49 Reasons to Be a Vegetarian – A Rebuttal

food

I came across this page today highlighting 49 Reasons to be a Vegetarian and wished to address it point-by-point for the edification of readers who may be recovering vegetarians or who may be confused by the points discussed therein.

The Environment

1. Conservation of Fossil fuel. It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein; 35 calories for 1 calorie of pork; 22 calories for 1 of poultry; but just 1 calorie of fossil fuel for 1 calorie of soybeans. By eating plant foods instead of animal foods, I help conserve our non-renewable sources of energy.

On the contrary, by eating a well-balanced and omnivorous diet one can rely on local foods to a greater degree thereby reducing the use of fossil fuel to transport food to your plate.   Moreover, a local steak is more economically and environmentally sustainable than consuming soy-based meat substitutes trucked in from long distances.

2. Water Conservation. It takes 3 to 15 times as much water to produce animal protein as it does plant protein. As a vegetarian I contribute to water conservation.

A cow or hog grazing on pasture with access to free-flowing water would require fewer water resources than fields that must be irrigated.

3. Efficient use of grains. It takes up to 16 pounds of soybeans and grains to produce 1 lb. of beef and 3 to 6 lbs. to produce 1 lb of turkey & egg. By eating grain foods directly, I make the food supply more efficient & that contributes to the environment.

Cows, hogs, turkeys, hens and most other animals harvested for food should not be fed grain- or soy-based diets; rather they should be fed on grass and pasture.   When fed naturally, these animals require no soybeans.

4. Soil conservation. When grains & legumes are used more efficiently, our precious topsoil is automatically made more efficient in its use. We use less agricultural resources to provide for the same number of people.

This argument implies that grain-based foods can and should be grown everywhere; however, many ranch lands are not suited to the farming of grains and soybeans.   By contrast, they are suitable for grazing.   Moreover, holistic pasture management often leaves the top soil and native flora in better condition than prior to grazing and certainly in better condition than farming grains and legumes where native flora are largely lost.
5. Saving our forests. Tropical forests in Brazil and other tropic regions are destroyed daily, in part, to create more acreage to raise livestock. By not supporting the meat industry, I directly reduce the demand to pillage these irreplaceable treasures of nature. Since the forest land “filters” our air supply and contains botanical sources for new medicines, this destruction is irreversable.

No argument here: don’t buy your meat from Brazil, buy it or hunt it locally.
6. Asthetics. Decaying animal parts, whether in a freezer case or served in restaurants, can never be as asthetically pleasing to the senses as the same foods made from wholesome vegetable sources. Only habit can allow one not to perceive this: a change in diet makes this self evident.

I guess this is habit, but a nice seared steak that’s plenty red in the center looks good to me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Personal Health

7. No deficiencies. There is no nutrient necessary for optimal human functioning which cannot be obtained from plant food.

This argument is patently false.   Retinol or pre-formed Vitamin A can only be found in animal foods.   Retinol is the most bio-available form of vitamin A.   Beta-carotene, by contrast, is poorly metabolized into vitamin A. Likewise the critical nutrients DHA and EPA are only naturally found in animal foods (there are vegetarian, algae- and fungus-based versions of these nutrients that are the result of intense processing and manufacture).

8. High fat plus cholesterol. Animal foods are higher in fat than most plant foods, particularly saturated fats. Plants do not contain cholesterol.

Count this as one of the benefits of animal foods.   Saturated fats and cholesterol are both important nutrients that nourished our ancestors and nourish us as well.   Fat and cholesterol are particularly important for young children.   In the last thirty years, overall fat consumption has decreased and carbohydrate consumption has increased; however along with a decrease in fat consumption, developed nations have seen an increase in obesity and other diseases.

9. “Carb” deficient. Meat is deficient in carbohydrates, particularly the starches which are so essential to proper health.

Absolutely true.   That’s why we should eat an omnivorous diet; however, many traditional societies including the Inuit thrived on a diet comprised almost exclusively of animal foods and suffered no adverse health effects because of it.   On the contrary, these populations were devoid of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

10. Vitamin deficient. Except for the b-complex, meat is largely deficient in vitamins.

This is patently false.   Animal foods contain a wide variety of nutrients beyond the b-complex – particularly Vitamin A.   Country pâté made from liver contains more IU of vitamin A than sweet potato or carrots; moreover, animal foods contain preformed vitamin A which is more bioavailable than the plant-based alternative beta-carotene.   Animal foods are also a remarkably rich source of vitamin D which is only otherwise found in mushrooms – and then only in minute quantities.

11. Agricultural Chemicals. Being higher on the food chain, animal foods contain far higher concentrations of agricultural chemicals than plant foods, including pesticides, herbicides, etc.

Undoubtedly.   Eating organic, pasture- and grass-fed animal foods minimizes or eliminates high concentrations of agricultural chemicals found in the animal fat.   Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water; simply know your farmer and eat real food.

12. Exposure to livestock drugs. There are over 20,000 different drugs, including sterols, antibiotics, growth hormones and other veterinary drugs that are given to livestock animals. These drugs are consumed when animal foods are consumed. The dangers herein, in secondary consumption of antibiotics, are well documented.

There is absolutely a growing cause for concern the use of antibiotics and growth hormones.   The solution is simple, though: eat naturally raised animals that haven’t been subject to livestock drugs, growth hormones and antibiotics.
13. Pathogenic Microorganisms. There are a host of bacteria and viruses, some quite dangerous, that are common to animals. When I eat meat, I eat the organisms in the meat. Micro-organisms are present in plant foods too, but their number and danger to human health is by no means comparable to that of those in meat.

Healthy animals are free from disease and, likewise, healthy people can fight off potential pathogens whether they’re found in animal or plant foods.   Grass-fed cows are free from many of the viruses and bacteria that plague their factory farmed sisters so by consuming the meat and milk of naturally raised and well-cared-for animals you minimize risk.   Moreover, plant foods are not without risk as indicated by spinach, peanut, tomato and a host of other recalls so it’s wise to know your source of both animal and plant foods.

