A vegan diet is as good for humans’ health as it is for animal welfare. There is no nutritional need for humans to eat any animal product; all our dietary needs, even as infants and children, are best supplied by a meatless diet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.1
Animal Products Lead to Heart Disease and Cancer
Cardiovascular disease is the number one health problem in the U.S., accounting for nearly 1 million heart attacks annually and 2,300 deaths each day.2 Because we now know what causes heart attacks, we can prevent them. In many studies, researchers have found that higher levels of cholesterol are linked to a greater risk of having a heart attack. For every 1 percent reduction in your LDL cholesterol level, your risk of coronary heart disease drops by 1 percent.3
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the meat, dairy, and egg industries, many Americans still believe that animal products are necessary for good health. One of the largest studies on lifestyle and health found that the chances of dying from cardiovascular disease was significantly less for vegans than non-vegans, especially men.4 Plant foods contain no cholesterol, whereas meat, eggs, and dairy products contain large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat. Also, the high fiber content of a vegan diet (meat, dairy products, and eggs are devoid of fiber) helps “wash away” excess cholesterol in your digestive tract. A vegan diet can even reverse damage already done. When Dr. Dean Ornish put patients with coronary artery disease on a low-fat vegan diet combined with moderate exercise and relaxation techniques, he found that they reversed the buildup of plaque in their arteries.5
One of the primary recommendation in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Guidelines on Nutrition for Cancer Prevention is to eat a diet “with an emphasis on plant food.”6 Researchers have found that vegetarians are up to 50 percent less likely to suffer from some cancers.7
Meat Can Be Poisonous
In addition to causing heart disease and cancer, animal products contain harmful contaminants—including bacteria, arsenic, dioxins, and mercury—that can affect our health both in the short and long terms.
Every year in the U.S., there are 48 million cases of food poisoning, and 3,000 of these cases are fatal.8 The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms has caused many of the bacteria found on animal flesh to become antibiotic-resistant. Consumer Reports found that more than half of chickens studied were infected with E. coli and almost half tested positive for at least one multidrug-resistant bacterium.9 Of the billions eggs taken from chickens every year, more than 2 million are estimated to be contaminated with salmonella and, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions, “One contaminated egg can contaminate an entire batch of pooled eggs. Everyone who eats eggs from that batch is at risk for illness.”10
Fish flesh is also not a healthy food. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), residual industrial compounds that can be found in the environment, have caused cancer in animals and skin problems and liver damage in humans.11 Fish flesh has been found to harbor levels of PCBs thousands of times higher than those in the water in which they live.12 Fish also accumulate methylmercury in their bodies, and pregnant women and children have been cautioned not to eat fish that may contain high levels of this toxic substance.13
Factory Farming Hurts Animals
Animals are much more intelligent and complex than most people realize, and scientists are providing more and more evidence of this all the time….