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9 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    It’s well established in scientific literature that a meat-free diet, when done correctly, offers tremendous health benefits. Plant-based eating is not only nutritionally sufficient but helps you avoid chronic illness.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you ever considered cutting meat out of your diet? What stops you from going for it?

This article was inspired by Michelle McMacken‘s article “7 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating meat.” An MD, board-certified internal medicine physician and an  assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, she says the “protein found in whole plant foods protects us from many chronic diseases.” We’ve expanded the information she provides in this article and offer a different take on some points.

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It’s well established in scientific literature that a meat-free diet, when done correctly, offers tremendous health benefits. The notion that meat is necessary for human health is a myth that continues to pervade popular culture, but public perception is slowly shifting, and new research is showing that even our ancestors did not exclusively (or even predominantly) eat meat. While we don’t mean to say that eating any meat is unhealthy, we do wish to call attention to the growing body of research making clear that vegan and vegetarian diets are optimal for good health.

Katherine Milton, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, explains why the ‘paleo’ argument is flawed in the following statement:

[I]t is difficult to comment on ‘the best diet’ for modern humans because there have been and are so many different yet successful diets in our species. . . . [B]ecause some hunter-gatherer societies obtained most of their dietary energy from wild animal fat and protein does not imply that this is the ideal diet for modern humans, nor does it imply that modern humans have genetic adaptations to such diets.

To learn more about the paleo diet confusion and see examples and studies, you can refer to this article we published in 2015.

According to Harvard Medical School, “studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.”

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Even the American Dietetic Association has weighed in with a position paper, concluding that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

These diseases include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and more.

Want to try cutting down on meat? Try these recipes or this cookbook.

With that being said, let’s take a look at what can happen when you stop eating meat.

1. You’ll Help Protect the Environment

Eating meat is not like it used to be. Today, we raise and kill billions of animals every single year to feed our ever-increasing demand for meat — a demand that far outstrips our need. What’s worse, these animals we raise to be slaughtered are confined, tortured, and subjected to all manner of horrific treatment along the way. The cruelty alone is enough to discourage someone from eating meat, or at least encourage them to reduce their consumption. Although this article is mainly about health, this ethical issue can’t be ignored.

While we slaughter these animals, we also wreak havoc on the environment, as the video below illustrates. Called “feed lots,” though officially referred to as “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFO) and more commonly known as factory farms, they house thousands of animals in horrid conditions that breed disease and cause massive environmental degradation. Despite this fact, they remain a non-issue to several major organizations whose job it is to raise awareness on the various issues contributing to our planet’s destruction.

According to FarmForward, a nonprofit advocacy group, 99% of farmed animals in the U.S. are raised on feedlots. We are talking about billions of animals raised for slaughter every year, and that is in the U.S. alone. Globally, more than 70 billion of these animals are raised for slaughter every single year.

Did you know that the leading cause of rainforest destruction is our own food supply? We tear them down to make room for food crops and livestock grazing, and are doing so at an approximate rate of an entire football field’s worth of forest every single second. Every day, close to 100 plant/animal/insect species are lost because of this practice. You can read more about this here.

Water waste is another major issue here. About 2,000 gallons of water are needed to produce just one pound of beef in the U.S. The fish supply in our oceans is rapidly becoming depleted; by some estimates, oceans may be fishless by 2048. The current food system, based on meat and dairy production, also contributes to world hunger, as many crops grown worldwide go toward feeding livestock, not feeding people.

2. You’ll Greatly Reduce Your Chances of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

In America alone, approximately 40% of the population is pre-diabetic. This translates to millions of people. Multiple studies have shown that red and processed meats (also recently linked to cancer by the WHO), as well as animal protein in general, increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. In omnivore populations, the risk of diabetes is doubled compared with vegans. Another study found that eating meat once a week or more over a 17-year period increased the risk of diabetes by a startling 74%. A follow up study was conducted and found that increasing red meat intake by more than just half a serving per day was closely associated with an almost 50% increased risk of contracting diabetes over four years.

3. You Will Get the Right Type, and the Right Amount of Protein

While underconsumption of protein is harmful to the body, overconsumption comes with risks as well. In the United States, the average omnivore gets more than 1.5 times the optimal amount of protein, and most of that protein is from animal sources. This is bad news, because excess protein is often stored as fat. This stored animal protein contributes to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer.