14. Worms and other Parasites. Ditto on # 13!

Keep in mind that researchers on immunology are quickly discovering that worms play a role in the proper development of the immune system.   However, as with other issues, know your farmer.
15. Shelf life differential. Plant foods last longer than animal foods. Try this experiment: Leave out a head of lettuce and a pound of hamburger for 1 day, which will make you sick?
Eat your foods fresh.   And don’t be too concerned about leaving some animal foods out: milk turns to bonny clabber replete with probiotics and enzymes; eggs can stay good for month or longer at room temperature; cured meats and cheeses can also be kept at room temperature.

16. Organoleptic Indications of Pathenogens [sic]. Plant foods give tell-tale signs of “going bad”. Ever hear of someone getting sick from “bad broccoli”?

This isn’t exclusive to plant foods.   All foods give indicators of whether or not they’ve gone bad, and while I certainly haven’t heard of someone getting sick from “bad broccoli” I’ve likewise never heard of someone getting sick from pastured or grassfed meats.   I have, however, heard of people being sickened by industrial spinach, tomatoes, melons and peanuts.

17. Heart Disease. Meat eating increases the risk of heart disease, this country’s #1 killer. The correlation is an epidemiological fact.

That correlation is based on faulty research.   A reexamination of key studies that contributed their findings to the fat hypothesis indicates that it is refined carbohydrates, not meat, that contribute to heart disease.

18. Cancer prevention. Of all the natural cancer prevention substances found: vitamin C, B-17, hydroquionenes, beta carotene, NDGA, – none has been found to be animal derived. Yet most meats, when cooked, produce an array of benzenes and other carcinogenic compounds. Cancer is infinitely easier to prevent than cure. Soybeans contain protease inhibitor, a powerful anticancer compound. You won’t find it in useful quantities in animal based food.

Vitamin C is found in meat – particularly variety meats and offal; however, if you’re like me and don’t particularly care for variety meat you should eat a well-balanced diet inclusive of nutrient-dense plant foods.   Beta carotene is also found along with retinol in animal foods particularly butterfat from grass-fed cows and the fat of pastured chickens and poultry.   Moreover, nutrients that contribute to the fight against cancer extend beyond vitamin C, laetrile (vitamin b17) and the others mentioned.   For instance, CLA is noted as a very powerful anticarcinogen but this nutrient is found exclusively in animal foods.

19. Disease Inducing. The correlation between meat consumption and a wide range of degenerative diseases is well founded and includes…..

Let’s approach these one by one.

20. Osteoporosis

Anthropological evidence indicates that our hunter-gatherer ancestors who consumed much more meat than we routinely consume today did not suffer from osteoporosis.   Meat is not to blame; rather, a diet high in refined carbohydrates like sugar and white flour do contribute to osteoporosis.   Such a diet can be omnivorous or vegetarian.
21. Kidney Stones and Gallstones

Some studies do implicate meat eating in the formation of kidney stones and gallstones; however, this is not the case for a well-rounded diet inclusive of both animal and plant foods. Moreover, inadequate intake of water and over intake of refined sugar and salts contribute to their formation which can occur in either a vegetarian or omnivorous diet.   Additionally, oxalates which are naturally present only in plant foods like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and even strawberries can interfere with proper absorption of calcium and contribute to the formation of stones in the kidney and gallbladder.

22. Diabetes


As with osteoporosis, diabetes is a modern disease that was absent in our meat-consuming hunter gatherer ancestors.   Were meat to cause diabetes, anthropological evidence would indiacte that early humans suffered from the condition.   Meat is not the culprit; rather, refined carbohydrates and A1 beta casein are the known contributors to this disease.

23. Multiple Sclerosis

There are many contributors to multiple sclerosis; however, there’s some thought that diet plays a role in its development.   Without a doubt, diet plays a role in other autoimmune diseases.   Studies indicate that milk plays a role in the development of the disease; however, more recent research implicates A1 beta casein – not milk as a whole or even A2 beta casein.   By eating dairy products from heritage breeds like jersey and guernsey cows as well as goats and sheep, you reduce or eliminate exposure to A1 beta casein.   Furthermore, evidence indicates that antinutrients found in grains limit the absorption of critical nutrients in the digestive tract the result of a diet that his high in grain – like a vegetarian diet – is poor nutrient absorption.   A poorly nourished person is more prone to disease including autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

24. Arthritis

The assumption that consuming animal foods contributes the development of arthritis is faulty.   Indeed, current research implicates grains in the formation of arthritis, not meat.   You see, the inflammation caused by the consumption of grains creates an immune system response.   The immune system begins attacking the synovial tissue in the joints contributing to joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis and more inflammation.   (Read more at 10 Reasons to Go Grain-free.)

25. Gum disease

False.   Gum disease is not caused by meat or other animal food consumption.   Research indicates that a diet that reduces the risk of diabetes reduces the risk of gum disease.   A whole foods diet, inclusive of animal foods, with a wary eye for excessive carbohydrate consumption reduces the risk – not a vegetarian one.   Moreover, properly preparing grains or avoiding them entirely will increase dental health due to neutralization of antinutrients like phytic acid which contribute to dental caries.

26. Acne. Aggravated by animal food.

Wrong again.   Grain and refined carbohydrate consumption coupled with lack of fat soluble vitamins contribute to acne.   A diet heavy in grains, refined carbohydrates and simple sugars raises insulin levels and makes your body produce more insulin-like growth factor.   A cascade of hormones follows this surge of IGF-1 and those male hormones make your sebaceous glands produce more oil – creating an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and acne ensues.

27. Obesity. Studies confirm that vegetarians tend to be thinner than meat eaters. Obesity is considered by doctors to be a disease within itself.

This statement is misleading.   Indeed, when a vegetarian lifestyle is compared to the standard American diet – vegetarians do have lower BMIs than meat eaters; however, when vegetarians are compared to whole foods omnivores the incidence of obesity is the same.   No one should be eating the standard American diet, but the SAD is not the diet of all omnivores.

28. Intestinal Toxemia. The condition of the intestinal flora is critical to overall health. Animal products putrefy the colon.

