Have you ever thought about why so many people eat meat? It’s been scientifically proven that it’s better for our bodies to get our protein from plant-based sources rather than meat, yet the average American eats 200 pounds of meat per year. Meat and dairy consumption are linked with numerous health risks including cancer, heart disease, obesity and more; however, the U.S. government and many medical doctors (MDs) support the false ideology that people need to consume a specific amount of meat and dairy products to maintain a healthy diet.
We are exposed to corporate and government propaganda encouraging us to consume meat and dairy products starting at a very young age. We are mislead to believe that animal products are healthy for our bodies and a necessity for growing children.
I believe that over-consumption of meat is a direct result of psychological conditioning. This would provide an explanation for why people have difficulty accepting the environmental and health risks associated with the meat and dairy industries and why people consider giving up animal products to be both mentally and physically exhausting.
How the Government and Corporations Created our Addiction to Meat
The USDA Food Guide Pyramid states you should eat 2-3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese as well as 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, & nuts per day. Walter Willett of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University states, “Individuals can be very healthy with no dairy consumption at all;” however, according to the USDA guidelines that’s incorrect, despite the fact that only 75% of people can actually digest milk properly. So, where did the disconnect occur between the government and science?
During World War 1, the U.S. government started producing mass amounts of canned milk so they could be shipped to troops overseas to fight malnutrition. After the war ended, demand for milk plummeted and the country was left with enough milk to feed an army (literally). Instead of reducing production, the government decided they invested too much money into expanding dairy operations to let it go to waste so they started convincing consumers to buy more.
“Milk education” became standard practice in schools, which was eventually extended throughout the entire nation by way of advertisements such as the multi-million dollar “Got Milk?” campaigns. The USDA, the same governing body that creates dietary guidelines, also helps form partnerships with restaurants to develop heavy-dairy menus. Check out this video that elaborates on the government’s ties to the dairy industry here.
The USDA has a similar relationship to the meat industry, which is clearly illustrated in the Food Guide Pyramid. The protein section of the pyramid only lists different animal products and nuts, completely omitting many plant-based protein sources. The USDA has heavy ties to many advertisements and campaigns encouraging consumers to purchase meat. The U.S. government spends $38 billion annually to subsidize the meat and dairy industries, in comparison to only 0.04% of that on fruits and vegetables. If the government didn’t benefit from meat and dairy sales, our recommended intake of animal products would look significantly different.
Why Don’t We Stop the Addiction?
Study after study has proven that it’s terrible for our bodies, yet the animal agriculture industry continues to thrive. I believe this is because people have difficulty integrating knowledge because they aren’t directly relating it to themselves. You can tell someone “you might get cancer if you consume this product,” but until they actually get diagnosed with cancer and feel their body getting sick, they refuse to listen.
In addition, I believe people dissociate meat from the actual animals themselves, which has caused an increase in consumption. When our ancestors killed animals, it was seen as a spiritual sacrifice, one that was deeply appreciated and viewed as necessary. Now, consumers can simply purchase meat from a store without having to watch the animals suffer in order to get it and it’s completely unnecessary for survival. If everyone had to murder the animals themselves, I don’t think as many people would eat meat. This disassociation has become apparent through multiple social experiments performed by animal activist groups, Buzzfeed, Cowspiracy and more. If you were told you had to kill an animal every time you wanted to eat meat, would you agree to do so?
In discussing this subject, many people feel that since meat is a normal part of their lives, they cannot eliminate it from their diets. This often becomes apparent among older generations, as they’ve been eating animal products for longer. If you fall victim to this, ask yourself: are you even still eating meat in comparison to what it was years ago? Meat is now mass produced through factory farming and pumped with hormones and antibiotics. Animals are fed their own fecal matter and GMOs and suffer constant emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
If you consider all of this combined with the fact that most of these animals have been subject to selective breeding, are you still eating the same meat that was served on plates 50 years ago? This video actually illustrates how an entire generation of Americans have never tasted real chicken because they’re so used to the factory farmed versions.
Why You Need to Cut Down Your Meat Intake
Harvard University researchers recently published a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, which examined the association of animal and plant protein with mortality rates and causes as well as longevity of life. Researchers studied approximately 130,000 people for 36 years, monitoring their diet, lifestyle, illness and mortality. The study found that by switching a small amount of processed red meat for plant protein, participants reduced their risk of early death by 34%. It’s not just meat that’s the issue; by substituting plant protein for eggs, researchers found a 19% reduction in risk of death. Even just a 10% increase in meat intake was linked to a 2% higher mortality rate and 8% higher risk of death related to cardiovascular issues.
