jueves, 23 de noviembre de 2006


Anouk Sickler
Ms. Donna Harris
Expository Writing
22, November 2006

Veganism is Complete; There is No Need To Eat Meat
Would you like to live to be one hundred and not feel or look it? Then, the Vegan diet is right for you. Veganism is a rapidly growing diet and philosophy that helps people live longer healthier lives because it is preventative and nutritionally complete. It is not just a health diet as many other diets are, but a spiritual one, because it is coupled with a pacifist philosophy that respects all living creatures.
Donald Watson, a Welsh farmer in the 1940’s, invented the word Vegan. It is a play on the word vegetarian by eliminating some letters. This elimination of letters is symbolic to the meaning of the word Vegan because a Vegan is basically a Vegetarian who cuts out or eliminates all animal products, while a Vegetarian will eat dairy, eggs and sometimes fish.
Donald Watson was looking for a word that summarized the ideas and feelings he had as a child while on holiday at his uncle’s farm. At first he believed that the animals living there where friends and companions, leading a happy leisured life. Then he came to the realization that this idyllic scene was transformed into death row as soon as the animals no longer served a purpose to humans (foodsforlife). The realization that they never got to live out the full extent of their lives was a shock to him and led him to reassess what a farm was really all about.
By 1924, he became a vegetarian, a concept that was not readily accepted by his family and community (vegparadise). By the 1940’s he formed the Vegan Society, writing a newsletter about the Vegan philosophy in a corner of his bedroom and distributing the material to the few members. The number of members to the Vegan Society grew incrementally throughout the decades. It is a respected organization today.
Although Donald Watson started the Vegan movement, the actual philosophy of harming none was commenced over five thousand years ago, by the Jains. Jainism is one of the oldest recorded religions. It teaches that all living beings have a soul and that all souls are equal. Compassion to all life, including non-human life is central to their religion. To kill is considered unimaginably abhorrent. Out of Jainism, Hinduism was born. It is also the likely root of Buddhism. Gujarat, the birthplace of Jainism was also the home of Mahatma Gandhi. Like Vegans, the number of Jains are impossible to measure; however it is estimated that there are about six to eight million Jains that live almost exclusively in India. About 100,000 Jains live in North America and other countries (Jainism). Extreme and orthodox forms of Jainism go beyond Veganism, excluding root vegetables, due to the fact that eating the root destroys the entire plant. Although the Jains of India compose the most literate and wealthiest members of society, they do not encourage possession of material items.
The Jain’s basic philosophy is harm no one, walk this earth lightly, respect animals as our brothers and sisters and share the earth. When a Jain person is walking down a path, he or she will brush his or her path lightly before taking a step so as not to step on an insect that might be on that path. So like Veganism, Jainism teaches not to eat any being who was or is living.
There are other diets that are popular today that are similar to or stem from Veganism, such as the Macrobiotic diet or Raw Foodism. The philosophy of the Macrobiotic diet comes from the Japanese theory of the Ying and Yang. This means staying away from the extremes of too sweet and too salty and focusing on foods in their whole form.
People who practice Raw Foodism believe that once a food is cooked it is essentially a dead food. This is because the process of heating destroys most of the nutrient, thus when eating these cooked foods, the body will absorb dead or very little nutrients. They argue that food in its raw state, as nature made it, has the most vitamins therefore it is alive with nutrients. They also state that humans are the only animals that cook food and note that there are no degenerative diseases in wild animals except ones caused by pollution. Some Vegans are raw foodist while not all raw foodists are Vegans; this is because some raw foodists will eat raw animal products such as raw milk, raw eggs and raw fish.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding a Vegan diet in our present society. One of them is that Vegans are skinny and upper class. My experience as a Vegan for four years has taught me that there are Vegans in all shapes, sizes and levels of income. Anyone doing a Goggle search will see that Vegans come from all over the world, including Argentina, Spain, France, India, Canada and Russia.
