Food borne Illnesses (from mainly animal products) – Why Take The Risk

Campylobacter

Raw McDonald's chicken sandwich

Campylobacter is an illness caused by bacteria of the same name (it’s also sometimes called campylobateriosis). The bacteria is found in most of the poultry we eat, as it exists in birds and doesn’t make them sick.

More serious illness may require the use of an antibiotic to clear up, and in some cases people develop arthritis or a very rare nerve disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome after having campylobacter. This disorder causes the body’s immune system to attack the nerves, resulting in paralysis.

Campylobacter is almost always isolated to an individual or small group that ate undercooked poultry, but more widespread outbreaks are possible, usually associated with unpasturized milk or tainted drinking water.

E. coli

E. coli bacteria trail

These bacteria live in the guts of ruminant animals, most notably cattle, but also deer, elk, goats and sheep. In the slaughtering process the intestines can be cut, allowing the bacteria onto the meat. E. coli usually doesn’t make the host animal sick, but when humans ingest it they’re often in for diarrhea, which can be bloody, stomach cramps, vomiting and sometimes a low fever.

Food science nerd Harold McGee reports that about a third of all people who develop E. coli illness need to be hospitalized, and about 5 percent of those die. It’s most dangerous in children. About 5 to 10 percent of those who get infected with E. coli will develop a more serious illness, hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure.

The most common culprit for E. coli contamination is ground beef, as grinding meat from many different cows together spreads the bacteria across a wider range of packages. It can also be found in unpasturized milk or apple cider, or cheeses made from raw milk.

Listeria

Soft cheese that might -- but doesn't -- contain listeria

If you’ve ever been pregnant you’ve probably heard about the dangers of listeriosis, or infection with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

That’s because pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis, and about a third of all cases of listeria infection strike pregnant women. (Newborns, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and diseases like cancer, diabetes and kidney disease get most of the other infections.)

Listeria is found in soil and water and especially in places that have been fertilized with manure. The bacteria is carried by animals it doesn’t harm, and it can contaminate animal products including meat, milk and cheese, as well as vegetables that come into contact with the bacteria.

Infections can be caused by uncooked meats, raw-milk cheeses, vegetables and cold cuts or soft cheeses that may be contaminated at the deli counter after processing. Pasteurization and cooking kill listeria, but products can be contaminated after cooking and before packaging or through cross-contamination at the deli.

Fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea are the most common symptoms, but the infection can spread to the nervous system, causing headaches, a stiff neck and convulsions. About 2,500 people become seriously ill in the United States each year from listeria and about 500 die.

“Mad cow” disease

Mad cow disease protest in Korea

Mad cow, properly known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a chronic, degenerative disease affecting the nervous systems of cattle. Consumption of infected cattle has been linked to a disease known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans, which is always fatal.

While it’s not completely clear how BSE in cattle is connected to vCJD in humans, it’s thought that the disease is passed by eating meat that contains brain tissue. The parts of the cow considered to be most infectious for humans are the brain, spinal cord, retina, optic nerve, and dorsal root and trigeminal ganglia. McGee reports it may also be found in muscles, which means many different cuts of meat may be potentially dangerous.

The disease was spread among cattle when they were given feed containing these parts from sick cows, a practice that has since been stopped.

The illness has killed more than 160 people in Britain and nearly 40 elsewhere in the world, but since the illness has an incubation period of a year or more, it’s likely there are more cases that have yet to surface.

The infectious agent is known as a prion, a kind of protein that carries the disease between cows or from cow to human. If meat you eat has these prions, there’s nothing you can do about it; cooking will not affect it. Symptoms of vCJD include dementia, memory loss, hallucinations and personality changes paired with physical changes such as jerky movements, slurred speech, difficulty walking or changes in posture or gait and seizures.

Death from this disease can happen in a matter of weeks or months, but some people manage to live for years with the disease.

Salmonella

Salmonella bacteria

One of the most famous and common of the foodborne illnesses, salmonella is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of animals. When feces comes in contact with food that isn’t cooked, the bacteria can be transmitted to humans.

