Dr Doug Lisle makes an excellent point when he says that you can eat animal products and be healthy, just as you can be vegan and be healthy. This may sound like heresy to some died-in-the-wool vegans, but this is not a vegan argument, merely the facts.
The most elegant illustration of this is the Blue Zones, which are around the world spots with particularly long-lived people. In no one spot are all the people there completely vegan (avoiding consuming all animal products) – but generally we are seeing trends where the less animal proteins consumed, the longer a person lives. Once we get below about 5% of total energy intake from animal protein, this effect drops off. I suspect there is still an effect here, but it is probably negligible for health for most otherwise well people. What we want is people moving to more plant-based diets generally.
The case for perfectionism
The research by Dr Esselstyn makes a very strong argument for a strict diet. This is in the case of advanced heart disease due to atherosclerosis.
Another good reason for maintaining a strict diet is consistency – it’s easier if the foods that do not promote health aren’t in your house AT ALL and then you won’t eat them.
There will no doubt be further example that come from research with time as to just how much a person needs to follow the prescription of a strict whole food plant based diet. There may be some research in future highlighting links between unusual auto-immune diseases and diet (where present) for example. As it stands, don’t sweat it if you’re not perfect, because not one of us really is ultimately.
Dr Nick Wright