From the Book "SAVOR - MINDFUL EATING, MINDFUL LIFE" by THICH NHAT HANH & DR. LILIAN CHEUNG
Page 49) In fact, much of the world's suffering comes from not eating mindfully, from not looking deeply into what and how we eat. This mindless eating can lead to weight gain and the diseases caused by poor nutrition, and it takes its toll on the health of the planet also. We have to learn ways to eat that preserve the health and well - being of our body, our spirit, and our planet.
Looking deeply at the way we eat from a global perspective, we can see that meat production is a huge drain on the planet. The United Nations report Livestock's Long Shadow, an in - depth assessment of the damaging impact of livestock on our environment, concluded that livestock's negative effect on our environment is massive and that we need to address it with urgency. The report estimates that raising livestock uses 8 percent of our planet's water and contributes strongly to water depletion and pollution. Some scientists have estimated that it takes one hundred times as much water to produce a kilogram of beef as it does to produce a kilogram of protein from grain. Part of the reason that so much water is needed to produce livestock is that cattle are fattened on vast amounts of grain, which requires water to grow. In the United States, cattle consume 7 times as much grain as the U.S. population as a whole.
An Environmental Protection Agency report on U.S. agricultural crop production in 2000 states that, according to the National Corn Growers Association, about 80 percent of all corn grown in the United States is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production. Yet, ironically, more than 9 thousand children die each day from causes related to hunger and undernutrition. It is a painful realization that the grain and resources we use to raise livestock could be used more directly instead to feed the starving and malnourished children in the world.
Furthermore, a 2008 report by the Pew Charitable Trust and the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that factory farming in the United States is taking a heavy toll on human health and the health of the environment - and that keeping livestock in these "concentrated animal feeding operations" constitutes inhumane treatment.
Page 51) Animal waste pollutes the water and air around the farms, causing illness among farmworkers and farm neighbors, as well as land degradation. Heavy use of antibiotics in factory farming leads to new strains of viruses and bacteria resistant to antibiotics, creating "superbugs" that may pose a public health threat to us all. In the report, the experts recommended phasing out and banning the use of antibiotics in farm animals except for the treatment of disease, instituting tighter regulation of factory farm waste, and phasing out intensive confinement systems.
The devastating environmental and societal impact of raising livestock goes beyond the use of water and land to grow food. Our society's hunger for meat contributes mightily to the production of climate - changing greenhouse gases. The livestock industry is responsible for 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, a higher share than the entire transportation sector. Seventy percent of forests in the Amazon have been cut to provide grazing land for cattle, and when such forests are destroyed, enormous amounts of carbon dioxide stored in trees are released into the atmosphere. The meat, dairy, and egg industries are also responsible for two - thirds of human - induced emissions of ammonia, which in turn plays a role in acid rain and the acidification of our ecosystem.
The data suggests that one of the best ways to alleviate the stress on our environment is to consume less meat and eat more plant - based food, which results in reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We do not need cattle to process the food for us. It is much better and more efficient for us to eat more plant - based food and process it ourselves. It may seem like a huge change for many people, but reducing the amount of meat and dairy in your diet is a great way to keep your weight in check, improve your overall health, and take steps toward improving the health of our planet. When we learn to eat more vegetables, grains, and beans mindfully, we will enjoy their taste, and we can be happy knowing that we are supporting a new kind of society in which there is enough food for everyone and no one will have to suffer from hunger.
Page 52) We must take urgent action at the individual and collective levels. For individuals, going toward vegetarianism can have great weight and health benefits. Vegans and vegetarians tend to weigh less than people who consume animal products; they also tend to have lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Many Buddhist traditions encourage vegetarianism. Although this practice is primarily based on the wish to nourish compassion toward animals, it also offers many health benefits. Now we also know that when we eat vegetarian, we protect the earth and help reduce the greenhouse effect hat is causing her serious and irreversible damage. Even if you cannot be 100 percent vegetarian, being a part time vegetarian and consuming a more plant - based diet is already better for your own health as well as the health of our shared planet.
You may want to start by eating vegetarian for a few days a month, or you can eat vegetarian only for breakfast and lunch every day. This way, you are already more than half vegetarian. If you feel that you cannot eliminate animal products from your diet for even one meal, simply reducing the portion of meat and eliminating processed meats like bacon, sausages, and ham can lower your risk of colon cancer and your risk of dying an early death from heart disease, cancer, or other causes. This is a good first step to adopting a more plant - based, healthful, environmentally friendly diet.
Using mindfulness to look deeply at what you eat can make it much easier to make such changes, because you realize the benefits they can bring to the planet and yourself - lower weight, lower risk of colon cancer and heart disease, and more energy for doing the things you enjoy. We are "interbeings": we and our environment are interdependent. And even small changes on our part can have a large impact when combined with others. Our market economy is driven primarily by consumer demand. As a population, if a large number of people make even small moves to eat less meat and more plant - based foods, the livestock industry will shrink. Over time, farmers will find other crops to support their livelihoods. Through such collective awakening we can make a difference in the world.