About 40,000 cases of salmonella are reported each year, but since many people don’t seek treatment it’s thought the number of people who get it might be 30 or more times larger than the number of reported cases.

Salmonella sometimes leads to Reiter’s syndrome, a condition of painful joints, eye irritation and painful urination that can last for months or years and may in turn lead to chronic arthritis, but this is pretty rare.

The best way to prevent salmonella infection is to always cook meat and eggs to the suggested temperatures and be careful not to contaminate other foods with the juices from uncooked meat, poultry or eggs.

Staph

Potato salad swimming in mayonnaise

Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as staph, is a common cause of food poisoning. Staph can linger in foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, meat, egg, pasta and potato salads, sandwich fillings and filled baked goods like eclairs and cream pies.

Staph can grow even in the refrigerator, and infested food won’t have an off odor to let you know you shouldn’t eat it.

People who eat food that has staph in it usually get sick very quickly and will usually have nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramping. In more severe cases people may have headaches, muscle cramps and changes in blood pressure.

Trichinosis

Trichinosis eye appearance

Trichinosis, also called trichinellosis, is an infection caused by eating animals infected with the larvae of a worm called trichinella. It can be contracted by eating wild carnivorous animals or domesticated pigs.

This infection is pretty gross to describe. When you eat tainted meat, the larvae or cysts of the worms are ingested, and your stomach acid dissolves the cyst, releasing the worm, which matures in a couple of days in your small intestine.

The worms mate in there and the females lay eggs, which then develop into immature worms, travel through the arteries into the muscles and there form cysts again.

You might get a stomachache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue or fever in one or two days after eating tainted meat, and two to eight weeks later you may have further symptoms such as headaches, fever and chills, coughing, eye swelling, muscle or joint pain, itchy skin, constipation or diarrhea. Many mild cases go undiagnosed and go away on their own, but if you have a severe case it can be treated with drugs.

Just to name a few, there are many more….

more information:

http://cspinet.org/new/201304231.html

RiskyMeat_FB

The processed “junk” meat foods post lower risks in food borne illnesses but higher in other health issues.

http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/cancer-the-meatdisease-connection.html

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Save the Humans

DROUGHT CALIFORNIA CATTLE

A few years ago, I was talking with Al Gore (yes, I’m name dropping). I asked him a very simple and pointed question: “Animal agriculture contributes about 18 percent of the gases that cause climate change. Why didn’t you mention this in your book or movie?”

His answer was disconcertingly honest. I’m paraphrasing, but he said: “For most people, the role of animal agriculture in climate change is too inconvenient of a truth.”

We like our animal products.

Well, you like your animal products. I’ve been a vegan for 28 years, so to be honest I don’t even remember what they taste like.

But collectively, as a species, we seem to like animal products. A lot.

To wit: Each year, the U.S. grows and kills about 10 billion livestock animals. Globally, we’re raising and slaughtering about 56 billion animals animal agriculture each year. If you do the math, that means we’re killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day. That doesn’t even include fish and other seafood.

But even though I’m a vegan for ethical reasons, I don’t want to write about the animal ethics of animal agriculture. I want to write about the ways in which animal agriculture is killing us and ruining our planet.

I know, that sounds like left wing hyperbole. “It’s killing our planet!” But sometimes hyperbole isn’t hyperbole. Sometimes hyperbole is just the clear-eyed truth. I’ll start with climate change.

The U.N. released a conservative report wherein they stated that animal agriculture causes about 18 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions.

To put it in perspective: animal agriculture is responsible for producing more climate change gases than every car, boat, bus, truck, motorcycle and airplane on the planet. Combined.

But we like our animals — or at least growing and eating them. So we make the trade-off: animal products for climate change.

Climate is complicated. And climate change is complicated. But the role of animal agriculture in climate change is simple.

And how about famine? There are over 7,000,000,000 people on the planet, and many of them are very, very hungry. Article after article and book after book ask the question: “How will we feed a planet of 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 billion people?” The discussions turn to fertilizer and GMOs and arable land.

