Is 100 days without meat good for our health?
Aline Perraudin, editor of “Santé Magazine” and author of “100 days without meat” set herself the challenge of eating no meat for 100 days. Even though the journalist made the choice for ethical reasons, because she could no longer stand the scandals over animal slaughter for example, is it possible that this decision was good for her health?
“Many studies have compared the health of vegetarians and meat-eaters,” GP Dr Martine Perez told Europe 1. “The results show that vegetarians generally have fewer cancers.” But these conclusions should be taken with precaution. First and foremost, because certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer are just as common in non meat-eaters as in others. Finally, the decrease in risk of cancer is not necessarily linked to dietary habits. “If vegetarians have fewer cancers, it is because over all they are health conscious,” Dr Perez stated. So, they have fewer lung cancers because they are less likely to smoke than the rest of the population.
Other studies have been carried out on cardiovascular diseases. Here again it is difficult to associate lower prevalence in vegetarians with diet. Dr Perez added that “vegetarians are also a little less frequently diabetic and less obese.” But an Austrian study has upset the cart, coming to the conclusion that vegetarians had more allergies than meat-eaters, and were more depressed. Aline Perraudin, for her part, believes that going meat-free has enabled her to eat a more balanced diet. “Initially, you feel like there are only side dishes left”, she told Europe 1. “At the end, I felt as though I was doing myself good. Eating a vegetable-based diet eased my conscience.” The journalist ate a more balanced diet, “tofu doesn’t need chips”. Indeed, besides meat, what people eat with it disrupts a balanced diet, and thus their health. “People who eat meat, eat more chips, and more fat, and drink more wine” concluded Dr Perez.
The question remains as to what (nutritional) deficiencies a vegetarian diet can cause. For nutritionist Jean-Michel Cohen it is nevertheless possible to compensate for the proteins, iron and vitamin B12 contained in meat. “We can get iron from chocolate, wholemeal bread or wheat bran.” Vitamin B12 on the other hand is difficult to find in other foods besides fish. If fish is also being avoided, taking dietary supplements is advised.