Animal Agriculture Is the Leading Cause of Animal Extinction

As the animal agriculture industry continues to take over the Earth’s landmass, habitats rich in animal life are being destroyed. One acre of land is now being cleared every second, and it’s getting worse. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, habitat destruction, and ocean dead zones.

Animal agribusiness already occupies about 40% of Earth’s landmass and accounts for 75% of global deforestation. The rapid destruction is causing species to disappear, negatively impacting the biodiversity of native ecosystems and furthering our path into the sixth mass extinction of all species on Earth.

There are about 1.7 million documented species of flora and fauna on our planet. Over 86% of 10 million known species of flora and fauna have not been described or documented. The United Nations reports an estimate of up to 100 plant and animal species lost every day.

Our planet is about 4.5 billion years old. Through its ancient lifespan, Earth has experienced five mass extinctions: Ordovician (444 million years ago), Devonian (375 million years ago), Permian (251 million years ago), Triassic (200 million years ago), and Cretaceous (66 million years ago).

Out of the billion years of our planet’s life, humans have only been here for around six million years. Of those six million years, the current human species (Homo sapiens) has been here only 200,000 years – with our current civilization a mere 6,000 years old. The industrialization of this civilization is only 200 years old, and in the last 500 years 1,000 species of animals have gone extinct. Presently, the rate of extinction is as high as 140,000 species each year.

Massive destruction is occurring in countries with mega diverse habitats that are home to some of the largest number of species. In the Amazon, three quarters of the rainforest have been cleared so far for both international and domestic animal agriculture companies. In the US, where 260 million acres of forests have been cleared, one in five animal and plant species are at risk of extinction.

Animal agribusiness has also devastated our marine environments. Billions of animals are taken from the ocean every year. The rapid rate of oceanic animal harvesting today do not allow species enough time to reproduce. The inability to recover their populations puts the planet at risk of fishless oceans by 2048.

The facts and statistics are clear. The animal agriculture industry is killing our environment and putting every species on this planet at risk of extinction. The animal agriculture industry’s pollution of our air, water and land, along with deforestation and soil degradation, all contribute to habitat loss and species extinction. Like a domino effect, a multitude of aspects is leading to the destruction of Earth’s biodiversity.

Animal agriculture has become the greatest threat to the world’s plants and animals. The clearing of forests and rainforests for livestock pasture and feed crops is extinguishing Earth’s biodiversity, which allows life to continue in balance regardless of natural changes to the environment.

It all begins with the choices humans make and put on our plates, and that is also where it can end. Livestock farming exists only to satisfy human consumption. By making healthier, plant-based food choices, there is still time to reverse the destruction of our planet and its animals.

Make 2021 the Year You Go Vegan

2020, most of us will agree, was a terrible year. Who knows what awaits us in 2021? We hope for the best, but we can be proactive about some aspects of life, like our health. Let’s do what we can to improve our health while making the world a more compassionate place. Let’s make this the year you go vegan.

A vegan diet is best for your heart. The leading cause of death of both men and women in the United States is heart disease. Every day, nearly 2,600 Americans die of some type of heart disease, the most common form being coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when hard layers of plaque, usually cholesterol deposits, accumulate in major arteries and begin constricting flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Arterial plaque is also a leading cause of stroke, the fourth greatest killer of Americans each year.

While other factors can affect cholesterol levels and heart disease (including smoking, exercise, blood pressure, and body weight) one of the single most significant causes of heart disease is dietary cholesterol. Our bodies make all the cholesterol we need, so consuming animal products contributes excessive levels. Animal products are also loaded with saturated fats, which, unlike unsaturated fats, cause the liver to produce more cholesterol.

Fortunately, for most people, preventing coronary heart disease is as simple as eliminating animal products, eating a healthy plant-based diet, exercising, and avoiding cigarette smoking. But beyond prevention, a plant-based diet is the only treatment that has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease. There is no cholesterol in plant foods.

Vegan diets have also repeatedly shown to reduce levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, a low-fat vegetarian diet reduces LDL by 16 percent, but a high-nutrient vegan diet reduces LDL cholesterol by 33 percent. The high fiber content of plant-based foods also helps to slow the absorption of cholesterol. Animal products contain no fiber.

