From a pure foodie standpoint, 2017 has been the year of the vegan. We’ve had everyone and their mom open up a vegan place or converted to the plant-based diet, all claiming that they feel so much better for it. But is that always the case?
We’ve heard that vegans can be a little depressed from time to time, and they get a lot of flak for doing what they do. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to live your life a little better. One doctor, however, has recently argued a strong case against veganism that may stop people following it in their tracks.
Enter trichologist Anabel Kingsley, daughter of the late “celebrity doctor” Philip Kingsley. She has spent many years studying the hair and scalp. Currently based in Mayfair, London at the family’s world-renowned clinic, she has recently seen a sharp increase in hair loss cases. She believes that it is down to veganism.
She breaks down her theory by explaining there are two types of hair loss. The first is a gradual reduction in volume, otherwise known as “hair thinning.” This is more common in older women, but can also occur in young women as part of a genetic predisposition of follicle sensitivity.
What this means is that the hair molecules on your scalp are overly sensitive to normal levels of male hormones, adding: “if you’re experiencing thinning it doesn’t mean you have more hormones than you should, just that you’re more sensitive to them.”
The second and more relevant type of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. This is the one Kingsley thinks is on the rise in vegans, particularly young women. She explains: “Telogen effluvium is a reactive hair loss which leads to excessive shedding and can be the result of stress, being unwell, having a fever, or of a nutritional deficiency.”
While the benefits of veganism are usually professed from the rooftops, this issue must be addressed, Kingsley argues. “If you’re not eating enough of the correct foods or your body is not absorbing enough of the nutrients, this can result in excessive shredding. Even if you’re only slightly deficient in a nutrient, the body withholds this from the hair first.”
Kingsley added that her clients seeking specialist help for this type of hair loss often appear fit and healthy in all other respects. This is especially the case for men, as they are less likely to be short of iron and ferritin (some of the crucial prohibitors of telogen effluvium), as a lot of it is lost during menstruation.
Kinglsey argues: “I can completely understand my clients’ reasons for being vegan or veggie, but it’s very difficult with those diets to combine the correct food groups to give the hair what it needs.” Adding that you need fish and eggs because they have the essential amino acids we need.
For those vegans screaming through their phones: “But leafy greens are where we get our iron from, what are you talking about, you cretin?!?!”, it’s generally a little more difficult to absorb sufficient iron from plant-based sources (the iron from greens and meat bind to your body differently).
The solution is arguably quite simple – no one is asking you to stop being vegan. You may just need to take some vegan-friendly supplements so you don’t end up looking like doctor Eggman – otherwise, you just eat more greens. Keep doing you, vegans. If you absolutely have to, no one will care if you have a steak.