It is my understanding that most vegetarians or vegans do it mainly for the environment or because they don’t like the idea of killing or mistreating animals.
Those principles are very noble, but I’ll explain why they often don’t make any sense if you think about the bigger picture. I wish I had this kind of information before jumping on a raw food diet of only fruits, vegetables and nuts a couple of years ago and greatly compromising my health.
The first big point I’d like to make is that I’m totally against animal cruelty and I think that the Paleo diet principles align very well with happy and well treated animals. Eating animals that have been well treated, well fed and let free to graze on pastures all day long will also be better for your health because the fat content will be much higher in Omega-3 and you will get the best quality protein without the traces of hormones and antibiotics of factory raised animals.
Who are we as a species, after all, to decide that we should break the natural food-chain? Nature works this way, so we shouldn’t try to mess with the natural order of things. Unfortunately, in order for one living organism to live, another has to die. It’s the natural circle of life and death.
Vegetarians and vegans have to get the bulk of their calories from other sources than meat and often end up eating larger portions of soy, wheat or other grain based products. Tofu, soy milk, breads, pastas, rice, … Those products are toxic and lead to a high carbohydrate load which could lead to chronically high insulin levels, weight gain and diabetes in the long run.
Of course, many vegetarians will instead lose weight, but my understanding is that they miss some highly bio-available meat protein and a lot of the nutrients available in much greater quantity in meat in a form that’s easily absorbed like iron or copper. Our digestive system is short and can’t digest cellulose and a more efficient digestive system is probably what gave us the chance to develop the bigger brain we enjoy today. Eating more nutrient-dense foods like meat and animal fat leaves more energy for other processes to happen.
Most herbivores have to eat slowly all day long and have a digestive system to digest cellulose by a fermentation process. This job often requires more than one stomach. Comparatively, most carnivores can eat more infrequently and will stay well fed for a much longer period of time after eating, This is a good thing because they can survive for a couple of days if they don’t make any kills for a while.
Next up is the fact that what’s destroying the environment more than anything right now is our industrial farming practices and especially the big mono-cultures like wheat, corn and soy. Agriculture is the industry that consumes the most oil if you think about all the machinery used and food transportation needed. Therefore, the importance of eating locally produced meat and locally grown vegetables and fruits, when available, is huge.
One great thing is that most meat produced naturally will come from local farmers either from your local butcher, your farmer’s market or directly from the farm if you choose to buy in bulk. The big advantage of this last option is that you’ll get the best quality and environmentally friendly meat for much cheaper per pound then grocery bought meat.
The importance of top soil in preserving the Earth
Top soil really is the basis of all life. Without it, there would be no other forms of life on earth. It’s a little bit like our digestive system that can’t work without its microorganisms. They are so many different microorganisms in just one shovel of top soil, we haven’t even begun to discover the greater part of them. Usually, without us to destroy it, the earth is in creation mode and there is more top soil year after year because of all the organic matter that dies and decomposes to form more top soil. Can you see the full circle of life and death here? In the end and in the grand scheme of things, new organic material is perpetually created even when some animals eat others.
Knowing that, it’s not wise to eat grains and grain derived products because most of the production of those grains is actually killing the top soil instead of feeding it. The soils become less and less fertile year after year. Most organic and animal friendly farms will try to produce with the help of the soil instead of against it.
Lastly, most of the animals we eat consume grass, we don’t. We instead can take our energy from the meat that was fed something we can’t eat. By growing crops of corn, wheat or soy where there would normally be grass, we destroy those animal’s natural feeding grounds in larger and larger portions. Those animals often can’t adapt to the ecosystem change and end-up dying. Therefore, eating lots of soy, wheat or corn based products indirectly kills more animals and top soil than eating a Paleo diet with lots of meat.
When you stop and look at the big picture here, it makes total sense, again, to follow our ancestors’ footsteps. After all, it’s only since the time of modern agriculture that we started to destroy the earth instead of feeding it.
I think that a lot of vegans and vegetarians probably see recreational hunters as maybe the worst type of animal killers out there. I see things very differently and I think those hunter are in fact doing exactly what nature intended for us to do. Eating game meat is even more environment friendly than naturally raised animals. Of course, we have to put up quotas to make sure we don’t kill too much of a specie. I think, however, that this issue comes from the fact that we changed the natural order of things a long time ago and overpopulated the earth while killing other species in large proportions with our agriculture. This is certainly food for thought (pun intended)!
I hope this article helped you see things in another perspective about eating meat and convinced you if you where on the fence about this whole issue.
If this subject interests you, I encourage you to dig deeper and read The Vegetarian Myth, available at Amazon. This is a really great book and has been an eye opener for many.