Meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking

“Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. Rates of cancer and death also did not seem to be affected by controlling for carbohydrate or fat consumption, suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.”

 

140304125639-large

That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette. In a new study that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers have found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than someone with a low-protein diet — a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.

“There’s a misconception that because we all eat, understanding nutrition is simple. But the question is not whether a certain diet allows you to do well for three days, but can it help you survive to be 100?” said corresponding author Valter Longo, the Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.

Not only is excessive protein consumption linked to a dramatic rise in cancer mortality, but middle-aged people who eat lots of proteins from animal sources — including meat, milk and cheese — are also more susceptible to early death in general, reveals the study to be published March 4 in Cell Metabolism. Protein-lovers were 74 percent more likely to die of any cause within the study period than their more low-protein counterparts. They were also several times more likely to die of DIABETES.

But how much protein we should eat has long been a controversial topic — muddled by the popularity of protein-heavy DIETS such as Paleo and Atkins. Before this study, researchers had never shown a definitive correlation between high protein consumption and mortality risk.

Rather than look at adulthood as one monolithic phase of life, as other researchers have done, the latest study considers how biology changes as we age, and how decisions in middle life may play out across the human lifespan.

In other words, what’s good for you at one age may be damaging at another. Protein controls the growth hormone IGF-I, which helps our bodies grow but has been linked to cancer susceptibility. Levels of IGF-I drop off dramatically after age 65, leading to potential frailty and muscle loss. The study shows that while high protein intake during middle age is very harmful, it is protective for older adults: those over 65 who ate a moderate- or HIGH-PROTEIN diet were less susceptible to disease.

The latest paper draws from Longo’s past research on IGF-I, including on an Ecuadorian cohort that seemed to have little cancer or DIABETES susceptibility because of a genetic mutation that lowered levels of IGF-I; the members of the cohort were all less than five-feet tall.

“The research shows that a low-protein diet in middle age is useful for preventing cancer and overall mortality, through a process that involves regulating IGF-I and possibly insulin levels,” said co-author Eileen Crimmins, the AARP Chair in Gerontology at USC. “However, we also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid a low-protein diet to allow the maintenance of healthy weight and protection from frailty.”

Crucially, the researchers found that plant-based proteins, such as those from beans, did not seem to have the same mortality effects as animal proteins. Rates of cancer and death also did not seem to be affected by controlling for carbohydrate or fat consumption, suggesting that animal protein is the main culprit.

“The majority of Americans are eating about twice as much proteins as they should, and it seems that the best change would be to lower the daily intake of all proteins but especially animal-derived proteins,” Longo said. “But don’t get extreme in cutting out protein; you can go from protected to malnourished very quickly.”

Longo’s findings support recommendations from several leading health agencies to consume about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day in middle age. For example, a 130-pound person should eat about 45-50 grams of protein a day, with preference for those derived from plants such as legumes, Longo explains.

The researchers define a “HIGH-PROTEIN” diet as deriving at least 20 percent of CALORIES from protein, including both plant-based and animal-based protein. A “moderate” protein diet includes 10-19 percent of calories from protein, and a “low-protein” diet includes less than 10 percent protein.

Even moderate amounts of protein had detrimental effects during middle age, the researchers found. Across all 6,318 adults over the age of 50 in the study, average protein intake was about 16 percent of total daily calories with about two-thirds from animal protein — corresponding to data about national protein consumption. The study sample was representative across ethnicity, education and health background.

People who ate a moderate amount of protein were still three times more likely to die of cancer than those who ate a low-protein DIET in middle age, the study shows. Overall, even the small change of decreasing protein intake from moderate levels to low levels reduced likelihood of early death by 21 percent.

For a randomly selected smaller portion of the sample – 2,253 people – levels of the growth hormone IGF-I were recorded directly. The results show that for every 10 ng/ml increase in IGF-I, those on a HIGH-PROTEIN diet were 9 percent more likely to die from cancer than those on a low-protein diet, in line with past research associating IGF-I levels to cancer risk.

