I’m an ethical vegetarian. I came to eat a vegetarian diet because of my unease with having animals die for me. If I could live on a diet that didn’t require animals to die, then that was what I wanted to do. The health aspects of it, didn’t really come into it at all, other than me making sure I was getting all the nutrients I need in my vegetarian diet.
There are people out there, though, who are stressing the health rather than the ethical values of a vegetarian diet. ‘Forks Over Knives’ was the most prominent one I’d come across. The Forks Over Knives website has the basics, but it’s there to supplement the book and the documentary film. The film is on DVD but only in Region 1 format. I did a quick bit of googling and managed to find the film online.
It’s ninety minutes long and very much in the American style. It puts a persuasive case for a plant-based diet (they don’t call it vegan, I suspect because that might be too scary). They put the blame for heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure squarely on meat and dairy products and promise that any signs of these disease can be stopped and remedied by eating a low-fat vegan diet.
I don’t know enough science to argue the case with them. They quote studies that show a correlation between a diet with meat and dairy in it with the heart disease and cancer rates. However they don’t show a large-scale study where these diseases are removed by a vegan diet. They have stories of people who have apparently done this, but no studies on the same scale as the first. It also raises some of my hackles that it comes up with an ‘all you have to do’ solution. I hate those. I do not believe that there are any issues in the real world that have single, easy solutions and certainly not something as complex as the human body.
Still, it’s an interesting documentary and it certainly adds another level of motivation for me to stick to a vegetarian diet.
Edit: I found a critique of the documentary here on WordPress. It highlights some of the issues that were nagging me – correlation is not causation and the lack of big studies of the vegan diet.