You can now put away any doubts that a vegetarian diet is healthier. Researchers in China have just released the findings of a brand new study involving more than 124,000 participants; and once again, a vegetarian diet comes out on top. "Our results suggest that vegetarians have a significantly lower ischemic heart disease mortality (29%) and overall cancer incidence (18%) than non-vegetarians," the research confirms. Of course, that doesn't mean everything vegetarian is healthier. We were watching a "best food in the country" show the other night. They were grading the top 10 sandwich restaurants across the United States. There were the typical extremes of 12-inch-tall sandwiches, deep fried bologna concoctions, and assorted silliness. And then there was the token vegetarian option. To be honest, it looked delicious! It was a vegetarian version of a reuben sandwich, the meat-based version of which is typically made with corned beef and sauerkraut. Instead of corned beef, the vegetarian version consisted of homemade seitan (a meat alternative made with vital wheat gluten), which resembles a stiff and sticky dough. The doughy ball of seitan was boiled in a seasoned broth to give it a dense, meat-like consistency, then sliced thin to look like corned beef, and colored with beet juice. It was pretty convincing! It was then piled high on the sandwich and topped with sauerkraut on marbled rye. Sounds delicious, right? Delicious, maybe. But we have our doubts that this kind of "copycat" food is any healthier than the corned beef original. The gluten in seitan can wreak havoc on your digestive system. If you've ever tried it, you know that it can sit in your gut like a rock, just like meat. Just because you opt for the menu item that didn't come from an animal doesn't mean you're going to reap the vegetarian health benefits like that found in this latest study. Only a vegetarian diet of whole, plant-based foods will give you the results you're looking for. Whole foods, as found in nature, are designed by God to be used efficiently by the human body. As soon as man gets involved and starts processing them to look and taste like any other processed food (animal based or not), the healthy, whole-food benefits are lost or at least significantly downgraded. Don't get us wrong. There's nothing wrong with having some fun making whole food, culinary delights. But once you start making a copycat version of something that isn't a natural, whole food in the first place, you're missing the point.
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