Could or Should you be a Vegetarian?
“Nothing will benefit human health or increase the chances for survival of life on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” –Albert Einstein
A plant-based wholefood diet
This chapter is not about bullying you into becoming a vegetarian or vegan so don’t panic! This chapter is simply illuminating the real and immediate benefits of a plant-based diet and how it could help to reverse your disease and aging, while improving your health, longevity, immunity and vitality. My aim is to highlight the risks you are taking if you eat a lot of animal products and the benefits you take from eating a plant-based diet. If meat and dairy produce are displacing vegetables, then you are headed for trouble. The exact mix of animal foods vs. plant foods in your diet is of course totally up to you. However, given we live in a country dominated by the food industry and particularly the meat and dairy industry, it is important to talk about the genuine research and long-term historical studies on meat eaters and vegetarians – not the marketing hype. The really interesting thing is that even health-focused meat-eaters acknowledge that the reason they can even eat meat and be healthy is their high vegetable intake.
The advertising says “eat meat and milk or else you will die!”
We are told that “Meat is necessary for your iron and protein!” and that “You need to eat dairy foods to get your calcium!” but both those statements are factually incorrect. There are virtually no nutrients in animal foods that are not much better provided by plant foods.
NZ has one of the highest meat consumption rates on planet earth
In the words of the great All Black Sir Colin Meads “On match day I’d have steak and eggs for breakfast…cold meat with mashed potatoes and butter for lunch with a cup of tea with 8 sugars in it”. This quote is used to advertise and promote NZ bacon. Does this advertising work? You bet it does. Right now in 2011, New Zealander’s are eating more red meat than ever. Each American eats an average of 260 lb. of meat per year, the world’s highest rate. New Zealand is not far behind. On average each year New Zealanders eat 31kg of chicken, 27kg of beef, 16.5kg of pork, 6.9kg of mutton and 9.7kg of lamb. That is about 1.5 times the industrial world average, three times the East Asian average, and 40 times the average in Bangladesh where bowel cancer is almost non-existent.
We are eating more meat but we are sicker than ever
We are the sickest we have ever been with more heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke and skin issues than ever before. We are getting sicker, younger each year. What about eating more plants? Would that help? The simplest way of saying it is that vegetarian diets are healthier in every way than diets with meat. They are better for weight loss, better for your heart, better for your skin, better for nutritional levels. Healthy vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and are at lower risk for many disease states including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and hypertension. In a 2006 review, 38 of 40 published studies comparing vegetarians and meat-eaters showed that vegetarians weighed less. This is 95% success. Even using the Harvard School of Public Health’s Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) score, strict vegetarians excel in every category.
Most of the world is vegetarian
Our brain and most of bodily functions run on glucose – from carbohydrates like vegetables. The thing that is not discussed much in Western countries such as NZ, Australia or the USA, is that most of the world’s population is vegetarian or very low level meat-eaters. I gave up red meat over 25 years ago and I am doing just fine. I have raised all my children without meat and they are all fine as well (and they are a mixture of blood types). In fact they are all fit and healthy athletes with my kids amongst the tallest, fastest and strongest in their classes, whether it is Joel (handball, soccer), Luke (soccer, running), Tove (soccer, long distance running, volleyball, basketball) or Trey (Guinness World Record holder at 21, a personal trainer able to do super-flexible yoga poses, handstands and who loves rock climbing).
The World’s Oldest Centenarians eat mostly plants
The longest-lived traditional peoples all around the world vary in what they eat but they all eat a predominantly plant-based wholefood diet. Many add fresh eggs or fish. Some eat meat but usually this is saved for a special occasion or ceremony. The mountainous Barbagia region of Sardinia; the Japanese island of Okinawa; the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California; the Pakistan Hunza and the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, in Central America. These are the World Champion centenarians and they generally eat a vegetarian diet or very close to it. The longest-lived people of the world generally eat red meat less than once a week (if at all) and the meat they eat is very different to the meat we eat in the West.
This chapter covers meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy products in some detail, and whether we need them and their effects the human body.
See you in a month!
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