Veganism: Healthy and Humane

Well-planned vegan diets provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs, and dairy foods! Scientists have also found that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than their meat-eating friends; this means that they are less susceptible to everyday illnesses such as the flu. Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.

Newsflash: Humans don’t need to eat meat! All our dietary needs, even as infants and children, are best supplied by a meatless diet. The American Dietetic Association notes that a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.(1)

Animal Products Lead to Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one health problem in the United States, accounting for more than a million heart attacks and a half million deaths every year.(2) Because we now know what causes heart attacks, we can prevent them. In many studies, researchers have found that higher levels of cholesterol are linked to a greater risk of having a heart attack. For every 1 percent increase in the amount of cholesterol in your blood, there is a 2 percent increase in your risk of having a heart attack; conversely, every 1 percent reduction in your cholesterol level reduces your risk by 2 percent.(3)

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the meat, dairy, and egg industries, many Americans still believe that animal products are necessary for good health. One of the largest studies on lifestyle and health found that heart disease mortality rates for lacto-ovo vegetarian males was only one-third that of meat-eating men.(4) The British Medical Journal published findings from a study concluding that lifelong vegans have a 57 percent reduced risk of death from heart disease.(5)

Plant foods contain no cholesterol, whereas meat, eggs, and dairy products contain large amounts of cholesterol, saturated fats, and concentrated protein—all harmful substances. Also, the high fiber content of a vegetarian diet (meat, dairy products, and eggs are devoid of fiber) helps “wash away” excess cholesterol in your digestive tract.

A vegan diet can even reverse damage already done. When Dr. Dean Ornish put patients with coronary artery disease on a low-fat vegan diet combined with moderate exercise and relaxation techniques, he found that they reversed the buildup of plaque in their arteries.(6)

Cancer’s Connection to Animal Products
The number one recommendation in the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Guidelines on Nutrition for Cancer Prevention is to eat a diet “with an emphasis on plant sources.”(7) Researchers have found that vegetarians are between 25 and 50 percent less likely to suffer from cancer, even after controlling for other factors, such as smoking.(8) A recent study by the ACS found that people who ate 3 ounces of meat a day were 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop colon cancer.(9) Researchers for the ACS have also found that while plant foods lower men’s risk of prostate cancer, eating meat raises their risk.(10) Researchers from Yale University report that meat-based diets can cause cancers of the stomach and esophagus, as well as lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system).(11,12) Scientists have also found that people who regularly chow down on hot dogs, sausages, or other processed or cured meat suffer from a 70 percent increase in pancreatic cancer rates.(13)

Meat Can Be Poisonous
In addition to causing heart disease and cancer, animal products also contain harmful contaminants—including bacteria, arsenic, dioxins, and mercury—that can affect our health both in the short and long terms.

Every year in the U.S., there are 75 million cases of food poisoning, and 5,000 of these cases are fatal.(14) The overuse of antibiotics in factory farms has caused many of the bacteria found on animal flesh to become antibiotic-resistant. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently reported that 96 percent of Tyson chicken flesh is contaminated with dangerous antibiotic-resistant campylobacter bacteria.(15) In a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study, researchers found that 66 percent of beef samples were contaminated with super-bugs resistant to antibiotics.(16) A recent report by the U.S. General Accounting Office warns, “Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been transferred from animals to humans, and many of the studies we reviewed found that this transference poses significant risks for human health.”(17)

It is not uncommon for farmers to lace chicken feed with arsenic to kill parasites, and some of the arsenic stays in the animals’ flesh. One USDA study concluded, “Eating 2 ounces of chicken per day—the equivalent of a third to a half of a boneless breast—exposes a consumer to 3 to 5 micrograms of inorganic arsenic, the element’s most toxic form.”(18) Daily exposure to low doses of arsenic can cause cancer and other ailments in humans.(19)

And guess what? Fish flesh is also not a healthy food. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), residual industrial compounds that can be found in the environment, have caused cancer in animals and skin problems and liver damage in humans.(20) Fish flesh has been found to harbor levels of PCBs thousands of times higher than those in the water in which they live.(21) Researchers at the University of Illinois found that fish-eaters with high levels of PCBs in their blood had difficulty recalling information that they had learned just 30 minutes earlier.(22) Fish also accumulate methylmercury in their bodies, and pregnant women and children have been cautioned not to eat fish that may contain high levels of this toxic substance.(23)

What You Can Do

Go Vegan!

