April 22, 2011


Many vegans have heard comments like: “Humans need animal products for survival” or “There are things in meat, which your body needs and you cannot get from any other kind of food.” According to this mainstream organization, that is not true:
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.Vegetarian diets are often associated with health advantages including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and lower risk of hypertension and type-2 diabetes, according to ADA’s position. Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals. These nutritional differences may explain some of the health advantages of those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet. The position paper draws on results from ADA’s evidence analysis process and information from the ADA Evidence Analysis Library to show vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. Additionally, an evidence-based review showed a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.”
- The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.” 
- http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=1233

Also, the following is from The American Diabetes Association; a mainstream health organization that stated this:
“Is it safe for someone with diabetes to follow a vegetarian diet? Yes! A vegetarian diet is a healthy option, even if you have diabetes. Research supports that following this type of diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that carb and calorie restrictions were not necessary and still promoted weight loss and lowered participants' A1C. Vegetarian diets are naturally higher in fiber, much lower in saturated fat, and cholesterol-free when compared to a traditional American diet. The high fiber in this diet may help you feel full for a longer time after eating and may help you eat less over all. When fiber intake is greater than 50 grams per day on a vegan diet, it may help lower blood glucose levels. This diet also tends to cost less. - The Vegan Diet - This is also called the total or pure vegetarian diet. Those who follow a vegan diet do not eat any meat or foods made with meat products. People with diabetes can choose to follow this type of vegetarian diet too. The vegan diet includes a variety of plant-based foods. Eating soy products and a mix of vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains provides plenty of protein and other important nutrients. The main nutrient of concern for this group is vitamin B12, so taking a supplement or multi-vitamin is usually necessary.” 

These organizations have nothing to do with promoting vegansim. They are mainstream health organizations. They often don't even know what a vegan is; and they don't even define it correctly like this statement from above: 'Those who follow a vegan diet do not eat any meat or foods made with meat products.' A vegan diet excludes all animal derived substances, including eggs, milk, cheese, honey, and all animal-derived by-products.) It is interesting to note that even mainstream health organizations that don't necessarily have a vegan orientation say that a vegan diet is perfectly adequate to sustain humans. Wait, there’s more from The Dieticians of Canada Association:
“Eating Guidelines for Vegans  - Information about a Vegan Diet - A vegan eating pattern is based on grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils), seeds and nuts. It excludes meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs or products containing these foods and any other animal products. A vegan eating pattern has many potential health benefits. They include lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Other benefits include lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk for gallstones and intestinal problems. This eating pattern can take some extra planning. Vegans must make sure that enough nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins D and B12 and omega-3 fats are included. A well planned vegan diet can meet all of these needs. It is safe and healthy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, babies, children, teens and seniors.
       Steps for Special Consideration
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should make sure to follow Canada's Food Guide, choosing a variety of healthy foods. Special attention should be paid to include good sources of vitamin B12, iron and omega-3 fats daily. These nutrients are found in a small amount of foods but are important during this time of growth. If you are pregnant talk to your doctor about a daily prenatal vitamin that includes iron and vitamin B12. All women thinking of becoming pregnant or are pregnant should take a multivitamin daily which includes 400 micrograms of folic acid, to help prevent birth defects. People over the age of 50, need more calcium, vitamin D and B12. A greater focus on the foods that have these nutrients is needed. People over 50 should include three servings of fortified soy or rice beverage each day to help meet calcium needs. Canada's Food Guide states that people over 50 should take 400 IU of vitamin D from a supplement each day. They should also get vitamin B12 from fortified foods or a supplement. A daily multivitamin-mineral supplement will help meet these extra needs. Additional Resources:

Becoming Vegan: The complete guide to adopting a healthy plant-based diet, by Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.

I have been vegan for 33 years and have friends that are vegan for even longer. Our lives serve as living proof that plant nutrients are good fuel for our survival! I think I know more than the average person about nutrition. Many vegans do. A balanced, whole-foods vegan diet is very healthy. We can live without causing the needless suffering, enslavement, and oppression of other species. Evolution is beckoning you to make the change; have your “aha” moment…why cause needless suffering to other animals? They have feelings too. We are fortunate that we can live without killing other animals. Step up in to the light of veganism and out of the darkness of subsisting off violence.

Of course we would NOT be punished with poor health for empathizing with other animals. That makes no sense. Vegans are not necessarily exempt from health issues, however they are not generally more susceptible than those who eat animal products, either. As you can see from what you've read above, there are many health benefits to a vegan diet. Nothing feels healthier than making a stand to live the vegan way of life; a philosophy of respecting others, embracing compassion and a sense of living justly toward other animals; and this philosophy encompasses all aspects of our life, beyond diet.

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