then I’m like, yeah, no way my body can think I’m starving now.
Yeah. Obviously, you don’t want to be too dramatic with your swings, but…
No, it’s not the best because you know what, and this is something that I’ve been thinking about. I think it’s called metaflammation. It’s like when you eat way too much at once, then it m inflammation in your body. And oh my world that makes sense. I can laugh and don’t feel that good after I binge. But it causes inflammation and I can really notice a difference in my skin when I eat. When I’ve binged, I break out more, even if it’s healthy food. It could be just a salad or whatever. And I eat way too much I’ll break out. And then I learned because of that. But it makes sense because if you eat more, it puts your body in an anabolic state, a building state. So that like raises your testosterone levels and can make you break out. So yeah, the binge eating is not that great.
Yeah. It’s not like an anabolic state is bad. It’s just that you don’t want to go into an extreme form of the antibiotic state. So, it’s all about keeping the balance and not restricting yourself and going into cannibalism way too much. Because with cannibalism, obviously that’s when you start losing weight and your body starts breaking things down and using your fat reserves and that is also where your autophagy comes in, but that too can also become detrimental if you do it for too long. You know? So I think what seems to be effective is sort of cycling between the two phases and trying to keep the balance. Don’t be in a massive calorie deficit for so long and don’t have a massive surplus
For very long. It’s like, you want rest and digest. You want to have like feeding windows and you want like times where you don’t eat, then your body can digest. Like everything it has to.
Oh, for your digestive system to recover and like repair and like do a bit of maintenance because if you’re always eating with very little rest is actually quite a bit of inflammation.
So what don’t you like about the vegan diet? Okay. Other than the obvious things,
I don’t know, I’m just worried about nutrient deficiencies. You know what I’m worried about? All of the grain consumption because grains can cause inflammation. I’m not too sure about that. I’m sure it could be fine for a lot of people, but I’m skeptical. And then a lot of vegans eat a lot of sugar and from like fruit, like you can make a smoothie with four fruits in the morning and then a lot of people to make it look pretty, add some more fruit on top and have date bars. And I sat next to vegan ones and she opened her lunch box and it was just packed with fruit. And then I thought that amount of fructose will really have a negative impact on your lover. So that bothers me. Like I was walking in the store trying to find like vegan snacks for you. And most of them were loaded with sugar because everything has dates. Like I’ve found dates and pure date syrup. And I’m like, ew, that’s a lot of fructose.
Yeah. Especially in like a smoothie form or in like a date syrup form, it’s going to spike your insulin levels really high. I mean some people can get away with eating fruits in their whole form in large amounts and not get as massive of an instant spike. Also like it’s dependent on person to person. Because obviously some people are better able to handle those amounts of sugar without responding so badly. But like for you specifically, you don’t want to be consuming that much. That’ll be putting your insulin through the roof.
No, cause I have PCMA. So polycystic ovary syndrome. And when you have PCAs, you should follow a diet that helps you regulate insulin levels. Because in high insulin makes symptoms worse. So that’s why that would be very bad for me.
Yeah. So once again, always seems to come down to, it’s a very individual thing, but what I don’t like about the vegan diet is that it becomes very ideological. It sort of closes the door to further experimentation. So it’s almost like this double-edged sword where it opens up a lot of people’s minds to the fact that the diet can be the way to fix their problems or to improve their health or whatever. But then it shuts the door on every other diet. And it’s sort of like villainizes the consumption of meat or any like any other animal product. And so for that reason, I feel like a lot of vegans miss out on trying to figure out what’s actually best and optimal for them specifically because they’ve cut out so many food groups that might actually bring a large benefit to their life. And I mean, it’s not that difficult for a vegan to get ethically raised eggs. If you literally go to some, someone who has their own chickens, that lay eggs for them, you can go get eggs without any sort of ethical dilemma. And I don’t care What the Health says, eggs are definitely not like smoking. And I think that if I was to say, one thing to vegan to try and experiment, it would be try introducing something like eggs. Try dabbling in vegetarianism for a bit. You don’t have to go as far as cheese, but at least start opening the door to experimenting with other things. Because you can try eggs, and if it honestly makes you feel like crap, then you can avoid them. But at least you’ve opened your-mind into trying to introduce it into your diet again, because in my opinion, it’s very difficult to not supplement and avoid deficiencies on a vegan diet where on an omnivorous diet or a Mediterranean diet, it’s much easier to not be nutrient deficient.
