Vegans and vegetarians could have a new public enemy # 1.
A cardiologist at the British National Health Service said that vegetarianism was partly responsible for his mother's premature death.
Dr. Aseem Malhotra said that his mother, Anisha, who did not eat meat for religious reasons, died of sepsis in December at the age of 68. Malhotra explained that she was overweight and was in poor health because of "ultra-processed" foods – but says more protein could have saved her.
"Even if you remove the garbage regime, the problem with vegetarianism is that you do not consume enough protein and you run out of nutrients," Malhorta told MailOnline.
He says his lack of protein leads to a "deterioration" of the muscles, making it "fragile and vulnerable to infections" – a condition called sarcopenia.
"It was a crucial aspect of his suffering in the end."
Anisha has been busy with many health problems since her middle age. She developed high blood pressure in her 40s and was suffering from weight-related arthritis. She also suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2003. Her weakened spine suffered repeated disc slippage and eventually developed an infection of the vertebral disc.
"Growing up, I've witnessed her regular consumption of starchy carbohydrates and ultra-processed snack foods from biscuits, chips and chocolate," Mahorta says. "Our kitchen has been flooded with these products."
Although he admits that vegetarianism did not directly kill his mother, he wants to warn people that, contrary to popular belief, being a vegetarian does not automatically make you healthier.
He says vegetarians can become overweight and very sensitive to vitamin B12 deficiency, protein and iron – nutrients that strengthen our body and our immune system. As an example, he cites India, often referred to as the "diabetes capital of the world," where vegetarianism and veganism are the richest on the planet. He says that even though they do not consume meat, they apparently do not consume enough vegetables, fruits, and legumes, preferring processed foods made from vegetable, sweet, and sweetened oils.
Some studies confirm this: The Indian Dietetic Association has found that 84% of vegetarians and vegans do not consume enough protein, while only 65% of meat eaters lack protein.
Malhorta had previously made the headlines by opposing the World Health Organization to recommend that people switch from butter and lard to vegetable oils, including those derived from corn, soy and sunflower, which are highly processed and rich in harmful omega-6 fatty acids. He spoke of studies associating vegetable oils with cancer, heart disease and dementia.
He adds, "I really hope that [my mother’s] an untimely and painful death has not been in vain and we can learn that many of these ailments can be avoided. "