Another misconception is that Vegans are radical animal rights activists. While it is it true that Veganism is inextricably tied to animal rights, not all Vegans are active animal rights protesters. Some people are Vegans solely for health purposes and some animal right activists are not Vegans, but Vegetarians.
The last myth I would like to explore is that Vegan food is not delicious. On the contrary, the usual experience is that once a person tries the Vegan diet, he or she will explore an entire new array of grains, fruits and vegetables. Thousands of unexplored new recipes are available to a person who is not following the standard American meat and potatoes diet. It is commonly thought that a Vegan diet is a limiting diet when, in fact, many of the animal ingredients thought as necessary can be successfully substituted. For example, instead of just one type of milk, a Vegan can choose up to four different types of milks, including rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk.
Judging by the increasing number of articles printed by our daily media, Veganism has been gaining more acceptance by the public. However, despite the fact that Veganism is on the rise, America is still a very meat-centered country. Fast food restaurants spend millions of dollars advertising meat products, in comparison to the promotions that are given to fruits and vegetables. Supermarket circulars sent directly to our mailboxes will have pork chops, ground beef, or the assorted body parts of chickens as their main attraction, displayed on the front cover. Meat is the number one item on sale whether it is a circular coming from Vons Supermarket in California, Shoprite in New York, or Publix in Florida. These supermarkets promote these meats despite the fact that saturated animals fats contribute to heart disease, which according to the CDC is the number one premature killer of Americans today.
Euphemisms used in these ads, and in our daily language take the place of the real names of various animals and their body parts. Examples of this include ham or bacon for pig, steak or beef for a cow, veal for the male baby of a cow and the word meat for animal. Many people do not actually know that veal is a cow’s male baby, and that the nature of making veal tender, involves keeping him chained and confined to a crate that prohibits movement so that his muscles remain soft before his slaughter.
Why all these euphemisms? A disassociation is promoted from the being that is killed when his or her name is thought of as a food. If we walk into any library in the U.S. and go into the children’s section, the majority of books consist of gentle and endearing stories which involve animal characters. These animals that are anthropomorphacized, are the same ones children eat except they are called by their proper names, for example, Porky Pig, and Donald Duck. Children must then disassociate the food that is on their plate from the animal characters that are in their bedtime stories. The question must then be asked, “ are children born insensitive to this or is disassociation taught by our culture?”
According to the latest food pyramid by the US Department of Agriculture, a “healthy” diet consists of lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and milk products along with fruits and vegetables (Mypyramid). The portion of the pyramid that includes meat has become increasingly thinner throughout the years. Although experts at the USDA still recommend at least one portion of meat per day for a child, they seemed to be coming to terms with the fact that they cannot ignore millions of people around the world who have been vegetarian since birth. This is especially true in India where the majority is vegetarian, have never eaten meat or fish and have excellent health. The USDA has revised their wording by stating that if you don’t or choose not to eat meat, then beans and nuts are a good source of protein. They now include beans and nuts in the same slot as meat.

Animal disease concerns cloud the meat market, since the discovery of two cases of mad cow disease, one in December 2003 and another in June of 2005. However the average American still consumes about three ounces of beef a day. The households with the lowest incomes consume the most beef, and when divided by ethnicity, African Americans consume the most beef and Whites consume the least (Fig.USDA, ERS). One rising trend to combat the fear of disease in animals is that people are buying free-range animals and cage-free eggs. Consumers are making a conscious choice to not participate in the factory “farm” industries.
Free-range animals convey an image of a roaming pasture, however, the animals are still deprived of living out their lives until old age as intended by nature. One example of this is that free-range chickens are de-beaked at the age of two in cold blood just the same as battery-caged hens. Normally a chicken can live up to fifteen years and a cow up to twenty-five years (Free-Range).
