Vancouver naturopath Sanja Tamburic advocates paleolithic diet—and says few in her field are vegan

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      The headline on the Gawker site will probably bring a smile to many carnivores and omnivores: "Finally, A Place Where Vegans Won’t Inconvenience Everybody: Mars".

      If that's not enough to offend local vegans, writer Caity Weaver starts her article with this line: "For years, the only thing keeping Earth from jettisoning all of its vegan inhabitants into outer space has been vegans' persistent whine, 'I can't go there. They don't have anything vegan.' "

      It looks like NASA is trying to solve this problem by creating an entirely vegan menu for the first proposed human-occupied rocket trip to Mars, which is expected in around 20 years.

      But not everyone is impressed with the vegan diet. I recently interviewed Sanja Tamburic, a naturopath at the Cornerstone Health Centre on West 4th Avenue in Vancouver.

      We talked about vitamin D. She's a huge fan, of course, because it's been proven to reduce the risk of cancer.

      Tamburic also likes vitamin C—to the point of taking it intravenously.

      Then I asked if she's a vegan.

      Tamburic looked at me with surprise and said it's a common misconception that naturopaths don't eat meat.

      "In my class, there were only two people who were vegan," she said. "They were all converted by the end of their studies."

      She added that she believes meat is healthy and she advocates a "paleolithic diet" like that of our ancestors.

      This includes vegetables, lean meats, beans, and grains, though not in such huge amounts that it will create "sugar bounces" from all those carbs.

      Tamburic attended medical school in Sarajevo, but decided to become a naturopath after becoming interested in macrobiotics. She said that she's not the only person who was on the allopathic route before embracing holistic medicine.

      "It's a much harder way than going the regular, conventional way in terms of the business," she acknowledged before adding that she has no regrets about her choice.

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      Mark Fornataro

      Jul 19, 2012 at 10:19am

      Re: "It looks like NASA is trying to solve this problem by creating an entirely vegan menu for the first proposed human-occupied rocket trip to Mars". Great, that's all we need, Vitamin B-12 deprived space cadets seeking long distance psychiatric care.

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      Jul 19, 2012 at 12:07pm

      Mark F...quick question. That cow you eat for B12, you know, the one that only eats plants. Where do you think it gets its B12? How about gorillas or elephants? Are they all B12 deficient as well? C'mon...let's use some common sense.

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      Katty Cat

      Jul 20, 2012 at 6:05am

      There is nothing in a slab of meat that you can't get from a plant based source...other than cholesterol.

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      Jul 20, 2012 at 9:51am

      Studies have found that Vitamin B-12 deficiency is no more common in vegans than meat eaters. And just taking a standard vitamin B-12 supplement may not remedy the situation. One may need a plant based B-12 source to be able to absorb this essential nutrient. A vegan can go into the sun and manufacture Vitamin D as easily as a meat eater, or take a supplement if they can't. Meat eaters are typically deficient in about four essential nutrients, whereas vegans are usually only deficient in two. Meat, dairy and grain eaters are commonly deficient in Essential Fatty Acids (Omega 3), Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Iron (especially women), Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E, and Folic Acid. Diets dense in hydrogenated fats and carbohydrates but missing key vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, lead to derangement and dysregulation of core physiology, and contribute to the epidemics of obesity, heart disease, inflammation, cancer and other chronic problems. Poor quality food and stress-filled lifestyles, make everyone susceptible to low levels of various nutrients that compromise performance. More than half of all Americans are vitamin B-deficient, some doctors estimate. Folic acid is the most well-known of the B vitamins, but B6 and B12 are equally important and equally deficient. B12 is essential for nervous system function and to avoid pernicious anemia, which is an autoimmune disease that destroys the cells in the stomach. Lack of B12 leads to chronic fatigue, cancer, male infertility, heart disease, and altered metabolism. Even avid meat eaters can be deficient in Vitamin B12. Anemia is particularly common in women, especially during their child-bearing years. In fact, it's the most common deficiency in the world, affecting about 1 billion people. Generally speaking, however, in America and Canada iron excess is a bigger issue than iron deficiency, and many people are probably getting more iron than is healthy. Zinc is a much more common nutrient deficiency than iron for everyone, especially vegetarians, but they are grouped together because the problem with both is phytates. Phytates are present in plant foods that contain zinc and iron (beans, grains, nuts, seeds), which inhibit absorption of these minerals by the body. Adequate vitamin C will help bypass the phytates and make iron and zinc bioavailable. "Overall, vegans who get enough vitamins and minerals from supplements or other healthy sources described above can easily achieve and maintain optimal health. Knowing the common deficiencies of vegan diets can help those who follow them adjust their own diets to prevent deficiencies and maintain good health. "

