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.

The Three Biggest Killers in America

Medical research is at a crossroads. The major killer diseases are not solved by old experimental techniques. In order to win against the major diseases, researchers are looking to new technologies, and doctors are forced to learn new approaches.

Heart Disease, the Number One Killer

The greatest advance in the understanding of heart disease was the discovery that it can be virtually eliminated by controlling three factors—cholesterol, smoking, and blood pressure. This extraordinary advance came from sophisticated studies of human patients.

Over the past four decades, in Framingham, Massachusetts, thousands of individuals in two generations have been carefully studied to see which factors are responsible for heart disease. The Framingham Heart Study showed that if one’s cholesterol level stays below 150, a heart attack is extremely unlikely. Every 1 percent increase in cholesterol leads to approximately a 2 percent increase in risk. Other studies, such as the Lipid Research Clinic’s Trial and the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, have also demonstrated the importance of controlling cholesterol levels.

Dean Ornish, M.D., of the University of California at San Francisco, has shown that if people who have advanced heart disease adopt a vegan diet, stop smoking, reduce stress, and engage in mild daily exercise, the plaques in their arteries will actually start to disappear.

Coronary artery bypasses and heart transplants, while helpful for some patients, have not matched the potency of dietary and other lifestyle measures. Bypasses and transplants develop aggressive atherosclerosis unless strict dietary steps are taken. Clearly, medicine’s best strategy is to institute such steps while the patient is still healthy. More research is needed: what we need are human behavioral studies on how to help people change long-standing smoking and dietary habits. Economic and political studies on how to shift farm production away from tobacco and livestock and toward grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits are also essential.

Cancer, the Number Two Killer

Almost 50 years after President Nixon declared the new, aggressive “War on Cancer,” cancer death rates continue to climb.

A standard technique in the search for new anticancer drugs has been to give test substances to laboratory mice, a technique that had yielded no results relevant to humans while consuming millions of dollars and killing more than one million animals each year.

A new method developed by Michael Boyd, Robert Shoemaker, and others at the National Cancer Institute tests potential drugs on actual human tumor cells. In an automated system, the effectiveness of a substance in killing cancer cells is checked and entered into a computer. Potential drugs which have been overlooked by the pointless mouse screening system may be found to work in the new human cell screen.

Instead of struggling—and often failing—to cure established cancer, a large body of data now shows that cancer can be prevented. The National Cancer Institute estimates that as much as 80 percent of cancer cases can be prevented.

Thirty percent of cancers are due to tobacco. Avoid smoking, and lung cancer becomes very unlikely. At least 35 percent of cancers are due to dietary factors.

The National Research Council has released a technical report, Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer, showing that diet was probably the greatest single factor in the epidemic of cancer. Since then, more evidence has implicated specific dietary factors in several types of cancer. Foods rich in fats and oils increase risk of cancer in organs related to digestion (e.g., colon, rectum) and organs that are sensitive to sex hormones (e.g., breast, prostate).

In addition, certain food constituents help protect against cancer. Dietary fiber, principally found in whole grain cereals and legumes, helps prevent cancer of the colon and rectum. It also appears to reduce risk of breast cancer, perhaps by lowering cholesterol and sex hormones. Several vitamins have shown anticancer activity: beta-carotene (the form of vitamin A found in dark green and yellow vegetables and fruits), vitamins C and E, and the mineral selenium may help prevent cancer.

Avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight is a critical step in the prevention of skin cancer. In addition, radon, a natural radioactive gas that seeps up from certain underground rocks into groundwater supplies, has been implicated in certain cancers. Improved ventilation stops radon from building up in enclosed areas.

Prevention is the light at the end of the tunnel for those looking for a way to reduce the cancer epidemic. By avoiding factors that lead to cancer and including foods that strengthen us against the disease, we can, to a great extent, control our own risk.

