Before you decide that this article has some sort of agenda or that I’m bankrolled by the dairy industry (yes, I’ve actually beed accused of that) let me just clarify that I’m sharing this information for a few reasons, one being that veganism is a hugely popular diet and people should really be aware of the pitfalls of it. The other being that I was a vegan and it basically wrecked my health (you can read more about that here). My intention is not to bash veganism, but to be honest with you – because so many others are not (or, they’re just unaware of the facts below).

I share this information with you not because this is my opinion, but because this is the reality of a plant based diet. So before you decide to leave a hateful comment, know that I’m coming from a good place. People deserve to know the truth about this way of eating, not the dogma that surrounds it.


Fat has been vilified over the years, but I’m happy to say that it’s making a well deserved comeback. People are starting to realize that banishing all fats makes no sense and holds no scientific accuracy. And while there are healthy vegan fats, like olive, coconut and avocado, the main isssue I have is the lack of EPA and DHA. Plant based fats contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), not docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

EPA and DHA are the fats that are beneficial to brain health, heart health and inflammation and these fats are severely lacking in a vegan diet. Vegan foods like chia seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds do contain ALA. Unfortunately there’s a false belief that ALA is converted to DHA and EPA in the body, but the reality is that this conversion is very, very weak with about a 5% conversion at best. You can read more about this via published studies here and here. The bottomline is that that a vegan diet is severely lacking in EPA and DHA, omega-3s that are critical to heart and brain health and well as a healthy inflammatory response.

Foods rich in EPA and DHA include wild seafood, fish oil and egg yolks.


Again, contrary to popular belief, it’s not possible to obtain vitamin A from orange veggies (although I’m still totally down with carrots and sweet potatoes). Plant foods actually contain beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A (retinol). Retinol is the active, usable form of vitamin A. And it’s badly lacking in plant food.

The ability to convert and beta carotene to retinol will vary between individuals and can be effected by gut, hormone and thyroid health (all issues I’ve personally seen predominantly in vegan populations). Another issue with the conversion is the fat present, as vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin. This further lowers the availability of vitamin A as majority of vegan diets are extremely low in fat. Not to mention that 45% of adults can’t make this conversion at all (nor can babies or the elderly).

Foods high in vitamin A include wild meat and seafood, egg yolks and liver.


Contrary to popular belief, there are no plant based forms of B12. No, not even nutritional yeast. This myth is especially pervasive because plant foods and supplements that are said to contain B12 actually contain B12 analogs called cobamides. These cobamides block the absorption of true B12 and increase the necessary intake of true B12 (source).


K2 – the oft overlooked vitamin. While not as popular as some of the other nutrients on this list, it’s not any less important. Vitamin K2 is necessary for bone, cardiovascular, prostate and skin health, among others. I think a lot of the confusion that surrounds K2 is that there is actually K1 (in plant foods) and K2 (in animal foods). So similar to vitamin A with the beta carotene and retinol.

While animals are able to effectively convert K1 to K2, this ability is lost in humans. K2 is largely found in egg yolks, liver, beef, chicken and grass-fed dairy products (particularly gouda). There is one plant food that contains K2 – natto. Natto is a fermented soy. It tastes terrible and is pretty hard to come by.


Vitamin D is a vitamin that is largely lacking in a plant based diet. Yes, there’s the sun, but the body needs adequate
amounts of cholesterol to properly convert sunlight into vitamin D, and healthy cholesterol levels are much easier to obtain on a diet that consists of a variety of plant and animal foods. There are vegan supplements that contain D2, but D3 is the active and useable form of vitamin D.

Studies have shown that 58% of vegetarians and 74% of vegans are deficient in vitamin D when compares to omnivores.

Foods high in vitamin D include cod liver oil, wild seafood, liver and grass-fed dairy products.


There are two types of iron, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal products while non-heme is found in plants. I’ll let you guess which one is better utilized and absorbed.

One study of vegan females found that even though they were eating plant based forms of iron and even foods with added iron, they were still deficient.

While not impossible to obtain zinc from plant foods, it is difficult. Zinc in concentrated in animal foods like beef and oysters. The other issue with plant based forms of zinc is that they also contain phytic acid, which binds to minerals like iron, magnesium andyou guessed it – zinc, and prevents them from being absorbed. From one study,

“The bioavailability of zinc from vegetarian diets is also likely to be less than that of nonvegetarian diets. Plant foods rich in zinc—such as legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds—are also high in phytic acid, an inhibitor of zinc bioavailability (64).”