No doubt I agree that intestinal flora are critical to health (please check my post about the Benefits of Fermented Food) and I urge everyone to make pro- and pre-biotic foods a cornerstone of their diets; however the notion that animal foods putrefy the colon is terribly outdated and hails to 19th century health food lore (think Road to Wellville).   Keep in mind that many animal foods   like yogurt, kefir, raw milk and cream actually contribute beneficially to intestinal health.

29. Transit time. Wholesome food travels quickly through the “G.I” tract, leaving little time to spoil and incite disease within the body.

Utter silliness.   Animal foods don’t spoil in the body and neither do plant foods.   Digestion first begins the moment you put food in your mouth – through saliva.

30. Fiber deficient. Fiber absorbs unwanted, excess fats; cleans the intestines; provides bulk and aids in peristalsis. Plant food is high in fiber content; meat, poultry and dairy products have none.

By all means, don’t be a carnivore – be an omnivore.   You can get plenty of fiber through the addition of fruits and vegetables while also including animal foods in the diet.

31. Body wastes. Food from animals contain their waste, including adrenaline, uric and lactic acid, etc., Before adding ketchup, the biggest contributors to the “flavor profile” of a hamburger are the leftover blood and urine.

This is a vegetarian scare tactic.   Regardless, a burger tastes great.

32. Excess protein. The average American eats 400% of the RDA for protein. This causes excess nitrogen in the blood that creates a host of long-term health problems.

Readers should keep in mind that the RDA is the minimum recommended levels, not the maximum recommended levels.   The RDA keeps you barely above deficiency, not at optimal health.   That’s how it was designed.   We should, indeed, eat protein and other nutrients in excess of the daily RDA.

33. Longevity. To increase ones risk of getting degenerative disease means decreasing ones chance to live a naturally long healthy life. Huzas [sic] and other peoples with large centenarian populations maintain lifestyles that are relatively meat free.

This is a misconception.   Among several long-lived populations, the Hunzas are the only population with limited animal food consumption but they are not vegetarians; rather, they are omnivorous.   Other long-lived populations consumed foods rich in animal fats and protein as well as vegetables and probiotic-dense foods. Okinawans, for example, eat a diet rich in pork fat and are among the most long-lived populations in the world.   Moreover, long-lived populations tend to lead active lifestyles.   For more information about traditional diets of long-lived populations please check out Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine.

34. Well Being. I just feel better since “giving up” meat and becoming vegetarian.

I certainly can’t argue with the original author about his or her well-being, but I will say this: I am a former vegan who was plagued with health problems including thyroid disease, autoimmune disease and amenorrhea.   As a vegan, I ate an impeccably good diet based on whole foods and my health suffered.   After moving to traditional foods, I’ve regained my periods; my skin looks better; my hair looks better; my moods are better and I have no thyroid problems.

Personal Finances

35. Health care costs. Being healthier on a vegetarian diet means spending less on health care.

I agree that eating well reduces health care costs.   Indeed, my husband and I joke that our diet is our health insurance.   I will tell you this: I am sick less often on a traditional foods, omnivorous diet than when I was vegetarian.   As I have healed from many diseases I suffered from as a vegetarian, I spend considerably less on health care now than I did then.

36. Food costs. Vegetarian foods tend to cost less than meat based items.

This is, generally, true.   A soy burger will cost you less than a grassfed beef burger; however, you shouldn’t make such critical decisions on personal finances alone.   Besides, with proper kitchen management you can make sure cut corners on waste, not on food quality.   (See my post on the Top 10 Nutritional Powerhouses that Won’t Break the Bank).

Ethics

37. Love of animals. I love animals as I love myself. I have no desire to kill them or cause them harm.

I love animals too and that’s why I value holistic farm management and humane treatment of farm animals.   I also love myself and that’s why I give my body the best nutrition possible – and that nutrition is based on the omnivorous diet that nourished our ancestors.

38. Stance against Factory Farming.. I cannot make a statement against factory farming if I myself eat animals.

I abhor factory farming and that is why I actively support farmers and ranchers who eschew those cost-cutting food production methods in favor of natural and humane herd management.

39. Respect for Sentient Life. I show gratitude to my Creator(s?) by eating as low on the food chain as possible.

I respect the way I was created by nurturing my body on the foods that nourished my ancestors from their early hunter gather days.   In this way, I show respect for how I was created.

40. “Economic Vote”. I show support of the meat industry and the way they operate when I purchase and use their products.

Me too!   By purchasing farmer-direct, my money stays local and out of the hands of middlemen and cost-cutting business men who operate repugnant factory farms and feedlots.

41. Small sacrifice The sacrifice I make is nothing compared to the animals, its life.

By sacrificing a vegetarian diet and delving into traditional foods, I’m respecting the nature’s course rather than disrupting it.   Predation is normal and natural and exactly how we evolved.

42. Natural diet. Our hands, teeth, feet, intestinal tract…even our body chemistry is that of an herbivore.

Patently false.   We are natural omnivores.   Our intestinal tract is medium-long, not short like a carnivore and not extremely long like an herbivore.   We do not have a cecum like an herbivore, nor multiple stomachs like a ruminant.   Our eyes are forward-facing like a predator, not on the sides of our head like an herbivore.   Anthropological evidence indicates that humans are omnivores and always have been.

43. Reciprocity. If I partake in the slaughter of animals, I will have to repay my contribution to that act.

I’m not here to argue new age philosophy – just the facts; however, I don’t believe in karmic retribution for a natural act that has nourished humans for thousands upon thousands of years.

44. “Protecting the Temple”. “Whatever affects the body has a corresponding effect on the mind and soul” (E.G. White)

I am not a Seventh Day Adventist and I would never attempt to dissuade anyone from consuming a diet prescribed to them by their god; however, I recognize that what affects the body affects the mind and soul and that’s why I respect my nature: that of a natural omnivore as all humans are.

45. I believe in nonviolence. Slaughter isn’t.

I believe in nonviolence, but I also respect nature and human evolution.

46. World Peace. There can never be peace among men while men are declaring war on other highly developed life forms.

Well … when vegetarians create peace among men, I’ll sidle right up to the tofu and lentil line and give up meat for good.

