Monday, April 14, 2014

For The Love

I spent this past weekend living in an RV at White Lake and it was pretty awesome!  I got there on Friday afternoon and the weather was amazing!  The lake looked so serene and it beckoned to me to get in.  I convinced Jeff we should do an open water swim and he was game even though he didn't have a wetsuit.  The water temp was a balmy 67 degrees, which actually felt like bath water compared to last year!  We swam a little bit and I didn't feel as terrible as I was expecting considering the last time I swam (other than a few laps when my hammie was injured & I did some water running) was about 8 months ago.  Being back in the water, I can actually say that I felt pure joy :) The thought of racing the sprint on Sunday entered my mind...


Saturday we set up for a full day of full-on promotion for TOPS Athletics, SyneryONE, and Whole Impact Nutrition.  I got to catch up with a lot of old friends and meet some new people too.  I also got satisfaction from getting people to enter the Bosu Ball Push-Up Contest right after they finished the half :)  How many push-ups can you do in a minute?  Top competitor did 50!  


He really wanted to do a VO2 max test!
Saturday afternoon, I met up w/ TOPS Athlete Ashley Pierce for a pre-race spin.  Riding around the lake on my brother's Felt road bike, I felt a rush of excitement.  Again I thought about signing up for the sprint, but thought it might not be the best idea since I was drafting off of Ashley and pretty much going at race effort!  Amazing what happens when you don't bike for 8 months!

TOPS Athlete, Ashley Pierce
So then Sunday morning rolled around and the weather was awesome and the lake looked like a mirror.  Literally perfect conditions.  The energy from Ashley & other races was contagious and so literally 1 hour before race start I walked into registration and signed up!  And I'm so glad that I did!  It was a super enjoyable experience to race on a whim with no expectations.  I was doing it simply for the love of the sport and I had a great time!  Here's a mini race recap:


750m Swim - 14:06 (1:43/100 yds)
The swim went pretty smoothly.  I knew I would not be able to push it so just went at a comfortable pace that I thought I'd be able to maintain.  Just getting through 750 meters would be a victory!  The water felt good, there weren't any waves like last year, and there wasn't even much congestion at the turn buoys.  I just enjoyed being in the moment and feeling the burn in my lats :)  Actually, I think some of the strength training I've been doing lately helped prevent muscular fatigue/burn out!

T1 - 2:56
Transition was a slow process.  I hadn't brought a tri suit, so I had to put on bike shorts over top of my swimsuit, which isn't easy when you aren't dry.  

14 mi Bike - 42:35 (19.6 mph)
I enjoyed the bike and as to be expected at White Lake, there was a good amount of head wind.  Or at least, it felt that way to me.  I rode mostly in the drops and tried to be as aero as possible.  Got passed by 1 woman on the bike and made a few passes myself.  It really felt great & I was excited to be out on the course!  I also got reacquainted with my old friend, Saddle Pain.  


T2 - 1:32
Again, slow.  Tying my shoe laces felt like it took 20 min.  

5k Run - 20:47 (6:41/mi)
I was wondering how I would feel heading out on the run.  I've started running again since the marathon and have been doing 35-40 miles a week on average.  I felt alright and was pretty enthused to be out on course w/ everyone.  I dropped a 7:00 first mile and figured I'd aim for negative splits from there.  Second mile was about 6:45 and third was about 6:30.  I picked off a few people in my age group on the run and loved running down the finish chute w/ my TOPS family cheering me on!  


Total Time - 1:22:12 (2nd AG; 13 OA)
Overall I couldn't be happier about how this race went.  It reminded me that I really do love multi-sport events.  I enjoyed the process & being in the moment during each of the 3 legs, and I really appreciated the spectators and other competitors.  It was a great race and a great day and fun to spend time w/ great people!  Congrats to all finishers, especially Ashley!!  You rocked it lady & I'm so proud of you!

TOPS Athletics!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just Beet It with Biotta Naturals Beet Juice!


A lot of people think beets are disgusting. In reality, I find that most of these people have never really even tried beets before and that once they do they are pleasantly surprised. I was exposed to beets at a very young age due to the Polish heritage of my maternal grandparents. Beet soup, more commonly known as borsch, is a traditional food on that side of the family. It was something that my grandfather always made for us growing up and we got a kick out of it because the soup was always bright pink from the color of the beets. I continued to eat plenty of beets when I lived in France because shredded beets were just as common as shredded carrots on salads - an excellent way to add them to your diet! All this time, I knew beets tasted good and were healthy, but I had no idea how good they could be for athletic performance...until now! 

