Mark Bittman of the New York Times brought us plant-based eaters some good news this week; (See link to article below my signature) he reported that Americans are definitely beginning to eat less meat.
After declining for several years, the Department of Agriculture projects that our meat and poultry consumption will fall again this year, to about 12.2 percent less in 2012 than it was in 2007
Beef consumption has been in decline for about 20 years; the drop in chicken is even more dramatic, over the last five years or so; pork also has been steadily slipping for about five years.
While it may be hard for most of us to detect, given the vast array of meat choices everywhere we go, the numbers don't lie. But they beg the question, "Why is our meat consumption dropping?" The meat people are blaming the decline on anything and everything -- and especially the government. They actually claim that the Feds have been "waging war on meat protein for the past thirty or forty years." Waging war? Mark took exception to that one and provided the following list of the battle plan of that alleged war on animal protein by our nation's government:
- a history of subsidies for the corn and soy that’s fed to livestock
- a nearly free pass on environmental degradation and animal abuse
- an unwillingness to meaningfully limit the use of antibiotics in animal feed
- a failure to curb the stifling power that corporate meatpackers wield over smaller ranchers
- and what amounts to a refusal — despite the advice of real, disinterested experts, true scientists in fact — to unequivocally tell American consumers that they should be eating less meat
Actually, Mark, they should be eating no meat, but thank you for your noble effort to shed some light on this miserable topic. Not only is our government definitely not waging war on the meat industry, they are also not telling us that well over 90% of heart disease and type 2 diabetes could be easily, and swiftly, reversed with a whole foods, plant-based diet. They also fail to tell us that most cancers can either be prevented, slowed or even reversed with that same diet.
Mark notes that "Nowhere does it (the report) mention that we’re eating less meat because we want to eat less meat." Yes, the word is beginning to creep out ever so slowly that meat is simply not good for us. But since most people consider meat to be beef or pork, they naturally assume that seafood or even chicken is okay. Actually, I was surprised to see that chicken consumption is declining.
So what is driving the decline? It's great to see that in spite of all that our government is doing to protect our meat and dairy industries, people are beginning to make up their own minds about what is best for them and their families. I would like to think that some of those better food choices have been driven by many concurrent activities:
My top ten list. The primary drivers of the movement away from meat
- The fact that almost one million Americans have read The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell -- a truly eye-opening book that should be in everyone's home.
- Bill Clinton's choice in 2010 to switch to an almost vegan diet after reading that book and also the books by Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish on reversing heart disease.
- The publicity for plant-based eating provided by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah, Chelsea Clinton and a host of others.
- The well-publicized successes of a handful of pioneering MD's that have been curing patients with broccoli and oatmeal for decades: McDougall, Furhman, Ornish, Esselstyn and others.
- The tireless efforts of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine headed by Dr. Neal Barnard in Washington, D.C.
- The explosive growth of Dr. Campbell's plant-based nutrition course at Cornell. Actually it's only administered by eCornell but is managed by his own foundation at tcolincampbell.org. It was dropped from the Cornell curriculum because of pressure from the meat and dairy industries from which they receive enormous sums of money.
- The recent success of the 2010 movie, Forks Over Knives, starring Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn.
- The Last Heart Attack special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta that aired several times on CNN in late 2011.
- Thousands of great vegan restaurants springing up across the land -- like the Elephant Walk in Boston or the Candle Cafe in New York, where the super cool people are beginning to frequent on a regular basis.
- The tireless efforts by many great organizations like VegSource and authors like John Robbins who have been spreading the good word about plant-based foods for decades.
The bottom line. Things are beginning to move in the right direction. But not nearly fast enough in my opinion. Yesterday, I spoke to a fairly sophisticated group of Rotarians at a club in coastal CT. No one in the room had heard about Bill Clinton changing his diet, The China Study, or the Sanjay Gupta special. No one had ever heard of Dr. Dean Ornish, who is arguably America's most famous "real doctor," appearing on the cover of Newsweek in 1999.
After my 20-minute talk, one of the Rotarians led off with the old protein question, for which I thanked him. He is the President of Madison Chrysler in Madison, CT and is now the proud owner of two copies of our book. He also has a 2005 Bentley for sale in his showroom -- a cream puff with only 10,000 miles. Ask for Tom, the asking price is only $70,000.
One more thing; you really should take a look at the Bittman article; it's really quite good. See bold link below.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com