The chance isn’t “extremely rare”, and if you’re a vegan you should supplement with B12 regularly — not “on occasion”. It is very serious. Studies consistently show that vegans have much lower B12 levels (and thus higher homocysteine levels, increasing their risk of heart disease) than omnivores or vegetarians, with estimates that up to 80% of long-term vegans are B12 deficient.
Vitamin B12 is a special vitamin, the only one that contains a trace element, cobalt, which is found in the soil or grass. That’s why B12 is called cobalamin. We can only get B12 from animals, because cobalamin is produced in the gut of animals. Plants don’t need vitamin B12 so they don’t store it.
Unfortunately, vegan gurus spread a ton of myths. They’ll tell you plant sources like seaweed, fermented soy or algae contain B12. They’ll tell you our body can’t digest meat. They’ll even say you’ll get enough B12 if you don’t wash your fruits and vegetables (because they’re contaminated by animal shit!).
Don’t listen to any of that.
Yes, some plant foods (especially algae like spirulina) contain vitamin B12, but those are inactive B12 analogues called cobamides that may actually interfere with B12 activity and increase the need for real, active vitamin B12.
So, what’s a good vegan to do?
If you have no absorption issues, then methylcobalamin tablets may work well. Although I would like to suggest considering another route…
Bivalveganism. Or more specifically – oyster veganism.
Oysters may be animals, but even the strictest ethicist should feel comfortable eating them by the boatload … Biologically, oysters are not in the plant kingdom, but when it comes to ethical eating, they are almost indistinguishable from plants.
I honestly believe bivalveganism could solve a lot of the problems vegans face. Clams, mussels and oysters (the most eco-sustainable) are loaded with nutrition that often lacks from the vegan diet, especially vitamin B12. They also contains retinol, the true, bioavailable form of vitamin A.
From an ethical vegan standpoint, bivalves are similar to plants. They don’t have a central nervous system as we know it, therefore they are not considered sentient, “able to perceive or feel things”.
And did I say they’re great B12 vitamin foods?
Even just a couple of oysters per week could provide you with vitamin B12 benefits and do wonders to your vegan diet.
Any vegetarian foods with vitamin B12?
Like vegans (but less so), vegetarians show lower levels of B12 and significantly higher homocysteine levels, increasing their risk of blood clotting and heart disease. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re a vegetarian, then feast on eggs, dairy, and especially fish and shellfish (if allowed) like your life depends on it. All these are great vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians and should be consumed regularly.
If you don’t eat fish or shellfish on a regular basis, I recommend supplementing with methylcobalamin tablets.