In a paper published in the journal, PLoS ONE, scientists at Wageningen University in The Netherlands proposed that eating mealworms is a more sensible way of acquiring protein in the diet than eating chicken, pork or cattle. Per the article:
Compared to a kilogram of edible protein in meat from cows, chickens or pigs, production of the same amount of mealworm protein emits fewer greenhouse gases and requires much less land to grow. The findings support the argument that environmentally conscious eaters may do well to include beetle larvae in their diets. "This study demonstrates that mealworms should be considered a more sustainable source of edible protein," the team writes in a paper published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE...Among the things that the worm-like larvae have going for them, they don't emit methane. Also, they are prolific. Depending on the species, females release up to 1,500 eggs over a lifetime. Larvae develop quickly and they convert their food into protein efficiently, at a similar rate to chicken but better than pigs and cattle.
I didn't have the time to read the report (but thanks for posting it -- I can come back to it later), but if meat were so bad, why did the Inuit and Plains Indians, who subsisted almost entirely on meat, have little to no incidence of cancer, Type 2 diabetes or heart disease before starting to eat the white man's diet, which is grain, fruit, vegetable, and especially sugar heavy? My information comes from Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories, and it's a very highly researched book. And why did the A-to-Z diet study, by Gardner et. al. of Stanford, published by JAMA, show distinctly better glucose and lipid results for Atkins, than for LEARN, Ornish, and ZONE diets?
It's my impression that there is much to be learned about nutrition, and it's an exceptionally difficult subject to study, because you can't cut out just one component -- people have to eat SOMETHING. Protein down MUST result in carbs and/or fats up, and all permutations of the components, and seems like most everyone in the nutrition field has their pet theory.
And as for cancer, there is more to it than nutrition -- we are exposed to contaminants, such as bis-A, smog, pesticides, you name it, as well as having various genetic mutations that increase or decrease our susceptibility. So I don't think that diet alone can explain anything regarding cancer. All animals in the wild eat what they were evolutionarily programmed to eat, and yes, they DO get cancer. It just doesn't usually kill them, because they get weak, and a predator pulls them down first.
I really DO wish that diet were THE answer to all our problems, but it isn't. And I don't criticize YOUR choice to be vegan; it just doesn't hold any over-riding reasons for me.
The wonderful thing about red meat and cancer correlations is that if you are getting your red meat from wild or pastured sources (i.e., non-vaccinated, non-steroidal, non-hormone injected meat), you're not in the target range for diseases of civilization. Meat the way meat comes about in a natural predatory environment is not a pollutant to the human body. Meat the way it is treated in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) is the kind of meat that bestows its consumers with things like cancer.
And more on that last point, the food that is given to CAFO animals is generally a toxic cocktail of injections and plant-based foods (i.e., corn). At an isotopic level, these cattle and pigs are eating themselves into corn-like beings (reference the documentary "King Korn") for more on that. And then people eat these mixed-up critters as if it's healthy -- which, of course, it isn't. Thus the reason low-carbers, paleo and primal enthusiasts (of which I am one) emphasize sourcing-out pastured meats and wild meats: because such critters are usually healthy and, consequently, much healthier for people to consume.
The basic gist of the whole diet industry is that you are what you eat, and what you eat ate (as Michael Pollan famously concluded in his book "The Omnivore's Dilemma"). So you can go on being a vegan/vegetarian and, on a very fundamental level, enjoy life as a vegetable (in the non-medical sense of the term), or eat omnivorously and enjoy life as a natural human being.
(I expect I'll be flamed now for expressing my honest opinion...)
And what's the use of flaming someone for his opinion?I think there's no simple answer to what to eat or what not to eat. I'm sure the food industry cannot be trusted: animals have to lead unnatural lives and eat unnatural fodder - it cannot be healthy to eat them, apart from the question of who'd WANT to support such a horrible system by eating such food.
The only reasonable way to eat is (to me) to check what you eat: how it lived, how it grew, how it died. And starting from there we'll each make different choices.
Chris (who's on paleo diet without meat and only a small amount of fish.)
Thank you, Chris.
I agree there's no point in flaming someone for their opinion(s). My experience with vegetarians has been that they're a reactive lot, and when dissent shows up words gain two qualities: momentum and mud.
So I was stating that I expect I'll be flamed because that's been typical of my experience. It's hard not to project such experiences onto new situations, so my apologies for tossing distrust into the conversation; it wasn't useful or helpful.
I agree with everything you wrote: source your foods. After that, the rest is personal.
That said, I'm a paleo/primal eater, and I know there are 50 shades of mastication, so how did you end up eating paleo without meat? And why do you distinguish meat from fish? They're both muscle fiber, so what sets the one apart from the other for you?
I was a vegetarian with a weight problem for a very long time, until a dietitian advised me to change to paleo, and it worked well for me. When reading about paleo I realized that the amounts of meat are very high - I don't believe that hunter gatherers were able to get meat every day. And an important point for me is that I really cannot find it in my heart to support the meat industry and what goes on there, so I don't want to eat that meat. I can order packets of frozen wild beef, from cattle that live their own lives in one of our nature reserves, but the packets are very big and too expensive for me. So I eat fish, and I always try to buy wild caught fish - with the idea that the fish could live as it should. I'm aware that I cannot really trust the fish industry too - perhaps there'll be a day that I turn vegan.
