This research proposes to delve into how those who are vegan discovered the dietary lifestyle and their motivation in embracing it in order to improve the expanding exposure it is receiving and to review literature surrounding a vegan diet on several diseases in order to establish it at the forefront of preventative medicine in the United States. Altogether, Disease is certainly winning the battle in America, and many of them can be avoided all together in regards of diet.
Furthermore, veganism is more than preventative as it has shown disease- fighting qualities relating to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease nd more. Introduction America is in no doubt a state of health emergency relating to both health and health care. Other countries are striving and succeeding in what is referred to as preventative medicine, but Americas health care system uses an ineffective disease care system. Heart disease1, 2, 3, Diabetes (II) 7, and Cancer4, 5 are all becoming pandemics that are qualified in the top ten leading causes of death in America (CDC).
Veganism is a lifestyle cited for increased health benefits, with several studies showing the powerful effects it can have on disease. While it is referred to in lmost taboo sense, a country in crisis must make considerations to transition into healthy and preventative lifestyles. Still, it seems unclear why there is such distaste related to the idea of a vegan diet; albeit, the culture in the United States is certainly not geared to embrace change. My interest in veganism peaked when I was a senior in high school and my mother was in the hospital diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
In the beginning, everything was too scary to attempt to understand so naturally my family and I listened to what the doctors prescribed. The great thing was that it worked or the first month. She went into remission and got to be home for July 4th. Then things slowly took a turn for the worse and eventually five months later she passed. Towards the end of those five months, I began doing extensive research into treatments and options looking for anything that could help. When it became too late, I put all of that on a pause for months to deal with the devastating life change.
Eventually, things that I researched started coming back to me and I went back to take a look at it. The last thing I was researching before my mother passed was veganism. Figure 1. A depiction of the different vegetarian (and vegan) diets. 10 To provide background, veganism is a dietary and lifestyle choice in which all products and foods derived from animal sources are abstained from, including: meat, dairy, fish, gelatin, furs, leather, and any other similar products. As exhibited in Figure 1, there are other types of diets that are similar to a vegan diet.
The list goes vegan, lacto-vegetarian, pesco- vegetarian, semi-vegetarian or “flexitarian”, and non- vegetarians or what will be referred to often as simply meat eaters. This is the reason why I am interested in assessing how ther vegans have discovered and ultimately chose to become vegan. The objective of this research is to take the data and use it to better market veganism to those who do not see it as a viable option and use the literature to help appeal to those who do not think that going vegan is worthwhile.
If going vegan can appeal to a broader population using data in this study relating to how those already vegan discovered and chose the diet while at the same time broadening knowledge using the literature reviewed, then veganism can be an unparalleled and immeasurable tool in preventative medicine. Literature Review With the literature for this proposal, it seemed best to use disease as a theme to follow, being the best sequence in determining what studies are really showing regarding veganism related to disease and general health.
This way, each disease can be viewed regarding its preventative relationship. The first chapter of this section reviews findings related to veganism and heart disease. Heart Disease What is special about the first study, Risk Factors for Mortality in the Nurses’ Health Study: A Competing Risks Analysis, is that the design allows the study to compare risks of mortality to one another. It starts by mentioning the higher intake of LDL cholesterol associated with the intake of meat and eggs.
It mentions that consuming the cholesterol from just one egg a day looks to cut a woman’s life short as much as smoking five cigarettes a day for fifteen years. 1 The study then takes a look at related preventative measures relating to the vegan diet in terms of life span. It cites that eating one cup of oatmeal a day can increase the lifespan as much as jogging four hours a week. 1 These findings correlate that high cholesterol foods, only associated with animal sources, cause a decrease in life xpectancy – while high fiber foods, only associated with plant foods, relate to an increase in life expectancy.
Fascinatingly, the food found in the study to be most correlated with longevity is nuts, citing two handfuls of nuts a week as beneficial as four hours of jogging a week. 1 The next study relating to heart disease and diet, It’s The Cholesterol, Stupid! by Dr. WC Roberts, talks about the build up of plaque in our arteries. In it, Dr. Roberts explains that in order to cease plaque progression, total cholesterol has to be around the 150 mg/dl area, or “must be lowered to that of the average pure vegetarian. 2
Dr. Roberts goes on to say that because of the low prevalence of vegetarianism, and essentially veganism, lipid lowering drugs are required by most people in order to lower their levels to that degree. 2 The next study related to the other main cause of heart disease – inflammation. In it, they observed ten volunteers before and six hours after single isocaloric high- and low-fat meals and vaso-epithelial function was assessed in the brachial artery using ultrasound. 3 The study found that a single meal high in animal fat could paralyze our arteries, effectively cutting heir ability to relax by half in just hours after consumption.
Using data from a chart with flow-mediated vasoactivity shown beside hours after consumption, it can be extrapolated that by the time our arteries start to recover (5-6 hours after consumption3), we have another intake high in animal fat which seems to suggest that most people live in a constant flux of low grade inflammation. Cancer Cancer is the next disease that will have literature reviewed upon relating to veganism. Key and Appleby et al state in Cancer incidence in vegetarians: results from the European Prospective
Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition that, “within the study, the incidence of all cancers combined was lower among vegetarians than among meat eaters. “4 What is truly telling is that this is the biggest study of cancer done ever. 63, 550 men and women were considered throughout the United Kingdom and the incidence of cancer was followed through nationwide cancer registries. Another study goes much more in depth into the different categories of meat and their associated risk percentages in regards to lymphoma.
