What Does Vegetarianism mean in 2020
I’ve said that in the last 20 years there has been an upsurge in vegetarianism in the US. In this instance, our country is getting in touch with the rest of the world, where a plant-based diet is often the norm. There are a whole lot of people out there who do not eat animal flesh and therefore are technically vegetarians, but they don’t live anything resembling a healthy vegetarian lifestyle.
If you live on bread, pasta, French fries, and ketchup, then yes, you’re technically a vegetarian—one who will certainly develop a host of health issues as you age. To eat a vegetarian diet does NOT automatically mean that your diet is a healthy one, and that is NOT the brand of vegetarianism we are promoting in this book. Healthy vegetarian eating means getting the host of nutrients that your body needs into your body.
This is the first step, after elimination. To do this, you need to eat the full range of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts available to you. Some might eschew peanuts and pistachios, for example, because of their acidic pH, but that is another discussion.
And as long as these people are eating other nuts, they’re fine. As an example of a population of people that eats a vegetarian diet that is primarily an unhealthy one, take India, which contains over 1.2 billion people (roughly 17% of the world’s population).38 The number of Indians who are thought to be vegetarian ranges from 20 to 42%.39 The Indian society is, perhaps, the largest collective of vegetarians on the planet today because of their native religion of Hinduism, which deems the cow as a holy animal and therefore not to be eaten.
While these numbers and ones we would find in other less-developed nations dwarf those in industrialized nations, even in the latter the number of vegetarians is growing. A 2000 Zogby poll found that 2.5% of Americans were vegetarian, while a 2003 Harris poll put the figure at 2.8%.40 Today, a reported 16 million Americans are vegetarians or vegans, which is about 5% of the population. You will see studies later on in the book that speak about the number of “vegetarians” who do consume meat from time to time.
However, my optimism about the growth of this movement is hardly dampened by this. Americans are now starting to get the message: If you want to decrease your risk of developing any one of the so-called “lifestyle” diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc.), eat a plant-based diet; you will begin reaping the benefits almost instantly.
As the number of vegetarians grows in the West, so does a vegetarian support system, including restaurants offering gourmet vegetarian entrees, meatless cookbooks, even radio shows and magazines produced specifically for vegetarians. Plus, dieticians across the nation are now increasing their support in rising numbers.
From these facts alone, we can glean that eating a plant-based diet will only continue to increase in popularity. We’ve even invented other names for people partially on the path, such as “flexitarian.” This, indeed, is a sign that our population is becoming more aware of the benefit of a plant-based lifestyle and desire to be a part of it.
Still, there is a lot of confusion about what it means to be a healthy vegetarian, let alone what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle, all of which will be addressed within the pages of this book. First, we will take a look at the physical component.
It is, perhaps, the easiest and quickest way to become healthier and more vital. I have seen this first-hand in coaching people for decades. When you give the body the essential nutrients it needs to function well, through foods that it can readily assimilate, you will be surprised and maybe even shocked about what is possible for you, in terms of healing symptoms, improving sleep, gaining vital energy, promoting positive thinking and emotional balance, and feeling alive and well in general.
The body is incredibly resourceful and responds rapidly to good, properly applied nutrition. Some people realize significant benefits in their bodies in as little as three weeks.
After we address the physical aspect of health and healing, I will be spending time in the last two chapters of this section addressing the mental, emotional, and spiritual components of wellness.
The American Psychological Association reported that studies show that your mind and your body are strongly linked. As your mental health declines, your physical health can wear down, and if your physical health can wear down, it can make you feel mental “down.”41 Along the same lines, Professor David Goldberg of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK, reported that the rate of depression in patients with a chronic disease is almost three times higher than normal.
To support the importance of this aspect of health, I turn to the APA, once again. This time, the study, led by author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside, upended assumptions that success makes people happy. Instead, the study found that happiness leads to success via positive emotions.
The report notes: …happiness does lead to behaviors that often produce further success in work, relationships, and health, and these successes result in part from a person’s positive affect.He explains, “Depression and chronic physical illness are in a reciprocal relationship with one another: not only do many chronic illnesses cause higher rates of depression, but depression has been shown to antedate some chronic physical illnesses.”42
Furthermore… a person’s well-being is associated with positive perceptions of self and others, sociability, creativity, prosocial behavior, a strong immune system, and effective coping skills, and… that happy people are capable of experiencing sadness and negative emotions in response to negative events, which is a healthy and appropriate response.
Much of the previous research on happiness presupposed that happiness followed from success and accomplishments in life said the authors. “We found that this isn’t always true.” Positive affect is one attribute among several that can lead to success-oriented behaviors.
Other resources, such as intelligence, family, expertise and physical fitness, can also play a role in people’s successes… and happy individuals are more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health and even a long life.43 It is important to note from the above studies that all of them speak about some aspect of physical health.
