Health Aspects of Veganism
By Dr. Nandita Shah / Introduction by Alen Mischael Vukelić
All photos: Stock.XCHNG
Here’s an article, written by Dr. Nanadita Shah, dealing with questions like:
- Can I have sufficient physical strength on a plant-based diet?
- Can I have strong teeth and bones on a plant-based diet?
- How good is a such a diet for my heart and for my intestines?
- Does this diet lower the risk of getting cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s?
- Does a plant-based diet provide all nutrients that I need?
- Are there any famous people who eat or who have eaten such a diet?
- Are there any risks or precautions to consider?
- What about mental strength when eating only plants?
- How do I look on a plant-based diet?
Health Aspects of Veganism
by Dr. Nandita Shah
Vegan food, with its densely packed nutrients and fibre, but lack of cholesterol, is extremely healthful. Adopting a vegan diet improves health, and even allows people to wean themselves off prescription medications.
Medical research indicates that lifelong vegetarians and vegans visit hospitals 22% less often than meat eaters. Furthermore, that once admitted to a hospital, human herbivores spend a shorter time there than their meat-eating counterparts.
Stamina and Endurance
Dr. Per-Olaf Astrand conducted an informal study of diet and endurance using nine highly trained athletes, changing their diet every three days. At the end of every diet change, each athlete would pedal a bicycle until exhaustion.
Those with a high protein and high-fat meat (carnivore) diet averaged 57 minutes. Those that consumed a mixed (omnivore) diet, lower in meat, fat and protein averaged 1 hour and 54 minutes: twice the endurance of the meat and fat eaters. The vegetarian, high-carbohydrate diet athletes lasted 2 hours and 47 minutes, triple the endurance of the high-protein group. (Source: Astrand, Per-Olaf, Nutrition Today 3 no2, 9-11, 1968)
Vegetarian / Vegan Athletes
Some of the greatest athletes of our time disprove the myth that eating meat is necessary for sportsmen. Sporting veggie/vegans include:
- Sally Eastall, Marathon Runner
- Carl Lewis, Sprinter
- Martina Navratilova, Tennis
- Robbie Earle, Soccer/football
- Dave Scott, Six time winner of the Ironman Triathlon (vegan)
- Ruth Heidrich, 3-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, age-group record holder (vegan)
- Anil Kumble, Leg spinner Indian cricket team
- Edwin Moses, World champion 400m hurdles
- Murray Rose, World records 400m and 1500m freestyle swimming
- Sixto Linares, World record 24-hour triathlon
- Andreas Cahling, Winner Mr. International body building
- Stan Price, World record gymnastics
- Pierrot Verot, Downhill Endurance Skiing
- Robert Sweetgall, World’s Premier Ultradistance Walker
- Pavo Nurmi, 20 World Records, 9 Olympic Medals Distance Running
- Ridgely Abeler, US national champion, karate
- Bill Pickering, World record swimming the English Channel
- Brendan Brazier, Professional Ironman triathlete and bestselling author of ‘Thrive, A guide to optimal health and performance through plant-based whole foods’. He is also the formulator of VEGA – a whole food energy bar available at most Canadian Health food stores. (vegan)
- Robert Cheeke, bodybuilder and founder of www.veganbodybuilding.com (vegan)
- Scott Jurek, Western States Endurance Run 7 time winner and record breaker, (vegan)
- Peter Burwash, Tennis pro, (Davis Cup winner)
- Chris Campbell, Olympic medallist in wrestling
- Desmond Howard, Heisman trophy winner and professional football player
- Billie Jean King, Tennis champion
- Bill Manetti, Power-lifting champion
Vegetarian and vegan food can build muscle as well as anything. Three notable vegans: elephants, horses and gorillas prove that one does not need to consume meat to be strong. Some of the worlds’ strongest humans provide more evidence: Al Beckles , Andreas Cahling, Cory Everson, Louis Freitas, Sharon Hounsell, Lindford McFarquar, Bill Pearl are all veggie–and all body builders!
Skeletal System and Teeth
Vegans have stronger bones and teeth. Osteoporosis and associated hip fracture is linked to high animal protein intake. Avoiding animal products helps prevent breaks and fractures.
Heart disease and hypertension are the biggest killers in the civilized world. Dr. Dean Ornish, in his book, Reversing Heart Disease, shows that these diseases can be decimated by a vegan diet, along with exercise and yoga.
Vegans have lower blood pressure than meat eaters. High blood pressure can contribute to heart disease, strokes and kidney failure.
Words of Wisdom from The Tonight Show
“To counter bird flu fears, KFC is developing a marketing plan to assure consumers that eating their chicken is safe. You will not get the bird flu from eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. You might get heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity, but not the bird flu.”
Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show,” November 10, 2005
Heart attacks… God’s revenge for eating his little animal friends.
A meat-intensive diet is devoid of fibre and can result in constipation and colon diseases. There is a direct correlation between a diet high in animal fat and colon cancer—vegans obviously escape this risk category.
Studies have shown that a vegetarian diet can reduce the chance of suffering from a variety of cancer types by up to 40%. This was the result of a 13-year study of 11,000 people conducted at Oxford University (1995).
The National Cancer Research Institute in Tokyo has concluded that women who consume meat and dairy products have almost a four times greater risk of getting breast cancer than those who don’t.
A link between milk and meat and prostate cancer has also been identified (The China Study – T. Colin Campbell).
Vegans are more resilient to diabetes than their meat eating or vegetarian counterparts. Due to their high intake of complex carbohydrates and fibre, low intake of saturated fat, and relative leanness, vegans are resistant to Type-II diabetes, a disorder that is becoming almost epidemic in Western cultures. “… there is strong evidence that this disease (diabetes) is linked to diet and, more specifically, to dairy products. The ability of cow’s milk to initiate Type 1 diabetes is well documented.” (The China Study – T Colin Campbell, pg 187)
Gallstones are composed of cholesterol, bile pigments and calcium salts and can be extremely painful. A study in 1985 found that non-vegetarians are almost twice as likely to develop them as vegetarians.
Other Diseases Related to Meat
Gout is clearly linked to a high-protein intake. Recent studies link Alzheimer’s, too with an animal-based diet. Research reveals that meat eaters are more than twice as likely to develop senile dementia than their vegetarian counterparts. A vegan diet is believed to help slow the aging process.
The majority of food poisoning cases are associated with meat and dairy. And one more reason to avoid meat: Mad Cow Disease.
More Poisons in Meat
If all the reasons listed above are not enough, meat is filled with drugs that are inevitably passed on to the consumer. Antibiotics, growth promoters, and prostaglandins and a concentration of pesticide residues are all found in meat and could be harmful to humans.
The verdict is simple, if we eat the food nature planned for us to eat its easy to steer clear of diseases. This means: whole, unrefined, natural, plant based foods will help us keep the doctor away life long.
Ingredients of a Healthy Diet
Contrary to conventional thinking, a lack of protein is not a problem for vegans. Vegan food has sufficient protein for muscle and organ growth and maintenance. Good sources include lentils, beans, whole rice, nuts and seeds.
Iron is found in whole meal bread, leafy green vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. The absorption of iron is improved by consuming plenty of Vitamin C rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutritionally, a vegan diet has all of these items.
Precautions for Vegans – B12
Both vegans and non-vegetarians can suffer from B12 deficiencies due to the inability to absorb B12. Vegans also suffer from B12 deficiency due to lower intakes.
B12 is manufactured by bacteria and yeast. Our intestinal bacterial flora should manufacture enough for our needs but this is not always the case. Deficiencies could be the result of bacterial flora being destroyed by antibiotics or because of deficient intake of bacteria in our unnaturally sterile food.
Today fruits and vegetables are treated with pesticides, irradiation, excessive washing and cold storage. Eating fresh organic produce may be a solution to the problem. Meat, fish, and dairy contain a lot of bacteria so non vegetarians suffer less from this problem as compared to vegans.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur in anyone at any age. Fermented foods, though rich in bacteria may not provide enough B12 to keep levels high enough. It is important to take supplements or at least check levels regularly so that supplementation is not delayed.
It can’t be stressed enough, a healthy vegan diet consists of fresh, whole, unrefined, unprocessed foods.
A vegetarian diet can empower the human mind as well. Vegetarian food is brain food: here’s a list of just a few of the well-known vegetarian scientists and thinkers.
