As many of you know by now, we at AP are proud of being vegan and promote the lifestyle constantly through our products and blog! The reasons for seriously considering a Vegan lifestyle are several, and perhaps its most controversial (and dare say misunderstood) facet is that of diet.  Arguments abound for the necessary inclusion of meat or other animal products in the human diet for optimum health.  Both facts and claims – from the presence of canine teeth in our mouths to certain nutrients only occurring in animal tissues – attempt to lend credence to the view that our bodies could not possibly have evolved to function correctly without a bit of bovine milk or some scavenged meat.  Of course, there is no all-inclusive truth about the history and structure of the human diet, and we are obviously capable of eating both plant and animal substances.  However, there is an established and increasingly strong body of research pointing at the Vegan diet as physiologically superior to other options.

Vegan Food Pyramid-AnimalSuffering.com

Vegan Food Pyramid-AnimalSuffering.com

 

Of highest concern to non-Vegans seems to be the issue of acquiring essential proteins solely from plant foods.  An unfounded myth circulates that the body’s need for proper amino acids and complete proteins can only be fulfilled, and in adequate amounts, with meat or dairy.  Nutrition expert Kathy Freston begs to differ. Apparently, the body requires only ten percent of its calories to come from protein and a varied plant-based diet will easily provide everything needed.  This is further supported by a study conducted by the American Dietetic Association:  “Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults . . . [and] a meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies found no significant difference in protein needs due to the source of dietary protein.” Lack of protein and where it comes from is not at all a medical issue compared to those that are inherently wedded to animal products, some of the worst being stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

It seems that a variety of medical studies are supporting a Vegan approach to dietary health regarding degenerative diseases.  Nutritionist and researcher Dr. T. Colin Campbell was the director of a study conducted over 20 years in China and Taiwan in conjunction with Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. He then published the group’s findings in The China Study: Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health.  The overarching result of the study’s findings were startlingly clear: “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease … People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.” What we regard as age-related illnesses that occur normally are quite the opposite; the study also found that 80 to 90% of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented, at least until very old age, simply by adopting a plant-based diet.” The implications of such data on bodily function and the nature of its physiological design beg an anatomical review.

To further the vegan argument, plant based diets may actually be connected to our biology. According to Dr. Milton R. Mills, it is unmistakable that the human being is naturally herbivorous given a cursory assessment of the design of the body.  From the shape and size of our oral cavity and the carbohydrate-digestive enzymes in our saliva to our large intestine pointing to vitamin absorption and the fermentation of fibrous plant materials, it appears obvious that we have not evolved to require the intake of animal products and that our bodies, as compared with natural carnivore and omnivore species, are simply herbivorous.  This becomes even more clear when looking at tooth design.  The shape of the human canine has no practical masticating function and is a smaller holdover from behaviors of aggression and display common among other great apes, which is synchronous with our broad, flattened incisors and nodular molars, perfect for the processing of plant matter.  This is consistent with the structural configuration and needs of the rest of our digestive system.

Once more, the information above is not designed to deny that the human body can function with the regular intake of animal-based foods, only that it is most likely not the most optimal approach to eating.  This is only a casual survey of the prevalent issues and available information on a comparative Vegan diet. It is all a matter of personal choice, but we encourage you to do active research,  make your own decisions regarding the correct approach to a healthy, fulfilling mode of plant-based eating.  But one thing, if any, seems quite clear: Veganism as a dietary choice deserves serious consideration for anyone interested in maximizing their physiological health and potential. And as we like to say, perhaps a tad less intellectual: GO VEGAN! 🙂

-Jeremy Pearson

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