Yesterday was a banner day for me as my Go Whole Food Vegan Facebook page reached 1000+ followers…all from this year. Today I checked the statistics and what jumped right out at me is that 1/3 of my page followers are between the ages of 18 – 24 and more than 50% between 18 and 34. What a pleasant surprise because it indicates to me that there´s a lot more interest in our health and wellbeing among the youth, than I expected. I remember how I was, so I thought that young people would be more focused on their social lives, sports, education and their careers…than personal health. What a nice surprise to see that some things have changed. I thought that older people, would be more likely to follow my posts, because illness and disease would become a more prominent factor as we get older. Yet in the 65+ age group only 8% are following my page. I guess I was dead wrong on several things I imagined. Imagination will only take you so far.
Added note: 67% of those following my page are women.
Now, to get back to the title of this post:
I have been having a wonderful and sometimes challenging time responding to people´s comments to my posts. Last week I received several comments to my Can Nutrition Studies Be Trusted (Part 1) but one comment in particular, attracted my attention: Despite all the propaganda, there isn’t any evidence that vegan diets are any better than other diets. To support this, he attached the following scientific study:
The Title: Mortality in Vegetarians and comparable Non-Vegetarians (including vegans), in the United Kingdom
The study was done in 2015 with the participation of 60,000+ persons, including approximately 40,000 meat and/or fish eaters, 18,096 vegetarians (dairy but no meat) and 2228 vegans who don´t eat meat or dairy. The study was very complete, with comparative tables, footnotes and quite a few references.
So what, in this study, didn´t sit right with me?
For those who have been following my posts, you know that when I refer to vegan nutrition I mean exclusively Whole Food Vegan or Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) nutrition. That is why my Facebook page is titled, Go Whole Food Vegan. In other words, if the food is not whole food, then it´s processed and/or refined, which could very well spell health problems, somewhere down the line, including chronic diseases.
Several months ago I published a post entitled “Not All Vegans Are Created Equal”. What I explained is that there are 2 categories of vegans: 1) Persons with a primary interest in their personal health through a WFPB diet and 2) Ethical or Moral vegans who have a primary interest in the no exploitation or torture of animals as well as the saving of the Earth´s environment. Generally, although they don´t consume meat or dairy, eating whole foods is often not as much a priority as it is for the category 1 vegan. A couple of years ago I became aware of this difference when I joined an online vegan group that had more than 100,000 members. When someone asked the question, “Is Coca Cola vegan?”, there were many replies…some yeses and some nos. I then replied: “What does it matter? Coca Cola is not healthy!” I soon received an unexpected response from the groups creator, no less: “As a vegan, it doesn´t matter what one eats…as long as it doesn´t involve animal exploitation”. With health as my priority, I left the group.
With regards to the above study, without revealing what the 2228 vegans were eating, how could we possibly know if they were consuming a healthy Whole Foods diet or not? On the contrary, their regular diet could have been based on fried potatoes, cakes, donuts and pastries, white bread, white rice, refined pasta and sugar, high fructose corn syrup, texturized soy etc… all washed down with a nice cold glass of coca cola. Yes, they´re “officially” vegans, but the diet could very well be as unhealthy as people on the Standard American Diet of meat, dairy and processed and refined foods.
What was the conclusion from this study?
“Our results suggest that United Kingdom–based vegetarians and comparable non-vegetarians (including people who eat fish but not meat and those who eat meat <5 times per week on average) have similar all-cause mortality. The differences by diet group found for specific causes of death merit further investigation”.
I don´t understand why vegans and vegetarians were lumped together for this study. If the point is to compare diets in order to get accurate mortality results, it should be necessary to include Whole Food vegans as a separate group, not as a part of the vegetarian group, which consumes milk and dairy products. Vegans do not consume meat or dairy…and therefore, should be respected for that. Fact is that populations on a WFPB diet (rural Japan and China, parts of rural Africa and the 5 Blue Zones – Okinawa, Japan, Ikaria, Greece, Sardinia, Italy, Nicoya, Costa Rica and Loma Linda, California) not only live longer than people on the Standard American Diet, but rarely suffer the pain and premature death…from the same chronic diseases. Long term studies are also proving that the WFPB diet has the power to help prevent common illnesses and chronic diseases, by strengthening the body´s immune system and clinical studies, carried out with their patients, by renowned Doctors (i.e., Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn, Michael Greger, John McDougall, Dean Ornish, Neal Barnard, Joel Fuhrman, T. Colin Campbell, Michael Klaper, Kim Williams, etc.), are consistently showing the disease reversal powers of WFPB nutrition, especially with regards to Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Certain Cancers, Osteoporosis, High Blood Pressure and Obesity.