Vegans may increase heart disease risk

Have you noticed how people always assume that vegan=super healthy?

Frankly, I’ve encountered many vegans who are just downright smug. They think they are healthier than everyone else is. But I disagree. I think veganism is a serious mistake. In fact, a new study found that eliminating meat from your diet could harm your health.

Here’s why…

Scientists recently analyzed dozens of vegan studies from the last 30 years. They found that men and women who follow a strict vegan diet (no meat, poultry, fish, or animal by-products) tend to have elevated homocysteine levels. And that’s not good. Too much of this amino acid in your blood greatly increases your risk for heart attack or stroke.

But that’s not all the scientists discovered…

They also found that vegans seem to run a greater risk of developing blood clots and atherosclerosis. They also tend to have lower HDL (or "good") cholesterol.

I really don’t have anything against vegans. It’s just that I’m an omnivore. Specifically, I make sure to eat a few servings of organic chicken and wild-caught fish each week. I’m not even opposed to eating lean organic red meat (that’s been grass-fed) occasionally.

Simply put, we need the protein and the saturated fats. We also need vital nutrients like CLA, l- carnitine, iron, zinc, B12, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. But the only place most of us get these nutrients is through meat, fish, and fowl.

Plus, vegans tend to rely on lots of TVP (textured vegetable protein). This is fancy term for non- fermented soy, which is loaded with phyto-estrogens and phytate. These compounds block your absorption of nutrients and disrupt your hormones. Some scientists also link them with cancer.

In addition, if you look at the intestinal tracts of pure carnivores and pure herbivores, humans are somewhere in the middle. We were designed to eat some meat.

I don’t recommend you go out and treat yourself to a rack of greasy ribs every night. But you can — and should — enjoy salmon, chicken, and even flank steak on a weekly basis. You need the protein and the nutrients these foods deliver.

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Dr. Allan Spreen

Dr. Allan Spreen

Nationally acclaimed as America’s “Nutrition Physician,” Dr. Spreen has been helping people stay healthy and disease-free as a private doctor, published author, and noted researcher.

In addition to his role as a Senior Member of the prestigious Health Sciences Institute Advisory Panel in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Spreen also coaches diving at the international and Olympic levels. NorthStar Nutritionals is proud to have Dr. Spreen as our Chief Research Advisor.

Dr. Spreen also writes the Guide to Good Health.

Please let us know what you think about this article. All comments will be moderated before being posted publicly.


  1. PuppyFan says

    Not positive what you are reffering to specifically Anon 1 but I believe this is the recent metastudy reffered to in this article “Chemistry behind Vegetarianism,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Duo Li, 2011, 59 (3), pp 777–784, Publication Date (Web): January 4, 2011. Saw it in another article on this subject.

  2. Anonymous says

    To me vegan/vegetarianism seems like an evil plot to keep us supplementing to correct deficiencies, keep the labs busy looking, tracking these deficiencies and keep doctors orthodox and alternative busy. Worst of all, keep the poor vegan/vegetarian individual focused on how to balance their next meal to make sure they are getting adequate, protein, fats, minerals etc., You’d think someone might equipped these poor individuals with software to make the guess work easier. Who the f—- has that amount of time? This is the reason why fast foods and takeaway foods are so successful. Are these people catering for a busy household with children of different ages, elderly parents and drop in friends or do they have live chefs? The majority of people I know are just trying to survive each day juggling careers, nasty bosses and colleages, kids, parents, worsening economic conditions, mortgages and spiraling out of control debt. Women no longer have an option to stay home, they are required to work just to service debt, so who is preparing these foods for a vegan.vegetarian fare to ensure adequate nutrition. Or are they just having smoothies, juices, salads to sustain them. I know as an omnivore that I can serve a piece of meat red or white (with minimal cooking and self raised) a variety of vegetables, salads & soups (produced from my garden or local growers) and know that I have nourished my family. I still keep tabs on deficiencies, toxicities and imbalances and they are not so much of an issue due to the variety we are grateful and fortunate to have.

