Action Items for a Better Planet, a Better You

Elizabeth Kucinich

I found a great article by Elizabeth Kucinich, policy director at the Center for Food Safety and wife of former congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. They are both vegan and animal rights activists.

The article We Can Reverse Climate Change by the Way We Grow Food, has information about the research and studies showing the impacts of how we grow and process food is ruining our environment.

After laying out the research, she provides some concrete steps we can all take to improve the situation and also your health

What can you do to help mitigate climate change?

  • Grow or buy local
  • Buy organic
  • Reduce food waste — 50 percent of food produced in America is wasted
  • Eliminate industrial meat, dairy and eggs from your diet and reduce overall consumption of animal products and if choosing to eat meat, seek out 100 percent grassfed products.
  • Protect local agricultural land from land grabs and wasteful development

What will this do for you?

  • Reduce your consumption of and exposure to chemicals
  • Reduce your carbon footprint
  • Increase your health — a diet rich in plant-based foods can help reverse diseases can reduce the risk of health problems such as Type II diabetes, heart disease,and high cholesterol whereas meat and dairy can increase these risks
  • Increase your food security by supporting your regional foodshed.

Reading Elizabeth’s bio, I found out she was an Executive Producer for the documentary GMO OMG. Here’s the trailer. I can’t wait to see this.

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Summer Splendor

Farm standWhat a wonderful time of year at the Farmers’ Market! I went this morning and took some pictures of the wonderful bounty to be had. I realized I didn’t get any photos of the peaches and other stone fruit, blueberries, broccoli and cauliflower. Maybe next week. Until then enjoy these views of the market.

Carrots zucchini and eggplant

Tomatoes

Berries

Sweet cornDelicious sweet corn. We look forward to it every week. Note the CA grown kiwis in the background.

squashesWe love having all of these summer squashes to choose from.

Greens and beets

More tomatoesThe variety of sizes and shapes and colors of tomatoes is incredible.

I hope you have a Farmers’ Market near you. Visit it often and enjoy the Summer Splendor.

Embracing the “V” Word

Make your own at Keep Calm-o-matic

Make your own at Keep Calm-o-matic

I started my whole food, plant-based way of eating after watching the movie Forks Over Knives and reading Dr. Esselstyn‘s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. A few months later we went to a seminar where Dr. Esselstyn presented and he made the point – as do others like Drs John McDougall and T. Colin Campbell – that they don’t like to refer to their way of eating as vegan. They point out that there are many vegans who are not healthy because they eat too much oil, or nuts, or processed vegan foods. Also, the word vegan is too loaded, they say, and is a turn off to some people.

I went along, telling people I had adopted a whole food, plant-based diet. When pressed, I would say that it was essentially a vegan diet.

But, like Somer McCowan at Vedgedout.com, I’m ready to embrace veganism.

In her post Under the Banner of Veganism. Deprivation Diets, Eating Disorders and Orthorexia she talks about some of the issues related to veganism. She is very passionate about being vegan and makes some good points, but I don’t agree with all of it.

(BTW – for those, like me, who haven’t heard of Orthorexia nervosa, it is an “eating disorder” or “mental disorder” that some doctors and therapists define as characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy. It is not an officially recognized eating disorder.)

Somer has a wonderful story – how changing her diet cured her Colitis and helped her lose weight and feel great again.

In my diet transition, I originally went plant-based for health reasons. It wasn’t until about 6 months into my journey that I really made the connection that the decision to stop eating animals and their secretions wasn’t only better for my health, but also that I didn’t want to eat them anymore because I love all creatures and I don’t want to contribute to their suffering when I can live a healthy and strong diet by consuming plants.

Her post is:

  • Part rant – how celebs are jumping on the vegan bandwagon, but then quickly jumping off
  • Part scold – why are we vegans dividing ourselves into all these sub-groups? Oil-free, gluten-free, raw, etc. Many times these additional restrictions cause people to give up on being vegan
  • A reminder – veganism is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

Veganism isn’t just some restrictive fad diet. It’s a lifestyle and a belief system. So, if you’re a vegan, I’m asking you to evaluate that belief system and be honest with yourself about your motivations and your goals. Are you in it for the animals or are you in it because you have self-destructive tendencies? …

Being a vegan makes me feel a lot of joy! I love my diet. I eat a more varied, colorful and beautiful diet than I ever did before eschewing animal foods.

I realized that eating a vegan diet has a profound environmental impact for good. It teaches my children compassion and love. Something hopefully that they’ll carry on and teach their children.

All that being said, my vegan diet is mostly oil-, nut- and GMO-free. If that makes me someone with a “restrictive and obsessive dietary lifestyle,” I’m OK with that. I cook and eat for health and my vegan diet works for me and my family.