Beets contain a high amount of inorganic nitrates. When we eat these nitrates present in food, they are metabolized in the body, first to nitrite, and then subsequently to nitric oxide (NO). NO is essential for normal functioning of the vasculature of the human body. It is synthesized by the endothelial cells and is a potent vasodilator. Reduced production of NO has been linked to hypertension, atherosclerosis, & stroke. Numerous studies have shown benefits of consumption of nitrates (in the form of beet juice) on various cardiovascular diseases. 

More recently researchers have been delving into the potential beneficial effects of nitrates on sports performance and have found good results. One mechanism of course is improved vasodilation, i.e. improved blood flow to the heart and exercising muscles. Another fascinating way that nitrates might help improve athletic performance is by lowering the oxygen cost of exercise by increasing efficiency of energy production. Basically, your muscles can produce more energy (ATP) with a given amount of oxygen - how cool is that!!? For those who care, it looks like this happens because there is less proton leakage through the mitochondrial membrane, thus resulting in a tighter coupling between mitochondrial respiration and ATP synthesis. How great are the benefits? Here are some study results:
  • Eight healthy men drank 500 mL beet juice per day for 6 days and then were asked to cycle to exhaustion. Compared to the control group (who drank a juice that did not contain any nitrate), they lasted 16% longer. 
  • Male cyclists who drank beet juice 3 hours before a time trial significantly improved their times in a 4km by 2.8% and in a 16.1km by 2.7%. 
  • Compared to a placebo group, male cyclists who drank 140 mL beet juice/day for 6 days improved their time in a 10km TT by 12 seconds and had increased power output. 
  • 8-well trained cyclists completed two separate 50-mile cycling TTs. For one they drank 0.5L beet juice 2.5 hours before the TT and in the other they drank de-nitrated beet juice. After drinking the beet juice they had significantly improved power output and a 0.8% improved time. 
  • Runners ate 200g baked beets 45 min before a 5km TT. Compared to runners who did not eat beets, those who did ran 5% faster in the last 1.8 km of the TT. 
  • Rowers who drank 500 mL beet juice for 6 days outperformed those who drinking a placebo in a 500m rowing TT. 
Of course, after reading about all this I wanted to try it. So imagine how excited I was to find out that Biotta Naturals Juices, maker of Beet Performer Juice became a sponsor of the Rev3 triathlon team that I was on! Score! I received a couple bottles of beet juice from Biotta and decided to put it to the test. I ate about 1/2 can of beets and drank about 8 oz beet juice every day for 3 days leading up to the race. I didn't drink any juice the morning of, simply because I ran out (poor planning, I know). I also ate arugula for three days prior to the race, which is another food high in nitrates. I'd have to say it worked out well b/c I won the race and improved my time in all three sports from the last time that I raced that race!  Since then, I've continued to drink beet juice leading into races and on race day and I really believe that it helps.  There was one particular race I did where the water temperature was in the low 50's!  Burrr!  I was kinda worried about getting in the water b/c I don't do well in cold weather.  But, before the race I drank half a bottle of Biotta beet juice and I SWEAR it helped prevent the hyperventilation reflex that occurs due to constriction when you get into cold water!!!  My theory is that it helped dilate my blood vessels and allowed me to get through that horribly cold swim!

Team Rev3 Photobomb Throwback!
Based on the research, it looks like consuming about 0.5L beet juice per day for about a week leading up to an event is beneficial. Also, a single dose about 3 hours before the event may be of even further benefit. 


If you are worried about the taste of beet juice, don't be. It's actually pretty sweet and delicious. And it's best when served cold. You can order beet juice from Biotta Naturals website. Save 25% off by entering the code drinkbeets414.  You can also enter your zip code in on the website to search for local stores in your area that sell the juice. Getting the juice this way is sooooo much easier than juicing your own beets, which I have tried before. I gave that up pretty quickly because I was sick of having to clean up the bright pink mess that was my juicer. Also, I find that the bottled juice actually tastes better than the juice that I made in my own juicer - probably something to do with the Swiss bottling process (I have never seen a place as clean and pristine as Switzerland in my life). Other foods besides beets that are high in nitrates are arugula, rhubarb, butterhead lettuce, celery, and spinach.

