Behind the marketing, the untold impact of animal products menaces communities of color.
Vegetarians and plant-based eaters bite off a little more respect these days. Overall, vegetarians make up 3% and vegans only 2% of the United States population. However, being plant-based is increasingly more popular with African Americans and other people of color who chuck the chicken at three times the rate of their white counterparts (Gallup.com; Pew Research “The New Food Fights: US Public Divides Over Food Science”).
It helps that a star-studded A-list of African Americans claim the lifestyle. Status or not, Americans have suddenly and drastically cut their consumption of dairy products, cheese in particular, from an average of 35 pounds a year, to 15 pounds a year leaving an industry that is already propped up by massive government subsidies to survive, even while consumer demand plummets (“What Will the Government Do With 1.4 Billion Pounds of Cheese?” PSMag.com).
Other antiquated policies masquerading as dietary standards continue to push meat and dairy on the unsuspecting. Therefore, milk, cheese, and meat are still very much part of the diet given to low-income individuals, school lunch programs, and food pantry programs.
The Health Evangelist
Enter Milton Mills, a Stanford University Medical School graduate who did his residency at Georgetown.
As an Internist and specialist in preventive medicine, Mills is an evangelist of good health. You can watch him dish on YouTube with a comparative analysis of all God’s creatures, and what it means to be a natural carnivore (meat-eater), herbivore (plant-eater), or omnivore (eats both meat and plants). Watch him confront members of a dietary recommendation panel where he skewers the idea that anyone needs to consume dairy for good health. You may have also watched Mills in the 2017 viral documentary “What the Health?”
The clapback from those whose dietary recommendations include dairy is very strong. (“What You Should Know About the Pro Vegan Film, ‘What The Health?’” Time.com) Read and think between the lines, Mills insists. A majority of Americans of color experience symptoms of illness when consuming dairy products, yet, the recommendations to drink milk, for it “does a body good,” persist.
Government recommendations persist, partially because of the idea that dairy calcium and protein prevent osteoporosis in women. Black women, however, are “genetically protected” from osteoporosis, and unless they have another disease that leaches calcium from the bones, black women don’t get it.
Further, there is more at stake than symptoms of “mild discomfort” from eating dairy. Ingesting hormone-rich milk increases the risk for hormone-related cancers. Consuming dairy products markedly increases the risk for breast cancer among African American women, and worse than that, the mortality rates are higher.
For black men consuming animal products is the number one risk factor for prostate cancer. The rates of prostate cancer are 60% higher among black men, and once it occurs, black men are twice as likely to die from it. It’s a much more malignant form of the disease.
The Creation Diet
Mills believes it was God who taught him, from an early age, through the most trying of circumstances. Growing up in a Pentecostal Christian home, Mills’ family prayed at meal times and attended church regularly, however, his journey into the Word didn’t occur until the relatively happy family broke apart. Upon his parents’ divorce, 13 year-old Mills approached his pain very methodically:
“My response was like, wow. Is life going to be this random series of unknowable, unavoidable painful events? Or, is there some way to navigate through life and minimize these painful occurrences? The first thing I needed to figure out was, was God real? If God was not real, then I didn’t want to waste my time in a useless round of religiosity and ceremonies if He wasn’t. But, the opposite was equally true, that if He is real, then it’s absurd to try to live your life without acknowledging Him and making Him a part of it.”
God’s voice penetrated Mills heart early. When as a young man he prayed for a resolution to personal struggle, he was thus impressed that a plant-based lifestyle would clear his mind, and his ability to perceive God’s leading.
Subsequently, three truths sprung from the pages of his Bible when young Mills began to read it: 1. God created the world, and did it in seven days. 2. On the seventh day—the Sabbath—He rested. 3. God gave His first people plants to eat.
Knowing God became the ultimate intellectual experience, and the spiritual activation that caused Mills to be the strident seeker and proponent of truth. It propelled him to seek a medical career.
“If I weren’t a doctor, then my whole life, when I told people ‘you need to stop eating meat,’ they would say, “You can’t tell me that. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Mills aced his prerequisites for medical school while working nights and attending the former California State University Hayward (now California State University East Bay). He became the first Cal State Hayward student accepted into Stanford Medical School. From then on, he researched, taught and refined his case against the consumption of animal products.
Dietary Myth: Animal Products Are Good for You
“We have been taught that animal tissue is healthy and necessary for human health. Nothing can be further from the truth,” Mills declared during a recent interview with Message.
“Animal tissue is completely unnecessary for human health, and is unhealthy.”
Before you call the beef lobby to report him, Mills asks a few observational thought questions. First, why are milk and dairy products— even in limited quantities or moderation—a dietary recommendation when so many people are lactose intolerant? Lactose is a carbohydrate naturally found in dairy products, and it causes discomfort in the form of bloating, diarrhea, and cramps for people who are lactose intolerant.
As many as 90% of West Africans and and 75% of African Americans are lactose intolerant. Even 30% of Caucasians are lactose intolerant. Why is a substance that makes people sick a dietary recommendation?
Second, as you think about the massive plant eating animals such as giraffes, rhinos, and elephants, when do they ever consume animal products? The answer is: when they are babies and are nursing. The proteins found in mother’s milk stimulate growth. For us, however, consuming growth stimulants when full grown does not stimulate growth in ways we may want, Mills said. The result is growth, alright, but in benign lipomas, moles, cysts, enlarged prostates, and uterine fibroids. Sometimes, those growths become cancerous.
Third—speaking of growth, how do they get the chickens that we eat to grow so rapidly? People who grew up near a farm knew that “spring chickens” hatch and then grow throughout the year.
“Now these ‘Franken-birds’ that they have, hatch and go from egg to adult weight in like, six, eight weeks,” said Mills. “You just have to imagine the kinds of growth stimulants that have to be in that animal’s tissues to make it grow like that. It’s like a child going from birth to a 200 pound adult in two to three years. It’s completely abnormal. And, if you’re ingesting these kinds of growth compounds into your body, it’s no wonder it driving cancer in so many places.”
Dietary Myth Corollary: There’s no carve out.
That leads to the second myth surrounding the consumption of animal products: “We think going to Popeyes, Chick Fil-A, and Burger King—thinking that because we’re eating chicken and fish—it is somehow healthier.” One need only to examine the processing environment and habitat of the animal products we consume to learn why disease is no respecter of animals.
Mills: “Imagine if you had to only eat the lungs of an animal. Would you eat the lungs of an animal raised in a coal mine? Of course not because of the dirt, filth, soot that the lungs have to process there. Well, think about the way fish breathe. Through their gills they filter water; and the oceans are the most polluted places on the planet; fish is the most toxin-laden tissue that you can consume. So, no, you shouldn’t be eating fish, and definitely not shellfish.”
Mills minces no words when it comes to the seafood lover’s platter at many a favorite restaurant. Shellfish are the filters of the waterways. “That’s their job. I mean lobster, shrimp, they’re just ocean-going roaches. [If] you emulsify raw sewage and flow it over a bed of oysters and clams, the water will come out clear, because what they do is they eat that particulate matter.”
It’s a beautiful thing. God made them that way; He didn’t intend for us to eat them.
Live Long and Be Meat Free
For the thinking man’s vegan, the health evangelist Mills, has one important secret of disease prevention: a plant-based diet. Anything else, is a loss physically and spiritually.
“We are being shortchanged by being robbed of our health by primary or secondary intention. It also upsets me when we do it to ourselves. Because we’re throwing away our birthright for a bunch of garbage.”