The recent Ben and Jerry’s campaign by the Humane Society illustrates another example of what happens when consumers support the free-range industry. After pressure from the Humane Society, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream company switched to using cage free eggs. They made this decision, not on their own but after receiving floods of letters from consumers and after video exposes by the Humane Society. These videos depicted the conditions in which the chickens used in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream were submitted to. Immediately after the switch, Ben and Jerry’s was seen as a more compassionate and conscious company. Thank you letters were written. This, however, did not address the fact that because milk is their prime ingredient; baby calves are deprived of the same breastfeeding relationship that we humans hold so sacred with our own children. This type of improvement in the meat industry is called welfarism. The consumer sees a company in a better light because their animals are treated more humanely, however, the animals are still ultimately killed before reaching old age.
Dietary guidelines found in all types of media, such as health magazines and books are continuously recommending milk as a good source of calcium. The Dairy Council, the people stating, “milk does a body good” and the ones from the “got milk” mustache campaign have claimed since the 1980’s that milk is an excellent source of calcium. The high content of animal protein in milk, however, reverses the calcium intake and actually depletes the bones of calcium. Green leafy vegetables, which have a high content of calcium, do not do this. Calcium is lost from the body in urine and the package that the calcium comes in must be considered. People who do not eat dairy excrete less calcium in their urine, than people who eat high amounts of dairy. Since the more dairy a person consumes, the more calcium is lost, the body will then take calcium from available bone to maintain the required level of calcium in the blood. To check calcium loss, doctors perform an urine/calcium test called Urinary Ca+2, which can also be done at home (PCRM).
A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health in which 75,000 nurses participated, demonstrated that those who drank milk had the highest incidence of bone fractures. The countries with the highest consumption of dairy, he US, Sweden and Finland, are also the ones with highest rate of osteoporosis. In China and Japan, where there is very little dairy consumption, women are practically free of osteoporosis. In some villages in China and in the Okinawa Islands, people have never heard of butter, neither have they heard of osteoporosis.
South African Blacks consume 196 mg of calcium daily; African Americans in the US consume 1,000 mg of calcium daily. African Americans in the US, are nine times more likely to experience hip fractures than are South African Blacks and osteoporosis is virtually unheard of in this area (milksucks).
In 2004, The Dairy Council spent 200 million dollars paying celebrities to put white paint over their lips. That same year on their 60th anniversary, Donald Watson’s The Vegan Society spent 2,291 dollars on advertising (24-7pressrelease). The Dairy Council’s lies to the American public were revealed when they did their own study on milk and their results were not in their favor (Neal Hendrickson). Their new ad campaigns state that milk is “slimming”. This is another lie since a recent study by The Harvard Medical School, involving 12,000 children nationwide, found that the more milk they drank, the more weight they gained. Those consuming more than three servings each day were 35 percent more likely to become overweight than those who drank one or two (Washington Post)
The following is a statement from the Harvard School of Public Health made in the year 2005, regarding The Dairy Council.
“The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is another step in the wrong direction. … Three glasses of low-fat milk add more than 300 calories a day. This is a real issue for the millions of Americans who are trying to control their weight. What's more, millions of Americans are lactose intolerant, and even small amounts of milk or dairy products give them stomachaches, gas, or other problems. This recommendation ignores the lack of evidence for a link between consumption of dairy products and prevention of osteoporosis. It also ignores the possible increases in risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer associated with dairy products.”
The American public must have information from all sides of the issues when it comes to their nutrition. This is especially important in matters of the meat and dairy industry since it seems to be in the industry’s best interest to keep the consumers naïve about what goes on behind the scenes. People should empower themselves by making fully informed choices.
