Monday, March 19, 2007

Victim of Religious Discrimination

Kathy Freston wrote an interesting and thought-provoking article for AlerterNet's EnviroHealth Newsletter, March 19th, 2007: You Call Yourself a Progressive -- But You Still Eat Meat?

Eating a plant-based diet is an easy, cheap way to end animal cruelty and clean up the environment Being part of the solution can be a whole lot simpler -- and cheaper -- than going out and buying a new hybrid. We can make a huge difference in the environment simply by eating a plant-based diet instead of an animal-based one.

Factory farming pollutes our air and water, reduces the rain forest, and goes a long way to create global warming. Yet for some environmentalists, the idea of giving up those chicken nuggets is still hard to swallow.

She also points out that ingesting meat contributes to an inflammatory condition that causes plaque to build up in our arteries. Heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men and vegetarians have lower rates blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension, lower rates of type 2 diabetes and lower amounts of prostate and colon cancer.

Citing Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D.:

there is something called arachidonic acid, or AA, in animal flesh that causes inflammation. AA is a pro-inflammatory fatty acid. He explains that "heart disease and Alzheimer's -- among many other diseases -- begin as inflammatory processes. The same hormonal imbalance that increases inflammation increases cell proliferation and the risk of malignant transformation." They are finding out that inflammation is key in so many of the diseases that plague us. So when you eat meat, you ingest AA, which causes inflammation, which fires up the disease process. It doesn't matter if the chicken is free range or the beef is grass-fed because the fatty acid is natural and inherent in the meat
I've been a vegetarian for most of my adult life and I've enjoyed good health until last January when I found myself in the emergency room with a cardiac arrhythmia. I thought I was having a heart attack, but my cardiologist said that my heart problem wasn't a lifestyle issue. While in the local hospital I requested and received vegetarian meals.

Last week I underwent a cardiac catheter ablation to fix the arrhythmia at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto. While recovering in the cardiac ward, I requested vegetarian meals and was refused because they couldn't reach my doctor to get his permission! Except for caffeine, my doctor had left no restrictions on my diet and yet they refused my request for a meatless meal.

A new patient was placed in my room later and they provided him with a vegetarian meal because he's Hindu. I made a sudden conversion to Hinduism, but that didn't work either and they wouldn't accept my argument that as a Pastafarian, I am entitled to meat-free pasta meals. In spite of all my efforts, they delivered a meal of chicken, broccoli and rice. I ate the veggies, returned the tray and requested more broccoli and rice.

Keeping in mind that I was recovering in the cardiac unit, you might be surprised to learn that for breakfast they served bacon and eggs and Kellogg's Corn Flakes. I don't eat dry cereals, but I read the ingredients out of curiosity and learned that high fructose corn syrup was the third ingredient. In addition, they had given me a packet of sugar for my cereal. High fructose syrup is in many processed foods and is probably a major contributor to the epidemic of obesity. It was added to many foods in the 1970s and look at our waistlines now!

Shortly after I arrived home, the chickens heard my voice from inside the house and began to squawk until I went out to greet them. I picked one up and nuzzled her and in return she gently touched her beak to my cheek and opened and closed it a few times. It certainly seemed like a gesture of affection, but I can't be sure why she did that. Recently I left the back door open while taking the laundry out to hang on the clothesline and the chickies walked right into the house. They are so cute.

Catheter ablation is a marvel of modern medicine and I recommend it to anyone with an arrhythmia. The doctor worked on the inside of my heart and I came home the next day with a band aid! I feel great.