Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Here\\\\\\\'s The Scary Reason Why Being Vegetarian Could Actually Be Really Bad For You

Here's The Scary Reason Why Being Vegetarian Could Actually Be Really Bad For You

The Debrief: Hands up if you’re now even more confused about what exactly qualifies as ‘healthy eating’ these days...

Hands up if you’re confused about what exactly qualifies as ‘healthy eating’ these days? Is it better to be vegetarian, vegan, eat meat but only in moderation or eat clean (whatever that means)? Are you supposed to eat some dairy? No dairy? A little dairy sometimes but not often?

You end up feeling confused taking only the following away: all food is poison. Nothing you can put in your mouth is safe, everything is bad for you, the children you haven’t had and the children they might one day have (if the world still exists then, cruel to animals, destroying the environment on this planet, probably also causing the inevitable implosion of the other planets in our solar system and that of those which may or may not exist beyond it. Basically, the earth is melting, it’s all because of those unlikely villains: cows. You’re doomed…we’re all doomed. Total, global destruction is imminent if you don’t go completely vegan right now.

And yet, every time you read advice about what to eat it seems to contradict the last thing you read. Just when you’d made the decision to go vegan during to week and eat good quality meat at the weekend, to stop using butter and replace it with an alternative somebody writes something telling you that’s going to make you sick eventually (that is, of course, if the world doesn’t implode before then).

To confuse our ideas about what is and isn’t ‘healthy’ even further scientists are now saying that vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations which actually increase the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Apparently a long term vegetarian diet actually changes human DNA. Researchers from Cornell university have studied populations who have had a mainly vegetarian diet for several generations and found a genetic mutation which makes them more susceptible to inflammation.

The scientists believe that the mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants but has the knock-on negative side effect of increasing production of something called arachidonic acid, which is known to increase inflammations and cancer.

They are using these new findings as a possible explanation for the fact that vegetarian populations are nearly 40 per cent more likely to suffer form colorectal cancer than those who eat meat, something which has confused doctors for some time because eating red meat is also known to raise the risk (I know).

It’s all about what your ancestors were eating, apparently. Tom Brenna, Professor of Human Nutrition at Cornell said, ‘Those whose ancestry derives from vegetarians are more likely to carry genetics that more rapidly metabolise plant fatty acids’.

He went on to explain that ‘in such individuals, vegetable oils will be converted to the more pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, increasing the risk for chronic inflammation that is implicated in the development of heart disease, and exacerbates cancer. The mutation appeared in the human genome long ago, and has been passed down through the human family.’

To make things worse the mutation also makes the production of Omega 3, which protects you against heart disease, more difficult.

Last year science also said that a healthy diet, rich in fruit and veg was really bad for the environment. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that lettuce was worse in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than bacon.

So there you go…everything you do is bad for you and everyone else. You can all go home now. Nothing is right. Everything is wrong. The sky is green not blue and being vegetarian is, probably, really bad for you. Enjoy your lunch guys.

On a more serious note...don't listen to any of it. Just be sensible, try your best to be healthy and do what feels right - eat fruit and vegetables, good qaulity meat if you want to and try to buy stuff that's sustainable when you can. If you slip up don't beat yourself up too much.

You might also be interested in:

Science Says Being Vegetarian Is Worse For The Environment Than Eating Meat

Ask An Adult: Is Going Vegan Better For Me?

How To Make A Super-Comforting Vegan 'Fish & Chips'

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

Tags: Food Glorious Food, Vegan