How Some Healthy Foods Can Be Bad For The Environment

Vegetarians,put down your pitchforks. Meat-eaters, less of the smug grin. Yes, this article is about some of the environmental issues associated with vegetable-rich diets within the U.S., but it is not an attack on the ethics-drivendietary choices of people and it shouldnt be used as such.

A new study has looked at what would happen if the entire U.S.populationfollowed exactlythe dietary guidelines from the Department of Agriculture(USDA). The team modeledthree different scenarios: a reduction in calories consumed but no changes in diet;a shift to a more vegetable-heavy diet but no caloric reduction;and a mix of the two, which is the one recommended by the USDA.

The study, which is published inEnvironment Systems and Decisions, aims to highlight how complicated it is to balance environmental issues and human needs.

The researchersinvestigated three parameters for thescenarios: energy use for food production, blue water footprint (the amount of freshwater necessary to produce a product), and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In scenario 1,quantities of these variables were reduced by about nine percent, which is unsurprising since the only change was the consumption of fewer calories.

The diets in scenario 2 and 3 have more fish, vegetables, and fruit compared to the average U.S. diet. The higher intake of these healthy foods is balanced by a reduction in meat, solid fats, and added sugars. While this diet is good news for our bodies, as evidenced by the many benefits thought to be offered by the famous Mediterranean diet,the study suggests it might not be so good for the environment.

All three parameters actually increased under scenarios 2 and 3. For scenario 3, energy use went up by 38 percent, water use by 10 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions by six percent. Scenario 2 was found to beeven worse. But why is that?Per Calorie, production of vegetables requires more energy and water than meat, but generates only one-quarter of GHG emissions compared to beef.

Also, the study investigated a vegetarian diet, not a vegan one. “Dairy, by far, has the greatest impact on increased GHGemissions because it has the third highest emissionsintensity value, which is then compounded by USDA recommendationsfor substantial increases in dairy,” wrote the authors in thepaper.

Theres a complex relationship between diet and the environment, Michelle Tom, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University and lead author on the paper, said in a statement. What is good for us health-wise isnt always whats best for the environment. Thats important for public officials to know and for them to be cognizant of these tradeoffs as they develop or continue to develop dietary guidelines in the future.

Another food grouprecommended by the USDA guidelines is fish.Fish has a tiny blue water footprint, as most of the fish that reachour tables come from the ocean, but this advantage is offset by high energy demands. Fisheries often need to move far from the shore, requiring significant amounts of fuel for transport and creating GHG emissions along the way.

This study is not universal, though. Its specific to the U.S., so dietary requirements, infrastructure, andcurrenteatinghabitsneed to be taken into account when makinggeneral conclusions about vegetable-rich diets. A similar dietary guideline inEuropewould actually reduce energy use, blue water footprint,and GHG emissions, largely due to the fact that food is often produced more locally.

The researchers also looked at how the parameters changefor the three scenarios based on food waste.Between 34 and 42 percent of food produced is wasted every year. The paper shows that if we could significantly reduce the amount of wasted food, our impact on the environment wouldbe drastically reduced no matter our diet. Last week, for example, Francepassed a very strict lawto fightfood waste, an important step toward a global culture of sustainable food production.

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Destroying The Vegan Umbrella

Charlie the not so vegan cheetah has come up with more excuses not to debate me. Even though this debate isn't going to happen I still want to destroy his vegan umbrella concept.

Thevegancheetah's video:
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Caldwell Esselstyn, MD — “No More Heart Attacks — Ever”

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women. But, as Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., a former internationally known surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic, explains, it can be prevented, reversed, and even abolished. Dr. Esselstyn argues that conventional cardiology has failed patients by developing treatments that focus only on the symptoms of heart disease, rather than the cause.

This is a 10-minute excerpt from Dr. Esselstyn's 90-minute talk at the Healthy Lifestyle Expo 2007. To get a DVD containing the full talk, along with fascinating presentations of 11 other experts, see and click on "STORE."

Making Heart Attacks History: Caldwell Esselstyn at TEDxCambridge 2011

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn argues that heart attacks, the leading cause of death for men and women worldwide, are a "food borne illness" and explains why diet is the most powerful medicine. Be sure to check out 11:39. Veggie freestyle!

Learn more about TEDxCambridge at .

Dr Pam Popper: Early Warning Signs of Heart Disease; Is It Possible to Exercise Too Much?

Even a little bit of plaque significantly increases the risk of heart attack and death – here’s some motivation for improving your diet now!

And, in case you are wondering, there is no such thing as exercising too much; the risk is in staying sedentary.

40 Year Vegan Dies of a Heart Attack! Why? The Omega-3 and B12 Myth with Dr. Michael Greger

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Video from 2003

About Dr. Michael Greger
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, among countless other symposia and institutions; testified before Congress; has appeared on shows such as The Colbert Report and The Dr. Oz Show; and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. Currently, Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. Dr. Greger's recent scientific publications in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, Critical Reviews in Microbiology, Family & Community Health, and the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition, and Public Health explore the public health implications of industrialized animal agriculture. Dr. Greger is also licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition and is a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He was featured on the Healthy Living Channel promoting his latest nutrition DVDs and honored to teach part of Dr. T. Colin Campbell's esteemed nutrition course at Cornell University. Dr. Greger's nutrition work can be found at, which is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity. His latest two books are Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching and Carbophobia: The Scary Truth Behind America's Low Carb Craze. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Dr. Michael Greger talks about why a 40 year vegan dies of a heart attack and all about omega 3's and B12 nutrition and why these two nutrients are so important to all vegans and everyone else.

Can vegans die from a heart attack?
Yes, it has happened to this 40 year old vegan, vegetarian since birth.

Can vegans die of the same diseases that plague people on the Western standard diet of meat, dairy and eggs? Sure! Dr. Michael Greger tells us why and how to prevent this.

We can prevent many illnesses and diseases as a vegan. As a vegan we are not full proof. In today's society because of washing our produce, chlorinating our water supply and soil being deficient we may need to supplement certain nutrients.

Some amazing facts, documentation, stats and a whole lot of scientific information presented in this lecture. Informative. I never knew this until I saw the video. Amazing video! A must see for everyone, including vegans and vegetarians.

Another important video from Dr. Rick Dina on fats