Why The Big Picture Matters
Several years ago I started making donations to sanctuaries specializing in the rescue of animals from slaughter houses and abused “homes.” The stories were heartbreaking and I knew my dollars were primarily going to the veterinary care of the animals, food, shelter, and the selfless staff devoted to taking care of these animals.
When a cow escapes from a slaughter house in Brooklyn, I cheer for the cow (and curse the people chasing it) and often send a donation to the kind person who rescued the terrified animal. So, before I go further, I want to unequivocally say these charities deserve our support because they spotlight the abuse and horrific way people treat most animals. They make us think twice about our choices.
The average American eats about 200 animals a year (lots of chickens, a few turkeys, maybe a pig, lamb, rabbit, or duck and part of a cow or bison) according to PETA, and 250 eggs according to the American Egg Board; and drinks about 20 gallons of milk according to AdAge. We are largely shielded from the unpleasantries of the livestock industry which allows us to eat what we want without thinking about how the food got to our plate and the environmental impact of these industries.
The consumption of meat, poultry, pork, eggs, and dairy products also affects our health because these animal products contain higher levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and other undesirables than fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. So, our health suffers. But, instead of changing our diet, we tend to take a pill to offset the effects of our dietary choices.
One of the best kept secrets in medicine is the power of lifestyle choices and specifically, the power of diet. If we accept that a pill we swallow can have major effects on our health how can we not believe the food we put into our bodies affects our health? It’s a powerful message but a message that most people don’t want to consider because we don’t see the effect of eating a hot dog, bacon, eggs, chicken, an ice cream cone, or a hamburger right away (just like we don’t see the effects of tobacco right away). But, if we continue to nourish our body with these foods (and processed foods), we will suffer from hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, cancers and more. Eliminating these foods won’t eliminate the chance of getting these diseases but it will greatly reduce the probability of getting them.
With those thoughts in mind, I started to think that maybe my charity dollars would go further by donating to non-profits spreading the word about whole grain plant-based diets. If just one person stops eating animal products or even cuts their consumption in half, then a lot of animals have been “saved” (not, technically because if demand decreases then fewer animals are slaughtered but that’s ok: fewer animals slaughtered is still fewer animals slaughtered). Or, if one person stops drinking cow milk, then it’s one less baby calf taken from its mother and put into a shed to be harvested for veal meat.
So, although I admire the selfless souls saving animals from the slaughterhouses, I spend more money supporting organizations advocating for whole grain plant-based diets because one person’s choices can make a difference for hundreds of animals. It’s a big picture perspective.
Non-Profit Organizations Advocating a Plant-Based Diet
Nutrition Facts: www.nutritionfacts.org
Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine: www.pcrm.org
Nutrition Studies: www.nutritionstudies.org
Vegan MD: www.veganmd.org
Preventative Medicine Research Institute: www.pmri.org
Plant Pure Nation: www.plantpurenations.com