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Why I Am Not a Vegetarian
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By Dr. William T. Jarvis
Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 1997
Publication Date: April 1, 1997
Vegetarianism has taken on a "political correctness" comparable to the respectability it had in the last century, when many social and scientific progressives advocated it. Today, crusaders extol meatless eating not only as healthful but also as a solution to world hunger and as a safeguard of "Mother Earth." The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) aggressively attacks the use of animal foods and has proposed its own food-groups model, which excludes all animal products.
I disclaimed vegetarianism after many years of observance. Although the arguments in favor of it appear compelling, I have learned to be suspicious, and to search for hidden agendas, when I evaluate claims of the benefits of vegetarianism. Vegetarianism is riddled with delusional thinking from which even scientists and medical professionals are not immune.
Don't get me wrong: I know that meatless diets can be healthful, even desirable, for some people. For example: (a) Men with an iron-loading gene are better off without red meat, because it contains heme iron, which is highly absorbable and can increase their risk of heart disease. (b) Because vegetarian diets are likely to contain less saturated fat than nonvegetarian diets, they may be preferable for persons with familial hypercholesterolemia. (c) Vegetables contain phytochemicals that appear protective against colorectal cancer. (d) Homocysteinemia (elevated plasma homocysteine) approximately doubles the risk of coronary artery disease. Several congenital and nutritional disorders, including deficiencies of vitamins B6 and B12 and folic acid, can cause this condition. Since folic acid occurs mostly in vegetables, low intakes of the vitamin are less likely among vegetarians than among nonvegetarians. (e) Some people find that being a vegetarian helps to control their weight. Vegetarianism tends to facilitate weight control because it is a form of food restriction; and in our overfed society, food restriction is a plus unless it entails a deficit of some essential nutrient.
However, one need not eliminate meat from one's diet for any of the foregoing reasons. Apparently, it is ample consumption of fruits and vegetables, not the exclusion of meat, that makes vegetarianism healthful....
Originally posted by MidnightDStroyer
Also consider that, if you happen to put any credibility in the Theory of Evolution, that our ape-like ancestors diverged from the other primate species because of an increase of animal proteins in their diet.
Our most distant ancestors, like other primates, did have a limited intake of animal proteins (insects!) but never started to evolve larger brains until we supplemented protein intake with scavenged animal meat. As brains grew larger, we began to observe & puzzle out the Natural Laws so that we could make the jump from prey to predator, actively stalking animals for food.
As brains grew bigger yet, we began to diverge from our root-species even more. Some would think that homo sapiens sapiens is the "chief product" of those past millions of years of evolution, but as long as we keep sufficient meats in our diet we'll continue to evolve (assuming we don't destroy ourselves first).
One can spot ideologic vegetarians by their exaggerations of the benefits of vegetarianism, their lack of skepticism, and their failure to recognize (or their glossing over of) the potential risks even of extreme vegetarian diets. Ideologic vegetarians make a pretense of being scientific, but they approach the subject of vegetarianism more like lawyers than scientists. Promoters of vegetarianism gather data selectively and gear their arguments toward discrediting information that is contrary to their dogma. This approach to defending a position is suitable for a debate, but it cannot engender scientific understanding.