Today we have Part 1 of a 3-part interview I recently did with Will Tuttle, author of the book The World Peace Diet.
Will Tuttle is a nationally recognized writer, educator, pianist and composer devoted to providing words and music that inspire insight and compassion. An award-winning author and Dharma Master in the Zen meditation tradition, his Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley focus on educating intuition, and he has taught college course in music, philosophy, mythology, and creativity.
His book, The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, has been called one of the most important books of the 21st century: the foundation of a new society based on the truth of the interconnectedness of all life.
It is the first book to make explicit the invisible connections between our culture, our food, and the source of our broad range of problems – and the way to a positive transformation in our individual and collective lives.
It is a brilliant book, and I highly recommend it. It is far-ranging in its scope, and leaves no stone unturned in its quest to help us all understand who we are and where we are going.
To learn more about Will Tuttle, and to buy his book, go to his website, http://willtuttle.com
Part 2 of this 3-part interview will be next time…
The Low Density Lifestyle book is now out! You can check out an excerpt from the book, and buy it, at the Low Density Lifestyle bookstore.
The Low Density Lifestyle book is now out! You can check out an excerpt from the book, and buy it, at the Low Density Lifestyle bookstore.
In an act of cowardice that only evil terrorists are capable of doing, an American icon, Ronald McDonald, was recently kidnapped and is being threatened with execution by Feb. 11, 2011, unless the demands of the terrorists are met.
What is wrong with these people? Don’t they understand that Ronald McDonald represents the pinnacle of American living? You can’t get much more Americana than Ronald.
I mean, if we allow this dastardly act to succeed, then we are all doomed – because then nothing will be sacred.
Who are these cowards who have committed this heinous act? Not much is fully known about them, except that they go by the name of the “Food Liberation Army.”
We do know the details of the crime. The perpetrators marched into a restaurant in Helsinki, Finland on Jan. 31 posing as maintenance personnel, and then kidnapped the statue of Ronald McDonald.
Since committing this reprehensible act, the group has posted a video on YouTube where, wearing hoods over their heads and holding the statue with a bag over its head, they demand that the world’s largest food chain answer questions about its corporate responsibility and food production. You can watch the video above.
“We love burgers, fries and McDonald’s, but we can no longer watch in silence as the food we love is being destroyed and brought to shame because of greed and indifference,” one of the terrorists said, speaking in Finnish.
And that’s the thing about terrorists. They can make themselves sound like they have a reasonable case, but we all know they are madmen bent on destruction.
For what are we without McDonalds? What would happen to our way of life?
I ask all of you, pray that Ronald McDonald is saved before the execution date of Feb. 11. But yet, we can never cave into the demands of terrorists.
For if they get their way, next they’ll be making demands that we have to eat things like brown rice and organic vegetables and locally produced foods.
And if that were to happen, it would be devastating to all the businesses that make mega-gobs of profits off the unhealthy living habits of people.
Today is the final segment in this three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.
In this interview we talk about talks about PETA”s mission; animal cruelty in slaughterhouses and on farms; the prevalence of E. coli and salmonella in animals and why this occurs; the detrimental effects of eating dairy foods; and PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest.
After you watch this video, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is a very enlightening discussion.
Today I give you the second part of a three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.
The other day was part 1 of this interview, and in this interview we carry on from there.
In this interview we talk about PETA’s outrageous billboard they put up in downtown Glasgow, Scotland; the health benefits of not eating meat; the relationship between eating meat and climate change – meat production is the number one cause of climate change; animal cruelty and the meat industry; how far removed we are from the source of our food; PETA’s educational outreach programs in schools; the origins of the swine flu; and much, more more.
I’m sure when you watch the above video you’ll agree with me that the discussion is an enlightening one.
To learn more about PETA, go to peta.org
This interview will be continued next time…
Last week I mentioned that PETA had announced their 2010 sexiest vegetarian male and female over 50 contest, and today I follow that up with the above video, which is the first part of a three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.
I’ve written about PETA in the past – I wrote articles about Mimi Kirk and Julian Winter, the winners of PETA’s 2009 sexiest vegetarian female and male, and I also did a three-part interview with Mimi.
I’ve also written about some of the outrageous things PETA has done with the article The PETA Hijinks. The article covered such things as their banned Super Bowl ad “Veggie Love,” their attempt to pay the city of Topeka, Kansas $6,000 to fill potholes in their streets and mark the repairs with messages condemning Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the billboard they put up in Glasgow, Scotland linking meat eating to man-boobs.
Today’s interview discusses PETA’s mission, their origins, their work in animal rights, their sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest (and their sexiest vegetarian next door contest), the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet, and their famous “Veggie Love” ad.
