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Eating A Vegan Diet Just Makes Sense
Eating meat is
the #1 cause of disease, disabilities
death in America today.
eat like robots - and die like robots.
how to unplug your eating habits and reverse
damage that's already been done to your health.
A beautiful woman loved growing tomatoes, but couldn't seem to get her tomatoes to turn red. One day while taking a stroll she came upon a gentleman neighbor who had the most beautiful garden full of huge red tomatoes. The woman asked the gentleman, "What do you do to get your tomatoes so red?"
The gentlemen responded, "Well, twice a day I stand in front of my tomato garden and expose myself, and my tomatoes turn red from blushing so much."
Well, the woman was so impressed, she decided to try doing the same thing to her tomato garden to see if it would work. So twice a day for two weeks she exposed herself to her garden hoping for the best.
One day the gentleman was passing by and asked the woman, "By the way, how did you make out?" Did your tomatoes turn red?"
"No" she replied, "but my cucumbers are enormous."
The Curse of Factory Farms
Reprinted from The New York Times, August 30, 2002
Factory farms have become the dominant method of raising meat in America. Agribusiness loves the apparent efficiency that comes with raising thousands of animals in a single large building where they are permanently confined in stalls or pens. Most of the human labor can be automated. It takes less land, because the animals live cheek by jowl their entire lives. And it allows the concentration of enormous stocks of animals in the hands of a few corporations whose goal is usually complete vertical integration the control of production from birth through butchering and packaging.
These plants, called confined animal feeding operations, or CAFO's, now exist in 44 states. The question is how to minimize their harmful environmental effects and prevent them from putting a final squeeze on smaller farmers, especially those who raise animals in more traditional, grass-based ways.
Factory farms have taken root mainly where zoning laws were lax or nonexistent, or in states where citizens were prevented from filing suits against agricultural operations. The inevitable byproduct of huge concentrations of animals is huge concentrations of manure, which is stored in open lagoons and eventually sprayed on farmland, though there is usually far more manure than local fields can absorb. In such quantities, manure becomes a toxic substance. Spills are always a risk, as is groundwater contamination. The bigger danger is airborne contamination of water from ammonia, which rises from the lagoons and falls into low-lying rivers and estuaries.
A new report from the Sierra Club, titled "The Rapsheet on Animal Factories," draws a vivid portrait of the environmental violations caused by factory farms, many of which are owned by some of America's largest agricultural corporations, including ConAgra , Tyson Foods , Cargill and Smithfield Farms. What brought these factory farms to the Sierra Club's attention was a pattern of violations that resulted in criminal charges and fines, most often caused by toxic spills.
The federal government should at minimum serve as a neutral umpire in the fight between big and small farmers. In the case of factory farms it should try to control their threat to the environment through broader, more vigorous application of the Clean Water Act, typically invoked only in the most egregious cases. And it should never use taxpayer money to encourage a method of farming that works against the public's desire for open space, biodiversity and clean, non-malodorous air.
Unfortunately, the government has been putting its weight behind big business. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued basically toothless rules under which the states give permits to any factory farm that comes up with a plan for handling manure, mainly by building larger lagoons to hold it. The new farm bill that President Bush signed in May adds further insult by paying farmers up to $450,000 apiece to help them comply with regulations that don't mean much to begin with.
The regressive farm bill also continues the government's policy of throwing its weight behind the already hefty industrial farms and helping to drive smaller farmers out of business. In Iowa, for instance, the number of hog farms has dropped from 64,500 in 1980 to 10,500 in 2000, though the number of hogs, about 15 million, remains the same. The public's money, in this fight, is going in the opposite direction of the public interest.
The concentration typical of factory farms extends to the genetic level as well. The poultry and pork industries depend on just a handful of different types of turkeys, chickens and pigs, and the beef industry is headed in that direction too. There has been a precarious narrowing of the genetic resources that supply most of America's meat.
