Why are vegans pale and thin? The stereotypical image of the starving, unhealthy, vegan savings tsar with dark circles under the eyes, thin hair and pale complexion persists and is often interjected in discussions. No wonder: advertising has been telling us for decades that the consumption of meat, eggs and milk provides the body with valuable nutrients that make us strong, healthy and explosive. Accordingly, many people simply expect that a purely plant-based diet would suddenly make you look ashen and somehow sick.
In this article I would like to clear up this prejudice against vegans and refute the argument briefly and succinctly. Let's go!
The stereotype of the sick, pale, scrawny vegan
"I know a vegan who looks totally pale" is a typical anecdote that characterizes a single person. Such personal observations or findings simply have no significance and should not prevent anyone from considering a purely plant-based diet. Anyone who makes such claims could just as well tell people that they know 50 pale people who eat meat and eggs.
The image of the pale, sick and scrawny vegan arises when you only look at superficially deals with veganism. Perhaps also because you simply do not allow other truths and beliefs would like, so that one does not have to change. (more under cognitive dissonance)
Even though these are only anecdotes, I would like to say a few words below about the individual prejudices that many would probably assign to the stereotype of the vegan.
"Why do vegans look so sick?"
Of course, with poorly planned dietary changes, you may find a certain Nutrient deficiency suffers and corresponding symptoms appear. However, this is possible with any other new diet - whether omnivorous, vegetarian or vegan.
A balanced, well-planned vegan diet is healthy and even offers opportunities to create typical Prevent common diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or obesity. And in all phases of life. That has the American Dietetic Association, the world's largest organization of more than 70,000 nutrition professionals, researchers and physicians, confirmed in an extensive study.₁
"Why do vegans look so weak?"
Of course, an ill-considered change in diet can also cause you to lose a few kilos. Now of course it may be that you simply healthy slimming and wanted to drop a few kilos. But just as well is a Nutrient deficiency possible, which makes those affected look scrawnier and weaker. Of course, this again applies to any poorly implemented dietary change - whether vegan, vegetarian or mixed diet.
With security there is the one or other Veganer, which looks somewhat powerless. That vegans always look weak, however, can of course not be claimed across the board. Because there are hundreds of vegan athletes who prove the absolute opposite. Patrick Baboumian for example - he is the strongest man in Germany. Also Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams or Arnold Schwarzenegger are living proof that we can put the weak, pale vegan in the cliché drawer.
Tip: At vegan celebrities you can find out which other stars eat a purely plant-based diet.
"Why do vegans look so old?"
"I know a vegan who looks much older than he actually is" - not much really needs to be said about that. Once again, it is only a personal anecdoteYou might as well be talking about dozens of meat eaters in your circle of acquaintances who look older than they are. And very basically: even a vegan looks a little older with age - no one is likely to be spared from this.
Notice: By the way, pronounced wrinkles on the forehead can be a symptom of a possible heart disease, as medical researcher Dr. Yolande Esquirol from Toulouse University Hospital has found out.₂ As we know, passionate meat eaters have a significantly higher risk of developing the disease. So the argument can also be reversed if you want to put it that way 😉 .
"Why are vegans so pale?"
"Vegans always have a pale complexion" - also an anecdote based on personal observation, and could probably conversely describe some ashen-faced meat eaters. I would never use this argument to advocate plant-based dietsas it is absolutely baseless.
Pale skin, by the way, is also a common Symptom of possible heart disease. Vegans and vegetarians, as I said, have a much lower risk of suffering from it.
"Why do vegans have such thin hair?"
Again, if you make a spontaneous, unplanned change to your diet, you are always at a higher risk of becoming subject to a possible nutrient deficiency. Thin hair, for example, is a symptom of a deficiency of silicon and Vitamin D. The latter is actually also one of the potentially critical nutrients in a purely plant-based diet to which special attention should be paid.
Nevertheless, each of us probably also knows many mixed food people with thin hairso that it is not possible to make a blanket statement that vegans have thin hair. Especially since a genetic predisposition, excessive professional and private stress or a serious illness can also be the cause.
"Why are vegans so skinny?"
The German Society for Nutrition has found that vegans are less likely to be affected by overweight or obesity than those with a mixed diet.₃ This may be due in part to the fact that meat products and dairy products, as opposed to fruits, vegetables or legumes, are usually significantly higher in calories are. Also the pronounced in vegans, health-conscious consumption of food certainly plays a decisive role in the fact that many vegans are slim.
"I know a vegan who is as thin as a beanstalk," but it is still a personal anecdote. Because here too are Powerhouse like Patrick Baboumian, Arnold Schwarzenegger or the YouTuber "Hench Herbivore" the absolute proof that everyone can be thin, strong or fat regardless of their diet.
Notice: A similar argument is that Veganism unmanly be. In the linked article, I also commented on this cliché.
Discard the prejudice of the weak, pale VEganer
Of course, vegans can look sick, pale, weak, thin and unhealthy. But this can happen to any person. And this does not even have to be due to the preferred form of nutrition. Because also diseases or excessive stress show up on the basis of externally visible symptoms.
Let's be honest: Whoever sees this "starved, weakened and pale image of a vegan" as a Prejudice against veganism is probably only looking for a quick justification for one's own diet. It acts like a protective wall that ensures that you don't have to let any new facts or new beliefs get to you. In the end, the stereotypical image of the weak, thin and pale vegan helps no one. Neither the animals and the vegans, nor the people who prefer to eat animal products.
Another anecdote? I personally have been living vegan for a long time, feel better than ever, still take enough calories to me and also still eat Burgers, Pizza, Pasta & Co. Just without the whole in purchase taken cruelty to animals. But a balanced and healthy diet is also a high priority for me, so that I just do not look thin, weak and pale 😉 .
I hope I was able to help you with this article. Do you have questions or your own experiences with "pale" vegans or prejudiced discussions that you would like to share? Then feel free to write me a comment.
Be always kind to animals,
PS.: You want to know, why i live vegan? In the linked article you can now learn more about the underlying motives of vegans.
₁ American Dietetic Association; W. J. Craig; A. R. Mangels: Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets (as of July 2009), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19562864 [July 24, 2020].
₂ MCP Wolff GmbH: Cardiac mortality risk - forehead wrinkles can provide clues (as of Jan. 23, 2020), available at https://medizin-aspekte.de/stirnfalten-koennen-hinweise-auf-herz-sterberisiko-geben-102323 [July 23, 2021].
₃ German Nutrition Society: Do Vegans Live Healthier? - Preventive Aspects of Vegan Nutrition (November 2015), available at https://www.dge.de/fileadmin/public/doc/pm/2015/js2015/Abstract-DGE-JS2015-Leben-Veganer-gesuender-Praevention-Therapie-Keller.pdf. [23.07.2021].