Why I Don’t Recommend a Vegan Diet 

by JJ Virgin on February 15, 2024

Vegan diets carry an undeserved health glow. Some people believe that going vegan can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, especially heart disease. While some studies do support the idea that a vegan diet can lower the risk of long-term health conditions, that’s not the entire picture.  

Researchers have linked veganism to a weakened immune system, blood-related ailments, and mental health issues. They connect these problems to a lack of certain nutrients, including not getting enough protein.1 

What Is a Vegan Diet? 

Veganism is a way of eating and living where people avoid animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs. In most cases, vegan folks avoid anything animal-derived, even honey. Researchers have found that the number of vegans in the US grew significantly from 2004 to 2019.2  

People go vegan for different reasons. I respect that decision if you choose veganism because of your spiritual or ethical beliefs. But if you think going vegan is the healthiest way to eat, here are seven reasons why it's not.  

1. Vegan Diets Are Often Low in Protein 

Meeting your protein quota as a vegan is possible, but it will require more work and planning, and you’ll need a plant-based protein powder to help reach an adequate intake. Unlike animal-based proteins with all the essential amino acids you require for good health, many plant-based proteins often lack one or more of these amino acids.  

In one study of Danish vegans, researchers found that fewer than half of them consistently got enough protein. The protein they did get didn't have enough amino acids like leucine, which is essential for building muscle.3  

Plant foods also usually have less protein content compared to animal foods. A 6-oz chicken breast contains about 31g of protein. You'd need to eat almost eight servings of quinoa to get that same amount, which would give you an overload of carbohydrates along with it.   

Some plant-based proteins are also harder to digest than animal proteins because of “anti-nutrients” like lectins, phytates, and tannins. These can impact how your body absorbs the protein and make it less effective.4 

2. Vegan Diets Are Deficient in Essential Fatty Acids 

Omega-3 fatty acids help lower chronic inflammation, a risk for many diseases. They can reduce the chances of heart problems, arthritis, and even some types of cancer. Omega-3s are also essential for the health of your brain, skin, immune system, and more. 

There are different kinds of omega-3s. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in foods like flax, chia, and walnuts. The longer-chain omega-3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are in wild-caught fish. While ALA is important, your body absorbs and utilizes EPA and DHA more effectively.5 

Your body can convert the ALA in plant foods into EPA and DHA, but doesn't do it well. Only about 5-10% of ALA turns into EPA. Even less (about 2-5%) becomes DHA. Even if you eat enough ALA, you might not get all the EPA and DHA you need, missing out on these critical anti-inflammatory omega-3s.6 If you eat foods that already contain EPA and DHA, such as wild-caught seafood, you are directly getting these omega-3 fatty acids without relying on the conversion of ALA. 

3. Vegan Diets Can Create Nutrient Deficiencies 

Vegans have a lower intake of certain nutrients. One review looked at studies that compared the diets of people who follow plant-based diets to those who eat meat. Those who followed plant-based diets tended to consume less protein. They also had lower intakes of certain vitamins and minerals.7 Besides long-chain fatty acids, vegans are often low in these nutrients:  

  • Vitamin B12: Only found in animal foods. Vegans might lack vitamin B12, which can lead to problems with blood and nerves such as megaloblastic anemia, where red blood cells become larger than normal and less efficient at carrying oxygen. Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells. 
  • Vitamin D: It's hard to find in plant foods, and your body can make it from sunlight, but many people don't get enough sun. Low vitamin D can affect your bones and immune system. 
  • Calcium: While some plant foods like leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, and almonds have calcium, vegans might not eat enough of them, which can affect the health of bones and teeth. 
  • Iodine: Seafood is the best source of this mineral, but vegans usually have lower levels in their blood. Low iodine can disrupt your thyroid and overall health.8 
  • Iron: Plant-based iron isn't absorbed as well as iron from animal foods. Vegans might need to eat more iron-rich plant foods and pair them with vitamin C to avoid iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin C helps convert non-heme (plant) iron into a more soluble form, making it easier for your body to absorb. This increased absorption can be especially beneficial for vegans who rely on plant-based sources of iron since these sources contain non-heme iron. 
  • Zinc: Plant-based sources of zinc often have phytates that make it harder for your body to absorb zinc and other nutrients. Low zinc can affect your immune system and skin health.9 

