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Don’t Vegans Deserve Discounted Health Insurance?

Don’t Vegans Deserve Discounted Health Insurance?

A recent San Francisco Chronicle commentary written by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., points out that America’s current health care debate focuses almost exclusively on who gets covered and who pays, rather than on curtailing the rising rates of chronic disease. Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn assert that while extending coverage to more people is a good thing, the number one cause and cure of America’s health care crisis is diet–and that a wholesome plant-based diet can prevent and in many cases reverse chronic diseases.

Why then, don’t vegans get discounted health insurance in America?

Meat, eggs, and dairy products are high in saturated fat and cholesterol; consumption of these products contributes to many of the health problems that have sent America’s health care costs skyrocketing. Some of the most common–and expensive–medical conditions, including heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes–are caused or aggravated by eating animal products.

A representative of Premera Blue Cross has said, “The connection between a vegetarian diet and reducing the costs of these high-impact health conditions is clear as a bell.” Health insurance companies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands offer discounted rates for vegetarians. Shouldn’t U.S. health insurance carriers also “reward” clients who have healthy habits that reduce the risk of chronic diseases?

Vegan foods are cholesterol-free, low in saturated fat, and high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and phytochemicals, which knock out carcinogens and fight inflammation. Research shows that vegetarians and vegans are far less likely to develop cancer and heart disease than meat-eaters are, and that a vegan diet can help combat obesity and diabetes.

There are lean, disease-free meat-eaters, of course, just as there are heavy vegans with health problems, but studies show that, on average, vegetarians and vegans are at least 10 percent leaner, and live six to 10 years longer, than meat-eaters.

Dr. Campbell says, “Quite simply, the more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be. … A vegan diet–particularly one that is low in fat–will substantially reduce disease risks. Plus, we’ve seen no disadvantages from veganism. In every respect, vegans appear to enjoy equal or better health in comparison to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.”

That doesn’t mean that a vegan can sit around and smoke cigarettes all day, of course. We must all make sensible, responsible lifestyle choices in order to be healthy. While the logistics of offering vegans reduced rates may preclude some insurance companies from doing so, such a move might finally convince people that it pays to be vegan.

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38 comments

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4:01AM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

So very true, Linda M, when you say that: ..."chronic illnesses can be genetic & are not necessarily brought on by bad eating & lifestyle choices."

Certainly one can debate and point out many things as Linda M mentioned and we all pay taxes for schools even if some taxpayers happen to be single. Vegans, despite their diet will experience health problems and not every vegan eats a healthy diet, there are vegans who don't eat a balanced diet. As with others, I live in Canada and health care is universal, we don't have to worry about paying for insurance paying and all the other games of the American system, which is pretty well the only Western country without some form of universal health care system. In my previous comment I had said that I believe in universal health, that should have read universal health care.

I wonder if Jeff W gets his insurance from an entirely vegan insurance company? Probably there are not a lot of vegan-only insurance companies out there. Perhaps he would like to live in a 'vegans only' gated community where he would not be forced to mingle with 'the dreaded omnivores' or the 'vegetarian egg and yogurt eating riff raff.'

1:51PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

Once you give insurance premium discounts for vegans, or for others perceived as eating a healthier diet than "average", where do you stop? Do we give discounts for folks who walk more than other folks? How do we evaluate whether anyone is truthfully reporting their habits as to diet and exercise? Should everybody be tested for the potential for genetically-based disease and charged accordingly? Should we charge folks based on their weight and body mass index? Shall we discount the anorexic and overcharge the obese? Once we start something like this, where does it stop? Is it actually fair in the first place?

It is, in fact, not absolutely possible to predict lifelong health based on how someone eats. Vegans drop dead of unanticipated heart disease. Some folks live to 100 thriving somehow on eating red meat, smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. We are all individual and there are exceptions to every rule we can invent. Basing insurance premium discounts on whether a person is or is not vegan is an absurd notion.

12:53PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

And by the way..."Dr. Campbell says, “Quite simply, the more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be. "

Well, if you cannot swallow anything at all from large groups of veggies, like me, you'll have such a limited diet that is highly unlikely!

12:48PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

Another line in vegan propaganda.... Being a Brit, I don't pay health insurance anyway.

8:03PM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

BTW Jeff, that's a joke.

8:02PM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

As for the complaint that animals raised for consumption produce methane, vegans produce more methane due to the roughage & plant material they eat.
BTW, doesn't Jeff look normal? Too much roughage?

7:59PM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

Does that mean I don't have to pay school taxes because I don't have kids?
Does that mean I should pay less in gas & electricity since there's only one of me in the house using it?
Does that mean churches should pay tax because they are politically active from the pulpit?
Ginette, chronic illnesses can be genetic & are not necessarily brought on by bad eating & lifestyle choices. I don't drink or smoke either but that IS a proven factor in health risks such as lung cancer & cirrhosis. That being said, non smokers & drinkers can still get these maladies just as vegans can get various cancers. It is not deleterious to the degree vegans state to be moderately omnivorous. Our ancestors have been hunter gatherers as long as known time. Mediterranean diets include fish & some meat but are considered very healthy. Same with Japanese diets. They're not exclusively vegan.
Of course we can go into human canine teeth & front facing optics but we've been through all this before have we not? Eat what you want & leave others alone. Animals kill & eat animals. WE are animals. This debate is tiresome. You're a vegan. Great. I'm not.

1:43AM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

Answer to the question?...........NO! I agree with Dale O., just because somebody doesn't eat meat or dairy, does not mean they live a completely healthy lifestyle. Being vegan "alone" if one eats junk food, smokes, or has no fitness regime does not constitute being very healthy. There are many variables to be taken into consideration, and JUST being vegan in and of itself, means very little as far as overall health when insurance is concerned.

12:26AM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

So very true, Rebecca J. I also agree with Nan B, ke d, Nancy M and several others as there are many omnivores and vegetarians who stick to organic diets, avoid factory farmed meat, eat the proper portions of protein, etc. without heart and other disease. Many do follow a good exercise program as well.

Going a wee bit too overboard on the Speak Bitterness and Intolerance supplements lately, Jeff W?
You must hate most of the world.

12:25AM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

Suzanne C, I live in Canada and do not pay a cent for my health care if I should require a doctor's visit, hospitalization or any health care service. Some provinces may require premiums, but Ontario does not. You have Ohio on your profile, (if you are spending the winter there, not that Ohio has a warm climate). I don't mind if Canadian taxes are higher, at least it ensures that we all have accessible health care. There are vegans and vegetarians who happen to have health problems as well. I believe in universal health, period.

Also, there are a number of poor people who often end up purchasing highly refined foods (even if vegetarian or vegan for example) simply because of poverty. Not all vegans follow a healthy life style, some eat a lot of processed foods, potato chips and other junk foods and smoke along with other problems mentioned in the comments.

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