The Western Meat and Dairy Based Diet:

Why it is Dangerous

By Stephen Billiter


We as Adventists and members of the church, according to fundamental belief # 18, accept all of the writings of Ellen White as authoritative, and Mrs. White has very much to say about an animal flesh diet, including this very disturbing statement made over 100 years ago: “Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing. Those who use flesh foods little know what they are eating. Often if they could see the animals when living and know the quality of the meat they eat, they would turn from it with loathing. People are continually eating flesh that is filled with tuberculous and cancerous germs. Tuberculosis, cancer, and other fatal diseases are thus communicated {CG 382.3}. This eye-opening statement has long been proved true by modern medical science. In addition, God in His Word says, “Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1Corinthians 3:16, 17, AKJV).

Yes, this is a very serious, sobering statement. If we are defiling our body temple by drinking beer and eating pork, are we not doing the same if we eat beef and chicken corrupted with deadly germs and viruses?

So how often have newspaper headlines screamed out at us: “Thousands of Pounds of Beef Recalled amid Worsening E Coli Illnesses and Deaths!” It seems that every few months that somewhere in the world, we see news headlines similar to this.

There is little doubt that overwhelming evidence for a healthier, more disease-free life is found in the absence of animal products in the diet. However, many factors contribute to the prevalence and popularity of meat and dairy products in the diets of most of the population of western civilization. Meat eating is traditional in our society, going back thousands of years, and its use becomes a cultivated habit, and it then becomes very difficult for most of us to imagine a life without meat on the table. Steakhouses in particular are very popular in America as well as backyard barbecues. Cow’s milk and dairy are heavily advertised on TV as a healthy choice, while never listing the scientific health concerns. Indeed, the bacon and egg with toast breakfast is widely accepted and utilized across much of America and Europe, which helps to cause spikes in blood cholesterol levels and its other myriad of resulting heath problems.

Premature deaths, various diseases, supporting a cruel industry, and the overuse of the earth’s resources, are all among the high costs that we as a part of society pay― sometimes unknowingly until it is too late. Lifestyle diseases are the leading causes of premature deaths in America and Europe today, in which tobacco use leads the way with diet a close second. It is true that meat and dairy contains adequate levels of iron, B12, with high levels of protein and calcium, but daily use of vitamins, and careful planning with vegetables nuts and grains, will provide plenty of protein and other nutrients to satisfy our daily requirements.

Here are the results of one study done recently by Amanda J. Cross, Ph.D. and colleagues, from the National Cancer Institute in Rockville Maryland, who set out to determine if red or processed meat products provided for increased risks of cancer. 500,000 questionnaires from men and women over 50 were analyzed in this 8-year study as over 53,000 cases of cancer were diagnosed. There were 5 divisions of study groups that covered those with high rates of meat consumption, to those who rarely or never ate meat (“Dietary Fats and Red Meat”).

Individuals with a high intake of both red meat and processed meat had a 20 percent elevated risk for colorectal cancer and a 16 percent elevated risk for lung cancer. Both types of meat were also associated with borderline-higher risks for advanced prostate cancer.

High intakes of red meat were also associated with an elevated risk for esophageal and liver cancers. High consumption of processed meats was associated with borderline increased risks for bladder cancer and myeloma (a bone cancer). Dr. Cross cautioned that even small amounts of red and processed meats could significantly increase cancer risk. Is there something in red meat or dietary fats that raises cancer risk? Dr. Cross speculated that cancer might result from chemical compounds in the meat itself. In studying the effects of dietary fat and red meat on prostate cancer, two possible mechanisms were offered, one focusing on the type of fat and the other on the cooking method. Meats cooked at high temperatures are sources of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Meats that are well-done and very-well-done have been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer (“Dietary Fats and Red Meat”)

No one would probably dispute the wealth of scientific evidence that clearly shows meat, and red meat in particular, is associated with higher rates of cancer. How meat is cooked also indicates higher levels of carcinogens with the well-done grilled examples being particularly dangerous. Even though red meat is higher in disease potential and calories, the fact of the matter is that all meat carries dangerous bacteria and lethal cancerous virus germs.

Eating poultry products always carries risks of salmonella poisoning and campylobacter infections, and all raw meat is subject to more rapid spoilage than grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables. When handling raw poultry, the hands must be washed frequently and all surfaces in contact with meat products should be disinfected immediately to avoid contamination. It’s just one more risk factor involved in a flesh diet.

Choosing a meat based diet has resulted in an estimated total health cost of 30 to 30 billion dollars in the U.S. alone which is a direct medical cost based upon higher rates of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallstones, obesity and food borne illness among omnivores (Barnard 646-55).

In contrast to a meat based diet, a vegetarian diet that consists of legumes, vegetables, nuts and fruits, with the avoidance of animal protein in combination with regular exercise, is consistently associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, much less obesity and consequently less heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and mortality. In African-Americans, a steady diet of nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits resulted in a 35-44% overall lowered risk of mortality (Fraser 168-74).

Most Americans eat far too much protein found in meats that far exceeds the amount of protein one needs per day based on body weight. The USDA recommends .8 grams of protein daily per kilogram of bodyweight. So many American make far too many trips to steakhouses, backyard barbecues, eat bacon and egg breakfasts, and consume other high levels of meat and dairy foods. This results in needless excess calories that contribute to obesity, as well as a higher blood cholesterol level, with its resulting higher disease rate. A flesh diet is merely the ingesting of grains on a second-hand basis instead of getting them directly from the source itself. Many think that in order to get adequate protein, they have to eat meat, but the truth is that by adding together beans and corn, or rice and beans, all of the amino acids are included. In addition, nuts are high in protein as well.

Milk is one of the most universally accepted foods there is. Cow’s milk is looked upon in society as one of the most nutritious foods we can drink or eat in the form of cheese, butter, yogurt, or ice cream. On virtually every schoolchild’s lunchroom tray is placed a half pint or more of cow’s milk. Milk is provided by nature for the nurture of each species newborn babies. So the milk of each species is tailored specifically its individual own organism. Human babies do best on the milk of its mother and likewise that of a calf, dog or rat.

I grew up in a household where my mother cooked eggs and bacon virtually every morning for breakfast, lots of southern fried chicken for supper, and most times accessing milk and ice cream was just a matter of opening the refrigerator―a typical American family. So essentially, we grow up in our families as children eating just what our parents eat, and oftentimes no changes for the better are made unless one is convicted of a need for diet reform in the life.

Notice the abundance of meat and dairy products on this USDA Food Pyramid chart:

Figure 1: USDA Food Pyramid (USDA Web)

We see from the above USDA Food Pyramid that meat, eggs, poultry, yogurt, cheese and milk are recommended by the federal government for a well-balanced, daily nutritional diet. However, the government does not tell us of the high disease risk contained in dairy and meat products. The livestock and dairy industry constitutes a tremendous addition to the gross domestic product each year in America. Huge profits are realized by retailers and distributors, with relatively little by the farmer and producers themselves.

The history of bovine milk for humans goes back thousands of years. “The land of milk and honey”(Holy Bible, Exodus 3:8) is a Scripture reference that goes back 4000 years as the children of Israel were on their way to the land of Canaan from being slaves in Egypt as they were spurred on by the thoughts of a land overflowing with blessing. Cattle are everywhere, and since beef was already eaten, and leather is made from hides, it’s natural and easy to produce large quantities of milk from available cows in addition to its traditional, historical, and cultural significance.

Modern dairy farming techniques have turned the dairy cow into a virtual factory. 3000 years ago the average cow produced 200 lbs. of milk a year. Today, the average dairy cow gives over 15,000 lbs. of milk a year, which is 75 times as much as the 200 lb. figure! Unnatural conditions have greatly increased the various diseases in milk products. In fact, 89% of cows today have the bovine leukemia virus .Also found in milk products are: 59 active hormones, fat, cholesterol, herbicides, pesticides, dioxin, (up to 2200 times the safe level) as many as 52 types of powerful antibiotics, blood, pus, bacteria, and viruses (Chamberlin). It all sounds quite scary and disgusting.

Cows are large animals and have big udders as well, and dairy producers use various methods to increase daily milk production, which among them is RBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) which is used to increase production from 16 pounds a day to about 54. This growth hormone makes the cows sick with mastitis, thus requiring massive amounts of antibiotics. RBGH has been banned in other countries and some U.S. farmers have boycotted RBGH.

