Tag Archives: vegan diet

Saving Americans trillions!

Let’s save the country trillions of dollars! How you ask? By adopting a vegan diet. Here’s why.

Diet is the number one risk factor for the disease and disability burden in the United States, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. That’s number one! According to cardiologist Dean Ornish, “More than 75% …of the annual U.S. healthcare costs (mostly sick-care costs) are from chronic diseases, which can often be prevented and even reversed by eating a plant-based diet, at a fraction of the costs – and the only side-effects are good ones.”

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Med school teaches vegan!

This is a first. A medical school now requires all of its med students to learn about the health value of a whole food vegan diet. Wayne State University School of Medicine is the first medical school we know of to acknowledge the many health benefits of a vegan diet to prevent and treat disease and then to act upon it. According to the med school, “this is the first exclusively mandatory plant-based nutritional intervention undertaken at a medical institution in the United States.” They go on to say, “The strategy presented here may serve as a model for similar initiatives at a variety of institutions and settings.” Let’s hope other med schools follow their lead.

This long overdue change makes total sense since diet is the number one risk factor for disease and disability in the United States. We’ve long been puzzled at the number of medical schools that say there’s no room in their curriculum for teaching med students how to prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases with a vegan diet.

Wayne State acknowledges that, “Advances in preventive medicine have demonstrated the crucial role of whole-food unprocessed plant-based nutrition in reducing disease burden.” The net result will be the prevention of much patient suffering and many lives lost and that is no small thing.

Here at Vegetarians of Washington, we’ve been playing our part in the effort to help doctors learn how to treat their patients with a plant based diet. We hold an annual medical seminar for doctors where they learn from other doctors how to treat their patients with a plant based diet, we’ve written 29 articles that have been published in mainstream medical journals and now we have even written a textbook for doctors.

We’re excited to see the growing interest in the health benefits of a vegan diet in the medical community.

Vegan diet means less meds for seniors

Seniors who follow a vegan diet need 58% less medicine than others. That’s what a new study shows and it’s good news for older Americans. We all know that seniors generally need more medical care. This translates to more money spent on drugs and a higher risk of side effects.

According to the study’s authors, “Our results show that eating healthy, especially a vegan diet, may be protective in leading to a reduced number of pills taken, either by preventing the development of risk factors and/or cardiovascular disease or by helping on the controlling of such conditions,”

We’ve written before about how a vegan diet reduces the risk of many of the common diseases that seniors get such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney disease, colon cancer and other digestive diseases such as gall stones and diverticulitis.

Polypharmacy (taking several medications at once) is relatively common in older populations. But it comes with potential health risks, researchers say. They point to data showing that individuals who take more than five medications a day carry an 88 percent higher risk of side effects. So, a vegan diet reduces the risk of side effects and adverse drug interactions.

People age 65 and older make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 34 percent of all prescription medication use and 30 percent of all over-the-counter medication use. This translates to a lot of money spent on drugs. But those following a vegan diet can save a lot of money for themselves and if all seniors followed a vegan diet the savings on a national basis would be enormous.

Animals dying in Australia

KoalaProfessor Chris Dickman, of the University of Sydney, estimates the number of animals killed in the bushfires in the New South Wales region of Australia to be more than 800 million animals, with more than one billion animals impacted nationally. Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food, shelter and habitat. Fire is a painful way for an animal to die. These poor animals are victims of global warming, and a prime driver of global warming is eating animal derived foods. Read more

We’re cool with choline

Choline foodsThe next chapter in usual scare tactic of “if you follow a plant-based diet, you’ll be missing something and get into all kinds of trouble” is choline.

A new opinion piece in the British Medical Journal—by an author with egg and meat industry ties and who is concerned with “accelerated food trends towards plant-based diets/veganism”—is stirring up all kinds of confusion about choline, so we thought we’d clear the air and share the facts. Read more

Veg Diet treats Fibromyalgia

Woman With Severe Neck Pain 6This disease needs a better treatment and needs it badly. It’s one of those particularly hard-to-treat diseases, but new research shows that a plant-based diet may help quite a bit.

