Raw? Vegan? Vegetarian? Lacto-Ovo? Pescatarian? Mediterranean? There have been so many diets promoted in natural health circles in America over the last decades. It seems they all have various benefits. And the one thing most have in common is the avoidance of consuming of cows and pigs.
Red meat and pork have no known health benefits. The animals are treated brutally and killed in a gruesome bloodbath that is easy to ignore because so few have witnessed our fellow mammals’ slaughter. Those who are employed to do the dirty work get very low wages and often incur injuries because of the size and weight of the animals and the speed of the work. It is very difficult to watch. Even when Cargill, one of the largest meat processing companies in the nation, allowed Oprah Winfrey into a couple of sanitized areas of a processing plant, they did not allow her cameras to film a cow being killed. Out of sight means out of mind.
We are very fortunate that there are so many other things to eat! This meat can feel energizing because of all the adrenaline in the animal when it is killed, and there is iron in blood and flesh, but there is also iron in spinach, dried fruit, and lentils. There is a tradition of the hunt and the roast, and this holds a special allure and place in our hearts. However, when you realize that is far from how the animals get to our plates nowadays, the romanticized vision vanishes.
One hamburger can contain up to 100 different cows. The US kills 35 million cows a year, and 13,200 pigs an hour. That is a lot of bloodshed, death, and killing. What would our country be like if that stopped? Our cardiovascular health would improve, as would our regularity. Less suffering for the animals coincides with less suffering for humanity.
If you would like to see what really goes on behind the closed doors of the slaughterhouse, it is a great motivator for change, although very sad to watch:
These videos have a louder volume, so you may wish to mute (this also makes them more bearable to watch):
This was filmed at Agriprocessors which was the largest (Glatt) Kosher meat producer in the United States, and the only one authorized by Israel’s Orthodox Rabbinate to export beef to Israel, before it was shut down in 2008 by inspectors (best to mute):
Thank you for being willing to read this, and watching some of the videos. I know it is very difficult to consider this topic because for so long we have been removed from the reality of it and since we were children we were taught to eat a certain way. Make sure to be gentle with yourself and go slowly when making changes in eating habits. Perhaps begin with a “meatless Monday.”
This film describes the positive environmental impacts that forgoing meat just one day a week can make:
For a well done documentary about one man’s journey with this issue, watch this clip:
Another inspiring story with regards to getting back to a plant-based diet is that of Dave the trucker. He was dying when he decided he had to tackle this problem head on:
Even the Mayo Clinic recommends “meatless meals”:
Recent articles in the LA Times and the Huffington Post lend weight to this conclusion:
Because of all the droughts we have been having in the US, the cattle are starving, and the herds are shrinking:
Cows are very gentle creatures. There is no skill or chase in hunting them. They are docile pacifists who give their milk and eat grass. They hurt no one, and do not deserve this torture. Pigs frolic and forage, are as sociable and intelligent as dogs, and genetically are surprisingly similar to humans (more so than any other domesticated animal):
The slaughter house is like hell on earth. It is time for the madness to end. It does not have to be this way. Humans have freedom of choice, and when we know better, we do better. And when we learn, we care.
These items can function in place of meats in traditional American recipes when needed, they’re pretty tasty, and the most popular ones are available at supermarkets:
I had a great experience when I asked my supermarket to carry a natural product they did not already have, and they now stock it in the store – thank you Vons!
If you are taking medications or have had surgery, please consult your doctor before making any changes in your diet and only undertake such changes under her/his supervision and monitoring. This is because dietary changes can lessen the need for certain medications. Also, listen to your body – if you need red meat, eat it. If you can avoid it when possible, and still feel good, please do. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as medical advice.
1 cup raw nuts (soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed)
(Try mixing it up. One of my favorite combinations is equal parts almonds, cashews, and pecans. Hazelnuts and Brazil nuts also make fantastic milk. Mix and match and find your favorite combination.)
4 cups filtered or bottled water
(This makes a rich, creamy, “2% milk” variation. For lighter milk, use more water. For even creamier milk, use less. 2 ½ – 3 cups water makes a great non-dairy creamer.)
