Our bodies are built out of the food we eat and the habits that we choose to cultivate. Some foods make us strong and healthy, boost our immunity and help keep our minds calm and collected. These foods are those that nature designed by nature for us to eat. Foods that we can pluck straight from a tree and plop straight into our mouths without any need to cook or process in any way, for example - an apple. Looking at human health from the perspective of a collective and not as an individual can have huge advantages for medical and nutritional sciences. We gain a lot of knowledge about what the leading causes of death are and how we can go about trying to prevent them. The scientists have all this data and almost all the answers. But are we listening? There are more overweight people on planet earth than underweight people. The rate of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses is at an all time high, setting roots in developing countries where middle class societies have more money than ever before to buy nutritionally degraded ultra-processed foods moving away from their once healthy diets. We see this trend moving all over the world with countries like Samoa and the Kuwait being among the ones with the highest rates of obesity. We are letting our food choices be controlled by the advertising budgets of huge food conglomerates instead of using our brains to decode all the myths surrounding food. We can choose to learn about the science of food addiction now to understand how sugary, fatty foods made in labs are being used to take over our minds.
At the end of the day, we have no real excuse. The poor decisions we make effect only ourselves and our loved ones. If you let people with vested interests take that power away from you then that's your choice, but it's literally years of happiness and good health in your life that you will never get back. We want people to take back the reins and to exercise some compassion and critical thinking about where their next meal comes from.
Nutrition is the supply of food an organism needs to keep itself alive. Just like all plants and animals, we humans also require good food, clean water, air and sunlight to allow our bodies to function properly. In the past humans have always lived in balance with nature, consuming foods that were most easy to reach and digest. With the introduction and of highy fatty, sugary processed junk foods, our bodies struggle to tell the difference between calorie dense foods that will help us survive the winter and foods that are going to make us overweight and eventually kill us. The same mechanisms that have enabled us to survive in the wild for so long are being exploited by the fast food industry to make a quick buck. These junk foods are devoid of most of the essential nutrients we need - we call these empty calories. This means that people eat more and more of these foods without ever feeling satiated; they could end up being grossly overweight and still be malnourished.
The Global Burden of disease study is a global research programme that assess mortality and disability from major diseases. This study is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and is a collaboration of 1800 researchers from 127 countries. The idea was to figure out which diseases cause the most damage so we know where to focus our effort. And what came up? Well, dietary factors topped the list as one of the leading killers, followed by tobacco and coronary artery disease. Since this is the case, doctors should surely be discussing diet and nutrition with their patients all the time? Well, no. That's far from the truth. Our doctors get little or no training about nutrition in medical school. They are very well qualified to treat symptoms of a illness but not the underlying cause of disease. It is a doctor's duty to inform a patient about the outcome of their actions, try to coax people into living healthier and try to keep drugs and hospitalization as a last resort. But nowadays, we have doctors who get a great deal of money from the pharmaceutical industry. The status quo keeps the junk food and pharmaceutical industries happy, not to forget the hospitals and doctors who all benefit from a defective system.
The only way we can solve this is by educating ourselves and going where the science leads us.
Nurses health study is one of the longest running studies that examines the long-term effects of nutrition, hormones, environment, and nurses' work-life on health and disease development. The studies are among the largest investigations into risk factors for major chronic diseases ever conducted. Researchers studied lapsed vegetarians.
People who were once vegetarian but then started to eat meat at least once a week experienced a 146 percent increase in odds of heart disease, a 152 percent increase in stroke, a 166 percent increase in diabetes, and a 231 percent increase in odds for weight gain.
During the 12 years after the transition away from eating vegetarian, meat-eating was associated with a 3.6 year decrease in life expectancy.
Researchers have shown that a more plant based diet ie. may help prevent, treat, or reverse some of our leading causes of death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Interventional studies of plant-based diets have shown, for example, 90 percent reductions in angina attacks within just a few weeks. Plant-based diet intervention groups have reported greater diet satisfaction than control groups, as well as improved digestion, increased energy, and better sleep, and significant improvement in their physical functioning, general health, vitality, and mental health.
Studies have shown plant-based eating can improve not only body weight, blood sugar levels, and ability to control cholesterol, but also emotional states, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, sense of well-being, and daily functioning.
