Hi Kitty, thanks for the excellent response. From running the health optimization company more than a decade ago I know how much individual physiology can vary, and how it’s essential to tailor diet (and many other lifestyle factors) to individual needs.
That said, we (or rather the 20+ research groups we worked with around the world) consistently found that strict vegans had a variety of neurological deficits relative to the norm, largely resulting from the lack of iodine, choline, omega-3s, and iron. It used to be thought that most of these could be compensated for via supplements but over the last 10 years or so it seems that it’s very difficult to achieve this. For example choline is readily absorbed from animal products (egg yolks being the most obvious example) but far less easily from any plant source. Likewise omega-3s; it used to be thought that flax seed was a good source but research in 2014 and validated independently in 2016 showed that contrary to expectations the body doesn’t convert the precursors into O-3 but instead into O-6 acids which, alas, promote inflammation. Fish oil is the only reliable source of O-3 that’s easily available as a supplement. Lack of O-3 is usually a marker for a variety of conditions such as lower-than-normal ability to focus, greater risk of depression (not the same as chronic depression caused by more fundamental neurochemical imbalances), and long-term issues with memory.
Again, each person is different and has different thresholds, but as a general statement about our species we really are obligate omnivores. But if one must err too far on any particular side of the scale, a vegan diet is infinitely healthier than any diet that includes sodas and McSlop.
As for baking…. a very, very dangerous occupation indeed. Oscar Wilde famously said he could resist everything except temptation, and few things are more tempting than freshly-baked anything straight out of the oven. I learned the mystic power of baking at age 7 1/2 and how it could transform me from being a perfectly ordinary little boy into being the absolute most favorite boy in the neighborhood, at least as all the 7 year old girls were concerned. Because I alone had the power of cupcakes!