To be continued next time…
Last week I started a new series on Spirituality, and started it off with poetry by Vermont-based poet David Tucker.
Before I continue with the series, I have some news to pass on, courtesy of PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA has launched the 2010 SEXIEST VEGETARIAN OVER 50 CONTEST, with the tagline:
Healthy, Hot, and Compassionate—After Five Decades, These Folks Are Just Getting Started
Why am I passing on this news? Because in 2009, I wrote articles profiling the winners of PETA’s 2009 Sexiest Male and Female Vegetarian Over 50 contest.
In addition, earlier this year, I did a three-part video interview with Mimi Kirk. Here’s the interviews:
So here’s the news, directly from PETA:
Norfolk, Va. — Ask most vegetarians over 50 if they’ve ever been complimented on their healthy and radiant appearance, and you can bet the answer is, “Yes.” It’s no wonder, when you consider that many of their meat-eating contemporaries are suffering from heart disease, high cholesterol, and other diet-related health problems. That’s why PETA Prime is showcasing just how vibrant and appealing older vegetarians can be through its 2010 Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50 contest.
“Vegetarians—of any age—are, on average, healthier, fitter, and trimmer than meat-eaters are, and that makes them sexier too,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “And because the fat and cholesterol in animal-derived products can slow the flow of blood to all the body’s organs, vegetarians’ love lives can go full throttle for years—even decades—longer.”
PETA Prime is accepting contest entrants from now until October 29 with public voting rounds to help PETA pick winners running until December 3. On December 10, PETA Prime will crown two winners, one male and one female, as this year’s Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50. Each winner will receive a five-night stay at the luxurious and eco-friendly Laguna Lodge in Guatemala.
More and more people are kicking the meat habit after learning that going vegetarian is the best thing that they can do for their own health, the planet, and animals. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Also, going vegetarian is one of the most effective ways that people can slash their carbon footprint. And, each vegetarian saves the lives of approximately 100 animals every year.
Today is the last article for this series on obesity, and the last article for this week – Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it I am taking a few day hiatus.
And what better time than Thanksgiving to talk about the dangers of eating too much food and the wrong types of food?
Because as a nation, here in the U.S., statistics show that obesity is rapidly reaching epidemic proportions. Already the U.S. is the most obese nation on the planet.
I’ve talked about all the different causes of obesity – diet, sugar/high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, cars and stress – but no matter how you cut the mustard, the truth is that if we continue the path we’re on, there is something ugly looming on the horizon.
And that is the obesity apocalypse.
The real apocalypse will occur in 2030. That’s the year, according to a study that came out in the August 2008 edition of the medical journal Obesity, that nearly every American will be overweight or obese.
The study, led by Dr. Youfa Wang of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, says that if current overweight and obesity trends continue, 86 percent of Americans could be overweight or obese by the year 2030.
And even more troubling, the authors note, is the fact that “by 2048, all American adults would become overweight or obese.”
Shades of the Pixar film Wall-E. In that film, 700 years in the future, the inhabitants of earth are forced to evacuate the planet, because due to mass consumerism the entire planet is covered with trash. The people of earth are now living in space on starliners, and are grossly obese and no longer able to walk. They have to rely on motorized hovercrafts to get them around.
Dr. Wang of John Hopkins also said that the increase in metabolic disease and other weight-related conditions could have a catastrophic toll on public health — and on the public pocket. If these predictions come to bear, Wang and his colleagues estimate that the additional overweight and obesity burden could add up to an extra $860 billion to $956 billion per year in health expenditures to treat these conditions.
All told, this would mean that $1 in every $6 spent on health care would be spent as a result of the overweight and obesity.
The reality is that if those dollar figures quoted above are spent on the health demands of obesity, it will bankrupt this nation. We can reform health care until we’re blue in the face, we can create a single payer system that is compassionate, caring and exceeds expectations, but if we have that level of burden to pay on health care, the only way to rescue the U.S. economy will be if every person in the country is allowed to have a printing press in their home in order to print up money.
Obviously, we are in dire need of reversing course, and doing it soon…or else.
Dr. David Katz, co-founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center says, “We are terribly, ominously off-course. To close the gap, we need to fix everything that’s broken — from neighborhoods without sidewalks, to the high price of produce, to food marketing to children, to misleading health claims on food packages, to school days devoid of physical activity and school cafeterias devoid of healthful offerings. The list goes on and on.”
Others state that the path to reversing course lie in individuals taking responsibility for diet and lifestyle habits. Dr. Neal Barnard, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and a staunch supporter of a vegetarian diet, says dietary modification could be a crucial step in solving the problem.
