Friday, June 19, 2009

Being a vegan when one has major health problems?

Dear Monique, My friend has been a Type 1 diabetic for 26 years. She is now brittle and suffers from such secondary complications as neuropathy, retinopathy (legally blind), hypoglycemic unawareness, and most importantly, nephropathy. Her creatinin clearance is about 47.

She is an animal lover and a very compassionate individual who wishes more than anything to become vegan. However, all of her doctors and nutritionists advise against it because she must avoid beans as much as possible, as in addition to restricting protein, she must restrict phosphorus. No one has been able to inform us of how vegan advocates have addressed this dilemma. I am myself a vegan, and would love to have her accompany me on my mission of humanity. Please help. Darryl

Answer: Dear Darryl, Being a vegan requires a lot of discipline and nutritional considerations. It can be a difficult lifestyle for people who are in the best of shape.

I would think twice before taking this road if I had the medical complications that you have mentioned. Since I am not a doctor, and your friend's doctors and nutritionists (whom have much more knowledge of her condition) have advised her not to be a vegan, I cannot advocate for her to become one. She may be better off being a vegetarian. She may also want to find a doctor or nutritionist who is familiar with her medical situation and is also knowledgeable about veganism for people in her condition.

There are many other ways for your friend to show her compassion for animals. She can stop using any leather and fur products. She can help out at an animal shelter. She can join PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). She can also eat as close to a vegan diet as her doctors will allow.

When someone is sick, they have to listen to their body even if it conflicts with the heart and mind. I am a strong advocate for animal rights and vegetarian/vegan diets. However, I cannot tell people who have special nutritional needs and restrictions to become a vegan. A specific diet needs to be planned out based upon your friend's complete medical history and nutritional requirements.

I hope this helps, Monique

For more information about animal rights and vegetarian/vegan diets, visit ...

(1) the
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals website at and

(2) the
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website at

You may also want to visit the Virtues of Soy website.

For more information about finding someone to help you with dietary needs, read "Choosing and Using a Dietitian", By Virginia Messina, M.P.H., R.D., at

At Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, you can read more information about ...
Vegetarianism and Veganism at 

Recommended Reading...

Plant Based Nutrition and Health
by Stephen Walsh

The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet
by Vesanto Melina & Brenda Davis

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World
by John Robbins

Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook
by Monique N. Gilbert

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Monique N. Gilbert, BSc. has offered guidance in health, nutrition, fitness and stress management since 1989. Through her writings, Monique motivates and teaches how to improve your well-being, vitality and longevity with balanced nutrition, physical activity and healthy stress-free living.

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