Pandas, like vegans, could rule the world if they just ate better

Pandas, like vegans, could rule the world if they just ate better

CultureNovember 16, 2017 By Bobbi Ross

Pandas and vegans have a lot in common. Most notably, they’re never going to be the ones to take over the world.

To be a ruling species, you have to be able to have a diverse habitat, varied diet and procreate proficiently. Pandas and vegans aren’t good at any of these.

Any nature show on them will tell you, pandas have a difficult time breeding, thus the slow decrease in population over the past several decades (until humans stepped in). It seems their hormones are a bit jacked, too, so breeding and baby raising aren’t going so well. Plus, they’re so specialized in their diets, desperately needing bamboo to stay alive, the unfortunate fallout of a disappearing habitat means food is sparse.

And no, vegans aren’t dining exclusively on bamboo like pandas, but they are trying to subsist on nutritionally deficient vegetables, fruit, grains and sugar. Either scenario, panda or vegan, doesn’t show a promising future.

The vegan diet has no chance of actually being “healthy” without proper supplementation. To start, there’s Vitamin B-12. You can’t get that from plants. B-12 (cobalamin) is made in the gut of animals and cannot be obtained from greens. Because of what they are, plants have zero need for B-12 — so they have no need to store it. The vitamin is found exclusively in animal products like liver, shellfish, fish, beef, dairy and eggs.

Though some will claim B-12 can be obtained by eating seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina or brewer’s yeast, sadly, this isn’t true. Those that are noted as containing B-12, in reality, only contain B-12 analogs, called cobamides. Those actually block the intake of and increase the need for true B-12.

The myth is detrimental for those already B-12 deficient, often resulting in health problems such as anemia, neurological and psychiatric problems, fatigue and weakness, and loss of memory. These effects are even more damaging on a growing child.

When it comes to supplements, it’s a game of hit or miss.

Protein is another issue that comes up when talking about veganism. It’s made up of amino acids, including the essential ones our bodies can’t make. Animal products contain these amino acids and satisfy a body’s needs. Vegans tend to lean on the argument of plants containing protein. That fact is true, but they aren’t complete proteins.

It is possible to mix and match certain legumes and vegetables to get complete proteins, however the effort takes viable research on which foods contain which amino acids and in what doses. Getting the exact right amino acids in the exact right dose, is difficult, though not entirely impossible.

It’s important everyone gets the appropriate proteins in order to grow, repair, and function properly. Again, this is even more critical for growing fetuses. In fact, not enough protein in the womb leads to long-term health consequences for babies.

And then there’s tofu, said to be a complete protein. A main issue with soy though, is that it contains phytoestrogens, known to cause endocrine system disruption. Not good.

In the western part of the world, many have access to, well, just about anything. So, the idea of supplementing the nutrient deficient vegan body to good health is always touted as an option. However, just like trying to grow pandas in captivity, it doesn’t always go according to plan. Eating crappy and attempting to supplement your way through it, there are things to take into account.

When it comes to supplements, it’s a game of hit or miss. Supplement companies have unreliable sourcing, contaminated products and non-absorbable forms they often use. Also, you yourself may be taking the wrong dose resulting in too little (deficiencies) or too much (toxicity). Plus, knowing which vitamins and minerals interfere with one another or certain health conditions or medications is important (although certain foods can do this too, just to a lesser extent).

Let’s not forget, paying for all those supplements is insane, and leaves little room for error.    

If going vegan is a healthy choice you’re considering, think of the fact you may be setting up for critical nutrient deficiencies that can impair physical and mental function. Not having adequate levels of these critical vitamins and minerals means bodies can’t produce hormones needed that are vital for everything — they regulate the body, needed for getting up in the morning, to eat, to fight off disease and create little versions of ourselves.

If we’re not making healthy babies with strong hormone profiles, we aren’t making a lasting species — no better off than pandas.  

Being vegan, or Chinese bear, isn’t a quick ticket to health. Choose what you want, but do so with caution and an understanding evolution probably has it right and Morrissey probably doesn’t.