 

In addition to providing for a healthy heart, a whole foods, plant-based diet can prevent and in some cases even reverse many of the worst diseases. Leading U.S. health care provider Kaiser Permanente, published an article in its medical science journal recommending that physicians consider recommending a plant-based diet for all their patients. The article notes, “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods … Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”

Oh, but the naysayers insist that humans are “meant to eat meat.” “Humans,” they will tell you, “have a carnivore’s or omnivore’s teeth.” No, we don’t. Check this chart and see where your teeth are in relation to the rest of the world’s mammals.

 

 

“Consider again the anatomy of the carnivore and the omnivore, including an enormous mouth opening, a jaw joint that operates as a hinge, dagger-like teeth, and sharp claws. Each of these traits enables the lion or bear to use her body to kill prey. Herbivorous animals, by contrast, have fleshy lips, a small mouth opening, a thick and muscular tongue, and a far less stable, mobile jaw joint that facilitates chewing, crushing, and grinding. Herbivores also generally lack sharp claws. These qualities are well-adapted to the eating of plants, which provide nutrients when their cell walls are broken, a process that requires crushing food with side-to-side motion rather than simply swallowing it in large chunks the way that a carnivore or omnivore swallows flesh.

Herbivores have digestive systems in which the stomach is not nearly as spacious as the carnivore’s or omnivore’s, a feature that is suitable for the more regular eating of smaller portions permitted with a diet of plants (which stay in place and are therefore much easier to chase down), rather than the sporadic gorging of a predator on his prey. The herbivore’s stomach also has a higher pH (which means that it is less acidic) than the carnivore’s or omnivore’s, perhaps in part because plants ordinarily do not carry the dangerous bacteria associated with rotting flesh.

The small intestines of herbivores are quite long and permit the time-consuming and complex breakdown of the carbohydrates present in plants. In virtually every respect, the human anatomy resembles that of herbivorous animals (such as the gorilla and the elephant) more than that of carnivorous and omnivorous species. Our mouths’ openings are small; our teeth are not extremely sharp (even our “canines”); and our lips and tongues are muscular. Our jaws are not very stable (and would therefore be easy to dislocate in a battle with prey), but they are quite mobile and allow the side-to-side motion that facilitates the crushing and grinding of plants.” — Read the full excerpt on comparative anatomy by Sherry F. Colb, from her book, Mind if I Order the Cheeseburger? and Other Questions People Ask Vegans

It has been estimated that 98% of our harm to animals comes from our food choices. Yet science has irrefutably demonstrated that humans do not need meat, dairy or eggs to thrive. Once we understand that eating animals is not a requirement for good health, and if we have access to nutritious plant-based foods, then the choice to continue consuming animal products anyway is a choice for animals to be harmed and killed for our pleasure — simply because we like the taste. But harming animals for pleasure goes against core values we hold in common.

The only way for our values to mean anything — the only way for our values to actually be our values — is if they are reflected in the choices we freely make. And every day, we have the opportunity to live our values through our food choices. If we value kindness over violence, if we value being compassionate over causing unnecessary harm, and if we have access to plant-based alternatives, then veganism is the only consistent expression of our values.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021, and Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

Judaism and Animals

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and family!

My parents came from different religious backgrounds – my father born Jewish, my mother Roman Catholic. I was brought up as neither, but because the grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins I saw most often and on holidays were Jews, I have always felt culturally Jewish.

There are many religions and cultures in the world, and because humans do not occupy this planet alone, each has some relationship with animals. Judaism teaches that animals are part of God’s creation and should be treated with compassion. The Talmud specifically instructs Jews not to cause pain to animals, and there are several Bible stories which use kindness to animals as a demonstration of virtue. In the Jewish tradition, humans must avoid tzar baalei chayim – causing pain to any living creature. In this regard, Jews were trailblazers; cruelty to animals was not outlawed in other cultures until the 1800s, and even now animal suffering is sadly ignored in so many.

In the Bible, those who care for animals are heroes, while those who hunt animals are villains. Jacob, Moses, and King David were all shepherds, people who cared for animals. Rebecca was chosen as a wife for Isaac because of her kindness to animals. When Abraham’s servant asked for water for himself, Rebecca took it upon herself to water his camels as well, a demonstration of her care for animals. On the other hand, the two hunters in the Bible, Nimrod and Esau, are both depicted as villains. Hunting for sport is strictly prohibited under Jewish law. The Talmud also tells the story of a great rabbi, Judah Ha-Nasi, who was punished with years of kidney stones and other painful ailments because he was insensitive to the fear of a calf being led to slaughter; he was relieved years later when he showed kindness to animals.

