TOP 10 REASONS TO EAT A LOW-FAT, WHOLE-FOOD, PLANT-BASED DIET:
HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS AND MANY OTHER PHYTONUTRIENTS
Plant foods are extremely high in life-sustaining, disease-preventing nutrients. Animal foods contain very few, with the exception of B12 and D (and the latter is best obtained through sun exposure – dairy products only contain it because it’s been added to them). Meat is devoid of the protective effects of fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other helpful nutrients, and it contains high concentrations of saturated fat and potentially carcinogenic compounds, which may increase one’s risk of developing many different kinds of cancer. Many proponents of diets based on animal foods insist we were meant to consume these foods because they are the only food naturally containing B12. This is true, but hasn’t always been the case. B12 is made from a bacteria that is synthesized in the guts of animals. Once upon a time, when sanitization wasn’t what it is today and people weren’t fanatical about disinfecting, B12 was abundant in soil and water. Modern sanitization practices have been wonderful in most cases; this is one for which the impact is negative. Those consuming a diet consisting of zero fortified foods or animal foods can take a B12 supplement a few times a week (a very small amount is needed – less than 3 micrograms) without the risk of toxicity. Methylcobalamin is preferred over cyanocobalamin.
Only animal foods contain cholesterol, which has been proven to largely contribute to heart disease. We do not need to obtain cholesterol from food as our bodies produce their own supply.
Contrary to popular belief, plant-foods DO contain protein, though in most cases smaller amounts than animal foods (with the exception of legumes, soybeans/tofu and some nuts and seeds). Excessive protein consumed in amounts exceeding 10% of total calories has been shown to be strongly associated with increased cancer risk, osteoporosis, and kidney disease. Dairy protein (casein) seems to be the biggest offender when consumed even in small amounts and is strongly associated with juvenile diabetes, asthma, allergies, acne, chronic infections, constipation, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, breast cancer and prostate cancer. We need very little protein, and if the diet is sufficient in calories, it’s impossible to be protein-deficient. When we consider that a nursing, growing baby lives off of nothing but breast milk which is 5-6% protein, it’s easy to see how low our requirements really are. And when we consider that the average person in this country is consuming 100-160 grams per day, when experts agree 40-60 grams is plenty, it’s easy to see why so many people are sick. This article explains it all in easy to understand detail. http://nutritionstudies.org/mystique-of-protein-implications/ (Read: The China Study by Colin Campbell and The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall).
Dietary fibers deactivate cancer-causing substances and help remove excess cholesterol, some chemicals and hormones from the body. Animal foods have zero fiber, and refined/processed grains have next to none. We should be consuming over 40 grams of fiber per day from whole food. Lack of fiber is associated with constipation, hemorrhoids, gallstones, appendicitis, and colon cancer, among other things. Increased fiber intake is associated with a reduction in breast and prostate cancer risk, as well as heart disease. (Read: Digestive Tune-Up by John McDougall).
LOW IN FAT
With a few exceptions such as avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, plant foods have very little fat. Those that contain fat do not have saturated fat, like animal foods, with the exception of coconut. Not only does dietary fat increase our waistlines, it contributes to heart disease, cancer, stroke, MS, Alzheimer’s, etc. Consumption of dietary fat drives production of hormones, which, in turn, promotes growth of cancer cells in hormone-sensitive organs such as the breast and prostate. Oil is concentrated fat and is considered a refined/processed food, rather than a whole food. For optimal health and weight, the rule of thumb for percentage of fat calories that should not be exceeded is 20, with 15 being optimal (less for expedited weight loss or chronic disease reversal). Considering that 1 tablespoon of olive oil has 14 grams of fat, and that 100% of the calories come from fat, it is far from healthy. It’s true that we need some fat, but we get plenty of naturally occurring fat in our diets from whole-foods without adding extra. Cultures with the lowest rates of disease also consume the least amounts of fat and protein, with the most plant-foods. (Read: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn and Prevent and Reverse Diabetes by Neal Barnard)
There is no greater polluter or destroyer of our planet and its natural resources than the production of livestock. The greenhouse gases alone contribute more to global warming than all other forms of transportation combined. Our oceans, lakes and streams are polluted constantly by pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers (nitrogen), and feces (farmed animals in the US produce roughly 87,000 pounds of solid waste PER SECOND). Human sewage is treated to kill pathogens; animal waste is not. Considering the animals produce 130 times more waste than the human population, that is a scary thought. (Read: Healthy Eating, Healthy World by J. Morris Hicks)
Most of us assume that water will be here forever to use at our will. However, this is not the case. Water across the planet is drying up and we must do our part to reduce usage. It is estimated that 70% of all water used in the 11 western states of the US is dedicated to raising livestock. It takes 3000 gallons to grow the feed for enough beef to make a hamburger, and 650 gallons for a pound of cheese. In California it takes over 5000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef – the equivalent of water used in a full year of 7-minute showers. (Read: Healthy Eating, Healthy World by J. Morris Hicks)
The way animals are treated in factory farms is absolutely deplorable. No creature on earth should have to live the way these animals do. (Read: Diet for a New America by John Robbins, or watch Earthlings or Meet Your Meat to see the insidious actions against these helpless creatures.)
According to John McDougall’s research cited in The Starch Solution, home-cooked meat-based meals cost an average of $10 per person, versus a plant-based meal at $3. Rice, beans, potatoes and lettuce are much cheaper than meat, fish, cheese and milk. There is a popular misconception that eating healthy is more expensive. It’s true that organic foods are more expensive than non-organic but it’s not necessary to consume all organic foods. The Environmental Working Group puts out a list each year of produce that is best to consume organically, and produce in which the pesticide residue is extremely low. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/. This is helpful in keeping costs down. The other way to lower costs and increase good health is to not purchase/consume highly processed foods. Often when a person vows to eat fewer animal foods as a way to consume a healthier diet, those foods are replaced with highly processed, packaged mock meats and dairy replacements. Those foods are quite costly and should be used as transition foods, not as part of the long-term daily fare. As well, just because something is sold in a health food store does not mean it’s healthy. For example: replacing a bag of generic tortilla chips from your local grocery with seemingly healthier, fancy organic ones sold at Whole Foods at twice the cost, is the kind of practice that makes healthy food seem more expensive. Buying fruits and veggies from farmer’s markets, and grains, dried beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, etc. in bulk, is cheaper than the standard American diet, hands down!
Studies have shown that people who eat fewer animal foods, and more healthy plant foods are happier, suffering less depression, anger, and living longer lives. Who doesn’t want that??