Diet Essentials and Tips
Let's face it, as much as many of us may not like to admit it, the vegan diet is the optimum diet for mankind. Years ago, the term vegetarian described those who ate only plant food, but over the years there developed sub-classes within the "vegetarian" community and there were those who were termed "Strict Vegetarians" (eating no animal products) and there were those who were termed "Lacto-ovo vegetarians" (meaning that they ate a primarily plant based diet but included the use of dairy products and eggs). Today, the term "Vegetarian" usually refers to this latter group and the term used for those who consume NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS whatsoever are called "Vegan's".
In the "beginning" men were originally created to be vegan's and quite likely Fruitarian's (Gen. 1:29; 2:16). After the "Fall" man was to eat a diet of cultivated vegetables and fruit (Gen. 3:17-19). Because the soil was rich in nutrients, the fruit and vegetable diet was completely adequate to provide ALL the necessary nutrients needed for men to live long and healthy lives. It was not until after the "Flood" that man was given permission to eat animal flesh (Gen. 9:3,4). Interestingly, and I believe as a direct result of man's diet change, man's lifespan decreased dramatically from what had been literally hundreds of years to, at best 120 years. This was a gradual process (Noah himself lived for 350 years after the flood and died at the ripe old age of 950!), but man's lifespan can be seen gradually decreasing after the flood and the introduction of meat and animal products into his diet.
Interestingly, even though man was permitted to eat "Meat" after the flood -- there were restrictions as to "which" animals he was permitted to eat. Some will argue with me on this by citing Gen. 9:3 "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you...", but a little common sense and reason will show that this was not literally the case. Consider this: Even though most of us were taught that Noah brought the animals into ark in pairs (that is, two-by-two), the Truth is that he was instructed to collect two of every unclean animal (male and female) and seven of every clean animal (one male and six females)-- look it up! You'll find it in Gen. 7:2,3: "You shall take with you of ever clean animal by sevens, a male and his female[s]; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth." It is clearly stated, and logically deduced, that the reason for God doing this is so that the animals would be able to propagate and survive. If Noah and his family had begun eating the "unclean" animals (of which there were only two) it follows that that species would not survive - there would be no "mate" with which to produce offspring! This also proves that God had declared some animals "clean" and some "unclean" long before there were Jewish peoples (in other words, these distinctions were for all mankind and not just for a select group of people). Also, if you look in Gen. 8:20, you will find that Noah took of "every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the alter". Throughout the Bible, you will never find an instance where an unclean animal was to be used as a sacrifice acceptable to God. Also, if you look in Lev. 11, you will find that the Lord gave the Israelites specific instruction about which animals were acceptable for them to eat and which were not. Again, the terms "clean" and "unclean" are used to distinguish between those that were to be eaten and those which were not. Take a look at the list of the animals that the Lord calls "unclean". You will find that 99% of them, like the pig, vultures, catfish and shell-fish, are natural garbage cleaners - they feed on those things that are waste, rotten, or dead. This was their purpose, and it is an important one! We need these animals around -- but we don't need to eat them!
Now, please don't try to throw Acts 10:9-16 at me to try to "prove" that God has "Cleansed" all meats! If you read the vision Peter had carefully you will note at least two interesting things. First, Peter clearly declares that he had "never eaten anything unholy and unclean" (indicating that even though he had been taught personally by Jesus Christ Himself, he had never been instructed that it was alright to eat "unclean" animals); and Second, if you read the whole story through, you will find that the Lord was using the net of unclean animals and crawling creatures as an object lesson to get Peter to overcome his prejudice towards the Gentiles. Peter himself says in verse 28; "God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean". This was the purpose of the vision. When Paul says that "every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer" (1Tim. 4:4,5), he is not suggesting that we go out and eat "swine's flesh" or any other unclean thing (the "word of God" never "Sanctifies" the eating of unclean animals, so Paul could not be speaking about them). Paul was addressing those who were forbidding the eating of animal products (and marriage for that matter - see vs. 3, and notice carefully the words of Paul where he distinguishes which meats he describes as "good" and "not to be refused". Paul clearly says that those who were forbidding the eating of "meat", were forbidding the use of meats "which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." In other words, clean meats! But I digress. If you really want to continue to eat meat (clean or unclean) you really should consider the risks.
