Thursday, November 15, 2012

Diet of the Gods, Part 5

O.K., here's where it gets good.  First of all, let me preface this by saying that I do not believe in vegetarianism. After reading the following post, you may be skeptical of that statement, but I will explain why in the next post.  Sit tight, and wade through all of this first.  (To my side of the family--I know there are sure to be some snarky remarks about herbivores this Thanksgiving, and I am always up for a good debate, but be forewarned!  Read this post and be a bit educated before you get me going on this, cuz I get so excited about plants that I could go on for hours!  And I promise, if you eat turkey, I am NOT judging you! I may even admit to recently being overcome by an In-n-Out burger that was intended for Curtis...)  By the way, stay tuned for a posting of my brother's rendition of "tofurkey rap," which I am hoping to capture on film this Thanksgiving!

So, what exactly is the big deal about meat and dairy?  Why should one avoid the status quo and opt for plant based foods instead?

Ready for this wild ride?  Hang on, cuz' here you go, in a nutshell!  The long and short of it is that the meat we eat now ain't the meat our grandparents et!  Nor are the quantities and portion sizes the same!  Besides that, it contains a cancer causing protein, excess meat consumption leads to heart disease, it ODs people on dangerous hormones and antibiotics, has gross stuff and chemicals in it, is not really suited to our 20 ft. long digestive tract (yeah, you know what happens when you have meat sitting in your 98.6 degree intestine for three days while it is being digested?  No wonder people feel bloated and gassy after eating it!), and frankly, I think we could be doing a lot better with the stewardship God has given us over his creations, in this case, livestock.  As an aside, there is a reason that livestock raised for food is exempt from the animal abuse law.  It is really appalling.  But my focus here is on health, so moving on....

Now that I have offended all my carnivorous relatives, let me give some detail as to why I make the above claims.

First of all, I think there is the obvious problem that most people are already aware of;  that eating meat raises cholesterol, and the saturated fat in meats clog your arteries. (Again reminding you that heart disease causes approximately 50% of deaths in America!  Scary!)  I don't know if this is an accurate description of what happens when your arteries become clogged, but I kind of think of it like this:  Have you ever tried washing out a measuring cup that has had Crisco in it?  If you have, you know that it is nearly impossible, unless you are using boiling water.  I kind of imagine our arteries to be like that.  All that saturated fat builds up, and over time, blocks the flow of blood, leading to a heart attack.  Dr. Furman states that "Over that last 50 years, this causal relationship between saturated fat and heart disease has been observed and documented by thousands of studies."

In another book I read, "The Crazy Sexy Diet," which incidentally was written by a lady who had cancer, she writes that in the 1970s, after seeing the results of study after study, Congress was going to revise the dietary guidelines for America.  The original recommendations were to be for Americans to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy.  As you can imagine, the meat and dairy industries (multi-billion dollar industries, both of them) were none to pleased with this, and heads started rolling!  The recommendations were revised to a very vague encouragement for Americans to "reduce saturated fat" in their diets.
In that vain, interestingly, a lawsuit was recently filed by the Physicians Group for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA is responsible for giving dietary recommendations to the American public based on the most current medical research. School lunches across America, as well as soldiers' meals all over the world are based upon these guidelines.  The lawsuit in essence complained that the USDA had a serious conflict of interest, and as a result, was not providing these meals based on what thousands of studies have shown provides superior nutrition.  Here is a clip from one of the articles I read:

Those conflicts of interest include the Secretary of Agriculture's statutory duty to foster "new or expanded markets" and move "larger quantities of agricultural products through the private marketing system to consumers." And the lawsuit points to the fact that the advisory committee members for the dietary guidelines have ties to meat and dairy food-product industries, such as Dannon, Kraft Foods, and MacDonald's, which creates direct conflicts of interest.
"The Secretary of Agriculture has an impossible job when it comes to health," said Barnard, "because his job is simply to make agribusiness richer."

Read the full article

In other words, what is recommended to Americans by the USDA and what is provided in school lunches is not what the PCRM believes is healthiest for Americans, based on literally thousands of studies.

Moving on to a second problem with meat (and diary).   Most of the meat we consume is full of hormones and routinely administered antibiotics.  Those get passed on to us, and here is my understanding of why this is a problem:

According to Dr. Furman, antibiotics are WAY overperscribed in his opinion, because most common illnesses are actually viral. (Sorry, you get a lot of information from him, just because his is the book I am currently reading!)  He informs us that in past decades, the overprescription of antibiotics "has been blamed for the recent emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of deadly bacteria."   In a nut shell, his conclusion was that the more antibiotics are given, the more likely future bacterial infections will occur.  There is a lot more he has to say about this, but just read the book--it is too much for a blog!

Basically, if I am understanding what Dr. Furman is saying, increased exposure to hormones (bovine growth hormone, and a host of others) from milk, dairy, and meat, especially when young,  leads to increased risk of developing cancer.  More on this later.

