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Science, Health and Vegetarianism

Most Vegetarians have a reason why they are vegetarians. Some will cite the horrid treatment of animals as the driving cause or simply their religion or belief system doesn’t allow it. But some will always say they became vegetarian for health reasons. They wanted to lose weight, live longer or generally just have better nutrition in their diets. It’s this, the Vegetarians for health that I want to focus on a bit.

Fairly recently I stumbled around the ‘Net and found this article that picked my attention as it seemed to go against all the bits of knowledge that I thought I knew.

click to read the full article:

It cited a recent study in Australia that concluded that vegetarians and vegans do not live longer then meat eaters. And in full discloser I didn’t do a lot of research into the actually study that was being cited in the article but what struck me was this paragraph.

“The Australian study is based on data from the “45 and Up Study,” described as the largest study of healthy aging in the Southern Hemisphere. The analysis is based on 243,096 men and women (mean age 62). After an average of six years of follow-up, the researchers counted up the number of deaths.

Out of 16,836 deaths in total (6.9 per cent of total), there were 80 deaths in vegetarians (5.3 per cent) and 16,756 deaths (6.9 per cent) in others (which includes pesco-vegetarians and semi-vegetarians.)

After adjusting for other factors, such as age, smoking and alcohol consumption, and a history of ever being diagnosed with high blood pressure or conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke the researchers found no evidence that any of the variations of vegetarian diets had a protective effect on early death.”

As it is quoted in the article, there were 16,836 deaths in total from the people in the study and out of that 80 were vegetarians....and 16,756 were not vegetarians. Or as percentage 99.5 percent of the people that had died were meat eaters....interesting. I know that in the write up there are percentage points already (5.3 percent for vegetarians and 6.9 percent for non vegetarians) but the numbers don’t add up. as i stated before 16836 deaths out of the group and out of this number 80 where vegetarians. It simply doesn’t add up to the percentage that is stated. And sorry fish eaters or flexivegetarians you still count on the meat eater side.

They also adjust for things like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease etc. And while I know that these conditions do exist in vegetarians and vegans, they exist not in nearly the same numbers. Common sense will tell you eating a chunk of beef has way more bad fats then tofu, nuts or beans. So why adjust the numbers? Aren’t they for the sake of being a fair testament to vegetarians health vs non vegetarians and important factor?

But my trip through the net didn’t stop there, as questions came to me like rain in a storm.

There seems to be a study done in Austria that concludes that vegetarians are more likely to have cancer and other major illnesses and most likely to have a poorer quality of life...Or does it?

“Study coordinator and epidemiologist Nathalie Burkert told The Austrian Times: “We have already distanced ourselves from this claim as it is an incorrect interpretation of our data.”

And the author mentions that there is criticism of the study as being more of an advertisement for the meat industry. it when science is paid for but a particular industry and then printed in newspapers like a real story....sounds suspect but I guess that’s the world we live in right now.

And the last article that I want to mention

And while this study seems to indicate that Vegans will live longer, healthier lives. Though correctly so, they do point that vegans tend to be from more educated or affluent families.

So what’s the truth. Like any diet whether you are a vegan or a meat eater it’s about smart choices. If you goal in any diet is to eat healthier, smarter and better then educate yourself. There are so many studies that are done that have an agenda and sorry vegetarians even on the vegetarian side some studies have an agenda. Remember when you read these studies someone, somewhere is paying for this study to be done and most likely to prove an argument. So the best judge is yourself. When you are eating whatever you are eating, do you feel better, more energetic and happier. Then do that. But be honest. If you can’t tell yourself the truth who can you tell. Go to the doctor, get the blood work. How are my B12 levels, my cholesterol levels and any diabetes indicators? No? Then keep going, health wise you are on the right track. But if the answer is yes then you must adjust.


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