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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Busting the Myths of Eating a Vegan Diet

About Protein
The “need” for high protein is centered on fear rather than fact. The initial research on which this myth is based was done in Germany around the turn of the century and was financed mainly by the meat and dairy industries. The average American consuming animal products (meat, dairy) eats much more protein than he or she needs. What happens to the extra protein? Metabolizing protein produces toxic byproducts that the liver must process, and then it is excreted by the kidneys. Thus, too much protein intake stresses the organs.  According to the American Dietetic Association, a pure vegetarian diet supplies more than the required protein for one's daily need. Harvard University researchers have found that it is practically impossible to have a vegetarian diet that produces a protein deficiency unless you're only eating sweets and other vegetarian junk food. Vegetarian protein is a lot easier for the body to digest. At Hippocrates Health Institute it was shown that the people who ate the most meat were actually more susceptible to protein deficiency. Firstly, because the body finds it so difficult to digest animal protein, it often doesn't get fully digested and instead putrefies in our intestines. Secondly, the body doesn't really know what to do with all the excess protein, so it dumps it in the basement membranes. Basement membranes are those through which nutrients and oxygen are filtered into the cells from the capillaries and through waste products of the cells are filtered out into the blood to be eliminated. The more excess protein there is in the diet, the more gets dumped in the basement membrane. Eventually, the basement membrane gets so clogged that nutrients and oxygen are not able to pass into the cells and waste products cannot be eliminated. You begin to build up toxins and wastes and you start to suffocate on a cellular level. The build-up of protein contributes to hypertension, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Additional information about protein:

About Calcium
Studies have shown that vegetarians absorb and retain more calcium from foods than do non-vegetarians. Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products are good sources of calcium.  People consuming dairy products actually excrete more calcium than they ingest. Animal proteins break down into types of amino acids which leach calcium from the body, and this worsens conditions like osteoporosis. American women have been consuming an average of two pounds of milk per day for their entire lives, yet thirty million American women have osteoporosis. Drinking milk does not prevent bone loss.

Please see these well documented articles on the subject:
Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine on protecting your bones
More information about calcium

About Iron
Iron is a trace element which is needed by the body for the formation of blood.  It's a myth that vegan diets are low in iron. Studies show that vegans consume at least as much iron as omnivores and sometimes more. Vegans definitely have an advantage over lacto-ovo vegetarians when it comes to iron since dairy foods don’t contain this mineral. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States, despite widespread iron fortification and meat-centered diets. Only 10 to 20% of the iron in meat is absorbed by the body. Vitamin C increases the absorption rate (meat has no vitamin C), which makes vegetables and grains a better source. "The research to date shows that vegetarians are no more likely than meat eaters to have iron-deficiency anemia", says iron expert Janet Hunt, Ph.D., R.D., a research nutritionist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D.

About B12
B12 (also called cobalamin due to its central cobalt atom) is a water-soluble vitamin with a very low recommended daily intake requirement, about 2-3 micrograms per day.  In addition to having extremely low intake requirements, Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, kidneys, and muscle tissue, and most B12 (65-75%) is reabsorbed by the body instead of excreted. A deficiency could take from 5 to 20 years of inadequate intake to develop.  There are many vegan foods fortified with B12. They include non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals and some nutritional yeast. Sublingual (dissolve under the tongue for better absorption) Vegan B12 tabs  are available, and my personal choice.

 See more details about B12 on my blog post here

About Kids
Children raised on a vegan diet eat more fruits and vegetables than their non-veggie counterparts. They are sick less often, and don't have as many food allergies. Vegan diets are a great choice for children. Raised in homes where the emphasis is on healthful plant foods, young vegans are likely to gain a few nutritional advantages over their meat-eating peers. Health experts often caution that vegan diets for children require “careful planning.” That’s true, but then again, all diets for children require careful planning. Parents of omnivores need to make sure their kids are getting enough fiber and iron and not too much saturated fat. With obesity and diabetes on the rise among children, it is clear that there are plenty of problems with omnivore diets. Family and friends may worry that your child will be ostracized at school if he brings tofu and sprouts. So send your child to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple and carrots and no one will know your child is eating a "special" diet. At birthday parties, find out what the host is serving and drop your child off with the vegan equivalent of those items. 

Please visit these sites for great information about raising vegetarian kids:

About Heart Disease
The heart is the hardest working muscle in the body, pumping blood, oxygen, and nutrients to all the body’s organs. Eating animal-based foods impairs the heart’s ability to do its job. Meat and dairy products are high in cholesterol and saturated fat. As these fatty substances, or “plaques,” build up inside the walls of arteries, blood flow to all areas of the body is impeded. When too little blood reaches various regions of the body, normal immune systems are impaired, setting people up for a number of diseases, most notably heart disease. Most heart disease is diet-related—caused by animal products. Research shows a highly significant correlation between the consumption of even small amounts of animal-based foods and the increasing prevalence of heart disease.  A major study published in February 2005 reconfirmed the link between meat consumption and heart problems. The study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that among the 29,000 participants, those who ate the most meat were also at the greatest risk for heart disease. The researchers also reported that a high intake of protein from vegetable sources like tofu, nuts, and beans lowers our risk of heart disease by 30 percent. Dr. Linda E. Kelemen, the scientist who headed the study, told reporters, “Not all proteins are equal”—while vegetable protein can help keep our hearts healthy, eating animal protein can put us in an early grave.

According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.  During the past 30 years, Dr. Dean Ornish and his colleagues have conducted a series of scientific studies demonstrating that the progression of even severe coronary heart disease often can be reversed by exercise, stress management and diet changes, specifically, switching to a vegan diet. Interestingly, when subject were put on modified diets which allowed chicken and fish, heart disease progressed. 

Please visit these sites for additional information:

About Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in this country.  There's a clear link between cancer and the consumption of animal products such as meat, eggs, cheese, butter and milk. Meat consumption has been linked to colon cancer, which really shouldn't surprise us, since our intestinal tracts look just like those of herbivores. They are more than twice the length of a carnivore's, so most of us are walking around with five pounds of meat rotting in our bowels. According the to World Health Organization, up to 90% of all cancers are preventable, while sadly, less than 1% of the National Cancer Institute's resources are spent on prevention.  A diet that is low in protein has been shown to inhibit the initiation of cancer. The research has found that the cancer-producing effects of highly carcinogenic chemicals (e.g. aflatoxin) were rendered insignificant by low protein diets. Dietary protein proved so powerful in its effect that the researchers were able to turn on and turn off cancer growth simply by changing the level consumed. They also found that not all proteins had this effect, that is, not all protein is the same. The protein that consistently and strongly promoted cancer at all stages of the cancer process was that of animal origin, especially casein, which makes up 87 per cent of cow's milk protein. It was shown that the safe proteins were from plants. These finding were confirmed in one of the most comprehensive studies of nutrition ever conducted, "The China Study”; a collaboration between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine, the short version of which has been published as a  book by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and is a great resource.

Please visit these sites for additional information:



  1. awesome! I love it!

  2. Very nicely put! Nice to have it all in one place, and very to the point. Thanks!


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~ Shelley