by Irina Radosevic
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School
of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over
3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara,
in the Department of Emergency Medicine.
also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the
same University and had previously worked for over a
year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for
Fitness club Green Zone.
eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER
to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and
mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid
course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently
works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and
The question is:
is there any healthy
benefits to a vegan lifestyle?
You can miss essential
proteins that you could otherwise get from eating meat.
You have to take
supplements to make up for important elements that vegetables do not
contain. There must be all types of nutrients in meat that would be
absent in a vegan diet.
But let's look into the
question and see if there are health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
World-renowned figures as diverse as philosophers Plato and
Nietzsche, political leaders Benjamin Franklin and
Gandhi, and pop icons Paul McCartney and Bob Marley
have all advocated a vegetarian diet.
A very historically
diverse group from thousands of years ago to the present that
advocate a vegetarian diet. The claim is that many studies have
suggested that there are many health benefits to a vegan lifestyle.
"Vegetarian" is defined
avoiding all animal
flesh, including fish and poultry.
avoid flesh, but do eat animal products such as cheese,
milk, and eggs, are ovo-lacto-vegetarians (ovo = egg;
lacto = milk, cheese, etc.).
abstain from all animal products are called pure vegans.
Vegetarian (a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other
animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.
Relating to the exclusion of meat or other animal products from the
diet) diets are naturally low naturally low in saturated fat, high
in fiber, and contain cancer-protective phytochemicals that help to
Are these types diets
really healthy? Can they really help in the fight against cancer?
According to large
studies conducted in England and Germany suggest that vegetarians
are 40 % less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters. (If we
aren't supposed to eat meat than why were animals put on the
In the United States,
studies of Seventh-Day Adventists have shown significant
reductions in cancer risk among those who avoided meat. Again, the
correlation between meat eating and a higher risk of cancer is not
It is reported that breast cancer rates are lower in, nations such
as China, where women traditionally eat plant-based diets instead of
animal-based diets. In Japan it is recorded that women who eat
meat-based diets are 8 times more likely to develop breast cancer
than those women who eat a more traditionally plant-based diet.
There is no clinical
support for stating that meat-based diets are more likely to
stimulate cancer in people who consume that type of diet than than
those who eat plant-based foods only.
Harvard studies that included tens of thousands of women and men
suggest that regular meat consumption increases colon cancer risk by
300 %. It is said that high-fat diets encourage the production of
estradiol (a major estrogen
produced in the ovaries) in the body.
Increased levels of this
sex hormone have increased the risk of breast cancer; again there is
no clinical studies to support this assertion.
Meat and dairy products
contribute to several of types cancer, including cancer of the
colon, breast, ovaries, and prostate. No studies have concluded this
as being true.
One study linked the consumption of dairy products to an increased
risk of ovarian cancer. A study conducted at Cambridge University
found that diets high in saturated fat were linked to breast cancer.
Vegetarians avoid the
animal fat linked to cancer and get abundant fiber, vitamins, and
phytochemicals that help to prevent
cancer. It is claimed that they receive these benefits by health
In addition, blood
analysis of vegetarians reveals a higher level of "natural killer
cells," specialized white blood cells that attack cancer cells.
"natural killer cells" this has never been heard of before and the
killer cells are not defined or elaborated on in detail.
This assertion sounds
Now it is claimed that vegetarian diets can help to fight heart
Animal products are the
main source of saturated fat and the only source of cholesterol in
the diet. This seems highly unlikely that animal products are the
main source for saturated fat and the only source for cholesterol.
There are foods
everywhere that contain cholesterol and saturated fat that are a
part of many people's diets. Vegetarians avoid these risky products.
Do they really? It seems
unlikely that even vegetarians can completely avoid saturated fat
and cholesterol. The body needs some type of fat intake to remain
strong and healthy.
Fiber is said to reduce cholesterol and fiber is a main constituent
in a vegetarian diet.
Animal products contain
no fiber. Which implies that animal products will increase the risk
of higher cholesterol levels and we all know the harmful effects
that can have on our bodies.
Studies have demonstrated
that a low-fat, high-fiber, vegetarian or vegan diet combined with
stress reduction techniques, smoking cessation, and plenty of
exercise, or combined with prudent drug intervention, could actually
reverse atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries.
It says it could lower
atherosclerosis but it is not guaranteed.
Eating a vegetarian diet alone will not stop the arteries from
hardening. Heart diets that include lean meats, dairy products, and
chicken are not as effective in stopping the hardening of the
These diets only slow it
down. The above mentioned factors included many other elements
beside a vegan diet to stop the hardening of the arteries.
Even with all these
treatments there is no guarantee that the arteries will not be
If someone is genetically
predisposed to have the arteries hardened then all these extra
health precautions will not stop the arteries from hardening.
Enemy of High
In the early 1900's, nutritionists supposedly noticed that people
who ate no meat products had lower blood pressure levels.
They also discovered that
a person who switched to a plant-based diet could lower their blood
pressure dramatically within two weeks. This is hard to believe that
an all vegetable diet could reduce blood pressure that much in such
a short time.
These results were
achieved no matter what the sodium levels were in the vegetarian
diets. This is suspect due to the fact that excessive sodium intake
will increased blood pressure levels no matter how many vegetable
Again, it is said that people who embrace the vegetarian lifestyle
generally have lower blood pressure levels. If they are in-taking
high levels of sodium this just is not true.
There is no definite
reason why the vegetarian diet works so well in lowering blood
But the theory is (this
is pure speculation),
"but probably cutting
out meat, dairy products, and added fats reduces the blood's
viscosity (or "thickness") which, in turn, brings down blood
There are no
research-based studies to support this hypothesis. Plant products
are lower in sodium and contain no cholesterol at all.
