It isn’t just a question of being overweight; obesity is linked with many diseases, according to the WHO. It is, in fact, the same string of degenerative conditions associated with meat eating. Obese women face an increased risk of cancers of the gallbladder, breast and uterus – in men the cancer risk increases in the prostate and kidneys. Most worrying of all is when fat is deposited around the abdomen. It seems that ‘beer guts’ are a bit more serious than simply not looking good.

Obesity is much less common amongst vegetarians than it is amongst meat eaters (64, 65). In fact, vegetarians tend to be approximately 10 per cent leaner (66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72) and most overweight people shed pounds when they change to a veggie diet (73, 74), although doctors still rarely recommend such a course, which speaks volumes about doctors’ lack of nutritional training.

In Britain, there is now an epidemic of the condition, and almost two-thirds of the English population are either overweight or obese. In 1999, the then health minister Tessa Jowell said: “There are many reasons why obesity is on the increase, including lack of understanding of what constitutes a balanced diet, poverty, limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle” (75). (See VVF Globesity report and V-Plan Diet online at www.vegetarian.org.uk.)