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Our Food, Our Future
Facts and figures from "The Food Revolution" by John Robbins
(See bottom of page for info to obtain study citations and sources for all facts presented here.)

"Studies indicate that vegetarians often have lower morbidity and mortality rates… Not only is mortality from coronary artery disease lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, but vegetarian diets have also been successful in arresting coronary artery disease. Scientific data suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for…obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some types of cancer."
- American Dietetic Association Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets

Water Required to produce one pound of U.S.beef:
(per Dr. Georg Borgstrom, Chairman of Food Science and Human Nutrition Dept of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University)
2,500 gallons
Water required to produce 1 pound of California beef:
per the Water Education Foundation
2,464 gallons

Water Required to produce one pound of California foods
(according to Soil and Water Specialists, University of California Agricultural Extension, working with livestock farm advisors)
1 pound of lettuce
1 pound of tomatoes
1 pound of potatoes
1 pound of wheat
1 pound of carrots
1 pound of apples
1 pound of chicken
1 pound of pork
1 pound of beef
23 gallons
23 gallons
24 gallons
25 gallons
33 gallons
49 gallons
815 gallons
1,630 gallons
5,214 gallons

Water required to produce 1 pound of beef:
per David Pimentel, Ph.D., Professor of Ecology and Agricultural Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
12,009 gallons

Putting water use info into perspective
If you shower each day for 7 minutes, using a shower with a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute, you are using 14 gallons of water per day (7 minutes x 2 gallons), or 98 gallons per week. Rounding that up to 100 gallons per week, in 52 weeks you would be using 5,200 gallons of water per year to take a daily shower.

Comparing 5,200 gallons of water used by taking a 7 minute shower every day for a year, to the 5,214 gallons of water it takes to produce a pound of beef (using the estimate noted by water specialists at the University of California, noted above), you realize that in California today, you can save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you will save by not showering for a year.

Take your choice -- 4 hamburgers or a year's worth of showers?

According to the calculations of the celebrated Dr. Pimentel of Cornell, you could go two years without a shower and still not save as much water as you would by not eating one pound of beef.

Number of people whose food energy needs can be met by the food produced on 2.5 acres of land:
If the land is producing cabbage
If the land is producing potatoes
If the land is producing rice
If the land is producing corn
If the land is producing wheat
If the land is producing chicken
If the land is producing milk
If the land is producing eggs
If the land is producing beef
23 people
22 people
19 people
17 people
15 people
2 people
2 people
1 person
1 person

"In a world where an estimated one in every six people goes hungry every day, the politics of meat consumption are increasingly heated, since meat production is an inefficient use of grain -- the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grains to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat eaters and the world's poor." -Worldwatch Institute

Where most Americans get their information about foods: Advertising
Amount spent annually by Kelloggs to promote Frosted Flakes:
Amount spent annually by dairy industry on "milk mustache" ads:
Amount spent annually by McDonald's advertising its products:
Amount spent annually by the National Cancer Institute promoting fruits and vegetables:

 $40 million
$190 million
$800 million
Just $1 million

"What humans do over the next 50 years will determine the fate of all life on the planet."
- David Attenborough


 



"Although cattle grazing in the West has polluted more water, eroded more topsoil, killed more fish, displaced more wildlife, and destroyed more vegetation than any other land use, the American public pays ranchers to do it!"
-Ted Williams, environmental author

"Genetically engineered crops were created not because they're productive but because they're patentable. Their economic value is oriented not toward helping subsistence farmers to feed themselves but toward feeding more livestock for the already overfed rich." -Amory and Hunter Loving, Founders of Rocky Mountain Institute

DIET AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Drop in heart disease risk for every 1 percent decrease in blood cholesterol: 3-4 percent
Blood cholesterol levels of vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians: 14 percent lower
Risk of death from heart disease for vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians: Half

Blood cholesterol levels of vegans ( no meat, eggs, or dairy products) compared to non-vegetarians: 35 percent lower
Intake of cholesterol for non-vegetarians: 300-500 milligrams/day
Intake of cholesterol for lacto-ovo vegetarians: 150-300 milligrams/day
Intake of cholesterol for vegans: Zero

