You Know What? Veggie Burgers are AWESOME!

WARNING! The following images are graphic, not suitable for those who aggressively abhor “fake meat,” who turn their noses up at fantastic sandwiches simply because they contain no abused, slaughtered animal products. Those who call veggie burgers “processed” as if they cannot still be real, healthy food. Those who imply that they religiously shun actual processed, unhealthy foods (hah!). Well, those people will lack the maturity to handle the truth about good food.

So keep out, you! Do not scroll, just go away!

In case it’s not clear yet: That means you persnickety clowns who say “ew” to veggie burgers or to anything “soy,” but not to ground-up dead carcasses, blood, gristle, poop (yes there’s poop in virtually all ground meat: http://www.motherjones.com/food/2015/08/poop-ground-beef-superbugs-antibiotic-resistant/). Then there are the bone chips, cow hair, tumors, etc., all processed into a nice reddish slush. All that makes “real burger” lovers drool and their little faces light up, in obedience to all those creepy commercials.

Well, much to their horror, in came tasty, filling, compassionate burgers…

Most burgers are made delicious by the spices, condiments and veggie garnishes, so why not a patty made with beans, seeds, nuts, soy, grains, mushrooms and so on? With veggie burgers we have the added greatness of kindness, as well as their being delicious and healthy (more so than blood burgers anyways).

I enjoy the occasional fantastic veggie burger, sometimes even on sprouted whole-grain buns (no flour), imagine that…oh, the horror. A personal favorite is just about any good brand of vegan burger, grilled and topped with coleslaw (made with vegan mayo) and tomato & pickle slices on a sprouted-grain bun. A bit of hummus or melted vegan cheese makes it even richer and tastier.

Following are ten scrumptious looking veggie burgers that should silence all the nasty hype against the veganizing of popular foods…but of course slaughter lovers will keep on carping. So just ignore them, go and make you some great burgers, and enjoy…

1) 

Cheeze Stuffed Bella Burgers with Figs, Rocket, and Herbed Vegenaise | by Vegan Feast

2) 

Burger Made with Quinoa & Carrots, etc.

3) 

Vegan Fourth of July Feast! by Troy Tolley on flickr

4) 

Black Bean Burger with Home Fries

5) 

Vegan Burger by Shpernik088

6) 

Beyond Meat’s Vegan Cheeseburger

7) 

Sunshine Burger’s Quarter Pound Original

8) 

Hilary’s Eat Well Burger at Native Foods Cafe

9) 

Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Fries at Lodge NYC

10) 

Lentil Burgers – Great even all by themselves.

Then there’s this guy 🙂

Veggie Burger Speed Eating Contest

27 Vegan Super Foods to Rely On and Why

In alphabetical order, here are the superfoods…go get ‘em and get healthier!

Almonds (and other nuts)

Almonds are the most calcium-rich nut out there. And, from Medical News Today: “Almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high-quality protein; they also contain high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids along with high levels of bioactive molecules (such as fiber, phytosterols, vitamins, other minerals, and antioxidants) which can help prevent cardiovascular heart diseases.”

Amaranth (called a grain but is a seed)

From Dr. Axe: “Amaranth is a great source of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. It will keep your digestive system regulated, build your strength, and reduce the risk of fracture or broken bones.”

It’s an anti-inflammatory food, gluten free, prevents diabetes, and lowers cholesterol. How to use amaranth: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-amaranth-64211

Asparagus

From Eating Well: “Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.”

It’s also a brain booster, helps fight cancer, powerful antioxidant, and natural diuretic. Steamed, roasted, sautéed, or added to stir-fries, asparagus is tasty and great for us.

Avocados

A tree fruit loaded with vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds, notably potassium, vitamin E, vitamin K, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, and copper. Avocados are rich in good fats, namely monounsaturated fat, and contain a bit of polyunsaturated fat. They even contain a good amount of fiber (11% of daily need in just 1/3 of a medium Haas avocado). All in all, avocados are a great nutrition source.

Beans (especially black, but also chickpeas, pintos and all the rest)

Black beans are tasty, fat free, fiber rich, and rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, notably: iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, with impressive amounts of vitamins thiamin and folate. They’re affordable, filling, disease-fighting due to being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, good for diabetics, cancer preventive. Of all the beans, black are best, but the rest are great for us too.

