Getting The Word Out
Plant-based nutrition is sweeping the country and much of the world finally making a believer out of me! After watching two documentaries available on Netflix and the internet, including "Forks Over Knives", and also, "Game Changers", as a super follow-up, I was left with much less confusion from all the conflicting information out there about what we should eat. I have even told my grown up sons, who are both foodies, that it's the most comprehensive, cross referenced nutritional documentary I have ever witnessed! My motivation is to help the founders and all the passionate parties from the documentaries to further spread the word. It is just that compelling!
The following paragraphs outline the main points from the documentary as to why it's better for us to eat plants over meat and dairy, in addition to being life-saving for some individuals.
After following the recommendations from the documentaries for several months, I confess I don't miss meat or dairy. The flavors, colors, spices and textures of veggies and grains are plenty satisfying! And knowing what I now know makes me feel good about what I'm putting into my body! I might add that I have high cholesterol being genetically predisposed, so a good test for me will be if that finally lowers. Will update soon as I find out.
Update: During a recent appointment, my regular doctor said she was very impressed with my lowered cholesterol numbers! Yeah!
Four dairy free and meat free recipes, delicious and satisfying, are included at the end of the article!
“Let food be thy medicine” . . . Hippocrates, The Ancient Greek Father of Medicine 2000 years ago
To begin, below is a list of astonishing statistics from the documentary we can no longer ignore as a society! It demonstrates the correlation between a long list of diseases with diets consisting of abundant meat and dairy consumption. Making the situation even worse, are diets that also include too much refined sweeteners, processed oils and other convenient processed foods.
The long list of diseases include heart disease, various cancers, particularly (prostate, breast, colon, liver, esophagus), rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, auto immune and or multiple sclerosis. There is a massive health crisis in the U.S., and spreading around the world as diets become more westernized.
1 in 3 of Americans will develop diabetes.
40% of Americans are obese.
Over 1 million people in the U.S. die each year from a combination of coronary and cancer diseases.
Heart disease and stroke claim 500,000 American women a year.
There are 215,000 cases of prostate cancer a year, the most common type of cancer among men.
2005-6 American statistics shows 1 in 4 children were obese, especially among the poor and especially among poor Mexican American and African American children.
Type 2 diabetes and hypertension is showing up in children at an alarming rate.
We have the first generation of children who will likely live shorter lives than their parents for the first time in history.
The U.S. government figures show 75% of the money spent on health care is due to chronic illnesses related to diet.
$120 billion a year is spent on health care in America, 5 times the defense budget.
America pays more for health care than any other industrialized country in the world, yet we are sicker than ever before in history.
Half of Americans are taking some form of prescription drugs. The statin drug, Lipitor, to treat high cholesterol, is the most prescribed drug in America and around the world; even after losing its patent in 2011, is still one of the most prescribed drugs in the U.S. today.
Note: Whenever I visit the doctor for even a routine exam, they automatically ask for my list of medications, assuming I have a list due to my age in the 60's. Well, guess what, I'm not taking any and they always look at me with surprise, and some even congratulate me!
American diets have dramatically changed since the turn of the century
In 1909, we consumed an average of 294 lbs. of dairy per year and by 2006 that number increased to 600 lbs. per year.
In the early 1900’s, we consumed on the average of 120 lbs. of meat per year and by 2007 that number had almost doubled to no less than 220 lbs. of meat per year.
In 1913, we consumed about 40 lbs. of processed sugar per year and by 1999 that number increased to 147 lbs. per year.
We’re so stimulated by sugar and caffeinated drinks that our chronic fatigue has been masked.
The fast food revolution of convenience processed foods arose after WWII during the 1950’s. The same time period when Americans first began thinking that protein is synonymous with meat.
By the 1960’s, heart disease and cancer were on the rise. As a result, in 1971, President Richard Nixon launched the "War on Cancer" campaign.
In 1967, the first coronary bypass graft was successfully conducted at Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Rene Favalaro using a vein in the leg to replace a blocked heart artery. Today, 500,000 patients go under the knife annually at an average cost of $100,000.