When people tell me that God gave humans “dominion” over animals, I remind them that “dominion” is more properly translated as “care.” “Dominion” does not give humans the right to cause pain and destruction. “Thou shalt not kill” is one of the Ten Commandments and could not be stated any more plainly.

Under Jewish law, animals have rights. Pets and companion animals must be allowed to rest on Shabbat, just as humans do. Don’t be sending Fido out to fetch the newspaper for you – it’s his day off, too! Shabbat may be violated only to rescue an animal in pain or at risk of death, but walking, playing with, and caring for your companion animal is never a violation.

In the Talmud, the rabbis dictated that a person may not purchase an animal unless he has made provisions to feed it, and that a person must feed his animals before he feeds himself. This carries over to faithful Jewish pet owners who have an obligation to feed their pets before themselves. That’s part of the “dominion,” or “care,” I was just talking about.

The Bible informs us that humans were intended to eat a vegan diet. Note that in Genesis 1:29, God gives humanity all the fruits and vegetables of the world for food, but not the flesh of his animals. It seems humanity has forgotten this. Veganism is making a tremendous rise worldwide, though, which is exciting and encouraging, and vegan food options are now easy to find in most grocery stores and restaurants. For Jews, there is no holiday or observance for which it is a mitzvah (commandment) to eat meat, and most symbolic foods used in holiday rituals are not taken from animals; vegan substitutes for honey at Pesach are allowed.

Over the past few years, Israel has been swept by a vegan revolution. It is now the most vegan country on Earth, with a full five percent of its population eschewing all animal products. That number has doubled since 2010, when only 2.6 percent of Israelis were either vegan or vegetarian. Israeli vegans are both widespread and well-fed. There are more than 400 vegan-friendly restaurants to be found in that small nation, including Domino’s, which sells a vegan pizza made with soy cheese exclusively in Israel. The site of the world’s biggest annual vegan festival is in Tel Aviv. Even the Israeli Defense Forces have gone vegan, offering animal-free food, boots, and berets (no wool) to vegan soldiers.

Christianity has its roots in Judaism and incorporates the Jewish Bible into its own as the Old Testament. Jesus, after all, was a Jew, and although he wasn’t a shepherd by trade, his care for humanity is frequently compared in the Christian Bible to that of a shepherd for his flock. Jews and Christians share the same wish for peace, joy, and goodwill, especially at Hanukkah and Christmas. That is my wish for the world, too, which is why I end all of my essays by saying –

Peace to ALL of the animals with whom we share this planet.

Cruelty-Free Bone Health

The bone-thinning condition called osteoporosis can lead to small and not-so-small fractures. Although many people think of calcium in the diet as good protection for their bones, this is not at all the whole story. To protect your bones you do need calcium in your diet, but you also need to keep calcium in your bones – and consuming milk and other dairy products is not the way to put it there. In fact, in a 12-year Harvard study of 78,000 women, those who drank milk three times a day actually broke more bones than women who rarely drank milk. Similarly, an Australian study of elderly men and women showed that higher dairy product consumption was associated with increased fracture risk. Those with the highest dairy product consumption had approximately double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption. Finally, the calcium in dairy products is accompanied by animal proteins, lactose sugar, animal growth factors, occasional drugs and contaminants, and a substantial amount of fat and cholesterol. Not to mention unspeakable cruelty and suffering to the animals whose milk, meant for their babies, is stolen from them.

How to Get Calcium into Your Bones

1. Get calcium from greens, beans, or fortified foods.

The most healthful calcium sources are not dairy products, but green leafy vegetables and legumes, or “greens and beans” for short. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and other greens are loaded with highly absorbable calcium and a host of other healthful nutrients. The exception is spinach, which contains a large amount of calcium but tends to hold onto it very tenaciously, so that you will absorb less of it.

Beans are humble foods, and you might not know that they are loaded with calcium. There is more than 100 milligrams of calcium in a plate of baked beans. If you prefer chickpeas, tofu, or other bean or bean products, you will find plenty of calcium there, as well. These foods also contain magnesium, which your body uses along with calcium to build bones.