The Dangers of Eating Meat: Before you eat it:
I grew up in Iowa and was raised on "Meat and Potatoes" -- I enjoyed a good steak or a barbecued burger! In fact, I still would if I were convinced that it was safe. But the fact of the matter is that our meat supply is not safe and is actually full of things that cause disease and health problems.
Most of our "meat" (that is, the meat that you buy at the store) is raised in huge confinement areas and is fed a diet of steroids, growth hormones, and anti-biotics. Our animals get little or no exercise, are routinely "vacinated", and are fattened quickly (on pesticide infested feed) and shipped off to market. Sick animals are routinely slaughtered and end up on our grocer's shelves. I have been in a couple of meat packing plants and can tell you that growths, leasions, and cancers are routinely "cut out of the animal and the rest of the meat is sent along to be processed! Are we really so naive as to believe that if you simply cut out a cancerous growth that the rest of the meat (which has been fed by the same blood supply) is healthy? And do we really believe that all the growth hormones, antibiotics, and vaccines that have been pumped into these animals are not still present in the meat that we then eat? Sure, cooking meat thoroughly generally kills dangerous bacteria (nothing like a bunch of dead dangerous bacteria to tantalize your taste buds, huh?), but many of the chemicals that have been fed and injected into these animals are not "killed" or "destroyed" through cooking. Where do they end up? In your digestive tract, to become part of your body. I am convinced that one of the reasons that "anti-biotics" are becoming less and less effective (apart from the fact that they are severely over-prescribed) is because we are consuming large quantities of these through the meat we are eating.
I am aware that we have "meat inspectors" (people that are on-hand to inspect the meat that is being processed) and it would be nice to believe that they are doing an adequate job of "protecting" us from any diseased animals. But the truth is that Meat Inspectors are really in short supply. The Baltimore Sun recently reported that the USDA was operating without a full staff of slaughterhouse inspectors. Not every animal that is processed is "inspected" (even though they are supposed to be) and many of the problems that may exist in the meat of the animals that are processed cannot be detected simply by "looking" at the animal or the meat. In the early part of this year (2008) we had the largest recall of beef in U.S. history. It was caused by violations at a California meat packing plant in which they were killing "Downer Cattle" (cattle which were too ill to walk!). Cattle that are too ill to "walk" are usually suffering from severe Bovine contaminates (like mad-cow disease). The result was the recall of 143 million pounds of beef. Unfortunately, and that is stating it nicely, 37 million pounds of that meat was headed directly to Federally funded "nutritional" programs and school lunch programs. The recall stopped some of this meat from being fed to our children but not all of it. By the time the recall was enforced, our children had already consumed tainted meat! The U.S. Department of Agriculture admits that they are currently short "about 500 inspectors" but insists that there is "minimal risk" to the American public! Sounds a "bit" risky to me! Is that a risk that you are willing to take for yourself or for your family?
But the meat I buy at the supermarket "looks" fresh and good! Well, according to a November 14, 2007 article by Keven Diaz of the Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota), that may be because large meat processors like Hormel and Cargill often treat their meat with "carbon-monoxide" during packaging in order to keep it "red" and fresh-looking. Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan, who chaired the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, while interrogating the Hormel and Cargill CEO's stated bluntly that "the sole purpose of carbon monoxide packaging is to fool consumers into believing that the meat and fish they buy is fresh, no matter how old it is and no matter how decayed it might be." In response Hormel's CEO, Jeffery Ettinger, said that without the carbon monoxide treatement, "the product that we would put into the retail case would be purple, and the consumer doesn't want to buy purple meat." DUH! Folks, color is not an accurate indicator of "freshness"! Make sure you check the "Date" (usually a "use" or "freeze by" date) on the package. Still, the fact remains that "fresh" meat does not necessarily translate into "Healthy" meat. And while the FDA has been ecouraged to "ban" carbon-monoxide-treated meat, it has, to date, failed to do so.
