6

votes

Is it possible to remain healthy on a very long term vegan diet?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created January 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM

Loreen Dinwiddie is allegedly a 108-year-old vegan who has been vegan since 1922.

Is she lying, lucky, or is veganism not that bad? How can a body function after 90 years of guaranteed B-12 and DHA deficiencies, not to mention probable deficiencies of countless other nutrients?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:14 AM

The blog site even has poppies. Looks like Hippie Hill in 1967.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:10 AM

The mindset of a SDA vegan from 1922 is different from the modern version. I've been reading and rereading this @Matt http://www.cjayarts.com/pages/library/CharlesPerry-haight_ashbury.pdf It explains a lot about where modern vegans came from, at least the ones I know. The reduction of rational thought to a universal drug-induced om. Peace man.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 20, 2013
at 12:25 AM

I wonder how many vegans quit for every vegan who makes it decades.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on January 17, 2012
at 09:17 AM

Will you lower your protein consumption because of that or no?

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on January 16, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Whether a particular religion is valid is entirely beside the point -- all that matters is the act of belief, which serves to rationalize human existence and induce "spiritual satiety" by keeping fear and anxiety in check. Reduce systemic inflammation by keeping your hormones in balance. It's kind of like an evolutionary "edge" and every tribe picked their own pagan god whom they believed to be rooting for them. With such stronge beliefs about how the world works, you're more likely to live until you procreate and attain longevity over someone ridden with fear & anxiety.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on January 16, 2012
at 11:24 PM

Religion is definitely Paleo because it is part of evolution. Believing in religion gives one a sense of purpose and raison d'etre. From a purely evolutionary perspective, you can regard religion as an effective means of reducing fear & anxiety, since many Paleo moments induced fight-or-flight responses. Every single hunter-gatherer tribe believed in some form of pagan religion. Why do u think that was the case? Not being cynical here but perhaps it was as simple as reducing one's cortisol over the long-term.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 16, 2012
at 10:51 PM

Sorry, Aravind, that wasn'tmeant for you. I was speaking to Melissa. :)

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on January 16, 2012
at 10:39 PM

Yeah or or the later generations of children .. I'm thinking Dr. Price and Dr. Shanahan

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 10:01 PM

They're so....ubiquitous.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 09:59 PM

And they eat Little Links.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 09:57 PM

I don't think she's as dumb as you make out. The Adventists have it pretty well thought out. Ever eaten a Little Link sausage? She's not a spaced out flower child.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 09:53 PM

Dang. First I've heard @namby. I liked Hitchens. He got waterboarded, called JFK a hooligan, and wrote some of the best essays on forgotten literary figures I've ever read. But I don't think even paleo would have extended his life.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:51 PM

Existential angst isn't good for longevity, since it induces anxiety. Tebow's John 3:16 - "whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Almost, that frequently means a pretty long life in this world, too, apparently. Perhaps that's why Mrs. Dolittle is still alive and Hitchens isn't?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:39 PM

From the research I've done recently, even a strength athlete doesn't need more than 1.5g of protein per kg bwt. That's really not a whole lot.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:31 PM

+1 My mom who is a breast cancer survivor attributes her health and recovery to faith and maintaining a positive attitude.

Ec7cb2a7a68655954a01f03e95be1383

(1453)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:14 PM

I think vegans look so young, vibrant and healthy, they just overlook them.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 07:11 PM

The first recipe book that even referenced vegan was published in the 40s. The concept was created around then by vegetarians who were concerned by the use of dairy.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 07:09 PM

Yes, most 7th Day Adventists are vegetarian. Vegetarianism is not under discussion, veganism is. Considering it hardly existed as a concept back then, particularly in the US (it was mainly in the UK in its beginning), I am doubting she has been a vegan that long. She has probably been a vegetarian that long though and a vegan for some amount of time.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 06:54 PM

Warren - I wasn't commenting on the 7th day people per se, but more generally about discussions in Paleoland about vegetarianism vs veganism :-)

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 16, 2012
at 06:29 PM

@Travis, I'm with you. I find that over time I'm gradually reducing the portion of my overall diet that is pure meat. Mostly stews plus salads and fruit now with occasional omelets. My current goal is to have a diet that isn't RICH in anything. Just as wide a variety of non-grain plants and animals as possible.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 16, 2012
at 06:17 PM

A lot of the 7th Day Adventists are vegetarian so I think they probably have a pretty good grasp on what is and what isn't a vegan.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 05:56 PM

Good point M-HGL. Veganism is a modern invention. When looking at religious vegetarianism vis-a-vis Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, it did not involve veganism. Dairy was always consumed as it did not harm the animal. The ancients realized that animal fat and protein was essential and found alternative ways to obtain them. This why I get so torqued when people equate veganism with vegetarianism. A Lacto vegetarian is closer to an omnivore than a vegan!!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 05:55 PM

Good point M-HGL. Veganism is a modern invention. When looking at religious vegetarianism vis-a-vis Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, it did not involve veganism. Dairy was always consumed as it did not harm the animal. The ancients realized that animal fat and protein was essential and found alternative ways to obtain them. This why I get so torqued when people equate veganism with vegetarianism. A Lacto vegetarian is close to an omnivore than a vegan!!!

