There are countless approaches to eating which are based on visceral, feelings-driven, and even imaginary sets of beliefs. Fruitarians eat nothing but fruits, nuts and seeds, without meat, vegetables or grain. Some fruitarians believe this was the original diet of Adam and Eve from the Bible, thinking that a return to the food of Eden will in turn lead to a perfect life. This didn’t work out so well for Ashton Kutcher, as he prepared for his role as Fruitarian, Steve Jobs. Believe it or not, Breatharians claim that food and water aren’t necessary, that it’s possible to live merely on sunlight. There have been no properly documented successes, and many have died trying to prove it. Nonetheless, there are many famous breatharians with a dedicated following. Perhaps the most unnatural and unhealthy, is the modern processed food diet. While DailyFitCoach advises replacing processed food with nutrient dense vegetables and meat, still another set of rules applies to those who practice veganism.
The DailyFitCoach community is, by design, a science-based community. We look for evidence from preagricultural/prehistoric time, to better understand the physical, biological, and chemical conditions that presided over evolutionary adaptations in humans and their most recent hominin ancestors. In addition to the fact that our current genome was forged, largely, prior to recent (≈10,000 years) changes in diet and physical activity, a boundless heap of science validates the idea that some pre-Neolithic behaviors, when put into practice, conspire to prevent modern disease. This should not suggest that we have stopped evolving, nor that all modern foods should be avoided, simply because early man didn’t eat them. The notion that there is one ideal diet, is largely illusory. In fact, the ideal diet exists as an exhaustive array of food combinations, and is quite adjustable, as food tolerances vary from person to person. Someone sensitive to nightshades or peanuts will have to abstain from these things in order to avoid allergic or inflammatory response. There’s no such thing as a pure Paleo diet, because many foods from that period are no longer available. Additionally, foods like grubs, lizards, insects, and bark aren’t much desired any more. What we’re essentially trying to accomplish, is a dietary macro/micronutrient profile, that uses available food sources and promotes optimal health.
It’s argued (mostly by vegans) that veganism is a highly compassionate and healthy approach to the human diet. To them, the practice of killing an animal for food is unacceptable and wrong. That belief, although in direct opposition to the observable arrangement of nature, may be a healthy plan, if only for the adherent’s conscience. It’s clear that veganism, when practiced intelligently, surpasses the typical processed foods diet, in terms of wellness and disease prevention, but is it really compassionate? Is it compassionate to demand the import of so much Quinoa that the Bolivian and Peruvian communities that have farmed this grain-like seed for generations are forced to eat cheap processed foods? Affluent Americans are, “compassionately,” driving the prices up, with their aberrant cravings for food sources that attempt to replace meat. Quinoa, like most seeds, was NOT a large part of our ancient diet, as it contains inflammatory saponins which must be removed to make the seeds edible. Soy, another vegan favorite, is likewise, inedible unless processed first. The Natural World/Universe/God has provided a straightforward source of amino acids, and it comes with healthy fats, Vitamin B12 and K2.
Unfortunately, these food sources, like us, have big eyes, which give the impression that they’re conveying sadness, grief, and other emotional reactions. Like us, they vocalize, in order to keep their young nearby and to signal danger. Like us, they scream and flail when they are provoked or traumatized. Be that as it may, they do not consider their place in the world, like we do. They don’t dream of a future, gilded with awareness and adorned with Universal peace, like we do. No, most vertebrates are running on pure instinct. They lack the large neo frontal cortex which has blessed/cursed humans with the egoic notion of, “Me.” Their suffering, while neurochemically, and symptomatically similar to ours, is not the same. For a cow, there’s no regret at not having lived a rich, full life. A chicken doen’t experience a flash of childhood memories, nor images of its children’s faces, as it is escorted to the guillotine. I don’t mean to diminish the realness of an animal’s pain, when it is slaughtered on a ranch, dispatched in the woods, or savagely torn to pieces by a predatory animal. Pain is an unpleasant experience for any creature with pain receptors, and evolution has made it clear that pain (and death) should be desperately avoided. I think it’s important to understand, however, that they likely experience the suffering of that pain differently than we do. To assume their experience is the same as ours, is to arrogantly and egotistically (remember that neo frontal cortex?) anthropomorphize an animal, and, in doing so, we exhibit a failure of human perception. The fallacy occurs when humans transfer the human experience of grief, despair, misery, onto the animal’s experience of pain, discomfort, and distress.
Vegan = Compassionate?
Is it compassionate to clear vast fields for agriculture, while killing, maiming and displacing hundreds of small rodents, snakes, etc? In Australia:
At least 100 mice are killed per hectare per year (500/4 × 0.8) to grow grain. Average yields are about 1.4 tonnes of wheat/hectare; 13% of the wheat is useable protein. Therefore, at least 55 sentient animals die to produce 100kg of useable plant protein: 25 times more than for the same amount of rangelands beef. Is there some way to compare the value of sentient creatures? In my opinion, my bodily health and that of my fellow humans is of equal (if not greater) value to a mouse or a cow. Perhaps I’m exhibiting a clannish species-bias, but, hey, I’m only human. Certainly, the meat-production industry is no shining model of our humanity, and in reality, is among the most savage industries to have ever existed. Even as millions upon millions of insects, rodents, rabbits, birds, reptiles, toads are sucked from their natural home and maimed, mauled or killed by a tractor combine, the vegan response, here, is typically, “We’re not killing them intentionally.” This is an undeserved presumption of innocence and another human logic fallacy. As long as there can be a denial of guilt, the outcome doesn’t matter.
As a young boy, I caught, killed, cleaned, cooked, and ate a brook trout. I didn’t enjoy killing the animal, but it made sense. I was simply taking life and turning it into new life. The fish suffered very briefly, and my family and I received life-giving nourishment. It was a sacred exchange that is as old as time, itself. At around the same age, I unintentionally rode over a snake with a lawnmower. It survived, its once smooth, lithe body, now mangled and angular, bleeding and writhing. I killed it quickly to end its pain. (I did not eat it.) The similarities to harvesting fields of vegetables should be obvious, as a nice looking grass yard was gotten for the cost of a sentient vertebrate. I imagine it would have been a more emotionally casual experience, had someone else been paid to cut the lawn and handle the snake situation. This is just as we prefer to maintain an air of ignorance, while farmers do the foul, dishonorable acts involved in cultivating animals for meat. I realize that I’ve demonstrated a certain amount of what appears to be self-contradiction, in this article, but matters such as these are seldom cut and dry.
There are as many beliefs about nutrition and wellness, as there are about religion and politics. Often, such deeply held belief systems are reinforced by tradition, collective consensus, and emotional conviction, rather than science. Basically, we ignore facts and overestimate the value of our feelings. I admit that, although I make every effort to avoid it, I am as susceptible to confirmation bias as anyone. My intent, however, is to unravel and share science-based information regarding human disease prevention. I try to be very careful about giving suggestions that originate in sentiment or emotion, and wherever possible, use my own life as my experimental laboratory.
I can’t tell you how to feel about taking animals as food. I can only share my experiences and research on the topic. The fact is that, as omnivores, by definition, we should be open to the idea of eating plants AND animals. As intelligent, health conscious folks, we should follow Michael Pollan’s advice, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” As conscientious, spiritual beings, who hope to heal ourselves, each other, and this world, we must continue to search the depths of our hearts and minds for the wisdom and guidance to live, in accordance with our highest self. Only you, in moments of clarity and prudence, know which path to follow.
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