The researchers also extended their findings about HIGH-PROTEIN diets and mortality risk, looking at causality in mice and cellular models. In a study of tumor rates and progression among mice, the researchers show lower cancer incidence and 45 percent smaller average tumor size among mice on a low-protein diet than those on a high-protein diet by the end of the two-month experiment.

“Almost everyone is going to have a cancer cell or pre-cancer cell in them at some point. The question is: Does it progress?” Longo said. “Turns out one of the major factors in determining if it does is is protein intake.”

 

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304125639.htm

Why (People Still Think) Vegan Food Sucks

2014-06-18-031314_blackbird_1024.jpg

As the vegan movement gains momentum, a common perception is that veganism is just another fad diet. The thought of food devoid of texture, flavor, and calories is what many people envision. Even with all the huge advances in vegan meats, cheeses, and desserts, many still have outdated perceptions of vegan food that involves things such as carob and brown rice syrup.

Sadly, the vegan lifestyle tends to get associated with fringe food movements that have nothing to do with veganism, such as “organic,” “gluten-free,” “fat-free,” “raw,” “oil-free,” “non-GMO,” etc. In addition, many of the extreme fad-dieters have also begun to distort perceptions, by lumping “vegan” amongst a myriad of irrational and extreme dietary habits that have nothing to do with veganism.

In reality, veganism is a moral and ethical commitment to refraining from violence and exploitation in all areas, not just diet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, or a diet that is devoid of animal products, which doesn’t involve the exploitation of other beings. Beyond animal products, there are no other restrictions. Vegans can also indulge in things such as bread, alcohol, and fried foods just like everyone else.

Veganism isn’t just another annoying dietary fad; in fact, it’s well documented that a plant-based diet is nutritionally appropriate and can even benefit human health. The same cannot be said for most other diets that have gained popularity in recent times, but for some reason we tend to continue disregarded a plant-based diet as such.

As a vegan, there’s truly nothing more frustrating than going to a restaurant or an outing and being expected to be satisfied by a salad with oil and vinegar, or a grainy gluten-free cupcake that happens to also be vegan. Just like anyone else, vegans want to enjoy food that’s satisfying. Vegans eat delicious foods like pizza, cheesesteaks, nachos, and doughnuts. There’s no reason to assume that vegan food options should be any less satisfying than any other foods.

So, to the restaurateurs and home chefs out there preparing vegan meals, enough already with the salads and steamed veggies lacking in flavor, protein and calories! Would you be satisfied with a plate of fresh fruit, or pasta and tomato sauce? Of course not. So, why do you expect that vegans should be either?

The only “restriction” to vegan cuisine is the elimination of animal-based products that can be easily replaced with delicious alternatives. Please stop lumping vegan food in with the mulch and leaves that many fad-dieters limit themselves to. It’s not only disappointing to vegans expecting a good meal or dessert, but it continues to perpetuate the myth that vegan food doesn’t taste good!

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-coffin/why-people-still-think-ve_b_5507392.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Choosing Vegan: Are We Imposing Our Beliefs on Our Children?

Choosing Vegan: Are We Imposing Our Beliefs on Our Children?

‘Your children are vegan?! Clever kids.’

This was the comment I received in an online discussion forum when I happened to mention that my boys are vegan. Even typed, the words just oozed with sarcasm. This charmer then went on to question my parenting skills, even going so far as to imply that I was signing a death warrant for my children by feeding them this way – the biggest problem this vitriolic stranger seemed to have though, was the idea that I was somehow a monster for imposing my own beliefs and ethics on my children. In his mind, the choice of whether to abuse, sorry, eat animals should be theirs and theirs alone.

So are we imposing our beliefs on our children?

I’m sure many of you will have heard this comment when people find out that your children are vegan, and it will, no doubt, have been levelled as an accusation as in the example above.