Hmm. I agree.
And yeah, this month is going to be quite informative. But as far as animal products are concerned, I don’t think I’ll ever really consider cutting them out forever, but I’m still open to trying to see what had happened for a month.
Yeah. I mean, it’s very interesting to see. And I like the idea of if you’re not vegan yet or whatever, seeing it as an experiment rather than “I’m going vegan forever”. Like what if it sucks? What if it doesn’t agree with your body? And now you’ve say you’ve told everybody that you’re going to do it forever, but three weeks in you feel horrible and you want to stop, but now you’ve made this part of your identity and you’ve changed your Instagram name to vegan Rob, or I don’t know what it is. Test it out first and then announce it to everyone, like you can say, oh, I tried it for a month and this is what I experienced. And if you really want to carry on, you can. And when it comes to open-mindedness, even open-mindedness within the vegan diet, a lot of people can be closed off to the idea of a low carb diet; and think fat is bad. You could maybe try a lower carb, vegan diet, like a vegan keto diet, and maybe you’ll feel better than you did with a low fat vegan diet. It’s just like, you’ve been struggling to get enough calories. And I know that if you eat more nuts, it wouldn’t be that hard, but they didn’t agree with your digestive system necessarily. But if you’re like a low fat vegan, are you sure you’re getting enough calories.? Because we’ve been struggling with you in terms of getting enough calories into your system because vegetables tend to be low in calories. Lentils are quite low in calories, unless you’re adding fat. Are you sure that you’re eating enough? That’s my thought.
Yeah, I’m definitely used to eating smaller, more calorie dense foods. So, I do you think it takes quite an adjustment? At least I’m not missing out on protein. I’m getting a decent amount of protein, but as far as calories are concerned, I think I’m in a deficit, which is not really part of my goals. I don’t really want to go and buy a vegan protein powder because I still want to sort of keep the same whole foods theme. I didn’t want to get too far away from whole foods. And that’s kind of my criticism of the vegan diet is like, when you do stick to whole foods, it becomes a lot harder to get it right. You know, you can’t just eat what you can find in nature and not encounter a whole bunch of deficiencies and problems with the diet. Where, with a more like a Mediterranean or more primal or paleo kind of diet, it’s much easier to get all the nutrients you need without supplementation. Obviously sometimes it’s a moral choice for some people. And so I’d say yes, you can get it right. So, if it’s against your morals to do that, then yeah, go ahead and do it that way. But also then don’t judge other people for their own moral decisions, because I feel like what you decide is moral for you or not, should be personal and you shouldn’t actually be trying to force other people into your own moral judgments.
Yeah. Don’t enforce your ideologies on to people.
I have no problem with people you choose to do it just because they love animals, you know, but I don’t necessarily agree that if we all stopped eating meat, we’re going to save the world.
Yes. I definitely think that a lot of people sort of have this viewpoint that if everyone just went vegan, all our climate’s problems will be solved. It’s like such a complicated scenario. And, if I look at the way I’d like to eat at the optimal level, it would be game meat. So I know it was hunted, it says locally hunted. And I butch it myself and that sort of forms part of the majority of my diet. Then go to farmer’s markets to get locally sourced produce that didn’t have to go on a ship or a plane or anything to get to you because you can be on a vegan diet and eating no animal products, but all the products you’re eating are shipped from wherever and take a lot of fossil fuels to get to your shopping centre. It’s obviously going to have a bigger impact than what I just laid out.
Yeah. And if you think about those vegan meals. Well, that doesn’t just apply to vegan foods like processed foods in general. But if a product has 30 ingredients in there, the manufacturer had to get the 30 ingredients from somewhere. So from different manufacturers so that’s a lot of transportation involved. It’s not just from the final factory to you. It’s where do they source their products from? Maybe they have to ship internationally as well. You know, if you really want to reduce your carbon footprint and your environmental footprint, then buy locally as much as possible, but that applies to all products.
Local and lowly processed. Yeah. So the less processing and the more local it is, the better it will be for carbon footprint before you even think about is the animal product or is it a vegan? You know?
There shouldn’t be a lot of manufacturers involved.
Yes. Because you can go to a local farm or farmer’s market and buy locally sourced meat with a much lower carbon footprint than if you go to a shopping centre and buy some vegan bread or whatever. That’s got ingredients that had to be shipped in from all sorts of different places.
What about almond milk, because that comes from California, but we live in South Africa and I’m like, that’s far.
