November 2011 Archives

mcd_top_960_233.pngMFA's undercover investigation into Sparboe Farms, the fifth-largest egg producer in the country, not only prompted McDonald's, Target, Sam's Club and several other retailers to stop buying from the company, but has also garnered massive mainstream media attention and raised awareness among millions of people about the plights of hens exploited and killed for eggs.

The media maelstrom began with an exclusive story on Good Morning America, followed by more in-depth coverage on World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and 20/20. From there, news of the shocking undercover investigation went viral and was covered by more than 2,000 media outlets worldwide. From national and international media juggernauts to local print, TV and radio stations across the country, here is a quick roundup of just some of that coverage:



Although all of the cruelty to hens and young chicks inflicted by Sparboe for McDonald's restaurants is unnecessary and intolerably cruel, subjecting intelligent and social animals to a lifetime of confinement in tiny wire battery cages so small they are unable to freely spread their wings, perch or roost, breathe fresh air, see the sun or do nearly anything that comes naturally to them is perhaps the cruelest form of institutionalized animal abuse in existence. Unfortunately, more than 95 percent of eggs in this country come from battery-caged hens.

Instead of merely sidestepping the issue of egregious abuse at one of its primary Egg McMuffin suppliers and switching to another egg supplier with equally cruel practices, McDonald's needs to require all of its suppliers to uncage hens and finally give these animals the basic freedom to spread their wings, walk, and engage in basic natural behaviors. Please click here to urge McDonald's to end its use of eggs from hens confined in battery cages.

As MFA works to expose and end the exploitation of animals at the hands of the meat, egg and dairy industries, consumers still hold the greatest power of all to prevent needless suffering of farmed animals by adopting a healthy and humane vegan diet. Visit for great-tasting recipes and helpful tips for making the transition to a vegan lifestyle.

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November 28, 2011

Study Shows Fish Enjoy Massage

blue-lined-surgeon-fish.jpgEnjoy a good massage? You are not alone. In a recent study published in Nature Communications, scientists at the Lisbon University Institute in Portugal found that coral reef-dwelling surgeonfish also like a good rub down. In the wild, surgeonfish benefit from "cleaner fish," who remove parasites from their skin. But now researchers have discovered that these fish also have lower levels of the stress-related hormone, cortisol, when "massaged" by other fish.

"Accepting tactile stimulation may thus function as a successful coping strategy by [surgeon fish] to alleviate the effects of stress and enhance their health ..." researchers said.

The health benefits of touch, like massage therapy, have been demonstrated in a number of animals, including birds and primates, but this is the first study to show that friendly physical contact is also good for fish. While it may be obvious to the casual observer, the more that scientists look into the fascinating world of fish, the more they discover that these animals are as capable of experiencing pleasure and pain as any other animal.

Unfortunately, the commercial fishing industry completely disregards the feelings of countless fish, who are killed for food every year worldwide. Huge fishing trawlers, hundreds of meters long, catch massive numbers of fish, as well as dolphins, birds, turtles and other animals. As the nets are brought up from the depths, fish experience agonizing decompression and severe internal pressures that often rupture their swim bladders, eyes, and stomachs. Farmed fish don't have it any better, as these sensitive animals are forced to live in overcrowded, filthy and often disease-ridden pens before they are suffocated to death or even skinned alive.

Watch MFA's investigation at a Texas fish slaughter facility here:


Luckily, as consumers, each of us has the power to help end the needless suffering of fish and preserve the diversity and well-being of our oceans by adopting a compassionate, vegan lifestyle. Please visit for fish-free recipes, information, and tips on making the switch to a plant-based diet.

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November 23, 2011

Animal Expert Talks Turkey

TurkeyCloseupMagentaFlowers.jpgWhile millions of Americans get ready for Thanksgiving dinners with loved ones, a leading animal behaviorist asks: "Why give thanks by slaughtering sentient beings?"

