Spurred on by some nagging digestive issues I decided I would like to be a vegetarian again for the New Year. I even convinced my lovely girlfriend, Suzy, to try it with me for the first month. So far we have enjoyed a ton of amazing vegetarian cuisine but we have also “cheated” and eaten oysters and prawns. Last night I ordered some veggie Pho but soon realized it had beef broth in it. I shrugged and kept eating the very healthy bone broth without so much as a guilty thought. So are we bad vegetarians? Are we even allowed to call ourselves that if we have eaten animals every week so far?
A lot of people consider vegetarianism to be a endeavour of absolution where any slip up costs you the honour of the Veg title. What most people don’t know is that being a vegetarian is defined as getting the majority of your calories from plant sources and some circles consider 80% or higher to qualify you as such. 20% of your calories can come from animal sources and you are still a vegetarian? I like the sounds of that and for more than just silencing the annoying vegetarian purists and ignorant vegetarian critics. I like it because it is realistic, eliminates the need for supplementation, and makes sense in a sustainable world food strategy. You have probably heard the vegetarian doctrine that if we all ate nothing but plants there would be enough food for everyone 3 times over. My issue with this logic is the fact that without the constant migration of herd animals, much of the semi-arid land on our earth would be desert. In fact the decrease in population of many herd animals has been suggested to be a direct cause of desertification of many of these areas, and properly managed herding has reversed desertification and increased the productivity of those lands for both animals and plant crops. Watch this TED talk about it and prepare to have your mind blown:
So properly managed herd animals that are being raised for consumption will help increase our plant crop production while providing healthy meat with good fat composition in a cruelty free environment. Sound great doesn’t it? That is if we take the time to source out meat from farms that produce it in this way. Sadly most meat production in the western world puts profits in highest priority and we get factory farms and industrialized protein life support system production. I understand that there is a higher consumer cost associated with ethical and sustainable meat products, but when you tell me that you can only afford Costco/Wal-Mart meat, then go and spend hundreds of dollars on clothing a month I just can’t take you seriously. Splurge a little for the quality of the matter that will be converted into the body you will have for your entire life!
I am not here to show you gross pictures and guilt you into vegetarianism, a strategy from many activist groups that hurts more than it helps in my opinion. I am here to show you that you can be a vegetarian and still eat meat and you can still eat meat and support the betterment of our planet. It is about treating meat like a supplement that gives you a boost of high quality protein, iron, zinc, B12, and other vitamins and minerals hard to find in plants. It is about moving away from extremism in your diet and finding a balanced, real word strategy to fueling your life. Most of all it is about getting in touch with your food and understanding where and how it is produced. Keep a food journal, check out some local farms or butchers, and try some new recipes.
The difference I feel in energy levels, digestive health, and my physical performance is astounding, and it has only been three weeks since Suze and I started this journey. If you eat a lot of meat try minimizing your intake and focusing on better quality. You may be surprised how much better you feel and you will still get to enjoy that really awesome steak once a week instead of a couple mediocre steaks throughout the week.
Keep it real(istic)