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Media hype on vegan health continues

The BBC recently published an article stating that vegans had a higher likelihood of stroke. Nothing more than sensationalist headlining, but it was leapt upon by media outlets worldwide, loudly proclaiming “oh your vegan diet, not so great after all, is it?” Except that of course, it was simply untrue. The report indicated no such thing. There were many reasons why the report was flawed, a rather large one being that vegans were lumped in with the vegetarians. So the headline itself was rather curious. In fact this study was unable to provide any statistically significant data on vegans, due to the low number of vegans in the study and the fact that they were included in with the vegetarians.

Another thing the report stated was that meat eaters had a higher incidence of heart disease, a headline that no media chose to use. We wonder why? The stroke referred to in the study was a rather rare type of stroke too and not the more usual ischemic stroke. The vegetarians in the study also ate a rather large amount of cheese, something that vegans do not eat and has also been shown in many studies to be unhealthy, if eaten in large quantities and they ate very little fibre, which is something that vegans eat a lot of.

The BMJ report actually said that plant based eating was very much healthier than eating meat and dairy. Again, this part simply was not reported by the BBC and it seems like no other media bothered to do their homework on it. Also not quoted was Dr Malcolm Finlay, who pointed out how flawed this study was, particularly in terms of the analysis done to come up with such findings. So much had been added in to account for lifestyle factors that in the end, this report was unable to draw any meaningful conclusions. Also this report was one conducted by the participants own observation, so there was no control group and it simply cannot hold the same weight as a clinical trial.

The facts are that eating a plant-based diet is much healthier for you than eating meat and dairy and there are many reports and studies which support this. “The inconvenient truth is that a plant-based diet is good for your body, good for the planet and all it's precious resources and of course, it is better for the animals,” said Claire Insley, media spokesperson for the Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand, “It is high time the media stopped attacking vegans and started telling the truth about what animal agriculture is doing to our health and our planet. We simply cannot continue the same production methods if we want a planet to live on in the times to come. Stop eating your children's future!”

If you would like to know more about the health benefits of going vegan please check out the pcrm.com website, which has a wealth of resources and research to back up all health claims. The fact is that heart disease is a huge killer of Kiwis and even this study showed that meat eaters were more likely to die from it than vegans, or vegetarians. Where there is more heart disease, there is more stroke, so there was really no way for the study to find otherwise.

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