The Scientific Basis of the Health Benefits of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Ivan Figueroa
10 min readJan 2



1. Bioethics- This is the study of the ethical issues emerging from advances in biology and medicine. It is also moral discernment as it relates to medical policy and practice. Bioethics is concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine and medical ethics, politics, law, theology and philosophy.

2. Vegetarianism- is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat (red meat, poultry, seafood, and the flesh of any other animal), and may also include abstention from by-products of animal slaughter.[1][2] Which can be divided into the following subtypes:

a. Veganism- No intake of animal products (such as egg, dairy or honey from bees) are called vegans, strict vegetarians or pure vegetarians.

b. Lacto-vegetarians- Those that include milk and dairy derivatives in their regimen.

c. Ovo-vegetarians- those that include animal eggs in their regimen.

d. Dairy Ovo-vegetarians — those who consume both types of animal foods.

3. Nutritional supplements- Essential components for the proper functioning of the organism that is usually obtained from food in its natural state as they exist in nature when the body is in good nutritional balance. The accessibility of these depends on the good digestive condition and the intake of natural foods not processed by the food industry. When synthesized by the industry they lose some of their nutritional values. Examples of these are vitamins and minerals and some essential amino acids. A deficiency of these could cause imbalances that could end up in disease states.

4. Trans fats- Most are unsaturated fatty acids generated industrially when liquid oil is converted into solid fat, a process called hydrogenation. Any natural oil, such as olive and coconut oil, if exposed to high temperatures when cooking, is transformed into trans oil. Examples are soybean oil, corn and other vegetables and grains, and margarine found in abundance in commercially processed foods. Of all fats, trans fat is the worst for your health. Consuming too much trans-fat in your diet increases your risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

5. Cholesterol- Cholesterol is a type of lipid manufactured in the liver and other cells, which is part of the cell membrane and circulates through our blood, intervening in multiple processes of our body, such as the manufacture of some hormones, such as sex or steroids, the digestion of fats or the formation of bile acids. Although the media speaks of cholesterol as good and bad, all the cholesterol our liver produces is good. The one that can affect and be related to cardiovascular disease is the one consumed in animal foods.

6. Epigenetics- Branch of biology that aims to explain why living organisms express or activate some genetic tendencies or inhibit others, which can improve or deteriorate their health and well-being. This implies that the quality of our lifestyles can modify our hereditary tendencies.

7. Inflammation- It is a set of reactions the body generates to ensure its survival in response to physical, metabolic or immunologic aggression. This aggression can be of external origins, such as an injury, infection, trauma, or emotional event. The quality and type of food and the resulting toxicity can precipitate it. It can also come from within the body, as with autoimmune diseases.


This article aims to guide the public on the benefits of a vegetarian and mainly vegan diet, maintain a state of health and well-being, and explain the scientific foundations that support this alimentary style. The most important thing I hope you will get from it is the preventive effect of this lifestyle on most degenerative diseases and cancers that are epidemically affecting our well-being, health, and economic and social situation.

Human Evolutionary Influence

Although our evolution of human beings from monkeys needs to be established, it is the species with the most structural similarity to ours, most of which are vegetarians. This suggests that at the beginning, for its survival, the human being, having not yet developed the cultivation of crops, had to hunt and eat animals. But as he became more civilized, he learned to feed on the fruits of the earth, which allowed him to abandon his nomadic style and lengthen and improve his life quality.

Eating meat was part of the races in frigid regions where there was no opportunity to grow and harvest from the land. Interestingly, these breeds’ longevity was much shorter than those that consumed the earth’s fruits.

Influence on Longevity, Degenerative Diseases and Cancer.

Epidemiological population studies have demonstrated the comparative benefits of vegetarianism and diets where plant consumption predominates.

Similar studies of the Adventist Religion members have confirmed the benefits of this diet on increased longevity and low incidence of cancer.

Alimentary factors that demonstrate life-extending scientific evidence

The most important are a caloric restriction, intermittent fasting periods and consumption of seasonally grown unprocessed foods. Although the longest-lived races are not purely vegetarian, they are all characterized by a predominant consumption of fresh seasonal fruits complemented by regional fresh fish, without consuming any processed or refrigerated food. These are the five blue zones of Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Icaria, Greece and Okinawa, Japan.