- Plato, physicist and writer
- Socrates, Greek philosopher
- Pythagoras, Greek philosopher
- Mahatma Gandhi, lawyer and Indian independence leader
- Albert Einstein, Physicist
- George Bernard Shaw, Author and Nobel Prize Laureate in literature
- Charles Darwin, author and scientist
- Thomas Edison, inventor
- Leonardo Da Vinci, artist and scientist
- Sir Isaac Newton, Physicist
- Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, philosopher and scientist
- Dr Albert Schweitzer, physician, musician and Nobel Peace Prize winner
- Isaac Bashevis Singer, writer & Nobel Prize winner
- Martin Luther King Jr, American civil rights activist
As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.
Pythagoras 6th century B.C.
A new study shows that eating vegetables protects brain function in aging adults. As part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), researchers at Rush University Medical Center examined the association between rates of cognitive change and dietary consumption of fruits and vegetables among 3,718 participants, aged 65 years and older.
Those who consumed greater than 2.8 servings of vegetables per day had significantly slower rates of mental decline than those who ate fewer servings. Green leafy vegetables, in particular, were most strongly associated with a decreased rate of mental decline. (ref: Morris MC, Evans DA, Tangney CC, Bienias JL, Wilson RS. Associations of vegetable and fruit consumption with age-related cognitive change. Neurology. 2006;67:1370-1376).
Being vegan is a recipe for beauty, both internal and external. There are hundreds of actors, actresses, singers, musicians, models and public personalities who are vegan or vegetarian. Veganism naturally helps you keep your body slim and fit, with young looking blemish- free skin.
I would not be comfortable appearing in a country where they have permitted the destruction of such beautiful and intelligent mammals.
Olivia Newton John newspaper interview after her 1978 cancellation of a tour to Japan because of their dolphin kill
- Bob Marley, Musician
- Andre 3000 (vegan), in Outkast, musician
- Bryan Adams, musician
- Maxine Andrews, singer with Andrews Sisters
- Erykah Badu (vegan), singer
- Bob Barker, TV personality
- Kim Basinger, actress
- Jeff Beck, musician
- Cindy Blum, opera singer
- David Bowie, musician
- Boy George, musician
- Christie Brinkley, model
- Ellen Burstyn, actress
- Skeeter Davis, country singer
- Joe Elliot, guitarist with Def Leppard
- Melssa Etheridge, rock singer
- Peter Falk, actor
- Peter Gabriel, musician
- Sara Gilbert, actress
- Elliot Gould, actor
- Darah Hanah, actress
- Richie Havens, musician
- Dustin Hoffman, actor
- Steve Howe, guitarist with Yes
- Chrissie Hynde, musician
- Janet Jackson, singer
- Michael Jackson, singer
- Mick Jagger, musician
- Casey Kasem, radio personality
- Choris Leachman, actress
- Annie Lennox, rock singer
- Phil Lesh, bass player of the Grateful Dead
- Ananda Lewis, former BET “Teen Summit” host, former MTV VJ, talk show host
- Catherine Malfitano, opera singer
- Steve Martin, actor and comedian
- Paul McCartney, musician
- Natalie Merchant, singer
- Kevin Nealon, comedian
- Olivia Newton-John, singer and actress
- Stevie Nicks, musician
- Bill Pearl, four-time Mr Universe
- Kate Pierson, singer with B-52
- Martha Plimpton, actress
- Bonnie Raitt, musician
- Phylicia Rashad, actress
- Fred Rogers, TV’s Mr Rogers
- Todd Rundgren, musician
- Russell Simmons (vegan), music
- Grace Slick, musician
- Leigh Taylor-Young, actress
- John Tesh, TV personality
- Tina Turner, singer
- Cicely Tyson, actress
- Lindsay Wagner, actress
- Lesley Ann Warren, actress
- Dennis Weaver, actor
- Pamela Anderson, actress
The China Study
For an in-depth disease by disease study and references to the effects of an animal protein on human health, the reader is referred to The China Study by Professor T. Colin Campbell. Here is the review www.thechinastudy.com
Please leave a comment if you feel that you might be able to add something to this article. We always love to hear from you. Don’t forget to follow us on Google+, Twitter, or via RSS feed. And most important: Visit Dr. Nandita Shah at SHARAN, to find an abundance of information, retreats, workshops, and many, many other things that might be of interest to you. I hope we were able to shine some light on you. Peace.