"Going vegetarian? But what about your PROTEIN? What about your HEALTH? It cant be good for you!? Or, so say some people. Wrong!
Lets compare two of todays most common diets and see which one appears better for your health.
typical Western diet:
There is a great deal of evidence indicating that eating too much meat and dairy products, as well as consuming too little fruit, vegetables and cereal foods, are major factors in promoting the development of heart disease and many forms of cancer. In other words, the typical Western diet is a big-league culprit in killing off the majority of people in the United States before their time.
A Western vegetarian
Many scientific studies comparing vegetarians with typical Western diet eaters have found that vegetarians are considerably healthier and less likely to suffer from a wide range of illnesses than meat eaters, and they tend to live longer. Whats more, there apparently are no illnesses to which vegetarians seem more prone to develop than are meat eaters. Since 1898, nutritionists have been telling us that: No single factor is more important in determining the outbreak of cancer in the predisposed than high feeding. Many indications point to gluttonous consumption of meat as likely to be especially harmful. (Scientific American, December 1898).
Many more modern studies have now confirmed this early finding and have added a significant number of other diseases to the list that afflict meat eaters more than vegetarians. In their position paper on vegetarian diets, the American Dietetic Association (ADA), notes that vegetarian diets are associated with reduced risk for a number of chronic diseases, including obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, mellitus, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and kidney disease. (Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Messina, V. & Burke, K., V97 No. 11, 1997, p. 1317.) In many countries of the world - developing countries where few animal products are eaten - such diseases are virtually unknown.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, nutritionists advocated large protein intakes to assure good health. Since the 1980s it has become evident that more protein is not better. In fact, too much protein can damage the kidneys, bones, and significantly increase the risk for colon cancer. Now, leading health authorities in the USA, Britain, Australia, and other countries are agreeing on the need to shift away from animal products towards plant-based diets.
Despite all this, there is confusion, and not all of it is accidental. When a piece of research that suggests that meat-based diets are healthy makes the news, it is often found out later to be poorly done, unreliable, and paid for by companies that sell animal products. Nevertheless, as physician and nutritionist, John McDougall, M.D., states, People love to hear good news about their bad habits, and It is used as a justification to continue consuming the disease-inducing, standard American diet.
It is no secret that food is a very political issue. Big companies make huge amounts of money from animal products and wield enormous power - so governments are not very willing to challenge them. There hasnt been the political will to change the national diet, even though the World Health Organization says thats what urgently needs to happen.
No were not! Over millions of years, human beings have evolved to eat a diet based upon plant foods. From the very earliest times right up to the middle of this century, the vast majority of people obtained most of their nutrition from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, roots, seeds, nuts, and other plant-derived foods. According to William C. Roberts, M.D., the distinguished editor-in-chief of the prestigious medical publication, the American Journal of Cardiology: Although human beings eat meat, we are not natural carnivores. No matter how much fat carnivores eat, they do not develop atherosclerosis (clogged arteries). When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores.
Not only did early humans eat many times the plant food we eat today, they ate only a fraction of the animal food. So when both nature and cardiologists are in agreement, it makes sense to listen to what they say. Whatever fears parents may have about a vegetarian diet, the really unhealthy way to eat is to continue consuming the typical Western diet.
A vegetarian diet is an excellent way of nourishing your body which will not only leave you pleasantly full but positively glowing with good health! (Vegetarian food tastes great, too!)
All food contains a mixture of nutrients in different quantities known as protein, carbohydrates (including fiber), fat.
Meat contains all the amino acids that comprise protein, but that doesnt mean it is better for us than plant protein. As stated previously, eating large amounts of animal products, even lean-looking meats, means eating saturated animal fats and cholesterol. It is these artery-clogging fats which are believed to be a main cause of heart disease as well as diet-related cancers. Meat also contains little carbohydrates, no fiber or calcium, and few vitamins - but frequently contains dangerous microbes like Salmonella and E. coli. The problem of food-borne infections - including the lethal Mad Cow Disease (in humans known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) is a growing one. In view of all the foregoing, it is a comfort to know that well-balanced vegan diet can supply all the protein you need, whether you are a growing child or a mature adult.
How much protein
do we need?
To give you a comparison between some meat and vegetarian products, a standard 50 g beef burger contains 10.2 g of protein and three (90 g) fish sticks 12.l g; half a can of 225 g baked beans contains 11.5 g of protein; an average serving of pasta (190 g cooked) contain 8.5 g, an average serving of kidney beans (160 g cooked) 12.4 g, and a small packet (25 g) of peanuts contains 6.1 g.
Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of vegetable foods (whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals and beans). Despite its indigestible nature, fiber is essential for the digestive system to work properly. It acts like a broom in the intestines, sweeping away toxins and helping prevent diseases such as colon cancer - which is a significant 40 percent less common in vegetarians than meat eaters. While a vegetarian diet high in plant foods contains plenty of fiber, meat contains none. Carbohydrate-rich foods should be consumed in as unrefined a form as possible; for example, brown rice, whole grain pastas and breads, whole beans, etc., are more health enhancing as they contain more fiber and vitamins.
A rough guide is that saturated fats are normally solid at room temperature and they include animal fats such as lard and butter. Unsaturated fats are normally liquid at room temperature, such as sunflower or olive oil. There are few vegetable fats that contain saturated fat - coconut oil and palm oil are the most common ones. Since your body can create saturated fats from unsaturated fats (but not the other way around), you dont need to eat saturated fat in your diet, according to the WHO.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance called a sterol. It is found in animal foods but is completely absent from plant foods. The body can make all the cholesterol it requires so we do not need to include it in our diet - at all! Saturated fats increase the level of cholesterol in blood while unsaturated fats can help to lower it.
However, too much fat of any kind is linked to cancers and other diseases. The single biggest dietary cause of clogged arteries, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes is our animal fat and refined sugar-laden diet. The more of these there are in your blood, the greater your risk of getting one or all of the above diseases. At the moment, one in three boys and one in four girls can expect to die of heart disease later in life - thats how huge an epidemic there is. And it looks set to get worse as young people consume ever greater amounts of fat - mostly animal fats - and sugar.
The reason why antioxidants are so important is that they are our main defense that we have against damaging molecules called free radicals, which are thought to play a major role in causing over sixty major diseases related to aging. Free radicals are molecules that have become unbalanced by losing an electron. To try and regain their missing electron, these molecules crash around like back-alley muggers, trying to steal an electron from other molecules. This theft can create a chain reaction in which DNA - the human genetic blueprint -becomes damaged and begins to produce diseased cells, which can lead to cancer and other health catastrophes.
So can high-temperature cooking - in particular, the frying or searing of meat. Researchers cooked beef burgers, bacon and soy burgers and found that both the beef burgers and bacon produced significant amounts of the most damaging free radicals while the soy burger produced virtually none. Antioxidants are the heroes who neutralize the damaging free radicals, and so protect the body against diseases. Antioxidant vitamins are mainly found in fresh fruit and vegetables, and vegetarians and vegans usually eat more fresh fruit and veggies than meat eaters. This is probably one big reason why vegans are usually healthier and tend to live longer. To assure yourself an ample supply of these valuable vitamins, be sure that you eat a reasonably varied diet and dont live on chips and candies! Eat a variety of foods like whole fruits, vegetables, cereals (e.g. whole grain bread), beans, as well as healthy snacks such as your favorite nuts or seeds.
Some of the most notable vitamins and minerals include:
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Many reputable health organizations including the World Health Organization, American Dietetic Association, and the British Medical Association, all agree that vegetarian and vegan diets can lead to superb states of health. Any young person who changes to a completely plant-based diet is greatly improving their chance of avoiding a number of deadly diseases. In the process you will help to bring an end the horrors of factory farming, and help to stop the onslaught which is destroying the worlds oceans; you will also begin to offer hope to the worlds starving peoples and will help the environment start to recover.
A vegetarian eats
food that is free from any ingredients obtained from the killing of animals.
A vegan eats food free from any animal products. Because there are so
many foods that vegetarians eat, its easier to state which they
Vegetarians who choose to eat dairy products and eggs are LACTO-OVO VEGETARIANS.
Those who eat dairy products but not eggs are LACTO VEGETARIANS.
Those who eat eggs but not dairy products are OVO VEGETARIANS.
Those who avoid all animal products, including all dairy products, eggs and honey are VEGANS.
M.D. is an honors graduate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine
in Chicago, and has post-graduate training in internal medicine, surgery,
anesthesiology and obstetrics. He is the author of Vegan Nutrition: Pure
and Simple and Pregnancy, Children, and the
Dr. Christine Fenn
is a leading nutritionist and an international speaker. She advises athletes
and top business people on how to achieve peak performance through diet.
She specializes in nutrition for expeditions and planned the diets for
grueling expeditions to the North Pole
Chris lives in the UK and is a regular contributor to BBC radio and TV and is the presenter for the BBC World Service series The Good Foods Guide. Chris puts theory into practice and eats well. She needs to - having climbed Kilimanjaro twice and cycled across the USA from coast to coast!