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Animal-based research and a plant-based diet – the links

Animal-based research and a plant-based diet – the links

April 24th, 2017

Guest blogger Helen Marston is Chief Executive Officer of Humane Research Australia (HRA).  She has been with HRA since the start of 2005, and prior to that worked  for Animals Australia and produced a TV program about animal welfare  and rights issues. Founded in 1979, HRA is an Australian not for profit  organisation that challenges the use of animals experiments and promotes  the use of more humane and scientifically valid non-animal methods of  research.

In this post, originally posted on her blog, Helen discusses her work to end animal-based research and  the connections with promoting a plant-based diet. In New Zealand, the  issue is much the same, as animal research is a global issue. As well as  a relatively small amount of medical research (about 10% of animal used  in research in NZ are for medical purposes) there is a considerable  amount of animal experimentation to increase the productivity, and  profitability, of animal agriculture industries.

There are two things I am incredibly passionate about. Obviously, I  care deeply about the use of animals in cruel experiments, but I am also  equally passionate about promoting a vegan lifestyle.

Working for Humane Research Australia it has been necessary to focus  on the one issue – animal experimentation – and I have never allowed my  second passion to impact or interfere with our main objective, except  that any event that HRA caters for is entirely vegan. That, however, is  due to my uncompromising ethics rather than it being a HRA policy. I  have – somewhat reluctantly – excluded veganism from our core work as it  was outside the scope of our organisation’s constitution.

There have been three things I have seen lately that have convinced  me that the promotion of veganism – or rather, a healthy plant-based  diet – is clearly intertwined with our stance on animal experimentation.

Consider the vast amounts of money – much of it our taxes –  poured  into medical research, (including animal experiments) every year in an  attempt to find cures to chronic illness. What if, instead of using such  huge resources to seek cures, it was used to educate for the prevention  of these ailments? As the old saying goes, prevention is better than  cure, and surely, surely, far more people’s health would be  improved, lives would be saved and healthcare costs drastically reduced  if we avoided chronic illness – diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood  pressure and many cancers –  in the first place.

And speaking of healthcare costs, if these were reduced there would  be more resources available to find cures for those ailments which are  genetic and not preventable through lifestyle changes.

A previous blog of mine, A Vicious Circle, goes into this in more detail.

It sounds a bit too simple, doesn’t it? That’s because there is more  to it than simply improving health. Consider the pharmaceutical  companies whose profits depend on ongoing treatments rather than cures  (healthy people do not provide a profit). Consider the researchers who  must continue publishing papers in order to secure further grants – many  of these papers which involve animal experiments. And consider the huge market in producing animals as proxies for  humans in invasive research. We could be forgiven for thinking that  animal experimentation, and indeed much medical research, continues not  to improve human health, but rather because it represents big business!  But what is more important? Providing careers for young researchers or  actually improving the health of our population?

The three things I mentioned earlier are:

How not to die – a fascinating book by Dr Michael Greger that discusses foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease.

What the Health – recently premiered in Melbourne to a sellout audience, this film takes a critical look at our healthcare system.

Serving Love – a health and wellness documentary I purchased recently which focuses on the benefits of a raw, plant-based diet.

These three resources, backed up with scientific evidence, will leave  you in no doubt about the importance of wholefoods to our health and  wellbeing. I strongly recommend each of them to you.

With many people questioning the causes of the poor state of health  of today’s population, Dr Michael Klaper, who features in two of the  above resources, puts it quite simply –

“It’s the food. It was always the food.”

Yet we continue to ignore the serious implications of this basic  concept and instead pump billions of dollars into the research and  healthcare industries, subject millions of animals to cruel experiments  every year and deny those people with chronic illness a chance of living  healthily. So clearly, there is indeed a clearly-established link  between public health and the promotion of a plant-based, wholefoods  diet.

There are so many areas of animal experimentation and HRA will  continue to focus on that specifically, but it is essential that we work  in collaboration with other groups that promote healthy living through a  plant-based wholefood lifestyle in order to reach our shared goal – the  elimination of chronic disease and the promotion of a healthy society.

For more information:

Eat Kind

NutritionFacts.org

The Plantrician Project

Animal testing in NZ

 

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