On the other hand, the protein contained in whole plant foods is connected to disease prevention. According to Michelle McMacken:

[T]he protein found in whole plant foods protects us from many chronic diseases. There is no need to track protein intake or use protein supplements with plant-based diets; if you are meeting your daily calorie needs, you will get plenty of protein. The longest-lived people on Earth, those living in the “Blue Zones,” get about 10% of their calories from protein, compared with the U.S. average of 15-20%.

Multiple studies have shown the difference between animal protein and plant protein. Another great example comes from Colin Campbell, a professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University whose experiments on laboratory rats showed cancer  cell growth can be turned on or off by simply varying the amount of animal protein included in their diet. This was an enormous discovery, with implications for the diets of millions of people, and his results, from what’s known as the “China Study,” have proven replicable.

Below is a video of him discussing his experiments.

4. You’ll Be Living a More Compassionate Lifestyle

As mentioned above, billions of animals are raised for slaughter every year just in the U.S. Animals are sentient beings who suffer and experience a wide array of emotions. They even suffer in farms that we currently label as “humane.” By giving up, or even cutting down on meat, you are helping to stop animals from enduring horrific experiences. If you do eat meat, perhaps you could make better choices or consume animals who have died from natural causes at the end of their life. One thing is for certain: Eating meat ethically requires serious effort and care. As consumers, we’ve become so complacent and lazy, and the food industry wants to keep us this way.

5. You’ll Reduce Inflammation in Your Body

Many people eat processed foods regularly despite their being known to cause cancer. Eating meat specifically increases your chances of having elevated levels of inflammation in your body, which can lead to a number of short-term and long-term health consequences.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, among other problems.

Plant-based diets, on the other hand, are naturally anti-inflammatory. This is because they offer lower inflammatory triggers (versus the saturated fat, endotoxins, and other toxins released from bacteria found in animal foods). Multiple studies have shown that those who switch to a plant-based diet can dramatically lower their level of C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation in the body.

6. You Will Lower Your Blood Cholesterol

Another big risk factor for heart problems is high blood cholesterol. Saturated fat, primarily found in meat, cheese, poultry, and various other animal products, dramatically influences our blood cholesterol levels.

Yet when people switch to plant-based diets, their blood cholesterol drops significantly, as several studies have shown. More surprising still, this decrease matches what is seen with pharmaceutical drugs — but that’s a business unconcerned with healing, since if a natural substance shows huge potential for healing but can’t be patented, it won’t be pursued.

It’s a fact that those who require cardiovascular drugs can lower their risks by adopting a plant-based diet.

“Whole-food, plant-based diets reduce blood cholesterol because they tend to be very low in saturated fat and they contain zero cholesterol. Moreover, plant-based diets are high in fibre, which further reduces blood cholesterol levels. Soy has also been shown to play a role in lowering cholesterol, for those who choose to include it.”

— Michelle McMacken, MD

7. You’ll Give Your Gut a Makeover

Gut health is extremely important to your overall health. In fact, it could be the most important, as all health starts in your gut. If you have an unhealthy gut, you will have an unhealthy body with a variety of potential problems.

One aspect of the gut is what’s known as the “microbiome,” comprised of the trillions of microorganisms that live inside of our bodies. Vital to our overall health, the microbiome produces critical nutrients, keeps our gut tissues healthy, protects us from cancer, turns genes on and off, and more. Studies have also shown that they play an important role in various other diseases, from liver and bowel diseases to diabetes and several autoimmune disorders.

Where do plant foods come in? Well, studies have confirmed that plant foods help shape a healthy intestinal microbiome. This is just another reason (out of many) why scientists and health professionals are becoming big advocates of plant-based diets. The fibre found in plant foods helps promote the good bacteria that’s needed in our guts. Dairy, eggs, and meat, on the other hand, help foster the growth of disease-causing bacteria.

“Landmark studies have shown that when omnivores eat choline or carnitine (found in meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy), gut bacteria make a substance that is converted by our liver to a toxic product called TMAO. TMAO leads to worsening cholesterol plaques in our blood vessels and escalates the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Interestingly, people eating plant-based diets make little or no TMAO after a meat-containing meal, because they have a totally different gut microbiome. It takes only a few days for our gut bacterial patterns to change – the benefits of a plant-based diet start quickly!”

