One reason that many have the misconception of veganism being unhealthy is a sneaky thing called b12. B12 is a vitamin that is essential for our bodies. It helps keep our nerves and blood cells healthy, it also helps make our DNA. (1)
The common misconception is that b12 deficiency is a “vegan problem” since b12 can be found in meat products. However according to the USDA, up to 40% of Americans -vegan and non vegan- are borderline deficient in vitamin b12 (2). And since vegetarians and vegans only make up less than 6% of the U.S. population, b12 deficiency definitely isn’t “just a vegan problem”.
What is b12 & How do animals and humans get it?
B12, in simple terms, is a bacteria that is commonly found in dirt. It does not naturally come from plants or animals (3).
Before modern agriculture, pesticides, and pre-washed veggies in grocery stores, humans got sufficient amounts of b12 from eating veggies straight out of the ground. Nowadays, most people get their b12 from animals products.
But then how do the animals get b12, you ask?
Ruminants like cows and sheep produce b12 in their bodies through a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria in dirt and the bacteria in their stomachs. However, most animals come from factory farms (>95%), where they are fed an unnatural diet of grain and soy rather than grass (3). These animals end up being supplemented with b12 shots (4 and 5), which invalidates the argument of eating meat for b12, since we could just cut out the middleman (animals) and just take a b12 supplement ourselves.
Other B12 Containing Foods:
Besides supplements, another way is through fortified foods. A lot of vegan meats & milks are fortified with b12, which makes things really easy!
Also fermented foods like kombucha, tempeh, and certain types of kimchi and sauerkraut will sometimes contain b12. Nutritional yeast is also often fortified with b12.
So the point is that neither plants and animals do not produce B12. It all originates from soil bacteria. But for all the reasons above, not a lot gets to us. Supplements for b12 are synthesized from the source, so we can stop using animals as the middle man for our b12!
I hope this post helps to clear the air on the common b12 misconceptions.
*Please note that I’m not a doctor. Please trust your doctor for medical and nutritional information over anything you see on my site. Remember to always do your own research*