There is a great deal of commentary giving the idea that the "perfect" solution for the issues of animal mistreatment in commercial food production, and the general health of our population cis for the entire population to go Vegetarian/Vegan.
I can commissurate with the -idea-... after all, most people would say that it is easier to eat an apple without worrying about its level of comfort or consciousness than it is to eat Daisy the Cow or Clucky the Chicken where we have to ask ourselves whether it's ok to eat something that can look at us with its little eyes--we can almost -hear- the creature saying "Please don't eat me, Human Being".
However, there is a very serious practical matter involved in the idea that we can all just convert to vegeterian/vegan diets and solve the issues of bad animal hubandry in that manner. That practical matter is that human beings were never meant to exist without animal foods. Period.
With that being said, I -also- do not believe that people who are devoutly vegan or vegetarian should be forced to change their diets. If, for ethical, spiritual, or personal reasons, an individual chooses a vegetarian or vegan diet, xhe should certainly maintain hir choice and defend it fully FOR HIRSELF -- which does not include prosletyzing inaccurate information to push hir choices onto other people.
I think that it is time that we really consider the factual evidence of our existence, and start working to improve our animal husbandry skills, using the tools we have been able to develop over the years and the information we have learned about the incredible creatures who provide us with nourishment to enable us to care better for this valuable and precious resource. It is time to acknowledge the -facts- of science, without emotional attachment, and really determine the "natural" diet of man, and educate people about how to flourish through the elimination of processed, chemicalized, and imitation "foods" which are of no nutritional value to us whatsoever. It is also time to listen to our own bodies. I was a vegan for almost a decade, dealing with severe atopic dermatitis, Type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, immune-system failure, and crippling MS. It was only after my holistic neurologist recommended a change in diet that restored -my body- (through chemical analysis) to its balanced 'normal' state that my mobility (and my return to an active life) were assured. I lost almost 100 lbs in 8 months without dieting, and was able to return to a (very) active life, after most of my doctors had written me off and given me less than 2 years to live. Because of the experience, and the difficulty that I had in making the change after listening to -years- of people telling me that I should be perfectly healthy on a vegetarian diet, because human beings were never meant to eat animal products anyway, I started really looking at what we're teaching one another about food -and- about caring for the resources that will allow human beings to have healthy food as a fundamental right.
I also think that it is imperative that we take personal responsibilty for our own health and well being (and that of our children, should we choose to have children). I think that no amount of literature can determine whether we are as strong and vital as we wish to be, or whether our offspring are the picture of health on the diet that they're on, or whether we need to adjust to suit an individual nature that falls somewhere off the nutritional peak of the 'bell curve'. To me, it is vital that each of us learn what it takes to keep us at the level of health that is both acceptable to us on an ethical/moral level and functional for our bodies on a physical level.
The "Natural" Diet of Human Beings
For almost 30 years now, there have been people promoting the idea that human beings were, at some point in our development, vegetarians, and that meat-eating was a 'rescue' habit we developed during an extended period of drought/land failure. Setting aside the idea that, if we -were- genetically vegetarian as a species, such a period of drought/land failure would have resulted in our death as a species, because we would not be able to digest meat, there is still the issue that this information is fallacious. Peer reviewed studies going back to 1977 have made it clear that human beings were, first and foremost, meat eaters who -later in our development- added vegetables, fruits, and grains as our technology enabled us to be able to obtain some food value from these resources (1)... because you see, our primate and neolithic ancestors have been shown, through considerable research, to have eaten predominantly "meat-based" diets (2-3).
It has been noted in the literature that most of the food that we take for granted as being "edible" by humans requires a substantial investment in terms of energetic conversion. Most vegetables, roots, and grains must be cooked in order to be able to be used at -all- by the human digestive system. As most of our ancestors did not live in forests, but upon the savannahs, the primary source of non-animal food available to them would have been grass--which is wholly and completely indigestible by human beings. Even the seeds of grass (rice, wheat, etc.) must be either cooked or ground to be able to be digested in the human digestive system. Grains also require implements in order to be able to cook them -- something that human beings did not possess until ~7000 years ago. Therefore, it is impossible that human beings lived on grass and grains -- and the only alternative for the region and time period was that human beings were genetically adapted for, and sustained their lives through, the consumption of meat.(4-7)
In addition, there is substantial evidence that vegetarian diets do -not- provide complete nutrition for humans. Evidence of disease ranging from megaloblastic anemia to accute, pervasive malnutrition are regularly reported in the medical literature in societies that are predominantly vegetarian/vegan. In addition, there is new evidence coming to light that indicates that the removal of plant foods from the diet does -not- incite an increase in disease -- but that the converse is true. Adding large quantities of grains, beans, and roots to the diet has lasting consequence in terms of increased disease, especially for vulnerable populations... and in addition, may actually compromise the ability of the human brain to process and disseminate information and assure proper neural function. (7-18).
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