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 05:53 PM

And they don't drink/smoke.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 03:35 PM

Thanks Edward. I consider spirituality implied in stress management :-)

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:30 PM

excellent response. I would also add spirituality to the list.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 03:25 PM

turn the title into a question please or I will close it.It's only marginally on topic anyway.

A4587cfef29863db612c43f89c202cc1

(2053)

on January 16, 2012
at 02:23 PM

Would I want to live to be 108 years old if it meant never eating meat or seafood and subsisting on a boring diet of vegetables only? I'm not sure, but I would probably trade a few years at the end for some ribeye steaks and a bushel of oysters.

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16 Answers

best answer

21
D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 02:36 PM

There's a lot more to health than nutrition

  • Stress management
  • Sleep
  • Genetic / Epigenetic considerations

Regarding DHA deficiencies, it isn't a foregone conclusion that vegans or vegetarians in general will be deficient - perhaps not optimal

In spite of being a vegetarian Paleo, I firmly believe that eating well-sourced animal products will maximize your chances for health. But YMMV! Do what works for you based on the scientific evidence you have before you and validate your n=1 experience FTW!

EDIT - to answer your question, yes it is "possible", but if health rather than ethical considerations is your objective, it does not seem "probable"

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 03:35 PM

Thanks Edward. I consider spirituality implied in stress management :-)

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on January 16, 2012
at 03:30 PM

excellent response. I would also add spirituality to the list.

12
C1c86f42410cd4788bd9c5cf801dcd8f

(2246)

on January 16, 2012
at 02:56 PM

The real question is why did it take them 8 years to find a vegan that was over 100?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 10:01 PM

They're so....ubiquitous.

Ec7cb2a7a68655954a01f03e95be1383

(1453)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:14 PM

I think vegans look so young, vibrant and healthy, they just overlook them.

9
3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

on January 16, 2012
at 07:58 PM

She does well on other aspects of longevity: (i) calorie restriction, (ii) stress control and (iii) exercise.

When my husband and I got married in 1922, we took some classes at the camp grounds and they taught us to eat two meals a day and walk fifteen minutes every two hours.

The oldest man in the U.S. died last year at 120 something and he ate only 2 meals a day: breakfast and lunch. He didn't touch anything after lunch. Two meals a day would amount to calorie restriction.

And walking a good distance everyday would keep her in good shape. But she also has stress under control, being a devout 7th Day Adventist (what many people miss) -- this gives her a sense of mission as well as fulfillment, something that modernity does not instill in people.

When asked how one might live to 108 and keep close to God, Dinwiddie replied, ???Read the Bible... it's all in there. People say to me, 'you don???t have any aches or pains and you???re feeling great at 108, what do you do?' Well, do what God tells you to do. It is all in the Bible.???

Her cortisol and other hormones would tend be in optimal range. In short, her secret is CR and Tebowing. I wouldn't be surprised by any of this. Nor should anyone who believes in Norman Vincent Peale.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 09:53 PM

Dang. First I've heard @namby. I liked Hitchens. He got waterboarded, called JFK a hooligan, and wrote some of the best essays on forgotten literary figures I've ever read. But I don't think even paleo would have extended his life.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on January 16, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Whether a particular religion is valid is entirely beside the point -- all that matters is the act of belief, which serves to rationalize human existence and induce "spiritual satiety" by keeping fear and anxiety in check. Reduce systemic inflammation by keeping your hormones in balance. It's kind of like an evolutionary "edge" and every tribe picked their own pagan god whom they believed to be rooting for them. With such stronge beliefs about how the world works, you're more likely to live until you procreate and attain longevity over someone ridden with fear & anxiety.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on January 16, 2012
at 11:24 PM

Religion is definitely Paleo because it is part of evolution. Believing in religion gives one a sense of purpose and raison d'etre. From a purely evolutionary perspective, you can regard religion as an effective means of reducing fear & anxiety, since many Paleo moments induced fight-or-flight responses. Every single hunter-gatherer tribe believed in some form of pagan religion. Why do u think that was the case? Not being cynical here but perhaps it was as simple as reducing one's cortisol over the long-term.