So, as we bring wholeness to our personal experience, we build on our opportunity to affect the health of those closest to us, perhaps others around the globe, and the planet at large.
To this end, we will start first by asking ourselves: how do we heal the physical body? Once we detail the answers to this, we will discuss emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being within the context of the vegetarian lifestyle, and how to put that to work in your life for the greater good of humanity and the planet.
The blog comes to you from a piece of Dr. Gary Null's book Saving The Planet One Bite at a Time. You can order it now below.
Nutrition Care Manual for What to Eat
Let us think for a moment about the concept of epistemology. Epistemology is a two-dollar word that essentially means knowledge. But it’s a little more than that: epistemology considers how we know what we know.
This is an idea that Ancient Greek scholars deliberated thoroughly, and like many of their musings, it remains as viable a question today as it was then. How do we know what we know? The Ancient Greeks determined that knowledge essentially comes from one of two sources. Either you experience something yourself or someone told you. This sounds simple enough, but it’s actually quite complex.
Let’s briefly consider these ideas, starting with the someone told you piece. When we learn from others, we are receiving their interpretation of the information they’ve received. This is true when we read journalists’ accounts of events in the newspaper when we attend a religious speech or sermon when we face the judge in a courtroom when we read a textbook and in every other life circumstance. There’s no getting around this.
Whenever you speak, it reflects your understanding of whatever it is you’re talking about. Your perspective of the topic comes from the sources you’ve read and/or listened to. This might be news reports, political speeches, TED talks, movies and/or documentaries, and the internet, to name a few, and of course your coworkers, friends, and neighbors. We take this base information we receive and most of us tend to add our own thoughts and ideas to it.
This is absolutely normal. Now, in effect, we’re interpreting someone else’s interpretation. (“The preacher said this, and I think he was talking about that, so this and that must be related.”) We then share our perspective with others.
They add their own layer of interpretation and share the message further. It soon begins to look like the childhood game “telephone,” but the difference is that it’s not a game, and it’s not meant for amusement. This is how we get our information. This is how we gain knowledge. Sure, we might occasionally check sources, but if most people generally believe something to be true, it’s much easier for us to accept it as true. Also, it’s very easy to believe something if “all of the authority figures” promote a certain perspective.
If I do a web search for a certain thing and get 2 million hits that reinforce a certain perspective, and among that list are powerful and credible sources, that’s a much easier position for me to accept than if my web search yields 10 reinforcing hits from entities I’ve never heard of. You can start to see how this is becoming more complex.
Not only are we subject to greater influence when information comes from sources we consider authoritative, such as the preacher speaking on religious tenets or the farmer speaking about crops, but we also tend to gauge the quality of information by how many sources back it up.
Most of us are more willing to believe something that 2 million people agree on than a position that only 10 people agree with.
If enough people believe a certain way, this position becomes the status quo. It gets better (or actually, worse). Research in marketing shows that people prefer to purchase from sellers they’re familiar with. Since human nature finds uncertainty uncomfortable, we seek to reduce it; so it makes sense that as consumers, we’re more likely to purchase from someone we’re more familiar with. Big Business spends billions of dollars on creating familiarity with their company and their products for just this reason.
Over time, we as consumers become familiar with companies through their extensive advertising.
As we become familiar, we are reducing uncertainty and developing trust. So this familiarity means that as a consumer, I’ll more likely purchase from the company I’m familiar with and that I (therefore) trust. This is one reason advertising works to increase sales and profits.
The same can be said of ideas rather than products. When a message is consistent over time, it builds familiarity, which reduces uncertainty and builds trust in the information—whether the information presented deserves that trust or not. Further, when a particular idea is promoted by an authority figure or authoritative institution, such as our government, it’s harder for us to justify dismissing it as patently untrue.
Our leaders know this and rely on it. Consider George W. Bush’s admission of selling propaganda as truth in his comment, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”1 If a powerful public figure says the same thing enough times, people will begin to accept it as truth. Also, when the status quo latches onto a perspective, it becomes increasingly difficult to swim against that powerful social stream, which by definition will label you a nonconformist and maybe even worse.
This is why many say that “change takes time”—a statement rooted in the knowledge that change is an initiation of new ways of thinking and being in the world, which goes against our strong human need for comfort and stability. As Arthur Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher (1788–1860) said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” So getting back to the question of how do we know what we know? As you can see, there are a lot of cooks adding to that soup we call our knowledge.
As for the other component of that question, the personal experience prong, that’s not straightforward either. We interpret our experiences based on our current knowledge. But remember that our knowledge is subject to the slant of whatever source we’re adhering to. So even when we experience something personally and learn from it, there’s a good chance that what we learn from that experience is also tainted by the information we’ve received from others in how we interpret what we’re experiencing. So even when we learn by directly experiencing something ourselves, that knowledge is deeply influenced by what we know from others.