I wish I could tell you that the meat of pork, fish, and poultry were safer than that of Beef and other red meats; but, in fact, they have an even worse track record. Pork, fish and poultry all spoil, decay, and rot faster than their red-meat counterparts and are all notorious for their bacterial growth. Many pork and poultry (chicken and Turkey) farms are even more cramped and detestible than the large beef lots. Many swine, chicken and Turkey are hardly allowed to move around at all and the disease rate in these production facilities is phenomenal. I used to deliver electrical supplies to some of the hog confinement farms in Iowa and it was not uncommon to see large "piles" (some 15-20 feet tall) of dead and diseased pigs being "burned" in order to "dispose of them properly." The sight was sickening and the "smell" was even worse! Twenty-two million animals are slaughtered each day in the United States in order to support our appetite for meat. Twenty-two million per day! Do you really think that every one of those animals has been adequately inspected or tested to be disease free? It would be a physical impossibility!
Then, of course, there is a "new problem" facing consumers of meat. In January of 2008, the FDA issued a statement that food products from cloned cows, goats and pigs are as safe as those from traditionally bred animals. This has paved the way for their milk and meat to enter our food supply. And not only have they made it possible for for cloned meat to end up on your grocer's shelves, they have stated that it is unnecessary to label cloned products - meaning that you will have no idea whether you are buying a "cloned" product or one that has not been cloned! Since there has NOT been enough research done, and certainly no long-term studies on the "safety" of cloned meat, to insure that the product is actually safe; one would think that we ought to think twice about enjoying that steak for dinner!
I suppose that if you could insure that your meat was "free-range" fed and raised, that it hadn't been pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics, that it was disease free and that it had been properly processed (some processing plants are FAR from clean and safe-handling procedures are often overlooked or ignored), and if you could insure that it was "Fresh" at the time you bought it; then I suppose you might be "safe" in eating it. But there are other reasons that meat eating is not a good idea.
The Dangers of Eating Meat: When you consume it:
Harvard scientists, in a study of 50,000 health professionals, found that men who ate red meat as a main dish 5 or more times a week (which most meat eaters do) had 4 times the risk of colon cancer and were twice as likely to get prostrate cancer! Women who eat as little as 4 hamburgers a month run twice the risk of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (now the 5th leading cause of cancer mortality). Excessive animal protien consumption among women has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporotic fractures (that's your bones breaking!). This increased risk was seen for animal protein only but not for vegetable proteins.
Omnivores (meat eaters) also have a higher prevalence of hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallstones, obesity and food-borne illness than their vegetarian counterparts. Non-vegetarians have a risk of fatal strokes that is 20-30% higher than vegetarians. Studies also indicate that vegetarians run approximately half (50% less) the risk of developing Alzheimer's. Numerous studies have proven all of this to be FACT! Perhaps the most famous (and the longest continuous health study concerning the vegetarian advantage) is the "Adventist Health Study", but there are numerous other studies that support the advantages of the vegetarian and vegan diet as compared to one that includes animal products. An excellent site to review and research (it includes a vast listing of references should you want to confirm these conclusions) can be found at:
Dairy Products, Milk and Cheese:
I won't take a great deal of time analyzing these products, but you should know that the "Milk" that you buy is anything but "healthful." By the time it is homogenized, pasturized and processed, most of the "Beneficial" components of the original milk are almost completely destroyed. The fact that the milk is then "Fortified" with vitamin D is hardly an excuse for drinking it. And the fact is that Dairy cattle are fed the same kind of "supplements", "Anti-biotics" and "Growth Hormones" as their butchered friends (in fact, most dairy cows are sent to the butcher after about 7 years of milk production and end up on your table too). Any physician will tell you that when a Mother is on any type of medication, that medication will be passed along to her breast-feeding child. It can't help but be. The same is true for cattle and they are pumped FULL of things that you wouldn't even think of drinking were they put into a can of soda! Yet we drink gallons of milk each year. Why? The old slogan; "Milk, it does a body good" is nothing more than a very effective marketing gimmick and ought to be evaluated for "truth in advertising"! Most all dairy products carry the same risks as does milk.
