So, it's officially been 9 weeks since I took the Veg pledge.It's been great, and as time goes on, an inkling of missing animal protein has diminished. I have really taken it to a moral level as well. It hasn't been as tough as I thought either, in having a meat eatin' fool ;-) for a hubby <3
I don't expect everyone to follow in my Veg-steps; but we are all here to try and eat healthier. Whether it's choosing fresh, local, organic produce; as well as organic dairy and grass-fed beef, organic cage-free chickens and eggs, and eating less from the boxes on the grocery store shelves. However, we all could benefit from eating a little less animal foods. The more I read, and learn, the more prevalent it becomes to me. Even ancient philosophers were arguing over this very subject matter almost 2,500 years ago! More on that in a bit.
Some of you may of heard of "Meat-Free Mondays" movement. First, it became big in the UK & and recently California has been trying to get it going. So, what's is all about?
Health. Environment. Sustainability. You don't have to be a vegetarian, a vegan to take part. Eating less meat will not only benefit your health by allowing you to base a few meals a week around healthy, seasonal vegetables; but it's also great for the planet! It doesn't have to be Monday, if you're an Omnivore family (like I do), pick a day a week that you will go absolutely meat free, if you really wanna go all the way you can even cut out all dairy that day too! It's something so small that we all can to benefit our health and the planet that we live on.
From Support MFM Meat Free Monday is an environmental campaign to raise awareness of the climate-changing impact of meat production and consumption. Many people are unaware that livestock production is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions – that’s more than the entire transport sector.
Philosophers Predicted the Future of our Health
As I said, I was re-reading The China Study, actually I am going back and highlighting a lot of my favorite points in each chapter. Last night when I was flipping around, thinking about my post for MFM, I went back to a very interesting argument that Plato wrote about amongst Socrates and Glaucon. It seems that scholars have been disagreeing on about the nature of health for centuries. In this dialogue, Socrates and Glaucon were arguing on the future of their cities.
Socrates believed that the cities should be simple, and the citizens should survive on barley and wheat, with the relishes of quote
"salt, and olives, and cheese, and they will boil roots and herbs such as country people prepare; for a dessert we shall give them figs, and peas, and beans; and they will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the fire, drinking wine in moderation. And with such a diet theymay be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them."
Glacon disagreed, he stated that such a diet would be appropriate if you were "providing for a city of pigs." Furthermore he said
"For I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler way of way. They will be for adding sofas, and tables, and other furniture; also dainties, and perfumes, and incense, and courtesans, and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but in every variety; we must go beyond the necessaries of which I was at first speaking, such as houses, and clothes, and shoes...." Basically stating that citizens should have the "luxury" of eating meat.
Socrates replied "As you wish us also to contemplate a city that is suffering from inflammation...we shall also need great quantities of all kinds of cattle for those that may wish to eat them, shall we not?"
Glacon says "Of course we shall." Socrates then says, "Then shall we not experience a much greater need for physicians than under the former regime?" Glaucon can't deny it. "Yes, indeed, " he says.
Socrates continues, saying how this luxurious city will be short on land because of all the extra acreage needed to farm animals for food. This shortage would cause citizens to take land from others, which could be the start of violence, and wars, thus a need for justice. He goes on the write that "when dissoluteness and disease abound in a city, are not law courts and surgeries opened in abundance, and do not Law and Physics begin to hold their heads high, when numbers of even well-born persons devote themselves with eagerness to these professions?" Otherwise, in a city of luxury, will come sickness and disease, and doctors and lawyers will become the norm.
Hmmmm....sound familiar? Is it not the norm that people pop a pill to lower cholesterol and blood pressure so that they can "enjoy" the "luxuries" of rich foods?
War, Battles over Land, Disease, Healthcare, Excess.Anyone, anyone?
The bottom line is that there is a great benefit from eating a plant-based diet, and there are largely unappreciated dangers in eating animal products. When Plato wrote this passage he made it perfectly clear; we should eat animals only at our own peril. Wow!?? Pretty deep stuff. But it's tough to take, and even tough for me to write, knowing that not everyone agrees, and not everyone is willing to give up meat...my husband being one of them.
More doctors want to tell patients what they want to hear. I can actually relate to this. You don't know how tough it is telling someone, aside from the obvious things, that what they are eating is not good for them. People take a lot of offense, or do not want to hear what they enjoy, that they can not any longer. Especially if they did not think it was really bad in the first place. We are SO confused as a society on health, nutrition, fitness...there is SO much conflicting information, it's always changing, and often times people hear one thing, and this is what they believe. However, we really need to look at the big picture, which is something we are all confused about as well.
As a trainer and nutrition adviser, I come across this often. I have no problem telling someone to cut out fast foods, other junk foods, processed foods, etc. However, there are times when people THINK what they are eating is okay, they even think it's healthy, when it's far from it. I have the job of gently telling them, in a way that doesn't not come off judgmental, or as an attack, that it is not as good as they think.
As a human, you want to please people; and telling them they have to give up something that they enjoy will not make you their biggest fan...until much later when they effects of their changes come into play.
Usually I need to feel a client out, it's often baby steps that we need to take, as opposed to the Jillian Michaels style of yelling in their faces, tossing out the huge grocery order they just bought. I have no problem urging clients to toss out the garbage food; because even if they feel they are wasting $$, they are saving it in the long run through health care, and quality of life, which you can not put a price on. But, I am not "America's Toughest most famous Trainer"--so new clients may not take kindly to my yelling, and throwing out their food in the first 5 minutes I meet them...so I have to take another approach. I have to help THEM make the decision to WANT to throw out the food and start over..and usually I am successful at that. I have had clients at the end of our session say, I am tossing all of this out right now, will you help me!? As they start going through cabinets, willingly to start anew.
