Why? The top government officials whose job it is to write the new guidelines work for the USDA: The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Health & Human Services. They have a built-in conflict of interest. They are supposed to help “expand markets for agricultural products” AND to protect public health! Well, sometimes you can’t do both! Telling people to eat less of any food goes against the mandate to expand agricultural markets.
The advisory committee to the USDA did advise telling Americans to cut back on red and processed meat. But there was a flurry of dissent — from — guess who? The meat industry! So the USDA officials did not include advice to cut back on meat in their new Dietary Guidelines.
So instead, we hear we should “eat more fruits and vegetables.” And eat less sugar. And of course, that is good advice. Everyone’s grandmother has been saying that for generations!
They also took a back door approach to the meat problem and recommended that we “shift towards other protein food.”
However, Barry Popkin, a nutrition researcher at the University of North Carolina, thought the message should have been more direct. He said, “I am disappointed that the USDA once again is cutting out recommendations to truly limit red meat intake.”
Getting cancer is one of our biggest fears.
Last week, we learned that cancer has now moved into first place as a cause of death in Alaska, ahead of heart disease. And getting cancer is right up at the top of people’s biggest fears. So wouldn’t you think we would do everything we can to avoid it?
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) doesn’t just say to cut back on bacon, hots dogs, ham, sausage, and lunch meats. It says point blank: “avoid processed meat.” Why? Because “data do not show any level of intake that can confidently be shown not to be associated with risk.”
Did you read that? ANY LEVEL! That means even one slice of bacon carries a risk.
But what about other animal products? Surely chicken and fish are okay, right?
A study of 30,000 Californians found that higher meat consumption led to higher risk of colon cancer. Those eating red meat at least once a week had double the risk of colon cancer; but white meat appeared worse! Eating chicken or fish at least once a week tripled the risk! (Wouldn’t you want to know that when you’re deciding what’s for dinner?)
Eating chicken or fish triples your risk of colon cancer.
If you’ve ever seen someone you love succumb to dementia, you know how heart-breaking this is. I experienced this myself as my own mother’s mind slipped away. Both Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias are on the rise. I, for one, want my brain to last as long as the rest of my body.
Let’s see what nutritional science tells us about dementia. According to the Adventist Health Study: In the U.S., those who don’t eat meat, including poultry and fish, appear to cut their risk of developing dementia in half. And the longer meat is avoided, the lower dementia risk may fall.
What about heart disease?
Advanced heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based diet.
Nathan Pritikin, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn all took patients with advanced heart disease, put them on a plant-based diet, and what happened? Not only did it stop the progression of the disease — it actually reversed it! These very sick people began to get better. Their arteries began opening up without drugs or surgery! (Doesn’t it seem like people should be told about this option? ? ? )
Unfortunately, some industries benefit from people eating lots of unhealthy food, and from needing drugs and surgery. But one industry that actually benefits from people being healthy is medical insurance. Kaiser Permanenté, the largest managed care organization in the U.S. is paying attention to the research. In their 2013 Journal, sent out to their 15,000 doctors, they recognized the importance of a healthy diet:
But why wait until you’re already sick to start eating a healthy diet?
Remember the famous pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin Spock? He was the guru of child-rearing in our parents’ generation. His book, the Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care evolved as he did. In the 7th edition, before he died at age 94, he recommended that children be raised on a plant-based diet that included no meat or dairy products.
I wish that advice had been in the edition my parents read. Maybe I would have been raised with this “tremendous health advantage” rather than having to learn it later, on my own.
With as much evidence as we now have that a diet of unprocessed plant foods is the safest and healthiest way to eat, it’s just too bad that conflicts of interest get in the way of this message reaching all people.
Based on science?
It is up to us to educate ourselves.
Eating a plant-based diet or perhaps getting diabetes and possibly going blind, having our lower limbs amputated, and spending hours each week getting our blood cleaned out on kidney dialysis machines. Eating a plant-based diet or possibly dying many years prematurely. (These are not just remote possibilities. The majority of Americans are dying of these diseases.)
Fortunately, it is getting easier and easier to learn how to eat a healthy plant-based diet. There are many wonderful books, like Dr. Greger’s How Not to Die, from which I took the quotes in this post.
The easiest and most fun way to learn what to eat and how to prepare it in simple and delicious ways is to enroll in my nutrition and cooking classes, held in Anchorage. For more info, click here→ Yes to Life Solution to Get Slim & Healthy.
Delisa is a plant-based nutrition and cooking instructor in Alaska. She believes that we are designed to be slim and healthy.