This distinguished individual is none other than Dr. Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals. His compelling commentary appears on the website of bi-monthly magazine Psychology Today and is aptly named "The Thanksgiving Day Massacre: A House of Horrors."

Drawing upon scientific evidence demonstrating that turkeys feel fear and other emotions much like mammals do, Dr. Bekoff makes a strong case for leaving these intelligent animals off our plates. He vividly describes the ammonia-laden sheds of factory farms - where turkeys' toes and tips of their beaks are sliced off with hot blades while the birds are fully conscious.

"Holidays should be times for deep reflection," Dr. Bekoff observes. "By not turning a blind eye to the incredible suffering that turkeys experience and choosing to forgo eating them, you can add more compassion to the world." We couldn't agree more. Please click here to find recipes and tips on creating a delicious, cruelty-free Thanksgiving feast.

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Hundreds of compassionate Ohioans descended into Columbus for a vegan Thanksgiving potluck hosted by Mercy For Animals, Sunrise Sanctuary and the Columbus Vegan Meetup Group. The event drew guests from diverse backgrounds, including families with children, seniors, college students, urban dwellers and suburbanites. This event embodied the power of food to bring a community together.

TGivePotluck1.jpgHungry guests traveled from Akron, Dayton and Cincinnati to take part in this free community event. A line quickly formed after the doors opened, with guests carrying arms full of piping hot casseroles, mashed-potato-filled crock-pots, fresh baked rolls, kale and quinoa salads, and other vegan twists on favorite homemade holiday recipes. The centerpiece of the meal was Field Roast Celebration roasts. Organizers had to continue to put tables together to accommodate all of the potluck dishes. In all, there were seven tables of savory and sweet treats!

VeganTGivePotluck2.jpgFrom a tower of cupcakes to two tables full of apple pies and chocolate mousse, everybody was able to satisfy their sweet tooth - over and over again!

A fun raffle provided for entertainment, as guests were given a chance to win free vegan cookbooks, and gift cards donated by various vegan businesses. The event was such a success that activists are already making plans for a larger gathering (and venue) next year.

Satisfied guests left with the knowledge that you don't need animal products to capture the spirit and appetizing flavors of Thanksgiving at your celebration. To make your holiday celebration a blast, click here for recipes.

To learn about other community events in Ohio, visit Ohio Mercy For Animals on Facebook.

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, Mercy For Animals is rolling out a provocative pro-vegetarian billboard, featuring an emboldened turkey who declares, "I Beg Your Pardon - Spare a Turkey," to greet thousands of North Carolina riders heading from Raleigh toward Butterball Headquarters in Garner, NC. The ad is aimed at encouraging kind consumers to forgo the traditional turkey dinner this Thursday and replace it with tasty meatless fare.

MFAIBegYourPardonBillboard2.jpgWhy the ruffled feathers? More than 300 million turkeys are killed in the U.S. every year - 40 million for Thanksgiving dinners alone. In nature, turkeys are protective and nurturing parents, as well as fast runners, who are able to use reason to outwit their pursuers.

Turkeys killed for Butterball are raised in unnatural conditions, crammed by the thousands into windowless warehouses, where disease, smothering and heart attacks are common. These turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so large, so quickly, that their legs are often unable to withstand their own weight. At Butterball's slaughterhouses, turkeys are roughly snapped into moving shackles and have their throats slit by a spinning blade, often while fully conscious.

Turkeys, and other fowl, are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act and Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, leading to institutionalized and rampant abuse that would warrant felony cruelty charges if the victims were dogs or cats.

Watch the MFA undercover investigation video to see for yourself what conditions are like for turkeys inside industrial slaughterhouses:


Click here for tasty, healthy, and cruelty-free vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes.

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ellen-vegan-490.jpgPeople from all walks of life are waking up to the power our food choices have to improve our health, help spare animals unimaginable suffering, and generally change the world for the better. A great sign that veganism is going mainstream, the Associated Press recently released a detailed article about veganism and the growing number of "big-time vegans" who are making waves with their public support for compassionate cuisine.

