Is a Plant-Based Diet Too Extreme?

There is an opinion that recommendations for a plant-based diet is “extreme”.

There are many research studies siting the negative effects of animal products and their link to disease, and the positive effects of a plant-based diet to help prevent disease.

Diet in the face of genetics, over-all physical activity, and lifestyle is the single biggest change one can make to reduce, and in many cases reverse, disease and the aging process as western medicine defines it.

This opinion is based on the research, and hardly is derived from just observations or convictions. The time for moderate views have long since passed. Cancer, and auto-immune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, thrive in the presence of “moderation”, Eating foods that have known auto-immune responses whether they be a Histamine Release, or a Prostaglandin 2 release, even in moderation, can cause elicit trigger debilitating symptoms, or release the disease process.

There are many great food scientists and medical doctors, including, but not limited to: Michael Klapper, MD, Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Dean Orrnish, MD, Neal Barnard, MD, et al., who have demonstrated the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

One example of the benefits of a plant-based diet appears in Japanese men who have developed Prostate Cancer. They live with the disease instead of dying with the disease as American men are prone to do. The biggest difference? Not Genetics. It is their diet. Proof of this is when Japanese men move to the United States, and adapt the a SAD way of eating [Standard American Diet], then develop the active diseases and die just as their American counterparts.

Below is just the “tip of the iceberg” regarding the supportive research to re-enforce the advantages of a plant-based diet.

Mark J. Occhipinti, Ph.D.
American Fitness Professionals Association
1601 Long Beach Blvd. | P.O. Box 214
Ship Bottom, NJ 08008
Tel. (609) 978-7583 | Fax. (609)978-7582
afpa@afpafitness.com | www.afpafitness.com



1. The McDougall Plan, John A. McDougall, M.D., (1983) pp. 98-100

2. Diet for a New America, John Robbins, 1987, p. 172, citing the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

3. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids, Food and Drug Administration, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2005. (Protein Estimated Average Requirement and RDA for adults is 0.66 and 0.8g per kg of ideal body weight, respectively. These are married to the daily energy requirements listed in the same report for various genders, ages, heights, weights, and activity levels, to get the range of percentage of calories from protein.)

4. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition (PDF), World Health Organization (2002). Recommendations on p. 126. Recommendations are an “average requirement” of 0.66 g of protein per kg of ideal body weight, and a “safe level” of 0.86 g/kg.

5. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (accessed August to December 2009)

FRUIT: Average of Apples, Pears, Grapes, Bananas, Plums, Oranges, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Strawberries, Peaches, Nectarines, Cantaloupe.

VEGETABLES: Average of Broccoli 27.2%, Carrots 8.7%, Celery 17.3%, Corn 13.4%, Cucumber 17.3%, Green Beans 21.6%, Lettuce icberg 25.7%, Mushrooms white 31%, Onions 12.4%, Peas 28.8%, Potato 10.8%, Spinach 49.7%, Tomato 19.6% (accessed December 2009)

6. Report on the Working Group on Obesity, Appendix B, US Food & Drug Administration website (accessed May 9, 2012)

7.Shattering the Protein Myth, Debra Blake Weisenthal, Vegetarian Times (March 1995)

7.1 Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment?, Donna Maurer (2002), p. 37

8. Vegetable Proteins Can Stand Alone, Dennis Gordon, M.Ed,R.D., Journal of the American Dietetic Association (March 1996, Volume 96, Issue 3), pp. 230-231

8.1Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment?, p. 38.

9. Complementary Protein Myth Won’t Go Away!, Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D., Healthy Times (May 2003)

10. Vegetarians: Pondering Protein?, Andrew Weil, M.D., DrWeil.com (Dec. 11, 2002)

11. “Complete” Proteins?, Charles R. Attwood, M.D., F.A.A.P., VegSource.com (accessed Sep. 4, 2009)

12. The Protein Myth, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (accessed Sep. 12, 2009)

13. Diet for a Small Planet, 10th Anniversary Ed., Frances Moore-Lappé (1982), p. 162

13.1 The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), Gertjan Schaafsma, Journal of Nutrition, 2000; 130:1865S-1867S

13.2 Protein Overload, John A. McDougall, M.D., The McDougall Newsletter (January 2004)

13.3 For elephants, Smithsonian National Zoological Park. For people, average weight was calculated by comparing U.S. population by age from the Center for Disease Control with U.S. weight by age from the U.S. Census, and then compared with food intake as per the USDA Agriculture Fact Book 2001-2002.

14. National Institutes of Health website (accessed August 5, 2009)

14.1 Dietary protein adequacy and lower body versus whole body resistance training in older humans, Wayne W Campbell et al., J Physiol. 2002

15. Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. J Appl Physiol. 1988 Jan;64(1):187-93.

16. Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Aug;73(2):767-75

17. Nutrition and Athletic Performance, joint position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine (March 2009)

17.1 Effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on athletic performance, Kreider RB, Sportscience 3(1), 1999

18. Vegan Weightlifting: What does the science say?, Jack Norris, RD, Vegetarian Journal (2003, Issue 4)

18.1 Human Energy Requirements, Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation, Chapters 2 & 4, October 2001

19. When friends ask, “Where do you get your protein?”, John A. McDougall, M.D., McDougall Newsletter (April 2007)

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