Vegetarian Diet Not Only Healthier But Can Be Safer, says Adventists

Vegetarian Diet Not Only Healthier But Can Be Safer, says Adventists Vegetarian Diet Not Only Healthier But Can Be Safer, says Adventists

Recent news reports from the Food and Drug Administration in the United
States indicate that meat companies sometimes use carbon monoxide to
keep beef looking red and more attractive to consumers. While many
doctors agreed that carbon monoxide used in small amounts is not
unsafe, the concern is that it can cause even rotting meat to look red
and fresh.

This is in addition to other meat-related concerns over the last
several years, such as, the detrimental Mad Cow disease, or bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, which can be lethal in humans; a concern
that an increase in Mercury in certain types of fish can cause brain
damage to fetuses and in young children; and, the most recent
meat-related health threat, the Avian flu that is spreading through
chickens and other birds. Though meat has long been considered by many
societies central to a healthy diet, the Seventh-day Adventist Church
continues to recommend a vegetarian diet primarily for nutritious and
spiritual reasons.

“The safety of a carbon monoxide enriched environment in packaged meat
probably does not greatly increase the hazard of eating meat as long as
the meat has been stored at a safe refrigeration temperature for no
longer than the accepted storage time, and then properly cooked,” said
Kenneth I. Burke, Ph.D., R.D. He added that slowing the browning of
meat is not an unusual practice. Burke, a food scientist and an
emeritus professor at the Adventist Church’s Loma Linda University, has
taught classes in food science for more than 20 years. He notes that
while any food — meat or vegetable — can be contaminated,
“disease-causing organisms thrive on meat, [and] the possibility of
contamination and disease transfer has always been a safety issue.”

Knowing that carbon monoxide can keep rotting meat looking fresh
“[reinforces] my commitment to stay away from meat,” commented Grazyna
Dabrowska, a lifestyle trainer and a member of the Adventist Church.
“We are visual where it comes to buying food and can easily tell what
looks fresh and what is spoiled. If I can’t rely on my eyes to tell the
difference, then I have no control over my choices. I highly recommend
the wholesome diet of organic grains and legumes, colorful fruits and
vegetables, which give a high quality of nourishment to our bodies
without the damaging effects of growth hormones and chemically-treated
meat products.”

In the United States steps have been taken to increase the safety of
meat for human consumption. A year ago, the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) implemented new methods to prevent the spread of
Mad Cow disease, which include stopping the practice of “the feeding of
most mammalian protein to ruminant animals, including cattle, and …
banning the use of ‘poultry litter’ as a feed ingredient for ruminant
animals.” Poultry litter consists of bedding, spilled feed, feathers
and fecal matter that are collected from living quarters where poultry
is raised.

“The issue of clean and uncontaminated flesh food is one that is of
concern to many, including the meat industry, and by and large they try
hard to preserve a good quality product,” said Dr. Allan Handysides,
Health Ministries director for the Adventist world church. However,
“the problem we have with meat is less to do with issues of its
contamination and freshness, which applies to vegetable foods as well,
but with the intrinsic factors such as saturated fat content and, in
the case of fish, its pollution with compounds of mercury and other
heavy metals before it ever comes to be handled. There is little doubt
that the less flesh food is eaten and the more the diet contains whole
plant foods, the healthier an individual is likely to be.”

Handysides’ comment reflects the Adventist position statement on a
vegetarian diet. In 2000 the church’s nutrition council explained “for
more than 130 years Adventists have practiced a vegetarian dietary
lifestyle because of their belief in the wholistic nature of humankind.
Whatever is done in eating or drinking should honor and glorify God and
preserve the health of the body, mind and spirit.”

A 1960s study performed by Loma Linda University sponsored by the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) analyzed the lifestyles of
Adventists. The study found that Adventists, in general, have 50
percent less risk of heart disease, certain types of cancers, strokes
and diabetes.

“I don’t want to say that being a vegetarian will cut out all diseases,
but vegetarians live longer and the Adventist Health Study backs that
up,” said Dr. Burke.

NIH is sponsoring a second study on Adventists to see if there is a
link between diet and cancer.