Harvard has studied the risks associated with consuming meat extensively. Other research performed by Harvard University found that even eating small amounts of red meat, especially processed red meat, on a regular basis has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and dying from cardiovascular disease or any other cause in general.
Certain meats are also known to cause cancer. Numerous studies have proven that replacing animal protein with plant protein is not only healthier for your body, but it could even reverse the harmful effects of eating meat. (source)
Another more well-known study is The China Study performed by a Professor at Cornell University, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD. In the study, Campbell used the traditional criteria to decide what is a carcinogen (in regards to animal-based proteins) from the government’s chemical carcinogenesis testing program. The study showed that animal protein is very acidic, thus the body takes calcium and phosphorus from the bones to neutralize the acidity. You can read more about this here.
According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, “What I did during the early part of my career was nothing more than what traditional science would suggest. I made the observation that diets presumably higher in animal protein were associated with liver cancer in the Philippines. When coupled with the extraordinary report from India showing that casein fed to experimental rats at the usual levels of intake dramatically promoted liver cancer, it prompted my 27-year-long study The China Project, of how this effect worked. We did dozens of experiments to see if this was true and, further, how it worked.”
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Why Dairy Is Scary For Ours Bodies
Milk advertisements often state that dairy is healthy and can help strengthen bones, which couldn’t be further from the truth. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that dairy consumption may increase the risk of bone fractures by 50 percent. This study was performed by Harvard Pediatrician David Ludwig, who emphasized that bone fracture rates are lower in countries that do not consume milk compared to those that do and stressed the importance of getting calcium from plant sources instead of dairy.
Calcium is a mineral found in soil. Animals get their calcium by consuming calcium-rich plants, so why would you consume an animal’s milk when you could go straight to its source?
Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD, explains, “If you eat a relatively low-calcium diet, your body will adjust. Studies show that when fed a relatively low-calcium diet (415 mg/day), our intestines become more efficient at absorbing calcium, and our kidneys conserve it better. Equally, when overfed with calcium (1,740 mg/day) our bodies adjust as well: our intestines block the calcium absorption, while our kidneys eliminate more. This is an example of how our bodies protect us: if not eliminated, the excess calcium would get deposited in our soft tissues (heart, kidneys, muscles, and skin), making us vulnerable to illness and even death… a true testament to how smart our bodies really are!”
In addition, dairy milk is filled with antibiotics, hormones, puss, blood, and other ingredients your body should not be consuming. These issues are seen across the meat industry as well, especially because almost every single dairy cow ends up being killed for its meat anyways.
Still not convinced that dairy is scary? Check out this short video that sums it up beautifully here.
How Do We Cure Our Addiction To Meat?
Many of us feel the need to eat meat, even if it’s at a subconscious level as a result of psychological conditioning. So, why not cure yourself of your addiction by giving your body exactly what it wants? There are numerous cruelty-free substitutes for burgers, chicken, bacon, and other animal products that are capable of satisfying your cravings.
In fact, science can now prove it. World-famous chef, David Chang, recently crafted a veggie burger which contains Heme, the molecule that makes meat addictive and taste “so delicious.” The molecule was recreated by Impossible Foods by fermenting yeast, so it’s completely cruelty-free.
Chief Financial and Operations Officer at Impossible Foods, David Lee, explains, “The Heme is natural and identical, down to the molecular level, to what is consumed from a cow. A cow uses plants and turns them into meat. We use plants and turn them into meat.” (source)
There have been similar innovations in creating dairy-free milk that is molecularly similar to cow’s milk as well. As demand increases, more and more companies are developing these cruelty-free products. A Canadian study found that over the past 5 years, the country experienced a 189% increase in new products making a “vegan” claim. According to Stats Canada, consumption of beef per capita decreased by 25% from 1999 to 2015 and consumption of pork per capita fell from 30.09 kilograms in 1999 to 22.63 in 2015 (source). The U.S. experienced similar decreases in regards to red meat and total meat consumption and an increase in veganism as well.
To be clear, I don’t think that consuming meat and dairy substitutes is the only way to transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet. I am vegan and although I enjoy imitation meat products, I do not feel the need to consume them very often. I don’t think veganism is a short-term trend, I think it’s a way of living that more people are starting to adopt. However, it’s clear that every body is different, so you need to listen to yours and eat what makes you feel best! That being said, there’s no doubt in my mind that if you transition to a plant-based diet and overcome your addiction to meat, you will feel better.
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