Friday, August 21, 2009

Milk: Does it do everybody good?

According to a study done by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), dairy farming produces weak, starved, lame and infertile cows.

Dairy farmers breed cows for high yields of milk rather than endurance. The cows are kept indoors with zero grazing room and a large majority of their feed is used to produce milk. They become emaciated and weak and are led to premature slaughter.

Compassion in World Farming (CWF), an animal welfare charity in the UK, pleads with consumers to buy organic milk and dairy products.

"For far too long we have been milking cows beyond endurance. We need to breed a robust cow which can produce sustainable amounts of milk on pasture without mining her own body - a cow with a work-life balance," said Phil Brooke, a Welfare Development Manager at CWF.

Other products are available in addition to purchasing organic milk products:
organic soy milk
coconut milk
almond milk
rice milk

For those concerned about calcium-deficiency:

"You can decrease your risk of osteoporosis by reducing sodium and animal protein intake in the diet ,increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, exercising, and ensuring adequate calcium intake from plant foods such as kale, broccoli, and other leafy green vegetables and beans. You can also use calcium-fortified products such as breakfast cereals and juices, although these products provide more concentrated calcium than is necessary."-Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Prius, Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs....Vegetarianism?

“If we want to fight global warming through the food we buy, then one thing’s clear: We have to drastically reduce the meat we consume,” -Tara Garnett of London’s Food Climate Research Network.

According to an article in Audubon Magazine, livestock production is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gases. These gases are emitted when we burn fossil fuels. Those who eat less meat can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 250 gallons less per year (vegans), or 160 gallons less (vegetarians).

All of the energy used towards the production of chickens, cows and other livestock has the potential to serve dozens of beneficial purposes. It can be as simple as cutting down meat intake to once or twice a week.

Mike Tidwell, the author of the article, discusses buying local and organic, as well. While these practices are good in theory and have the potential to be less harmful, this is not always the case.

Cows and sheep- ruminants- emit harmful gases during their natural digestive process: methane and nitrous oxide. Organic or not, animals continue to emit these gases.

Ironically enough, buying chicken organically can be more harmful than purchasing conventionally-raised chicken. Tidwell's article cites data released in 2007 by Adrian Williams of Cranfield University in England:
"...when all factors are considered, organic, free-range chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming than conventionally raised broiler birds. That’s because “sustainable” chickens take longer to raise, and eat more feed. Worse, organic eggs have a 14 percent higher impact on the climate than eggs from caged chickens."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Meatless Mondays

Meatless Mondays are becoming a nationwide trend. During both world wars, the current presidents called on citizens to lessen their meat consumption, among other things. It quickly became an initiative to raise awareness, to encourage a healthier society and to sustain the environment.

Abstaining from meat one day a week reduces the risk of heart disease, helps maintain a healthy weight and improves overall quality of a diet. According to the Meatless Mondays Web site, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Beans and peas also result in higher fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium intakes. Fiber aids in weight loss and prevents overeating.

“It was my intention to give my system a break every few days,” Angela D. said.

Angela is a mother from Northern California who, along with her youngest daughter, adopted “Meatless Mondays.”

“I found that not worrying about what I couldn't eat as opposed to what I could, made following this plan easy to stick to,” she said.

The impact on the environment is substantial as well. The meat industry is responsible for one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. If everyone abstained from meat for one day weekly, the benefits would be great. Meatless Mondays also reduce fossil fuel dependence and minimize water usage.

Sixteen ounces of soy requires 220 gallons of water while sixteen ounces of red meat requires 2000 gallons of water. Meatless Mondays saved 890 gallons of water which is enough to fill approximately 22 40-gallon bathtubs!

The John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future formally introduced Meatless Mondays in response to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, “Healthy People 2010.” One of its goals is to reduce saturated fat intake by 10%. offers several meat-free recipes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Closer Look.

“The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000,” Michael Pollan, a food writer, said in “Food Inc.”

"Food Inc." is a new documentary that exposes malpractices in the industrialization of American food and agriculture. It has been praised as widely persuasive and informative film; Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times said, "Go see it, but be warned that you may not want to eat for a week afterward."
The issues that the documentary focuses on are genetic engineering, cloning, factory farming, farm worker protection, environmental impact, foodborne illness, healthy eating, nutritional labeling and pesticides.