Take the example of divorce: if your closest friend experienced a nasty divorce, where neither they nor their former spouse could agree on terms and both experienced tremendous pain and anguish through the proceedings, chances are your idea of divorce, whether you have experienced it or not, would be affected, possibly jaded. Then, in the event that you divorce, some of your friend’s experience would be in the back of your mind—no matter how amicable the situation; and it will likely influence your actions.
Now, let’s consider these ideas within the US capitalistic milieu of today. To provide focus to this discussion and because this is a book about healthy living, including food, we’ll start with the food industry. The authoritative sources in the US for information about what’s good for us to eat are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Surgeon General, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and maybe the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
These are governmental institutions, funded and operated by the federal government—paid for by you and me. In making their recommendations about what’s healthy for us, we like to believe, indeed we need to believe, that these institutions have our best interests at heart.
Why would a governmental institution make recommendations that would harm the population it serves? Yet, as soon as we utter this question, there’s another voice in our heads that laughs at the idea that the government has our best interests at heart. Some of us need to believe this, but most of us know that this is a utopic illusion and not our present-day reality. If you don’t live under a rock, you know that today’s political parties and the way they legislate is a mess.
The left and the right fight just for the sake of it. Whatever party is not in the oval office blocks the president’s agenda because they can. Rather than working together—unifying—to best serve our nation’s people, our politicians are busy taking sides and remaining intractable—separating—and protecting themselves and their ideological tenets. Politicians are subject to huge donations from special interest groups that result in those same politicians voting a certain way on a certain issue, one that conveniently advances the special interest group’s agenda, and swaying colleagues to do the same.
In fact, recent research has determined that the US is no longer a democracy but rather an oligarchy, run by those with the most money. Those who actually run this country aren’t “the people,” as democracy promises, but rather the huge corporations that purchase profit-enhancing rights and privileges via political contributions, and to heck with the people! Why else would billions be spent in campaigning for a job that takes home less than $200,000 per year?
This is relevant to our discussion because the FDA, Surgeon General, USDA, and CDC are governmental bodies—and are just as riddled with politics and corruption as Capitol Hill. To prove my point, let’s look at one recent example— the occurrence of senior CDC vaccine safety scientist, Dr. William Thompson.
In a blog dated February 12, 2015, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.—one of the nation’s most prominent environmental attorneys—said that Dr. Thompson, who invoked the protection of the Federal Whistleblower Statute following the release of his taped conversations disclosing pervasive corruption within CDC’s Vaccine Safety Division, is maintaining that his bosses forced him and other researchers to lie about the safety of mercury-based vaccines,2 when the research clearly showed otherwise. Indeed, Dr. Thompson said: “Thimerosal (a controversial mercury-based preservative) from vaccines causes tics… I can say tics are four times more prevalent in kids with autism.
There is biologic plausibility right now to say that Thimerosal causes autism-like features.” The worst aspect of this, perhaps, is the latent corruption between the CDC and pharmaceutical concerns as noted in Dr. Thompson’s account of what occurred when bringing this indiscretion to the attention of his superiors:
In 2004, he sent a letter to CDC Director, Julie Gerberding, alerting her that CDC scientists were breaking research protocols to conceal the links between Thimerosal and brain damage in children. Gerberding never responded to Thompson’s allegations, but her deputy, Robert Chen, then head of CDC’s Immunization Safety Office and Thompson’s direct boss, confronted Thompson in an agency parking lot threatening him and screaming, “I would fire you if I could.” In 2009, Gerberding matriculated to Merck as Chief of the company’s Vaccine Division.
Two years prior to the move, she approved Merck’s HPV vaccine for pre-adolescent girls—an estimated billion-dollar value to the company.
Following Thompson’s revelations, Merck transferred Gerberding from its Vaccine Division to Executive Vice President for Strategic Communications, Global Public Policy, and Population Health.3 Special interest groups have tremendous influence over the information that these governmental bodies—which we trust to decide in our best interests on what is safe for us to consume—disseminate.
It is not only unethical; it needs to be made illegal in order for the public’s best interest to be protected. What this means for the American people is that the information that our governmental institutions give us about what is healthy for us to consume is deeply influenced by corporations standing to profit immensely from the release of some information and the withholding of other information.
It is well-publicized that these governmental bodies and the large corporations affected by their decisions are run by the same people, as I just noted above. Decision-makers once employed by Monsanto and Pfizer now make decisions within these governmental institutions that affect these corporations, and vice versa, back and forth, and there are numerous examples of this revolving door relationship between government and industry and the conflict of interest that results.