Average cholesterol level in the United States: 210
Average cholesterol level of U.S. vegetarians: 161
Average cholesterol level of U.S. vegans: 133

Percentage of adult daily value for saturated fat in one Double Whopper with cheese: 130%
Percentage of eight-year-old child's daily value for saturated fat in one Double Whopper with cheese: More than 200%

"A large and convincing body of evidence from studies in humans . . . shows that diets low in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol are associated with low risks and rates of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease."
-U.S. National Research Council, in "Diet and Health, Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk"

"In regions where meat is scarce, cardiovascular disease is unknown."
- Time Magazine

Risk of dying during bypass surgery: 4.6%-11.9%
Risk of permanent brain damage from bypass surgery: 15%-44%
Recipients of bypass surgery for whom it prolongs life: 2%
Risk of death during angioplasty: 0.4%-2.8%
Risk of major complication developing during angioplasty: 10%
Studies that have found that angioplasty prolongs life or prevents heart attacks: Zero

Number of patients on Dr. Dean Ornish's vegan diet program that achieve reversal of atherosclerosis: Three out of every four
Average reduction in arterial blockage after five years on the Ornish program: 8%

Most common problem for which people go to doctors in the U.S.: High blood pressure
Ideal blood pressure (without medication): 110/70 or less
Average blood pressure of vegetarians: 112/69
Average blood pressure of non-vegetarians: 121/77
Incidence of high blood pressure in meat eaters compared to vegetarians: Nearly triple

Patients with high blood pressure who achieve substantial improvement after switching to a vegetarian diet: 30%-70%
Incidence of high blood pressure among senior citizens in the U.S.: More than 50%
Incidence of high blood pressure among senior citizens in countries eating traditional, low-fat plant-based diets: Virtually none

DIET AND CANCER

Death rate from breast cancer in the United States:
Death rate from breast cancer in Japan:
Death rate from breast cancer in China:
22.4 (per 100,000)
6.3 (per 100,000)
4.6 (per 100,000)
Primary reasons for difference:
People in China and Japan eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer animal products, weigh less, drink less alcohol, and get more exercise than people in the United States.

Number of lives lost to colon cancer each year in the United States: 55,000

Risk of colon cancer for women who eat red meat daily compared to those who eat it less than once a month: 250 percent greater
Risk of colon cancer for people who eat red meat once a week compared to those who abstain: 38 percent greater

Risk of colon cancer for people who eat poultry once a week compared to those who abstain: 55 percent greater
Risk of colon cancer for people who eat poultry four times a week compared to those who abstain: 200-300 percent greater
Risk of colon cancer for people who eat beans, peas, or lentils at least twice a week compared to people who avoid these foods: 50 percent lower

Impact on risk for colon cancer when diets are rich in the B-vitamin folic acid: 75 percent lower
Primary food sources of folic acid: Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and peas

Most common cause of cancer mortality worldwide: lung cancer
Number of lives lost in the U.S. to lung cancer annually: 150,000
Impact on risk of lung cancer for people who frequently eat green, orange and yellow vegetables: 20%-60% reduction
Impact on risk of lung cancer among people who consume a lot of apples, bananas and grapes: 40% reduction

Diet Costs Economy More than Smoking:

Annual medical costs in the United States directly attributable to smoking:
Annual medical costs in the United States directly attributable to meat consumption:

$65 billion
$60-120 billion

Most common cancer among American men: prostate cancer
Risk of prostate cancer for men who consume high amounts of dairy products: 70% increase
Risk of prostate cancer for men who consume soy milk daily: 70% reduction
Risk of prostate cancer for men whose intake of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnips) is high: 41% reduction

"Five to ten percent of all cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations. By contrast, 70 to 80 percent have been linked to [diet and other] behavioral factors."
-Karen Emmons, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

"Now some people scoff at vegetarians, but they have only 40 percent of our cancer rate. They outlive us. On average they outlive other men by about six years now."
-William Castelli, M.D., Director, Framingham Heart Study; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

"If you step back and look at the data [on beef and cancer], the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero."
-Walter Willett, M.D., Chairman of the Nutrition Department, Harvard School of Public Health, and director of a study of 88,000 American nurses that analyzed the link between diet and colon cancer