So, I can understand a doctor, seeing a patient, wanting to "fix" the issue, and keep the patient happy. Some doctors see their patients for about 15 minutes, and do not have the time to "change" their habits. It's usually very vague recommendations, and "here's a script for Lipitor". I can't speak for all doctors, I have a lot of respect for the medical community, and there are many doctors out there that do want the best for their patients, and want to see them change their habits...just the nature of the system does not allow them to spend as much time doing so. Recently I found a very interesting blog written by a doctor, that worked for the FDA out of medical school, and now writes a lot about his skepticism in the community, greed, propaganda and focus on preventative medicine. Knowing there are physicians out there that care so much about patients health through prevention, not drugs and surgery that could be avoided, is really refreshing.
I never recommend that a client continue to enjoy eating beef, ribs and a very high sodium, pre-frozen stir-fry a few times a week by taking meds and checking their blood pressure regularly to make sure they are on a high enough dosage. It would be a great success to help clients lower, or even eliminate these medications through the lifestyle changes they made. And I have seen it happen. I have heard clients doctors being thrilled that they lost weight, and were able to play around with lowering a dose, and even being taken off meds all together. I have had clients lower the rate of their life insurance policy because they did not have the same risk factors as they had before. How? Eating more plants, exercising regularly, and cutting down significantly on red meat, and basing other omnivore meals around colorful veggies and fruit.
So why are we spending trillions on health care? Why are we the sickest, fattest nation in the world?
Genetics, Luck & Lifestyle
What about the people that say it's all genetic, or bad luck?
The ones that say: "you can go your whole life eating healthy and exercising and still get heart disease." these people MAY exist, I have heard stories of men that ran 5 miles a day and dropped dead of a heart attack at age 60. I have no idea what this man was eating, how much stress he had in his life, and I assume he had a heart issue in his genetics. I do not deny that there is a gene for every disease known to man, and that we all may be at risk dependent on our genetic makeup. Scientists and doctors have proven how genes cause each disease, and they are working to find out how to use this information in finding cures for each. There has been compelling scientific studies, done over many years time, proving that these genes could be turned on or off based on what we are eating!
I believe, even if that man ate a fairly healthy diet...that he is the exception, not the rule. So is the "Smoker that ate McDonalds every day to live to be 90." We all have heard people say these things. Personally, I believe this make believe person was created by people that do not feel great about the choices they are making, but want to, so it's a good enough argument for when their way of life feels threatened.
Take the show "The Biggest Loser" for example. Although I do not agree with the extreme exercise measures they take with the contestants, I believe they are a PERFECT example as to proving diet and exercise can help control diseases caused by genetics. In the beginning of each season these individuals undergo extensive medical exams showing just how unhealthy, and close to death that they are. Often times they have stories of how diabetes "runs in their family" or how many relatives have passed before their time due to heart problems. These are very sick, obese people on all kinds of medications, with one foot in the grave. By the end of the season, 100 or more pounds lighter, after adapting to a healthier diet with more plants, most of the contestants are able to COME OFF of all of these medications, while prolonging their life expectancy, and "turning off" those pre-determined genetics that says that they are bound to be on medication for the rest of their lives.
Most of the time, these contestants are on diets very high in animal fats and protein, as well as refined sugars and highly processed foods. Cutting down on that significantly shows, that even though it is in their genetics...they are able to control it through diet and exercise.
What if we were able to lower our chances, and turn off these genes for ANY disease? Not just ones directly linked to obesity?
“There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge,
the later ignorance”
The China Study , for example, gives profound, compelling information based on four decades of biomedical research; proving that eating right can save your life. Cancer, Auto-Immune Disease, Type I Diabetes, Heart Disease and the list goes on. What does this all have to do with Meat Free Monday & Socrates? Isn't eating lean meats and other animal proteins excellent for your health? We are so used to our plates needing an animal protein, a starch and a vegetable. The starch and proteins have gotten bigger, while our veggie portion has shrunk. It's not just about eating organic, local, grass-fed. Although these are WAY better choices if you are an omnivore, and the choice you should make when buying dinner. We still need to farm these animals, and there will still be a great demand for them the more often you eat animal foods. I am not suggesting you become a vegetarian just because I all of a sudden am, and think everyone should. I am saying this because it's something we all turn a blind eye to, myself included. It's not just about the environment, and our health in a simple sense. It goes much deeper than that.
So, I said we need to look at the big picture, right? What if the big picture isn't just we need to get more vitamins (so take a pill and eat whatever you want); what if it's not JUST to eat "better"--it's about know what "better" really is, and why!
Science has shown that organic, commercial, grass-fed, corn-fed, it doesn't matter.....too much animal protein is turning on these genes we are carrying for disease. So, there is no harm in trying to cut back on it, and eat more plants. Not processed replacements for the meat (which I will address in a later post)....plants. The corn-fed beef, and the non-organic dairy and eggs bring other health problems, and are not sustainable in any way...so in being an omnivore, you should choose the more sustainable products. But to keep these products sustainable, and your health in check, the best choice you can make is to cut back in general.
That's where "Meat-Free Mondays" come into play. I am not asking that everyone pledge to a vegan, veggie lifestyle. I know from experience that you can not expect everyone to give up something they enjoy so much for good. But there is no harm in cutting back....and hopefully, from the information above, you will consider taking the MFM pledge, loading up on more plants in it's place, one, or a few days a week.
....will you take the pledge?
Stay tuned for an AMAZINGGGGGG recipe I made last night with my new fav dressing made from this: