Opinion | The End of Meat Is Here | The New York Times

Is any panic more primitive than the one prompted by the thought of empty grocery store shelves? Is any relief more primitive than the one provided by comfort food?

Most everyone has been doing more cooking these days, more documenting of the cooking, and more thinking about food in general. The combination of meat shortages and President Trump’s decision to order slaughterhouses open despite the protestations of endangered workers has inspired many Americans to consider just how essential meat is.

Is it more essential than the lives of the working poor who labor to produce it? It seems so. An astonishing six out of 10 counties that the White House itself identified as coronavirus hot spots are home to the very slaughterhouses the president ordered open.

In Sioux Falls, S.D., the Smithfield pork plant, which produces some 5 percent of the country’s pork, is one of the largest hot spots in the nation. A Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa, had 730 cases of the coronavirus — nearly 60 percent of its employees. At another Tyson plant, in Waterloo, Iowa, there were 1,031 reported cases among about 2,800 workers.

Sick workers mean plant shutdowns, which has led to a backlog of animals. Some farmers are injecting pregnant sows to cause abortions. Others are forced to euthanize their animals, often by gassing or shooting them. It’s gotten bad enough that Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has asked the Trump administration to provide mental health resources to hog farmers.

Despite this grisly reality — and the widely reported effects of the factory-farm industry on America’s lands, communities, animals and human health long before this pandemic hit — only around half of Americans say they are trying to reduce their meat consumption. Meat is embedded in our culture and personal histories in ways that matter too much, from the Thanksgiving turkey to the ballpark hot dog. Meat comes with uniquely wonderful smells and tastes, with satisfactions that can almost feel like home itself. And what, if not the feeling of home, is essential?

And yet, an increasing number of people sense the inevitability of impending change.

Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming. According to The Economist, a quarter of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 say they are vegetarians or vegans, which is perhaps one reason sales of plant-based “meats” have skyrocketed, with Impossible and Beyond Burgers available everywhere from Whole Foods to White Castle.

Our hand has been reaching for the doorknob for the last few years. Covid-19 has kicked open the door.

At the very least it has forced us to look. When it comes to a subject as inconvenient as meat, it is tempting to pretend unambiguous science is advocacy, to find solace in exceptions that could never be scaled and to speak about our world as if it were theoretical.

Some of the most thoughtful people I know find ways not to give the problems of animal agriculture any thought, just as I find ways to avoid thinking about climate change and income inequality, not to mention the paradoxes in my own eating life. One of the unexpected side effects of these months of sheltering in place is that it’s hard not to think about the things that are essential to who we are.
We cannot protect our environment while continuing to eat meat regularly. This is not a refutable perspective, but a banal truism. Whether they become Whoppers or boutique grass-fed steaks, cows produce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas. If cows were a country, they would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.

According to the research director of Project Drawdown — a nonprofit organization dedicated to modeling solutions to address climate change — eating a plant-based diet is “the most important contribution every individual can make to reversing global warming.”

Americans overwhelmingly accept the science of climate change. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats say that the United States should have remained in the Paris climate accord. We don’t need new information, and we don’t need new values. We only need to walk through the open door.

We cannot claim to care about the humane treatment of animals while continuing to eat meat regularly. The farming system we rely on is woven through with misery. Modern chickens have been so genetically modified that their very bodies have become prisons of pain even if we open their cages. Turkeys are bred to be so obese that they are incapable of reproducing without artificial insemination. Mother cows have their calves ripped from them before weaning, resulting in acute distress we can hear in their wails and empirically measure through the cortisol in their bodies.

No label or certification can avoid these kinds of cruelty. We don’t need any animal rights activist waving a finger at us. We don’t need to be convinced of anything we don’t already know. We need to listen to ourselves.

We cannot protect against pandemics while continuing to eat meat regularly. Much attention has been paid to wet markets, but factory farms, specifically poultry farms, are a more important breeding ground for pandemics. Further, the C.D.C. reports that three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic — the result of our broken relationship with animals.
Our Cruel Treatment of Animals Led to the Coronavirus

It goes without saying that we want to be safe. We know how to make ourselves safer. But wanting and knowing are not enough.

These are not my or anyone’s opinions, despite a tendency to publish this information in opinion sections. And the answers to the most common responses raised by any serious questioning of animal agriculture aren’t opinions.

Don’t we need animal protein? No.

We can live longer, healthier lives without it. Most American adults eat roughly twice the recommended intake of protein — including vegetarians, who consume 70 percent more than they need. People who eat diets high in animal protein are more likely to die of heart disease, diabetes and kidney failure. Of course, meat, like cake, can be part of a healthy diet. But no sound nutritionist would recommend eating cake too often.

If we let the factory-farm system collapse, won’t farmers suffer? No.

The corporations that speak in their name while exploiting them will. There are fewer American farmers today than there were during the Civil War, despite America’s population being nearly 11 times greater. This is not an accident, but a business model. The ultimate dream of the animal-agriculture industrial complex is for “farms” to be fully automated. Transitioning toward plant-based foods and sustainable farming practices would create many more jobs than it would end.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask a farmer if he or she would be happy to see the end of factory farming.

