Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Urges Sen. Booker’s Nutrition Hearing to Address Rising Obesity Rates With Plant-Based Diet

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Nutrition specialists with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit of more than 17,000 doctors, contributed a statement for the record for today’s United States Senate Agriculture Committee hearing entitled “The State of Nutrition in America 2021.” In its statement, the Physicians Committee urges Congress to explore the growing evidence of meat and dairy’s links to chronic disease and the many benefits of a plant-based diet.

The Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research is holding this hearing to examine the state of nutrition in this country and to explore the many disparities related to food policy. Subcommittee Chair Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Mike Braun (R-IN) recently introduced a bill to convene a new White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health.

“Foremost in Congress’s minds should be rising rates of obesity in the United States, especially among people of color, and that nutrition policy in this country still does not warn against the risks of consuming processed meat or dairy, or the benefits of a plant-based diet,” says Neal Barnard, MD, FACC, adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and president of the Physicians Committee. “Additionally, more evidence shows that a plant-based diet may help prevent severe COVID-19.”

In 2015, after 22 experts from 10 countries assessed more than 800 epidemiological studies, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified consumption of processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 1) on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer.”

Research shows that eating 50 grams of processed meat daily also increases the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and overall cancer mortality. Studies show that processed meat also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Other studies have linked it to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Red meat also increases the risk of heart diseasediabetes, and certain cancers.

Dairy products are a leading source of saturated fat in the American diet. Scientific evidence also shows that milk and other dairy products increase the risk of asthmabreastovarian, and prostate cancers, cognitive decline, and early death, and offer little if any protection for bone health.
Dairy products also cause bloating, diarrhea, and gas in the tens of millions of Americans who have lactose intolerance, the natural progression of not breaking down sugar in milk.

The National Institutes of Health estimates approximately 95% of Asians, 60% to 80% of African Americans, 80% to 100% of American Indians, and 50% to 80% of Hispanics are lactose intolerant. Though once considered a disease, lactose intolerance is actually the norm for most humans; after infancy, most people not of European descent—about 70% of the world’s population—become physically uncomfortable after consuming dairy.

“A plant-based diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is a great way to achieve good health,” Dr. Barnard says. “These foods are full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, free of cholesterol, and low in calories and saturated fat. Eating a variety of these foods provides all the protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients your body needs.”
Those who eat a plant-based diet lower their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health conditions:

“Congress should have a frank and honest debate about what’s on Americans’ dinner plates and should highlight the links that meat and dairy—foods heavily subsidized by the federal government—have to chronic disease,” Dr. Barnard adds. “The Physicians Committee looks forward to continue to engage with federal policymakers on the benefits of a plant-based diet.”

Will we all be forced to eat vegan for Biden to reach his climate change goals?

According to The Center for Biological Diversity, cutting U.S. meat intake in half could prevent 1.6 billion tons of climate pollution. If this is the science, why aren’t more climate alarmist ditching meat and going vegan? While a self-reporting 3 percent of the U.S. population purports to be eating plant-based (not necessarily vegan), 60 percent believe in humans are creating climate change. So why hasn’t 57 percent of Americans gone vegan, shouldn’t we be following the science?

Disclaimer: While I am not suggesting Americans should be forced to alter their diet, this article shows that if President Biden feels he and other governments can affect climate change by dramatically altering the way humans live, then it is reasonable to believe he will attempt to alter Americans’ diets to fulfill his goal. I have been eating vegan since 1994.

According to President Biden’s “Plan for Climate Change and Environmental Justice” climate change is a national emergency which requires “bold” action by his administration. His website states that he “believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.”

Setting aside whether one believes to what degree humans can affect climate change, Biden and his administration clearly feel the United States government along with the states and local governments can tackle this issue and be successful. Within that framework, it is only natural to include the effect animal farming has on methane and CO2 levels, so why discount it and not include reducing or eliminating meat from Americans diets as one of the climate change options? Since the government wants to dramatically change the way we collect energy, it is reasonable to conclude the government would want to take steps to make our bodies healthier while reducing greenhouse gases at the same time.