Optional: Pinch of Himalayan pink salt or sea salt, to taste
Optional: 1 tsp vanilla extract (alcohol-free)
Optional (to sweeten): 1-3 large Medjool dates or 1- 2 Tbsp raw agave
Nut milk is a delicious raw staple that has become very popular in the mainstream. It’s easy to get ahold of; you can find many different brands in big-chain grocery stores. Though, the flavor of store-bought nut milk does not compare to the rich, complex flavor you get from homemade nut milk. It’s fairly simple to make, and I think it’s definitely worth it.
Soak the nuts you will be using overnight. This will make them blend easier (as well as aids in digestion). The next day, drain the soaking water from the nuts, and rinse them well.
Blend nuts with water, going gradually from low to high. Once thoroughly blended, strain through nut-milk bag (you can buy them on Amazon, or some health food stores), or cheesecloth. Gently press out all the milk and set aside the nut pulp to use in other recipes. You might want to repeat this process a few times, to make sure you catch all the pulp.
Once the milk is strained, pour it back into the blender, and combine with salt and dates/agave/vanilla if desired.
Store in the fridge, in an airtight container. It will keep this way for a few days. If you want it to last longer, freeze the extra. It will last much longer. Also, separation is natural—just give it a shake before you drink it.
Ive read that human breast milk contains toxins from pollution and other causes. How serious is this and what affect will it have on my baby? – Skylar S., New York, NY
Researchers have found that those of us living in developed countries-men, women and children alike-carry around quite a toxic burden in our bodies from the constant exposure to various chemicals in our urban, suburban and even rural environments. If this werent alarming enough, the fact that these chemicals end up in breast milk and are in turn passed along to newborns is even more troubling.
According to writer Florence Williams, whose groundbreaking 2005 article in the New York Times Magazine opened many womens eyes to the environmental health issues with breastfeeding, breast milk tends to attract heavy metals and other contaminants due to its high-fat and protein content. “When we nurse our babies, we feed them not only the fats, sugars and proteins that fire their immune systems, metabolisms and cerebral synapses,” she reports. “We also feed them, albeit in minuscule amounts, paint thinners, dry-cleaning fluids, wood preservatives, toilet deodorizers, cosmetic additives, gasoline byproducts, rocket fuel, termite poisons, fungicides and flame retardants.”
In the wake of such kinds of news reports, four nursing mothers came together in 2005 to form Make Our Milk Safe (MOMS), a nonprofit engaging in education, advocacy and corporate campaigns to try to eliminate toxic chemicals from the environment and in breast milk. The group educates pregnant women and others about the impacts on children of exposure to chemicals before, during and after pregnancy, and promotes safer alternatives to products such as cleaning supplies, food storage containers and personal care products that contain offending substances.
“Along with its antibodies, enzymes and general goodness, breast milk also contains dozens of compounds that have been linked to negative health effects,” reports MOMS, which lists Bisphenol-A (BPA, a plastic component), PBDEs (used in flame retardants), perchlorate (used in rocket fuel), perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs, used in floor cleaners and non-stick pans), phthalates (used in plastics), polyvinyl chloride (PVC, commonly known as vinyl) and the heavy metals cadmium, lead and mercury as leading offenders.
Despite these concerns, some recent research has shown the toxic load in breast milk to be smaller than that in the air most city dwellers breathe inside their homes. Researchers from Ohio State and Johns Hopkins universities measured levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breast milk and in the air inside the homes of three lactating Baltimore mothers, finding that a nursing infants chemical exposure from airborne pollutants to be between 25 and 135 times higher than from drinking mothers milk.
“We ought to focus our efforts on reducing the indoor air sources of these compounds,” said Johns Hopkins Sungroul Kim, the studys lead author. He concurs with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many other public health experts that, despite breast milks vulnerability to chemical contamination, the benefits of breast feeding-from the nutrition and important enzymes and antibodies it supplies to the mother/child bonding it provides-far outweigh the risks.
SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Christmas day nears, I’ve been thinking about jolly ol’ Santa and his love for milk and cookies … how his turning vegan could be the biggest gift to vegan activists everywhere.
By Adria Vasil
Maybe it’s the half-Greek in me, but there’s nothing that makes me giddier then the sight of a table full of food (well, other than actually eating the food). Trouble is most of what we stack onto our plates isn’t just weighing on our hips, hearts and cells, it’s also bloating the planet with packaging, pesticides and climate-changing gases. How can you get your fill without, er, tipping the ecological scales?