– Michelle McMacken, MD

8. You’ll Live Longer

Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences at USC, has discovered that through fasting (if done correctly), the body produces less 1GF1 (growth hormone factor), and, as a result, cells start repairing themselves instead of dividing. His research has shown that fasting actually regenerates stem cells, kills cancer cells, and prolongs life. Fasting also leads to decreases in insulin and glucose and an increase in ketone bodies and IGFBP1.

Last year, a press release from USC emphasized how fasting, in combination with chemotherapy, has already been shown to kill cancer cells. They also presented two new studies in mice suggesting that a less-toxic class of drugs combined with fasting could kill breast, colorectal, and lung cancer cells.

Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging, and one of the foremost researchers in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying multiple neurodegenerative disorders, makes this quite plain in his TEDx talk on the subject. He says, “Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases in a variety of species, including rats, mice, fish, flies, worms, and yeast. The mechanism or mechanisms through which this occurs are unclear.”

The main relation to plant-based diets here is that in order to maintain the benefits of fasting, it must be done regularly — possibly one or twice per month — one must engage in what’s known as “intermittent fasting.” And a predominately plant-based diet is recommended to compliment such fasting. According to Longo, “a plant-based diet is by far the best for longevity and disease prevention.”

Dr. Longo is a great place to start if you’re interested in fasting. Fasting can have a wide array of health benefits, but it can also be detrimental to someone who has no idea what they are doing, so please do your research if this is something you are considering.

Below is a video clip of Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, a 100-year-old recently retired heart surgeon who has been a vegan for half of his life. He shares why he made this choice.

9. You’ll Change How Your Genes Work

It wasn’t long ago that scientists figured out that environmental factors can turn genes off and on. Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can decrease the expression of cancer genes in men with low-risk prostate cancer. Plant-based diets have also been known to lengthen our telomeres, which are caps at the end of DNA chromosomes that assist us in keeping our DNA healthy. This suggests that we’ll actually age more slowly, thus reducing our chances of contracting an age-related disease.

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Awareness

Johnson & Johnson Found To Have Knowingly Allowed Asbestos In Their Baby Powder

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Johnson and Johnson have recently lost lawsuits for negligence in knowingly allowing carcinogenic substances in their talc-based hygiene products.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we starting to turn the page on an era where human health and safety are not the prime considerations in the manufacturing of consumer products?

We are starting to awaken to the fact that it seems to be the rule, and not the exception, that large Western corporations put profits above human health considerations. The only time they seem to give any regard to human health concerns is when their forecasts of potential lawsuits down the road would likely exceed the cost measures needed to ensure the safety of their product.

Johnson & Johnson is just one of a long line of corporate perpetrators who believed that covering up and lying about known health concerns would make better business sense than taking the time and resources to actually address those health concerns within their products.

Contaminated Baby Powder: The Height Of Indignity

One would think, regardless of an understanding that the bottom line is a priority for most private companies, that the health and safety of a nursing mother and her newborn child would be sacrosanct for any industry. The reality is that this is simply not the case, even though J&J could have mitigated this problem from the start.

Companies that mine talc are required to take extra steps to ensure the absence of asbestos in their talc. Instead, J&J allegedly went to great lengths to fake it.

Not only did the company know about the asbestos contamination, evidence suggests, but J&J also failed to warn its customers about the link between Baby Powder and cancer or replace its talc with a safer alternative. As a result, J&J guaranteed its customers’ exposure to asbestos.

And regardless of their size or numbers, asbestos fibers are lethal at any capacity. As the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed repeatedly, there is no safe level of exposure. (source)

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The Testimony of Scientist James Webber

Baby Powder’s contamination with asbestos (a mineral that naturally occurs near talc) has long been the subject of lawsuits. But only in recent years has evidence begun to unravel J&J’s defense – that the company had no idea – and threatened its success in lawsuits to come.

In March, a California jury awarded $29 million to Terry Leavitt, a woman who said that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder-based products caused her terminal mesothelioma. Environmental scientist James Webber testified in her high-profile California trial and made these observations:

During several hours on the stand, Webber explained how he ran tests that showed “clear” evidence of asbestos contamination in the mines from which J&J sourced talc.

“The testing I have seen [shows] that it was present at least as early as 1971 and up through the late 1990s,” said Webber, who ran an asbestos laboratory in New York state.

