“There is no life without death. All living things eat and are eaten. A food system without animals could cause more harm than good. Well-raised beef is a healthy, sustainable and ethical food.”Diana Rodgers, Sustainable Dish.
In the second part of my series looking at the vegan and vegetarian diet, I wanted to look at some common myths out there and offer a different perspective.
Just like in my last post, most of this information has been provided by The Weston A Price Foundation. You can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org or www.westernaprice.org for more information. I have also included some information from Diana Rodgers from Sustainable Dish (www.sustainabledish.com). I recommend you look her up if you’re keen to explore a more balanced.
All the hungry could be fed if grazing land were cultivated for crops.
TRUTH: Only about 11% of the land on earth can be farmed, a percentage that cannot be increased without deforestation, irrigation, chemical fertilizers, and other destructive ecological practices.
Meat consumption contributes to famine and depletes the Earth’s natural resources.
TRUTH: Properly carried out through managed grazing, animal husbandry builds soil fertility and restores deficiencies created through grain production. One billion people on the earth depend exclusively on animal foods for survival. Small mixed use farms are the answer for personal and planetary health.
Livestock is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
TRUTH: Only a small percentage of atmospheric methane comes from ruminant flatulence; the largest source is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. A surprising source is emissions from wetlands. Raising animals on pasture is the most efficient way of pulling carbon from the atmosphere and returning it to the soil.
Beef production requires 2500 gallons of water per pound of beef.
TRUTH: This figure is widely quoted by vegetarians without supporting evidence. The beef industry estimates that a pound of beef requires 435 gallons of water, mostly for grain production to feed the animal. Pasture-raised beef requires only the water that the animal drinks, which works out to about 30 gallons of water per pound of beef, about the amount used in one shower. By contrast, it takes 500 gallons of water to grow the wheat for one pound of bread.
Vegetarians are not involved in killing animals.
TRUTH: About 300 animals per acre are killed for the production of grain – often in gruesome ways (think combine harvesters). Only one animal per acre is killed for the production of beef. People who fly, drive, play string instruments, talk on the phone and take part in many other ordinary activities also rely on animal products, which are used in the manufacture of hydraulic brake fluid, plastics, waxes, glues, household items and many other products.
The China Study found that people who ate more plant foods were healthier.
TRUTH: What’s said in the best selling book The China Study does not match the findings of the actual China-Cornell-Oxford Study, in which researchers found no correlation with more or less disease in people eating a lot of plant food.
Vegetarianism protects against cancer.
TRUTH: The science on this is inconsistent and contradictory at best. Vegetarians are particularly prone to cancers of the nervous system and the reproductive organs. Soy, a staple in many vegetarian diets, can cause, contribute to and accelerate the growth of some caners, particularly breast cancer and thyroid cancer.
Eating meat causes heart disease
TRUTH: Vegetarians have as much atherosclerosis as meat eaters and higher levels of homocysteine. Heart disease is associated with consumption of trans fats, refined vegetable oils and sugar, all of which come from plants.
The human body is not designed for meat consumption
TRUTH: Humans are equipped with a mixed feeder’s teeth and digestive system. The intestinal tract of a human being is more like that of a dog than a sheep. Animals that live on plant foods do not manufacture hydrochloric acid, have from two to four stomachs, and a longer intestinal tract than humans.
Meat rots in the gut
TRUTH: The human digestive system is perfectly designed to digest meat, starting with a stomach that produces hydrochloric acid for digesting meat proteins. Enzymes in the small intestine break down proteins into peptides, which the body absorbs through the gut wall.
Eating animal flesh causes violent, aggressive behaviour in humans.
TRUTH: There is no science to support this claim. However, we do know that vegetarian diets lower serum cholesterol, and low cholesterol is associated with violent and anti-social behaviour in humans, monkeys and dogs.
A vegetarian diet is safe for children.
TRUTH: Some children can grow well on vegetarian diets rich in dairy products from pastured cows and eggs from pastured chickens. Children bought up on vegan diets have poorer bone health and reduced mental capacity compared to children brought up on diets containing animal food. Rampant tooth decay in the baby teeth is common among children born to and breasfed by vegan mothers.
Animal products are unhealthy because they contain numerous harmful toxins.
TRUTH: All foods contain toxins if raised with pesticides and herbicides. The nutrients we get from animal foods, such as vitamins A and B12, sulfur and zinc, help the body to detoxify.
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