In late May, Max thought it was a good idea for me to get my blood tested. I had mentioned that I was tired quite often and he suspected I might have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Of course, alarm bells went off in my head that my vegan diet might be responsible. Since I hadn’t gotten my blood tested since I became a vegan almost three years ago, I was quite scared, to be honest. Society keeps saying that vegans must have all sorts of deficiencies, and I often get questions from my colleagues at work if I need to take a lot of supplements. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and I received the most wonderful test results. I was so nervous that I practically ripped open the envelope, skimmed over the many pages and started dancing around the apartment. Apart from Vitamin D, all the other scores were even on the upper end of the spectrum. Funnily, my iron levels are almost too high and my Vitamin B12 levels are also quite high. I do supplement the latter, but experts are not sure how much is needed and how well it is absorbed by different people, so it is good to know that I am getting enough. Take that skeptics. Now I can mention to all the people who question me about my vegan diet that I have the most wonderful blood count, and they are usually quite surprised.
The main issue I wanted to talk about though is the absence of preventive medicine in Austria. In order to get the blood test done, I had to get a letter of referral from our family doctor. I went into her office and told her that in order to improve my performance in rowing, I wanted to know if I had any deficiencies and needed to take supplements. To me, it sounded more than reasonable wanting to find out if I needed to change my diet, but the doctor told me that she could only give me a referral if I had any symptoms of illness, otherwise the health insurance wouldn’t cover it. I immediately thought: wouldn’t it be better to act before it is too late? In the end, she wrote chronic fatigue on the referral. I think we are approaching health from a completely wrong perspective, but if we were able to prevent illness, pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t make any profit. We live in a very strange world, don’t we?
In any case, I am extremely proud to not have all the deficiencies vegans are said to have. I think it is a societal misconception that is spread because omnivores need an excuse for not being able or willing to eat vegan. I do enjoy the occasional ethical discussion about veganism, but, in the end, being a positive example of a successful vegan athlete with a wonderful blood count is the most convincing argument for the lifestyle.