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is a strict vegetarian diet healthy?

I keep going back on forth on this question. Interstingly, I found this article by Joel Fuhrman, who I assumed advocated a total vegan/vegetarian diet. This first sentence of this piece suggests that you don't necessarily have to.

"People often ask me whether it is absolutely necessary to follow a vegetarian diet. Let me stress this: Following a strict vegetarian diet is not as important as eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

A vegetarian whose diet is mainly refined grains, cold breakfast cereals, processed health food store products, vegetarian fast foods, white rice, and pasta will be worse off than a person who eats a little turkey, chicken, fish, or eggs but consumes large volumes of fruits, vegetables, and beans. That combination of little or no animal products with a higher consumption of fresh produce is the crucial factor that makes a vegetarian diet healthful.

Research has confirmed this. Multiple studies have shown that vegetarians live longer than non-vegetarians do. The research shows those who avoid meat and dairy have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, which are the leading causes of death in America.

But when we take a close look at the data, it appears that those who weren’t as strict with their diets as the vegetarians had longevity statistics that were equally impressive -- as long as they consumed high volumes of a variety of unrefined plant foods.

So the question is: can the total protection offered by increasing the nutritious foods - the high phytochemical/antioxidant (protective plant foods)-- to make ones diet produce-predominant be achieved, even if the diet is not totally vegetarian and includes some animal products? I think the answer is yes. In other words, you can achieve the benefits of a vegetarian diet, without being a vegetarian or a vegan, and the science available seems to support this."


Sat. Mar 22, 2:20pm

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I'm vegan because it works for my body. I started out vegetarian because I didn't want to eat animals, but as the years went on and I kept eating dairy, I realized that I must have had a slight allergy to it or something. As soon as I knocked dairy out of the picture, I have clear skin, more energy, and overall I feel fantastic.

I don't think it's necessarily about being vegetarian, vegan, or otherwise. It's about using common sense when you ingest food. I think a lot of vegetarians and vegans fall into the packaged food trap, as the article mentioned. But smart veggies eat whole foods, as do smart omnivores. I would hope that people who eat meat are choosing antibiotic free and artificial hormone free varieties, and leaving nonsense like "bologna" alone.

As a professor of mine once said, "Your body is like a car. Would you build a car out of garbage?!" Possibly, haha, but you shouldn't build your body out of garbage!

Sunday, March 23, 2008, 10:48 AM

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10:48 - well said! :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008, 2:59 PM

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Probaly a ridiculous question but...

I have been cooking more and more with tofu, and my question is whether or not the blocks bought in the grocery store are considered "processed food"?
I agree with the article, that if you are eating lots of fresh veg ,then that is what is important, but I have seen recipes for making your on meatless burgers, and soy curd blocks and frankly...I don't have the energy for this.

I am a mexican food freak and would really miss eating my "Soyrizo" . I gotta think , even processed, it is better than the pork filled tubes utilized by my peeps.

Sunday, March 23, 2008, 6:25 PM

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Yes, it is very healthy.

Monday, March 24, 2008, 9:29 AM

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