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World Vegan Day & Vegan month: plant-based diet vs meat-eating diet, which way health-wise, environment-friendly?


By WcP.System.Thinker - Posted on 16 November 2009

5,000 vs. 25: gallons of water needed to produce a pound of California beef: 5,000; to produce a pound of wheat: 25

November is US National Vegan Month, starting with World Vegan Day on Nov. 1st. So, turkeys may have less fear this year though Thanksgiving is around the corner. Why go vegan? Here are some alarming facts, or "tough reality", such as – fewer than 1 out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues; 55% of U.S. antibiotics is fed to livestock; 91% of staphylococci infections are resistant to penicillin in 1988; BAN is the response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock while the response of U.S. meat & pharmaceutical industries is full & complete support. The world’s meat consumption was estimated to be 284 million tons in one year (2007), and it takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce a pound of California beef, compared to 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.
Heart disease is number one killer, but one can reduce heart-attack risk by 90% just by eliminating meat, dairy and eggs from diet. In other words, 5000 gallons of water can be spared and risk of heart attack can be lessened when one eats one less pound of meat.

choices: poultry or fruits & vegetables

(quote)

Can a purely vegan diet be healthy?

According to a 2008 study conducted by Vegetarian Times, 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians and out of those, 1 million are vegans. Vegans, like vegetarians, follow a meat-less diet, however, vegans consume no products derived from animals. That means in addition to not eating meat, poultry and fish, they also do not eat eggs or dairy products. Protein is very easily obtained in a vegan diet through a variety of soy-based foods, beans, legumes, nuts and leafy greens. Vegan diets are lower in total fat, saturated fat & contain virtually no cholesterol. Eating only plant-based foods provides higher levels of fiber, magnesium and antioxidants, thereby reducing the probability of many diseases. Studies show that vegetarians in general live longer and have healthier hearts.

Benefits of a vegetarian diet supported by research?

Compared to our meat-eating comrades, vegetarians experience a 50% lower rate of heart disease, a 40% lower cancer rate and a lifespan of 6-10 years longer, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. We are leaner and we experience fewer obesity problems because we follow a diet starring vitamin-rich produce, fiber-mad legumes and whole grains—food from the earth rather than food that is overly processed. Eating these foods results in lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood lipids—health factors that can mean a healthier and longer life.

What are the nutrients to consider in a vegetarian diet?

The vegan or total vegetarian diet includes only foods from plants: fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans and peas), grains, seeds and nuts. The lactovegetarian diet includes plant foods plus cheese and other dairy products. The ovo-lactovegetarian (or lacto-ovovegetarian) diet also includes eggs. Semi-vegetarians don't eat red meat but include chicken and fish with plant foods, dairy products and eggs.

reduce heart-attack risk by 90% if one eliminates meat, dairy and eggs from diet

Most vegetarian diets are low in or devoid of animal products. They’re also usually lower than nonvegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.

* Protein: Plant proteins alone can provide enough of the essential and non-essential amino acids.
* Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds and nuts all contain both essential and non-essential amino acids.
* Soy protein has been shown to be equal to proteins of animal origin. It can be your sole protein source if you choose.
* Dried beans, spinach, enriched products, brewer's yeast and dried fruits are all good plant sources of iron.
* Vitamin B-12 can be found in some fortified (not enriched) breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, some brands of nutritional (brewer's) yeast and other foods (check the labels), as well as vitamin supplements.
* Vegetable greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli, and some legumes and soybean products, are good sources of calcium from plants.
* Zinc is needed for growth and development. Good plant sources include grains, nuts and legumes. Take care to select supplements containing no more than 15-18 mg zinc.

Researches state that fresh fruit and vegetable juices provide vitamins, minerals, enzymes in abundance. They contain antioxidants which has excellent health benefits.

...that those who consumed diets lower in protein and higher in potassium had greater bone mineral density in the spine and hip, and greater bone mass in the forearm

The thinking behind the low-acid diet (also called the alkaline acid diet) goes like this: Blood is slightly alkaline, with a pH just above 7. If the diet is rich in acids, the body tries to restore alkalinity by eliminating minerals, including potassium, magnesium and calcium, which the blood essentially pulls from the bones.

