Are We Herbivores ?
Although some studies suggest that physiological and anatomical characteristics clearly label us as herbivores, they tend to miss and explain many other factors that make herbivores theory not as obvious as it seems to be. There are also studies contradicting a human being as intended to naturally eat plants only. It simply leaves us, not scientific minds to choose to believe one side of the argument. Clearly, from behavioural point of view we behave as omnivores and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that we probably exist only thanks to our ancestors’ ability to adapt and eat just about anything.
Animal Products Unhealthy and Not Meant For Humans ?
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that certain geographical locations would be impossible to survive in for our ancestors if they were to depend on plants as their only food source. It’s not a secret that the best and easiest source of protein which the body needs to function optimally can be obtained from meat. Red meat is also considered a good source of iron, vitamin B, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin. But…
Risk of kidney disease, osteoporosis, cancer, l-carnitine linked to heart attacks. The list of health conditions associated with meat eating is actually longer and in eyes of many vegans is mainly the result of consumption of animal products. Strangely our primates had the least amount of disease and lowest markers of cardiovascular disease among all of our ancestors. According to DNA evidence, our genome hasn’t changed much in the past 10,000 years. Until Eskimos had adapted to a Western diet, coronary atherosclerosis and heart disease were almost unknown among this not so ancient culture living in their original environment. So where is the problem ? Caveman diet wasn’t just based on plants. Actually, there is a strong evidence that our general health began to deteriorate roughly 10,000 years ago at a transition time when the hunter-gatherer societies shifted to an agricultural and grain-based diet.
Many studies simply fail to emphasize that most of the meat-related problems might be mainly attributed to:
- Meat production practises: Feeding animals with steroids, hormones, antibiotics, unnatural genetically modified food.
- Cooking practises: deep frying, flower, vast amounts of vegetable oil.
- Adoption of more sedentary lifestyles: Our activity levels have certainly diverged from those of our early ancestors.
- Imbalance of omega 3 and 6: The imbalance between these fats promotes the pathogenesis of many diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
- Not enough plants in the diet: Lack of fibre and other healthy nutrients not only can contribute to many health issues, but they are also needed to facilitate healthy absorption of nutrients from meat.
- Too much meat in the diet: Sure, eating more meat than needed is going to cause problem. Too much protein or fat is not good but guess what ? You can also get into trouble overdrinking water.
- What about the sugar ? I thought this was a huge one. Are all studies laying to us here ?
The fact that there is a big correlation with many health conditions including prostate cancer and a pretty clear difference between milk consuming nations and non consuming when it comes to “porous bone” – then I don’t think the advice to stay away from dairy is so bad at all. Paleolithic diet lacked dairy too. Eggs can be an exception here. They are a tasty alternative to meat, excellent source of protein and other nutrients. Egg’s cholesterol effect is debatable. Many studies disproved harmful effect of egg’s cholesterol on the human body. Personally, I eat around 30 eggs a week and the only time when I noted my cholesterol at higher levels was when my diet contained the sugar.
So Is Plants Based Diet a Better Alternative To Omnivorous Diet ?
The answer is not that simple. Yes and No. Plants are full of macronutrients. They will give all you need. Carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and with the right approach complete chain of amino acids. Typical omnivores who are not health conscious and eat typical western diet will surely have more chances to live longer and healthier. Going vegan was also proved to even reverse the number of health conditions associated with unhealthy eating habits. Vegans with well-planned diet in general also have fewer nutrient deficiencies than average omnivores, while maintaining a lower body weight without losing muscle mass. Many athletes eating well planned plant-based diets also appear to experience enhanced athletic recovery without affecting the benefits of exercise.
Hang on…There’s more to it !!!!
Even though vegan diet can be managed and beneficial, it will take a little bit more effort and knowledge to make it balanced and super healthy. Athletes and very active individuals will surely have to make an extra effort to make it work.
Like any other diet, poorly planned vegan eating habits can leave your health compromised. This includes fatigue, lethargy and weakness. It may be low in calcium, fat-soluble vitamins like A & D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and the long-chain omega fatty acids EPA & DHA. The last one showed many benefits to human health and are found exclusively in marine algae and fish and shellfish, so the only way to get them on a vegan diet would be to take a microalgae supplement (which contains DHA) or bend the rules and take fish oil or cod liver oil as a supplement. Several studies have shown that both vegetarians and vegans are prone to these deficiencies.
Apart from fruits and vegetables which are quite nutrient dense, vegans typically include large amounts of cereal grains (refined and unrefined) and legumes, both of which are low in bioavailable nutrients and high in anti-nutrients such as phytate.
There is not the slightest doubt that today food industry is all about making a killing. All that counts is money. Your health is secondary to it and nobody gives the slightest f… about producing meat in ecological, ethical way. In fact, producing healthy natural meat on the bigger scale is nearly impossible. On the other hand, the same can be said about plants. What chances do we have to eat healthy plants living in a big city ? Organic ? Don’t even get me started here. I know personally a few farmers producing organic food and trust me it has nothing to do with it. Producing real, healthy food takes time. Paleo, Vegan. Both diets can be healthy and unhealthy. It all comes down to educating yourself and treating your body with respect.
Don’t Get Easily Brain Washed
Whether it’s a vegan documentary production or an article on vegan diet benefits, I often get an impression that every meat eater falls there into the category of a regular MC Donald’s customer. The latest vegan documentary “What The Health” even goes as far as to bluntly suggest a very little contribution of sugar to diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.
Personally, I can accept vegan’s stance from ecological, ethical, and to some extent health concerns point of view. To some extent because most of these health reasons are clearly proven to be a combination of many other factors than just simply and plainly eating meat.
Statements like the one that including any amount of even healthily bred organic meat in a well-balanced diet poses a big threat to your health, and has little benefit when compared to plants, is simply ridiculous. Lack of consideration and lack of emphasis on the other well-proven factors contributing to all those health problems make it sound silly and unprofessional. Vegan Propaganda ? 🙂
Fatty acid composition of the plasma lipids in Greenland Eskimos.
The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Humans are Omnivores
Were Humans Meant to Eat Meat?
How Meat-Eating Made Us Human
Sugar and your heart
Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease
Can Eating Too Much Sugar Cause Type 2 Diabetes?
Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets
57 Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
The Nutrition Source – Eggs
Diet Myths: Should I Stop Eating Eggs to Control Cholesterol?