It’s time to go plant-based and cruelty-free

We’ve all heard of them. With smiles, healthy hair and skin and constant energy, they’re becoming hard to miss. They are our sisters and brothers, moms and pops, friends and professors. They are vegetarians and vegans.

There are as many good reasons to go “plant-based” or “cruelty-free” as there are vegans. After asking around, the most common reasons I’ve heard for being a vegan are for human health, the environment, human rights and animal rights.

These reasons are not only emotionally relevant but logical and responsible. To tell you the truth, I haven’t eaten meat or dairy for three days. And I’ll tell you why: to live a healthier life.

American diets are making us sick. Meat and dairy are full of saturated fats and cholesterol and are devoid of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Meat and dairy are making us overweight and tired in the short term and are scientifically linked to heart disease, cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis and dozens of other problems in the long term.

The United States leads the world in deaths from preventable diseases. We are in the midst of a public health epidemic, and our diets are a critical element of the sickness.

Basic physiology asks: “When you see a dead animal in the road, does your appetite roar?” If you were a carnivore, it would. The fact of the matter is, humans are not carnivores, behaviorally or biologically.

Unlike carnivores, we don’t have long and sharp canines, nor a high tooth-to-bone density. We don’t manufacture our own vitamin C, nor do we have a gastrointestinal tract only three times the length of our bodies. The truth is, humans are not carnivorous and we never have been. When humans consume large amounts of meat and dairy, we develop atherosclerosis and all sorts of conditions-carnivores do not. They cannot.

It’s not just college students saying that meat and dairy are poisonous. Dr. T. Colin Campbell of Harvard University is an eminent epidemiologist and director of what The New York Times called “the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”

His studies show that “the vast majority of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant-based diet.” And he’s not alone.

Regarding heart disease, Dr. Dean Ornish has proven that it is 100 percent preventable. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has replicated Ornish’s findings on the world’s biggest killer, and believes anyone can be “heart-attack proof” just by reducing cholesterol to 150 points or below. The average meat-eater’s cholesterol is about 210-despite all the drugs. The average vegan has a cholesterol level of 133.

According to Dr. Charles Attwood, “If people were being run down by trucks at the same rate they’re dying from meat-and-dairy-induced heart attacks, something would be done.” Thankfully, something is being done-every day, more and more health-care professionals are advocating vegetarianism and veganism.

Another big killer, cancer, is caused as much by diet as smoking. Achieving equally clear scientific unanimity are discussions of the prevention of cancer.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, the American Cancer Society and the Royal Cancer Society of Britain, the most important ways to prevent cancer are to eat more plant based foods and fewer animal-based foods. And it’s probably not harmful to stop smoking.

Just as the human is not carnivorous, so too is the human not designed to drink cow’s milk. It is irresponsible to claim that after being weaned off the milk of her or his mother, whether kangaroo, donkey or human, the child should then begin consuming the mammary gland secretions of another species.

Since cows have four stomachs, four legs and double their body weight in just a few weeks after birth, cow’s milk is calibrated to be a heavy load of fats, cholesterols and proteins. When humans consume cow’s milk, they take a serious health risk.

Epidemiological studies find that where dairy consumption is high, so too is the rate of osteoporosis-it’s a positive relationship.

Have you ever wondered why most of the world’s population is lactose intolerant? The mutation allowing humans to continue producing lactase (the enzyme breaking up lactose) after infancy hasn’t taken hold in most populations. Even in America, the National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse estimates that 30 to 50 million people are lactose intolerant-they simply aren’t designed to be drinking cow’s milk.

Studies like the infamous “Harvard Nurses Study” (which followed 75,000 nurses for several years) consistently demonstrate that consuming cow’s milk is dangerous to human health.

Science suggests that the consumption of dairy actually causes osteoporosis, in addition to allergies, constipation, obesity, heart disease and an array of other conditions.

Americans are sick and getting sicker. The vast majority of the diseases in the public health epidemic we find ourselves in are 100 percent preventable. When study after study shows that meat and dairy consumption causes so many health problems, it’s a wonder why we even consume them at all.

After not eating meat or dairy for three days, I feel like I don’t want to ever again. I have more energy, feet lighter and am waking up more refreshed. And I’ve found some great resources on the health benefits, nutritional considerations of and clinical research on a healthy and balanced vegetarian diet. And the more I learn, the more vegan I become.

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