Cheese is primarily FAT, has already been digested by the enzymes used to culture it and holds practically NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE whatsoever. Cheeze really is not digested by your body but is moved along and passed out through it. In the meantime, it coats your digestive tract with all kinds of gooey, clogging material that makes it harder for your body to digest other things. Cheeze, quite frankly, really isn't fit to be eaten. Now I love cheeze. It tastes great! I grew up eating it all the time. And I will admit that I still enjoy a good pizza now and again. But for the most part, it is time for me (and you) to leave it off our plates and out of our stomaches! If you do choose to eat it, do so in moderation and infrequently!
The Vegetarian Diet:
When I first became a vegetarian, I remember the first few visits I made to my folks after becoming a vegetarian. My mother was an absolute nervous wreck! She was soooo worried about we would eat and about not having enough food for us! I would usually ask her, "what are you planning to have for dinner?" She might say, we were going to have a "potroast". Then I would say, "what are you going to serve with it?" Now my mother is a wonderful cook and an excellent meal planner (she always serves a balanced meal) and she would usually respond that she was going to have a salad, some corn and green beans, potatoes, and perhaps some squash. Do you see why I never needed to worry about having "enough" to eat! The majority of the meal was vegetable anyway! All I needed to do was pass the meat plate right along to the next person and enjoy all I wanted of everything else. Like my mom, most people really don't need to worry about "what" they will eat if they leave off the meat (provided they serve balanced meals in other ways anyway) because there is plenty of the foods you already eat available on your menu already! The choice is easy, leave off the meat and eat more of the vegetables, salad and fruit! That isn't so hard is it?
What about Protein?
Most of what you have heard about Protein (and especially about how much you need of it!) is nothing but myth! Yes, you DO require protein, and, yes, you do need adequate amounts of it. But most of us have been lead to believe that "protein" (and adequate amounts of it) can only be supplied by eating meat. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!
Here are the facts. When you consume meat, you DO get protein from it. However, the protein in meats are NOT supplied in a form that your body easily assimilates. This is because proteins are made up of amino-acids that your body compilies into protein. When you eat meat, your body has to break down the proteins in the meat into their individual amino-acids and then recompile them into a protein that your body can readily assimilate. This process takes a very long time and is why meat takes hours longer to digest than fruits and vegetables. If you eat a diet rich in beans and rice, you will have ALL the amino-acids your body needs to build a "whole protein and in a much more efficient manner. You don't need to eat beans and rice at every meal either because your body has the ability to store protein and draw upon it when it needs it. A balanced vegetarian (or vegan) diet, including beans and rice, will provide all the protein your body requires and in a much more efficient manner. Since digestion requires a great deal of energy, the more efficient your digestion, the more energy you will have available for other things! Meat digestion requires a great deal more energy expenditure than does vegetable digestion. Simple as that. If you want more energy, eat more fruit and vegetables. And if you want something that tastes very much like meat but without the dangers, there are many meat-substitutes on the market - from burgers to chicken to fake bacon and sausage. These products are made from vegetable sources but flavored like meat and can help you make the transition to the vegetarian lifestyle and can be used on occassions when you are entertaining those who are accustomed to meat on their plate. These products are NOT free from fats and oils, and should be used moderately, but they are much better than the meat products they replace. One brand that my wife and I like very much is "Morning Star Farms", but there are other equally good brands out there. Try different ones to see which you like the best.
What about Vitamin B12?
There was a time when our soil contained enough nutrients to supply vitamin B12 in sufficient quantities through the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, that is not the case now. If you do not eat meat or other animal products, the chances are that you will NOT get an adequate supply of vitamin B12. So what are you to do? Simple, take a supplement! Vegetarians and especially vegans should supplement with Vitamin B12, no and's if's or but's about it. But this is a simple thing to do! In fact, most GOOD multivitamins contain adequate B12 to meet your needs. If additional supplementation is needed, there are specific vitamin B12 supplements available and they are not expensive.
Vitamin D is another vitamin that should be supplemented when you switch from a diet of animal products to one of grains, fruits and vegetables alone. However, vitamin D supplementation is generally NOT NECESSARY if you simply get an adequate amount of sun-exposure. See:
for more information about sun-exposure and vitamin D.
