I hope Kathy is right and one day we can look back on our former ancestors who ate factory farmed animals and think that they must have been crazy.When I think about the effect of animal products on human health, I'm reminded of how quickly we've done a national about face on tobacco, and I look forward to the day when the Times magazine has a similar apology from someone who promoted animal products -- because the evidence is in and it continues to grow: Animal products kill a lot more Americans than tobacco does.
The West's three biggest killers -- heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- are linked to excessive animal product consumption, and vegetarians have much lower risks of all three. Vegetarians also have a fraction of the obesity and diabetes rates of the general population -- of course, both diseases are at epidemic levels and are only getting worse.
But much more important than the vegetarian community's general statistics are what can be done with the right vegetarian diet: For some years now, doctors have been not just preventing, but even reversing, heart disease using a low-fat vegetarian diet.
That's right -- the disease that kills almost as many Americans as everything else combined can be not just prevented, but reversed, with a low fat plant-based diet, as documented by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
There's a link from animal product consumption to our country's No. 2 killer, too: According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, about as much cancer could be prevented by diet and exercise as is caused by smoking -- and you know what's causing all that cancer? It's not whole grains, legumes, fruits, or vegetables. Dr. T. Colin Campbell has documented the link between cancer and animal products.
There's a lot of money in the meat industry, just like there's a lot of money in big tobacco. For many years, the tobacco establishment pointed to elderly smokers like George Burns and millions of others as proof that their very-natural product could not be harmful. Even long-distance runners and members of the military could be found smoking a cigarette at the end of a long run or intense drill.
Similarly, today the meat industry points to the fact that there are an awful lot of old meat-eaters, conveniently ignoring our sky-high heart disease and cancer rates, as well as our ballooning rates of obesity and diabetes, all of which are linked to their products.