The Seventh-day Adventist Position Statement on Vegetarian Diets
Adapted from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Nutrition Council
What is the vegetarian lifestyle?
than 130 years Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) have practiced a vegetarian
dietary lifestyle because of their belief in the holistic nature of
humankind. Whatever is done in eating or drinking should honor and
glorify God and preserve the health of the body, mind and spirit.
The vegetarian diet
recommended by Seventh-day Adventists includes the generous use of whole grain
breads, cereals and pastas, a liberal use of fresh vegetables and fruits,
a moderate use of legumes, nuts, seeds. It can also include low fat dairy products such as
milk, yogurt and cheeses and eggs. It is
best to avoid high saturated fat and cholesterol foods such as: beef,
lamb, pork, chicken, fish and seafood. Coffee, tea and alcoholic
beverages provide few nutrients and may interfere with the absorption of
Has there been any research?
Since 1954 more than 250 articles have been published in scientific journals on theSeventh-day Adventist lifestyle and health. In the 1960s, Loma Linda University, in cooperation with the National Cancer Institute, began to study the health of SDAs. Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, data on the Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle was collected and analyzed under contract with the National Institutes of Health.
general, have 50% less risk of heart disease, certain types of cancers,
strokes, and diabetes. More specifically, recent data suggests that
vegetarian men under 40 can expect to live more than eight years longer
and women more than seven years longer then the general population. SDA
vegetarian men live more than three years longer than SDA men who eat
Researchers believe this added length of life and quality of health is due in particular to the consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables as well as the avoidance of meat, alcohol, coffee and tobacco.
Current evidence demonstrates that the more closely a person follows the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet the lower the risks of major diseases.
What does current research demonstrate?
1. Vegetarians have reduced risks of certain diseases because of their increased consumption of whole grains, dried beans, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and vegetables. Vegetarians are exposed to fewer carcinogens and mutagens because they do not eat meat.
2. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts are often less expensive than meat. Plant foods use fewer natural resources from the environment.
3. Vegetarians typically enjoy a great variety of plant based foods, international and ethnic dishes.
4. A significant correlation exists between the frequent and long term consumption of high-fat, high-cholesterol animal based foods and the incidence of fatal heart disease, certain types of cancer, strokes, and diabetes.
5. A vegetarian diet provides a greater consumption of phytochemicals and fiber rich foods which help protect from heart disease, several types of cancer, diabetes and hypertension.
Are there any guidelines I can follow?
Current recommendations encourage people to eat nine or more servings of
fruit and vegetables every day and six or more servings daily of a
combination of whole grains, cereals, and legumes.
In 2005 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Nutrition Council (GCNC) adapted the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Pyramid for a vegetarian dietary approach.
should give special attention to the intake of protein, iron and zinc.
Total vegetarians should give special attention to intake of calcium, Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and protein.
Any special consideration for a total plant based diet?
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that those who choose foods of only plant origin must supplement their diet with vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and, in addition to ensure adequacy of vitamin D and calcium. The American Dietetic Association's most recent position paper on vegetarian diets stated that those who follow a totally plant based diet should give special attention to reliable sources of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and zinc. Adequate intake of these nutrients are even more important for growing children and pregnant and lactating women.
What does the GCNC recommend?
(General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist's Nutrition Council)
supports the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, the
World Health Organization, and the U.S. Dietary guidelines for Americans.
Next to tobacco and alcohol, foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol
(such as meat) are the greatest risk factors in decreasing life expectancy
from atherosclerosis, cancer, and premature death.
The GCNC recommends that all meat, fish, and
fowl be eliminated from the
diet and the use of egg yolks be limited to
three or less per week. Foods of animal origin are no longer viewed as
dominant items in a healthy diet. The Adventist Health Study clearly
reveals a significant advantage for those who choose a meat free, plant
based diet over those who select primarily a meat based diet.
The GCNC recommends the generous use of whole grains, vegetables and fruits; and a moderate use of low fat dairy products (or nutritional equivalent alternatives), legumes, and nuts; a very limited use of foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt; abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, and coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages.
The Vegetarian Food Pyramid
The GCNC recommends the following Vegetarian Food Pyramid for menu planning. Plan the meals, starting at the base of the pyramid and include foods from each of the five groups everyday. Each group provides essential nutrients which may not be found in other groups and not one of these groups should be eliminated from a balanced diet.
Follow the Vegetarian Food Pyramid to make daily choices. The number of servings are based on caloric need. If you are sedentary, choose the lower number of servings such as six of grains. If you are very active, choose the eleven servings of grain products.
Order a copy of the Vegetarian Food Pyramid by calling 301-680-6717.
Examples of servings and serving sizes as follows:
VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
NUTS AND SEEDS
OILS AND SUGARS (Food from group number five)
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