4. Vegan Diets Might Age You Faster 

Nutrient deficiencies can also increase your risk of age-related issues. One study found that vegans and vegetarians had a higher risk of hip fractures compared to meat-eaters. Vegans also had more overall fractures, leg fractures, and fractures in other parts of the body. Researchers believe this increased risk of fractures was because vegans got much less calcium and dietary protein.10  

A vegan diet can be lower in certain nutrients crucial for skin health as well, such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Deficiencies in these nutrients can impact the skin's ability to repair and maintain its elasticity, prematurely aging your skin. One review found that people on a vegan diet reported skin disease, which researchers believe might be due to nutrient deficiencies in their diet.11 

5. Vegan Diets Can Be Invitations to Eat Fake Foods 

Some critics say that less than half of all vegans follow healthy diets and eating habits.12 One reason is the abundance of “fake” foods they rely on. In her book The Whole Soy Story, Kaayla Daniel, PhD, talks about how manufacturers have capitalized on the “soy is healthy” mentality. She notes that this creates “a potentially huge market for American-style imitation products like soy milk, veggie burgers, chicken substitutes, chili, tofu cheesecake, soy ice cream, protein shakes and energy bars.”13 

These vegan alternatives, designed to taste and feel like animal-based products, sometimes have other unhealthy ingredients. They might have oils that cause inflammation and often include additives and preservatives like artificial flavors, colors, and stabilizers to improve taste, texture, and shelf life. 

Plant-based meat products like the Impossible Burger use genetically modified (GMO) soy sprayed with glyphosate, a cancer-causing chemical found in RoundUp herbicide. Glyphosate can harm your brain, hormones, and liver.14 

6. Vegan Diets Can Be High in Carbs 

How your body reacts to carbohydrates can vary from person to person. Some people may feel better and have more steady energy when they eat fewer carbs, which can be helpful for those with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes to manage blood sugar. 

Vegan diets tend to have a lot of carbohydrates, like rice, pasta, and wheat bread. These foods can be easy to overeat, contributing to weight gain. 

When these high-carb foods are a big part of your diet, they can quickly increase your blood-sugar levels, especially if they don't have enough fiber and protein to slow down sugar absorption. 

Even healthier vegan foods like legumes, fruits, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes can increase blood-sugar levels. These spikes in blood sugar are often followed by a drop in energy, leaving you tired and hungry.  

Over time, these blood-sugar spikes and crashes can lead to various health issues, including insulin resistance. With this condition, your cells become less responsive to insulin's effects, requiring higher insulin levels to manage blood sugar. Insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes and various other health problems, including weight gain and heart disease. 

7. Vegan Diets Can Increase Your Risk of Food Intolerance 

Food intolerance can affect anyone, but it's more common among vegans who regularly consume highly reactive foods. Symptoms may include digestive problems, skin issues, headaches, and weight gain.  

Many vegans incorporate significant amounts of soy and gluten into their diets, often consuming these reactive foods multiple times daily. This frequent exposure increases the likelihood of developing food intolerance.  

These foods contain proteins that can trigger immune responses. Chronic inflammation and heightened sensitivity can develop with ongoing immune reactions, amplifying your body's intolerance to these foods.  

Continued consumption of such reactive foods can also contribute to leaky gut syndrome. In this condition, your gut lining becomes compromised, allowing undigested food particles and toxins to enter the bloodstream, potentially worsening food intolerance symptoms and promoting inflammation.15 

Addressing Food Intolerance for Overall Health 

Vegans are often more prone to food sensitivities that can impact health. That's because vegan diets often rely on foods like soy, which can contribute to problems when you eat them repeatedly. 

