A plant based diet has proven time and again to be a viable and healthy alternative to the typical meat based American diet. Having said that one must educate oneself before choosing to radically change to a vegan diet.
Humans require certain essential nutrients, one of which is found predominantly in meat. That nutrient is b12 and is needed for proper cell metabolism. Plants and animals cannot produce b12.
B12 is made through microorganisms, fungi and algae. The animals consume the microorganisms, b12 is stored in muscles and flesh and we consume the animal, thus acquiring b12. Vegans can obtain b12 through fortified foods and nutritional yeast. Knowing how to enhance the vegan diet so that you receive all essential nutrients is half the battle and should not be taken lightly.
Education is key as you mention but that goes for any diet. Many non-vegans have no clue about what their daily intake should be and most are border line deathly. It surprises me whenever someone mentions the word vegan that people become scientific and start talking about protein, iron or B nutrients. B12 is something to be aware of but a vegan diet provides more than adequate vitamins, minerals and the necessary amino acids, all without the cholesterol, reduced chance for hypertension and reduced chance for diabetes, amongst other things. And it can aways be topped up by supplements or fortified foods. And if people’s only concern is protein intake (as 99% of non-vegans seem to be), legume it away.
Those that run into deficiencies, are not eating a balanced diet or are not aware of what they should be eating. It has nothing to do with any specific diet.
But I digress, and yes it has to be said. The only thing “radical” about a vegan lifestyle is not consuming body parts. The food itself is just food without the meat or cheese.