I see this blog all of the time and I love reading it. I never comment because, as interesting as I think it is… I am newly a vegetarian and am really enjoying this lifestyle choice.
Is it possible to practice this diet with the exclusion of meat?
I keep a foodie blog, tracking my progress as a vegetarian.
Well, I took a quick five or so at your blog and there's no mystery at all. You're having a ball. Quite obvious, and I salute and congratulate you on it. Even though our food choices are not the same, much of what you're doing is real food, you're doing it yourself, and you're doing it with imagination and gusto. Salut!
How could I possibly dis that?
Here's what I think: in spite of you adopting a diet that I would not undertake, I think you're heads & tails above most. I didn't see any fish, and I've had many acquaintances over the years who call themselves "vegetarian" but eat fish and/or shellfish. Could you consider that? It would make me immensely happy if you did.
That approach, if one does it, is an ideal modified-vegetarian approach in my view. The cool thing about fish is that it's as wide in variety as the sea — really, a whole other world of nutrition. In terms of meat, for most of us, we have beef, pork, lamb, chicken & turkey. Toss is some buffalo, emu, or game meat from time to time. But in terms of fish, you have huge, huge variety in taste, nutritional composition, fat content, texture and other attributes. One can eat very fine and high nutrition with fish, vegetables, fruit and nuts. You will annihilate the grain, legume & sugar eaters in terms of nutrition. Instead of grains, rice, legumes, or sugar, just eat a bigger portion of fish, more veggies, more fruit (berries preferable), and/or nuts. Then laugh at your malnourished interlocutors.
I aim for optimal nutrition from food. So, I'm going to try to eat from as wide of a variety as practical; from meat, fish, natural fats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts / seeds.
So now let me get to some critiques of the vegetarian path.
1) You have to get a decent amount of protein or you'll lose weight, as many vegetarians do. This fools them into thinking they are on a good path, but what their body is doing is scavenging lean mass and bone in order to make up for malnutrition. They become skinny fat, i.e., low body weight but relatively high body fat percentage.
2) Since you're not going to get protein from natures most readily available (and tasty) sources, you're stuck with legumes in general, and soy in particular. I've blogged before about lectins, but soy is probably one of the worst (follow the links). In short, lectins are everywhere, but the ones found in legumes and grains are ones we haven't had exposure to long enough to adapt to. For some people, this means a peanut can kill them, and for others, wheat and other gluten containing "food" can melt their gut. So here's what you have to consider: Peanuts don't kill you, nor does wheat and other gluten heavy grains cause immediately noticeable harm. But what do you know of your generalized inflammation, inflammation that may lurk below the pain threshold? You might want to get a blood test for c-reactive protein.
3) This may not apply to you, evidence thereof being your blog, but more and more, vegetarians are straying from the whole foods path to processed foods. Let's just say that highly processed foods eaten chronically are death to all, from vegan to carnivore.
Now, in the interest of objectivity, allow me to highlight the fact that I don't think vegetarians and vegans are entirely deluded. Here's an example:
I think that's cool & awesome. But the same thing could have been accomplished with a paleo diet, and what's more: it's sustainable.
Alright, I believe I've made my point, which is: I think a careful vegetarian diet that eschews processed foods and sugar entirely is probably better than the average American diet — even one including meat. And that's because the average American diet includes a ton of wheat & sugar. Most simply: vegetarian diets have sometimes been shown to deliver net benefit simply because vegetarians are of an above-average health consciousness, and that's a bigger association to overall health than the specifics of your diet. Because of their fundamentals, they are going to eat closer to nature, closer to the Paleolithic, and that's going to have a net benefit on some scale.
As a last bit, I've often described the vegan diet as one of "long-extinct pea-brains and chimpanzees." As I've remarked on before, the two lines of hominids that were vegetarian (other than the bugs, worms and caterpillars they all consume) went extinct like a couple of million years ago. Still, if one is vegetarian or has even mildly been exposed to the rational, one has with little doubt been exposed to the "argument" that our digestive tracts are more like those of "vegetarians" than of carnivores.
Do you mean: like these vegetarians. (Note added later: Bea just saw this, said it freaked her out, and that I needed to emphasize that you take the time to watch it. It will blow you away.)
(HT: To the commenter on a previous post who clued me into that, and this.)