Read VEGA's response to the question posed in the Times
Given their traditional dietary preferences for "rabbit food", fruit, muesli breakfasts, pulses, "roughage" and nuts, together with "healthy" lifestyles and exercise and reduced risks of foodborne diseases and their aftermaths, vegetarians have been anticipating practices now urged on the population by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health, as well as by authorities in other countries for reduction of overweight and cardiovascular disease. This promise is compromised by blurred lacto-ovo definitions and other uncertainties in interpretations of epidemiological studies, particularly in assessments of the quality of life, genetics and resort to markers of good health. Moreover, mycotoxin risks and antinutritional factors in plant-based diets must be counted as risks remaining when threats derived from the live/deadstock industry – now augmented by BSE – have been averted. Cheesytarians and lacto-ovos will be subject to the adverse effects of high intakes of animal fats and of the concentration of pollutants and toxicants at the predatory extension in the food chain.
Evidence is strong for a link positively associating consumption of red meat with cancer of the colon and prostate. Vegetarian diets (as well as consumption by non-veggies) can lack in vitamins B2, B12 and D and in the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and selenium, as well as of certain polyunsaturated fats of marine origin. Enterprising inclusions of fungal foods and sea "weeds" can make good some of these deficiencies; fortified commodities and supplements can elevate intakes to optimal levels.
Many veggies practise their self-discipline with concern for farming, food, health and the land and for the good of all species. Real vegetarianism fulfils those aspirations.
Dr. Alan Long