If you are looking for a very concentrated calcium source, calcium-fortified orange or apple juices contain 300 milligrams or more of calcium per cup in a highly absorbable form. Many people prefer calcium supplements, which are now widely available.

2. Exercise, so calcium has somewhere to go.

Exercise is important for many reasons, including keeping bones strong. Active people tend to keep calcium in their bones, while sedentary people lose calcium.

3. Get vitamin D from the sun, or supplements if you need them.

Vitamin D controls your body’s use of calcium. About 15 minutes of sunlight on your skin each day normally produces all the vitamin D you need. If you get little or no sun exposure, you can get vitamin D from any multiple vitamin. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 600 IU (5 micrograms) per day.

How to Keep It There

It’s not enough to get calcium into your bones. What is really critical is keeping it there. Here’s how:

1. Reduce calcium losses by avoiding excess salt.

Calcium in bones tends to dissolve into the bloodstream, then pass through the kidneys into the urine. Sodium (salt) in the foods you eat can greatly increase calcium loss through the kidneys. If you reduce your sodium intake to one to two grams per day, you will hold onto calcium better. To do that, avoid salty snack foods and canned goods with added sodium, and keep salt use low on the stove and at the table.

2. Get your protein from plants, not animal products.

Animal protein – in fish, poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy products – draws calcium from the bones and encourages its passage into the urine. Plant protein – in beans, grains, and vegetables – does not have this effect.

3. Don’t smoke.

Smokers lose calcium, too. A study of identical twins showed that, if one twin had been a long-term smoker and the other had not, the smoker had more than a 40 percent higher risk of a fracture.

American recommendations for calcium intake are high, partly because the meat, salt, tobacco, and physical inactivity of American life leads to overly rapid and unnatural loss of calcium through the kidneys. By controlling these basic factors, you can have an enormous influence on whether calcium stays in your bones or drains out of your body.

Hormone Supplements Have Serious Risks

Some doctors recommend estrogen supplements for women after menopause as a way to slow osteoporosis, although the effect is not very great over the long run, and they are rarely able to stop or reverse bone loss. What has many physicians worried is the fact that estrogens increase the risk of breast cancer. The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that women taking estrogens have 30 to 80 percent more breast cancer, compared to other women.

The most commonly prescribed estrogen supplement, Premarin, is made from the urine of pregnant horses, which brings us back to animal exploitation and doesn’t do much for my gag reflex, either. Moreover, Premarin may aggravate heart problems. In a study of 2,763 postmenopausal women with coronary disease followed for an average of four years, there were as many heart attacks and related deaths in women treated with the combined regimen of estrogens and a progesterone derivative, as with placebo, but the coronary problems occurred sooner in women taking hormones. Hormone-treated women were also more likely to develop dangerous blood clots and gallbladder disease. Controlling calcium losses is a much safer strategy.

Reversing Osteoporosis

If you already have osteoporosis, you will want to speak with your doctor about exercises and perhaps even medications that can reverse it.

Osteoporosis in Men

Osteoporosis is less common in men than in women, and its causes are somewhat different. In about half the cases, a specific cause can be identified and addressed:

  • Steroid medications, such as prednisone, are a common cause of bone loss and fractures. If you are receiving steroids, you will want to work with your doctor to minimize the dose and to explore other treatments.
  • Alcohol can weaken your bones, apparently by reducing the body’s ability to make new bone to replace normal losses. The effect is probably only significant if you have more than two drinks per day of spirits, beer, or wine.
  • A lower than normal amount of testosterone can encourage osteoporosis. About 40 percent of men over 70 years of age have decreased levels of testosterone.

In many of the remaining cases, the causes are excessive calcium losses and inadequate vitamin D. The first part of the solution is to avoid animal protein, excess salt and caffeine, and tobacco, and to stay physically active in order to reduce calcium losses. Second, take vitamin D supplements as prescribed by your physician. The usual amount is 600 IU (5 micrograms) per day, but it may be doubled if you get no sun exposure at all. If you have trouble absorbing calcium due to reduced stomach acid, your doctor can recommend hydrochloric acid supplements.

 

Lowering Cholesterol with a Plant-Based Diet

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a wax-like substance produced by the liver that aids in building cell membranes and producing hormones. Our bodies produce enough cholesterol to meet our needs, so we don’t need to consume extra cholesterol through our diets. Too much cholesterol, in fact, can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis leads to strokes, heart attacks, and other serious health problems.

