Vegetarianism Is Receiving More Attention


A consideration of an article from Today’s Health, published by the American Medical Association, appeared in the February 1975 Readers’ Digest. The article states: “Americans are meat eaters by tradition. Yet statistics show that vegetarians in this country are thinner, in better health, with lower blood cholesterol, than their flesh-eating fellow citizens. They may even live longer.”

The article mentions studies by Dr. Frederick Stare (!!) of Harvard and Dr. Mervyn Hardinge, Loma Linda, California School of Health, indicating that vegetarians have consistently lower levels of cholesterol. (It is rare indeed that Dr. Stare is ever “caught” criticizing the conventional diet.)

Quoting further from the article: “Meat eaters also may be bothered by poor elimination. Food with a low fiber content, such as meat, moves sluggishly through the digestive tract, making stools dry and hard to pass. Vegetables, by contrast, retain moisture and bind waste bulk for easy passage.”

The article cites documentation of the excellent health and longevity enjoyed by the Hunzas of Pakistan and the Otomi Indians of Mexico, confirmed by field investigations of these nonmeat cultures.

Reference is made to the experiences of Denmark and Norway, where the general health of the people improved when vegetarian diets were adopted during World Wars I and II, including a significant reduction in heart disease. “Both nations, however, reverted to meat diets as soon as the crises passed, and subsequent studies showed that the temporary health advantages apparently subsided.”

Remember, THIS INFORMATION WAS PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION IN 1975. Since then, vegetarianism and low-fat diets in general have been receiving more attention, and reports are trickling down of medical doctors who are recommending eliminating meat from the diets of arthritis and cancer patients, and even of medical doctors who are acknowledging the health benefits of vegetarianism for themselves and all of their patients.

Modern Methods Accentuate Risks

Most of the deleterious influences of meat-eating which have been discussed thus far apply to any flesh foods, even those which are raised the “old-fashioned” way, without chemicals or hormones. The “modern” methods of producing and marketing flesh foods, and fish taken from polluted waters, increase the risks astronomically.

Those who eat processed meats are not only treated to sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite (which, together, form cancer-causing nitrosamines in the body), they also get sodium sulphite. Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are used as preservatives to retard the putrefaction process in processed meats (frankfurters, salami, bologna, sausage, etc.) The food can still spoil, but it is not as obvious.

Consumer Reports, February 1972, p. 76, reported that, after studying samples from thirty-two brands of frankfurters bought in supermarkets throughout the United States, researchers stated: “Food experts generally agree that putrefaction has set in when a frankfurter’s total bacteria count has reached ten million per gram. With that as a yardstick, more than forty per cent of the samples we analyzed had begun to spoil. One sample tested out at 140 million per gram.”

Dr. Charles C. Edwards, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, testified before a House Subcomittee in March 1971, stating that sodium nitrite is potentially dangerous to small children, can cause deformities in fetuses, can cause serious damage to anemic persons, and is a possible cause of cancer.

Sodium sulphite is used to give meat a fresh, red appearance, even after it has become rancid and turned black. This chemical will change it back to bright red, and will also “miraculously” eliminate the strong odor of putrefaction.

Dr. Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says that sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite in processed meats have caused numerous cases of blood poisoning (methemoglobinemia), many reported in medical journals. He says that meat contains residues of more than a dozen chemicals used to fatten the animals— all of them proven in the laboratory to cause cancer.

The chemicals and hormones are mixed and administered on the farms by stockmen, who often use greater than recommended amounts, and fail to withdraw drugs far enough ahead of slaughter.

Both penicillin and tetracycline are routinely used in poultry and cattle feed. When the FDA moved toward restricting the addition to animal feed of antibiotics that are also used to combat human diseases (because of the consequent growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria), the meat industry was outraged at the proposal.

Most laws relating to “wholesome” meat apply only to their processing. Some local laws apply to monitoring of sanitary conditions in the market. After that, the consumer is at the mercy of the retailer. Labeling, classification, pricing are variable and undependable. “Economical management” by market owners does not always include discarding spoiled meat. Mold can be washed off, or the meat can be recycled by cutting up, grinding, adding spices, or cooking to disguise color, odor and taste.

“Hearings before a Senate Investigating Committee in 1969 revealed that a major, brand-name, nationally famous meat packer on the West Coast accepted unsold meats from retailers and repackaged and recirculated them. Reasons for returning included moldy, sour, discolored, slick and slimy.’” (Woolsey, “Meat on the Menu…” p. 38).

Charcoal broiled steaks contain an average of nine micrograms of benzopyrene, a cancer-producing agent. The fat dripping into the fire changes the chemical properties of the fat and the benzopyrene goes up in the smoke from the charcoal and coats the steaks.

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