Better nutritional choices can be made if our society were to further examine the common beliefs that are held regarding the meat and dairy industry. Mostly these beliefs are about the necessity to eat meat and dairy in order to get essential vitamins or minerals. For example:
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. The body cannot produce it, and the recommended daily allowance for it is 1,000 milligrams per day. Cow’s milk is touted to be the most important source of calcium. Leafy green vegetables contain the same amount of calcium as cow’s milk with an added advantage; Vegan calcium sources do not contain cholesterol or saturated fat. Recent research by scientists studying kidney-stone diseases show evidence that humans may be genetically more suited to vegetarianism than meat eating. Professor Chris Danpure of University College in London found that an enzyme known as AGT was found in humans, in the same area of the liver as herbivore animals. Carnivore animals have this enzyme in another area of the liver (Liver Studies). Since cows get their calcium from plants, so can we. Reed Mangels, PH.D, R.D., a writer for the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has published in the Vegetarian Journal that most of the plant-derived milks she studied contained more bio-available calcium than cow’s milk (Saunders 32). Some good sources of plant-based calcium are collard greens, which contain 358 milligrams of calcium and oatmeal, which has 326 milligrams of calcium. A cup of cow’s milk has 300 milligrams of calcium.
Amino Acids
There are eight essential amino acids that humans need to make protein. They are essential because our bodies cannot make them, and we must obtain them from food sources. Many people believe that they must eat meat in order to get these amino acids. Plants, not animals, make all of the amino acids that humans need; therefore, the amino acids found in meat are second hand. The protein that cows and chickens get from plant foods is the same protein that ends up in our plate as meat. The biggest and strongest animals in nature get protein in their bodies from plants only, for example elephants, horses, and even brontosauruses. Vegans need not to worry about meeting protein needs since protein is found in almost every food. A six-ounce steak is a source of thirty-eight grams of protein, but it also delivers sixteen grams of saturated fat. One cup of cooked lentils has eighteen grams of protein but less than one gram of fat (Protein).
Vitamin C, which enhances iron absorption, is found only in plants. This makes it easy for a Vegan to absorb plenty of iron. Excellent sources of plant-based iron are beans, peas, lentils and leafy greens. The kind of iron found in meat is called heme, while the plant-based iron is called non-heme. With non-heme iron, the body will absorb only as much as it needs. With heme iron, the body will absorb all of the iron in the meat regardless of whether it needs it or not. Since iron is an oxidant, the opposite of an anti-oxidant, excess amounts of it produce free radicals. Free radicals speed up the aging process. Researchers believe that this is one of the reasons that people eating plant-based diets live longer than those who eat meat (Robbins 150).
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is generally obtained through exposure to sunlight. The general recommendation for it is fifteen minutes of mid-morning or afternoon sunlight per day. Vitamin D is not naturally present in cow’s milk; it is added at the dairy plant. This makes the choice for vitamin D fortified rice or soy milk much healthier since plant-based milks do not contain the contaminants such as antibiotics, hormones or pesticides found in cow’s milk.
B12 is a bacteria product that is an essential vitamin. Deficiencies in it cause anemia and nervous system damage. Animals get their B12 from bacteria in the soil, manure and in their foods. The sterilizing effects of modern sanitary practices have made B-12 in fruits and vegetables almost nonexistent, therefore Vegans need a reliable source of B-12 such as a supplement. The microorganisms found in B-12 supplements are the same ones found in the bacteria that the animals get from the soil. Nutritional yeast is also a source of vitamin B-12.
