Happy Herbivore Blog

What is B-12? Do Vegans Need to Worry About Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

**This is not medical advice. Consult with your doctor**

Almost daily I get this question on Facebook, Twitter, etc:

How do vegans avoid Vitamin B12 deficiency? or HH, how do you get your b12?

Did you know that B-12 is fortified into several foods we eat? Most non dairy milks like soymilk and almond milk are fortified with it. Commercial cereals are too, especially the healthier brands. My favorite dietary source of B12 is nutritional yeast, which I eat daily. (Make sure your nutritional yeast brand has B12! see below for more information and resources).

I, personally, don't take any supplements or a supplement for B12 (unless you count nutritional yeast -- I can't get supplements where I live)... But we all have to do what we're most comfortable with and what is best for our bodies. 

If you want to, or need to take a supplement -- do so. Make sure to get checkups regularly, too. (A good physical including blood work should check for this annually--whether the patient is vegan or not). 

Is B12 a "Vegan" Problem?

No. I have several friends---friends who proudly describe themselves as "carnivores"--- who are on supplements for B12 because they have inadequate levels. 

Deficiencies can happen on any diet and for a host of reasons. Eating meat and dairy does not mean all your nutritional needs are going to be automatically met, or they're going to be met more easily or more likely than if you only ate plants... which is why I get so upset about vegan "myths" (like the protein myth!) and all the disclaimers attached to articles about vegans -- you can be unhealthy or deficient on any diet -- why aren't the disclaimers universal?

Everyone, regardless of their diet, should get blood work done to make sure they're not deficient in B12 or anything else. B12 deficiency is serious and sometimes the damage is permanent, so it's something you want to have checked out. 

Recently, a vegan friend of mine discovered she had high levels of B12 and her doctor told her to stop taking a supplement. Different bodies, different needs. This is why blood tests are important. 

Maybe you'll need a supplement. Maybe you won't... Go by the blood work. Talk to your doctor. Engage in independent research and educate yourself. 

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, omnivore or a flexitarian--- your diet must be balanced, with a wide variety of nutritious foods. It's your responsibility to make sure all your needs are met. You can't trust anything or anyone else to make sure that happens for you. 

Get blood tests and checkups at least annually no matter what your diet is.

Here is a great article about B12 by Dr. McDougall. 

More Reading: Vegans and the B12 Deficiency Myth and VeganHealth.org (on B12)

Follow Up: Someone asked on Facebook--how much nutritional yeast does one need to get their B12 daily minimum. 

According to Vegetarian Resource Group (another article about B12), 1 tbsp of Red Star Nutritional yeast.  Since Veg Resource Group listed a specific brand, I'm guessing this could be different for other brands if they fortify or supplement their product differently? I'm not sure...

Dr. McDougall recommends a minimum of 5 micrograms of supplemental B12 each day (more for pregnant and lactating women, and children). See his article for more information.

Another Update: It also came up in discussion on Facebook, about organic foods possibly containing B12, etc. I did a quick google and came across this post on Raw Food Health. I'll look for more articles on the topic later, it's certainly interesting to see how the ecosystem is interwoven and I'd love to have more reading on B12 and organics.

**This is not medical advice. Consult with your doctor.**

So long, farewell (29 Days)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Travel

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, adieu...

I'm one of those people that has ants in their pants all the time. I don't feel settled unless I'm in motion.

In 2006, I backpacked through Europe for a month. I returned to the states and then moved from Boston to Los Angeles. Los Angeles to New York and then New York to St. Maarten. Even since we've moved to St. Maarten, I've been home to New York a handful of times, visited Canada and a few neighboring islands. I really can't sit still.

Then about six months ago I randomly blurted out "I'm going to go to Europe for the month of September."

Scott was driving at the time, looked over at me and said, "Where did that come from?"

I shurgged. Hell if I knew. But it's now September, and I am leaving. for 29 days.

I leave next Friday. 

The one great thing about this trip is about a week and a half in, I'll be meeting my husband in Paris, then we'll meet my best friend Jim and his girlfriend in Germany... for Oktoberfest! From there the four of us are going to Innsbruck, Austria; Slovenia, Croatia, Venice (where I'll be on my 30th birthday!), Italy; Milan, then Zurich, Switzerland. After they leave I still have another week plus to travel alone.

I've been to Europe before, and Africa (it's a boat ride from Spain) -- so I have a few places I must revisit (like Amsterdam) but lots of new places to see as well... like Russia.

Since I mentioned Africa, I had to add a picture.

The trip is for me, yes, but it's also for my third book. I want to be inspired and add more culture to my craft... Stories from my trip, and dishes, will be woven into my third cookbook. 

Right after I booked my plane ticket I started to panic. I couldn't imagine being a day without Happy Herbivore and my Herbies... I haven't been more than a day apart from Happy Herbivore since she was born in late 2007.

I started crying thinking, if I took time off, if I took time away, would all my hard work fall to the waste side? Would I be forgotten? Would I lose all that I've gained?

I realized this fear -- and this attachment -- meant I *had* to do this.

But no worries -- this blog won't go dark.I won't disappear on Facebook or Twitter, either. Andrea will be blogging--and I have plenty of posts and videos for her to entertain you with while I'm gone. Plus I'll be sending in videos and pictures from my travels.

If you live in Europe, Morocco or Russia---and you'd like to meet me or host me, please email me lindsay[at]happyherbivore.com

Happy Herbivore Forever (Our Tattoos)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceNews

People get tattoos for all different reasons: some people love beautiful art and see their body as a canvas for an evolving masterpiece. Some people need their outside to reflect or symbolize what they feel on inside and others need reminders, markers, a memento. I've also witnessed the healing power of tattoos and it's their emotional value that attracted me.

Tattoos have always been a way for me to mark an important event in my life.

I have a few -- some you have probably seen in pictures and videos. Each tattoo individually, and collectively, has a meaning. They all celebrate some moment or part of my life. Each one was emotional for me.

Today I added Herbie. It's not just to commemorate Happy Herbivore and this chapter in my life. I also love the deep symbolism behind it. Elephants are strong...big and beautiful. They are inspiring and magnificent... all things I want to be...try to be... strive to be.

I believe that you have to know where you have been to appreciate where you are and where you are going.

And that's why it was important I get this tattoo.... but I wasn't the only one. Andrea inked herself as well... and you'll see that we have different experiences and reasons for our tattoos....

Hi Herbies :] For me, tattoos are a way to symbolize a moment in time- a lesson I've learned, or something I believe in and want myself to always remember, even when I'm having a tough time. I have wanted the tops of my feet tattooed for awhile, and it seemed appropriate to get it done when living in another country- when will I ever get this opportunity again?

I have two herbivores on the tops of my feet now- an elephant and a rabbit. The rabbit is to remind me of the Velveteen Rabbit who always sought to become real, and the only way to become real is through patience and love. The elephant on the top of my foot is symbolic of a humble kind of wisdom and strength.