But here’s a painfully simple idea: stop feeding human food to livestock.

It takes around 15 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef – which can feed a couple people for a few hours. In comparison, 13 pounds of grain fed to humans directly can feed 13 people for most of the day.

“We’re killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day.”

Globally, we don’t have a famine problem; we have a livestock problem. Feeding food to animals and then eating the animals is kind of like heating your house during the winter by burning wood outside.

Speaking of winters: a few years ago, tired of cold winters in New York, I moved to California. Last year in L.A., we had around 362 beautiful days of sunshine. It was 80 degrees on Christmas, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Which is great, apart from the fact that California and most of the West are now experiencing the worst drought in recorded history.

As Californians, we’ve been asked to take shorter showers and use less water on our lawns. Both are good ideas. But let’s put it in perspective: a long shower uses around 40 gallons of water. Whereas it takes 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to create a 1/3 lb hamburger.

More than 90 percent of the water in California goes to agriculture. Some agriculture is very water responsible. It takes about 216 gallons of water to make one pound of soybeans, for example.

But other agriculture is egregiously water intensive – including rice and cotton, but especially animal agriculture. Each pound of chicken requires about 500 gallons of water, and pork requires about 576 gallons of water.

“Personally, I’d like to make a deal with California. I’ll take much shorter showers if you stop subsidizing water use for livestock.”

Personally, I’d like to make a deal with California. I’ll take much shorter showers if you stop subsidizing water use for livestock. If I just jumped in the shower and bathed quickly, I could even get it down to five gallons of water per shower. And after 132 showers, I would’ve used as much water as is needed to create one pound of beef.

So we’ve established that having an estimated 56,000,000,000 livestock animals on the planet uses a lot of water and grain and creates a lot of methane and carbon dioxide.

But these billions of animals also make waste. The really disgusting waste, not just invisible climate warming gases.

Let’s put this in perspective: the good people of Philadelphia create roughly1,000,000 tons of urine and feces per year. And one, only one, large pig farm will produce roughly 1,600,000 tons of urine and feces per year.

“One large pig farm annually creates 600,000 tons more urine and feces than the city of Philadelphia.”

Our lakes and rivers are being fouled with algae blooms. Our groundwater is being polluted. And the main culprit is livestock.The 56 billion livestock animals on the planet are making tons and tons of feces and urine every year — three times as much as humans.

And, in addition to fouling our water supplies, it’s also fouling our homes. A University of Arizona study found more residual feces and waste in the average omnivores kitchen than in their toilet bowl. Largely due to meat into the home.

The animals spend their lives in their own feces and urine, and when they’re killed and packaged, they bring their feces and urine with them. Into your home. They also bring pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, cholesterol and saturated fat.

To that end: if we collectively stopped eating animals and animal products tomorrow, studies suggest we’d see a drop in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

“We don’t have a global health epidemic; we have a global livestock epidemic. “

We don’t have a global health epidemic; we have a global livestock epidemic. Toomuch of the western world health care budgets go to curing people of diseases caused by the consumption of animal products.

And I’m not going to toot the vegan horn too much, but vegans have significantly lower rates of obesity, diabetes and some cancers.

When I talk to people about animal agriculture and meat eating, people often say, “But meat is inexpensive.” And it is. But only because it’s so heavily subsidized by our tax dollars. In the United States, we spend billions of dollars every year in direct and indirect subsidies to the meat and dairy industries. Billions of dollars in our tax dollars, subsidizing a product that ruins our environment and decimates our health.

We subsidize the grain that’s fed to livestock. We subsidize the water that’s used in livestock production. We, the taxpayers, subsidize animal agriculture.

And what do we get? We get climate change gases. And we get trillions of pounds of animal waste that fouls our lakes and rivers and reservoirs. We get an end product that causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

And, saving the best for last, we also get zoonotic diseases.

