This morning, walking across campus, I was handed a flier. It was a bit of vegetarian propaganda, and I’ve read it all before. In fact, I share most of their premises. However, I don’t agree with their conclusion.
Yes, it is possible to live without meat. Yes, you can get every nutrient you would get from meat from somewhere else (even an analog of B12, from tempeh and other fungus-y foods or from a supplement). Yes, how animals are treated in factory farms is completely inhumane. And yes, factory farm meat and eggs make me QUITE sick.
However, that doesn’t mean that vegetarian eating is better for you than other clean eating plans out there. The only advantage it has is that soybeans and a tempeh starter are way cheaper than grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, etc. Eating lots of raw veggies, nuts and fruits is great for you! But that doesn’t make high-quality meat BAD.
I personally have experienced how my body reacts to different meats now that I get the majority of my protein from eggs, lentils, and protein-heavy vegetables. Cheap chicken from the supermarket makes me feel sick. I can’t bring myself to eat it any more; the smell makes me retch. However, high quality beef from a local farm tastes good and feels good in my stomach. I crave more when I eat it (even though I feel bursting after a few bites! Meat is heavy in the tummy). Even eggs have to be chosen with care, and I pay at least $3/doz. in the supermarket because cheap battery eggs make me feel very sick. I prefer to get them from a nearby chicken keeper in season (did you know eggs have a season?) because I can get very high-quality eggs.
Perhaps going vegetarian would improve the health of someone who had previously been eating the SAD diet. Perhaps it would improve the health of the average person simply because the average person doesn’t get the wide range of nutrients they need in their diet. Personally, I like good meat when I get it.
p.s. : I didn’t address the “meat has saturated fat in it” argument because of this:
The evidence is mounting that saturated fat is not only AWESOME for you, but also completely necessary in a healthy diet. Vegetarians get saturated fat from nuts, seeds, coconut oil, etc, and people not on a low fat diet get it from dairy, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, lard (yum!), suet, etc. Poor low fat diet people, never feeling full and starving their brains… My husband and I literally take coconut oil and slather it on multigrain bread and eat it. He seems to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Butter is also awesome. Strangely expensive, but awesome.