February 18, 2012
To a Healthy New Year!
I have been absent. I apologize, dear readers. I have been busy with two things. Most importantly, I have finished writing my book Asian Tales. It is my first book. Unfortunately it is strictly personal - so it won't be offered in any bookstore near you. It is only for friends and family whom I write about in the book. [If you feel like you might be one of my friends or family members included in the book, please contact me for a free copy! :-)] But one day, perhaps, one day- another book will come. At any rate, I finished a book, so I feel good!
Secondly, I have been consumed by health literature. During my visits to the United States the last few years, I almost stopped being appalled by the horrible diets that most Americans consume. The funny thing is that it has a very appropriate terminology: the SAD diet - the Standard American Diet. This indicates that it is a diet full of meat, diary products, eggs, sugar, white flour and processed foods - including junk food (read: McDonald's). Last fall I was in Washington D.C., and as I sat on my motel bed one Saturday night, CNN's health specialist Dr. Sanjay Gupta ran a program called: The Last Heart Attack - you can click here to see the full program. The program is focused on a plant-based diet as the best cure and prevention for heart disease.
Bill Clinton is a prominent guest on the program. After undergoing two heart surgeries he decided to go vegan and now only eats things without a face or a mother. This lifestyle change gave him back his health and Clinton is now more than anything a health missionary. Of course I was intrigued, as a vegetarian. I didn't become a vegetarian for health reasons, but for reasons of animal welfare. I picked up two of the books referred to in the program - How to Prevent and Reverse Heart-Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. The latter is a mind blowing book for several reasons. First of all, it is the most comprehensive study ever done on nutrition - running over 20 years and including 6,500 people from 65 counties in China. The most important conclusion was that people who eat least animal protein (this includes diary products) are least likely to suffer from chronic diseases and those with high animal protein intake suffer most disease. In fact, the study goes so far as to show that animal protein - especially milk protein - is a powerful carcinogenic.
Another reason why the book is mind blowing is that it exposes the powerful roles that the meat, dairy and pharmaceutical industries play in misinforming or actively working against public health efforts. I recommend this book for any informed citizen - to get a taste, here is the link to the book's introduction.
This year I celebrate 20 years as a vegetarian. It was in 1992 that I took a moral philosophy class in college and read Peter Singer's book Animal Liberation. After that, it was impossible for me to eat meat - I was instantly persuaded by his arguments: Animals have rights because they have the ability to feel pain. We are plain wrong, morally, when we inflict pain on animals (which we mostly always do) simply because we like the taste of meat.
It was also through reading Singer's book that I became aware of the horrible factory farming practices of the meat, diary and egg industry. I highly recommend the movie Earthlings to learn more about how animals are abused in our current modern economy. If you do indeed watch it, I suspect your life will not be quite the same again. For me it was a book that made me aware, but other people need some more graphic material. Here is the link to the full movie.
Finally, I would like to end with the words of one of my new found heroes, Dr Steven Best. He is a social rights and animal activist as well as a professor of philosophy and author. In the very end of this 10 minute video you will see below, he concludes:
"I'm sick of hearing that we all belong to one race - the human race - it's so pathetically inadequate to understand our fundamental connections on this planet. We belong to one community - the community of living subjects. In order to be an honorable and responsible member of that community we need to harmonise our existence with that of other life forms around us. We need to dismantle speciesism, anthropocentrism, and patriarchy and the models of the 17th century that are behind the illicit and exploitative and misinformed uses of science, and our capitalist economy that has been devouring all living things for its obsessive growth imperative. (...) Our world will never heal, we will never heal this crisis - this sickness in our soul - until we fundamentally redefine our relationships with animals."
Amen. Thank you, Dr. Best.
(For more about Dr. Best, see his website and blog)