6 ways that our consumption of meat is destroying our health and the Planet.
Nutritional guidelines given by the USDA
The American diet is centred around dairy and meat produce while vegetables and other whole-food plant based produce takes a backseat, treated as an afterthought rather than what should be seen as the most fundamental and vital building blocks for human health. The USDA pyramid’s guidelines are at the centre of a disease and obesity riddled American society.
-“The USDA pyramid allows for multiple servings daily of dairy, meat, and oils – nutrient poor foods that should be limited to 2 or less servings per week in Dr. Fuhrman’s Pyramid. These foods do not contribute beneficial micronutrients and therefore do not deserve such prominent positions in the diet. For example, the USDA pyramid recommends approximately 3 servings of dairy per day for adults. Dairy products are not essential for good health, and contribute saturated fat and animal protein, both of which should be limited to prevent chronic disease”
-”The USDA pyramid combines meat and beans into one category. Both meat and beans are sources of protein, but it is important to differentiate between these since meat is a disease-promoting food and beans are a health-promoting food. The protein in meat is packaged with saturated fat and cholesterol, and the protein in beans is packaged with fibre and phyto chemicals. Meat contains no fibre or phyto chemicals. Beans help you maintain your weight by promoting satiety, protect against cancer, and help to keep cholesterol levels down”
Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Pyramid is based on the foods that are the richest in micronutrients and have shown consistent benefits to health and longevity in scientific studies. The USDA pyramid treats these protective foods as “side dishes,” and allows the vast majority of calories to be obtained from nutrient poor foods.
With all of the evidence we have received in relation to the plant based diet’s power to revolutionise health and all of the statistics we have showing an alarming rise in obesity and illness in countries that are dominated by the western diet, why are we not taking the most urgent and obvious steps to combat not only our health, but also the state of the planet? Even though are seemingly large number of people are aware of the cost and the consequences, we will chose to bury a new reality that has come to light so that we may protect the current reality that we comfortably exist in. It’s time for a wake up call. And that brings us to the next point.
Our current health crisis
The current health crisis : At this point in time, it is hard to still remain oblivious to the health crisis that has befallen the population, the obesity epidemic that not only effects adults but also children, and according to the American hart association, one in three kids are now obese. In the past 30 years, Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents [https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm]. In the UK alone, 25% or boys and 33% of girls aged between two and 19 years are overweight or obese. Children in England and wales are currently suffering from type 2 diabetes, [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/15/more-than- 500-children-with-type-2-diabetes—just-16-years-afte/] and obesity currently costs the country around £47 billion annually [https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/20/obesity-bigger-cost-than-war- and-terror] and shortens lives by nine years, due to the associated health problems. And in the US, Children who are raised on the “traditional” American diet which consists of cholesterol and saturated fat laded animal products, have an increased risk of heart diseases ; currently the no.1 killer of american adults, [https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm]. According to www.heart.org, Around one in three American children and teens are overweight or obese and obesity rates in children has tripled from 1971 to 2011. All of this could be reserved if more of us were to adapt to the plant-based diet. Those who consume a plant-based diet on average have a healthier weight than health-minded meat-eaters. According to two large studies in the UK and US, plant-based eaters obesity rates are under 2% compared to over 5% in health-conscious meat-eaters. Obesity significantly increases the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Vegans also have the lowest body mass index (BMI) of any group, ranging between 22-23.5, [http://nutritionfacts.org/video/thousands-of-vegans-studied/] This compares to BMI of 23.5 to 29 for health-conscious meat-eaters.
Loss of bio-diversity and what it means for us
Mass extinction. We’re losing copious amounts of wildlife, insects, and animals every single year. (30,000 species per year according to Harvard biologist E.O Wilson). Each of these sentient beings play a vital role in maintaining the health of the habitat’s that they live within. Loss of biodiversity due to human activity is resulting in an in-balance within each eco-system that are home to a wide variety of animals and others, who are slowly but surely decreasing in numbers. A loss of bio-diversity means that poverty will increase, and many of the materials that we humans rely on for food, clothing, medicine and more, will eventually cease to exist. Our health is strongly linked to the health of our ecosystems, an ecosystem which provides us with that which we could not survive without. One of the elements that we are most reliant on with our eco-system is medicine. Nature provides medicines which we, and many in the developing world and indigenous cultures rely on for treatment and healing. We have been able to treat diseases for thousands of years long before modern day conventional medicine appeared, but with the increasing demand for meat and therefore, the greater destruction of such habitats, both the natural world and the human one will struggle tremendously to survive.
Loss of plants we rely upon for medicine within the Amazon forest
The destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Home to medicinal plants which are used in a significant number of today’s drugs and around 70% of plants that contain anti-cancer properties and one fourth of all prescription drugs exist alone in the Amazon. On top of that, 50% of amazonian plant species play a critical role on regulating the global climate. Plant compounds from the amazon in particular, have proven that they can provide humans with tremendous healing properties. Those such as Opium Poppy, Marijuana, Gota Kola, White willow bark, Liquorice, Lady ferns, Blood flower, Hyssop, Alfalfa, Catnip, Celery seed, Graviola, Lapacho, Jamaican Allspice, Slippery elm, Sage, Burdock herb, Wasai tree, Madagascar periwinkle, Meadow saffron, khella, Rauvolfia, Cordoncillo, Tawari tree back, Colo de Raton, Sodo, Brazilian Ginseng, Shapumvilla, Uva Ursi, Ashwagandha, Canellila, Ayahuasca and more have, of which the majority rise in the Amazons, contain incredible healing properities that have the ability to cure addiction, treat cancer, leukaemia, malaria, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, depression, diabetes, elevate pain, aid with conception and fight other serious physical or mental conditions. Amazonian plants have provided us with a diverse range of uses that range from rubber, fertilisers, oils, fibres, foods and of course medicine. But human activity is severely reducing the diversity of these forests and driving valuable plants species to extinction along with all wildlife and animals that are present in these habitats. If we are to abuse this eco-system by destroying natural habitats, ravaging oceans and raising animals for meat and dairy, in the end, it will not only be nature and other lifeforms that suffer, but us humans as well.