Blueberries (and others like cherries, raspberries, strawberries)

From Dr. Axe: “Natural medicine has long held that these round purple berries give long-life health benefits… Native to North America, blueberries are rich in proanthocyanidin, contributing to blueberry benefits that include fighting cancer, losing weight and glowing, young skin. Blueberries are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and other antioxidants that lead to its numerous other health benefits…

…The ORAC score of blueberries is an incredible 9,621, which makes it one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world.”

Bok Choy

This low-calorie, high-fiber cruciferous vegetable has a full spectrum of over 70 antioxidants which is a major cancer preventive benefit, in addition to its cancer fighting glucosinolates and sulfur-containing compounds. Bok choy also has impressive amounts of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and lutein, as well as vitamins/minerals: K, C, potassium, folate, calcium, B6, manganese, and iron. Bok choy is simply awesome. Recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/stir-fried-bok-choy-and-mizuna-with-tofu

Broccoli

One of the world’s most nutritious vegetables, broccoli contains vitamins A, C, K, B (including folate), and minerals calcium, iron and potassium. It’s high in fiber, low in calories, non-fat, and even has protein (8% of needed in just 50 calories worth or just above 5 oz., and that’s not much broccoli). Broccoli is affordable, can be kept frozen and used as needed in stir-fries, steamed, roasted, or eaten raw. It’s tasty enough too, easy to learn to enjoy. It’s a fantastic food, basically.

Brussels Sprouts

These little green balls contain impressive amounts of fiber, vitamins K and C, a bit of vitamin A, folate, manganese, B vitamins and protein, and even 270 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in just one cup cooked (recommend daily dose is 250 to 500 milligrams of EPA & DHA for healthy adults). Brussels can decrease your risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders; can improve energy, muscle growth, eyesight and complexion. Great recipe including two other foods in this article: https://www.thespruce.com/roasted-mixed-vegetables-with-maple-glaze-3377354

Carrots

They’re of course good for the eyes with their high beta-carotene (vitamin A) content. One medium raw carrot has 5% of your daily potassium need, 6% of fiber, 6% of vitamin C, and 5% of your magnesium. Cooking till just tender can make more of carrots’ nutrition absorbable, but raw (well-shredded or -chewed) they’re still nutritious. Carrot juice is surprisingly tasty, with large amounts of beta-carotene which converts to retinol (vitamin A) in needed/safe amounts…as opposed to “real” vitamin A in animal products and supplements which can be toxic when over-consumed.

Cocoa (dark chocolate)

Cocoa powder is low in calories and has almost no sugar, but is a bit high in saturated fat which is said to be a good fat that doesn’t harm cholesterol levels. Natural cocoa (as opposed to Dutch processed with alkali) is a good source of protein, riboflavin and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. According to Livestrong, it’s said that cocoa may lower LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of blood clots, increase blood flow to the arteries, and lower high blood pressure.

Flaxseed Meal

Flaxseed meal gives us fiber, omega-3 fat, protein, vitamins B1 & B6, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, potassium, copper, and zinc. It increases nutrient absorption by its mucilage gum content, and reduces sugar cravings, improves skin & hair health, etc. It promotes digestive health by protecting the lining of the GI tract, while also relieving constipation. High in antioxidants (lignans), flaxseeds help reduce risk of cancer as well as being immunity boosting, anti-aging, hormone balancing, and beneficial to cellular health.

Garlic

Garlic improves the flavor of most every savory dish, and is very healthy due to its high Allicin content. Garlic is low-calorie with impressive amounts of manganese, B6, vitamins B6 & C, selenium, fiber, and a bit of a few other essential nutrients. Based in human studies, garlic is immunity boosting, able to prevent or help treat colds & flu, improves cholesterol levels; its antioxidant effect can prevent Alzheimer’s, etc., and garlic can reduce heavy metal toxicity in the body. Onions, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions are also members of the garlic (Allium) family with some of the same, if lesser, nutrient values.

