About Meghan

My current field of interest is computer programming, however I have many more things I am eager to master in my life. I enjoy the outdoors, live music, animals, piano playing, and makeup. Some things I am not so good at but still enjoy include singing, painting, and playing guitar!

Scary Dairy

Got milk? I sure hope not – it’s for your own good.  Cow milk is produced the same way human milk is produced: a mammal is impregnated and then lactates to provide nutrients for the kin.  Cow milk is designed to turn a calf into a 500 pound animal in approximately 6 to 7 months.  Surely this cannot be healthy for regular human consumption.  Many think that cow milk is an important part of the human diet, but this is just silly if you think about it.  Why would a human need to consume another species’ breast milk to be healthy?  There is a reason almost 75% of the world is considered lactose intolerant.

Various studies over the years have found milk to be dangerous in some ways.  It does not prevent any diseases (including osteoporosis) and actually leads to some.   A report in the New England Journal of Medicine worked a theory that stated milk proteins can damage the production of insulin.  Those with a genetic predisposition for diabetes are especially at risk.  The dairy industry writes this off as “just a theory” and “controversial.”  Harvard School of Public Health found mean who consumed dairy daily had a 33% greater risk of developing prostate cancer.*  A professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University stated that milk protein may be the “single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed.”

What about calcium? Don’t we need milk to build strong bones?  Calcium is very important to our diet, however a calcium deficiency is not the cause of weak bones.  Bone deterioration is actually due to the way our body handles too much calcium.  Just as our body excretes extra vitamins and minerals, our bones excrete excess calcium.  Sometimes, this process excretes too much calcium and bones become weak.  One of the largest culprits is our protein intake.  Animal products are high in protein and generate a lot of demand from the kidneys.  In turn, calcium is surrendered from bone so the kidneys can function properly.  Instead of increasing our calcium, we should be limiting our protein.  When considering these facts, we find that milk and animal products are actually leading to osteoporosis, not preventing it.

These findings are proven over and over across the world.  In America, women consume more calcium than just about anyone in the world.  Approximately 44 million women in the U.S. are threatened by osteoporosis or low bone mass.  One in four women over the age of 65 are diagnosed with osteoporosis.  More deaths are caused by bone loss than breast and cervix cancer combined.  World health statistics show that the countries with high dairy consumption actually have the highest osteoporosis rates – including Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.  Eskimos have been found to have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis, consuming over 2000 mg of calcium and around 250 to 400 grams of protein each day.  On the other hand, African Bantu women consume on average only 350 mg. of calcium each day, and very seldom break bones or lose teeth.

So what do we do with this information?  We find better sources of calcium, and watch our protein intake.  Calcium can be found in leafy greens, like collard, kale, and mustard greens.  Plant-based milks also have healthy doses of calcium, and is absorbed well by the body.  Rice, soy, hemp, and almond milk are all viable options.  Stick to plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts, and vegetables.  If you are having trouble giving up your glass of milk at dinner, remember that you are not a baby cow! If you don’t drink your own mothers breast milk anymore, why would you another species’ milk?

 

 

 

*Daily consumption of two and a half servings, compared to those who consumed less than half a serving

 

Inflammation Reduction

A healthy diet has been known to reduce inflammation.  Specifically, a diet low in added sugars and saturated fats, and high in produce, lean protein, and whole grains, has excellent benefits for avoiding painful arthritis.  Many have gone vegetarian in hopes of easing their pain, and going vegan will produce ever further benefits.

A study in 2015 published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine followed 600 volunteers who switched to a vegan diet for three weeks.  The outcome was a significant reduction in C-reactive proteins – a key element in chronic inflammation.  In another study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers followed arthritis patients who tried a vegetarian diet for nine weeks.  There was little difference found between the vegetarian group and a non-vegetarian control group, in terms of pain relief.  In a similar study, a group who tried a vegan diet for three and a half months were found to have significant pain relief and improvements in terms of swollen joints and morning stiffness.  A one year follow-up found the patients continued to have improvements in pain relief, even after some switched to vegetarian diets.  Do you think the improvements are related to the lack of animal products, or the increase in fruits and vegetables? Could it be both?  Could a vegan diet help reduce pain in other ways, not related to arthritis?

