Disease Proof

Look Ma, No Meat!

Now, I thought most teenagers were downing bacon double-cheeseburger right and left, but, I’m wrong. For me it wasn’t until college that I really began to notice many of my peers becoming vegans, vegetarians, or limited meat-eaters—even so, I still knew plenty of kids that gorged on fried eggs, Taylor ham, and bacon. So I was surprised to read that many teenagers are going vegetarian.

Jennifer Nelson of The Washington Post explains some high school kids are getting hip to meat-free or meat-restricted diets. The real shocker is parents are more accepting than you might think. Heck, if at sixteen I had told my mother I didn’t want to eat meat anymore, she’d have put me up for adoption! But for many kids this just isn’t the case:
Reaching the point where a family embraces vegetarianism can be a slow process, though. When Cathie and Dean Winters's son, also named Dean, of Boulder City, Nev., started refusing meat around age 7, his parents differed in their responses. Cathie Winters was more accepting, having experimented with vegetarianism in her youth, but, she says, "my husband is a meat-and-potatoes man, so he went nuts."
According to Nelson the Winters family ended up consulting with a doctor to ensure their son’s new diet would provide adequate nutrition. When the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with a well-balanced vegetarian diet, husband Dean became more accepting.

In truth, before I even encountered Dr. Fuhrman’s work, I never ate an insane amount of meat, and I always ate my fair share of vegetables. So even back then I never really identified with the “meat-and-potatoes” style of eating—to me it sounds like a softer way of saying Standard American Diet.

So, what of the claim by the Winters’ doctor that a well-balanced vegetarian diet can support proper nutrition. Does it sound Fuhrman-ish to you? It should. Check out this excerpt from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Research shows that those who avoid meat and diary have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, which are the leading causes of death in American.1 But when we take a close look at the data, it appears that those who weren’t as strict at avoiding animal products entirely had longevity statistics that were equally impressive—as long as they consumed high volumes of a variety of unrefined plant foods. In other words, you can achieve the benefits of a vegetarian diet without being a total vegan, and the science available seems to support this.
Pretty encouraging right? So for many of the kids mentioned in Nelson’s article who are still eating small amounts of meat, like an occasional egg or fish, according to Dr. Fuhrman they too can enjoy the benefits a vegetable-based diet has to offer.
1. Barnard ND, Nicholson A, Howard JL. The medical costs attributed to meat consumption. Preventive Medicine 1995; 24:646-655. Segasothy M, Phillips PA. Vegetarain diet: panacea for modern lifestyle disease? QJM 1999;92(9):531-544.
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