The current dietary guidelines are insufficient to ensure proper health. You can still be well within the so-called 'safe' limit for cholestrol and still die of stroke. The nutritional guidelines exist to help promote the interests of industry, not to help protect the consumers.
Only one way of eating has ever been proven to reverse the effects of heart disease in majority of patients: a diet centered around whole plant foods.
If that’s all a whole-food, plant-based diet could do—reverse our number-one killer—shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? The fact it may also be effective in preventing, treating, and arresting other leading killers seems to make the case for plant-based eating simply overwhelming.
As much as we might not act like it, the truth is that we only have one planet. The only place in the visible universe know to support the miracle of life.
The delicate balance of our biosphere is under attack from the actions of human ignorance. We can see the consequences of our actions all very clearly now with rising sea levels from melting arctic ice aggressively reclaiming coastal regions all over the world. Most sensible people agree that global warming is an issue that we will all have to deal with in the coming years. But then the question arises, how are we going to do this?
Well, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that it is entirely within our power to live sustainably on planet earth and undo the damage we have done. The bad news is that we have to drasitacally change our lifestyle to align with what nature can provide. Endless consumption is going to leave our planet a wasteland. I do have a solution to our current predicament though...
The single greatest decision you can make to reduce your carbon footprint, water footprint and land use is to go vegan. Take this for example, studies have shown that even
if we stopped every car, plane, bus, truck and ship from moving (basically the whole world's transportation infrastructure) the planet would continue to warm just from the effects of meat consumption alone!
Not only is animal agriculture responsible for more amazon destruction, species extinction, ocean dead-zone creation and agricultural water use than any other source, but it also eats up ⅓rd of our ice-free land on the planet. Factory farming of animals is a leading cause of humanity's green house gas emissions, much greater than that of the transportation sector, if you factor in the fact that so much of the rainforest is destroyed to make way for large cattle ranches and pig farms. The rainforests are like a sink for carbon and they have a powerful effect on the atmospheric CO2 levels. Rainforests sequester 20% of all Co2 and with so much of the rainforests gone we are more at risk than ever, with some studies putting animal agriculture as a cause of 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The dairy industry as basically the same as the meat industry with most dairy cows dying of fatigue within a fraction of their total lifespans in the wild, after which they are sold as low grade meat.
Your personal choice to eat a meat-rich diet means that you will emit 2.5X more dietary CO2 than the average vegan.
Ground water consumption is also something that we have to worry about as the world's fresh water resources are getting more and more scarce. We have our first major city, Cape Town, South Africa, which runs out of water on 26th May 2018. Several major Indian cities, including my hometown Bangalore are next in line.
Animal product consumption by humans is most certainly the leading cause of modern species extinctions, since it is not only a major driver of deforestation but also a principal driver of land degradation, pollution, climate change, over-fishing , sedimentation of coastal areas, facilitation of invasion by foreign species and loss of both wild herbivores and carnivores.
The societal healthcare impacts of a plant based population are staggeringly lower than of a meat based one. Vegans have a much lower incidence of chronic illnesses and this would significantly reduce hospital costs and loss of productive labour. For example, 1/3rd of the US population has high blood pressure and that costs the country an approximate 46 billion dollars per year.
Overall, we slaughter 60 billion chicken, 2.7 trillion fish and sea creatures and about 1.5 billion cows and 1 billion pigs . We use 45% of the world's arable land area and 50% of all grain for growing feed for farmed animals.
As far as fish go, 3/4th of the world's fisheries are exploited. 25% of all marine life is in coral reefs and about 55% of those are considerable damaged. We have created massive dead zones in our oceans where life cannot survive due to algal blooms created by agricultural runoff.
Finally, in a world where fertile land is being depleted by the day, many wars are waged to gain control of scarce resources. As if our planet didn't have enough problems already! We don't need more bloodshed. We need more love and compassion between one another and if we show the same kindness to animals and the environment it would permit us to live here a little while longer. We must remember that we are only visitors here.
We could fix all this if we only cared to change what is within our control . Vegan earth would have 40% more land and plenty of food for all! No wonder some people call it the 'world peace diet'!
Veganism is a moral position that opposes the exploitation and harm of animals. This includes what we do directly, such as hunting or fishing. It also includes what we support as consumers, which affects the lives of many more animals. Animals are routinely killed and made to suffer unimaginable conditions in farms and slaughterhouses. This happens because there is a demand for animal products, especially meat and other byproducts. Veganism entails not consuming these products to cut down the demand, so that production stops and no animals are harmed.
