Eat your veggies!


Dig In: A Recipe for Healing the Planet With Your Fork by Steve Lustgarden

Calcium & Osteoporosis: Would it surprise you to learn that the main proponents of adding more calcium to your diet are companies that profit from the sale of milk and calcium supplements?

Realities: Startling facts excerpted from the Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America by John Robbins

Myths about Vegetarianism: No, vegetarians aren't skinny, sickly weirdos out to convert you to save the chickens. Odds are they're healthier than you are.

Related Links

Following is a selection of the thousands of web sites with information on health and vegetarianism:

Vegetarian Guide Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
Meat-Free Zone Earthsave International
Vegetarian Resource Group

Vegetarian Information from Vegetarian Diet Info

The Vegetarian Site

Veg Source
Living Vegetarian Vegetarian Times magazine
Veggie Sports Association Vegetarian recipes
Take the veg pledge! Vegetarian restaurants


Calcium, Osteoporosis, and the Selling of Dairy Products

The National Dairy Council wants you to drink your milk. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) doesn't. At issue is your risk of developing osteoporosis and a few billion dollars in profits for the dairy industry.

1. Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis

Excerpt: While patients tend to assume that boosting their calcium intake will ensure strong bones, research clearly shows that calcium intake is only part of the issue and that simply increasing calcium intake is an inadequate strategy. No less important is reducing calcium losses. The loss of bone mineral probably results from a combination of genetics and dietary and lifestyle factors, particularly the intake of animal protein, salt, and possibly caffeine, along with tobacco use, physical inactivity, and lack of sun exposure.

Would it surprise you that huge, multi-billion-dollar companies who profit from the sale of dairy products and calcium supplements think you need more calcium?

Animal protein tends to leach calcium from the bones, leading to its excretion in the urine. Animal proteins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids, especially cystine and methionine. Sulfur is converted to sulfate, which tends to acidify the blood. During the process of neutralizing this acid, bone dissolves into the bloodstream and filters through the kidneys into the urine. Meats and eggs contain two to five times more of these sulfur-containing amino acids than are found in plant foods. More click for more

But is milk really effective in helping adults prevent osteoporosis? The segment then turned to Harvard Professor Walter Willett, one of the top health researchers in the country. According to Willett, "There's really no good evidence that increasing milk consumption by adults will reduce their risk of fractures." More click for more

Two studies have revealed that soy may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, a disease that can affect 24 million Americans. [...] A study by the Division of Nutritional Science, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana found that post-menopausal women with high concentrations of soy in their diet had stronger bone health. More click for more

2. What's Wrong With Dairy Products?

Excerpt: Insulin-dependent diabetes (Type I or childhood-onset) is linked to consumption of dairy products. Epidemiological studies of various countries show a strong correlation between the use of dairy products and the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes. Researchers in 1992 found that a specific dairy protein sparks an auto-immune reaction, which is believed to be what destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. More click for more

3. Protecting Your Bones

BroccoliContrary to popular belief, calcium does not protect bones. Not by itself, anyway. But since the body compensates for a calcium deficiency by leaching calcium from bones, it is important to get anough. So what are the best sources? Surprisingly -- at least for people who get their nutritional guidance from dairy council advertising -- milk is not a very good source. Sure, it's loaded with calcium, but it's not as easy for the body to absorb it as the calcium in kale or swiss chard, and the presence of protein, fats, and other products can cause the body to lose calcium from bones.

That's why the largest study of its kind found that eating dairy products provided no protection at all against bone fractures!

The most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes, or "greens and beans" for short. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and other greens are loaded with highly absorbable calcium and a host of other healthful nutrients. More click for more

American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA)

The medical profession and the media encourage the public to drink milk and eat dairy products because "it does the body good". Nothing could be further from the truth! Higher calcium and protein intake is purported to lower the incidence of osteoporosis according to the Dairy Council [but] the largest study of diet and disease in medical history [shows that] higher animal calcium and animal protein intake is the primary cause of degenerative disease. More click for more

Organic calcium is found within the body in the matrix, spongy living core of the bones. Animal dairy products contain inorganic calcium. Which is not recognized, nor utilized by the body. Dr. Stanley Kaplan, MD has found that organic calcium losses were elevated markedly in individuals for 3-4 hours after a meal rich in calcium from dairy and high in protein. Independent medical studies, those not funded by the Dairy Council, have concluded that excessive calcium found in the body (in the blood stream ) will not be recognized. Instead, this inorganic calcium from animal sources are removed from the blood and collected in the kidneys. This can lead to the development of kidney stones. The body requires calcium for life and daily bodily repair. Since there is no usable calcium available the brain instructs the bone matrix to release organic calcium into the blood stream. The net result is a loss of calcium from the bone matrix. This loss causes a weakening of the bone resulting in osteoporosis according to Dr. John McDougall, M.D. More click for more

The Big Business Connection: Who Really Profits?

Would it surprise you that huge, multi-billion-dollar companies who profit from the sale of dairy products and calcium supplements think you need more calcium?