If you want to taste this juice, come by my office this week at TOPS Athletics :)  We are sampling a variety of Biotta juices all week long :-)  Then feel free to leave a comment about what you thought of the juice!







Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Partnership With Port Land Grille & First Food Of The Month!!!

Each month I will be featuring a different healthy food on my blog, discussing why it is good for you, and also providing you with a couple of recipes for the food.  

Since April is my birthday month, I’m starting with one of my all-time favs - spinach!  There is a reason that Popeye was always eating so much spinach - it is one of the healthiest foods you can possibly eat!  Spinach is extremely nutrient dense.  This means that while it is low in calories (only 7 calories per cup), it packs a huge punch of vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients (naturally occurring components in food that help prevent and fight disease).  

Spinach is high in iron, fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, & folate, among other nutrients.  Like all plant foods, it contains 0 grams of cholesterol.  Spinach is such a healthy food that everyone should try to eat some of it every single day!

Here are some ideas to get more spinach into your diet:

Spice up salads - Mix baby spinach with your salad lettuce to add color, flavor, vitamins, minerals, & nutrients.

Fun with family favorites - Thaw and drain a package of frozen spinach and add to layers of a lasagna.  Toss a few handfuls of spinach on top of a pizza.

Drink your greens - Add a handful or two of spinach into home-made smoothies

Simple dinner side - Purchase fresh or frozen spinach in a bag that can be quickly and easily microwaved

———NEWS FLASH!!!!———

I’m SUPER excited to announce a partnership with Shawn Wellersdick, head chef and owner of Port Land Grille!  Shawn is one of the most acclaimed chefs in North Carolina with a long list of accolades to his name and an equally long list of praise for his Port Land Grille.  Some highlights of his 20+ year career as a chef include:

  • Shawn is a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales University, where he chosen by his instructors and peers to represent his school in the Collegiate Culinary Olympics, ultimately winning 2nd place in North America
  • Shawn & Port Land Grille have received numerous accolades and have been consistently rate among top chefs/restaurants in NC by Greensboro News & Record, Wilmington Star News, SANTE Magazine, Metro Magazine, & Charlotte Observer, among others. 
  • Port Land Grill has received the coveted DiRoNA Award (Distinguished Restaurants of North America)
  • Port Land Grille has been awarded “Best Wine List” in the country, specializing in small production Artesian wineries from North America
  • Shawn currently serves on the North Carolina Chef’s advisory board for North Carolina Pork Council, North Carolina Sweet Potato Council, & North Carolina Seafood Council
  • Shawn has been selected twice to represent our state of NC at the Great American Seafood Challenge in New Orleans that is featured annually on the Food Network Channel
  • Shawn is a recurrent personality on UNC TV’s Flavor NC
Me (in the pink shoes) drafting off Shawn (black shirt) at Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon 2014!
Shawn will be contributing tasty recipes containing the healthy foods of the month.  I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say I can’t wait to make this!

Braised Baby Organic Spinach with White Beans & Sweet Peppers
Serves 6-8 portions

Ingredients
10 oz. Baby Organic Spinach
1, 15 oz can of canned organic Great Northern Beans (drained) or you can substitute any other type if there is a personal preference.
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Large Shallots, julienned (thinly sliced)
1 medium sized red bell pepper, julienned
1 medium sized yellow bell pepper, julienned
4-5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (shaved)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 tablespoons ground fennel seed
4 ounces vegetable stock or water
1 lemon for zest
Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

Directions
In a heavy bottomed stainless steal pan add the olive oil, shallots, bell peppers, red pepper flakes and fennel. Cover with a lid and sweet vegetables and aromatics over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Stirring every few minutes. Once vegetables are tender add spinach, vegetable stock, white beans, season with salt and pepper. Cover and contuine to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Enough time to wilt spinach. Stir every 1 or 2. Once spinach is wilted and vegetables and beans are well incorporated zest 1 lemon over spinach mixture, stir and taste for seasoning adjust salt and pepper to personal preference.

This can be served as sides or as a main dish. Also this can be made a head of time and reused for a week.




