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Alicia Mayer: Truth-baring pro-vegetarian push

Filipina actor Alicia Mayer has “bared” the truth behind the cruel meat industry in more ways than one, via PETA’s ad calling for vegetarianism.

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Alicia Mayer: ‘Meat belongs in the morgue, not on your plate.’

Filipina actor Alicia Mayer has “bared” the truth behind the cruel meat industry in more ways than one. That’s because Mayer didn’t pull any punches when she agreed to shoot a brand-new pro-vegetarian ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia. In the ad, Mayer is lying completely naked—seemingly lifeless—on a steel table and next to the caption “Meat Belongs in the Morgue, Not on Your Table. Go Vegetarian!” The ad was shot by ace photographer Raymund Isaac for Portfolio Studio and takes direct aim at the meat industry.

“I’m challenging Filipinos to really think about what ‘meat’ is,” says Mayer. “Eating flesh means eating the corpse of a tortured animal who did not want to die. I’m encouraging kind consumers to give vegetarianism a try.”

Mayer gained widespread adoration for her part in the cast of the comedy show Lagot Ka … Isusumbong Kita and for her roles on the soap opera Saang Sulok ng Langit and First Time. She has played the role of Rhea on the Filipino-Malaysian soap opera Muli; served as one of the hosts of Eat Bulaga, the longest-running noontime variety show in Philippine TV history; and graced the cover of FHM magazine.

Animals who are raised and killed for meat, dairy products, and eggs endure immeasurable cruelty and are denied everything that is natural and important to them. More than 750 million animals are slaughtered for their flesh every year in the Philippines. On factory farms, cows, pigs, and chickens are kept in crowded, filthy enclosures, which are often so small that the animals are unable to lie down comfortably. Many animals are forced to stand amid their own urine and feces.

Cows are routinely branded, dehorned, and castrated without being given any painkillers. Pigs are castrated, and their tails and teeth are cut or broken off—also without any pain relief. Chickens are drugged and bred to grow such unnaturally large upper bodies that their legs often become crippled under their own weight. Birds’ throats are cut while they are still conscious, and many birds are scalded to death in defeathering tanks.

In addition to being cruelty-free, a diet that excludes meat, eggs, and dairy products can lower the risk of heart disease (one of the Philippines’ top killers), cancer, strokes, diabetes, obesity, and acne in adults as well as allergies, ear infections, and juvenile-onset diabetes in children. Ninety percent of Filipinos are lactose-intolerant, and avoiding dairy products can help people’s bodies work more efficiently. Numerous physicians and nutritionists agree that the best way to prevent heart disease as well as multiple other conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer, is to eat a diet high in fiber, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A healthy vegetarian diet can also help anyone stay slim.

The production of meat and dairy products also contaminates the water and soil with animal waste. Worldwide, farmed animals produce 13 billion metric tons of excrement a year—that’s 48 times as much as the world’s human population produces. Each day, animal agriculture consumes 2.5 trillion liters of water—enough for every person in the world to take eight showers.

Animal grazing has been responsible for loss of topsoil and eventual desertification in many parts of the world. The animals destroy the land’s protective vegetation. Then wind removes the soil and converts formerly productive rangeland into desert. Forest lands in China and South America are being destroyed to clear space for grazing or to grow food for farmed animals.

A recent United Nations report concluded that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.

“The evidence is clear,” says Jason Baker, PETA Asia’s vice president of international operations. “The best thing that people can do for animals, the planet, and themselves is go vegetarian.”

Mayer joins a host of international stars—including Pamela Anderson, Natalie Portman, Sir Paul McCartney, Maggie Q, and Barbie Hsu—who have kicked the meat habit.

For more information, visit PETAAsiaPacific.com.

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FWD partners with GCash to provide protection against BIG 3 critical illnesses

FWD Life Insurance (FWD Philippines) has partnered with GCash, the Philippines’ leading finance super app and biggest cashless ecosystem, to encourage more Filipinos to get coverage against the three major critical illnesses in the country.

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FWD Life Insurance (FWD Philippines) has partnered with GCash, the Philippines’ leading finance super app and biggest cashless ecosystem, to encourage more Filipinos to get coverage against the three major critical illnesses in the country.

