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How I Reversed My Anemia on a Plant-Based Diet

Posted on May 05 2022, By: Desiree Mora

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Have you ever heard vegan music? You may laugh, but apparently it’s a thing, a thing I didn’t know about until very recently. I’ve heard of artists being vegan, and they may drop a line about it here and there, but definitely not a whole song. And since I’ve discovered this, I can’t get enough. Lately I’ve been listening to 40-Year-Old Vegan by Chokeules and the first time I heard “...are you anemic?” as part of a common list of questions people tend to ask about vegan diets I thought - actually, I was. But then I thought - wait, that’s a common question? So is it common for vegans to be anemic or is it a common misconception, like the “where do you get your protein”? 

It turns out that being anemic is actually common in plant-based diets, especially among women. A 60-person study in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Science found that even though vegetarian women had lower BMIs than their meat-eating counterparts, they all had some degree of iron deficiency anemia. Had I known this before becoming vegan, especially after being high risk (I first became anemic during pregnancy), I think I would've made different food and vitamin choices. I would have included more iron-rich foods such as beans and dark green vegetables, and would’ve made sure my multivitamin had iron and no calcium (a common pairing mistake in multivitamins, as calcium cancels iron intake). But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

chokeules 40 year old veganCourtesy of Chokules - 40-Year-Old Vegan official YouTube channel

When my son was 6 months old, I began introducing solid foods into his diet. Wanting to make baby-food myself and not knowing what I was doing, I looked up everything from the best foods for infants to recipes, and this got me into food-based documentaries. As many vegans can tell you, these documentaries opened my eyes into how animal-based foods get onto our plates, and it is not pretty. I first saw Vegucated and was shocked…I couldn’t believe everything it was portraying. Always the avid researcher, I made a point to look into all the claims about animal cruelty the film made, and found out all of it was true. I’ve always known the killing of animals is never pretty, but I was naive enough to think we did it in the most humane way possible. I was wrong. Every time I verified something horrible I stopped eating said animal or animal-derived product. And when I reached the last one, I texted my husband that I was going vegan, because I refused to continue to support animal abuse. 

Everyone that has gone through the vegan journey has a different story. Whether it’s due to health, the environment, the animals, or a combination of these, we all have the power to make changes to our lives we see necessary. Once I made my decision, it was just a matter of following through. I began with the foods I was already eating that just happened to be vegan (oatmeal cooked in soy milk, pasta with crumbled soy-meat, vegetable soup, to name a few) and did my best to expand the menu as time went on. But it wasn’t until I returned to fitness that I began feeling tired, I mean really tired. Being a new mom meant I was always tired, but this was overwhelming. I decided to get my bloodwork done and that’s when my doctor informed me my anemia had returned. 

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I asked my doctor what I could do to get better and she suggested I eat more meat. Once I told her I was vegan she simply said “stop that.” I told her I would think about it, but really, I refused to even consider going back. Again my research itch kicked-in and I began to look for ways to increase my iron intake, including a multivitamin for vegan or plant-based diets. To my surprise I couldn’t find one, so in a brain-storming session with my now co-founder Alex the issue came-up, and we realized we could do something about it.

Anyone can tell you the supplement business is not an easy one to get into. Just finding a manufacturer for our custom formula took months, not to mention months of researching the perfect formula along with nutritionists and dietitians. About a year later we finally held VictuaLiV Plant-Based Vitamins in our hands. And no sooner than that I began taking the daily multivitamin. After 3 months my doctor was surprised by my improving bloodwork, and the only change I made was adding VictuaLiV. 

VictuaLiV helped me reverse my anemia, but more than that my body and mood feel great! I have better focus and improved energy, which helps tremendously with a small child running around. VictuaLiV’s mission is to make plant-based living easy, and for me it has, hopefully it will help you too. 

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VictuaLiV’s co-founder Desiree Mora’s story has been featured in various publications including The Beet, Vegworld Magazine, and Green Queen.