When Should Vegans See Their Doctor?

Many vegans are surprised (and sometimes annoyed) when their GP refuses to carry out blood tests they’ve asked for. I thought I might write a little about this, and help to rationalise it from a GP’s point of view, but also give you some pointers on when you do need to see your doctor.

One important point I often like to make is that veganism isn’t a medical condition. I’m hoping that most of you will agree with me on this. We all know that veganism is a very healthy lifestyle when done right. Many meat eaters don’t consider their own nutrition to the level that we do, so in fact we may even be doing better than most.

Unfortunately, as you may or may not be aware, the NHS is in dire straits. GPs aren’t being funded enough money to do everything they would like for their patients. This means there are constraints on things like blood requests when you might not need them. So when do you need them?

Complaints that would prompt me, as a GP, to order blood tests for a vegan patient include:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Hair thinning
  • Tingling or numbness in the feet or hands
  • Generalised pains in the limbs
  • Sore, swollen tongue
  • Cracking/soreness in the skin at the corners of the mouth
  • Getting lots of infections
  • Shortness of breath or chest pains, particularly when exerting yourself
  • Nail changes
  • Persistent headaches

This list isn’t exhaustive, and if you are feeling unwell then you should see your doctor. Don’t be scared to tell your GP you’re vegan – they need to know if you’re at risk of deficiencies, as some can be more serious than others.

I plan to cover nutrients in a bit more detail at a later date, but please tweet/email via the website if there are specific topics you want me to cover.

Thanks for reading,

The Vegan Doctor

6 thoughts on “When Should Vegans See Their Doctor?”

  1. nice article! I’ve no doubt that some vegans do have nutritional deficiencies – just wondering what your thoughts are on a whole-food plant-based diet? I’ve just had my yearly physical and it looks like i’m as healthy as an ox LOl!


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m sure, as with anyone who isn’t careful about their nutritional intake, some vegans do have deficiencies. I don’t have a lot of experience of the whole-food plant based diet, but I’m sure that if the same principles are applied, it can be a very healthy. I’m sure that those following such a regimen would be careful to monitor intake of nutrients.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i agree, it’s so important to watch your intake, no matter what diet you chose to go with – it’s all education really, and making sure you’re getting exactly what you need! thanks for your reply! 🙂


      2. As a GP and vegan , I usually assess the quality of vegan patients’ diet. One can be a junk food vegan so gathering info is crucial.
        If you advise your patients about diet Id suggest making yourself familiar with whole food plant-based approach. It basically means very healthy, balanced, unprocessed vegan diet. It is almost a guarantee of optimal health.
        I’m happy to give you suggestions regarding resources.
        I’m also pleased to have come across another vegan GP. There are so few of us.
        Warm regards


      3. Hi Anna, nice to meet you! I’m in the process of learning more about WFPB diet, but I don’t give specific dietary advice to my patients currently, although this is something that I hope to be doing more in future. I’m looking at more formal nutrition qualifications before being able to offer this advice. Are you on FB? We could chat on there


  2. Hi!
    I am a co- admin of of Plant Based Health Professionals UK page.
    You can find me also under “Anna Aniela” with a profile picture containing Klimt’s painting.
    I am looking forward to chatting to you 🙂


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