By Angel McNall

"Nothing will benefit human health and the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." These were the words of Albert Einstein, spoken a long time ago, however they have never been more true.

We live in an age of disease and environmental destruction. Millions of women die every year from diseases that could have been prevented, and we are not the only ones who are suffering. Our planet, our children, and animals are all suffering along with us. The good news is that you possess a very powerful 'weapon' in the 'war' against cancer and other disease, and it is the same one that could heal our planet and keep our children healthy too. It is your fork!

The former Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Coop, reported that 70% of all disease is diet related. So keep in mind that every time you take a bite you are making a choice. We need to make more life-affirming choices. We need to take responsibility for our health and for the future; we have only good things to gain.

When we consume animal products we are taking in all of the hormones, sicknesses (sometimes including cancers), pesticide residues, and antibiotics that were in their systems at the time of their deaths. Breast, ovarian, uterine, endometrial, and cervical cancers are hormone-related cancers.

In his book, Diet for A New America, John Robbins makes the analogy that if our taste buds were as sensitive as our hormone receptors are, we would be able to detect a single grain of sugar in a swimming pool of water. When animal hormones are consumed there is a rise in our estrogen levels, putting us at risk for these cancers. (In men there is an increase in testosterone putting them at risk for prostrate cancer). With the rise in estrogen levels, there is earlier onset of puberty in young girls, more painful menstruation, and more dramatic menopausal symptoms. (Some people believe that eating 'organically-grown' meats are healthier because the animals are not given hormones and antibiotics. While they are not given additional hormones or antibiotics, their flesh still contains naturally occurring hormones and the pesticide residues from the grains they were fed.) Research has found a strong link between the consumption of animal products and these problems. On the other hand a vegan diet has been consistently proven to promote good health.

Another disease that many women fear is osteoporosis. Innocent victims of dairy industry propaganda, many people believe that it is necessary to consume dairy products in order to get adequate amounts of calcium. In countries where women consume little or no dairy products, rates of osteoporosis are very low. This is because our bodies don't absorb calcium from dairy as well as they do from plant sources. In order for calcium to be absorbable it must be accompanied by phosphorus, and the calcium/phosphorus ratios are much higher in plant products than in those of animals. Excess protein also blocks the absorption of calcium, and actually causes our bodies to rob calcium from our bones, resulting in loss of bone mass. Good sources of calcium include: leafy green vegetables, broccoli, tofu, calcium enriched orange juice, rice or soy milk, etc.

A vegan diet is also great for your heart. There is no artery-clogging cholesterol in plant foods, and only a handful of plant foods contain saturated fats. Don't wait until you or someone you love has heart disease or a heart attack before you change your diet. Begin doing it now. There has been evidence of heart disease found in the hearts of children as young as 3 years old, so get your children on a heart-healthy diet; cholesterol isn't something that only older people need to worry about!

Another component of a vegan diet that will serve you well, is fiber. Fiber helps to bind and eliminate toxins from your body, reducing your risk of colon cancer. It also helps to prevent constipation, ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, blood clots, and much more. Only plant foods contain fiber. When you are selecting vegetables, fruits, and the whole grains that will help to keep you healthy, try to buy organic.

This isn't a decision that just affects you, it will help heal our environment. When you 'vote' organic over conventional growing methods, you are increasing the demand for sustainable agriculture. After years of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the soil becomes weak and depleted of its nutrients, thus making it necessary to use more of these harmful substances in order to get the same yield. These substances are stored in the fat of animals and they don't break down in the environment. They are passed on to our children through our breast milk, and they are also stored in the flesh of animals that are eaten by humans, pets, and other wildlife. If you can't afford to buy organic, wash your produce with soap or veggie wash. (They wont be as nutrient rich as their organic counterparts, but they don't absorb pesticides systemically.)

When you take the time to educate yourself about how your food choices affect your health, our environment and other creatures on earth, you can begin to make positive changes. The most important thing to remember is that when you are gathering information, consider the source. When you read a study or report, find out who paid for it. You will be surprised to find that time and again the only evidence found in favor of a meat and dairy-based diet will be paid for by those industries. In contrast, there are mounds of evidence in favor of the vegan diet from a wide variety of medically sound sources. No one changes everything about their diet overnight, however when you make life-affirming choices you are doing something positive for your health, your family, many animals, and our planet.

For more information on how to improve your diet, you may contact Angel's EarthKind Kitchen at (818)343-4123 or by e-mail at:  Good Luck!

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