Note: These statistics are from the 2011 documentary and the numbers may have changed for the worse by today, in 2020. Hopefully, they will go the other way with the wave of information about the benefits of plant-based nutrition supplying the media.
"Forks Over Knives" Interview with Dr. Colin Campbell PhD
Dr. Colin Campbell PhD
Two prestigious American doctors were profiled in the documentary, Dr. Colin Campbell PhD. (who grew up on a dairy farm in rural Virginia) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn M.D. (who also grew up on a combination dairy and beef farm in upstate New York). Both American doctors conducted research projects from the 1960’s through the 1990’s correlating diet and disease. The documentary also includes several of their colleagues.
Dr. Colin Campbell
Cornell graduate of Nutrition and Biochemistry, Dr. Colin Campbell PhD., focused his studies on animal protein. After graduation, his career centered on making sure animals were properly fed to ensure our society received enough protein.
In the mid 1960’s, during a trip to the Philippines, he helped successfully treat malnourished children which were fed mostly plant-based protein in order to save money. While there, he stumbled across some information that he couldn’t ignore. The children of affluent families, living off high meat-based diets, had an astonishing high rate of liver cancer, a historically adult disease. He said it was a decisive moment in his life. It set him off on an investigative venture devoted to finding the relationship between meat and dairy and disease, which later turned into his lifelong quest.
One of the first studies he discovered came from a little known Indian Medical Journal which tested the development of liver cancer. In the study, rats were first exposed to the carcinogen, aflatoxin, and then they were injected with varying levels of casein (the main protein in dairy). With the rats given 20% casein, the existing cancer cells were turned on and they developed cancerous tumors compared to the rats given only 5% casein, which had no tumor development.
In the 1980’s, he conducted a 12 week study similar to the one he had learned about in the Indian Medical Journal, but took it a little further by fluctuating the levels of casein administered to the rats. The results were provocative. In every circumstance, the cancer cells fluctuated up and down according to the amount of casein administered to them. Over the years, he had conducted more extensive laboratory experiments using various plant and animal nutrients. The results were consistent to his prior findings, every time. By the 1980’s, Campbell had become one of the most distinguished biochemical nutritionists in the world.
In another study, Dr. Campbell discovered a diet consisting of 20% plant protein from soybeans and also from wheat, matching the American experience, resulted in no promotion of cancer cells.
He compares tests performed on chemicals in our foods noting that those levels are magnitudes higher than the actual American experience, while the tests he has performed and also studied are closer to the actual American experience.
Dairy and Osteosporosis and Prostate Cancer
Dr. Campbell observed another study by Harvard researchers on populations with a high dairy intake. The researchers discovered the higher the dairy consumption, the higher the rate of osteoporosis and even more so with skim milk and other fat reduced dairy products. As with meat and protein, the popular thinking in America is that milk is synonymous with calcium. So how can the former statement be true?
Dr. Campbell explained in the documentary so the laymen can clearly understand this phenomenon: "Research has shown animal protein causes an acid condition called metabolic acidosis. Calcium is the buffer to protect us from this condition so it takes the calcium from our bones to neutralize the excess acid, which in turn weakens them". This was an a-ha moment for me!
With skim milk, when fat is taken out, the level of animal protein is increased proportionally to the total calories triggering the metabolic acidosis condition even more than with regular milk. Studies have shown that the relationship between prostate cancer and skim milk is equal to the relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer.
Again, Dr. Campbell concludes that animal protein turns on cancer. He is a strong advocate for whole foods, plant-based diets, which have been proven to even reverse disease.
Dr. Campbell grew up on a dairy farm when dairy was highly campaigned by the industry as “nature’s most perfect food”, which he had fully bought into. He had to abandon his old bias and change this thinking. In the documentary, he states, “It’s only the perfect food for calves and switching species does not make sense.”
