Veggie the way to go for health and planet

The largest organisation of nutrition professionals in the US has reinforced its position that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet is preferable to a non-vegetarian diet in a number of ways.

In an update to its 2009 paper, which laid out a similar stance, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics highlighted the reduced risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, as well as the reduced environmental impact of eating plant-based diets.

While some previous studies have shown a link between vegetarian diets and increased health risks, these have been attributed to nutrient deficiencies caused by inadequate dietary planning.

The new paper resulted from the evaluation of a number of studies, with the authors, led by nutritionist Susan Levin of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, finding a plant-based diet associated with up to 35 per cent reduced risk of prostate cancer,18 per cent reduced risk of cancer overall, 27 per cent reduced risk of heart attack, between 10 and 29 per cent reduced risk of heart disease and up to 62 per cent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vandana Sheth, said ‘People who adopt vegetarian diets have lower body mass indexes [BMIs], better control of blood pressure and blood glucose, less inflammation and lower cholesterol levels compared with non-vegetarians.’

Paper author, Levin, concluded: ‘If you could bottle up a plant-based prescription, it would become a blockbuster drug overnight. This way of eating creates an efficient energy source not just for the planet, but for our bodies. What other drug increases metabolism, lowers blood pressure, stabilises blood sugar, and instead of increasing the risk for heart disease or diabetes – stops it in its tracks?’

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics