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Need Motivation to Eat Less Meat and More Plants? Part 5 of 12

Robyn Openshaw - Sep 04, 2008 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Today, some good stats about eating a vegetarian diet:


According to Journal of the American Dietetic Association (this research was published in other journals as well), the average IQ of U.S. children is 99, and the average IQ of vegetarian US children is 116.


Obesity rate among the general population: 18 percent


Obesity rate among vegans: 2 percent


U.S. children who are overweight: 25 percent


U.S. vegetarian children who are overweight: 8 percent


U.S. children who eat the recommended levels of fuits, vegs, and grains: 1 percent


U.S. vegan children who eat the recommended levels of fruits, vegs, and grains: 50 percent


Average blood pressure of non-vegetarians: 121/77


Average blood pressure of people who eat a vegetarian diet: 112/69 (ideal is considered to be 110/70)


Incidence of high blood pressure in meat eaters compared to vegetarians: almost triple


Incidence of very high blood pressure in meat eaters compared to vegetarians: 13 times higher


Incidence of high blood pressure among senior citizens in the U.S.: more than 50 percent


Incidence of high blood pressure among senior citizens in countries eating  plant-based diets: virtually none


Average U.S. cholesterol level: 210


Average U.S. vegetarian cholesterol level: 161


Average U.S. vegan cholesterol level: 133

Number of times the huge Framingham study (35 years) had a study participant have a heart attack with cholesterol under 150:   zero


Tell me:  Are you reaping health benefits from adopting a more vegetarian diet?   Or do you still have the idea in your head that not eating meat/dairy means you’re going to be sickly and underweight?

Posted in: Lifestyle, Whole Food

14 thoughts on “Need Motivation to Eat Less Meat and More Plants? Part 5 of 12”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is that a rhetorical question? If not, I’ll tell you my main hangups are Vitamin D, Vitamin A in the retinol form (plus any other animal-based vitamins I may not know about), & D&C 49:19.

    I cannot get sun exposure during the day (trapped in a cubicle all day), plus I live far enough north that I wouldn’t be able to produce Vitamin D from sunlight during the winter. The only non-synthetic sources are animal based. Same with the retinol form of Vitamin A. Some bodies convert beta carotene to Vitamin A very well; others do not. I have no idea which category I am in!

    So yeah, when I think about those very important vitamins, I do feel as though I’d be sickly if I ate no meat/dairy.

  2. Anonymous says:


    Could you explain for those you may be confused the difference between vegan and vegetarianism?

    I had this conversation with a friend today and realized the confusing is vast.

    Thanks, Carol

  3. http:// says:

    Vegans not only don’t eat animal flesh, but they also eat no other animal products, like milk and dairy, and eggs.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In addition, some vegans will not use any product that came from an animal, including leather, silk, wool, etc.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I ,too,would like to know if we need to be taking oral vit D & the B vits. Is there any other vits that we may be lacking and should be aware of? Is taking a spray vit B12 helpful or not?

  6. http:// says:

    I blogged on B12 about six weeks ago maybe? It’s a mountain made of a molehill, I believe, as soil organisms are your source of B12, and of course your body stores a 3-yr. supply. Your need for B12 is very, very small.

    If at ALL possible, get in the sun 10-20 mins. a day as often as possible for your Vita D (and yes, you can store it up in the summer/fall to get through the winter). Vita D in synthetic form is just not the same–such a hard pill to make a pill for, but of course everyone’s scrambling to do so, with all this data coming out about people closer to the equator having so much less cancer because moderate sun exposure is GOOD, turns out.

    Dr. Mercola is selling an overpriced, hanging-from-a-door tanning system to get your Vita D! Ridiculous. Beware those who use their credibility to sell you useless or even dangerous products.

    I don’t think we’ve really seen enough long-term data to know whether synthetic Vita D supplementation really helps anyone, though some studies say it does. I have not dug into where those studies came from and how they were done. Yet.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I believe our need for protein is very small, but I do think there is a need. I have seen LOTS of vegetarians that are sickly looking which leads me to believe that it’s difficult to get all the nutrients they need. (Robyn’s kids are very healthy looking however).

