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What’s the beef?

beefOnce upon a time, Cornell University, University of Oxford and the Chinese government jointly funded a study so meticulous, so exactingly engineered, so scrupulously conducted, that the New York Times called it “the Grand Prix of epidemiology.” The study, which ran for 20 years, investigated the relationship between the consumption of animal products (including dairy) and chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer. Can you guess the results?

If you guessed (of course you did) that over-consumption of animal products — in the absence of any other mitigating factors – was linked to a host of chronic illnesses, you are right. Old news, right?

Not so fast.

Did you guess that the results of the study also strongly suggested that people who avoid all animal products, including beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and milk escape, reduce or reverse the development of all the aforementioned diseases?

Hundreds of clinical studies during the past several decades show that consumption of meat and dairy products, especially at the high levels seen in the U.S., cause/ contribute to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses. The so-called China study dramatically illustrates the other side of the coin: That avoidance of animal products, or consumption of very modest amounts of animal protein (less than 10 percent of total calories) is directly linked to absence of these diseases.

Did you know that the USDA continues to advise us to get 25-35 percent of calories from protein, a recommendation that flies in the face of the China Study evidence?

Did you know that Americans eat more animal products per person than anyone else on earth and have twice the obesity rate, twice the diabetes rate and nearly three times the cancer rate as people in the rest of the world?

Did you know that the multi-billion dollar U.S. meat industry (beef alone is a $95 billion a year industry) contributed close to $11 million to political campaigns (2014 data) and spent close to another $7 million on lobbying efforts? The agricultural industry’s history of influence over dietary guidelines and the food pyramid (or plate) is well-documented.

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
Milk. It does a body good.

Imagine for a moment that Big Pharma came up with a pill (a very expensive pill, of course) proven to drastically reduce the occurrence of heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. One out of every three deaths is attributable to heart disease. Currently about 28 million Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease. And now, imagine that there’s something close to a cure! Oh the headlines! The Dr. Oz specials! The billions spent on advertising!

There is no pill. But there is something very close to a cure. It’s called a plant-based diet. The evidence is as close to incontrovertible as dietary evidence can be.

Where are the headlines?

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