Happy cooking & be sure to come into TOPS for more healthy spinach recipes!  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WINutrition Pick: P.T.'s Grille

One of the most common challenges to eating healthy is going out to eat.  It's easy to cook healthy foods when you are the one controlling the ingredients.  However, when you go out to a restaurant it's sometimes hard to know what the healthiest thing on the menu is.  A seemingly healthy salad can be sabotaged when topped with croutons, fried tortilla strips, blue cheese, and creamy dressing.  No matter where you go, there is usually a way to make a healthy choice.  I'm going to start giving my WINutrition picks from some of the restaurants here in Wilmington so that you'll always know what the most nutritious item on the menu is without having to stress over it!

First up.... P.T.'s Grille!

1437 Military Cutoff Rd. Wilmington NC 28412
910-256-8850
It's not a secret that P.T.'s Grille offers stellar fresh-never-frozen burgers & hand-cut fries.  However, if you are looking for the most nutrient-dense option here's what I'd suggest:

Selection #1:  323 calories, 9.8 g fat, 1.6 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10.1 g fiber, 19g protein, 49 g carbs
Black Bean Burger on 100% whole wheat bun w/ ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, & onion
Side salad with 1/2 portion (2 Tbsp) of Lite Italian dressing [no cheese, no croutons]
Unsweet iced tea

I sampled the black bean burger & side salad and it was tasty!

Selection #2:  439 calories, 10.6 g fat, 1.8 g sat fat, 112 mg cholesterol, 5.9 g fiber, 45 g protein, 37 g carbs
Grilled chicken sandwich on 100% whole wheat bun w/ ketchup, lettuce, tomato, & onion
Side salad w/ 1/2 portion (2 Tbsp) of Lite Italian dressing [no cheese, no croutons]
Unsweet iced tea

I also got a chance to catch up with P.T.'s owners Mark and Jane Warren who are very health conscious themselves.  Jane says "Health and nutrition are a priority for myself as well as my family. I enjoy eating at home, but when I do go to P.T.'s I love getting the black bean burger on top of a salad.  I also request grilled onions and mushrooms to be added and balsamic vinegar for my dressing.  These items are not on the menu, but all you have to do is ask for them!"

To browse more of the options available at P.T.'s, here is a link to the full menu.

Look for my WINutrition picks at P.T.'s Grille and more local restaurants coming soon!  In the meantime, here are some quick tips for how to make healthy choices when eating out:

  • Include whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and lean protein in your meal
  • Don't be afraid to ask how things are prepared and request healthy modifications:
    • Steam veggies instead of sautéing in butter or oil
    • Grill/bake/broil meat instead of battering & deep frying
    • Ask for cheese to be left out of the dish
  • Ask for dressings on the side and use only minimal amounts
    • When in doubt, you can always dress salads with balsamic vinegar
  • Avoid butter, oil, fried foods, cheeses, white sauces, & gravies!
  • Opt for healthier spreads like mustard & hummus vs. mayonnaise & cheese
  • Pay extra attention to your hunger/fullness cues.  Restaurant meals are often oversized in portions; don't feel like you need to eat everything on the plate!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Race Report: Quintiles Marathon


On Sunday March 16 the 2014 Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon went down and it was nothing short of amazing!  The morning started off very smoothly, a foretelling prelude to how the race itself would unfold.  I woke up at 5 am, ate some vegan blueberry pancakes I had made the night before,  a cup of OJ, and a few swigs of coffee.  It just so happened that all of that totaled to exactly 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram - perfect!  I drove to the race start, hit absolutely no traffic, and found an open parking spot literally 50 yds from the start of the race.  With no transition to set up, I sat down for a little bit and waited for the right time to warm up - I didn't feel rushed or stressed.  Thirty minutes prior to the gun going off, I downed three shot blocks and went for a little jaunt.  Dropped my backpack off at bag drop-off without any snafus and even the line at the port-a-potties seemed to go unusually quickly.  Weather was perfect - it was in the 50's and rain had held off.  I met up with all my Without Limits teammates at the starting line and was feeling good.  There was a contagious feeling of excitement in the air and everything was lining up perfectly for a good day!

When the race started I felt like I was in a dream, almost in disbelief that I was actually about to run another marathon!

