B-12 And Child Birth – Anti-Vegan Propaganda From The Daily Mail
For many years animal exploitation industries have used the mainstream media to promote and further their agenda. More often than not this has taken the form of anti-vegan propaganda targeting some aspect of veganism as deficient in some way and where the ‘remedy’ has always been to continue consuming animal products. Facts are not relevant and the ‘news’ is more often than not fabricated out of thin air or based on a study where the results have been entirely misrepresented. For the longest time the stream of propaganda was fixated on an old classic – protein deficiency – but in recent years that particular tributary of misinformation has dried up and animal industries have had to find other outlets for their duplicity. Enter B12.
More recently this little vitamin has been the vessel from which the mainstream media has launched its torpedoes at veganism – the captain and crew comprised of animal industry opportunists and government representatives eager to maintain the industries’ contribution to the GDP.
After all, what better way to convince people – who already fight against changing their behaviour – to not change their behaviour on account of a supposed risk to health? Even if that risk to health is nothing but baseless propaganda, people are likely to believe it if it means they can feel better about the way they live.
The Daily Mail has done just that in an article this week maintaining that “vegan mothers are more likely to give birth prematurely” due to a supposed lack of B12. Apparently facts are not important to author, Steven Matthews, who claims that “those who avoid eating meat, eggs and dairy are known to be deficient in vitamin B-12.” This is a fallacy. Indeed, according to data from Tuft’s University, 40% of Americans between the ages of 26 and 83 are either either deficient or in the low-normal range for vitamin B12. Compare that to the the fact that vegans in the U.S comprise a measly 1.5% of the adult population (as of 2016) and we can safely assume that – at the very least – the vast majority (38.5%) of those who are B12 deficient consume animal products. That’s also assuming that all vegans in the U.S (3,700,000 people) are B12 deficient – which simply isn’t true. What this translates to – despite what the mainstream media says – is that the entire B12-deficient population is comprised predominantly of non-vegans.
The author of the Daily Mail study, Tormod Rogne, clearly has an agenda. Amongst other things, he makes the following statements: “Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient found only in products of animal origin, such as meat, milk and eggs” and, “[p]regnant women who consume too few animal-derived foods increase their risk of developing a B-12 deficiency.” But B12 is not synthesised by either plants or animals – the idea that only animal-derived food provides B12 is simply false. Vibrancy UK maintains that “no foods naturally contain vitamin B12 – neither animal or plant foods. Vitamin B12 is a microbe – a bacteria – it is produced by microorganisms. Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that contains a trace element – cobalt – which gives this vitamin its chemical name – cobalamin – which is at the centre of its molecular structure. Humans and all vertebrates require cobalt, although it is assimilated only in the form of vitamin B12.” Humans, like ruminants, possess B12-synthesising bacteria, which is why standalone deficiency is incredibly rare and why when it occurs, there is almost always another reason than diet for the lack of B12 absorption. Vibrancy UK continues with saying that “B12 synthesis is known to occur naturally in the human small intestine (in the ileum), which is the primary site of B12 absorption. As long as gut bacteria have cobalt and certain other nutrients, they produce vitamin B12.”
Conditions or activities that may frustrate B12 synthesis or absorption include (but are not limited to) atrophic gastritis, pernicious anaemia, stomach/intestinal surgery, chrohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, parasites, heavy drinking, grave’s disease, lupus and acid-reducing drugs that hinder the stomachs ability to break down proteins. The majority of people who believe themselves to be deficient in B12 are more often than not failing to digest, absorb or assimilate their foods properly on account of the condition of their gastrointestinal tract. The issue is not that vegans are somehow at greater risk of deficiency, it’s simply that it’s more profitable for the mainstream media and animal industries to promote animal products as being the answer. The reality is that everyone – not just vegans – should be mindful of their B12 levels. The fact that 40% of the U.S adult population is deficient in some way should be a wake up call to people that the B12 argument falls as flat as the protein argument.
Dr. McDougall maintains that until recently, most people lived in close contact with their food and that “all people consumed B12 left as residues by bacteria living on their un-sanitised vegetable foods.” Our vegetable foods have become less reliable sources on account of how over-sanitary and disconnected from fresh produce we as a society have become. Dr Vetrano at Vibrancy UK argues that “vitamin B12 coenzymes are found in nuts and seeds as well as in many common greens, fruits, and many vegetables” and that “If we ate 100 grams of green beans, beets, carrots, and peas we would have half of our so-called daily minimum requirement of Vitamin B12 coenzymes providing our digestion and absorption are [sic] normal.”
As for mothers during pregnancy and nursing, a baby is said to be more dependant on B12 from diet on account of the B12 stored in the mother’s body being less available to the baby. So whether you’re a vegan or a non-vegan mother (remember, 40% of U.S adults are B12 deficient) you need to be mindful of your B12 intake. This is not a vegan problem, it’s a problem for all humans living in a modern world where B12 has become more difficult to acquire. Consuming animal-foods does not guarantee adequate B12 levels, and on the contrary, consuming animal foods comes with a greater risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and a host of other ailments that vegans are much less likely to encounter with a healthy, balanced diet.
Most importantly, the fact that we’ve created a world in which B12 supplementation may be necessary in some cases does not mean that the presence of supplementation somehow revokes our obligation to animals to not treat them as replaceable resources. The B12 issue is a man-made problem that affects everyone, and to suggest that veganism is somehow responsible for the problem is nothing short of scandalous.
I hope you’re listening, Daily Mail.