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Why I Became a Clean Protein Activist

My journey to fight for global justice through food

First, a little bit about me:

· I’ve lived in Southern California for 20 years, and it’s never been hotter and drier; and between the fires and the drought, it’s getting worrisome to live here. I have nightmares of running out of water and being thirsty.

· My father died of melanoma when he was 63, and diabetes runs throughout my family; I’m fairly obsessed with preventing these and other diseases. My monthly insurance bill just skyrocketed to over $1000 per month, so I downgraded my policy. I pray that I’m well covered should I ever need it.

· I am in love with my dog, who is like a member of my family. Sometimes I look at her and think about how similar she is to a cow or a pig or any animal going to slaughter. It kills me if I think about it too long.

· I am vain, and it’s important to me that I look healthy and fit.

· Most of all, I am getting increasingly panicked when I think of the changing climate and how it’s affecting the living (or dying) conditions of so many.

Thanks for letting me share this with you. I do it only because I know I’m not alone with these types of feelings and thoughts. I want to connect with you because we can empower each other, and empower a solution. From talking to so many people these last few years, it seems that many of us are going through the same sort of thing. It’s like a perfect storm of crises: as a culture, we’re getting sicker, fatter, and more run down; and we’re losing the guarantee that our healthcare will be covered. We’re beginning to feel the real effects of climate change on a local, personal level; it’s costing us our homes and our security. And the thing about dogs not being unlike food animals – that’s beginning to break our collective heart. It feels like we’re at a fork in the road, and if we keep going the way we are, the road will grow increasingly dark and harried.

Which is why I have become a food activist — specifically a clean protein activist — and why I wrote the book Clean Protein: The Revolution that Will Reshape Your body, Boost Your Energy—and Save Our Planet. What I eat affects every one of those things I enumerated above, some of them being self-centric, and some being other-centric. The ever (and overly) important issue of the protein I choose to consume affects my body, my energy, our health insurance bills (and taxes), the animals, and the quality of our land and water. Protein seems to affect every aspect of our lives. For many, meat is protein and protein is meat. But meat (and dairy and eggs) aren’t the only choice for protein, and it’s certainly not the cleanest.

Chicken, the least climate-changing meat, creates forty times as much climate change per protein calorie when compared to legumes such as peas and soy (plant-based proteins). Chicken consumption also will increase our levels of IGF-1, a cancer-promoting growth hormone in the body. Chicken consumption also seems to be linked to weight gain. Genetic manipulation of chicken has led to clinically obese birds, which may play a role in human obesity, not only because of their fat content, but also an obesogenic virus that is transferable to (and among) humans. Chickens are also kind of cute and curious, so the thought of killing over 9 billion of them every year weighs on the soul.

I’ll admit to you this: I love BBQ chicken. I grew up in Georgia and I was no vegetarian — nor was I a tree-hugging animal-lover. But the world has changed; things are getting serious. I don’t want to go down the dark road of ignorance and apathy knowing in the back of my mind that I could have done something; I want to fight for my health, for the environment, for people and animals who are entitled to a life free from illness and violence. We all have a right to this.

So I opt for clean protein. I eat a lot of whole grains and beans, nut butters and anything, really, that grows in the ground or on trees. I also indulge in veggie burgers and plant-based sausage or “chick’n”, because I love feel-good traditional food. I don’t buy the notion that they are “fake” foods, because the “real” meats are killing us in too many ways. I’m done with the old way of consuming protein. I don’t mean to sound righteous, so excuse me if I’m getting emotional; I just think it’s time to push our needs forward.

We’ve been getting a glimpse into a world in which complacency and greed were unchecked. We’ve been had by a lot of corporate interests. We’ve been paying the price with the years of life lost, the quality of our lives has been compromised.

It’s too easy, now, to eat clean; it no longer makes sense to cling to the old way of post-industrial animal farming. There are better sources from which to get our protein – from simple, whole foods to plant-based meat alternatives. And soon there will be “clean meat”, real animal flesh that’s grown from cells in a clean brewery – sans slaughter. This way of growing meat is super-clean – it has no bacterial contamination like you get from animals that were on the kill-floor, no need for antibiotics or growth hormones, and no massive resources used to feed and sustain the animals.

This is the fork in the road that I’ve chosen; actually, it’s more about what’s at the end of my fork, which is clean protein. I feel happier and more peaceful knowing that I’m part of the solution, rather than a contributor to the problem.

Please
join me and all the other amazing Americans who are also on this road to a
kinder, healthier world. We’re all in this thing together! 

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