For example, Marion Nestle reports that in her then-new job as manager of the editorial production of the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health in 1986, she was given these rules on her first day of work: No matter what the research indicated, the report could not recommend ‘eat less meat’ as a way to reduce intake of saturated fat, nor could it suggest restrictions on intake of any other category of food.
In the industry-friendly climate of the Reagan administration, the producers of foods that might be affected by such advice would complain to their beneficiaries in Congress, and the report would never be published.4 This was a very real concern, as federal health officials had suffered nearly constant congressional interference with their dietary recommendations for nearly a decade. Getting back to epistemology and how we know what we know, we rely on our leaders for our information about what is healthy for us to consume. The FDA, Surgeon General, USDA, and CDC steer public health in this nation. They are our most accepted and largest authoritative sources for our personal health.
These institutions and the news reports and governmental agendas generated from their reports are our primary sources for how we know what we know about food, nutrition, and health in the US. Yet, the information they give us is highly tainted with the agendas of the profit-seeking corporations these bodies are in bed with.
In other words, our government will tell us what it is told to tell us by corporations like Monsanto and Pfizer so that they will keep increasing their profits. Yes, this happens at the expense of our health and in spite of the fact that our tax dollars are paying their salaries.
In fact, the entire medical industry, including the pharmaceutical and hospital businesses, relies on our being ill or they don’t make any money. People with this agenda in mind are the same people telling us what to eat. So now that we know a bit more about how we know what we know regarding what is healthy to consume, let’s set everything aside for a moment that we’ve ever been taught about what is healthy for us to eat. Set aside your beliefs and your current knowledge on this topic. And think about it.
Think about what it means to rely on animal flesh and other animal products for our livelihood, to sustain life through the process of killing other living, breathing beings. Think about what our dependence on animal products means to the very large and powerful meat, dairy, and poultry industries, and to the numerous other industries connected to them. In short, our ill health is their wealth.
I also ask you to think about the health risks of continuing a meat-based diet—as we’ll see in this book, there are many—and the conditions in which these animals are raised, their only purpose in life to be made fat and then slaughtered and sold for hamburgers or chicken nuggets. With this as their sole life purpose, no care is given to their living conditions, which are riddled with disease, overcrowding, and, immense suffering from the beginning of their miserable lives to the end. Is this what it means to be human, to bring living creatures onto this planet for the sole purpose of serving our wishes, without any thought to the suffering involved with this? In a humane world, how can we actually believe that the suffering of others doesn’t matter as long as we get what we want?
In considering our consumption of animal flesh, think also about our fellow human beings and the jobs they endure in these factory farms and the slaughterhouses and consider their working conditions and abuses.
Consider what it would be like to do this work for a week or even an hour. Imagine walking around on the kill floor, ankle-deep in blood, the air thick with the stench of death and decay, howling animals’ last cries of fear and suffering ringing in your ears and echoing in your soul—50 hours a week. Think about how many animals we need as a growing global population to feed the world’s people over time, how many resources we need to feed these animals, and whether, as a responsible people, this actually makes sense.
Think about the culture of violence that murdering for our food contributes to. Then think about why you eat meat. I mean really, why?
Once you remove yourself from everything you’ve ever learned about the benefits of meat consumption, why do you eat it? Then it’s healthy argument is out, because it’s not healthy, so there are really only two reasons remaining: because everyone else does and because I want to.
Well, I won’t go into the dangers of leading an unhealthy lifestyle because everyone else does. As a kid, didn’t your caregiver ask you “If everyone else jumped off the bridge would you jump too?” You make a conscious choice whether or not to ‘drink that dangerous Kool-Aid.’ So let’s talk about them because I want the argument. In a hedonistic society, that’s reason enough. But in a responsible society, that just doesn’t cut it.
44 Ways To Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
By Gary Null, PhD.
For twenty years the federal government, through the USDA and FDA, has stated unequivocally that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are safe and can help feed the world and save lives. However, over the last two decades independent scientists have brought forth challenges to the prevailing dogma on this important issue.
The response of the GMO industry to any critic–irrespective of their credentials or the scientific evidence they provide–is that they are wrong. To determine where the truth lies, we have set about reviewing all available scientific literature on the safety and efficacy of GMOs. The results of our independent investigation are stated in the following 44 reasons to ban or label GMOs. All of the information is footnoted and fully referenced.
Because 91% of Americans want GMO labeling.
Because 64 countries around the world including Japan, Australia, China and the entire European Union require GMO labeling.
Because in September 2015, Russia completely banned the production of food using GMOs. This came after the country undertook independent scientific research of the GMO issue.
Because GMO giant Monsanto has a history of producing highly dangerous chemical compounds including DDT, Agent Orange, saccharin, and recombinant bovine growth hormone, all of which are known to cause significant health issues. 