Omega Three’s
Food and Health magazines and other media, ubiquitously recommend for people to eat fish as a brain food and as a good source of the essential fatty acid omega three. Omegas threes are crucial for mental and visual development. The media that advises the public to eat more fish almost always irresponsibly ignores the fact that fish are also a good source of methyl mercury, PCB’s, DDT and dioxins. In the health pyramid the USDA encourages fish consumption but fails to mention the dangers of mercury poisoning. So much pollution is dumped into our oceans that when some fish die, they are considered toxic and hazardous waste such as the Beluga Whale. (Paul Watson). Another fact that is ignored by the media is that fish do not have omega threes in them; no animal does (Robbins 144). Fish get their omega threes into their body by eating sea plants such as micro algae and plankton. A salmon living in clear water, without any algae, will not manufacture omega three. This is the reason that fish farmers add omega threes to their fishmeal. Since the plants that they consume are the only reason that they carry these oils, fish are not intrinsically a health food. Vegans seeking to benefit from these oils cut out the fish and get their omega threes directly from algae plants in the form of supplements. The EPA has put out a new list of the few fish that they say are okay to eat, but the negatives of eating these fish outweigh the benefits. Captain Paul Watson the co-founder of Greenpeace and Director of the Sierra Club, comments in his article, “Toxic Roulette and the Revenge of the Fish” that cans of tuna fish contain warnings, that it should not be eaten by pregnant women or young children because of the high levels of mercury and other toxic heavy metals. This warning protects the unborn fetus and children; however, the tuna companies and the government have decided that men and non-pregnant women are expendable (Paul Watson). Chickens also do not have omega threes in them. Eggs rich in omega threes come from chickens that have an altered diet. They are fed a special diet of 20% flaxseeds. The fat and cholesterol level remain the same in these eggs. Vegans skip these eggs and get the same benefit of these oils by just drinking flax seed tea or a plethora of omega three enhanced cereals, drinks, or hemp-enriched foods such as waffles and brownies.
The best indication that eating animal foods is not necessary for good health is the number of living centenarians who eschew animal products. The recently published book Healthy at 100 by John Robbins, examines the studies of four different cultures in opposite parts of the world that are evidenced to be the longest living groups of people. Scientists and researchers have kept careful records of the ages of these individuals since the 1960’s. One of the dominant factors that these people share is that they eat little or no animal products and large quantities of fruits and vegetables.
Consuming meat and dairy has a slow but steady consequence on the human body. Currently there are at least twelve diseases associated with eating animal products, such as heart disease, different types of cancers, strokes, obesity, impotence, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Mad Cow Disease, Bird Flu, Crohn’s Disease and SARS.
Our society places trust in the FDA to make the best food choices for us. How much trust can be placed in this organization? Recently, the FDA decided to approve the consumption of meat and dairy from cloned animals. Instead of using neutral scientist from outside sources, they used their own scientist to decide for people that eating meat from cloned animals is okay. They have also recently approved the spraying of six different viruses on meat to make it last longer and kill any bacteria that might naturally occur. This government agency, which has a history of allowing toxic and cancerous chemicals in our foods, such as, allowing antifreeze (also known as propylene glycol) in children’s Tylenol, must not be trusted.
The answer to keeping optimum health lies in eating Vegan foods in their whole and organic form. The Vegan diet has four food groups, which are grains, fruits vegetables and legumes. The life extending and beneficial properties of these foods are numerous. Grains in their whole form help lower cholesterol, provide energy and contain the antioxidant selenium. Vegetables and fruits are low in fat and contain myriads of essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. No animal product contains fiber. Legumes contain powerful anti-cancer agents such as phytates, protease inhibitors and inositol pentakisphosphate (Beans).
Phytonutrients are found only in plants and act as antioxidants, fighting free radicals and repairing DNA damage to our cells. Animal products even in small amounts are unnecessary because they provide very little nutritional value to our bodies. They are a big part of the Standard American Diet. Despite all of our advances in medicine, the American people are one of the physically sickest people in the planet, with very expensive medical bills. The Vegan diet contains all the best nutrients that our bodies need to lead the healthiest life possible and prevent diseases.

Works Cited
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Robbins, John. Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest Lived People. New York, NY: Random House, 2006.
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United Poultry Concerns, Inc. ""Free-Range" Poultry and Eggs: Not All They're Cracked Up To Be." 2006. <http://www.upc-online.org/freerange.html>.
Watson, Paul. "Toxic Roulette and the Revenge of the Fish; The Facts Many Do Not Want to Hear about Eating Fish." 10/29/2006 2006. <http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=2&ObjectID=10397302>.