Moving beyond the obvious a little (and this next is probably the most significant, so pay attention!), if you watched that documentary, "Forks over Knives," you will know that there is a protein in meat and dairy called "casein," which essentially turns on and off cancer cells. In Dr. Furman''s book, he informs us that after WWII, the emphasis on human nutrition shifted from focusing on vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and turned to the link between diet, and chronic diseases and cancer.  Additionally, the World Health Organization concluded that the majority of human cancers are preventable.  Read on.

Casein Consumption, Dr. Campbell

The China Study which Dr. T. Colin Campbell was heavily involved in, and which I referenced earlier, was reported by the New York Times as being "The Grand Prix of all epidemiologic studies" and "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease."  It involved hundreds of researchers from Cornell and Oxford Universities, thousands of Chinese people who were specially trained to administer tests and questionairres throughout China, and took about 10 years to complete.  It would take too long to write down all the awesome coolness gleaned from this study, but again, if you watched Forks Over Knives, it tells quite a bit about this study and its significance.  Suffice it to say, the conclusions from the study were that;
"The more animal products in the diet, the greater the cancer occurance.  
The more fruits and vegetables in the diet, the less cancer they found."

Just a note, Dr. Furman also points out that even naturally raised meats (without hormones and antiobiotics) still have this dangerous protein (as does dairy), so basically, even if you are eating organic meats, you are still increasing your risk of cancer and heart disease.

If all of this is not incentive enough to switch to a whole foods diet, wanna hear some of the lovely things in your meat?  I am guessing probably not, but please, don't claim ignorance is bliss!  In the case of what you are eating, ignorance is just plain disgusting!

Check out this video:
Just watch it.  The guy is funny.

So yeah, pink slime.  In 70% of our ground beef.  Up tp 15% can be in ground beef products without the FDA requiring it to be labeled.  Ewww.

What else is in our meat?

Toxic chemicals: Nitrates and Nitrates that have been proven to be most lunch meats and hot dogs.
Acrylamides:  Cause genetic mutations and cancer in lab animals...frequently found in processed and fast foods...
Trans fats and other additives:  clogs arteries, causes many kinds of cancer...
Another interesting one I found in reading Dr. Furman's book yesterday; Dioxins, which are toxic compounds that accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals.  They remain in an animal's tissues for life, and are released (into our bodies!) when we consume animal products.  They are linked to a broad range of diseases including behavioral disorders, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, and endometriosis.

Really quick, milk (and cheese, which is essentially concentrated milk): again, contains casein, hormones, and  antibiotics...even claims that farmers "have pledged to not use growth hormones" are not third party verified and, well, money is a powerful incentive.  My friend from church, who has also done a lot of research on nutrition because she has an autistic child, informed me last week that the FDA approved 20% of the content of milk to be pus.  Yup.  Gross, huh?!  I had to Google it to verify, and sure enough.  Look it up for yourself.  Sure, white blood cells are everywhere, but 20% seems really excessive.  Mostly a result of cows being way overmilked (up to 40 gallons a day--per cow!), and developing mastitis, if I understood correctly.  It made me really glad we switched to nut milks several months ago! (The switch wasn't as hard as I thought it would be--we started off with lots of chocolate almond milk and weaned ourselves from there--really delicious!)

The long and short of it is, your liver can only clean out so much junk before it becomes sluggish and ceases to function properly, and the results of that are seen in the general health of Americans consuming what is affectionately referred to as the "Standard American Diet."  (I thought I was so clever when I noticed the acronym!  (-;)

After reading all this stuff, my thoughts are that it is just plain simpler to adopt the plant strong way of life!  Why even worry about all the problems meat and dairy cause when there are so many awesome plant based foods we can eat?  I kind of look at it like music or movies...although there may be lots great songs or movies out there with catchy tunes, or cool story lines, if there are bad words or other bad things in them, why even bother when there are so many other great options?!

We are fortunate to live in a time when more and more people are becoming educated about the food they consume.  There is a vast plethora of great recipes all over the internet that are not only delicious, but that you can also feel great about eating.

A couple of my favorite websites you can google:
and of course, pinterest...(-:

 I LOVE to cook.  I could happily spend all day concocting delicious creations in my kitchen. I have been testing, tweaking, and collecting a lot of these plant based recipes which I am hoping to compile in the near future and make available to any one of you who wants them.  I want to do an "Our Best Bites," plant based version!  Just a note though, although some of my creations can get pretty elaborate, I am finding that my family prefers pretty simple, recognizable fare, as opposed to fancier things such as the vegetable lazagna I slaved over for hours.  And sometimes, a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese for looks goes a long way when switching from our normal comfort foods that we have grown up with to a plant strong way of life.  Just so's you know...

Stay tuned: Why I don't believe in vegetarianism.

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