Dr. Campbell's Study on a Population "The China Study"
Campbell wanted desperately to apply his clinical research findings to a large human population to solidify his conclusions. When in 1974, the Chinese Premier, Zhou Enlai, sadly contracted bladder cancer, the dying premier wanted to educate his people and initiated the largest scale, most thorough cancer study in history. It enrolled 650,000 researchers between 1973 and 1975 encompassing 880 million Chinese people from every county in the country. The study produced a geographical cancer mortality atlas of China. Finally published in 1981, it mapped out different types of cancer concentrations, hotspots, in various clusters around the country which included colon, esophagus, liver, bladder, leukemia, lung cancer and more. One particular county showed 400 times more esophagus cancer, which especially bore attention. In the end, after combing over tons of data, the researchers overwhelmingly concluded that environment and nutrition were the factors causing the various cancer diseases. Dr. Campbell claims this study was the capstone of his research.
In 1983, Dr. Campbell collaborated with Dr. Junshi Chen PhD, the senior research director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Together, they launched another similar large scale study in China. It gathered, analyzed and made public the data charted between diet and life style and the relationship to disease of 65 counties in China. They targeted mostly rural and semi-rural areas because their populations were more stable where people lived in the same areas for at least 30 years. They trained 350 workers and studied 650 people including urine and blood samples. In 1990, they completed their findings and published “Diet, Life-Style & Mortality in China” which the New York Times stated was the most comprehensive, cross referenced and highly detailed study ever conducted between diet and disease.
The study found 94,000 correlations between diet and disease. They found that strokes, coronary and cancer diseases with plant-based diets or diets consisting of modest amounts of meat always had significantly lower mortality rates than meat and dairy based diets, consistent with other research studies Dr. Campbell had discovered, studied and/or performed.
The evidence was unquestionably clear to Dr. Campbell. Today, he along with other nutritional scientist have concluded that genes play only 1% to 2% role in cancer deaths, that a diet high in animal protein over time promotes cancer growth.
“The genes capable of producing cancer, whether we’re born with or that are changed by a chemical, determining whether we do or don’t get cancer, is related to how we promote those cells to grow over time. That’s where nutrition comes into play. They grow much more rapid with animal protein”, Dr. Colin Campbell PhD.
Dr. Pam Popper N.D., Executive Director of Wellness Forum in Columbus, Ohio, states, “We’re helpless victims if we think genes alone determine our health outcomes.”
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn M.D.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn M.D.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn M.D.
While Dr. Campbell was conducting his studies, Yale graduate, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn M.D. was conducting his own studies in the 1970-80’s on coronary artery disease and breast cancer. Surgery of various kinds became his specialty, but after having performed many breast cancer surgeries, he came to the realization that removing tumors was not helping women prevent the disease. He passionately set off on a mission to try and change that. In 1978, he became the Chairman of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland Clinic.
As did Dr. Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn began conducting a global investigation of the problem with breast cancer and later heart disease. He quickly discovered countries with low rates of breast cancer, for example, in 1978; Kenya had a rate 82 times lower than that of the U.S. In 1958, the U.S. had a population only double that of Japan, but had 14,000 prostate cancer deaths while Japan had only a total of 18 autopsy proven prostate cancer deaths. He said of this surprising statistic, it was the most mind-boggling he had ever encountered. Another study in rural China from 1970, showed that heart disease rates were 12 times lower than the U.S., and that Papua, New Guinea had almost no cases of the disease. Dr. Esselstyn noted the link in all the examples; in the healthier countries, the western diet consisting of meat and dairy was virtually non-existent in those countries.
The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition . . . Thomas Edison
Dr. Esselstyn discovered more compelling data, he says "has, unfortunately, been overlooked". During WWII, in German occupied Norway, the Germans confiscated all the livestock from Norwegian farms in order to feed their troops. Norwegians were devastated and were forced to eat plant-based food. But there was a positive outcome. The mortality rate from heart attack and stroke drastically decreased during the German occupation between 1941 and 1945, but shot right back up with the return of livestock when the war was over, and in only a matter of three years between 1945 and 1948.