What is the ideal cholesterol level?

The ideal blood cholesterol level is below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). At that level, heart disease is very unlikely. Unfortunately, nearly 107 million Americans have cholesterol levels that are greater than 200 mg/dL, which is dangerously close to 225 mg/dL—the average cholesterol level of coronary artery disease victims.

What is the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol?

Cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in blood. To be transported in the bloodstream, cholesterol is packed into two types of carriers: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL cholesterol, which is sometimes known as “bad cholesterol,” is necessary in limited quantities (LDL delivers cholesterol to various parts of the body), but high LDL cholesterol levels can dramatically increase your risk of a heart attack. That’s because LDL particles can contribute to atherosclerosis—or clogged arteries. HDL cholesterol—sometimes called “good cholesterol”—helps clear LDL cholesterol from the arteries.

When doctors measure cholesterol levels, they first look at total cholesterol as a quick way to assess a person’s risk. For a more exact guide, they divide the total level by the HDL level. Heart attack risk is minimized by having a lower total cholesterol and a higher proportion of HDL cholesterol. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL should be less than 4 to 1. Unfortunately, the average American has a ratio of 5 to 1. Vegans, on the other hand, average about 3 to 1. Smoking and obesity lower HDL; vigorous exercise and foods rich in vitamin C may increase it.

What diet is best for lowering cholesterol?

People can reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol—found in meat, dairy products, and eggs—raise cholesterol levels, which increases heart attack risk. Foods high in saturated fat are especially dangerous because they can trigger the body to produce extra cholesterol.

Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.

Studies have found that plant-based diets lower cholesterol levels more effectively than other diets. In 2017, researchers reviewed 49 studies that compared plant-based diets with omnivorous diets to test their effects on cholesterol. Plant-based diets lowered total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL levels when compared to omnivorous diets. Low-fat, plant-based regimens typically reduce LDL levels by about 15 to 30 percent.

Some recommendations for lowering cholesterol still include consuming chicken and fish. However, a number of studies have shown that heart disease patients who continue to eat these foods still tend to get worse over time. Those who adopt a low-fat, plant-based diet, get daily exercise, avoid tobacco, and manage stress have the best chance of reversing heart disease.

Which foods have the best cholesterol-lowering effects?

One University of Toronto study found that eating a plant-based diet rich in special cholesterol-lowering foods can lower LDL cholesterol by nearly 30 percent in just four weeks. These foods include:

  • Oats, beans, barley, and other foods high in soluble fiber. Substituting oat milk for cows’ milk is a delicious way of lowering your cholesterol.
  • Soy protein.
  • Did somebody say Peanuts? Nuts contain several compounds that help lower cholesterol.
  • Wheat germ, wheat bran, Brussels sprouts (I love them!), and other foods containing substances called phytosterols.

Arthritis and Your Diet

Millions of people suffer from painful and swollen joints associated with arthritis. In the past, many doctors told arthritis patients that dietary changes would not help them. However, this conclusion was based on older research with diets that included dairy products, oil, poultry, or meat. New research shows that foods may be a more frequent contributor to arthritis than is commonly recognized. It is clear that, at least for some people, a healthier menu is the answer.

Arthritis is actually a group of different diseases. Osteoarthritis is a gradual loss of cartilage and overgrowth of bone in the joints, especially the knees, hips, spine, and fingertips. At least 85 percent of the population above the age of 70 has osteoarthritis, which seems to be the result of accumulated wear and tear. Although it can cause painful episodes, it is characterized by only transient stiffness and does not cause major interference with the use of the hands.

Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects over 2 million people, is a more aggressive form of the disease. It causes painful, inflamed joints, which sometimes become damaged. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of medicine’s mysteries. There were no medical reports of the disease until the early 1800s. Some have suspected that a virus or bacterium may play a role, perhaps by setting off an autoimmune reaction. Genetics may also be a factor, in that it may influence susceptibility to the disease.

For years people have suspected that foods are an important factor in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Many notice an improvement in their condition when they avoid dairy products, citrus fruits, tomatoes, eggplant and certain other foods. One survey of over one thousand arthritis patients revealed that the foods most commonly believed to worsen the condition were red meat, sugar, fats, salt, caffeine, and nightshade plants (e.g., tomatoes, eggplant). Once the offending food is eliminated completely, improvement usually comes within a few weeks. Dairy foods are probably the principle offender, and the problem is the dairy protein, rather than the fat, so skim products are as much a problem as whole milk.