47. Clear conscience. I know what I’m doing is right. I feel good inside about my decision to remain “meatless”

Indeed, my conscience is clear about consuming a natural, healthful diet that nourishes me as well as it nourished my ancestors.

48. Example. To live this way is to protect the underlying values of those around me.

Indeed, to live this way I am able to share my knowledge with my friends, family and readers for the betterment of their health and wellness.

49. Easy substitutes. There are vegetable based substitutes for every meat product imaginable.

Vegetable-based substitutes for animal foods are nutritionally inferior and often make use of industrial soy which is bad for health for its contribution to low mineral absorption and increased rates of autoimmune disease.   Furthermore, meat substitutes comprised of industrial soy, grain and other foods is bad for the environment as it must be trucked from the field to various manufacturers, packaged and then distributed to consumers.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    Jenny,

    Fantastic post! I appreciate your efforts to go through each of the points raised. You did an excellent job of rebutting their arguments.

    I am constantly amazed at the arguments for soy being more sustainable. I don’t think it’s common knowledge that most of the organic soy at this point is being imported from China (talk about carbon footprint! not to mention that China’s standards for organic labeling aren’t quite the same as ours so who knows what you are ultimately getting).

    As someone who was constantly sick as a vegetarian, I was thankful to realize it simply wasn’t a healthy and sustainable diet for my body. I feel so much better on a whole foods and traditional foods based diet. For the first time, my diet makes perfect sense to me. If feel good about what I eat, I know the farmers who raise the meat we eat. By not contributing to factory farming or having my produce trekked in from afar, my stress level is lower since every time there is a recall, there is virtually no chance that anything in my cupboards or freezer is involved.

    Julie

    Check out Julie’s last post: Healthy Smoothie Recipe.

  2. says

    Interesting..as a vegetarian who does eats this way for my own reasons, few of which are touched upon above, and nothing could ever induce me to eat the flesh of an animal(beyond starvation and I might eat the flesh of a human then)you’ve made some great points.

    I would love to see research to prove the points on both sides. I’ve never really given much thought to it as most of my life an alternative to factory farming isn’t available and the local farmers in the rural area I live in have factory farms.

    I guess my point is, there are a lot of traditions mankind has outgrown over our evolution so I have no attachment to that particular reason for eating anything in particular and enjoy eating a variety of nutritious foods.

    I personally don’t think I’m going to convince anyone to become vegetarian for MY reasons and I don’t attempt to and I really appreciate it when non-vegetarians offer me the same courtesy.

    Meanwhile I really love your blog and do like a lot of your recipes, many of them are vegetarian ;).

    As someone who was constantly sick when I ate meat, I listened to my body and who now rarely has even a cold, for me that was of great benefit.

    Great, thought-provoking post.

    Breeze

    Check out Breeze’s last post: Reason 2,483, 457 Why Talent Should be Shared!.

  3. says

    @Julie “I don’t think it’s common knowledge that most of the organic soy at this point is being imported from China” – I did not know that!

    Great post, Jenny. I stumbled and tweeted.

    After a few years of eating vegetarian in college, I had a mouth full of cavities and had to have a root canal. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and sick with candida overgrowth, chronic fatigue syndrome, chemical sensitivities, and chronic allergies. (I believe the candida overgrowth was due to excessive antibiotics, excessive consumption of white flour and sugar, and a lack of fermented foods in my diet — but I think the malnutrition that went along w/ my vegetarianism exacerbated it.)

    I had to go off all grains, sugar, and dairy for a month to heal my gut and reverse the candida overgrowth. I ate meat, eggs, fish and vegetables for 4 weeks and I felt like a million bucks — all my symptoms reversed. It took me another year or two to completely heal but I did in time.

    Check out CHEESESLAVE’s last post: Listen Online: Two Interviews with Sally Fallon Morell.

  4. says

    Thanks for this! Sounds like you and I have read a lot of the same books on food politics :)
    I definitely think that no one diet is best for everybody. As for myself, same as you, I’m healthier when I eat a diet including animal foods.

    Check out Sweetcharity’s last post: My First Giveaway.

  5. says

    I just wanted to say thanks for putting the time into this great post! I too am a recovering vegetarian. I gobbled up every word of the veggie propaganda for 15 yrs. Then I did some research on the topic when I began crazily craving meat during my 4th pregnancy (I believe my body was screaming for help!). I was shocked out of my mind to discover many of the points you make in this post. I’ve since included sustainably raised meats & traditional foods into my diet & can’t believe how much better I feel. Health problems that I’ve had for years&years have just disappeared.
    Thanks again for the post!

  6. says

    Wow you really went to town on this! Nice job. I agree with your points. I thought I should eat vegetarian for awhile because it sounded like the right thing. But I’ve found that with some education it’s possible to eat animal products I feel good about and concentrate on quality.

    Check out Michelle @ Find Your Balance’s last post: Nourishing beets and beats.

  7. Jenny says

    Julie – I know exactly what you mean about the improvement in overall health. I think you’re right too about Chinese soy: so few people recognize the carbon footprint of all that “organic” soy and the soy-based pseudomeats.

    Breeze – When I refer to tradition and traditional foods, it’s a reference toward the food traditions of our dietary heritage and the foods that fostered human evolution for millennia. While we may have outgrown a lot of societal traditions and trappings, we haven’t outgrown our biology. Nonetheless, a lot of what I write about is as applicable to vegetarians as traditional foods enthusiasts: locality, growing methods, nutrient density with plenty of emphasis on consuming plenty of fruits and veggies so there’s something here for everyone, to be sure. And you’re absolutely right: most of the recipes on the site are vegetarian or vegetarian-friendly!

    Kelly – It did take a long time. It was a two-day affair. :)

    Cheeseslave – High school, college and my early twenties were my veg*n years. I suffered much as you did and I ate what would be considered a stellar veg*n diet. I credit traditional foods with my healing.

    Sweetcharity – It sounds like we’re on the same track! Animal foods are remarkably nutrient-dense, no wonder we feel so much better in eating them.

    Aubrey – I know – isn’t amazing how those ills just disappear!

