Harvard Medical School has reported that a third of premature deaths could be prevented by people removing meat from their diets. Dr Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School, said that plant based diets had been vastly underestimated in their benefits to human health.
The figures from Harvard suggest that 200,000 lives could be saved each year if people were to cut meat out from their diets. The Office for National Statistics suggested that 141,000 deaths each year in Britain are preventable with some of the main causes being smoking, obesity or alcohol.
Dr Willett spoke at the Unite to Cure Fourth International Vatican Conference in Vatican City, and he said: “We have just been doing some calculations looking at the question of how much could we reduce mortality shifting towards a healthy, more plant based diet, not necessarily totally vegan, and our estimates are about one third of deaths could be prevented.”
He continued by saying: “That’s not even talking about physical activity or not smoking, and that’s all deaths, not just cancer deaths.”
After studying the feeding habits of gorillas in the Bronx Zoo, the researchers recreated the diet for humans. There was a 35 per cent fall in cholesterol in two weeks, which is the equivalent effect of taking statins, that 17.5 million people are eligible to take.
Dr Neal Barnard who is the president for the Committee for Responsible Medicine commented that the public need to acknowledge the positive effects of leading a more plant based diet.
Barnard said: “I think we’re underestimating the effect. I think people imagine that a healthy diet has only a modest effect and a vegetarian diet might help you lose a little bit of weight. But when these diets are properly constructed I think they are enormously powerful.
“A low-fat vegan diet is better than any other diet I have ever seen for improving diabetes. With regards to inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis we are seeing tremendous potential there too. Partly because of things we are avoiding and cholesterol but also because of the magical things that are in vegetables and fruits which just aren’t in spam.”
Have you noticed an improvement in your health since switching to a plant based diet?