Following a low-acid diet doesn't mean avoiding vinegar and citrus fruits. On the contrary, it means not overloading on proteins, which are made up of amino acids that, as the name suggests, are acidic in nature. Low-acid diet adherents point out that because humans did not evolve on a diet heavy in meat and dairy, the modern Western diet, which is rich in animal proteins, may be contributing to illness and disease -- including osteoporosis.

That's the theory. What about the science? British researchers conducting a long-term osteoporosis study in Scotland found that bone health appeared better in participants who consumed more fruits and vegetables. The researchers conducted a smaller study on just over 1,000 of the women, and found -- reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 -- that those who consumed diets lower in protein and higher in potassium had greater bone mineral density in the spine and hip, and greater bone mass in the forearm.

turkey in Vegan month November may have less fear

Cholesterol Argument and Antibiotic Argument

Heart attack kills in the U.S.: every 45 seconds
Average U.S. man's risk of death from heart attack: 50 percent
Risk of average U.S. man who eats no meat: 15 percent
Risk of average U.S. man who eats no meat, dairy or eggs: 4 percent
Amount you reduce risk if you eliminate meat, dairy and eggs from your diet: 90 percent

Percentage of U.S. antibiotics fed to livestock: 55
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1960: 13
Percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to penicillin in 1988: 91
Response of European Economic Community to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: BAN
Response of U.S. meat and pharmaceutical industries to routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock: full and complete support

Pesticide Argument

Common belief: U.S. Department of Agriculture protects our health through meat inspection
Reality: fewer than 1 out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals is tested for toxic chemical residues
Percentage of U.S. mother's milk containing significant levels of DDT: 99
Percentage of U.S. vegetarian mother's milk containing significant levels of DDT: 8
Contamination of breast milk, due to chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in animal products, found in meat-eating mothers vs. non-meat eating mothers: 35 times higher
Amount of Dieldrin ingested by the average breast-fed American infant: 9 times the permissible level

vegetarians experience a 50% lower rate of heart disease, a 40% lower cancer rate and a lifespan of 6-10 years longer

Natural Resources Argument

More than half of all water used for all purposes in the U.S.: livestock production
Amount of water used in production of the average cow: sufficient to float a destroyer

5,000 vs. 25
Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of California beef: 5,000
Gallons of water needed to produce a pound of wheat: 25

13 vs. 260
Years the world's oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centered diet: 13
Years they would last if human beings no longer ate meat: 260

78 vs. 2
Calories of fossil fuel expended to get 1 calorie of protein from beef: 78
To get 1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2

33 vs. 2
Percentage of all raw materials (base products of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels) consumed by U.S. that is devoted to the production of livestock: 33
Percentage of all raw materials consumed by the U.S. needed to produce a complete vegetarian diet: 2

there are more than 17 billion livestock in the world; about triple the number of people

Environmental Argument

Cause of global warming: greenhouse effect
Primary cause of greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels
Fossil fuels needed to produce meat-centered diet vs. a meat-free diet: 3 times more

U.S. topsoil lost to date: 75%
Percentage of U.S. topsoil loss directly related to livestock raising: 85
Number of acres of U.S. forest cleared for cropland to produce meat-centered diet: 260 million
Amount of meat imported to U.S. annually from Central and South America: 300,000,000 pounds
Percentage of Central American children under the age of five who are undernourished: 75

Area of tropical rainforest consumed in every quarter-pound of rainforest beef: 55 square feet
Current rate of species extinction due to destruction of tropical rainforests for meat grazing and other uses: 1,000 per year

