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To Save the Planet and Sustain Your Health, Become a Vegan

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To Save the Planet and Sustain Your Health, Become a Vegan

On Sunday evening, the Academy Award recipient Joachim Phoenix gave an extraordinary speech. He spoke about his personal dark side he had struggled with in the past, and how the movie industry and his peers in cinema gave him a second chance.  It was an affirmation of redemption.

For those of us in the vegan movement, Phoenix's speech was heartwarming and emblematic of the kind or revelations that emerge when a person realizes the violence from which their meat in a meal originates. It is food from a living, sentient being.  He gave the image of a mother cow giving birth to an infant calf and the mother crying for days as her calf was taken away.  Other celebrities, either in attendance or absent, have already reached this realization, such as Natalie Portman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Pfeiffer, Woody Harrelson, director James Cameron, Daryl Hannah, Paul McCartney and many others.

Today, the science is clear. There are hundreds of reliable peer-reviewed studies supporting the benefits of a Mediterranean or a healthy plant-based diet for relieving and treating disease, including a variety of cancers.

On the other side of the equation, there are equally many studies that have determined unhealthy foods such as meat contributing to cancer,  heart disease, diabetes, obesity and inflammatory illnesses such as arthritis. If we focus solely upon health issues, then disease and premature death are on the side of a meat-based lifestyle.

Some people care more about the environment than they do about themselves. Consequently their concerns about the largess of the meat industry is that it is energy intensive. The water necessary to grow a plot of potatoes compared to a hamburger is astronomical. Weaning ourselves off of meat reduces global warming because the billions of animals raised annually for human consumption increases greenhouse gas emissions, notably methane.

If you do not feel this is particularly important, then consider the frightening event of Antarctica reaching 67 degrees F earlier this month. For the last three years, the southern continent has had the highest temperatures every recorded.

Therefore, every bite counts.

There is also today a growing movement to purchase organic  plant-based food that is raised locally. This is in part because there is a highly educated class of Millennials and X-Generation who realize the importance of a healthy diet for sustaining a healthy body.

But what is perhaps equally important is to investigate and understand where our information for making wise choices comes from. Who inspires us to seek the truth? And that is why Phoenix's speech was so necessary at this time.

Throughout our lives we have two principle kinds of mentors who guide us. First, there are the policymakers. These are our parents when we are  young, school teachers when we are learning, and then when we enter society there are the captains of industry whether it is the CEO of a telecommunication company such as Verizon or any of the other large corporate entities.

These are the people who establish and often write policies. From the policymakers, information trickles down through think tanks, foundations, public relations firms, lobbyists and politicians. And the media is their primary echo chamber.

The second mentor are opinion leaders. These are the people who are in the public eye and who often generate a large following.  Average people look up to them as role models and examples of what they assume is appropriate behavior. These are the people who are thought to "be in the know," ahead of the curves and who drive future trends. Sometimes they work endlessly, such as the basketball star LeBron James who inspires thousands of kids but then also represents Nike products.  Or a popular actress who speaks on behalf of a cosmetic product to sell a solution for perfect skin. There are thousands of such motivational speakers in politics, athletics, entertainment, corporate culture and the media who have been acknowledged for their success.

So when we think of a famous person as an opinion leader who becomes a vegan, there will be a sizeable number of people who will follow their advice and example.  The largest increase in the vegan movement occurs when a person who people admire acts by example and explains why it is so important to stop the suffering of animals.

Bravo for Joachim. Let us hope that others in the audience and viewers will come forward and join the effort. It only takes about 3.5 percent of the population to support any given cause in order to change the course of policymakers.

Important Vegan Facts to Consider

What if I told you that going on an incredibly delicious, cost-effective plant-based diet would:

  • Reduce your risk of all cancers by 50%,
  • Decrease your chance of developing diabetes by 50% and eliminate Type 2 diabetes,
  • Drop your chance of developing heart disease by 24%, reduce your chance of dying from heart disease by 29% or if you have heart disease, reduce future cardiac events by 73%,
  • Lower your risk of colon cancer by 40%,
  • Have an 80% chance of reducing arthritis symptoms in less than four weeks,
  • Assist you in losing a minimum of one pound of body weight per week until you reach your goal, and without exercising (although I recommend exercising too),
  • Significantly lower high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels,
  • Double the number of natural “killer cells” in the body, thereby increasing the strength of your immune system,
  • Significantly lessen your likelihood of being obese,
  • Help you have leaner, healthier children,
  • Improve your sleep, your sex life, and your complexion,
  • Give you more energy than you have ever had, and, most importantly, add quality years onto your life

In addition, despite the lack of action in the US, there are nations and major cities around the world taking climate change seriously. Visionaries and scientists are creating unique and wonderful innovations in renewable energy to challenge America's hubris, denial, and complacency.

Rather than descending into apathy, withdrawing into isolation and being unwilling to face these problems, we might consider optimistic strategies for how we can individually and collectively make a difference. And the foremost effort each of us can begin at this very moment is to adopt a healthy, plant-based diet. Not only is it affordable, but a vegan lifestyle will also strengthen our physical and mental health to face the challenges ahead. It is the single most important thing each of us can do to save the planet.

What if I also told you that in one year of eating this way, you would save the lives of approximately 400 animals (fish and shellfish included), plus, you would save 300,000 gallons of water, nearly 90,000 pounds of grain (which could go to feed humans), and more than 5,700 gallons of gasoline, all while generating 50% fewer carbon emissions?

You would also end your contribution through dietary choices to depleting rain forests, eroding topsoil, world hunger, and global warming, while standing for cleaner air, cleaner water in aquifers, rivers, lakes, and oceans, cleaner drinking water, the humane treatment of animals and humans, and the health of any number of species and the planet too.

Would you want to hear about it? Moreover, would you be interested in knowing that millions—and a growing number—of people in our country and around the world are choosing this diet and lifestyle right now, and for the very reasons  just pointed out?

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  • James Robinson
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