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The Doc Is In: Dr. Michael Greger Has Tips for a Complete Diet

Meat-free meals are humane, hearty, and healthy

Guide to Meat-Free Meals

  • Dr. Michael Greger, HSUS director of public health and animal agriculture     Michelle Riley/The HSUS

We don’t need to consume animals to be healthy—just the opposite. Nutrition experts worldwide advise us to increase our consumption of plant-based foods and to cut down on saturated animal fat and cholesterol, which are found exclusively in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Meat-free diets are recommended by the American Heart Association, National Cancer Institute, World Health Organization, and U.S. dietary guidelines.

The health benefits are clear. People who eat fewer animal products have lower rates of obesity, dementia, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, gallstones, hemorrhoids, constipation, diverticulosis, and appendicitis. People who eat completely meatless diets are half as likely to become hospitalized or require medications, and they’re less likely to need emergency medical procedures. Meat-free diets are even being used to reverse chronic diseases: opening clogged arteries, curing type 2 diabetes, and alleviating obesity.

Humane diets may also boost our longevity. The population with the longest life expectancy isn’t the Okinawa Japanese or the Mediterranean Sardinians, but California Adventist vegetarians, who live up to 10 years longer than the average American and enjoy lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Choosing animal-free foods is an easy, inexpensive way to shed unnecessary pounds, reduce cancer risk, and improve heart health. Join millions of Americans in discovering the joys and benefits of leaving animal products off your plate.

Tips for a Complete Diet

People who eat vegetarian diets are more likely to consume the right amounts of essential nutrients than those following the typical American diet.

Calcium: Plant-based sources include fortified dairy-free milks (such as soy, rice, and almond) and orange juice, greens, beans, nuts, and seeds. Fortified dairy-free milks typically contain the same amount of calcium as dairy, but none of the saturated butterfat, cholesterol, or lactose, and are a better source of iron.

Vitamin B12: This nutrient is made by bacteria that inhabit the guts of animals. But more hygienic sources include fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, dairy-free milks, veggie burgers, and inexpensive supplements (one pill of 2,000 micrograms taken once a week is all you need, though there’s no harm in taking too much).

Protein: Beans, whole grains, and nuts are excellent protein sources, are free of cholesterol and animal fat, and contain fiber, folate, and dozens of health-promoting phytonutrients.

Omega-3s: Flaxseeds, walnuts, and algae oil DHA supplements are healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids, without the industrial toxins such as mercury found in fish and fish oil supplements.

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