Mortality Rate Before During and After WWII in Nazi Occupied Norway
Dr. Esselstyn stated “What an absolutely powerful lesson, when have you ever seen cardiovascular disease plummet like that from statin drugs, stents, or by-pass surgery?”
The answer isn’t another pill . . . Bill Maher
Dr. Esselstyn also conducted a research study as did Dr. Campbell. In 1985, he began a 5 year study with 24 patients ravaged by advanced heart disease, some of which had been given the death sentence by their doctors, within the year, but only 18 stayed with his study. His patients had to be dedicated to the program of a whole foods, plant-based diet or else they were excluded from the study. And absolutely no processed sugar or food was allowed.
The results were astonishing. In all 18 cases, the progression of heart disease was halted, and in 4 of the cases was even reversed. Two decades later, 14 of the 18 were still alive. Dr. Esselstyn made sure to mention that surgery and stents are okay for emergency situations, but should ultimately be followed up with a plant-based diet.
Yet another remarkable success story came from one of his own colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Joseph Crowe, M.D. He was only in his 40’s with no obvious symptoms of coronary disease, but under Dr. Esselstyns program, they found severe blockage in a major heart artery. With diet alone, in a matter of three years, an ultrasound showed the artery was completely normal again. Note: Only 25% of deaths from heart attack show any prior noticeable symptoms.
Just look at the colors and textures of these wonderful plant-based whole foods available to us. We needn't feel deprived!
He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the time of his doctor . . . Ancient Chinese Proverb.
Important Researched Scientific Explanations causing Heart Disease
In the "Forks Over Knives" documentary, Dr. Esselysten explains in a clear way for us laymen to grasp. The biological mechanisms causing coronary disease centers on the endothelia cells (the life jackets of our blood vessels) which lines the veins and arteries. Discovered in 1988, the endothelia cells manufacture nitrous oxide which is the essential ingredient to keep our blood flowing smoothly without being sticky and also helps dilate the constricted blood vessels during physical activity and lastly, inhibits the formation of plaque. The endothelia cells are also the powerful forces that eliminate inflammation produced by plaque.
Unfortunately, the animal based diet damages these essential cells and by the time a person hits his/her 40’s, 50’s and 60’s the endothelia cells are no longer able to protect the veins and arteries, but the good news is the damage can be reversed.
In addition, he mentioned our body’s need and produce cholesterol which is essential for our veins and arteries, but too much dietary cholesterol from meat, dairy and eggs stays in our blood stream in an unhealthy way.
In 1990, Dr. Esselstyn had read the glowing reviews in the New York Times about Dr. Campbell’s China study and removed dairy from his patience diet as he had already done with meat. The two revolutionaries, on separate but similar paths, had simultaneously put together evidential science with clinical studies and research, arriving at the same conclusions; a plant-based diet is better for humans than a meat and dairy based diet and can even reverse the epidemic diseases they have caused. The two medical researchers finally arranged to meet face to face at a nutritional conference in Arizona.
When this 2011 documentary first aired, Dr. Esselstyn had successfully treated over 250 heart patients exclusively with diet and with minimal to zero medication. He states, “Heart disease never need exist or progress”.
Dr. John McDougall M.D.
Dr. John McDougall M.D.
Outspoken, Dr. John Mc Douglall M.D., also shared his amazing observations in the "Forks Over Knives" documentary. During the 1970’s, Dr. McDougall began a medical practice on sugar plantations in Hawaii. He found that the people who had recently immigrated there from Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Philippines and/or China, were trim and free of disease. They had never suffered from prostate cancer, colon cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and or heart disease and lived fully functional lives well into their 80’s and 90’s. At the time, the diets of their home countries came mostly from plants with lots of rice and various vegetables. By the 1980’s and 90’s, their first generation descendants, but especially their grandchildren, he stated, were just as fat and diseased as the rest of the Hawaiian’s who grew up on westernized meat and dairy diets.
