Monday, April 9, 2007

Why Vegans Should Embrace Complementary and Alterative Medicine

We live within a system of government that is far from perfect. Ask anyone on the street and if they are being honest with you, they will probably agree with the above statement. Now ask them how they feel about the quality of their medical care, and assuming that they are part of the fortunate that have insurance, they will most likely tell you that we have some of the best medical care in the world. But do we?

The belief in the greatness of America’s health system is a delusion on the scale of the belief that milk builds strong bones. Both have a tiny bit of truth to them, but in the end, both are false. Misdiagnosis, drugs, physician error, and hospital negligence are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The system responsible for keeping us healthy and curing us when we are sick is killing us. We are not the only casualties of this system unfortunately. Millions of animals every year are needlessly killed in experiments that more often than not do nothing to advance our knowledge of disease. If anything, our use of animals in medical research is hampering our search for the cures to our most common diseases. Every day in the United States and other western nation’s, people die from diseases that are curable and more importantly preventable with complementary and alternative medicine.

There are many advantages to CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) practices. They are generally not invasive, non-toxic, are safe to test on humans, work with the body as opposed to against it, and focus on prevention. CAM therapies can include practices such as Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Yoga, Naturopathy, and Herbal medicine. The allopathic medical community has tried it’s best to suppress CAM treatments by discrediting them, or by attempting to ban their practice as was the case with Chiropractic. With the out of control cost of medical care under the current system, and a growing dissatisfaction with the level of care provided it is becoming harder and harder to suppress these CAM therapies.
The Vegan community will benefit greatly if society chooses to embrace the CAM movement. Since most if not all CAM therapies are safe, testing them on humans would be possible, accurate, and pose minimal risk to the people involved. Best of all, no animals would have to be tested on to establish the effectiveness of CAM treatments. One of the biggest augments against the use of CAM therapies is that they are unproven. This is disingenuous considering the reluctance to test these therapies because if they are proven safe and effective companies cannot patent them which means the money invested to test them will almost certainly be lost. With over half of the public using at least one CAM therapy and that number continues to grow yearly, (the most popular being Chiropractic and Massage) the necessity to research and advance alterative methods of healthcare will become overwhelming.

The other major place that Veganism stands to benefit from CAM is preventive or Lifestyle medicine, specifically in regards to diet. It’s no secret, at least not to us, that the overwhelming majority of research about diet is showing that the closer we can get to a Vegan diet, the better. We are now learning that diet has the power to prevent and cure most of our major diseases, without surgery and without drugs. As this information becomes more mainstream, in other words the more we talk about it, the more people will embrace a healthy Vegan diet. The entire Vegan community benefits here, not just the health Vegans as would seem apparent. Ethical Vegans (and I consider myself one) will have a much easier time convincing a health Vegan to jump aboard animal rights issues than a meat eater, and I doubt many people would disagree with that.

Advocating CAM therapies is in many ways advocating for Veganism. By encouraging disease prevention though diet, lifestyle, and stress reduction, we show our commitment to ending Human oppression as well. Instead of promoting a system that is benefiting the rich and privileged wile countless millions die unnecessarily, we will support a system that does not require animals to test it’s procedures, a system that is affordable, cost effective and that can cure and prevent the most common diseases.

This is not to say that traditional medical care does not have it’s place. Medicine today as it is currently practiced is wonderful for emergency medicine. There are plenty of people alive today that would not be if it were not for the life saving abilities of modern medicine. The problems, as outlined above, begin when we try to apply too much technology and fight against our bodies instead of trying to support it. Currently the best defense we have against disease is our own immune system. Neither a drug nor surgery currently available today comes anywhere close to the power of this amazingly complex system inside all of us. I merely am suggesting that we work with the innate intelligence of our own body to cure and prevent disease. By adopting this approach, we will increase our quality of life and save more life’s, both humans and non-human.

Relevant links:

- Matt Hastings

1 comment:

veganfreak said...

Nice post -- I totally agree. There's every reason for vegans to promote this, though I sometimes get wary of the more new-agey stuff (crystals, etc.). Does that make me evil? ;)