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Meatless Meals Benefit Your Health

A ''Flexitarian'' Diet Meets in the Middle

84 Comments




 
6/28/2010 5:09:55 PM

BARBBF's SparkPage
Even though they are not the healthiest of choices....I'll pick MorningStarFarms anything, any day over hamburger patties laced with ammonia, or chickens feed with arsenic in their feed. It would be interesting if one were able to compare MSF entrees when it was still a relatively small company..before it was purchased by Kellogg's...
4/28/2010 1:04:25 PM

MAESTRAKARINE's SparkPage
Thanks for the reminder that not all meat "substitutes" are healthy. We also need to be careful that we don't eat a disproportionate amount of carbs. Many meatless meals include loads of pasta and/or rice.
CEANNCAIT
4/24/2010 4:17:41 PM

I'm quite surprised this article mentions vegetarian soy-based cold cuts and meat replacements as though they are healthy options. They are absolutely *loaded* with chemicals and highly processed. Just because something doesn't have meat in it doesn't automatically make it good for you (check out the label on a Morningstar Farms burger one of these days...I can't even pronounce half the ingredients). My family are "flexitarians" (what a silly word) and try to get the meat we do eat from local farmers who raise it in a humane and responsible way. All things in moderation.
13WIDOW
3/17/2010 11:35:11 AM

I'm passing on all the info about cleaning green. I also buy borax or 20-mule team borax at least once a year and sprinkle it on my carpets, working it in with a broom, as well as sprinkle it out in the yard. We're the only house in the neighborhood with no flea, tick or roach problems (we live by a park)!
3/10/2010 4:58:09 PM

SPARKYJEANIE1's SparkPage
I am loving this article...I had already been doing my version of "Meatless Mondays" here at work, where about 2-3 days out of the week, I'll pack a meatless lunch. I didn't really do it intentionally, but it just so happens I love tofu and veggies. Great advice, and I think this wknd I'll whip myself up a batch of meatless chili loaded with veggies. Thanks!!
2/27/2010 8:15:59 PM

DBCLARINET's SparkPage
Are there people who think they need meat at every meal? Yes. Yes, there are. People like me who, after trying full-blown veganism for "health reasons" and found only weight gain and bloating, did a lot of research and ended up switching to a diet modeled after our hunter-gatherer ancestors. That means that, instead of meat, I've cut out grains, sugars, legumes, and dairy, and eat a diet of meat, fruit, vegetables, and nuts. You know that advice about sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store? That's me, to the most extreme level.

Of the two options, veggies and meat or veggies and grains, I get more nutrients eating veggies and meat. Grains just don't have nutritional value for humans. If they did, grains wouldn't have been fortified with minerals at the turn of the 20th century so people would stop coming down with diseases like scurvy! If they did, then Total cereal wouldn't need to fortify with 100% of your daily value of everything under the sun! A human should be able to get proper nutrition *without* supplementation, and to do that, one needs a diet with meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Of course, one also needs to be open to eating organ meats and such, and, well, that's definitely a touchy subject...

So, yes, actually there is an entire philosophy out there that centers around primarily meat and vegetables, followed by some fruits and nuts. But by the same token, there are actually people who can follow the Paleo diet and still be vegetarian or even vegan. They are not mutually exclusive, you'll just be eating a lot more nuts and perhaps some cheese.

I would like to also say that, as an avid meat-eater, I still eat WAY more fresh vegetables than the average vegetarian! How's that for irony?

Now, playing my own devil's advocate, I will admit that for people who just generally eat an unhealthy diet, throwing in a vegetarian meal can be an excellent way to get the vegetables that they otherwise are shunning. But please, pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease DON'T take it as an open invitation to eat platefuls of pasta with jarred tomato sauce. That's no better, in the end.

It's about whole foods in their natural form, whatever diet you choose.
EM_ORTIZ
2/10/2010 11:27:11 PM

Yes, the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine is a front group for PETA (as a vegan who takes animal rights seriously, I hate PETA), but that doesn't mean that the individuals in the group haven't done massive, peer-reviewed studies of nutrition and plant-based diets.

How about taking the word of the World Health Organization, American Dietetic Association & the British Medical Association, all of which say that well-planned vegan, vegetarian & omnivorous diets can all be healthy, in all stages of life? Anecdotal evidence is not much compared to three of the largest, most respected medical organizations in the world.