Loss of plants we rely upon for medicine within the oceans.
Water is becoming scare. We use trillions of gallons to produce cheese, milk, eggs, animal flesh, and of course to feed directly to the animals. Waterways are becoming in-effected due to the tremendous amounts of methane that are being released into waterways and travelling out into oceans resulting in the decay of thousands of plant species that we rely upon for medicine. It is estimated that around 18,000 of the medicines we rely on are derived from 4,800 plant species. Marine plants such as seaweed, posses compounds that have antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities. Brown seaweed has been shown to contain anti-tumour activity and the extracts have demonstrated the impediment of cancer cells grown in cell culture. Very tragically, as with most medical research carried out, animals have been given chemical carcinogens and had tumours transplanted into them in order for these experiments to be carried out, but marine plants such as seaweed have shown the inhibition of these cancer growths in animals proving their valuable benefits. many of the future drug discoveries are dependant on the survival of species that have still not been accessed for their medicinal properties and may never be, if we continue to demolish forests and kill off marine life at the rate at which we are currently doing so.
Over-fishing and the disruption of the 0cean’s eco-systems
Our oceans are the very foundation of human life. All life on earth is dependant on the health of our oceans, and the health of our oceans depends on marine life and it’s eco-systems. Our ocean is our biggest eco-system and our more valuable resource. 80% of live exists within the oceans and all of life is dependant upon it. Without our oceans, survival would be impossible. But with our unconscious practises and our over-fishing, we have created problems such as overexploitation of resources, reduction in biodiversity and a demolishing of many marine habitats and species. Between 970-2,700 billion fishes are caught from the wild each year and 450-1,000 billion fishes caught to make fishmeal and fish oil (a vast majority of which is fed to the animals bred and raised for slaughter) Although other statistics claim that as many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean every year, many of these are not even used for food but are caught in fishing lines and nets such as sharks and it is estimated roughly 40-50 million are victims, alongside 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals that are killed each year by fishing vessels. Our ecosystems are crumbling each day on which our very survival depends. Our oceans regulate the earth’s system by transferring heat around the world. The current’s of oceans transport large amounts of water as well as heat around the globe interacting with the atmosphere, acting as cooling mechanism that prevents and delays the full effects of climate change. Playing a primary role in the global carbon cycle (they product around 50% of the world’s oxygen and absorb around 70% of carbon dioxide. But increasing human activity resulting in temperature rises along with the distribution of marine life cycles and losses in marine biodiversity due to over-fishing will affect the oceans ecosystem structures and function. We rely on the oceans and marine environments for transport, social activity, economical activity, medicine, food and of course, the regulation of our planet’s weather. Biomedical products derived from marine plants provide important medicinal products and health benefits. Just like the thousands of the amazonian plants that we demolish in the events of deforestation, hundreds and thousands of plant species which we rely on for medicinal use reside in the oceans. These marine plants, fungi, bacteria have the potential to cure many human diseases, but our interference of marine life will leave not only sea creatures and plant species vulnerable to the impact, but also our own health which is entirely reliant on thousands of these plants to cure disease. It is madness that we exercise no caution in our dealings with ocean life when it supports the greatest abundance of life on our planet.
One of the most beautiful things that I experienced along the road of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, was that it invited me to understand it was not merely a matter of diet and that diet was a only a part of what it encompasses. No doubt it is the main part, but still one of many elements. In going vegan you have the opportunity to not only question your way of living with your food choices but question your entire way of being. What Veganism encompasses is peace, compassion and the utmost love and respect for all sentient beings. Simply a peaceful existence, or at least one that strifes towards such a way of being by examining how to minimise our consumption of that which is not needed and recognising what habits we have been raised with that are resulting in the greatest destruction to the planet and other lifeforms. As more of us move in a state of greater consciousness, we are increasing our awareness of the things that must be changed in order to be healthy, happy and obtain greater quality of life. One of the biggest yet simplest steps we can take towards achieving such an existence is by taking a stand against the unnecessary violence used against other sentient beings, and what better way to start than adapting to a plant-based diet.
About the author
Jwaydan Moyine is a classically trained Film Composer, Pianist, Cellist, Singer/Songwriter, and a Writer and Entrepreneur. She founded Earth Children to bring awareness to matters regarding the Environment, Animal welfare, Sustainable & Conscious living, Wellness & Humanitarian issues. She is heavily involved with activism for animal welfare in the UK and Egypt and child welfare in Syria, Thailand and Romania. She resides in Berkshire Running an organic food farm, an organic skincare company, writing fiction, blogging and bringing awareness to matters regarding the Planet, Plant based nutrition, Cruelty free living & the necessity of adapting to Veganism for the sake of Sustainability, Animal welfare and our Health. She has several qualifications in nutritional therapy, culinary medicine & holistic healing. You can find out more on what she is doing over at the Earth Children Facebook Page!
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