From Endocrineweb: Recent studies have shown that many American girls do not get enough calcium in their diet after the age of 11. Much of this is blamed upon the substitution of sodas in the diet for milk [....] The vast majority of endocrinologists encourage their female patients to take supplemental calcium daily.  One of the easiest and most effective methods of increasing your calcium intake is to take an oral calcium supplement [...] such as Citracal [...].

Surprise, surprise ... there was an ad for Citracal on the page!

From the National Dairy Council: CASE STUDY OF "JUNK SCIENCE": "Further fueling misinformation [...] are activists like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The PCRM and PETA have been conducting a systematic and misleading anti-milk campaign to further their own animal rights and vegan agendas. These groups inappropriately interpret observational research to make bogus food and health claims promoted on the Internet to unnecessarily scare millions of consumers."

Notice the derogatory use of "activist" to mean "fanatic." Of course, the National Dairy Council isn't an activist organization at all! They have no agenda! Their idea of plain talk is to use loaded words like "misleading," "inappropriate," "bogus," and "scare."

Why the Dairy People would Rather Sling Mud than Talk Science

Perhaps because it could not substantiate its claim that PCRM used junk science, the thrust of the Dairy Council's press release was to attack PCRM by dismissing the organization as, "a fringe anti-meat, anti-dairy, animal rights group." The Dairy Council went on to deride PCRM's milk warnings as, "ridiculous and irresponsible," and attacked PCRM for trying to push a "hidden agenda." It's true PCRM has an agenda, as does any group that seeks to modify a population's eating patterns, but this agenda is certainly not hidden. PCRM has never tried to hide its position that a vegan lifestyle offers numerous health, environmental, and ethical advantages. In fact, it's fair to say that PCRM publicizes a vegan-oriented message at every opportunity. Indeed, if anyone has a "hidden agenda" it's not PCRM but rather the National Dairy Council.

The National Dairy Council concluded its June 1 press release with the words: "Consumers are warned against taking nutritional guidance from activist groups that are trying to promote their own agendas." But isn't it much more hazardous for consumers to take nutritional guidance from business groups that are trying to promote their own agendas, namely selling a product? According to the Dairy Council's logic, we should ignore non-profit publicly funded groups like PCRM and instead base our eating decisions on information provided by industry-funded "science" groups. The point of attacking PCRM is that the Dairy Council does not want consumers to realize that calcium is abundant in numerous non-dairy foods. Contrary to the Dairy Council's propaganda, it's easy to construct a dairy-free diet that delivers sufficient calcium. By relying on plants rather than cows to provide your calcium needs, you also avoid cholesterol, saturated fat, somatic (pus) cells, potential risks arising from rBGH injections, and a number of other undesirable elements that come in every glass of milk.

Letter to “Dear Abby”

Dear Abby:

In your May 27 column, you gave "Future Orthopedic Surgeon in Virginia" an A+ for his letter about osteoporosis. I suggest you take a second look and reduce his grade to a "C." It's surprising in this day and age, but almost no medical school requires courses in human nutrition, and some don't even offer one! So it's not surprising he was a little confused.

It is important to get enough calcium, but according to Dr. John McDougall, "Calcium deficiency caused by an insufficient amount of calcium in the diet is not known to exist in humans." And Dr. Walter Willett studied 80,000 women over a twelve year period and found that women who consumed three or more servings of dairy a day did not add any protection against bone fractures.

In addition, milk and dairy products are not the best sources of calcium. For one thing, "skim" or not, they're still loaded with fat, and -- if you're not careful where you shop -- could contain growth hormones, the carcinogenic IGF-I, antibiotics, and traces of other drugs, like tranquilizers. The Federal Trade Commission forced milk producers to pull their original ad campaign ("Everybody needs milk"), calling it "false, misleading and deceptive." In fact, contrary to what was printed in your column, excess protein prevents absorption of calcium, and can actually leach it from your bones, causing osteoporosis. Dr. Neal Barnard writes, "Dairy products contain sodium and animal protein, both of which encourage calcium losses."

Abby, the average American eats double the amount of protein they need! No wonder we have a higher incidence of osteoporosis than, say, Japan, where they rarely drink milk. The low fat Japanese diet also helps explain why severe symptoms of menopause are virtually unknown there.

Based on absorption characteristics, the best sources of usable calcium are collard greens, turnip greens, and kale. Yes, greens -- the stuff your grandmother made you eat. One cup of kale, for instance, contains only 179 mg of calcium vs. 302 mg for milk, but your body can use 50-70% of it, yielding, on average, 107 mg. You can only use about 30% of the calcium in milk, so you only get 91 mg of calcium per cup of milk. And collard greens have almost twice as much! Other excellent sources include turnip greens, soy, broccoli, cornbread, and beans.

By avoiding dairy products, you can help not only the cows, but yourself, by reducing the risk of osteoporosis, food allergies, asthma, obesity, and heart disease.