In this COVID-19 pandemic, an amazing phenomenon has presented itself: people suddenly caring intensely about their health, and mobilizing with unprecedented measures to protect it. So why are they still making unhealthy food choices?
For example, I recently overheard a conversation between an elderly person and their gardener, discussing the new work protocol — leaving money in the garage, the gardener bringing their own tools to use, and wearing gloves to open the gate — but when offered to stop at the store and bring something to them, the elderly client requested a pint of milk. (Apparently no concern for touching a potentially contaminated surface there, hm.)
This is a crucial time for becoming aware of our choices, and specifically how what we eat leads to effects in the body. Dietary choices are tied to health outcomes, which are tied to quality of life. How good you feel, and how susceptible you are to illness, as well as how fast you may recover from illness, all depend on what you put into your body — and it has far more of an effect than you may think.
Dairy = Overweight, Inflammation, Cancer Risk, and Overall Poor Health
While meat also poses similar risks, I start with dairy because most people don’t eat nearly as much meat as they do dairy. When you eat meat, you know you’re eating meat, and further, it’s easier to omit.
Dairy, on the other hand, comes in many different disguises, some of which you may not consider as being dairy since they are so highly processed and pervasive. It’s everywhere — and it’s toxic.
Pizza, ice cream, milk or cream in your tea or coffee, milk in your cereal, cream cheese on your bagel, cheddar cheese on your nachos, alfredo sauce on your pasta, whipped cream in your dessert, cheese with your crackers, butter on your toast, cream in your soup, sour cream and cheese on your taco or burrito, on and on. Look at pretty much every item in a restaurant, supermarket, school, or social event, and it probably has dairy in it. It’s literally everywhere.
This is what’s making hundreds of millions of people fat. And for others, like me, it results in other conditions, such as acne. These are two immediate visual cues that we need to make drastically different food choices. To continue these dietary patterns for decades is to put ourselves in prime condition for chronic degenerative diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer — which altogether put into decline and kill millions of people per year, far more than COVID-19 can even hope to achieve.
Unfortunately, this information has not been nearly as in your face as the pandemic panic, so the masses aren’t focusing on it and are not as aware of it. But still, almost everyone I meet comments on the fact that I’m thin and they’re not, and some either ask me what they can do about their weight, or just in general express unhappiness with their weight.
And I feel for them, because they don’t know. They don’t know what’s causing it or what to do about it. It’s not taught in our schools or social settings, where disease-causing foods are the norm and conflicting misinformation is rife. They think maybe it’s sugar (no — sugar is addictive, but it doesn’t put fat on the body). They try to join complicated diet systems like Weight Watchers and Intermittent Fasting and Keto (no, no and no — Keto especially is dangerous and a very unnatural way of eating). And then they blame themselves (hurt themselves even more) when none of it works.
This is what I have to say to them:
The only thing you have to do to lose weight is to give up dairy.
Though I’m not overweight (and never have been; I chalk it up to a high metabolism and constant brain activity), as mentioned above, dairy manifested in other problems for me, specifically acne, so I still had to give it up. But for most people, dairy results in excess body fat.
Why? There are two things about dairy that make it extremely fat-forming:
- Saturated fat, which transfers directly to fat cells in the body in as little as four hours. Do not be misled by labels that say things like “reduced fat”, “fat free”, etc., because the marketers have just done some crazy deceptive math to pull the wool over your eyes and get the money from your wallet. You might think you’re making a healthy decision with these products, as you are led to believe by the deceptive labeling, but even skim milk is still 30% fat or more (and 2% milk is definitely not 2% fat, as is easily implied by the label — it’s more like 50%). Bottom line: fat in the diet = fat in the body. Animal products, including dairy, are the highest fat foods on the market.
- IGF-1 — this is a growth hormone naturally produced by cows (and other animals, including humans), which is intended to grow their offspring from a cute little calf into a massive beast of several hundred pounds in a matter of months. The logic isn’t hard to apply on what it’s doing to humans, especially adults who consume it well after childhood, which is the only time when milk is really needed and intended to be consumed. Milk is meant for growing bodies, and to continue to consume it after the body is fully grown — well, that leads to growing some other things too. Fat cells and cancer cells feast on IGF-1. To supply them with this growth hormone by continuing to consume dairy is to literally feed the disease.
How to stop eating dairy and experience better health
Fortunately, it’s easier now than ever before to replace dairy products with vegan alternatives. While I don’t recommend using too many of them over the long term, as many of them are processed and manufactured, they can definitely bridge the gap when removing dairy from your diet, and it’s not painful to do so. For example, buy vegan butter instead of cow butter, vegan cheese instead of cow or goat cheese, and soy or oat milk instead of cow milk.
A quick note about soy: many people have avoided soy due to its phytoestrogen content. However, soy phytoestrogen has actually been shown to have beneficial effects, especially in women with breast cancer or who are menopausal. Men also need not avoid soy milk, as they get far more phytoestrogen exposure from the hops in their beer! They would have to drink two cartons of soy milk per day to develop the man-boobs that are commonly seen in heavy beer drinkers.
Of course, organic is always better, if you can get it (to avoid GMO and pesticides, as well as to not fund the corporations and governments behind these).
If you are wondering where to start: make an inventory of your kitchen and all the restaurants you eat from in a week. Some of the things will be obviously dairy, such as milk or cheese. For other things, you may have to check the ingredients label — you may be surprised to find how many processed foods are hidden sources of dairy.
Once you have your inventory, see what can be replaced with a vegan alternative. Find other restaurants and cafes to patronize that are vegan-friendly (there are many now), or ask if your favorite dish can be made vegan — many restaurants can accommodate this request easily, especially Asian cuisines such as Thai.
You will have to be vigilant with this, because again, it’s everywhere. There will probably be a few misses, which is especially prone to happen when around others and they offer you something. It’s okay to say no — it’s respect for yourself — but if you do accept, don’t give yourself grief about it. Just enjoy the moment and keep going.
Now, give it thirty days. You don’t have to commit to the rest of your life. But when you see the results after just 30 days, you will most likely want to.
But please note: too much vegan junk food is still junk food. For weight loss and health gain, it’s best to opt for whole plant foods, which should make up 85-90% of your daily calorie intake.
Shifting to optimal health with whole foods
This is where you will really see some major health shifts. Eating a plate that is full of delicious whole plant foods that come from the Earth, such as lentils, chard, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, savory herbs, roasted pumpkin — mmm! These foods are so nourishing and make you feel great long after eating, because they work on benefiting the body and healing disease.
The whole food plant based diet is the only diet that’s proven to reverse heart disease — a condition that kills more than half a million people each year. And this is a condition that is almost always preceded by overweight and obesity.
Being at a healthy weight is also relevant to coronavirus, as 70% of patients admitted were overweight or obese. Whole plant foods also do wonders for building the immune system, whereas dairy actually drives production of mucus and phlegm — further increasing vulnerability to the virus. So does it really make sense to be taking extraordinary measures to avoid illness, while at the same time drinking milk, which is a major driver of imbalance and illness?
Times of great crisis are calls for change. It’s very obvious now the system we have been living in is not sustainable, and the change we need is not going to come from this system either. Look to the Earth for change, look to the Earth to sustain you. Real love and life from Earth is all around.