Going vegan for pain relief may be a daunting task for some.  A great way to start is to try going meatless one day a week, and working your way up to the full week.  Replacing milk with plant-based milks and cheese with nut cheeses also makes the transition much easier.

Miscellaneous Vegan Items

Veganism is not all about the food; it is about changing your entire lifestyle so that animals are not exploited.  This includes eliminating fur, leather, and animal tested products from your daily routine.

Fashion

Fur and leather can be expensive.  If you really do not want to part ways with your beloved jacket or wallet, hang on to it until it is too worn to be used.  The damage has already been done since the day you purchased it, and there is nothing wrong with using a non vegan item until it has reached its end.  Be sure to check the labels on new items, such as belts, shoes, hats, and gloves so that they are animal free.

Sometimes we are unsure if a fabric has come from an animal.  Here’s a list of some materials to avoid!

Aba (goat or camel hair woven fabric)
Alpaca
Baize
Brocade
Camlet
Cashmere
Cerecloth
Challis
Chiffon
Crepe
Damask
Doeskin
Faille
Felt (sometimes made of wool)
Foulard
Frieze
Gabardine
Mohair
Moquette
Moreen
Plush
Poplin
Russet
Serge
Silk
Suede
Tweed
Vicuna
Wool
Worsted

Many of these materials do not explicitly tell us what it is made from.  There are many apps to download to smartphones that can scan products to determine if they are vegan or not.

Makeup & Beauty

Makeup can be tricky.  Some may be entirely vegan while others may be cruelty-free, yet still contain animal products.  Unfortunately there are still many companies who test their products on animals.  It is up to you how you decide which to purchase.  It is still important to create a demand for cruelty-free products – kind of like how you should support Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream.  The company itself may not be vegan, but demanding these products generates a huge shift in production.

Some of my favorite vegan makeup brands include Kat Von D, Jeffree Star, ELF, Tarte, Wet n’ Wild, Paul Mitchell, and LUSH.  Cruelty-free brands include Urban Decay, Tresseme, Lime Crime, and Melt Cosmetics.

Look for a bunny or “V” logo on the packaging to determine if a product is animal free.

 

Entertainment

Animals are commonly used as a form of entertainment.  Circuses have exploited animals for years, forcing them to perform unnatural tricks and travel in cramped cages.  It is best not to support these acts whatsoever; many have already begun shutting down due to the public realizing the mistreatment occurring behind the scenes.  Many zoos are also exploiting animals for our entertainment.  Try to attend animal hospitals, rescues, and museums instead of supporting typical zoos.

 

Can you think of other areas that exploit animals?  We have taken advantage of life on earth for many years in a myriad of ways.  Do your part to respect Earth and those who share it with us.

Response to common questions

For many people, going vegan has turned into a bigger ordeal than it should be.  Nowadays, one must “come out” as vegan to their family and friends.  Some people are curious about the decision, while others seem to think it is a poor decision.  No matter what the intentions are, vegans deal with a lot of questions from their peers.  Here are some responses to the most commonly asked questions!

 

Where do you get your protein?

Getting enough protein is the least of a vegan’s concerns.  Protein is found in nuts, legumes, soy, quinoa, non-dairy milk, and even vegetables.  One cup of cooked spinach has approximately 7 grams of protein – about the same as an egg!  Many people think we need far more protein than we actually do.  Adult women are recommended to consume around 46 grams of protein daily, and men should consume around 56 grams daily.  Given these numbers, it is not very difficult to achieve these goals on a vegan diet.  Additionally, a “protein deficiency” isn’t even a thing.  Nobody has ever been hospitalized due to “not enough protein.”