Titled "Veganism Has Some Stylish New Spokespeople: Celebs," the star-studded article describes the entrepreneurs, athletes, entertainers, and other notables who are putting veganism in a positive light. Making the list are Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, heavyweight boxing legend Mike Tyson, musician Ozzy Osbourne, and former president Bill Clinton - along with many others.

Writer Jocelyn Noveck also interviews vegan actress Portia de Rossi about the diet change she made with her wife, acclaimed talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. "It took a couple years, but we realized we didn't feel comfortable ethically eating meat," Portia explains. "For animal lovers, something kind of clicks."

Whether you're a high-powered celebrity with a personal chef, or a student living on a strict budget, it's never been easier to be a star for farmed animals. Visit for delicious recipes and tips on transitioning to a healthy and cruelty-free diet.

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tonyfiammetta.jpgTony Fiammetta has been called the perfect fit for a fullback player and is, without a doubt, a major player for Dallas Cowboys' running game this season. But what's more, he's vegan! Fiammetta transitioned to a vegan diet after doing research about it over summer and says he has never felt better.

"I just started reading some books and changed my mind about that part of my life," says Fiammetta. "I've actually felt better on the field and off the field but it was an instant change of being a meat eater all the time to not eating it."

Fiammetta is in good company with fellow professional vegan athletes like NBA superstar John Salley, MVP all-star Prince Fielder, world-champion Carl Lewis, and other top athletes who thrive on a plant-based diet.

Visit for free recipes and nutritional information, and to learn why more and more athletes are ditching animal products for their health, and for animals.

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truthinads.jpgA few weeks ago, MFA launched an ambitious national ad campaign to be viewed by millions of teens and young adults from coast to coast on MTV - and the response has been incredible! This powerful new series of ads is bringing young consumers face-to-face with the harsh reality animals endure before becoming their breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

"I saw your commercial on MTV, such a shocking 30 seconds," writes one person who was moved to explore veganism after seeing an MFA ad. "Did the trick."

Another person commented: "shocking, yet informative commercial ... It's just so sad and horrifying! Today was grocery shopping day and I was extra careful today because this was fresh in my mind."

Running ads side-by-side with those for KFC, McDonald's, and Burger King, MFA is standing up against the powerful, multi-billion dollar industries that can afford to advertise sanitized versions of their "products" day and night on television. MFA is daring to reach out to the next generation of consumers to expose the hidden costs of meat production and to ask them to align their behaviors with their own values.

"Awesome! It just takes one thing to make someone think before they eat. I went vegetarian after seeing Food Inc. and vegan after seeing an undercover investigation MFA did on a dairy farm in Ohio. This could be that 'one thing' for many! Thank you for all you do MFA!"

Watch the provocative new ads here:


By placing the ads on MTV, Mercy For Animals is bringing a message of compassion into the living rooms of millions of teenagers across the country. These teens, who are generally receptive to animal protection issues, are the fastest growing segment of the population to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle. Imagine the number of teens who would embrace healthy and humane vegetarian living, if more of them knew the truth about factory farming.

Help us inspire even more people to choose compassion over cruelty by sharing these powerful new ads with your friends and family on Facebook and other social networking sites or blogs.

Please also consider helping to make sure these cutting-edge ads stay on the air. For just $25 you can allow the ads to reach 2,500 viewers. Talk about major bang for your buck! Think of the impact your gift will have in exposing thousands of individuals to the horrific abuse animals endure on factory farms.

With your help, we can create a new generation of ethically minded individuals and begin to build a more compassionate world for all animals. Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution today to support these life-changing new ads.

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November 15, 2011

Pigs and Cows Rule the Roost

Much like the cats and dogs with whom we share our lives, all animals are unique and intelligent creatures brimming with personality and emotion. Helping to drive that point home, the Mother Nature Network, an environmental news website, has released an online slideshow featuring nine of the world's smartest animals.