Now, I’m sure I have already mentioned that initially I switched my boys to a vegan diet for health reasons. After much research I decided that feeding them meat and dairy would not be the best thing for their little bodies. It wasn’t so much an ethical decision at that point as I wasn’t sure myself that it was entirely appropriate to make those decisions on behalf of such young children.

Hopefully most of you will agree though, that being vegan isn’t about what you put in your mouth; it’s an entire lifestyle that encompasses not only diet but the clothes we wear, the things we do for entertainment, the way we view the world. A plant eater who is in it just for the health benefits could perhaps justify eating the odd slice of cake, at say a birthday party, or choosing a non vegan meal when out with friends. This began to feel wrong to me though, given my own dedication to cruelty free living.

I wanted to have them live a fully vegan lifestyle. So I started to question what is so wrong about imposing our beliefs on our children anyway. Surely this is, in fact, a vital element of our role as parents and caregivers?

Choosing for our children

If we think about it, every day as a parent is filled to the brim with decision making, from the big, important issues to the smaller details of family life.Will we have our children baptised? Many do. Yet surely this is a fairly major belief to ‘impose’ on our children? Will we let them go to the movies with their friends even though their latest report card left a lot to be desired? What will we teach them about homophobia? What about racism and sexism? Do we let them smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol before 18 years of age (the legal limit here in the UK)? Will we let them have a sweet treat after they have eaten their dinner? I could go on but you get the idea.

Every single day we make decisions on behalf of our children and the vast majority of them fall into two categories: keeping our kids safe and helping them become the people we want them to be.

The way I see it, veganism fits nicely into both categories.

Keeping our kids safe

The moment our babies enter this world we strive to keep them safe, to protect them – it’s pure instinct. Back in the day, a grizzly bear poking about the cave would have been the biggest threat to the offspring. Today I see busy roads and childhood obesity as some of the more obvious dangers. So, just as I strive to teach them the basics of road safety, so too do I want to keep my boys safe from ill health and disease, not just for now but when they are adults too. We know that a vegan diet can help protect us from some of the major killers; heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer et al, so I am doing nothing more than feeding my children the diet I believe will best serve their health.

Helping them become the people we want them to be

As for category two…well that could mean different things to different people. I’ll tell you what it means to me though. I don’t have any major ambitions for them career wise other than hoping that they find a job they enjoy. Will they get married, have kids? Well, that’s up to them. As long as they’re happy, I’m not too fussed. Straight or gay? Hey, they are who they are, it’s not for me to decide, it’s simply my job to love them and support them.

Here’s where I will step in though. If they begin to make choices that harm others, that are selfish, that are violent – that’s most definitely not ok with me.I imagine most parents would share that sentiment with me.

At the moment this manifests itself in small ways. Teaching them to share their toys, teaching them it’s wrong to hit, teaching them that it’s nice to help people. But it also manifests itself in bigger ways too. I’m teaching them that it’s wrong to kick puppies (well, I would if they ever showed any desire to do so, thankfully I haven’t actually had to face this scenario!), I’m teaching them that it’s wrong to eat animals simply for pleasure, I’m teaching them that it’s cruel to steal, whether that be a toy from their nursery friend or the milk from mummy cow that was intended for her own babies. I’m showing them that we don’t take things that don’t belong to us. Simply leading by example is not enough.

Some may label that as ‘imposing my beliefs’ and I suppose they are right but do you know what? I’m going to take that as a compliment! EVERY parent imposes their beliefs and ethics onto their children. In fact, by feeding your nippers dead animals surely you are imposing the belief that the murder of sentient beings for your own pleasure is acceptable. That is not the kind of mother I want to be.

So yes, I’m imposing on them the belief that it’s wrong to do harm to other beings, that it’s wrong to steal something that isn’t morally ours to take and I’m teaching them that violence is not acceptable. What’s so wrong with that?