Also from that study,

“The iron and zinc from vegetarian diets are generally less bioavailable than from nonvegetarian diets because of reduced meat intake as well as the tendency to consume more phytic acid and other plant-based inhibitors of iron and zinc absorption.”


Animals feed the land. This is one huge aspect of the environment that vegans seem to be entirely oblivious of. There is a symbiotic relationship between the plants and animals we eat. With this article, do not misunderstand that I think the industrialization of meat and CAFOs are deplorable. I am not in any way advocating these systems; in fact I encourage you to opt out of this meat entirely and source local, grass-fed and pastured options.

Pasture raised animals actually feed and build topsoil. Without topsoil, humans will die off. We would not be able to grow food. So removing animals from the equation removes the proper food source for the land. Like any living being, the land needs to be fed. And yes, dirt is living. There are millions upon millions of microorganisms in the soil.

In Lierre Keith’s brilliant book, The Vegetarian Myth, she discusses these issues.

“What do plants eat? They eat dead animals; that’s the problem. For me that was a horrifying realization. You want to be an organic gardener, of course, so you keep reading ‘Feed the soil, feed the soil, feed the soil…’

All right. Well, what does the soil want to eat? Well, it wants manure, and it wants urine, and it wants blood meal and bone meal. And I…could not face that. I wanted my garden to be pure and death-free. It didn’t matter what I wanted: plants wanted those things; they needed those things to grow.”

If we remove animals from the equation, we’re left with fossil fuels. How exactly is this a sustainable way of eating? Instead, we should eliminate CAFOs and return animals to pasture. Animals feed the land via their urine, manure and eventually, their bones.

“If we took 75% of the world’s trashed rangeland, we could restore it from agriculture back to functioning prairies — with their animal cohorts — in under fifteen years. We could further sequester all of the carbon that has been released since the beginning of the industrial age. So I find that a hopeful thing because, frankly, we just have to get out of the way. Nature will do the work for us. This planet wants to be grassland and forest. It does not want to be an agricultural mono-crop.”

I’d also like you to consider where your food comes from. Do you know? Do you know where that mock meat was shipped from? Probably thousands of miles away, from a GMO field destroying the land with glyphosate. What about all those grains and legumes? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a locally grown grain or legume at a farmers market. Bread, yes. But who knows where they source their grain from? Consider the thousands of miles vegan staples have to travel to reach your plate. Consider the amount of small animals killed each year when plowing those millions and millions of acres.

We need to end the myth that cattle is bad. Beef is not bad. What we do to cattle is bad. Alan Savory has successfully demonstrated that properly pastured cattle, aka Holistic Management, can actually reverse desertification and heal the land, while sequestering harmful emissions.

Now consider supporting your local, grass-fed farmer. A family of six (that’s four kids!) could live off of one cow a year. A cow that helped build topsoil, a cow that lived a happy life on pasture. A cow that wasn’t shipped from God knows where, and your money would go to a local farmer.

There has never been a culture that relied solely on plant foods. It does not exist. This is of course excluding groups of people who choose to not eat meat for religious purposes, which is not the same as ancestral and traditional cultures. Our ancestors ate meat, it is a fact. They ate a variety of both plant and animal foods. They respected the land and understood nature. And this is exactly what I think people should strive to do.




  1. Wonderful article! I needed this. I’ve been noticing ALOT of vegan Youtubers promoting a high carb low fat diet and I myself am a traditional foodie and love my fat! But i was starting to think otherwise because of these people, they’re all super thin and look healthy. You put me right back in line with what I’ve always believed. Thank you! ??

    • dani Reply

      Being thin is not an indication of health. It’s possible to be thin and still be unhealthy. Glad to help!

  2. You make great points, and I agree with the nutritional part. But I think you’re attacking the issue from the wrong angle! Vegans are a minority in almost all cultures, including the Western world, it is not the Vegans we need to adress when promoting primal eating and ethical agriculture – it is the people going to McDonalds twice a week, buying cheap factory farmed meat at the supermarket and eating processed foods every day! They are even more nutrient-deficient then the average vegan and much more disconnected from where their food comes. These people make up the vast majority of most Western countries.

    PS. Girl, come to Sweden, there’s locally grown Peas and beans at every Market 😉

    • dani Reply

      Yes, definitely. I try to attack those issues as well and hopefully I’m helping people realize that real food is healthier and cheaper than McDonald’s.

      I’d looove to go to Sweden. My husband likes it over there. And I like Refused.

