Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) hurts. Nearly 3 million Americans suffer from it. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition also can damage a wide variety of body organs, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. There are treatments, but many have significant side effects.
Following a plant-based diet can reduce your chances of getting RA. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, comparing those who followed a vegetarian diet to those who ate meat but otherwise followed a healthy lifestyle, showed that those following a vegetarian diet reduced their risk of getting Rheumatoid Arthritis 50%. Read more
Ultrathon runner Harvey Lewis, 45-years old, won the most recent 135-mile Badwater endurance race, on a vegan diet.
Badwater is the most demanding running race offered anywhere on the planet. The race starts at 280 ft below sea level in California’s Death Valley, and finishes up at 8300 ft on Mount Whitney. Lewis completed the race in under 26 hours, despite 100 degree heat. He has won this race before back in 2014, and has completed the race 10 times, with top wins half of those times. He credits plant-based nourishment for his endurance and athletic performance.
In 1996 at age 20, Lewis decided to become a vegetarian after his mother suffered a stroke at age only 54, which caused him to reassess the culture of the modern Western diet. Following a trip to the Australian rainforest for college credit and an overarching love for animals, Lewis considered his existing habits and their impact on his overall quality of life, as well as the impact on the planet.
More recently in 2016, he went fully vegan. He says being vegetarian, and now vegan, gives him the “necessary ingredients for my body to bounce back quickly from punishing endurance events.” He admits his daily nutrition varies significantly from his race-day intake, particularly for a 24-hour race. On a regular day, Lewis enjoys black bean burgers, traditional ethnic foods like Indian and Korean cuisine, and mango smoothies.
However, during lengthy races, he snacks on Clif bars and cran-razz shot bloks, Peppermint Patties, Coca-Cola, pizza and avocado sandwiches. For a race in the heat, like Badwater, Lewis relies on liquid calories, namely Clif hydration drinks and Coca-Cola. Lewis was featured on a No Meat Athlete podcast describing his Badwater win and race-day nutrition.
Several other ultrarunner athletes prefer plant-based diets, including a former member of ours, Scott Jurek, who co-authored a memoir called Eat & Run detailing his experiences with ultrarunning, going meatless in 1997, and becoming vegan in 1999.
Medical studies show that a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of stomach cancer while meat increases it.
Cancer is often most easily treated when detected early, but some cancers aren’t easy to catch early. One of them is stomach cancer. Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, begins when cells in the stomach start to grow out of control. By the time it’s detected it has usually spread to other parts of the body. Treatment is most often ineffective or of limited benefit in these cases.
So when it comes to stomach cancer, prevention is even more critical. What can be done to reduce the risk? It turns out a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of stomach cancer. For instance, one study showed that vegetarians have a 63% reduced risk of getting stomach cancer. Another study showed that vegetarians had 56% reduction in the risk of dying from stomach cancer.
Results from several studies suggested that a diet rich in vitamin C was particularly protective. Sources of vitamin C include fresh produce, such as green and yellow vegetables and fruit. Several studies have also reported the protective role of allium vegetables, such as onions and garlic, in preventing gastric cancer.
There’s another advantage vegetarians have when it comes to stomach cancer. Most cases of stomach have a bacteria, H.Pylori, as one of the causative factors. However, a vegetarian diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent or suppress infection with H. Pylori.
While a vegetarian diet reduces the risk of getting stomach cancer, processed meat such hot dogs and bacon increase the risk, as does red meat such as steaks and hamburgers. The choice for prevention is clear. Put a healthy vegetarian diet to work to reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
With the resumption of life after Covid-19, many are enjoying the opportunity to socialize and go to parties again. But if eating vegetarian or vegan is new for you, you may have some anxiety around how to maintain your food choices at parties. This answer may be helpful to reassure you.
The following is an excerpt from our book “Say No to Meat“, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose, published by Healthy Living Publications. This book includes answers to all the questions you may have about becoming a vegetarian, and is invaluable to new and existing vegetarians alike!
What do you recommend when going out with friends or to parties?