This scenario exactly correlates with one of Dr. Esselstyn’s patients from his research study, Anthony Yen, born and raised in China. He says in the documentary that when he arrived in America as a trim healthy man, he had been raised on a diet with lots of rice and vegetables, and soups, with very little meat, if any, and used only to flavor food. Since living in the U.S., he began eating pizza, large slabs of meat with meals and fast foods. By the age of 56, had gained a lot of weight and had to have heart surgery with 5 by-passes. He also suffered from erectile dysfunction. Only a week after his surgery, he had chest pains and sought Dr. Esselstyn. After participating in his research study implementing a whole foods, plant-based diet plan, he became healthy again and said with humor, “his flag raised again”.
Dr. McDougall spent his life collecting information concerning diet and breast cancer. With diet, he has cured breast cancer patients, and also colon, and prostate cancer patients that even had metastasized cancer. One metastatic breast cancer patient featured in the documentary, was marathon runner, Ruth Heidrich, at age 47, who had lost hope. Dr. McDougall treated her with a whole foods, plant-based diet, which she stuck with. Some time afterwards, her breast cancer had spontaneously went into remission and she became renewed and reinvigorated and continues to run marathons of which she has won in her age group since her recovery. Now in her 70’s, she continues to run and claims the diet had also helped with her depression, arthritis and constipation.
Today, China’s degenerative diseases have skyrocketed accordingly to the western diet of meat and dairy and fast foods infiltrating the country. Like American’s, the average Chinese person now believes protein is synonymous with meat and calcium synonymous with milk.
Dr. Terry Mason M.D.
Dr. Terry Mason M.D.
Dr. Terry Mason M.D., City of Chicago Commissioner of Health, is one of the few American officials who support the plant-based foods movement. As a practicing urologist, he claims that erectile dysfunction can be the first indicator of cardiovascular disease and calls it the "canary in the cave". "If you have vascular disease anywhere in the body," he says, "you have it everywhere, the system is entirely connected."
Processed Foods and Explanation for the Obesity Epidemic
In 1973, the United States signed a bill to subsidize farmers. As a result, there was a surplus of corn, among other surpluses. The byproduct of high fructose corn syrup, along with certain processed oils and bleached flour was made easily available to consumers. High fructose corn syrup was added to a wide variety of foods at a low price. Per calorie, these unnatural foods have contributed to denser foods than the sources they come from. The caloric receptors in our stomachs can’t even detect oils, which are pure fat. These easily available processed food products actually fool our stomach’s stretch receptors as well as our density receptors in both our brains and stomachs into thinking we need more to feel satisfied on the same amount of calories as whole foods. In combination with meat and dairy, the results have led to an epidemic of obesity in the USA.
“Hyper concentrated sweeteners and fats in processed foods without fiber and other essential nutrients acts like drug addiction,” Dr. Terry Mason stated.
Statistics compiled from the United Nations and the World Health Organization demonstrates the profound global effect diet has had on health. Data from 9 countries representing 6 continents shows for every number of animal consumption levels, the cancer and heart disease mortalities equally corresponded.
Critics and Problems
Critics and Problems
Some critics say the whole food, plant-based diet is extreme. Dr. Esselstyn addressed this in the documentary with this statement, “You split open a person’s body and cut a gash in their leg, then take out an artery to replace an artery in the heart, is this not extreme?”
Some critics say there are biases. Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell both have had to deny their dairy and beef farm upbringing biases. Dr. Campbell has paid a price at Cornell University for changing his views when they cancelled some of the classes he taught and minimized his position at the University.
The National Academy of Sciences, which determines the issues of the day effecting policy, is now funded more and more by corporate money such as meat producers and other food industries.
The USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, has a policy-making panel of which 6 of the 11 members have financial ties to various food industries.
The USDA determines what food is served to our school children and armed forces. It’s responsible for educating the public about food health via the food pyramid. But with corruption from meat producers, to name one, the policies have been compromised. Dr. Pam Poppers M.D. says the USDA is a Farmers Advocacy Program to subside farmers. The USDA has been sued for conflict of interest and violating transparency.