Isn’t a movement away from meat elitist? No.

A 2015 study found that a vegetarian diet is $750 a year cheaper than a meat-based diet. People of color disproportionately self-identify as vegetarian and disproportionately are victims of factory farming’s brutality. The slaughterhouse employees currently being put at risk to satisfy our taste for meat are overwhelmingly brown and black. Suggesting that a cheaper, healthier, less exploitative way of farming is elitist is in fact a piece of industry propaganda.

Can’t we work with factory-farming corporations to improve the food system? No.

Well, unless you believe that those made powerful through exploitation will voluntarily destroy the vehicles that have granted them spectacular wealth. Factory farming is to actual farming what criminal monopolies are to entrepreneurship. If for a single year the government removed its $38-billion-plus in props and bailouts, and required meat and dairy corporations to play by normal capitalist rules, it would destroy them forever. The industry could not survive in the free market.

Perhaps more than any other food, meat inspires both comfort and discomfort. That can make it difficult to act on what we know and want. Can we really displace meat from the center of our plates? This is the question that brings us to the threshold of the impossible. On the other side is the inevitable.

With the horror of pandemic pressing from behind, and the new questioning of what is essential, we can now see the door that was always there. As in a dream where our homes have rooms unknown to our waking selves, we can sense there is a better way of eating, a life closer to our values. On the other side is not something new, but something that calls from the past — a world in which farmers were not myths, tortured bodies were not food and the planet was not the bill at the end of the meal.

One meal in front of the other, it’s time to cross the threshold. On the other side is home.

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of “Eating Animals” and “We Are the Weather.”

 

All Digital Content on Our Site is Now Free!

 

Dear McDougall Friends,

During this uncertain time, there is nothing more important than staying safe and healthy. Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center has always been dedicated to educating the public on how to obtain and maintain optimal health through the numerous articles Dr. McDougall has written over the years on various medical conditions and topics. Now is the time for us to help as many people as we can. How? We are offering all digital content on our website free of charge. This includes:

Why are we doing this? Simple, it’s the right thing to do. We hope you share our materials with your family and friends.

* During this time, both online courses will not be offering continuing education nor certification status for The Starch Solution Course.

Best of Health,

 

Why Are Immunocompromised People More At-Risk for COVID-19? – Dr William Li

The term “immunocompromised” has been flooding our televisions and inboxes as warnings about the Coronavirus continue to ring loud. Doctors and other health professionals across the globe warn that, along with elderly and severely obese people, immunocompromised individuals are among the highest risk for COVID-19. But there seems to be some general uncertainty about who constitutes immunocompromised.

Immunocompromised, sometimes also referred to as immunosuppressed, is a wide-ranging category that includes anyone who has an immune system that has been damaged or does not function properly. You can think of the immune defenses as an army of cells – each with unique weapons – that are strategically placed throughout the body to identify, warn of, and destroy invaders and other harmful substances. If these cells do not function properly, damaging organisms such as parasites, harmful bacteria, cancer and, yes, viruses may start to run rampant in the body.

I recently wrote an article outlining the different components of the immune system and their various functions. I recommend skimming through that to get an overview of immunity before proceeding.

Common Causes of Immune Defense Malfunction

Various disorders can affect every part of the immune defense process. Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and lupus occur when the body attacks healthy tissue. Immunodeficiency diseases like HIV/AIDS and Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) also leave a person immunocompromised.

Chronic conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes have adverse effects on immune function. Malnutrition and smoking can further suppress immunity, and even treatments like chemotherapy and steroids can impair the immune response by destroying immune cells or hindering their ability to recognize pathogens (disease-causing agents).

As we age, the immune system naturally weakens as the numbers of defense cells in our bodies decline and strong evidence indicates that obesity negatively impacts immune function as well.

Compromised Immunity and Risk of Infection

Individuals with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to infections like COVID-19 because they cannot effectively recognize and respond to threat. If their second line of defense is damaged, for example, their immune system may not be able to identify pathogens and alert us with a fever.

Immunocompromised people may also lack the ability to effectively respond to vaccinations. If this is the case, they may assume that they are protected from certain illnesses when they are not. Both scenarios may lead to infections going undetected without treatment and becoming more severe.

Methods to Enhance the Immune System

Immunocompromised individuals must put extra effort into keeping their immune system as healthy as possible. If you have a suppressed immune system, be sure to continue exercising – even if that means just taking walks around your neighborhood each day. Limit stress by practicing yoga or meditation and prioritize sleep. People who are not immunocompromised would also benefit from these practices.

Certain foods, and the components within them, also stimulate immune function and I discuss them in detail in my book, Eat to Beat Disease. Some impressive immune-enhancing foods include white button mushrooms, broccoli sprouts, extra virgin olive oil, chestnuts, and blackberries. Many of the foods that I recommend can be found in grocery stores across the nation and can have significant effects on immunity; so, eat up and stay healthy.

