Dr. Barnard, president of plant-based health advocacy non-profit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, argued that plant-based diets lead to sustained good health with supporting evidence.
He cited studies showing that plant-based diets have been linked to a healthy weight, reduced risk for cancer, reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, and reduced risk for type 2 diabetes.
Animal products and health
Additionally, he added, ‘animal products are harmful to human health’, citing saturated fat, cholesterol, lactose, estrogens, and pathogenic microorganisms as harmful constituents of these foods.
Dr. Barnard cited evidence to show that ‘consumption of animal products increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other health problems’.
He also pointed out that while some diets improve certain health markers short term, plant-based diets improve many aspects of health long term.
Throughout the debate, Dr. Barnard also debunked some of the common myths about eating meat.
These included the idea that plant-based diets are deficient in nutrients, citing clinical trials that do not show that adopting a vegan diet leads to deficiencies.
He also discussed the notion that hunter-gatherers were free of disease, saying ‘extensive atherosclerosis found in autopsies of Masai individuals and in ancient Inuit remains.
Finally, he tackled the inaccurate belief that plant-based diets lack protein, saying protein requirements in children and adults are ‘easily met by a diet of legumes, vegetables, grains, and fruits’.
‘Higher risk of disease’
Dr. Barnard said: “Individuals consuming animal products have considerably higher risk of serious diseases, compared with people who avoid them.
“Avoiding animal products is the surest way to simultaneously improve body weight, glycemia, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.”