    I don’t believe that they are healthier, because we just had a young girl in her late 20’s die from breast cancer at my husband’s work. It’s too sad and makes me angry. Unfortunately she was vegetarian, another older lady at work also dying from breast cancer – you guessed it vegetarian. I know health practitioners (seems women don’t fare to well without meat), dying early. One unfortunate soul whose mother was sick for many years and eventually died shortly after the daughter following the same kind of diet. Surely this woman must have realised that the diet was no good for and her mother. She was a lecturer at one of our Universities. Why did she not realise that their so called healthier diet was keeping them sick? The most tragic thing about all these examples – they were all women who were meticulous about diet and health. Another unfortunate example, when my children were in kinder, 3 young mothers at the same kinder died with breast cancer. I live in a suburb (green) that attracts alternative types that have fixed views on eating and life in general. It just doesn’t stack up.

    I am now witnessing as these women enter old age they are being crippled with osteoporosis. They are shocked to find out that their so-called healthier eating habits (soy, low-fat dairy, no red meat, no saturated fats) has not protected them in their old age. It is sad and humiliating to have to get around with a walking frame. Time is the biggest test, unfortunate for young people its too long to wait to find out.

    Over my life time I have seen these people’s health deteriorate and sure there are also omnivores that are sick but they are not dying young with cancer. Just because they eat meat doesn’t mean that they are healthy, but they do seem to persist despite their arthritis, cholesterol levels, diabetes, smoking and drinking etc.

    Thanks for the space to vent my sadness and anger.

  3. Anonymous says

    Vegans if they cook their food are destroying the value of the veggies they eat. If you eat raw none of this article is worth reading. Eating raw is the way to go – it’s not easy but look into it and the results people are getting.

    You don’t know if you’ll be eating GMO salmon , irradiated beef and over dosed with Antibiotic Chickens. Gotta watch for GMO veggies as well. This is a big pharma article —

  4. Anonymous says

    Raw may be great for those that have strong digestive ability. But I think these days these types of humans are becoming extinct. There is an increasing number of people that do not have the digestive strength to eat raw foods. They have stuffed guts. The chinese have know this for thousands of years, but we westernised, modern, educated, technological savvy people are hell bent on relying on dogma to guide our eating habits.

  5. Lori says

    Anonymous 3 – read Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wranger. It is fact that some nutrients, like carotenes in red, yellow, and orange vegetables, as well as those in cruciferous vegetables need heat – and fat – in order for our bodies to take advantage of them. Another nutrient needed is K2, which is essential in bone, artery, and brain health, and unless a vegan is eating a bunch of natto or other fermented vegetables, they’re not getting it. Studies show that K1 from plants does not convert well to K2 and most Americans, regardless of diet, are deficient (and they better be supplementing with D3 as well). K2, and not K1 has also demonstrated some anti-cancer benefits. The only other sources of K2 are from animals. There are very few, if any, indigenous cultures that didn’t incorporate animal products into their diets. I have no problem with eating some raw foods, but we need to take a step back and look at history.

  6. Boomer12k says

    I think the goal is really a BALANCED DIET. We need different types of food, not just one type, a “one way diet” will be deficient in something. That being said, there are positive benefits to a SHORT diet of raw, LIVE food. You lose weight, your body gets cleaner, you have more energy, you don’t feel sluggish, etc… There are CLEANSING benefits, not just nutritional. There are benefits to eating meat. You can get proteins, and even complete proteins from combination foods without meat. But you might not get the “good” fats!! Rice and Legumes combined for example. One nutrient they find missing in Heart Attack victims is Ubiquinol. A preform of CoQ10 enzyme. It is found in MEAT!!!! CHICKEN HEARTS ARE LIKE FOURTH HIGHEST ON THE LIST!!!! 80%, I think it was, of the body’s Ubiquinol is taken up by the heart!!! There are very tiny amounts in veggies. I don’t have the time right now to find chapter and verse and all that is needed. A STRICTLY meat and potato diet can also be harmful, as it is cooked dead. You need to BALANCE with life giving raw foods, that have the enzymes, vitamins, mineral, amino acids, etc…. intact, cellular, biological, nutrition, etc…
    So, I have a large salad, and I have a some ground turkey, or turkey breast, at a different meal. WITH A SLICE OF CHEESE! Since I am gluten intolerant now, I have to stay gluten-free. But it is a variety of foods that will keep you healthy. Each food, if it is a “REAL” food, has a purpose, reason, goal, value, and meaning to your diet, and health. Milk has benefits, Wine has benefits. Meat has benefits, veggies and fruits have benefits, carbs have benefits. Leave one out… and you risk some sort of deficiency sooner or later. There are foods that are bad for you. Even if they are PLANTS. They talk about SOY for instance.
    So, balance your diet. I think you will live a long time. My father, at 87, has always eaten anything. He still eats store bought pizza, and hot dogs, beef stew over rice, etc….he does not eat salads. But he keeps on going…..
    My Aunt “the health nut” died at 82 of glandular failure. Bob Cummings, the actor, died of Kidney failure at 80, he was a BIG HEALTH NUT!!!! Maybe Jack LaLanne got it right, eat right AND EXERCISE!!!
    Be well and happy,

