There is now ample evidence that a vegan diet is healthy for all stages of life. A rich and varied plant-based diet is proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and promoting a healthy body weight.
A sustainable food system is not just about providing food, it is important for public health that nutrition and is at the heart of food policy to ensure the population is healthy and to elevate the strain on the public services such as the NHS. It is clear from the rise in so-called ‘lifestyle diseases’ (obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, heart disease and cancer) that our food system is failing to provide healthy and nutritious food, especially to those on low incomes. The good news is that an increasing body of scientific literature point to vegan diets as decreasing the risk of contracting these illnesses 1http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2016-03-22-veggie-based-diets-could-save-8-million-lives-2050-and-cut-global-warming – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23169929 – http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/8/1777 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4073139 – https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.118.011367 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19351712 – https://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1957.
Worldwide dietetic associations 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864 all agree that a vegan diet consisting of grains, vegetables, fruits and beans is healthy for all stages of life, whereas diets in rich in animal protein have been linked to adverse effects and the rise in lifestyle disease. A number of studies 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6219766/ looking at meat-based diets, including red and processed meats have found strong links to cardiovascular disease and colon cancer leading to the World Health Organisation recommending a limit to the consumption of all cured, smoked and nitrate treated meat products along with the advise for adults to consume at least 400g of fruit and vegetables per day 4World Health Organisation (WHO). Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. Report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert consultation. World Health Organisation Technical Report Series. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2003: 916:1-149..
Despite the warnings, the UK diet features far too much animal protein 5http://faostat3.fao.org/. The upcoming changes to the UK’s agricultural system offers a unique opportunity to promote diets more in line with recommendations from respected bodies to increase our intake of healthy fruit, vegetables and grains. The EAT Lancet report, British Dietetic Association’s One Blue Dot campaign, UK’s Eatwell Guide, WHO, World Cancer Research Fund and British Heart Foundation have all advocated for a drastic reduction in meat and dairy. Unfortunately, if we carry on with the status quo and ignore decades of warnings then agricultural subsidies will continue to given meat, dairy and crops such as sugar, maize and oil.
That is why Viva! Farming is committed to building a network of plant-based farmers and campaigning for a change in public policy to favour a diet that respects planetary boundaries and respects the health of the population.