The problems with eating wild-caught fish are two: First off, the oceans are being overfished, which doesn't affect us rich folks in the developed world, but will cause starvation in the not-rich world that depends on fish for their protein. I saw a video that stated that we are very close to total collapse of the ocean ecosystem -- there are proven signs, such as the collapse of the fisheries off the North Atlantic coast of North America, and others that I can't quote right off.
Second, wild-caught fish are captured by trawling and other mass collection devices that kill other unwanted fish and marine life, and often level the sea-floor, making it uninhabitable for those creatures that should be flourishing there.
So it seems to me that wild-caught fish is really not the virtuous food it seems to be. Farmed fish has its own problems, too.
I HAVE been able to buy small packages of free-range, grass-fed beef, and bison, too (taste-wise, they're both about the same), and free-range chicken and eggs. So for ME, trying to eat in a way that is healthful for the planet means avoiding corn-fed beef, caged chicken and turkey with their beaks cut off, AND wild-caught or farmed fish. All that former prairie land could easily go back to grassland, and feed bison and we could all have a reasonable amount of meat in this country. We can also have fruit and vegetables because we have the coasts, with their more temperate climates.
Other countries would be different, depending on their land quality -- if you live in a country that has good rainfall and will support vegetables and fruit, then those are good, too. Japan and Korea, for example, have a LOT of rainfall during the monsoon, and they're PERFECT for growing a lot of rice and vegetables. And their traditional diet is largely vegetarian. The Siberian taiga is a different story.
And, of course, I have to get on my soapbox -- if we'd devote copious personal energy and funds to population control (with the eventual goal of getting our numbers DOWN pretty drastically), then the planet could feed everyone in abundance, wildlife could recover, the ecosystem could recover, and we ALL could live in comfort. Idealistic dreamer, me.
There's a difference between an "honest opinion" and being insulting. Implying that vegans have less enjoyable lives is just rude. I enjoy life far more as a vegan than I did as an omnivore. A "natural" human being is not a meat eater. Meat eating is a nice "fall back skill" when there is a famine, or if you live in the arctic....but our bodies have no need for animal products whatsoever. So why would a vegan enjoy life any less than an omnivore??
B12 comes from bacteria, not meat. Many older adults get B12 shots since our ability to absorbB12 can diminish with age. Most omnivores are lacking in TONS of vitamins...including B12....so lets not pretend that vegan diets are lacking.
Humans don't need any animal products to be healthy...not meat, not eggs, and certainly not milk from any other species!
What everyone here is completely ignoring here is the ethical issue of killing animals. Since we don't need them for food, we are needlessly killing these creatures. Worse yet our disgusting sytem of factory farming ("needed" to support the vile Standard American Diet of meat/cheese/eggs three times a day with nary a vegetable in sight....eaten from a hover-round scooter) makes the Holocaust look like a garden party. Animals kept in atrocious conditions, tortured and slaughtered....needlessly. We have science to tell us that we don't need animal products to be healthy and MORALITY to tell us that killing animals for no good reason it WRONG.
And the environmental problems with large scale meat/dairy production are HUGE.
There is no need for intelligent, thoughtful people to be part of this disgusting system. We aren't blind followers of religion....why be blind followers of food culture. Look into it people!! There is a better way. Veganism is better for our health, the environment AND the innocent animals we breed to be our victims!
Yeah...even if this is true it is irrelevent to modern humans. Evolution doesn't care if everyone drops dead at age 45...since we are done reproducing by then. So lets not be confused about the differnce between the optimal diet for a long healthy life and nominal nutrition that will clog your arteries and kill you before you hit 50. Our ancestors didn't understand nutrition...we do.
I've heard every single argument people TRY to make about veganism. There are very few. And none of them holds any water. I wish people would just admit that they don't care about animals or the environment (or their own health) enough to bother changing the slightest thing about the way they live. People are raised to eat a certain way and they never bother to question whether there is a better way.
Come on people, just admit it.....say "I'm too selfish and lazy to not cause the suffering of millions of animals, ruin the environment and make myself ill!!"
I wish people would just admit that they don't care about animals or the environment (or their own health) enough to bother changing the slightest thing about the way they live.
You're not going to convince most people to go vegetarian, never mind vegan.
Hell, for that matter, I don't care that much about treatment of animals. I'm against needless animal cruelty, but I'm not against eating them for food. And producing meat for a huge population is going to cause some treatment issues.
It's not my issue. The environment is a better argument, as far as I'm concerned, although I don't go that far with that. I care about biomes, not individual species, unless they're a key species for their particular biome.
I'm almost completely vegetarian, but I'll occasionally have chicken or fish, a few times a year, to prevent enzyme loss and just because I occasionally feel like it. I wouldn't give up milk-products, because there isn't an acceptable vegan substitute, and I have eggs, periodically.
And producing meat for a huge population is going to cause some treatment issues.
Those issues should be taken very seriously. One can be a ravenous meat eater and still take serious exception to the way animals are treated and killed in some slaughter houses. I've seen the video and it is horrific. It isn't necessary to kill animals inhumanely only to eat them. Killing them in an inhumane manner certainly doesn't give them any more food value. Reason is only as valid as the axioms it is founded in. If one freely harbors the axiom that dignity has no worth then all of the reasoning therefrom no matter how valid can be nothing but sociopathic.