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Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Thoughts on Fishing

Fishing is not in keeping with the subject-of-a-life philosophy (Regan) you, the reader, are most likely familiar with. Fish, like other sentient beings, are an end in themselves and thus not a means to be exploited. They, like humans, possess inherent value. The abolitionist would argue that one (a human being) is never justified in performing an act such as this (among other things, the usually violent removal of a sentient being from its catered oxygenated environment and the subsequent allowance of maximum pain via suffocation upon removal, what we call fishing), no matter the circumstance. Since I indeed subscribe to this philosophy, I therefore think that fishing and ethical discussion have a qualitative difference and not a quantitative one (differs in kind, not degree). Ethicality is thus nonexistent when one engages in the act of fishing. We have seen this avenue of thinking applied to free-range (nonbattery-cage) chickens, pastured cows and the like. These attempts to bring ethics into the discussion are simply welfarist-based; concern is rooted in treatment, not in the reason as to why this sort of thing exists in the first place. Slavery was/is a perfect example: By philosophical standards, was slavery ever justifiable? Of course not.

As Gary Francione, Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark, contends, “Many heinous practices and traditions, including slavery and sexism, have been justified by appeals to arguments that assume that certain people are naturally superior and others are naturally inferior.” It seems as though ethics is abandoned, or severely wounded (enter the welfarist), when the subject of our thought/action is nonhuman. Fishing is exploitative and immoral at its very root and thus is deemed unacceptable.

Fish Is Not a Health Food 1; 2

Fish protein clogs the arteries and is damaging to both kidneys and bone. 15 to 30 % of fish fat is saturated fat, which is particularly problematic for our species. Also, Omega-3 fatty acids can be collected from plants (where fish obtain it from). Humans require 0.5 to 2 g per day, which can easily be obtained from plant foods. In our toxic food environment, fish is labelled as a healthy item but in reality, it is just healthier than a cheeseburger. Some fish have more cholesterol per calorie than beef. Our waters have become our sewer systems and fish are now loaded with environmental contaminants. Even wild Alaskan salmon have detectable levels of mercury. People who eat the most fish (Greenlanders and Eskimos) have a low life expectancy and high rates of osteoporosis (highest levels on the planet). Does this sound like a food intended for human beings to subsist on? I think not.

Written by Ethan Handur

May 30, 2009 at 9:36

Amino Acids – A Brief Discussion

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The following briefly discusses amino acids in a plant-based diet.

Enzymes break down protein into four units, namely:

i) Polypeptides;
ii) Dipeptides;
iii) Peptides;
iv) Amino acids –> amino acids are the smallest unit of protein.

There are approximately twenty-two amino acids that are of interest to biochemists; eight of which are essential (the human body cannot generate or synthesize these) and fourteen that can be synthesized by the human body (derived from the eight essential ones).

In alphabetical order, the eight essential amino acids are:

i) Isoleucine
ii) Leucine
iii) Lysine
iv) Methionine
v) Phenylalanine
vi) Threonine
vii) Tryptophan
viii) Valine

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Written by Ethan Handur

December 24, 2007 at 22:34

What’s Wrong With Soy Milk?

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Can soy milk be hazardous to your health? Robert Cohen, also known as the ‘Not Milk Man‘ of, thinks so and has provided us with a thorough response. For those of you unfamiliar with Cohen, he is the founder and executive director of the U.S. Dairy Education Board, which works to dispel the myth that milk is a perfect food.

Cohen’s response can be read here.

An excerpt from Cohen’s article:

“Do methanol, ethanol, and formaldehyde do your body any good? Do preservatives preserve health, or do they merely preserve enormous profits gained by manufacturers at the expense of your health?”

This is a must read for anybody currently consuming or thinking of introducing soy milk into their diet. Also, it is important to note that I have chosen not to discuss the environmental impact of soy cultivation but will do so in a future post.

Man cannot pretend to be higher in ethics, spirituality, advancement, or civilization than other creatures, and at the same time live by lower standards than the vulture or hyena.” – Jay Dinshah (1933 – 2000)

Be Well.

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Written by Ethan Handur

November 4, 2007 at 15:39

Science Favors Meditation

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In an article by Rachel Brand for Gaiam Community, a link between the spiritual benefits of meditation and the supporting science was sought. On the spiritual side of things, Buddhists, yogis, and ayurvedic doctors have said for centuries that meditation improves health and well-being. Scientists are now trying to prove it.

Note: The remainder of this post focuses on points of personal and social interest with respect to Brand’s article.


Meditating may help people stay healthier, sharpen mental focus, and gain more power over their emotions.

The brain of someone who meditates may be physically different from the next person’s.

Talking or writing about your feelings forces you to call them something. It’s part of noticing and detaching from those emotions versus letting them hijack your bliss. It’s about helping people develop that pause button, so they can observe emotions from the outside.

Two UCLA studies showed “that simply labeling emotion promotes detachment,” says David Creswell, Ph.D., a meditation researcher at the university who joined colleague Matthew D. Lieberman, Ph.D., in heading up the studies.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record brain activity and pinpoint where in the brain it occurs, Lieberman’s team found that assigning names to negative emotions turns down the intensity of activity in the amygdala — an almond-sized sector of the brain that acts like an alarm system: When you witness a car crash, argue with your spouse or get yelled at by your boss, it’s your amygdala’s job to set off a cascade of stress-related reactions.

But if you simply name the distressing event, Lieberman says, you can wield more power over your amygdala’s freak-out. “When you attach the word ‘angry,’” he explains, “you see a decreased response in the amygdala.”

Mindful patients (those inclined to pay attention to present emotions, thoughts, or sensations) show more activity in the areas that calm down emotional response, known as the prefrontal cortex; and less activation in the amygdala.

Twenty-year meditation practitioner Joyce Bonnie says having that emotion-diffusing ability is one thing, and using it is another. “It’s very challenging to bring what you practice on the meditation cushion out in a real-life situation,” says Bonnie. “When you’re actually in that moment — say someone is yelling at you — you have to remember to step back, say, ‘Oh, that’s anger I’m feeling,’ and change what you do with that emotion, all in a millisecond. It takes a lot of practice.”

Creswell says, “For the first time since [the Buddha’s] teachings,” he adds, “we have shown that there is actually a neurological reason for doing mindfulness meditation.”

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Written by Ethan Handur

October 27, 2007 at 15:56