A Deadly Danger of Being a Vegetarian

The number of vegetarians in America has been steadily increasing over the past couple of decades. According to Vegetarian Times, there are about 7.3 million vegetarians in America with another 22.8 million who eat a largely vegetarian based diet.

I need to clarify exactly what a vegetarian is, because they do differ from a vegan. According to Merriam-Webster online:

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1- a person who does not eat meat; someone whose diet consists wholly of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and sometimes eggs or dairy products.

This differs from a vegan who does not eat anything that comes from an animal, meaning no eggs or dairy products.

Many websites that promote a vegetarian diet claim that vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters. They claim to live longer and have a less heart disease.

In aspects, they are right, but like vegans, to have a genuinely healthy diet, vegetarians are recommended to take some specific vitamins and supplements to provide the necessary proteins and nutrients that come from fish and meat. Among those recommended vitamins and supplements are vitamins B12 and D, iodine, iron, calcium, zinc and long-chain Omega-3. Some of these can be obtained from certain plants, but not in sufficient quantities.

So, I’ll concede that vegetarians have a reduced risk of heart disease, which also means they tend not to be overweight, may have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

A recent study published by The British Medical Journal (The BMJ) discovered that it is true that vegetarians have a reduced risk of heart disease. However, they also discovered that vegetarians have a higher risk of stroke, as reported:

Results Over 18.1 years of follow-up, 2820 cases of ischaemic heart disease and 1072 cases of total stroke (519 ischaemic stroke and 300 haemorrhagic stroke) were recorded. After adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle confounders, fish eaters and vegetarians had 13% (hazard ratio 0.87, 95% confidence interval 0.77 to 0.99) and 22% (0.78, 0.70 to 0.87) lower rates of ischaemic heart disease than meat eaters, respectively (P<0.001 for heterogeneity). This difference was equivalent to 10 fewer cases of ischaemic heart disease (95% confidence interval 6.7 to 13.1 fewer) in vegetarians than in meat eaters per 1000 population over 10 years. The associations for ischaemic heart disease were partly attenuated after adjustment for self reported high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and body mass index (hazard ratio 0.90, 95% confidence interval 0.81 to 1.00 in vegetarians with all adjustments). By contrast, vegetarians had 20% higher rates of total stroke (hazard ratio 1.20, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.40) than meat eaters, equivalent to three more cases of total stroke (95% confidence interval 0.8 to 5.4 more) per 1000 population over 10 years, mostly due to a higher rate of haemorrhagic stroke. The associations for stroke did not attenuate after further adjustment of disease risk factors.

tinidazole priscription Conclusions In this prospective cohort in the UK, fish eaters and vegetarians had lower rates of ischaemic heart disease than meat eaters, although vegetarians had higher rates of haemorrhagic and total stroke.

So, they may tend to live longer by having less heart disease, but then some live shorter lives due to strokes. Before you decide to try a vegetarian diet, you may want to weigh the consequences, which aren’t as rosy and bright as many portray it to be.

But wait, there’s more!

It has also been reported that vegetarians lack an important nutrient called choline. It is true that the liver produces choline, but the amount is not sufficient for full brain health, especially during fetal development. Choline helps the body handle some fat found in the blood as well as helping the body limit the damage to cells by free radicals.

The primary sources of choline are beef, eggs, dairy products,, fish and chicken. It is found in nuts, beans and some vegetables like broccoli, but the vegetative sources are much lower than that found in animal sources.

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