Spotlighting two species of farmed animal, the presentation puts cows and pigs right up there with bonobos and dolphins. Writer Katherine Butler says that pigs "may be the smartest domestic animals in the world" because they excel in cognition studies, quickly learning everything from playing video games with joysticks to using mirror reflections to find hidden food.

piggreenbackground3.jpgCrediting them for their complex social interactions and emotions, the presentation delves into the inner lives of cows, who, we learn, develop friendships with others and hold grudges against those who have wronged them. Like us, they feel fear and sometimes even worry about the future.

CowsStaringIntoCamera.jpgUnfortunately, on modern farms, pigs and cattle are routinely castrated without painkillers and cows are often painfully dehorned and branded with hot irons. Crammed into barren cages and crates, these sensitive and intelligent animals are often denied everything that is important and natural to them.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Please visit to find out just how easily we can help animals every time we sit down to eat.

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pig2011a.jpgOn Monday, Daniel Hauff, MFA's Director of Investigations, and Vandhana Bala, MFA's General Counsel, addressed a crowded room at Northwestern University's School of Law about the "Impact and Dangers of Ag-Gag Laws" - laws intended to shield factory farmers from public scrutiny. Hosted by the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, the presentation exposed the efforts of pro-factory farming legislators in some states to criminalize undercover investigations and the nearly complete lack of legal protection for farmed animals from even the most egregious abuses.

Decried as unconstitutional by free speech advocates and opposed by the majority of voters, these so-called "Ag-Gag" bills aimed at outlawing the production, possession or distribution of video or photographs of farmed animal cruelty have been harshly condemned by media outlets nationwide, including CNN, The New York Times and TIME Magazine.

While none of these bills has been passed yet, it is certain the powerful factory farming lobby is hard at work ensuring they will be reintroduced - making it even more vital that animal advocates continue to distribute undercover videos of factory farms, hatcheries and slaughterhouses and expose consumers to the cruelty inherent in animal agriculture.

Now is the time to speak out! Visit and show your friends and family what the meat, dairy and egg industries desperately don't want them to see.

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diabetesveggies.jpgAccording to researchers, meat is "one of the most well-established dietary risk factors" for diabetes. But a recent study published in the medical journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases shows that people who follow a vegetarian diet actually reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Tracking the health of thousands of vegans and vegetarians, researchers at Loma Linda University discovered that vegetarians have a 53 percent reduced risk for diabetes and vegans have a 70 percent lower chance of developing the disease.

Why are vegetarian diets so protective against diabetes? Beans and whole grains especially help to improve glycemic and lipid control, and fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber.

Science is clearly demonstrating that vegetarian diets protect against disease. At the same time, empathy tells us that vegetarian eating is also good for the billions of animals who suffer on factory farms each year. Visit to find hundreds of free recipes, along with tips on making the switch to a healthier and kinder way of eating.

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gardein2011a.jpgWondering what to make this year for your Thanksgiving feast? Look no further! Here is your chance to win free coupons for Gardein's incredible, all-vegan "Savory Stuffed Turk'y" - made with vegetables, ancient grains and plant-proteins, breaded with toasted crumbs, and stuffed with celery, onions, cranberries and breadcrumbs. Sounds delicious!

All you have to do is enter MFA's Savory Stuffed Turk'y contest for your chance to win two free coupons. Fill out the form, hit submit, and on November 16, ten lucky winners will be chosen at random. So, what are you waiting for? Enter to win today!

To make sure everyone has something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, MFA has also prepared a helpful Vegetarian Thanksgiving Meal Plan filled with mouthwatering, cruelty-free recipes, including a Thanksgiving lentil loaf, cranberry vinaigrette salad, vegan pumpkin pie and more!

It's never been easier to make your Thanksgiving a celebration for the turkeys, too.

