A social media influencer famous for existing solely on a raw vegan diet has died. Of starvation. I hate to say, “I told you so!” But the fate of Zhanna Samsonova (A.K.A. Zhanna D’Art) clearly demonstrates the need for a balanced vegan diet.
Zhanna Samsonova (A.K.A Zhanna D’art), Instagram influencer, died last week in Maylasia after
consuming a diet composed almost exclusively of raw exotic fruits for the past 4 years.
A simple but tragic misunderstanding?
Samsonova had been living entirely on raw vegan foods for several years. And, according to her family and friends, getting sicker and sicker.
According to an indiatimes.com exposé, “Zhanna’s mother claimed that she had died of a cholera-like infection. However, it is not yet known what is the real cause of death. The mother [said] that Zhanna was on a vegan diet for the last four years. […] She was consuming only [raw] fruits, fruit smoothies or juices, and sunflower seeds. Reports also state that Zhanna was consuming durian and jackfruit for the past seven years.”
It might have seemed to Samsonava that she was getting a lot of variety in her diet, but that was an illusion. A true, varied, balanced diet provides a full complement of nutrients needed needed for healthy living.
Protein a particular problem
One of the main issues with a vegan regimen is that it doesn’t automatically provide a complete dietary protein. One of the most common ways to remedy that situation is to serve beans or other legumes alongside rice or other grains. The ‘Beans and Rice’ combo is found all over the world.
Now-a-days, we also have some foods that provide a complete protein by themselves. Quinoa, Buckwheat, Hemp Seed, Blue-green Algae and Soy Beans are the most common. Now you know why Asian diets feature so much cheese-like tofu – the ubiquitous extract from Soy milk.
Apparently, Samsonova was blissfully unaware of this vital dimension of veganism.
As for the other essential nutrients…
It also seems likely that Samsonova didn’t know what she was missing. She apparently took no supplements or added any other foods to her diet to make up for the shortage of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The takeaway? What you don’t know CAN hurt you.
What vegans should be eating
The indiatimes.com article sums up the ideal vegan diet thus: “On a vegan diet, individuals can enjoy a diverse range of delicious and nutritious foods. These include a variety of fruits like apples, bananas, berries, and oranges, along with an array of vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, and bell peppers.
“Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are staples, along with legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds provide essential fats and protein.
“Plant-based milk alternatives like almond milk and soy milk offer a dairy-free option, and tofu and tempeh serve as excellent sources of plant-based protein.”
Implications for the future
With the progress of climate change and the dwindling sustainability of meat, we’ll all have to get used to being vegans or at least vegetarians. Some sages say, by 2050. In cosmic terms, that’s the day after tomorrow!
It’s vital that we all familiarize ourselves with the limitations of restrictive vegetarian and vegan diets. Before we are forced, either by shortages of other foods or high prices, to take the veggie leap.