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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Vegan for Health Reasons???

The vegan diet has caught on.  People have read T. Colin Campbell's The China Study, Caldwell Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and have seen the movie Forks Over Knives.

I'm seeing a lot of patients who have recently gone vegan for health reasons.  Some are getting amazing results, cholesterol plummeting, weight coming off, blood pressure normalizing.  But, others aren't necessarily seeing results -- their blood pressures are still high, cholesterol is no better, and weight won't budge.


The answer is usually found in the details of their vegan diet.  One patient told me how after his heart attack, he went fully plant-based, and he had great results.  But, after a couple years, the cholesterol numbers started creeping up.  As it turns out, his initial whole-food plant-based diet had slid into a fair amount of processed mock-meats (Morningstar, Boca, Tofurky, etc), oil, and other processed foods.

Another common theme amongst my vegan patients who struggle with weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol -- restaurant food.  It's fun to try out the local vegan and vegetarian restaurants.  But just like most omnivorous restaurants, they're not geared toward a healthy diet.  Your local vegetarian restaurant will add the salt, processed sugar, and oil to your food like any other restaurant.  And vegan baked goodies like cookies and cakes -- forget them!  They're no better for your health than the animal-product-laden versions.

These items may all be vegan, but the vast majority of them are NOT healthy.

The diets that are touted by Esselstyn, Ornish, Furman, and Campbell are not VEGAN diets -- they are whole-food, plant-based diets.  So, get to the basics -- get most of your calories from fruits and vegetables, add whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, and use proteins that are unprocessed like beans, lentils, and edamae, or minimally processed protein like tofu.


F.A.A.R.M./Vegan Wiccan said...

Vegan is not a diet. It is an ethical decision not to harm or use animals in ANY way (whether they are being harmed or not).

It seems like people in general have forgotten what veganism really means. It's still means the same as it's original definition from the Vegan Society.

If being vegan continues to be marketed as a "diet", many people will forget about animal suffering and what it truly means to be vegan. Veganism is a life.

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