The benefits of an animal-product-free diet are becoming increasingly established in scientific literature as time goes on. As Harvard Medical school points out, “studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.”
This is precisely why multiple doctors now recommend vegetarian or vegan diets for patients with issues ranging from diabetes to heart disease. Dr. Kim. A Williams, for instance, the current President of the American College of Cardiology, not only prescribes these diets to patients but also practices what he preaches, being a vegan himself. He often sees patients who are overweight and struggling with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol, and knows that the medical literature shows plant-based eating will help them.
And he’s not the only one. There’s a long list of doctors choosing this route, including a New York based cardiologist named Dr. John Teeters, who is also the Chief of Cardiology at Highland Hospital.
As Democrat and Chronicle explains, “In spring 2016, a geriatrician at Highland Hospital asked Dr. Teeters to participate in a six-week introduction to the whole–food, plant-based diet for disease prevention offered by Rochester Lifestyle Medicine.”
Teeters was skeptical at first, but his attitude changed after just two weeks, and he’s now a major advocate for plant-based eating. He told Democrat and Chronicle:
The best data available shows that with the most optimal medical management plan, doctors can achieve a 27 to 31 percent reduction in the lifetime risk of heart attack and stroke.” With the plant-based diet, he said, “data that goes back decades shows a 70 to 73 percent reduction in lifetime risk of heart attack and stroke, not to mention risk reduction in Alzheimer’s, renal disease, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
What’s also interesting to note is that, contrary to popular belief, our ancestors and distant hereditary cousins did not consume meat the way we do today. An article by Rob Dunn written for Scientific American explains how our perspective of meat eating, from a scientific/evolutionary perspective, is simply incorrect. We are made to believe that meat eating was an everyday occurrence, and that our bodies are perfectly adapted to it. But the evidence suggests otherwise, as he explains:
So what do other living primates eat, the ones with guts mostly like ours, eat? The diets of nearly all monkeys and apes (except the leaf-eaters) are composed of fruits, nuts, leaves, insects, and sometimes the odd snack of a bird or a lizard (see more about chimpanzees). Most primates have the capacity for eating sugary fruit, the capacity for eating leaves and the capacity for eating meat. But meat is a rare treat, if eaten at all. Sure, chimpanzees sometimes kill and devour a baby monkey, but the proportion of the diet of the average chimpanzee composed of meat is small. And chimps eat more mammal meat than any of the other apes or any of the monkeys. The majority of the food consumed by primates today–and every indication is for the last thirty million years–is vegetable, not animal. Plants are what our apey and even earlier ancestors ate; they were our paleo diet for most of the last thirty million years during which our bodies, and our guts in particular, were evolving. In other words, there is very little evidence that our guts are terribly special and the job of a generalist primate gut is primarily to eat pieces of plants. We have special immune systems, special brains, even special hands, but our guts are ordinary and for tens of millions of years those ordinary guts have tended to be filled with fruit, leaves, and the occasional delicacy of a raw hummingbird4.
Katherine Milton, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, makes a similar case, pointing out that it’s “difficult to comment on ‘the best diet’ for modern humans because there have been and are so many different yet successful diets in our species.”
“Because some gatherer societies obtained most of their dietary energy from wild animal fat and protein,” she continues, “does not imply that this is the ideal diet for modern humans, nor does it imply that modern humans have genetic adaptations to such diets.”
Below is a great interview with Michelle McMaken, an internal medicine physician and an assistant professor of Medicine at NYU. Not long ago, she published an article outlining how, if you stop eating meat, you’ll reduce inflammation in your body, your blood cholesterol levels will plummet, you’ll give your microbiome a makeover, you’ll change how your genes work, you’ll dramatically reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, you’ll get the right amount (and the right type) of protein, and you’ll make a huge impact on the health of our planet and its inhabitants.
You can read that article here.
Another related CE Article: The Heart Disease Rates of Meat Eaters Compared To Vegetarians & Vegans
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