Eliminating the top Hi-FI foods most likely to cause food intolerance is your key to finding your healthy weight and eliminating symptoms like headache and fatigue that you've likely dismissed as “normal” for years.  

The 21-Day Breakthrough Food Intolerance Cleanse is a flexible online program designed to provide the tools and resources to alleviate inflammation caused by hidden food sensitivities, shed excess weight, reclaim your well-being, and experience increased energy and vitality.* 

This self-paced online program includes weekly meal plans and shopping lists tailored for plant-based eaters. 

The plan also includes: 

  • 12 comprehensive video lessons guide you through the plan, daily tips, and valuable resources to boost your success. 
  • Tools to track your body measurements and monitor your progress and achievements throughout the 21-day program. 
  • Guides for dining out and making healthy food substitutions, allowing you to maintain your newfound healthy habits while on the go. 
  • Exclusive access to our private Facebook group, where you can find motivation, receive support, and benefit from guidance provided by JJ's coaches. 
  • Special discounts for products and programs. 

Learn more about the 21-Day Breakthrough Food Intolerance Cleanse here.* 


  1. Bali A, Naik R. The Impact of a Vegan Diet on Many Aspects of Health: The Overlooked Side of Veganism. Cureus. 2023 Feb 18;15(2):e35148. doi: 10.7759/cureus.35148. PMID: 36950003; PMCID: PMC10027313. 
  1. Soylent: 2023 Vegan and Plant-Based Diet Statistics  
  1. Aaslyng MD, Dam AB, Petersen IL, Christoffersen T. Protein content and amino acid composition in the diet of Danish vegans: a cross-sectional study. BMC Nutr. 2023 Nov 15;9(1):131. doi: 10.1186/s40795-023-00793-y. PMID: 37968717; PMCID: PMC10647079.  
  1. Food Production, Processing and Nutrition: Plant food anti-nutritional factors and their reduction strategies  
  1. Healthline: The 3 Most Important Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids  
  1. Anderson BM, Ma DW. Are all n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids created equal? Lipids Health Dis. 2009 Aug 10;8:33. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-8-33. PMID: 19664246; PMCID: PMC3224740.  
  1. Neufingerl N, Eilander A. Nutrient Intake and Status in Adults Consuming Plant-Based Diets Compared to Meat-Eaters: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2021 Dec 23;14(1):29. doi: 10.3390/nu14010029. PMID: 35010904; PMCID: PMC8746448.  
  1. Eveleigh ER, Coneyworth L, Welham SJM. Systematic review and meta-analysis of iodine nutrition in modern vegan and vegetarian diets. Br J Nutr. 2023 Nov 14;130(9):1580-1594. doi: 10.1017/S000711452300051X. Epub 2023 Mar 13. PMID: 36912094; PMCID: PMC10551477.  
  1. Healthline: 7 Supplements You Need on a Vegan Diet  
  1. Bali A, Naik R. The Impact of a Vegan Diet on Many Aspects of Health: The Overlooked Side of Veganism. Cureus. 2023 Feb 18;15(2):e35148. doi: 10.7759/cureus.35148. PMID: 36950003; PMCID: PMC10027313.  
  1. Lee H, Sim N, Fotouhi A, Daveluy S. Vegan Diet in Dermatology: A Review. J Clin Med. 2023 Sep 6;12(18):5800. doi: 10.3390/jcm12185800. PMID: 37762741; PMCID: PMC10531971. 
  1. Texas Real Food: Veganism and The Environment: Myths Vs. Facts  
  1. Daniel, Kaayla T. (2005-03-09T22:58:59.000). The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food . National Book Network – A. Kindle Edition.  
  1. Saint John's Organic Farm: Frankenfood: The Problem with Soy Meat and the Impossible Burger  
  1. Cleveland Clinic: Leaky Gut Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Tests & Treatment 

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.   

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.