The possible cure for cancer, heart disease and climate change
Samuel Adams has explained a very controversial topic about the consumption of animal products and has given more reasons to consider excluding meat from the diet than for religious or ethical purposes. Focusing on health and lack of disease, with the combination of many articles published in medical journals and advice of physicians, a clear argument has been made on the ability to combat western disease. Cancer and many other rampant western diseases are on the rise and evidence is presented to suggest the ability to slow the growth of tumors and blocked arteries. There is also a focus on pollution and the land that is being wasted on farming food for animals. Animals can only feed a few humans and cutting out the middle man (or middle cow) by farming food that goes directly to hundreds of humans. The amount of land and water used to create a pound of meat could potentially provide thousands of pounds of micronutrient rich crops and feed far more people. This change in diet can nourish more people, ending global hunger and more pollution then all modern transportation combined. Samuel also presents the benefits of eating meat, but the negative effects of animal product consumption outweigh the good. It will be hard to read this paper and not consider even a slight change in consumption.
Meat and Dairy products are being consumed at the highest rates recorded globally. It is said that humans need protein to not only survive, but thrive. I wanted to see if there was a correlation between the elevated consumption of animal products with elevated disease. Are people that eat whole food plant based diets and excluding animal products healthier and stronger; or are they deficient and malnourished? What is the optimum diet globally where plants do not grow as easily? Is there a happy medium for meat consumption that disease can be avoided? Is human health the only benefit to adopting a diet free of animal products?
This year about 13 million people will be diagnosed with cancer and 8 million of them will not survive. With the highest mortality rate coming from America, almost one million Americans will have a heart attack and more than half of them will die (CDC.gov2013). These figures only amount to .0048% of the present American population, but in the small city of Rexburg Idaho that translates to 23 people or in NYC 39,575 people that will die in the year 2013. All humans are affected by climate change. But to what extent humans influence change, is minute compared to a volcano or other natural occurrence. One seemingly natural occurrence is creating the most non-human pollution, cows. The majority of cows and other livestock are now fed corn and soy instead of hay grass or alfalfa. Due to their inability to digest this food properly their Methane output, a CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas is greater than all the motorized vehicles in the world combined (Brazier 52). The biggest problem is the lack of sustainability. There is not enough water in the world to feed the increasing amount of livestock being consumed. People talk about grass-fed cattle as the solution to the pollution and the ethical treatment of animals, when in fact, the problem is that there isn’t enough land for free range grass-fed cattle at the present rate of consumption. The first solution to solving world hunger is to eat less meat and grow more crops on the land used for meat.
In my 30 years of life, I have seen many changes in the trends and fads of diet and nutrition. Due to this I have found so much research and interest in these subjects with many different sources of funding. Health research tends to contradicts itself on almost every topic. The point of a study can be confusing as well, for instance is the study truly about improving health or the look of physique? Which are two very different topics but the population of Americans often categorize them as the same thing. The problem with judging health by looks is that an obese male and skinny male may actually have the same muscle to fat ratio making their health equivalent. The medical term for this is “MONW,” or metabolically obese normal weight, which I prefer to refer to as being a skinny fat person. It means you are under lean but over fat — not enough muscle and too much fat (especially belly fat). It seems it is better to be fat and fit than thin and out of shape. (Hyman M. 2012)
Despite contrary belief, health is represented by what is seen on the inside and not what may be visually attractive on the outside. After working as a model in New York City I know what has to be done by a man or woman in order to look the way actors and models do in magazines. For 2 years I had the ideal body according to the media. I was eating meat 3 meals a day and consuming 150 grams of protein daily just in protein shakes. Within a year I was not only experiencing minor heart attacks, but I felt run down and awful. In 2011 I retired from modeling at 28 and have since sought out the best sources for optimal health. My research has led me to a path that few have traveled, but due to the recent success of two men Rich Roll and Scott Jurek my path is becoming heavily populated. These two men have recently published their stories and quickly become best sellers. As award winning ultra athletes they eat only whole foods plant based diets (no dairy, meat, eggs or processed food). Rich Roll is one of the first people to complete 5 ironman races in a week back to back. That means everyday 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a marathon run of 26.6 miles five times in seven days. Rich Roll has also been named the fittest man of the year but as stated before fittest does not necessarily mean healthiest (Roll R. 2012). Scott Jurek is a long distance runner and has held many records for fastest completion of 100 mile races, achieving all while only eating plants. Not even chocolate milk, which is being pushed as the new wonder drink to runners from the dairy counsel. No protein shakes, fish or chicken breast, while training or recovering, only plants.
