Ha! No. But read on…
Some definitions first:
Endocrine System: the glands and parts of glands that produce endocrine secretions, help to integrate and control bodily metabolic activity and include especially the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, islets of Langerhans, ovaries, and testes
Phytoestrogens: a chemical compound that occurs naturally in plants and has estrogenic properties
As a vegan environmental science major in college, I did an independent research project on whether or not being vegan could disrupt the endocrine system. I still have my paper – “The Effects of Dietary Phytoestrogens In Women of Reproductive Age. Could being vegan make you infertile?” I researched other scientists’ works, which at the time were mainly based on animal studies, and within that group mainly based on animals meant for food or human needs. It was known that sheep fed a particular clover, which contains high amounts of phytoestrogen especially in spring, had a higher than average chance of becoming infertile. Australia and New Zealand had had a crisis on their hands. Alfalfa was another disruptor, this time with cows. The ancient Greeks used pomegranate as a contraceptive and wild carrot seeds were reported to block progesterone, a hormone necessary for pregnancy. It seemed obvious that a plant-based diet could affect fertility.
Back then the effect of consuming soybean, specifically on women and fertility, was my concern. I ate a lot of soy-based products and (pre-cancer) wondered if it could cause me to become infertile, as reports were beginning to speculate. This was early to mid 90’s when pop research began to show the side effects of the food we were eating. Not everything reported was correct, but skepticism was building around the unwitting harmful norms of the 70’s and 80’s – tv dinners wrapped in plastic and microwaved, pesticides airdropped across counties in the name of pest management and easy access mass-produced produce, the hormones in cows’ milk (fed to cows for mass production) was linked to girls going through puberty at an earlier age. People were beginning to get worried and angry. Ultimately, my ‘investigative report’ concluded no, a vegan is not prone to infertility, but it got me wondering about endocrine disruptors.
My dear friend, Helena Sweet forwarded a video from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It’s a broad, but important overview of how endocrine disruptors affect us and why industry change is so hard. It’s a long video, so I’ll summarize.
Sharing knowledge about how chemicals in our environment affect our hormones and our children is not meant to instill fear. Endocrine disruptors are part of our life – flame retardants in the dust we breathe, fragrance in body care products, nail polish, plastic blinds, BPA in cans, lead in older homes, mercury in fish, PFC’s in cookware, pesticides in our food, glycol ethers in paint. On top of that, certain groups are more vulnerable to the effects including women and children and certain races and ethnicities, often for reasons like disparities in access to cleaner options between economic groups (the prohibiting cost of most organic produce, for example). Knowledge is power and power inflicts change. When you are aware, you can decide what change you want to make for yourself to reduce exposure. But you can also seek out ways to make changes for the better of us all.
In our modern world endocrine disruptors can’t be avoided, but increased awareness and demands for change have birthed stricter organic and non-GMO regulations, a health-crazed market of homegrown nutritionists, and the plow to plate mentality bringing locally farmed foods onto equally local plates (less mass production). It’s why I started simple. pure. love. – the determination to remove toxins, endocrine disruptors, and whatever else science is about to reveal, from the products I use on my family.
I try to live with all these realities and the health of my family and the environment in mind. But! And it’s a big but. I’m okay knowing I can’t escape reality, nor do I want to – I do what I can. I’m open to change, I work toward change, but I’m also okay with getting a hot coffee in a Dixie cup once in a while. 😉 It is what it is. Do what you can.
For your information…
Here’s a link to the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen – Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors: 12 Hormone-Altering Chemicals and How to Avoid Them. While you’re there you can find greener cleaning solutions, greener beauty products and what to avoid, and a guide to pesticides in produce. Afterward, check out The Cornucopia Institute for more ways to avoid chemicals in your food.
Tomorrow I’ll get back to Helena’s post about “the right work” and my takeaway from watching my cousin’s live webinar on Dharma. And there is still a Year-In-Review coming up. Until then…
Much love and happiness,
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