To make health protection easily accessible, FWD’s BIG 3 Critical Illness Insurance is now available for purchase by GCash users through its GInsure feature for as low as PhP298 per year.“We’re optimistic that this seamless and innovative partnership with GCash can inspire and drive more young Filipinos to become protected,” says FWD Philippines Chief Partnership Officer Irene Andas during the contract signing.

Through this partnership, FWD Philippines aims to foster a sense of trust and reliability among Filipino digital natives who primarily use GCash for their financial needs and provide accessible protection against the most critical illnesses.

Bridging the insurance gap with affordable and accessible health coverage

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the leading causes of death for Filipinos in 2023 are heart attack (19.3%), cancer (10.4%), and stroke (10.3%).

This is significantly more concerning as a nationwide survey reveals that three out of five Filipinos lack medical insurance, indicating that most Filipinos do not get medical insurance primarily because they can’t afford it (63%). Meanwhile, 30% of Filipinos rely on government’s health programs, 22% are deterred by the limited coverage and exclusions, and 15% are not aware or don’t fully understand the available insurance options.

“Most young Filipinos today do not have protection against these illnesses, especially since they can happen unexpectedly,” shares FWD Philippines Chief Marketing and Digital Business Officer Roche Vandenberghe. “However, we hope that by making this plan available via GCash, we can bridge the protection gap and make it easier for them to become prepared for such challenges.”

GCash Vice President and Group Head of New Businesses Winsley Bangit also expressed high hopes for the partnership. “We share FWD’s commitment to help more Filipinos especially when it comes to health and financial protection,” says Mr. Bangit. “With just a few taps, one can now get year-long protection against these top three illnesses.”

Easy cover for heart attack, cancer, and stroke

BIG 3 Critical Illness Insurance offers health coverage that is easy on the pocket, easy to buy, and easy to claim against the top three critical illnesses: heart attack, stroke, and early- to late-stage cancer.

Once availed, policyholders will be receiving exclusive e-gift vouchers worth PhP100 via Giftaway and claim 20 days after purchasing the policy. Customers may avail themselves of multiple policies with critical illness coverage of up to a maximum of PhP2 million.

Vandenberghe further emphasizes that this collaboration with GCash is a milestone for FWD as it celebrates its 10th year in the Philippines in 2024. “FWD continues to contribute to nation-building by empowering the next generation with more affordable insurance and protecting themselves and their loved ones.”

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Pru Life UK agents, customers, executives celebrate Year of the Wood Dragon

The insurer maintains its top position in New Business Annual Premium Equivalent & total Premium Income from Variable Life Insurance products according to the Insurance Commission’s Life Insurance Sector Quarterly Statistics for Q3 2023.

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With a strengthened commitment to providing better financial protection for every Filipino, Pru Life UK celebrates the start of the Year of the Wood Dragon. Over 200 Pru Life UK leaders, agents, clients, and employees joined and wished everyone PRU Love during the festivities held at the heart of its Escolta branch in Binondo Manila.

The insurer maintains its top position in New Business Annual Premium Equivalent & total Premium Income from Variable Life Insurance products according to the Insurance Commission’s Life Insurance Sector Quarterly Statistics for Q3 2023.

Pru Life UK’s products are made accessible through its over 42,000 digitally-empowered agency workforce and like-minded partners.

The Company recently launched PRULove for Life – an affordable, limited-pay, whole-life participating plan for as low as Php 87 per day* with lifetime coverage up to age 100 and flexible payment terms of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years to pay. To know more about PRULove for Life, talk to your Pru Life UK agent today or visit Pru Life UK’s website.

Pru Life UK is also committed to driving up financial awareness, literacy, and inclusion in the country by leading industry discussions and programs for the community. Its PRUBabies campaign seeks to protect 175,000 newborns with free insurance coverage against select infectious diseases such as Dengue, Typhoid, Measles, and Malaria.

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Eating too much protein is bad for your arteries, and this amino acid is to blame

Consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk.

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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers discovered a molecular mechanism by which excessive dietary protein could increase atherosclerosis risk. The findings were published in Nature Metabolism.

The study, which combined small human trials with experiments in mice and cells in a Petri dish, showed that consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk. Furthermore, the scientists showed that one amino acid – leucine – seems to have a disproportionate role in driving the pathological pathways linked to atherosclerosis, or stiff, hardened arteries.