  8. Bill Sullivan says

    Interesting subject and as an organic dairy farmer that has raised grass fed beef, conventional beef, chickens and eggs, sheep and lambs, horses, turkeys and children. I think that both parties make very good points. But I must say I found myself arguing both sides on various points. I’ve come to believe that none of us have the perfect answer to the food problem, but collectively we do. Many of these points are gray areas when it comes to farming practices,because much is decided by where when and by whom our foods are raised. If we look at the Amish for instance we find that they manage to raise foods with very little impact on the environment. But the problem we are faced with is most people live in the cities and foods are transported from great distances to that population. In my opinion the safest approach would be to purchase locally or organically produced foods and draw from the knowledge that is made available by passionate people like yourselves.

  9. says

    this must have taken you 6 years to write! It will prably take me 12 to read and ABSROB it all!!I Love it! All I can say is when I go out, I’m going like John the B… locust and wild honey! Meat and sweet! Whoo hoo! I guess the vegs will have my head on the platter! except that might “gross” them out! No hard feelings. My husband is allergic (anaphylatic) to mammal meat. No pork, beef, bison, venison, etc…here! We eat “veggie” moast days of the week- not by intentional choice- Yeah, I really want some steak! And real bacon!

    Check out vehementflame’s last post: Honey Whole Wheat Sour Dough Sammich Loaf.

  10. Stephanie Rivers says

    I can speak from personal experience. Being a vegan caused me to develop gallstones (too much soy margarine), acne (not enough zinc), hypoglycemia (too many carbs), cavities (not enough minerals or fat soluble vitamins plus too many carbs), candida (too many carbs), IBS, aching joints and more! That makes many of these pro-veg statements blatantly false in my book. I also want to reiterate that pasture based livestock operations can provide safe, local food and even improve the environment while row crops and large vegetable operations are contributing to soil erosion, wasting fossil fuels and supporting middle men rather than farmers.

    Once I got older and realized that my health was suffering, I began to see that the world is not black and white. We must weigh the pros and cons of our diet choices both in personal health and in environmental impact. We must also learn to separate fact from propaganda. Thank you for your contribution to letting the truth be known.

    Stephanie

  11. says

    Great rebuttal! And you were far more brief than I ever could have been! It amazes me that some of these debunked vegetarian “facts” are still floating around and people are still swallowing (ha!) them.

    The only one of your answers I would argue with is #9 – starches aren’t essential to good health. They don’t necessarily harm health if consumed properly, but there’s nothing essential about them. We can consume all the carbohydrates we need (which is very little) from non-starchy veggies.

  12. Jenny says

    You know, Anna, you’re right. I reread that and it’s inaccurate so I might edit it or clarify it. The Inuit ate little, if any, starches yet were among the healthiest populations WAP studied.

  13. Bhavna says

    Wow, I am impressed by the points on both sides. As a vegetarian, I feel I’m healthier physically as well as spiritually. I derive no pleasure in killing innocent animals and I don’t think we do everything as our ancestors used to do. Organically produced foods are unfortunately expensive and are not easily available in my developing country. I find it enjoyable to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, milk, egg and cereals. I like this blog, but still, it does not induce me to eat meat. Being vegetarian is a personal choice; I believe that it’s just a question of quality-be it meat, animal/vegetarian products-The higher the quality, the more nutritious it is likely to be!
    Thanks
    Bhavna

  14. says

    Thank you for an excellent well thought out article. I’d like to point out the non violence part of vegetarianism or not–how much more violent is the rape of the land by large monocultured vegetable crops than a sustainable farm with cows and pigs that are living good lives. The meat of the pigs and cows is gratefully accepted with appreciation by those who eat it rather than pulled off the shelves of corporate grocery stores by those who don’t care.

    Within that realm, I am happier eating with meat in my diet. I feel better. Joyful people are far more likely to contribute to world peace than unhappy people forced into vegetarianism.

  15. Jeanmarie Todd says

    Brava, brava! Well put. I too am a former vegetarian, in my case macrobiotic at my nadir, which was also the nadir of my health. I don’t eat “perfectly” now but much, much better and am much, much healthier since abandoning vegetarianism. I lived in Japan for 13 years and I can tell you they never ate huge servings of soy food. Miso is ubiquitous, but tofu is eaten in small amounts, and always with miso.

    Thanks so much for this.
    Jeanmarie

  16. Laura says

    i love this post! You are quite knowledgeable. I was a vegan/vegetarian/raw foodist for many years as well, and now I follow a traditional diet (and feel much better =) ). It is always wonderful to hear the rebuttal against these things, sometimes I feel WAPF and traditional “foodies” are attacked for their pro-animal product stance in a “holistic, natural healing” sort of environment. So, thanks again!

  17. Amy says

    Wow, this is an excellent article. I was vegetarian/vegan for 14 years. Several health challenges, including digestive problems/celiac disease, undiagnosed hypoglycemia, and bladder pain/frequency caused me to consider adding meat back to my diet. I added meat (mostly pasture-raised and local) to my diet last year and have since dropped all grains and most complex carbohydrates from my meals, since I follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I have no regrets about transitioning to an omnivorous diet and honestly don’t think I would have had this much healing on a vegetarian diet. I’m doing great.

    Vegetarians call their diet a plant-based diet but it’s really more accurate, in my opinion, to call it a grain-based diet. You can live on raw foods or skip the grains as a vegetarian, but it’s going to be challenging to do so long term for most people. I was a raw-food vegan for about a year and it did not work well for me. I was constantly hungry and had to eat sweet fruit all day long to keep my energy up, sacrificing a steady blood-sugar level in the process.

    I would never try to convince a vegetarian to become an omnivore. All I would recommend to anyone, vegetarian or not, is to do what feels best for them and put the dietary dogma aside.

  18. William says

    It’s amazing that if one were to make the simple choice of subsisting on organic, grass-fed and wild animal foods it would basically invalidate every one of these points.

  19. Zack says

    Hi Jenny,

    I’m a vegan amateur bodybuilder. For me it’s been the healthiest way to live. There are plenty of healthy and unhealthy vegans just as there are plenty of healthy and unhealthy omnivores. Look at vegan athlete Scott Jurek. He won the world’s toughest extreme sport marathon–not only one time, but TWO times.
    That’s no fluke.

