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Daily Connect: How to Save a Trillion Dollars

Wanna save a trillion dollars? Start with the most elementary consumer choice of all...what you put in your mouth.

Yay Mark Bittman for his MUST-READ "How to Save a Trillion Dollars" on the NYTimes.com Opinionator blog. What's been preached in my family's kitchen for years by my mother, and recently adopted by myself, Abby (the fiancee), and now Abby's mom, is finally getting beyond the health blog niche and into a more mainstream news source. Please, don't run away because this is about diet and health/wellness. I'm not the type to preach about a specific diet or lifestyle (in fact, I'm not purely plant-based vegan like the rest of my crew), but this article explores, in my opinion, a lifestyle that wouldn't just be beneficial for some people...This...well, this IT, people.

"For the first time in history, lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and others kill more people than communicable ones. Treating these diseases — and futile attempts to “cure” them — costs a fortune, more than one-seventh of our GDP.

But they’re preventable, and you prevent them the same way you cause them: lifestyle. A sane diet, along with exercise, meditation and intangibles like love prevent and even reverse disease. A sane diet alone would save us hundreds of billions of dollars and maybe more."

And a sane diet for Mark Bittman = plant-based (think a la Dr. Fuhrman, although not mentioned in the article). Eating a plant-based diet doesn't just reverse disease, healing an obese, suffering society, but shifts the way we grow and develop food to more sustainable and local practices. Something that can save your life, the environment and the economy? No joke. This isn't unicorns in the sky people. If the fact that "Lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and others kill more people than communicable ones" doesn't shock you into submission, perhaps the fact that a scientifically-proven plant-based diet that will reverse these "lifestyle" diseases AND save you and your fellow citizens some serious green will. I mean saving your body is one thing, but how about saving the financial stability of our precious lil' old political union?:

"Treating these diseases - and futile attempts to "cure" them - costs a fortune, more than one seventh of our GDP....The best way to combat diet-related diseases is to change what we eat. And if our thinking is along the lines of diet improved = deficit reduced, so much the better. If a better diet were to result only in a 10 percent decrease in heart disease (way lower than Ludwig believes possible), that’s $100 billion project savings per year by 2030."

I gotta say, it's scary to start shifting the way one looks at food (as a source of nutrition, rather than as a luxury or a comfort). Almost anyone I've mentioned my dietary lifestyle to has almost immediately said, "Oh, that sounds nice, but I could never not eat ___" (insert hamburgers, chicken, cheese, sugar, etc). Don't get me wrong, as I write this, I could eat some mac & cheese. But after many hours of research and a lot of soul searching, I believe that taking most meat and dairy out of my diet, and having 75% of my foods each day be vegetables and fruits actually saves my life, my future children's, my planet and my country. Too ambitious? Too good to be true? This is actually one time I really don't think so.

Happy Thursday loves. Happy Thursday.

And don't forget the meditation! (Ha!)

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Mindfulness is Key

I know some meditators that only eat raw meat.  Yes they eat only raw meat and dairy.

I think the key is mindfulnes and self-empowerment as opposed to any particular diet.

Most people could probably stand to shift their eating habits, and plants are lovely and health, but I think encouraging healthiness and empowerment above all is key.

China Study

Hey love. The facts are just overwhelming in this case. Meat and dairy, particularly red meat and animal protein from cows milk, are overwhelming linked to cancer. Overwhelmingly. What we put in our bodies has real physical and chemical consequences that are not under mindfulnesses sway but the reality of biology. I will have to disagree with you on this one.

Your mind is also biology

Stress is just as big a factor in health and biological makeup, and can be just as devastating as red meat in promoting heart disease, digestive disfunction, high blood pressure, and then the secondary side effects of not just the stress itself, but the activities undertaken while under stress (smoking, drinking alcohol, emotional eating of OTHER foods.)

If someone is under nourished in the protein department, there is an underlying, low level stress on their system, because their bodies are not feeling nourished.   This is why I think it has to lie upon the individual to try out many options to see what works for them.  Feeling Nourished is just as important as whatever science is telling you about nourishment.

Also, do those studies factor in the quality of the red meat?  Was it factory farmed red meat?  It's very likely that it is.  In that case the cows are probably pumped with hormones, fed an improper diet of grains and severely mistreated.   It would not suprise me if there was a significant difference in biological make-up between pasture raised and factory farmed red meat.  (http://naturalbias.com/are-you-eating-toxic-meat/)

Maybe pasture-raised red meat may actually be more healthy than industrial, pesticide ridden vegetables -- both for your body, mind, and the environment?

So the suggestion I would make then would be:

"In a society where access to humanely and healthily processed red meat is limited or expensive -- it is less risky, and therefore more likely to be healthy, to consume factory farmed plants and vegetables than it is to consume factory farmed meats."

Again, I think it is up to the individual.







I love...

the thoughtfulness of this. But, then. I fail to see a disagreement. The nutrition I'm advocating is a plant-based, unprocessed diet that is open to omnivorism. Protein is certainly important - hence, why I'm consuming fish - but I do find the data on red meat and dairy to be conclusive. The body is not made to consume high quantities of dairy or meat. Really. The China Study is probably the most comprehensive on this. Mindfulness certainly helps with choice, but from an elementary perspective, it is easier for many to start from a clear dietary regimen that is proven to work. That would be a plant-based, mostly unprocessed diet.

The body is made to consume some amount of red meat.

I am coming from a Permaculture perspective, which I find closely aligned with Buddhism. If we want to rehabilitate our degraded landscapes, we must be more responsible in our farming practices. In this regard, we need to re-establish ecosystems, and a plant-based agriculture cannot do this. Fish is perhaps a good source of protein for individual health, but it is very difficult to find any seafood that is radically sustainable (i.e., that supports ecosystem health).


My issue is more with the phrasing.  Scientific studies are great, but if you approach them from a "Science will tell me what to do" standpoint, it's very dangerous, you're externalizing your source of empowerment.

Instead I think the framing could be more like, how you expressed the P.O.V. orginially in the article: "I have a hunch, and scientific research shows that it is most likely true, therefore I feel confident in my hunch" or "scientific research opposes my hunch, I should look into this some more."

There are subtleties that every bit of scientific research will leave out and it is my opinion that nutrition is best phrased as an open question as opposed to a done deal, even if there is "conclusive" research.

Investigating an open question with mindfulness must be the root.  Otherwise people might get stuck on whatever other conflicting studies there are.  That's all I'm saying.

(P.S. I might follow up Bittman's Article by writing one called "How to Save a Trillion Dollars: Pay attention to how what you eat effects your body.")

Conscientious omnivorism trumps irresponsible veganism.


And I am referring to health, the environment, and the protection of sentient beings. Modern, industrial agriculture (yes, even organic) destroys ecosystems, and is utterly dependent on fossil fuels.


But I suspect that conscientious veganism trumps conscientious omnivorism. I'm an omnivore. I eat fish and egg whites and I have a true protein crash without them. But yes. Eating "vegan" but mainly processed, high sodium and sugar options is just as devestating to health and the environment. That's why I advocate plant-based, unprocessed (Dr. Fuhrman's plan is omnivore). You can have meat and dairy...but verrrrrrrry little. Moderation is key. But food is a funny thing...a highly addictive thing that we cannot just "opt out" of consuming. So mindfulness in that consumption, as well as understanding the biological consequences of what we put into our bodies is key.

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