  • My first marathon was 8 years ago - New York City in 2006; I finished in 3:48; my PR.  
  • I accompanied my brother at Richmond in 2007; a 5 hrs + change slog.  
  • My most recent marathon was in 2008, at the end of the Beach2Battleship triathlon, in which I held a leisurely 10:50 pace to produce a 4:45 split.  
So, I was a little giddy at the start at the prospect of my first marathon in quite some time!  Thankfully I was in a very experienced pace group consisting of WOL'ers Shawn, Taye, & Donnie.  These guys have pacing down to a science and I knew that if I stayed behind them it would keep me under control and I wouldn't go out too fast.  (They were also great wind-blockers).  We ran together for the first 12 miles of the race and it was so much fun!  It felt like we were just out on another Saturday morning long run and I thoroughly enjoyed the company!  I also met a TMS-IOS triathlete who was also named Tara and who was also a dietitian!  What a coincidence - she was doing the half and put up with our incessant pace-checking until the Mojave Desert, aka the split point where all the half marathoners turned right and we continued running straight.

I really was feeling great when I got out of Landfall and made the turn back towards the beach.  It was here where Taye's first pacer and my pacer extraordinaire, Erin Hogston, joined us.  Taye's plan was to start picking it up at this point and since I felt really good I decided to stay with him.  So the four of us ran together and the pace dropped to 7:05/mi.  Now I was running.  The four of us stayed together until around mile 16 when I got a cramp and Taye swapped pacer #1 for pacer #2, i.e. Miss Christa Iammarino, Olympic marathon trialist.  The two of them picked it up a bit while I tried to get my cramp to go away.  Once it did, we caught back up with them and all worked together for a while.


Things started getting EXTREMELY difficult the second time through landfall.  This was probably 18-20 miles into it and I was not feeling good.  With every step I just wanted to stop.  But I had Erin there, encouraging me and pushing me (literally at times) forward every step of the way!  I think if I had been alone I would have slowed down or maybe even stopped!  My legs hurt so bad and I remembered a text that my friend and marathon expert, Tricia Winters, had sent me the night before, "Remember, it's all mental."  But the pain wasn't in my mind, it was in my quads!!!  I couldn't stop though.  We had caught sight of the 3:10 pace group around mile 20 and Erin was hell-bent on us reeling it in.  We dropped a few 6:50's, but I wasn't as excited about them as Erin - I just wanted to make it to the finish line ... alive.  It gave me a boost running past family and friends, especially my parents & all my TOPS peeps - you guys were great!  Thanks for the support & cheers!  And then finally mile 25 appeared and I only had 1 more mile to go.  It was a struggle and it hurt like hell, but I knew I could do it.  I looked down at my watch and saw that I had a chance at going under 3:10.  This became my goal for the last mile.  With Erin shouting encouragement at me and the music from the finish line getting louder and louder that goal materialized.  I felt extremely happy at the end and satisfied with the day's effort and rewards.  

My chip time was 3:08:56 (7:13/mi); gun time was 3:09:10 (7:14/mi).  It wasn't what I had originally hoped for when I started training 19 weeks ago.  However, with all of my setbacks that resulted in a weekly average of 40.5 mi/week, I am elated about my new 40 minute PR!!!!  Thanks Tom Clifford for all the great coaching & tough track practices that helped me get there!  I was also pretty happy about this growler that I won for placing 1st in my age group (5th overall):




So what's next?  First step is to recover my tired body and legs!  I am not kidding when I say I could barely walk today!  And then next up, I have some plans, but those will be for my next blog :)

Lastly, one thing that I have learned from this race and know for sure is that the marathon is not for the faint of heart.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Quintiles On The Horizon

Four months ago I started training for Quintiles Marathon and I'm in shock that it's now only 2 weeks away! 


At the beginning I was all geared up and psyched about my sub 3-hour goal, which seemed like it might be in the cards for me.  However, due to illness and injury (wah wah wah) during the weeks which should have been my bulk training, my mileage has been sub-par (cough, understatement). 

Week      Miles
1               31
2               44
3               41
4               44
5               49
6               52
7               29
8               56
9               56
10             20 - sick
11             22 - sick
12             55
13             21 - injured
14             25 - injured
15             50
16             51
17             45
18             40 planned
19             25 planned

So, as I see it I have 3 options:

1.  Drop down to the half marathon.
2.  Skip Quintiles all together and choose another race in a few months.
3.  Run the full marathon and adjust goals.