Research beforehand and come prepared. When going out with friends to a restaurant, encourage them to choose a restaurant that you know has some veggie options you can choose. If you aren’t able to influence the choice of restaurant, it may help to look online beforehand to see from their menu what options are available to you. You may need to ask for something special to be made, if you can’t find a suitable menu item. Most chefs and restaurants don’t mind special orders, so it’s important to speak up. Another alternative is to eat beforehand, and just go along to enjoy the company.
Know before you go. At a catered dinner, ask beforehand if possible, whether the caterer has any vegetarian options. When going to a private party, it’s a good idea to mention to the host that you are vegetarian, so that they can cater for your needs if food is to be provided. Alternatively, you can just ask which dishes include meat when you arrive, so that you can be sure to avoid them, rather than putting your host to any special trouble.
Some people just need a little help. You may wish to offer to bring some food, so that you know you’ll have something to eat. At a barbecue, bring a package of veggie burgers or veggie hot dogs for the grill. A potluck is a great opportunity to show others how delicious vegetarian food can be, so it’s worth making a special effort to bring a particularly appetizing dish or two. You can pick something up from a natural foods deli section if you don’t wish to cook. Be sure to eat when you first arrive, since others may like your food so much they eat it all before you get any!
Plant foods are powerful medicine for diabetes (Type II or Adult Onset). Medical researchers have discovered that a plant based diet is very effective for both preventing and helping to reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes. In some cases it’s even more powerful than drugs.
It’s a good thing too. America needs strong medicine when it comes to pre-diabetes and diabetes. With 11 percent of people over the age of 20 having diabetes, plus 23 percent with pre-diabetes, over a third of the country either has diabetes or is on their way to getting it. As if diabetes itself wasn’t bad enough, the complications can be even worse. Diabetes raises the risk of other health problems, ranging from heart disease to kidney damage, to blindness.
But now for the good news. You can reduce your risk of getting diabetes by just taking the following medicines: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts. The more you take, the more protection you can get. For instance, researchers found that those following semi-vegetarian diets, pesco vegetarian, lacto ovo-vegetarian, and vegan diets, reduced their risk of diabetes by 28%, 51%, 61% and 72% respectively. The pattern here is clear: the more plant foods you eat, the more protection you get. Vegetarians also had the best scores for the seven major risk factors for pre-diabetes.
What about if you already have diabetes? Even here plant foods are powerful medicine. In one study, conducted at George Washington University, 46% of diabetics were able to stop or significantly reduce their medications in only 6 months. Even more impressive is how the powerful plant-based diet reduced blood sugar by about 25% more than the usual treatment – the drug metformin combined with the standard American Diabetes Association diet. Washington state physician Gregory Scribner MD, an internist specializing in diabetes, tells his patients, “A switch to a healthy vegetarian diet can reverse many of the complications of diabetes, even in advanced cases, and can often prevent the disease from occurring in the first place.”
It turns out that plant-based diets can even help with some of the most difficult to treat complications, such as the painful peripheral neuropathy that diabetics can get which causes pain in the extremities. For instance, in one study, 81% of those following a low fat, high fiber, vegan diet had very significant improvements in only one month. These research studies seem to translate well into the community. For instance one man, who attended one of our free Vegetarian Solution classes a couple of years ago, decided to give a vegetarian diet a try to help his diabetes symptoms. Within a couple of months he was delighted to find his neuropathy pain had abated. He came back to our next class to learn more and to tell us about how it had helped him.
The message is clear – vegetarian, and especially vegan, diets are powerful medicines when it comes to diabetes. If you’d like to learn more, we’re here to help. We have classes coming up in January 2015, including a free Vegetarian Solution class, and a full Food for Life Diabetes series of classes, where you can learn more about how a vegetarian diet can help and enjoy delicious cooking demonstrations. Additionally, our recommended health books page can give you some suggested reading.
Several studies have now shown that vegetarians, and especially vegans, have better biomarkers than meat eaters. OK, great, but what the heck is a biomarker?
