A whole food plant based diet is high in nutrients and fibre and free of cholesterol. The best sources of calcium are found in plant foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and it’s easy to get sufficient protein on a vegan diet (remember, herbivores like horses, cows and deer all get their protein from plants).
Heart disease and Hypertension
Today, two of the biggest threats to human health are heart disease and hypertension. These are often associated with high cholesterol. Only animals produce cholesterol. We, being animals, produce as much cholesterol as we need. The excess is largely obtained from animal foods in the diet.
Since the early 1970s, study after study after study has implicated milk and dairy products as a cause of heart disease and clogged arteries. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic (the top-rated heart clinic in the U.S.) makes people “heart attack-proof” by putting them on a whole plant based diet (American Journal of Cardiology, August 99).
Dr. Dean Ornish of the University of California at San Francisco, has demonstrated that artery blockages can be reversed with a low-fat vegetarian diet instead of expensive and invasive surgeries. He is the author of the best-seller ‘Reversing Heart Disease’.
Vegans also have lower blood pressure than meat eaters. High blood pressure can contribute to heart disease, strokes and kidney failure. Potassium, found in plants tends to lower cholesterol.
Studies have shown that a plant based diet can reduce the chance of suffering from a variety of cancer types by up to 40%. This was the result of a 13-year study of 11,000 people conducted at Oxford University (1995). The National Cancer Research Institute in Tokyo has concluded that women who consume meat and dairy products have almost a four times greater risk of getting breast cancer than those who don’t.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer-related death among women in most of the Western world and the leading cause of death of women under 50. Dairy products are high in fat, animal protein, and hormones, each of which increases the risk of this cancer.
An Italian study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, revealed that breast cancer risks increased with the consumption of animal fat and protein, most significantly with dairy products.
The American Dietetic Association reports that breast cancer is most prevalent in countries where women consume high-fat, animal-based diets. In Southeast Asia, where milk consumption is rare, breast cancer is almost unheard of. Internationally renowned nutrition expert Dr. T. Colin Campbell points to China, a previously non milk-drinking country, where cancer deaths among women aged 35 to 64 averaged less than 9 per 100,000, as opposed to 44 per 100,000 in the U.S. Japanese women who follow a more meat and dairy-based diet are eight times more likely to develop breast cancer than their counterparts who eat a plant-based diet.
Researchers at Stanford University and the National Institutes of Health found that the high concentrations of the IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) in milk stimulate cancer cell growth. IGF-1 levels further increase in milk from cows treated with synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBGH). More recently ovarian cancer has also been linked with dairy consumption.
Prostate cancer in men is equally linked to dairy. According to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, 11 separate human population studies have tied dairy consumption to prostate cancer. Results of the Physicians’ Health Study of 20,885 doctors showed that men who consumed at least 2-1/2 servings of dairy foods daily were about 30 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than men who averaged less than half a serving per day. A study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that levels of IGF-1 that play a key role in causing prostate cancer – were 9 percent lower in vegans than in non-vegans.
Low fibre foods like milk and meat contribute significantly to intestinal cancer.
Whole food vegans are more resilient to diabetes than their meat eating or vegetarian counterparts. Due to their high intake of complex carbohydrates and fibre, low intake of saturated fat, and relative leanness, vegans are resistant to Type-II diabetes. There is strong evidence that this disease (diabetes) is linked to diet and, more specifically, to dairy products. The ability of cow’s milk to initiate Type 1 diabetes is well documented” (The China Study – T Colin Campbell, pg 187).
Milk contributes to obesity in two ways:
- It is rich in fat and protein which promote growth
- It contains growth factor, again promoting growth.
Milk is ubiquitous in Indian diets today and we often do not realize how much we consume in the form of tea, coffee, curds and buttermilk, ghee and butter, cheese and paneer and desserts. Cheese, paneer, mava, sweets made from milk, and dairy ice cream are highly concentrated forms of milk. For example one ounce of cheese is made from 12 – 16 ounces of milk!
Allergies, mucus, dysentery
Cow’s milk, the largest cause of food allergies in children, can lead to persistent problems like chronic coughs and sinus infections, asthma, ear infections and dysentery. In their book Allergies to Milk, Drs. Sami L. Bahna and Douglas C. Heiner report that children who are allergic to milk “may have breathing difficulty, particularly during sleep, or an irritating cough associated with a postnasal drip, and excessive mucous formation… Such affected children are frequently diagnosed as having upper respiratory infection, viral illness, bronchitis, … or pneumonia, and may be given unnecessary medications, including cough syrups, decongestants, or antibiotics. Relief, however, is not satisfactory until cow’s milk is eliminated from the diet.”
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Dr. William Ellis, who has studied the effects of dairy foods for more than four decades, believes that the excess mucus (casein) caused by milk can harden to form a coating on the inner wall of the intestines, hindering the absorption of nutrients and possibly leading to chronic fatigue.
Skeletal System and Teeth
Vegans have stronger bones and teeth. Osteoporosis and associated hip fracture is linked to high animal protein intake. Avoiding animal products helps prevent breaks and fractures.
A meat-intensive diet is devoid of fibre and can result in constipation and colon diseases. There is a direct correlation between a diet high in animal fat and colon cancer—vegans obviously escape this risk category.
Gallstones are composed of cholesterol, bile pigments and calcium salts and can be extremely painful. A study in 1985 found that non-vegetarians are almost twice as likely to develop them as vegetarians.
Dr. Jerome K. Fisher conducted a clinical study of 1,088 teen-age patients over 10 years and reported to the American Dermatological Association that milk was a principal contributor to acne. He suspected that the normal hormones in the milk of pregnant cows break down into androgen, which stimulates sebum production, clogging pores, resulting in infection and acne.
Gout is clearly linked to a high protein intake. Recent studies link Alzheimer’s too with an animal based diet. Research reveals that meat eaters are more than twice as likely to develop senile dementia than their vegetarian counterparts. A vegan diet is believed to help slow the aging process.