How Do Our Health Leaders Feel About the Plant-Based Lifestyle?

The benefits of the plant-based lifestyle have been known for decades but the word has been slow to make its way to consumers. Even when information does trickle out people shake their heads in disbelief. They have not heard any consistent message from the media that supports eating mostly plants. Part of this problem stems from the suppression of information by large producer organizations of foods such as beef, pork, poultry, dairy and the soft-drink industry. Another aspect is the effect of media stories proclaiming good news about bad habits supported by poorly executed scientific studies and the erroneous interpretation of good scientific studies. In spite of this, “the truth will out” as the saying goes, illustrated by the following comments and position statements issued by various health related organizations in the USA, Canada and throughout the world.

Association of Nutrition and Dietetics (previously the American Dietetic Association)
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

World Cancer Research Fund, and the World Health Organization
2007 – “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective”.
Experts around the world reviewed all research on diet and disease and found clear correlation between meat consumption and the development of many forms of cancer. They noted that a plant-based diet promises protection from heart disease as well. Their recommendation is to eat a diet of mostly plant origin.

American Institute for Cancer Research
“We know that we can prevent about a third of all cancers if people would maintain a healthy weight, eat a plant-based diet and be physically active.” Alice Bender, Registered Dietitian with the AICR
“A predominantly plant-based diet is one of the key elements in recommendations to reduce cancer risk.”

American Cancer Society
“Studies that look at people and their habits have linked vegetarian diets with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and colon cancer.”

American Heart Association
“Most vegetarian diets are low in or devoid of animal products [and] usually lower than nonvegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.”
“You don’t need to eat foods from animals to have enough protein in your diet. Plant proteins alone can provide enough of the essential and non-essential amino acids…Soy protein has been shown to be equal to proteins of animal origin. It can be your sole protein source if you choose.”

American Diabetes Association (ADA)
“Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes: A 2009 study found that, among a range of diets from vegan to nonvegetarian, as consumption of animal products increased, so did diabetes prevalence.”
“Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes: Plant-based eating patterns combined with exercise have been found to improve diabetes control and reduce the need for medication in intervention trials as far back as 1976.”

Obesity Society, Maryland, USA
“…a new study shows that vegan and vegetarian dietary patterns can result in more weight loss than those that include meat without emphasizing caloric restriction.”

US Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA
2010 – “Vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes – lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower total mortality.”
2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee – “Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is lower in animal-based foods and higher in plant-based foods has a lesser environmental impact and at the same time is more health-promoting than the current average American diet.”

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, New York, USA
“Emphasize plant sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, soy products and unsalted nuts. These high-protein foods have the added bonus of being higher in health-enhancing nutrients than are animal sources of protein.”

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, Toronto
“Research shows that eating mostly plant foods, such as a variety of colourful vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils) daily may lower your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and promote your overall health.”

John Hopkins School of Bloomberg Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
“…participants who consumed high amounts of meat had higher energy intake compared to those who consumed less meat, and were 33 percent more likely to have central obesity.”

Harvard School of Public Health – 2002
“We can’t tell people to stop eating all meat and dairy products. Well, we could tell all people to be vegetarians….If we were truly basing this on science we would, but it is a bit extreme.”

AARP (formerly the American Association for Retired People)
“Cutting back (even a little) on meat can lengthen your life”

Kaiser Permanente (US Insurance provider)
“Plant-based diets may be a practical solution to prevent and treat chronic diseases [and] physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

“Concerns about the rising cost of health care are being voiced nationwide, even as unhealthy lifestyles are contributing to the spread of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, physicians looking for cost-effective interventions to improve health outcomes are becoming more involved in helping their patients adopt healthier lifestyles. Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet.”

Blue Cross (Insurance Provider)
“Cutting out meat and replacing it with plant sources of protein such as beans can help you reduce your risk of heart disease, limit your risk of cancer, curb obesity and help you improve your diet.”

American Public Health Association
Letter Regarding Pending 2015 Dietary Guidelines – “…producing protein in the form of meat, eggs and dairy products uses 70 percent of the world’s agricultural land and contributes 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Current guidelines recommend plant-based diets.”

Promoting a healthy adventurous lifestyle powered by plants and the strength of scientific evidence.

My name is Debra Harley (BScPhm) and I welcome you to my retirement project, this website. Over the course of a life many lessons are learned, altering deeply-rooted ideas and creating new passions.

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