ALS Association: Put the Animal Experiments on Ice

The “ice bucket challenge” has gone viral. Participants either dump ice water on their heads or donate to charity—or both. How it started is not exactly clear, but this year, the main beneficiary has been ALS research.

Unfortunately, donors may not be aware that a great deal of ALS research funding is being spent on attempts to create animals with genetic mutations that produce symptoms that mimic ALS.  Animal experiments like these are not just bad for animals. They have not resulted in effective treatments. Part of the reason may be that many of the mutations targeted by researchers only account for 5-10 percent of all ALS cases. The failure of translation of results from animal experiments to human patients has been a huge source of frustration.  The result is a waste of time, resources, and money.

And it’s the patients who pay the toll: Ninety percent of drugs that appear useful in animals do not work—or prove unsafe—when tested in people. And half the drugs that are approved are later withdrawn or relabeled for adverse effects not detected by animal tests.

Make the most out of your donation by finding a humane charity!

Make the most out of your donation by finding a humane charity!

But there is a better way. There are exciting advances in human-relevant medical research that are giving scientists insight into the etiology, prevention and treatment of disease. In ALS research, for example, scientists are now studying motor neuron cells derived from the skin cells of patients with the disease. This technique has led to the discovery of how certain genetic mutations interfere with the ability of motor neurons to function normally—an effect never observed in mouse models of ALS.

Focusing research dollars on new technologies like these—that are directly relevant to human patients—will pave the way to gaining a better understanding of how ALS and other diseases occur, and will hopefully lead to effective treatments.

So if you would like to participate in an ice bucket challenge, please direct your donations to a charity that focuses on relevant and progressive nonanimal research methods.

Compassionate Care is one organization that provides a variety of resources for those affected by ALS and their families—and Compassionate Care does not fund research on animals. You will find a list of other charities that support nonanimal testing methods at HumaneSeal.org.

Let’s put animal experiments on ice and support only ethical, effective research.

Give and Let Live

Doctors to Arby’s: Your Logo is a Hat, Not a Stethoscope

The Physicians Committee is calling out Arby’s for misleading its 263,000 Twitter followers. The company’s recent #meatcraft tweets claimed that “Protein is better in meat form.” The truth is that animal protein is linked to several diseases, while plant protein is not. To protect public health, the Physicians Committee has filed a legal petition asking the Federal Trade Commission to halt this deceptive messaging:

arbysmeatcrafttweet

Meat is high in cholesterol and saturated fat and many studies have found that meat consumption is linked with premature death from a variety of causes. In fact, processed meat products—like the deli slices found on Arby’s sandwiches—are so strongly linked with colorectal cancer that no amount is considered safe for consumption. Despite the known cancer risk, Arby’s has stated via Twitter, “If you’re not eating bacon, you’re not doing it right.”

Arby’s messaging perpetuates the myth that meat is the pinnacle of protein—when that’s just not true. Lentils have 17.9 grams of protein per cup. Split peas have 16 grams. Both of these protein sources are high in fiber and completely free of cholesterol and saturated fat.

Tell Arby’s that you don’t appreciate its nutritional misinformation by retweeting @PCRM’s tweet or sharing the image below!

arbys

2015 Will Be the Year 4 out of 5 Doctors Agree: Plants Over Pills

In January, Physicians Committee doctors and dietitians filled the National Institutes of Health to present our recommendations to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Staring down representatives from the meat and dairy industries, we made a solid case for the inclusion of plant-based diets in the guidelines. And you know what? They listened.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., presenting her recommendations to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., presenting her recommendations to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

During the advisory committee’s recent meeting, subcommittee members emphasized the importance of reducing meat consumption and switching to plant-based diets for both health and environmental sustainability.

While we still have to wait till Fall 2015 to learn the advisory committee’s final recommendations, doctors around the country are recognizing the importance of plants over pills. In 2013, Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health plans, sent out a nutritional update to physicians, urging health care providers to recommend a plant-based diet to their patients. Kim Williams, M.D., the next president of the American College of Cardiology, penned a blog for MedPage Today explaining why he went vegan and how recommending a vegan diet has helped his patients.

Individuals have also seen success in seeking out plant-based diets themselves. CNN recently profiled Benji Kurtz, a 37-year-old entrepreneur from Atlanta who lost 100 pounds—while improving his blood pressure and cholesterol levels—by researching and following a plant-based diet. Celebrities like Beyoncé and JLo have tweeted, Instagrammed, and blogged about their meatless meals, providing inspiration to their millions of fans and pushing plant-based diets into the pop culture spotlight.

Going forward, if the dietary guidelines committee resists the influence of meat and dairy lobbyists and follows the recommendations of health care professionals, then more people may see success like Mr. Kurtz or Dr. Williams’ patients. In the meantime, let’s all keep publicizing the science, sharing vegan recipes, and boosting this public shift toward support for vegan diets. Maybe 2015 will be the year that the government, doctors, and celebrities all find one thing they can agree on: Plant-based is best.

2015

Interested in viewing a webcast of the fourth meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee? Click here.