Page 107) Go with plants
A mindful diet for weight loss should first and foremost be a healthy diet - both for you and for the planet. And the first and most essential principle for healthy eating is to shift to a plant - based diet. Asians in particular have practiced vegetarianism for thousands of years. The ethical and environmental arguments for a plant - based diet are stronger than ever. The health benefits for eating a plant - based diet are equally strong.
Decades of research on hundreds of thousands of men and women has shown that eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats and low in refined grains and unhealthy fats can lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Vegans and vegetarians tend to weigh less and have lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol, and, in turn, a lowered risk of heart disease than people whose diets include some or all types of animal products, and they may also have lower risk of some cancers. Of course, for optimal health, vegans must take care to get adequate vitamin B12, vitamin D, and other nutrients they may be missing by avoiding animal foods.
There's also strong evidence of the health hazards associated with eating animal foods. The Center for Science in the Public Interest estimates that the saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs cause 63,000 heart - disease - related deaths a year in the United States and another 1,100 deaths a year from food poisoning. People who eat meat and processed meat have a higher risk of diabetes than individuals who follow a vegetarian diet.
High levels of red - meat consumption, and any level of processed - meat consumption, raises the risk of colon cancer, and eating meat, especially meat that is cooked to a high temperature, may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. The Nurses' Health Study II, meanwhile, followed nearly 40,000 women for seven years to determine the relationship between red - meat consumption and the risk of getting early breast cancer. It found that for every additional 3.5 ounces of red meat consumed per day - a portion of meat about the size of a medium fast - food hamburger - the risk of premenopausal breast cancer rose by 20 percent.
You do not need to become a 100 percent vegetarian to achieve the health benefits of a plant - based diet. Several studies have shown that following a "prudent" diet pattern - one that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats but does include some fish and poultry - rather than a meat - heavy diet may lower the risk of several deadly and disabling diseases, among them diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obstructive lung disease, as well as lower the risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or any other cause. A similar line of research has found evidence that following a Mediterranean - style - diet pattern, which is also plant based but includes dairy and fish, can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and cancer, as well as the risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, or any other cause. So you can benefit from becoming even a part - time vegetarian.
Page 108) When it comes to vegetables and fruits, the basic message comes down to 2 words: eat more. People who eat diets rich in vegetables and whole fruits may lower their blood pressure as well as their risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and possibly some cancers. Diets rich in vegetables and fruits may lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, and thus help protect your vision as you age.
The benefits of eating whole fruits and vegetables likely accrue from the nutrients that they provide, as well as from the absence of less - healthy or higher - calorie foods, which they replace on your plate. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, such as vitamin C, which gives a boost to the immune system and also acts as a powerful antioxidant, preventing cellular damage from free radicals; vitamin K for strong bones; and beta - carotene, a precursor to vitamin A and also an antioxidant. They are rich in minerals, including potassium, which may help lower blood pressure, and magnesium, which may help control blood glucose. They are also a great source of healthy carbohydrates, including fiber. Special plant chemicals, also known as phytochemicals, that give vegetables and fruits their bright colors may also play beneficial roles in protecting against disease. Lycopene, for example, a pigment that helps make tomatoes and watermelon such a vibrant red, may protect against prostate cancer. Lutein and zeaxanthin, other members of the carotenoid family, may help prevent age - related macular degeneration.
Page 109)To get the benefits of all these protective nutrients, make an effort to choose vegetables and fruits in a rainbow of colors every day. Include dark green varieties, such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens; yellow - orange, such as sweet potatoes and apricots, carrots and cantaloupe; red, such as tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, and red bell peppers; white, such as onions, garlic, and cauliflower; purple - blue, such as red cabbage, beets, and blueberries. Make it your goal to consume at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits a day, since several studies find that the heart - healthy benefits of vegetables and fruits begin to accrue at this level. More is certainly better. A serving is about 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or chopped fruit, or 1 cup of salad greens. To make it easier to gauge the portion, devote 1/2 your plate to vegetables or fruits at each meal.
THE PRACTICE of MINDFUL EATING
Page 118) Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip. You can practice it at any meal, whether you are alone in your kitchen or with others in a crowded restaurant. You can even practice mindful drinking when you pause to take a sip of water at your desk.
Mindful eating allows us to fully appreciate the sensory delight of eating and to be more conscious of the amount and nature of all that we eat and drink. When practiced to its fullest, mindful eating turns a simple meal into a spiritual experience, giving us a deep appreciation of all that went into the meal's creation as well a deep understanding of the relationship between the food on our table, our own health, and the planet's health.
Engaging in mindful eating, even if for only a few minutes, can help you recognize how the practice of mindfulness encompasses all spheres and activities, including ordinary tasks. Take drinking a glass of water: if we are fully aware that we are drinking the water, and we are not thinking of anything else, we are drinking with our whole body and mind. While eating, we can also be aware of how we feel and of how we consume, whether we are truly hungry, and whether we are making the best choices for our health and the health of the planet.
