Smarter Eating: Micro vs. Macro

This was a blog entry I posted in a work community forum (Smarter Eating), and I thought it was worth sharing on my regular, public blog:


Many of us tend to conceive of issues like health at the microscopic level, that is, what effects do particular substances have on us, specifically on our cells and tissues?  For example, how does a diet high in cholesterol affect our blood vessels (answer: atherosclerosis) or why do we need Vitamin A (answer: eyesight/immune function)?   These are certainly valid considerations and a good understanding of nutrition has led many to conclude that most of us humans need a diet primarily sourced from plants, including a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and grains.

However, if you consider “health” from a macroscopic level, expanding our consideration outside of our bodies and immediate circle of friends and family, to include the well-being of human beings across the globe, plants, animals and the environment, the case for a plant-based diet is even more compelling.

1. Plant agriculture is much more efficient than animal agriculture.  Most farmed animals simply convert plant energy into their own energy (for moving or reproduction), just as humans do when they eat plants. After significant quantities of plants are eaten, to then convert the animals (or their reproductive fluids) into human food products, requires a lot more energy and resources (to grow the plants, to store and transport the plants, not to mention the significantly larger quantity of plants & plant energy compared to the relatively little animal energy available for animal agriculture).  This wasn’t such a problem 100 years ago, but with 7 billion humans on the planet (and expected to keep growing), animal agriculture is completely unsustainable.

2. Plant agriculture is non-violent. One of the largest social problems facing our world is human-to-human violence, and a culture of violence prevents the prospect of peaceful coexistence. The most pervasive violence in most of human culture is human violence against animals, the implicit acceptance of which helps enable violence against humans. Genocide and other atrocities are often justified by conceptualizing particular human beings as “animals.”  Imagine how that would change if animals were not considered “disposable” and “insentient” – the mental adjustment to “slaughter” humans would be that much more difficult.   Also, slaughterhouse workers experience perhaps the worst kind of work environment, not only witnessing and perpetuating extreme violence on a daily basis, but also highly susceptible to  violent accidents, including dismemberment and death.

Since plant agriculture is peace-promoting, better for the environment [more efficient than animal agriculture] and a diet rich in plant foods is optimal for our health, it makes sense that we all shift towards smarter eating , by adopting vegan diets to help the growing human population to peacefully coexist with each other, the animals and the environment.

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