“About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year-that’s 1 in every 4 deaths”, per the CDC (“Heart Disease Facts”). Wouldn’t it be nice if we could reduce that number? It seems there’s already a solution to this problem in the world, but people don’t like it. To improve the unhealthy epidemic in America, three dietary changes need to occur. First, people need to reduce many animal foods that they consume. Second, people need to increase several plant-based foods that they consume. Finally, government subsidies need to be adjusted to lower the cost of plant-based foods.
More than onethird of U. S. adults are obese (“Adult Obesity Facts”). This high rate leads to the increase of diseases such as heart failure and cancer, and today we are seeing staggering rates of those diseases. Current efforts to reduce obesity are not effective. Illnesses related to obesity affect many people, who are either overweight or obese or who may know someone who is struggling with their weight. Many fad diets and fake pills are offered as ways of losing weight quickly, but these supposed health fixes don’t help people (Pollan 13).
Even diets that may help people to temporarily lose weight will have their positive effects undone as soon as a person switches back to their old eating habits. Even before the diet has been ended, the dieter may have a hard time in sticking with the diet and can use “cheat days” as an excuse to binge on their favorite foods. For a large part of the Typical American population to lose weight and keep it off, they need to make a permanent change to their diet. While exercise is also a factor in improving health and losing weight, the more effective means of weight loss is diet (Carroll).
One way that people can lower obesity rates and improve their health is by reducing a number of animal foods that they consume. Animal foods have been shown to have negative health effects on people, and they are so widely and frequently consumed that they play a large part in the general weight gain experienced by People (Wu). To improve their health, People do not need to stop eating animal foods entirely, but they should instead focus on eating as many plant-based foods as possible, saving animal foods for less frequent meals.
By saving the animal foods for the occasional treat, people can greatly reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol that they end up consuming. This decrease in unhealthy foods will result in a decrease in the risk of heart disease and the chance of obesity many modern-day omnivores face. However, this suggestion for weight loss and health is one that is unpopular, as many people don’t want to give up their current ways of eating. Early every meal includes meat, and every restaurant features meat. These food types are a staple in the Typical American diet.
Therefore, a strong effort is required to change. Many fast food chains offer menus based heavily on animal products, so finding plant-based food choices can be hard to accomplish. In addition, unprocessed foods tend to be more expensive, so people in lower socioeconomic levels may choose the cheaper option, even if it means being less healthy. To combat the issues of availability and price, there would need to be a change in the foods subsidized by the government. The government currently funds different foods sectors with subsidies (Haspel).
Currently, 63% of the government food subsidies are sent to the meat and dairy industries, 20% to the harvesting of grains, and 15% of the budget’s money to the production of sugar and starch. Less than 1% goes to supporting growing fruits and vegetables. That’s the main reason that fruits and vegetables are so expensive. If the government redirects its funding away from animal products and instead supports fruits, vegetables, and grains, then the healthier choices offered in supermarkets and at restaurants will become cheaper.
If the government changes its funding rom primarily going towards meat and dairy to funding fruits, vegetables, and grains, the cost of healthier foods would drop substantially. This reduction in price would entice people to purchase healthier foods from grocery stores and restaurants. While the addition of government money to help fruit and vegetable industries would be beneficial, high costs aren’t the only factor preventing people from eating healthier. Plants aren’t always edible raw, and the requirement of cooking needs time and resources that not everyone is able to have and use, such as a stove and refrigerator.
However, there are many canned food options that are easy to store and obtain. While the meat and dairy industries would do anything in their power to prevent the reduction of funding that they receive, their desires are unimportant as the consumer should be able to decide what types of foods they want to buy, and the more popularly desired foods should be the foods that are more heavily funded. Another method to improve the Typical American diet is to increase the consumption of unprocessed, plant-based foods.
Plant-based category contains foods based on grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables, which benefit a person’s health, satisfy hunger, and provide nutritional benefits (Greger). Plant foods are beneficial to a person’s health by filling them with calories, which their body uses as an energy source for cellular functions. While animal-based and processed foods do this as well, plant-based, unprocessed foods also provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that the body needs.
In addition, plant foods are less calorically dense, so after having a plant-based meal, a person will be both calorically satisfied as well as having filled up their stomach with a higher volume of food. This caloric and size fulfillment means that people will be satisfied with their meals for longer periods of time, and won’t reach for processed snacks later in the day. By having enough daily calories, people will have enough energy to go about their day without the need for an artificial supplement, such as coffee.
This state of increased energy also makes it easier for people to exercise, as they have more energy to get up and move around, and are not too tired to get exercise. In addition, plant foods are good at satisfying hunger (Greger). The stomach has two methods of detecting that it is full. One measurement of fullness is the number of calories consumed, and the other method is the volume of food consumed. Animal based foods quickly meet the caloric needs but do not fully fill up a person’s stomach or meet nutrient needs, leaving them to crave more foods soon after eating.
Plant-based foods, on the other hand, are less calorically dense, so by the time a person’s caloric and nutrient needs have been met, they have also eaten a larger volume of foods, and will be satisfied for a longer time after eating. Plants also have a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in them, so by consuming a variety of plants, people can meet their daily nutrient needs and can ensure that they are not lacking any important chemical that may affect their overall health (Greger).
Meat, unlike plant-foods, contains mostly concentrated fats and protein with little nutrients, so eating meat is neither necessary nor healthy to do. By eating a wide variety of plant foods, People can satisfy their hunger and meet almost all their nutritional requirements. When people consum animal-based foods, the fats in the foods require more energy to break down than carbohydrates and protein, so people may feel tired after eating animal-based foods. By not consuming diets that are high in fat, people may experience an increase in their energy level.
This increase in energy can also lead people to exercise more and further improve their health. Plant foods also help with digestion, as many contain fiber which helps foods travel through the digestive system. This can help with constipation, that can be caused by a lack of fiber in animal foods. Additionally, eating diets low in animal-based foods have been shown to lower a person’s risk of colon cancer.
By reducing many animal foods that people consume, increasing a number of plant foods that people consume, and redirecting government food subsidies away from the meat and dairy ndustry, People will be able to improve their health and wellbeing and reduce the rate of diseases in the country. As the rates of heart disease and obesity decrease, less money will need to be dedicated to going to the healthcare industry, and People can focus attention on other areas of society such as improving the education system. The change from a diet based on animal foods to a diet based on plant foods will have profound effects on individual people, as well as the Typical American society.
Healthier people will lower the cost of healthcare, and improve other sectors of government that are currently low on funding. Even though changes to improve the Typical American diet are not going to happen immediately, there are choices that people can make today to help society move in the right direction. By choosing to purchase primarily plant-based foods, and limiting animal-based foods as much as possible, people can improve their health and reduce the risk of diseases they may face in the future.