Links checked and updated 17 July 2018
Veganism is the word given to living in a way that reflects our opposition to the violence inherent in all of the uses to which our species subjects individuals of all other species, promoting justice for all sentient inhabitants of this planet we share. As a consequence, if it is possible, vegans do not cause needless harm in order to obtain any substance or service that they may require for any purpose. The bare minimum of this call for justice is to stop using other individuals’ lives and bodies as ‘food’, clothing, ingredients, commodities, ‘entertainment’, or in any other way because every use of them requires us to disregard their most fundamental right to own their lives and their bodies.
‘Vegan diet’ – what does it actually mean?
The term ‘vegan diet’ is bandied about a great deal with different levels of understanding and consequent interpretations, and this lends credence to the widespread misunderstanding of veganism as a menu choice. It is not a menu choice. As a consequence of their decision not to harm other individuals, vegans consume a 100% plant diet in addition to securing non animal-derived alternatives to every other substance or service they require in their daily lives. Not all who eat 100% plant diets are necessarily vegan (they may use other individuals in other areas of their lives), but all vegans consume 100% plants.
Much is written by those seeking to undermine veganism, but the main counter argument that could potentially find justification, would be if humans actually needed to consume animal substances for health. However, as time passes, more and more health authorities stand up to be counted by proclaiming the health benefits of plant nutrition, providing impressive statistics in respect of reduced risks of contracting killer conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and many others that are currently swamping healthcare systems throughout the world.
The following is a recent summary of links and quotes for your interest and to fuel your research. It should be noted that the word ‘vegetarian’ is frequently interchanged with the word ‘vegan’ to denote a diet free of animal substances. The currently accepted common usage of the word ‘vegetarian’ confusingly contains a considerable range of potentially harmful animal substances. If in doubt there is usually clarification within the text.
Links and information will be added to as appropriate material is discovered: –
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association):
It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fiber and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control. These factors contribute to reduction of chronic disease. Vegans need reliable sources of vitamin B-12, such as fortified foods or supplements.
British Dietetic Association:
Plant-based diets are becoming more popular and if they are well-planned, can support healthy living at every age and life-stage.
Diets centred on a wide variety of plant foods offer affordable, tasty and nutritious options. Plant-based diets which are rich in beans, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, wholegrains such as oats, rice, and cereal based foods such as breads, and pasta can provide all the nutrients needed for good health. This includes essential fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and plenty of fibre too.
Well balanced plant-based diets, that are also low in saturated fat, can help you manage your weight and may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
In the UK, it is estimated that well-planned completely plant-based, or vegan, diets need just one third of the fertile land, fresh water and energy of the typical British ‘meat-and-dairy’ based diet. With meat and dairy being the leading contributor to greenhouse (GHG) emissions, reducing animal based foods and choosing a wide range of plant foods can be beneficial to the planet and our health. https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/plant-based_diet
Dietitians Association of Australia:
Vegan diets are a type of vegetarian diet, where only plant-based foods are eaten. They differ to other vegetarian diets in that no animal products are usually consumed or used. Despite these restrictions, with good planning it is still possible to obtain all the nutrients required for good health on a vegan diet.
Australian Government: National Health and Research Council
Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthy and nutritionally adequate. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf
Dietitians of Canada:
Anyone can follow a vegan diet – from children to teens to older adults. It’s even healthy for pregnant or nursing mothers. A well-planned vegan diet is high in fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Plus, it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol. This healthy combination helps protect against chronic diseases.
Vegans have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer than non-vegans. Vegans also have lower blood pressure levels than both meat-eaters and vegetarians and are less likely to be overweight. http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vegetarian-and-Vegan-Diets/What-You-Need-to-Know-About-Following-a-Vegan-Eati.aspx
There really are no disadvantages to a herbivorous diet! A plant-based diet has many health benefits, including lowering the risk for heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, plus maintain weight and bone health.
New York Presbyterian Hospital:
Most of the chronic diseases that plague us (diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, most cancers, gout, and many more) are related to nutrition.
As a Physician Nutrition Specialist, I recognize that recommending a diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains is the strongest evidence-based advice for dietary change we have. Not only is there the very well established benefit of a diet with decreased calories and unhealthy saturated and trans fats and increased fiber and healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats, you are getting a daily infusion of many beneficial compounds including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and thousands of other plant compounds which are being actively studied by scientists. With these foods, there is no need for calorie-counting and portion control, which has been very difficult for most people, since you can eat as much as you want and it will still be low in calories. Choosing this kind of diet can help you lose weight, reduce the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, as well as lower your blood pressure.
The Permanente Journal:
Plant-based nutrition has exploded in popularity, and many advantages have been well documented over the past several decades. Not only is there a broad expansion of the research database supporting the myriad benefits of plant-based diets, but also health care practitioners are seeing awe-inspiring results with their patients across multiple unique subspecialties. Plant-based diets have been associated with lowering overall and ischemic heart disease mortality; supporting sustainable weight management; reducing medication needs; lowering the risk for most chronic diseases; decreasing the incidence and severity of high-risk conditions, including obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia; and even possibly reversing advanced coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes.
The Mayo Clinic:
[W]ith a little planning a vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breast-feeding women. The key is to be aware of your nutritional needs so that you plan a diet that meets them.
Dr Michael Greger, MD FACLM:
These are the top 15 causes of death, and a plant based diet can prevent nearly all of them, can help treat more than half of them, and in some cases even reverse the progression of disease, including our top three killers.
Walter Willet, MD, DrPH, Chair of Harvard’s nutrition department:
“Humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk, an evolutionarily recent addition to the diet,” Willett and his co-author, David Ludwig, of Boston Children’s Hospital, wrote in an article published last September in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics. “[T]he recommendation for three servings of milk per day is not justified and is likely to cause harm to some people. The primary justification is bone health and reduction of fractures. However, prospective studies and randomized trials have consistently shown no relation between milk intake and risk of fractures. On the other hand, many studies have shown a relation between high milk intake and risk of fatal or metastatic prostate cancer, and this can be explained by the fact that milk intake increases blood levels of IGF-1, a growth-promoting hormone.”
NHS (British National Health Service):
With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
Science supports a low-fat, plant-based diet for optimal health… Taking control of your quality of life starts with consuming a plant-based diet. Filling your plate with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains is not only your best bet for disease prevention, it’s an easy way to reverse damage already done.