Quack Science

Science and the giant rubber duck… He's watching..

Health benefits of vegetarianism

This Christmas just gone by, I went home to the family and wanted to tell them that I had recently become a vegetarian. I was surprised by the response… and not positively. What came next was a series of bizarre questions (mainly based on misunderstandings of what a vegetarian was) and a near constant mockery of vegetarianism… From the idea that animals are supposed to be eaten, to the: ‘don’t you know you will die of lack of protein!’ answers, I pretty quickly got sick of the whole affair. One thing that was pretty shocking though was that one of the worst critics of it is someone I know who works as a doctor in a cancer ward. Her main point was not only that we have evolved to eat animals, so therefore we should (terrifying), but also that vegetarians don’t get enough protein or micronutrients, and I should just give up the whole thing.

So, being a scientist, I decided to re-read a lot of the literature that made me become a vegetarian in the first place, and so I thought I would post a quick guide to some of the health benefits of being a vegetarian and some of the positions taken by major health organisations:

Position of major health organisations:
American dietetic association: (positive)
Position of Canadian dietetic association: (positive)
American cancer society (seems positive/neutral)
Harvard medical school (Positive, provided adequate provisions and planning is undertaken)
NHS (positive)
Some of my own research into the topic: 
Vegetarians tend to have:
Lower overall cancer rate and higher life expectancy
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1607S.full
lower rates of heart disease:
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1607S.full
Similar rates of fracture +calcium intake
Another interesting study, but in religious vegetarians:
Lower diabetes incidence in 7th day adventists:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1646264/pdf/amjph00281-0061.pdf
I am hoping to add to this list in time, but even on the back of this I this most critics have a lot to answer to… For now just enjoy the benefits of being a veggie.
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This entry was posted on December 29, 2014 by in In all seriousness, Quack science and tagged , , , , , .

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