Veganism was once a fringe diet associated with tree hugging, sandal wearing health food store shopping type, it has since became popular amongst many celebrities(Jay Z and Beyonce two of the most famous), urban hipsters to college students, suburban mothers thus the mainstream.
Judging by the growing number of post on social media, everyone one seems to be jumping on the vegan bandwagon, and there’s a growing number of businesses looking to capitalize off this trend.
I spoke to my brother, a few weeks ago, and he and his wife too decided to go vegan. His reason? “It’s healthier.” He went on to state how much healthier he’s felt since he’s given up meat. I suggested to him the reason he might be feeling better is because of the simple fact that he’s eating a lot more nutritionally dense food since becoming a health conscious, but like most people that adopt an idea or belief, he completely disregarded my challenging questions that went against his newly adopted life style.
Better health is generally the #1 reason people give for going vegan.
Animal advocacy groups like People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) are responsible for such claims as“Eating meat is one of the biggest health hazards today.” which has also contributed to people believing that a vegan diet is healthier option.
In the age of fake news and alternative facts, I’ve learned to reserve a healthy amount skepticism of any new ideas, beliefs, or trends especially when it comes to diets that are being promoted by celebrities (the grapefruit diet anybody?).
The purpose of this article is not to try to deter anybody from adopting a vegan diet. I’m not going to hit you with facts on why veganism is not optimal for a completely healthy diet, because there’s plenty of articles that are written by more experienced writers that have a more vested interest in winning people to their side of the argument, then I do. What I will do is ask some questions that I hope will encourage people to think critically not just about the veganism, but any diet that’s being promoted by anybody as the most optimal. I’ll provide you with real world samples of peoples that have traditionally sustained themselves on the very diet that vegans claim lead to a wide host of illnesses and disease.
5 Questions to ask yourself before deciding to go vegan:
- Why am I considering this diet?
- How’s my current diet? Am I currently following a balanced diet?
- What are the benefits being touted by those promoting said diet?
- What are the research backing the claims made of this particular diet?
- Am I open to hearing both sides of the arguments for the diet, and am I willing to do my own independent research?
4 Groups of people that eat primarily meat.
- The Maasai, Samburu, and Rendille tribes living in Kenya and Northern Tanzania: There diet consist of cow’s milk, beef and cattle blood, and a few vegetables and fruit mixed in. Researchers examined 600 living Masai men, with more than half of whom were over 40 years old, and found that only one of them had ever had a heart attack. They then went on to collect and examine the hearts of 50 Maasai men that died over the age of 60, and despite finding “fatty streaks” and some cholesterol deposits inside of their arteries, there were no cases of heart attack.
- The Kung ( also spelled ǃXun) living in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, Botswana and in Angola: They consume most hunted game, veggies and fruits. They are also known to consume a mongongo nut. A 100-gram serving of these nuts contains 9.69 grams of saturated fat, similar to what you’d find in the same serving of full-fat ground beef. A study performed in 1977 on the Kung concluded “they show little or no obesity, dental caries, high blood pressure or coronary heart disease; their blood lipid concentrations are very low; and they can live to a good old age if they survive infections or accidents.”
- Inuit and Yupik (Eskimo’s): Inhabit Northern Canada, Alaska, Green Land, and Siberia. Because of the lack of vegetation in their Arctic terrain their diets consist of seal, whale, fish, mollusks, reindeer, moose, and caribou. “Researchers found that the incidence of heart disease among Point Hope residents was ten times lower than in the general Caucasian population of the United States. Not only that — their triglyceride levels (levels of fat in the bloodstream) averaged 85 mg/dL, whereas the average U.S. triglyceride levels at that time averaged over 100 mg/dL.”
- Mongols: are an East-Central Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia and China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. primarily consists of dairy products, meat, and animal fats. Use of vegetables and spices are limited.
The life expectancy of the people mentioned is low compared to western civilization, only because of parasites, viruses, bacteria, infant mortality, and death from pregnancy. Those that mange to avoid those maladies are generally healthier than the average American.
If meat, saturated fat and cholesterol are supposed to cause heart disease, and if colorful, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are supposed to protect us from heart disease, why didn’t these people, who were eating much more meat and far less plant food than most of us ever will, suffer from heart disease and all of the health problems we associate with heart disease risk, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and high triglycerides?
What’s not surprising is when the traditional people did consume a diet of industrial grain products (particularly white flour), sugar, industrial vegetable oil and other processed food, they did show signs of adverse health effects.
In the 1972 paper a particular quote stood out to me:
“We believe… that the Muran (the 15–20 year period that Masai men serve as warriors) escapes some noxious dietary agent for a time. Obviously, this is neither animal fat nor cholesterol. The old and the young Masai do have access to such processed staples as flour, sugar, confections and shortenings through the Indian dukas scattered about Masailand. These foods could carry the hypothetical agent.”
You can safely conclude that it’s the consumption of processed foods, not meat, that increases the likely hood of developing adverse health illnesses and diseases.
So much of the claims made by vegans about cholesterol, meat and animal foods ignore the bulk of recent research.
I can’t claim to know what an optimal health is, but I do hope to encourage people to remain skeptical of any diet passing itself as optimal.
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