A well-balanced vegan diet is nutritious, delicious and healthy!
There is absolutely no requirement for humans to eat meat and other animal products in order to be healthy.
The American Dietetic Association holds that well-planned vegan diets ‘are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases… [and] are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.’
A healthy plant-based diet is rich in fibre, antioxidants and other beneficial components, contains no cholesterol, and is low in saturated fat. Foods derived from animals contain no fibre, are low in health-enhancing antioxidants, and tend to be high in cholesterol and saturated fat.
Food allergies, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and resistance to antibiotics have all been directly linked to a diet high in animal fats and proteins, and people are exhibiting the symptoms of chronic disease at an ever younger age.
Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the western world, including Australia. Heme iron (iron from animal flesh) is associated with increase in risk of heart disease, unlike iron from plant foods (non-heme iron) which is not.
Cancer is now the number one killer of Australians. Studies show that red meat is strongly linked to bowel cancer, and dairy increases the risk of prostate cancer (the most common cancer for Australian men) and ovarian cancer. Conversely, nutrient-dense green and brassica vegetables are strongly protective against cancer.
In Australia, around 1.7 million people have type 2 diabetes and a further 2 million people have a pre-diabetes condition. A vegan diet reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Vegans require supplementation of vitamin B12, which comes from bacteria and is not reliably available from plants. This is often cited as a reason not to abandon eating meat, dairy and eggs. However, there is a prevalence of B12 deficiency in the wider community, and it’s very high in older Australians: 23% of people aged 50 or over. Clearly, it is not the lack of animal products in the diet that has caused this high rate of deficiency. Supplementation is a very good idea for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans.
For more on vegan nutrition see:
3 Levine et al, 2014 Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population, Cell Metabolism, Volume 19, Issue 3
4 Canberra Vegan: http://canberravegan.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/new-australian-dietary-guidelines.html