Thursday, April 14, 2011

4 Reasons to Eat Plants


This is part of an assignment for a course called Nutrition Fundamentals, part of a series of courses in Plant-Based Nutrition (nutrition as a science and a component of medicine, to both maintain health and prevent disease) authored by Dr. Colin Campbell, which I am taking through eCornell. Dr Campbell is Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University (wow!) and many people know Dr. Campbell for his seminal work, published as The China Study, considered the largest and most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. What I love about the course is the data and science to back up every claim!


My motivation for taking this course is my desire to be able to communicate clearly the facts and science behind the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

My strategy for provoking interest in this topic is to first begin with myself, and lead by example, and eat a plant-based diet as the basis for keeping myself in optimum health. As many have already mentioned, it is detrimental to push new ideas on a person who is not open to them. Additionally, if that person is already in the midst of an illness, he or she is struggling with so much already, therefore it is best to always leave people free to make their own choices, and understand that we might not always know what is best for another, and to still treat him or her with kindness and compassion.

Alternately, to those looking for answers, a few of the most convincing arguments for adopting a plant-based diet as a way of bringing about health are: it’s inexpensive; no side effects; it’s scientifically proven; it not only benefits your health, but also the health of the world.

It’s inexpensive:

As Dr. Campbell stated, we are currently spending more in the US per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world. Yet, we are not getting better health for all of this spending. We have been using costly pharmaceuticals for the last 50 years, substances which can only provide us with short term benefits, as we can see from the continued increase in disease rates. There is no evidence that these expensive treatments are bringing disease under control, and in fact cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all on the rise.

No side effects:

Medical care itself is the third leading cause of death in the US (with prescription drug adverse affects accounting for 106,000--almost half according to the JAMA).


Adopting a plant-based diet is not a fad, there is substantial scientific data showing the progress of plant-based diets in not only preventing, but reversing advanced late stages of heart disease—an example of the power of the dietary effect. Though the scientific community resisted accepting this, it is no longer disputable that advanced cases of heart disease can be reversed. Data has also shown that in societies where a Standard American Diet has crept in, high in meat and processed foods, a simultaneous rise in the diseases of cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease has been evidenced. Diet is a proven risk factor for both cancer and diabetes.

Worldwide implications beyond your own health:

By adopting a plant based diet, you are not only doing something for yourself, you are doing something for others. There are environmental, economic and political and implications to large-scale industrial meat production—ranging from overuse of resources, pollution, and disenfranchisement of peasant cultures.

Taking responsibility for your own health can be a big step for some, though the rewards are great!

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