The Issues: YOUR HEALTH
Why Eat Plant-Based? For Your Health...
“70% of all Americans die from diseases related directly to their eating habits.” Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D.
Medical studies shows that eating a plant-based vegetarian cuisine can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and obesity. Fat, cholesterol, steroids, hormones, PCB’s and heavy metals are present in animal foods like meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Eating animal-based foods can also expose you to Salmonella & other food borne illnesses.
Plant-based vegetarians and the other hand, often will have more energy, feel satisfied longer, may lose weight more easily, lower their blood sugar, lower their cholesterol and be happier knowing they are helping their health, the environment and the animals.
The American Dietetic Association reports that vegetarians “have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes and some forms of cancer”. The American Dietetic Association has also endorsed plant-based vegetarian eating as a viable way to control Type II diabetes. Plant-based vegetarians (sometimes called “vegans”) consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes avoiding meat, dairy, eggs and fish.
Only 2% of people eating plant-based vegetarian diets are obese.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarians do not have higher levels of anemia than meat eaters.
World-renowned pediatrician and author of children's health books, Benjamin Spock, M.D. believed plant-based vegetarian eating is safe and beneficial for children.
“Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer.”
By reading this you have taken the first step toward one of the best choices that you can make for yourself, animals and the planet. Trying vegetarian recipes can be a new eating adventure!
Will I get enough protein if I eat a plant-based vegetarian diet?
The Food & Nutrition Board, Academy of Sciences-National Research Council recommends 56-70 grams protein daily for adult men and 46-58 grams for women. 30 grams equals 1 oz. so we only need 2-3 oz. of protein each day. Many Americans eat way too much (animal) protein, which can leach calcium out of our bones. This can lead to osteoporosis (brittle bones).
It is easy to get enough protein: 1 whole cup cooked kidney beans has 13 grams protein compared to only 1.3 oz. chicken meat with 12 grams. 1/4 cup almonds has 8 grams protein, 1 cup brown rice has 5 grams. Even broccoli has 4 grams protein. All plant-based foods contain some protein.
If I don't eat dairy products, how will I get calcium?
The adult minimum daily requirement for calcium is 800-1200mg. (Food & Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council).
You can get your calcium by eating dark green and leafy vegetables (kale, collard greens, broccoli), beans, calcium-fortified orange juice and cereals and non-dairy “milks.” None of these have artery-clogging cholesterol and all are low in fat and high in calcium.
Dairy products containing calcium (milk, cheeses) are high in fat and cholesterol, both of which are bad for your waistline and your heart. The 12-year-long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that dairy does not protect against osteoporosis.
In fact, consuming animal-based foods can leach calcium out of your bones. Here’s how: Methionine, an essential amino acid, is higher in animal-based foods than in plant-based foods. Methionine makes your blood more acidic. The more animal-based foods you eat, the more methionine you consume. To neutralize acidic blood (to make it more alkaline), your body will take calcium from your bones. Just like Tums or Alka-Seltzer, your body uses the calcium in your bones like an antacid to lower the acid in your blood. Consuming foods lower in methionine can help maintain strong bones.
Can I reduce my risk for heart disease and cancer by eating a plant-based cuisine?
William Castelli, M.D. Director, of the Farmington Heart Study states: “Vegetarians have the best diet. They have the lowest rates of coronary (heart) diseases of any group in the country. They have only 40% of our cancer rate.”
Plant-based foods contain ZERO cholesterol. Cholesterol is found ONLY in animal food products (meat, dairy, eggs, fish). Cholesterol can clog your arteries and is therefore bad for your heart.
Nonfat skim milk = 5mg. cholesterol Soy Milk = 0mg. cholesterol
1.3 oz. chicken = 35 mg cholesterol Kidney beans = 0mg. cholesterol
Eating the typically recommended meat-based diet for heart disease can slow the progression of the disease. Eating plant-based vegetarian cuisine has the potential to REVERSE heart disease.
How is meat-eating related to cancer?
There are no cancer-fighting compounds present in meat, only in plant foods.
Carcinogens (cancer causing agents) called HCAs (Heterocyclic Amines) form when meat cooks. The longer and hotter meat cooks, the more HCA's are formed. Grilling meat forms the most HCA’s.
The American Cancer Society states that “grilled chicken tends to form more of these cancer-causing compounds (HCA's) than any other meat product.”
There is no fiber in meat. Fiber helps remove cholesterol and carcinogens from your body.
Food for Life recommends obtaining nutritional information only from qualified healthcare professionals: a physician, nurse, registered dietitian or Master’s or PhD. in Nutrition. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has creditable information backed by scientific studies. Links to PCRM's excellent Health Fact Sheets can be found here (scroll to the bottom of the page).
For more information on this topic, contact our Food for Life nurse director at 732-446-6808 x:101 or via email. Food for Life is here for YOU—to encourage and support you in transitioning to a plant-based, healthy lifestyle. We offer assistance with nutritional guidelines, recipes, presentations, workshops, email tips and consultations. Be sure to ask for our free Veggie Starter Kit!
- Animal Protection League of New Jersey
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Food for Life is a program of Animal Protection League of NJ (APLNJ), a NJ registered charity since 1983. A community service organization, APLNJ endeavors to make the world a better place for animals and people. The Food for Life program strives to improve the public’s health by promoting plant-based vegetarian eating that is good for people, animals and the environment.