Green Peas

A cup of peas has less than 100 calories but lots of protein, fiber and micro-nutrients. Surprisingly, green peas are very nutritious, with a good amount of calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese, 45% of the daily need of vitamin K for blood coagulation, and nearly 25% of daily need of thiamin, vitamin A, and folate. Peas’ high polyphenol content, a phytonutrient called coumestrol, is shown to prevent stomach cancer in human studies. Peas are also high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, blood sugar regulating, heart healthy, good for our bones, and even environmentally beneficial.

Hemp Seeds

These most nutritious seeds in the world are allergen-free and provide complete protein, essential fats omega 3 & 6, and virtually no sugar. They help prevent obesity and improve our energy, disease/injury recovery and heart health. They’re anti-inflammatory and help with circulation, immunity, and blood sugar. Hemp seeds provide: gamma linolenic acid (GLA), antioxidants, all the amino acids, fiber, iron, zinc, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and enzymes.

Kale (and other dark leafy greens like collards, spinach, turnip greens)

Mind Body Green states the top 10 benefits of eating kale: 1) Low-calorie, high-fiber, zero fat, 2) High iron, 3) High in vitamin K, 4) Filled with powerful antioxidants, 5) A great anti-inflammatory food, 6) Great for cardiovascular support, 7) High in vitamin A, 8) High in vitamin C, 9) High in calcium, and 10) A great detoxifying food (due to its fiber and sulfur content and keeping your liver healthy).

Just 2 cups chopped finely provide us with large amounts of essential vitamins A & K, not to mention all the rest of its nutrients, so kale is a vital addition to our diets.

Lentils

Mind Body Green states the top 7 benefits of lentils: 1) Lower cholesterol (due to their artery cleansing soluble fiber), 2) Heart health (due to their high folate & magnesium), 3) Digestive health (due to their insoluble fiber), 4) Stabilized blood sugar (due to the soluble fiber), 5) Good protein (26% of their calories are protein), 6) Increases energy (from their fiber, complex carbs and iron), and 7) Weight loss (due to their high nutrition while being low-calorie; 1 cup cooked contains 230 calories and virtually no fat).

Millet (and other whole grains like oats, rye, barley, wheat)

Millet has a uniquely high nutrient content, including B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and is a healthy source of essential fats. High in fiber & protein, millet helps your heart and cholesterol levels, protects against diabetes, aids digestion, lowers risk of cancer, has antioxidant effects, and can help with asthma. A caution: The excessive work needed to properly digest and process millet may be damaging to those with poor glandular and/or thyroid health, so millet should be used in modest or moderate amounts. Oats, rye, barley (and wheat for those not sensitive to it) can be used instead.

Mushrooms

When cooked, they’re said to prevent cancer; but their cells walls are undigestible when raw and also thought to slightly increase cancer risk. Mushrooms are heart healthy, immune boosting, and provide many of the nutritional benefits of high-protein foods. They’re low-calorie, fat-free, cholesterol- & gluten-free, low-sodium, and provide vital nutrients like selenium, potassium, riboflavin, and niacin. Mushrooms go great with tofu, greens and sweet potatoes. Here’s a tasty recipe for those who like things complicated (haha not me): https://www.tastyseasons.com/baked-tofu-coconutty-kale-sweet-potatoes-mushrooms/

Potatoes

Russet, white or red, those tasty potatoes all offer good nutrition, are an excellent source of vitamins C & B6, potassium, fiber, and iron. They’re fat-, sodium-, cholesterol-, and gluten-free, and low in calories (roughly 30 c’s per ounce). Said to be high on the Glycemic Index (bad for blood sugar), but that is in dispute; still, potatoes should perhaps be used sparingly for diabetics or those with blood sugar issues. It’s said that excess calories overall (especially animal protein & fat) contribute to type 2 diabetes, more than carbs do. Potatoes are more nutritious with skin on, but peeled are still nutritious.

Pumpkin

Plain cooked pumpkin flesh is high-fiber, nutrient-rich, low-calorie; it has a bit of protein, almost zero fat, and is low-carb, but with a high Glycemic Index… yet its being low-carb offsets its blood sugar effect, so its GI rating of 75 isn’t quite right. (Under 55 GI is considered low, 55 and up is high.) Pumpkin is very high in antioxidant beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A. It may help prevent cancer, heart disease and premature aging. One cup of puree provides about 3,200 IU of converted vitamin A which fills the daily need in adults, and also vitamins K, C & E and minerals: iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, etc..

