Saturday, February 27, 2010
To meat or not to meat... that is the question!
I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel like the people around me are either hard core vegetarian, or hard core meat eaters. I for one have done them both. I tried for a solid 9 months to not eat meat. My Achilles heel you ask? SUBWAY! I just cant stay away from those foot long spicy italians!! (Don't take that dirty!) So I wanted to talk about the pros and cons of the meat diet and the vegetarian diets.
You probably already know that a vegetarian diet consists plant based foods like vegies, fruits, legumes, seeds, blah blah blah. You get it! However, in my reading I found that there are all different kinds of vegetarian diets, and by talking to vegetarians I found there are all different kinds of reasons to pursue them. A vegetarian doesn't eat meat, game, poultry, fish, shell fish, or crustaceans. An ovo-vegetarian eats eggs but not dairy. A lacto-vegetarian eats dairy but no eggs. Of course there is also a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Im sure you can guess what they eat. A vegan omits all animal based products, dairy, eggs, and honey. Yes, even honey from the bees! There are also a bunch of other specialized vegetarian diets like fruitarians. Google it, I'm not kidding. I even found that some alcohols are off limit because of their use of gelatin in the clarifying process. I know what you carnivores are thinking, "How can veggie eaters possibly get all of nutrients they need if they don't eat meat?" In fact vegetarians can get eat a complete balanced diet without animal products. They consume high amounts of fiber, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamins C and E. Some vegetarians can have low levels of calcium and vitamin B, but with a sufficient amount of collard greens, leafy greens, tempeh, and tofu, this should not ever be a problem. Yes friends, they even get a sufficient amount of protein. Although their levels are slightly lower than carnivores, it is more than enough to sustain an active human body. There are a variety of other benefits to the diet other than the physical aspect. Here are 22 benefits to going vegie right now! It is animal friendly, and discourages the beef industry that produces copious amounts of methane gas.
On the flip side of the “animal friendly” diet, there is another lifestyle out there called the Paleolithic Diet, or The Caveman Diet. This diet seeks to be similar to our preagricultural counterparts. Our ancestors didn’t have the modern convinces of cultivated plants and domesticated animals, so they hunted and gathered. Foods that are copesetic with this diet include anything that can be hunted/fished and gathered. Eggs, insects, fruits, seeds, nuts, vegies, mushrooms, herbs and spices, sea food, fish, and wild game meats (and grass feed beef). People following this diet are encouraged to drink a lot of water, natural fruit juices, and teas. Fermented and alcoholic beverages are prohibited, as well as adding salts, sugars, dairy, beans, and grains. (Since I love a good cookie, salty foods, and wine I’m out!) In this diet you can cook your foods unlike raw food diets. The foods you eat on this diet are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Since these foods are low in carbs, it may be an effective weight loss strategy for obese people, and help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes. The Caveman Diet has low omega-3:omega-6 fatty acid ratio, and is absent of any artificial trans fats. So this may aid in the reduction of cardiovascular disease. On the flip side this diet is high in cholesterol because of all the meats. The vitamin and mineral content of the diet is also really high in contrast to the “Neolithic diet”, also known as the standard diet of today.
Part of the argument is that Neolithic foods like grains, beans, and potatoes contain anti-nutrients. These anti-nutrients are enzyme blockers that bind up digestion, and mess with stomach enzymes and small intestine enzymes, which adds up to a lot more work on your organs. These anti-nutrients also contain lectin. A natural protein that can trick the cell into doing things it normally couldn't do. Lectins can do all kinds of bad things like change the physiology of cell membranes. Which, if I learned anything in A&P, can start a whole world of troubles for the body. However, there is the argument that diets like this can shorten the life span.
There are pros and cons to each diet. Not to mention I found a world of arguments out there for each one, and I encourage you all read more, and choose for yourself. For me.. I think I will stick to eating whatever I please. Life is to short to deprive my pallet of all the wonderful flavors out there because of a diet!
Please leave your comments and let me know where you stand on the matter!
Read about vegetarian diets from The Vegetarian Resource Group
Read about Paleolithic Diets!