Because Monsanto has launched smear campaigns against GMO labeling advocates, organic farmers, anti-GMO organizations, and made threats of lawsuits against state governments and media outlets for even suggesting mandatory labeling. For example, supporters of GMOs recently pressured Reuters to fire veteran journalist Carey Gillam for reporting fairly on GMOs.
Because the pro-GMO lobby pushes its own research that contradicts the conclusions of independent studies on GMO safety. The Hindustani Times remarked that “There are over 500 research publications by scientists of indisputable integrity, who have no conflict of interest, that establish harmful effects of GMO crops to human, animal and plant health, and on the environment and biodiversity… On the other hand, virtually every paper supporting GM crops is by scientists who have a declared conflict of interest or whose credibility and integrity can be doubted.”
Because according a meta-analysis carried out by researchers at Caen University in France, a GMO feed diet contributes to kidney and liver toxicity in rats.
Because a study published in the Turkish Journal of Biology in December 2014, associates GM corn and soy consumption with several health complications in rats including DNA damage, abnormal sperm, blood changes, and damage to liver, kidney, and testes.
Because pregnant goats fed a diet of GM soybeans were found to produce less nutritious milk and give birth to offspring that grew slower and were shorter.
Because GM tomatoes were discovered to cause stomach lesions in research mammals.
Because the genetic engineering of foods can trigger allergic reactions to GM substances. For example, one study carried out by researchers at the University of Nebraska showed that an allergen commonly found in brazil nuts that is used in the creation of GM soybeans caused an allergic reaction in individuals who consumed soybeans.
Because research demonstrates that DNA fragments from GM foods can enter the human bloodstream. Considering that the health risks posed by GM foods are still not well understood, this finding is especially troubling.
Because an increase in GMO consumption in the United States has coincided with a rise in health issues among the US population. According to Jeffrey Smith’s Institute for Responsible Technology, “numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise.” While this connection has not been confirmed through science, it’s important that we investigate the potential associations between human health issues and GMOs.
Because GMO crops are prone to failure. Bt insecticidal brinjal eggplant in Bangladesh is facing widespread collapse, with a failure rate of four out of five farms. In Brazil, after only three years of GM Bt cultivation, pest resistance has been observed. Similar observations are being reported in Bt maize in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Philippines, South Africa and US, and in Bt cotton in Australia, China, India and the US. American scientists confirmed that rootworms destroying corn fields are no longer resistant to GM corn.
Because GM crops contaminate non-GM agriculture through cross pollination, polluting the genetic integrity of crops for many years to come.
Because South Korea, despite having a nationwide ban on the cultivation of GM crops, is currently contending with wild GM crops sprouting across the country. Officials fear that these wild GM strains will disrupt local ecosystems.
Because GMO cross pollination has resulted in financial hardship and difficulty for farmers who wish to grow crops that are non-GMO and organic.
Because GMO research can be costly and ineffective. In 2015, a trial testing out the viability of GM wheat in the UK failed miserably when aphids destroyed an entire crop, costing the taxpaying public about $5 million.
Because permaculture and organic farming practices are being refined to create sustainable agricultural models in the long term. For example, scientists have found that crops can actually sense pests approaching and attract pest predators in order to survive. Kenyan farmers have used this knowledge to successfully eliminate an insidious pest affecting their corn crops at no cost.
Because rats fed a diet of GM Roundup Ready crops were observed to have structural and functional alterations to liver cells.
Because it was revealed in 2015 that GM salmon is more susceptible to disease and slower growing than their non-GM counterparts.
Because the FDA approved GMOs to be introduced into the American food supply despite some FDA scientists raising questions about the safety of GMO consumption in the long term.
Because some GM crops are sprayed with chemicals that have been found to decrease their nutritional value. A recent meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition which reviewed 373 studies concluded that organically grown fruits and vegetables contain up to 69% greater amounts of important antioxidant compounds when compared to their conventionally grown counterparts.
Because GM corn has been found to be nutritionally inferior to non-GM corn in terms of vital nutrient content. One assay found that non-GM corn is 437% richer in calcium, 56% times richer in magnesium and 16% richer in potassium.
Because the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA), representing food giants including PepsiCo, ConAgra, Nestle and Kellogg has spent tens of millions of dollars in lobbying efforts to keep Americans from knowing if their food contains GMOs. In an apparent attempt to undermine the democratic process, this group has sued the state of Vermont in 2014 after it became the first state to require GMO labeling.
Because Big Ag companies contribute to an unsustainable and environmentally unhealthy monoculture form of agriculture, in which only one type of crop is farmed. The UN Commission on Trade and Development issued a report in 2014 warning against corporate dominated monoculture farming methods and promoted farm diversity and small scale organic farming as the most sustainable way to feed to the world’s population.