  3. I have great respect for this article, explaining that purely vegan diets are not supportive to optimal well being. However I would like to present one opposite side of the argument to animal agriculture. Probably all areas of long lived happy healthy people have consumed meat in their diet, but in the past it would have been kept to a few meals a week. Many people today eat animal flesh at lunch and dinner, everyday.
    Many areas where animal agriculture now exists was previously bush land or forest, where various wild animals were already keeping the soil and ecosystem very healthy, with their blood, poo, bones etc. we have removed lots of healthy environment for animal farms, damaging the diversity and population of many plants and animals of the area. We need trees, need need need them. They’re so important it’s a joke, and there’s a reason we have (had) so many. We are cutting too many down.
    Is it not fair to say that, whilst veganism may not be the ‘answer’, eating a few meals a week (say, 5 instead of 14) of meat is better for the existing healthy ecosystems (with trees), and just as good for us?
    Again great article 🙂 raises very important points. Thankyou for sharing your knowledge!

  4. Matthew Pickering Reply

    Countless studies over decades of scientific research have shown that a plant based diet dramatically lowers ones risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and numerous other diseases. Are you refuting this information ?

    • dani Reply

      Yes. There’s no legitimate study accurately proving that information. I however do agree that a diet rich in plants AND animal foods, like the true Mediterranean diet, are very healthy. I love plants. But well sourced animal proteins in addition to plant foods make for the most well rounded, nutrient sufficient diet.

      • there’s many. you are just too biased to every look for them and then accept them. vegan movement is growing fast and people are getting healthy while saving animals and the planet. its scary to paleo people i know.

  5. Hey Dani,

    I’ve been eating a mostly plant-based diet for the past 6 months or so, but before I go all in on it I want to make sure I’ve fully and honestly explored both arguments for and against. Your website has given me some things to think about and has been very helpful in that regard.

    It seems that from almost everything I read that B12 is the only vitamin that can only be obtained from animal sources. I’ve read in a few places (your blog and others with very similar phrasing) that B12 fortified foods AND supplements contain B12 analogs and therefore are not equivalent, and actually are dangerous in that they inhibit absorption of real B12.

    The paper you and others cite ( seems to be talking exclusively about Spirulina tablets. This website also seems to warn against B12 analogs derived from algaes like spirulina ( and also says that “Unfortunately, no such natural form could be verified before now” which seems to suggest that this has since changed. The article then goes on to talk about methylcobalamine (which is also the B12 supplement recommended by Dr Greger and other prominent vegans). I then found this article on the same site which further describes methycobalamine as the ‘gold standard’ for B12 supplementation.

    Furthermore, I read this article on B12 supplements in the forms of sprays ( as I had read elsewhere this was the best way to take them and found the following on this page:

    “Vegan Vitamin B12 Drops and Sprays
    Since almost all questionable additives like gelatine and stearate don’t come into the question for vitamin B12 drops and vitamin B12 sprays, it is safe to say that these supplements are in most cases vegan. Glycerin, which occurs occasionally in vitamin B12 drops and sprays, can be of animal origin, but is far more likely to be extracted from coconut oil or produced synthetically. Readers who want to check this should look out for the additive ‘vegetable glycerin’ here.”

    In short, it seems like your article and the general argument against supplemented B12 is in-accurate and might be worth looking at.

    I plan to read ‘The Vegetarian Myth’ as you’ve recommended (and “Vegan Betrayal”) as I continue to further explore. Although right now I do think that overall I’ll likely end up adopting a diet similar to your husband that contains small amounts of animal products (locally produced, truly-“free” range eggs, and occasional locally caught wild seafood), but we shall see!

  6. b12 is naturally occurring in microbes/bacteria in soil, which would generally be obtained in the wild through wild fruits among other plantations. It’s what herbivores eat to actually have substantial b12 in their meat/organs for their predators to feast on. For me, a healthy diet is 25% animal based ( must be grass-fed and all the important stuff) and 75% plant-based. Stuff likes Eggs, Ghee and white fish ( Rainbrow trout etc). Big no to Milk, raw or not, not meant for us( unless we’re talking breast milk). Easy on the organs as well. Great for short term, not so great for long term. Seen many long-term organ eaters develop really bad issues later in life. A good example is Ron Schmidt MD.

  7. K2 is found in sauerkraut too (not only natto)and it is delicious. I find it surprising, to Say the leas, that you forgot to mention it. Could you be biased?

  8. A lot of manipulation about this issue, meat companies no longer know what to invent to stop all the changes that are related to food. a lot of falsehood, enrichment, etc. With the pain of helpless beings. Gentlemen, animals have to be freed from abuse, death, etc. These acts of heartbreak cry in the eyes of God.

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