I visited a zen monastery last week, ate amazing vegetarian cuisine, tried to meditate, and just admired the glow emanating from the monks. I felt refreshed after four days of this lifestyle, but I wondered – are there facts to back up the impression that I was healthier?
There are! A study just conducted, one of the first to measure diet in relation to phthalate and antibiotic levels in the body, indicates that a diet free of animal products, especially meat, can significantly lower chemical levels in the body within a relatively short time frame.
25 participants in this study lived in a Buddhist monastery and adopted the monk’s lifestyle, including their vegetarian diet, for five days.
Phthalates disrupt hormonal functions in the body, especially in reproductive organs and the brain. They are generally used to keep plastics soft, and are also added to pesticides. They enter the food supply through processing and packaging.
Antibiotics are widely administered to livestock to keep animals healthy and promote growth.
Here is the article – Environmental Health News
That we should aspire to a diet more rich in vegetables and unprocessed foods is not news to many of us. But it’s good to get more of the facts – If we eat a lot of meat, we are not only exposing ourselves to well-known dietary risks like obesity and high cholesterol, but also to potentially dangerous chemicals.
It’s also interesting that this news precedes the “Frankenfish” debate. Salmon are a dwindling species, their numbers halved by damming in the US in the early 1900’s. Now, they are endangered in rivers that in the 1800’s used to support over 90 metric tons of wild Atlantic salmon.
Instead of considering eating less salmon and/or putting up fewer dams, one option proposed is to genetically modify salmon so that the fish grow larger and more abundant. And now the FDA is considering not even requiring a label stating that the salmon has been genetically engineered.
The effects of genetically engineered meat on human health has not been determined. But you can check out all the available information in reports posted on the FDA’s website:
And read a Boston Globe columnist’s opinion about it:
I prefer to stick to my weekly organic produce delivery, and the recipes from the zen monastery. Did you know that, with the right sauce, tofu can taste just like southern barbeque?