After writing my guide to eating vegetarian, vegan and raw foods in Romania, I got a request to expand upon some of my dietary philosophies (and I thank you for your interest).
To begin with, let me state right up front so it is clear: I am not a “food Nazi”. I do not care what you eat, only what I myself put into my own body. The Woman not only eats meat, cheese and dairy but I myself have purchased it and cooked it for her at times.
Therefore my food choices do not come from some kind of narrow-minded, doctrinal approach of absolute righteousness – which, I shall not fail to mention, is exactly the attitude most meat eaters have.
If two vegetarians met and the first vegetarian said that she never ate avocados and detested them, the second vegetarian would shrug his shoulders and be on his merry way.
Meat eaters, on the other hand, usually vacillate one minute from railing on the importance of protein to turning up their nose in revulsion if the meat you choose to eat is “wrong” – a chicken is okay, a dog often is not. Just like milk from a cow is okay but perhaps goat is not and rat milk is somehow “never” okay.
There really are only two diets that people follow. The first is the diet of people who think and make a conscious choice about food. The second group are those people who don’t think and so just eat what is there, around them in their culture.
Therefore if you’re in the second group, if you are not consciously eating, the rest of what I am going to tell you will not make any sense.
The Story of the Bear, the Housecat and the Cow
Once upon a time in a magical land, there lived a bear, a house cat and a cow. Seeing it was a bright sunny day, the three of them decided to feast upon some lunch.
The cow wandered lazily out into the field, munching on the sweet, succulent grasses, which he chewed thoroughly and then swallowed, the materials churning through each of his four stomachs. “Come and join me,” said the Cow to the Cat, “it’s fine eating here.”
“No thanks,” said the Cat, his nose turning up in disgust. Instead he waited for a mouse to appear between the stalks and then pounced on it, breaking its back with a mighty swipe. The Cat began cracking open the mouse’s skull, consuming the brain and marrow with utter delight.
“Come and join me,” said the Cat to the Bear. “Hm, perhaps I will,” said the Bear.
“Come and join me,” said the Cow to the Bear. “Hm, perhaps I will,” said the Bear, “but the cellulose in those grasses is impossible for me to digest. These nearby berries and tree buds look quite delicious though.”
And so the three, the Cat, the Cow and the Bear all happily enjoyed their lunch.
All three characters in my little story are mammals – they give birth to live young and produce milk. Yet clearly what differentiates them in terms of diet is their digestive system.
A cow, left to its own devices, will eat entirely plant matter and has a very complex digestive system precisely for this reason.
A cat, left to its own device, will eat (almost) entirely the flesh of other animals. Although not generally recognized, a cat’s digestive system is also very complex, with a modified intestine and a far more acidic digestive tract precisely to break down animal flesh.
But what about the bear in our story? Doesn’t he eat both plant matter and animal flesh? Yes.
Roughly 85-90% of a bear’s diet though is plant matter, ranging from berries to tree buds to nuts and seeds. A very few bears do eat fish but the rest of the time, the only meat a bear consumes is preying on young mammals soon after their birth, usually just for a brief period of time in the spring. It is opportunistic hunting.
Certainly in a situation of true hunger, animal flesh can and will be eaten by humans and it will keep them alive. But equally certainly, the vast majority of what is eaten by humans (at least those with a choice) is plant matter.
Therefore I say, for me personally, if I’m already eating mostly plant matter, why not bump it up as close to 100% as possible? If for no other reason than to “see what can be seen”, I considered it worth doing.
I freely admit that throughout my life I’ve known vegetarians, vegans and (a few) raw food people. I’ve spoken to them, seen how they live and am familiar with their health (or lack of it). Some of these people have been following their diets for years.
What is incontestably false is any statement saying that people cannot survive solely on plant matter. Meanwhile the inverse is true, no human can survive for long solely on animal flesh.
Consider this – a “normal” diet containing meat, dairy products and eggs seems far removed from anything I would consider “natural” or even healthy. It of course can be but it rarely is. And usually it’s combined with a plethora of factory made products, laden with chemicals and doped with artificial scents to appear appetizing and nutritious.
Years ago, I worked in a laboratory at a hospital and we regularly got test tubes to be analyzed, filled with blood. We had a standing joke that you could always tell when someone had stopped for a hamburger before checking in (a very common occurrence) before a surgery because the fat content in their blood was very high.
You don’t need a microscope to see this – it’s visible to the naked eye looking at the test tube. Just as with a rich broth of chicken soup, you can see a layer of golden fat floating on top of the blood in the test tube when someone has recently consumed animal fat.
Certainly plant material has fat – all that oil we use to cook with is pure fat. But the magic difference is that plant fats (oils) are liquid at (human) body temperatures while animal fats are not. Slice the fat off a piece of meat and you can see for yourself it is solid until it is heated to a very high temperature.
Why does this matter? Well it turns out that bad cholesterol comes solely from animal fats. Literally. No animal fats, no bad cholesterol.
It is the build-up of this cholesterol which leads to arterial blockage, most severely around the heart. Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death (in the USA) that right there is of shocking importance.
What else can I say? I’m no licensed medical practitioner nor do I wish to pass myself off as one. Do your own research.
But I do know that I used to eat meat and a lot of it. And I felt and looked much more poorly than I do now. This diet that I have now works for me. A few weeks ago I went on a spree of asking random strangers in a bar how old they thought I was. The statistical mean of their answers was far lower than the age I was when I quit eating animal products – and in those days I looked like a bloated, tired, old man.
Again, what you do is your own business and I wish you pofta mare in all of your meals. But let’s set aside such prejudicial words like “freaky”, because I think those kinds of labels could easily be applied to just about any diet, including yours ;)