Quinoa

Quinoa dates back 3000-4000 years. The “supergrain” is actually a seed with high amounts of these vital nutrients: Protein (all 9 essential amino acids), Fiber (lowers cholesterol, etc., is heart healthy and relieves constipation), Iron (supplies oxygen to our muscles & brain), Lysine (for tissue growth & repair), Magnesium (for blood vessel health, migraine relief, control of blood sugar & prevention/treatment of diabetes, healthy bones & teeth, etc.), Riboflavin/B2 (improves energy metabolism in brain & muscle cells), and antioxidant Manganese (prevents damage by protecting cells from free radicals).

Soy Beans (organic tofu, etc.)

The ORGANIC, non-GMO, high-protein soybean and its whole or minimally processed products like tofu contain 8 of the 9 essential amino acids (complete protein). Soy is a great source of fiber, B vitamins, calcium, and omega-3 fat. It can reduce menopause problems in women; its isoflavones (phytoestrogens) have been found to have antioxidant properties. As far as any hormonal problems from soy, that’s very likely a misleading fear tactic used by those protecting their own interests. Here’s a recent, concluded human study on women with breast cancer: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.30615/abstract

Sunflower Seeds (and others including sesame, pumpkin, etc.)

These little beige things can be quite tasty (when lightly roasted/salted) but are healthiest raw. They promote cardiovascular health due to their vitamin E and folate, their phytosterols support healthy cholesterol levels, their magnesium promotes respiratory, heart and reproductive health. Magnesium also improves our moods, relieves depression, etc. The selenium in sunflower and other seeds is a powerful antioxidant and good for thyroid health. So what’s not to love about that beautiful flower and it’s thousands of health-promoting seeds?

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (as beta-carotene), and a good source of vitamins C & B6, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, as well as potassium, fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus. The original “healthiest diet in the world” of past Okinawans of Japan was sweet-potato based, since these delicious orange spuds are excellent for us. Due to its high fiber, a BAKED sweet potato’s high 94 GI rating isn’t quite what it appears, and BOILED, sweet potato has a low 46 GI. Eat one large sweet potato and you’ve satisfied your daily adult need for converted vitamin A.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes, which are fruit, are a large part of the world’s diet. They’re impressive for their content of: Vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, vitamin K, potassium, copper, manganese, fiber, vitamins A, B6, B3, folate, and lesser amounts of several others. They’re low-calorie, have a very low GI rating, and are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, which protects our bones, liver, kidneys, and bloodstream, and reduces our risk for cancers, especially prostate cancer. Tomatoes’ heart health benefits are amazing due to their antioxidant properties and regulation of fats in the bloodstream.

And last but not least – Watermelon (and others like cantaloupe)

Live Science: “Watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — but this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There’s even a modest amount of potassium.”

Vitamin B6 helps to break down/metabolize protein. Watermelon has beneficial relaxant effects on blood vessels due to its phytonutrients: lycopene, beta-carotene, and citrulline which converts to arginine, an amino acid that strengthens the heart & circulation system and thereby helps treat heart ailments.

Vegans and the Great Vitamin A Scare – Oh Lordy!!

UPDATE 5/23/17: See below – “How do you know you have a problem with vitamin A?” and “Plant Foods Highest in Vitamin A showing 12:1 beta-carotene to retinol conversion”

UPDATE 5/22/17: Regarding the conversion ratio for beta-carotene to retinol, I’d believed it was 6:1 (having gotten that figure from an anti-vegan meat enthusiast of all things, lol) and had used that ratio herein; but I’ve read elsewhere that scientists have raised the ratio to something like averaging 12:1, so I’ve revised the information below accordingly, just to be on the safe side.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble* vital nutrient important for healthy vision, the immune system, and reproduction. *So it’s best to have a bit of healthy fat (like avocado, nuts, etc.) with your beta-carotene-rich foods to help with absorption/utilization. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly.

Note: “Vitamin A” and “retinol” will be used interchangeably throughout, since they’re essentially the same. Also, this article is long and and a bit exhaustive, only because it’s good to be armed with thorough understanding when confronted by such tactics as those mentioned herein.