The difficulty in reproducing these isolated blue regions’ food environment and the current extensive processing of foods, transgenic, chemical modification, contamination, refrigeration and canning of harvested products, and mass animal rearing have eliminated the need for traditional consumption of existing animal products.

This has motivated using the best products in the plant kingdom, without any preservation or processing, as the best food option today.

Several studies have demonstrated calorie restriction as a method to increase longevity and treat cancer: and dr. Norman González Chacón

Bioethics as a Guide to an Ethical Responsibility for the Survival of Our Planet

The Ecological Impact on the Planet and the Epigenetic Influence on the Human Genome (Heredity) of Animal and Junk Food.

Understanding how our toxic epigenetic lifestyles influence our planet and genome to create many modern diseases and how modifying these styles can eliminate many of these conditions is the foundation of vegetarian nutrition.

Among the epigenetic factors that are part of our climate crisis and the deterioration of our genome (DNA) over our external planetary environment and our organism’s interior are the following:

1. Chemical Pollution- It has created mass manufacturing, preservation, canning and refrigeration of food.

2. Air pollution- Throughout the industrial and agricultural process (animals) and the combustion of petroleum products that has triggered carbon dioxide emission.

3. Electromagnetic pollution — Our planet has become a giant microwave oven created by the uncontrollable emanations of EMF originated by telecommunications and its equipment, linked to brain tumors, low labor productivity and abortions.

4. Pharmacological pollution- Profit motivation has led the industry to mass drug production, reducing disease symptoms very effectively, but with little selectivity, yet creating new symptoms associated with these drugs’ side effects.

5. Mental and emotional pollution- The communications industry has reprogrammed humans’ bioethical vision towards one that promotes the industry’s economic well-being without considering the resulting harmful results.

Spiritual and Mental Foundations Supporting Vegetarianism

1. Healthy Mind in Healthy Body- In every religious tradition, fasting, a vegetarian diet, and prayer and meditation were promoted to awaken spiritual development. This action reconnects the self with its creative force to live according to spiritual guidelines within the human experience. This method of balancing the mind-body and the Spirit could allow the Spirit to guide your mind and body, living more harmoniously with all the beings of this planet.

2. The degeneration of our genome- The Judeo-Christian tradition described that the parents’ sin could pass on to the third and fourth generations. Which today I interpret as the mistreatment of our bodies transmitted to our descendants through our genome (DNA). These “sins” are genetic diseases such as cancer and other degenerative diseases that we see today in our current generations.

3. The science of Epigenetics as the tool to heal our genome.- By transforming our toxic lifestyles into healthy ones, we do it by improving our oral and mental nutrition. This allows us to heal the “sins” committed by our ancestors, thus enhancing our genome (DNA) and avoiding passing those harmful mutations on to future generations.

Alimentary Scientific Foundations Supporting Vegetarian Food

The three energy sources (fuel) for the organism’s proper functioning originate from the Sun: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Of these, the optimal fuel for the body is glucose, the simplest carbohydrate of nature, which is necessary for all organs’ proper cellular functioning. We should understand that our cells cannot directly use proteins or fats to fuel their metabolism. Although the plant kingdom has fats and proteins, its main components are complex and simple carbohydrates. But, the animal kingdom, composed chiefly of proteins and fats, has no carbohydrates in these components and is not an efficient source for cellular functioning.

We must realize that proteins and fats result from converting sugar to muscles, bones, and fat reserves essential for the body’s proper functioning. These body components are produced with the energy derived from the sugars consumed by the plant kingdom.

Aging results from the Inflammatory Process That Occurs for the Protection and Survival of the Organism.

The process of ensuring the well-being and survival of humans naturally entails an expense of energy or metabolic work that, as in all machinery, creates wear and tear on all components of the system. Our body’s longevity will be proportional to the excellent maintenance of its parts and the efficient use of the energy we receive from our ancestors in the genetic material of our genome. The quality and quantity of that longevity reserve result from the time and quality our parents lived.

