Why I Care So Damn Much
I am going to start by giving you, the reader, a little warning. This post is likely to be full of some facts that you may not want to hear, nor want to care about. It's a post that involves me getting on my soapbox regarding physical health, in other words, your body. It may not be fun to read nor make you feel good, but it's something that has been on my mind for awhile now. I want to start, first by saying thank you for reading my blog at all. You don't have to, as I recognize some of my posts might not quite gel with your life or line of thinking, and truthfully I started the blog as a way of sharing our life and my thoughts. Lately it's become a sort of therapeutic diary for myself. I explain this because I want you to know I do not want to offend or upset anyone; that is NEVER my intention. So if you are still with me, I have a few thoughts I would like to share with you regarding why I think a whole food, plant based diet is the optimum way of eating, and how it affects other parts of our world.
*Disclaimer: I promise to never harass you when I am sharing a meal with you. I whole-heartedly believe that judgment does not lead to change (at least any good or positive change). Judgment will just lead to me losing the ones I love. I also will tell you, I AM NOT PERFECT. I sometimes will still eat fish, which is essentially hypocritical to the whole movement. As Lindsey Nixon from Happy Herbivore would say, "Progress, not perfection". I started this journey wanting to lower my cholesterol. I lost 52 lbs and my cholesterol was still high, regardless of how much I exercised and was at a healthy weight. For me, I had to continue to improve my diet. *
I have been reading the book "Whole" by Dr Colin Campbell, who wrote "The China Study" and was involved in the creation of "Forks Over Knives", and this book has been really interesting. Since I have been exposed to these books and documentaries, along with others involved in the plant based community, like Happy Herbivore, Oh She Glows, and YumUniverse (all blogs I recommend you google), some of this information is not really new to me. However, I think he included a lot of information that might be of interest to you, as I think there are all types of people this effects. I am going to share some information with you, grouped together under the headlines below, based on categories you may relate to.
For the Environmentalist (in other words if you recycle, care about global warming, worry about the impact mankind is making on our planet, this is for you):
Here are some facts you may not know (all from the book, "Whole":
"Animal protein production requires eight times as much fossil fuel as plant protein."
"The livestock of the United States consumes five times as much grain (which is not even their natural diet) as the country's entire human population."
"Every kilogram of beef requires 100,000 liters of water to produce. By comparison, a kilogram of wheat requires just 900 liters, and a kilogram of potatoes just 500 liters."
"A United Nations-sponsored workshop of about 200 experts concluded that 80 percent of deforestation in the tropics is attributable to the creation of new farmland, the majority of which is used for livestock grazing and feed."
(paraphrased) A study by the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization reported a connection between animal food production and global warming, stating it attributes 18 % of global warming, which is more than the department of transportation.A more recent study by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang at the World Bank Group have attributed livestock rearing to causing 51% of global warming.
All that we are doing to help reduce our climate crisis, such as replacing incandescent light bulbs, lowering our thermostats, throwing away less garbage and instead putting them in your compost or recycling, are all GREAT things, but they will not have the same impact as eating less meat products.
For the Health Enthusiast (in other words, those who are currently taking prescriptions to treat heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, or other conditions that are generally associated with obesity, or plan to not require these medications, this section is for you)
I feel like I have shared a lot of information regarding health in other posts in this blog. There are so many examples in the blogs, books, and documentaries I have shared that I think it would be repetitive for me to share them here. What I will tell you is that I strongly believe that eating less animal products will improve your health. The simple truth is if you eat less animal products, you have more room in your diet for other things, like, I dunno, the single most important foods on the entire planet that every single book, article, dietitian, health professional will tell you to eat more of... VEGETABLES! Every "diet" is in complete agreement that eating more vegetables is the best thing you can do to improve your health. So if you choose to do anything at all to improve your health, get at least 3-5 servings a day, at minimum, of vegetables.
