Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarianism’

Complete introductory archives: ~250 posts

I posted a Paleo Archive post about a week ago.   The post covered a lot of important things, but it skimmed over a lot, too.  Lame.   Here, I am trying to mend those gaps.

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That original archive provided diverse reading material on why one should eat a paleo-type diet.  It was, however, even at 120 links, brief.    Missing information included dairy, exercise, metabolic regulation, sleep, and, most importantly, diseases of civilization.  Because of that, I have collected information in those gap areas and added them to the archive.  What follows here is a collection of 250 + posts on a variety of topics, hopefully with little overlap, that present a diverse and compelling case for the marriage of evolutionary science and diet.

Coming after this post, in a few days, will be another archive.  This one will be the “Advanced” archive.  Instead of being selected to convince, these posts have been selected instead to prod, question, and provide diverse perspectives.  The topics covered include: how toxic really are grains, fructose, and dairy?, how does one lose weight?, do we supplement?, what are the most important metabolic regulators?, what is a macronutrient, and what sort of ratios should we be eating?, and : what do “primitive” or non-SAD cultures teach us about human health?   It will also include some more technical discussion of phenomenon mentioned in the introductory archive.  This is an archive designed for someone invested in the nuances of paleo diets and science, and will hopefully be as comprehensive as the current zeitgeist actually is.  It will, in addition, evolve over time.

Following that archive will be one regarding the benefits, cautions and recommendations regarding specific foods.  I also foresee an archive specific to exercise, and perhaps another archive specific to paleosphere commentary re: contemporary culture, medicine, and science.  I am also contemplating success stories.  I will never do recipes, ever, because that would be aggressively redundant.  I am a counter and an organizer and a bit manic and a bit OCD, which makes a brain perfect for archiving.  I fear I may be doing this for a long time.

You will note, reading below, that many posts belong in more than one category.  Often, I just chose.  Occasionally I permitted overlap and double posted.  I also found it difficult to make divisions at all.  The categories I ended up with may not have been the wisest choices, but I did what I could.   They follow and are listed in no specific order.

Table of contents:

Exercise

Specific Diseases and Conditions

Cancer

Gut, diet, and autoimmune disease

Diabetes

Sleep

Skin and Acne

Women’s health

Testosterone and men’s health

Health limitations of a vegetarian diet

Allergies and food intolerances

Fructose and Sugar

Dairy

Grains

Inflammation, PUFA and disease

Mental health

Longevity

Weight loss

Carbs are okay

Cholesterol

Stress

Disordered eating

Vitamin D

Intermittent fasting and Calorie restriction

Grass fed versus grain fed

Fiber

China Study

Sustainability Concerns

 

Exercise

Exercise and body fat

The Menstrual cycle and exercise metabolism, Part II

The evolutionarily correct guide to running

Can endurance exercise promote cancer?

Specific Diseases and conditions

A cure for migraines?

Ketogenic diet for NBIA (Neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation)

An osteoarthritis recovery story

Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and osteoporosis reprise

Curing arthritis and depression with diet and supplementation

Red meat and strokes

Tooth decay reversal diet

Does Choline deficiency contribute to fatty liver in humans?

Cirrhosis and fructose

Cirrhosis and corn oil

Cirrhosis and fish oil

Why does inflammation cause anemia?

Anemia and exercise

Chronic obstruction pulmonary disease

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization: Part IX

Ischemic heart attacks: Disease of Civilization

The coronary heart disease epidemic

Peripheral versus ectopic fat: implications for diabetes, your liver, and other diseases

The Vanderbilt protocol for multiple sclerosis

Cardiac disease and adiponectin

Fructose intake and kidney stones

Bowel disease part III: Healing through nutrition

Bone density assessment

Bone disease and lipids

Non-alcoholic fatty lipid disease

Coronary artery disease and vitamin D

Familial Hypercholesterolaemia

Parkinson’s disease

Rheumatoid arthritis and fasting

Rheumatoid arthritis and kidney stones

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Gall stones

GERD

Gastroparesis

Gout

Herpes

Painful joints

Varicose veins

Polymyalgia rheumatica

Acid reflux: a red flag

Fibromyalgia

Diet and recovery from chronic disease

Cancer

High cancer risk if you’re fat

Omega 3s, Angiogenesis, and Cancer, Part II

Skin texture, cancer, and polyunsaturated (omega) fat

Are high fat, high cholesterol diets linked to breast cancer?

Cancer in non-industrialized cultures

Cancer rates among the Inuit

Cancer and the immune system

Prostate cancer paradox

Cancer and ketones

Skin cancer

Colorectal cancer and cholesterol

A holistic approach to cancer

How to protect yourself against cancer with food

Sunlight and melanoma

Glucose, lactate and cancer

Glycemic load and breast cancer

Could fructose promote cancer?