Lines of argument
The philosophers of ancient Greece, Egypt and China all believed food to be the first source for medicine. In the Wild West men sold snake oil concoctions out of wagons claiming the ability to cure all ailments. Today medicine made of chemicals is the first recommendation by many modern doctors for all ailments. The issue I have with this treatment is the laundry list of side effects and the lack of prescribed preventative action. Promoters of whole food plant based diets sound similar to claims made by the sellers of snake oil. Pushers of plant based diets claim animal products, processed foods(any food with added chemicals), heavy sugar and oil consumption are the main cause of almost all western diseases. According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell in his book the China Study, people who eat a diet free of meat, casein (the protein found in milk and dairy products) and saturated fats from animals have the lowest rate of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other inflammatory diseases (Campbell T. 2006). There are many doctors that prescribe eating a plant based diet to their patients and agree with Dr. Campbell’s research. Dr. Dean Ornish is famous for converting Bill Clinton to a vegan diet; this change resolved all of Clinton’s health issues.
Whole natural foods nourish, repair, and give foundational material for cell production and extend life. The many forms of food considered edible in modern western diets, doesn’t fit that description. All independent health studies agree that the best diet is built on a foundation of whole plant based food meaning fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, but where they disagree is on meat consumption and dairy products. To clarify by definition vegan and vegetarian diets could still be considered unhealthy due to the allotment of processed food, such as a popular vegan treat, Oreos. People that eat a plant based diet focus on micro nutrient rich foods such as kale, spinach, quinoa, whole vegetables, fruit and nuts. Plant based eaters avoid foods that are processed, packaged, have a shelf life and come from an animal. Most plant based eaters are focusing on health and athletic performance. Most vegans and vegetarians do it because of diet restrictions, allergies, religious and political reasons. For this reason many vegans and vegetarians are not focused on being healthy as much as they are just trying not to eat animal products.
The battle taking place presently among health professionals is on how much consumption of animal products is healthy and if it is healthy to eat none at all. Many people question if you do not eat animal products where do you get your protein to survive and grow muscles? Some of the biggest dinosaurs and mammals to walk the earth did not eat meat neither do bulls, rhinos, elephants or guerillas all of which eat types of grass and leaves. According to the clinical editor of Gorillaprotein.com Gorillas have similar DNA and digestive system as humans. When gorillas were first kept by zoos and circuses in Europe they were fed the same food as the keepers As a result, they fell prey to the same kinds of diseases that are the major causes of death in Europe and the United States but are rare among the peoples of Asia and Africa. Switching the gorillas back to something resembling their natural diet restored their health. The same thing happens to human populations that switch to a plant-based diet as a result of food rationing during wars. (Thomas L. 2012).
Dr. T. Colin Campbell went to Asia in the seventies to solve the problem of malnourishment among children. Originally his focus was on restoring protein levels and finding an adequate supply of protein as it was widely believed to be the main problem. What he discovered while in the Philippines complicated his team’s original task. They had discovered that the majority of best fed children (children with wealthy parents or living near the air force bases) consuming western diets, but particularly meat, had liver cancer. The children considered malnourished eating traditional Asian diets or starch and vegetables were actually healthy, had less disease and no signs of liver cancer (Campbell T. 2006).
Protein is an essential nutrient, no one questions that belief. But how much protein people should eat and from what source is rigorously debated. According to Dr. Michael Gregor another proponent of plant based diets, said that the best source of protein to be synthesized by humans for growth is human flesh, but since that is not an option for obvious reasons the next best thing is animal proteins. (Gregor M. 2012) Health and growth are two different things. As a calf, cows drink milk and they become huge animals this is great for farmers raising cows for meat. Humans are not cows and there is little reason for us to desire Hulk like rapid growth. As babies humans drink breast milk as do all mammals. Breast milk is the best food for us, but beyond social reasons, why did we stop drinking breast milk and why did we switch to cow’s milk? If milk is so important shouldn’t cows and all other mammals continue to drink milk their whole lives too?
Upon return from Asia Dr Campbell begun experimenting, knowing that animal protein causes greater gains in growth including the protein found in cow’s milk casein. He fed two groups of rats, two different diets of low amounts of protein. The first group was fed 20% of their diet in casein protein and the second group only 5% casein. The 20% group of 30 rats all had tumor growth and the 5% group had none. It was also discovered that they could turn on and off the growth of tumors in rats simply by what diet they were given. The conclusion, higher protein diets promote the development of early infant cancer cells into full blown tumors (China Study2006).