Because new research suggests that some biotech firms are engaging in highly questionable scientific practices while conducting trials assessing GMO safety in animal feed. Data gathered by researchers at Caen University in France indicates that the feed given to animals in the control group during various trials conducted by GM firms such as DuPont actually contained high quantities of pesticides and GMOs, which may have heavily skewed the test results.Because the domestic production of GM corn, which accounts for about 90% of all corn grown in the United States, is forcing the US to import organic and non-GM corn from other countries. This dynamic hurts farmers in the United States who could otherwise capitalize from the growing demand for non-GM corn.
Because glyphosate (Roundup), the widely used pesticide that Monsanto’s GM seeds (Roundup Ready Crops) are created to withstand, has been shown to be a probable carcinogen. 
Because glyphosate has been found to disrupt proper enzyme function in the body of mammals, causing inflammation.
Because research links glyphosate exposure with the alarming rises in chronic degenerative disease in the United States. According to one study published in The Journal of Organic Systems “Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.”
Because glyphosate can act as a genotoxic endocrine disruptor in human cells.
Because glyphosate has been identified as a potential health hazard for decades yet nothing has been done to curb its production. The Permaculture Research Institute states that “Monsanto and the European Commission (EC) have known about birth defects since the 1980s. Industry studies found statistically significant skeletal and/or visceral abnormalities as well as reduced viability and increase in spontaneous abortions in rats and rabbits exposed to high doses of glyphosate. Lower doses were later shown to cause dilated hearts. The EC dismissed all the findings.”
Because glyphosate may no longer be as effective at killing weeds. Worse still, glyphosate use has been shown to give rise to “superweeds” that are resistant to the chemical and therefore highly problematic for farmers. 
Because glyphosate residues do not break down as quickly or completely but end up poisoning our soil, rainwater and air, accordingly to official government research.
Because evidence suggests that glyphosate not only contaminates soil with its chemical compounds, but actually destroys beneficial soil organisms.
Because glyphosate contamination has become so pervasive that it is present in our urine. One German study found the pesticide to be present in significant concentrations in all the urine samples tested from non-agricultural workers in Berlin.
Because glyphosate exposure has been linked with birth defects. 
Because evidence suggests that glyphosate may contribute to Parkinson’s Disease.
Because glyphosate may seriously damage the kidneys. In early 2014, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study linking glyphosate runoff in Sri Lanka’s water systems to an epidemic rise in a fatal unknown chronic kidney disease or CKDu.
Because recent studies reveal that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides are contributing to the decline of honeybee populations. In August 2014, Mexican beekeepers in the state of Yucatan won a victory to halt Monsanto’s plans to plant thousands of acres of Roundup Ready soybeans. After a careful review of the science, a Mexican judge ruled that GMO soy agriculture is an economic threat and incompatible with the state’s honey production, home for 25,000 families involved in producing 40% of Mexico’s honey exports. The ruling is having a rippling effect across other Mexican states involved in honey production.
Because oversight on pesticide use may be hampered by serious conflicts of interest. In October 2015, the Washington Post reported that entomologist Jonathan Lungren blew the whistle on his superiors at the US Agriculture Department for attempting to block his research conclusions showing that pesticides are particularly lethal to key pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Because the rise of Big Ag monoculture and GMO farming in India has resulted in significant economic and social hardships among Indian farmers and their families. Dwindling crop yields stemming from farmers’ reliance on corporate agricultural models to grow crops such as bioengineered cotton has contributed to many farmers going bankrupt. It is suspected that around 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over the last 16 years; some of them are thought to have been brought to the brink by the economic difficulties that accompany corporate farming practices. 
Because simply handling bioengineered cotton crops caused Indian farmers to develop a range of frightening symptoms, which included, according to one report “allergic reactions in various body parts which included hands, feet, face, eyes and nose, with some having fallen seriously ill.” Similarly, more than a decade of documentation shows that Argentinean agricultural workers who were exposed to glyphosate had developed medical conditions including skin rashes, infertility, cancer and respiratory issues.
It’s Time to Act
Time is running out for your voice to be heard on this issue. Contact your local members of Congress today to let them know that we want all GMO foods to be labeled, if not removed from the shelves completely, until they are proven to be safe for consumption. Let them know that we would like congressional hearings on this issue during which qualified independent scientists present the evidence for GMOs being harmful.
To find the contact information for congressional members visit: https://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup
There are many small local food organizations in the individual states. However, the following list of organizations are those that have been at the forefront to protect organic and traditional agriculture and have been fighting on behalf of American consumers and food health against the big agricultural and chemical giants. Most of these organizations have e-lists you can subscribe to and receive daily or periodic information and updates about the battle against GMOs.