Carnosine, colons, and cancer

Fruit and vegetables and cancer risk

Omega 6 speeds up cancer development

Vitamin D and cancer

How to cause a (skin) cancer epidemic

DHA and Angiogenesis: the bottom line

Body mass index and cancer deaths in various US states

Your gut, diet, and autoimmune disease:

9 Steps to perfect health part 5: HEAL YOUR GUT

Autoimmune disease and ancestral diet trials

The gut-brain-skin axis

Is your gut leaky?

Gut flora and body composition

Stress and your gut

What’s up with your gut?  Beneficial bacteria, good digestive health, and your immune system

Conquering autoimmune disease by deleting grains

How to restore digestive health

The leaky gut

The human colon in evolution series

Diabetes:

The diabetes epidemic

Why low carb for diabetes: a summary

The paleolithic diet for diabetes: clinical trial (part IV)

Why a ketogenic (low carb) diet reverses kidney damage in type I and type II diabetics

Diabetes I and II versus Diet

Diabetes and hunger

PaNu and type II diabetes

Diabetes and heart failure

Fat storage in pancreas and in insulin-sensitive tissues in development of type II diabetes

Mechanisms linking obesity to insulin resistance and type II diabetes

Lipotoxicity or tired pancreas? Abnormal fat deposition as possible precursor to type II diabetes

Diabetes update

Sleep

The big sleep

Getting better sleep

Sleep and the circadian rhythm

Poor sleep may make you and your liver fat

Frequent sleep disruption increases risk of kidney and heart disease

Is 8 uninterrupted hours flawed conventional wisdom?

17 ways to improve your sleep

Sound cues and circadian rhythms

Sleep and oxidative stress

How light affects our sleep

Sleep and the immune system

Getting over the afternoon slump

F Lux software to make your life better

Skin and acne

Loren Cordain’s dietary cure for acne (ebook purchase and reviews)

The gut-brain-skin axis

Acne relief: fish oil and the paleo diet

Acne: disease of civilization

Weston A Price on Acne

Age spots

Dry skin

Women’s health/hormones

Dietary fat and ovarian cancer

What is PCOS?

Iodine

Intermittent fasting for hypothyroidism

Meat is medicine: PCOS and female infertility

Micronutrient deficiency: an over-looked cause of hypothyroidism

Omega 6 fats supress thyroid signalling

PCOS and Low carb: is pregnancy a side effect?

How to grow a healthy baby

Maternal diet and heart development

Maternal diet effects offspring preferences

But Dad’s diet counts too

High fat diet and fertility

Gluten, thyroid, and autoimmunity

The contraceptive pill: if we don’t talk about it, it’ll all be OK?

Women’s set points

Fatty liver as a cause of PCOS?

Evolutionary disconnect and earlier puberty

MUST READ: Wise choices, healthy bodies: Diet for the prevention of women’s diseases

Natural PMS relief

Thyroid and Vitamin D Continued

Menstrual cramps

PCOS – Weston A Price

Hypothyroidism

Thyroid and iodine

Thyroid basic physiology

Estrogen

Testosterone: not so manly after all?

Testosterone, Men’s health

The testosterone report: a young man’s trial and success

Protein-driven Lust

How to naturally increase testosterone

How to build muscle

The holistic treatment of men’s diseases

Soy: playing with poison

The health limitations of a vegetarian diet:

Vegetarian nutrient deficiencies

Vegetarianism: what the science tells us

Real Health Debate: Richard Nikoley debates paleo against vegetarian advocates

Carnosine: the latest uh oh for vegans and vegetarians

Latest uh oh for vegans and vegetarians: Creatine

More truth about raw vegan diets

Butter versus Margarine

Meat, sleeping babies, vitamin B12, and why eating meat is a must for mothers

Eat meat for better reproductive health

How many vegetables per day?  Probably not as many as you think.

Vitamin K2 and MK4:  essential nutrients only found in animal fats

Fat soluble Vitamin Musings

Diets high in fish and meat linked to stronger bones

Nutrient breakdown and speculation of 30 bananas a day vegan advocate

Plants and plant compounds are not essential or magic

This link contains more than a dozen links to academic articles on the B12 risks of a vegetarian diet

Allergies and food intolerances

Food allergies and intolerances reveal the true human diet

Histamine intolerances

Food hypersensitivity: where does it start?

Beef allergies? Part II

Allergies and hay fever

What can modern toxicology tell us about food toxins and intolerances?

The baffling rise in seasonal allergies: obesity or global warming?

Fructose and sugar concerns:

Fructose and gout

Sugar: The Bitter Truth, a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig

Commentary re: Lustig’s lecture

There is no such thing as a macronutrient: why not all carbohydrates are equal

Studies suggest fructose is uniquely fattening

Fructose’s role in fatty liver disease

Fructose increases vulnerability to oxidative stress

Could fructose promote cancer?