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turkey2011a.jpgThe Thanksgiving season is the perfect time to wield the power of the pen to help animals. Print and online newspapers are looking for turkey-related topics to cover, so even one well-written and thought-provoking letter to the editor can reach thousands of consumers with a message of compassion for farmed animals. And the good news is that writing a letter to the editor can be easy and fun, as well as an extremely effective way to spark a discussion about positive social change.

Ready to get started? Here are some helpful tips for writing winning letters to the editor:

  • Review the newspaper's letter-writing guidelines. They are often available on the newspaper's website under the Opinion and/or Contact Us sections. 

  • Open your letter with an interesting fact or strong statement that will catch your readers' attention.

  • Reference the newspaper. If you refer to a previously published news story in the newspaper, identify it by its headline and the date it was published.

  • Be brief. Most papers have a word limit, and shorter letters have a greater chance of being read. Aim for 100 to 150 words.

  • Keep it accurate and respectful. Draw from your own experience, or support your letter with facts.

  • Close the letter with a call to action. Explain how readers can help and where they can find more information about the issue.

  • Check it over. Make sure you've used correct grammar and spelling, and consider asking someone with good language skills to proofread your letter.

  • Sign your letter. Include your full name, address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity.

  • Send your letter by e-mail if possible. Be sure to send the letter in the body of an e-mail, not as an attachment. Here is a handy Letter to the Editor Contact List.

  • Think big and small. Of course, the bigger the paper the more people you will reach. But don't forget to send letters to smaller papers too. Smaller papers can mean a greater chance of getting published. And even small weekly papers can help you reach hundreds or even thousands of people with your message.

While letters written in your own words are best, here are some key points you may want to use:

  • Why not give turkeys something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Consider leaving the turkey off your plate and instead sponsoring a rescued bird at a sanctuary for farmed animals.

  • More than 300 million turkeys are slaughtered for food in the U.S. each year. Much like the cats and dogs with whom we share our lives, turkeys are intelligent and playful animals, who enjoy the company of others.

  • In the wild, turkeys are agile and can run 25 miles per hour. On factory farms, turkeys are crammed into windowless and disease-ridden sheds by the thousands. They are bred to grow so large and so quickly that they often become crippled under their own weight.

  • Turkeys are routinely mutilated without painkillers and abused in ways that would warrant felony cruelty charges if cats or dogs were the victims instead. Visit to see how these animals are treated when the industry doesn't think anyone is watching.

  • At the end of their painful lives, turkeys are violently loaded onto transport trucks and shipped to slaughter. They are then roughly snapped into moving shackles and have their throats slit, often while they're fully conscious.

  • Thankfully, each of us can take a stand against cruelty to turkeys and other animals by adopting a healthy and humane vegetarian diet. Visit for hundreds of delicious recipes.

  • Try carving out a new Thanksgiving tradition by carving into any number of delicious vegetarian mock-turkey alternatives. Your health and the turkeys will thank you!

Good luck, and please let us know if your letter is published. Remember, without you the animals have no voice.

P.S. While you're at it, why not take a moment to help motivate your friends and family to spare a turkey by sharing MFA's powerful Thanksgiving PSA on Facebook and other social networking sites?


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pig2011b.jpgLast week, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed a complaint with the government against McDonald's pork supplier Smithfield Foods alleging the company is making false and misleading claims to its customers and shareholders about the way pigs are treated at its facilities.

In a video series titled Taking the Mystery out of Pork Production, Smithfield claims that the living conditions provided for pigs is "ideal" and that their "every need is met." Yet undercover investigations at Smithfield facilities document workers tossing baby pigs like footballs, denying sick or injured pigs veterinary care and mother pigs confined for nearly their entire lives inside tiny metal gestation crates barely bigger than their own bodies.

