Stanford MD Endorses Plant-Based Diet
Recently, Stanford Professor of Medicine Randall Stafford spoke up about the ill health effects of eating meat via a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):
“The health benefits of specific components of plants have been documented, as have the harms associated with constituents largely unique to meat,” he wrote. “Vegetarian diets have been associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality by as much as 29 percent and cancer incidence by 18 percent.”
In a recent interview, Dr. Stafford, who is an expert in preventive medicine, discussed the letter, which is critical of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for releasing dietary guidelines that do not fully inform the American public about the negative effects of eating meat. He summarizes his views on the relationship between meat and human health:
“People who consume meat generally have worse health outcomes, particularly in terms of heart disease, stroke and cancer. On the flip side, clinical trials show that people who eat mostly plants have better health outcomes. And the evidence goes further than just suggesting an association — it shows that plant-based diets directly cause better health.”
Dr. Stafford makes a further point about dietary guidelines, (emphasis added):
“It would be much more direct to simply tell consumers to eat less meat. And that would be the most effective way to reduce the consumption of saturated fats.
Despite the tendency of consumers to be attracted to fad diets, I think Americans are more ready than ever to hear a simple recommendation to eat less meat. The dietary evidence is stronger today than it’s ever been. And I think consumers are also uncomfortable with both the environmental impact of their diets and the issues surrounding the ethical treatment of animals.The time is right for the USDA to be more direct in their recommendations, even if it means making a recommendation that is contrary to the interests of some entrenched food manufacturers.”
The elephants in the room here are the powerful meat and dairy lobbies, which tend to influence USDA dietary guidelines due to their vested interest in keeping people hooked on and purchasing meat and dairy products. Dr. Stafford suggests the following strategies for scientists and consumers:
“I certainly think more pressure from scientists to have the USDA state the obvious consequences of the data would help. I also think it’s important that consumers complain to the USDA that the guidance is not nearly as clear as it could have been.”
At Alchemus Prime we advocate a more direct approach, nurturing integrated solutions at the individual, team, and community levels. We encourage and help clients to implement immediate behaviors that have multiple benefits; eating a plant-based diet has positive impacts for climate change, animal welfare, water scarcity, and land degradation. Changing your own dietary habits over time, specifically shifting away from meat and dairy, is your way of doing the right thing for yourself and all life. The neat part about it is that you can begin today with immediate positive benefits for everyone.
Every meal is an opportunity for (r)evolution.