According to The Center for Biological Diversity, cutting U.S. meat intake in half could prevent 1.6 billion tons of climate pollution. If this is the science, why aren’t more climate alarmist ditching meat and going vegan? While a self-reporting 3 percent of the U.S. population purports to be eating plant-based (not necessarily vegan), 60 percent believe humans are creating climate change. So why hasn’t 57 percent of Americans gone vegan, shouldn’t we be following the science?

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New research released by the University of Michigan and Tulane University found that replacing 50% of animal products with plant-based foods in the United States would prevent over 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. According to the study, if Americans reduced if beef consumption by 90% alongside the 50% reduction in other animal products, it would prevent over 2 billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution. That’s roughly equivalent to taking nearly half the world’s cars off the roads for a year.

“Moving the American appetite from our burger-heavy diet to plant-based eating is a powerful and necessary part of curbing the climate crisis,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the meat supply chain’s vulnerabilities, but our food system faces even greater long-term threats from climate change. We desperately need policymakers to support sustainable diets and a resilient food system.”

The study, “Implications of Future U.S. Diet Scenarios on Greenhouse Gas Emissions“, found that replacing half of all animal-based foods with plant-based alternatives would reduce diet-related emissions by 35%. And if half of all animal-based foods were replaced with plant-based alternatives and beef consumption fell by 90%, dietary emissions would drop by 51%. If American diets remain unchanged, emissions associated with producing the food we eat will climb 9% by 2030.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that the world has under 10 years to reduce global emission by half to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. Last year the IPCC warned that food systems are already being adversely affected by climate disruption and identified dietary shifts as a solution for mitigation and adaptation. Previous research has shown that society will be unable to meet global climate targets without reducing meat and dairy consumption and production.

“While diet shift isn’t a silver bullet, it could play an important role in curbing climate change,” said Martin Heller, lead author of the study and research specialist at the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems at the School for Environment and Sustainability. “Plus, it’s an actionable strategy at all levels, from consumers to the food industry to local, state and national policy.”

The Center’s policy guide — Appetite for Change: A Policy Guide to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Diets by 2030 — outlines key actions that can be taken at all levels of government. Those include shifting procurement toward plant-based purchases, creating food-policy councils, ending subsidies and bailouts that encourage overproduction of animal products, and incorporating sustainability into federal nutrition recommendations. The Trump administration is currently revising the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“We can’t ignore that public health, sustainability, climate resilience and food security are all part of the same recipe,” Feldstein said. “Our government has a responsibility to make healthy, climate-friendly foods more accessible to all Americans, and that starts with the dietary guidelines.”

Green Chef offers convenience and great tasting meal kits

Green Chef Portobello “Steak” Salad

If you have tried none of the many meal kits out there, we recommend trying them. Last year we analyzed some kits out there and felt Green Chef was the best overall. There are meal kits and meal kit companies to favor whatever diet you are on, whether you are eating vegan, paleo, keto, etc.

With Green Chef, they have meal kits that start at $12 per meal with ranges of 2 to 6 people and includes 3 to 4 meals per week. All of their ingredients are organic and come shipped to your door with sustainable packaging, which is easily recycled. They have three meal plans, Keto+Paleo, a Balanced Living plan, and a vegan/vegetarian plan. Their sister company Hello Fresh has similar plans, but does not have strictly vegan meals like Green Chef.

When your weekly box arrives, simply pop the individual bags of ingredients in your refrigerator and take each out as you prep for your meal. Each week you can change recipes or keep those they recommend depending upon your preferences. For instance, we have not had much success with egglplant, so when those come up for a meal, we change it out for a different meal.

Out of all the meal kits we have tried, we have found Green Chef to be the best tasting and one of the most nutritious.