775bc83a7c54975e77a8500e065a24c3

(814)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:31 PM

+1 My mom who is a breast cancer survivor attributes her health and recovery to faith and maintaining a positive attitude.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5152)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:51 PM

Existential angst isn't good for longevity, since it induces anxiety. Tebow's John 3:16 - "whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Almost, that frequently means a pretty long life in this world, too, apparently. Perhaps that's why Mrs. Dolittle is still alive and Hitchens isn't?

7
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 03:33 PM

I sincerely doubt that she has been a vegan that long. I suspect she is misunderstanding what veganism is. It barely even existed as a concept when she claims she started the diet and when it was referenced during that time, it simply meant the same thing as vegetarian. I wouldn't take it seriously unless she can provide some real evidence she has been vegan that long. Either way, the importance of those nutrients is primarily during pregnancy and early childhood development. And of the people who are that old, most did not eat any particularly special diet.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 07:11 PM

The first recipe book that even referenced vegan was published in the 40s. The concept was created around then by vegetarians who were concerned by the use of dairy.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 07:09 PM

Yes, most 7th Day Adventists are vegetarian. Vegetarianism is not under discussion, veganism is. Considering it hardly existed as a concept back then, particularly in the US (it was mainly in the UK in its beginning), I am doubting she has been a vegan that long. She has probably been a vegetarian that long though and a vegan for some amount of time.

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 05:55 PM

Good point M-HGL. Veganism is a modern invention. When looking at religious vegetarianism vis-a-vis Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, it did not involve veganism. Dairy was always consumed as it did not harm the animal. The ancients realized that animal fat and protein was essential and found alternative ways to obtain them. This why I get so torqued when people equate veganism with vegetarianism. A Lacto vegetarian is close to an omnivore than a vegan!!!

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 06:54 PM

Warren - I wasn't commenting on the 7th day people per se, but more generally about discussions in Paleoland about vegetarianism vs veganism :-)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 16, 2012
at 10:51 PM

Sorry, Aravind, that wasn'tmeant for you. I was speaking to Melissa. :)

D1c02d4fc5125a670cf419dbb3e18ba7

on January 16, 2012
at 05:56 PM

Good point M-HGL. Veganism is a modern invention. When looking at religious vegetarianism vis-a-vis Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, it did not involve veganism. Dairy was always consumed as it did not harm the animal. The ancients realized that animal fat and protein was essential and found alternative ways to obtain them. This why I get so torqued when people equate veganism with vegetarianism. A Lacto vegetarian is closer to an omnivore than a vegan!!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 16, 2012
at 06:17 PM

A lot of the 7th Day Adventists are vegetarian so I think they probably have a pretty good grasp on what is and what isn't a vegan.

7
A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

on January 16, 2012
at 03:19 PM

I would be more interested to know, out of all the 108 year olds living today, how many are vegans or vegetarians for 80+ years..

7
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on January 16, 2012
at 02:33 PM

Plenty of anecdotes abound of centarians who smoke, drink, played in polluted rivers, ate blah blah blah blah blah. You gotta do what works for you and makes you feel healthy. Perhaps she never drank the soy kool-aid and eats mostly home made food. Maybe she's just blessed with a family line of people who DID eat healthy and she's just enjoying the fruits of her epigenetic wealth. Who knows how healthy her children are.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6259)

on January 16, 2012
at 10:39 PM

Yeah or or the later generations of children .. I'm thinking Dr. Price and Dr. Shanahan

3
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on January 16, 2012
at 02:28 PM

She's just one example. She can't explain it herself (saying she does it because it's in the Bible.)

There's no such thing as luck, and I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she isn't lying. In the end it just reinforces the notion that we all need to find what works for us as individuals.

2
Medium avatar

on January 16, 2012
at 06:19 PM

This question aptly demonstrates the amazing power of the single-case anecdote to shut down critical thinking. The longevity of this 108-year-old person who may be a vegan tells us very little about that person's life in its entirety. Including her genetic endowment, or her mindset.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 09:57 PM

I don't think she's as dumb as you make out. The Adventists have it pretty well thought out. Ever eaten a Little Link sausage? She's not a spaced out flower child.

2
Medium avatar

on January 16, 2012
at 05:56 PM

I made the Vegan Mistake for about 8 years, and though I would never recommend that anyone go down such a path of nutritional martyrdom, I will say that I would undoubtedly have been far healthier if instead of the grains, soy, and other crap, I had just built a diet around tubers and fruit. Many deficiencies would still have been encountered, but I suspect that the mineral deficiencies I ended up developing would not have occurred/been as severe.

I recently spoke with a vegan and told her as much but she looked at me like I was speaking another language while she ate a plate of tofu. Can't say I didn't try.

