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09.01.2015
Areas in the vegetarian diet that you may need to consider to supplement will be omega-3 fats, protein, zinc and vitamin B-12. If this diet is what you choose, get into it with a precise strategy.  Those deficiencies mentioned above can be compensated for, but you must be totally aware of their consequences. But in reality, this evidence is weak and there is a large body of evidence that they are ignoring. There are also some ethical and environmental arguments to be made for avoiding animal foods (even though I personally don’t agree with them). But many vegan advocates are incredibly dishonest about animal foods and spread unscientific fear mongering to convince people that their diet is healthy.
The proponents of such diets like to attribute these health benefits to the avoidance of animal foods. This diet doesn’t just eliminate animal foods… it also eliminates a number of foods that science has shown to be harmful. Vegetable Oils: High in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids, increase inflammation and oxidative damage (10, 11, 12). Trans Fats: Extremely harmful, man-made fats found in processed foods and linked to many serious diseases, especially heart disease (13, 14). Not to mention that these diets also eliminate processed foods… which are low in nutrients and high in harmful ingredients and artificial chemicals. I personally find it plausible that the benefits of vegan diets are largely caused by avoiding processed foods and harmful ingredients like added sugar.
In the studies on vegan diets, they usually compare against the junk food-laden Western diet, NOT a whole foods based diet like paleo or the Mediterranean diet. Bottom Line: The health benefits of vegan diets are likely caused by the elimination of harmful ingredients and processed foods.
In the past few years and decades, studies have shown this to be false… and experts all over the world are changing their minds. Saturated fat and cholesterol actually lead to improvements in the blood cholesterol profile.
Saturated fat and cholesterol both raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, which is protective against heart disease (16, 17, 18).
Sometimes they cause mild elevations in LDL, but they’re usually changing the LDL particles from small, dense LDL (bad) to large LDL (19, 20). Studies show that people who have mostly large LDL particles have a lower risk of heart disease (21, 22, 23). A massive review study that looked at data from 21 other studies with a total of 347,747 participants concluded: There is absolutely no association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease (24). A Cochrane review of randomized controlled trials found the same… reducing saturated fat has no effect on the risk of death, or death from heart disease (25). Studies on eggs (loaded with cholesterol), some of which include hundreds of thousands of people, do not find a relationship between egg consumption and heart disease (26, 27).
Now… some vegan proponents may say that these studies shouldn’t be trusted because they’re funded by the meat, egg or dairy industries, but that is nonsense. This has been studied intensely and it is NOT true that most of the studies are industry sponsored.
Bottom Line: The myth that saturated fat and cholesterol lead to heart disease still runs rampant among vegans, but this myth has been thoroughly debunked in the past few years and decades. This idea is based on a number of studies by two doctors, Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn. These studies did lead to impressive results, including a partial reversal of coronary heart disease, supported by improvements in angiograms.
However, I don’t think anything can be concluded about the vegan diet based on these studies. Esselstyn’s study (just a 22 person study… with no control group) also used large doses of statin drugs (29).
It is very clear that studies that use drugs or exercise (massive confounders) along with a diet can NOT be used to make claims about the diet.
In order to attribute the benefits of the intervention to the diet, then you need to isolate diet as the only variable that is different between groups. In almost every argument about vegan diets or animal foods, someone brings up The China Study.
The book makes a case for animal foods (animal protein, in particular) being the main driver of killer diseases like heart disease and cancer.
The case is loosely supported with data from a massive epidemiological study called The China-Cornell-Oxford Project, along with a number of other observations and studies on rats.