An increasing volume of research shows that certain dietary changes do in fact help. For example, polyunsaturated oils and omega-3 supplements have a mild beneficial effect, and researchers have found that vegan diets are beneficial. Several studies have also shown that supervised fasting can be helpful.

Vegan diets dramatically reduce the overall amount of fat in the diet, and alter the composition of fats. This in turn can affect the immune processes that influence arthritis. The omega-3 fatty acids in vegetables may be a key factor, along with the near absence of saturated fat. The fact that patients also lose weight on a vegan diet contributes to the improvement.

In addition, vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals. Oxygen free radicals attack many parts of the body and contribute to heart disease and cancer, and intensify the aging processes generally, including of the joints.

Iron acts as a catalyst, encouraging the production of these dangerous molecules. Vitamins C and E, which are plentiful in a diet made of vegetables and grains, help neutralize free radicals. Meats supply an overload of iron, no vitamin C, and very little vitamin E, whereas vegetables contain more controlled amounts of iron, and generous quantities of antioxidant vitamins.

As well as being helpful in preventing arthritis, antioxidants may also have a role in reducing its symptoms. Some arthritis treatments, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, work at least in part by neutralizing free radicals. For the most part, however, vitamins and other antioxidants will be of more use in preventing damage before it occurs, rather than in treating an inflamed joint.

A vegan diet, drawn from fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, can be helpful in preventing and, in come cases, ameliorating arthritis.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

 

 

Eating Vegan Reduces Blood Pressure and Improves Health

High blood pressure (hypertension) increases the risk of dangerous health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Doctors measure blood pressure using two numbers, such as 120/80. The first number shows the surge of pressure in the arteries with every heart beat, and the second number shows the pressure between beats. If either one of these numbers is too high, blood pressure can be dangerous.

Bringing blood pressure under control is very important, and treatment often involves taking medication. However, changing the way you eat can bring you blood pressure down and may help reduce the need for medication.

What can you do to control your blood pressure? For starters, reduce salt in your diet. Cutting down on salt helps reduce blood pressure. You can do this by:

  • Using less and less salt in cooking. Your taste will soon adjust.
  • Avoiding adding salt to foods at the table.
  • Avoiding salty snacks, such as potato chips.
  • Avoiding canned foods with added sodium (salt).
  • Choose low-sodium (low-salt) varieties of canned soups and vegetables, or fresh or frozen vegetables which are naturally low in sodium.
  • Limit foods that are packed in brine, such as pickles and olives, and high sodium condiments, such as soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, and barbecue sauce.

Read the “Nutrition Facts” label. The amount of sodium (salt) in a food product is listed on the nutrition facts label. The following label claims can be placed on a food package which will tell you if the product is low in salt:

  • Low Sodium—contains 140 mg or less sodium per serving
  • Very Low Sodium—contains 35 mg or less sodium per serving
  • Sodium Free—contains less than 5 mg of sodium per serving

Switch to a vegan diet. Cutting out meat, dairy products, and added fats reduces the blood’s viscosity (or “thickness”) which, in turn, brings down blood pressure. Plant-based foods are generally lower in fat and sodium and have no cholesterol at all. Vegetables and fruits are also rich in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.

The following foods are naturally low in sodium:

  • Whole grains—brown rice, whole wheat bread or pasta, unsweetened hot or cold cereal, millet, barley, buckwheat groats, and quinoa
  • Beans/legumes—dried (not canned) black-eyed peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, navy beans, chickpeas, textured vegetable protein, and tofu
  • Vegetables—fresh or frozen varieties, such as broccoli, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, spinach, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and corn
  • Fruits—fresh or frozen varieties, such as bananas, oranges, apples, pears, grapefruit, strawberries, mango, papaya, guava, strawberries, and blueberries

Lower your weight. Avoiding fatty foods, such as animal products and fried foods, and increasing the use of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans helps reduce weight. In turn, this helps bring down blood pressure. As an added benefit, losing weight reduces your risk of diabetes, heart problems, joint problems, some cancers, and other conditions. If you have a significant weight problem, be sure to consult with your doctor about the best ways for you to lose weight.

