Forty-three year old TimVanOrden is an extreme athlete. He is the 2011 USA Master Mountain Runner of the year as well as the 2011 Master Trail Runner of the year. One of his goals for 2012 is to win the World Stair Climbing Championship at the Empire State Building. 70 year old Betty Smith has run 8 ultra-marathons in the last 4 years… five of these were 24 hours long. Both of these extraordinary athletes eat no animal products. They believe their extreme health, strength, and energy are due in part to their plant-based diet.
Scott Jurek, another ultra-marathoner, actor Woody Harrelson, Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone—among many others—ascribe to a plant-based diet, containing no animal products at all. For some, the original motive for doing this was based in the ethics of nonviolence, a desire not to harm animals and/or the earth. For others the motive was health. But for all of them, regardless of motive, improved health and energy has been a significant reward.
You may ask—what does this have to do with the environment? Simply this—as environmentalists we are in a marathon of our own—a race against time, if you will. It is a struggle against the power elite (the newly dubbed 1%) that requires mental, emotional, and spiritual endurance and physical stamina. In a few words, we need to guard our health if we are to persevere and succeed in reclaiming health for the environment.
The evidence is clear that a plant-based, animal-free diet is healthier for us. Books, such as Campbell’s The China Study, Esselstyn’sPrevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Greger’sBird Flu, Lyman’s Mad Cowboy, Masson’s The Face on Your Plate, Robbins The Food Revolution: How your Diet can help Save Your Life and the World, Volpe’s The Fast Food Craze: Wreaking Havoc on Our Bodies and Our Animals, and Barnard’s Reversing Diabetes are telling us that people who eat a healthy (not junky) plant-based diet, have a much lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and many other diseases so common today.
Aside from the foods we actually put into our bodies at mealtime, there are a multitude of other health risks involved with animal agriculture. Ed Hopkins of the Sierra Club speaks in a video on Platetoplanet.org (a website co-sponsored by the Sierra Club) regarding the mountains of manure excreted by animal farms. He notes that there are no requirements to clean up this toxic waste as there are with human manure. These farms are polluting the water and the air wherever they are found and far downstream and down into the water table as well. Hopkins states that ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are produced by the decaying manure and the resulting toxic gases cause grave human health problems. The EPA finds that around 80 percent of ammonia emissions derive from farmed animal feces and urine.
Add to that the growing threat of human resistance to antibiotics due to the overuse of them in animals that are confined in such small areas that sickness among them is inevitable. Also we are facing the threat of salmonella and E.coli outbreaks from meat as well as vegetables, which have been polluted by runoff from confined animals. Our water is polluted with antibiotics, other pharmaceuticals, pathogenic bacteria, and heavy metals, among many other toxins. According to the Sierra Club and other sponsors of PlatetoPlanet.org, the EPA declares agriculture to be the most significant source of water pollution. Factory farm waste has contaminated more than 35,000 miles of rivers and the groundwater of 17 states. These all affect our health as well as that of wildlife and domesticated animals.
Lynn Henning, co-founder of Environmentally Concerned citizens of South Central Michigan reports that there are 168 different chemicals found in manure along with airborne E.coli. Forty-eight percent of pollution in streams and rivers comes from animal agriculture. (“Planet in Peril,” Mark Hawthorne, in March-April, 2012 Veg News).
But there is good news on the horizon. Americans eat about one-sixth of all meat eaten in the world even though we make up less than one-twentieth of the world’s population, according to Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters. However, (and this is the good news) in a recent article, Bittman reported that the USDA has found that American consumption of meat has been declining for the last 20 years. They are projecting that it will amount to 12% less in 2012 than in 2007. Bittman believes this decline is simply a result of people choosing to eat less or no meat at all. (His 1-10-12 article in the “Opinionator” online is titled “We’re Eating Less Meat. Why?”)
Although he doesn’t quite answer his question “why,” we can all surmise rather easily that it is a result of the growing body of evidence that shows us that animal agribusiness is one of the most destructive forces on earth causing disease and damage in ever widening circles around the world. Our own health is at risk from farming practices as well as from the animal products themselves.
People are waking up.
By boycotting animal agriculture we reap several extraordinary rewards. First we stop the influx of money from consumers that keeps this engine of destruction functioning. Second we gain glowing health from taking care to fuel our bodies with healing, life-giving plant foods. This, in turn, gives us the energy we need to carry on this noble work of healing the earth. In addition to those benefits, there is a spiritual peace that we gain from knowing we are taking direct action to end violence toward animals and farm and slaughterhouse workers, as well as to end violence toward the earth herself. My book (co-authored with Tina Volpe), The Missing Peace, is a compilation of many personal stories of people who have found peace for themselves by adopting this lifestyle.
So that’s why Mother Earth wants you to be healthy and live a long life. We have a lot to do.
Whether we run trails, climb the Empire State building or just sit and watch the sun go down with a dear companion, environmentalists are the ones who teach that the earth is a precious jewel, a place of awe and wonder, so beautiful that it takes our breath away. Everything is connected. Our health is the health of animals and the earth. What we do to regain our own health heals all. Here’s to your health. Here’s to the health of water, air, and earth. Here’s to Life.
Recipes for Healing(with as many organic, fair-trade ingredients as possible). Notice I’m not including a vegan chocolate cake this time.
I have a Vitamix which can pulverize carrots and break cell walls making nutrients more accessible. If you have just a basic blender, you might have to leave out the carrots or shred them first.
Cut into pieces and place in blender:
1 cup purified water
1 or 2 handfuls spinach or kale
½ cup of frozen strawberries or cherries
You might have to add a little more water. Of course, you can vary the fruit depending on preference. I usually add some vegan protein powder, maca powder, and flax seed meal. A smoothie is a great way to add in a lot of nutrients and still taste the yummy strawberries.
Madeleine’s Favorite Tortilla Lunch (www.worldpeacediet.org)
Spread Veganaise on a tortilla
Add lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, grated carrots, avocado, and cucumbers
For variations, you can add tomato sauce or hummus
And any other veggies, tofu, mushrooms, etc. that sound good to you.
Submitted by Judy Carman, M.A., Author of Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul, Co-author of The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of our Kinship with Animals.and owner of a truck and a car powered by used veggie oil. circleofcompassion.org, peacetoallbeings.com.
Eating As Though The Earth Matters
By Judy Carmen