Category Archives: Health

Catching Coronavirus from Mink

People have been catching the coronavirus from mink, animals raised to make fur coats. Here’s yet another reason to not buy fur coats as we head into the holiday season! More than 200 cases of coronavirus appear to be linked to sick minks on fur farms in Denmark, according to new data released last Thursday by the country’s public health agency. Worse, there’s worry that the strain of the virus in the mink might make the vaccine ineffective.

Danish officials said that they now want to cull all 15 million mink at the country’s roughly 1,200 fur farms as a precautionary step to protect people from contracting the virus. Mink on at least 220 fur farms in Denmark have already tested positive for the coronavirus.

We may be at risk here too. The United States, too, has confirmed that minks have contracted coronavirus on fur farms in Utah, Wisconsin, and Michigan, although so far there is no evidence that the minks are making humans sick in the U.S. “These investigations are ongoing, and we will release data once available,” says Jasmine Reed, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson.

When people catch a disease such as the coronavirus from animals, it’s called zoonosis. While we’re on the subject, it is important to note as we go into flu season that influenza, the flu, is also a zoonosis, one that is spread from chickens and pigs. Since these diseases come from keeping animals in close confinement, the way to prevent such diseases is to stop confining animals.

Besides the risk to human health, raising mink is very harsh on the animals themselves.  On fur factory farms around the world, millions of rabbits, foxes, mink and other wild animals spend their entire lives in cramped cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors—only to be crudely gassed or electrocuted at the end.

Many vegetarians extend their choices to what they wear on their body as well as what is consumed as food. There are many good artificial furs, and there’s really no reason why anyone should choose to wear animal fur.

Reduce your risk of Breast Cancer

A vegetarian diet can help reduce your risk of breast cancer and that’s very important. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. Currently, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and American Cancer Society (ACS) cancer prevention guidelines recommend maintaining a healthy weight, undertaking at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, limiting alcohol consumption, and eating a plant-based diet.

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Eric Adams – Change of Diet saved his life!

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough president of New York City

Eric Adams grew up extremely poor, living in a 4-storey tenement building in a family with 6 children.  After a 22-year career in the NY City police department, he moved into politics and is currently Brooklyn Borough president of New York City and running for City mayor in 2021.

Eric noticed that he was starting to lose his sight in 2016.  A visit to the doctors determined that he had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a stomach ulcer, and late stage Type 2 Diabetes.  He was told that he would be on medication for the rest of his life, that he would likely lose his sight and possibly some fingers and toes from nerve damage.  This was a very emotional time for him, facing the possibility of not being able to continue to be involved in politics.  But then he learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet.  Changing his diet saved his life.  He learned about the power of a whole food plant-based diet to treat his condition.

Within 3 weeks of changing his diet, his vision improved.  Within 3 months, the nerve damage recovered and he’s never needed to take medications after the first week.  He now uses the power of his position to share the importance of eating healthy and the benefits of a plant-based diet as widely as possible.  He has supported local schools switching their lunches to all vegetarian, and encouraged prisons to provide healthier food.  If he had his way there would be more meatless options in every city entity.  He encourages everyone to be “a thriver instead of a survivor.” If elected, he will become the first vegan NY City mayor.

Grass-Fed Beef – bad for us and for the planet

Recently, some people have been touting grass-fed beef as eliminating all the problems associated with meat, or as an equivalent alternative to going vegetarian. Don’t fall for it. Grass-fed beef is still bad for us, the environment and, of course, the cows.

Let’s take a look and see what some leading veg-authors have to say on the subject and then make a few observations of our own. Read more

Calcium and mineral mythology

Bok ChoyOne of the many myths we hear about when it comes to minerals is that you need to consume dairy products to get enough calcium. While milk, cheese and yogurt do have calcium, there are plenty of other choices and some distinct advantages for those who want to skip the dairy and get their calcium for plant foods. Plant foods, such as collards and kale, are often good sources of calcium, but don’t carry the price tag of saturated fat and cholesterol, or a grumbly tummy for those with lactose intolerance. Plant foods are also easier on the animals and the environment.

Some people may take time to get used to the idea after seeing all the commercials with celebrities wearing a milk moustache, but as you learn more about it, we think you’ll be reaching for the veggies as the best way to get your calcium. The chart below shows some of the many plant sources of calcium, with dairy milk included for comparison. See our fact sheet to learn more about how to get plenty of calcium in your diet.

Food Calcium mg per 100 cal serving Absorption rate
Bok Choy 870mg 53%
Collard Greens 609mg 52%
Orange Juice (calcium fortified) 320mg 52%
Tofu, set with calcium 287mg 31%
Kale 270mg 49%
Broccoli 215mg 61%
Cow’s milk (for comparison) 188mg 32%
Sesame seeds 170mg 21%
Cabbage 160mg 65%
White beans 72mg 22%
Tempeh 55mg 37%

See professional level article on ensuring adequate calcium.

Osteoarthritis – A plant-based diet can help

Osteoarthritic hip joint

Do your joints hurt? Maybe you have osteoarthritis? The good news is that a plant-based diet may be able to help.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine. Osteoarthritis has often been referred to as a “wear and tear” disease. But besides the breakdown of cartilage, osteoarthritis affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bone and deterioration of the connective tissues that hold the joint together and attach muscle to bone. It also causes inflammation of the joint lining.