    What I find troubling is not the eating of meat but the attempts to justify it. If anyone wants to eat meat, then do so with honesty. Humane slaughter doesn’t exist. That’s an oxymoron. If somebody said they could shoot me in the head with the most painless gun in the world, I’d still say no thanks. So why is it fine to make this choice for the animals instead of letting them live their own lives, which they have a right to?

    “Humane farms” don’t exist, as much as we all want to fantasize about them. See http://www.humanemyth.org/downloads.htm for the Cage-Free Chicken myth slide show and the Happy Cows myth slide show.

    Which brings me to this point: there’s a lot of talk about how to “humanely kill” animals but how about talking about the real ethical issue that “It’s wrong to kill (animals).” Every cow or pig or chicken’s life is precious to that animal. Just as you and I value our own lives.

    Animals aren’t on earth for humans to use as a “resource.” Their lives should be their own. Until they’re not treated as “products,” we can’t make the peaceful world we hope to share with each other.

    Zack

  20. says

    A rebuttal to your unreasearched rebuttal. VERY poorly researched for a writer. Also, you speak mostly about yourself and the way YOU eat, not the way 90% of Americans eat, which is factory farmed animals living in their own feces and urine. Being subject to torture and sickly lives. And that’s omnivores put into their bodies. Anyway, in MY rebuttal I will mimic yours and speak about me.

    1. Yes, but the majority doesn’t. Many vegans/ vegetarians are environmentalists in the first place so the majority, including myself, doesn’t buy prepackaged items, especially not fake meats.
    2. Those animals are factory farmed. And still murdered. But I guess you are a speciesist.
    3. Should not, but they are. So you are creating demand for these animals and the grains that they are fed can go to actual starving people, not you.
    4. yeah that’s what I thought so.
    5. Yeah I guess if they also feed you a medium rare steak of a dog you would say the same right? Or a human, they are also meat!

    6. Vitamin A/ beta carotene is found in raw carrots and processed better than meat. And Vitamin A from animals is usually cooked out, because omnivores can’t eat raw meats because they are injected with salmonella and e-coli.

    β-Carotene is an organic compound – a terpenoid, a red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits. As a carotene with beta-rings at both ends, it is the most common form of carotene. It is a precursor (inactive form) of vitamin A. –wikipedia.

    does this mention meat?

    DHA/EPA is an omega 3 fatty acid found naturally in seeds, nuts, and beans.

    8. Your HOWEVER is very important here. Saturated fats are by far the worst kind of fat a person could eat. Cholesterol can be eaten from plants or mushrooms and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can be eaten from a variety of legumes and nuts.

    But I suppose your variety is a rotting animals carcass…
    9. One has to wonder why INUIT society is void of cardiovascular disease and diabetes…maybe because they don’t eat hormone and antibiotic injected foods? Or maybe because the people in developed countries that DO eat meat also eat meat from fast food joints and a large cola.
    10. Actually the person who wrote that we are deficient in B-complex is also wrong. B-12 comes from a bacteria that grows on unwashed fruits and vegetables. That’s why I eat organic unwashed fruits and vegetable.
    But back to you: Who cares where we get our Vitamin A from as long as we do? We get it from raw natural foods instead of a rotting piece of liver that has been put into a blender that you dip crackers in. And vegans take a walk for ten minutes in the sunlight, then we get our Vitamin D.
    11. “undoubtedly.” And even if you do know your farmer, you will never know what actually goes into the animal unless you raise it yourself, but of course YOU wouldn’t want to kill the family pet, you would rather someone else deal with the blood and guts and deboning the animal for your convience.
    12. There is no U.S. law that dictates what free-range, pasture raised meats mean. They could be out for ten minutes and they could slap those labels onto the package. As for naturally raised animals, see 11.
    13. Most vegans are concerned with their health too, so I also eat organic. The average family will not buy the special dead animals you speak about, they will go and buy the one that has been injected with estrogen, ecoli and salmonella. The tomatoes, peanuts and spinach you spoke about had pathogenic microorganisms because they were contaminated with the feces and urine of factory farmed animals that got into the ground water near the vegetable farms. Oh, I forgot you didn’t do your research about these outbreaks!
    14. Hm, for some reason I don’t care if you eat spoiled mammary secretions from another species or a hen’s period. And I know you wouldn’t eat a piece of meat that’s been left outside of the refrigerator for a week instead of a banana (which comes in a natural casing- oops, but then again the animal left out also had a natural casing.)
    15. I have heard that you get heart attacks and obese from eating animal foods too! Oh should I count e-coli, salmonella, swine flu, bird flu, mad cow disease, diarrhea, constipation…and the list goes on….
    16. “Refined” yes, but are vegetable and plants refined? I think not.
    17. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29681075/
    There is epidemiological evidence that a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and flavonoids is anticarcinogenic. Interest in many popular nutritional supplements, including essential antioxidant nutrients such asselenium compounds and hormones such as melatonin and DHEA, is partly motivated by evidence that these have significant anticarcinogenic effects in appropriate quantities. The major psychoactive component inmarijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol, has been shown to have anticarcinogenic activity.[1] The other major component of cannabis – cannabidiol, has also been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, with low potency in non-cancer cells. Although the inhibitory mechanism is not yet fully understood, Ligresti et al. suggest that “cannabidiol exerts its effects on these cells through a combination of mechanisms that include either direct or indirect activation of CB2 and TRPV1 receptors, and induction of oxidative stress, all contributing to induce apoptosis.”[2].

    LOOK AT THAT! Huh, no meat?

    18-49 will be posted at a later time.

    But now I have to study for a math final.

    • Ratilda says

      You are delusional, my dear. I hope you research this subject with unbiased resources before you develop any chronic illnesses. Right now you are a perfect subject for Big Pharma. Beware.

    • Nigel says

      I was confused about the sense I had that Vegan, Are You Threatened? seemed on the verge of hysteria while writing the above comment. Then I saw the web link associated with the name (peta.com).