Stroke, the Number Three Killer

In stroke, a part of the brain is killed, leading to paralysis, loss of sensory function, and often death. Clinical and epidemiologic studies have shown how stroke is caused and how it can be prevented. It has become clear that the same factors that lead to heart disease—high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and smoking—can also cause stroke. Controlling these factors can prevent stroke. To reduce the incidence of stroke, more aggressive measures to help people change dietary and smoking behavior must be developed.

 

 

At the Root of Deadly Pandemics Is the Human Appetite for Animals

In the spring of 1971 I shut down the production of the TV movie “The Forgotten Man” for three days by coming down with the stomach flu, and once I filmed a Barbie commercial when I was sick, throwing up between every take. I suffered a bit then, but those illnesses were not that serious. Amid the global outbreak of the very serious COVID-19 virus, I am doing what I can to stay safe by washing my hands, social distancing, and relying only on credible scientific sources for the truthful information and advisories. I hope you all are doing the same.

The source of the outbreak is believed to be a wet market in Wuhan, China. In a wet market, all kinds of animals, live and dead, are for sale. Fish packed into shallow tubs splash water all over the floor. The floors and counter tops of stalls are slick and red with the blood of animals, killed, skinned and gutted as customers watch. Live turtles and crustaceans climb over each other in desperate bids to escape filthy plastic boxes. Birds and mammals scream. Sick and wounded animals crammed into small cages stacked high drip blood, pus, feces, and urine onto other animals in cages below. In the eyes of all of them there is misery and terror. Water, blood, fish scales and animal guts are everywhere. Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. As the name implies, things are very wet at the wet market.

While wet markets can be found in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, researchers of zoonotic diseases — diseases that jump from animals to humans – pinpoint the wet markets in mainland China as particularly problematic for several reasons. First, these markets often have many different kinds of animals – some wild, some domesticated but not necessarily native to that part of Asia. Many of the customers who visit these markets have developed a pretentious taste for exotic animals – including dogs, bats, pangolins, African serval cats, fennec foxes from the Sahara, marmosets from South America, blue-tongued lizards, iguanas, monkeys, Australian cockatoos, African meerkats, ferrets, rare tortoises, porcupines, snakes and skunks. These rare and beautiful animals can be found at wet markets side by side with pigs, sheep, and chickens waiting to be killed and disemboweled or boiled alive before being eaten. The stress of captivity and imminent death in these chaotic markets weakens the animals’ immune systems and creates an environment where viruses from different species can mingle, swap bits of their genetic code and spread from one species to another, according to biologists and epidemiologists. When that happens, a new strain of virus gets a foothold in humans and an outbreak like this current coronavirus erupts.

China closed over 20,000 wet markets in February, but markets being run by crime syndicates are still selling animals across Asia with impunity. These places of filth and death as well as hotbeds for disease are still operating in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Burma, where millions of dollars are being made in the shipping and trading of “exotic meat” and wildlife. These and all wet markets are a time bomb of coronavirus risk.

For years, scientists have warned that filthy markets crammed full of sick animals are breeding grounds for new, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Some studies claim that by 2050, more people will be dying from antibiotic-resistant diseases than from cancer. What the world is witnessing in horror in 2020 may be someday be common. If we want to stop the next pandemic, there’s going to have to be truly a global attempt to shut these markets down.

The United Nations has found that 70% of new human diseases were directly linked to animals used for food. The World Health Organization has concluded that the consumption of processed meat contributes to the development of cancer. Research as shown that a diet free of animal products dramatically reduces the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. In other words, a vegan diet is not only better for human health but for the health and survival of animals.

Deadly viruses, devastating forest fires, accelerating climate change – the farming and eating of animals has apocalyptic consequences. Friends of the meat industry and deniers with motives of their own will claim otherwise, but the truth is, we cannot expect to continue living on planet Earth if we continue to eat animals. It’s really that simple: saving human lives comes down to saving animal lives. The easiest thing that you can do for your own health and the world we live in is to go vegan right now and persuade everyone you know to do the same.

An urgent reminder: Pets CANNOT contract COVID-19 or give it to you; don’t dump your animal companions at shelters where they will be killed.