The danger is that of an inverted pyramid, an enormous number of animals all resting on the same narrow genetic base, exposing them to the risk of catastrophic disease and requiring an inappropriate use of antibiotics to ensure their health. Genetic diversity is no less important in domesticated animals, like hogs and chickens, than it is in wild animals. The best way to guarantee it is to guarantee a diversity of farmers.
Acidic Diets And Osteoporosis
Your entire body chemistry changes according to the type of food you eat and that has consequences to your health. Because of our change in diet during the last century, American bodies have become very acidic and virtually all degenerative diseases ranging from cancers to tooth decay – are associated with excess acidity in our bodies.
Blood acid levels are measured on a pH scale from 1 to 14. Ideally, your blood should be slightly alkaline at 7.4. A soda, for example, has a pH of 2 and is highly acidic, whereas tap water has a pH of 8.4, which is very alkaline.
There are three ways to make your blood less acidic: first, eat more plant foods because plant foods are alkaline and have a higher percentage of water than other foods. Second, drink more water. Not water containing anything else just plain, simple water. Third, eliminate foods from your diet that make the blood acidic.
The major acid forming foods in our diets include animal proteins, soft drinks, sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol. Americans consume too much of all these products. In the case of sodium, we get most of it not from table salt, but indirectly in packaged and processed foods. In fact, dairy products and processed meat are the biggest sources of sodium in the American diet.
High acidity is bad for a number of reasons. First, high acid levels make our bodies more cancer friendly by reducing the delivery of oxygen to cells. Also, cancer cells love highly acidic environments and do not do well in healthy, alkaline environments. Second, a highly acidic environment disrupts the function of enzymes and the digestion of food. Undigested food gets passed into the colon and sits there, rotting and this can lead to toxic buildups and a number of health problems. The average 35 year old has 4 to 22 lbs. of undigested food in the intestine alone. John Wayne, on autopsy, had 44 lbs. and Elvis had more than 20 lbs!
Third, when blood becomes too acidic, our bodies pull calcium from our bones and teeth to neutralize the acid and this contributes to bone loss or osteoporosis. The body also pulls water from cells to neutralize high acid levels and this leads to cell dehydration, which many experts believe is the number one cause of premature aging.
The way Americans consume antacids is a reflection of just how acidic our diet has become. But taking a calcium pill to neutralize high acid levels is treating a symptom. If you want to eliminate the problem, you’ll have to radically cut back on acidic foods, including animal proteins.
By continually eating foods which cause high blood acid levels, we put our bodies in a state of constantly having to neutralize this acid by using the calcium stored up in our bones. Animal proteins are one of the most acid forming foods in existence and because of our high-protein diets, the biggest cause of high acid levels. One reason dairy products are poor choices for calcium is because they contain excessively high amounts of protein. Cows milk has over 3 times more protein than human mothers milk. It was, after all, designed for a calf that will weigh over 300 pounds within a year of its birth.
When you consume dairy products, the calcium simply ends up in the toilet and your blood is even more acidic because of the protein. Dairy products lowest in fat are highest in protein, so you may lower your fat intake, but you will raise your blood acid level and this will contribute to bone loss. Skim milk, for example, contains almost twice the amount of protein as whole milk. And because of the high sodium content of dairy products, they provide a double-boost to your acid levels.
In short, consuming dairy products turns out to be the worst possible way to build strong bones. You do not need the sodium, the fat, the acidic proteins, the cholesterol - and you don't need the excess calcium, which can result in painful kidney stones!
Osteoporosis is not genetic and you do not have to suffer bone loss if you change your exercise and eating habits. Many women, including Dr. Ruth Heidrich , increased their bone mass during and after menopause without diary products or hormone replacement therapy. Bones are just like muscles. The single best thing you can do to prevent (and reverse) osteoporosis is to start exercising your bones because, as the video demonstrates, a lack of physical activity is the primary cause of osteoporosis.