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      Jul 20, 2012 at 5:51pm

      There are many articles from many authorities on nutrition and on various diets available in books, magazines, and on the internet. Nutritional science is a complex subject and shouldn't be either trivialised or reduced to a simple pro-vegan vs anti-vegan argument, which ignores the complexities of human nutritional requirements and individual differences. Considering the importance of nutrition, I think that people are remarkably ignorant of not only the basic facts, but the practical solutions to optimizing human nutrition. New and important discoveries in human nutrition and its impact on health, mental performance, and physical performance are being made daily.
      Here are some thoughts by one of countless well experienced experts weighing in on a few aspects of the vegan vs non-vegan debate - Dr. Gabriel Cousens: "Meat-centered diets are equally deficient as vegan diet and everybody needs supplements. Everyone needs B-12, carnosine, vitamin D, vitamin A, DHA and magnesium, including meat eaters. That discussion hasn’t been had because vegans are on the defensive! Everybody has to have a diet that works. Some people indeed need more protein, but they don’t need meat—they need the highest-quality plant protein, such as offered in spirulina and chlorella, blue-green algae, and E3 live. These are 60-70% protein with 40% absorbability. Meat, fish and chicken are only 14, 15, and 16% absorbable. It is quite easy for people who need more protein to thrive on a vegan diet. We’ve documented 98.99% success rates of people who are doing a vegan diet, no matter what their constitution, as long as diets are individualized.:.."

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      Jul 24, 2012 at 9:36am

      Truth to be told, meat consumption is less healthy today than in the past but if you eat organic animal proteins like chicken, turkey, and fish as well as red meat i.e grass-fed beef there are no evidence to show this is bad for you. On the contrary, fruits, veggies and some meat make us all healthier.

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      Jul 24, 2012 at 11:58am

      At the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida they have done extensive nutritional testing and used therapeutic nutrition to treat a wide variety of health conditions in over 100,000 people over the past fifty years. Its director, Dr Brian Clement, has written many well researched articles about a number of nutrients and how they can be obtained from both a vegan and a meat and dairy centred diet. For instance, here is a basic primer on Vitamin B12, very important nutrient, and one which both meat eaters and vegans are frequently deficient in. Note that the diet which the Hippocrates Institute has found to be most effective in enabling the body to repair and regenerate itself from a wide variety of pathological health conditions is a raw vegan diet emphasising raw greens, raw sprouts, and raw blue green algae.:

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      Jul 24, 2012 at 5:56pm

      Absolutely untrue Ela. Read the China Study. The most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted.

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      Jul 25, 2012 at 9:18am

      Kurt...Yes, I did and if you read studies after that one you may know that China findings/results are not being definitive.

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      Michael LaBrake

      Dec 4, 2012 at 8:20pm

      Paleolithic Man followed a diet engineered for the human biological makeup that is still applicable in the current day. We don't need to hunt bison or travel in nomadic groups. The foods are simple and can be grown in a garden and fish can be caught or purchased at fresh markets along with produce. We may not be able to live the same in the field lifestyle but we are very capable of obtaining the resources and following through.

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