Fibromyalgia is a tough disease to experience. It hurts, it’s exhausting, and it can be depressing. Fibromyalgia, which affects millions of Americans, is a disease of persistent widespread pain, stiffness, fatigue, plus disrupted and unrefreshing sleep. Not surprisingly, those with fibromyalgia have functional impairment of the activities of daily living. Current treatments aren’t especially effective for most patients, so something better is needed.

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Elon Musk – Mars and Cars go veg

mars-colonyTesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently hosted a conference catered by the innovative vegan company, Impossible Foods. The Code Conference was a gathering of revolutionary thinkers and progressive planners, all of whom munched on vegan sliders as they discussed how to improve the fate of us all. Musk, who has struggled with his own vegetarianism, may now be finally seeing the light. This is especially important if he plans a mission to Mars. NASA has already determined that only a vegan diet will work both for the trip there and for the outpost on Mars itself.

Big names were in attendance at the event, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Bill Gates – an early investor in the revolutionary vegan start-up.

tesla-veganTesla, the all-electric-car company, has just unveiled an SUV model that’s not only environmentally friendly — it’s also vegan. When you think of luxury cars, you often think leather seats and that “new car smell” but what if you have plenty of money to spend, and don’t want it lined with animal skin? It’s a problem that plagues some vegans.

For decades, leather-free options in the car industry have been limited at best. Generally speaking, buyers looking to avoid the use of animal products in their cars would have to settle for basic models with cloth seats and plastic steering wheels, but as they add options like better engines, heated seats or upgraded speakers, they’re often forced to choose leather seats.

But now, Tesla’s “Ultra White” interior option, currently only offered in the new Model X SUV, comes available with a fully vegan interior — including synthetic leather seats, steering wheel and gear shift — giving that streamlined luxury look of leather.

The company reportedly created the new interior option, in part, after receiving suggestions from potential customers who felt the company’s eco-friendly stance on limiting emissions made no sense when the cars included animal products.

Feds say Veg Diets Most Sustainable

Manure pileThe Feds have finally admitted that veg diets are better for the environment. The USDA Advisory Committee tried to slip it into their 571 page recommendation: “The major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts,and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health-promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.”

This sounds like real progress to us, but don’t look for this statement to make it into the final recommendations. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack won’t allow it and the meat industry, described as livid, vowed to block it in Congress. Still, just the fact that it was recommended in the first place is real progress.

While it’s a start, the world needs much more progress on this issue. Consider that raising the 60 billion livestock we now have on the planet earth uses, directly for themselves and indirectly to grow their feed, one third of all the arable land on the planet.  It is also one of the leading causes of water pollution, the number one cause of tropical rainforest destruction, soil erosion, and, according to researchers from the World Bank, the number one cause of global warming.

Vegans on Mars

We’re not kidding. The planned mission to Mars will be vegan all the way there and back. Looking at the enormous inefficiencies in both materials and energy involved in producing animal products for food, the scientists at NASA have concluded that adopting a vegan diet is the only way to go.

Food is vital to the success of the Mission to Mars, so much so that NASA is planning on spending $1 million developing this aspect of the mission. The menu must sustain a group of six to eight astronauts, keep them healthy and happy, and offer a broad array of food. That’s no simple feat considering it will likely take six months to get to the Red Planet, astronauts will have to stay there 18 months, and then it will take another six months to return to Earth.

Researchers are building a menu for the planned NASA mission to Mars, mixing and tasting the concoctions they hope to send with the astronauts. Travel to Mars opens the possibility that astronauts can do things like chop veggies and do a little cooking. It may be possible to boil water with a pressure cooker too. To ensure the diet packs the best in nutrition, the researchers are designing a variety of dishes that include tofu and nuts, including a Thai pizza that has no cheese but is covered with carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, scallions, peanuts and a homemade sauce that has a spicy kick.