References

  1. The American Dietetic Association, “Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 103 (2003): 748-65.
  2. American Heart Association, “Heart Attack and Angina Statistics,” 3 Oct. 2003.
  3. Neal Barnard, Food for Life (New York: Harmony Books, 1993) 34.
  4. R.L. Phillips et al., “Coronary Heart Disease Mortality Among Seventh-Day Adventists With Differing Dietary Habits: A Preliminary Report,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 31 (1978): S191-8.
  5. M. Thorogood et al., “Plasma Lipids and Lipoproteins in Groups With Different Dietary Practices Within Britain,” British Medical Journal 295 (1987): 351-3.
  6. Dean Ornish et al., “Can Lifestyle Changes Reverse Coronary Heart Disease?” The Lancet 336 (1990): 624-6.
  7. American Cancer Society, “Cancer Prevention and Early Detection: Facts and Figures, 2004,” 2004.
  8. J. Chang-Claude et al., “Mortality Pattern of German Vegetarians After 11 Years of Follow-Up,” Epidemiology 3 (1992): 389-91.
  9. Jessica Heslam, “Don’t Have a Cow, Man: Docs: Meat Hikes Cancer Risk by up to 50 Percent,” Boston Herald 12 Jan. 2005.
  10. American Cancer Society, Inc., “‘Good’ Fat Linked to Lower Prostate Cancer Risk,” 29 Sep. 1999.
  11. Yale University, “Animal-Based Nutrients Linked With Higher Risk of Stomach and Esophageal Cancers,” news release, 15 Oct. 2001.
  12. Daniel DeNoon, “Diet Linked to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Lots of Meat, Saturated Fat, Dairy May Raise Risk,” WebMD Medical News 9 Mar. 2004.
  13. “Processed Meat May Cause Pancreatic Cancer,” Xinhua News 22 Apr. 2005.
  14. Reuters, “CSPI: Seafood, Eggs Biggest Causes of Food Poisoning in U.S.,” CNN.com 7 Aug. 2000.
  15. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “Drug-Resistant Bacteria on Poultry Products Differ by Brand,” Johns Hopkins Public Health News Center16 Mar. 2005.
  16. “Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in U.S. Meat,” Reuters Medical News, 24 May 2001.
  17. Dave DeWitte, “Report Urges USDA to Accelerate Study of Livestock Antibiotic Risks for Humans,” The Gazette 26 May 2004.
  18. Dennis O’Brien, “Arsenic Used in Chicken Feed May Pose Threat,” The Baltimore Sun 4 May 2004.
  19. O’Brien.
  20. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “ToxFAQs for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)” 16 Sep. 2003.
  21. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
  22. Susan Schantz et al., “Impairments of Memory and Learning in Older Adults Exposed to Polychlorinated Biphenyls via Consumption of Great Lakes Fish,”Environmental Health Perspectives June 2001.
  23. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish,” brochure, Mar. 2004.
Who Put Tampons in the Fridge?!

Who Put Tampons in the Fridge?!

Eggs are chickens' periods, and that's fu*king gross! Help us spread the word....

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  • 197 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I find more & more reasons everydat.

  • Profile photo of alexblue

    824 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    1

    It’s so easy to go Veg! Start with just 1 day a week…Meatless Monday is a great idea for anyone just starting out. The official Meatless Monday website, from The Monday Campaigns, and the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health has lots of helpful info and boatloads of recipes! http://www.meatlessmonday.com/
    And of course so does PETA! :)
    http://www.peta2.com/recipes/