So, the super ironic thing is years ago, I dated someone who was a vegetarian. I remember an epic fight we had over an ant that died in his Memojazz pager. Clearly, it was such a dramatic quarrel over an animal life that I remember it after soooo many years. And yet, after so many years, I found myself thrown on this path, on an even more “extreme” decision to not just be vegetarian, but to be vegan and 80% raw.
Clearly, as a food blogger, I loved my meats – Hida beef in Takayama (still *swoon* when I think about that), Sashimi, Hainanese chicken rice…… but I have turned to veganism because of what I learnt about the impact our diets can have on our health, especially learning what my mum ate attributed to her getting Stage 4 Colon Cancer (btw, after 8 weeks on alternative treatments and 100% raw vegan diet without conventional chemo/radiation, her CEA cancer markers have dropped from 16.5 to 4.2! Thank God!). So as a new vegan convert, I would like to share my learnings that helped me, a food blogger, to make this lifestyle change over the last 2 months of no animal produce, no cow milk and no coffee!
1) Animal protein is linked to cancer, while most fruits and vegetables is linked to health!
The China Study, by Dr T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. “It looked at mortality rates from cancer and other chronic diseases from 1973–75 in 65 counties in China; the data was correlated with 1983–84 dietary surveys and blood work from 100 people in each county. The research was conducted in those counties because they had genetically similar populations that tended, over generations, to live and eat in the same way in the same place. The study concluded that counties with a high consumption of animal-based foods in 1983–84 were more likely to have had higher death rates from “Western” diseases as of 1973–75, while the opposite was true for counties that ate more plant foods.” – Source: “China-Cornell-Oxford Project”, Cornell University, quoted from Wiki.
I am aware that there have been a lot of attacks on the methodology and findings of the China Study. However, newer research published in “Cell Metabolism Journal” released just in March 2014 found that low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, Cancer. Quoting Forbes,
In the new study, middle-aged people who ate protein-heavy diets had a markedly increased risk of dying from cancer compared to their low-protein counterparts. But, as always, there are caveats: Protein from animal sources – meat and dairy – was what largely produced the risk, whereas plant-derived proteins seemed to be “safer.”
Casein in animal protein have been shown to “turn on” cancer in rates. In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr Colin Campbell writes, “we showed that tumor growth in rats was greatly enhanced by diets containing >10% animal protein (casein) and was completely repressed with either 5% animal protein or >20% plant protein.”
After I found out about all the above, I definitely didn’t want to take a chance to turn on any of my cancer genes. As much I loved my cooked meaty meals, I love my health more and by God’s grace, live a healthy life till he calls me home, so I choose to turn vegan.
A common question people have after they read the above is – so, if I don’t eat meat, where do I get my protein intake from? It was the same question I had, but health educator, Jack Cross, have shown me good protein alternatives in vegetables. Like for like, broccoli has more protein than beef!
If you find it hard to abstain from meat altogether, cutting down the frequency and portions will help to reduce any health risks than not doing anything at all!
Another common question is – if I don’t eat cheese and milk, why would I get my calcium from?
I think this informative infographic says it all – we have many other sources of calcium! We have a lot of ad telling us to get calcium from milk which probably caused our strong false association that milk is our main source of calcium! Furthermore, because animal milk is acidic, for your body to remain in homeostasis (blood pH=7.35-7.45), the body actually draws alkalizing minerals such as calcium from our bones and teeth! A recent study of 78,000 nurses found that women who drank more than one glass of milk per day had a 45-percent greater chance of hip fractures.
The reverse is true for eating vegatables – eating more animal protein reduces risk of osteoporosis. I would like to age well, so I am opting for veggies!
Update: Leading scientist, Prof Jane Plant, was recently figured on Telegraph, encouraging people to ‘give up dairy products to beat cancer’. You can read more here.
2) Vegetables and fruits help to alkalize the body
When I researched what to feed my mum when she was first diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer, I couldn’t get a “credible” website that could explain to me why alkaline foods at good for the body, and why citrus acidic fruits turns alkaline in the body. I now have a clearer understanding to share.
Whether a food is acidic or alkaline is not so much dependent on its pH when it is on the plate, but what mineral ash is produced in our digestive track when the food is digested and metabolized. For example, oranges are acidic, but because it contains 38mg of calcium, when its digested, calcium (Ca+) is alkaline and so, it helps the body keep alkaline. Alkaline minerals include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chromium, selenium, and iron. Coffee and cheese (two of my favourites! sigh) fall into the acidic range, releasing acids into body when digested, so I have abstained from those as well.
If you are still following me till here, you will probably be asking – what is the big deal with turning my body acidic? An acidic body is a magnet for illnesses, with some of the symptoms highlighted below. Dr Otto Warburg was given a Nobel prize for his research on cancer; in The Metabolism of Tumors, he demonstrated that all forms of cancer are characterized by two basic conditions: acidosis and hypoxia (lack of oxygen). So, after losing so many loved ones to cancer, I am not taking a risk – will try to alkalize my body with as much healthy veggies and fruits where possible!
The only concept I still don’t buy is alkaline water, because alkaline water especially when taken near meal times, dilute our stomach acid that affects digestion. Also, alkaline water does not release alkalizing minerals in small intestines like fruits and vegetables do. So for my household, I have opted for distilling water with carbon filter so we can neutral pH water without the chemicals.
3) Save the Earth – Reduce Greenhouse gases
These might seem like a strange one, but the most shocking statistics I have learnt is that lifestock is the NUMBER 1 source of contributor of greenhouse gases. Quoting from Wikipedia, “Livestock’s Long Shadow – Environmental Issues and Options is a United Nations report, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on 29 November 2006…Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Dr. Henning Steinfeld stated that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems” and that “urgent action is required to remedy the situation. The report evaluates “that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport.”
While I find the way to raise and kill animals cruel, I guess I have always been selfish enough to pretend to ignore that when I eat, and enjoy my food and write my blog reviews. But when I found out that I could do my part to reduce greenhouse gases that is affecting our climate and the earth for our future generations, I decided to move away from animeal meat.
[And as one my readers, Mr F.S., correctly pointed out, veganism is much more than just dietary veganism, but also includes ethical veganism, that rejects commodizing the status of sentient animals, meaning no silk, honey, wool etc. I am not fully there on ethical veganism yet, but diet veganism is the beginning of my journey and this article focuses on only the reasons for switching to dietary veganism!]
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
Most people tell me they find a vegan diet extreme. But isn’t doing a heart bypass cutting out veins from one’s leg and attaching to the heart equally extreme? If changing what I eat can help to lower the risks of chronic, degenerative illnesses, why not? And together, with each of us doing our small parts, we can improve our health and save the earth (had enough of the weird weather?!) for our generations to come 🙂 Will you reconsider your food choice for yourself, your loved ones and our generations?
Everytime I post on a topic, some people will write to me privately asking if that post was the “magic bullet” for my mum’s cancer. Just want to clarify my mum is also undergoing other complementary treatments (I will slowly write about each one as mum recovers!):
- Raw Diet, Vegan Diet and Juice Fast
- Electro Lymphatic Therapy (ELT)
- Colon Hydrotherapy (Colonics)
- Nefful Negative Ion Clothings from Japan
- Saline Flush, Coffee Enema, Wheatgrass Implant, Probiotic Implant
- Vitamin C High Dose IV
- Vitamin B17
- Ozone Therapy
- Insulin Potentiated Therapy (IPT)
- Exercise with Oxygen Therapy (EWOT)
- Breathing and Pilates