THE 7 PRACTICES of a MINDFUL EATER
1.) Honor the Food. Start the meal with the 5 contemplations, or with whatever traditional grace or prayer you prefer to use to express your gratitude. If you are eating with others, steer mealtime conversations toward the food: acknowledge the local farmer who grew your lettuce and tomatoes, thank the person who prepared the salad; or talk about other topics that help nourish your gratitude and connection to your food and to each other.
2.) Engage all 6 Senses. As you serve and eat your meal, notice the sounds, colors, smells, and textures as well as your mind's response to them, not just the taste. When you put the first bite of food in your mouth, pause briefly before chewing and notice its taste as though it was the first time you ever tasted it. With more practice in engaging all of your senses, you may notice that your tastes change, increasing your enjoyment of what you may once have perceived as "boring" health foods.
3.) Serve in Modest Portions. Moderation is an essential component of mindful eating. Not only does making a conscious effort to choose smaller portions help you avoid overeating and weight gain; it's also less wasteful of your household food budget and our planet's resources.
4.) Savor Small Bites, and Chew Thoroughly. Consciously choosing smaller bites and chewing them well can help you slow down your meal as well as allow you to fully experience the taste of your food. It can also help improve your digestion, since the process of breaking down our foods begins with enzymes in the mouth.
5.) Eat Slowly to Avoid Overeating. Eating slowly may help you notice when you are feeling pleasantly satisfied so that you can stop before you have eaten too much. There is a difference between feeling that you have had just about enough to eat and feeling as though you have eaten all that you possibly can eat. Mindful eaters practice the former so that they are not overtaxing their bodies - or overtaxing the planet's resources - by consuming more food than they need. In Chinese medicine, it is recommended to eat only until you are 80 percent full and never to "top off your tummy," because this weakens the digestive power of your stomach and intestines, putting too much stress on them over the long haul. Of course, avoiding overeating is half the secret to weight control. Getting enough activity is the other half.
6.) Don't Skip Meals. Skipping meals can make it harder to make mindful choices. When hunger strikes us, the strong forces of habit energy may lead us to grab whatever foods are close at hand - be they from a vending machine or a fast - food restaurant - and these foods may not further our healthy - eating or weight - loss goals. It is also good to eat your meals at the same time each day, to help your body settle into a consistent rhythm.
7.) Eat a Plant - Based Diet for Your Health and for the Planet. When mindful eaters look deeply at the meal they are about to eat, they see far beyond the rim of the plate. They see the dangerous toll that eating some types of animal foods can take on our bodies - the higher risks of colon cancer from red meat and processed meats, for example, or the higher risk of heart disease from the saturated fat found in meat and dairy products.
Researchers at the University of Chicago estimate that, when it's all added up, the average American could do more to reduce global warming emissions by going vegetarian than by switching from a Camry to a Prius. Even just switching from meat and dairy to poultry or eggs for one day a week could have a measurable impact on global warming - and a bigger environmental impact than choosing locally sourced foods.
ABOUT ZEN BUDDHIST MASTER THICH NHAT HANH
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. He has taken ancient Buddhist teachings and made them accessible and easy to understand for Western people.
His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.
Thich Nhat Hanh has published over 100 titles on meditation, mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism, as well as poems, children’s stories, and commentaries on ancient Buddhist texts. He has sold over three million books in America alone, some of the best-known include Being Peace, Peace Is Every Step, The Miracle of Mindfulness, The Art of Power, True Love and Anger.
Thich Nhat Hanh has been a pioneer in bringing Buddhism to the West, founding six monasteries and dozens of practice centers in America and Europe, as well as over 1,000 local mindfulness practice communities, known as ‘sanghas’.
He has built a thriving community of over 600 monks and nuns worldwide, who, together with his tens of thousands of lay students, apply his teachings on mindfulness, peace-making and community-building in schools, workplaces, businesses – and even prisons – throughout the world.
Thich Nhat Hanh, now in his 88th year, is a gentle, humble monk – the man Martin Luther King called “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” The media has called him “The Father of Mindfulness,” “The Other Dalai Lama” and “The Zen Master Who Fills Stadiums.”
VEGAN DIETS FIGHT ARTHRITIS & CANCER
PETA PRIME: Can a Plant-Based Diet Cure Cancer?
VEGAN DIETS FIGHT CANCER! - from the Huffington Post with Kathy Freston
VEGAN DIETS REVERSE DISEASE - from Scott's Buddhism & Vegetarian Blog
ANTI - CANCER DIET - by Dr. Richard Beliveau
FOODS & ARTHRITIS - PHYSICIANS COMMITTEE for RESPONSIBLE MEDICINE http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/foods-and-arthritis
HEALTHY at 100 & THE CHINA STUDY