The Vegetarian diet made EASY:
I don't want to make any of this hard for anyone! The fact is that the vegetarian diet is NOT a difficult diet to follow. Many people MAKE it hard, but there is no need to do so.
Your body is composed of approximately 70% water. The diet (that which you put into your body) should reflect the same ratio. In other words, your diet should consist of foods that are high in water content. "High Water Content Foods" are simply fruits and vegetables (not meat or refined, highly processed foods or complex foods containing starches - like pasta and cooked potatoes). Here is an easy way to make sure that you are eating enough "High Water Content Foods": when you sit down to eat, take a look at your plate. 70% of the food that is on your plate should be fruits and vegetables (preferably raw, steamed, or cooked only enough to make them palatable [overcooking destroys many of the vitamins and nutrients in food and should be avoided!]. This means that you will want to have a nice salad, then a plate of vegetables with only a serving (about 1/4 of your plate) consisting of a processed or starchy food (like a baked potatoe or pasta). Be sure to vary the foods on your plate (a diet of corn and green beans is never going to be adequate!). Try some of that brocolli, squash, greens, cauliflour, lentils, etc.. If you are not accustomed to eating different vegetables, you will find that you will enjoy them if you will simply add them to your diet a little at a time.
Proper Fruit consumption:
I know that there are many people that will disagree with me on this advice, but there are many that will attest to the advantages of what I am about to suggest. When you eat fruit, ALWAYS EAT FRUIT BY ITSELF! The reason for doing this is simple. Fruits are processed (digested) by your body very efficiently and very quickly. If you eat fruit by itself it will be out of your stomache in less than an hour. This includes fruits like bananas (which take about as long as any fruit to digest). Many fruits, like oranges and apples, will move out of your stomache in as little as 30 minutes. The reason you don't want to eat other things along with fruit is simply because these other things take longer to digest and will slow up the proper digestion of the fruit. Consequently, the fruit will begin to spoil and ferment before it gets moved along to your intestines (where the nutrients are absorbed) and many of the nutrients will be lost before they can be assimilated.
I believe that the absolute best breakfast that you can eat is Fruit (and fruit ALONE). Through the night your body has processed everything that has been eaten the day before and has been busy eliminating it from your digestive tract. Fruit, because it is SO RICH in WATER and FIBER, does NOT interfere with this elimination process (in fact, it aids it). Fruit provides an abundant supply of nutrients to get you "up-and-running" while helping your body expell the accumulated waste from the day before. Fruit is excellent brain food and will help you to start your day sharp and focused.
If you find yourself getting hungry after a couple of hours, eat more FRUIT (and only fruit)! As long as you wait 1 hour before consuming any more fruit you will NOT interfere with its digestion and can safely eat more. Make sure that you don't eat any fruit for at least 1 hour prior to eating your noon meal. At your noon meal (and your evening meal) make sure that you use the 70% high-water-content-food rule (and don't consume fruit with these meals) and see if you don't start feeling GREAT instead of sluggish!
A final note about Fruit and vegetable consumption:
If you are "unacustomed to eating a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, you may find that you have some initial discomfort (usually some bloating or gas -- you will also urinate more often and have softer bowel movements). Any Bloating or gas is usually caused by a change in the bacteria in your intestines. The ones that you have nurtured there have been of the type that are better suited for animal products and the "change" causes a new type of bacteria to take over, causing some initial gas. This will pass within a few days so stick with your diet changes! The benefits will far outweigh any intitial discomfort you may experience (by the way, people switching from a vegetable diet to an animal diet experience the same discomfort - and usually worse because animal products do not move along as quickly as fruit and vegetable products). The increase in your urine production and the softer bowel movements are also a good thing, when you are eating a fruit and vegetable diet, because they mean that your system is "flushing out" and moving things along much more efficiently. The result: less colon and bowel problems! And an added bonus: weight loss! The benefits of a fruit, grain and vegetable diet can also be increased by using "organic fruits, grains and vegetables (these are usually certified to be pestacide free) and can usually be obtained locally or "on-line" from a host of suppliers. This is something that you will probably want to look into further once you have begun, and realized the benefits of, the vegetarian diet.
