“Eat a Plant-Based Diet” is a popular nutritional slogan. The implications of this rallying cry are, if humans consume less food from animal sources and more from plants, we will necessarily be healthier and the environment of the planet we all share will be healthier, too. Many people regard this slogan not as a hypothesis, but rather, as an absolute truth that should not be questioned. However, as all proposed cures for social, environmental, and health problems, we should scrutinize “Eat a Plant-Based Diet” before we accept it as truthful and useful nutritional advice.
First, a majority of progressive 21st Century nutritionists, and a majority of the minority of physicians who are knowledgeable in the field of nutrition, agree that excessive consumption of animal flesh, especially beef from cattle, increases an individual’s risk for gastrointestinal and related diseases. Our digestive systems do not easily break down and assimilate animal meats when they are eaten in large amounts at a single meal, which is the way many of us consume them multiple times each day. This eating habit causes stasis (slow and impeded digestive movement) in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to putrefaction of partially digested foodstuffs, indigestion, bloating, and constipation, all of which are precursors to diseases of the colon. In addition, a great majority of the meats we consume are derived from animals that are fed grains grown with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, residuals of which accumulate in the tissues of these animals. Significant amounts of these chemicals, as well as the growth hormones and antibiotics fed and injected into these factory-raised animals, eventually also accumulate in our tissues when we eat their flesh. Clearly, therefore, the frequent consumption of large amounts of meat from commercially raised and slaughtered animals is detrimental to human health. As well, it is highly probable that other foods derived from industrially raised animals, for instance, eggs and milk products, are also contaminated with the pet chemicals of commercial animal husbandry.
Secondly, most unbiased environmental scientists agree that the ever-increasing demand for animal meat, especially from cattle, is having a devastating effect upon the environment of planet Earth. To satisfy this demand, meat-producing conglomerates are purchasing and clear-cutting thousands of acres of forested lands every day to create vast open fields to grow grains and construct massive confinement pens for their herds. Thus, not only are forests that harbor endangered plant and animal species and that sequester greenhouse gases disappearing at a terrifying rate, the grain crops that replace them are grown with dangerous herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. Such strip-farming causes progressive salination of the soil, which gradually becomes less fertile, thus requiring increasing doses of industrial poisons. Because these fields have been stripped of their trees and other natural vegetation, any chemicals not ingested by animals run off from the eroded lands into neighboring streams, lakes, and rivers and, of course, eventually into our oceans. All these environmental insults are compounded by the continual expansion of human population and the concurrent increasing demands for more and more meat.
Clearly, without any evidence to the contrary, excessive personal and collective consumption of animal flesh, especially factory-raised beef, is highly damaging to the health of human beings and our planet. To succeed in reversing these threats to each of us individually, to our species, and to the environment upon which all animal and plant lives depend, we must reduce the average amounts of meat we consume. This is true especially for meat of animals raised on chemical grains and with antibiotics and growth stimulants. The pollutants in such meat collects in our own tissues when we eat the tissues of chemically reared animals. The same is true when we eat dairy products and eggs from chemically raised cows and poultry. In sum, the more of these industrially created animal foodstuffs we eat, the more we jeopardize our personal and collective health.
Although we have presented a strong argument to support a reduction in the amount of animal foods we eat, at least from animals raised with polluting grains and commercial medicines, we have not yet considered if the slogan “Eat a Plant-Based Diet” is necessarily more healthful for us and for our environment. In our next blogpost, Is “Eat a Plant-Based Diet” Healthful Advice? Part Two, we address this question directly.