Are you vegan or thinking about adopting the vegan diet? I have some positively brilliant news for you. There is one EPIC added bonus you get when you choose to stop hurting animals and start living a cruelty-free lifestyle. Vegans live longer. And while we are roaming this beautiful planet for those extra years we experience better health outcomes and thus a better overall quality of life. And nobody gets hurt.
The risks of an animal-product laden diet are very dangerous and even fatal. “Woah, woah there lamb-huggin’ hippie” I hear you plead. I know for many folk that statement is a bit extreme. Unfortunately, this is no grandiose statement born of vegan conspiracy theory; this is an absolute fact, backed by study after study. Cancer, heart disease and diabetes are all killers and they are all directly linked to the Western diet and its focus on meat and dairy consumption.
The largest comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted, The China Study, was launched via a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. The results rocked the world of the 80s to its core. In a nutshell: “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest.”
In addition to the China Study, there is a mounting body of evidence that suggests that vegans experience significantly less heart disease, less cancer, lower rates of osteoporosis and arthritis, reduced risk of diabetes, fewer strokes and generally live longer than omnivores.
Reduced risk of cancer
Kathy Chapman of Cancer Council Australia’s nutrition and physical activity committee says evidence is clear that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can protect against particular cancers such as mouth, throat, stomach and bowel cancer. While eating red meat is strongly associated with an increased risk of bowel cancer.
A 2012 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention tracked 69,120 participants for more than four years. The results showed that vegans had a 16 percent decreased risk of all cancers, and vegan women had a 34 percent decreased risk for other specific cancers including breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers, compared with omnivores.
Less chance of developing osteoporosis
Contrary to popular belief, adding more dairy to your diet does not prevent osteoporosis. It may shock you to learn that the Australian Dairy Corporation has funded much of the nutrition education provided to schools. You can see how they may have a vested interest in ensuring we remain convinced that our health would suffer without dairy. In fact, studies have found the opposite to be true: milk is bad for you and your bones. Not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones.
When humans consume products rich in animal protein, like milk, it acidifies the body’s pH. In order to neutralise this acidity, calcium is pulled from the bones into the bloodstream and then exits the body via the urine. The surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit which, as we know, leads to osteoporosis. Scary, huh?
Significantly less risk of heart disease
Cardiovascular disease affects one in six Australians and kills one Australian every 12 minutes. It is the single leading cause of death in our country. Why are so many of us falling prey to this deadly disease? The cholesterol and saturated fat we consume in animal foods.
The largest study yet to compare cardiovascular disease rates between vegetarians and meat eaters came out of the University of Oxford in 2013 and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The experts analysed nearly 45,000 participants from England and Scotland who signed up for the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study. In a nutshell: “The results clearly show that the risk of heart disease in vegetarians is about a third lower than in comparable non-vegetarians.”
Other studies have shown that not only can a vegan diet prevent heart disease, it can actually reverse it too.
A well-balanced vegan diet has an abundance of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and seaweeds. We fill our bodies with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, giving them what they need to regenerate, stay strong and ward off disease. As they found in The China Study: “There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.” Basically if you were a car you’d be filling your tank with the really expensive, primo fuel, you’d be in top condition for a lot longer and racing ahead of the other bombs chugging down ethanol.