First, the scary story goes something like this:

“These ignorant, emotionally driven vegans believe they’re so healthy on their plant food diets and believe they don’t have to worry about vitamin A, but we robust meat lovers know better. You see, retinol is the only usable form of vitamin A and beta-carotene is a poor, weak substitute which must be converted by your body to retinol, at a ratio of twelve to one (maybe even more!). Retinol is only in animal products, while beta-carotene is in inferior plant foods. Animal liver is especially loaded with real vitamin A, and that’s why (among many other reasons) it’s imperative that we eat animal products.

Vegans are fooling themselves, see; veganism is fraught with dangers! And vitamin A deficiency is especially ominous since vitamin A is important for normal vision, the immune system, reproduction, and proper functioning of our vital organs.

So, get you some beef liver and ice-cream and chow down, after all it’s for your very survival! Forget those vegetables & fruits as good sources; you have to eat tons of that indigestible ‘food’ to get your needed retinol from converting it in your system, if you even CAN convert it! Many people cannot convert it at all, such as infants, so they absolutely must eat animals (or take vitamin A supplement)!”

So after hearing that, among all the other fear tactics, the unaware animal-respecting would-be vegan is effectively led away from veganism, angry over having been mislead by those malnourished, despicable vegans. They fall willingly into the embrace of the meat/egg/butter zealots, convinced that animal protein and fat are vital to human health. (But most any good cardiologist will tell you quite the opposite when being honest rather than opportunistic.) People become quite frightened though, convinced that eating liver and/or other animal products will save them from vision problems and all the rest. Animal ag mission accomplished.

But it gets even scarier!

“As far as infant nutrition, well, since babies cannot convert beta-carotene to retinol at all, well, babies simply must have animal sourced A, or at least a retinol supplement!”

Oh, really? Scary, yes, but it’s all based in “untruths” (to be polite).

Now, for the truth:

An adult human (male) needs something like 3,000 IU (international units) of vitamin A per day for good health, especially to protect eyesight. One large sweet potato has about 28,000 IU of vitamin A as beta-carotene. The body’s conversion ratio of beta-carotene to retinol is about 12:1. So, 28,000 divided by 12 is 2,333, almost enough usable A in just that one orange-fleshed sweet potato.

What if you’re one of the unfortunate who has impaired conversion of retinol to A? [See “Groups at Risk of Vitamin A Inadequacy” in reference 1 linked below.] The worst case scenario is with a rare genetic type of people (those carrying at least one T in two genes), so they have a 70% lower conversion of beta-carotene to retinol, so they only use about 30% of it. So, say one eats the equivalent of four sweet potatoes in a day. That’s 112,000 IU of beta-carotene, divided by 12 is 9,333 IU, and 30% of that is 2,800 IU. So you’re still fine. But that’s a lot of sweet potatoes (the richest vegetable source of A), so although it’s possible for this uncommon group of people to use food alone for A, they may well need vitamin A supplement to be vegan, or to drink carrot juice (which I love) often, since it is loaded with beta-carotene at 45,133 IU in just one 8-oz. glass.

How do you know you have a problem with vitamin A?

Symptoms include night blindness, dry skin, and frequent infections. People may experience these common symptoms: dry eyes, dry skin, frequent infections, inability to see in dim light, or spots in the eyeball.

Fortunately, many plant foods contain beta-carotene, such as spinach, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mangoes, apricots, cherries, red peppers, and so forth. So a variety of those foods in a day and you’re likely meeting or far exceeding your vitamin A needs. If you’re one who hates all those foods, then you’d be well advised to learn to like them or get your vitamin A elsewhere. But animal liver or cod liver oil are not necessary and it’s fairly easy to get far too much retinol from them which can lead to serious but uncommon conditions outlined in reference 2 linked at bottom. Vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements are of course available, but I don’t use them, far preferring food sources.

Here’s my minimal vitamin A intake for May 21st, for example:

1 medium carrot      10,000 IU      

4 cups raw spinach 11,250 IU

1 tomato                     1,000 IU

2 medium mangoes 6,000 IU

8 oz. V8 type juice       900 IU

Total                          29,150 IU ÷ 12 = 2,429 IU (women’s requirement is 2,300)

And this was a low vitamin A day for me, I sometimes get much more by adding a sweet potato; so you see it’s pretty easy. Nothing all that difficult or scary about vitamin A for vegans!