“Zoonotic” is a fun and fancy sounding word. It sort of sounds like a very erudite part of a zoo, where the animals read books and live on boats. But zoonotic diseases are not fun or fancy. Some zoonotic diseases you might be familiar with: E.coli, Salmonella, SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola and even some old standards like smallpox and the common cold.

Zoonotic diseases come from animals, and, in many cases, from animal agriculture.

Luckily, thus far, we’ve been able to treat most zoonotic diseases with antibiotics. But here’s the rub: animals on factory farms are so sick, and in such bad shape, that antibiotics are all that’s keeping them from dying before they’re slaughtered. The animals are fed obscene amounts of antibiotics while they’re alive, and these antibiotics are then found in their milk and their eggs and their meat.

When you’re eating an animal, you’re eating the fat and the muscle but you’re also eating all of the antibiotics the animal has been fed during its life.

The double whammy of zoonotic diseases coming from animal agriculture: animals are the source of the zoonotic diseases but they’re also the source of antibiotic resistance. So the zoonotic diseases can kill us, especially as animal agriculture has created superbugs who don’t respond to conventional antibiotics.

That’s the fun world of animal agriculture.

A simple re-cap:

Animal agriculture:
Uses tons of grain that could be fed directly to people
Uses tons of fresh water that could be used to grow healthy food
Creates tons of urine and feces that ruin our lakes, rivers and drinking water
Creates about 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions
Contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer
Causes epidemic zoonotic diseases
Contributes to the creation of antibiotic resistant “super bugs”
And is heavily subsidized by our tax dollars.

As a species, we are faced with complicated and seemingly intractable problems. And then we’re faced with animal agriculture.

So rather than focus on the hard, intractable problems (like curing baldness) let’s simply focus on something easy with phenomenal benefit: ending animal agriculture.

All we have to do is stop subsidizing it and stop buying animal products. Simple. And climate change gases are reduced by about 18 percent.

Famine could end. Fresh water could become clean and more abundant. Deaths from cancer and heart disease and diabetes and obesity could be reduced. And zoonotic diseases could be largely reduced.

It really is that simple.

We’ve done hard things in the past. We’ve ended slavery. We’ve given everyone the right to vote. We’ve passed legislation prohibiting children from working in factories. We’re even moving towards a time when cigarette smoking will be seen as a foul, distant memory.

We can do this. We have to. Our reliance on animal agriculture is literally killing us and ruining our climate and our planet.

I’ll end by quoting Albert Einstein:

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” -Albert Einstein

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/moby/moby-meat_b_5889850.html?1412009893

NIU professor advocates veganism based on philosophy

Mylan Engel, a philosophy professor from Northern Illinois University, spoke to the EIU Philosphy Club in the Lecture Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center on Thursday. Engel’s talk, “Fishy Reasoning and the Ethics of Eating,” centered around the effects of raising animals for human consumption.

What Mylan Engel remembers most about his grandfather’s hog farm is when he was about 8 years old and he first saw piglets being castrated.

“It was horrifying,” Engel said. “My cousins were castrating those pigs like they were peeling carrots.”

Engel, a philosophy professor at Northern Illinois University, presented his reasons for following a vegan diet based on ethical principles and health reasons Thursday in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall.

Engel explained his advocacy for veganism by outlining HASK practices, or practices that knowingly harm, inflict suffering on or kill conscious sentient animals “for no good reason.”

He said in situations where no other resources are available, killing animals for food is acceptable, but in most situations, plant-based diets are viable options.

However, Engel did not always follow these guidelines; he himself was a hunter until the age of 20.

While in graduate school in 1984, Engel participated in competitive long distance running with a friend who was vegetarian.

He said he became convinced he could meet all his nutritional needs with a vegetarian diet when he realized his friend was the fittest person he had ever met.

“This guy could run circles around me, so I switched to a vegetarian diet,” Engel said.

Engel did not become vegan until 1996 when he attended the World Congress for Animals in Washington, D.C. and met animal rights leaders.

“Listening to them talk and seeing how healthy and vibrant all these vegans were around me, I realized that the only way I could be consistent with my own values was to give it all up,” Engel said.