For the "It's my genetics" person
I will be the first to tell you, having genes that indicate you are doomed, well, sucks. Hard. Having half your genes be a complete mystery, well, that sucks even harder. There have been research studies done that have shown that if a rat is exposed to a particular carcinogen (in this case, casein, which is the protein from cow's milk) the rat is more likely to get cancer. If the carcinogen is no longer fed to the rat, cancer is no longer produced. Dr Campbell goes into much more detail but that is essentially the "jist". To me, that gives me hope. I figure, we all have a choice. We can choose to think we are destined to succumb to disease or we can choose to reduce exposure to things in life that are unhealthy. How many of us have taken vitamin C or zinc when we think we are getting sick? How many of us put on a seat belt? How many of us use sunscreen? These are all examples of how we choose to take care of ourselves, regardless of what's lurking in our genes.
For the Animal Lover (I promise you this is not coming from an angry place, like PETA)
I will admit I am an animal lover. I have always loved animals and find they generally love me back. It makes me so sad to hear that cows that "penned up in tight living (dying) quarters, never to be pastured on green grass after they begin producing milk" and their "tails are frequently chopped off leaving only a stub a foot or so long, so the person milking the cows avoids getting "switched" by a filthy, often manure-encrusted tail" and then if they are covered in flies the irritation effects the cow's milk production and so she is then drenched with a pesticide spray that finds its way into the milk supply. They are given steroids to produce more milk, which causes mastitis in a lot of cases, so the cows are then given antibiotics which goes into the milk supply. That's just one practice for one animal, but pigs and chickens are not treated any better.
So I know you are probably thinking, but if I eat free range chickens and grass fed beef and organic cow's milk, surely that's better. Yes the animals are treated better in a lot of cases, however, these animals still feel emotions and still have babies that they love and torn apart from. And quite frankly, one of the most eye-opening things to me is this: no other animal drinks another animal's milk. We are the only animal in the world that does this. In addition, some of the strongest animals on our planet do not eat meat. Look at elephants and gorillas, they are mammals, just like us, and they do not eat anything but plants. We don't worry about them getting enough protein, do we? Ever notice how our teeth look more like a monkey than a lion?
For the Ones I Love (I hope you know who you are)
Okay, I hope you are still with me because this is the reason why I care so damn much. Please know that I know this is your life and please, please, please, live it in a way that brings YOU joy. I also ask that you consider those you love and the ones that love you (like me). Unfortunately, even though I think I do a pretty good job of taking care of myself, my body is still not in optimal health. There are many of you who are healthier in terms of lack of disease and better "numbers" even though maybe you do not exercise regularly or pay much attention to your food choices. I gotta say, I am jealous. I have been jealous since I was 10 years old and recognized that I was bigger than most of the girls in my grade. We all have different bodies that are beautiful and deserved to be loved. And by my asking you to consider eating less animal products, I am asking you to love yourself maybe a little more. I want you to stick around as long as you can, providing that you are healthy and happy. I am asking you to treat your body as good as you do the planet, when you make choices to recycle and use reusable grocery bags. I am asking you to stay alive, for the people you care about and for those that care about you.
I will tell you that food is an EMOTIONAL thing in our lives and it is not easy to make healthy choices. I again will say that NO ONE IS PERFECT. I get that steak and cheese taste good. I get that eating ice cream on a hot day... just rocks. I get that a dark beer (like a winter warmer) tastes like Christmas. Food is just amazing. However, food is as simple as keeping you alive. So, somehow, someway, we find the balance. I am still searching, believe me. I can OD on raisins and popcorn, which is just weird. I have seriously gorged myself on brussels sprouts. Insane, right?
And of course there might be those of you who "just don't care" and you know, that is your choice too. You can choose to be ambivalent. There are things in the world that I too just do not give a shit. That is always your choice too. Mad props to you, I get it.
Anyway, I just wanted to share why I care so damn much and hopefully have you scratch your head and think.
Isn't the world an amazing place that we have some much CHOICE? Please choose what makes you happiest. I choose to live and feel good and this is how I do it, because of the body and mind (and spirit) I have. I guess what I would ask of you (in addition to reading this super long post) is to support me. For those of you who have done that for the past 2 1/2 years, THANK YOU.
"...the mistake most of us make... is to close our eyes and hope the waves will go away or miss us or hit someone else..."
*Steps off soap box*