Vegetarians have a lower risk of osteoarthritis. One study showed that even light meat consumption once a week increased the risk of osteoarthritis by 31% in women and 19% in men, compared to vegetarians.

People already diagnosed with arthritis can take steps to improve their diet quality as a possible route to reduce arthritis symptoms and maintain a healthy body weight. In one study, a whole food plant-based diet was associated with a significant reduction in pain compared to an ordinary omnivorous diet, with statistically significant pain reduction seen as early as two weeks after initiation of dietary modification.

The plant-based diet is thought to help in many ways. It helps maintain a healthy weight and lowers the level of inflammation. Plant foods also contain phytonutrients that help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Phytonutrients are substances, only found in plants, that while not vitamins, minerals or fiber, nevertheless can have a powerful benefit when it comes to health. Certain foods such as green peppers, cabbage, spinach, papaya and kiwi fruit have higher levels of phytonutrients that may help arthritis, while blueberries and strawberries have may also be of special value.

Giving up animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs, and replacing them with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, may be just what you need to feel limber again!

Vegan Men Got Testosterone!

OK, gentlemen listen up! Vegans have just as much testosterone as meat eaters! Images of burly cavemen bringing home meat may have men thinking that steaks and burgers are key to masculinity, but it’s just not true.  According to the lead doctor in the latest medical research conducted at the Miami University medical school, “The old idea that men needed to consume a traditional diet with plenty of meat to have a healthy testosterone level was based on pure conjecture, not based on evidence.” The latest study showed that vegans have as much testosterone as meat eaters. This was even true of vegans who eat a lot of junk vegan food, although we think vegans should go easy on the junk food for other health reasons. 

While this research may be the latest to show that vegan men have as much testosterone as others, it’s not the first. Back in 2000, doctors at Oxford University found that not only did vegans have enough testosterone, but that they even had a little more than meat eaters. Going even further back, doctors at Oxford in 1990 also found that vegans had just as much testosterone as meat eaters. Take special note: consuming soy does not affect testosterone levels.

Testosterone is the primary male hormone and is responsible for the development of primary sexual development, which includes testicular descent, sperm formation, enlargement of the penis and testes, and increasing libido. Testosterone is also involved in regulating secondary male characteristics, which are those responsible for masculinity. These secondary sex characteristics include male hair patterns, vocal changes, and voice deepening, anabolic effects which include growth spurts in puberty and skeletal muscle growth.

There’s more good news. Testosterone is important in having erections. Besides having plenty of testosterone, following a vegan diet confers other advantages when it comes to erectile dysfunction.

Heart Disease – No. 1 cause of death

Artery scanning

Dr Chan Hwang scans the carotid artery of a Vegfest attendee.

Heart disease is still the number one cause of death for both men and women. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. A plant-based diet can reduce your risk of a heart attack by 40%. If you wish your doctor knew about this, we want you to know that we do too! That’s why we wrote a letter to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. They published an Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on the role of non-statin therapies for lowering LDL Cholesterol, but they “forgot” to include the plant-based diet!  We told them about their omission, and we published it as an open letter, complete with references to all the latest research on the topic. Read more

New flu from pigs

Pigs confinedWhat if we stopped raising pigs?  Easy answer: we would stop the swine flu.

We pay a very high price from raising pigs and, of course, the pigs do as well. A big part of that price is the swine flu. U.S. health officials are tracking a newly discovered strain of swine flu in China they say has the characteristics of viruses with potential to cause another human pandemic. Although the virus has not yet been detected in the U.S. or shown human to human transition, doctors have reason to worry it could spell trouble.

Here’s why they’re worried. The new virus appears to grow well in the cells lining the human airway, and possesses all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans, according to a recent study.

Pigs are considered as important hosts or “mixing vessels” for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses. Systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is essential for early warning and preparedness for the next potential pandemic.

The virus, which scientists are calling G4 EA H1N1 is exhibiting “reassortment capabilities.” When you get a brand new virus that turns out to be a pandemic virus, it’s either due to mutations and/or the reassortment or exchanges of genes. This virus has characteristics of the 2009 H1N1 virus, and of the original 1918 Flu which some other flu viruses have, as well as segments from pigs.  The H1N1 swine flu and 1918 pandemic flu were both considered very dangerous viruses that spread across the globe.

Most pigs are raised in very harsh over crowded conditions on what’s known as factory farms. But if we didn’t raise pigs, almost all the threat of swine flu would disappear. How many people could be saved from sickness and death? Is bacon really worth all the suffering and death?  Learn more about the flu and how it arises on factory chicken and pig farms.

Better future for Black health

doctor with patientMany people in the US are worried and upset about the life experience of blacks in America at the moment. And while attention is very understandably drawn to the abuse of their civil rights, there’s another problem that shouldn’t be forgotten. Black people face an increased risk for a number of chronic diseases.

Blacks in America have a 50% higher risk of obesity, 70% higher risk of type 2 diabetes, 40% higher prevalence of hypertension, a 25% increased risk of stroke, and 4 times the risk of kidney disease requiring dialysis. They also have a 75% higher risk of dying from a heart attack and a 10% increased risk of dying from cancer. Read more

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