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/

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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.”

 

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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