Hepatic insulin resistance

Fructose makes bellies fat

Fructose, vitamin D, and calcium

When glucose makes a mess

A diet high in sugar can cause health damage even when a person is not overweight

Dairy

How dairy entered the human diet

Dairy and its effects on insulin secretion

Mark Sisson’s definitive guide to dairy

Devil in the milk

Dairy fat and diabetes

Casein versus gluten

Why grains are bad:

Why grains are bad, or how to keep feces out of your bloodstream, a chapter out of Robb Wolf’s book: The Paleo Solution

The argument against cereal grains

Wheat-germ agglutinin: It isn’t all about gluten

Meat versus wheat: statistics from the China Study

Gluten and gall bladders

Gluten sensitivity: why celiac is the tip of the iceberg

Celiac and fat-soluble vitamins

The dangers of wheat

Can gluten contribute to irritable bowel syndrome?

Gluten, thyroid, and autoimmunity

Gluten intolerance is a brain problem

Gluten-free January data analysis: health effects of a gluten-free trial

Why wheat is a concealed cause of many diseases Part III

Lactose intolerance: often a result of wheat derived bowel disease

The China Study: Wheat flour, rice, and cardiovascular disease

A new “China study” links wheat with weight gain

Inflammation, omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fats, and disease:

Allergy, asthma, and autoimmunity start the same way

PUFA and the brain

Why omega 6 fats and inflammation leads to brain deterioration and Alzheimer’s

The case against omega 6s

Omega fats and cardiovascular disease

Omega 3s, Angiogenesis, and Cancer, Part II

Omega 3 fatty acids for muscle growth: promising potential

US Omga 6 and omega 3 consumption over the last 100 years

Have seed oils caused a multigenerational obesity epidemic?

Corn oil and cancer: reality strikes again

Skin texture, cancer, and polyunsaturated (omega) fat

Mark Sisson’s Definitive guide to fats

A comprehensive list of omega 6 and omega 3 content of different foods.

Perilous and precious: understanding PUFA

Mental health:

Anxiety, bipolar, mental health and diet

Gluten: it messes with your head

Dietary protein and serotonin

Depression, anxiety, obesity

Schizophrenia and gluten

Carbs are bad news for the brain (Alzheimer’s)

Diet and violence

ADHD, mood dysregulation, and micronutrients

Food elimination diet and ADHD

ADHD and omega 3

More on wheat and serious mental illness

How to prevent spending the last ten years of your life in a diaper and wheelchair

Autism and ketogenic diets

Magnesium and the brain

Metals and the mind

Moods and the immune system

Nutrition and mental development

Why a paleo diet increases longevity:

Paleo primates live longer, live healthier

The life expectancy of hunter-gatherers

Paleo life expectancy

The role of lean muscle mass and organ reserve in aging

High animal protein diet links to increased longevity

Living healthier longer: The Lipid Hypothesis has Officially Failed: Part II

Glucose restriction increases lifespan of human cells

How insulin controls aging

Intermittent fasting prolongs life in mammals

Life extension: part II

Weight loss:

17 reasons you’re not losing weight

Get real, get motivated

The body fat setpoint: how to change it

Why we get fat: food toxins

What is the best exercise for fat loss? Part V

The Perfect Health Diet for Weight Loss

Food reward: a dominant factor in obesity, part I

Fasting insulin and weight loss

Why “heart healthy” grains make us fat

Why snacking makes us both weak and fat

Kurt Harris’s How to lose weight

Where are the fat carnivores?

The secret benefits of being lean: Leangains

How lean should one be?

Growth hormone, insulin resistance, and body fat accumulation

Stephen Guyenet’s recent thoughts on carbohydrate and reward

Carb Sane Blog

But why carbohydrates are not the devil, either:

Are carbs the enemy?

There is no such thing as a macronutrient: why not all carbohydrates are equal

Views on insulin and obesity

Dangers of zero carb diets: can there be a carbohydrate deficiency?

Hunter-gatherer macronutrient ratios: More data

Estimates of nutrients and fatty acids in East African paleolithic diets: less hunting, more gathering?

Who said paleolithic diets had high fat percentages?

Cholesterol and heart disease, or, surprise, why everything conventional wisdom told you was wrong, again:

Meta-analysis finds no evidence that saturated fat promotes heart disease

Does dietary fat increase cholesterol or promote heart disease?

Statins and the cholesterol hypothesis, part I

Can a statin neutralize the cardiovascular risk of unhealthy dietary choices?