Peace to all the animals with whom we share this planet.

Make Your Super Bowl Party Animal Friendly!

Growing up, I wasn’t a big football fan, but in 1969 I got to visit the Los Angeles Rams training camp for a photo shoot to promote the movie, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.” We recreated Lucy’s favorite gag – holding the ball for Charlie Brown to kick then pulling it away at the last moment. Rams kicker Bruce Gossett, filling in for Charlie Brown, was a good sport, and we had fun.

This weekend is the Super Bowl, and football fans everywhere will be gathering to watch the game and devour untold tons of snacks at Super Bowl parties. My heart breaks when I think of all those chicken wings and other animal products laid out on snack tables. Every wing, sausage, and cold cut reminds me of the innocent lives who suffered and were slaughtered to become snacks. It’s heartbreaking.

There are many mouth-watering vegan alternatives that can make your Super Bowl party 100% cruelty-free. Have you tried Beyond Sausages from the Beyond Meat company? They’re juicy and delicious, and they smell and cook great on the grill. There are plant-based Buffalo- and barbecue-style “chicken” wings that your guests will tear into and ask for more of.

Like coleslaw and potato salad? Make it with dairy- and egg-free Veganaise. I enjoy it on sandwiches, and it’s so much healthier for you.

Offer your guests a beautiful and delicious cheese plate using vegan cheeses. I like the ones made by Daiya, but there are many others. Treeline has a scallion soft spread cheese that is delicious, and Myokos has a good smokey-flavored hard cheese. Supplement your cheese plate with fruits, nuts, and crunchy vegetables. Vegan queso is great, there’s guacamole, and coconut yogurt makes a great base for all kinds of dips. Vegan cheeses are great on pizza, too!

There are vegan meatballs and vegan burgers. I like a hearty vegan chili. Recently I had a great Kung Pao cauliflower. Be creative!

You can find some great recipes for vegan appetizers, dips, and other snacks here.

A lot of people think eating vegan means a steady diet of salads and raw carrots. Get over it! In the 21st century, an amazing and delicious variety of vegan foods are available everywhere. Make your Super Bowl party truly super and 100% cruelty-free.

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

 

What Is Ethical Veganism?

What is ethical veganism?

Being an ethical vegan is refusing to eat animals or animal products – putting peace on your plate – and extends into a lifestyle and a belief system grounded in morality. Ethical vegans conduct their lives without exploiting animals in any form or fashion or being complicit in their suffering and abuse.

I practice ethical veganism. It is important to me to be vegan in every sense of the word. As an ethical vegan, I embrace a dynamic respect for all life. Ethical veganism is about what I eat and who I am. It’s about my choices relating to diet but also my choices relating to what I wear, what personal care products I use (NO animal testing and NO animal products in the ingredients), the activities I enjoy, and the work I do. Since ethical veganism pervades every facet of a person’s life, it also colors one’s personal relationships, political beliefs and social attitudes. It absolutely does mine.

I believe animals not only have the right to life, but also to live without pain or exploitation. Included in the philosophy of ethical veganism is a personal commitment to create the least harmful impact on one’s natural environment. Doing what I can to protect the environment or lessen the impact of climate change helps all living things.

Recently, in Norwich, England, a judge ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief, entitled to the same legal protections as a religious belief. A man, Jordi Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, had claimed he was fired from his job because of his veganism. Casamitjana worked for an animal welfare charity called League Against Cruel Sports. Casamitjana claims he was let go because he revealed to his colleagues that their employer’s pension fund was being invested in companies that experiment on animals.

The court’s ruling, that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief protected by law, means that Casamitjana’s discrimination lawsuit can continue. The case will be decided in February, but if the court finds that he was indeed fired for his beliefs, it will be a victory for ethical vegans everywhere.

There will always be those who fear or despise ethical vegans and boast of their pleasure in killing and eating animals. But ethical veganism is what I believe in and how I live my life; what those who oppose think of that doesn’t matter to me at all.

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