Chances are, if you're in your twenties or thirties, joint health doesn't even hit the top 100 of your priorities. However, most people in their forties or fifties start experiencing some joint issues, and it doesn't happen overnight. Nature needs us to succeed and thrive until we produce offspring, so for a while our bodies forgive our poor lifestyle choices, the lack of nutrients and the excess of toxic compounds and function relatively well.
We know that diet influences our nervous system in the long term and has been linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. All the foods linked to an array of other diseases – such as foods rich in saturated fats (dairy and meat products), processed meats, fat and sugar laden snacks and desserts – are also linked to a higher chance of cognitive decline. A vegan diet that’s naturally high in antioxidants, fibre and low in saturated fats helps protect your cognitive health and can lower your risk of some neurodegenerative diseases.
Several recent studies compared nutrient intakes of vegans, vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, pescaterians and omnivores from Europe, Canada and the USA. Vegans turned out to have the healthiest diets and their nutrient intake was more than sufficient in all studies (Clarys et al., 2014; Key et al., 2014; Rizzo et al., 2013).
Living in London I have seen the healthy eating industry blossom. Many of its tribe pronounce themselves vegan because they are under the misguided belief that vegan is a diet. As any vegan will attest it is not a diet. It is a belief system that affects every part of your life, informing your decision on everything you consume and purchase, of which food is a part. This misnomer is certainly an aspect of the divide between vegans and plant based people. But has the vegan health fad been a help or hindrance to those that really matter in this argument - the animals?