I don’t see being vegan as a choice between healthy eating and helping animals. I don’t see the vegans I know having self-destructive tendencies. I was bothered by her either or argument.

If you are not vegan or not eating a whole food, plant-based diet right now, maybe the time is right to make the change. If you are eating vegan, but struggling, do what you need to find the right vegan diet for you. Find a meetup or other groups that can support you, find a vegan friendly doctor, and know that you are doing the right thing for your health, the health of the animals, and the health of the planet.

Is Being an Ethical Vegan Affecting Our Mental Health?

Italy actiivist holding dead animal

Italian activists mourn the cruelty and abuse of animals in a street protest, holding the bodies of dead animals, 13 April, 2014.

I found this fascinating article – Should vegans be issued with a mental health warning? – written by Australian psychologist Clare Mann. She relates how she has had doctors referring patients they believe have a mental disorder to her. After talking to them, she found the common element is that they are vegan.

What if their associated symptoms were not signs of mental illness at all, but instead signs of extreme anguish, grief, betrayal and the madness of speciesism? …

Once you lift the veil on what is going on behind our speciesism, you will most likely reach the same conclusion – that it is a form of madness but not your madness.  The madness of how our society thinks speciesism – our unspoken superiority over the animal kingdom and differing treatment of different species – is ok.

So why is it so painful to be an animal advocate or adopt a vegan lifestyle? And most importantly what can you do to alleviate your pain and help animals?

I have been eating a plant-based diet for a year and a half now, but it has only been in the last nine months or so that I have had the “veil” lifted and understood the madness.

I was a vegetarian “for ethical reasons” for almost 15 years and didn’t know the ways I contributed to the exploitation of animals.

Now that I am aware, I am experiencing what Dr. Mann describes in this article – the grief, the anger at the industrialized food system and the inability to talk to non-vegans about how I feel. Are the relationships vegans have with non-vegans different from those we might have with someone who has gone through a divorce or other life-changing event, if we haven’t experienced them?

Dr. Mann believes they are.

The vegan who then talks to their (non-vegan) friend about these issues, who subsequently doesn’t also become vegan, believes that their friend either agrees with the cruelty, disbelieves what goes on or is indifferent to it.

Either way, the vegan knows that the non-vegan now has the knowledge but chooses to continue with the collusion. This is why they say that their friends or family don’t understand them.

Luckily, since moving to California, my wife and I have found vegan meetups and gotten involved in vegan book discussions where we can share these feelings.

If you are experiencing these feelings and don’t have people to discuss them with, go online and find the support you need through local vegan or animal activist groups.

How do we move forward from here?

Dr Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, offers us a solution to help us on this journey. He says that each of us are born vegan and is on the path to returning to this place.

If you are an animal activist or vegan reading this, you will most likely remember a time before your eyes were opened to the institutionalised superiority humans hold over animals i.e. speciesism.

Draw on that experience to ‘leap ahead’ for other people who have yet to have their eyes opened, holding the vision of a more compassionate world, one in which humans do not exercise superiority over non-human species and where animals live their own lives for their own sakes – not ours.

The entire article is worth reading and I hope will spark some great conversations.

Our Addiction to Meat is Hurting the Planet

Source: Washington Post Wonkblog

Source: Washington Post Wonkblog

A recently published UK study of different diets and food types found that people who eat vegan or vegetarian diets significantly reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) impact compared to people who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD). The daily carbon footprint for a person eating the average amount of meat in the US was just under 16 pounds of CO2 compared to around 8.5 pounds for vegetarians and 6.5 pounds for vegans.

The researchers rated the participants as heavy, medium or low meat-eaters. For their study, heavy meat-eaters ate 3.5 ounces of meat per day. The average American eats 4 ounces.

The researchers calculated the GHG footprint for different food types (see chart below). That quarter pound patty on your hamburger has a carbon footprint of 37.9 pounds of CO2. According to a 2008 EPA study of average auto emissions, that is equal to driving almost 50 miles. Was it really worth it? (See more about the impact of that quarter-pounder)

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about the health impacts of eating a vegan or whole food, plant-based diet but the environmental impacts of our addiction to meat has to be talked about and addressed before it destroys our planet. Here is an excerpt from the new movie Cowspiracy that examines the impact of factory meat production and why environmental groups don’t talk about it.

The conclusion of the research:

Analysis of observed diets shows a positive relationship between dietary GHG emissions and the amount of animal-based products in a standard 2,000 kcal diet. This work demonstrates that reducing the intake of meat and other animal based products can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation. Other work has demonstrated other environmental and health benefits of a reduced meat diet. National governments that are considering an update of dietary recommendations in order to define a ‘healthy, sustainable diet’ must incorporate the recommendation to lower the consumption of animal-based products.

Wise words indeed.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions By Food Type