Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

You’re not healthy unless you’re vegan?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have heard the term “Vegan” or “Vegetarian” at least once this past month. Especially if you know one. Vegans and Vegetarians seem to be slowly taking over pop culture. What even is a vegan? What is this sudden trend, and why is it so popular?

Being a vegan or vegetarian is a type of diet people choose to live by. Vegetarians choose to cut out all forms of meat from their diets. When I say meat, I mean meat. That’s red meat, white meat, seafood and any other form of food that comes from eating something with eyes and a beating heart. Vegans also don’t eat meat, but additionally cut out any form of food that has been derived from an animal. Their diet is wholly plant based. Many vegans make a lifestyle out of their choice to eat a plant based diet, but we’ll talk about this in the upcoming blog posts.

Nowadays in society, if you mention that you’re vegan it’s either well received with interest and a good conversation, or you’re shut down and stereotyped. Consider this; why would the food that humans are supposed to eat, have to be so processed and refined to be edible, and when it is made edible, be likely to cause health problems?

Health problems you say? That’s right. There are a range of issues that stem from eating a diet rich in meat (besides the main lifestyle diseases of course, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and obesity). A study in the New England journal of Medicine looked into the effects of the methyl mercury content in fish. It was found that a high level of mercury may counteract the cardioprotective benefits of fish intake. If fish with toxic levels of mercury are consumed, people may be exposed to neurological and renal damage, as well as planting a predisposition to atherosclerosis. This is a disease characterized by the build up of plaque inside one’s arteries. It can be the cause of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.

Another major health problem that stems from eating meat is the strong correlation between a high intake of protein, and cancer. A recent press release from the World Health Organization, declares red meat as carcinogenic to humans. Their findings show that “each 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.”

6_types-of-meats

We have been taught that protein is the strongest building block for the human body. People center their diets around protein. They eat large portions of meat daily, in order to build muscle. Yes, the body does benefit from protein, but what people don’t know is that with the amount of protein gained from eating meat, their bodies are mostly storing this, as it is not a primary energy source, and the build up is causing harmful effects such as cancerous diseases.

A letter to the editor published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains the results of an experiment by biochemist Thomas M. Campbell. In this, it was found that diets with low protein content inhibited the initiation of cancer growth. They had discovered that it was possible to turn on and off the cancer growth by changing the level of protein consumed. Furthermore, it was found that Caesin, a protein that makes up 87% of cow’s milk, consistently promoted all stages of cancer growth. However, it was found that there were safe sources of protein. These were derived from plant based foods such as wheat and soy.

Now let’s not forget about eggs. A study in the journal, Atherosclerosis, found that eating 3 eggs or more per week is associated with a significant increase in artery and plaque build up in the arteries going to the brain. They found that the effect of consuming this amount of egg yolk appears to have the same effect as approximately 2/3 that of smoking.

It seems to be that everything we’ve been taught to be nutritionally sound is actually proving to be more harmful than good. Don’t fret just yet. It’s not all bad news, there’s still hope for us to regain our health and live with an abundance of food and energy.

Eating a primary vegetarian or vegan diet has been proven to work wonders for people of all ages, and has a proven track record of reversing disease. Dr. John McDougall is a well known physician that has been practicing medicine for over 40 years, with countless published articles, numerous best selling books and a message that is as true today as when he first discovered it. That is the vegan message. An experiment conducted by Dr. John McDougall and his team involved 1615 people taking part in his McDougall Program which is a low fat vegan diet, for simply 7 days. The results from this speak for themselves. In this short time period, the average weight loss was 1.8kg and the average decrease in cholesterol was 29mg/dL. For patients whose risk of a cardiovascular event within 10 years was greater than 7.5% at the beginning of the experiment, the risk dropped to 5.5% at day 7. Another experiment observing the effects of a low fat vegan diet, published in the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis can experience significant decreases in their symptoms by simply switching their dietary choices to being plant based.

food photography of ripe fruits at the market

Wholesome fruits and vegetables

Imagine a life with minimal health issues. A life with no pills, no need for medication and an abundance of energy. It’s not breaking news that the world is the sickest it’s ever been in terms of lifestyle factors. According to the World Health Organization, “Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980”. It doesn’t take a genius to realize it’s not from eating fruits and vegetables. What sounds better; eating meat and dairy for the calcium and protein along with the cholesterol, fat and hormones? Or eating plant based foods with starches like rice and potatoes at the center of the diet. Enjoying all the same benefits as eating animal products, but without the harmful consequences to the body?

There are numerous articles, journals, real life examples and evidence that proves to us, a plant based diet is the best way to true health. People that eat a vegan diet are passionate about it because they’ve been exposed to the truth, and want the whole world to know what they know. So next time your crazy vegan friend starts rambling on about the meat and dairy industry, maybe tune in to listen. The evidence is clear, and the choice is yours.

There is no way I could teach you everything about the vegan diet, and truthfully I don’t know everything there is to know. So do yourself some research and I can guarantee you won’t regret it.

