Neal Barnard

From Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Neal BarnardParents who serve healthful meals at home do their children an enormous favor. In particular, children who are raised with a plant-based menu gain tremendous advantages. They have a strong measure of protection against the problems that so many people encounter–obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers. Studies also suggest that children raised on plant-based diets have higher IQs than their omnivorous classmates and, on average, will live years longer.

We can say this with confidence because we and many other research teams have put healthy diets to the test. In our studies, we have shown the power of healthful food choices to dramatically cut cholesterol levels, improve and even reverse diabetes, and restore overall good health. However, we were by no means the first to study the effects of good foods.

By putting plant-foods at the center of your family’s plate, your kids will thank you and so do I.

For decades, researchers have been studying Seventh-day Adventists. The reason is that, based on church teachings, Adventists are supposed to avoid alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and meat. Nearly all Adventists are very good about the first three of those admonitions. But only about half of them follow vegetarian diets, while the other half include rather modest amounts of meat in their routines. This provides a natural experiment that has allowed researchers to tease out the effects of including or excluding meat in the diet in a population that is otherwise generally health-conscious.

The results of these comparisons have been repeatedly reported in medical journals and have clearly shown the health advantages of avoiding meat. But in May, 2009, researchers published details that allowed them to go much further.1 The group under study—60,903 adults—was big enough to allow comparisons, not just between vegetarians and meat-eaters, but between people following a broad range of diet habits. The research report was provided by Serena Tondstad of Loma Linda University, and the findings were published by the American Diabetes Association in its journal Diabetes Care. Looking first at body weight, it turned out that non-vegetarians were the heaviest group. Semi-vegetarians (who had occasional meat meals, but otherwise stuck to a vegetarian diet) and “pesco-vegetarians” (who ate fish, but no other meat) were somewhat slimmer. But they were not as slim as full-time vegetarians. And slimmest of all were vegans. In fact, vegans were the only group that comfortably stayed within the boundaries of a healthy weight.

You now have in your hands a practical and engaging guide to preparing the very best plant-foods in your own kitchen. You will be able to enjoy favorites like Vegetable Pot Pie, Lasagna, and Veggie Fajitas, and also to learn some new tastes, too. Along the way, you’ll get all the tips and menu planning support you need! All this and more is here in Giving them Something Better.

By putting plant-foods at the center of your family’s plate, your kids will thank you and so do I.

Neal Barnard, M.D.,
President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

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