 

But it’s the circle of life!

Humans quit being a part of the natural circle of life when we started using guns for hunting.  If a person were locked in an empty room with a lion, not one person would claim we are at the top of the food chain.  We do not possess the teeth needed to shred meat as carnivores do, nor do our digestive systems handle meat very well.  The fact that we must cook meat before eating it shows that we are different from carnivores and omnivores.  Finally, mass producing billions of animals in slaughterhouses is far from the “circle of life.”

 

Isn’t vegan food expensive?

Some vegan food is expensive, just how some animal products are expensive.  A vegan diet consists mostly of beans, nuts, rice, fruits, and vegetables.  These are some of the cheapest items in the world, and many in poverty actually survive off beans and rice.  There are many guides on the internet detailing how to eat vegan on $5, $3, and even $1 a day.  Sure, some fancy fake meats get a little expensive sometimes, however it is no more expensive than the usual burger or chicken breast one is used to buying.

 

Cows need to be milked, we are actually helping them.

Yes, cows need to be milked, and their baby needs that milk to grow.  Calves are pulled away from their mother sometimes instantly.  The most common milking methods today utilize devices attached to cows’ udders, which can be painful or ineffective.  We do not need to step in and help cows anymore than we would for a dog, cat, or any other mammal.

 

I only eat free-range anyway.

Free-range is certainly better than a typical slaughterhouse, although it is not much different.  Animals are not happily frolicking through the grass as one would like to believe.  The USDA has not even specified the amount of grass or the amount of time spent outside required to label a product as free-range.  Male chicks are typically slaughtered immediately upon hatching, as there is no use for them in the dairy industry.  The chicks are typically ground up alive, or tossed away in a dumpster or garbage bag.  Even in spacious conditions, hens are bred to produce eggs nonstop for their entire lives.  They are typically slaughtered halfway through their normal lifespan, due to the decrease of egg yield as they age.  Finally, the term free-range or cage-free can nearly double the profits for a farmer, providing incentive to produce as many as possible in less than kind conditions.

 

 

The questions about veganism are endless.  I will personally only tell a person so much information, and then to do their own research.  If someone is genuinely that curious about how vegans stay healthy, they can find out for themselves.  Most people are just curious, and I love being able to change someone’s mind about something they once felt negatively towards.  Are there questions you are not sure how to respond to? Leave them in a comment and I will try to help!

Changes

After one makes the decision to become vegan, their life changes in ways they may have never thought possible.  Whether it’s finding food you didn’t know existed, to meeting people you may not have otherwise met, going vegan opens up a lot of doors for many.

1. I felt great.

For some reason, many have this predisposition that vegans are pale, bony, and tired most of the time.  This is only true for those who are not eating healthy – and it doesn’t take being vegan to do so.  I made the decision to eliminate meat from my diet when I was rather young, so I never noticed a huge change in my overall energy.  Once I chose to eliminate dairy and eggs from my diet, I noticed within a week or two that my energy levels had improved.  I could function better even if I didn’t get enough sleep, and my attention span was longer.  I had previously struggled with a poor attention span, so the improvement was important to my life, especially as a student.  I no longer ate meals that made me want to lie down for a nap or hang out in the bathroom for a while.  After eating, I felt energized and ready to take on the day.  When you recognize food as literal fuel for your body, it makes sense that your body will truly run better when it takes in better food.

2. I looked great.

Okay, not to be full of myself in anyway, but really.  My skin is the clearest it has ever been in my life, and I feel like I am glowing.  I don’t feel the need to put on a full face of makeup anymore, because I love my skin’s natural radiance.  Dairy has a detrimental effect to our skin and we don’t even realize it.  Some people get bags under their eyes simply from drinking milk.  I also noticed I do not get bruises as easily, and when I do they fade quickly.  I struggled a lot with biting and picking my fingernails, and since cutting dairy, they have grown long and strong.  I still fight my bad habits, but stronger nails definitely help.  Finally, I never noticed much difference in my teeth, but my dentist now compliments me on how nice my teeth are! I try mentioning that it probably has to do with my diet, but she doesn’t seem very interested in my crazy ways.  I also don’t have to worry much about my weight.  I have always been blessed with a petite figure, although sometime pizza binges would get the best of me.  Now, dairy-free pizza binges are no danger to my belly.  I weigh the same I did at 17 years old, with only moderate exercise.

