Empirical Data on the Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Resources on the Benefits of a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet

I. American Dietetic Association, “Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets”

“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.
The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential. In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.”

II. Harvard School of Public Health, “Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality,” in Archives of Internal Medicine.

High animal protein intake was positively associated with mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with mortality, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially that from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source.”

III. Kaiser Permanente, “Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets”

In 2013, Kaiser Permanente, the leading U.S. health care provider, published an article in its medical science journal recommending that physicians advise their patients to adopt a plant-based diet. According to the authors, “[healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods … Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.” [my emphasis] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/

IV. Oxford University, “Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change”

In 2016, a major study conducted by Oxford University concluded that “widespread adoption of plant-based diets could avert 8.1 million premature human deaths every year.” …“The study was the first to estimate both the health and climate impacts of a shift toward more plant-based diets for all major world regions, and also concluded that global adoption of such a diet would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion.”

V. World Health Organization

“In 2015, 22 scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated over 800 medical studies and concluded that consumption of processed meat is “carcinogenic to humans,” and that consumption of red meat is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Their conclusions were based on overwhelming evidence for positive associations between meat and colorectal cancer, as well as positive associations between processed meat consumption and stomach cancer, and between red meat consumption and pancreatic and prostate cancer.”

VI. Mayo Clinic

“A well-planned vegetarian diet is a healthy way to meet your nutritional needs.” In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that there are health benefits of a vegan diet, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

VII. American Heart Association

“Most vegetarian diets are low in or devoid of animal products. They’re also usually lower than nonvegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.” …“Vegetarian diets can be healthful and nutritionally sound if they’re carefully planned to include essential nutrients.”

Further Resources:

1. Forks over Knives (available on Netflix)
“Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.”

2. The China Study
“In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD detail the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Recognized as the most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted on the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease, The China Study cuts through the haze of misinformation and examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by government entities, lobbies, and opportunistic scientists.”

The authors conclude that those who eat a whole-food, plant-based diet will avoid, reduce, or reverse the development of numerous diseases, like heart disease diabetes, and cancer.

3. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)/Dr. Neal Barnard
a. http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets
b. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktQzM2IA-qU&list=PLEBYagizSOCTLrX1XPPWl5CIWr5-LcqrL (Dr. Neal Barnard Ted Talk on tackling Diabetes with veganism)

4. Diet for a New America (by John Robbins)
In this book, John Robbins discusses the positive correlation between meat consumption and diseases by appealing to an impressive amount of empirical data.

5. Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness


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