      Based on choice of language (and the link to PETA), not eating meat is a personal and ethical choice for “V,AYT?” It is unfortunate that “V,AYT?” seems so wrapped up in their dogma that they are not capable of participating in a rational discussion without throwing out terms like murder, rotting carcass and discussions of eating the family pet. While I am pretty sure they were not eaten, PETA has killed nearly 20,000 cats, docs, puppies and kittens since 1998…ethical to euthanize unwanted animals, but unethical to raise animals on a farm specifically for food?

      Many vegans obviously have strong feelings regarding the value of animal life as just as important, possibly moreso than human life, and they evidently feel that works for them. I think they are foolish and will pay the price in physical and mental health over the course of their lives, but that doesn’t mean I will proselytize to them. That is their choice.

      I, and it seems Jenny, and many others who read her blog, believe that humans are omnivores, that there is wisdom in the natural order of things and that being enlightened does not mean behaving in a manner that is at odds with biology and thousands and thousands of years of evolution.

      Having grown up on a arm where we raised our own livestock and slaughtered some of it ourselves, I place a different value on the lives of animals, than a vegan. I always have, and I always will. I never consumed the family dog, but I have had to put two of them down myself, and as a child there was always a certain amount of affection that you developed for the animals, even the ones you know will wind up on your plate some day. We never needlessly killed anything, and we used as much of the “rotting carcass” as possible. We gave thanks to the animals and honored their sacrifices for us to live.

      Vegan, Are You Threatened will probably not change the mind of anyone reading these comments with their evangelical stance, but perhaps readers with questions will do as Sarah H below says and “start researching and thinking for themselves!” That means being open to opinions different than yours, and accepting that people have a right to those differing opinions.

  21. Crystal Jones says

    Thank you for this post! As someone who has just recently started to follow a Weston A. Price based diet, it’s been so good to read such a thorough rebuttal of many things people take for fat when it comes to eating meat. I respect the decision of many of my friends to be vegetarian, but I think that many of them do not have the full story or fully understand health implications and meat options when deciding to be meat-free. Great read!

  22. Sarah H says

    Re: Vegan, Are You Threatened?
    Re: Zack

    Thank you for standing up for Veganism! Its absolutely heartbreaking when someone publishes something so ignorant and then immediately has a following. People need to start researching and thinking for themselves!!

  23. says

    I love this post! I am enjoying this entire blog, too! I just wanted to share–about rain forests being cleared in Brazil. I’m not positive if it’s Brazil, but I read in The Whole Soy Story that rain forests are being cleared in South America for SOY to be grown. So there you go! :)

  24. Courtney says

    Re: Vegan, are you threatened?

    Don’t you see that the author is not so far from your own ideology? She is not out to make everyone eat meat necessarily, but to show that it’s industrial farming that is the “enemy”- not meat in itself. You said it yourself:

    “One has to wonder why INUIT society is void of cardiovascular disease and diabetes¦maybe because they don’t eat hormone and antibiotic injected foods? Or maybe because the people in developed countries that DO eat meat also eat meat from fast food joints and a large cola.”

    Those inuits were eating local, non industrial meat. They were healthy. That’s something to be celebrated! She wants to show that the answer to the food problem in America (industrial farming- something that vegetarians and omnivores agree with) doesn’t have to be vegetarianism, but could be local, sustainable farming (When cows eat grass, they don’t take any food from poor people- so grass-fed is important too).

    If you researched this more (I recommend “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”), you would realize that this is a more reachable goal than getting the whole planet to go vegetarian. It’s not so unhealthy- in fact it can be very healthy- but if you find meat does cause health problems for you or you find the act of eating it morally reprehensible, then you don’t have to eat it! She is not trying to stir up debate about the morality of eating animals though, so don’t make it about that here (you can start another blog for that).

    In the mean time, you should check to make sure you are eating locally grown fruits and veggies and non-genetically modified grains (it is virtually impossible to find corn or soy products that have been sustainably grown in an environmentally sound way). I’m sure you’ve done plenty of research to make sure you are getting all your nutrients, but industrial farming goes both ways, and it’s not just the big meat farmers who do horrible things to the planet. I’m not just talking about pre-packaged things here.

    Please check out Omnivore’s Dilemma- it talks about a lot of this. Some of it may be hard to read because he does look at industrial farming, but he also talks a lot about sustainable farming as well as the grain and vegetable production in America.

  25. Courtney says

    I’m sorry, I just realized I shouldn’t have told you not to say anything about the morality of eating animals in this forum. I suppose Jenny did say some things in her rebuttal addressing morality so it’s “fair game,” and I really don’t want to limit your freedom of speech. I guess I just want to see vegans and people like Jenny to come to a common goal in all this. To combine forces and see an end to industrial farming in America. That’s what seems to be the common enemy and the thing that needs to go first. I don’t think I will ever change my mind about the morality of eating animals, and you will be hard pressed to see the end of inhumane, industrial farming by changing the rest of the omnivores’ minds on the subject. Let’s work together to end industrial farming first- I really think we will see a lot more change in a better and healthier direction a lot faster than changing people’s moral codes. (Not to discourage you from sharing your vision- I just do want to discourage you from being nasty towards people like Jenny who are actually more in line with your cause than you initially think.)

  26. Jenny says

    Amy -

    Just wanted to send you a quick thank you for your comment.  Posts about vegetarianism, meat-eating and grain avoidance always tend to cause a stir, so it’s nice to hear from someone who can really appreciate the value of traditional foods.

    - Jenny

  27. Ananta says

    I have a cousin who is one of those “egg eating” vegetarians, (which I don’t consider to be real vegetarian)and she has completely spoiled her health. I, on the other hand, became a vegetarian about 8 years ago and have had to do my research in Ayurveda on how to cook and eat properly for my body type. When you said that you were a vegan in college, your health got spoiled. Most college kids either don’t know how to cook properly or are too busy to do so, and then like my cousin, they spoil their health.

    I know many people from India who have lived long lives b/c they cook well and eat fresh, every meal is either rice or chapattis, some kind of lentils, some vegetable dishes with spices, and perhaps a sweet, and then some buttermilk to aid digestion. and if can’t eat fresh, they eat fruits.