Veganuary gains strength as over 1 million sign up to go vegan in January

A movement spanning over 192 countries to get people to go vegan for the month of January has signed up its millionth pledge. Started in the United Kingdom, Veganuary is a non-profit organization that encourages people worldwide to eat vegan for January and beyond. During the 2020 campaign, over 400,000 people took their pledge to try a vegan diet. Over 600 brands, restaurants and supermarkets promoted the campaign, and launched over 1200 new vegan products and menus in the UK market alone. If so inclined, you can take the pledge for January 2021 via this link. If you are in the United States, use this link.

People go vegan for different reasons, some it is from an animal rights perspective, save the planet, and others do it for health reasons, or perhaps all three. Whatever the reason, it is easier to go vegan than the previous five decades. There are new vegan food products being launched almost daily, and restaurants have become more accommodating in recent years with a vast array of vegan options.

Even meal kit delivery services like Green Chef and Purple Carrot have joined the vegan bandwagon offering healthy vegan meals to subscribers. Nutritional companies like Shaklee have long offered vegan products, and only recently have they been promoting their quality plant-based Life Shakes and other vegan products that are certified vegan while never testing their products on animals. The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn came about after his father, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn came out with his best-selling book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.

While anyone can go vegan by eating unhealthy potato chips or other unhealthy fried foods, the best way to eating healthy as a vegan is to choose only whole foods and avoid as much highly processed foods as possible. The Veganuary website offers a multitude of vegan recipes and other resources to make the move to eating a more plant-based diet. In addition, there are seemingly endless resources on the Internet with more healthy vegan recipes than you could eat in a year. While some people jump into it cold “turkey” so-to-speak, others will need to incorporate more and more fruits and veggies into their diet over time, ultimately eliminating meat and dairy. It has been scientifically proven that either a whole food plant-based or Mediterranean diet is the healthiest for humans to follow. An unbiased and highly cited published scientific study found that “the case that we should, indeed, eat true food, mostly plants, is all but incontrovertible.”

Vegans report eating healthier due to COVID-19

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Most U.S. consumers report eating more comfort foods, snacks, and treats because of the coronavirus, reports market research firm Packaged Facts in the newly published study Vegan, Vegetarian, and Flexitarian Consumers. Some consumers are eating more healthily and more locally produced foods, while a smaller portion is eating less healthily, less fresh produce, and more processed foods.

While only 5 percent of the U.S. population consider themselves vegetarian (2% vegan) the plant-based food market has risen 50% since 2017. Red meat & poultry production has increased by 1 million pounds January – August 2020 from the same period in 2019.

It is important to understand that because one may report being a vegan or vegetarian, that does not mean they are eating a healthy diet. There are a good deal of alternative meat and alternative dairy products on the market that are not healthy, but are convenient for the consumer. Many of these products are highly processed and contain oils which make them unhealthy, so it is important for vegans and vegetarians to focus on a whole food approach

“The coronavirus has impacted consumer eating habits, with some tending toward less healthy foods, while others are experiencing the opposite and hunkering down with healthier foods,” says Jennifer Mapes-Christ, food and beverage publisher for Packaged Facts.

Vegans, who already tend to think they eat a healthy diet, are most likely to report eating even more healthily (and are the least likely to be eating less healthily) due to the pandemic. They are also most likely to be eating more local foods—likely because vegans already place value upon eating local and want to eat even more local foods to support small businesses during the pandemic. Similarly, vegetarians are less likely to be eating more comfort foods but are the most likely group to be eating more processed foods.

In contrast, flexitarians—those who eat meat or poultry but regularly mix up their diet with vegan or vegetarian meals—are the group most likely to be eating more comfort foods and (along with pescatarians) are the most likely to eat more snacks and treats, revealing this group is looking to food for comfort during this tough time.

Omnivores—those who eat meat with most meals or large servings of meat—are overall expressing fewer changes to their diet than those with other eating philosophies.

Beyond these developments, Packaged Facts also found that while all consumers are changing their shopping habits amidst the coronavirus pandemic, these changes are especially prevalent among people who are not omnivores. Vegans, pescatarians, and vegetarians are more likely to be increasing frozen food purchases and use of online ordering for general products and groceries.