Engel defended his premises by citing data that suggested humans’ nutritional needs could be met with a plant-based diet.

According to his presentation, the American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada share the position that vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and can prevent and treat certain diseases, and well-planned vegan and vegetarian diets are appropriate for all ages.

One audience member asked about individual sustainable farming, citing that there were simple, efficient ways to kill animals that are quick and relatively painless.

Engel responded that killing animals when other options are available is still wrong because it is depriving the animal of half or more of its life.

“If in the middle of the night tonight when you’re sound asleep, I slit your throat and kill you painlessly, would I have harmed you?” Engel asked.

Engel also pointed out that vegan diets offer plenty of variety, contrary to what some might think.

“But this privilege of having a wide variety of choices, it’s ethically constrained,” Engel said. “The privilege stops once there’s a victim.”

Another audience member asked why eating eggs or milk was ethically wrong if those products were not sentient beings.

Engel said 900 million male chicks are grinded alive each year because they are considered byproducts of egg production, and similarly, bull calves are sold for veal and calves in general are taken from their mothers, causing them to grieve.

“We’re led to believe by the dairy council that milk, it’s a natural, it does a body good,” Engel said. “But human beings are the only mammalian species that drinks milk past the age of weaning.”

Another point of his lecture was that eating fish is unethical as well because studies indicate their intelligence and ability to feel pain, whether they are crushed by the weight of other fish in giant nets, suffocated on the surface, destroyed by the rapid changes in pressure, or kept in bad conditions on fish farms.

“Fish typically experience extremely painful deaths at our hands,” he said. “Treating fish in these ways harms them, causes them to suffer and kills them.”

Source: http://www.dailyeasternnews.com/2014/10/02/niu-professor-advocates-veganism-based-on-philosophy/

Big Bucks Big Pharma: Marketing Disease & Pushing Drugs

Big Bucks, Big Pharma pulls back the curtain on the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to expose the insidious ways that illness is used, manipulated, and in some instances created, for capital gain. Focusing on the industry’s marketing practices, media scholars and health professionals help viewers understand the ways in which direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising glamorizes and normalizes the use of prescription medication, and works in tandem with promotion to doctors. Combined, these industry practices shape how both patients and doctors understand and relate to disease and treatment. Ultimately, Big Bucks, Big Pharma challenges us to ask important questions about the consequences of relying on a for-profit industry for our health and well-being.

WATCH VIEDEO HERE:

http://redpill.tv/big-bucks-big-pharma-marketing-disease-pushing-drugs/

Ironically, Climate Change Marchers Line Up to Buy Meat, Fish & Dairy at Parade

News & Opinion

Wearing t-shirts with slogans like “Climate Justice Starts Here,” hundreds, if not thousands, of Climate March participants in NYC lined up at food trucks at the street fair after the parade to buy meat, fish and dairy products, demonstrating either a lack of awareness or disregard for what the United Nations says is, by far, the number one contributor of climate change and the planet’s biggest polluter, animal agriculture.

How can the nation’s leading enviromental groups expect the general public to make eco-friendly choices if their own members engage in the most environmentally destructive activity — and if they themselves don’t promote a plant-based diet? Can we really expect world leaders at this week’s United Nations’ Climate Summit to take drastic measures to reverse climate change if “environmentalists” can’t take the most basic one?

At Climate Change marches around the world, plant-based/vegan participants displayed compelling posters and distributed information about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and their efforts will assuredly effect some change. However, as evidenced in the groundbreaking documentary film Cowspiracy, animal agriculture must be eliminated altogether in order to reverse climate change and save the planet.

Advice From a Vegan Cardiologist

Dr. Williams said that his switch to veganism was prompted by a routine blood test about 10 years ago.
Dr. Williams said that his switch to veganism was prompted by a routine blood test about 10 years ago.Credit Rush University Medical Center

Dr. Kim A. Williams, the president-elect of the American College of Cardiology, often sees patients who are overweight and struggling with hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. One of the things he advises them to do is to change their diets.

Specifically, he tells them to go vegan.

