Meat and Dairy Harm State of the Union's Health

photo of vegetables

Article by Dr. Neal Barnard. The president’s recent checkup indicates that he has heart disease. He is not alone. About 92 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, and heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States. The 222 pounds of meat, 274 eggs, and 35 pounds of cheese the average American is projected to consume in 2018 certainly won’t help matters. So I invite the president to take a moment at the State of the Union Address on Jan. 30 and invite all Americans to join him in the fight against heart disease by signing up for the bipartisan 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.

President Trump has made no secret of his love for KFC and at McDonald’s, including his reported favorite of two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches, and a chocolate milkshake. But those foods are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol from animal products that increase his heart disease risk. But here again, he is not alone. Many Americans have less-than-healthy eating habits.

So I’m hoping our President will make America grate. That is, grate carrots, beets, and onions onto their salads. And make America sprinkle slivered walnuts onto their morning oatmeal. And make America fill a whole-grain tortilla with healthy beans, rice, and salsa, for a zero-cholesterol, heart-healthy menu.

And encourage America to ditch meaty, cheesy fast food. A study published in the journal Circulation found that people who eat fast food once a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. Two to three fast-food meals a week increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent. These same proinflammatory products also increase the risk for colorectal cancer by up to one-third, according to a study published this week in JAMA Oncology. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women.

The good news is that healthy foods can make these risks plummet.

The state of the union’s health is not what it needs to be. And our love affair with meat and dairy products is to blame. A plant-based diet can help prevent and reverse heart disease and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. President Trump can help Kickstart the nation’s health on Jan. 30 by promoting a plant-based diet to both sides of the aisle at his State of the Union Address.


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