Food plays a huge role in our lives. We eat not only because we are hungry, we eat also to feel good. Many of our favorite foods are those we grew up eating at home or those that we associate with comfort, friendship and happiness.
Health is a major factor that impacts our food habits.
Our food habits are a reflection of our cultural identities and social environment. They are resistant to change until we fall sick. There has been an explosion of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer in adults and hormonal disorders, obesity and allergies in children. Should we be taking a closer look at the foods we are eating? Is there a link?
Processed and animal based foods are harmful
The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine clearly attributes the increase of illness to our food choices. On one hand are processed foods with added chemicals that create empty calories and nutritional deficiencies. On the other are animal based foods like meat, eggs and milk with their high levels of cholesterol, saturated fat and acidity factor that create an environment for chronic diseases.
Isn't milk considered the best and wholesome food
Yes, it is, but only for the offspring of one's own species. The China Study, one of the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted has identified casein, the protein found in milk as "the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered". There is increasing evidence of the harmful effects of dairy on us. Infact, more than 60 percent people over the world and 75 percent of the Asian population are lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk.
Even the production of animal based foods is harmful on all levels
In terms of water, soil and forests lost, pollution of air and rivers by animal waste and greenhouse gases, animal agriculture has been identified as the biggest culprit. More than a hundred billion animals are slaughtered each year after a life of confinement, cruel practices and misery in crowded and filthy environments for meat, dairy and poultry industries which are also responsible for giving rise to communicable diseases such as bird flu, swine flu and respiratory syndromes.
We can be healthy on a plant based diet
Studies have found that a whole foods plant based diet is the most suitable for us. Food from varied plant sources can provide complete nutrition and is packed with essential nutrients and fibre and does not contain cholesterol. It has been shown not only to reduce the incidence of obesity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes but helps reverse it too.
However, sometimes tastes, habits and traditions may be difficult to change. Since we look for a familiar taste and texture in our food, the importance of the availability of good alternatives cannot be overestimated. If we can get similar or improved alternatives with the promise of better health, sustainability and compassion, why wouldn't we be ready to make the change?