Today, Gary Francione, abolitionist animal rights philosopher, posted this article, Eating meat/dairy products linked to early puberty on his Facebook page concerning animal products and early puberty/health problems:
the most comprehensive study of diet, lifestyle and disease ever done with humans in the history of biomedical research. It was a massive undertaking jointly arranged through Cornell University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. The New York Times called it “The Grand Prix of Epidemiology.” This project surveyed a vast range of diseases and diet and lifestyle factors in rural China and more recently, in Taiwan. This project eventually produced more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between various dietary factors and disease.
What made this project especially remarkable is that, among the many associations that are relevant to diet and disease, so many pointed to the same finding: people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored. The health implications of consuming animal or plant-based nutrients were remarkably different.
The China Study concurs with the results of the Journal of Nutrition study and many other studies in finding an association between consumption of animal products and the incidence of breast cancer. According to Campbell, other factors which also increase the risk for breast cancer are:
- Early age of menarche (age of first menstruation)
- High blood cholesterol
- Late menopause
- High exposure to female hormones
So when I discovered that this situation is not at all a normal physiological state of affairs, but just another sad by-product and distortion of the speciesist culture of consuming animal products, it all made a great deal of sense. Of course children should not be bearing children! This is an absurd and troubling situation which has come to be accepted as almost normal and inevitable.
In addition to the injustice to non-human animals involved in consuming animal products, this situation constitutes a form of oppression of female children who are fed high levels of animal foods that cause early puberty, leading to premature sexual activity, making them vulnerable to pregnancy. Simultaneously, they’re sexualised by the culture and robbed of their childhoods, bombarded by constant use of sex and sexism in advertising to sell products and exposed to incessant messages in the media urging them to have sex. And then, if these girls do, surprise, surprise!, get pregnant, sanctimonious patriarchs, i.e. right-wing politicians and their reactionary supporters, want to deny them abortion or any kind of decent financial assistance that would enable them and their children to live a life of dignity as equal citizens. Finally, to add insult to injury, as single mothers these hapless girls, and the women they become, can be conveniently blamed for all social ills.
It seems there is always some new benefit to be discovered in relation to veganism. How much more desirable would it be to have a society in which vulnerable pre-teen children and young teenage girls did not run the risk of the devastating event of unplanned pregnancy due to premature puberty? (And let’s not forget that pregnancy is always a potentially fatal condition). Here is another reason, among many, why anyone who considers themselves a feminist ought to be vegan and promote veganism.
However, I’m certainly not suggesting that veganism is “the answer” to all the problems besetting women in a patriarchal society. I’m simply talking here about removing the hormonal distortion that places girls at risk of early pregnancy through adoption of a healthy vegan diet. The issue of patriarchy is an entirely separate one and there’s no reason to believe that becoming vegan necessarily leads to rejection of patriarchy and sexism. I’m also aware that issues relating to female sexuality cannot be simplistically explained by hormonal factors alone and cannot be discussed in isolation from patriarchy. My concern here is only the issue of early pregnancy due to premature sexual maturation caused by consumption of animal products, not the sexual culture and behaviour that underlies it, involving gender relations under patriarchy, which is a complex subject outside the scope of this discussion.
[W]hen hormone levels among Chinese women were compared with those of British women, Chinese estrogen levels were only about one-half those of British women, who have an equivalent hormone profile to that of American women. Because the length of reproductive life of a Chinese woman is only about 75% of that of the British (or American) woman, this means that with lower estrogen levels, the Chinese woman only experiences about 35%-40% of the lifetime estrogen exposure of the British (and American) women. This corresponds to breast cancer rates that are only one-fifth of those of Western women.
If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.