Why a plant-based diet is superior to a carnivore’s fare
Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian: he gobbled up huge chunks of the European continent yet such an appetite for conquest didn’t match a capacity to sire an offspring.
On the other hand, one Li Ching-Yuen – who lived off mostly on a diet of plants and fruits but there was evidence he partook of fish and wild game twice a year – in Szechuan, a fabled culinary hub of China was reported to have outlived 23 wives and left 180 descendants.
Records were found showing Li was born in 1677 and the Imperial Chinese Government congratulated him on his 150th and 200th birthdays. Most newspapers and news magazines worldwide, including The New York Times and Time magazine, reported his demise in May 1933 – he was living with a 24th wife when he died at 256 years old.
Not to his diet Li attributed his longevity, it was “to peace of mind and that it was his belief everyone could live at least a mountain ranges gathering herbs and learning the knowledge of longevity methods.
Accounts say he was 71 years old when he moved to Kai Hsien to join the Chinese army as a teacher of the martial arts and a tactical advisor.
That’s one tough act to follow. Even so, the conscientious dieter may be tempted to ask: Are veggie nutrients more bioavailable and easier to ingest? Shall we say that the less-complex protein make-up in veggies is superior to meat-based proteins?
“Yes and yes! Protein is found abundantly in plant foods. A varied diet of nutritious plant foods provides all the protein that you need.
Vegans should consume a variety of protein sources, including legumes and foods made from them (e.g., beans such as monggo, peas, lentils, peanuts, peanut butter, tofu, soy milk, and mock meats), nuts, seeds, tokwa, malunggay leaves, and whole grains.
“Great sources of high-quality protein, plant foods are also cholesterol-free, and contain healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates. Animal products, on the other hand, have been linked to several types of cancer, are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol (two of the leading causes of heart disease), and contain no fiber at all.
A major study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that a high intake of protein from vegetable sources like tofu, nuts, and beans lowers our risk of heart disease by 30 percent. The scientist who headed the study told the reporters,[pq]Not all proteins are equal’ – while vegetable protein can help keep our hearts healthy, eating animal protein can put us in an early grave. – Rochelle Regodon[/pq]
So cites Rochelle Regodon, campaign manager for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia Pacific. The animal-rights group established in 1980 in the United States believes that “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment.
Ultimately, PETA strives to promote a world in which animals are respected and people are aware of and concerned with how their daily decisions affect the lives of other sentient beings.”
PETA promotes a vegan diet since “well-planned vegan diets provide us with all the nutrients that we need, minus all the saturated fat, cholesterol, and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs, and dairy products.
Vegans have lower rates of death from heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, and vegans are less likely to be obese than meat eaters.”
PETA’s advocacy can dovetail with a solution to the country’s nutritional paradox – more than 30 million are in the clutches of starvation while the rest are falling prey to diet-related diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, cardiac ailments, and hypertension.
“A meat-based diet is partly to blame for widespread hunger, because land, water, and other resources that could be used to grow food for humans are being used to grow crops to feed farmed animals instead,” Regodon notes. “Raising animals for food is not only cruel, it’s terribly inefficient: It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of edible animal flesh.
If more people went vegetarian, there would be more resources available to grow food for hungry people and more people could be fed. At the same time, shifting to a vegetarian diet would protect Filipinos from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other diet-related ailments.”[pq]Going vegan is going healthy. [/pq]
Going vegetarian can also ease the inconveniences of global warming. Regodon cites a 2006 United Nations report that found the meat industry cranking out “more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined.”
Too, she points out that “Raising livestock for food endangers our water supply. It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, while growing one pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. In addition, the enormous amounts of wastes generated by farmed animals leach into the water, as well as being blown into the air.”
Eating meat also wastes food that could be used to feed the hungry, according to Regodon. “It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat. The world’s cattle industry alone consumes a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population.”
“Following a diet loaded with animal flesh is like trampling Earth in an SUV – it’s bad for the environment and wastes vast amounts of resources. Switching to a vegetarian diet reduces your “ecological footprint,” allowing you to tread lightly on the planet and be compassionate to its inhabitants.”
Going vegan is cheap since “most versatile vegetarian foods – including rice, malunggay, kangkong, saluyot, and other vegetables, beans, and tofu cost relatively little compared with animal products. Countless vegan meals can be made with these foods, and since they’re healthy, people won’t have to spend extra money on cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood-pressure pills, and other dietary-related medical expenses.”
As to the perennial Filipino favorite rice-and-fish fare, Regodon lets out a caution: “Your health will pay the price if you eat fish. Fish’s bodies absorb the toxic chemicals in the water around them, and from other fish they’ve eaten. Contaminants in fish flesh – including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), mercury, cadmium, lead, chromium, dioxins, and arsenic – can cause liver damage, nervous-system disorders, fetal damage, impaired mental development, and other ailments.
Fish flesh also contains saturated fat and cholesterol. It’s safer [and cheaper] to get omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients from soya, flax seeds, vegetables, fruits, beans, and other plant foods.”
– Dong A de los Reyes