Why Not Vegan?

Veganism. Pure and simple. An approach to health and lifestyle that embodies ethics, morality and all that is righteous. Why then, am I bothered by some of it? I get the idea of avoiding animal products and bi-products: flesh, bone, blood, skin, fur, milk and eggs. I get the idea that people are concerned about the ethical treatment of animals, caring for the environment and the health and nutritional well-being of humanity. I get that. What I don’t get is how vegans can promote this lifestyle while also promoting the production of plastic, non-biodegradable products like shoes and fake fur. Vegan opposition to the use of leather, seems to have limited, healthy alternatives.

We are out of control creating plastic clothing. Sure, some of it is made from recycled plastic bags, but once it gets a hole in it, or becomes rank from sweat not really “wicked” away, these garments head to the landfill or incinerator. Just like any other plastic, they emit pollutants when burned, and one has to believe that they may well emit toxic fumes in stable form.  Perhaps the alternatives for vegans should not be plastic based products, but rather a support of companies that ethically produce leather, wool and cotton. In the long run, these are better for the environment than petroleum or plastics as they are completely compostable.

I also don’t get the vegan promotion of processed foods like meat and cheese alternatives. Some of these things come from reputable food companies and are natural or organic, but many of these products are loaded with salt and preservatives. They are far from healthy.

I’m a vegetarian because I think the idea of eating an animal’s flesh is disgusting – for me. It’s a personal thing kind of like not liking tomatoes. I may not want to eat meat, but I don’t mind if other people do. In fact, I favor the continued cultural practices of animal husbandry. I believe animals are helpful to humans and should be ethically and morally used to those ends. I believe in the family farm with horses, cows, chickens, and sheep. I believe these animals benefit from the kind care and attention of their owners, and their owners benefit from the bi-products these animals create: meat, milk, eggs and wool. If I did eat meat, I would be very selective about the meat I was choosing. I would want to know that it was grass-fed, not full of hormones, and from an animal that was treated respectfully. And, when choosing dairy or buying clothing, I buy from companies that are using ethical practices.

The last reason I am not vegan, my papa is a bee-keeper – brave man that he is! The photos below were taken in 1975 when a colony of honey bees made a home for themselves in the St. Charles Post Office, and my father, the local bee-keeper was called to remove them. I guess it’s all in your perspective as to whether bee-keeping is ethical, but just like the bears, we humans love the honey.

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Che Guevara’s Grandaughter Posing Nude for Vegetarians!

Join the vegetarian revolution will be first launched in Buenos Aires PETA is very serious about pushing vegetarianism, and it looks like their new campaign might just convince a few of our meat eating men! Have you noticed that it’s women who tend to prefer vegetarian diets? I wonder if there is something genetic or scientific about that? Read the full article in Mercopress. I love it!

http://en.mercopress.com/2009/06/19/che-guevaras-granddaughter-to-pose-nude-for-vegetarian-diet

From the Huffington Post

by Kathy Freston

Author, Health and Wellness Expert
Posted: June 11, 2009 01:34 PM

Going through the comments of some of my recent posts, I noticed the frequently stated notion that eating meat was an essential step in human evolution. While this notion may comfort the meat industry, it’s simply not true, scientifically.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus at Cornell University and author of The China Study, explains that in fact, we only recently (historically speaking) began eating meat, and that the inclusion of meat in our diet came well after we became who we are today. He explains that “the birth of agriculture only started about 10,000 years ago at a time when it became considerably more convenient to herd animals. This is not nearly as long as the time [that] fashioned our basic biochemical functionality (at least tens of millions of years) and which functionality depends on the nutrient composition of plant-based foods.”

That jibes with what Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine President Dr. Neal Barnard says in his book, The Power of Your Plate, in which he explains that “early humans had diets very much like other great apes, which is to say a largely plant-based diet, drawing on foods we can pick with our hands. Research suggests that meat-eating probably began by scavenging–eating the leftovers that carnivores had left behind. However, our bodies have never adapted to it. To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems.”

There is no more authoritative source on anthropological issues than paleontologist Dr. Richard Leakey, who explains what anyone who has taken an introductory physiology course might have discerned intuitively–that humans are herbivores. Leakey notes that “[y]ou can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand…. We wouldn’t have been able to deal with food source that required those large canines” (although we have teeth that are called “canines,” they bear little resemblance to the canines of carnivores).

In fact, our hands are perfect for grabbing and picking fruits and vegetables. Similarly, like the intestines of other herbivores, ours are very long (carnivores have short intestines so they can quickly get rid of all that rotting flesh they eat). We don’t have sharp claws to seize and hold down prey. And most of us (hopefully) lack the instinct that would drive us to chase and then kill animals and devour their raw carcasses. Dr. Milton Mills builds on these points and offers dozens more in his essay, “A Comparative Anatomy of Eating.”

The point is this: Thousands of years ago when we were hunter-gatherers, we may have needed a bit of meat in our diets in times of scarcity, but we don’t need it now. Says Dr. William C. Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology, “Although we think we are, and we act as if we are, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us, because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores.”

Sure, most of us are “behavioral omnivores”–that is, we eat meat, so that defines us as omnivorous. But our evolution and physiology are herbivorous, and ample science proves that when we choose to eat meat, that causes problems, from decreased energy and a need for more sleep up to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Old habits die hard, and it’s convenient for people who like to eat meat to think that there is evidence to support their belief that eating meat is “natural” or the cause of our evolution. For many years, I too, clung to the idea that meat and dairy were good for me; I realize now that I was probably comforted to have justification for my continued attachment to the traditions I grew up with.

But in fact top nutritional and anthropological scientists from the most reputable institutions imaginable say categorically that humans are natural herbivores, and that we will be healthier today if we stick with our herbivorous roots. It may be inconvenient, but it alas, it is the truth.

Why People Choose Vegetarianism

Food Guide Pyramid

From the Harvard School of Public Health

Have you seen one of the new food guide pyramids? I find them interesting because where meat and legumes and dairy products once shared space, now legumes are moving into their own, and meat and dairy products are moving closer to the top of the pyramid.

Americans can sure talk the talk about healthy eating as it has become painfully obvious that we are overweight and often ill because of our diets. People are beginning to hear that we need to exercise more, eat less saturated fat and sweets and eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. My question: how come our restaurants don’t reflect that trend? If we’re supposed to eat meat less than daily, why are meat entrees taking up the bulk of the menus? I know, I know, when people go out to eat they want something different; something special. They don’t want to eat what they can easily prepare at home. Does that sound familiar? It’s my same issue – I want to eat fabulous food, I want to eat something different, but as a vegetarian, there’s little to choose from in the first place. I am hoping as people continue to develop a more sophisticated healthy living palate, more restaurants will cater to us!

People want to be vegetarian because it’s a healthy choice.