Ever heard of developing neurological symptoms on a vegan diet?



  • This is completely anecdotal but I've been vegan since 2007 (vegetarian before that). I'm also a dietitian so am privileged in my nutrition knowledge.

    I've never encountered any issues related to my veganism. My intellect seemed unaffected as my GPA remained just as high in university (actually, higher) as it was in high school when I ate meat. I'm also probably the most fit I've ever been and train 1-2 hours a day as an OCR athlete.

    Nutritionally, I've never run into issues but do find that I need to supplement iron to keep my levels at the level I prefer for athletes (we need a lot of oxygen delivery with training!).

    I keep my protein intake at least 1.2-1.5 g per kg of body weight and don't restrict my calories in any way. I supplement with B12, vitamin D, iodine, iron, and DHA. The first three of of these nutrients can be met in some high-quality mv such as veganly.

    As mentioned, this is anecdotal but as someone eating long-term vegan, I don't seem to have encountered any issues. If you have any concerns about your diet, definitely work with someone skilled in plant-based nutrition whom can identify any problem/risky areas.

    Happy to clarify further.

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Perhaps someone not as "educated" about the pitfalls of veganism might have a different experience? Would you recommend a vegan diet for a developing child? No you would not.

    Just for the record, GPA != Intellect. It's kind of amusing that someone would mention it; some of my favorite bartenders have degrees with high GPAs.

  • @CalorieGuru

    You bring up a good point re: the average person not always being privileged to the information that I've been able to access and interpret. This is why my field exists; to help individuals achieve a balanced and nutritious diet, whatever that looks like. I also agree that GPA doesn't necessarily mean intelligence but it can be a useful way to measure changes in cognitive processes and functioning (following a dietary change).

    Infants and children represent a higher risk group but authoritative bodies do support the implementation of such a diet in this population, provided it's well-planned.

    Happy to answer any further questions you might have.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • edited December 2020

    Bartending ≠ non-intelligence. Bartending ≠ a failure in life. It can take intelligence to get a higher GPA because you need to be organized, achieve a lot of goals, both small and large, communicate well in a variety of ways, pace yourself, asses yourself and use many other skills. Having a low GPA doesn't mean you are not intelligent as there can be many factors disrupting any of the above. I believe having a higher GPA can indicate some aspects of intelligence. That's just my opinion. Also, if you make a major change in your diet or have a major life change and your GPA stays stable or gets higher it at least shows a probability that those changes don't appear to be having an adverse affect on your learning.

  • edited January 2021

    @Greenflower Congratulations on your new lifestyle. I've been vegan for decades and never been healthier/happier. I thrive. Yes, I can understand why you might be experiencing your symptoms. You have been in transition for only a few weeks. It would require having a lot more information about what you are eating and your lifestyle. If you can, seeking out the assistance of a Naturopath or a plant based professional familiar with this lifestyle (as well as doing a lot of research on your transition) would be helpful.

    There are different types of vegan diets. Just like everyone, it is critical to be aware of your nutrition and any deficiencies as was suggested above. This is a beautiful lifestyle, I hope that you seek out the right doctor that will assist you. Best wishes for bountiful health!

    @Susan_RD_101 You are kind and gracious as well as intelligent.

    Edit: I just saw that this was written in 2017. It would be interesting to know Greenflower's results.

  • edited August 2022

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  • FWIW, my wife and I try to stick to a vegan diet. The more we do the better I feel. After a few weeks of whole foods plant based eating I feel like superman. I can run 5-6 miles in the morning before work, then hit the gym for weight lifting on my lunch hour and never feel sore. I also add multiple BJJ/MMA training days a week. My body thrives on plants. My wife on the other hand is not the same. She however doesn't like meat. I love a good burger or steak, but I feel better when I don't eat it.

    Anyways, as for my wife, the more whole foods plant based she ate the worse her symptoms would get. Nausea, neurological symptoms, physical pain (especially digestive track), etc. She ended up finding in a CT scan that she has malrotation of the lower intestine. Basically her digestive track is twisted up an not in the right place. It is a problem that is normally diagnosed in babies and corrected through surgery. Our best guess is the extra fiber of the plant based diet going through the twisted guts causes the majority of the issues. We really haven't figured out a solution yet. Even the GI specialists she has seen say she doesn't need surgery because she has learned to live with it. A few of the doctors have tried to paint her as a depressed hypochondriac and just prescribe antidepressants.

  • edited October 2022

    Human bodies have evolved into meat eating machines. The idea that a plant based diet is better for you is preposterous, counterintuitive and purely fictional nonsense created in the minds of people who still wear masks and drink Fresca.

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