At this point, I have chosen #3.  I don't think I've put in the speed work to run a PR in the half and I know there are some speedy folks coming in ready to rip that race to shreds.  So I think I'd be disappointed if I did that.  I nixed #2 because I've already paid for the race and I'm kind of itching to do a race.  I was supposed to do a tune up half in Myrtle earlier this month, but was just coming back from injury, so it's really been a while since I've been able to go into race mode.  Now granted I won't be able to really race this race cause I'm neither in race shape nor at race weight, but I think I will still enjoy getting out there and seeing what kind of a time I can throw down.  My plan is to start out conservative and aim to feel completely comfortable through the first 10-15 miles.  All bets may be off after that ;)

The last thing I really need to do before this race is come up with a playlist for my ipod.  Thinking of including the following below, but am open to suggestions!  What tunes get you pumped up?  More imporantly, what is going to get me through the final 10k???? 

50 Cent
-In Da Club
-Patiently Waiting
-PIMP
-Poor Lil Rich

Adam Lambert
-For Your Entertainment
-If I Had You

Awolnation
-Sail (dubstep remix)

Beyonce
-Sweet Dreams

Bruno Mars
-Gorilla
-Locked Out Of Heaven
-Marry You
-Money Make Her Smile
-Moonshine
-Our First Time
-Runaway Baby
-Somewhere In Brooklyn
-Treasure

Britney Spears
-3
-Break The Ice
-Freakshow
-Get Naked
-Gimme More
-Inside Out
-Me Against the Music
-Piece of Me
-Til The World Ends
-Toxic

David Guetta
-Titanium

Ellie Goulding
-Burn
-I Need Your Love

Eminem
-Brainless
-Cold Wind Blows
 -Criminal
-Forgot About Dre
-I Need A Doctor
-I'm Not Afraid
-Kill You
-Legacy
-Love Game
-My Band
-No Love
-Rap God
-Renegade
-Rhyme or Reason
-So Bad
-So Far
-So Much Better
-The Monster
-The Real Slim Shady
-Untitled
-Who Knew
-WTP

Enrique Iglesias
-Heart Attack
-Tonight I'm Loving You

FloRida
-Low

Journey
-Don't Stop Believing

Katy Perry
-ET

Lady Gaga
-Bad Romance
-Do What You Want
-Just Dance
-Telephone

LMFAO
-Party Rock
-Sexy & I Know It

Maroon 5
-Doin' Dirt
-Harder to Breathe
-Lucky Strike

Paramour
-Still Into You

Rihanna
-Can't Remember to Forget You
-Disturbia
-Don't Stop the Music
-Only Girl
-S&M
-We Found Love

Zedd
-Clarity



Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: Eating Animals


I’ve been a vegan for almost 4 years now. There are many reasons why one might choose this path, and for me it was to optimize health and athletic performance. The treatment of factory farmed animals didn’t really play into the decision, though I had read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation – both great books which paint a vivid picture of “life” on the factory farm. After reading these books, I did make efforts to connect with local farmers and started purchasing grass-fed, antibiotic-free, meat, poultry, & eggs from small local farms. However, because this was more burdensome and a lot more expensive, I also kept buying conventional meat in bulk from Costco’s meat department and whenever I ate out in restaurants. In continuing to spend money on conventionally farmed animal products, I was still contributing to the demand for cheap meat and even though it made me feel better about what I was doing, I realize now that “any plan that involves funneling money to the factory farm won’t end factory farming.”

Since turning vegan, it’s been nice to know that I’m no longer contributing to factory farming, but like I said before it was never the impetus for change and I didn’t think about it that much. Then the book Eating Animals came to me in the mail from a friend. I was intrigued so I started reading it and I couldn’t put it down! You should know that this book was not written by an animal-rights activist or hard-core vegan. It was written by a young omnivorous first-time father who wanted to find out more about exactly what he would be feeding his son should he continue to purchase animal products. I feel like the book is very objective and allows you to form your own opinions based on factual information presented. In my mind, the following reasons are more than enough to convince me that abstaining from factory farmed meat is the only viable conclusion.

