Raise Vegan November 2018 Raise Vegan - Page 47

Meet The Doctor Thankfully, I have managed to surround myself with colleagues and friends that are respectful of people’s choices and I haven’t come across too much negativity. Doctors spend a lot of time communicating online, and that’s a whole different story! I think being able to say whatever you think without having to look somebody in the eye makes it easier to be rude. There have been occasions when I have got into a bit of a debate with a fellow GP in an online forum, but often my fellow vegan doctors, from a Facebook group I created, also get involved to back each other up. The evidence for the benefits of a vegan diet is now undisputable, so whether the choice for veganism is made be- cause of ethics or health concerns, it is difficult for the medical profes- sion to deride it. Photo: Konstantin Chagin T his month we had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Rebecca Jones, AKA The Vegan Doctor, to talk about going vegan, criti- cism from others and the essential supplements we all should be taking. RV: How did you come to a vegan lifestyle? Was it before or after becom- ing a doctor? I was brought up with very vegan tendencies and, as a family, we were vegetarian for most of my life. We were taught to be compassionate to all beings, and my parents boycotted McDonalds, horse racing and zoos. My mum went vegan when I was in my teens, and always encouraged me to do the same, but my selfish love of all things cheesy meant I was denying what I knew deep down. When I was working om my first degree, which required a research project, I made sure that there were no animal tissues or experiments involved in my work and I was still vegetarian when I went to medical school. I think my time at medical school and as a junior doctor made me quite desensitized and selfish, and I stopped worrying about animal rights as much. I even ate chicken and fish for a short while. However, around 4 years ago, I went back to strict vegetarianism and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the only way forward was veganism. I was a fully qualified GP by this point. I have never looked back since the day I made that decision two years ago. RV: What has your experience been like working in a field that may not always be supportive of your dietary choices? Are your colleagues critical of your views? RV: We have a lot of parents who are afraid their doctors, especially pediatricians, will disapprove of their children being vegan. This usually ends in patients lying to their doctor about their diets, which can obviously be risky. How can they confidently approach the subject? The most important point I would make is that you shouldn’t lie to your doctor about being vegan. Sometimes the anticipation of disapproval is actually worse than what actually happens. It isn’t your doctor’s place to judge your choices - especially when you know that you have chosen a healthy lifestyle - but the reason that your doctor does need to know is because, as vegans, we are at a higher risk of some deficiencies, and this may need to be addressed by your doctor. RV: Which supplements do you recommend taking? (Adults, preg- nant women, kids, etc.) I recommend that all vegans take at least vitamin B12. If there is any doubt about your nutritional intake, then perhaps add some iodine, calcium, vitamin D and omega 3. These are the supplements I take daily. Young children need vitamin D whether they are vegan or not, and rather than picking and choosing what a child may or may not need, I would recommend a vegan multivitamin. Pregnant women always need folic acid and vitamin D, and this is no different with a vegan diet. I would also add calcium, iodine, omega 3 and B12. Again, it might just be easier to take a good vegan pregnancy supple- ment to ensure you are getting everything you need. RV: How do you deal with criticism about your lifestyle? Are your friends and family vegan as well? As I mentioned earlier, I surround myself with good people who are non-judgmental and accepting of others. Some are vegan, some vegetarian and others neither. But the reason they are still in my life as I head towards middle age is because they are great people who support me. I don’t have space for negativity in my life, which is the biggest lesson that getting older has taught me. For more from The Vegan Doctor, follow her on: Instagram @the_vegan_doctor Twitter @the_vegan_doc and at www.thevegandoctor.co.uk If you have done your reading and know what you should be taking, then you have nothing to fear about seeing your doctor. You may face the same ignorant views that we face when we tell anybody we’re vegan, and yes, this is less than ide- al when we are seeing our doctors, but I do think things are getting better as veganism becomes more mainstream. RAISEVEGAN.COM RV. 47