Monday, January 31, 2011

Vol #2, Col #2: Its My Body and I'll Eat What I Want to!

The human species has long had a nasty habit of condemning the things it does not understand. Any sign of difference or non-conformity seems to lead to the eruption of shit storms largely fuelled by personal attacks, as opposed to factual evidence. And so, it was my public display of pride in relation to my choice to lead a vegan lifestyle that resulted in the wielding of insults in my general direction from me being labelled everything from a member of the gay community, to part of some elitist anti-human vegan society (no joke) to a supporter of the extremist actions undertaken by the animal activist group Peta. For the record, I am NONE of the above. But more importantly, vegetarianism and veganism are actually nothing new, nor are they really as “radical” as one may presume.

Long before humans became a settled species, they survived nomadically by hunting wild animals and gathering berries and other sources of vegetation for food; hence they were known as “hunters and gatherers”. While what I’ve just mentioned is fairly common knowledge, what has attempted to be buried by both anti-feminist groups and the powers that be of the food industry, but has indeed been CONFIRMED through the study of archaeological remains is the fact that a near 80% of the hunting and gathering diet was composed of plant materials.

Now, the rationale behind the argument posed by the proponents of both the meat and dairy industries (ie: that without the ingestion of both of their aforementioned substances, one would not be getting enough protein to survive) is more obvious: it’s simple economics. The meat and dairy industries pull in billions annually and with money comes power (and the ability to buy off political candidates to support one’s products).

As for the anti-feminist groups’ opposition? Well, seeing as the gatherers were the FEMALES in each group, by acknowledging that their contributions meant MORE than those made by the men in terms of the sustainability of early human life, it would throw fact in the face of the longstanding socialized belief that “men are the providers” for their families. With all of that said, the regular consumption of meat and meat products did NOT actually begin until humans became a settled species and domesticated livestock. But enough with the history lesson, let’s get to the facts:

The human body, in its modern form is, believe it or not, BEST tailored to digest plant materials over anything else. For starters, neither our saliva nor stomachs are acidic enough environments to properly break down flesh; hence cramping, constipation and indigestion are common ailments associated with the consumption of meat. Perhaps more obviously, however, if we take a gander at our dental records or the lack of claws extending from our fingertips, we’ll see that our delicate constitutions are very different from those possessed by carnivorous animals.

If that weren’t proof enough, it has been documented that ingesting too much protein, particularly of the animal variety, can lead to kidney impairment, nutritional deficiency, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, obesity, tissue, organ and cell damage, not to mention faster aging! As noted in New York Times Bestseller, Skinny Bitch, “people in cultures that consume HALF the amount of protein that North Americans do, tend to live LONGER, HEALTHIER lives”.

When it comes to the dairy side of things, sorry cheese lovers, I’ve got some equally disheartening news: 96% of Asians, 35% of African Americans and 19% of Causcasians are, in fact, lactose intolerant. Another 7% of the human population is allergic to the proteins in cow's milk. As for “milk doing the body good”? According to studies conducted by Harvard, Yale, Penn State, and the National Institutes of Health, dairy products have been linked to acne, anemia, anxiety, arthritis, attention deficit disorder, fibromyalgia, headaches, heartburn, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain, OSTEOPOROSIS, poor immune function, allergies, ear infections, colic, OBESITY, HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, autism, Crohn’s disease, breast, prostate, and ovarian CANCERS. Sound familiar? (See above in our meat discussion!)

Further, there is NO other animal species in all of nature that continues to ingest milk or milk byproducts past infancy, let alone the milk products of another animal that is equipped with four digestive compartments to their stomachs and grows to 2000 pounds on average within its first two years of birth.

None of this, of course, even begins to touch upon the horror that is “factory farming” and all of the hormones, antibiotics, and toxins (including radioactive materials!) you’re ingesting as a consequence of wanting to eat meat and dairy products. True, non-organic plant products are not free of harmful chemical pesticides either. However, as noted in, Diet for a Poisoned Planet, “of all the toxic chemicals found in food, 95 to 99% come from meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.” Moreover, The Journal of Clinical Nutrition and The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that, “meat eaters are much MORE likely to be OVERWEIGHT than vegetarians,” as a consequence of the coupling of the aforementioned toxins with animal fats. Oh but wait, haven’t you been told your whole life that you wouldn’t get enough nutrients from merely eating plants? That it’d lead to lethargy, nutritional deficiencies, and a depressed psyche? WRONG AGAIN!

Nutritional experts outline a healthy diet as one consisting of approximately 60% complex carbs, 20% lean proteins and 20% unsaturated fats. Please note that this goal can MORE than be achieved by BOTH meat and plant eaters. In fact, there are many vegetarian protein substances, such as quinoa, that are not only far more nutrient and protein-rich than meats and dairy products, but further are packed to the teeth with all eight essential amino acids (without all of those added nasty animal fats, hormones and god know what else, mind you)!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I personally believe in living in harmony with my body’s needs and it is for that reason and that reason ALONE that I made the switch to veganism. I don’t drink caffeine if I’m tired and I sure as fuck don’t believe in forcing myself to ingest human-created toxins in order to aid in the digestion of something that my body naturally wishes to reject. Further on the matter, the very thought of another hypothetical creature higher up on the food chain harvesting my eggs for a nice morning breakfast makes my stomach more than turn. It’s weird when you think about it isn’t it? The things that we’re eating…but I digress.

With all that said, I’d like to add one final caveat: let it be known that I’m NO health expert NOR am I in the business of trying to use “scare tactics” on any of you to make the switch to a lifestyle that I have chosen for myself. It’s YOUR body, eat what YOU want to! However, if you care about your health (which you should, without it, you’re really not much good to anyone, especially yourself), I highly recommend you read up or watch some docs on this stuff (those created NOT in association with any of the movers and shakers in the food business, most notably Monsanto). I know for me, it was more than I could stomach.

*Oh yeah, and if you’re on board with everything I’ve just overviewed, and the ONLY excuse you’ve got preventing you from “following your gut” in regard to making wiser food choices is that it’s too expense to go vegan and/or organic, I hate to break it to ya but you’re wrong AGAIN! Because organic vegan foods are so much more nutrient-rich than anything else on the market, you’ll find you’ll get full consuming SMALLER portions necessitating the purchasing of LESS food on a regular basis. I rest my case.*

“Food Matters” (on Youtube)
“Food Inc.”
“Fast Food Nation”
“The Corporation”

“Skinny Bitch”
“Diet for a Small Planet”
“Politics in Healing”