People often ask why Food for Life programs serve a plant-based diet. The following points briefly summarize the virtually countless reasons for adopting a plant-based diet.
A plant-based diet has been shown to lower the risk for many chronic diseases, such as obesity, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, as well as cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, stomach, lung and esophagus. A plant-based diet can also ease symptoms of menopause and provide relief from several digestive ailments.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 76 million people are affected by food-borne illness each year. Although it’s possible for any food to be contaminated, the most frequent and severe cases of food-borne illness come from meat and other animal products.
Studies at Yale University and elsewhere have shown that anywhere from 5% to 30% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease actually had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease. While no smoking gun has yet been found to link Alzheimer’s to mad cow disease, there is ample evidence that Alzheimer’s, CJD and BSE are similar in their origins and in progression. Furthermore, according to Dr. Lawrence Broxmeyer of Med-America research, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is three times greater for meat eaters than for vegetarians.
The FAO report by the United Nations in 2006 stated unequivocally that factory farming of animals for meat production has a bigger impact on global warming than all the planes, trains, buses, and cars on the planet combined. Raising animals for meat consumes massive quantities of water. According to the article “How Our Food Choices can Help Save the Environment,” by Steve Boyan, PhD (www.earthsave.org), eliminating just one pound of beef from one’s diet can save as much water as could be saved by forgoing showers entirely for six months! Runoff from factory farms containing chemicals and animal waste—one of the greatest threats to water quality today—has polluted more than 173,000 miles of rivers and streams in the U.S. (Environmental Protection Agency).
Meat production is an expensive and inefficient use of food resources. According to John Robbins in Diet for a New America, the grain required to feed livestock in America for one day is enough to provide every person on earth with two loaves of bread. The fact is, more people can be fed on a plant-based diet than a diet containing meat and dairy.
Switching to a plant-based diet is good for the soul as well as the body. In making the change, we forgo our selfish consumption of scarce resources in an effort to feed the world, and we condemn the cruel and inhumane practice of raising animals in abhorrent conditions to feed our taste for meat. A plant-based diet causes the least amount of harm and suffering to other living things, and certainly this is good for the soul.
Nothing could be simpler than fresh fruits and vegetables from the earth’s bounty. And as we become more aware of the negative impacts a meat-based diet has on the environment, personal health, and world hunger, plant-based alternatives are becoming more visible and widely available in the marketplace. Even some fast-food restaurants now offer vegan and vegetarian menu items.
It’s less expensive
With the quantity of food needed by Food for Life projects around the world, it is just good sense to use ingredients that are not only healthier but will also maximize every dollar we spend. On average, Food for Life can feed a complete meal to a hungry child for as little as 0.30 cents. Such low costs would not be possible if Food for Life served meat products.