Robin Grants asks me why, if eating meat causes heart disease, do the Japanese have low rates of it when few of them are vegetarians. The answer is that they still eat less meat than Westerners.
In an article I had published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (“Doctors should get on the vegetarian bandwagon”, January 21, 1991), I noted a major study conducted by a hospital in Hawaii. It found that, although the Japanese in Japan smoked more cigarettes on average than the Japanese living in Hawaii, those in Hawaii had a higher rate of heart disease because on average they ate more meat than those living in Japan.
Even the people in “The China Study”, which I often refer to, were generally not vegetarians but ate mostly plant-based food, And they had dramatically lower rates of heart disease and cancer than Westerners.
Numerous studies, such as those conducted by Dr Dean Ornish, have shown that heart disease can even be reversed by a low-fat vegetarian diet.
In his book “Diet for a New America”, John Robbins notes that, in America, meat eaters are more than 10 times more likely to die of a heart attack than vegans.
Still, I’m not saying that if you eat small amounts of meat you’ll get a heart attack. Just as I’m not saying you’ll have a heart attack if you occasionally smoke cigarettes. But clearly the evidence is overwhelming that the less meat you eat, the better off your heart will be.