A biomarker is a chemical substance found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of either disease or health. The good news is that vegetarians and vegans have more of the biomarkers that indicate good health and less of the ones that indicate a disease process.
Studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians have lower levels of biomarkers that indicate inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis than meat eaters. This puts them at a lower risk of getting these diseases.
Even more impressive is a recent study that showed that vegetarians appear to have a healthier biomarker profile than meat-eaters for adults of any age and weight, and is also unaffected by smoking and alcohol consumption. Now this does not mean vegetarians can go out and start smoking and abusing alcohol, but it does show the power of a plant- based diet and that the greater positive health impact of a vegetarian diet can even outweigh the negative effect of smoking and alcohol consumption.
A recent article from a study in India found an association between nonvegetarian diets and an increased risk of getting the virus that causes the current pandemic. Unfortunately, this study lacks the specificity to draw any reliable conclusions. It also only showed a relative effect that is not even in the same galaxy as immunity from the virus!
However, some people are falsely claiming that this study shows that vegetarian and vegan diets confer protection from the virus. Don’t fall for this false notion. R.V. Asokan, secretary general of the Indian Medical Association, told AFP that there is “absolutely no truth” in the claim.
It is vitally important to understand that a plant-based diet is NOT a substitute for the vaccine for Covid-19. While we have written and spoken on the many different health benefits of a plant-based diet, protection from getting the Covid-19 disease is not one of them!
The vaccines that are approved for use in the United States have proven safety and effectiveness with minimal side effects, and while nothing in medicine is 100%, the degree of protection is very high. To protect yourself and your friends and family, we recommend that all adults get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible, even if you’ve already had the disease.
The only exception is where specific individuals have been advised by their doctor not to do so, such as those who are immunocompromised. Even if you think that you’re unlikely to get sick yourself, please consider the possibility that you could transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable and unable to get the vaccine because of their health status. By having a high percentage of the population vaccinated, we help reduce the amount of virus circulating and thus the number of people getting sick. The sooner this happens, the sooner we can all get our lives back to normal.
There’s a silent crisis that threatens us all. It’s much more serious than most people realize and if we don’t do something about it we’re all in trouble. This crisis is soil erosion.
As with many other environmental problems, it’s caused by raising farm animals for meat. It turns out that 85% of all the soil erosion in the United States, and 55% around the world, is caused directly by the livestock, and by growing the fantastic amount of feed the 60 billion farm animals around the world consume. Unfortunately, most environmental organizations aren’t paying too much attention to it and the media almost completely ignores it. After all, it’s hard to get excited about dirt!
We need to take it more seriously. Soil is where food begins. Humanity depends upon the soil for its food, and if enough of the soil goes, humanity will go with it. Without soil, not only will the crops we plant not grow, but other vegetation will die as well. Read more
César Chávez, the famous civil rights leader and labor organizer who did so much for farm workers, was also a vegetarian. Chavez was a genuinely religious and spiritual figure as well as a community organizer and social entrepreneur, a champion of nonviolent social change, and a crusader for the environment. He also deeply loved his two German Shepherds.
The German Shepherds provided security for Chávez and his family at La Paz, the United Farm Workers’ headquarters in Keene, Calif. They went almost everywhere with him, including on the road when he traveled by car. He credited them with deepening his belief that without exception, all lives are valuable.
The dogs even helped deepen his commitment to vegetarianism. As he said, “I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings. The basis for peace is respecting all creatures.”
Chávez also was committed to animal rights. Chavez said. “Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society… “Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting, and rodeos are all cut from the same defective fabric: violence.”
It’s National Kidney Month! Here’s the big news: a plant-based diet helps prevent and treat Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). This is a big deal because CKD is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States and sucks up 20% of the Medicare budget.
Vegans and vegetarians have a greatly decreased risk of kidney disease. One study showed that vegans have better kidney function than meat eaters. This only makes sense since vegetarians and vegans have much lower rates high blood pressure and diabetes, two of the leading risk factors for kidney disease. While this is news to many people and patients, the medical researchers have known this for a long time. Read more