I gained a great deal of weight after my move here and found myself with very little motivation to exercise regularly. Of course, once I started to see myself in the mirror, I knew it was time to do something. I’ve lost a few pounds in the last few months and I didn’t really do much more than change my diet. Did I eliminate meat and saturated fat? Nope. I just ate less and cut out fried food. That was all it took to drop almost 15 lbs now.
Once, a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, told me that I should become a vegetarian. “Vegetarian’s are much healthier than carnivores,” she said matter of factly. “Look at me, I’m healthier than most people I know.”
I looked at her. All 5 feet, seven inches & 98 lbs of her, standing on the street, fighting a stiff wind by holding onto a stop sign. I imagine her “friends” whom I’ve met a few times. They’re all emaciated, really slow-witted, and tend to sleep a lot. They are the least healthy people I’ve ever met and I spent some time in third-world countries. One of her roommates (his name is Charles but goes by Che, like the revolutionary) even has vitamin D deficiency disease).
“Aren’t I the only person you know who still eats meat?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she mumbled as she averted my gaze.
“Well, then aren’t all the rest of your friends and co-workers either vegetarian or vegan?” I continued. She was just out of college and had recently taken a job at a Whole Foods.
“So?” she defended.
“So, then what you’re saying is that you’re healthiest person among a bunch of other vegetarians.”
She’s been a vegan for about 12 years or two years less than we’ve been friends. When we met she weighed about 135 lbs, had bad skin, and would have to stop and rest climbing halfway up one flight of stairs. She attributed her weight, skin and physical fitness to her steady diet of meat. I might not have been the only one who counseled her to cut out the fast food, eat less and exercise more, but she didn’t listen to me either. Prefering to jump into a vegetarian diet her roommate suggested.
Over the years, she’s tried to convince me that being a vegetarian is far healthier than being a carnivore. She has also told me stories about how inhumane animal farming is and how pesticides are killing us slowly. She might have once told me that wearing a tin hat prevented the CIA from tuning into your thoughts, but I could be imagining that. Either way, she’s one of those people who always has a stat or figure, wholly unsupported by medical science, about how much healthier vegetarians are. Mostly I just nod my head benignly and politely ask her to pass me the A-1 sauce. The few times I’ve tried to talk to her about why I choose to eat meat, the discussion invariably sinks into an argument about evolution, famine cycles, overpopulation, and animal cruelty. All of which are valid concerns, but aren’t going to convince me to stop eating bambi if the mood for a lean steak strikes me.
When it comes to healthy diets, there is very little medical evidence to suggest that cutting meat out of your diet completely will make you healthier. You know the food pyramid we all saw back in gradeschool? It is still true today. A balanced diet consisting of vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat in moderation, will do wonders for your physical, emotional and mental well-being.
These days when she sends me a link from some meat-is-murder website or a piece of pro-animal propaganda from some patchoulli sniffing hippie, I just respond by sending this link which has some good information about vegetarian myths. Of course, there are rebuttals and in the interest of fairness, here’s a link that refutes the previous link’s findings.
I think really it all boils down to common sense. Eating a Carl’s Jr. Double Star, super-sized fries, and a 32-oz coke every day is going to kill you. Not because of how much meat you’re eating, but what and how much your eating.
Moderation in all things, yeah?