Dirty little secrets of the fat-heart hypothesis

Coronary heart disease: possible culprits part II

The Choline Smackdown (why you should save your liver and eat cholesterol containing foods) and again here, this time emphasizing the high nutrient density of a cholesterol-rich diet

When your brain is hungry for cholesterol

The diet-heart hypothesis, oxidized LDL, part II

The China Study: Cholesterol seems to protect against cardiovascular disease

Stress

The new science of stress and stress resistance

Worms and stress

15 ways to fight stress

Cortisol, stress, excessive gluconeogenesis, and visceral fat accumulation

Cortisol response to stress is much more elevated with carbohydrate intake than with protein or fat

Disordered Eating

Proof that Orthorexia exists

Neurobiology of binge eating

Therapy versus life

Why did we evolve a taste for sweetness?

Sugar addiction

Sugar is addictive

Hyperinsulinemia and anorexia?

Food addiction: harder to kick than cocaine?

Carb junkies?

Rats binge on pure fat but escape with sanity in tact

You are how you eat

Feel deprived?  Throw a hearty fuck you at American culture

Curbing physiological drivers of binge eating with a paleo diet

Vitamin D

Everyone needs sunlight.  I’ll give you one link and let it lie.

Intra serum 25 D level variations

Vitamin D via insolation: the only route in the north

Vitamin D home testing

Alzheimer’s and vitamin D

Vitamin D and the kidney

H1N1 Vitamin D3 and innate immunity

Vitamin D and the colon

Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction

Check out Leangains, possibly the BEST IF guide

What happens to your body when you fast?

Intermittent fasting prolongs life in mammals

Health benefits to intermittent fasting

How to intermittent fast

Intermittent fasting, set point, and leptin

Top ten fasting myths debunked

Intermittent fasting and infrequent meals: two meals a day

What I eat while fasting

Who shouldn’t try fasting?

Muscle loss and short term fasting

Intermittent fasting and reduced inflammation

The China Study: Does calorie restriction increase longevity?

Calorie restriction: partial restoration, not enhancement

Calorie restricted monkeys part II

Grass-fed versus grain-fed

The practically paleo guide to conventional meat

Low omega 6 to 3 ratio: grain fed beef or industrial oils?

Wild versus grass versus grain fed ruminants

More on grass-fed bison

Grass fed dieters see improved platelets, fatty acid profiles

The differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef

Why fiber may not be all that good for you after all:

Fiber Menace

Dietary fiber and mineral availability

Colorectal cancer and fiber

The human colon and evolution, part III

The statistical debunking of the China Study:

The China Study: Fact or Fallacy?

The China Study: a thorough and diverse series of statistical analyses

Meat Versus Wheat: the China study

Sustainability concerns:

Vegetarian Myth review

Meat: A benign Extravagance review

Meat is medicine: how cows are helping revive desert ecosystems in Africa

Kurt Harris’s manifesto for diet and for life:

Paleo 2.0

 

 

 

30

05 2011

Is vegetarianism an eating disorder?

No.  But Time Magazine certainly likes shocking article titles.

What this Time article covers is a study performed in Minnesota back in 2008. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas observed that young vegetarians are at increased risk for binge eating and unhealthy weight control behaviors.  Ick.

Using the results of Project EAT-II: Eating Among Teens, researchers  analyzed the diets, weight status, weight control behaviors, and drug and alcohol use of 2,516 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 23.  Participants were identified as current (4.3%), former (10.8%), and never (84.9%) vegetarians. Subjects were divided into two cohorts, an adolescent (15-18) group and a young adult (19-23) group. They were questioned about binge eating and whether they felt a loss of control of their eating habits.

In the younger cohort, no statistically significant difference was observed with vegetarianism and weight status.  Among young adults, however, current vegetarians had a lower average BMI.  They were less likely to be obese than never vegetarians.   Off the top of my head, I would guess that this has to do with discipline and more sincere adherence to the vegetarian diet.  Many who convert to vegetarianism in young adulthood do so during “enlightenment” at university.  I suspect that a lot of vegetarians in high schools, on the other hand, lack the moral steadfastness, supportive community, and resources of university students.  In fact, a 2001 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health revealed that the most common reason teens gave for vegetarianism was to lose weight or keep from gaining it.

Among the younger cohort, vegetarians engaged both in more extreme unhealthy weight control behaviors and in bingeing behavior when compared to never vegetarians.  Among the older cohort, a higher percentage of former vegetarians engaged in the same disordered eating habits.  This seems to indicate that adolescents who practice vegetarianism are at greater risk of all types of disordered eating throughout their lives.

Young vegetarians and those who have practiced vegetarianism in their youths experience an increased risk for disordered eating. This points to something pretty obvious.  Vegetarianism serves as a means, if a poor one, at losing weight (recall that there’s no statistically significant BMI difference) for young adults.   Those who battle body image and self esteem turn to vegetarianism to help them.  It is a means to weight loss.  But it is also a mode of restriction.  Whether or not this indicates life-long disordered eating and restriction patterns, or whether it indicates that this behavior in high school encourages lasting feelings of deprivation and restriction is unclear.  What is clear is that vegetarianism masquerades as a healthy option for young adults, and helps them restrict without broadcasting to those around them that they may in fact be in trouble.  I do not like this, friends.  Not one bit.

