Sunday, November 25, 2012

Knowledge addicts: Plant love is growing all around....all around...all around.

Plant-based diets are on a rise!   How happy does this make me?  Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis happy!

The current social discourse surrounding plant-based diets has not only been more positive but has been more readily embraced than in previous years.  You can actually see the effect it is currently having on our culture.  Restaurants are now offering vegetarian and vegan options regularly on their menus,  supermarkets are filled with a great variety of non-dairy and meatless products and the percentages of vegetarians/vegans is increasing noticeably.

In recent years, there have been more research studies providing evidence supporting the deleterious effects of consuming large amounts of animals products.  This is completely understandable as the consumption of animal products is at its height in our current day.  I highlighted the most recent of the these studies in my Harvard Meat Study post but research has been confirming this effect way before 2012.

In a 2008 Press Release from the University of California (UCSD to be exact.....big up to my school!), researchers led by Dr. Ajit Varki, discovered a new mechanism linking the consumption of animal products to an increased risk for cancerous tumors.  It appears that tumor cells contain higher concentrations of a sugar molecule called Neu5Gc than compared to healthy cells that may be beneficial to the growth of the tumors.  The sugar molecule is not naturally produced in the body and is taken up into tissue after eating meat    Due to the foreign nature of the molecule, the body recognizes it as an invader and initiates an inflammatory response.  It is now understood that an underlining factor for increased cancer risk, as well as many other chronic diseases, is inflammation.  Because I'm a knowledge addict and in love with science, I was hecka excited to read about this in the full article (and it's free, Yeaaaah baby!) but this press release breaks it down nicely for my non-scientifically excited people.   :)

Photo Credit: Boston University

It has become pretty clear that if we continue business as usual in regards to meat production and some agricultural practices, we will not be able to sustain ourselves in the future.  This a really critical point.  In an article by The Guardian, it details the projected water shortage that will soon be inevitable if the current level of meat production is not reduced.  A quote from the Stockholm International Water Institute states:

"There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations."

They then propose a possible solution to this predicament.

"Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals."

Other options proposed include elimination of waste and increasing the trade interactions between countries with excess and countries that lack essential resources.  Editor Anders Jägerskog sums it up nicely, "We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future." And I think that recipe has a whole lot of greens in it.

So what do people do with this information?

They read some more, critically analyze the information, and alter their behavior.  There has been a rapidly increasing amount of such behavior alteration in recent years and numbers are continuing to grow.  In a recent July article in US News Health titled Me, Give up Meat? Vegan Diets Surging in Popularity, plant-based diets were rated as one of the top "best diet plans overall" according to the US News's ratings.  The article details the rising popularity across the country, notable figures who have made the change, advocates promoting the diet, the research that backs it up and the numerous benefits one can experience after the switch.  So what's the overarching theme here? Eat the, orange, turqouise, fuschia, burnt orange, beige, periwinkle, blue violet, cornflower, sepia and everything in between.  I absolutely believe plant-based without animal products is the best but everyone has to live in a way that works for them.  Just get the plants in darlings, that's all I ask.  As stated in the article:

"Healthful diets fall on a continuum, and most nutritionists would agree that veganism is far superior to the typical American regimen. But the healthful choices that work best for you are the ones that actually work for you."

Not only are plant-based diets on a rise in the general population but they are becoming more mainstream.  The culinary culture is experiencing a shift and no where is this more profound than in California, the leader of states in progressive movements. In a September NYTimes article, author Jeff Gordinier writes:

"....the surging popularity of plant-based diets is drastically changing the dining landscape. That shift is under way in various cities around the world, but it’s happening in an explosive way in and around Los Angeles"

Celebrities and public figures are playing a large role in pushing these changes forward.  I apologize but I am going to be a rando and insert a partially random thought right here as it came to my mind...Chrisette Michelle just recently caught the plant love bug: Read all about it.  Bangin'!...We will now return to our regular program...Their influence is having a noticeable effect.  For example, Ellen Degeneres and President Bill Clinton, have been mentioned in interviews and tweets as sources of inspiration that helped others to make the change.  Ellen was easily able to have a vegan counterpart of a menu item added to the regular menu at a restaurant just by asking.  A quote from the article says: 

"Not long ago, Ms. DeGeneres asked Mr. Susser if he would try a vegan spin on chicken parmigiana. The dish appeared on the menu in September, with a patty of Gardein, a protein substitute, standing in for chicken. “I’m willing to do anything,” said Mr. Susser, something of an expert in celebrity relations. “I want them here, and I want them happy."   

Obviously, Ellen is a gansta and I am so glad that she and others are using their power to promote the necessary education about healthy living.  Progress is being made as we march to the land of the free and the home of the healthy.  So that is all well and good but what if you are like me and need to see data or information for yourself rather than looking to celebrities for guidance.  Is this diet really reasonable?  I totally understand and that's why I looked up the position of the American Dietetic Association.  Who would have better advice than the government-affiliate that sets the dietary guidelines?  Here is their stance on the issue:

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

I bolded and italicized for just a little emphasis :) And there you have it, my people! Plant based diets are appropriate, beneficial, plausible and sustainable ways of living life to the full.  All I can say is I'm living the good life! Come join me. 

Thank you for reading! My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be healthy and happy. Ciao!


  1. nice i like this blog posts thanks for sharing hope you will be post more informative information here.

  2. I noticed this too! I was soooo happy that my role model/goddess Chaka Khan became vegan! I jumped for joy when I saw that she took in charge with her health and got AMAZING RESULTS!!!!

  3. She's FIRE! Period! :) I mentioned her in the last "Word's Getting Out" if you want the link to an article where she talks about the reason for the change.

  4. nice i like this blog posts thanks for sharing hope you will be post more informative information here.