In a previous blog, we reviewed the benefits of nutrition and eating plants, but there’s another step in achieving optimum health and that is based on what we should NOT eat. Items to avoid include beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy.
Why not meat?
But why, you ask? There are many convincing reasons. Meat contains saturated fat and cholesterol. Yes, even chicken breast is 34% fat. Any amount of saturated fat and cholesterol increases LDL cholesterol, which increases risk of heart disease and death. In addition to the fat and cholesterol, other research points to carnation and choline in animal products causing inflammation and plaque in our arteries, as well as prostate cancer. And if it couldn’t get any worse, research also points to links between animal protein and cancer. Bottom line, we don’t think you should eat it.
Why not dairy?
Milk is baby cow food. Humans are the only species to consume another species breast milk. Plus there is so much other gross stuff in milk. Dairy consumption is linked to autoimmune disease, cancer, and acne.
What about milk alternatives, like soy, almond, oat milk?
They are great, but watch out for added sugar or oil. Why get extra processed stuff if you don’t have to. Look for the cleanest product available with the least amount of fillers.
What about mock meats and vegan cheese?
There are good reasons to eat mock meats and vegan cheeses as an alternative to animal products. The climate change impact of the livestock industry is worse than the transportation industry. The livestock industry has created immense deforestation, ocean dead zones, and mass extinctions. However, most commercially available vegan meats and cheeses are highly processed. For optimum health, you should not eat highly processed foods. If those products are a step away from animal products toward a healthier diet for you, one that is continually increasing whole plant food, then absolutely take that step.
There are some mock meats that are made with quality ingredients. We use Hungry Planet protein at Melita’s Table. The base ingredient of this plant protein is Non-GMO soy. The protein has no cholesterol and no trans fats. Hungry Planet has worked with Dr. Neal Barnard, who works with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Dr. Barnard did a tasting with Hungry Planet and was impressed with the “lean and clean” ingredient deck for Hungry Planet products and the fact that their products contain half the calories and a fraction of the fat and sodium of other pre-prepared plant-based meats.
Many people are skeptical about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet, but all plants have protein. Have you ever heard of anyone in the United States with the protein deficiency disease called kwashiorkor? I’ll save you the trouble of answering. The answer is “NO”. If you are eating enough calories (i.e. if you do not suffer from anorexia or bulimia) then you are getting enough protein. Even vegans get more protein than we need. This video from NutritionFacts.org gives data showing how protein needs are met, but more concerning is that the research shows how fiber is deficient in most of the American population. 96% of Americans do not get the required amount of dark green vegetables or legumes. That should be the worry, instead of if we are getting enough protein. A plant-based diet helps tremendously with fiber intake.
Small steps are key to not becoming overwhelmed. We guarantee the benefits are worth the change.