An eminent American nutrition organisation has given MFMers keen to win friends and family over to the campaign an early Christmas present, offering its wholehearted support to the notion of meat free eating – whatever your age.
Now if those who are less enlightened criticise your food choices, or suggest that eating less or no meat is harmful to children, you can quote to them the words of no less an authority than the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
In a “position paper” published in the December issue of its journal, the largest organisation of its kind in America, representing more than 100,000 food and nutrition professionals, stated plainly that meat free and vegan diets are “appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes”.
It added: “Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.”
In the academy’s weighty opinion, meat free eating is healthier than diets that contain animal products because MFMers and others consume less saturated fat than omnivores and more fruit, vegetables, wholegrains nuts and seeds. These are rich in fibre and phytochemicals and result in lower cholesterol and better serum glucose control, “factors [that] contribute to reduction of chronic disease”.
Recent research has underlined the fact that healthy meat free meals equate to living longer. In September, for example, an American study found that eating plant rather than animal protein cuts the risk of premature death, while back in July another US report concluded that unsaturated fats found in meat free foods can cut your risk of an early death by between 11 and 19 per cent.