DIET AND OSTEOPOROSIS

Countries with the highest consumption of dairy products: Finland, Sweden, United States, England
Countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis: Finland, Sweden, United States, England

Daily calcium intake for African Americans: More than 1,000 mg
Daily calcium intake for black South Africans: 196 mg
Hip fracture rate for African Americans compared to black South Africans: 9 times greater

Calcium intake in rural China: One-half that of people in the United States
Bone fracture rate in rural China: One-fifth that of people in the United States

"Beyond weaning age, children and adults of various countries and food cultures subsist on diets differing markedly in their calcium content. These differences in calcium intake . . . have not been demonstrated to have any consequences for nutritional health."
      -Health Canada's Nutrition Recommendations

Foods that when eaten produce the most calcium loss through urinary excretion: Animal protein and coffee
Amount of calcium lost in the urine of a woman after eating a hamburger: 28 milligrams
Amount of calcium lost in the urine of a woman after drinking a cup of coffee: 2 milligrams
Average daily calcium intake of vegans: 437mg-1,100 mg

Calcium absorption rates
(according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition):
Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Broccoli
Turnip greens
Kale
Cow's milk
63.8 percent
57.8 percent
52.6 percent
51.6 percent
32 percent

Other milk facts:

Children with chronic constipation so intractable that it can't be treated with laxatives who are cured by switching from cow's milk to soy milk: 44%

Lactose intolerance among people of Asian descent: 90%-100%
Lactose intolerance among Native Americans: 95%
Lactose intolerance among people of African descent: 65%-75%
Lactose intolerance among people of Italian descent: 65%-70%
Lactose intolerance among people of Hispanic descent: 50%-60%
Lactose intolerance among people of Caucasian descent: 10%

Average American's estimate when asked what percentage of adults worldwide do not drink milk: 1%
Actual number of adults worldwide who do not drink milk: 65%

DIET AND PROTEIN NEEDS

Protein in human mother's breast milk (as percentage of total calories): 5%
Human protein requirement (according to World Health Organization) 5% of total calories
Recommended protein requirement (according to Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences: 6% of total calories
Recommended protein requirement, including substantial added safety margin (according to National Research Council): 8% of total calories

Primary disease linked to inadequate protein consumption: kwashiorkor
Number of cases of kwashiorkor in the U.S.: virtually none

Primary diseases linked to EXCESS protein consumption: Osteoporosis and kidney disease
Number of cases of osteoporosis and kidney disease in the U.S.: tens of millions

DIET AND FOOD-BORNE ILLNESS

"A report by the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 89 percent of U.S. beef ground into patties contains traces of the deadly E. coli strain."
- Reuters News Service

"Year after year the egg industry goes to [Congress] to try to turn back public health improvements. Eggs remain at the top of the list of foods that are causing food-borne outbreaks."
- Center for Science in the Public Interest

"Five to ten percent of all cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations. By contrast, 70 to 80 percent have been linked to [diet and other] behavioral factors."
-Karen Emmons, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

"First it was E. coli and Salmonella poisoning, then the Mad Cow disease, and now the Hong Kong flu…what do these growing epidemics have in common? They are all transmitted to human consumers through chickens and other animals raised in factory farms. And little wonder. In the filthy, crowded pens, harmless microorganisms mutate into virulent pathogens. Routine use of antibiotics ensures their resistance to life-saving drugs. It makes one wax nostalgic for the good old days when meat eating was associated only with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and atherosclerosis"
- WorldWatch journal.

"Public health is united in the conclusion. There is no controversy about where the antibiotic resistance in food-borne pathogens comes from…(It) is due to the heavy use of antibiotics in livestock."
- Dr. Frederick J. Angulo, epidemiologst in the food-borne and diarrheal disease branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1999.