3. I became open-minded.

I have been a picky eater most of my life.  If I couldn’t pronounce it or never heard of it before, I was not going to eat it.  If it was from a culture I knew nothing about, I was not going to eat it.  My eyes have since been opened to the wonderful flavors many cultures offer.  I now prefer most foreign restaurants, such as Thai, Japanese, Mediterranean, and Arabic.  These places tend to have a better variety of vegan options, whereas most American restaurants simply have salads and fried veggies.  I have been introduced to tempeh, falafel, hummus, tofu, and many new vegetables, thanks to foreign restaurants and going vegan.

4.  I became more grateful.

Animal products are a luxury.  They require extensive land, water, and human interaction to be produced as a commercial product.  I realized all the food I eat takes a lot of effort to get to my plate.  I appreciate every meal and often think of those without.  I appreciate the fact that I live in a world where I can buy fresh fruits and vegetables from a grocery store or farmer’s market, instead of growing them myself.  I am grateful that my family can choose what and when they eat.  I am thankful for the clean water that is pumped to my home.  There are millions of people who do not have these luxuries.  It is not necessarily the meat industry’s fault for their suffering, but we are feeding an awful lot of grain and water to animals instead of hungry people. 70% percent of all grains grown on earth are fed to animals.  I can only hope that one day this number will go down, along with the number of hungry people.  I am so thankful to live in a world where I can choose to be vegan, instead of it being my only option due to poverty like it is for so many.

I could go on and on for days about how things have changed since becoming vegan.  It is the best decision I have ever made for myself.  It has brought me to new places, new faces, and a whole new meaning to the word empathy.  I hope those I reach are touched by my experience, and I will continue spreading the word until I am sure everyone has truly heard it.

 

Dish of Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas occurs little to no insulin, or the body does not respond properly to insulin.   There are approximately 350 million people worldwide who have diabetes.  The result is 1 in 3 medicare dollars are spent treating the disease.   Those who are overweight are especially at risk for developing diabetes.  Two-thirds of the human population are overweight or obese.  Why has this disease gone from a mostly hereditary issue to a quite common occurrence?  In the next twenty five years, a third of all Americans will have diabetes.  How do we prevent it? Can it be prevented?

The answer is yes.  Diabetes can be prevented, though damage can take some time to undo.  A large concern is the amount of fatty streaks in ones’ arteries.  Most children under the age of 10 contain these fatty streaks, due to our poor diets.  A child diagnoses with diabetes can lose 20 years off their lifespan.  The biggest culprit of causing these streaks is animal products.  Animal products contain a large amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, which causes blockage in the arteries.  Sugar and carbs are not the cause of diabetes.  In fact, carbohydrate intake is inversely related to diabetes development.  In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study found that a single serving of processed meat each day increases the risk of diabetes by 51%.  Not only do animal products pose a long-term threat, they are imminently dangerous to our health.  Within minutes of eating dead animals, bacteria and toxins are released into the blood stream, creating inflammation and stiffening the arteries.

Not only can a vegan diet prevent diabetes, it can actually help reverse the disease.  Studies have found a plant-based diet can actually alter the course of the disease, and some have successfully become healthy again after adopting a vegan lifestyle.  This information was presented to leaders of the American Diabetes Association, who stated they did not want an argument and could not continue the interview.   If organizations such as the ADA are not there to help us, we must take the matters into our own hands and quit believing everything the media tells us.

