In Episode #217, I sit down with dietician Ginny Messina to address common nutrition myths about the vegan diet.
“It is not difficult to meet nutrient needs on a vegan diet, but it is not intuitive either.”
With an abundance of nutrition “information” presented to us any time we use social media, it becomes difficult to identify whether a claim is fact or fiction. Misinformation is a common issue across all patterns of eating — including a plant-based diet — and understanding the full picture is incredibly important to ensure health and longevity. Ginny Messina joins me to address common nutrition myths about the vegan diet, providing a broader view that will help plant-based eaters make sense of nutrition needs.
Ginny Messina, MPH, RD, is a dietician, public health nutritionist, and animal rights advocate. She is the author of eight books on veganism, and a founding member of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietic Practice Group in the US. Amongst many other achievements, she writes and speaks about vegan nutrition, preventing ex-vegans, and body positivity. Ginny is one of my go-to recommendations for people seeking more information on vegan diets and brings an incredible wealth of information to this episode.
“Veganism is not a guarantee that you’re going to be healthy, not a guarantee that you’re going to be thin, and not a guarantee that you’re not going to die. Even vegans die.”
In this episode, we address 16 myths that could have negative health implications if followed. Ginny Messina speaks to the limitations and strengths of the evidence that we have, provides recommendations for optimal health, and discusses the ethical reasons for making diet choices. We also cover supplementation, concerns about vegan diets, and how to evaluate claims you find online.
Specifically, we discuss:
- Intro [0:00]
- Becoming Vegan [3:13]
- Risks of Vegan Misinformation [10:16]
- Whole Food Diets [20:36]
- Are Humans Herbivores? [22:55]
- Protein Myth [25:42]
- Processed Vegan Food [28:05]
- Calcium Needs [30:07]
- Dairy: Cancer & Addiction [33:40]
- Seafood & Mercury [39:34]
- Low Fat [44:18]
- Whole Foods vs Processed [51:47]
- Oil-Free [59:01]
- Raw Foods Diet [1:04:30]
- Vitamin B12 [1:08:35]
- Supplementing [1:23:16]
- Medication & Statins [1:31:38]
- Industry Funded Research [1:34:36]
- Greatest Risk to Vegans [1:39:40]
- Outro [1:43:55]
As Ginny Messina says in this episode, presenting and understanding all the evidence does not dilute the message of veganism, but rather promotes longevity and the best health outcomes. I have great respect for Ginny’s work, and her transparency on the limitations of the evidence to build the most comprehensive, evidence-based approach possible.
To connect with Ginny, you can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also access her website, https://www.theveganrd.com/, and read her blog post on top vegan resources here. Make sure to check out her books — specifically her latest, updated book, Vegan for Life.
The best way to support the show is to use the products and services offered by our sponsors. To check them out, and enjoy great savings, visit theproof.com/friends.
More about Ginny Messina, MPH, RD
Ginny Messina, MPH RD, is a dietitian, public health nutritionist, and an animal rights advocate. She is the author of eight books on veganism, including Never Too Late to Go Vegan, Even Vegans Die, and Protest Kitchen. Her latest book is an all-new edition of Vegan for Life, with updated recommendations and new material for vegans and aspiring vegans. She has also co-authored a textbook on plant-based diets for health professionals, The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets, now in its 4th edition.
Ginny is a founding member of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group in the U.S. and serves on the group’s newsletter editorial board. She has twice co-authored the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Position on Vegetarian Diets and is the co-author of papers on plant-based nutrition and soyfoods nutrition. She has served on advisory boards to national and international science conferences and to animal advocacy organizations. As a nutrition consultant, she writes and speaks about vegan nutrition, preventing ex-vegans, and body positivity.
Prior to focusing her efforts on vegan nutrition, Ginny was on the faculty of Central Michigan University, where she taught dietetics students. She has worked as a public health nutritionist in rural Michigan, was a dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and was director of nutrition services for the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Ginny lives in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts with her husband, also a nutritionist, and their family of rescued cats. She is an avid gardener, reader, and a student of local history. She volunteers with Berkshire Voters for Animals, endeavours to gently introduce vegan concepts to her church, and leads a group of volunteers helping to resettle Afghan refugees in her community.