Yeah. I don’t know if all almond milk comes from California.
I’m just thinking about a particular brand that I read the box.
Oh wow. So yeah, if you buy that milk that had to go all the way from California. Yeah. It’s ridiculous. And yeah. Then a lot of people say that, oh, animals! We are making so many crops to feed animals. But they forgetting that we don’t eat 80% of the crop. You look at any of those corn, wheat, soy, barley, whatever crop it is, we don’t eat 80% of it. We only eat a very small part of the plant. And so are you recommending that we just throw away all of the stalks and whatever else that doesn’t get added into the equation. I think that animals are actually very good middlemen in turning those stalks and rubbish into food that we can actually eat.
And fertilizer and stuff. I like the deforestation thing. Where, who is that? Like the deforestation thing where they take a bunch of cows and put them in a place.
The anti desertification.
Yeah, the desertification thing. It’s where places just turn into like deserts. No plants are growing. And that’s what a lot of people are concerned about.
Yeah. Well, what’s been happening over the world is as the animal numbers have been decreasing, the deserts have been expanding. That’s just because before we got into the animal equation, there used to be billions and billions of ruminant animals roaming the plains and they would redistribute nutrients across the land. Then we came along and started agriculture and started not allowing the animals to follow their natural migrations. And since that time, the deserts have just been getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And if we can get our farming practices to mimic the more natural migrations, we can maybe even take back land from the deserts. This is Allan Savory’s project that he’s been working on and he’s been getting really great success with his methods. But a lot of people argue against that. But for me, what I think is before we came into the equation, there were a lot of animals and there was less desert and now we’ve taken away the animals and now there’s more desert. So I feel like we do have to add animals back into the equation in order to try and get the balance back to the way it was before humans came around and decided to domesticate animals and keep them in a set place for long periods of time and no migration routes.
Yeah. So that’s one thing I think we should do.
So yeah, basically it comes down to, it’s very complicated. You can have your own moral judgment, don’t get on your high horse about saving the environment because that’s also very complicated and we’ve just given a few examples of how it might not be exactly the way you think it is. Let people make their own judgments. It’s more important to figure out what you respond to well, and what’s best for your health unless you’re very morally against animal death.
Yeah. Well, what I’m thinking about now, if you want to be like an environmentalist, you should technically be a minimalist because everything you buy clothes, the new cell phones, the latest headphones, everything had to have quite a few manufacturers involved and use a bunch of stuff that they had to take out of the ground that involved mining and transport. Just buy less stuff that is what’s going to help the environment.
Yeah. So I mean, these issues are so complicated and to say that just everyone going animal-free diets or going plant-based and zero animal protein diet is going to solve the problem is absolutely ridiculous. Yes. If people didn’t eat an exorbitant amount of meat, it would probably also help. But even more important than not eating too much meat is reducing food waste. Reducing food waste would be also super effective. I mean, whether it’s vegetables or animal, it doesn’t matter. Like wasting food is a massive problem. Especially in America.
I like those programs where they connect with restaurants that have leftovers and the extras they give to homeless people or they turn it into a soup kitchen. Like what if every restaurant had a leftover section where they made food for homeless people that they donated with the leftovers?
Especially since you know, you’re not throwing it in the trash.
Yeah. Like with animals, if you did nose to tail like with vegetables, if you also didn’t waste it, that would help a lot. You could feed a lot of people.
Yeah. I feel like we’re too focused on animal products versus plant products and their carbon footprint where we could all be focusing on less wastage, fewer foods that have to be shipped in from far away and buying a lot of unnecessary things that also have their own carbon footprint. I mean, it’s funny to have someone saying you’re eating meat and destroying the environment and you’re part of the problem, but you’re on yourself and the car shipped all the way from China kind of thing. You know, it’s a bit hypocritical. If it’s that important to you, you’d have to take many further steps to be in line with what you’re really saying to really be making a difference to what’s actually happening in the environment.
Yes. Well, we will let people know how the rest of the vegan diet challenge for you goes, this is only day three.
Yeah. So it’s still early days. Obviously, there’s going to be like a transition period and I’m still figuring things out, but I think I can get it to work. And yeah, it will be interesting to give some feedback on how it goes.
That’d be very, very interesting.
And yeah, I’m really enjoying doing these podcasts, so yeah, it’s quite fun. I’m happy to try and commit to once a week.
Thank you for listening to The Hart of Health.