My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘food supply’

Conversations with a Meat Eater


Conversations with a meat eater generally go like this:

“You are vegan?”

“Yes.”

“Do you eat chicken?  What about fish?”

“No.  No.”

“How do you get your protein?”

It is at this point that we, vegans, have a choice about how to have a conversation that is informative and perhaps even inspirational.  The protein question gets everyone going because for some protein is a synonym for meat.  Suggesting that it is not necessary (or healthy) to eat meat goes right to the heart of the issue, which is that we have been taught to believe something and, because it is a way of life, most people don’t question it.

“We eat beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, spinach, peas, walnuts, cashews, almonds, quinoa, millet, etc.”

“Aren’t you hungry?  Don’t you need to eat meat to get iron?”

“Not hungry, I eat all day long!  And I especially love to indulge in homemade cookies.  No, you don’t need to eat meat to get iron.  I get it from broccoli, walnuts, lentils, spinach, oats…”

“But…”

Sometimes meat eaters stop here, nod and wish me luck mumbling something about making sure I eat enough.  Others want to debate the protein issue.  I am fully armed with answers based on my own experience and my Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell.

The bottom line is this: there are no nutrients in animal based foods that are not better obtained from plant-based foods.  Plants have protein too!

It is interesting that a vegan never questions a meat eater’s ability to take in all of the nutrients necessary for a balanced and healthy diet.  We don’t question their food choices.  Instead, we are the ones who need to defend ourselves. But at the end of the day, the key is to not get defensive.  The key is to offer some information that will hopefully cause the person to, at a minimum question their own dietary habits, and at a maximum will convert them on the spot!

We could talk about the benefits of a vegan diet for our health.  We could talk about The China Study and explain how some cancers, diabetes and heart diseases are hitting levels of epidemic proportions due to the intake of animal based foods.  We could talk about the outrageous sums of money being spent on health care instead of preventative medicine.  We could talk about how it is much more extreme to have major heart surgery and live on medication forever versus making dietary changes.  We could offer President Clinton’s story about his decision to go vegan and why.

We could talk about the animals.  We could reveal the secrets of the factory farm and the inhumane treatment of, not just the animals, but those that work at the slaughterhouses.  We could explain how a steady diet of hormones and antibiotics given to the animals create more disease and illness.  We could talk about how dirty the food supply really is.

We could talk about the environment.  We could quote the report from the United Nations that says that methane emissions from all of factory farmed animals are contributing more to global warming than all of the cars, trucks and buses in the world. We could talk about the oceans are being depleted and how the world is going to suffer because of it.

Any or all of these tacks make for good conversation.  In my experience however, most meat eaters can’t listen to this stuff.  Truth be told, it is tough to talk about and tough to hear.  I have my elevator speech, my condensed explanation that encompasses points about our health, the health and welfare of the animals and the planet.

I believe that the best way to have a productive conversation with a meat eater is not to have conversation at all.  Invite them out to a delicious vegan restaurant or even better invite them over and cook for them.  Change the conversation.

Lisa Dawn Angerame | Blog | Website | Facebook
Long Island, NY Lisa Dawn is an advanced certified Jivamukti yoga teacher, vegan food blogger, wife and mom. She is working hard to spread the vegan love through her cooking, teaching and blog. Lisa Dawn studies and teaches the yoga sutras. She divides her time between NYC and Northport, Long Island. Lisa Dawn is the co founder of NAVA NYC, a meditation and yoga company designed to bring yoga and meditation to corporate clients.

Photo credit: TDIV

From:  http://www.thisdishisvegetarian.com/2012/07/conversations-with-meat-eater.html

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The New York Times: Arsenic in our Chicken?

Arsenic in Our Chicken?

By 
Published: April 4, 2012

Let’s hope you’re not reading this column while munching on a chicken sandwich.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

On the Ground

Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels.

That’s because my topic today is a pair of new scientific studies suggesting that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic.

“We were kind of floored,” said Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future.  “It’s unbelievable what we found.”

He said that the researchers had intended to test only for antibiotics. But assays for other chemicals and pharmaceuticals didn’t cost extra, so researchers asked for those results as well.

“We haven’t found anything that is an immediate health concern,” Nachman added. “But it makes me question how comfortable we are feeding a number of these things to animals that we’re eating. It bewilders me.”

Likewise, I grew up on a farm, and thought I knew what to expect in my food. But Benadryl? Arsenic? These studies don’t mean that you should dump the contents of your refrigerator, but they do raise serious questions about the food we eat and how we should shop.

It turns out that arsenic has routinely been fed to poultry (and sometimes hogs) because it reduces infections and makes flesh an appetizing shade of pink. There’s no evidence that such low levels of arsenic harm either chickens or the people eating them, but still…

Big Ag doesn’t advertise the chemicals it stuffs into animals, so the scientists conducting these studies figured out a clever way to detect them. Bird feathers, like human fingernails, accumulate chemicals and drugs that an animal is exposed to. So scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University examined feather meal — a poultry byproduct made of feathers.

One study, just published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Environmental Science & Technology, found that feather meal routinely contained a banned class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. These antibiotics (such as Cipro), are illegal in poultry productionbecause they can breed antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that harm humans. Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans annually than AIDS, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The same study also found that one-third of feather-meal samples contained an antihistamine that is the active ingredient of Benadryl. The great majority of feather meal contained acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. And feather-meal samples from China contained an antidepressant that is the active ingredient in Prozac.

Poultry-growing literature has recommended Benadryl to reduce anxiety among chickens, apparently because stressed chickens have tougher meat and grow more slowly. Tylenol and Prozac presumably serve the same purpose.

Researchers found that most feather-meal samples contained caffeine. It turns out that chickens are sometimes fed coffee pulp and green tea powder to keep them awake so that they can spend more time eating. (Is that why they need the Benadryl, to calm them down?)

The other peer-reviewed study, reported in a journal called Science of the Total Environment, found arsenic in every sample of feather meal tested. Almost 9 in 10 broiler chickens in the United States had been fed arsenic, according to a 2011 industry estimate.

These findings will surprise some poultry farmers because even they often don’t know what chemicals they feed their birds. Huge food companies require farmers to use a proprietary food mix, and the farmer typically doesn’t know exactly what is in it. I askedthe United States Poultry and Egg Association for comment, but it said that it had not seen the studies and had nothing more to say.

What does all this mean for consumers? The study looked only at feathers, not meat, so we don’t know exactly what chemicals reach the plate, or at what levels. The uncertainties are enormous, but I asked Nachman about the food he buys for his own family. “I’ve been studying food-animal production for some time, and the more I study, the more I’m drawn to organic,” he said. “We buy organic.”

I’m the same. I used to be skeptical of organic, but the more reporting I do on our food supply, the more I want my own family eating organic — just to be safe.

To me, this underscores the pitfalls of industrial farming. When I was growing up on our hopelessly inefficient family farm, we didn’t routinely drug animals. If our chickens grew anxious, the reason was perhaps a fox — and we never tried to resolve the problem with Benadryl.

My take is that the business model of industrial agriculture has some stunning accomplishments, such as producing cheap food that saves us money at the grocery store. But we all may pay more in medical costs because of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Frankly, after reading these studies, I’m so depressed about what has happened to farming that I wonder: Could a Prozac-laced chicken nugget help?

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook andGoogle+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 5, 2012, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Arsenic In Our Chicken?.

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