Why I Gave Up Meat; How to Protect Yourself Well from Influenza, Ebola, H1N1, and More

With temperatures dropping into the subzero range these days, we tend to retreat indoors and stuff ourselves with food that comforts and sedates us. For me, that used to mean gorging on meat, dairy, and pasta. But with my embrace of a healthier lifestyle came the desire for a more nourishing and compassionate diet  – one that eschews the cruelty of factory farming (which is essentially animal torture behind closed doors). Further, the environmental damage caused by agribusiness is becoming widely acknowledged, according to a new book by Tony Weis entitled:  Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock. This book is a rigorous explanation of how industrial livestock production is driving the exploding global consumption of meat, and how this is a major force in many serious environmental problems, while contributing to worsening human inequality, and constituting a profound but invisible aspect of the violence of everyday life.

Having been mostly meat-free for the past several years, I can attest to the anti-aging benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle – from more energy, to less joint pain, to fewer hot flashes and reduced inflammation. Furthermore, a plant-based diet contains lots of chlorophyll, which cleans the blood and lymph, leaving one with sweet smelling breath and underarms.

Mind you, it does require creativity in the kitchen to keep oneself well fed and fortified against the icy grip of winter while living on plant foods. So this month we offer a feature by Julie Daniluk on Winter Comfort Foods full of great ideas for sturdy vegetarian grub made from beans, nuts, and vegetables seasoned with herbs and spices.

In other news, vaccination mania is once again gripping politicians, the media, and the public. Some people are even rushing to doctors’ offices thinking the ‘flu shot will somehow protect them from viruses such as Ebola and Enterovirus. Indeed the confusion and fear of potential plagues and epidemics has been rising steadily as health care workers and hospitals across North America admit to being ill-equipped to deal with outbreaks.

To help sort through the facts and fallacies surrounding infectious diseases such as Ebola, H1N1, and Enterovirus, I turned to two trusted sources: 1) Dr. Zoltan Rona, an expert in orthomolecular medicine, and 2) Michael Vertolli, RH, a top Canadian herbalist.  This month we bring you feature articles by both of them which are chock full of strategies and natural remedies to strengthen immunity and protect you from viral infection. In his feature,  Dr. Rona recommends that the first step in boosting immunity is to eliminate immune suppressors like sugar, refined carbohydrates, red meat, and genetically modified foods (wheat, corn, soy). The next step is to select the supernutrients that can be taken daily to fortify our defences, especially vitamin D, vitamin C, selenium, and more.

In his feature, Michael Vertolli agrees with Rona’s nutritional advice, and goes on to suggest that daily exercise in nature will further bolster our innate defences, as will the removal of chemical cleaners and air ‘fresheners’ from the home. He recommends probiotics to establish a healthy terrain in the intestines, a powerful strategy for warding off viral invaders. His top green medicines for prevention include deep acting immune tonic herbs such as ginseng, turmeric, and astragalus. And for fighting viral infections once they’ve landed, Vertolli recommends echinacea, St. John’s Wort, oregano, and more.

Meantime, Whole Life Expo: Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and alternative medicine, returns to Toronto for its 28th year on November 28,29,30. This will be the largest gathering of naturopaths, nutritionists, doctors, dentists, and other health professionals ever assembled under one roof. Bring them your aches, pains, and questions – they’re ready to help. (PS – Bring your appetite!! With a record number of vendors offering fine vegetarian cuisines, plus free samples of all the latest snack foods and power drinks, you can sip, savour, and munch to your heart’s content.)

Julia Woodford, Editor, Vitality Magazine