 

Source: Why Are Immunocompromised People More At-Risk for COVID-19? – Dr William Li

Be proactive and reduce your risk factors (with food!) – Dr. Neal Barnard, PCRM

pcrm-1

Heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, and hypertension are all huge risk factors for COVID-19 hospitalization and worse.

Do you know the #1 thing that determines your likelihood of having these chronic conditions?

I’ll give you a hint—it’s NOT your genes.

It’s the food on your plate.

Decades of scientific research has shown that with your food choices, you literally shape your destiny.

For example, simple changes in diet and lifestyle may help prevent more than 90% of type 2 diabetes, 80% of coronary heart disease, and 70% of colon cancer.

That’s impressive, isn’t it? So what steps can you take right now to decrease your risk, so you can fare better, and feel better?

There’s a wildly popular online event starting soon that breaks down the science, answers critical questions, and gives you action steps to help you live your healthiest life.

Learn more about the Food Revolution Summit and take your health into your own hands. (It’s free!)

From April 25–May 3, John and Ocean Robbins will interview 24 of the world’s top medical and food experts. I’m pleased to be included along with Matt McCarthy, MD; Joel Fuhrman, MD; Christiane Northrup, MD; Michael Greger, MD; Vandana Shiva, PhD; Daniel Amen, MD; David Perlmutter, MD; and many more.

If you want up-to-date information you can trust about food and health, then this is the place to be.

After all, in the time of COVID-19, your health is more important than ever.

Join the 2020 Food Revolution Summit now.

The best part? Every interview is personally (and brilliantly) conducted by 2-million-copy best-selling author, John Robbins. I’ve been listening to his interviews for years, and I can tell you that you are in for a treat.

Will you join me?

Yours for thriving,

Neal Barnard, MD
President

P.S. When you sign up for the Food Revolution Summit, you’ll join over 300,000 people around the world to get informed, inspired, and empowered to strengthen your immune system and enhance your overall health. Click here to learn all about the Summit and see the amazing list of speakers.

Dr. Fuhrman – Brian Clement Says Too Much Fruit Is A Problem? Can Beans And Grains Raise Blood Sugar? Are Grass Fed Organic Animals Okay To Eat?

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. – The End of Diabetes & The End of Heart Disease – Offstage Interview – 2019

Joel Fuhrman M.D., a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods, and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat to Live, Super Immunity and The End of Diabetes, delivers a powerful paradigm-shifting lecture showing us how and why we never need to diet again.

You will understand the key principles of the science of health, nutrition and weight loss. It will give you a simple and effective strategy to achieve—and maintain—an optimal weight without dieting for the rest of your life. This new approach will free you forever from a merry-go-round of diets and endless, tedious discussions about dieting strategies. This is the end of dieting.””

The Most Protective Factor For Brain Health Is Occupational Complexity by Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, M.D.

 

Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai are dedicated to educating people on the simple steps to long-term health and wellness through their work as Directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, with patients, as well as through online writing, videos, and books.

There is a tsunami of diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, stroke and Parkinson’s disease permeating our culture. In our own communities and families, we all have known at least one person suffering from these illnesses and in many cases seen the fallout first-hand. There is no treatment for these diseases, and the emotional, financial and social burden is immense. These diseases are thieves, stealing time, money and ravaging the minds of our loved ones. The Sherzais see scientists and physicians working furiously to find a cure or these diseases, and in this frantic race against time somehow, the big picture is usually lost among the molecules and chemicals related to the diseases.

As Co-Directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the Sherzais, through research and their extensive collective medical backgrounds, work to demystify the steps to achieving long-term brain health and the prevention of devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD, is co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University. Dean trained in Neurology at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and completed fellowships in neurodegenerative diseases and dementia at the National Institutes of Health and UC San Diego. He also holds a PhD in Healthcare Leadership with a focus on community health from Andrews University.

Ayesha Sherzai, MD is a neurologist and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University, where she leads the Lifestyle Program for the Prevention of Neurological Diseases. She completed a dual training in Preventative Medicine and Neurology at Loma Linda University, and a fellowship in Vascular Neurology and Epidemiology at Columbia University. She is also a trained plant-based culinary artist.

https://teamsherzai.com/

14-Day NEURO PLAN Jump Start – An Introduction to Total Brain and Body Rejuvenation from the Sherzais

Empower yourself to take charge and boost your brain health!

FREE 14-Day COURSE:

In just 5 minutes a day, for 2 weeks, users will focus on changing basic habits dealing with nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep restoration and cognitive capacity. During the course, participants are motivated to keep these positive lifestyle changes.

Your Instructors

Team Sherzai

Team Sherzai

A unique husband and wife team on the cutting edge of brain science, Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai are dedicated to educating people on the simple steps to long-term health and wellness through their work as Directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, with patients, as well as through online writing, videos, and books.

NEURO PLAN Academy’s brain health program teaches you the best whole food recipes, exercises, and mindfulness techniques to improve your overall wellness

Go here to see FAQ and to enroll: 14-Day NEURO PLAN Jump Start