At the heart of veganism is respect for all sentient beings. Vegans see all sentient animals as beings we should respect, not as objects for us to use. The life of a sentient being is not worth a few seconds of pleasure on your tongue. There is no moral excuse for causing the unnecessary suffering of another creature especially when we wouldn't want some things like that to happen to us. This is hypocrisy at the highest level. There are meat identical products like the impossible burger that induce the same taste sensation with 0% of the cruelty. Try it!
Making the connection
Veganism is becoming increasingly common as more people learn that they can help prevent animal suffering and deaths by replacing foods and other products of animal origin with options that don’t involve the absolutely unnecessary exploitation of animals. In addition, as veganism becomes more widespread, it is leading to a reduction in speciesism, which is the discrimination against animals based on their species membership.
In our busy lives, it can be easy to miss the connection between how we live and how others are affected. But when we think about it, would we really consider it acceptable if we were in the place of those unfortunate animals? If we knew that there was a chance we could be born as pigs or chickens, probably none of us would accept a world where animals are confined in tight cages or killed for food.
We should also consider how our societies treat some animals differently to others. This is the Is it fair to protect some animals, like dogs and cats just because they are useful to us as pets and disregard all the others who would suffer just as much in the same situation? Most of us wouldn’t accept the abuse our pet animals. Then, how can it be fair to stand by and do nothing when 56 billion land animals go to the slaughter house each year. It's a holocaust on a monumental scale.
If we were truly carnivorous, like lions and tigers, then we would salivate at the mere thought of a slaughterhouse dripping with fresh blood. Instead we cringe and shut our eyes? How come near packages have pictures of happy animals instead of carcasses? The truth is we have never been carnivores or even true omnivores like bears and hedgehogs. We are herbivorous in every possible way - the motion of our jaws to the length of our digestive tract. We don't have the teeth nor the claws required to tear through raw flesh.
Children are naturally inclined to play with little animals - not eat them. That should be pretty telling. Humans aren't born carnivores nor omnivores. Most people have no inclination to eat meat at all. It's society that plays a big role in creating certain food preferences. Humans are just very well adapted to survive in a whole range of environments. Which can be a very good thing if you live in a place where no food grows - the high north, south, deserts and at high altitude. It's good that humans have learnt to cook and consume animal products to survive but we also have to note that the populations that consume the most animal products also have the lowest life spans and highest rates of colon cancer.
Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism, as “carn” means “flesh” or “of the flesh” and “ism” refers to a belief system.
Because carnism is invisible, people rarely realize that eating animals is a choice, rather than a given. In meat-eating cultures around the world, people typically don’t think about why they eat certain animals but not others, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity, which is the case for many people in the world today, then it is a choice – and choices always stem from beliefs.
Because carnism is invisible, we assume that eating or not eating animals is simply a matter of personal ethics: “You make your choices, and I’ll make mine.” However, when we recognize carnism, we can appreciate that eating animals is in fact the result of a widespread, oppressive system. (Consider, for example, how believing that women did not deserve the right to vote had less to do with “personal choice” or “personal preference” than it did with the widespread sexism that conditioned people to believe in the inferiority of women.)
And carnism is structured like other systems of oppression, such as racism, sexism, and heterosexism. While the experience of each set of victims of oppressive systems will always be unique, the systems are similar because the mentality that enables the oppression is the same.
Ultimately, cultivating compassion and justice is not simply about changing behaviors; it is about changing consciousness so that no “others,” human or nonhuman, are victims of oppression. To bring about a more compassionate and just society, then, we must strive to include all forms of oppression in our awareness, including carnism
Alternatives are widely available
More and more people are choosing to substitute animal foods with healthy and tasty alternatives. With all the options available to us, replacing animal products with plant-based items is easier than it ever was. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the largest association of nutritionists and dietitians from around the world) has acknowledged that a vegan diet is healthy at all stages of life. This is also proved by the fact that millions of healthy people, including many ultra-endurance athletes who have already chosen to live their lives without animal products and had some of the best performances of their lives. We can all do it – you can, too. In doing so, you’ll become part of the solution to achieve a fairer world for all animals.