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Why Plant Based?

Around 400 BCE, Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

In 1825, French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what your are.”

This idea that our diet is directly tied to our health is not new. However, we now know that our diet has even deeper roots. It is directly tied to health of our planet. 

When we refer to the food we eat and to our common health, we have to acknowledge that we’re eating too much of everything. But specifically, we eat too much animal protein.  

Our daily requirement for protein consumption is only 56 grams of protein for an adult male, and 46 grams for an adult female.  Yet, most Americans are consuming over 100 grams of the stuff.  

When we consume more protein than we need, it is stored as fat.  Today, over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese. Americans account for 13% of the obese people worldwide, and the health-related issues relating to this corpulence epidemic have become as vast as our waistlines. The cost to treat obesity-related issues in the U.S. is now over $150 billion annually.

For over 50 years, the American Heart Association (AMA) has been touting lower meat consumption (particularly red and processed meats) in order to maintain  a healthier heart and arteries.  Saturated fat, 98% of which comes from animal products, is just not good for us. Vascular and heart surgeons alike will acknowledge that eating far less meat and saturated fat, and replacing it with whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables, combined with modest exercise will create and maintain excellent cardiovascular health. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) point out that Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the US.  About 650,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.  That means one in four deaths are caused by heart disease. That just can’t be ignored. What would we be saying if those deaths were tied to terrorism? 

The American Cancer Society maintains that 1/3 of all cancer deaths are related to diet and physical activity habits, including overweight and obesity.  That’s a whopping 572,000 souls per year that we’re losing.  And it’s not getting better.

Let’s look at a few of the facts about meat consumption that have pushed the discussion to the forefront over the past 30 years.  In 1990, the World Hunger Program at Brown University calculated that if recent world harvests were distributed equitably around the world, with no grain or other produce going towards the production of meat, there would be enough food on the planet to provide a meatless diet for 6 billion people (there are 7.8 billion living on the planet today).

However, if calculating that same harvest for a Western-style diet that includes the amounts of animal flesh consumed by wealthier populations, the number of people the world harvest would only feed 2.6 billion people.  And that was 1990.

Today, livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources, with pasture and arable land dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of the total agricultural land. One-third of global arable land is used to grow livestock feed, while 26% of the Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface is used for grazing.

Giant livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of waste. In fact, in the United States, these “factory farms” generate more than 130 times the amount of waste than people do, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, livestock waste has polluted more than 27,000 miles of rivers and contaminated groundwater in dozens of states. 

Nutrients in animal waste cause algal blooms, which use up oxygen in the water, contributing to “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico where there’s not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. One dead zone stretched over 7,700 square miles during the summer of 1999. 

Albert Einstein famously said, “Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival on earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

The way we eat can and will have an effect on our personal health, and it will also have an effect on what’s happening to this planet.  The situation is not hopeless.  Each on of us can make a difference.  The changes can be small.  If one person ate just one pound less beef a month, that’s essentially 4 burgers, we’d each conserve 1,800 gallons of water. That little change saves enough water for one person to take a month’s worth of showers, or enough to provide drinking water for one person for 10 years. sets out to prove that eating more healthy food isn’t going to be a sacrifice. It’s going to be an adventure, one that will benefit you, your family, and our planet.