(Harkinson, strong bones and eat meat for robust

(Harkinson, 2017)

Plant Based Diet Versus
Animal Based Diet

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Little children must drink milk for
strong bones and eat meat for robust muscles, sound familiar? I think we can
all agree at one point in our life we have heard someone tell us “If we didn’t
eat a properly balanced diet of meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, we would
become malnourished and slowly wither away”. What if I told you mom and dad
were wrong, and our beloved chicken and milk do much more harm than good for
our health. For so long people have been force fed these misconceptions that meat
and dairy are the cornerstone of any good diet. However, this could not be
further from the truth. The destruction animal based products pose on our
wellbeing and environment is astounding. In this paper we will take a closer
look at the damage meat and dairy have on our health, environment, and animals.
We will then present an alternative plant based diet that will help restore
good health, revive our planet, and ensure better treatment to all farm animals.

Harmful Effects Meat and
Dairy Have on Our Health

(Harkinson, 2017)

What if I said to you that eating a burger
was just as harmful as smoking a cigarette, would you believe me? Of course
not! You would argue with me and resort back to the classic justification, that
meat is protein that helps us grow bigger and stronger. The average American
now eats roughly 193 pounds of meat a year, and those numbers are slowly rising
(Hill, 2016). The ugly truth is meats, such as deli meats, beef, pork, lamb,
and goat are classified as a carcinogen (Papaioannou et al., 2014). We commonly
think of cigarettes as a carcinogen that leads to cancer, but now we can add meat
to the ever-growing list. The reason meat consumption leads to cancer is
because of the high fat content which increases hormone production, thus
increasing the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate
cancer (Processed and Red Meat, 2015). Cancer Council, a national organization
that aims to encourage cancer control policies states that in 2010, one in
six new cancer cases in Australia were associated with consuming too much red
meat and processed meat (Red Meat, Processed Meat and Cancer, n.d.). Many
people have had the misconception that cancer is a hereditary disease that
certain individuals are more susceptible to developing. Nonetheless, we are now
learning that some of the dietary choices we make can increase our risk of
cancer as well.

Furthermore, large consumption of
animal products also contributes to obesity and several chronic diseases (Hu et
al., 1998). Many people again have the misunderstanding that obesity is
developed due to overindulgence of sugary foods and drinks. However, researchers
found that sugar accounted for only 50 percent of obesity rates, while meat and
other animal products such as milk and cheese made up the other half (Beydoun
& Wang, 2007). The idea as to why meat and other animal products such as
dairy leads to obesity is due to its high energy availability, and fat content (Beydoun
& Wang, 2007). According to the American Heart Association, almost 13
million of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 are obese, and this number is slowly
climbing (Heart.org). 

Beneficial Effects
Plant Based Diets Have on Our Health

(Moringa Oleifera the Miracle
Tree, n.d.)

Both obesity and the risk of cancer
is a major health problem in the United States and the statistics show that it
is a growing epidemic. Many people are unaware that both these diseases can be
easily prevented through a simple, attainable solution. The simple solution is
to eliminate all animal products and to adopt a more well-rounded plant based
diet. However, many would still argue that we need certain meats and dairy
products to sustain and build muscle and bone. Several people are convinced
that fruits and vegetables alone are not adequate to contribute to protein
synthesis in our body and support bone health. Most people are unaware that you
can get proper nutrition from just consuming fruits and vegetables. Take for
example the moringa tree, did you know that its leaves alone provide the same
amount of branch chain amino acid as whey protein? It also contains four times
more protein then an egg, and four times more calcium then milk (Dahiru et al., 2006). This super food can provide you with more health benefits
and nutrients in comparison to any animal based product. Another great example
of a vegetable rich in protein and vitamins is Spirulina. This super food
contains 65 percent protein and is abundant in iron and calcium (Ciferri,1983). The
moringa tree, and the spirulina plant are just some of the many vegetables and
fruits out there that provide a wealth of protein and nutrients that help
support great health.

Moreover, a study conducted by Klein
et al. (2012) uncovered, that a vegan diet can result in significant weight
loss. They found that incorporating fruits, vegetables, nuts, cereals, and
legumes into your diet have been correlated with a lower risk for several
chronic diseases such as ischemic heart disease, obesity, and cancers. 
The reason plant based diets cure certain diseases such as obesity and diabetes
are because they contain lower levels of cholesterol, saturated fat, and animal
protein (Klein et al., 2012). They also contain higher levels of carbohydrates,
magnesium, fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and folate. Compared with meat
eaters, vegetarians have been reported to have lower blood pressure, BMI, and
blood cholesterol levels, simply due to there diet and good eating habits (Smil,
2002).

