Considering all the health articles in books and magazines touting the benefits of animal products, one might think vegans are setting themselves up for failure. Something like only 2% of the population is vegan, or at least self identifies as such. For all that literature, for all those people, meat-eating doesn’t appear to be any golden ticket to health.

If I paid attention to most magazines, I’d feel inadequate. Likewise, if I listened to the people who listen to these magazines. One of the recurring questions I get is, ‘Do you take supplements?’ It’s posed as a question, but it tends to turn out the vocalization of an assumption: ‘You are vegan so you must take pills.’ The shock when I reply ‘No’ confirms it. However, a stroll down the aisles of GNC and I start to fume. If everyone thinks I’m such a pill popper, why the hell is this such a needle in a haystack mission? I’d sooner have better luck finding a vegan article in one of those magazines…bonus points if it’s not facing a recipe for chicken or tuna.

It’s odd when the assumption of my inadequacy comes from those who are themselves inadequate, like the coworker drinking protein powder. While I was vegetarian, I still ate eggs and dairy so I was good…even if I was just as annoying. Obviously, I still got my protein and calcium; so that I would take a supplement wasn’t a given. Nor was the prospect of taking a supplement so daunting.

Despite the troughs of pills and powders encapsulated in gelatin or peppered with dairy that I can’t take, somehow, because I am vegan, to take a supplement is to admit that I am a failure. I didn’t get being vegan right. It’s not that I work long hours. That sometimes the microwave is my best friend. That, yeah, I had that extra cupcake…so what’s it to ya?! Sometimes, that our worlds can’t be perfect. Where we can do all the math on our food. Eat this with this to help the uptake of this nutrient but not with this because it inhibits it.

At no time was I more perplexed than when sitting across from a vegan man drinking a smoothie with maca powder. He’d told me that he’d just finished a container of VEGA. Among other things, VEGA contains B-12. However, when I admitted that I was considering taking a B-12 supplement, he shamed me for the thought. After months of feeling like a disappointment, I realized the chain extends: if I listened to the people who listen to the people who listened to these magazines, I’d feel inadequate. I decided against taking something that someone else was taking because I’d bought in and let myself feel like it was admitting failure.

If I still ate meat and was an athlete, I’d probably take a multi-vitamin. I don’t still eat meat, but I am athletic, so I take VEGA. If I wasn’t running, I probably wouldn’t bother. However, plenty of non-vegans who barely exercise take multi-vitamins. Even safe drivers will get the added insurance. I can still eat as best as I can and take a supplement. You never know what the road ahead will bring you.

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