They have loads of
potassium which helps to lower blood pressure.
Non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset) diabetes can be controlled maybe
in even eliminated by a low-fat, vegetarian diet along with regular
This diet is low in fat
and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which is said to allow
insulin to work more effectively.
If this were true, would
there not be more public awareness that these types diet in
conjunction with exercise may eliminate this type of diabetes?
The person with diabetes
can control glucose levels. But there is a drawback to the
vegetarian diet because it cannot eliminate the need for insulin in
people with type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes, it can often reduce
the amounts of insulin used.
But in these types of
cases it will not eliminate diabetes.
Kidney Stones, and Osteoporosis Beware
So, vegetarian diets may reduce a person's risk of developing kidney
stones and gallstones.
Diets that are high in
protein, high in protein, especially animal protein may cause the
body to produce more,
These three substances
are the main components of urinary tract stones.
People have historically
consumed these types of diets and never developed urinary tract
stones. British researchers recommend that people who form kidney
stones should switch to a vegetarian diet.
There is no guarantee
this dietary change will inhibit the formation of kidney stones.
It is quoted by a website
"The American Academy
of Family Physicians notes that high animal protein intake is
largely responsible for the high prevalence of kidney stones in
the United States and other developed countries and recommends
protein restriction for the prevention of recurrent kidney
Proteins are too valuable
for life functions to be restricted.
The human body needs its
daily allowance of protein. Neglecting protein may cause many
harmful health effects to the human body. Supposedly,
high-cholesterol, high-fat diets - the typical meat-based diet - are
implicated in the formation of gallstones.
They are implicated but
it does not mean they will help to form gallstones.
The consumption of meaty
diets as opposed to vegetarian diets nearly doubles the risk of
gallstones in women. No clinical support for these increased risk of
gallstones in women who eat meaty diets.
Now it is claimed that for many of the same reasons mentioned that
vegetarians are at a lower risk for osteoporosis. Meat products are
said to force calcium out of the body thereby promoting bone loss.
It has been stated,
"In nations with
mainly vegetable diets (and without dairy product consumption),
osteoporosis is less common than in the U.S., even when calcium
intake is also less than in the U.S."
This statement is open to
debate because, how can any culture consume less calcium than the
American culture and not develop osteoporosis?
A 1985 Swedish study suggested that people with asthma practicing a
vegetarian diet for a year have a,
"marked decrease in
the need for medications and in the frequency and severity of
22 of the 24 participants
in the study said they had marked improvements in their asthma
The correlation between
the vegetarian diet and the reduction in asthma attacks was not
given. There needs to be new and updated studies conducted to prove
One study does not
guarantee that this is a proven health benefit of a vegetarian diet.
Thai Curry Vegetable and Tofu Soup
1 tablespoon Thai
red curry paste
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly
4 ounces green beans, halved
2 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
4 ounces snow peas
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Asian chili garlic sauce, for serving
Place the curry
paste and ginger in a medium pot. Whisk in the broth,
coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.
Add the mushrooms, green beans, and carrots and simmer until
just tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the tofu and snow peas and simmer until the snow peas
are bright green, about 1 minute more.
Stir in the lime juice. Sprinkle with the basil and serve
with the chili garlic sauce.
Portobello Mushroom Burgers With Oven Fries
mushrooms (about 1 1/4 pounds total), stems discarded
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
4 slices Cheddar (about 4 ounces)
3 medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
lettuce and sliced red onion, for serving
4 English muffins, split and toasted
Heat oven to 425°
F (220º C). Rub the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of the oil,
and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper on a rimmed baking
Place the mushrooms stem-side down and roast until tender,
18 to 20 minutes. Top each mushroom with a slice of Cheddar
and continue to cook until melted, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Meanwhile, on a separate rimmed baking sheet, toss the
potatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and ¼
teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until
tender, 18 to 20 minutes; toss with the parsley.
Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl.
Stack the lettuce, mushrooms, onion, and mayonnaise mixture
between the English muffins. Serve with the oven fries.
Cheese Tortellini with Spinach, Peas, and Brown Butter
1 pound fresh or
frozen cheese tortellini
1 cup frozen peas
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 small bunch flat-leaf spinach, thick stems removed (about
1 medium beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon
kosher salt and black pepper
tortellini according to the package directions, adding the
peas during the last minute of cooking.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium
heat and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 2 to 3
Add the spinach and tomato and cook, tossing occasionally,
until the spinach is wilted and the tomato begins to soften,
4 to 5 minutes more.
Add the tortellini, peas, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon
salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the skillet and toss to
Vegetarian Tacos With Goat Cheese
1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and
1½ teaspoons chili powder
kosher salt and black pepper
1 10-ounce package frozen corn (2 cups), thawed
1 5-ounce package baby spinach (about 6 loosely packed cups)
8 small flour tortillas, warmed
¾ cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (3 ounces)
¾ cup store-bought refrigerated salsa
Heat the oil in a
large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the tofu, chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon
pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 4 to
Add the corn. Cook, tossing, until heated through, about 2
Add the spinach and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss
Fill the tortillas with the tofu mixture, goat cheese, and
Tofu and Vegetable Curry With Rice
1 cup long-grain
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into
4 carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups frozen okra
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Powered by Chicory
Cook the rice
according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick
skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook,
tossing occasionally, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer
to a plate.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the
carrots, onion, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally,
until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in
the curry paste.
Add the broth and coconut milk to the skillet and bring to a
simmer. Add the tofu and okra and cook, stirring
occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8
minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve with the rice.
Above is a list of health benefits for the vegetarian lifestyle.
Some of the benefits
listed were not supported by clinical studies, others were. One
benefit in particular was supported by a 1985 study and it needs
more updated studies to be conducted to prove it is a valid health
Look over the recipes as