It is our responsibility to protect our genetic treasure, guiding our lifestyles in the most responsible epigenetic manner so as not to shorten the duration or quality of our lives. This involves providing the best fuel quality, whether alimentary, emotional, or spiritual origin, to limit the toxicity and inflammation created by the living process.

How Can We Decrease the Inflammatory and Aging Effects on Our Bodies?

The most accurate answer is: Decreasing the work and excessive energy consumption we use to assimilate our food. We have already established that the most accessible energy source for good cellular functioning is glucose, which was abundant in the plant kingdom and did not exist in animal proteins and fats.

And if science proves that transforming proteins and fats to glucose, although possible, was slow and costly in energy consumption, creating an inflammatory process. We must conclude that digestion and converting complex carbohydrates from the plant kingdom to glucose is the most efficient alternative to decrease the metabolic work of extracting our fuel.

Toxicity and Inflammation, Origin of Aging and Diseases.

We mentioned previously that the living process needed a cellular work process that resulted in the body’s protection by the inflammatory process. This inflammatory process manifests in our bodies with various alarms that alert us, which we know as symptoms. And we said that it created wear and tear on every cell and organ that oxidized (rusted) and aged all its parts. And the more intense the process was, the more we drained the battery we received from our parent’s longevity.

If this process progresses without us heeding the symptoms (alarms), these can be grouped into more severe inflammatory processes such as degenerative diseases and cancer. That is why our goal should be to decrease and prevent the inflammatory process associated with consuming sugar-deficient foods such as protein and animal fat (meat) and promote the ingestion of plant-based foods. Suppose the body has already developed some of these advanced conditions. In that case, these could be reversed by eliminating the toxicity accumulated by animal food consumption and strictly consuming food from the plant kingdom.

Where Does the Toxicity of Carnivorous Food Consumption Come from?

Transforming proteins and fats to glucose (gluconeogenesis) requires a more intense metabolic effort and is much slower than complex carbohydrates. The generation of energy by degradation lipolysis produces glycerol, a complex alcohol and fatty acids. Suppose there is a severe alimentary restriction of sugars. In that case, fats begin to be metabolized to ketones, which we exhale in our breath with a sweet and stale smell that occurs in diets very low in sugar and high in fats, such as the ketogenic diet. Ketones are acetone-like chemicals used to dilute and remove paints (nail polish). Although usable as energy sources, these ketones require cells to exert a more significant metabolic effort than the standard process of using glucose to produce energy.

The use of the proteins that make up our muscles for energy sources differs from the ones that the body prefers. Since it also generates amino acids that must be degraded before they can be excreted, as the liver transforms them into glucose-producing residues of urea, a toxic product that our kidneys must excrete. The BUN lab reflects the kidneys’ efficiency in removing this poisonous substance.

Of all the processes of producing energy, the most straightforward and least effort-consuming is the degradation of glucose to energy in the form of the universal cell battery chemical called ATP, which is like the universal energy currency for all cells in our body and is the one that leaves behind the minor toxic residuals for the organism to eliminate.


1. The primary energy source for the proper functioning of the body is glucose.

2. The most abundant source of glucose is in the plant kingdom.

3. Fats and proteins’ alternative energy sources do not contain stored sugar.

4. Glucose is not in significant amounts in the animal kingdom, as it consists mainly of proteins and fats.

5. The energy expense or metabolic work to obtain glucose from the animal kingdom is greater than that of the plant kingdom and produces more toxic residues than the plant kingdom.

6. The metabolic process of producing glucose from the animal kingdom and eliminating its toxic products is more inflammatory than the plant kingdom, promoting premature aging of the organism that consumes it.

7. The consumption of food of animal origin due to its inflammatory nature, if made the primary food source, can result in chronic and degenerative diseases that are the most important cause of mortality in humans.

8. A vegetarian diet’s epigenetic effect could reverse the inflammatory process and toxicity from animal food consumption.



Ivan Figueroa

Retired Pediatric Surgeon doing integrative medical care, acupuncture. Author of best selling Spirituality Trilogy of School of Life Series