 

Source: http://www.theveganwoman.com/choosing-vegan-are-we-imposing-our-beliefs-on-our-children/

Eating Less Meat Is World’s Best Chance For Timely Climate Change, Say Experts

Shifting the world’s reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is important, certainly. But the world’s best chance for achieving timely, disaster-averting climate change may actually be a vegetarian dieteating less meat, according to a recent report in World Watch Magazine. (While I’d happily nudge the world toward a vegetarian diet, the report authors are more measured and simply suggest diets containing less meat.)

“The entire goal of today’s international climate objectives can be achieved by replacing just one-fourth of today’s least eco-friendly food products with better alternatives,” co-author Robert Goodland, a former World Bank Group environmental advisor wrote in an April 18 blog post on the report.

A widely cited 2006 report estimated that 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions were attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs and poultry. However, analysis performed by Goodland, with co-writer Jeff Anhang, an environmental specialist at the World Bank Group’sInternational Finance Corporation, found that figure to now more accurately be 51%.

Consequently, state the pair, replacing livestock products with meat alternatives would “have far more rapid effects on greenhouse gas emissions and their atmospheric concentrations — and thus on the rate the climate is warming — than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

The pair describe several areas related to anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gases that have been overlooked or underestimated. For example, livestock breathing. They explain:

[L]ivestock (like automobiles) are a human invention and convenience, not part of pre-human times, and a molecule of CO2 exhaled by livestock is no more natural than one from an auto tailpipe. Moreover, while over time an equilibrium of CO2 may exist between the amount respired by animals and the amount photosynthesized by plants, that equilibrium has never been static. Today, tens of billions more livestock are exhaling CO2 than in preindustrial days, while Earth’s photosynthetic capacity (its capacity to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by absorbing it in plant mass) has declined sharply as forest has been cleared. (Meanwhile, of course, we add more carbon to the air by burning fossil fuels, further overwhelming the carbon-absorption system.)

The human population is expected to grow by 35% between 2006 and 2050, while livestock numbers are expected to double during the same period.

“This would make the amount of livestock-related emissions even more unacceptable than today’s perilous levels,” states the report. “It also means that an effective strategy must involved replacing livestock products with better alternatives, rather than substituting one meat product with another that has a somewhat lower carbon footprint.”

Food companies, Goodland and Anhang believe, have at least three incentives to respond to current risks in their industry. The first is that companies already suffer from disruptive climate events — floods, hurricanes, etc. — and so it’s in their best interests to not worsen the situation.

Second, they expect the demand for oil to rise to point of collapsing “many parts of today’s economy.” One way in which this will be particularly troublesome for livestock producers will be that crops grown for feed will be refocused on biofuel sources.

A third incentive is to offer “alternatives to livestock products that taste similar but are easier to cook, less expensive and healthier, and so are better than livestock products.”

Sales of just soy “analogs,” or alternatives to livestock products — such as ice cream, milk and cheese — totaled $1.9 billion in 2007. That same year, sales of U.S. meat and poultry products totaled $100 billion — which they optimistically suggest means there’s much room for growth.

“Worldwide, the market for meat and dairy analogs is potentially almost as big as the market for livestock products,” they write.

Still further motivation, they note: “Meat and dairy analog projects will not only slow climate change but also help ease the global food crisis, as it takes a much smaller quantity of crops to produce any given number of calories in the form of an analog than a livestock product.”

Plus, meat alternatives  would help to alleviate the global water crisis, since livestock production uses a tremendous amount of water; it could have health and nutritional benefits; and, given that meat alternatives are more labor intensive, they would create both more jobs and more skilled jobs — while workers in the livestock industry could be retrained for jobs in meat-alternative industries.

“The case for change is no longer only a public policy or an ethical case, but is now also a business case,” write Goodland and Anhang. “We believe it is the best available business case among all industries to reverse climate change quickly.”

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michellemaisto/2012/04/28/eating-less-meat-is-worlds-best-chance-for-timely-climate-change-say-experts/