“Our study shows that dialing up your protein intake in pursuit of better metabolic health is not a panacea. You could be doing real damage to your arteries,” said senior and co-corresponding author Babak Razani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cardiology at Pitt. “Our hope is that this research starts a conversation about ways of modifying diets in a precise manner that can influence body function at a molecular level and dampen disease risks.”

According to a survey of an average American diet over the last decade, Americans generally consume a lot of protein, mostly from animal sources. Further, nearly a quarter of the population receives over 22% of all daily calories from protein alone.

That trend is likely driven by the popular idea that dietary protein is essential to healthy living, says Razani. But his and other groups have shown that overreliance on protein may not be such a good thing for long-term health.

Following their 2020 research, in which Razani’s laboratory first showed that excess dietary protein increases atherosclerosis risk in mice, his next study in collaboration with Bettina Mittendorfer, Ph.D., a metabolism expert at the University of Missouri, Columbia, delved deeper into the potential mechanism and its relevance to the human body.

To arrive at the answer, Razani’s laboratory, led by first-authors Xiangyu Zhang, Ph.D., and Divya Kapoor, M.D., teamed up with Mittendorfer’s group to combine their expertise in cellular biology and metabolism and perform a series of experiments across various models – from cells to mice to humans.

“We have shown in our mechanistic studies that amino acids, which are really the building blocks of the protein, can trigger disease through specific signaling mechanisms and then also alter the metabolism of these cells,” Mittendorfer said. “For instance, small immune cells in the vasculature called macrophages can trigger the development of atherosclerosis.”

Based on initial experiments in healthy human subjects to determine the timeline of immune cell activation following ingestion of protein-enriched meals, the researchers simulated similar conditions in mice and in human macrophages, immune cells that are shown to be particularly sensitive to amino acids derived from protein.

Their work showed that consuming more than 22% of daily dietary calories through protein can negatively affect macrophages that are responsible for clearing out cellular debris, leading to the accumulation of a “graveyard” of those cells inside the vessel walls and worsening of atherosclerotic plaques overtime. Interestingly, the analysis of circulating amino acids showed that leucine – an amino acid enriched in animal-derived foods like beef, eggs and milk – is primarily responsible for abnormal macrophage activation and atherosclerosis risk, suggesting a potential avenue for further research on personalized diet modification, or “precision nutrition.”

Razani is careful to note that many questions remain to be answered, mainly: What happens when a person consumes between 15% of daily calories from protein as recommended by the USDA and 22% of daily calories from protein, and if there is a ‘sweet spot’ for maximizing the benefits of protein – such as muscle gain – while avoiding kick-starting a molecular cascade of damaging events leading to cardiovascular disease.

The findings are particularly relevant in hospital settings, where nutritionists often recommend protein-rich foods for the sickest patients to preserve muscle mass and strength.

“Perhaps blindly increasing protein load is wrong,” Razani said. “Instead, it’s important to look at the diet as a whole and suggest balanced meals that won’t inadvertently exacerbate cardiovascular conditions, especially in people at risk of heart disease and vessel disorders.”

Razani also notes that these findings suggest differences in leucine levels between diets enriched in plant and animal protein might explain the differences in their effect on cardiovascular and metabolic health. “The potential for this type of mechanistic research to inform future dietary guidelines is quite exciting,” he said.

Additional authors of the study are Yu-Sheng Yeh, Ph.D., also from Pitt; Alan Fappi, Ph.D. and Vasavi Shabrish, Ph.D., both of the University of Missouri, Columbia; Se-Jin Jeong, Ph.D., Jeremiah Stitham, M.D., Ph.D., Ismail Sergin, Ph.D., Eman Yousif, M.D., Astrid Rodriguez-Velez, Ph.D., Arick Park, M.D., Ph.D., Joel Schilling, M.D., Ph.D., Marco Sardiello, Ph.D., Abhinav Diwan, M.D., Nathan Stitziel, M.D., Ph.D., Ali Javaheri, M.D., Ph.D., Irfan Lodhi, Ph.D., and Jaehyung Cho, Ph.D., all of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; Arif Yurdagul Jr, Ph.D., and Oren Rom, Ph.D., both of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; and Slava Epelman, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto.

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