As an added reassurance: Extra vitamin A, due to its being fat soluble is stored in the (healthy) liver and taken up as needed by the body. So consuming adequate amounts of A everyday is not always necessary; you can pig out on sweet potatoes one day and have enough vitamin A stored in your liver to last several days. (Actually, the liver is said to store a 1–2 year supply of vitamin A!)

Note that vitamin A as retinol is slightly impaired by heat, while beta-carotene is not so impaired; in fact, cooking carrots for 15 minutes or less makes their vitamin A even more available by breaking down the walls of the plant cells that contain beta-carotene. But, raw or cooked are both fine as long as you eat plenty and chew thoroughly if raw (or blend as in smoothies).

“Lions tho”…

Only truly carnivorous animals like lions cannot convert beta-carotene to retinol at all, so they must get animal sources of retinol. That’s why these paleo activists and others are so hellbent on believing they need liver and such, since they believe humans are carnivorous omnivores. Well, quite simply, we’re not. We’re far more like self-made omnivores who do much better leaving off the animal products. And all omnivores can thrive with zero animal foods if nutritious plant foods are available. And guess what, most humans have them available, in abundance. (Thank GOODNESS for crop farmers.)

[See Table 2 in reference 1 linked at bottom for a list of several foods and their retinol content.]

“But, Babies Must Have Animal Source Vitamin A!”

…say all these paleo and low-carb, meat industry activists out there anyways.

This is the really “scary” bit, about “infants not being able to convert beta-carotene to retinol, at all!” Oh my, that sounds like a recipe for vision problems or even blindness, and all sorts of other disastrous problems for children throughout life, unless they eat liver and animal products, right? Now, who would force a dangerous vegan diet on their beloved child out of respect for animals? Well, we’re dealing with seriously misleading fear tactics there.

Here’s the not so scary truth:

When born at normal term and breastfed by healthy moms (or, less desirably, given proper formulas), infants’ vitamin A levels are what they should be and they develop just fine and with perfectly healthy eyesight. Infants have stores of retinol in their livers from their moms, as nature intends it, as well as through breastfeeding and getting the needed colostrum from mother’s first milk.

But if there is doubt, all baby formulas contain vitamin A supplement. Do note that vitamin A pills (as opposed to beta-carotene) can be derived from fish liver oil, but many commercial vitamins are synthetic, thereby cheaper and easier to produce than natural vitamins. Non-animal vitamin A supplement is synthesized from acetone, and there is said to be no chemical difference between the purified vitamins derived from plant or animal sources and those produced synthetically (http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Vitamin.html).

Vitamin A deficiency is quite rare in infants in developed countries like the USA, usually occurring in rare infants with malabsorption disorders [see reference 5 linked at bottom]. Those infants’ retinol levels can be increased and maintained with enough vitamin A supplement.

In premature babies, their stores of vitamin A are lacking due to not getting adequate amounts due their short time in the mother’s womb, and their retinol levels often remain low during the first year of life. They also need careful vitamin A supplementation.

But as long as the mother is nutritionally aware and eating plenty of beta-carotene rich foods according to her needs (such as if she has conversion problems), everything should be fine. To be on on the safe side, it would follow that pregnant/breastfeeding women should get about twice as much beta-carotene as she’d need normally, which is equivalent to about four sweet potatoes, but can of course be gotten from a variety of other foods as well.

Plant Foods Highest in Vitamin A showing 12:1 beta-carotene to retinol conversion:

a) Large (7”) Sweet Potato
1 whole: 28,000 IU = 2,333
after 12:1 conversion

b) Carrot
1 medium: 10,000 IU = 833 after conversion

c) Kale
1 cup chopped: 6,693 = 558 after

d) Spinach
2 cups raw: 5,626 IU = 469

e) Apricots
3 fruits: 2,022 IU = 168

f) Broccoli
2 cups raw: 1,134 IU = 95

Yielding 4,456 converted and totally legitimate IUs of real vitamin A, perfectly within the 2,300 (minimum) to 5,000 IUs recommended for adult women and just about twice a woman’s basic needs normally, so quite enough for a pregnant woman.