Despite denying it publicly, J&J had observed this contamination in internal memos. Its notes dismissed the amount of asbestos in its talc as “but a trace,” Webber alleged. But that was just an optimistic interpretation of superficial testing, he said: the tests used methods too weak to detect microscopic asbestos fibers. Webber insisted the actual tests results revealed there could be millions of asbestos fibers per gram of talc.

And J&J’s inaccurate reports were allegedly only the tip of the iceberg. In some instances, Webber said, photos attached to J&J’s reports revealed that “they had been seeing it and not reporting it.”  (source)

And It’s Getting Worse

The $29 million verdict, in California Superior Court in Oakland, was the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide. And things may be getting even worse for J&J, according to ZeroHedge:

Johnson & Johnson shares are down over 5% after Bloomberg reports that, according to people with knowledge of the matter, the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether Johnson & Johnson lied to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder…

Now, a grand jury in Washington is examining documents related to what company officials knew about any carcinogens in their products, the people said.

The Takeaway

It seems as though corporations have long been willing to take the calculated risk of short-cuts and denials instead of ensuring that their products are safe for public use. My suspicion is that a part of our collective awakening process will be issuing in a new business paradigm in which human health and safety become paramount.

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Awareness

Prescription Infant Formulas Found To Be Contaminated With Aluminum

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple brands of prescription infant formula were found to contain high levels of aluminum.

  • Reflect On:

    Should we be questioning the quality of products that come from pharmaceutical production? Do we veer away from natural methods of raising children more than we should? At what cost?

You may not think aluminum is a big deal, but it is. For anybody who has looked into aluminum toxicology, it’s quite clear and apparent that it has no place inside of any living biological organism. Putting it simply, it wreaks havoc on our biology. High amounts of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, with experts in the field believing that aluminum brain accumulation may be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s also been discovered within the brains of MS patients, and some of the highest aluminum content ever recorded in brain tissue has also been discovered in people with autism. Aluminum is associated with several diseases. But an adult body can do a great job of flushing out aluminum.

Despite the fact that aluminum has no place within earth’s biota, it’s still present in many of our medications, our food, and even in the water that we drink due to contamination since the industrial revolution. Aluminum inside the body is a new phenomenon and still understudied. Again, there is a threshold, and aluminum that is injected via vaccines doesn’t exit the body–there is strong evidence that it remains inside the body and ends up in distant organs and eventually inside of the brain. If you want to access more studies on that topic, you can read this article I published that provides them and goes into more detail. You can also watch this interview with Christopher Exley, where he also points to that fact.

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has shown that multiple popular infant prescriptions are contaminated with aluminum. You may be asking how much aluminum, but the authors make it a point to stress that there are no safe amounts of aluminum levels that can be inside of a human body, let alone a newborn baby. That being said, the amounts found are listed within the abstract of the study:

Historical and recent data demonstrate that off-the-shelf infant formulas are heavily contaminated with aluminium. The origin of this contamination remains to be elucidated though may be imported via ingredients, packaging and processing. Specialised infant formulas exist to address health issues, such as low birth weight, allergy or intolerance and medical conditions, such as renal insufficiency. The aluminium content of these prescription infant formulas is measured here for the first time. We obtained 24 prescription infant formulas through a paediatric clinic and measured their total aluminium content by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry following microwave assisted acid/peroxide digestion. The aluminium content of ready-to-drink formulas ranged from 49.9 (33.7) to 1956.3 (111.0) μg/L. The most heavily contaminated products were those designed as nutritional supplements for infants struggling to gain weight. The aluminium content of powdered formulas ranged from 0.27 (0.04) to 3.27 (0.19) μg/g. The most heavily contaminated products tended to be those addressing allergies and intolerance. Prescription infant formulas are contaminated with aluminium.

Another very important point made right off the bat by the authors:

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Human exposure to aluminium is a serious health concern. Aluminium exposure in infants is understandably a burgeoning issue. While infant exposure to aluminium continues to be documented, its consequences, immediate and in the future, have received only scant attention and research is required to understand the biological availability of aluminium through formula feeding. For example, how much aluminium is absorbed across the neonate gut and its subsequent fate, including excretion.

There is already too much aluminium in infant formulas and herein we have measured its content in a large number of prescription formulas, products which are fed to vulnerable infants in their first months of life. Many of these products are heavily contaminated with aluminium.

