I’ve never really been one to shout “Go Vegan!”
While I wholeheartedly believe in the vegan diet, I never want to push my beliefs onto others. I think that if you hop on top of your soap box and start hollering about what you believe in, you’re going to turn the majority of your audience off by your delivery method.
I’m much more of a "lead by example" sort of person, and when others come to me with questions and curiosities I’ll gladly answer them. I'm not one to condemn others to the label of "murderer" by what they were raised on.
So, this isn’t me saying “go vegan or you’re a horrible person.” No, I just want to share a little information, and you can decide what you want to do with it.
Today, I want to talk about hormones and chemicals in meat. Tasty, right? Let’s start with a paragraph I pulled from the FDA website:
"Since the 1950s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of steroid hormone drugs for use in beef cattle and sheep, including natural estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and their synthetic versions. These drugs increase the animals’ growth rate and the efficiency by which they convert the feed they eat into meat.”
Alright, should be safe. I mean if the FDA approved it..
Why don't we look at 6 animal products accepted here in the U.S. animal but banned abroad:
+ US Beef — they are fed synthetic hormones in order to bulk them up [more meat per cow]. The National Cancer Association has raised concerns about the high rate of hormonal cancers. And in 1989 the European Economic Community banned this beef from being sold anywhere in the E.U.
+ Pigs, Cows and Turkeys who are fed Ractopamine — concerns have been raised about ractopamine causing anxiety and a higher heart rate in humans. The FDA has stated the potential increase in injury and lameness in pigs fed Ractopamine.
+ Farmed Salmon — raised on mixture of grain, antibiotics and other drugs because like most animals, fish don’t fare so well in pens. The result is gray-colored flesh, which is dosed with astaxanthin from petrochemicals, banned in Australia and New Zealand.
+ Arsenic-laced Chicken — added to feed to promote growth and kill parasites. In 1999 the E.U. banned arsenic being added to feed.
+ Chicken washed in Chlorine — if you are unfamiliar with the condition chickens are raised in, you must live under a rock. It’s no surprise that the chicken end up pretty sick by the end of their lives, and the solution — washing the slaughtered chickens in chlorine. The E.U. has banned chlorine chicken from the U.S. as well as the practice in the E.U.
+ Milk from cows given rBGH — Recombinant bovine growth hormone is given to dairy cows to increase the amount of milk they produce. The FDA approved its use in the U.S. in 1993, but it is not permitted in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and all of the E.U.
Here’s a fun fact for you: 80% of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on livestock. These are fed to livestock daily — not to avoid infection or sickness — but to make them gain weight. Researchers and doctors have this suspicion that this is aiding in the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Not surprisingly, there has been very little research done about the health implications of synthetic hormones in livestock. But the fear most have is that messing with the growth hormones may increase the insulin-like growth factor (IGF). Research has shown that milk from cows treated with rBGH has 10 times as much IGF than other milk. Higher blood levels of IGF has been connected to an increased risk of cancer in humans (65% high risk of hormone-dependent premenopausal breast cancer and almost a 50% higher risk of prostate cancer).
Another concern is the role this all plays in the rise of early puberty. There are many suspected factors in early puberty such as the higher rate of obesity and overweight children, processed foods and lack of exercise.
I love my fruits and veggies, but sadly the produce here in the U.S. is far from perfect. We’ve all heard of the “Dirty Dozen” and if you haven’t they’re the 12 most contaminated produce items:
+ sweet bell peppers
+ grapes (imported)
You're doing something wrong U.S. because there’s a lot of crap going into our food that isn’t good for us. But I believe awareness is key. I remained unaware until the age of 21. Unfortunately, it’s something you have to educate yourself on. You have to be your own health advocate. But my guess is that if you’re here then you’ve already begun your journey of self-education. Good for you, keep on going!