I am not a particularly political person, but I can truly say I am proud of Bill Clinton for making the change from McDonald’s crap food to a healthy life-changing vegan diet, and bringing healthy diets–in particular vegan diets– into the limelight. He was on CNN earlier this week with his doctors: Dr Dean Ornish and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn discussing what the new may of eating has done for him. (Dr Colin Campbell was also influential and has contributed extensively to the subject of vegan diet)
He has decided “after researching the subject” to go vegan…that is, eating whole, natural, plant-based foods eliminating animal based foods. This excludes all meat including chicken, eggs, dairy, cheese, etc.. (he did say he eats fish rarely)
Clinton learned that a plant-based diet can not only halt, but can actually reverse the plaque that blocks your arteries when you have heart disease. After he had to have stents (small metal cages that keeps heart arteries open arteries) inserted for clogged arteries, he decided, after research, that cheeseburgers and fries weren’t all that good for you.
I decided to do some “research” of my own.
Here are just some of the reasons you might consider going vegan:
Vegan diets are healthier
No matter what your argument is for eating animal based foods, there is evidence that grows every day, that animal based foods are unhealthy. Valid, well documented studies indicate that vegan diets:
- prevent cancer: prostate, colon, and breast (other cancers are being studied)
- prevention of type II Diabetes
- Prevention and also REVERSAL of coronary artery (heart) disease
- reduce obesity (Bill lost over 20 pounds)
Going vegan can help with world hunger
The raising of livestock requires an enormous amount of land. Not only do the livestock need land to grow on, but it takes an enormous amount of land to grow the grain that feeds the livestock.
- 80% of all corn grown in the US is fed to livestock
- 95% of all oats grown in the US is fed to livestock
- it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef
- 1 acre can produce 250 pound of beef…..or 40,000 pound of potatoes
Going vegan can help the environment
I have never classified myself as a “tree-hugger”, although I do like trees….but when I started researching the facts from reputable sources (US agricultural sites) the facts were thought provoking if nothing else.
- 67 square feet of rainforest are destroyed to produce 1 pound of hamburger due to deforestation to provide acreage for livestock and feed
- 33% of all energy consumed in the US is to support livestock raising
- multiple major water sources are contaminated due to livestock waste…not only natural waste (e. coli), but with hormone waste products in their urine
- cows produce 20% of methane gasses which are considered global warming gasses (OK, you’re allowed to roll your eyes at this one…)
Over 23 million chickens and 370,000 other animals (beef, pigs, sheep, etc, not including fish) are killed every day in the US. I have to admit, I was surprised to find out this number, but when you think of all the chicken we eat as Americans (because we were sold the bill of goods that it was “healthier” than beef) it sounds right. (How many KFC’s did you pass on your way to work today?)
The livestock and chickens that are raised for food live in un-natural conditions, often confined to the smallest space allowable to sustain life. I could show you disturbing pictures, but I think you get the idea.
If this doesn’t bother you, you can skip the previous paragraph
Just some of the facts:
- there are 166 chemical pesticides that are allowed, by US law, to be present in meat and meat by-products
- crops grown for livestock have no limits on pesticide content and are allowed to contain Dioxin (one of the most toxic substances known) unlike crops grown for human consumption.
- the pesticides used in feed can make its way into underground water sources for humans
Antibiotics use in livestock is widespread, but not always because these animals are sick. Antibiotics in low doses make animals grow gain weight, and since meat is sold by weight, this can translate into big dollars for the ranchers.
The problem with antibiotics, as in humans, is that if we are constantly exposed to them, the bugs that are supposed to be killed by them actually grow susceptible to them. That makes the bugs stronger and more deadly. Bugs that are present in the meat treated with low dose antibiotics can actually make you sicker. This can cross over to humans as well, that by eating low dose antibiotics that are present in the meat, we can become more susceptible to illness because of resistant bugs. Case in pint: MRSA, a bacteria that used to be only found in hospitals is now found in the general population (it’s currently running through my daughter’s high school). This bacteria can not be killed by any of the antibiotics we currently use. it is theorized that the use of antibiotics in meat has contributed to this problem.
The use of any antibiotics in meat meant for human consumption has been banned in Canada and Europe.
Have you ever made a Hormone?
Hormone contamination is the subject of many studies these days. Hormones are responsible for almost all of the functions of mammals. All the functions of our human bodies are a complex system of checks and balances that uses hormones as their catalyst. Too much, or too little of one type of hormone could cause anything from skin discoloration to cancer.
Beef cattle and dairy cows are regularly pumped with hormones
- 80% of all US cattle are injected with hormones
- rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is most widely used. It was approved by the FDA, but without the proper studies conducted
- cow’s milk contains natural hormones anyway, because it is meant to promote growth in calves, so adding additional hormones increase effects.
- cows receiving rBGH produce high levels of Insulin Growth Factor 1 which has been linked to colon and breast cancer.
- hormone use in dairy products has been directly related to early puberty in girls, breast cancer, uterine cancer, and prostate cancer
The list of reasons goes on and on…….
So, if you are reading this blog, you must want to improve your health.
If you want to improve your health, you may want to consider cutting back on animal-based products, or cutting them entirely from your diet. If you are used to eating a lot of meat, you need to do this slowly, and substitute your meat with other satisfying products (and it does not have to be tofu!)
Or if you can not live without meat, buy organic, hormone free, antibiotic free beef and chickens. Or better yet, buy from a local ranch or farm where the chickens run around all day and the steer roam. Check here for a farm near you.
I love when I tell people that we don’t eat a lot of meat in my household. “What do you serve for dinner then?” People could not imagine what else there is to eat other than a hamburger or fried chicken for dinner
My “how to” blog post will be next….
What I do
I personally have cut all animal-based products (beef, pig, cheese, milk, chicken etc..)from my diet. I have removed all dairy from my diet. I don’t drink milk anymore. But I do make my own 30 second almond milk. I don’t eat a lot of tofu because I just don’t really like it, but it’s not unhealthy. My diet is plant based, using fruits, and veggies, and nuts, miso, legumes, seeds.
I have two daughters in high school that (thankfully) have switched over to almond milk. Most of my meals are plant-based, and they love what I make (lots of nights it’s vegan chili).
Again, they are in high school, so they will have to learn for them selves how to eat healthy, but I have to believe that everything I do has an impact on what they decide.
Getting rid of more animal based products in an animal-based world is not easy…..it’s a process and one that will continue.
The good news here is…you can adopt any level of change toward the vegan diet that you are comfortable with. Any stride toward less animal products is good……so take small steps , but educate yourself, and see where it takes you.
As always I welcome you comments and feedback
Thanks for reading!