Plant Options

Attending a well-known agricultural school in the South famous for its dairy, the following may seem controversial. However, we should take a critical look at what we consume and how it, and other products, are produced.

I believe all life has value and is important based on my religious and ethical views. Due to this, I have always had problems with the meat industry. Within the last year, I have realized the dairy, egg and any animal product industry are equally to blame for cruelty and death as well.  

Not only are these industries horrible to animals, but they also play a major role in many environmental problems we are facing. Since Mississippi State University is one of the top schools when it comes to agriculture, it would only make sense that we should strive to be a leader when it comes to food sustainability.

This would allow students to have foods that are not genetically modified and are less processed. This could even eventually allow the university to spend less money on food. It would also be better for the environment by having less distance to travel. In doing this, we should be encouraging students to eat less animal products and have more plant-based foods.

Students' health should be one of the top priorities of the school. Meat and dairy are often seen as healthy things to eat, however, it is not all it is advertised to be. We all know hotdogs are bad for you; however, bacon, red meat and other processed meats also raise your risks of getting cancer.

According to Allison Aubrey from NPR, "A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer and concluded eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer ... The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos."

Obviously, Aubrey refers to the long-term effect, or else it would not be seen as safe to eat meat. Dairy has its own health risks and is super easy to avoid and replace, although, there is not much selection for these alternatives here. Many people are lactose intolerant, which is an extremely common problem to have involving dairy.

Many people have lactose intolerance because we simply are not made to drink cow milk. It is meant for baby cows, not humans.

According to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, dairy is also linked to heart disease. "Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet. Milk products also contain cholesterol. Diets high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, which remains America’s top killer," Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explained.

This is important because we should care about our short-term health as well as our long-term health. Another reason we should care about this research is because health is not guaranteed, and we should do everything in our power to stay as healthy as possible. 

A current global focus in helping the environment is reducing and potentially eliminating single-use plastics. However, the meat industry also causes many problems for the environment. One major effect on the environment is deforestation. With the number of trees getting cut down, we are not putting anything in its place which comes with many other consequences.

According to Damian Carrington of The Guardian, "The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75 (percent) - an area equivalent to the U.S., China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife."

As a school, we tend to focus on recycling and plastics. However, we should also do what we can to deal with issues like deforestation and animal extinction. This school has done many things in an effort to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. This is great, however, at the rate we are destroying the planet, our university and others should do as much as possible to face these problems head on.

Due to all this, MSU should advertise its plant-based options instead of putting them in hard-to-find locations. Another way the school could encourage students to try plant-based options is giving more variety than curry, salads and some foods from the allergy-free section. Even though I really like curry, I tend to avoid the vegan section due to the monotony of it.

The vegan selection at The Perry Cafeteria is limited, and people with this diet are essentially restricted to eating the same thing every day in the cafeterias. We could also try encouraging students to try meatless Mondays. Reducing your meat and dairy intake will help not only help your health and the environment, but you would also save an animal’s life.

So, save an animal, eat some plants.

(1) comment


@ Hallie Green, You say, "Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet." You believe saturated fats clog arteries? In light of the following, you might want to rethink that.

In a 2016 article, T. Colin Campbell, the scientist who coined the phrase 'plant-based diet', said this: "The evidence that saturated fat is a major cause of heart disease, and possibly certain cancers, arises primarily from studies showing a high correlation between saturated fat-laden diets with more heart disease. This is a classic case where correlation does not necessarily mean causation, a serious misinterpretation. Blindly accepting saturated fat as the causation of heart disease was a mistake. It is not biologically plausible, and this relationship should have been questioned." (Web search - T. Colin Campbell Saturated Fat)

In a 2015 letter submitted to the secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said, "In the spirit of the 2015 DGAC's commendable revision of previous DGAC recommendations to limit dietary cholesterol, the Academy suggests that HHS and USDA support a similar revision deemphasizing saturated fat as a nutrient of concern. While the body of research linking saturated fat intake to the modulation of LDL and other circulating lipoprotein concentrations is significant, this evidence is essentially irrelevant to the question of the relationship between diet and risk for cardiovascular disease. The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on the use of biomarkers as surrogates for disease outcomes examined LDL and HDL as case studies and concluded "unequivocally" (emphasis mine) that they were not suitable for use as surrogates for the impact of diet on heart disease." (Web search - Academy Comments re the DGAC Scientific Report)

Excerpt from a 1967 British Heart Journal article by S. L. Malhotra. "The South Indians eat largely seed oils containing as much as 45 per cent poly-unsaturated fatty acids, whereas ghee and other milk fats eaten by the Punjabis contain only 2 per cent polyunsaturated fatty acids...A survey of the incidence of acute myocardial infarction and the dietary behaviour in railway populations in India showed that the disease was 7 times more common among South Indians as compared with the Punjabis in the North, even though the fat intake of Punjabis was 8-19 times more than that of South Indians, and was chiefly of animal origin." (Web Search - Br Heart J S. L. Malhotra 1967)

Excerpt from a 2016 'Times of India' article: Clarified butter remained India’s culinary star for centuries till it was sidelined in the 1980s by vegetable oils because of its high saturated fat.The new oils were aggressively marketed as superior and heart-healthy.
Of late, research has shown that saturated fats have no link to obesity, heart disease or early death. (Web search - Ghee With Glee)

Excerpt from a book chapter: "It is especially dietary saturated fat acid (SFA) consumption that has been thought to lead to the elevation of these blood factors which are highly indicative of CHD risk. Most recently, through meta-analyses of large international studies, the consumption of SFA has been de-vilified and the causal link between these parameters and CHD disproven." (Web search - Annadie Krygsman metabolic syndrome intech)

The actual cause of CHD is controversial. Excerpt from 2012 ASBMB article: "For almost 20 years, scientists have been arguing over whether Americans and others on a typical Western diet are eating too much of omega-6s, a class of essential fatty acids. Some experts, notably ones affiliated with the American Heart Association, credit our current intake of omega-6s with lowering the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Others, which include biochemists, say the relatively high intake of omega-6 is a reason for a slew of chronic illnesses in the Western world, including asthma, various cancers, neurological disorders and cardiovascular disease itself." (Web search - ASBMB An essential debate)

The controversy exists due to gaps in the experimental evidence base: Excerpt from the 2010 ISSFAL Dinner Debate: "Prof. Uauy noted an unsettled issue of great importance: the need for data comparing the effects of omega-3 PUFAs at varying backgrounds of omega-6 PUFAs. Until there are new data to sort this out, we should be cautious in defining recommendations, he stated. There was also a suggestion from the floor that AHA withdraw its advisory statement, to which Prof. Harris responded that he was all for more data, but in his opinion AHA would be unlikely to withdraw the statement. The debate concluded with agreement by all that we need a randomized controlled trial to compare the effect of low and high intakes of LA. The trial should have typical US intakes of omega-3 PUFAs, with 7.5% energy from LA (the current US intake) in one group and 2.0% LA (historical intake) in the other. It would study cardiac endpoints and continue for about 5 years." (Web search - 2010 ISSFAl Dinner Debate)

If saturated fat does not clog arteries, what does? I'd say the arachidonic acid in meat is a likely culprit. (Web search - BMJ arachidonic acid, Olaf Adam arachidonic acid, obesity arachidonic acid, metabolic syndrome arachidonic acid, cancer arachidonic acid, heart disease arachidonic acid, alzheimer's arachidonic acid, depression arachidonic acid, diabetes arachidonic acid, Amanda Radke arachidonic acid, Philip Calder arachidonic acid)

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