By now you’ve probably seen the latest research from Harvard University and National University of Singapore showing that different types of low-carbohydrate diets have different effects on health.
In this large study of nearly 130,000 people (all health professionals), a low-carb diet that was rich in animal foods was associated with increased risk of mortality. In contrast, a low-carb diet that was higher in plant foods reduced all-cause mortality risk, especially from cardiovascular disease.
Most vegan advocates spun the story to highlight the fact that eating low-carb diets loaded with animal protein is detrimental to health. I agree that this is an important aspect of the study results. But in writing about it for the Vegan Examiner, I took a somewhat different approach. That is, eating a low-carb diet that is higher in protein and fat is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the protein and fat come from plant foods.
Dr. David Jenkins showed this last year with his vegan Eco-Atkins diet. Now, with this new study, we have more evidence that diets do not need to be super high in carbohydrates in order to be healthy. They just need to replace animal foods with plants. To me, this is the good news about the Harvard-Singapore study. While I never argue for veganism on the basis of health (and this study neither supports nor refutes the health advantages of veganism), I do want vegans to know that they have some choices when it comes to planning healthy diets. Those who feel better or find that they more easily maintain a healthy weight with a lower carbohydrate intake can eat that way. They will still reap the health benefits of eating more plant foods—and the ethical benefits of veganism.