Secondly, there is enough food in the world for our current population. Much food is stored by governments & organizations to keep it at a set price, and "extras" are destroyed. Additionally, 1/3rd of the world's food crops go to feed animals, much of which they shouldn't be eating in the first place and some of which could also be going to feed humans (a very small percentage, though as was pointed out). There will be a problem if we grow more, but that has to do with a lot of factors, including pollution run off from farms where animals are kept.
2/10/2010 8:52:49 PM

CAMELSAMBA's SparkPage
I'm always baffled by the thought that there are people who think they need meat for every meal (or every lunch and dinner). Do these people really exist? If not, then how do articles like this ("leave the meat out of your lunches") get written? I don't consider myself a vegetarian, and I doubt I would claim the moniker of 'flexitarian', but we probably only eat meat at 2 or 3 dinners per week (and very rarely at lunch, unless it's in leftovers). I never considered it to be a big deal!
2/10/2010 5:57:17 PM

SUZIB123's SparkPage
I enjoyed the article. Last year we decided to give up meat. I found it very difficult to get my protein in, so we added fish to our diet. This is called Pes-cu-tarian. I like when we have guest over and I can grill shrimp. I like having crab-legs, lobster or any type of fish. We don't eat fish everyday. Fresh vegetables, fruit, beans, rice, pasta and bread all help us balance our diet.
EM_ORTIZ
2/10/2010 5:21:45 PM

I really don't understand why the word "flexitarian" is needed. It's not everyone who isn't vegetarian/vegan goes around eating only eating animal products. Everyone eats (or could eat) food that a vegetarian/vegan would eat. Vegetarians and especially vegans are making a moral standpoint by choosing to eat what they do, whereas everyone is trying to wedge themselves into something that they're obviously not committed to.
2/10/2010 1:22:31 PM

4A-HEALTHY-BMI's SparkPage
Oops. Make that:

3 vegetable-based
2 dairy-based
2 animal-based

1) Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu
2) Poultry breast meat
3) Lean seafood (shrimp, tilapia, cod, light tuna, etc)
4) Whey protein powder (and/or egg white powder)
5) Nonfat Greek yoghurt or Skyr
6) Seitan
7) Textured Vegetable Protein
2/10/2010 1:20:56 PM

4A-HEALTHY-BMI's SparkPage
I eat a very high protein diet (usually around 45%) and four of my top seven lean protein sources are from soy or wheat. One is lean dairy, and only two actually come from animals (lean seafood and poultry breast).

I never would have thought that a high protein, low fat diet would actually push me in the direction of vegitarianism! LOL
2/10/2010 12:26:48 PM

JMFOGARTY11's SparkPage
There are 2 Laurel's Kitchen cookbooks - a version from the 70's and an updated one. They have great prefaces/essays about their lives and relationship to food and all the changes they went through. There used to be a PBS show ( I don't know if anyone remembers it...) called (I think) Cooking with Kathy...(Kathy Hoshijo sp?) and filmed in Hawaii. I learned alot about different and healthier ingredients from her. She made a chocolate pudding with tofu that looked really good. I don't know if any of her things are still available or not. It would be too bad if not. A couple of the many resources out there. Good luck, everyone!
2/10/2010 10:36:49 AM

MICSTILLINMO's SparkPage
It also helps to start with the question: What do I already eat that is vegetarian? Lots of "regular" meals are vegetarian - pb&j, tomato soup and grilled cheese, beans and rice, pasta and sauce, (some) chili and cornbread, etc.
We ate a purely vegetarian diet for quite a while then my husband started craving BBQ!! So, we are now flexitarians.
2/10/2010 2:58:54 AM

DANASEILHAN's SparkPage
The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine is a misnomer, not to mention a front group for PETA. While the desire to reduce animal suffering (it can never be fully eliminated any more than ours can) and to eliminate CAFO operations is noble, and I can get on board with those, hello? I'm an animal too. If it's animal abuse to feed corn and soybeans to a cow, for whom neither is a species-appropriate diet, it's surely animal abuse to tell people to eat a diet that isn't appropriate for them either.

