Wednesday, September 28, 2005

GOOD VEGGIES VS. BAD MEAT

You may savor the following excerpts from Howard Lyman's book "Mad Cowboy."

" There is, simply, a never-ending stream of good news about vegetarian food. In the words of Natalie Angier of the New York Times, "The truth is that the more researchers understand about the ingredients found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and herbs, the more impressed they are with the power of those compounds to retard the bodily breakdown that results in cancer and other chronic diseases.

But you never hear any good news about meat. You never switch on the news to learn that a medical study at Harvard has revealed that roast beef boosts the immune system, or that fried chicken helps prevent arthritis, or that ham is good for the prostate. There's not a single encouraging news tidbit about veal, say, aiding the gonads. Nothing positive ever turns up even about the highly-regarded turkey escalopes fontina. There's simply never anything health - enhancing that any researcher can uncover about flesh foods. Meanwhile, a torrent of revelations confirms the benefits of plant foods.

Some who are ignorant of the facts may tell you that you can't get enough protein on a vegetarian diet - but as we know, most Americans suffer from an unhealthy excess of protein. You will have absolutely no problem getting sufficient protein on a balanced vegetarian diet. Other naysayers may warn you that you're likely to become anemic. In fact, most vegetarians have very healthy hemoglobin levels; only those who eat a diet of junk foods and dairy products may run into problems.

Some sceptics may bring up the cloudier matter of vitamin B12. It's a fact that only animal foods contain substantial amounts of this vitamin (writer of this blog notes: tempeh contains B12, so does dulse seaweed and Brewer's yeast). The human need for vitamin B12 is miniscule - about 2 micrograms per day, and our bodies store this vitamin for a period of years. To be conservative, I recommend supplemental B12 found in many cereals , soy milks, and other packaged foods that are enriched with B12. Nutritonal yeast and textured vegetable protein are also good sources. Finally, all multivitamins -including vegetarian formulas - contain more B12 than you will ever need.

Never mind the statistics about heart attacks and cancer, never mind that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters, never mind the obesity rate that is the common result of an animal-based diet, never mind all the environmental reasons for a diet that is plant-based.

Study after study has linked the consumption of animal products to heart disease. When I say to you the consumption of meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products is the primary cause of atherosclerosis in nonsmokers, I am not just giving you my opinion; I am reporting a medical fact that has been established with as much scientific unanimity and consistency as the fact that smoking cigarettes dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease.

As the noted preventative health care expert Dr. Jjulian Whitaker points out, 'Death from heart disease is as unnecessary as dying of drug abuse, yet it is taken as a normal thing.'

What would happen to all the jobs in the meat industry if the entire nation went vegetarian? They would be lost of course. Gone would be all the jobs in slaughterhouses - the most dangerous jobs in America as well as all the other foul jobs in meat processing, not to mention all the minmum-wage jobs flipping burgers.They would be replaced by even more jobs - safer, cleaner, more satisfying, and probably better-paying jobs - in the production and selling of organic, healthy, plant-based products. The savings in medical costs attributable to meat consumption, estimated at $28 to $61 billion annually, would be plowed back into the economy and boost its productivity enormously." - from "Mad Cowboy" by Howard Lyman