Dr. Williams became a vegan in 2003 because he was concerned that his LDL cholesterol — the kind associated with an increased risk of heart disease — was too high. Dr. Williams wrote about his reasons for going vegan and his belief in the cardiovascular benefits of a plant-based diet in a recent essay at MedPage Today.

Veganism has grown in popularity in recent years, reflected by the explosion of meat-free cookbooks and restaurants, and vegan-friendly products in grocery stores. But the endorsement by the man who is set to become the president of one of the country’s leading cardiology associations, which helps formulate health policies and guidelines, did not strike a totally positive chord.

“I didn’t know it would create such a firestorm of everything from accolades to protests,” said Dr. Williams, who is also the chairman of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “The response was really loud, and much of it diametrically opposed.”

One person suggested he was promoting a radical diet to his patients based on the experience of a single person: himself. Others accused him of trying to get the college of cardiology to encourage everyone to go vegan, which he dismissed. And some critics suggested that Dr. Williams and the college were “unduly influenced by industry,” which baffled him.

“Who is the industry that promotes vegan dieting?” he asked. “Maybe the people who publish books on it. But that wouldn’t be considered industry, I don’t think.”

Dr. Williams said that his switch to veganism was prompted by a routine blood test about 10 years ago.

The test showed that his LDL cholesterol, which had been 110 a couple years earlier, had climbed to 170. Dr. Williams, who was about 49 at the time, said he assumed that age and physical activity had played a role; his once frequent levels of exercise had fallen, and cholesterol tends to rise as people get older. But he also suspected that his diet was not as healthy as he had thought.

“I was basically eating chicken and fish, no skin, no fried food and no red meat,” he said. “I thought it was healthy. But it was low fat instead of low cholesterol, which is what I needed.”

Researchers have long known that the relationship between the dietary cholesterol found in food and the cholesterol that circulates in the blood is complicated, varying greatly from one person to the next. In many people, the cholesterol in food has only a minor or negligible effect on blood cholesterol levels. But in some people, the effect can be more pronounced, which Dr. Williams said was probably the case with him.

He eliminated cholesterol from his diet by avoiding dairy and animal protein to see if there would be any effect. Instead of eating chicken and fish, he started eating vegetable-based meat substitutes like veggie burgers and sausages made from soy and other plant proteins and nuts. He also switched to almond milk from cow’s milk.

Six weeks later, his LDL had fallen to 90.

“It seems that the response to dietary cholesterol and other changes in diet are all genetically determined and quite variable,” he said. “One person might go from 170 to 150 by going to a plant-based diet. Another person might go from 170 to 90.”

Although LDL plays a role in heart disease, it is not the only factor. The plaque that accumulates in arteries consists not only of cholesterol, but immune cells that invade the artery walls as a result of chronic inflammation. Some researchers argue that this inflammation is the underlying problem in coronary artery disease. But Dr. Williams says he believes that being vegan can lower inflammation, too.

He said his enthusiasm for plant-based diets was based on his interpretation of medical literature. He cited observational studiesof tens of thousands of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that found that people following vegetarian diets lived longer than meat eaters and had lower rates of death from heart disease, diabetes and kidney problems. And he pointed to research carried out by Dr. Dean Ornish, who found that patients who were put on a program that included a vegetarian diet had less coronary plaque and fewer cardiac events.

But Dr. Williams said he readily acknowledged that such studies were not conclusive.

Observational studies like those carried out on the Seventh-day Adventists show correlations, but they cannot establish cause and effect. And the study by Dr. Ornish was a small, randomized trial that, in addition to diet, included a number of interventions. Besides becoming vegetarians, the patients also gave up smoking, started exercising and had stress-management training. The extent to which diet played a role in the outcome is difficult to know.

Critics also point out that the Ornish diet restricts not only meat, but refined carbohydrates like added sugars and white flour, which have been implicated in cardiovascular disease in many studies.

Dr. Williams said he thought the research on the benefits of substituting nuts, beans and plant protein for meat was strong, but largely observational. But he was not arguing that the college of cardiology should promote veganism in its dietary guidelines. He said he would like to see large, extensive clinical trials of such diets “that pass muster” first.

