If you think that vegetarianism is a way to get healthy, consider that this diet is unsustainable without modern supplements, and many vegetarians return to meat eating due to declining health.
According to Psychology Today, roughly 75 percent of vegetarians eventually return to eating meat. Thirty-five percent of them cite declining health as the deciding factor. There are countless books extolling the virtues of a vegetarian lifestyle, such as The China Study, along with vegetarian, vegan, and raw food books. There are also many books extolling the virtues of enormous meat consumption, as in anything related to the Atkins and Paleolithic diets. The people in the middle of the two extremes seem to be the healthiest.
In Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who Have Lived the Longest, a book about different regions with higher-than-normal numbers of centenarians, Dan Buettner notes while studying Sardinia, “Eat a lean plantbased diet accented with meat.” Research indicates that it is hard to find a premodern civilization that did not eat some meat or animal products.
In America, meat is often consumed in place of veggies. Nothing says “American” like hamburgers and hotdogs. Meat doesn’t need to be the main course of every meal, but to do without it can set you up for iron deficiency anemia along with potential vitamin B12 deficiencies. In a vegetarian diet, B12 must be obtained from supplementation or the bacteria from unwashed veggies. Yum!
Don’t be extreme. Meat doesn’t have to be eaten at every single meal. If you are eating it, make sure it is high-quality organic meat. Thomas Jefferson may have had it right when he ate meat as a “condiment to the vegetables.”
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
Fresh Ideas to Extend Your Expiration Date
- Skip the meat substitutes, such as tofu. Most of the time, they are a soy-based protein.
- Use meat as an extra, not as the main course. • Eat high-quality organic meat and animal products. Nonorganic, conventionally raised animal products are high in hormones, pesticides, and chemicals, and the Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio is often skewed, which leads to inflammation.
- Meat doesn’t have to be “certified organic” to be good for you. In fact, pastured animals may be better for you than organic animal products. Animals that are certified organic may be fed diets high in organic corn and soy, which are still unnatural diets for the animals. Pastured animals are often fed diets more congruent to their natural diets, which results in healthier meat. If it is possible, know the people who raises your meat. How they raise and feed them may be more important and healthier than an organic certification.
- Order vegetarian dishes at restaurants unless the meat is specified as organic.
- If you decide vegetarianism is for you, make sure to supplement with iron and B12 to avoid deficiencies and health problems.
In Real Food: What to Eat and Why, Nina Planck talks about her experiences as a vegetarian and why she went back to meat eating.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan, is an in-depth look at how food is produced and the health and societal benefits for local, humanely raised, healthily fed animals.