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Vegan Health & Nutrition Discussion Forum

I have recently become a vegan and just kept an appointment with my cardiologist. She said being vegan would be the healthiest diet for the kind of heart condition I have, but she was concerned about the protein intake. According to her, older people lose muscle mass anyway and becoming a vegan could mean even more lost. And she thinks keeping track of the protein would be complicated. She wants me to eat fish three times a week and an egg twice a week. In everything vegan I have read, there is supposed to be enough protein in the diet. Does that go for elderly people too? I am 76 and have waited this long to decide to eat healthy. Now I am confused. I don't know whether to continue being vegan or give it up because of my doctor's advice.

Responses (4)

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    Posted by Robinwomb at 10/01/16 03:29:18

    If you can get your hands on this book, I would highly recommend it!

    It is designed to address the needs of older people going vegan. And yes, older vegans do exist and thrive.

    Your protein needs do increase somewhat as you age, but a vegan lifestyle can still continue to provide for all your protein needs. If you eat a variety of plant foods, you will meet your protein needs. For example, imagine a meal with black beans, broccoli, brown rice, and a tahini or almond butter based sauce. All of the foods I mentioned have protein in them, and together they add up to a substantial amount of a variety of amino acids (aka protein). Or how about a breakfast of quinoa, chopped apple, and walnuts? The walnuts and quinoa provide substantial protein. Or beans on whole wheat toast, where both the beans and the wheat in the toast provide a variety of amino acids. Or chickpea flour omelets. A traditional salad with added kale, raw broccoli, beans, sunflower seeds, etc can add a substantial amount of protein. A glass of soy milk provides anywhere from 4 to 8 grams of protein depending on the brand of soymilk. Have that with a meal that also provides some protein.

    An egg provides only six to eight grams of protein by itself. fish may give you ten or twenty grams of protein, but only a few times per week? All of the amino acids that are in fish or eggs are also found in a variety of plant foods, though only a few are complete proteins by themselves, such as quinoa and soy. There is really no need to consume fish and eggs to meet your needs.

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    Posted by mmccance at 10/01/16 23:38:52

    I am about to turn 67 in a few days and just recently became a vegan in January of this year. I've been watching a lot of videos on Youtube from Dr. John McDougall who is himself in his seventies and is a fit vegan man -- has been one for years. I've also been lurking about on other vegan websites to learn what I can. Dr. McDougall (and other doctors, like Esselstyne) often talk about how doctors are not trained in nutrition (no more than 2 or 3 hours in their many years of medical and drug training) so the majority of them really don't know anything about nutrition -- or "protein." For example: They do not even believe that the food you eat affects your colon. Even though the colon is "coated" with food for many hours every single hour of the day. Even though changing what you eat can either improve or aggravate the condition of the colon. We've all experienced it. They don't think it is the food. What is nutrition? It is the food. I've also learned that the idea that "everybody" needs to supplement their protein intake is based on guesses made by a couple of researchers in the late 1800's -- who first discovered and coined the word "protein." I've done enough research to convince me that we truly get all the protein we need from plants. I've never encountered anyone with a "protein deficiency" -- I don't even know what disease that would be -- but I've often encountered people who have a protein excess. I don't think you need to worry about it. Now, if you do worry about it, ask your doctor to perform some medical tests to see if you actually do lack protein. I bet he/she won't do it If they don't that is the clue they are just blowing smoke. Now, if they do have a test they can perform, and you get a number of some kind and it is within normal ranges, then, you have actual physical proof of whether you need to eat any "extra protein" -- or not. Extra protein can come from beans and nuts, too, if you actually need them. I don't think you will really need them. I use my doctor as a "coach" and I talk with them about my health, but I make the decisions about my life based as much evidence as I can produce -- and on my own knowledge, interests, beliefs, and experience. You can too. If you so choose. Love your doctor, but don't follow them like a puppy. We are too old to be a puppies!! Just kidding. Good luck to you.

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    Posted by mmccance at 10/01/16 23:54:46

    I tried to edit my post but I must have missed the 5 min deadline! I wanted to point out that Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. who wrote the book "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" -- and Dr. Dean Ornish who wrote the book "Dr Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease" -- both teach a vegan diet to mend and support the heart. You might want to read either one of these books and you will find out that eating fish and eggs will not improve heart disease. They have done studies and researched this with actual human beings for many years and they have both proven in the medical arena that the food makes a difference and eating meat, fish, or eggs will not help your heart -- or any other organs as far as I know. You can find both of these men on YouTube for free, too. Blessings to You -- from a Fellow Old Vegan.

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    Posted by mmccance at 10/04/16 08:25:24

    I have continued to think about the predicament your doctor created for you. She approved of you taking on a vegan diet..... then causally smacked you with the idea that because she was worried (code word: uninformed) about how well the heart of an older person does on a vegan diet, she took away her approval and told you to eat fish and eggs for five days a week. If you think about it that is kind of insane! Do your own research on this particular subject -- she obviously knows nothing about it. Again seek out the vegan cardiologists and see if the results they are achieving are the ones you want. I don't think age has anything to do with it. Check out the books I mentioned above -- I do believe you will get the answers you are seeking.

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