Absence of Meat Helps Heart Disease

Stephanie Koch

In U.S NEWS & World Report’s article, Absence of Meat Makes the Heart Grow Stronger (September 2nd, 2015), Julieanna Hever suggests that reducing meat can not only improve heart health, but also prevent and reverse heart disease. Hever discusses that certain causes of heart disease such as stress cannot always be avoided, but you can change the way you eat. She suggests that moving from a meat-centered diet to a plant-centered diet will prevent heart disease and other health problems. Hever uses sources such as Dr. Ornish and Kaiser Permanente, who both recommend plant-based diets to help prevent, treat, and cure heart disease. Hever also encourages those who are unfamiliar with plant-based diets to slowly add in vegetables and start by eating one vegan meal at a time. She also adds that sticking with staples and foods that you already enjoy eating and finding replacements for your normal animal based foods like soy or almond milk can make it easier to switch to a plant-based lifestyle.

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This article gives readers an idea of how a plant-based diet can help improve heart health, but it tends to be vague in its information. There are many studies suggesting that a plant-based diet can improve health and prevent or cure diseases. For example the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that, “Evidence from prospective cohort studies indicates that a high consumption of plant-based foods such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains is associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary artery disease and stroke” (Hu, 2003, p. 554S). The general public does have access to further research on plant-based diets, but because a plant-based diet is vastly different from the standard American diet the author should include more data on a plant-based diet. Readers will then be more informed, and therefore more likely to choose more plant-based foods. The author of the article, Julieanna Hever, has her Masters of Science and is a registered dietitian. Her credentials are appropriate for suggesting a plant-based diet, but she is not a medical doctor or a nutritionist and does not specialize in heart health, therefore I don’t believe she alone has the credentials for suggesting that a plant-based diet can prevent or cure heart disease. However, Hever does use outside sources from medical doctors and a health maintenance organization which may help improve the validity of the article. The source of the article is in US News and World Report's health section, which is a somewhat credible source, but it is not an organization or medical journal. The information on the website might not be backed by science or come from a completely credible source.

This article is well written and easy for readers to follow. However, I believe that some of its information could be misleading. As stated earlier, the information is somewhat vague and readers may believe that eating a plant-based diet will prevent heart disease in all cases, not taking into account family history, physical activity, or stress levels. The article also lacks some nutritional information needed when eating a plant-based diet. For example, Hever gives some suggestions of how to begin eating a plant-based diet, but never discusses that some supplements or nutritional additives need to be taken in order to receive all essential vitamins and nutrients.

Overall, this is a great article to get readers thinking about switching to a plant-based diet, but it needs more information and scientific data. While I do agree with the authors main point, the article needs more nutritional information and should include that plant-based diets are not the cure-all to heart disease.

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Hever, J., MS, RD, CPT. (2015, September 2). Absence of Meat Makes the Heart Grow Stronger. Retrieved April 6, 2016, from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/09/02/absence-of-meat-makes-the-heart-grow-stronger

Hu, F. B. (2003). Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: An overview. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(3), 544S-551S. Retrieved April 6, 2016.