In defense of the vegan ideal: Rhetoric and bias in the nutrition literature

  • Gary E. Varner


Much of the scientific literature on vegetarian nutrition leaves one with the impression that vegan diets are significantly more risky than omnivorous ones, especially for individuals with high metabolic demands (such as pregnant or lactating women and children). But nutrition researchers have tended to skew their study populations toward “new vegetarians,” members of religious sects with especially restrictive diets and tendencies to eschew fortified foods and medical care, and these are arguably the last people we would expect to thrive on vegan diets. Researchers also have some tendency to play up weakly confirmed risks of vegan dietsvis-à-vis equally weakly confirmed benefits. And, in spite of these methodological and rhetorical biases, for every nutrient which vegans are warned to be cognizant of, there is reason to believe that they are not at significantly greater risk of nutritional deficiency than omnivores.


vegetarian diet nutrition animal rights 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary E. Varner
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy and Humanities and Center for Biotechnology Policy and EthicsTexas A & M UniversityCollege Station

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