On Mars though there is a little gravity, allowing NASA to consider significant changes to the current space menu. That’s where Cooper’s team comes in. Travel to Mars opens the possibility that astronauts can do things like chop vegetables and do a little cooking of their own. Even though pressure levels are different than on Earth, scientists think it will be possible to boil water with a pressure cooker too.

Once on Mars, NASA is planning for the astronauts to care for a “Martian greenhouse.” They would have a variety of fruits and vegetables — from carrots to bell peppers — in a hydroponic solution, meaning they would be planted in mineral-laced water instead of soil. The astronauts would care for their garden and then use those ingredients, combined with others, such as nuts and spices brought from Earth, to prepare their meals.

One advantage of the greenhouse is that it allows the astronauts to actually have live plants that are growing,  This gives them optimum nutrient delivery from the fresh fruits and vegetables, and it actually allows them to have freedom of choice when they’re actually cooking the menus, because the food isn’t already pre-prepared into a particular recipe.

It’s easy to see why NASA decided on vegan for the Mars Mission when we consider what happens here on “spaceship” earth. Many people are surprised to learn that farm animals actually function as food factories in reverse. It turns out that cows, for instance, only give back as meat 4% of the calories and 10% of the protein fed to them, and here on earth it takes almost 5,000 gallons of water just to produce a pound of beef. Meat is also very wasteful of energy, requiring over 15 times more fuel to produce a gram of protein from beef than from soybeans, for instance. Not to be overlooked are also the many health advantages a vegan diet has to offer. Needless to say, there’ll be no doctor’s house calls in outer space and so the astronauts need to maintain themselves in tip top shape.

While the spaceship blast off is still a few years off, you don’t need to wait to follow an astronaut’s diet. Just remember to pack your ship with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, to give your personal mission here on earth its very best chance of success!

Consumer Reports Fails to Give Life-saving Information

Maybe we were just naïve, but when we saw that Consumer Reports magazine was focusing this month’s cover story on “Protecting Your Heart”,  we thought that there would a major emphasis on healthy vegetarian diets, or at the very least prominent mention of this life-saving solution. Alas, there wasn’t a word. Consumer Reports positions itself as a rater of all things that people across the county need or want to know more about.  Given its glaring omission, we thought it just might be high time we gave our rating of this rater.

To be fair, there are a few good points in the article.  They do stress that lifestyle changes are the best prevention, and they do emphasize that some procedures such as angioplasties are not effective in preventing heart attacks, under most circumstances, as a front line treatment. They also point out that “people tend to view a heart doctor as some sort of action hero, and think that the more aggressive, the better.”

However, large-scale studies such as the Framingham Heart Study or The China Study, and the interventional studies such those conducted on heart patients by doctors including Dean Ornish, John McDougall and Caldwell Esselstyn, have clearly shown the significant benefits of a healthy vegetarian diet. The new movie, Forks Over Knives, which emphasizes these benefits, has created quite a stir, and there’s been much talk in the media about the great results former president Bill Clinton has achieved in treating his heart disease on a veg diet. So there really is no excuse for their failure to mention the importance of a vegetarian diet, and we can only give Consumer Reports a failing grade for choosing not to give their readers this lifesaving message. How did Consumer Reports miss the study showing that a veg diet was as powerful at lowering cholesterol as the American Heart Association diet and a statin drug combined? How did Consumer Reports miss the insurance industry study showing that for every dollar spent on switching patients over to a veg-diet centered heart disease program, $5.55 were saved in treatment costs? A healthy vegetarian diet, and especially a healthy vegan diet, is the most powerful tool to protect your heart, and in most cases, may even be the most powerful tool to heal your heart once disease has already set in. 

The article quotes Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, lamenting the failure of most doctors to act on so much of the medical research when it comes to heart disease. He says “It may take years for evidence to trickle down to private practice.” It seems that the same is true of many mass market magazines, such as Consumer Reports.