On the whole, this is a major health policy scandal. Preventing disease should be at least as important to health professionals as treating disease. However, the multibillion-dollar health system – with all its doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, etc – makes most of its money from the treatment of diseases. A comprehensive policy that emphasises prevention would deprive the health industry of the majority of its revenue. So in light of the influence that the health industry and the meat industry have on policy, it is no surprise that disease prevention – a goal which could be largely achieved through the adoption of healthier diets – is given relatively little consideration. Many food producers make a lot of money by selling unhealthy food. In turn, the health industry makes a lot of money by treating the diseases that result from unhealthy diets. It’s a vicious cycle in which humans, animals and the environment all suffer. Of course, any reasonably intelligent person can see that it is in his or her own best interests to adopt a healthy diet. My analysis of scientific studies on nutrition makes it clear that a vegan diet that is varied and carried out appropriately is the healthiest of all diets – and this is also proven by nutritionists’ conclusions. This conclusion should even be obvious to someone who knows very little about nutrition, as the connection between the consumption of meat, milk and cheese and major health risks is clearly documented. However, not every diet that eliminates meat, milk and cheese is healthy. Even though numerous scientific studies on nutrition conclude that most vegetarians and vegans are healthier than meat-eaters, a vegan diet still needs to be varied and well-balanced in order to be healthy! Vegans need to be particularly aware of potential sources of vitamin B12 because it is only produced by micro-organisms (bacteria) and so is found primarily in easily perishable animal-derived products such as meat, internal organs and milk. A potential lack of vitamin B12 is one of the major justifications that so-called “experts” use when advising against a vegan diet. As any responsible physician will tell you, in order to make a vegan diet healthy, it needs to be varied, and people who follow it need to be sure to get sufficient vitamin B12 by consuming enriched juices, breakfast cereals, soy milk, etc, and also by taking a B12 supplement to be on the safe side. Alternatively, vitamin B12 levels in the blood would have to be checked regularly. However, considering all the damage that meat, dairy products and fish do to the body, it would be absurd to reject a vegan diet only because of concerns about vitamin B12 deficiency. It simply doesn’t make sense to address a potential vitamin B12 deficiency – which can easily be avoided by eating enriched foods and taking supplements – by consuming meat, dairy products and other foods that clearly damage our health.
The connection between cancer, heart disease and other major illnesses has been confirmed by many scientific studies – as has the level of contamination of many ocean fish which has been tainted by water pollution. So not only is it a good idea to eliminate meat, eggs, dairy and seafood products from one’s diet, it is also necessary to do so in order to ensure good health. Personal observation has made one thing very clear to me over the years: People who speak out against veganism either do not know enough about it or make their living from the sale of meat, eggs and dairy products.
I highly recommend the following publications for further information:
- Book Vegan Nutrition by Gill Langley
- Website of the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicinewww.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/nutritionfaq.html
- ADA (American Dietetic Association) position paper on the health advantages of vegetarian and vegan diets, 2009: www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357&terms=vegan
- Website of the Medical Society for the Promotion of a Vegetarian Diet: www.fleisch-macht-krank.de