Institute for Responsible Technology was founded by Jeffrey Smith, who is a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about genetically modified foods and crops. The organization publishes frequent reports on GMO risks and impact on health, the environment, the economy, corporate practices and agriculture.
Food Democracy Now was founded by David Murphy, who has built a national grass-roots community dedicated to a sustainable food system that protects the environment and supports traditional farmers and their families. The organization has been at the forefront in advocating for the labeling of GMO foods and products.
Organic Consumers Association, directed by food activist Ronnie Cummins, is a grass-roots public-interest organization campaigning for food sustainability, children’s health, and corporate accountability. OCA is the primary organization fighting on behalf of the nation’s estimated 50 million organic food consumers with a goal to convert American agriculture to at least 30% organic by the year 2015.
GM Watch is a UK-based information organization monitoring everything related to bioengineered foods and big agriculture gathered from around the world. You can sign up at GM Watch’s site to receive daily news and reports as they arrive.
The Center for Food Safety is directed by national legal and consumer-interest advocate Andrew Kimbrell. The organization is a non-profit environmental advocacy initiative challenging harmful food production technologies, including genetic modification, and a leader in promoting sustainable agriculture.
Food and Water Watch is a health safety advocacy organization dedicated to assuring our food, water and fish are safe and sustainably produced. The organization pressures legislators to promote wholesome food (including the labeling of GMO foods) and clean water accessibility to all for their basic needs. The organization has 15 offices in the US and a staff in Europe and Latin America.
Natural News was founded by its chief editor and national health activist Mike Adams. It is among one of the best daily news resources for information on all issues related to health, including alternative medicine, genetically modified foods, vaccines science, and corporate corruption.
Dr. Joseph Mercola publishes one of the nation’s most widely read health sites dedicated to natural health and everything related to the corporate pharmaceutical, medical, chemical and agricultural industry that threatens the health and safety of people.
Coalition of States for GMO Labeling is a grass-roots effort now with 30 states to persuade state legislatures to bring up a vote on GMO labeling. For information on becoming involved in your state to educate and promote GMO labeling, inquire with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Alliance for Natural Health is an international organization promoting sustainable health practices, freedom of choice in healthcare, and accessibility to non-toxic healthy food, vitamins and supplements at the federal and local state levels. The Alliance is perhaps the most active organization lobbying Congress and state legislatures, and serves as a government watchdog to file complaints on actions taking by the FDA, USDA and other federal health agencies.
Just Label It is a grassroots organization started in California to fight state legislators to mandate GMO labeling. The organization, in partnership with many of the more notable organic food companies, is taking the petition for mandatory labeling to the FDA.
Center for Environmental Health is a non-profit organization taking on the industrial chemical industry to eliminate the threats chemicals pose to children, families and communities.
Consumers Union is a large national organization with lobbyists fighting for a fair, just and safer marketplace for consumers. Their website provides consumer information on a wide variety of topics, including genetically modified foods.
Environmental Working Group is a public health and environmental organization that advocates for health protection on Capitol Hill. Among their primary goals is to conduct scientific research to expose chemicals and products dangerous to health, the environment and the natural resources we rely upon, and to replace federal policies favoring big corporations with policies that invest in conservation and sustainable development.
Organic Seed Alliance advances the ethical development and stewardship of the genetic resources of agricultural seed. Their mission is to work through collaborative education, advisory services, and research programs with organic farmers and other seed professionals to advance a more sustainable agriculture.
Seeds of Change is an organic seed company founded in 1989 with a mission to preserve biodiversity and promote organic agriculture. It is an excellent source to purchase organic seeds and learn tips about rural, personal and urban organic farming.
Navdanya was founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva in India to lead the way to food and seed sovereignty, sustainable agriculture, and fair trade organic networking. The organization’s learning centers, School of the Seed and Earth University, bring people together from all over the world to build a food network that will be sustainable in the future.
The National Organic Coalition is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a “Washington voice” for farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, consumers and progressive industry members involved in organic agriculture.
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is an alliance of grass-roots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. Its vision of agriculture is one where a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living pursuing their trade
The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think-tank, founded by renowned agricultural and trade activist Anuradha Mittal, that brings fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing economic, social and environmental issues directed towards a more sustainable, just future.
Foodconsumer is an online health, diet and food site taking a lead in promoting GMO labeling.
Food Freedom News is an educational site addressing food safety, food freedom and sovereignty, and local food production. It is a popular site for those who wish to begin growing their own produce.
Moms for Safe Food is a national community blog website offering a lot of advice about transitioning to eating a safe, healthy, GMO-free diet.
 “Govt Decides to Ban GMO Food Production in Russia – Deputy PM.” RT English. Accessed October 30, 2015.