“U.S. eating habits are nowhere near where they should be,” he says. “The average American eats 50 pounds more meat and 20 pounds more cheese per year, compared to the 1960s. … I would strongly encourage Americans to adopt more vegetarian meals.”
The choice is ours.
And so with that, I leave you to have a happy Thanksgiving. I wish you well, and I hope you remember all I’ve written on this important subject.
I’ve been writing on the theme of obesity for the last few weeks, and will wrap this series up tomorrow. (It’s a short week, what with the Thanksgiving holiday, and so tomorrow’s article will be the last for this week.)
Another cause of obesity, and a major cause at that, is stress.
Stress is a major cause of living a High Density Lifestyle, and a major cause of obesity – that’s why I’ve said throughout this series that being obese can get you trapped in the treadmill of a High Density Lifestyle.
What is it about stress that leads to obesity?
There’s two main reasons: behavioral and physiological.
Behaviorally, stressed-out people will often eat even when they’re not hungry – this is known as stress eating or emotional eating, and the food choices made are usually not the wisest.
Physiologically, there’s a few factors that lead to obesity. One factor is cortisol and cortisol-induced insulin.
When faced with a stressful situation, the body triggers the stress response, the fight-or-flight response. This leads to the secretion of cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones along with an increase of blood pressure, breathing and heart rate.
The natural stress response is usually short-term and self-regulating. When the threat is gone, the body returns to normal. As cortisol and adrenaline levels drop, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure, as well as energy levels return to their baseline levels. Other systems inhibited by the stress response return to their regular activities.
The natural stress response goes awry when stress is constant and excessive. In today’s society, most people are inundated with overwhelming stress. For those constantly dealing with excessive and chronic stress, the body’s fight-or-flight response is constantly on. In turn, the resulting stress hormones released are chronically high.
Chronically high levels of cortisol plays a big role in the development of obesity.
Cortisol helps the body handle stress, so when stress goes up, cortisol also goes up. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism during stressful situations. This leads to increased blood sugar levels required for fast energy. In turn, this stimulates insulin release which can lead to an increase in appetite.
When the immediate stress is over, cortisol lingers to help bring the body back into balance after stress. One of the ways it gets things back to balance is by increasing appetite to replace the carbohydrate and fat used for the flight or fight response.
The problem is that in today’s society, stress-causing situations — such as traffic jams or computer malfunctions — don’t require the body to use up a lot of energy. So, cortisol ends up causing the body to refuel after stress even when it doesn’t really need to refuel. This excess fuel or glucose is converted into fat, resulting in increased storage of fat.
What makes matters worse is that cortisol-induced high levels of insulin also leads to increased production and storage of fat. This means that exposure to chronically high levels of cortisol and cortisol-induced insulin are major main reasons why stress can lead to increase in body fat and obesity.
Another physiological reason that was found recently for why stress leads to obesity is a molecule that the body releases when stressed called NPY (neuropeptide Y). NPY appears to unlock certain receptors in fat cells, causing them to grow in both size and number.
NPY was discovered by researchers during an experiment in which stressed and unstressed mice were fed either a standard diet or a high-fat, high-sugar, “comfort food” diet.
As expected, the mice on the high-fat, high-sugar diet gained fat while those on the standard diet did not. But researchers found the stressed mice on the high-fat, high-sugar diet developed more body fat than the unstressed mice fed the same diet.
The good news of all this is that stress-induced obesity can be overturned by the learning of simple stress management techniques.
And for that matter, diet-induced obesity can be overturned by the learning of better food habits.
So there is hope!
I’ve pointed out during this series on obesity that the obesity rates are steadily increasing at alarming numbers in adults and children, and that the number one cause is the prevalence of junk foods and sugar drinks.
Now you can add another thing to the list, and it’s something that most people use on an everyday and regular basis: cars.
The more walking and biking a nation does, the lower its obesity rate. The more driving, the higher.
Which is why Americans are on average some 15% more obese than residents of European countries like Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. Only 5% of Americans regularly bike or walk as a form of transit, while over 50% of people in those countries do. And not all of this is purely from the exercise that you get by walking or biking, either.
If you live in a dense, urban, walkable city, you can consume less energy per person than any other kind of environment. It turns out that all that walking keeps you skinny too.
One person wrote in to the Atlantic magazine saying, “Car culture is terrible for public health. Again, I’m significantly overweight. Always trying new exercise and diet programs that never result in sustained weight loss. What has? Spent two months in London without car, relying on public transit and walking, no attempt at dieting or exercising. Weight loss: 22 lbs. Six weeks in NYC without car, relying on public transit and walking, no attempt… Weight loss: 19 lbs.”
