Vegan, Veganish, or Dangerous?

Whatever you do, don’t make the vegans mad at you. Yovana Mendoza Ayres is finding this out the hard way. She’s a social media star, known as Rawvana, who built her brand around a raw vegan lifestyle. She sells meal plans like the Raw Vegan Detox and Yoga Challenge, which goes for $49 on her website. But recently, for a few seconds, a YouTube clip showed her at dinner, ready to eat a piece of fish.

A total meltdown of internet vegan rage followed.

A Whiff of Hypocrisy Plays Poorly

Rawvana quickly published a long video to explain complex medical problems that led her to try adding eggs and fish to her diet. No joy. She became the target of angry comments like this tweet:

It’s not that hard to eat a balanced Vegan diet. People like @Rawvana exploiting Veganism for self-promotion and then abandoning it are damaging to the Vegan movement.

She expressed surprise at the harshness:

I have received so much hate on the video where I explain my reasons, and not only in that video but on every social media platform. I understand why the vegan community feels that way but I never expected this reaction from a community I considered my family all these years.

Apparently, a flexitarian diet doesn’t pass muster with true believers in veganism. Being veganish earns you no partial credit.

Health Benefits or Hazards?

A vegan diet might offer some health benefits, but only if you follow it carefully. The precise roots of Rawvana’s health issues are not easy to know. In the video above, she describes a string of serious problems. Most recently, her doctors diagnosed her with a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). It’s a difficult diagnosis that’s not necessarily linked to a vegan diet.

All by itself, SIBO can cause malnourishment.

Pitfalls in a Dietary Cause

At the end of the day, this episode is a showcase for the pitfalls of turning veganism into a cause. Whether that cause is commercial, political, or health promotion, it can easily take a bad turn.

Believers get upset if you blur the line between a vegan diet and one that’s merely plant-based. On the other hand, dietary dogma sometimes gets in the way of good health.

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March 25, 2019

3 Responses to “Vegan, Veganish, or Dangerous?”

  1. March 25, 2019 at 9:52 am, Mary-Jo said:

    Oh dear. I’m very opened-minded with people about their diets. But, as an RDN, this was very upsetting to watch. More so, because this person had a huge platform affecting how people eat and nourish themselves and even continues to spew her testimony in order to, somehow, feel she still has a lot to ‘teach’ people about diet and nutrition. Please, hard-working, well-educated HCPs — MDs, RDNs, nurses, pharmacists — we must do what we can to stop such goopy information like this from propagating.

    • March 25, 2019 at 10:08 am, Ted said:

      You’re absolutely right, Mary-Jo.

  2. March 26, 2019 at 12:02 am, David Brown said:

    In 2014 T. Colin Campbell, the scientist who coined the phrase ‘plant-based diet’, wrote an article entitled ‘A Fallacious, Faulty and Foolish Discussion About Saturated Fat’. In the opening paragraphs he said, “We have long been advised to limit our consumption of saturated fat, as well as total fat and cholesterol…Vegans and vegetarians were somewhat encouraged by these recommendations because this meant cutting back on animal-based foods. The question concerning the amount of saturated fat in our diets often became the focal point of discussions between the ‘V’ people and the omnivores. Now that butter, bacon and cream are back on the plate with this new report, the score has tilted in favor of the eaters of animals. In contrast, the wailing of vegetarians and vegans can be heard far and wide.”

    I have attempted to post comments containing quotes such as this on vegan blogs. I say attempted because they often get rejected.

    “In the spirit of the 2015 DGAC’s commendable revision of previous DGAC recommendations to limit dietary cholesterol, the Academy suggests that HHS and USDA support a similar revision deemphasizing saturated fat as a nutrient of concern. While the body of research linking saturated fat intake to the modulation of LDL and other circulating lipoprotein concentrations is significant, this evidence is essentially irrelevant to the question of the relationship between diet and risk for cardiovascular disease. The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on the use of biomarkers as surrogates for disease outcomes examined LDL and HDL as case studies and concluded ‘unequivocally’ (emphasis mine) that they were not suitable for use as surrogates for the impact of diet on heart disease.”

    The above was contained in this May 18, 2015 letter submitted to HHS and USDA by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.