Writing in the article, Ramona Robinson-O’Brien, Assistant Professor, Nutrition Department, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University of the University of Minnesota states, “Study results indicate that it would be beneficial for clinicians to ask adolescents and young adults about their current and former vegetarian status when assessing risk for disordered eating behaviors. Furthermore, when guiding adolescent and young adult vegetarians in proper nutrition and meal planning, it may also be important to investigate an individual’s motives for choosing a vegetarian diet.”  Yes.  Word!  Furthermore, stop promoting deprivation-inducing eating plans as healthful.  Ack!

 

Breaking news: vegetarianism is lame for many reasons

Hi friends.  What follows is not a well-researched, heavily linked article on the perils of vegetarianism.  I would like to write one of those, but it might take ages, and I also have limited access to academic journals, not currently enrolled in an American academic institution.  It is, instead, a bit of a personal statement against vegetarianism.  Most paleo dieters are aware of the arguments I make here, but others that I sometimes direct to my blog, such as my family and friends, are less familiar with typical vegetarian versus non vegetarian arguments. I am more than happy to get into grittier details with people if they want.  Please email me on the contact form, or prod at me in the comments section.

This is just the surface, and–if you can’t tell–an emotionally charged one as well.  However, I want to append that caveat with another caveat: I believe that my strong emotional response to vegetarianism follows the arguments– I see the logic and I get pissed– not the other way around, where I feel angry and then rationalize my anger.  I myself was a vegetarian for many years, and I understand how absolutely compelling it is.   I was emotionally attached to it.  However, once I took a look at the statistics about sustainability and at the information on human health, I was forced, logically, to change my stance and my actions.  As such, I believe that vegetarianism is extraordinarily well-intentioned but ultimately misguided.  What follows is why.

——————————————————————————-

Gods.  Vegetarianism makes me sick.  I.. haha.  Is that true?  I think that’s true.  It wasn’t always.  The reason I feel that way is because saying “I’m a vegetarian” has all these moral implications, and I remember wearing that title as a student and using it as a means of identification and validation and moral superiority.  Who am I to say I’m better than you because I don’t eat animals?  That’s not okay, especially if others around me are making the best choices they can with the information provided, too.  Let’s not forget that vegetarianism has ascetic and religious roots, and that the idea of abstaining from something appeals to people for psychological and sociological reasons beyond ‘good for the planet.’

And YES, while as a vegetarian I was certainly acting on the best knowledge I had, and definitely trying my best to be moral, it was, essentially, wrong.  My vegetarianism wasn’t helping the environment as much as I thought.  Still eating eggs and dairy?  Fish?  I wasn’t, but many vegetarians do.  If you practice vegetarianism because of animal rights, consider that consuming milk is probably more abhorrent than consuming meat itself.  Milk cows are subject to an entire lifetime of soy products, digestive discomfort, extreme udder discomfort, hormone disregulation, and crowded, dirty, indoor (and, in fact, in-stall) living conditions.   On the other hand, if you practice vegetarianism because it is supposed to be more sustainable, consider that while your meat cost more energy than your grain or soy products, the transportation costs of the grains are still enormously high, and your grains are still destroying the incredibly tenuous soil resource.  Still eating plants from far away?  Bad news bears for transportation costs and pollution and the horrific environmental impact--especially soil depletion--of large scale monocultures.  While true that eating meat in excessive amounts is, well, excessive, eating meat to obtain sufficient protein from a local source is, I think, in fact a healthier course of action both for the environment and for our selves.  The books Meat: a benign extravagance and The vegetarian myth are excellent rebuttals (or, at least, alternative viewpoints) to contemporary environmentalism.   Also, check out this website on the book Against the Grain, which gives a concise summary of the most pertinent arguments against, well, grains.

I think vegetarianism is misguided (duh).  Sure, gorging ourselves on grains and not eating cows might help sustainability for another couple decades or so, but when it comes down to it, large scale agriculture is going to destroy the planet just as easily (if not quite as quickly) as raising livestock.  Vegetarianism is a band-aid, and a bit of a shitty one, at that.  The real answer to sustainability issues is local, cradle to grave husbandry.  Grow some plants, pick them, grow some grass to replenish the soil and keep it in place (something large scale agriculture doesn’t do), have cows eat the grass and poop on it to fertilize it (something large scale agriculture doesn’t do) and eat the cows then grow plants there again.  While impossible with America’s current subsidy and large-farm system, this type of ecosystem maximizes the health of the planet and our foods and our bodies, while minimizing negative impacts.

