In order to not overwhelm my faithful followers, and to allow you time to focus and think about each one, I have broken this blog into 3 essential parts. Here are the final “arguments” and an important personal story with science-based reasons for not maintaining an extreme diet and finding balance in a variety of healthy foods.
Argument #5: What about legumes, aren’t they protein?
- Well, yes they are protein with a balance of carbohydrates. They are also known as glycoproteins, and they have an enzymatic coating of phytic acid which inhibits digestion as well as being high in inflammatory lectins. The most problematic lectin-containing foods are dairy, wheat, beans, soy, seeds of the grass family, other legumes, and nightshade vegetables (eggplant, potato, peppers, and tomato). Lectins bind to carbohydrates and then attach to cells that can do harm to humans. Not only are lectins proinflammatory (cause inflammation), but they are often also neurotoxic (toxic to the nerves and nervous tissue including the brain), and immune-toxic (toxic to your immune system, causing dysfunction). You may wonder why plants have these if they are supposed to be good for us. It’s simply Mother Nature’s defense mechanism, these lectins cause problems for predators who eat them, including humans. Certain lectins have been found to interfere with gene expression, disrupt your hormone system, and increase your blood viscosity. Not all lectins are bad for you, there are some that aren’t specific for carbohydrates and can be healthy. You can read more here: Dr. Steven Gundry’s book, “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain”. My concern is that vegans, raw foodists, and vegetarians are eating unhealthy, inflammatory foods, while trying to avoid meat that their bodies were meant to digest and utilize. I’m not speaking of feedlot meat. I mean pastured, organic, free-range, wild when possible, happy meat.
Argument #6: Many people who avoid animal products believe it’s immoral to eat meat.
- It’s true that the meat industry is disgusting in many ways and those Facebook videos of the tortured animals are enough to make almost anyone stop eating meat. The processed foods in non-meat products also undergo environmentally insensitive processes that most vegetarians don’t research or acknowledge. Corn and soy are subsidized and mostly GMO in our country, and they are in almost every vegan/vegetarian premade food on the planet. This is just as irresponsible in many ways. I was vegan for 8 years and avoided red meat for about 10 years because of the moral implications. I also struggled with many health issues during this time that were due to specific deficiencies from avoiding meat. I tried all the food combining and alternative meat products and supplements but I just kept getting sicker and sicker. I was in Asian medical school at the time and I was gently encouraged to try some meat. It made me so ill to see or smell it that I asked my mom to buy it and cook it for me until I was able to do so myself. I meditated and prayed and what I was shown changed my perspective on food forever. I was shown that I have a mission on this planet, which I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill if I was this sick. I was shown that eating “responsible meat” would help my body and the planet. I was further shown that those animals had an energetic and spiritual contractual agreement to fulfill, so to speak. They were here to sustain human life and they were happy to do so. I saw how it was a true gift and by my denying them this, it was actually denying them their destiny to help humans like myself in order to help others. I believe that humans have the opportunity to change the world, and if we honor and use food as medicine we will better nourish our bodies, minds, and spirit and be able to fulfill our passions and missions on the planet. And so I began to eat meat, the deficiencies disappeared and I regained vitality. I continue to honor the animals I eat and teach others to do so. I eat as responsibly as I can and am always learning how to bring more awareness and healing to purchasing, preparing, and consuming food as medicine. I’m NOT advocating for 16-32 ounce steaks every day or every week or ever. I’m speaking about 2-4 ounces per serving, depending on your stature, exercise routine, etc. Honoring the life given for you to thrive is powerful. Even the Dali Lama eats meat. He teaches that eating larger animals, that render more flesh food, is more responsible than eating smaller animals that only provide a little food for a few people. He offers the opinion that you can get more meat for that one life if you eat a larger animal, rather than killing a smaller one that renders less food for fewer people. This is an argument for eating buffalo, elk, and beef.
Argument #7: Many vegans and vegetarians believe that animals are equal to humans.