the environmental consequences of a meat-eating diet

* Today, there are more than 17 billion livestock in the world; that’s about triple the number of people.
* It takes 2,464 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef in California. This is the same amount of water you would use if you took a seven-minute shower every day for six entire months. In contrast, only 25 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of wheat.
* 40 percent of fresh water used in the U.S. in 2000 went to irrigate feed crops for livestock. Only 13 percent was used for domestic purposes including showers, flushing toilets, washing cars and watering lawns.
* 40 calories of fossil fuel are needed to produce one calorie of protein from feedlot beef while only 2 calories of fossil fuel are needed to produce one calorie of protein from tofu.
* The production of corn and soybeans, the major grains fed to livestock, causes massive soil erosion because those crops are grown in rows. It is estimated that we lose nearly 7 billion tons of topsoil every year.
* Another natural resource that is being threatened today by the increased production of livestock is the rainforest. According to the Nature Conservancy, every second of every day one football field of rainforest is being destroyed.
* 55 square feet of tropical rainforest are destroyed to make every fast-food hamburger made from rainforest cattle. This is an area about the size of a small kitchen and it is gone forever each time one of these hamburgers is eaten.
* It is even worse because with each square foot of rainforest gone, up to 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species and dozens of bird, mammal and reptile species are destroyed.
* The rainforests are so important because half of the species on earth live in them and the forests are vital to the world’s oxygen supply.
* All of the livestock being raised throughout the world produce enormous amounts of manure and urine, which in turn pollute natural resources. Animal waste changes the pH of our water, contaminates our air.
* Livestock in the U.S. produce 2.7 trillion pounds of manure each year. That’s about ten times more waste than was produced by all the American people. In 1995, 25 million gallons of manure and urine spilled from a hog farm lagoon into the New River in North Carolina. More than 10 million fish were immediately killed and 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands were closed to shell fishing.
* In the Gulf of Mexico there is a 7,000 square mile “dead zone” where there is no aquatic life due to pollution from animal waste and chemical fertilizers. The pollution from factory farms and feedlots is happening throughout the U.S., and is beginning to happen throughout the world. If we decrease our consumption of animal products we can also decrease the threat of water pollution.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of odditycentral.com, greennexxus.com, blissfullycaffeinated.wordpress.com, incredible-edibles-llc.com, Universal Pictures, Ron Chapple Studios, SF Examiner, nayna.in, Alan Vernon / Flickr, and United States Environmental Protection Agency

Original Source: vegetarian, New York Times, San Francisco Examiner, Basil & Spice, American Heart Association, Los Angeles Times, Vegan World Network, and Vegetarian Times

*Update Jan. 26, 2013*
Sir Paul McCartney: "My Life as a Vegetarian - Supporting Linda's Legacy"
Growing up in Liverpool, I would have thought of a vegetarian as a wimp. We could be a prejudiced bunch at times but I'm not sure people would automatically think like that these days.

I've been a vegetarian for a long time now and over the years I've seen how the attitudes have changed around the world, so I'm not surprised when I see new research that shows more and more people are increasingly adopting 'meat free eating'. Even 20 years ago, it could sometimes be difficult to find vegetarian options in good restaurants. Now it's great to see more and more choice with some brilliant creative dishes in restaurants, cafés and supermarkets. There is definitely now an overall greater acceptance of being vegetarian.

People don't just see it as an issue about kindness to animals. For us, at the time it was about that. One day I had an epiphany. I was taking animals' lives. These days though, people are better educated about their diets and the health benefits of reducing meat intake but also and crucially the environmental impact that meat production has on our planet. The UN actually produced a report in 2006 (Livestock's Long Shadow) outlining how the livestock industry was responsible for more harmful gases than the transport industry - they said the best thing you can do is reduce your meat intake. For this campaign some interesting research was produced, predicting a 50% rise in vegetarianism in the UK and the idea of 'flexitarianism' becoming more widespread as people become educated about the impact of meat eating on health and the environment. It's becoming more and more clear that one of the most effective things any individual can do to help the environment is to eat less meat.

We launched a Meat Free Monday campaign in 2009 in order to encourage people to look at their diets and make a meaningful change by giving up meat just one day a week. It's not a new idea; it's something that is done in many places around the world. We thought Monday was a good day to do it as many people tend to overdo it at the weekend. People thought recycling was a bit weird at first but now it's weird if you don't recycle!

Related Article: adopt a turkey for Thanksgiving, not eat one

This post is really informative and you have posted such precious and awesome

what a justified analysis ! Ah author must be great person..

Very nice post! I would like read more scientific comparisons between a plant-based diet and animal-based diet. I am still not convinced that animal-based protein is superior (we need to know in what way is animal-based protein more superior).

If you are interested in learning the differences/benefits of plant based protein vs animal based protein I highly recommend "The China Study". https://www.amazon.com/China-Study-Comprehensive-Nutrition-Conducted/dp/.... Fantastic book (albeit a bit dry for the first half) that shows that animal proteins are in fact the lower quality proteins and it's the plant proteins that are the high quality proteins. Don't take my word for it, read the book.

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