This also means that there’s a correlation between living in suburban sprawl, or sprawling cities, and being obese, because of the amount of driving that has to be done. Researchers are finding that suburban dwellers are significantly fatter than their urban counterparts, primarily because they drive everywhere, even to the fitness club.
If you recall in the article a few days ago, I stated that Miami is the most obese city in the U.S. If you’ve ever been to Miami, you know that it is not a walk-centric city – it is one sprawling megalopolis.
Speaking of sprawling cities, L.A. is another one. Which makes the above music video, The Ride, by the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars really cool, as it’s an ode to L.A. bicycle culture.
It must have taken a lot of work to make the video, because there’s barely a car in sight in the video. Even if you don’t like the video, it’s worth watching with the sound off just for the visuals of the bikers taking over in one of the most car-centric cities in the world.
Call it a fantasy, but we need it to become a reality.
And so, if you’re a conspiracy theorist, you may wonder: the automobile created suburban sprawl, bigger and fuller fridges, the proliferation of fast food restaurants and the decline in the use of bikes.
Could it be that the system is rigged to put people in cars and take them to Wal-Mart and to McDonalds for cheap, fast high-fat food?
No wonder obesity rates are sky-high! And no wonder we’re becoming a world of people stuck in a High Density Lifestyle.
For the last two days I’ve been talking about obesity in children, and the fact that in the U.S. nearly one in three children and teens are overweight or obese.
I discussed in yesterday’s article that one of the key causes of this obesity epidemic is sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
Many say that another big cause of obesity in younger folks is their lack of exercise.
Most American teenagers are not as active as they should be, but a lack of exercise does not seem to be to blame for the rising rates of teen obesity, according to a U.S. study.
According to a recent study published in the journal Obesity Reviews, researcher Youfa Wang of John Hopkins University said that a lack of exercise was not to blame for the rise in U.S. children and teens.
Wang and his research team, using government survey data from 1991 and 2007 that tracked the health and lifestyle of U.S. high school students, found the amount of physical activity among U.S. teens has not in fact changed significantly over the past two decades while the population, including children, has gotten heavier.
“Although only one third of U.S. adolescents met the recommended levels of physical activity, there is no clear evidence they had become less active over the past decade while the prevalence of obesity continued to rise,” said Wang.
He said there was no evidence that teens’ exercise levels had changed appreciably at any time during the study period — even though those years saw an increase in teen obesity.
Overall they found only 35 percent of teenagers surveyed in 2007 met the current recommendations for physical activity — performing activities that gets the heart rate up at least one hour per day, five or more days out of the week.
But there was no evidence that teenagers’ exercise habits shifted significantly during the study period.
In 1993, for example, 66 percent of teens got enough short bursts of vigorous exercise — 20 minutes of running, biking or other heart-pumping activity at least three days per week. That figure was 64 percent in 2005.
When it came to moderate exercise which should, according to guidelines, be performed at least 30 minutes per day, on five or more days per week, only 27 percent met that goal in 1999.
That figure was unchanged in 2005.
The researchers also found a decline in teenagers’ TV time, which is interesting, because it has been widely believed that an increase in TV time is one of the causes of obesity.
In 1999, 43 percent of students spent three or more hours watching TV on school days but this figure dipped to 35 percent in 2007. Wang said these findings suggest that waning exercise levels are “not likely the major explanation of the recent increase in obesity among U.S. adolescents.”
He said other factors, like unhealthy diets, may be the driving force.
Sadly, the desire for the junk foods is pretty much an addiction. Studies of the brain function of people with substance addictions has found that junk food triggers the same activity and response in the brain.
And a new study by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida found similar reactions in rats. Pleasure centers in the brains of rats fed high-fat, high-calorie food became less responsive over time – a signal that the rats were becoming addicted. The rats started to eat more and more. They even went for the junk food when they had to endure an electric shock to get it.
“Your brain reacts almost identically to that of a cocaine addict looking at cocaine,” said Dr. Louis J. Aronne, a clinical professor at Weill Cornell Medical School and former president of The Obesity Society. “And the interesting thing is that someone who is obese has even more similarity to the cocaine addict. In many ways, they can be addicted to junk food.”
And even more sadly, food companies know this and create their food products with this in mind – they want people to be addicted to their products, because then they have a customer for life, regardless of the consequences.
And the consequences are that these junk food addicts will be caught in the treadmill of a High Density Lifestyle unless they break their addiction.