Vegan For Life
by Jack Norris, RD &
Ginny Messina, MPH, RD
Statements from Experts on Vegetarian Diets
Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets.
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.
Health Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets.
Cross-sectional studies of vegetarians and vegans have shown that on average they have a relatively low BMI (body mass index) and a low plasma cholesterol concentration; recent studies have also shown higher plasma homocysteine concentrations than in non-vegetarians. Cohort studies of vegetarians have shown a moderate reduction in mortality from IHD (ischemic heart disease) but little difference in other major causes of death or all-cause mortality in comparison with health-conscious non-vegetarians from the same population. Studies of cancer have not shown clear differences in cancer rates between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. More data are needed, particularly on the health of vegans and on the possible impacts on health of low intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and vitamin B(12). Overall, the data suggest that the health of Western vegetarians is good and similar to that of comparable non-vegetarians.