When sifting through all the contradictory evidence around nutrition, this question cuts to the chase.
The short answer? Probably to yes.
An increasing amount of scientific studies show that plant-based living is simply the best nutritional diet you can give your body and, as a preventative measure, you can greatly decrease your cancer risk by abstaining form meat.
Does this mean that ALL vegans are the healthiest?
Heck, no! (In fact, there’s a whole range of vegans who are not – these are the beautiful souls that mistakenly think anything vegan is better, so stuff themselves with delicious vegan banana loaves drizzled with caramel sauce, mock-meat products like Tofurky sausages, ground “beef”, tonnes of sweetened soy milk and gluten-free vegan brownies (boy that sounds good actually!).
But – seriously – there is a right way and a wrong way to do even the healthiest of diets.
In fact, you can even do the raw diet “wrong” by stuffing yourself non-stop with a copious amount of nuts, too many desserts, not enough greens, etc. But that’s why your reading my blog right? To learn the best way to stay healthy?
Back to the topic:
Several key studies show that vegans (even vegetarians too), have an increased lifespan over those that eat a more mainstream, Standard American Diet (meat and potatoes diet).
One of these key studies looked over a 12 year period at one of the longest-lived communities: the Seventh-Day Adventists in the United States.
This is considered to be an excellent set of studies for several reasons but especially because it tracked participants for a long time and – equally important – on a population whose use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco were virtually nil (in “regular” populations these factors can often skew the “real” picture of health, making it unclear what the real cause of disease is).
These studies (referenced here) had a few interesting findings though – the life-span of those who were completely vegan vs. “near-vegan” were almost the same. What is near-vegan you ask?
“Near vegan” is defined as those who ate minimal animals products, like fish or eggs, about once per week.
Another interesting finding was the variable that separated long-lived vegan from the longest lived vegans, DESPITE being vegan or near-vegan: the consumption of nuts and seeds.
In fact the people who ate nuts and seeds, outlived even the complete vegans who didn’t eat nuts and seeds!
What does this mean?
Well aside from being the fantastic news that you are in charge of your health (and therefore, your ”destiny” if you believe that stuff), we know that a mainly plant-based diet is simply kick ass for your health. It can greatly decrease your chances of getting cancer and can mean you can live until a ripe old age, showing your grandkids and great grand kids how to eat for longevity.
But here’s the thing: just being vegan isn’t enough: you can be a healthy vegan or unhealthy.
Now is one of the best times to be vegan in the history of humans and there are a plethora of vegan junk foods. While these are good for transition phases from one diet to a healthier one, make sure they don’t take over your life.
Make sure you’re eating a whole bunch of cancer fighting veggies like greens, cabbage and more, plus regularly consuming nuts and seeds (really easy with a diet that has a healthy amount of raw foods).
And, this study is even amazing for near-vegans because it means that you don’t have to be a perfect vegan to enjoy good health.
If you feel like you just can’t live without some meat, then don’t get down, you can be a near-vegan and still achieve optimal health by eating a small amount of eggs and fish (about once per week) and still be a smack-happy near-vegan that lives well into your 80′s and 90′s.
Here’s to wishing you the very best of health. And don’t forget your nuts and seeds.
And what about you? Did these findings surprise you? Let me know in the comments below!
© 2013, ohmyraw!. All rights reserved.