The number of people adopting a vegan diet is growing, greater numbers of people are deciding to cut out meat and dairy products from what they eat because of the perceived health benefits, or just because of a lifestyle choice.
But is there any actual evidence that a vegan diet is any healthier and going to improve your wellbeing?
There are two sides to the argument, some people point to studies that show that removing animal proteins from your diet improves your health, whereas others say there is no evidence that vegans have improved health and actually argue that the diet has a detrimental impact.
Let’s look at some of the claims.
The argument for a vegan diet
Researchers at Cornell University have published various journals that lead to the conclusion that substituting eggs, milk and meat from a person’s diet by replacing it with plant based foods and removing sugar salt and fat improves health.
When large sections of a countries population are studied there is a correlation between the amount of animal based proteins the people have in their diet with heart disease and cancer. Quite often it is the individual contributors in these diets that are singled out such as saturated fat, but it is hard to escape the fact that saturated fat comes from animal based food.
Studies have shown that the main protein in cow’s milk increases the levels of cholesterol in the body and also makes the risks of heart disease larger. It also has been shown to increase the risks of cancer, following tests on animals 60 years ago. The tests showed that consuming amounts of animal protein over recommended levels increases the risks of developing cancer.
You can’t get enough protein from plants
This is a common myth amongst those who advocate that vegan based diets don’t provide enough protein for a healthy diet. The facts are that plants contain enough protein as well as other essential nutrients and calcium in greater amounts than animal based foods.
Reviews from Harvard and Yale show that consuming large amounts of dairy products actually increases the risks of bone conditions associated with low levels of calcium such as osteoporosis. Plants contain high levels of calcium which can dwarf the levels of dairy products.
There are numerous personal accounts of how people have changed their diets to become plant based and how conditions such as migraines and arthritis have disappeared altogether.
The argument for a balanced diet
The case for eating animal proteins surrounds the fact that we need to have a balanced diet in order to get all the nutrients we need without consuming large amounts of calories.
Dairy provides a large amount of the vitamin D and calcium that we need. American dietary guidelines actually say that Americans need to eat more protein in their diets, and the best way to get this quickly and without consuming large amounts of calories is from meat and dairy products.
In a counter to the studies that show large amounts of animal based proteins have been detrimental to health when tested on animals, those who advocate animal proteins say that these studies don’t prove anything because they were tested on animals, not humans. They also argue that the studies aren’t extensive enough.
In terms of the study that shows that consuming large amounts of dairy products actually contributes to bone diseases there are numerous studies over many years that show the role of dairy in giving bones their strength is absolutely proven.
These studies are extensive and have been proven time and time again. The large amount of calcium in dairy products is very high and can’t be disputed.
The claims from vegans about their improved health after starting the diet aren’t backed up by scientific evidence and so those who believe in eating animal proteins say these claims are based on emotional evidence rather than clinical studies.
It is clear to see that there are compelling arguments both for and against a vegan diet. It all comes down to a personal choice in the end.
This article was written by Patrick Martin who writes for Clarendon.