You need saturated fat. It makes up a significant portion of your cell membranes and is a preferred fuel for the heart. (Source: Mary Enig, PhD, who's been studying this stuff her whole life and was sounding the alarm about trans fats in the *1950s*.) There are only a few plant sources of saturated fat which, while healthy, must be imported to most countries. You need cholesterol for everything from hormone production to vitamin D production to production of cardiotonic chemicals. You can't get the best bioavailable forms of vitamin K, vitamin B12, or iron from plant foods. While you *can* get enough protein from plants, you have to eat larger amounts of plant matter to get it and nearly all plant forms of protein are accompanied by starch, which is great if you aren't diabetic, but not so hot if you are.

You can't get vitamin A from plant foods at all. I don't care what it says on the nutritional label, there is not a single solitary plant out there that has vitamin A in it. Food packagers are permitted, and the USDA carries on the practice of, labeling plant foods with the amount of vitamin A you would get if you converted all the carotenes in that serving of food at an optimal level. Infants, children, most of the elderly, hypothyroid patients and diabetics can't make the conversion, among other groups, and healthy people's conversion of carotenes to A is notoriously inefficient.

On top of that, plants don't "like" to be eaten any more than animals do (and they are just as alive as animals are, thank you very much), but as they can't ambulate, they must defend themselves chemically. So, the vast majority of plant parts across all plant species contain some kind of toxin, enzyme inhibitor, or phytate that will make you sick immediately, make you sick in the long run, keep you from optimally digesting your food, or leach minerals out of your body. The field of paleopathology has shown that since the adoption of plant agriculture, every culture that's taken it up has seen its members be reduced in height and health status. Remains show greater numbers of bone lesions indicating disease states. The only skeletons from these cultures, in fact, that attain almost full height potential and are healthier are those of the elite, who would have had greater access to animal foods.

Also, a plant-based diet might be fine if there were only a couple million of us on earth and we were all hunter-gatherers (or just gatherers), but in order to sustain six billion people on plants alone, you would have to convert all the arable land to farmland and deplete it down to desert. Our world population is still growing, too. It's a misconception that land used for raising cattle could be used for soybeans--cattle can graze on lands that are completely unfit for farming. The same can be said of other animals raised for food purposes. Anyway, if we're that concerned about the use of arable land maybe it's time we started yelling at all the idiots building suburbs right on top of it. (Do you live in a burb that's on top of a former farm? Then don't yell at meat-eaters.)

I don't care what individual people want to eat; I'm not here to convert anyone. I'm here to provide a counterpoint to all this misinformation I see going around. See, I have personal experience with depending too heavily on plant foods and suffering the consequences. My diet has been grain-based for most of my life, and I made a foray into veganism five years ago. On top of that I have depended on beta-carotene for vitamin A for most of my life. Going on four years ago now I started having really heavy periods, so bad I had to stay home the first day or two and break out the rag bag. It finally ended early last year or so when I read something about the inefficiency of depending on the carotenes for A and decided to supplement with fish liver oil instead. Almost immediately my menstrual symptoms subsided. I can now tell when I haven't had enough vitamin A in a given month because I get extra-crampy the day before it starts. I wonder how many women have had to get hysterectomies because their doctors had no idea what was going on. Your average doctor knows near zero about nutrition--they barely get any education on the subject, which is why nutritionists and dieticians have jobs in the first place.

I've talked to someone who couldn't shake anemia without heme iron, which comes only from animal foods. I've experienced that I gain weight, not lose it, on a plant-based diet. I've known someone else who habitually runs low on B vitamins unless he eats beef on a regular basis. He suffered a meds injury last year causing occasional Parkinsons-like twitching, but since he started low-carbing this year, the symptoms have subsided.

You can't argue with personal experience. You *could* argue that the (temporary?) better health outcomes some people have experienced on vegan diets have arisen because those people dropped junk food. People who stubbornly retain a red meat-eating habit are more likely to eat junk out of apathy or spite than people who go vegetarian. I notice nobody ever really compares starch or sugar intake between the two groups. It might be interesting what they find.

Meanwhile... parting shot I guess... it is amazing that for all that vegans claim their lifestyle is about love of animals, funny how they are the group that is least in contact with said animals, out of fear of "exploiting" them. Something to ponder.

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