By Esther Inglis-Arkell November 13, 2014
What should you cut out of your diet to be more healthy? Everything. According to the most popular diet books on the market, there’s barely a food on Earth that’s safe to eat. But what is the actual benefit of these diets? Here’s what science has to say.
10. Cut Out Wheat to Slim Down
The Books: The Wheat Belly Fat Diet, Wheat Belly
The Claims: Wheat is making you fat! And not just fat, but fat around the tummy, which is the worst kind of fat! Belly fat itself puts you at a higher risk of cancer and other diseases. And we can cut our weight and cancer risk way down by cutting wheat out of our diet. This is especially hard because, since the 1970s, Americans have been pushed to eat more “whole grains” in order to be healthy. But since the 1970s, Americans have gotten steadily fatter on this supposedly healthy diet. Is there any doubt that wheat is ruining our health?
The Facts: Most “wheat belly fat” books contain persuasive book jacket blurbs that stress how obesity has gone up in the decades since people began eating a carb-based diet. But correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. One possible explanation for the national weight gain is the fact that the median age of the United States population has also gone up, and no matter what, we gain fat as we age. In fact, age is a major factor in why we gain belly fat. Eat no wheat whatsoever, and you’ll still pack on a bit more belly fat as you get older, even if the fat is internal. (Sorry.)
It’s possible that belly fat may be more unhealthy than regular fat. Abdominal fat cells tend to boost the production of certain hormones which aren’t healthy. But belly fat isn’t the only problem. It turns out that “gluteal fat” (AKA the fat on your butt) promotes inflammation and insulin resistance. In other words, all extra fat can be bad. Belly fat isn’t necessarily worse than any other kind of fat.
Even if belly fat is especially unhealthy, wheat might not be the main culprit. If you want to lose belly fat, you might want to look at saturated fats. In one study, men who ate muffins made with saturated fats gained more abdominal fat than men who ate muffins made with unsaturated fat. There is even one carefully-done study that suggests carbohydrates might lower a person’s amount of belly fat. Men with a daily diet that contained 10 grams of soluble fiber lost more visceral fat over 5 years than men who didn’t eat the soluble fiber. Oats, barley, and beans all have soluble fiber. A warning — this reduction in fat was a 3.7 percent reduction. There are no miracle diets that will simply take away your belly. Nor, really, do there need to be.
By Chris Hedges November 10, 2014
“We have only a few years left to make radical changes to rescue ourselves from an ecological meltdown. A person who is vegan will save 1,100 gallons of water, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent, 30 square feet of forested land, 45 pounds of grain, and one sentient animal’s life every day.”
My attitude toward becoming a vegan was similar to Augustine’s attitude toward becoming celibate—“God grant me abstinence, but not yet.” But with animal agriculture as the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction(2), and with the death spiral of the ecosystem ever more pronounced, becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species. It is one that my wife—who was the engine behind our family’s shift—and I have made.
Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all worldwide transportation combined—cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes.(3) Livestock and their waste and flatulence account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.(4) Livestock causes 65 percent of all emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 296 times more destructive than carbon dioxide.(5) Crops grown for livestock feed consume 56 percent of the water used in the United States.(6) Eighty percent of the world’s soy crop is fed to animals, and most of this soy is grown on cleared lands that were once rain forests. All this is taking place as an estimated 6 million children across the planet die each year from starvation and as hunger and malnutrition affect an additional 1 billion people.(7) In the United States 70 percent of the grain we grow goes to feed livestock raised for consumption.(8)
The natural resources used to produce even minimal amounts of animal products are staggering—1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.(9) Add to this the massive clear cutting and other destruction of forests, especially in the Amazon—where forest destruction has risen to 91 percent(10)—and we find ourselves lethally despoiling the lungs of the earth largely for the benefit of the animal agriculture industry. Our forests, especially our rain forests, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and exchange it for oxygen: Killing the forests is a death sentence for the planet. Land devoted exclusively to raising livestock now represents 45 percent of the earth’s land mass.(11)
I became a vegetarian when I was 3 years old, while crying over a tuna-sweet corn sandwich at the kitchen table. How could I eat a fish? I had two fish, they were gold and glittery and I loved them. Today, I have no interest in animals and the smell of frying bacon is a cruel test, but I still don’t eat meat. For me, it’s not just about the animals anymore; it’s a matter of statistics, not sentiment.
Studies show that animal agriculture causes between 10 and 25 per cent of global greenhouse gases, including 35 per cent of all human-related methane and 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide. Methane is the third most important greenhouse gas and is infamously emitted by farting cows. Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is less abundant and less well-known as a greenhouse gas. However, it can trap approximately 300 times more heat than carbon dioxide, and is the largest contributor to the destruction of the ozone layer. In order to stabilise the levels of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere by the year 2050, a report from the Institute of Physics in 2012 concluded that the developed world needs to reduce its meat consumption by 50 per cent. Despite this advice, meat consumption is predicted to rise.
These statistics provide an additional motivation to eat less meat or become vegetarian. The traditional reasons, animal welfare and (to lesser extent) a healthier diet, are now joined by concerns for the environment. Although they lead to the same outcome: eat less meat, these different reasons depend on different logics. The decision to be vegetarian for the sake of animals depends on the personal, ethical conclusion that human pleasure does not outweigh animal well-being, while the decision to give up meat to benefit the environment is based on conclusions drawn and made public by scientists. The former is a matter of personal morality, the latter a matter of published numbers.
For those who were already vegetarians or light meat eaters, their conviction doubles as ethics are joined by science. For those, like me, who would otherwise have bit the burger long ago, the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture reinforces wavering self-discipline. For those who aren’t swayed by arguments of empathy and ethics, these statistics demonstrate a practical motivation to reduce meat consumption. As the reasons for eating less meat multiply, and as the methods of justification become more diverse, life as an herbivore appeals to an ever growing audience.
From “What If Everyone in the World Became a Vegetarian? – The effects of a meatless population on climate and economy.” Published in Mother Jones By L.V. Anderson Thu May 1, 2014 2:38 PM EDT
“……I know it’s not actually going to happen. But the best-case scenario from a climate perspective would be if all 7 billion of us woke up one day and realized that PETA was right all along. If this collective change of spirit came to pass, like Peter Singer’s dearest fantasy come true, what would the ramifications be?
At least one research team has run the numbers on what global veganism would mean for the planet. In 2009 researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency published their projections of the greenhouse gas consequences if humanity came to eat less meat, no meat, or no animal products at all. The researchers predicted that universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17 percent, methane emissions by 24 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent by 2050. Universal vegetarianism would result in similarly impressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more, the Dutch researchers found that worldwide vegetarianism or veganism would achieve these gains at a much lower cost than a purely energy-focused intervention involving carbon taxes and renewable energy technology. The upshot: Universal eschewal of meat wouldn’t single-handedly stave off global warming, but it would go a long way toward mitigating climate change.”
How Does Meat in the Diet Take an Environmental Toll? – Scientific American
Why Vegetarianism wont save the world – an alternative (but not totally contradictory) view based on the book The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith