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Loads of questions?various topics, blood type, pregnancy, soy,vegan lifestyle...

My local healthfood store had a pamphlet on transitioning to vegetarianism & it recommended that O blood types, which I am, still consume fish or yogurt for energy. Is there any truth there? Everything about being a vegan makes sense to me but I'm still falling prey from years of propaganda & meat/esp. dairy addiction.  I'm reading Diet for a New World and New America, which is very informative. I'm just afraid to succumb, willingly of course, to vegan ways & it not be the answer to healthy living. It's sad but true that I found myself not long ago just sure that eating lean meats was the way to be. I'm also thinking about pregnancy and whether or not a vegan life is ideal. I'm also a little torn with soymilk, tofu, tempeh, etc...There is hype about it's place in a healthy diet and my concern is that it had to be processed somehow, how close to the earth is it? Is it better to be vegan without those products? Finally how does one cope with people who don't get it? I'm in a very conservative place & I can only imagine the lack of support and comments.  I'm not the most confrontational but very willing to share my knowledge with others if they are interested and non-threatening.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Hi Dance4Me:

I think it's good that you recognize that you are "still falling prey from years of propaganda".  You should try to read about veganism from many different types of views to get a well-balanced opinion. Diet for a New World and Diet for a New America are both excellent books. There are many different motivations behind veganism, including animal rights, environmentalism, illness, and a desire to live a healthy life.

There are a wide range of opinions on who should eat what for what bloodtype, etc. and you're likely to encounter a lot of conflicting views. The key here is to choose the one that you feel is the best choice for you. By listening to every claim thrown your way, you are likely to get confused and may do more harm than good to your body. For a solid opinion, see a nutritionist. There are many other foods other than fish and yogurt that will give you energy like soy yogurt, nuts, dried fruits, and whole grains. It all boils down to what you feel is right for your body. Those are the best choices you can make.

Tofu, tempeh, and soymilk have been made using the same process for thousands of years. They are much less processed than packaged foods like cookies, or even meat substitutes like veggie dogs. Not all vegans eat soyfoods, in fact some vegans are allergic to soy so they drink rice milk or use different forms of protein like beans or seitan. While most people automatically assume that if a food is vegan it is healthy, that's not true. Actually, it's possible to live your entire life as a vegan without ever buying vegetables or fruit. There are tons of packaged products out there , and some people can go through the entire day just eating junkfood like chips, candy, and meat substitutes--just as meat eaters do. Most vegans make a monumental effort to eat healthy and impact this world as little as they can. Meat substitutes and soycheese, etc. are all designed for people on lowfat diets. They're helpful to transitioning vegetarians/vegans, but I've noticed that many vegans tend to move toward a more natural diet.

There is no "better" or "worse"--you need to make your own decisions about veganism. For instance, some vegans still use products like honey. There is wide debate on what is a correct vegan diet. Definied by the Vegan Society, vegans avoid all animal products. I find it interesting though, that you say you are afraid to "succumb" to vegan ways and then find out it's not healthy. My only thought on this is that there is nothing to "succumb" to. It's a concious choice that you make for yourself and your lifestyle. If you end up feeling like it's not a healthy diet for you, then you can change it and go back to your previous diet. I'm not sure why you're scared of this. It's ok to try something new and not like it. There are tons of people out there that attempt vegetarianism/veganism and go back to eating meat. It happens.

There are vegans and vegetarians all over the world, and all of us have dealt with hostile/angry/judgemental people. You can never make anyone understand veganism if they don't want to. You can only share your views and hope that they listen. The biggest mistake I made as a new vegetarian was trying to argue with everyone about it. Some people don't get it, they don't want to get it, and you just have to ignore their comments. All of us have experienced a lack of support and hurtful comments--it definitely gets easier with time. I like showing compassion towards those who try to hurt me because of my veganism. This way, I create a safe place for them if they ever want to ask me about it again. By lashing out at people, you only give a negative message about veganism.

Good luck with your endeavours. Try websites like www.vegan.com for more information and more answers to questions you may have.

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Veggie Vulture,
Thank you for your feedback. Succumb was probably the wrong word choice.  I am absolutely making diet/lifestyle choices consciously.  My nervousness comes from the freaky person that I am & the desire for there to be definitive answers.  Your advice is sound. I am excited by the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle but it is new & a little overwhelming with all the other info I have stuck in my head.
Thanks

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I'd like to add one thing about the blood typing.  I'm an O Positive, and my health and energy improved DRASTICALLY when I became vegan.  I did it for ethical reasons, so it was an nice unexpected side effect.  I can't tell you why that is, but I can tell you that I look and feel far better since I made these choices.

One other thing - vegan or not vegan is not enough to determine your health.  Vegans or ominivores can eat horrible things like hydrogrenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates.  There are lots of other choices to make.  But I will say that avoiding animal products will help you to automatically avoid many unhealthy convenience foods.

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Another O-positive vegan here. I'm doing very well without meat and fish :)
I've lost some excess weight and am now maintaining a healthy weight, my energy levels have improved somewhat, and my sinuses aren't as bothersome as before.

Then again, I still have asthma, poor circulation, and a digestive problem :P Not caused by veganism (obviously, since I've had these problems way longer than I've been vegan) but they're not positively or negatively affected by it either. (But hey, I'm sure no one's ever claimed that veganism is the cure-all for everything!)

As for the healthiness of a vegan diet...Well, there's no one vegan regimen. You'll find health food vegans and junk food vegans, macrobiotic vegans, raw food vegans, and many other types of vegans :) Some eat very healthily; others don't. The important thing is to eat a variety of foods from the various food groups (Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein, etc.

Here is a website with an picture of a vegan food pyramid, and text below that goes more into detail, explaining what constitutes a serving from the various groups: http://www.nutrispeak.com/veganfoodguide.htm

One important nutrient to make sure you supplement is vitamin b12. Some fortified foods such as soymilk and nutritional yeast have it. Generally it's only found in animal products. Vitamin b12 is made by a bacteria that resides in the gut of mammals; so in past generations, vegans didn't have to worry about it so much because the bacteria would cling to unwashe'd vegetables that had been fertilised with manure. Nowadays, most people wash their vegetables, so you'll have to find another source for it.

Finally, on the matter of soy: I've heard many good and bad things about it. I've heard that it has estrogens that make men grow breasts. But, I know many men who eat lots of soy, and none of them have breasts. So, take from that what you will :P
Personally, I love soy.

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I don't think there is any substantial evidence out there about blood type and diet. 

The friendly bacteria found in yogurt is a good idea to include in any diet.  In fact for this vegetarian it's essential to my GI health, (I'll sprare you the details.)  But they can be obtained from vegan sources, including soy yogurts.

The essential fatty acids found in fish can be found in vegan foods like walnuts, seeds like pumpkin and flax seeds/oil.

Many people have concerns about soy, especially those with thyroid conditions.  This vegetarian would not be vegetarian without it.  There wouldn't be enough variety and I like some of the convience foods. I've sucessfully eaten lots of soy, practically on a daily basis for 14 years without ill effects to any body system.  I always look to the Japanese who have sucessfully eaten a lot of soy for generations.

The key to any successful diet, vegan or lean meats, is to eat lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in a wide variety. 

I commend you for doing the research.  Those are two excellent books, back with research, not hype.  We all, vegans and vegetarians included, should consider our dietary choices carefully.

(I don't have breasts from eating soy.  hehehe  Many people think the hormones injected into meat cause men to grow breasts.)

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