The Vegan Challenge

by David Gerow Irving

Look across a crowded room in any city or town in America and you will see a mixture of people many of whom already have or will develop cancer in the coming years. At some point during their lifetimes 48% of men and 38% of women will develop this deadly disease. The tragic truth is that people everywhere, each with their individual dreams, hopes, and aspirations, are swimming against a tide of killer diseases. One fourth of all deaths in the country can be attributed to cancer and one-third to heart disease. Eight percent of the population will get diabetes and one in seventeen people will suffer a stroke. Worldwide it doesn’t get any better. Seventy-five million people will be living with cancer in just the next 20 years. Who will be the victims and who will escape unscathed? Does anyone have a choice?

Fortunately, they do! Everyone can make the decision to step outside of the room described above and chart a new path that leaves these deadly statistics behind. How do we do that? Heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and many forms of cancer and other chronic diseases arise directly from consuming animal protein. That is a fact backed by many scientific studies. Most recently, for example, researchers at the National Cancer Institute reported “positive associations between pancreatic cancer and intakes of total, saturated and monosaturated fat overall, particularly from red meat and dairy food sources.” Pancreatic cancer, as is well known, is one of the most deadly of all cancers. Animal protein is also a likely contributor and possible if not probable cause of such serious chronic conditions as Alzheimer’s disease. So if we want to significantly reduce the risk of getting one of the killer diseases, the way to do that is simple enough. Stop eating meat and dairy products. That includes poultry and seafood.

Consider, for example, that women can vastly reduce their risk of estrogen-related breast cancer, which accounts for about 70% of all incidences, by lowering their blood estrogen levels. They can do this simply by eliminating their consumption of animals. This is what tamoxifen, the drug of choice for treating estrogen-related breast cancer, does. It lowers blood estrogen levels. Why not just keep those estrogen levels low before cancer ever has a chance to develop?

Everyone can also practically eliminate the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Here’s how. In 35 years of the famed Framingham Heart Study, no one ever had a heart attack who had a total cholesterol count below 150. The way to do that is to go vegan. Vegans have an average cholesterol of 133 compared to the national average for meat eaters which is 210. Vegetarians have an average cholesterol of 166. Experts like Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. and Dr. Dean Ornish, who proved to the medical establishment that heart disease could be prevented and reversed through nutrition, and also Colin T. Campbell, author of The China Study, William Castelli, former director of the Framingham Project for 15 years, Dr. Bill Roberts, editor of the prestigious medical journal Cardiology, and noted nutrition expert Dr. William McDougall, all agree that heart disease can be prevented and reversed by switching from an animal-based to a plant-based diet.

The people of America and the world are being called upon to make a choice. They can abandon their animal-based nutritional regimens that lead to disease and death, or they can continue down the same path and live with the same deadly results.

But it is not only concern for our personal health that we need to worry about. The consumption of animals and the way we treat them is also the cause of the major problems that confront the world today. With a present world population of 6.7 billion people expected to increase to 9 billion by the year 2045, we can no longer afford to just sit around complacently while the slaughter of 56 billion animals takes place right before our eyes without expecting a recompense of some kind. By the year 2050, meat and milk demand will double just to satisfy the world population’s perceived need for animal food. And already 38% of the entire ice-free land surface is used for livestock, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Program. It is conceivable that in the not too distant future, every inch of ice-free land will be needed for livestock to meet human needs.

The problems are getting serious. The waste and gases from billions of animals that countless millions of people eat every day in the form of bacon, hot dogs, hamburgers, steak, sausage, pork, lamb, fried chicken, and turkey giblets do not just disappear into thin air. The gases escape into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, three of the most potent greenhouse gasses. Waste also volatilizes, changing from liquid to gas, spreading ammonia into the air where it carries for hundreds of miles. Agricultural emissions of greenhouse gasses are presently higher than the entire transportation sector. Over application of manure taken from lagoons that house the waste from these hordes of animals plus mountains of stored waste on farmlands are also responsible for manure pathogens and nitrates that seep into the earth and groundwater where they contaminate our rivers and streams. These waste compounds can cause many health problems including death. Fifty percent of the United States depends upon groundwater for drinking.

Still, we have hardly begun to scratch the surface of our subject, which is what to do about our relationship with animals that is the cause for so many of our problems. Let us look at a few more examples.

