"You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I'll buy you a new car." Harvey Diamond
Oh, where to begin on this topic! This could be one of the most controversial, confusing, misunderstood, mis-communicated, lied about, topics of healthy living that we face as a race today!
So why all the fuss? Why are people starting to talk more and more about meat consumption being bad for human health? Are they all just annoying tree huggers? Over the top activists who jump on any old band wagon that comes along? Or could it be that there is truth in the idea that eating meat is bad for the human body? And if this is so, why have we been taught for so many years that animal products are good for us? Do you want to achieve health goals? Stay with me, we will cover this in detail.
For years people believed that the world was flat. Only when brave sailors pushed the boundaries of understanding did the human race begin to understand the earth is a sphere.
People were absolutely certain that objects denser than air would never fly. This understanding was smashed when adventurous souls dared to attempt the impossible and use machines to fly through the air.
For centuries people believed that the there was a sun god and when they displeased this sun god, it would punish them with bad weather and poor harvest that year.Today, very few human beings hold this belief.
For years people believed there was no harm to come from smoking. It was even believed by some to be good for a person's health to smoke. Nowadays, it is widely understood that smoking, even passively, will cut years from a human life and cause illness along the way.
I believe there will come a time in the next few decades (hopefully sooner) when people will look upon eating meat with the same pitiful smile or look of disbelief they do when thinking of poor souls who used to believe smoking was ok, or that an angry sun god was responsible for the weather patterns. Quite honestly, that day couldn't come soon enough! If people really want to achieve health goals then this shift needs to happen.
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian die." Albert Einstein
For people who eat meat as a staple part of their diet, whenever this topic comes up for discussion, the usual initial response is 'meat gives me my protein, my iron, energy, helps me build muscles, people have done it for thousands of years, all animals do it, it's natural, it's why we have canine teeth.'
If someone can move past their absolute belief that it's good for them and natural to eat meat, the next and obvious question that comes up is 'Then why have we been taught that eating meat is good for us?' Great question!
Why have we been taught for decades that consuming animal products is good for us? We will cover this more later in this article, but for now suffice to say there are 2 main reasons for this sort of misunderstanding. The first is ignorance which can lead to the belief that what they are teaching you is correct. The second is that the person telling you the lie is doing so because they have another agenda.
In the case of eating meat, the other agenda very often comes down to bottom line profit of the animal farming corporations. Woe betide anyone effecting their bottom line profits for something as unimportant as the health of the human race!
So before I jump on my soapbox and put you off reading the rest of this article, let me tell you that I won't be speaking just from my opinion, I will share with you facts that you can decipher however you choose to. If this article does nothing more than entertain you for 10 minutes, so be it. If however, this jolts you out of your ignorance of the facts and helps you understand the devastating effects your food choices are having on yours and your family's health, then I will rest happy.
The Protein Myth...
This seems to be among the first objections people come up with when they have at least a semi-serious thought about not eating meat or at least cutting down the amount they eat. We have had this myth pummelled into us so deeply and for so long that virtually every adult I speak to knows that we need protein and we need to eat meat to get enough.
Nothing could be further from the truth however. The idea that we need to eat meat for protein and we need to eat the quantities that are promoted is shear lunacy. There is zero truth in this and the people promoting this idea to us have a profit to make when we buy their products. This is why it is always important to query the intention of the person telling you anything. If they have an agenda to serve themselves, you may not be able to trust the information.
For example, the standard recommendation throughout the developed world ranges anywhere from 10-50% of your daily calorie intake should be coming from protein and, in particular, animal protein in the forms of meat and dairy products. The problem with these figures is that anything higher than 10-15% is beginning to defy all sincere and unbiased evidence. To achieve health goals requires drastically less than the people who profit will ever suggest to you.
Here's what some unbiased scientists have to say:
The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition - recommends approximately 2.5 % of our daily caloric intake should be protein.
The World Health Organisation - recommends approximately 4.5% of our daily caloric intake should be protein.
The National Research Council in the U.S - recommends just over 8% of our daily caloric intake to be protein. The NRC even allowed a hefty margin to account for what they believe to be 98% of the population. The number would be less than 8% without this added caution. So 8% is considered to be completely safe.
These types of results are typical of studies produced by unbiased parties. When scientists who truly value finding what is healthy for the human race undertake such a study, the results usually fall somewhere in this category. Studies produced by bodies that have a direct or indirect link to any large organisation that will suffer the loss of sales if the truth about protein intake becomes common knowledge often report higher numbers.
Just a few days ago I saw an article in the news that the U.K government will be asking McDonald's, KFC and other such companies to help them create U.K health policy in the future. Now forgive me for being skeptical, but I don't believe for one second that the likes of McDonald's and KFC will have, as their first priority, the health of the nation over the profit of their business'.
"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of "real food for real people" you'd better live real close to a real good hospital." Neal Barnard
So, back to this protein debate. When in your life are you growing the quickest? When you are a baby, right! So when you are consuming mother's milk and you are growing at the fastest rate you will ever grow, what percentage of mother's milk do you think is protein?
Anywhere from 1% to 7%, depending on which study you read, of human mother's milk is protein. On its own this may not act conclusively to prove our protein needs are that small, but among all the other evidence compiled over and over again, it becomes an absolute certainty that anything more than 10% is absolutely not necessary and, in fact, can be harmful to the body - especially if it is protein from any animal via meat or dairy products.
So what happens when people eat too much meat? They get sick, ill and tired. You see, contrary to popular belief, our bodies are not designed to ingest meat, certainly not in the quantities that a lot of people are jamming it down. For a start our colon is shaped in such a way that really does not lend itself to meat being processed. When compared to a natural carnivore in the wilderness, like a lion for example, who have short and smooth colons, ours are much longer and shaped in such a way that inhibits the transition of meat through our colon effectively.
But even if we take that factor away, let's look at some more evidence...
'I get my iron from meat, what would I do if I stop eating meat?'
Let's get straight passed this one with simple facts. The flesh of animals and dairy products provide very small amounts of iron compared to vegetables!
Of all the meats, studies show beef, steak in particular, has the highest concentration of iron that the animal world has to offer. In a 100 calorie serving of sirloin steak you could expect to find 1.9 milligrams of iron. Contrast this to the following list of 100 calorie servings of vegetables and fruits:
Spinach = 11.3
Beet greens = 11.2
Cucumber = 6.0
Iceburg lettuce = 3.8
Broccoli = 3.1
Courgette/zucchini = 2.7
Strawberries = 2.7
Tomatoes = 2.4
Lemons = 2.0
These are only some of the fruits and vegetables that have more iron content than the highest provider from the meat and dairy side. So if you think you need meat for it's iron content, please think again!! To achieve health goals you need simply eat your vegetables and you'll have all the protein your body needs.
Not only do meat and dairy products provide inadequate nutrition, they also have a whole host of nastiness within them which people tend to know a little about but seem reluctant to do anything about.
Part 2 of 'achieve health goals?' will be posted soon.