This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Plant-Based Diet is Good for You and the Planet

Kaiser Permanente is the largest HMO in the country and, as a member, I know that it emphasizes prevention since, unlike fee-for-service plans, it keeps more of its members' monthly contributions for itself if they are healthy, rather than by profiting from their illnesses--which is the model for most other providers. So, it is very interesting and important that Kaiser has recently endorsed a plant-based diet (essentially a vegan diet) as a way to improve your health.
“Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity).
Of all the diets recommended over the last few decades to turn the tide of these chronic illnesses, the best but perhaps least common may be those that are plant based…Despite the strong body of evidence favoring plant-based diets, including studies showing a willingness of the general public to embrace them, many physicians are not stressing the importance of plant-based diets as a first-line treatment for chronic illnesses. This could be because of a lack of awareness of these diets or a lack of patient education resources.
On top of this, we were recently reminded of the progress being made to make leather (and even meat, for that matter) in the laboratory, rather than needing to raise and kill animals. That alone would be an enormous boost for the environment because pasture land could be used for other things, food that now is grown for animals could be grown for humans, and cow manure would no longer contribute methane gas to the environment. 

Yet another reason to avoid meat is that animals are "people" too, meaning that they are sentient creatures with intelligence and emotion. The research-based story that "dogs are people too" has been making the rounds on the news, and here in San Diego we were reminded recently that tigers are people too (get your hankies out for this story). 

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