Many things are attributed to cancer but according to statistical and epidemiological data cancer or tumor growth is increased 10-70% in people depending on their diets. The factors that decreased the risk were diets high in antioxidant rich food (Doll R. 1981). A recent study on the health effects of a vegan diet in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that vegans LDL and total cholesterol was 44% lower than omnivores and had significantly lower blood pressure. The quantity of fruit and vegetables eaten which are rich in fiber, folic acid, antioxidants and phytochemicals is associated with lower risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer. (Craig p.1627S) The American Institute of Cancer research has stated that people who consume more red meat and processed meat are consistently associated with an increase in cancer ranging from 20%-60% of esophageal, liver, coloectoral and lung cancers than did those who eat meat sparingly. The incredible edible egg was recently shown to be associated with a higher risk of pancreatic cancer (Cross p.4).
If dairy, beef and chicken consumption decreased by many people by switching to a whole foods plant based diet, there would be an abundance of food available globally. If fuel cost and nutrient density are considered in the production of nutrients to be consumed from animals or plants, plants always give more for less. An animal needs food to grow and lots of it, that food is land that is used to feed a cow or livestock instead of a human. A pound of beef has a micronutrient density score of 20; kale has a score of 1,000. It takes 25 acres of land to produce 165 pounds of beef or 38,400 pounds of kale. (Brazier p.77) More plant eaters or a lowered consumption of animal products will decrease waste in overall production. Land used to make plants will feed more people and use less fuel and water. If more land is converted from livestock use to agriculture there will be an abundance of food and no need for farm subsidies that will save tax payers billions.
Opposing view: Concessions and Refutation
Opposing views come from the FDA and the American Dietary association which also happen to benefit from the success of the meat and dairy industry due to the funding and subsidiary benefits from the government. The two opposing views that I took into consideration was Dr. Dan Murphy a chiropractor and Dr. Mercola a practicing physician and a health and nutrition writer. Dr. Murphy speaks across the country and when it comes to diet we agree on most everything when it came to quality of food but quantity he suggested a diet consisting of 33% meat. Dr. Murphy also discredits the ability to get DHA and EPA in the diet from plants. EPA and DHA are crucial for prenatal and early childhood development as well as for proper brain and eye function. EPA and DHA are two types of omega 3 fatty acids that are abundant in fish oil but not so accessible in plants. Which I agree it is much more prevalent in fish than in plants and people no longer eating meat will need to eat lots of seaweed, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans. However it is argued that EPA and DHA is the most dense and pure in Algae and has recently become available in many health food stores. Fish get EPA and DHA from consuming algae and sea plants so why not cut out the fish and go straight to the source.
Dr Mercola is very clear on meat consumption, “If it is not grass fed beef or naturally organically fed free range chicken it is toxic.” Otherwise, he says the Benefits of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) primarily found in beef promotes fat loss, increases metabolism, thyroid function and helps fight cancer. The milk from grass fed cows is also higher in many nutrients including CLA, vitamin E, beta carotene and omega 3 fatty acids (Mercola 2010). The argument is impressive but fails to take into consideration the ability for the world population to afford the price of grass-fed beef and the lack of land for grazing cattle for it to be sustainable.
Everyday there are multiple opportunities to choose health over convenience. The choice to prevent cancer growth in you and your family depends on a few dietary changes. Becoming healthier, disease free and lightening your carbon foot print dramatically is possible, it does not take more money. The poorest countries in the world eat a whole food plant based diet, it is economical and sustainable. For people that have no choice but to eat animal products due to geographic location or their dependence on others it would be wise to eat less meat and find alternatives (online food shopping) as often as possible in order to gain greater health.
The Paleo diet or caveman diet only makes since if it is followed geographically and by season. No caveman ate whole chickens for lunch and eggs and bacon for breakfast. Caveman or hunter gatherers ate lean meats in the winter when plants were scarce and ate what was available with the seasons. All humans should be eating what is in season to obtain the most nutrients. We should be eating what is naturally growing near us because it is economical, cuts down on fuel consumption and encourages biodiversity (mixtures of multiple plants, instead of one crop covering huge land mass). When we eat whole foods in their natural state our bodies have more foundational material to regenerate cells and continue proper body function.
We need protein to live, but just because it is crucial to our survival does not mean more protein is good for us. Much like a car needs oil to move and to keep the engine running, if you dump more oil than is needed into the mechanical parts it will start to malfunction. Eat meat sparingly, stop drinking and eating dairy products unless looking like a cow is the desired outcome. Stop eating foods that are not natural. Preservatives that kill bacteria in food that is stored on the shelf may be able to do damage to the good bacteria in your body. Cravings are not a clue that our bodies needs chocolate, it is a natural signal that there are deficiencies in the body of key nutrients. Food is medicine when food is consumed the way it has been prepared from the beginning of mankind and not in the last 300 years.
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