Get your calcium from inexpensive plant foods like the rest of the world does. Plant foods will keep your blood acid level in balance because they're alkaline, not acidic. Like protein, calcium is found in all plant foods and the amounts are sufficient to easily supply the requirements of growing children and adults. In other words, you can meet your calcium needs without dairy products, just like the rest of the world does.
Calcium from plant foods is more easily absorbed by bone than calcium from dairy products and unlike dairy, calcium from plants comes in a disease-fighting low-fat, high fiber package. Cut back or eliminate all foods that contribute to high acid levels. Diet and exercise are the keys to preventing and reversing osteoporosis. A change in diet will prevent bone loss and exercise is the ONLY way to build strong bones.
Dr. John McDougall has written "The McDougall Program for Women" we highly recommend. Read it and show it to your doctor before you get involved with hormone replacement therapy, which can have severe side effects and greatly increase your risks of getting cancer. This is the "magic pill" solution and it does not work.
If you are thinking about taking Premarin, you will be taking an estrogen that nature designed for a horse - and because you happen to be human, it has some possible serious side-effects. The word Premarin is simply a condensation of the words “pregnant mares’ urine” - because the horse's estrogen is gathered from horse pee. To make Premarin, tens of thousands of horses are confined to small stalls for the length of their forced pregnancy with a pee-bag attached to them. For more information, see The Facts About Premarin and The Risk of Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Quick Vegetable-Based Meals
Most of us come home from work and the last thing we want to do is cook a meal. If this is you, one of the best ways to eat is open your freezer and pour out a meal using frozen vegetables.
Frozen veggies are almost as good as fresh and sometimes better (in terms of nutrients) because of modern techniques of transportation and storage. Any grocery store will have bags of vegetables you can use (check the ingredients list for added sodium).
Just pour them into a bowl, stir-fry them together or heat them up in the microwave. Add spices or stir in some marinara sauce (with mustard in my case) and Voila! you have a meal in minutes.
Also, baked potatoes cook fast in the micro.
What about work? Again, think frozen. Just pour some veggies into a container and take it to work. By lunchtime, the veggies are pretty much thawed. Pop it in the micro and you have lunch. I did this for years.
I usually make a big pot of rice every week. Use rice or potatoes as the base and pour frozen veggies into it. Stir it up and you have your lunch in minutes.
Essential Tips and Tricks
There are a few simple rules you should follow when eating this way.
The number one golden rule is to always eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Eat whole foods that come in their natural packages and avoid foods that come in a package or can. For a guide to canned and packaged products, click here.
Never cook with salt. Natural plant foods contain all the salt you'll ever need. If you absolutely have to have it, just sprinkle it on your food, but minimize the use of salt as it promotes blood clotting and high blood pressure. Learn to to use spices and herbs, instead of salt, to flavor your food.
Try to eat a good portion of your food uncooked and without any dips or toppings. Try to eat your food plain. If you buy good tasting products in the first place, you won't need anything on them.
Always eat a wide variety of foods because each food has it’s own special health benefits and cancer fighting profiles and they work as a team, complimenting, reinforcing and magnifying each other’s benefits. This is the new math of cancer prevention and eating a wide variety of foods actually multiplies your cancer-fighting benefits. Make sure your plate is full of different colors - the deeper and darker the colors, the more cancer-fighting nutrients. The magic is in the variety!
Take a daily multivitamin. This applies to ANY kind of diet because it is cheap health insurance. Unless you live off the land, like our ancestors did, you'll need B12 and you can get it easily this way. A multivitamin will also give you vitamin D if you don't get out in the sun very often, or don't get it in fortified foods. So long as you eat a variety of plant foods, there is no need to take any other supplement.
There are all kinds of meat and dairy substitutes available at supermarkets, and a much wider selection at health food stores. These substitutes can be used initially as a bridge to a 100% plant-based diet - or as an occasional treat. Their biggest benefit is they contain no cholesterol and they are generally lower in fat. But like all packaged goods, they have high levels of sodium. Most of these products are made from soy, which is high in fat, so go easy on them. Inspect the fat content and ingredients labels very closely.