Primary source of E. coli 0157:H7 infections: Hamburgers and other forms of ground beef
Potential consequence of ingestion of deadly E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria in humans: Devastating illness with multiple organ failure and high death rate
Long-term afflictions suffered by many survivors of E. coli 0157:H7 poisoning: Epilepsy, blindness, lung damage, kidney failure

Leading cause of kidney failure in U.S. and Canadian children: Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome that are caused by E. coli 0127:H7: 85%

Americans sickened from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: More than 650,000
Americans killed from eating Salmonella-tainted eggs every year: 600
Increase in Salmonella poisoning from raw or undercooked eggs between 1976 and 1986: 600 percent

Annual Salmonella cases in Sweden: 800
Annual Salmonella cases in the United States: More than 1 million

Leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States: Campylobacter
People in the United States who become ill with Campylobacter poisoning every day: More than 5,000
Annual Campylobacter-related fatalities in the United States: More than 750
Primary source of Campylobacter bacteria: Contaminated chicken flesh
American chickens sufficiently contaminated with Campylobacter to cause illness: 70 percent
American turkeys sufficiently contaminated with Campylobacter to cause illness: 90 percent
Number of hens in three flocks screened for Campylobacter by University of Wisconsin researchers: 2,300
Number of hens that were NOT infected with Campylobacter: 8

Antibiotics produced in the U.S. annually: 25,000 tons
Antibiotics administered to livestock in the U.S. annually: 10,000 tons

Antibiotics allowed in U.S. milk: 80
Antibiotics found in soy milk: 0

FOOD CHOICES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

"The contamination of the nations' waterways from [pork] manure run-off is extremely serious. Twenty tons of [pork and other] livestock manure are produced for every household in the country. We have strict laws governing the disposal of human waste, but the regulations are lax, or often nonexistent, for animal waste."
- Union of Concerned Scientists

"A report by the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 89 percent of U.S. beef ground into patties contains traces of the deadly E. coli strain."
- Reuters News Service

The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways, and subdivision development combined."
- Philip Fradkin, in Audubon

Gallons of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez: 12 million
Gallons of animal waste spilled into the Neuse River in North Carolina on June 21, 1995, when a "lagoon" holding 8 acres of hog excrement burst: 25 million
Fish killed as an immediate result: 10-14 million
Fish whose breeding area was decimated by this disaster: Half of all mid-east coast fish species
Acres of coastal wetlands closed to shell fishing as a result: 364,000

Amount of waste produced by North Carolina's 7 million factory-raised hogs (stored in reeking, open cesspools) compared to the amount produced by the state's 6.5 million people: 4 to 1
Relative concentration of pathogens in hog waste compared to human sewage: 10 to 100 times greater

Number of poultry operations (according to the General Accounting Office) that are of sufficient size to be required to obtain a discharge permit under the Clean Water Act: About 2,000
Number (according to the General Accounting Office) that have actually done so: 39

Number of the 22 largest animal factories in Missouri that are required to have valid operating discharge permits, that actually have them: 2

Number one milk producing are in the U.S.: California's Central Valley
Amount of waste produced by the 1,600 dairies in California's Central Valley: More than the entire human population of Texas

Total number of water quality inspectors in California's Central Valley: 4
Cities that rely on California's Central Valley as a source of drinking water: Los Angeles, San Diego, and most cities in between.
Number of Californians whose drinking water is threatened by contamination from dairy manure: 20 million (65% of the state's population).

Pathogen, stemming from dairy manure, that sickened 400,000 people and killed more than 100 people in Milwaukee in 1993: Cryptosporidium
Pathogen that Los Angeles metropolitan water district officials say is a constant threat to L.A. drinking water from Central Valley dairy waste: Cryptosporidium
Number of California beach closings due to water pollution in 1998: 5,285

"American feed (for livestock) takes so much energy to grow that it might as well be a petroleum byproduct"
- WorldWatch Institute

Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from soybeans: 2
Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from corn or wheat: 3
Calories of fossil fuel expended to produce 1 calorie of protein from beef: 78
Amount of greenhouse-warming carbon gas released by driving a typical American car, in one day: 3 kilograms
Amount released by clearing and burning enough Costa Rican rainforest to produce beef for one hamburger: 75 kilograms

Number of species of birds in one square mile of Amazon rainforest: More than exist in all of North America
Life forms destroyed in the production of each fast-food hamburger made from rainforest beef: Members of 20 to 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species, and dozens of bird, mammal, and reptile species

Length of time before the Indonesian forests, all 280 million acres of them, would be completely gone if they were cleared to produce enough beef for Indonesians to eat as much beef, per person, as the people of the United States do: 3.5 years

