Cancer and the Vegetarian Diet - Practical aspects of the veg*n (vegetarian or vegan) diet
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From William Harris, M.D.
December 21, 1999

Practical aspects of the veg*n (vegetarian or vegan) diet

A straightforward and simple dictum is:

"Eat as wide a variety of plant foods in as unprocessed a form as possible."

-Susan Havala, R.D.

All the essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins required in the human diet are synthesized either by plants or micro-organisms (44), not by animals. The essential inorganic nutrients (iron, calcium, zinc, etc.) were synthesized in nuclear fusion reactions that occurred in stars that blew up more than 5 billion years ago (45). The notion that veg*n diets are more likely than omnivorous ones to be nutrient deficient is the result of sorting foods by nutrient/weight ratio. Since there is no RDA for weight in the diet, while there is an RDA for Calories, a more rational approach to food analysis is by nutrient/Calorie ratio, in which case it is seen that animal source foods, because of their high fat content, have little advantage over plant foods (46). Although poorly designed veg*n diets have produced reports of nutritional deficiency, particularly in children (47), the notion that vegans are more likely than omnivores to suffer nutrient deficiencies is not supported by the literature (48).

In general, a diet centered on vegetables and fruit, preferably raw, with grains, nuts, seeds, and starches used to fill in Calorie requirements will satisfy nutrient requirements, with the exception of Vitamin B12, which must be supplemented, at least until the scientific dust settles. Numerous vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and handbooks are available and should be consulted by new veg*ns.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.