Playing Chicken

Each year, 9 billion chickens are slaughtered for meat in the U.S.  Chickens are social, animated animals turned into a product for consumption.  They are bred at alarming rates, and fed hormones to grow far beyond their normal growth rate.  Sometimes, their growth occurs so quickly, their legs do not develop fast enough to support their weight.  They typically live in warehouse-like buildings, crowded among as many as 20,000 other chickens.  Forced to walk over each other, many end up with scratches and sores, posing risk for infection.

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The Cheese Disease

In the United States, cancer is the cause of death for 25% of people.  Approximately 5-10% of cancer cases are hereditary.  The remaining cases are caused by environment and lifestyle.  Studies have found that dairy consumption is linked to different types of cancer.  Specifically, dairy increases chances of hormone related cancers.  Milk itself is a hormone based product, so these correlations make sense.  Even “organic” milk with no added hormones or antibiotics still contain hormones.  After all, it is breast milk designed to turn a baby calf into a 1,500 pound cow.

A human male’s risk of prostate cancer increases by 34% simply by consuming dairy.  Women who have breast cancer increase their risk of death by 49% by consuming dairy.  If these numbers are true, why do companies such as Susan G. Komen use their logo on Yoplait yogurt?  The American Cancer Association recommends English-muffin pizzas or bagels topped with cheese as healthy diet choices.  The reality is that these companies are sponsored by businesses such as KFC, Tyson, YUM, and Yoplait.  It is impossible to trust these organizations who are being paid off by the very companies that are making us sick.

 

In attempts to discuss the correlations between animal products and various diseases, multiple health organizations have refused to comment or deflect the conversation in another direction.  We simply cannot believe what media tells us is healthy, especially when all the leading organizations are driven by money.

Do not fear for a lack of protein – the largest animals on earth are herbivores.  Gorillas, elephants, and pandas all make due just fine on a plant based diet.  70% of deaths in the U.S. are lifestyle related, meaning they can be prevented.  By switching to a vegan diet, one significantly reduces their risks of many diseases, including cancer.

 

 

 

A Gassy Meal

Greenhouse gases are generated by all kinds of things.  Burning fossil fuels is likely the most commonly known cause of these gases, however it is not the most substantial.  Animal agriculture causes 18% of emissions, more than all forms of transportation combined.  Transportation is the cause of 13% of emissions.  Livestock byproducts are responsible for 51% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, due to the 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide released per year.  Additionally, the waste produced by livestock produces more methane than any other source.  Methane has been shown to do more damage to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide – possibly 100 times more destructive on a 20 year timeframe.  150 billion gallons of methane are produced every day from livestock.  Livestock also releases around 65% of emissions of nitrous oxide, a gas almost 300 times as powerful as carbon dioxide.  Nitrous oxide can remain in the atmosphere for 150 years.

These emissions are expected to increase over the years, possibly up to 60% of all emissions.  Energy emissions are expected to increase to 20%.  When global warming begins to substantially affect our planet, one can expect prices to increase on many day-to-day items, and some may even lose their homes.  We can expect to see climate wars due to the rising ocean levels destroying some inhabited lands.

Of course, riding a bike or walking is much better for than planet than driving a car, however leaving meat off your plate will have a much greater impact.  How else might someone reduce their impact on the atmosphere?  Should there be better laws in place in order to protect the environment?  Or is the health of the planet the responsibility of every one on it?

Behind Closed Doors: Pigs

 

Pigs are known to be quite intelligent animals.  They eat both plants and animals, using their snout as a tool for searching for food.  Newborn pigs recognize their mothers voices, and can even recognize their names by the age of two weeks.  Pigs communicate with one another, using more than 20 different inflections.  They will snuggle close to each other, and dream when they sleep.   They can run up to 11 mph and squeal as loud as 115 decibels.   Pigs have a lifespan of 10-15 years, though are slaughtered around six months of age.  There are millions of pigs on the planet, and the majority are confined to a life of pain and suffering.

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