Agribusiness buys up the lands of developing countries to grow food grain to feed livestock to be slaughtered for human consumption. While this enriches the corporations, it comes at the expense of local populations dependent upon these lands for the growth of food crops to feed themselves. This is a major cause of poverty in the developing countries. At the same time, encouraged by corporate interests to emulate the success of their Western neighbors, developing countries copy the nutritional habits of Western nations consuming ever more animal products. Fast food restaurants with their burgers and hot-dogs are everywhere in the developing countries and so is the increase in the diseases of affluence and the mortality rates that result from eating animals. This trend has long been observed in studies such as a 1998 report in the British Medical Journal noting that half of lung, bowel, breast, and prostate cancer deaths in the United Kingdom were absent in the developing world, but that migrants began to develop these diseases as they moved from low risk to high risk areas. Wherever people switch from a plant-based to an animal-based diet, their disease rates rise. Upon moving to the United States, for example, Japanese and Polish women, who rarely get breast cancer in their home countries, soon match the breast cancer rates of American women."

Children are not immune either. Obesity runs rampant in the schools as children are larded up with hot-dogs, cheese, hamburgers, milkshakes and sugar and soda, all pushed by the food industry.

Meanwhile, in an effort to find cures for animal-related diseases, the animal research industry experiments upon an estimated 100 to 200 million animals every year in senseless, often sadistic, and often fraudulent experiments on innocent animals costing the taxpayers an estimated 20 billion dollars each and every year. These experiments are frequently manufactured just to build lucrative careers for animal researchers while enriching their sponsoring universities and medical centers.

Millions more animals are slaughtered in experimental tests for toys, cosmetics and other consumer products. Pharmaceutical companies, eager to get their share, develop drugs in an attempt to cure animal-related diseases and conditions, often creating counterfeit diseases in the process in order to increase sales. One of the cruelest most unconscionable practices in which the drug and animal research industries and our universities and medical centers are complicit, is experimenting upon and killing innocent animals in painful and often grotesque procedures to try to cure nicotine and drug addictions that are the product of the bad habits of human beings. Though our universities traditionally take credit for upholding the highest philosophical and ethical standards to which human beings can aspire, they have yet to recognize just how unethical and philosophically corrupt it is to force innocent animals to pay for human substance abuse. Where our universities really excel is in collecting government funds from the taxpayers to conduct this insane research.

Everywhere we look we find brutality and excessive cruelty toward animals. Though animals do not make war, they are used in military research projects in which they are burned, shot, blasted, scalded, poisoned, and subjected to radiation and nerve gas experiments. Cartons of mosquitoes are attached to restrained monkeys and rabbits so that the mosquitoes can feed on them in mosquito virus tests. In circuses, performing animals are beaten into submission for the public’s entertainment. Animals are abused in rodeos and imprisoned in zoos. Hunters and trappers with a thirst for blood get their kicks using high technology to hunt and trap defenseless animals that have only their instincts to rely as a defense. Sometimes these hunters entrap animals in fenced in areas from which it is impossible to escape as they ruthlessly close in to kill them. They call this sport.

And always the cruelty on factory farms lurks in the background where chickens are packed so tightly into battery cages that they break their limbs and suffer heart attacks, pigs are incarcerated in gestation crates where they cannot turn around and are not permitted to suckle their babies properly, and cows have their hides ripped from their bodies and their feet cut off while they still dangle fully alive from meat hooks. But a brief description like this barely comprises an introduction to the cruelty that transpires on factory farms.

This is the world of animal dependency that we human beings have made. But after centuries of ever increasing reliance on animals, the monstrosity that we have created finally stands fully revealed before us. It is exacting a terrible price on our personal health and the earth upon which we depend for survival. Our consciences are being called to account. How will we respond? Will we remain silent and indifferent, or will be acknowledge that we must make significant changes in the way we treat animals. How we choose will determine the future of the world.

The challenge is ours to face. One direction leads to a continuing health crisis with greater suffering for ourselves and the innocent animals victimized by our actions. The other way leads to greater personal health for ourselves, our families, friends, and loved ones. It comes from the recognition that the other species which cohabit our planet are also fellow earth travelers all with the same objective, the living of life as naturally and perfectly as possible. To achieve this goal, all that is needed is to simply accept that human beings have a major problem in the way they treat animals. From this will come the realization of what to do next.

David Irving has authored the book, The Protein Myth: Significantly Reducing the Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, Stroke and Diabetes while Saving the Animals and the Planet (ISBN10: 1846946735). His writing on animal rights issues have appeared on many blogs and journals. An accomplished musician and composer, he graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University.

Copyright © 2011 David Gerow Irving, All Rights Reserved