Vegan for your health
The World Health Organisation have classed meat as a group 1 carcinogen, which is the same category as cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos. They advise everyone to “eat a nutritious diet based on a variety of foods originating mainly from plants, rather than animals”. Meat is also high in saturated fat and sodium and has been linked to a multitude of diseases, whilst plant-based foods give you all the nutrients you require to be healthy and create meals which are just as delicious, if not more so!
A diet high in complex carbohydrates and fibre (found only in plant foods) but low in fat is the best dietary description for controlling obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plant-based diets can also help reduce insulin requirements. Scientific studies of Californian Seventh Day Adventists show that vegetarians have a number of health benefits including at least two years greater longevity on average compared to even low meat eaters.
The economic benefits of vegan diets worldwide could be as much as US$31 trillion
Prevent heart disease
Oxford University research findings into the benefits of a vegetarian diet found that vegetarians have lower body fat levels and are less likely to die of heart disease. In addition, vegetarians have a lower risk of constipation and appendicitis. Also it has been found that vegetarians have higher telomerase activity, a process thought to be important to aging-related diseases. (Telomerase is an enzyme that helps preserve the ends of chromosomes).
Professor Claus Leitzmann, a retired nutrition researcher from the University of Fiessen, extends the benefits of plant based diets to include lower risk of
- adult onset diabetes
- certain types of cancer
- renal disease and dementia
- diverticular disease
- rheumatoid arthritis.
For disease prevention
Only a third of New Zealand adults have a healthy body weight and just 39% meet the fruit and veg guidelines; eating 7 or more portions of fruit and veg a day can reduce the risk of premature death by a third compared to those who eat less than 1 portion! Moreover, a plant-based diet has been proved to lower the risks of:
Obesity – eating a vegan diet can help overweight people reduce body fat and promote weight loss without even restricting calories! This is because eating high fibre foods changes gut microbiome composition which boosts metabolism. In one study, participants following a vegan diet lost up to twice as much as weight as non-vegans whilst eating the same amount of calories
Various forms of cancer – eating just 50g of meat per day (the equivalent of two rashers of bacon) increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, and vegan diets have been linked to a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer. Even consuming more than one glass of milk or one egg daily can increase chances of ovarian cancer by over 70%
Cognitive decline – consuming more than one glass of milk a day increases the chance by up to 33%
High cholesterol and blood pressure, which increases risks of strokes
Heart disease – 15 million people die from heart disease every year. Meat, especially red processed meat, increases the chances of this by over 20%
Type 2 diabetes – eating meat increases this risk by over 20%, which can lead to a multitude of further complications
Mortality – a global move to a vegan diet would avert over 8 million premature deaths every year
A pescatarian diet might be regarded as some by a ‘halfway’ step and is even promoted in some nutritional guidelines, but there are a lot of widely unknown yet significant perils of this. High levels of toxins, fat and cholesterol, and a lack of fibre, make fish a poor choice. New Zealand’s waters contain pollutants which accumulate in fish and shellfish, including mercury, cadmium and arsenic. These are highly toxic, and mercury is a human carcinogen – mercury exposure from fish consumption can cause irreversible damage to the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, brain damage and memory loss, and damage to a foetus. Thus, meat, fish, dairy and eggs should all be avoided for optimum health.