Then he uses confusing terminology to make it seem like the rat studies using isolated proteins like casein have anything to do with diet and cancer in humans.
The findings of The China Study have also been contradicted by various other studies, some of which are of a much higher methodological quality. This includes a recent study from Asia… a study with 112,310 men and 184,411 women, showing that red meat consumption was associated with reduced risk of heart disease in men and reduced risk of cancer in women (30). Bottom Line: The China Study has been thoroughly debunked by objective scientists and there are multiple high quality studies that contradict its findings, all of which were ignored by the author.
The results of rodent studies using highly unnatural and refined diets aren’t necessarily applicable to humans. In many cases, human studies on diet end up leading to the exact opposite results of the rodent studies. In fact, almost every human controlled trial on protein, both animal and plant protein, shows it to be beneficial for health.
Studies on high protein diets show that they increase fat burning, reduce appetite and lead to automatic weight loss (31, 32, 33). They also help people gain muscle, lower blood pressure, improve bone health and reduce various symptoms of diabetes (34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41). The evidence is mounting that most people should be eating more animal protein, not less (42).
Bottom Line: Despite the myth that animal protein causes harm, studies show that it leads to health benefits. Some vegans claim that humans are naturally herbivores and that our bodies are not adapted to eating animals. Our bodies are well adapted to meat consumption and we are perfectly capable of making full use of the nutrients found in meat.
We have short colons, long small intestines and plenty of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to help break down animal protein (45).
Also, the lengths of different parts of our digestive systems are somewhere in between the lengths typical for carnivores and herbivores, indicating that we are naturally “designed” to be omnivores (46). Studies suggest that our consumption of animal foods helped drive the evolution of our large brains (47). Bottom Line: Humans are naturally omnivores and function best eating a combination of animals and plants. The heart disease epidemic started around 1930, while type 2 diabetes started increasing rapidly in the late 20th century. Let’s take a look at the health problems that meat is being blamed for and the highest quality evidence that examines these claims. Heart Disease and Diabetes: Two studies, one with 1,218,380 individuals and the other with 448,568 individuals, found no link between unprocessed red meat and heart disease or diabetes (49, 50). Cancer: Two review studies, one looking at data from 35 studies and the other from 25 studies, found that unprocessed red meat had only a weak effect on cancer in men and no effect in women (51, 52). Keep in mind that all of these studies found a significantly increased risk for people who consumed processed meat. It is well known that processed foods in general are harmful… this is not exclusive to meat. Bottom Line: Studies that differentiate between processed and unprocessed meat show that unprocessed red meat is not associated with heart disease or diabetes, and only weakly linked to cancer in men, but not women.
There are a number of studies showing that vegetarians and vegans live longer and have a lower risk of some serious diseases (54, 55). What this implies, is that vegetarians are generally more health conscious than meat eaters. They don’t just eat less meat… they’re also more likely to exercise, less likely to smoke and drink alcohol, and they eat a lot more fruits and vegetables (56). They recruited participants that were customers of a health food store, looking at the difference between health conscious vegetarians and health conscious meat eaters. Guess what… they found no difference in mortality or the risk of heart disease or stroke (57).
What this implies is that the reason vegetarians live longer and have a lower risk of some diseases, is because they tend to be health conscious people. Bottom Line: The observational studies showing that vegetarians and vegans are healthier, are plagued with the healthy user bias. This is understandable, because low-carb diets are almost the complete opposite of vegan and vegetarian diets. Interestingly, low-carb and low-fat vegetarian diets have been compared in a high quality randomized controlled trial called the A to Z study (58).


The people in the Ornish group had trouble sticking to the diet and were twice as likely to drop out of the study, indicating that the Atkins diet was easier to follow. Until another controlled trial leads to a different result, there is absolutely no scientific basis for vegan proponents to claim that low-carb diets are inferior to vegan diets from a health perspective. Vegan proponents often make it seem like there are many studies demonstrating the health benefits of vegan diets.
However… there is only one controlled trial (real science) where they isolate diet as the sole variable and compare against another dietary intervention. This study is the only study I am aware of (and I’ve looked hard and asked many vegans if they know of more studies) that actually tests the vegan diet directly. Therefore, this study is the best one to accurately reflect the true health effects of the diet. It compared a low-fat vegan diet to a typical diabetes diet based on the guidelines of the American Diabetes Association. No difference in weight, BMI, waist circumference, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting blood sugars or CRP levels. Keep in mind that the lead researchers are both vegans themselves, so they should be able to set up a study that maximizes the benefits of such a diet. Given all the hype about vegan diets, I have to say that the results are underwhelming… to say the least. Bottom Line: In the best controlled trial on vegan diets to date, there is very little difference compared to a typical diabetes diet that includes animal foods. Some vegan proponents claim that it is possible to obtain all necessary nutrients without animal foods. Iron: In one study, vegetarians had only a third of the ferritin (a marker for iron levels) of omnivores (61). Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Vegans have 53% lower levels of EPA and almost 59% lower levels of DHA, compared to meat eaters (63).
About Latest Posts Kris GunnarsThis post was generously contributed by Kris Gunnars of Authority Nutrition.
I know you've got a lot of citations and everything, but there is a lot of stuff in this article that is misinformed.
They've got 99 problems - but meat ain't one as Jay-Z and Beyonce are trying a 22-day vegan challenge in a bid to get healthy before Christmas. Explaining the diet change, the rapper posted on his website Life and Times that he wanted a 'spiritual and physical cleanse', kick started by turning 44 in December.
The million dollar power couple are sticking to a 'plant-based' diet and cutting out processed foods and meat - but will stop in time to stuff their faces on a Christmas day feast. Excerpt: You might be in your PJs and digging into your second bowl of cornflakes while reading this. Plant based omega-3 might seem like an option, but in many instances they do not convert well in the system.  Fortified products or vitamin supplementation may be necessary. The highest quality studies show them to be completely harmless for the majority of people. His patients also exercise, quit smoking and do meditation… along with other health promoting things. However, these studies also used drugs or health promoting things like exercise and meditation. Several studies suggest that it forms carcinogens when overheated, so it is important to use gentler cooking methods and avoid burning your meat (53).
Since the year 2002, over 20 randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that low-carb diets are superior to low-fat diets. The only study that properly compared low-carb to a low-fat vegetarian diet showed that the low-carb diet was much healthier. These are the “miraculous” benefits of the vegan diet in the most comprehensive study on a low-fat vegan diet to date.
Studies on other diets, like Mediterranean, paleo or low-carb, have lead to similar and often much better results. Also feel free to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus if you're active on those networks.



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