It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians
of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally
adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment
of certain diseases.…
Well-planned vegan [pure vegetarian] and other types of vegetarian diets
are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy,
lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.
Vegetarian foods offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower
levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher
levels of carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants
such as Vitamins C and E and phytochemicals. Vegetarians have been reported
to have lower body mass indices than nonvegetarians, as well as lower
rates of death from ischemic heart disease; vegetarians also show lower
blood cholesterol levels; lower blood pressure; and lower rates of hypertension,
type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.
American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada, “Position
of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian
Diets,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, June 2003
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a series of papers
describing the benefits of basing one’s diet on vegan plant foods:
- High fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced
risk for cardiovascular disease, several common cancers, and other chronic
diseases (such as macular degeneration and cataracts).
- Legumes (e.g., beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts) are excellent sources
of protein, fiber, and a variety of micronutrients and phytochemicals
that may protect against disease.
- Regular consumption of nuts is linked with a lower risk for heart
disease and lower mortality rates.
- Whole-grain consumption is associated with a reduced risk for heart
disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stomach and colon cancers.
Simply avoiding animal products will not ensure optimal health. Like
everyone, vegans should eat a balanced diet. Protein, Vitamins B12 and
D, omega-3 fats, calcium, and iodine are important.
See Vegan Outreach for a free
copy of Guide To Compassionate Living, which includes “Staying
Healthy on Plant-Based Diets ”—a detailed article with recommendations
based on the latest nutrition research. Also keep up to date at VeganHealth.org.
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