Animal Cruelty
I won’t lie, it was not pleasant reading about the nitty gritty details of how factory farmed animals are treated; it’s downright shocking and disgusting. First of all, the animals I’m talking about should not even exist in nature. What I mean is that these farmed animals have been so meticulously and grotesquely genetically engineered over time to produce greater amounts of meat with less food in less time, that they literally are incapable of reproducing. Thus, it is a fact of biology that these animals should not even exist. They live their pathetic lives in overcroweded cages, are not free to engage in the natural behaviors of their species, are branded/clipped/cut all without pain killers, and don’t see the light of day until they are crammed onto the trucks to be taken to slaughter. Those that don’t manage to grow properly in the heinous conditions are simply killed or left to die because it would cost more for the farmer to continue to feed them. Of course the slaughterhouses are a nightmare and it’s commonplace for animals to be skinned or cut alive. The nature of the work often brings out sadistic behavior in workers who abuse the animals with physical force. I won’t elaborate on this because it’s only a google away if you want more details. It’s really hard to believe that so much cruelty occurs and so many people know about it, yet it continues to happen and is simply swept under the rug.

Ecological Impact
The book also talks a lot about the ecological impact of factory farming, which is staggering! Factory farming produces more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. Farmed animals in the US produce an incredible 87,000 pounds of sh*t per SECOND! Holy sh*t! That’s 130 times as much waste as the entire human population! Here is an excerpt of a story about a 120,000 square foot “lagoon” of nitrogenous pig waste:

A worker in Michigan, repairing one of the lagoons, was overcome by the smell and fell in. His 15-year old nephew dived in to save him but was overcome, the worker’s cousin went in to save the teenager but was overcome, the worker’s older brother dived in to save them but was overcome, and then the worker’s father dived in. They all died in pig sh*t.

In addition to excessive waste & greenhouse gases, we are clearing rainforests at an alarming rate to make more room to farm more livestock so that we can create more waste & more gas.


Health Impact
I’m not going to elaborate on this much because I’ve talked about it before and it’s not a focus of the book. But, in general science shows an undeniable correlation between the Standard American Diet (SAD) and the chronic diseases plaguing millions of Americans today, including the #1 and #2 killers – heart disease & cancer. The obvious link here is obesity, which is nearly impossible to achieve on a whole foods plant-based diet.

Economic Impact
One of the biggest problems facing the US today is the crumbling of our health care system. Drugs & surgeries are so expensive and are both treatments that do not remedy the underlying problems; rather they treat the symptoms. The cheapest way to prevent and reverse diseases that otherwise result in costly treatments (i.e. bypass surgery, dialysis) is to adopt a whole foods plant-based diet.

Medical Impact
It’s well known that bacteria naturally evolve and mutate to develop resistance to the antibiotics that we have against them. More and more strains of bacteria are becoming harder and harder to treat. This is not a result of humans overconsuming antibiotics – Americans consume about 3 million pounds of antibiotics per year. In comparison, 17.8 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to factory farmed animals! And this is not a situation where an animal gets sick and is then treated. The animals are fed antibiotics in their feed at each meal to prevent them from becoming too diseased to sell to consumers, which would otherwise be inevitable because of the close and dirty quarters that they inhabit. The lavish use of antibiotics in the factory farming world is setting the scene for the next global pandemic.


Hunger Impact
It is much much cheaper to produce a calorie of plant food than it is to produce a calorie of animal product. In thinking about ending world hunger, it would be much more cost-effective to feed people plant foods, rather than to try to solve the problem with meat. Compounding this problem is that more and more of the grain that could be used to feed hungry people, is being siphoned to animal farms to feed livestock. It’s a lose-lose.

Now, I think part of the problem with factory farming is educating people about the truth. IMO it’s really important that people realize where their food is coming from and how it is produced (raised, transported, killed, & processed). However, if you suggest that people should read books like “Eating Animals” or watch videos like “Meet Your Meat” you will likely be met with a lot of resistance. I think this is because people are content to exist in a state of ignorance. If they educated themselves on the topic then they’d be forced to make an ethical decision with taste/customs/traditions of food weighing heavily on one side of the scale. I don’t think anyone would actually condone factory farming and I certainly can’t think of a good argument to support it. No one thinks that it’s ok to abuse or mistreat animals, but then why is it so hard for people to demand the end of factory farming and insist on a more sustainable solution?

I’ll end this with a quote from the book that really resonated with me:

When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.

So, where do you stand? Do you? Doing nothing is a choice and a vote for factory farming.