I've corresponded with students all over the world searching for nutrition enlightenment for a fascinating variety of reasons. I've also viewed wonderful lectures by Dr Campbell and Dr Pam Popper.
Next, I study Diseases of Affluence. But first, here's another installment of the thought-provoking discussion on this course.
Dr. Campbell proposes that there are no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better obtained by plant-based foods. Explain to an interested acquaintance how science supports this premise. Consider how eating a 'plant-based diet' differs from 'being vegan'.
When you've eaten food from animals all your life, a plant-based diet can seem very strange. But did you know that every single nutrient that comes from animals is available from plants and is better for you? I haven't had animal foods for 15 years and I'm strong and healthy - and have two children who have (almost) never eaten animal foods either.
I know you hear you need meat, milk, and eggs for good quality protein.
But almost any plant food has protein, and some beans are just as high protein as any meat - but no cholesterol or saturated fat, and lots cheaper! Plant foods easily supply a human's need for protein. Science has shown that that the protein in meat raises your cholesterol levels even more than the saturated fat and cholesterol. And animal protein helps cancers grow. Healthy people all over the world eat a diet low in animal protein, and people who eat lots of animal protein have high rates of diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Most of us worry about our fat intake and don't know how much is actually healthy or needed. It's actually pretty easy: animals have more fat, and that is the saturated fat that is linked with heart disease and stroke and plants have not only less fat but it is also the healthier unsaturated kind.
Other essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and B12 are also obtainable without the cholesterol or saturated fat from animals.
And all these plant foods also have things you need that animal foods don't have at all: complex carbohydrates metabolise perfectly for natural energy, fibre fills you up and cleans you out, and antioxidants help you stay younger and even fight cancer growth.
You can live a long and active life like so many people around the world on a plant-based diet, and have a much lower risk of diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Plant-based diet and veganism
Proponents of a plant-based diet consider its nutritional advantages to be of primary scientific importance. Dr Campbell makes some mention of the environmental benefits as well. Like Dr. McDougall, though, he intentionally avoids the labels "vegetarian" or "vegan". A plant-based diet does not imply any restriction on the use of animal products for non-food uses.
Vegans may avoid animal foods (and often all other animal products) primarily because of ethics surrounding animal rights. They may have no specific interest in nutritional health. Other vegans give equal weight to animal rights, nutritional health, and the environment.
Although vegans may not have health as their first priority, they have as a population achieved the improved health which is the primary aim of plant-based diet supporters. Vegans have known that improved health is a natural effect of their diet centuries before any scientists could watch cancer cells grow in a laboratory.
The willingness of vegetarians and vegans to suffer negativity and persist in their eating patterns is what has brought an animal-free diet to the foreground. What appears in a restaurant, even on a plane? Vegan and vegetarian options. Jeff and Sabrina Nelson's website is called VegSource "Your source for all things vegan and vegetarian!" and it has done more than any other I know to promote the plant-based health message. Even from doctors who dislike the vegan label!
The distaste for those people who avoid animal foods because they care about the animals reminds me of the point I made in my last discussion post: people generally are more comfortable with selfish motivations. But there are always many right paths to the right goal. Ethical vegans enjoy improved health, and plant-based diet aficionados are also helping save animals.
Strength and Success
As mentioned in this VegSource video on doctors who disagree, success will come from celebrating our common ground and working together, not focusing on our differences and dividing.