- However, there is an undeniable hierarchy in the plant and animal world. For example, lions eat gazelles and gazelles eat grass. They are not the same. They are both precious and valuable in their own ways, as are the plants that feed the gazelle, but they are not equal. I’m not saying the lion is “better” but it is stronger and has nutritional needs that require them to kill and consume other animals. Hierarchy can also be explained through an exploration of our human development, per Ken Wilber’s Integral mapping. We have very specific stages of development; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of these stages have certain requirements and in order to fully embody this stage of development, we must experience, see, and come to understand certain things. This can also translate into eating. An infant has different nutritional needs than a teenager, a 30 year young woman wanting to conceive, a 52 year young woman who is menopausal, and a 70 year young man all have different nutritional needs. Humans, in general, have various nutritional needs based on the function of our physiology and genetic expression. Some vegans claim to be more spiritually evolved because they don’t eat meat, and promote that the only way to evolve spiritually is to avoid eating other living things. I agree that heightened awareness, integrity, compassion, mindfulness, gratitude, and discernment are necessary for a strong spiritual practice, but this may or may not exclude consuming meat. I believe we can bridge the physical and the spiritual realms and not cause a deficiency in one in order to appease the other. And perhaps given the right conditions, such as living in an Ashram, or in a cave doing only meditation for 18 hours a day, you could transcend the needs of your human body and be just fine. But most of us live in a very busy world, often in front of a screen, driving in a city being bombarded by electromagnetic fields, toxins, stress, etc. I meditate daily, I have physical movement practices, I eat almost all organic when I can, and I still encounter stress in my life and our society. Should I deny the results of metabolic testing, functional blood chemistry analysis (FBCA), and DNA testing that prove I do very well with some meat and horrible without? How can I be present, empower you, and help you heal if I’m not thriving?
Argument #8: I can’t digest meat, therefore I’m not meant to eat it.
- Well, this doesn’t make any sense to my science mind. What is true is that HCL production decreases with age, so you must chew more, eat smaller meals, eat mindfully, and take things like HCL and enzymes with meals. My rebuttal is, let’s fix what’s broken so you get all the nutrients out of what you eat, you need them. Rather than avoid eating meat because you have sluggish digestion, that just hardly addresses a symptom, not the root of the problem. It’s likely not genetic so let’s repair your digestive system so you can digest all of your foods that your body needs to repair and maintain optimal health. If you can’t digest meat, it’s also likely you’re not digesting other things as well as you should be – they just cause less bloating if they sit in your gut putrefying. You just happen to notice the meat issue because it’s a louder alarm bell. Avoiding it won’t fix the gut issue.
A personal story:
I remember, in detail, an interaction with a man at my gym. I actually noticed him walk in. He looked about 70 to me (turned out he was in his late 50s – yikes!) He looked much older than he actually was and I couldn’t help but notice him because he had a very sickly grey complexion. I wondered if he had cancer or other serious health issues. This man was in the gym, but he looked like he was on his death bed – he had very low muscle mass, which made me curious. He took a liking to me and struck up a conversation. It turns out he’s one of those staunch vegans. Ah-ha, now I understood. In Asian medicine he would be considered extremely blood deficient, and in Western medicine at least considered having iron anemia and likely B12 deficiency aka megaloblastic anemia. No wonder he had that ashen grey sickly look. And he raved about his health! Had no one ever told him he really looked!? I had no agenda with him, but I did push back a little when he began to shove his agenda down my throat. I learned he even has a company promoting vegan products. I understood how invested his mind was in this kind of eating, so I treaded gently. This is one example where I’d say that his 30 years of being vegan left him with several deficiencies. I’m unable to report specifically which ones without looking at comprehensive lab findings, but his appearance was obvious. And for every story like this you can find someone who is thriving as a vegan. My point is that it’s not for everyone, and only for various lengths of time.
I caution you to do your research, check sources and be leery of people with strong agendas. I could find plenty of arguments claiming veganism is the best choice for your body and health, however I could also find science-based research to prove it leads to deficiencies in the human body. Who do you believe? I take the best of both views and evidence and individualize it for someone. Wouldn’t it be great to eat what feels good to your body, digest and absorb it, and actually thrive rather than look gaunt, deficient, or obese and craving too many carbs? Therapeutic nutritional plans can be incredible for shifting your health picture. Please work with someone who knows how to individualize it so you get the best results from the effort you invest in your health.
Blessings of Vibrant Health,
Kristin Grayce McGary
Health and Lifestyle Alchemist