Limit alcohol use.  Alcohol can raise blood pressure and it helps to limit alcohol to no more than one to two drinks per day (beer and wine count as drinks).

Become more physically active. Exercise can help bring down your blood pressure. A typical healthy exercise schedule would include a brisk walk for a half-hour each day or one hour three times per week. Since exercise puts added strain on your heart, be sure to check with your doctor first about the best way for you to become more physically active.

Avoid tobacco. There are many good reasons to quit smoking, and healthier arteries is one of them.

Let your doctor know you are concerned about your blood pressure and want to use foods to help bring it under control. High blood pressure is dangerous, so, let your doctor guide you as to when and if your need for medication has changed.

The Well-Stocked Vegan Fridge

One of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact and live a more sustainable life is to adopt a vegan lifestyle, free of animal products. Animal agriculture has a devastatingly negative impact on the environment from immense water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and ground and water pollution. Around the world, people are increasingly unwilling to support an industry that treats animals in such cruel, inhumane ways, and there’s been a rapid growth in high-quality vegan food products, recreating popular dishes like pizzas and burgers with vegan-friendly ingredients, showing that you can literally have your delicious vegan cake and eat it, too. Reducing meat consumption and replacing popular dishes with plant-based options is a great stepping stone to living a more sustainable, healthy life, for you and the planet. To get you started, here are some of the best vegan food products to keep in your refrigerator. All of them are easily found in most supermarkets.

JUST Egg

One of the biggest conundrums for non-vegans considering a switch is eggs: So many recipes require them, so many delicious dishes are egg-based, and yet vegans don’t eat eggs due to the exploitative nature in which mass-market eggs are produced. JUST eggs are made from 100% plant-based proteins like mung beans, as well as other vegetables and seasonings like turmeric and carrots to add flavor and natural coloring. Available as a liquid for scrambled eggs or as a folded patty that’s perfect for breakfast sandwiches, the taste and texture are just like actual eggs. And, since JUST Eggs is cholesterol-free, it’s also great for non-vegans looking to cut their cholesterol intake.

Beyond Meat

One of the first companies to wake the general public up to the fact that vegan replacements of their favorite meals could actually be good or even better than the real thing, Beyond Meat has continued growing and making an impact since its launch in 2009. The LA-based company focuses on creating vegan-meat products like burger patties, sausages, ground beef, and more, using plant-based “protein, fat, minerals, carbohydrates,” and water to make their faux-meats. Their proteins consist of mung beans, fava beans, peas, and brown rice; fats are sourced from the likes of coconut oil, cocoa butter, and canola oil; minerals like salt, iron, calcium, and potassium chloride are added; and then extracts of beet and apple juice and natural flavors re-create the taste of meat for burgers, meatballs, taco filling, and other vegan dishes.

Oatly Oak Milk

In veganism, milk is a no-go. I enjoyed almond milk until I learned just how much water is used in it’s production. That’s bad for the environment. Now oat milk is my choice. It’s smooth, creamy, and delicious – and I find I like it better than almond milk. There are many oat milk brands out there, but Oatly is consistently touted as the best of the best and has even been given the unofficial-official stamp of approval from people who have to work with and worry about the taste of milk every day: baristas. In fact, baristas are so enamored with Oatly that they even made an Oatly Barista edition, so you know it’s good.

Miyokos Cheese

People tell me they could never become vegan because they could never give up cheese! With Miyokos, you don’t have to, and you honestly won’t miss it. There are many excellent plant-based creameries coming to market, but Miyokos rises about the competition with the impeccable flavor and mouthfeel of its imitation-dairy cheeses. The brand also has one of the most diverse product lines around, with the highlight being its line of artisan, European-inspired cheese wheels. Aesthetically pleasing for cheese plates and charcuterie boards alike, the line features classics like herbs de Provence, chive-encrusted, and aged, with the exact smell, taste, and appearance you’d expect from each. Miyokos also makes vegan mozzarella, cream cheese, and butter, and has new, upcoming products like cheddar and pepper jack.

Nuggs

It’s widely known that fast food and mass-produced chicken nuggets are just plain bad for you, and the poor chickens whose meat is used for chicken nuggets are so badly abused and gruesomely slaughtered. Thankfully now there’s Nuggs. These non-chicken nuggets are made using a pea-protein base, along with different ingredients and seasonings to create that perfect crispy coating and tender, chewy interior we all know and love. They certainly look as mouthwatering as any fast-food chain nugget, and the internet raves about the flavor and texture. So “don’t be chicken,” as the brand’s slogan says, try them!