Some people get "hooked" on processed soy products like veggie burgers or dogs and think they're eating a plant-based diet - and wonder why they're not losing weight! Many processed soy products are really "refined" foods and should only be eaten as you transition to a natural, 100% plant-based diet of unrefined foods.
Following a vegan diet can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it. If you need recipes, look at vegetarian cookbooks - but leave out any refined foods, animal foods and vegetable oils.
For convenience, use frozen fruits and vegetables. They are almost as good as fresh and may be better in some cases due to modern storage and transportation techniques.
Depending on where you live, eating out can be a challenge. Ethnic restaurants are the best, but in any restaurant, just order whatever is on the menu, but ask them to leave out the bad stuff. Or ask if they’ll prepare a vegetable plate for you and see if they’ll cook it without using oil. Steamed vegetables are the best. Stay away from pasta. I have never found whole wheat pasta in any restaurant and they all cook pasta with oil. Also, most restaurant pasta is egg-based. If you're at a steak house, go for the baked potato and vegetable side-dishes. Or head straight for the salad bar. When eating at a sushi bar, just order the vegetarian sushi. If it is not on the menu, just ask for it. And all airlines serve meals without meat, egg or dairy products. Ask for their Vegan meals.
Coffee and many other stimulants - as well as alcohol - dehydrate your body and take more fluid out of it than they bring in. This contributes to cell dehydration, which some experts cite as the cause of premature aging. Avoid these products and drink lots of water - your body will thank you for this. it is also the best thing for dry skin and wrinkles. By the way, dehydration and high blood sugar levels cause hangovers. The best way to prevent a hangover is to drink water before you go to bed. And take a walk the next morning to help burn off the excess sugar in your blood.
I am sure most of you are thinking, yes, this all sounds good, but if I eat according to this pyramid, what a sacrifice! Actually, it is just the opposite! This diet is very indulgent - in fact, you can eat a lot more because these foods are naturally low in fat and calories and delicious.
Many people will agree with the health aspects of a plant-based diet, but simply can't change their eating habits. First of all, everyone already eats plant foods. Rice, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, fruits, bread and so forth are all part of our diets and we all eat a wider range of plant foods than we realize. All you have to do is substitute that slice of steak or chicken on your plate - with MORE plant foods. You'll feel full and just as satisfied as you would with your standard American diet. Many studies have shown that potatoes are just as satisfying as meat - to meat-eaters. And there are at least a thousand ways to prepare potatoes! And you'll never go hungry. So long as you eat the right foods, you can forget about portion control because you don't ever have to worry about eating too much!
And if you think you "hate" vegetables, start by simply eating more of the vegetables you do like - such as brown rice and potatoes. There are so many ways to "disguise" the taste of vegetables with spices and herbs that this shouldn't be a barrier. You just have to get creative with your food preparation. This may be a challenge at first, but read up on how to prepare them and what vegetables can do for your body - that may make them go down a little easier. Just as your taste for meat and dairy products was acquired, you can acquire a taste for foods you thought would be impossible to eat. Take bread, for example. If you buy good-tasting whole grain bread in the first place, you should enjoy the taste of the bread by itself, without any high-fat toppings. Try it. You can acquire the taste of "plain" bread after just a slice or two - and you'll love it. Some people "hate" the taste of Portobello mushrooms. Trying grilling them with barbeque sauce. They're delicious!
Your tastes for food will change with this diet and you'll find you prefer the "cleaner" taste of natural foods. After eating this way, you will find that high-fat foods will taste heavy and greasy and you will notice that when you do eat high-fat foods, your entire system slows down.