  7. AnonME says

    Actually homocysteine IS an amino acid just a non-protein one…

    “Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid with the formula HSCH2CH2CH(NH2)CO2H. It is a homologue of the amino acid cysteine, differing by an additional methylene (-CH2-) group.”

  8. Anonymous says

    All that I am about to say is in reference of real food not (frankenfood), where we get the good complex of Bs is from meat, good protein, CLA, the problem with plants is that they mimic a B vitamin, vegetables that have soluble insoluble fiber are good, fruits to help our digestion, avocados for instance a maligned fruit for many years now we know better, many tend to forget that in the process as for in the digestion occurring from a pastured fed cow, as natural as is suppose to be, this enriches the milk that even people with lactose intolerance have no problems when drinking such, the omega3s in wild caught salmon free of mercury, the lutein and other benefits in eggs from free range chickens are immeasurable, we have to watch for vegetables loaded with pesticides, pasteurized milk, hormone and antibiotic treated beef, poultry, fish and so on FRANKENFOOD folks, there is no lies in the Drs comment, but simple facts that most vegans tend to forget, also what I wrote here is simple facts, a good balance of all of the above is critical for our health. JAM

  9. Great Lakes Nutritionist says

    Have to watch out for false information here…
    Meat products are not the only way to get protein. Rice, beans, nuts, seeds… even vegetables (a small amount) of protein. Every essential nutrient can be found in a vegetable, fruit etc. (vegan products). A balanced diet is highly recommended wanting to watch their health and weight. Convenience “fast” foods are not part of a balanced diet.

  10. ChrisTea says

    @ Anonymous 3, just because you are too weak to juggle those things and eat a good diet doesn’t mean that everyone is. I have 4 children and a full time job. Everyone in our family is vegan and it is a breeze. We eat out almost never and only at vegan restaurants when we do. We eat a large variety of healthy foods and everyone checks out A+ at doctors visits and bloodwork. We also homeschool all of our children and still have plenty of time for fun. I think your death ridden fast food diet has deprived you of energy and good health and that is why you cant juggle these things.

  11. Dave Clark says

    Has anyone heard of a DR Esselstyne or a Colin Cambell and the China study.. Both seems to be proof positive of the meat and dairy industry being similar to big tobacco.
    It seems that heart disease is largely caused by meat but the hope is that it can just as easily be reversed by its absence. Not only that but factory farming is an unethical practice on many levels.

    Does anyone care about the following?

    Cause of global warming: greenhouse effect
    Primary cause of greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
    Fossil fuels needed to produce meat-centered diet vs. a meat-free diet: 3 times more
    Percentage of U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75
    Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85
    Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million
    Amount of meat imported to U.S. annually from Central and South America: 300,000,000 pounds
    Percentage of Central American children under the age of five who are undernourished: 75
    Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter-pound of rainforest beef: 55 square feet
    Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 per year

  12. Coconut1 says

    News this morning, Michael Clark Duncan had some type of a cardiac event. One newscaster keeps repeating, “He’s vegan, he works out, he’s so healthy!”. Hmmmm

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