The benefits of a vegan diet

Why 1 million Americans have made the switch

By Angela Brooks, English 107 Contributor

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Dr. T. Colin Campbell speaking at the Ann Wigmore Living Foods Conference 2013 (Image from YouTube.com)

With the start of every New Year, people always make resolutions to lose weight, eat better, exercise more, etc. Each year, more Americans are changing their diet to a “whole food, plant based diet.” Science has proved time and time again that this is the best lifestyle to live not only for physical and mental health reasons but also what is best for the planet.

According to Vegansociety.com, “evidence of people choosing to avoid animal products can be traced back over 2,000 years.” Buddha himself was a vegetarian. In November 1944, English animal rights advocate, Donald Watson called a meeting with five other nondairy vegetarians to discuss diets and lifestyles. These six pioneers were the first to actively found a new movement. The group felt a new word was required to describe them; something more brief than ‘nondairy vegetarians.’ They settled on ‘vegan’, containing the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian.’

Doctor T. Colin Campbell is a world renowned biochemist who coined the phrase “whole food, plant based diet.” Campbell specializes in the effects that nutrition have on long-term health. His studies have proved time after time that adapting a vegan diet massively decreases one’s risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, dementia and kidney failure; no matter what your genetic makeup is. There is a direct correlation between how much animal protein one consumes and their risk of developing cancer. In Dr. Campbell’s book ‘The China Study’ he explains his experiments on laboratory rats where he showed how it was completely possible to switch the growth of cancer on and off by varying the amount of animal protein that there was in the diet.

Not only does a plant-based diet improve one’s physical health, it drastically improves mental health as well according to a report done by Bonnie L. Beezhold and Carol S. Johnston for ‘Nutrition Journal’ in 2012. Some background knowledge that we know is that omnivorous diets are high in arachidonic acid (AA) compared to vegetarian & vegan diets. Research shows that high intakes of AA promote changes in brain that can disturb mood. The process done by Beezhold and Johnston was over just a two week period, they selected 39 omnivores who were randomly assigned to a control group consuming meat, fish and poultry daily (OMN); there was a group consuming fish 3-4 times weekly but avoiding meat and poultry (FISH), and a vegetarian group avoiding meat, fish and poultry (VEG). “Participants completed a food frequency questionnaire, the ‘Profile of Mood States questionnaire and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales.’ Mood scores were unchanged for OMN or FISH participants, but several mood scores for VEG participants improved significantly after two weeks.”

Climate change is real. Humans must take care of the earth as it takes care of us. Wondering how you can help? Become a vegan. The U.N. says that raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” Fossil fuels like oil and gasoline release carbon dioxide. According to PETA it takes “about 11 times as much fossil fuel to produce a calorie of animal protein as it does to produce a calorie of grain protein, considerably more carbon dioxide is released.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown that “animal agriculture is globally the single largest source of methane emissions and that, pound for pound, methane is more than 25 times as effective as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere.”

In summary, it is hard to believe that after thousands of studies have proved that a vegan diet is the best thing to do for your body and planet, people still chose to consume animal products. After all the documentaries about how hot dogs are made or how a cow is forcefully impregnated her entire life to produce milk that we have all regretfully seen, people still willing contribute to this monstrous industry.