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What's the deal with vegan living: Part 2

Certain vegans advocate their lifestyle because of their

Certain vegans advocate their lifestyle because of their love for animals, but others embrace it to reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet. A vegan diet is particularly known for its preventative factors such as, reversing risks of heart-related diseases, lowering cancer risks and reducing cholesterol levels. Credit: iStock

Certain vegans advocate their lifestyle because of their love for animals, but others embrace it to reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet. A vegan diet is particularly known for its preventive factors such as, reversing risks of heart-related diseases, lowering cancer risks and reducing cholesterol levels.

Dr. William Harris has been a vegan since 1963 and is the author of The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism. He supports veganism as a viable lifestyle mostly because of the nutritional value behind a plant-based diet.

“None of the nutrients essential to humans are synthesized by animals,” according to first chapter of Harris’ book.

Harris goes further discussing the specific essential nutrients that come from plants that animals and humans need, but the basis of his argument stems from the idea that, “All life depends on photosynthesis, the business of plant leaves, and plant leaves are still the best nutritional bargain for humans.”

A vegan diet could also be an important protective factor for lowering the risk of cancer because the mean body mass index of vegans is considerably lower than that of non vegetarians, according to a research study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the premier research society that researches the science of nutrition.

Michael Greger is a vegan-supportive physician who concentrates in nutrition research. His website breaks down different scientifically-based nutrition studies, such as plant-based diets and their health benefits.

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In his discussion on vegan diets, Greger highlights the link between cholesterol levels and diet, citing that animal-based food products are directly related to elevated cholesterol, along with high levels of trans fat and saturated fat. In reverse, the site notes that plant-based diets seem to not only avoid but even reverse those effects.

“Eating a plant-based diet has even been found to reverse heart disease and possibly even the progression of cancer. A vegan diet results in very low levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines flowing through the body,” according to Greger’s nutrition website.

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., one of the country’s leading cardiologists, published an editorial in the American Journal of Cardiology, which was highlighted by Greger in his own study, supporting plant-based diets as a pathway to reduce heart-related diseases.

“It’s simple: advocate a lifestyle of plant-based nutrition, make a bold leap toward a world free of heart disease, and lessen our use of scalpels and drugs,” Esselstyn wrote.

His editorial backtracked to the history of the “Western diet”, and compared it to other cultural diets that did not heavily concentrate on animal-based nutrition. It states that in places like rural China, central Africa and the mountains of northern Mexico, where people eat a whole-food, plant-based diet, coronary artery disease is “virtually nonexistent.”

“Conversely, plant-based cultures that adopt Western, animal-based nutrition promptly develop coronary artery disease,” Esselstyn’s article says.

Research shows that the aim of embracing veganism is not only to prevent certain ailments, but also to provide people with a more health-conscious lifestyle.

Jennifer Greene, 46, of Bellport, the MeetUp group creator of “Vegan Long Island!” based in Melville, has been vegan for 10 years. She said she wishes the benefits of a vegan diet had come into the spotlight long ago.

“I wish we'd known back then what we know today--that chronic illness can be prevented, treated, and even reversed with a whole-food, plant-based diet,” she said. “The evidence is overwhelming.” 

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