Plant foods are bulky, which means you end up eating more food, in terms of quantity, but you'll actually consume fewer calories. One of the biggest problems is convenience in that you won't find healthy food at your local 7-11 store. This diet does not have to be inconvenient, you just have to think ahead and think in terms of plant foods - and that's easy, once you get used to it. See my tips on Quick Meals for a few suggestions along these lines.
And if you are worried about gas, stay away from beans. They're wonderful foods, but you don't have to eat a single bean on this diet! If this is any consolation, the gas from plant foods is nowhere near as smelly as the gas you get from eating animal foods (scientific fact!). You will also find that not only your breath, but your body odor is much sweeter smelling.
And last, try not to blame this diet for coincidental things that may happen to you either physically or mentally. I have heard everything from a mans hair turning gray, to someones depression blamed on this diet. Don't worry. Your nails, hair and everything else will continue to grow just fine, if not better than ever. The only thing you may experience are anxiety attacks because you think you are not getting enough protein or calcium especially after you watch the next food advertisement on television. You will get over it. A year after adopting this diet, you will have a completely different view of food that will make your doctor smile at your next checkup.
Ok, So What's Left To Eat?
By now, you're probably saying, "What's left to eat?" Well, the same things Americans ate before the 20th century and most of humanity still eats today. Let's take a brief tour of a plant food pyramid.
These are the only foods that contain both fiber and cancer-fighting nutrients in the same package. At the top are foods with a high fat to fiber ratio. As you move down the pyramid, the amount of fat decreases, relative to the amount of fiber.
At the very top are foods such as nuts, seeds and high-fat vegetables, like avocados and olives. Great foods, but over 80% fat, so go easy on them.
The higher protein foods tend to be beans, peas, lentils and soy. These are near the top of the pyramid because they are still high in fat content, so you need to be careful about them. And you don't need to eat these foods to get protein. Both protein AND calcium are found throughout the pyramid and you'll get more than adequate amounts of both - as well as all other nutrients - by just eating any variety of these foods.
Vegetables and fruits are the two most important food groups for fighting cancer and keeping you looking and feeling young. Your diet should really be centered around low-fat vegetables. In fact, low-fat vegetables can occupy a much larger portion of the pyramid if you want, depending on your food preferences. Leafy green vegetables, for example, can give you practically everything you need in terms of nutrients - that's how good they are! I recommend a full meal salad-a-day to keep the doctor away.
At the base of the pyramid are whole grain foods. Use these as meat substitutes to fill you up. Avoid white rice because most of the fiber has been removed. Choose brown rice instead and always eat potatoes with the skin.
You'll hear some people say to eat fruits and low-fat vegetables exclusively and avoid "starchy" foods at the bottom of the pyramid, as well as the high fat foods at the top of the pyramid. This is good advice, but not everyone can eat like this and feel satisfied. Rice, potatoes, corn and other whole grain foods serve a "filler" purpose in that you can eat all you want to fill you up. In their natural forms, these foods are extremely low in fat and rich in nutrients. In the beginning, stick to the proportions shown in the pyramid because this diet is satisfying and you'll consume a wide variety of plant foods. Your diet will evolve as you learn more about plant foods and you can change the proportions according to your preferences and dietary goals. If you're concerned about an imbalance between Omega-3's and Omega-6's, follow the phrase "more greens, less grain," meaning you should make low-fat vegetables the predominant part of your diet. If you want extra Omega-3, sprinkle some flaxseed meal on your food, or put flaxseeds in a pepper mill and use it with your food as you would pepper. Flaxseed is an estrogen-blocker and has proven to be very effective in fighting breast cancer.
Spices and herbs are throughout the pyramid. Use these to give your food added flavor - they're calorie-free, rich in cancer-fighting nutrients and can turn plain-tasting foods into delicious foods. If you're not familiar with spices, you can start with using Italian Seasoning, as that is universally liked, and branch out from there. People who think eating a plant-based diet is boring will be pleasantly surprised once they learn how to use spices and herbs.
Organic foods are at the base of the pyramid. You should buy certified organic products whenever possible. These foods are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.