How healthy is veganism? Just as with omnivorous and vegetarian diets, ensuring a balanced diet is a key. There are plenty of advantages, but there are some higher risks too. Some people actually choose to go vegan exactly because of health reasons. But to blindly follow a vegan doctrine can have sad consequences too, therefore a well-planned diet supplemented by some nutrients is recommended.
World renowned cardiologist shatters human omnivore myth in one sentence:
William C. Roberts MD has five decades of experience in the field of cardiology, written over 1300 scientific publications, a dozen cardiology textbooks, and has been editor in chief of the American Journal of Cardiology for a quarter of a century. He is arguably the most highly regarded cardiologist in the world today.
In his 2008 editorial "The Cause of Atherosclerosis", published in the peer reviewed journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice, Roberts states that there is a single, sole cause to heart disease: cholesterol. If your total cholesterol is below 150 and LDL is below 70, you are essentially heart attack proof. What is the cause of high cholesterol? Saturated fat and animal products:
Atherosclerosis is easily produced in nonhuman herbivores (eg, rabbits, monkeys) by feeding them a high cholesterol (eg, egg yolks) or high saturated fat (eg, animal fat) diet… And atherosclerosis was not produced in a minority of rats fed these diets, it was produced in 100% of the animals! Indeed, atherosclerosis is one of the easiest diseases to produce experimentally, but the experimental animal must be an herbivore. It is not possible to produce atherosclerosis in a carnivore…"
He elaborates in an earlier editorial:
It is virtually impossible, for example, to produce atherosclerosis in a dog even when 100 grams of cholesterol and 120 grams of butter fat are added to its meat ration. (This amount of cholesterol is approximately 200 times the average amount that human beings in the USA eat each day!). (The American Journal of Cardiology, 1990, vol. 66,896.)
He then utterly annihilates the human omnivore myth in a single sentence. here it is:
- Because humans get atherosclerosis, and atherosclerosis is a disease only of herbivores, humans also must be herbivores.
At once the insanity of our times comes into razor sharp relief.
Some may debate whether cholesterol is the sole cause of heart disease. It does not matter, the fact remains that atherosclerosis occurs only in herbivores.
If humans were physiological omnivores, heart disease would not exist, let alone be America's #1 killer for over a hundred years.
It may not be the least bit hyperbolic to say that the existence of heart disease in humans is proof that we, as a species, are vegans.
In any case, a low fat vegan diet has been proven again and again to be the cure for heart disease. A mountain of clinical evidence supports this.
According to Roberts, those who are utterly immune to heart disease without the use of statin drugs are pure vegetarian fruit eaters. His own exact words. fruit eaters.
...The seemingly never ending question vegans have to answer is: Where do you get your protein? The common question belies much ignorance regarding protein and our needs for it.
The World Health Organization recommendation is minimum 0.8 grams of protein per day per kilo of body weight. For example a woman who weighs 94 lbs = 43 kg x 0.8 = 34 grams protein. This amount can easily be met on a vegan diet that adequately meets the persons caloric needs. A general recommendation for women is 2500 calories per day and for men 3000 calories per day. These will of course vary depending upon amount of physical activity. It should also be noted that an argument can be made in favor of the natural, easily digestible amino acids found in raw fruits and vegetables which provide higher quality protein than that found in cooked foods because the cooking process has rendered some of the proteins in the food unusable or actually converted them into toxic substances that the body will have to eliminate. In addition there are a variety of problems which arise when too much protein is ingested in the diet.
Extra proteins can cause kidney problems in people. A diet with too much protein stresses the kidneys. This can also result in the development of kidney stones. Another important side effect of too much protein is the accumulation of ketones in the blood, a condition that is known as ketosis. The kidneys flush out excess proteins along with water, which can lead to dehydration, thus making you feel weak and tired. The amount of calcium required by the body increases with the amount of protein consumed. If your body in unable to get the minimum required calcium, it will start leeching out calcium from your bones. This condition can become worse and lead to osteoporosis, where the bones tend to become brittle and break off easily. While handling excess protein, kidneys become unable to process uric acid quickly, thus leading to gout, a type of arthritis. Uric acid accumulates in the joints, hence causing pain and tenderness. High protein foods that come from animal sources are very high in fats. Excess fat can lead to a rise in cholesterol, eventually putting you at a greater risk of developing heart disease. In case the high protein foods are high in calories, you are likely to gain weight easily. Studies show that women who consume excess proteins are more likely to have broken wrists, as compared to women who eat less protein. Other side effects of too much protein include hypertension, dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, diabetes, cataracts, arteriosclerosis, different kinds of allergies and increase in the acid content in blood.
Vitamin B12 is a very important vitamin for our nervous system. Even if requirements are very low, missing it may have important and long term bad consequences. But more than other vitamins (B12 is not technically a vitamin though it is commonly referred to that way), the question of the replacement of animal B12 is complex, and can sometimes have several contradictory answers. For some people (even vegans) we cannot find this B12 in non animal products, and we should replace it with some B12 tablets. For others, B12 deficiency as consequence of veganism is a myth, as some bacterias are producing B12 directly in our digestive system. However, a B12 deficiency can also be caused by an inability to absorb B12. Some people may have acceptable levels of B12 in the blood but are unable to absorb the nutrient. It is important to note that vegans are not the only ones who suffer from B12 deficiency. Studies have show that a significant percentage of the American population is deficient in B12. This indicates that the issue goes beyond veganism. Many vegans begin with a strong desire to get back to nature in terms of diet. This often leads to a strong resistance to any kind of supplementation. However it is important to recognize that the foods we eat and the environment we live in today is quite a bit different at least for most of us from the one we evolved in so long ago. There used to be much higher B12 content in soils and consequently water also. Aside from the small few who are actually growing their own foods with an emphasis on sophisticated composting most of us are not getting B12 from our food or water. While some believe they are doing fine without B12, be advised that it can take many years before the bad symptoms of B12 deficiency begin to arise. And due to the possible damage to the nervous system, vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters are wise to take the issue seriously.