OPINION: For Your Sake, Don’t Make Steak

Cami Peck, Staff Writer

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There have been many disputes between health experts and doctors alike about which diet is optimal for human health. It is hard to label one as “optimal” when there are so many out there. However, of all of the diets one could choose from, a plant based diet is the best one to follow in order to be at your best health-wise. Diets that are predominantly made up of animal products have a negative impact on people’s health, which is why people should follow a plant based diet instead.

Scientists and nutritionists have come up with research proving that a plant based or vegan diet is best. A diet that consists of meat and dairy has actually proved to be unhealthy. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported studies that have classified certain red meat products as carcinogenic (having the potential to cause cancer). In addition, Michael Gregor, an American physician, has found that “fatty streaks” are present in most kids’ arteries by the age of 10 due to high consumption of meat and a high cholesterol diet. Gregor furthered his research and concluded that even if you have lived with a high cholesterol diet your whole life, a plant based diet can actually reverse the effects that lead to heart disease. However, red meat is not the only “offender” when it comes to high cholesterol. Believe it or not, chicken has actually been proven to not only be the number one dietary source of cholesterol in America, and also the leading source of sodium in the average American’s diet.

Although meat is a huge culprit when it comes to a poor diet, there is another major animal product sometimes eaten daily that can have just as negative of an impact. The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that because of their high levels of cholesterol, consuming just one egg daily takes as much time off of a woman’s life as if she were to smoke five cigarettes daily for fifteen years. However, the similarities between smokers and those who consume eggs regularly do not end with high cholesterol. A study from the journal, Atherosclerosis, found that people who had large amounts of egg in their diets could have as much as two-thirds the risk of excess arterial plaque build-up as someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes daily for 40 years. These studies and collected pieces of research provide ample evidence that eggs do more harm than good when present in one’s diet.

The last and possibly most negatively impactful animal products on one’s health are dairy products. Not only are dairy products the leading sources of saturated fats in the modern day American’s diet, but they have also been linked to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type one diabetes. In the case of multiple sclerosis, Dr. John McDougall has pointed out that when cow’s milk is consumed, it may enter the bloodstream and be recognized as a foreign protein. Our bodies treat the “foreign protein” as a virus or bacteria and thus produce antibodies to fight it. However, the issue is that the antibodies do not only attack the cow’s milk protein, but also necessary healthy proteins in our nervous system similar to it. In attempts to protect our bodies, the antibodies mistakenly attach to our nerve tissues and destroy them. When it comes to type one diabetes, the antibodies attach to and destroy insulin producing cells in the pancreas instead of the cow’s milk protein. Along with its link to autoimmune diseases, dairy is also packed full of hormones that can be harmful to human health. Such hormones have the potential to disrupt the physiological function of the endocrine system and could further alter the growth, development and reproduction of those who ingest them. Although, the case against dairy does not end with its hormones and connections to autoimmune diseases. It has also been found that countries with the highest rates of dairy consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis, as well as being linked to various types of cancer. Overall, dairy products have more of a negative impact on our health than positive.

The regular consumption of dairy and meat products build up addictions. This is why the transition from a diet heavily influenced by animal products to one that is plant based tends to be gradual. One should first make small changes in order to better acclimate to the new diet. A meat and dairy-free diet, if done correctly, can have one feeling more energized and healthier in no time.

As it turns out, some of the things people think are the best for them are actually some of the worst. There is an abundance of research and scientific studies that prove animal products are harmful to human health. By following a plant-based diet, one can achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle. If balanced out, a vegan diet provides individuals with the proper nutrients without the harmful effects of a diet containing animal products. With health being a top priority in today’s society, people should take the time to make sure what they are doing is best for their bodies.


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