    Statistics are all nice and wonderful but I think they can be misleading. For example, if I say meat eaters have a higher risk of cancer than vegetarians statistically then how do I know if it’s because they eat meat or if it depends on the amount of meat or because they eat a lot of meat thereby eating less vegetables? Or perhaps vegetarians are more likely to eat raw vegetable which prevent diseases, etc.

    It just seems risky to cut out a whole food group when there is evidence to support both sides of the issue. I feel more comfortable with the 5% animal protein (which is hardly any!) that I thought you advocated, Robyn.

  8. http:// says:

    Yes, these are statistics collected by a very prominent vegetarian (Robbins). Until The Oxford/Cornell Project, most studies tended to focus on vegetarian versus meat eater, which leaves us wondering if we have to go purely vegetarian to be healthy.

    The exciting thing about the Oxford/Cornell research is that the healthy animals and people ate 5 percent animal protein (or less, regarding the people). I don’t advocate for eating 5 percent–I advocate for not eating more than that, and eating none if that suits you.

    I really dislike chasing away the non-vegetarians. I am not one, myself. (Yet. I’m so close. And as you alluded to, 5% animal protein is about one-fourth what the average American eats–it’s not much, about 80 calories a day for a woman.)

    You frankly cannot cut out protein–very true. If you eat whole plant foods, you’re going to get enough protein, period, your need for it being lower than you’ve been led to believe (and virtually no one suffering from protein-deficiency disease in the First World). And your sources being higher in protein than you’ve been led to believe.

    The problem comes with the junk-food vegetarians. By similar logic to what you said about the stats regarding meat/vegetables, Kathy, if you eat primarily white flour and white sugar (no meat, but also no fruits/vegs/legumes/whole grains), you’d be sickly. And vegetarian.

    I have the same curiosity about the IQ stats (vegetarian children having 17 points higher IQ than the average American child). As in, did the researchers study what they intended to study, thus passing the standard of validity? Or are vegetarian parents smarter and more educated than the average parent, therefore passing on superior genetics?

    But, since with my first baby I was told that those who eat more protein have smarter babies, I packed in a Special Burger every day on my lunch break at the WordPerfect cafeteria, to make sure my little guy would be a braniac. Poor kid’s in Special Ed now. (Just kidding, he’s really smart, but so are my other kids who had the benefit of a smarter mother further down the line. And the later babies didn’t have a mother who gained 65 lbs. in her very own SuperSize Me experiment.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Robyn said “yes, you can store it up in the summer/fall to get through the winter”

    What is your source on that? That is the opposite of everything I have read on it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    And of course we need to keep in mind that ‘winter’ could be 6 months or longer here in the USA, depending on how far north you are.

  11. http:// says:

    Of course Krispin Sullivan (a nutritionist who posted her first paper in ’01 on your Weston Price web site) is the one claiming we don’t store enough. Others say we do. So, yes, a controversy exists here where one expert has been very vocal that she believes we’re in desperate straits if we don’t eat synthetic Vitamin D pills. Personal opinion here based on my cognitive dissonance: I don’t think God put us on the planet with an inability to get enough basic nutrition from the sun or a need to stand in front of a UVB tanning bed (a la Mercola) or measure Vita D compulsively with a meter, as some people are now doing.

    For people who get no sun for 6 months, they may have a problem. And I grant that the changing atmosphere may play a role. Here are two M.D.s who say we DO store enough:

    Dr. Weil: Fortunately, if you get enough sun exposure in the summer, your body will make and store enough D to get you through the winter.

    Quoted by Ingrid Kohlstadt, MD

    “According to Dr. Michael Holick, from Boston University, limited sun exposure of 5-10 minutes three times a week, during the spring, summer and fall, during the mid-day from 11am to 2pm, on the face and arms, will provide enough vitamin D for the individual. This sun exposure will also allow for storage of the excess vitamin D during the winter, when the UVB rays will not reach some areas.”