Rohrmann and Linseisen et al show in Table 5 of their article Consumption of meat and airy and lymphoma risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition that poultry is the worst amongst meat, citing that its rate of cancer incidence was 3 times that of other meats per 50 grams. 4 As far as preventative medicine, that comes up as a big alarm. Alzheimer’s Disease One disease that I did not expect to review studies for was Alzheimer’s disease, relating to dementia.
The methodology in Giem, Beeson, and Fraser’s study The Incidence of Dementia and Intake of Animal Products: Preliminary Findings from the Adventist Health Study insures that the measure of incidence nd correlation of diet hold true citing that, “this design ensured a wide range of dietary exposure. “6 In this study, “.. subjects who ate meat (including poultry and fish) were more than twice as likely to become demented as their vegetarian counterparts. “6 The significance of these findings is nearly unbelievable when taking into account that drugs are always the first option prescribed over dietary changes.
It also cites that the longer that you do not intake any meat, the lower the chance of developing Alzheimer’s is. So it correlates that the sooner meat s eliminated from your diet, the sooner your chances of Diabetes is next on the list of diseases that is severely affected by a vegan diet. This disease is affected by a vegan diet almost like cancer is. Not only does the vegan diet act as a preventative measure and help in treatment of the pre-existing condition of ut also in many cases it can reverse diabetes.
The study Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2 by Tonstad and Stewart et al cites that 15,200 men and 26,187 women participants across the United States and Canada who were free of diabetes. Contributors were cited as vegan, lacto ovo vegetarian, pesco vegetarian, semi- and nonvegetarian. Figure 1. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals for incident diabetes. 7 Shown in Figure 1 above, those who are non-vegetarian and pesco-vegetarian have the highest chance of developing diabetes.
The lowest odds for developing diabetes lie in those who are vegan. Obesity The next disease, very prevalent and considered a pandemic in America, is obesity. Arguably the most important aspect of obesity is that it is also associated with increased risks in other diseases such as: cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. In the Meat consumption and prospective weight change in participants of the EPIC-PANACEA study by Vergnaud and Norat et al, a total of 103, 455 men and 270, 348 women aged 25 to 70 years old were recruited.
They used country-specific validated questionnaires in order to assess diet at baseline. Two measures were available to the participants, one at baseline and one at the end of the study. The results were foreseeable; total meat consumption was positively associated with weight gain in men and women, both in normal weight and overweight subiects, and in smokers and nonsmokers. The study concluded saying that, “our results suggest that a decrease in meat consumption may improve weight management.
Mentioned specifically after the conclusion, the authors stated that, “[they] adjusted for initial BMI, physical activity, educational level, smoking status, total energy intake, and plausible misreporting. “8 What is important in that statement is that the positive correlation between meat consumption and weight gain stayed true even after the study was adjusted for calories. So even though participants were eating the same amount of calories, those eating more meat were gaining more weight. Could simply eliminating obesity from Americas list of problems actually decrease other diseases giving us problems?
There certainly seems to be precedence to suggest such extrapolations. Essential Hypertension Another source of disease that creates other problems is what the CDC refers to as essential hypertension, or essentially chronic high blood pressure. Studies have shown that this chronic problem is mainly prevalent in a high meat intake diet. What is astonishing is that we have known this for years, as a study by Sacks, Rosner, and Kass called Blood Pressure In Vegetarians published in the 1970’s shows such results.
Even after age and weight affects were removed, it states that consumption of food of animal origin was significantly associated with high systolic and diastolic blood pressures. 9 Currently, in a study as recent as 2012, the same findings hold true. Table 1. Mean BMI(kg/m2) and the prevalence of diabetes and hypertension associated with different diet groups. 10 As seen in Table 1, there is a progressive digression in prevalence moving down from non-vegetarians all the way to vegans. Again, this table shows the same trend in diabetes.
What makes these findings so unbelievable is that these fall under the CDC’s top ten causes of death in the United States and veganism either aids in prevention, treatment, reversing disease, or a combination of the three. Methods Participants As this will only look into how the participant discovered veganism apart from a normalized standard American diet and what convinced them to embrace veganism, conducting a brief interview seems the most expedient form of research for this instance. Choosing participants for such a survey will require judgmental sampling and even in a sense, expert sampling.
The biggest requirement in being a participant is identifying as a vegan either. Instrumentation A quick interview with open-ended questions pertaining to the discovery of veganism and their eventual choice of sticking to the diet will be inquired in a survey given to those identified as an. Also, their opinions on this matter will be asked for extra data. This 5-10 minute interview is all that will be required in data collection. Procedures Using judgmental sampling, a place where a vegan would often go is where the set up would take place.
Most likely, a vegan restaurant in the city as I am familiar with several that will be suitable. Snowball sampling may also be used in finding suitable participants, as there are no people who know more vegans than a vegan. Ethics, Privacy, and Confidentiality Protections Firstly, if persons encountered do not wish to be interviewed, the matter will not be forced upon them. Before each and every interview, the participant will be notified that any of their information acquired in this study will not be divulged to any other party. As it follows, their identity will not be divulged to any other party either.