[See Table 1 in reference 1 linked below – note that “mcg RAE” roughly multiplied by 3 is your minimal IU need (after the 12:1 conversion of beta-carotene to retinol), so 900 mcg = 2,700 IU in this instance. NIH’s explanation is calculating before the conversion factor, so please don’t be confused there.]

And keep in mind that most pregnant/nursing women, whether vegan or not, take a variety of supplements or at least a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement for pregnant women, so are likely beyond fully nourished to grow a healthy baby.

Interestingly, even in “third world” or developing countries where women are often malnourished, infants have sufficient vitamin A while breastfeeding, but deficiency occurs just after they stop breastfeeding. So those children of course need much more beta-carotene rich food, or supplement. But be very careful with vitamin A supplement (as opposed to beta-carotene); too much “real” retinol can reach toxic levels and is linked to increased bone fractures in women*, among other problems…

[See references 2, 3 and *4 links at bottom for warnings about vitamin A toxicity, either from pills or from animal foods.]

Note that it’s virtually impossible to get too much beta-carotene from food, as the body only converts as much beta-carotene into retinol as it needs. So, while for adult supplements it’s safer to get beta-carotene rather than vitamin A as retinol, that’s not so good for certain groups such as smokers. Due to interactions with certain drugs and other factors, excessive beta-carotene supplementing has actually shown to increase risks for cancers in those groups (http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/much-beta-carotene-bad-you-11397.html). So again it’s best to get your A from foods rather than pills.

So, bottom line regarding the baby retinol scare: The equivalent of one large sweet potato and a big healthy dark green salad with carrot and a couple of mangoes (just for example) per day is all most women need to maintain healthy vitamin A levels throughout pregnancy and beyond and to provide plenty of retinol for their babies through six months old. If born prematurely, most everyone already knows babies can benefit from supplements, including safe amounts of vitamin A.

A normal baby’s need for vitamin A is about 1,200 IU daily, about half that of an adult woman, so after a baby is weaned, just two cooked carrots at 18,400 IU divided by 12 leaves him/her with with about 1,500 IU usable vitamin A. As the child grows of course, the nutritional needs rise [see Table 1 in reference 1 linked below – again, remember “mcg” multiplied by 3 is your IU number after the 12:1 conversion]. After 6 months of age, or after weaning, all babies can do fine with only plant sources of A. So vegan babies are quite well off as long as their parents are nutritionally aware, same as any other babies but even better, since they’re not brought up depending on animal abuse and slaughter.

In conclusion:

Aside from all that above, most pregnant/nursing women, as well as many other people, take multiple vitamin supplements including vitamin A (as retinol or beta-carotene). I don’t…only take very few supplements…as I feel much safer getting needed nutrition from plant foods. Plant foods are antioxidants and fiber rich (life preserving, cancer preventative, heart healthy), unlike animal foods, and this all further concurs with my being rightfully and passionately opposed to slaughterhouses and all the rest of such terrible human behavior.

So, what’s all this fear-mongering about “real” vitamin A from animal foods versus “blindness causing fakery” from plant foods (etc., etc.)? Well, it’s all in the interests of the animal agriculture industry and all of its offshoots, naturally. Don’t be fooled. Study the issues yourself using objective, legitimate sources, such as the following…

References:

1) All about vitamin A: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

2) Dangers of too much “real” retinol: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-a/safety/hrb-20060201

3) More real dangers of overdosing on retinol: http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/hypervitaminosis-a/overview.html

4) Increased bone fractures in women from too much retinol: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11754708

5) Malabsorption disorders in infants: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/931041-overview#showall

6) Yes, carrots, etc., are recommended for babies: https://www.babycenter.com/0_vitamin-a-in-your-childs-diet_10324693.bc

Disclaimer

This article provides information that should not take the place of professional advice. I am not a nutrition or health professional but am sharing what I’ve learned through experience and from what I trust are good sources in regard to my own nutrition. If you have concerns, I encourage you to talk to a (vegan friendly) registered dietitian or other trusted professional about your dietary needs.