Going vegan in 2013

We imagine this chicken is saying, "Please don't eat me!"

Being vegan is no longer an unconventional way of life, and that’s due in no small part to the “Forks Over Knives” book and documentary. Now comes “Forks Over Knives — The Extended Interviews,” featuring even more evidence supporting the elimination of animal-based and processed foods to maintain health.

We asked one of the film’s experts, Cornell University nutritional scientist T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., for all the dirt on this Earth- and body-friendly lifestyle.

Why is a vegan diet healthier than a nonvegan diet?

I don’t [even] use the word vegan. Vegans can eat processed food as long as it contains no animal elements. I call it a whole food, plant-based diet. In my studies, the evidence is overwhelmingly positive. In just two weeks, we have found that cholesterol levels drop; aches disappear. Many changes occur. It’s not just about preventing disease, but treating disease.

But isn’t animal protein necessary to health and survival?

People have been advised that for a long time. A whole food, plant-based diet supplies all the protein we need and at an ideal level, about 10 percent of our calorie intake. That’s enough. But animal protein takes it up to about 70 to 80 percent. Early studies found that animal protein sped up growth rate, so it was called high-quality protein. But it also speeds up growth of cancer cells. Plant protein is slower.

If you want to switch to this diet, are there some tiny tweaks you can start making right away?

Eliminate dairy. Evidence was found in 1925 that the protein in dairy, casein, pushes up cholesterol levels. Dairy protein is a more prominent problem than animal fat.

You’ve said that low-fat milk is worse than whole milk. That seems counter-intuitive.

In the 1940s and ’50s, milk fat was deemed to be the culprit and people were told to switch to low-fat. But in low-fat milk, the protein level is increased. So, people ate more dairy protein, making the problem worse.

What about soy? Is there evidence that it is linked to breast cancer?

Soy beans contain estrogen, and estrogen is linked to breast cancer. But the studies show that high levels of estrogen are the problem. The soy bean has estrogen at such low levels that they become anti-estrogenic. They are actually beneficial in preventing breast cancer.

You’ve said that some diseases immediately heal when you eliminate animal products. How does that happen?

Our body is always trying to restore health. When a whole food, plant-based diet is adopted, it quickly adjusts in the direction of health. As long as there isn’t permanent damage from disease, the right food can reverse disease.

Take baby steps

The Mondays Campaign, the organization behind Meatless Mondays, offers the following stats on why a plant-based diet even just once a week has benefits.

It limits your cancer risk: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk, and both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.

It cuts your risk for heart disease: A Harvard study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full-fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19 percent.

It helps fight diabetes: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

It curbs obesity:
People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have lower body weights and body mass indices.

What about exercise?

Whether you’re becoming or already are a
vegan, you need a fitness plan that complements your plant-based diet. “The Vegan Athlete” boasts strength-building workouts and over 20
protein-rich recipes to keep you in tip-top shape.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Breaking: Local

Judge rules Tsarnaev can view victim autopsy photos

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can view the autopsy photographs of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Local

Police warn of attempted assault on woman near…

Police in Cambridge issued an alert after a woman said she was the victim of an attempted sexual assault after leaving Porter Square early Wednesday.…

Local

Kevin Kayvon Edson: Finish line hoax suspect sent…

The man who allegedly left a backpack near the finish line on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings was due in court on Wednesday.

Local

Wahlbergs expanding Wahlburgers fast food joint across North…

Wahlburgers, a fast casual burger restaurant founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg and subject of a new A&E Network’s original series, “Wahlburgers”, announced expansion plans in North America,…

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

THEATER The Wholehearted Thursday through April 27 Paramount Center 559 Washington St., Boston $25-$49, 617-824-8400 www.artsemerson.org This conceptually rich show from Stein | Holum Projects,…

Books

Becoming friends with New York City's oldest known…

"The Life and Times of Richard Musto" tells the story, through a poem, of the oldest known homeless man in New York City.

NHL

Bruins 2014 playoffs preview: Vegas odds say Stanley…

Bruins 2014 playoffs preview: Vegas odds say Stanley Cup will return to Boston

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

MLB

Injury bug tearing holes in Red Sox

Red Sox fans will recall that last year the bullpen was decimated by injuries. From Franklin Morales to Andrew Miller, from Craig Breslow to Andrew…

MLB

MLB video highlights: White Sox beat Red Sox…

Red Sox fall on walk-off error to White Sox

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.

Wellbeing

Cognitive skills begin to drop at age 24

But the news isn't all that bad.

Career

How to get a job at a startup:…

We talked to Tarek Pertew, one of the co-founders behind Uncubed, about how to get your dream job at a startup.

Parenting

The 'smartest' summer camps across the country

See a list of summer camps across the country that emphasis learning, while still being fun.