Every time we pick up a newspaper or magazine there’s some new diet craze or fad, some new superfood or weight loss gimmick being touted by Hollywood as the next best thing. The latest good news for veggies is that we’re healthier and will live longer than our carnivorous counterparts. But is that really true?
Eating a large amount of red meat can double the risk of arthritis, a recent survey found. This is thought to be due to the large amount of collagen and iron found in red meat both of which can cause tissue and joint damage. The large amounts of saturated fat found in meat are thought to be responsible for causing gallstones. Unsaturated fat (found in higher quantities in a veggie diet) increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and this in turn prevents the formation of gallstones. Diabetes, cancer and heart disease have all recently been linked to excessive consumption of red meat.
Meat eaters are thought to be more at risk from Alzheimer’s than veggies. Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and polyphenols which protect against protein clumps (beta-amyloid) in the brain and it is thought that these clumps are a cause of the disease. Cutting down on meat and increasing fruit, veg and cereal consumption has also been proven to improve memory.
One in three women is affected by the bone-thinning condition, osteoporosis at some time in their lives. Excessive amounts of animal protein from red meat in the diet are thought to adversely affect bone health whereas calcium rich vegetables are beneficial.
Although unwashed salad can cause food poisoning due to residues from fertilisers and pesticides, dangerous bacteria such as ecoli and salmonella are commonly found in red meat, shell fish, and eggs.
It’s not all good news though. Veggies are slightly more likely to experience problems with infertility. It is believed that eating large quantities of soya as a course of protein can affect fertility in women. This is because soya contains genistein, a compound which destroys sperm. Nibbling on veg and fruit can also cause acid erosion which damages teeth and the higher the temperature you cook them at, the higher the concentration of acid particularly in favourites like courgette, onion, aubergine and onion. A major risk to veggies is a lack of vitamin B12. This vitamin is only found in dairy products and meat and is essential for cell growth and neurological function. A lack of vitamin B12 can result in depression and extreme fatigue. A really good source of vitamin B12 which is vegan friendly is Marmite – love it or hate it!