Guest Blog Written by Emily Dreeling
Because, yes folks, it’s clean, squeaky clean in fact! And in every way too, not just from a personal standpoint but also in terms of its positive impact on agriculture, and the environment. Yet, while a whole-food plant-based lifestyle offers an almost infinite list of far-reaching benefits, its merits seem persistently, conveniently, drowned out in the ongoing mire of dietary misinformation. This is quite unnerving, as the content of our forks quite literally has the power to make or break both us, and the planet. But then again, we do live in the era of fake news, so what else can we expect?
Time to Draw Our Own #Conclusions
Not much, I guess, but that's only if we let mainstream media be our "go-to" nutritive guide. Yet, this no longer has to be the case, and we must remember that we now have the power to dismantle any seemingly dubious facts presented to us with the stroke of a computer key. So that's the alternative - at present, our ONLY one - and we should utilize the democracy that the Internet, along with social media, now provides, as regards unearthing accessible, truthful, data. Yes, it's time to be an #altfacts warrior, and dispel those daily mythologies that are dictated to us concerning our plate!
Sounds easy, you may say, if you know where to look. But trust me, even just a little digging can uncover a lot, and goes a long way in the peace of mind stakes - especially when you feel like you're being fed another dose of artery-clogging baloney! So what's provoked this upset, you might ask, even though we're at the mercy of questionable journalism on a now incessant basis? Well, two articles, one from the BBC, the other from The Irish Independent, recently caught my eye, and NOT in a good way. With each piece containing numerous falsehoods, I was beyond discouraged, as it looks like there's really no out-tabloiding the propaganda machine where nutrition’s involved.
A Food Myth A Day, Keeps Veganism at Bay
Covering the "clean-eating," and "ketogenic" fads respectively, these write-ups were fascinating in that, although they rightfully dismissed the proclaimed advantages of each one, these efforts seemed somewhat mooted by the inability to relay any details of an optimal plant-based replacement. With the former putting forth the Mediterranean diet as a breakfast, lunch and dinner blueprint, in addition to highlighting “The National Osteoporosis Society’s” advice against the elimination of diary, and the latter declaring that cancer is completely unaffected by one's food choices, it appears another great opportunity to educate the public en-masse was wasted.
Or maybe not, depending on which side of the fence you're on. I think, at this stage, we’re all aware that moneyed interests affect the correct dissemination of this kind of information. The lines between government, industry, and the media, have indeed become scarily blurred, a phenomenon which campaigner, Damien Clarkson, comments upon in the documentary, Vegan 2016 - The Film: A Growing Movement Under Attack. Certainly, when considering his observation that, "maybe these media journalists aren’t really journalists any longer [and] without realizing it they have become...puppets, whose real job is to make us confused...and when we're confused about what to eat, we stick to old habits [which] feed the power and wealth of the meat, dairy and egg industries", the objective becomes pretty clear - befuddling is key!
With the film highlighting a plethora of examples from popular news reels, and peak audience morning shows, constantly reiterating the absurdity of veganism, it's no wonder the majority of the population firmly believe that vegetables should always play second fiddle to animal products. So, bearing all this in mind, let me help eliminate some of the uncertainty that has come as a consequence of profit making and ladder climbing. While an enormous amount of evidence now exists to prop the validity of a whole-food plant-based diet, I consistently refer back to The China Study, as its creator, T. Colin Campbell, is a noteworthy authority on the subject. A pioneer in this field, his findings, in my view, are nicely summed up by number 3 of his "8 Principles of Food and Health", which states that "there are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants", with supporting numerical data showing, for example, that cholesterol is exclusive only to the former, with a major hike in fat per gram, and possessing zero in the way of fiber!
Nutrient Composition of Plant and Animal-Based Foods (Per 500 Calories of Energy)
|Nutrient||Plant-Based Foods*||Animal-Based Foods**|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||31||-|
|Vitamin C (mg)||293||4|
|Vitamin E (mg_ATE)||11||0.5|
* Equal parts of tomatoes, spinach, lima beans, peas, potatoes
** Equal parts of beef, pork, chicken, whole milk
Data Courtesy: The China Study, T. Colin Campbell
There’s Light...But Just at the End of the Plant-Only Tunnel
But, from looking at the chart above, you can quickly see that fruit and veg completely steal the show, with every vitamin and mineral you can think of present in copious amounts - the exception here being B12, which is recommended to be taken as a supplement. Calcium, to demonstrate, is particularly generous, being double the dose typically found in meat and/or dairy, and therefore putting paid to those (incorrect) brittle bone claims on plant-only diet. Yet, also worth specific mention, is good old, myth saturated protein, which effectively lies even stevens - and here's where the fun starts. You might be quick to suggest that we may as well keep on keepin’ on in the animal food stakes, and abide by the usual sensationalist press cues, but hold your horses! Turns out, from Campbell's approximately 5 decades of biomedical research, that plant protein is far superior.
With his epic early 1980's study of 6,500 adults in rural China uncovering in excess of "8,000 statically significant associations between various dietary factors and disease", these links, which found that those eating the most meat and dairy products actually developed the most chronic illnesses, could be traced back to the intake of animal protein alone. It's so powerful, in fact, that it has the ability to switch cancer on and off, depending on the levels consumed. But Campbell takes pains to shrewdly mention that he should not be solely credited with these astonishing findings, noting the book’s 750 (mostly) primary source references in an effort, I believe, to convince readers of this lifestyle's scientific legitimacy. And, I don't know about you, but I'm impressed, and also highly appreciative of this specific inclusion, as it lends vital credence to the studies discussed therein - a major one being the discovery, by Indian researchers, that rats fed 20% protein all showed signs of liver cancer, whereas those only given 5%, did not.
With a result of 100 to 0, it’s clear, in taking just this snapshot of data into consideration that the proof is clearly in the plant-based pudding. And, what’s crazy is that this is only how it positively affects our well-being...we still have to take the environment into account! With the mainstream food industry destroying the planet in order to keep fish and flesh abundant on our tables, it’s no wonder there’s a constant scramble to convince us such fare is kosher. For, I can’t imagine many individuals being satisfied that animal agriculture accounts for the majority of our ecological woes (for instance, its use of ⅓ of the world’s fresh water supply and responsibility for 91% of the Amazon’s destruction), especially if it were also more widely known that eating this livestock is a veritable health hazard! But, something is stirring for sure...that is, of course, if the U.K. is anything to go by.
An Enlightened Population Blossoms...
With recent figures from “The Vegan Society” revealing that well over a half-million British are now following a vegan diet, this is phenomenal, especially given this number was a mere 150,000 only 10 years ago. Is it possible that meat-centric cultures are finally waking up? One can only hope so, for the status quo isn’t doing anyone any favors. My tip? Never take what you see, hear or even read at face value, not even this article - carry out your own investigations, ALWAYS! I certainly suspect this very approach is what’s ushering in the sea-change across the pond, being weary of the collective struggle for truth, in all spheres, in the current climate. So we should weather this alternative facts storm together, and day-by-day, in consciously substituting them with reality, we will come to relish the whole-food plant-based diet, knowing it genuinely sustains life as it should be...not just ours, but precious earth’s too.
Copyright © 2017
Emily Dreeling is a recent Boston University graduate, whole-food plant-based enthusiast, and aspiring health communication specialist. Having just completed the eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate, she hopes to incorporate these studies into her educational writings on the subject. She currently lives in California with her husband, Michael, and rescue bichon, Murphy, and runs her own whole-food plant-based oriented blog: https://thebalancebrigade.com