Vegan YouTube Channels:

Documentaries:

  • Forks Over Knives

Books:

  • The China Study
  • The Starch Solution

Resources:

Timothy J Key, Paul N Appleby, Magdalena S. Roswell, TK PA MR 2006, Health Effects of vegetarian and vegan diets, ProCon, 2/5/16, http://vegetarian.procon.org/sourcefiles/health_effects_of_vegetarian_and_vegan_diets.pdf

 

Winston J Craig, WC 2009, Health Effects of vegan diets, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 13/4/16, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1627S.full

 

Eliseo Guallar, M. Inmaculada Sanz-Gallardo, Pieter Van’t Veer, Peter Bode, Antti Aro, Jorge Gómez-Aracena,  Jeremy D. Kark, Rudolph A. Riemersma, José M. Martín-Moreno, Frans J. Kok, 2002, The New England Journal of Medicine, 13/4/16, http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa020157

 

2015, IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat, International Agency for Research on Cancer – World Health Organisation, 13/4/16, https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf

 

T Colin Campbell, TC 2007, Dietary protein, growth factors, and cancer, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/6/1667.full

 

Hugh Harris, Ingrid Pickering, Graham George, The chemical form of mercury in fish, Seafood network information centre, 13/4/16, http://seafood.oregonstate.edu/.pdf%20Links/The%20Chemical%20Form%20of%20Mercury%20in%20Fish.pdf

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5 comments on “You’re not healthy unless you’re vegan?

  1. alknorris
    April 15, 2016

    Hey ☺ I really like this topic idea- it is becoming more and more relevant since society is now opening up to all a different range of diets (especially to think not that long ago supermarkets didn’t even have a ‘health food’ isle!). I think having your blog title as a question was a very good way to hook in the reader, though, it would be even better to see some links to the information you found or a video link, but overall, a very interesting blog to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mgeorgat
    May 7, 2016

    This is a very interesting and informative article! The topic you chose does contain truth to it. You mentioned that eggs cause ‘a significant increase in artery and plaque build up in the arteries going to the brain’. You should go into more detail about the properties that the egg contains, in particular egg whites. For example, egg whites have no fat, carbohydrates and are cholesterol free. You emphasised the fact health issues is one of the main reasons as to why people become vegan. Are there any other reasons as to why an individual would decide to go vegan? All in all, great article, good points made and I agree with the potential health risks associated with people who are not vegan, however there are sources of nutrients vegans would lack such as iron and calcium.

    Like

    • eleisadrose
      May 9, 2016

      Hi! Thank you for your comment. Yes, I am focusing my other two articles on the other main reasons why people go vegan, which is for the environment and for ethical reasons. Fair enough to mention the lack of calcium and iron in the vegan diet. However, many vegan alternatives to meat and dairy are fortified with these nutrients. If a person is eating a balanced diet, they should be able to attain these nutrients from foods such as leafy green vegetables, rice and soy products for calcium. In terms of iron, many foods contain it, including lentils, spinach, tofu and oats. There is always the option of getting a blood test and taking supplements for nutrients one is lacking in.

      Like

  3. pmwatts95
    May 7, 2016

    Hi there!
    This is a really interesting topic and I like the ideas you’ve put forward! I think it’s a really important topic to talk about seeing as cancer kills more and more people every year.
    However when you say that the world health organisation has declared red meat as carcinogenic to humans it is actually in the group 2B which is ‘probably causes cancer’. Processed meat however is classed as group 1 which ‘causes cancer’. When we say that red meat can possibly cause cancer it’s important to explain how it may cause the cancer. You have told us that a diet low in meat can decrease the risk of cancer but how exactly? What is the insulin growth hormone and how does Caesin promote stages of cancer growth?
    Another way meat could possible cause cancer is by N-Nitroso the chemical produced from meat that is shown to have correlation to colorectal cancer. This is formed in our stomach when Haem (the pigment that makes meat red) is broken down and reacts with the amines in our guts. N – Nitroso is not natural in the body and damages the cells lining our bowels. Therefore cells replicate to repair the lining and if there is extra replication this could cause colorectal cancer.
    I think you’ve got a very good argument going, the science just need to be described a little bit more!
    *Please note the websites in the hyperlinks are my references

    Like

  4. pmwatts95
    May 7, 2016

    Hi there!
    This is a really interesting topic and I like the ideas you’ve put forward! I think it’s a really important topic to talk about seeing as cancer kills more and more people every year.
    However when you say that the world health organisation has declared red meat as carcinogenic to humans it is actually in the group 2B which is ‘probably causes cancer’. Processed meat however is classed as group 1 which ‘causes cancer’. When we say that red meat can possibly cause cancer it’s important to explain how it may cause the cancer. You have told us that a diet low in meat can decrease the risk of cancer but how exactly? What is the insulin growth hormone and how does Caesin promote stages of cancer growth?
    Another chemical produced from meat that is shown to have correlation to colorectal cancer – N- nitroso. This is formed in our stomach when Haem (the pigment that makes meat red) is broken down and reacts with the amines in our guts. N – Nitroso is not natural in the body and damages the cells lining our bowels. Therefore cells replicate to repair the lining and if there is extra replication this could cause colorectal cancer.
    I think you’ve got a very good argument going, the science just need to be described a little bit more!
    *Please note the websites in the hyperlinks are my references.

    Like

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This entry was posted on April 13, 2016 by in Burwood - Wednesday 11am, Uncategorized.

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