Plenty of things that looked promising based on correlations that were identified in observational studies were later found to be problematic, he said, like vitamin E, hormone-replacement therapy, folic acid and, most recently, the HDL-raising drug niacin.

“There is a long list of things that, based on observational trials, we thought were beneficial, and then a randomized trial done for a long period of time showed that it wasn’t,” he said. “So I approach all of this with a sense of humility and an open mind.”

In the meantime, he said, he has made a habit of telling patients who are obese and plagued by metabolic problems like Type 2 diabetes to try exercising and eating less meat. And he discusses some of his favorite vegan foods with them.

“I recommend a plant-based diet because I know it’s going to lower their blood pressure, improve their insulin sensitivity and decrease their cholesterol,” he said. “And so I recommend it in all those conditions. Some patients are able to do it, and some are not.”

Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/advice-from-a-vegan-cardiologist/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=2

Meatonomics: The Bizarre Economics of the Meat & Dairy Industries

The meat industry in the United States is big business: The vast majority of Americans eat meat, and we eat a lot of it–roughly 200 pounds per person every single year (in animals, that’s about 30 chickens, 1 turkey, one-third of a pig, one-tenth of a cow, and dozens of fin fish).

And although per capita consumption has fallen in recent years, we’re still eating far more than our parents and grandparents–including six times as many chickens per capita as were consumed in the 1930’s.

Now, for the first time, we know how much our national meat habit is costing us: Roughly 414 billion dollars annually in external health, environmental, and animal welfare costs, according to a superbly researched new book, Meatonomics, by California attorney David Robinson Simon.

2013-09-03-animalfoodproduction.jpg
Courtesy Meatonomics.com.

If those costs were incorporated into the price, according to Simon’s analysis, animal products would cost almost three times as much as they do today. With the true costs included, consumption levels would plummet.

Simon stresses that his figures are conservative: Because his estimates are limited to those supported by published research, he necessarily omitted some costs that have gone unmeasured in the scientific and economic literature. For example, Simon’s numbers on health care assign only a fraction of the heart disease tally to meat, even though we know that a low fat vegan diet will reverse the disease for almost everyone who has it.

His numbers on the environment look at lost property values due factory farms destroying local environments and carbon offsets, but of course, the external effects of warming are far greater than the value of the offsets, and property values can’t capture the fact that these industrial farms destroy communities and ruin lives.

Finally, his quantification of the cruelty meted out by these industries discusses just five meat industry abuses–such as cramming pigs and chickens into tiny crates where they never spread their limbs or go outside–and relies on consumer willingness to pay to get rid of them. It’s an impressive analysis, based on work published by Oxford University Press and carried out by agricultural economists from Oklahoma State University, but of course these are the sorts of things that defy valuation.

The fact that $414 billion is conservative is in no way a problem with the book, of course–the real figures are incalculable, and conservative figures are more than adequate to accomplish Simon’s task of explaining that the USDA’s promotion of meat, and the lack of inclusion of external costs, mean that Americans consume vastly more of the stuff than we would if we were paying the true costs.

Simon’s solution comes in three parts: An excise tax on all products that contain animal ingredients, a tax credit for every American (basically giving back most of the tax revenues), and a reformulation of the USDA’s mission away from promoting the consumption of animal products to instead promote the public health.

The tax and subsidies are proposals that should be supported by all sides of the political spectrum: Progressives should love them for their positive impact on human health, the environment, and animals. Conservatives should love the consumption focus, as well as the tax relief and reward of responsible behavior.

Though enacting Simon’s proposals will require a steep climb, Simon makes his case persuasively: The meat industry is harming our health, destroying our environment, and abusing billions of animals annually. As he notes in discussing prospects for his plans: “Change does happen, often in swift and surprising ways.”

Meatonomics deserves a prime spot in the library of everyone who cares about the politics of food.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-friedrich/meatonomics-the-bizarre-e_b_3853414.html