"Vegan lifestyles—as ostensibly nutritionally adequate—are part and parcel of social class distinction outside the proletariat. Maybe you have spent too long in certain metro areas or subcultures to see it for what it is. You can definitely be vegetarian cheaply in the “rice and beans” sort of way although you”l probably eat the same thing all the time too. A can of black beans, from what I’ve seen, typically has about 21 grams of protein for three servings (the whole can, whereas for 3 oz of lean meat it’s typically 20-30 grams). A sedentary 150 lb man has a protein RDA of about 60 grams of protein a day. That’s less than bodybuilding magazines act like it is, but when it takes one can of black beans to get to 20 grams of protein and you need three times that it’s a bit more complicated because who wants to consume three whole cans of beans or lentils a day? (You can only cook it so many ways until you hate it, you need time to cook and I think that probably would get a little expensive… and there’s a lot of sodium.) The meat replacements can be more protein dense but they’re also expensive (like five dollars for a whole box of tofu where it’s only 20-35 grams of protein for the whole thing, veggie burgers are from what I’ve seen probably the only sometimes cheap meat replacement that typically give you 8-20 grams a serving). If I’m fairly active and weight lift typically about 4 days a week so my RDA probably puts me at around 115 grams of protein needed a day and hence I don’t think I could afford currently to both not eat the same thing constantly but still continue growing.”
One large complication of “worldwide veganism” would be the fact that it is not biologically possible to get B12 in any necessary amount with a vegan diet and hence you have to take a B12 supplement. Actual B12 is too complex to put into supplements economically (it takes at least a hundred steps) so B12 supplements contain a vitamer (something that acts just like a vitamin) called cyanocobalamin. It’s made by having bacteria in a well controlled fermentation produce hydroxocobalamin and other variations of cobalamin.They must be combined with potassium cyanide to produce cyanocobalamin (since that’s the most stable version). The main way so far to produce cyanide would be the Andrussow process or BMA process, where you have to heat methane and ammonia inside a platinum covered pipe from 1200 to 1400 celsius to get one carbon atom triple bonded to a nitrogen atom which is cyanide.
In short, producing B12 is some pretty complex shit that requires a lot of heavy machinery, trained chemist and a whole bunch of other things a very good portion of the world doesn’t have in much amounts. Eighty percent of the world’s B12 is currently produced in France (so it has to be transported long distances to a lot of consumers, and so large portions of the world becoming vegan would require some serious reorientation of production if it were to ever be efficient and better yet ecologically friendly), and even though 55% of it is currently used in animal feed even if we were to quit eating animals I have no doubt it would still take a rather large increase in production to ensure that the whole world wouldn’t be B12 deficient (about 50% of the US —a high percent for most countries— takes a multi-vitamin that probably has B12 in it, that’s about 150 million people, but imagine 7 billion or more). It don’t think I would ever say it’s wholly impossible to do, but it’s really something that needs to be thought through when people talk about veganism on a very large scale. Yet I’ve honestly never seen any vegans anywhere talk about this possible logistic and production complication which is just annoying.
B12 is very complicated to make (just compare the chemical structure of this to morphine, Round Up/glyphosate or fluoxetine/Prozac, which aren’t incredibly easy to synthesize). Robert Burns Woodward was the first to find a way to make it (and his route for making it is the only one so far), he’s considered to be one of the leading organic chemist of the 21st century but one real landmark of his career was artificially synthesizing B12. He was also the first to artificially synthesize a few other naturally occurring chemicals like cholesterol, cortisone, chlorophyll and strychnine, but B12 was by far the hardest and considered still probably one of the most hardest naturally occurring things to produce artificially. I just can’t imagine looking at this chemical and having to find a chemical to start with.
The “R” is where carbon-nitrogen (cyano group) could be attached, oxygen-hydrogen (hydoxyl) could be attached or methyl could be attached to the cobalt atom in the center to make vitamers like cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin and so on