As for the specific infant formulas, you can refer to the study. The researchers obtained 24 prescription infant formulas via the Paediatric Clinic of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, United Kingdom. The ready-to-drink and powdered products were new, ready-to-be used and unopened samples. These formulas are for babies with some sort of growth restriction, like for preterm infants or infants who have poor weight gain. There were also powdered formulas for allergies and intolerances and powdered formulas with additional amino acids.

The authors contacted each manufacturer and expressed that they denied knowing that there was any aluminum in their products, which means it’s still a mystery as to their source. The authors hypothesize on a number of ways that aluminum could be entering into the formulas.

In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that:

Where possible, breast milk feeding should be prioritised, as the aluminium content of breast milk is invariably an order of magnitude lower than in formula feeds. Where infant formulas are the only source of nutrition for many infants in their first weeks and months of life, aluminium ingested in formula feeds will be the major contributor to their body burden of aluminium. The last thing that vulnerable infants fed specialised formulas for their specific nutritional/medicinal need is additional aluminium in their diet.

Detoxing

There is a lot of information out there on how a person can detox from aluminum and other heavy metals. There are multiple studies, and based on what I’ve looked into, water with high amounts of Silica are effective in draining aluminum out of your body and brain. Herbs like cilantro and substances like chlorella and spirulina are also great for removing some metals. The information is out there, so be sure to do your research.

The Takeaway

It’s concerning to think about what these corporations are doing. Again, aluminum should hold no place in our society, it should’ve remained well below our surface as part of the Earth’s crust for a reason. It wasn’t until humans began digging it out and using it for a number of things, irresponsibly I might add, that we started to see the health implications which still go largely ignored by the medical community.

In fact, heavy metal accumulation and detoxification of aluminum haven’t been addressed at all, which is odd given the fact that heavy metal accumulation is linked to a variety of diseases.

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Awareness

9 Studies You Should Be Aware of Before Trying The Ketogenic Diet

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Ketogenic diet is a popular fad diet that promotes quick weight loss and symptom management for bodies that are dealing with poor lymph, kidney and digestion health.

  • Reflect On:

    Based on the studies that are emerging, is our desire for quick weight loss more important than living a long and healthy life? Are we learning about these diets primarily through those with strong ties to upholding these diets?

The ketogenic diet has popped up as a popular approach to weight loss in the last few years. Is it successful at that? Sure, it is. I’ve experimented with the diet myself years ago when I was looking to lose some belly fat. I was entering into ketosis in a different way than most, as I was not eating any animal products, but it does in fact work.

But like any animal product based diet, what are the consequences of eating so much food that does not truly jive with our human bodies? Not only that, is fast weight loss more important than keeping our morality rate down?

In the last few years, we’ve reported a lot on the Keto diet and the various ways it can be done. We have explored the studies, the results and in some ways, we supported it. But lately, I have been thinking about how supporting this could actually be encouraging people to jump into these diets, including the paleo diet, when in reality these diets increase mortality rates and are not healthy for the human body.

It became a thought in the back of my mind, I have always strived to put the best information out that I can through this platform to promote good health. And so we must look at that, even if that means upsetting some people who currently are on paleo or keto and are seeing some good weight loss or symptom management. The truth is, like the many people I’ve seen crash on these diets after a few years, I want people to know the truth of what’s going on out there. And how we can get beyond diets that symptom manage, and instead get onto diets that truly heal.

Anytime we have fad diets, which paleo and keto are, we see products and bias pop up all over the place to support the continuation of these trends. It becomes less about health and more about upholding an identity or a business.

So as I recently looked into what experts are saying about these diets, I came upon two important videos I think everyone should check out. Both have been embedded below. Remember, it’s not that I care what you choose in your own life, or that I feel there is a right or wrong, it’s that I believe we should be informed and I wish to use this platform to promote as best a message as I can.

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The Videos

Thanks to Plant-Based News for creating such a good channel and resource of information on YouTube.

In this video, several plant-based health experts talk through 9 nutrition studies that would be of interest to low carb keto diet proponents. To read the 9 studies, click here.

Next up, Dr. Kim Williams (past President of the American College of Cardiology) shares his insights about the ketogenic.

Related Articles

Diabetic Shares Why He Quit ‘The Ketogenic Diet’

Doctor Explains Why She Never Recommends The ‘Ketogenic Diet’

The Biggest Misconception About The ‘Ketogenic Diet’…You Don’t Actually Have To Follow It

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