“Despite warnings from scientists, such as Dr. Michael Hansen from the Consumers Union and Dr. Samuel Epstein from the Cancer Prevention Coalition, that milk from RBGH injected cows contains substantially higher amounts of a potent cancer tumor promoter called IGF-1, and despite evidence that RBGH milk contains higher levels of pus, bacteria, and antibiotics, the FDA gave the hormone its seal of approval, with no real pre-market safety testing required” (Shirley’s Wellness Café ).

Milk and dairy products are high in calcium and protein and the impression is given that we just cannot do without them at the increased risk of bone development. Even though this is true, cow’s milk is specifically designed for cows and human milk is designed for human babies. Prior to weaning, enzymes are present to break down the components in milk, and they decrease with age. This, taken together with the fact that milk from other mammals differs in composition from human milk, then the ingestion of antigens makes cow’s milk totally unsuitable for human consumption.

The sugar in milk is called lactose which is broken down by the enzyme lactase. The ability to break down lactose declines with age, and about 75% of the world’s adult population is lactose intolerant because infants and children can more easily break down lactose. When milk and dairy products are digested, lactose is broken down by the enzyme lactase into glucose and galactose. All mammals have lactose, but the concentration of sugar is geared specifically to the needs of each species. Human milk not only contains all the essential elements for optimum growth, but also contains the bacterium bacillus bifidus that assists in the digestion of lactose. However, the bacterial composition in cow’s milk differs, and problems arise when humans attempt to break down and absorb the nutrients.

Much misleading information exists in the scientific world about dairy, for example here is a quote from a professor of nutrition at Baylor University: “Although different people can handle different amounts of lactose, your readers should understand that even people who have a limited ability to digest lactose can enjoy dairy foods, often without any symptoms. This has significant public health implications because it is difficult to get the recommended calcium and potassium in the diet without including dairy. A large percentage of Americans 2 years old and older are not consuming adequate amounts of calcium and potassium” (Nicklas).

Incredible! We just read where 75% of adults are lactose intolerant, and this professor says her readers can enjoy dairy products without any symptoms. Here we have two main problems. First, it’s doubtful if so many lactose intolerant people will gain much nutritional benefit from dairy anyway. Then we have the more serious factor of the myriad of diseases, blood and pus, that’s in cow’s milk in which she totally ignored. And her reasons for using dairy are to get adequate amounts of calcium and potassium. Calcium is found in soy milk, broccoli, and other sources. Potassium is found in bananas, and both are easily obtained in supplements. So the idea of using dairy products just to obtain a few nutrients that can be easily obtained elsewhere while totally ignoring the health risks is problematic at best.

For those who believe in the Biblical story of creation, as this writer does, there is much information within its sacred pages that show that man was designed by God to be a vegetarian, and that the later introduction of meat for God’s people at the culmination of the worldwide flood resulted in the typical age of humans dropping from a an average high of 900 years to 150 years in a few short generations. After the creation of the earth and man God said: “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” ( King James Version, Holy Bible, Genesis 1:29).

In God’s instructions for Adam, only nuts, fruits, and vegetables are listed as his food. No animals had to die until a later time. So the eating of meat can perhaps be best described as a second best choice for which in today’s age, its practice is extremely risky. According to the Bible, God destroyed the earth’s population about 4000 years ago because of man’s exceeding wickedness, (see on Genesis 6, Holy Bible) and only eight persons were saved in the ark, which was Noah and His family. So after the waters began to subside and Noah was able to come out of the ark onto dry land, God told Noah that “every moving thing that lives will be meat for you even as the green herb I have given you all things” (Genesis 9:3 AKJV Holy Bible). Further study shows that this command is not permission to eat anything, but of the clean beasts only, such as cattle. Not only was there a lack of vegan food after the flood, but because of the wickedness of man, God decided to give permission to eat of the clean beasts to drastically shorten man’s lifespan from Noah’s final age of 930 years, to Abraham’s 175 years a few generations later, and then to about 70 years several hundred years later which holds basically true for today.

One of my favorite Christian writers says this: “After the flood the people ate largely of animal food. God saw that the ways of man were corrupt, and that he was disposed to exalt himself proudly against his Creator and to follow the inclinations of his own heart. And He permitted that long-lived race to eat animal food to shorten their sinful lives. Soon after the flood the race began to rapidly decrease in size, and in length of years." (White 373).