According to the Center for Food Safety, in January of 2008 the FDA decided that the meat and milk made from cloned animals were safe for human consumption. Although cloning increases production, it has many unfortunate side effects.
Cloning scientists have warned against cloning because even one small problem has the potential to create food safety issues. While many people might object to cloning, the FDA does not require labeling on cloned food.

All of this comes on the tail of two separate decisions voted on by Congress to withhold the approval of cloned foods until further scientific and health-related studies could be conducted. The Center for Food Safety also reported that 150,000 American citizens wrote letters to the FDA expressing their disapproval over the FDA’s decision.

Both an in-depth look at the film and an outsider’s perspective can be found at the following Web sites:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

next blog.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dollars and Sense.

“A bag of lentils costs about a dollar, and you can make several meals out of one bag,” said Matthew Herald, a senior at Kent State University.

Students often complain about making the switch to a vegetarian diet because of the high costs, they say. While many vegan foods, like fake meats, can be high in price, the abundance of other vegan/vegetarian-friendly foods hardly makes them necessities.

I scan the aisles of the local grocery stores weekly and rarely spend over $30. A quick glance through Broulim’s weekly circular shows how cheap it can be to vegan and health. Canned fruit and vegetables are very cheap and they are always having one sale or another on their produce.

In addition, several fast food places offer a vegetarian option. A few years ago, I printed off lists of vegetarian and vegan items offered at local/fast food restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores. I’ve never had more use for any one thing! (The list can be found on

According to an article by Kent State’s online media Web site, “The gordita and chalupa shells contain milk products making them vegetarian, while the hard corn tortillas and refried beans are vegan foods.”
While one must take more caution, eating vegan or vegetarian can be simple with enough knowledge.

"You just have to be a more conscientious shopper and think more about what you're purchasing,” Herald said.

Keep following for ways to stay cool this summer!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Healthier eating leads to healthier lives: both sides of the plate

A May 2009 study has shown that both vegan and vegetarian diets have significant effects on diabetes management.

According to the study, those who follow a vegetarian diet are about half as likely to develop diabetes than those who do not. These results could offer a society with rising obesity and diabetes rates a simple solution to increase their odds of getting diabetes.

The study, which was printed in this month's Nutrition Review, says that a low-fat vegan diet is even more effective than many diets created especially for diabetics. This is true because a low-fat vegan diet better improves glycemic control.

Essentially, this means that a vegan diet is beneficial in controlling the typical levels of blood sugar (glucose). Many of the long-term effects of diabetes stem from hyperglycemia, or elevated levels of blood sugar.

The study states that this is mainly due to greater weight loss but evidence suggests that the aforementioned results could also be due to:
"...reduced intake of saturated fats and high-glycemic-index foods, increased intake of dietary fiber and vegetable protein, reduced intramyocellular lipid concentrations, and decreased iron stores mediate the influence of plant-based diets on glycemia."

(High intramyocellular lipid concentrations lead to obesity.)

Since obesity, and in some cases diabetes, are on the rise in our society, reading studies like this one give me hope. If information like this were more available, how many parents would substitute a few happy meals for some vegetable and tofu stir-fry?

In the name of objectivity, I can provide a happy medium.

In June of 2007, the Mayo Clinic published an article titled, "Lean Meats: 10 tips for low-fat cooking". It is filled with different techniques and methods to prepare meat free of or low in unhealthy, saturated fats and cholesterol.

They suggest choosing lean cuts of beef and poultry. Those include round, chuck, sirloin and tenderloin from beef and the white meat from the breast of chicken or turkey, sans skin.

The remaining 9 tips include choosing ground beef that is 90% or higher in lean meat, selecting meat with the least amount of visible fat/trimming the fat off, choosing low-fat marinades and cooking in advance.

The article recommends using low-fat cooking methods like grilling, broiling, roasting, sauteing and baking.

The Mayo Clinic also suggests reducing serving sizes (see last blog.)

As a vegetarian, this article provided some very important and unknown information. In a culture that's immersed in junk food, video games and the internet, scientific studies and articles like these provide helpful tips to avoid the ill-effects of unhealthy eating without (much) sacrifice.