Something else to consider when we’re discussing environmental impact of foods is the level of processing.  If you’re a vegetarian and still eating foods out of boxes, you are consuming combinations of vegetable oils, different compounds, and all sorts of poisons (hyperbole? perhaps) that required transportation to the facility, manufacture, packaging, and later transportation.  Legitimately, very, really, legitimately, if you’re eating foods out of boxes your environmental impact may be much higher than someone eating a whole cow once every couple weeks.

What’s more, American culture tends to prize just a few cuts of meat.  This is ridiculous.  Organs and other less-celebrated cuts of meat are incredibly nutritious.  In fact, the lack of organ-eating in contemporary culture has been attributed to all sorts of nutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin A, vitamin B12, iron, copper, folate, selenium, zinc, and CoQ10.  If people begin eating WHOLE animals, and stopped wasting so much of them, their environmental impact would go WAY, way down.  I eat a lot of meat, sure, but my favorite meals are chicken stomachs, chicken hearts, beef liver, and beef tongue.  I eat all the parts other people throw away.  Does this mean I have “zero” environmental impact?  Not really.  But it’s a hell of a lot better than eating just a part of an animal and throwing the rest of it away, or even eating, as I mentioned before, anything grown on a monoculture or produced in a factory.

A lot of the literature on vegetarianism comes out of universities and the like, and a culture of sustainability dogma (most of which I’m all for, so long as it’s free thinking).  A lot of this sentiment, however, and the cultural zeitgeist comes from industry.  We all hear vegetarians talking about the evil powers of the meat industry, but what about the evil powers of the wheat, soy, and corn industries, which are vastly larger than the meat industry, and on which the contemporary meat industry actually depends?   American culture with regards to food, sustainability, health, and funding is a giant clusterfuck, and there’s no way around it.  The best way, imho, to say ‘fuck you’ to that giant machine is to eat as locally as possible.  Or, instead of in my opinion, but in my practice, it’s to move to Taiwan and daily eat a duck Wang Peng butchered and deep fried this morning.

Finally, there are about eight million health reasons to eat animals.  Here are a few:

Complete protein, for one.  You won’t get it from plants or legumes no matter how much vegetarians tell you otherwise (fuck quinoa!).

Getting enough healthy fat in your diet is another problem with vegetarian diets.  Vegetarian diets tend to be low in fat in general, which is BAD for your metabolism, your brain, your blood sugar, and your hormonal function.  What’s more, the content of the fat in vegetarian diets itself is high in omega 6-rich vegetable oils, which raise systemic inflammation and leads to all sorts of inflammation related diseases including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and alzheimers.

Another big one is nutrients.  Contrary to popular opinion, which is nuts, by the way, meat is full of vitamins and minerals and is in fact far and away more nutrient dense than grains.  One important nutrient is iron. Others are zinc, selenium, folic acid and phosphorous. Red meat is rich in vitamins A, Bs (12, the biggie), D, E, and K.  B12 is particularly important since it is found in no plants.  If you’re a vegetarian and you’re not supplementing, you’re in big trouble.

Note also that all of the vitamins and minerals contained in plants are less readily absorbed by our guts than those found in protein and fats.  This is because they are tied up with fiber and must first be broken down by gut flora.  Vegetarian literature often espouses that you not only can but SHOULD get all your vitamins and minerals from plants.  This is ridiculous.  Common vegetarianism asserts, for example, that you get your vitamin A from carrots, but this just isn’t true. Carrots instead have beta carotene in them, which is converted to vitamin A by bacteria in your gut, but only at a rate of, at maximum, 30 percent. There is WAY more vitamin A in animal fat and in animal livers than in plants, and its readily available to use.

Any vitamin that you digest in plant form must first be handled by your gut flora, and then absorbed, but the thing is that plants–especially wheat–often have lectins in them, which inhibit nutrient absorption.  This is potentially responsible for all sorts of nutrient deficiencies in developed countries, particular Ca and Mg.  Think you have osteoporosis because you don’t eat enough dairy?  How come Americans, who consume more dairy than any other country in the world, have the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world, too?  How come cultures that have never come in contact with dairy have perfect bone health?  That’s because (I assert!) they eat a natural, high fat, relatively high animal, no grain, no sugars diet.  For serious.

What about antioxidants?  Forget it.  You “need” antioxidants to fight free radicals, which are produced primarily by carbohydrate metabolism. If you’re not putting shit like grains and excessive sugars in your body, then you don’t need antioxidants to fight them.  Why dig a hole in the ground for your ladder so you can paint your basement windows?

Oh, and as a final remark, if you want to be a vegetarian for religious reasons, be my guest.  That’s cool.