Juicing fruits and vegetables is a wonderful way to power-pack a glass of juice with nutrients. Juicing is easy to do and relatively inexpensive (a really GOOD juicer can be purchased for $100-$150 and cheaper models can be had, although they often don't last very long and don't hold up to regular use -- it is usually best to invest in a good model [like Brevelle or Champion] and not be faced with buying a new juicer several months from now). Fresh juice, is extremely good tasting (even carrot juice, and I am not a big carrot fan, is fantastic when freshly juiced!) and the vitamins and minerals they pack are unrivaled in any juice you can get at the store (including those that are "fortified" with vitamins). You can Juice for your breakfast meal (you can juice vegetables and drink it for breakfast due to the fact that it is almost pure juice that you are drinking and it creates very little stress on your digestive system -- the same as eating only "Fruit" does. So it can be used much like Fruit for the first meal of the day). You can also juice between meals if you need a pick-me-up -- and it WILL pick you up! If you haven't tried juicing, give it a try and see if you don't love it. Your body will!
Sugars, Fats, Pop, and Caffeinated Beverages:
I would be remiss if I did not include a warning about these hidden dangers in the American diet. The typical Western diet (which is high in fats and sugars) cause the cells in our brains to be less flexible and compromises the flow of nutrients to the brain cells. A vegetarian diet has the reverse effect on these cells and insures better nutrient flow as well as improving the balance of electrical activity in the brain (simply meaning that it works better and more efficiently). Drinking a lot of sugary juices can increase triglycerides (blood fats) and increase the risk of atherosclerosis and stroke.
In the United States, According to new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, sugar consumption in 1999 was 158 pounds per person per year! In 2002, the consumption of sugar was approximately 170 pounds per person per year in the United States. And the numbers have been climbing steadily every year. When our blood and our blood cells become saturated with sugar continually, the sugar can become bound nonenzymatically with protein. Sugar and protein are not supposed to bind nonenzymatically. When they do, the protein becomes toxic to the body. This "Toxicity" causes damage to the body and results specifically in damage to the immune system. Hence, an inability in your body's natural defenses and an increase in debilitating health problems and disease.
Where do we get all that sugar? Frankly, in almost everything we have been accustomed to eating and drinking. Look at your kids breakfast cereal. I will bet that one of the first ingredients is "sugar" and that there are many more sugars included in the rest of the ingredients. In fact, start reading the labels of most any of the canned, frozen, bottled, or prepared foods that you now buy. You will find Sugar in almost all of them and in most of them it will be one of the "main ingredients". Did you know that a single can or bottle of "Pop" contains an average of 10 teaspoons of sugar (that's about a 1/4 cup)! Imagine making a cup of tea and then shovelling in 1/4 cup of sugar before you drank it! Sickening isn't it? But it gets worse. The average person living in the United States today drinks over 576 soft drinks per year. The average teenaged boy drinks 868 soft drinks per year (or about 2 1/2 soft drinks per day - that's 25 teaspoons, or more than a 1/2 cup of sugar, from that source alone). When you consider that many people (you?) drink considerably more than this in soft drinks and sugary fruit juices each day, the conclusion is inevitable. We consume FAR TOO MUCH SUGAR and it is having a tremendously negative effect on our health (it is also why so many of our children are "hyperactive")! The link between sugar consumption and a host of problems is astounding. Sugar may induce cell death; cause epileptic seizures; increases your risk of polio; promotes excessive food intake in those who are obese; can cause depression; increases your risk of gout; can compromise the lining of your capillaries; damages your pancreas; can make your tendons more brittle; can cause headaches, including migraines; can cause cataracts and nearsightedness; can cause emphysema; causes food allergies; can make your skin age by changing the structure of collagen; causes chromium and copper deficiencies and interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium, it also lowers your Vitamin E levels; can produce a significant rise in total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol; can cause gallstones, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, appendicitis, obesity and a host of other problems (if you would like to see the whole list of 76 ways sugar can ruin your health (and 111 solid resources for this information) go to
Not sufficiently depressed? How about motivated? Read on...