Harmful Effects Meat and
Dairy Have on The Environment

(Dairy
group, 2017)

In addition to the health ailments
eating meat and animal based products cause, we also see lots of damage to our
environment as well. For instance, excessive soil erosion, and overgrazing are
some of the common environmental degradations on pastures housing animals (Ledly,
2011). Similarly, nitrogen vapors from animal waste has become a major problem for
both local and regional environmental pollution (Ledly, 2011). The waste
produces vapors of ammonia which results in unpleasant odors from these large-scale
operations. After their removal from the atmosphere, these emissions also
contribute to polluted water (Matson, Lohse, & Hall, 2002). This pollution
not only effects the planet, but also the people living near these factory
farms.

 Furthermore, an overwhelming 51 percent of
global greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by animal agriculture (Ledly, 2011).
These greenhouse-gasses are created due to many factors. For example, factory
farms require immense amounts of fossil fuel-based energy to operate farm
machinery to cultivate and harvest feed crops, resulting in at least 90 million
tons of carbon dioxide annually worldwide (Scarborough et al., 2014). The rise in
green-house gases in the atmosphere directly contributes to global warming and
consequently climate change (Friel et al., 2009). Lastly, the production of
animal based products requires a large amount of water. For instance, it takes
a vast amount of water to produce crops for animals to eat and drink. A single
cow can consume up to 50 gallons of water per day and it takes 683 gallons of
water to produce just 1 gallon of milk (Matson et al., 1970). The amount of water wasted to
produce meat and dairy is astonishing and is another factor that leads to droughts
in the U.S.

Beneficial Effects Plant
Based Diets Have on The Environment

Plant-based diets on the other hand
are sustainable and have less environmental impact than meat-based diets. For
example, producing 1 pound of tofu only requires 244 gallons of water (Matson
et al., 1970). By going
vegan, one person can save approximately 219,000 gallons of water a year
(Scarborough et al., 2014). Additionally, the Environmental Defense Fund reports that if every American
exchanged one animal based meal with a plant-based food per week, the carbon
dioxide savings would be equivalent to taking more than half a million cars off
U.S. roads. Similarly, eating vegetables produces less greenhouse
gas emissions. For instance, rice, potatoes, and broccoli produce roughly
3–5 times lower emissions than an equivalent mass of beef or poultry (Scarborough
et al., 2014). By choosing to eat more plant based foods you can radically cut
your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies, and help ensure that vital
crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock.

Unethical
Treatment Towards Farm Animals

Along with the health ailments and
environmental destruction consuming meat results in, we must also shine a light
on the unethical treatment farm animals must endure. All domesticated animals raised
for meat are social animals and their ability to grow and develop is disrupted
by current farming methods that subject these animals to live in dangerous
overcrowding or in complete isolation from the world (Mench & Tienhoven,
1986). These unnatural conditions result in animals experiencing stress and
anxiety which then leads to diseases (Mench & Tienhoven, 1986). Extreme
crowding is most noticeable in poultry production. Chickens are crammed tightly
in cages, and have little space to move (Appleby et al., 1992). These
overcrowded conditions lead to aggressive behavior and cannibalistic attacks. Other
practices that raise ethical questions about the handling of domestic animals
range from, branding, inflicting pain by castration, beak trimming, dehorning, and
inadequate striking before slaughter (Reynnells & Eastwood, 1997).  Unfortunately, chickens are not the only
animals subjected to this horrible treatment. Calves are also confined in small
spaces that later lead to muscle atrophy and severe pain. But, by adapting a
plant based diet you eliminate the need to slaughter and torture animals.
Instead you contribute to the world becoming a more harmonious, and peaceful
place to live in.

Conclusion

The purpose of this paper was to
present facts about the destruction meat and animal products pose on our health
and environment. We also took a deeper look into the unethical treatments of
farm animals. The evidence presented in this paper was meant to stimulate the
reader into reflecting and reevaluating some of the dietary practices they have
adopted throughout their life. I encourage my audiences to conduct their own
research and uncover the harmful destruction meat and animal products pose. I
also hope the information presented will rouse some curiosity and interest into
implementing a vegan diet.  Collectively
as a community we can come together and combat obesity, cancer, diabetes,
global warming, and harmful abuse to animals by simply adapting a more
wholesome and nutritional vegan diet!