Take it or leave it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


A brief addendum to yesterday's post in which we elucidated the cons of including dairy foods in the diet.
A reductionist approach often falls short of the mark as a solution to anything. Whittling away specific foods and emphasizing particular nutrients is not the means to achieve dietary excellence. Let's keep in mind the big picture. I am reminded of the story of the 10 blind men, each of whom touches a different part of an elephant. When asked to describe the animal, each man bases his view on the portion of the animal he touched, mistaking the body part for the whole. The elephant is smooth as a tusk, or bristly as a whisker, rough as hide, etc. We can't judge a whole by its parts, and should avoid losing the forest for the trees.

The main purpose of eating is to derive nutrition. If you take pleasure in eating healthful food, so much the better. The closer a food is to the ultimate energy source (the sun) the more energy-rich it is, obviously. Leafy greens are closest, as they convert the sun's rays to sugars present in their fruits, while animals that eat greens and animals that eat other animals represent a very attenuated energy source. Humans are designed to derive fuel from carbohydrates, with enzymes in the saliva for this purpose, and our 30-foot long digestive tracks have a heavy dependence on fiber to move food through the gut. On the other hand, cats and other animals are obligate carnivores. Their systems require high-protein diets and can do without fiber and sugars, which if eaten in excess can give them diabetes. And what happens when you give Whiskers cows milk? She develops diarrhea and skin irritation.

But we are not cats. Our digestive anatomy is identical to the primates (apes), who share 95% of our DNA. And what do apes eat? In the wild, over half of the primate diet is devoted to sweet fruit, as the breakthrough research conducted by paleoanthropologist Jane Goodall has shown, with the remainder derived mainly from leafy green vegetables, a small portion of seeds, and perhaps an insect or two. And the occasional pig. It is true that chimps infrequently engage in hunting; however, meat accounts for under 5 percent of the primate diet and shouldn't be viewed as an example of what to do but rather of what NOT to do. After all, chimps are animals, while humans should aspire to transcend our bestial nature and approach the divine. Don't you think? And what happens to the apes in the zoo? When given a diet high in grains, they develop heart disease and diabetes, just like humans do. So it seems that neither animal foods nor grains should make up a portion of the human diet.

But even if meat were the most nutritious food on the planet, and  humans were designed to eat exclusively animal products, would this justify inflicting pain on another being and violently ending its life? Are animals not sentient beings like ourselves? Do they not feel pain, scream, shed blood and have nerve endings that are in some cases more sensitive than even our own? (The pig, for example, is very sensitive.) Yes. Should we therefore terrorize them? No, not even if they were the most nutritious food.
So we should follow in the footsteps of our furry-chested cousins - who follow the dictates of instinct rather than fancy multi-million dollar marketing ploys like those of McDonald's and milk - and emphasize sweets, greens and seeds, and taking it a step further let's shun animal foods altogether in place of legumes/beans which are hearty, high in protein, and nutritious - all that meat/eggs/dairy wishes it could be.

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