Dr. Neal Barnard, Breaking The Food Seduction
Dr. Barnard Neal, a medical researcher and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, claims corrupt government contracts have affected policies having nothing to do with the health of our children. “When a child pushes his tray down the school lunch line, you see federal policy in action”. That explains why the school program diets are poor with minimal whole foods or fruits and vegetables.
“Our national authorities exclude the evidence to keep the status quo,” Dr. Colin Campbell PhD.
More Reason's For Plant-Based Nutrition
Since 1970, 20% of the Amazon Rain Forest has been destroyed, 80% of which is occupied by livestock.
According to the United Nations, the livestock industry is a bigger contributor to global climate change than the transportation industry.
The food choices we make every day have a profound global effect. It takes 10 times the energy from fossil fuels to produce a calorie from meat than from plant food.
The amount of grain consumed by cattle, alone, can feed 8.7 billion people. Redirecting only a portion of it could feed every hungry person on the planet.
Conclusions Final Remarks
Thanks to these pioneer doctors, there is hope that we can achieve health and quality of life.
If everyone adapted a diet of minimally processed whole foods derived from plants, grains and legumes, we could dramatically cut healthcare costs and people could live healthier and happier lives.
Not getting enough protein and calcium from whole, plant-based food is a misconception. Government corruption is responsible for these misconceptions making us believe we need more than we actually do.
We should be more concerned with getting enough fiber which is derived only from plants. Lack of fiber is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and various cancers, as well as higher cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
“Let’s get rid of the problem which is sickness which is caused by food,” Dr. John McDougall M. D.
“I know of nothing else in medicine that can come close to the impact of what a plant-based diet can do. Following a plant-based diet, we could cut the high cost of health care by 80%,” Dr. Colin Campbell PhD.
“One of life’s greatest gifts to yourself and your family is to pass along this powerful information to prevent the catastrophes caused by disease,” Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn M.D.
In their 70’s, Dr. Esselstyn and Campbell continue to lecture across the USA.
FINAL NOTE: I strongly encourage everyone to view the entire documentaries of Forks Over Knives and Game Changers in order do get the entire story, including individual profiles of successful converters. Both documentaries are available on Netflix and on the web. As a matter of fact, I viewed them more than once in order to truly process and absorb the information because it is so vast and intense. Game Changers is a must see follow up to Forks Over Knives which interviews and features several famous athletes who converted to plant based diets, including the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Black Bean and Quinoa Mexican Bake
I mentioned in the beginning of the article I would include several whole plant-based recipes, which I find delicious and satisfying with lots of interesting textures, spices and flavors!
Black Bean and Quinoa Mexican Bake
1 Cup Quinoa (follow the easy cooking instructions)
1 Tbl Olive oil
1 Medium Onion (chopped)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
1 Jalapeno (seeds removed, diced) (optional)
1 Red Pepper (seeds removed, diced)
1 Orange or Yellow Pepper (seeds removed, diced)
1 ½ Cup Corn (frozen or 2 ears, kernels removed from stalk)
Juice of 1 Small Lime
1 Tbl ground Cumin
1 Tbl Chili Powder
1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Cans Black Beans (drained and rinsed) or 1 Cup of Raw Black Beans (soaked and cooked soft)
2 Cups Diced Tomatoes (I use 1 quart jar of homegrown canned tomatoes or raw from my garden when possible) I simply chop them up in the skillet with a spatula.
1 to 2 Cups of Imitation Cheese (Cutting Board "Daiya" brand is a great choice)
Toppings: Sliced Green Onions, Avocado Slices (Optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. Have quinoa and raw black beans prepared ahead of time.
2. In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add in the peppers and corn. Pour in diced tomatoes and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Add the lime juice, cumin, chili powder and cilantro. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa and prepared black beans and blend in with the vegetable mixture. Stir to combine.
5. Stir in cup of shredded imitation cheese.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Next remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and edges are bubbling.
Note: This recipe freezes well