 Ken Roseboro. “Biotech’s Assault on Balanced Journalism” Huffington Post, June 4, 2014 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-roseboro/biotechs-assault-on-balan_b_5432699.html
 Pushpa M Bhargava US is trying to control our food production Hindustan Times, August 7, 2014 http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/us-is-trying-to-control-our-food-production/article1-1249456.aspx
 S. Calabrò, M.I. Cutrignelli, G. Moniello, M. Grossi, V. Mastellone, P. Lombardi, M.E. Peroa, F. Infascelli (2015) Genetically modified soybean in a goat diet: Influence on kid performance. Small Ruminant Research 126: 67–74.
 Department of Veterinary Medicine, FDA, correspondence June 16,
As quoted in Fred A. Hines, Memo to Dr. Linda Kahl. “Flavr Savr Tomato:Pathology Branch’s Evaluation of Rats with Stomach Lesions From Three Four-Week Oral (Gavage) Toxicity Studies and an Expert Panel’s Report,” Alliance for Bio-Integrity (June 16, 1993) http://www.biointegrity.org/FDAdocs/17/view1.html
 Nordlee, Julie A., Steve L. Taylor, Jeffrey A. Townsend, Laurie A. Thomas, and Robert K. Bush. “Identification of a Brazil-Nut Allergen in Transgenic Soybeans.” New England Journal of Medicine, 1996, 688-92.
 Guardian Newspaper Report Admits Widespread Failure of GM Btbrinjal” GMWatch June 5, 2014
 Deirdre Fulton, GMO Corn No Longer Resistant to Bugs Common Dreams 30 July 14
 Richardson, Jill. “Don’t Let Them Blind You with Their Science.” OtherWords. October 28, 2015. Accessed October 29, 2015.
 Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA USA 2007
 Steven M. Druker, “How the US Food and Drug Administration approved genetically engineered foods despite the deaths one had caused andthe warnings of its own scientists about their unique risks,” Alliance for Bio-Integrity, http://www.biointegrity.org/ext-summa ry.html
 UN Report Says Small Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World.” Technology Water. December 14, 2013 http://www.technologywater.com/post/69995394390/un-report-says-small-scale-organic-farming-only-way-to
 Anthony Samsel Stephanie Seneff. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases, Entropy 2013, 15 (4), 1416-1463
 Paganelli A1, Gnazzo V, Acosta H, López SL, Carrasco AE. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling. Chem Res Toxicol. 2010 Oct 18;23(10):1586-95. doi: 10.1021/tx1001749. Epub 2010 Aug 9.
 “Roundup, An Herbicide, Could be Linked to Parkinson’s, Cancer and Other Health Issues, Study Shows” Reuters. April 25, 2013
 Gang Wang, Xiao-Ning Fan, Yu-Yan Tan, Qi Cheng, Sheng-Di Chen Parkinsonism after chronic occupational exposure to glyphosate. Parkinsonism RelatDisord. 2011 Jul;17(6):486-7. Epub 2011 Mar 2
 Channa Jayasumana , Sarath Gunatilake and Priyantha Senanayake Glyphosate, Hard Water and Nephrotoxic Metals: Are They the Culprits Behind the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology in Sri Lanka? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(2), 2125-2147
 Sweet victory for Mexico beekeepers as Monsanto loses GM permit” The Guardian, August 8, 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/aug/08/sweet-victory-beekeepers-monsanto-gm-soybeans
 Volk, Steve. “Suspended USDA Researcher Alleges Agency Tried to Block His Research into Harmful Effects of Pesticides on Bees, Butterflies.” Washington Post. October 28, 2015. Accessed October 30, 2015.
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?
Coconut Oil: A Real Power House
One of the few foods classified as a “superfood”, coconut oil has a unique combination of fatty acids which can have a very positive effect on your overall health.
Coconut oil is high in healthy saturated fats that are different from other fats in your daily diet. The saturated fats in coconut oil can actually help you burn fat and also improve your brain power by providing it with quick energy. They also can help reduce your risk of heart disease by raising the good HDL cholesterol in your blood.
Most fatty acids are called long-chain triglycerides whereas the fatty acids in coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). When consumed, MCTs goes straight to the liver where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into ketones.
Research shows that ketones can have powerful effects on the brain and can also treat epilepsy, alzheimer’s and other brain related conditions.
Burn Away Unwanted Fat
The MTCs in coconut oil can increase how many calories you burn daily.
Kill Harmful Microorganisms
The fatty acid in coconut oil is made up of 12-carbon lauric acid. When digested, lauric acid forms a substance called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like staphylococcus aureus and fungi like the yeast Candida albicans which is a common cause of yeast infections in humans.
Reduce Your Appetite
The fatty acids in coconut oil can help you lose weight overtime by reducing your appetite.
In a nutshell, coconut oil is a superfood with many applications.