Esselstyn’s Engine 2 now offering their plant-strong foods directly to consumers

Rip Esslestyn

Rip Esselstyn spent a decade as one of the premier triathletes in the world. He then joined the Austin Fire Department where he introduced his passion for a whole-food, plant-based diet to Austin’s Engine 2 Firehouse to rescue a firefighting brother’s health. To document his success, he wrote the national bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet, which shows the irrefutable connection between a plant-based diet and good health. They feature prominently him in the documentary Forks Over Knives.

Engine 2 Pizza Kits

In South Florida, Engine 2 products could mostly be found at Whole Foods, and now Esselstyn is expanding its availability to consumers to purchase directly from his company in bulk. They have already sold out of their pizza kits, which include their delicious pizza crusts and sauce. Besides their pizza kits, they are offering two versions of granola and two cereals.

Engine 2 products follow the no oil, plant-strong profile for a healthy life. Heart health is a major proponent of the Engine 2 Diet, though it is more than just heart health. The plant-strong website offers dozens of free recipes for visitors to their website. In addition, the website offers paid programs, from cleaning up your kitchen pantry to only include healthy items, meal planners, rescue programs for those having health issues, and much more.

Tofurky challenges Louisiana’s new law keeping them from labeling products as plant-based sausage or vegan ham, etc.

The Good Food Institute and Animal Legal Defense Fund has sued on behalf of Tofurky challenging a Louisiana law that would impose fines of up to $500 per day for every plant-based meat product marketed or sold with terms like “ham,” “burger” and “sausage” on their labels. The terms would be illegal even with clear modifiers such as “vegan,” “veggie,” or “plant-based” on their labels. The challenged law became effective on October 1, 2020.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, argues that the Louisiana law violates Tofurky’s First Amendment right to free speech by improperly censoring truthful commercial speech. The lawsuit further argues there is no evidence that current labels mislead consumers, pointing out that Tofurky’s products all clearly show the products are plant-based, meatless, vegetarian, or vegan.

The Food and Drug Administration requires that all plant-based products use a coherent statement of identity that explains their nature and contents using common or usual terms. This includes terms that the public is familiar with — like “burger” and “hot dog” — because they inform consumers about how products can be served and what they taste like. The animal agriculture industry, in a clear attempt to make plant-based products less appetizing to consumers, has suggested that they be forced to use terms like “veggie pucks” instead of “veggie burger” and “vegan tubes” instead of “vegan hot dogs.”

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Francis Thompson, has admitted that he designed the law to protect certain Louisiana agricultural producers from growing competition from plant-based meat, riced vegetables, and meat grown directly from animal cells, called “cultivated” or “cultured” meat.

“It’s absurd that Louisiana’s elected officials are spending their time on the imaginary crisis of people confusing veggie burgers for beef burgers,” says The Good Food Institute Director of Policy, Jessica Almy. “Consumers deserve better than lawmakers passing condescending laws that try to dictate what Louisianans buy. Consumers are no more likely to believe that ‘veggie burgers’ contain cow meat than Girl Scout cookies contain Girl Scouts.”

“Using unconstitutional laws in an attempt to shore up the animal agriculture industry — at the expense of human health, animal protection, and the environment — is extremely short sighted,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director, Stephen Wells. “With the dangers of zoonotic disease ever present, it is unconscionable that there are attempts to undermine these products at a time when they should be supported given the risks animal agriculture and factory farming pose.”

The Louisiana law is like meat-labeling censorship laws passed in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and other states. Several laws face similar legal challenges by Tofurky, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and The Good Food Institute. Last year, these organizations and the ACLU challenged the Arkansas law, with the court halting the enforcement of the law and declaring that it was likely an unconstitutional restriction on Tofurky’s right to free speech.

“These state meat-labeling laws are blatantly unconstitutional and serve as shameful examples of state legislators prioritizing the wishes of their corporate donors over those of their constituents,” says Jaime Athos, president and CEO of Tofurky. “By now it is clear that consumers are choosing plant-based options because they are better for the environment as well as human health and animal welfare, not because those consumers are confused. It is unconscionable that state legislators would so recklessly interfere with the market in this way, favoring certain industries over others while simultaneously making it harder for their constituents to access the healthier protein options of their choosing.”

