This informative post was written by Goji Man (a.k.a. Simon Hammett), who is from the UK and is currently studying a Masters in Food, Nutrition & Health. He runs a blog called gojimannutrition.com which focuses on plant based nutrition and health which I encourage you to check out! You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
“My vegan diet almost killed me”.
These are the common claims of celebrities like Angelina Jolie or bloggers like Jordan Younger.
In fact, it appears that anyone who has a book to sell or a website to promote has had a brush with death because of their vegan diet (but lets not go there)!
In reality, when you actually look at what led these people to make these claims in the first place, it almost always boils down to one of three things (or a combination of the three). 1) A lack of nutritional knowledge or education. 2) A poor diet. 3) An eating disorder (such as Orthorexia).
VEGAN DOES NOT MEAN HEALTHY
Walk around any city today and you will see more and more vegan restaurants popping up. Supermarkets are offering larger and larger vegan ranges. And more and more celebrities are on the “vegan kicks” bandwagon. No meat, no dairy and no animal products. Hooray I hear you cry!
So whats my problem?
My problem is that people associate the word vegan with being healthy. Yes, certain vegan foods are healthy for you. Quinoa, vegetables and beans are all excellent choices. Combine them in a meal and you have a perfectly healthy plate of food.
But in reality this isn’t what many vegans are eating. Nope, many vegans are scoffing fake meats and cheeses (like Tofurky and Daiya) like they are going out of fashion. And in my experience, these type of foods are no healthier for you than the junk foods you were probably consuming before you became vegan.
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Yes, by eating these foods you are voting against the inhumane slaughter and treatment of animals. You are also choosing to be an environmentalist. But surely in amongst the environment and animal rights you need a prominent place for your health and the health of your family?
EMBRACING THE HEALTHY PAST OF THE VEGAN DIET: PLANT BASED
This is always my favourite part – delivering facts.
The overwhelming convergence of evidence is that if one adopts a healthy non-processed plant based diet then it will help prevent and reverse many of the leading causes of death today (1-14).
For example, heart disease, the leading global killer, has repeatedly been shown to be non existent in countries that focus their diets around plants(15-30). This is because the arteries of those on plant based diets are incredibly healthy and often healthier than long distance runners and athletes, for example (31-42). High carb diets (which don’t involve refined carbohydrates) also produce healthier arteries than those on low carbohydrate diets (43-49).
A minimally processed plant based diet has also repeatedly been shown to prevent, slow and even reverse many of the most common cancers (50-53). This includes colon, kidney, breast, prostate and cervical. The primary reason for this is plant based diets contain high amount of antioxidants and other compounds that have anti-ageing effects in the body (54-55). These compounds and phytochemicals have also been shown to repair DNA damage – the leading cause of cancer (56-59). Plant based diets are also Angiogenesis inhibitors (prevent tumours from attaching to a local blood supply) and Methionine restrictors (starves tumours of the amino acid they need for growth) (60-83).
Plant based diets are also superior for:
- Having a healthier digestive system (84-85)
- Having a healthier gut flora (86-90)
- Controlling weight (91)
- Treating and reversing type 2 diabetes (92-96)
- Stopping gallstone formation (97-98)
- Improving cognition (99-102)
- Preventing Alzheimers (103-114)
- Raising IQ in children (115-116)
- Reducing allergies (117-119)
- Increasing lifespan (120-135)
- Preventing and reversing Crohns disease (136-148)
- Preventing and reversing ulcerative colitis (149-158)
- Preventing kidney stone formation (159-168)
- Preventing Metabolic Syndrome (169-172)
- Preventing and treating Multiple Sclerosis (173-187)
- Preventing and reversing Fibromyalgia (188-192)
- Preventing and treating Parkinson’s (193-202)
- Treating asthma (203-206)
- Improving mental health (207-217)
- Cutting the need for medications and surgery (218)
This list is by no means exhaustive.
Before I conclude I just wanted to spend a few moments talking about Jordan Younger. This month (November 2015) Jordan publicly turned her back on veganism and suggested that her vegan diet almost killed her.
Jordan used to run a blog: Vegan Blonde. She had an impressive social media following. But she also had an underlying eating disorder (and my heart goes out to her for this).
Jordan openly admits to previously obsessing daily about her diet when she was a “vegan”. She would put herself through month long 800 calorie a day juice cleanses. She would regularly ignore hunger pangs and count down the hours until her next green juice. She dropped to 105 pounds.
The problems started to manifest when she became seriously malnourished and could barely get out of bed. She also failed to have periods for six months.
During this time she confided in a friend who also suffered from orthorexia and eventually turned her back on “veganism”.
This is not a personal attack on Jordan. I have never met her and I am sure she is a lovely person. The issue I have with all this, is that instead of acknowledging that her health problems were a result of her eating disorder, she simply laid the blame at the feet of veganism. Then to add insult to injury she then rebranded her blog and cashed in with her book: Breaking Vegan.
If you eat processed foods, lack nutritional knowledge or education or have an eating disorder then you will more than likely run into health problems during your life. This holds true for whatever diet you follow.
The vegan diet can be unbelievably healthy if based primarily on plants. The benefits include longevity and a significant risk reduction for premature death compared to those on standard western based diets.
Equally, the vegan diet can also be incredibly unhealthy if your staple foods are processed and fake. Just like the high animal protein and junk food diets that are killing so many today.
It is your choice whether your choose to follow a healthy or an unhealthy diet. Whatever you choose take responsibility for your actions.
And if you are a celebrity, blogger or journalist with a large public following please do not comment on nutrition if you do not have a sound understanding of the topic or if you don’t hold any formal qualifications. You have a responsibility to your followers and you could potentially jeopardise their health through publicising false or misleading information. There is no ‘one size fits all’, it’s about providing people with information and allowing them to make an informed decision. To be considered vegan – nutrition, animal rights and the environment must play a part in these conversations other wise its called a fad diet. And diets don’t work!
This article was republished with permission from gojimannutrition.com.
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