Top 10 Weird Things You Didn’t Know About Being Vegan

5. Vegans have to be careful about what sugar they eat

Seriously even sugar? This crap is ridiculous
Seriously even sugar? This crap is ridiculous

Sugar would seem, to most people, to be a fairly innocuous food (if one that should be used for a treat rather than consumed in huge amounts).  Not so to vegans, however!  The sugar sold in stores comes from plants (sugar beets or sugar cane) and should, therefore, be vegan compliant.  The problem, however, is that sugar needs to be filtered and refined.  Sugar made from beets does not need to be filtered through charcoal.  Cane sugar, however, does and the source of charcoal is, in many refineries, charred animal bone.

The bone charcoal is not considered an animal product from a Jewish perspective (sugar is deemed kosher pareve, i.e. it contains no meat or milk) but many vegans disagree with this interpretation feeling that, from an ethical point of view, it is not acceptable to eat sugar that has been processed with the aid of animal products.  Because it can be difficult to distinguish between beet sugar (which is often not labeled as such) and cane sugar, many vegans choose to avoid white sugar, confectioners’ sugar and brown sugar all together.

A suitable alternative for many vegans is unbleached cane sugar or syrups such as agave or maple syrup or even commercial sweeteners such as stevia.

4. A vegan diet can make you fat

Poor sad fat man.  Even being vegan isn't a sure fire cure to obesity.  I don't believe this one
Poor sad fat man. Even being vegan isn’t a sure fire cure to obesity. I don’t believe this one

Many people automatically correlate the word vegan with a healthy lifestyle.  Cutting out meat and cheese and all the associated fats must surely be healthy and help to kick start a weight loss regime –  right?  Well not always.  Turning to a vegan diet might help you to be healthy but it does not guarantee that you will not pile on the pounds.  Many people find, as they look at the scales, they have expanded rather than shed the pounds they were hoping to.  Vegans have to watch the calories every bit as much as those who follow a more traditional diet.

The modern vegan diet relies very heavily on soy and dairy replacement products.  Many diet books are packed with recipes for healthy fruit smoothies made with lashings of soy or almond milk and a scoop or two of protein powder.  While healthy each of these smoothies pack enough calories to make them a full size meal so it is easy to overindulge.  Add in other calorie heavy foods over the day such as coconut based products which are full of calories or nuts which are also calorie rich and should be eaten in moderation and a vegan can find themselves eating far more than the recommended number of calories in one day.

3. A vegan diet can cause cavities and contribute to bone problems

Being Vegan has some side effects
Being Vegan has some side effects

A vegan diet can be healthy for a while as it helps the body get rid of many toxins.  Where it falls down, however, is that it can be deficient in the essential fats and amino acids that are only available from animal products.  For this reason many vegans need to take supplements in order to ensure that their bodies remain healthy and are able to repair themselves.

Recent research has shown that arginine, an amino acid found in meat, helps to break down plaque and therefore helps to promote good oral health.  Vegans, however, have no natural source for arginine in their diet and are therefore have to rely on supplemented toothpaste to help prevent decay.  Common vegan foods such as soy and almond milk, agave syrup, granola and tofu are particularly heavy in sugar and therefore very punishing on the teeth leading to cavities and decay.

A vegan diet can also lead to problems with childhood development.  The Vegan Society claims that a vegan diet is suitable for every stage of life but children on vegan diets have been known to develop rickets and other problems resulting from a lack of proper vitamins and minerals in their restricted diet.  Other potential problems for vegans include anemia from lack of iron (leafy green vegetables may be rich in iron but the body finds it much harder to absorb than the iron in red meat), B12 which helps keep the nervous system healthy and calcium for bone strength.