Length of time before the Costa Rican rainforest would be completely gone if it were cleared to produce enough beef for the people of Costa Rica to eat as much beef, per person, as the people of the United States eat: 1 year

What a hamburger produced by clearing forest in India would cost if the real costs were included in the price rather than subsidized: $200

Most of the public lands in the West, and especially the Southwest, are what you might call 'cow burnt.' Almost anywhere and everywhere you go in the American West you find hordes of cows. . . They are a pest and a plague. They pollute our springs and streams and rivers. They infest our canyons, valleys, meadows and forests. They graze off the native bluestems and grama and bunch grasses, leaving behind jungles of prickly pear. They trample down the native forbs and shrubs and cacti. They spread the exotic cheatgrass, the Russian thistle, and the crested wheat grass. Even when the cattle are not physically present, you see the dung and the flies and the mud and the dust and the general destruction. If you don't see it, you'll smell it. The whole American West stinks of cattle."
- Edward Abbey, conservationist and author, in a speech before cattlemen at the University of Montana in 1985

World's mammalian species currently threatened with extinction: 25%
Leading cause of species in the tropical rainforests being threatened or eliminated: Livestock grazing
Leading cause of species in the United States being threatened or eliminated (according to the U.S. Congress General Accounting Office): Livestock grazing

FOOD CHOICES AND GENETIC ENGINEERING

"I have a feeling that science has transgressed a barrier that should have remained inviolate. . . . You cannot recall a new form of life. . .It will survive you and your children and your children's children. An irreversible attack on the biosphere is something so unheard of, so unthinkable in previous generations, that I only wish that mine had not been guilty of it."
- Erwin Chargaff, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, Columbia University, and discoverer of "Chargaff's Rules," the scientific foundation for the discovery of the DNA double helix

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."
- Phil Angell, Monsanto's Director of Corporate Communications, New York Times, 1999

"Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety."
- FDA Federal Register, Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties

"This technology is being promoted, in the face of concerns by respectable scientists and in the face of data to the contrary, by the very agencies which are supposed to be protecting human health and the environment. The bottom line, in my view, is that we are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is rapidly being deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences"
- Suzanne Wuerthele, toxicologist, U.S. EPA

"(Genetic engineering) faces our society with problems unprecedented, not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. It places in human hands the capacity to redesign living organisms, the products of some three billion years of evolution…up to now, living organisms have evolved very slowly, and new forms have had plenty of time to settle in. Now whole proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell…Going ahead in this direction may be not only unwise, but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer and new epidemics"
- George Wald, M.D., Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Professor of Biology, Harvard University

Total global area planted in genetically engineered crops, 1995: Negligible
Total global area planted in genetically engineered crops, 1996: 4 million acres
Total global area planted in genetically engineered crops, 1997: 27 million acres
Total global area planted in genetically engineered crops, 1998: 69 million acres
Total global area planted in genetically engineered crops, 1999: 99 million acres

Global transgenic acreage accounted for, in 2000, by soybeans: 54%
Global transgenic acreage accounted for, in 2000, by corn: 28%
Global transgenic acreage accounted for, in 2000, by cotton: 9%
Global transgenic acreage accounted for, in 2000, by canola: 9%

Fraction of American cows injected with genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH): About ¼
Reason for injecting cows with rBGH: To increase milk production
Amount of milk produced by American dairy farmers annually since 1950: Vastly more than Americans can consume.
Number of cows slaughtered as part of a U.S. federal government program to halt milk overproduction in 1986-87: 1.5 million

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in rBGH milk vs. normal milk: 2-10 times as much
Risk of prostate cancer in men over 60 years of age with high levels of IGF-1 compared to men with low levels: 8 times greater
Risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women with even small increases in blood levels of IGF-1 compared to women with low levels: up to 7 times greater

According to FDA researchers, IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization

Increase in mastitis in rBGH-treated cows: 25%
Increase in lameness in rBGH-treated cows: 50%
Monsanto's suggestion to counter the bovine health problems related to rBGH use: Greater use of antibiotics.


For footnotes, studies & sources cited for all above facts,
read: "The Food Revolution" by John Robbins


See also Pimentel's How Much Water for a Pound of Beef?

 
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