  12. Anonymous says:

    I completely agree with you about God not putting us here and not providing adequate nutrition. However, I think there’s a fairly easy answer too — my ancestors, who lived in the northern latitudes of Europe where Vitamin D isn’t available from the sun year-round, would have ingested large amounts of oily fish regularly — one of the biggest sources of Vitamin D. I assume that populations in the southern latitudes would have done the same. But with fish being so contaminated now, it makes one unsure which route to take now.

    You’d think that this would be a fairly easy and concrete answer, with science as advanced as it is now! I’ll have to do some more research into the science behind this. We go to the BYU library every 2-3 weeks, so I’ll have to look into it and see what I can find next time we go.

    The Dr. Weil quote sounds good, but I have to admit that I immediately discount information when there is no source provided (at least I didn’t see any citations at that link). You mentioned that Robbins’ The Food Revolution provides sources in each chapter — I’ll have to get that and see if he addresses that and what he cites. I looked up Krispin Sullivan and skimmed through some of her writings on Vitamin D. She had 80 sources cited in one article I read; that might be another place to start for me.

  13. http:// says:

    Yes, the online quotes have no sources listed, and Sullivan acknowledges that science has up until her efforts to get us to see otherwise believed that Vita D storage is how we get by. Nor is Weil always a good source, though ironically, usually how he’s wrong is in his belief in the value of synthetic vitamins.

    Sullivan hangs a lot on case studies where she shows one or two people decreasing in measurable Vita D over the winter months. You know what I think about case studies. They make me go, “Hm, I’d like more info about that,” and that’s about it.

    Yes about your ancestors, but as difficult as it is to get Vita D from food, doesn’t it seem counterintuitive that all the landlocked peoples (far from the shore) in northern climates would have been unable to survive without fish eating? Not all primitive peoples had access to fish.

    I’m not saying it’s clear that we DO store enough Vita D to get through the winter, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t be open to the need for supplementation. I’m saying I’m skeptical. (Like I am about the doomsday phytates issue. And the doomsdayers about oxalates. etc. forever)

    Loving sources like you do, not only ought you read Robbins, but Fuhrman and Campbell, too, as their citations are impeccable. My goal is really to help people eat better–rubber hits the road stuff–rather than duplicate scholarly work that’s already been done well. But that’s your triumvirate of authors who may once and for all put to rest your difficulty reconciling Weston A. Price and all the newly mainstream plant-based diet advocacy. (It’s been emerging for 20 years, but Campbell’s credibility, his renowned team, and his mainstream publishing has exploded it onto the scene.)

    All that said, I’d like to know what you learn if you feel you’ve dug to the very bottom of this issue (if you do so before I do). I have a feeling you’re going to think what I do, which is, hm, still not sure which is right, waiting for further light and knowledge before joining the new army of people calling for Vita D pill consumption.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Not all primitive peoples had access to fish.”

    I was reading through parts of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (the actual document by Weston A. Price himself, not the foundation), and he believed otherwise. He said that the inlanders would make great treks to get sea foods. Of course that fits in your ‘anecdotal’ category and obviously I wasn’t there 100 or 1000 years ago, so I can’t vouch for what they actually did 🙂

    “Loving sources like you do, not only ought you read Robbins, but Fuhrman and Campbell”

    I will add them to my list of books to read.

    “My goal is really to help people eat better-rubber hits the road stuff-rather than duplicate scholarly work that’s already been done well.”

    Yes, good point.

    “All that said, I’d like to know what you learn if you feel you’ve dug to the very bottom of this issue (if you do so before I do).”

    I’d LOVE to study all these things. . . whether I actually get to it or not within the next year remains to be seen 😉 I have the P.E. coming up (ugh).

    “I have a feeling you’re going to think what I do, which is, hm, still not sure which is right, waiting for further light and knowledge”

    Probably 😉 I feel that way about most everything I start studying!

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