Fat Consumption in the United States is also alarming. Americans love their meat - and that's not all - we love it fried and deep fried. Our diets have become loaded with "Saturated fats" (the kind contained in meat, dairy products and in most of the fats we use to cook with including Lard) which raise total cholesterol and LDL levels. They tend to raise total cholesterol levels in the blood. Mono-unsaturated Fats lowers total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol and helps to maintain the level of HDL cholesterol and are commonly found in foods like olives and avocados, nuts and seeds. Meat also has it, but since it's mixed with saturated fat this is not a good source. Saturated fats cause cell membranes to become "stiff" and interferes with optimal cellular nutrition; it causes red blood cells to "clump" together, inhibiting oxygen transfer; it depresses the immune system; and it increases your risk of a variety of cancers. One of the biggest culprits, and probably the worst fats are trans fats. Trans Fats occur naturally only in tiny amounts but are abundant in the processed foods we eat. Trans fats are made artificially through the commercial process of hydrogenation - you have probably read a label that included an ingredient like this: "partially hydrogenated soy bean oil" or something similar. Many margarines are made of hydrogenated oils and are loaded with trans fats. Trans fats appear in more than 40% of standard grocery store items! French fries, fried chicken and almost any other deep fried food that you purchase from fast food restaurants are loaded with trans fats because that is what they are fried in. You will also find them in pastries, cookies, chips, and even microwave popcorn.
I am not suggesting that you cut out all fats. We need fat as a part of a healthy diet and for our bodies to function optimally. However, our use of fats is astounding! Slow it down. Cut much of it out. Drive by that fast food restaurant and cook at home using as little fat as possible. Try to get your fat from natural sources like avocados and nuts. And use oils like Olive oil or an oil that is not hydrogenated when cooking.
Caffeinated beverages are another thing that ought to be drastically reduced or done away with altogether. Caffeine dilates the vessels (increasing blood pressure) and increases gastric acid production (ever heard of gastric reflux or GURD?). Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system and increases the heart rate. In particular, caffeine targets the cerebral cortex and the brain stem in the central nervous systems. Caffeine is addictive and when its intake is reduced, the body becomes oversensitive to "adenosine" (a chemical in the brain) which is pertinent to sleep (you become tired and feel like you need another "cup-of-Joe"). Your blood pressure will also drop dramatically producing an increase of excess blood in the head which causes headaches. It can also produce muscle pain, irritability, nervousness, and fatigue. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not reduce the effects of alcohol and does not suppress the appetite. Hidden sources of caffeine include sodas and chocolate. Caffeine actually causes you to become dehydrated (it leaches water from your system) and should not be considered as part of your daily water consumption - see
The importance of Water.
Caffeine is simply not needed by the body and it serves no real useful function accept for certain medical conditions. Caffeine use causes your body to go from one extreme to the other: first, it stimulates the nervous system; then it causes you to be fatigued, necessitating the use of more caffeine to "pick-you-back-up". It causes extreme stress on the body and mind. Leave it off.
Summary: The advantages to a vegetarian or vegan diet are many and proven. Not only does it reduce your risk of many diseases and degenerative problems, but it also enables your body to function optimally - freeing up more energy for you to use in other pursuits! While switching from an animal diet to a vegetable diet will mean making some changes and require some initial effort - but in the long run you will come out feeling better, stronger, healthier and more disease-free than you have ever been! If you have any concerns about switching to a vegetarian diet, or if you have some unique health problems, be sure to consult your physician (make sure he/she is knowledgable in the facts surrounding vegetarianism because many are not).
Good Health is NATURAL if you are intelligent about how you treat your body and what you put into it. We were originally created to subsist and thrive on a diet of fruits, grains and vegetables and it only makes sense to follow our Creator's original plan for our health and well-being. The advantages to the vegetarian diet are simple: better health, less weight problems, more energy, less disease and illness, and even a less expensive grocery tab! Try it for yourself and see! You can EAT YOUR WAY BACK TO GOOD HEALTH! Naturally.
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