And that might be about it for right now, friends.  I’m sure there is plenty more.  Have more to add on my side?  Drop me a line.  Want to fight about how poorly cited my diatribe was?  Please respond with some links in kind.   I 800 percent acknowledge that you might beat me silly with a good argument, so go ahead.  I want to be smarter, and I want you to open up my mind.

That said, vegetarianism was so 2008.

23

03 2011

Expectations in the Paleo World

Based on increasingly numerous testimonials, best selling books, and internet blogs (high five!) over the past few years, the paleo movement could safely be called, I think, a Paleo Movement.    We are advocates and we are examples.  Spurred on by our own logic and personal successes, we reach out to others the best way we know how.  Some of us write blogs and reach millions of people (what up Richard!).  Others work it at the gym and convert cardio addicts.  More still change friends’ and family members’ lives forever, and if that’s not the most fulfilling and badass component of living this way, the devil can up and take my soul, I don’t want it anymore.

I don’t mean to say that the paleo community is intentionally adopting an ideology in any way, or that any sort of group-think brainwashing ever goes on.  Quite the contrary.  The way in which paleo practitioners encourage each other to experiment and to perform their own research is rather inspiring.    Paleohacks rocks my world.  The spirited debates that often spring up between prominent voices, too, on, say, the benefits of starches or the evils of fructose, are also worthy of fierce admiration.

That said, having such a big, open community means that paleo dieters know a lot about each other.   We also know a fair bit about what transformations typically occur on a paleo diet.  Energy increases.  Weight slides off.  Skin clears.  Pains go away.  Digestion becomes regular.  Sleep normalizes.  Circulation improves.  Cholesterol plummets.    And, as one of the highest voted posts on paleohacks asserts, aim improves when throwing crumpled up paper into garbage cans.  These are all totally awesome things.

But they are also expectations.  Paleo is a balm for many ailments, but it is not a panacea.   I can hope to mitigate as many issues as possible with a paleo diet, but I cannot expect all of my problems to go away.   Eating paleo has increased my energy, sharpened my mind, and uniquely sated my appetite.  These benefits have saved my life in many ways, and I am enormously grateful for their place in my life.  However, going paleo has not fixed my Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, has not made me fertile again, and has not cured my intermittent acne problems.  I hope you are not reading this post and thinking: “yes, but has she really tried eating 100 percent paleo for at least 30 days?”    You bet your sweet ass I have.   I’ve experimented with lots of ideas and methods.  Perhaps I’ll find the solution in time.  But, as it stands, my paleo diet has not cured me of everything, and it would be a bit ridiculous of me to expect otherwise.

Something many people condemn about vegetarianism is that failure to achieve perfect health on the diet is often associated with incompetence or immorality.   Are you an unhealthy vegetarian?  You’re not doing it right.   Are you unhappy?  Maybe you’re going to hell.   I kid you not, these sentiments exist.   (In some misguided circles.)   And they’re hurtful and wrong and confusing and they suck for anyone who is trying to find his way.

The Paleo community is NOT the same.  No way.  But when people don’t experience stellar results with the diet, it’s easy to assume that their methods, rather than our expectations, are to blame.   My mother experiences impaired blood circulation.   Eating a paleo diet should clear up her vascular system, right?   Maybe  she eats too many.. I don’t know.   Maybe she eats too little.. I don’t know.  But there’s got to be something within the paleo arsenal that will cure her capillaries.

Or not.

I think that when we get people on the paleo wagon, it’s best to say: “Here are the few awesome things that I’ve experienced, and here are some cool things I’ve heard happen to other people, too.  But I want you to try it and see for yourself.”   One person may cure his insomnia, but another may be dealing with larger issues that cannot be fixed so easily.  Another may experience cleared acne because he cut dairy, but still another may maintain his cysts because of an adrenal problem.   We never really can tell.   And if we promise a panacea to our friends, we might be setting them up for the same type of perfectionism and disappointment we scorn in the vegetarian movement.

As the Paleo Movement continues to grow, I hope that our raging successes do not compel us to standardize.  We will, undoubtedly, continue to expect the diet to ROCK.   This is a given.   But we should be wary of casting the paleo diet as a cure all.   Disappointment blows, and it often leads to internally-directed frustration.  If you are having problems with your health, do what you can to experiment and to fix it, but don’t blame yourself for your inability to achieve the paleo ideal.    Approach the paleo diet, instead, with an open heart and an open mind, and acknowledge, too, it’s limitations.   Rational optimism is all the rage, and mental and communal health is even cooler.

Am I crazy?  Presumptuous?  Let me know what you think.  Make me thoughtful, make me smart!

06

02 2011

PETA pros are PETA cons

After reading Johnathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, I became a PETA Vegan.   For about a week.  I couldn’t live without yogurt.   But I started exploring the PETA world, and what I learned surprised me.  Yes, PETA is extreme.  Yes, PETA is a cult.  Yes, PETA is a bit too compulsive and compelled by emotions for my tastes.  But PETA is nothing but driven, and I can’t help but admire that.