Amy’s Kitchen Frozen Pizzas

There’s always something from Amy’s Kitchen in my freezer. Amy’s Kitchen was one of the trailblazers of the organic food movement and began making food for the vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan crowds long before it was a thing. So the company really knows its stuff, especially in the frozen pizza department. So you’re looking for vegan frozen pizzas to have on hand, give one of its ten kinds of vegan pizzas a try. There are classics like plain cheese, margherita, and those loaded with veggies and vegan meats. Amy’s also has lots of other products as well, like burritos, bowls, pastas, and more – check for “vegan” on the package.

Lightlife Smart Bacon

Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can’t have bacon for breakfast or enjoy a mouth-watering BLT for lunch. Making a worthy vegan-bacon that is comparable to the real thing is a lofty goal, but Lightlife, a plant-based meat company, has the formula down. Its Smart Bacon is fantastically crunchy and the bacon flavor is authentic. Plus, as it’s plant-based, it’s so much better for you, with no nitrates and no cholesterol.

Tofu

Tofu is a staple of any vegan or vegetarian diet; it doesn’t contain any animal products and it’s incredibly versatile, suitable for cooking in a lot of different dishes, so it’s a fantastic meat substitute and addition to soups and salads.

Permanent Weight Control the Vegan Way

Many people believe that to lose weight they have to go on a low-calorie diet. That often means starving oneself until the diet is no longer tolerable. Then the weight goes right back on—and then some. Happily, there is a much better way. It is easy and offers many other health benefits, too.

No More Diets

The first thing to realize is that changing eating habits must be more than a short-term means to an end. Changing eating habits is the cornerstone of permanent weight control. There is no way to “lose 20 pounds in two short weeks” and make it last. Very-low-calorie diets cause two major problems: they lower one’s metabolic rate, making it harder to slim down, and they lead to bingeing.

Fat Versus Complex Carbohydrates

The old myth was that pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice are fattening. Not true. In fact, carbohydrate-rich foods are perfect for permanent weight control. Carbohydrates contain less than half the calories of fat, which means that replacing fatty foods with complex carbohydrates automatically cuts calories. But calories are only part of the story. A recent study in China found that, on the average, Chinese people eat 20% more calories than Americans, but they are also slimmer. Part of this is due to the sedentary American lifestyle, but there is more to it than exercise alone. Earlier studies have shown that obese people do not consume more calories than non-obese people—in many cases, they consume less.

The body treats carbohydrates differently than fat calories. The difference comes with how the body stores the energy of different food types. It is very inefficient for the body to store the energy of carbohydrates as body fat—it burns 23% of the calories of the carbohydrate—but fat is converted easily into body fat. Only 3% of the calories in fat are burned in the process of conversion and storage. It is the type of food, not so much the quantity, that affects body fat the most.

Protein

Although protein and carbohydrates have almost the same number of calories per gram, foods that are high in protein—particularly animal products—are usually high in fat, too. Even “lean” cuts of meat have much more fat than a healthy body needs. And animal products always lack fiber. Fiber helps make foods more satisfying without adding many calories, and it is only found in foods from plants.

Still worried about protein? These foods are packed with protein: quinoa (8 grams per cup), chia (4 grams per 2 tablespoons), spinach (5 grams per one cup), seitan (36 grams per half cup), hummus (7 grams per 2 tablespoons), nuts (5 to 7 grams per ¼ cup serving), tofu (10 grams per ½ cup serving), edamame (17 grams per cup), chickpeas (6 grams per half cup serving), lentils: (18 grams per one cup serving).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise

Exercise is essential. Aerobic exercise speeds up the breakdown of fat in one’s body and makes sure that muscle is not lost. Toning exercises and weight-lifting help firm muscles and increase muscle mass. A combination of exercises will help one achieve a slimmer, firmer, healthier body in a shorter period of time. The trick is to find activities that one enjoys and that can fit one’s lifestyle. Walking is popular because it requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere at anytime.

Conclusion

The best weight control program is a high-complex-carbohydrate, low-fat, vegan diet complemented by regular exercise. This is the best choice for a healthier, longer, happier life.