Now, a tuber/fruit diet + plenty of pastured eggs would probably not result in any deficiencies.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 16, 2012
at 06:29 PM

@Travis, I'm with you. I find that over time I'm gradually reducing the portion of my overall diet that is pure meat. Mostly stews plus salads and fruit now with occasional omelets. My current goal is to have a diet that isn't RICH in anything. Just as wide a variety of non-grain plants and animals as possible.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on January 17, 2012
at 09:17 AM

Will you lower your protein consumption because of that or no?

Medium avatar

(39821)

on January 16, 2012
at 08:39 PM

From the research I've done recently, even a strength athlete doesn't need more than 1.5g of protein per kg bwt. That's really not a whole lot.

1
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on January 16, 2012
at 07:29 PM

I always wonder if longevity is actually good indication of the health of the individual. Maybe running up a flight of stairs, catching a ball or playing a game of chess is a better indicator. I mean there really are lot of very old alcoholic chain smokers still alive at the moment.

Is length of life actually going to indicate anything? For one if we are talking in the context of a Seventh-day Adventist then they would confirm the soverignity of God over the span of their lives anyway (as I do myself), so the number of year matters little in comparison to the quality of the living years and the will of God. Lest we forget Job (???????????? ?? iyobh)!

At the end of the day, people who eat more varied vegetables are probably going to do better than those who don't. I think this would not be wrong to say. I always think veganism is less about the removal of animal products from their diet and more that they just eat more vegetables then the average-joe-canine. I highly doubt you would meet a 108 year old women who lived on Quorn her whole life.

The one thing I would like to know is how come every vegan I have ever met has a tattoo? Maybe it's actually the ink and community spirit that keeps them alive longer.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 16, 2012
at 04:39 PM

When asked, ???When did you become an Adventist???? She answered, ???When I was born.???

Would that be a 7th Day Adventist? I have read several times that they have a higher life expectancy than the average American. Part of the reason for their longevity is said to be their community spirit. Same thing with the Mormons and other communites known for their longevity.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 16, 2012
at 09:59 PM

And they eat Little Links.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 16, 2012
at 05:53 PM

And they don't drink/smoke.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on March 19, 2013
at 11:31 PM

Hate to say it because I try to remain open minded to all points of view, but I just don't believe this. This article and the other web sites that mention it (mostly references to this short article on pro-vegan and pro-vegetarian blogs) give little detail about her diet besides one quote from her, "fruits, vegetables, and nuts. It's all there in the Bible."

This is actually beyond veganism since if this is really all she eats since there aren't even any grains. There is nowhere near enough nutrition in this diet by any standards, and nowhere near enough calories for a younger person unless her diet was primarily nuts. Perhaps what she means is that she eats "a lot" of fruits, vegetables and nuts, but other things as well, kind of like that interview with the NFL player who said he is vegan, except when he eats chicken.

The Bible promotes many foods besides fruits, vegetables, and nuts, there is a "Bible diet" or "Maker's diet", but there is a long list of other foods on it, including grains and meat.

Maybe she has been eating this way for the past 10 years or something (since age 98) but I'd be absolutely shocked if this has been her diet for 90+ years and, sorry to say, won't believe it unless someone comes up with more facts.

I was vegan for about 6 weeks and stopped because I felt like I was going to die. A lot of people try a vegan diet and feel great for a few years and then crash. Many celebs have tried a vegan diet to fight cancer and subsequently died. There is no human culture that has survived exclusively on plants, we have just not evolved to handle it.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:14 AM

The blog site even has poppies. Looks like Hippie Hill in 1967.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 20, 2013
at 12:25 AM

I wonder how many vegans quit for every vegan who makes it decades.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:10 AM

The mindset of a SDA vegan from 1922 is different from the modern version. I've been reading and rereading this @Matt http://www.cjayarts.com/pages/library/CharlesPerry-haight_ashbury.pdf It explains a lot about where modern vegans came from, at least the ones I know. The reduction of rational thought to a universal drug-induced om. Peace man.

0
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on January 16, 2012
at 08:08 PM

everybody talks like vegan ism is some new bird on the block, billions of vegans live in India with some of the poorest people and some of the richest, with all the diseases of the modern SAD diet including rampant diabetes. eating vegan is meaningless. can vegans eat nutricious food? YES. Can paleo eaters eat nutricious food? YES. i really dont understant the point of the question.

0
Medium avatar

(2923)

on January 16, 2012
at 05:48 PM

BoingBoing had a related article a while back, "Want to live a long life? Ignore centenarians, watch 7th Day Adventists": http://boingboing.net/2011/08/05/want-to-live-a-long-life-ignore-centenarians-watch-seventh-day-adventists.html

The rational was basically that centenarians were more likely to have a genetic factor in their longevity rather than a dietary factor.

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