    I’m happy to read that the author doesn’t like factory farms, but the truth of the matter is that a huge portion of the population either doesn’t want to spend the $ on “free range” or they don’t even know it exists.

    My last point is, that vegetarians seem to age slower and look better.

  28. erzebet says

    i was a vegetarian most of my life because i didn’t like milk products or meat. i am now an omnivore – i have discovered that meat and cheese can be delicious when they are fatty and high-quality.
    i developed allergies but i think that most diseases are caused by the environment and the genes – so i don’t think my diet caused it and neither fermented whole omnivore foods cured it- and it’s wrong to say that people who develop a certain disease did that only because of what they ate

    when i was in college i got to read a lot of personal finance blogs and they kept insisting that eating vegetarian is cheaper – to me it turned out false – when my income decreased by one third, i found out that i no longer afford to be a vegetarian because i couldn’t get all my nutrients in a cheap way – so i got to eat a lot of eggs, to make my own products out of raw milk and to eat organ meats that are much cheaper than getting my proteins from soy, lentils and rice

  29. says

    Just an addition: the rainforests ARE at risk from SOYBEANS! Much of the destruction is now done to make way for soybean crops! Soybeans are a huge commodity…traded publicly on the stock market. That is no mistake that our “health authorities” now suggest to switch to more of a vegetarian die,t and that soybeans are in so many vegetarian foods!

  30. Ondrej says

    I ust want to note, that by eating certain animals, you indirectly protect them. It may not work for hunted animals, but it certainly works for farmed animals.

    If farmer has no market for certain breeds, this breeds will perish. Unless someone recognizes them as some sort of genetic reserves and builds a rescue plan. It nearly happened in case of mangalica pig. This extraordinary breed was near extinction and just interest from spain saved them. Because in Spain, they were able to appreciate their quility meat.

  31. Crystalline Ruby Muse says

    Regarding #14 & the issue of parasites … both raw vegetables & raw meat have the potential for contributing parasites to the human body. Cooking vegetables & meats will take care of parasites & will break the cell walls of vegetables, making their nutrients bio-available. Freezing meats for 2 weeks or marinating them in an acidified liquid will do the same, if you are wanting to eat them raw (however, I would research the details on marination before experimenting, for safety reasons).

    My husband, who healed from cancer 12 years ago, was treated by an MD who was also a naturopath. He believed that my husband’s cancer was caused by parasites from eating raw vegetables! The doctor was able to identify three different parasites in my husband’s body, using blood tests.

    Soaking raw vegetables in water with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes prior to eating them supposedly kills the parasites. However, according to Susun Weed & Paul Pitchford, if your digestive system is strong enough, it should take care of parasites on its own; just as the immune system takes care of invasive microorganisms when it is strong.

    I’ll add that I too used to be vegetarian (15 years), vegan (4 years), & a raw foodist (on & off for years). Now I eat a whole foods diet, including local, grass-fed meat, eggs, & dairy, & my health & spiritual well-being are so much better off in general.

  32. ashley says

    First and foremost if you become vegetarian you will simply eat less protein. Only eat soya beans and eggs is not a very varied diet of protein. And the protein in vegetables and plants doesn’t have the same amino acid profile and simply isn’t bio-available enough to be of any use. Our body is not able to use it as effectively as protein from meat. Lack of protein in our diet to an adequate degree and in the right form then means we are slower to heal wounds, our skin looks more dull and less healthy, we struggle to develop muscle tissue and become weaker and our digestion and cognitive function suffers (enzymes such as digestive enzymes come from amino acids too). Vegetarians will naturally eat more carbohydrates to compensate for the lost protein and this meanwhile will likely lead to weight gain. Not only is it important for our skin, hair and joints, but it also helps us to break down and utilize protein.

    But protein isn’t all we get from meat. For instance this is also a great source of oils and fats, and while we’re largely told to avoid fat in high quantities getting at least some is actually crucial to our diet.

    At the same time we also get vitamin B12 from meat and this is the only source of it other than dirt in the ground. B12 is actually a crucial substance and deficiency can cause serious problems such as nerve damage, low energy and problems utilizing calcium which can lead to osteoporosis. We become omnivorous in order to help develop our brain function.

    I personal believe human are omnivorous, even gorilla and fish eat meat to survival as natural. God created us this way, thus live on it. It’s not merciless to eat other living beings; our human just part of the food chain. And yes we are human and some how part of people believe that we should be more advanced or ethical. I think that I honor those who have compassion of animals。However, we don’t need to be cruel to the animals, but we need meat to supply our body needs as human nature.

    At last, many vegetarian like to say that people who only eat vegetable are healthier and less disease than people who eat meat. Well, it’s because those people eat meat don’t know who to balance their diet, but not because they eat meat. Meats have more calories, but also give people a comprehensive nutrition.

  33. Heather Huerta says

    Great job!! Thank you so much for this post!! It is clearly presented and lays it all out in one post. Well done!!! :)

  34. aiden says

    well some of these are true i am a vegetaran im probably never going to be a vegan but i do fell better these well its a great post and all i respect you writing all this and have made very good points but i just cant eat meat anymore it makes me gag sorry im staying a vegetarian

  35. Katlyn says

    While I can appreciate the intent of this post, it just doesn’t make sense. Comparing industrial agriculture to local, sustainable meat raising is like comparing apples to oranges (only worse). Obviously industrialized products of any kind are going to be much different from the local, smaller equivalent. If one would compare the consumption of local sustainable meat eaters’ diet to that of local, sustainable vegetarians’ diet, I bet the vegetarian diet would prove to be far more beneficial.

    You can’t have a valid argument for this without a level playing ground.

  36. Caitlin says

    I feel like (as with many debates) there is too much a divide between meat eaters and nonmeateaters. Sure there are some misconstrued facts that need to be cleared up, but why is it necessary to prove one diet over the other? To show that you don’t agree with factory farming, you chose local humane farmed meat and a vegetarian chooses to abstain altogether. Choosing a diet thats right for you doesn’t need to be about a list of facts. Both sides need to calm down with the condescending lists of reasons for this and reasons for that and maybe try to work together on some of the things that cause people to stop eating meat in the first place ie. the meat industry, disease, animal rights, environmental footprint

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