How To Explain Your Vegan Diet To A Non-Supportive Doctor

how to explain your vegan diet to a non supportive doctor

How To Explain Your Vegan Diet To A Non-Supportive Doctor


Veganism and FBS (Furrowed-Brow Syndrome)

For a lifestyle that does so much good, veganism sure is misunderstood by a lot of people.  Watching those brows furrow as you explain that yes, as a vegan, protein wise you do just fine and that life is actually possible to live and enjoy without the necessity of cheese, is always a sight to behold.

Sadly, FBS can strike pretty much any non-vegan at any time, including family, friends and work colleagues.  Likewise, established professions are not immune to FBS either.  Chances are, your doctor most likely suffers from this condition the moment you mention to him / her that you are vegan.


Hippocratic What Now?

It goes without saying, your doctor is a very important individual in your life.  What price do we put on good health (but as a vegan, you knew that anyway) and having someone to help us maintain that is of course vital.

Doctors generally abide by the Hippocratic Oath – a pledge to help people get better and stay healthy.

Unfortunately though, the majority of the medical profession, committed as they are to helping us stay healthy and overcome sickness, are not vegan.  Let that sink in for a second – the biggest single dietary thing one can do for their health, take up veganism, is not only not practiced by many in the medical profession, it’s also widely misunderstood by them too.

So, when you see your doctor, chances are that he / she is not going to be vegan.  There’s further likelihood that they will hold that things like meat, dairy and eggs are supposedly good for you and also potentially question if your vegan diet is actually healthy.

When faced with that from your own doctor, what do you say?  Getting your vegan health and nutrition facts up to speed is definitely key before you enter the waiting room and start flipping through old copies of Readers Digest as you wait to see them.

Here are some pointers to help you with that.


The Perennial Issue of Protein

where do you get your protein from? says the lion to the rhino vegan funny

This has to be the most widely held misconception of vegan nutrition that there is, that vegans struggle for protein, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that your doctor is immune to that inaccuracy.  Don’t let that stethoscope and white coat fool you when it comes to this vegan myth!

A plant-based diet is more than capable of meeting the body’s protein and vital amino acid needs.  Like so much in life, balance and a little application of thought will work wonders.  The same is true of veganism.  There is an almost infinitely diverse array of beans, lentils, chickpeas, legumes, nuts, oats and leafy greens to choose from that provide sufficient amounts of protein and vital amino acids for vegans.  And all without the saturated fat and cholesterol that gets served up with meat and animal by-products.


Focus on Fatty Acids

chia seeds on a wooden spoon omega 3 fatty acids source

When transitioning to veganism, Omega-3 (a fatty acid) is another nutrient that vegans can fall short on in the absence of a little thought and planning.  Again, your doctor knows that Omega-3 is vital to health and may be laboring under the misapprehension that only a non-vegan diet can provide for that.

Your doctor may not be familiar with the phrase “balderdash!” and come to that, you may not either.  It’s an old English phrase for “rubbish” that can diplomatically sum up your response to the myth that Omega-3 can only sourced by way of a non-vegan diet. 

These may not be in your doctor’s medical dictionary, but they should be. That’s because they are a great way of getting Omega-3 vegan style:  brussels sprouts, walnuts, flax oil, chia seeds and canola oil.


Vexed by Vitamins?

Blue berries in a bowl and on a table. A good source of vitamins and antioxidants

Despite all those years of medical training, there is a risk that your doctor is a little “old-school” when it comes to your vegan diet and getting sufficient vital levels of vitamins, in particular Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.  Now these really aren’t the sort of vitamins that you want to get on the wrong side of by snubbing their invite to your body’s vegan-nutrient party.  And your doctor is going to know that.  If they don’t, then they my want to be looking at a different career.

B12 can be an issue for vegans, but again, with a little awareness and planning, this can be taken care of.  Yeast extract spread, nutritional yeast and sea vegetables like seaweed and kelp offer generous amounts of B12.   On top of that, B12 fortified soy, almond and oat milks are readily available and if push comes to shove, B12 supplements will do the trick too.

Vitamin D can be found aplenty in cereal grains, tofu, soy milk and mushrooms.  All delightfully cruelty free.  Getting outside and in the sun, within reason, will also help your vegan body to enhance its vitamin D too.

And calcium, often mentioned in the same breath as Vitamin D, is replete in both tofu and leafy greens like bok choy, collard greens and broccoli.  No need for dairy, despite your doctor’s initial FBS when you let them know cow’s milk really isn’t for you.


Ironing Out Iron With Your Doctor

Image of Chickpeas, buckwheat and oats in cups. good source of iron.

Lack of iron can be an issue for vegans.  But stop press -  it can be just as much a problem for omnivores too.  Still, to let your doctor know that as a vegan you have this nailed down, keep in mind that iron is found in abundance in foods like quinoa, tempeh, brown rice and soybeans – and that list is not exhaustive

These are all readily accessible food stuffs that your doctor should get to know a little bit better if they don’t fully appreciate their benefits to health just yet.  Not that you’d ever try and tell your doctor what’s what, but this is verifiable information that you have to hand and that you didn’t need you to go to medical school for.  If you did go to medical school, and you’re vegan, even more credit to you.

Just sayin’.


I Really Like You, But…

healthy woman chopping fruits and vegetables to stay healthy

Doctors are like lawyers, taxmen and undertakers – they all play a vital role in life, but nobody’s really in too much of a rush to see them.  On top of that, your doctor is no doubt a very busy person.

With that in mind, you doctor should welcome the fact that as a vegan, you are taking the most effective action to enhance a preventative health strategy.  And with prevention always being better than cure, your doctor really should be sitting up and taking notice of what you have to tell them about how health-effective your diet is!

A vegan, plant-based diet is a great way to fend off debilitating and life-threatening conditions like obesity and diabetes.  In fact, there’s mounting evidence that a vegan diet can actually reverse, not just prevent, Type II Diabetes.

And it doesn’t stop there.  Veganism reduces the risk of developing heart disease, some cancers (especially of the bowel and colon) and high blood pressure. 


In Summary…

Let your doctor know that as much as you like the piped ambient music in their waiting room, as a vegan, you’ll have to download it on i-Tunes as your diet means an awful lot less visits to see them. 

You may well get another FBS look, but as a vegan, you kind of get to expect that – even in the doctor’s consulting room.

Never forget, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. 

Imagine what a full vegan diet does?

Related Post >> Thrifty Vegan - Living A Plant Based Lifestyle On A Budget
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