The thing about PETA members is that they are so passionate about animal welfare that they’re not afraid of being ridiculed or ridiculing others for their end goals.  Many have pointed out that this makes PETA dehumanizing.  It does.   Decreasing a given human being’s quality of life by, say, publicly smearing them into shameful hiding, elevates the needs of the animal over that of the humans.  It’s not fair.  But, again– ends are justifying means all over the place, and while this is a very dangerous road to start walking down, it also demonstrates passion of astronomical proportions.

I consider this to be PETA’s one redeeming value.  It has made them successful in some arenas I’m very happy about, such as animal testing.  Go after your goals with audacity!  Change is good.  However, PETA’s methods SUCK, and their latest affront to human dignity demonstrates just how manipulative, base, and demeaning they can be.

Observe:

Vegetable Casting

Its worth the watch.  The video depicts casting for a vegetable porn video.  There exists no discretion or subtlety.  The theme is clear: men are filming (and laughing at!) lingerie-clad women playing around second and third base with various vegetables. The video contains commands to “rotate” and exclamations such as “but it seems so big!”

This is so blatantly manipulative (and, not to mention, not about animal rights at all) that I might start channeling disenfranchised leprechauns again.   I like that PETA gets the job done.  Gumption is important.  But stop dehumanizing people in the process.  There are ways to achieve your goals without being so destructive.  Say, by using data and being reasonable in peaceable human dialogue.

04

02 2011

What gives? Fishy Vegetarianism

As a vegetarian, I often had the opportunity to talk about my food choices.  Because everyone needed to know what to feed me at a dinner party, and because everyone wanted to gossip about the most moral eaters around them, people often inquired about my principles.   Which was cool.  Truly.  I dig curiosity.  But the conversations often started out in the exact same pattern, and I am so frustrated by its ubiquity in our society that I could start kicking random objects around my house like an feisty, disenfranchised leprechaun.

These conversations proceeded as follows:

-Oh, you don’t eat meat?  You’re a vegetarian, then?

-Yes, Yes I am in fact a vegetarian.

-Do you eat fish?

….

Ok what.   I’m glad that so many vegetarians out there are eating fish and taking care of their brains and immune systems and all that, but since when are fish not animals?  I don’t care how people respond to the fish inquiry.   What’s remarkable to me is that, as a society, we’ve completely accepted the notion that eating fish is something vegetarians do.

…?

As a matter of fact, fish are every bit as sentient and feel every bit as much pain, stress, and fear as tetrapods such as cats and dogs.  And fish industries are not exactly paragons of excellence and sustainability, either.  In fact, farmed fish live in fairly horrific conditions.  What gives?

I think a significant part of this has to do with how conventional wisdom touts the nutritional value of fish over all other sources of protein.   Fish are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and boy does conventional wisdom love it some PUFA.  This fact makes it easy–nay, compulsory!–for conventional nutritionists and researchers to continually espouse the wonders of fish.   Conventional diets need fish in order to make up for some of their gaping shortcomings.  For example: a conventionalist might eat a hundred teaspoons of canola oil a day, so of course adding fish to his diet is going to radically improve inflammation markers.  I’m not saying that fish aren’t healthy.  I eat a few whole fish per week.  But I am saying that we wouldn’t need fish so desperately to be healthy if we ate properly in the first place.

The safety of fish as an already-established wonder food means that fish are virtually unequaled in their value as nutritional wisdom.  Fish stock is high, so sell, sell, sell!   Vegetarians would be crazy not to indulge.

Another part of the pesca-vegetarian phenomena is a bit more childish, and also a bit more obvious: scales.   Psychologists have shown us, as has the popularity of plush novelties, that humans have the most empathy for species that act and have similar features to us.  Fish are pretty far removed from that.  I understand.  On the flipside, let’s be real.   Fish are animals, and there’s not a whole lot your denial is going to change for anybody.

My final thought is that environmental vegetarians might point out that fish farms have a smaller ecological footprint than industrial feed lots.  You get no arguments from me, here.  But since, as I stated in an earlier post, health is the number one reason cited for vegetarianism, it’s probable that sustainability isn’t in fact the absolute top priority, but instead that omega 3 fatty acids are the name of the game.

That’s it.  I’m fresh out of ideas.  Now I’m just indignant.  The ubiquity of false vegetarians is destructive for national health.  Not only does it make it seem as though vegetarianism is more popular, and thus more socially enticing, than it actually is, but the increased health false vegetarians enjoy gives the rest of us a false impression of vegetarian vitality.

/lame.

Edit: I have a handful of friends who don’t eat meat for religious reasons.  This is awesome.  My only desire is that religious abstainers (or anyone, I suppose) call themselves pescatarians if they eat fish.

04

02 2011