Far from ideal, gestation crates are considered to be so cruel that they have been banned in the entire European Union, New Zealand, and eight U.S. states. Dr. Temple Grandin, one of the world's leading experts on farmed animal welfare and advisor to Smithfield, says gestation crates are inhumane and should be phased out. Corroborating the HSUS's findings, MFA's own investigations have revealed gestation crates to be perhaps the cruelest form of institutionalized animal abuse in existence:

According to Dr. Donald Broom, Cambridge University professor and former scientific advisor to the Council of Europe, pigs "have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than] three-year-olds." They have the ability to express friendships, use vocalizations and body language, and are particularly fond of playing games with one another. But to Smithfield and other pork producing giants, pigs are treated like mere commodities and profit is always put ahead of animal welfare.

Don't buy the lie. We all have the power to help end needless cruelty to pigs and other farmed animals by adopting a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle. Order your free Vegetarian Starter Kit for helpful tips and recipes.

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fauja_singh.jpgNicknamed the "Turbaned Tornado," Fauja Singh recently finished the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon at the age of 100 and became the oldest runner to finish a marathon. Singh has completed eight marathons since he first began running them at the age of 89 and earned the title "World's Oldest Runner" at age 93. When asked about his success, Singh attributed it to his vegetarian diet, as well as drinking tea and abstaining from alcohol and smoking.

Many athletes like Singh have thrived on a plant-based diet. This November, vegan athlete and animal advocate Mary Hulett will be running the New York City Marathon to raise awareness and funds for Mercy For Animals. Click here to help Mary reach her $5,000 goal by making a tax-deductible donation online.

Other athletes, like Patrik Baboumian, Carl Lewis, Rich Roll, and Scott Jurek, are living proof that humans can thrive on plant-based diets. Ready to get fit and be "plant-strong"? Visit for important information about vegan health and hundreds of mouthwatering, cruelty-free recipes.

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Tens of thousands of people congregated at the 16th annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival last weekend for two full days of fun, great vegan food and tips for transitioning to a healthy and humane plant-based lifestyle. With a host of vegetarian food providers from across the country, along with educational exhibits from leading animal advocacy organizations, including a "Paid-Per-View" station hosted by Mercy For Animals, attendees were inspired to explore the wide variety of delicious, healthy and readily available vegan foods that are good for people and friendly to animals and the environment.

BostonVegfest2011-1.jpgThe festival also offered guests the opportunity to talk with top national experts on plant-based nutrition and animal advocacy, including Dr. Michael Greger, known as one of the most entertaining medical speakers of our time, and the always inspiring Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House. Visitors also enjoyed cooking demos from Los Angeles' Chef AJ, and Ellen Jaffe Jones, author of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day: A Game Plan for the Budget-Conscious Cook.

BostonVegfest2011-2.jpgThe longest-running event of its kind in the country, the annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival is perfect for anyone wanting to include a greater variety of healthy and delicious plant-based foods in their diets. For more tips on transitioning to a plant-based diet, visit

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veggieheart.jpgTime Magazine recently highlighted a Canadian study published in the peer-reviewed PLoS Medicine journal, involving more than 27,000 people, that concluded diets rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease the likelihood of heart disease. Interestingly, the study found that even people who are genetically predisposed to heart disease showed no increased heart risk if they ate a lot of raw fruits and vegetables. People with less healthy diets were found to have twice the risk of heart attack.

"It means that perhaps our family history, or genetic risk, is modifiable," says Dr. Sonia Anand, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at McMaster University and one of the co-authors of the study. "Despite not being able to change our genetics, if we are able to modify the effect or expression of our genes [by eating more fruits and vegetables]. That's exciting."

Dr. Anand's enthusiasm mirrors that of others in the scientific community regarding the effects of diet on health, including a recent study, published in the journal of Nutrition & Metabolism, which found that men following a plant-based diet have lower weights and body mass indexes, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Since heart disease is by far the leading cause of death for Americans, this study should provide powerful incentive for people to reduce or eliminate their consumption of saturated fat- and cholesterol-laden meat, dairy and eggs in favor of nutritious plant-based alternatives.

For more information on how to transition toward a diet that is as good for your heart as it is for the animals, visit

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2011 is the previous archive.

December 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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