Going vegan this Thanksgiving has never been easier

This Thanksgiving, many families are seeking a simple way to eat healthier, and now the vegan meal kit subscription service Purple Carrot is offering their help. If you are not familiar with meal kits, they are recyclable boxes that are delivered to your door. They include all the measured ingredients and recipes to make meals at home. The recipes are simple to follow and usually take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to prepare. Purple Carrot’s service is plant based whereas others offer plant-based, meat, keto, and other options.

Purple Carrot Thanksgiving Dinner

This year, Purple Carrot is offering a Thanksgiving meal for four in a box, enabling families to skip the crowded grocery stores and keep everything at home for only $75. Purple Carrot’s Thanksgiving dinner will arrive the week of November 23, 2020. Although this special onetime Thanksgiving dinner is only available to subscribers of their service and you can learn more by visiting their website at

The box from Purple Carrot will include:

Hasselback Butternut Squash with cider glaze and rosemary pistachio Dukkah

Rustic Ciabatta Stuffing with root vegetables and herb sausage

Classic gravy and cranberry sauce

Roasted Brussels sprout with oyster mushrooms and garlic kimchi better

Pear Cranberry Crisp with walnut crumble for dessert.

Commentary: The stupidity of the proposed Italian law to criminalize children eating vegan

August 14, 2016 — Italian lawmaker Elvira Savino is proposing a law to criminalize feeding children a vegan diet, ignoring the fact that it is the most healthy way for humans, especially children, to eat. Savino aims to end vegan diets as she sees it as “reckless and dangerous behavior imposed by their parents, or whoever exercises the functions, to the detriment of minors.” Savino also has said that she has nothing against adults eating a vegan or vegetarian diet; however, it should be a crime to do the same to one’s child. This comes on the heels after a child on a vegan diet was sent to the hospital in Italy for malnutrition.

Italy has one of the lowest malnutrition rates in the world (23,000) and nearly all of them do not receive enough nutrition on a meat eating diet, so it is hard to understand Savino’s rationale to isolate eating vegan. One can only assume Savino has either been misinformed or is ignorant of the facts. A child or an adult can become malnourished on either a vegan or a meat eating diet.

Four children in the last 18 months have been reported as being malnourished due to a vegan diet; however, many more meat eating children were reported as being malnourished over the same period. Savino is ignoring the fact a child is more likely to not receive enough development nutrition through a meat eating diet over a vegan diet. She would rather put a parent in a cage for at least a year, keeping that parent away from the child, than let that child eat vegan. Perhaps Savino should focus on children growing up in poverty rather than try to grab world headlines on an uninformed witch hunt. Italy has one of the highest child poverty rates in the Europe.





Canadians to get an eye full later today with near naked PETA supporter

EDMONTON, AB, CANADA — Today, July 21, 2016, bus stop patrons, library goers and those in Sir Churchill Square will get an eye full at noon today as a near naked PETA supporter will be making a statement. In downtown Edmonton, covered with little more than barbecue sauce and lying on a giant plate—complete with to-scale cutlery and a side salad—a sexy PETA supporter will turn heads for sure. Today is the first day of Taste of Edmonton and PETA’s message to festival attendees is “Try to Relate to Who’s on Your Plate”—pointing out that animals raised and killed for food are capable of feeling joy, love, pain, and fear just as humans are.peta-vegan-plate-girl“PETA is challenging people to think about what meat really is, and that’s the corpse of an abused animal who didn’t want to die,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “With all the delicious vegan meats and faux dairy foods available these days, it’s never been easier to go vegan.”

In addition to damaging the environment and human health, eating animal-derived foods causes suffering on a massive scale. In today’s industrialized meat and dairy industries, chickens’ and turkeys’ throats are cut while they’re still conscious, piglets’ tails and testicles are cut off without the use of painkillers, and calves are torn away from their mothers within 48 hours of birth.

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