As rates for obesity, heart disease, cancer,
diabetes, hypertension, and other life-threatening
conditions skyrocket in the United States,
many researchers and medical experts have
come to the same conclusion: A vegetarian
diet can help protect your health and even
reverse some diseases, including the most
prevalent one, heart disease.
Beating Heart Disease
Vegetarian diets can help prevent heart disease,
the number one killer in the United States.
In the typical American diet, animal products
are the main source of saturated fat and the
only source of cholesterol. By choosing vegetables,
beans, fruits, and grains instead of meat,
eggs, and dairy products, we can greatly reduce
the amount of saturated fat and all the cholesterol
which contribute to heart disease. Fiber intake
also helps lower cholesterol levels, (1) and
animal products contain no fiber. One study
even demonstrated that a low-fat, high-fiber,
near-vegan diet combined with stress reduction
techniques, smoking cessation, and exercise
could actually reverse atherosclerosis, the
hardening of the arteries. (2) Heart disease
patients who include animal products in their
diets have much less success, only slowing
the process of atherosclerosis.
have lower rates of obesity, coronary
heart disease, high blood pressure,
large bowel disorders, cancers
and gallstones." —British
often live longer and suffer less
from several chronic diseases."
have half to three-quarters the
risk of dying of heart disease
compared to non-vegetarians."
rates among vegetarians are 25-50
per cent less than non-vegetarians."
(high blood pressure) in vegetarians
is one third to one half that
of meat eaters." —PCRM
is much less likely to be a cause
of death in vegetarians"
have a much lower incidence of
Caesarean section." —PCRM
percent of all food poisoning
comes from meat and animal products"
—British Medical Association
We can keep some cancers at arm's length
with a vegetarian diet. Breast cancer rates
are dramatically lower in countries, such
as China, that follow plant-based diets; but,
when those same populations start including
more animal products in their diets, their
cancer rates skyrocket. It's also been shown
that vegetarians generally have lower rates
of colon cancer than non-vegetarians(3), and
a recent study found that a low-fat, vegetarian
diet with routine exercise can help stop and
even reverse prostate cancer.(4)
In the United States, obesity is a national
epidemic. A low-fat vegetarian diet and moderate
exercise have been shown to take the weight
off and keep it off. To learn more, please
More, Weigh Less, by Dean Ornish,
Many people are concerned that a vegetarian
diet cannot provide all of the essential nutrients
we need. The fact is, you don't need a nutrition
degree to have a well-balanced diet with vegetarian
Combining of vegetarian foods isn't necessary
to get more than enough protein. Eating
an adequate number of calories per day made
up of any normal variety of plant foods
gives us all the protein our bodies need.
Although there may be potentially less protein
in a vegetarian's diet than a meat-eater's,
this is actually an advantage. Excess protein
has been linked to kidney stones, increased
calcium excretion (which could lead to osteoporosis),
some cancers, and possibly heart disease.
A diet centered on beans, whole grains,
and vegetables contains adequate amounts
of protein without the "overdose"
most meat-eaters get. Learn
why the Atkins Diet is dangerous!
Calcium is easy to find in a vegetarian
diet. Many dark green leafy vegetables (such
as broccoli, kale, and collards) and beans
(such as soy beans, navy beans, and chick
peas) are good calcium sources, and calcium-fortified
juices and cereals are readily available.
An emerging concern is the increased threat
to human health caused by the overuse of antibiotics
in factory farming. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency reports that up to 80 percent
of all factory farmed animals receive antibiotics
to promote growth and minimize illnesses common
in intensive confinement animal agribusiness
practices.(7,8) As a result, antibiotic-resistant
strains of bacteria-most notably salmonella,
campylobacter, and E.coli-are increasingly
found in animal products and passed to humans
who eat meat and eggs, and through our drinking
water. Up to 75 percent of an antibiotic may
pass undigested through animals to be excreted
in waste which can contaminate our water supplies.(9)
The ability of antibiotics to treat human
infections has been jeopardized to the point
that the World Health Organization, the American
Medical Association, and other consumer protection
and health advocacy organizations are calling
for the reduction or termination of this use
of antibiotics.(10,11) In fact, the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration is currently considering
placing restrictions on animal agribusiness's
use of certain antibiotics to protect the
American public from the increasing number
of drug-resistant bacteria.
Good Protein, Iron, & Calcium Sources
almonds, black beans, brown rice, cashews,
garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans,
lentils, lima beans, peanut butter, pinto
beans, seitan, soy beans, soymilk, sunflower
seeds, textured vegetable protein (TVP),
tofu, vegetarian hot dogs and burgers
black beans, bran flakes, cashews, Cream
of Wheat®, garbanzo beans (chickpeas),
GrapeNuts®, kidney beans, lentils,
navy beans, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, raisins,
soybeans, soymilk, spinach, sunflower
seeds, tofu, tomato juice, whole wheat
almonds, black beans, broccoli, calcium-fortified
orange juice, collard greens, great northern
beans, kale, kidney beans, mustard greens,
navy beans, orange juice, pinto beans,
sesame seeds, soy beans, soymilk, textured
vegetable protein (TVP), tofu
American Dietetic Association; U.S.D.A.
Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Is Milk Natural?
Our bodies have no natural need for cows'
milk. We weren't designed with some odd flaw
requiring us to drink the milk of other animals.
Except for some domesticated cats, human beings
are the only animals who drink the mother's
milk of another species. Indeed, just as dogs'
milk is intended for puppies, rats' milk for
baby rats, and humans' milk for human infants,
cows' milk is intended for calves. Our bodies
treat cows' milk as an invader, and including
milk and other dairy products in our diets
is linked to an array of health problems.
Milk is touted for building strong bones,
yet some research shows otherwise. The Harvard
clinical research study, which has followed
more than 75,000 women for 12 years, shows
no protective effect of increased milk consumption
on fracture risk. In fact, increased intake
of dairy products was associated with a higher
fracture risk.(5) An Australian study showed
the same results.(6)
You can lower your risk of osteoporosis by
reducing the sodium in your diet, eating more
fruits and vegetables, exercising, and getting
enough calcium from plant foods such as leafy
green vegetables and beans, as well as calcium-fortified
cereals and juices.
- Sacks FM, et al. Plasma lipids and lipoproteins
in vegetarians and controls. N Engl J Med
- Ornish D, et al. Can lifestyle changes
reverse coronary heart disease? Lancet 1990;336:129-33.
- Phillips RL. Role of lifestyle and dietary
habits in risk of cancer among Seventh-Day
Adventists. Cancer Res (Suppl) 1975;35:3513-22.
- Ornish DM, et al. Dietary trial in prostate
cancer: early experience and implications
for clinical trial design. Urology 2001;57(4
- Feskanich D, et al. Milk, dietary calcium,
and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective
study. Am J Public Health 1997;87:992-7.
- Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ. Case-control
study of risk factors for hip fractures
in the elderly. Am J Epidemiol 1994;139:493-505.
- Proposed CAFO Preamble and Rule, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/cafo_ch5.pdf.
- Literature Review and Assessment of Pathogens,
Heavy Metal, and Antibiotic Content of Waste
and Wastewater Generated by CAFOs, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency contract
- From Animals to Humans, www.keepantibioticsworking.com/pages/basics/enviro.cfm.
- Antibiotic Use in Food-Producing Animals
Must Be Curtailed to Prevent Increased Resistance
in Humans, World Health Organization, Press
release WHO/73, Geneva, October 20, 1997.
- American Medical Association. House of
Delegates, Resolution 508, June 2001.
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