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Plant-Based 101

Plant-Based 101: Optimize Health and Heal the Planet

plant-based resolution new years 2019
"When it comes to our health, we are willing to let people crack open our chest, strip veins from our legs, shoot us with radiation, fill us with toxic chemicals in an effort to get our health back... Isn't it much better to do the simple thing and eat the plant-based foods we're meant to eat in the first place?"
Milton Mills
MD

There has been a lot of buzz around “plant-based” eating and “going vegan” this year.  I, myself, spent about a week in August researching every facet of the pros and cons of this plant-based diet.  Upon reading multiple articles and watching several videotaped conferences and lectures by doctorate holders, a light bulb went off in my brain.  The evidence was so staggering that I was surprised I hadn’t been exposed to it sooner.

So, to kick off our series on plant-based eating and living, I’d like to introduce the two major topics and reasons (for health, and for the environment/ animals) that people choose to change the biggest part of their lifestyle – diet.  I’ll also try to quickly discount some plant-based “myths” within our third bullet.  As the weeks progress, we’ll get further and further into detail.  I’ll leave videos you can watch over the course of the week if you’d like to get ahead.

1. A Plant-Based Diet Optimizes Individual Health

Diseases of Civilization/ Metabolic Diseases

The following list of diseases (obtained throughout this website) – and more – can be improved or reversed with a proper, nutrient-balanced plant based diet:

*I’ve cited the research that backs up these claims at the bottom of the page, if you’re interested in reading them or are a biology buff, like me.  

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. COPD
  4. Stroke
  5. Alzheimer’s Disease
  6. Diabetes
  7. Kidney Disease
  8. High Blood Pressure

Animal Products Harm Our Bodies in Proven, Reproducible Ways

Animal products cause inflammation (endotoxemia) in the body, and the after-effects of this fact have terrible consequences throughout the whole organism (many of which are listed above as a response to repeated daily exposure).

I encourage you to not only spend the 10 minutes watching these three videos, but to also check out the citations in the “sources cited” sections below the video players.

2. A Plant-Based Diet Respects the Planet

The very first mainstream content I watched that pushed Veganism was Cowspiracy, like many other vegans.  I typically try to caution people not to watch emotionally-driven films and videos when first starting to research something as essential as diet.  It’s hard, however, not to bring animal cruelty and global warming into an article like this.

My stance on this issue is going to be:  read the nutritional literature first, and decide how you feel about that portion of this issue.  Afterwards, look into websites like these that delve into (and cite papers about) the environmental impact that commercial animal agriculture has.

This is the only time I’ll mention this topic to you as readers.  I’ll leave that eye-opening venture to you, when you’re ready.

Resources

Citations and facts from the film Cowspiracy, available on Netflix.  

This infographic lays it all out for us visual people. 

Also on Netflix: What the Health 

There are many, many more websites and articles that you can search out on your own; I think that’s a vital part of coming to accept this facet of Veganism for yourself.

3. Meat-Eating is not a Necessity - It's Just Learned Behavior and Tradition

"Carnism"

the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals.

i.e. Dogs vs. Cows or Cats vs. Chickens

I love love love Ted talks, and this one is no exception.  This is one of the shorter videos I recommend, but be warned – at about 9:44, there’s some graphic videography pertaining to commercial animal farming.

Humans are Anatomical and Physiological Herbivores

When compared to carnivorous animals’ bodies, humans are vastly different.  From our teeth, jaw, esophagus, and eyes to our joints, feet, and potential for endurance (when properly fit); our bodies and intelligent minds are designed for gathering, grazing, and escaping predators.  Watch the video I’ve included if you’re interested in this topic.

You Can Get a Balanced Diet with Sufficient Macros without Meat

If you want to get a little bit ahead in the nutrition department, you can spend the best hour of your life watching this video.

Plants Make Protein...

Some of the strongest, largest land animals on our planet (i.e. the elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, and hippopotamus) are herbivores.  They get the protein to fuel their muscle growth from plants.  This idea that we must consume animal protein is unfounded and misguided.  Vegan humans and other herbivorous animals simply skip the middle man and use their natural physiology to make eating more efficient and healthful.

And there's more than enough to go around!

A quick search on Pinterest will reveal to you how easy it is to get your daily protein (.36 g per lb of body weight) from a plant-based diet.  It’s not difficult at all.

plant-based
*As we'll discover later on, the fats and sugars in some of these foods should be limited. This image is provided to attest to the fact that the plant kingdom is full of natural, non-animal protein sources.
B12 is Made by Microbes, NOT Animals OR Plants

Vitamin B12 is an essential molecule; we need B12 to maintain proper neurological function and stay aware enough to function properly.  It’s commonly stated that you have to eat animal protein to get enough of this vitamin, but what’s not mentioned is the origin of the B12 that’s found in grazing animals’ flesh.

These animals are consuming the B12 produced by and inside of microorganisms that live in the dirt.  They get this essential vitamin as a result of not only eating clumps of grass containing dirt, but also drinking water that has run off the land, collecting microbes from the dirt as it flows.

See this page for more information and links to videos about vitamin B12 that each have their own sources cited.

Supplement and forget

The fact vegans have a hard time getting B12 stems not from a necessity to eat meat, but as a natural result of sanitation – our drinking water and our vegetables are cleaned and purified.  B12 supplementation is, I think, a pretty small price to pay for clean drinking water and a healthy, plant-based body the way evolution/God/nature intended.

Calcium isn't a Struggle, Either

I plan on going deeper into the topic of nutrition on a plant-based diet, which will cover the essential nutrients in detail.  Unfortunately, though, Calcium is one of the hot subjects that should be a non-issue.  This is one of the topics in which animal rights plays a larger role, just because no one can seem to agree on cow’s milk’s place in the human diet.    There are a lot of conflicting studies out there surrounding dairy and health, and we’ll get into this in a later segment (here’s a link to a blog post that highlights some of the research I’m talking about for you).

The Bottom Line

But it’s really water under the bridge because kale, chia seeds, collard greens, tahini, fortified plant milks (and many more sources) all contain easily digestible calcium that eliminate our assumed need for cow’s milk.  Considering this evidence, it seems to me that the obvious choice would be to forgo the cow altogether.

Vegan nutrition isn’t hard to navigate if you know what you’re doing, and there are tons of resources to help you make the change.

PHEW!

I know that’s a lot to chew on, or ruminate, as the cows would do.  I’m shooting to have a new post out every Wednesday for the foreseeable future (there’s a lot to cover), so hang onto your hats!

 

Until next time,

sign

Citations:

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