In my years long study upon this subject of diet, I have not seen a single verifiable scientific study that shows any purported overall health benefits from a flesh food and dairy based diet over that of a vegetarian diet, What I have seen, is a preponderance of propaganda designed to mislead the public and enrich the bank accounts of retailers and livestock futures trading on the stock market.

However, for those who are truly interested in taking charge of their health, one can simply do the research and peruse the vast amount of information contained on the internet and libraries across the nation and world. In addition, there are significant numbers of other scientific studies available that can enlighten us in an analysis of this topic. For me personally, since I have eliminated all animal products from my diet 3 years ago, my overall health and well-being is greatly improved, I have not been sick for a single day since, and I can remember a cold coming on that did not take.

Subsequently, my food dollars do not go to help support an industry that tortures and abuses helpless animals on their way to slaughter. Simply type in “Meet Your Meat” into your browser―if you have a strong stomach―to review a 12 minute video that shows the torture of several different livestock animals on their way to market. For this topic to be properly addressed would be the subject of another paper. Moreover, there is also the idea that cattle and other livestock production vastly depletes the earth’s resources in terms of land use, deforestation, and the vast quantities of water needed to sustain the herds of large animals.

We see from these facts, and all the other empirical evidence, that meat and dairy products are not the best choices for a healthy diet. We can also say that an animal based diet in today’s age of profit-driven industry leaders who use hormones and antibiotics to increase their profits does contribute much to the unsuitability of animal flesh based diets, and the ever growing health concerns when consuming these products. In addition, the media, and powerful government livestock and dairy industry lobbyists, continue to put a false spin on these products that promote them as being healthy and desirable.

The bottom line here is just how much do we care about our health? If we use tobacco products, drink alcohol, and get little or no exercise, it would be to our advantage to make changes. If we use animal products, it appears to me that it would be prudent to at least research the facts and make an intelligent decision and go forward. As Adventist Christians, we have long been known for our great health messages unlike any other. Moreover, research shows that in the last 100 years or so, that even the clean meats have become much more terribly corrupted. I believe that continuing to use animal products will have negative effects upon our spiritual life and as the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible say:

“Greater reforms should be seen among the people who claim to be looking for the soon appearing of Christ. Health reform is to do among our people a work which it has not yet done. There are those who ought to be awake to the danger of meat eating, who are still eating the flesh of animals, thus endangering the physical, mental, and spiritual health. Many who are now only half converted on the question of meat eating will go from God's people to walk no more with them”{CD 382.1}.

“Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Corinthians 10:31, AKJV)

Works Cited:

Barnard ND. Nicholson A. and Howard JL. The Medical Costs Attributable to Meat Consumption. Prev. Med. 1995: 24:646-55. Ebsco. Print.

Chamberlin K. Drink Milk? Udder Propaganda, Amazing Discoveries. n.p. Web. Access date: April 14, 2010.

Dietary Fats and Red Meat." Nutrition Health Review: The Consumer's Medical Journal 99 2007: 6. Health Source - Consumer Edition. Ebsco. Print

Fraser GE. et. al. Association Among Health Habits, Risk Factors, and All-Cause Mortality in a Black California Population. Epidemiology. 1997: 8:168-74, Ebsco. Print.

King James Version, Holy Bible. 1611 Authorized Version. Philadelphia, PA. A. J. Holman Co.1910. Print.

Nicklas T. Dairy foods are part of healthy Diet USA Today, 10 SEP 03, 2009, Ebsco. Print.

Shirley. Shirley’s Wellness Café n.p. April 3, 2010 Web. Access date: April 14, 2010.

USDA Food Pyramid April 2005, U.S Department of Agriculture: Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Web.

White, E. Counsels on Diet and Foods. 1938: Washington, D.C. Review and Herald Publishing Association. Print.

"The author, Steve Billiter is single and currently resides in Reno NV with 3 grown children and several grandchildren who all live elsewhere. He is a full-time college student starting his 5th semester at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno in the fall of 2010, and transferring to the University Of Nevada, Reno, in January 2011; LORD willing, and majoring in Social Work. He is a member of the Carson City NV 7th day Adventist church and is involved in literature work and other ministry; being first baptized in the Adventist church 29 years ago by Lyle Albrecht. Steve has worked primarily as a carpenter over the years."