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Ariel Kaminer writes a weekly ethics column in the New York Times Magazine, which I often enjoy.  This week’s edition announces a new essay column for Times readers, inviting them to submit 600 words stating the strongest case for eating meat.  You know what that makes me want to do?  State my OWN case, which is now 37 years old.

The studies about red meat being bad for you have people genuflecting all over the country . . . as if this is something new?!?!  Honestly, I made a choice to eat less meat in 1975 BECAUSE I saw many studies indicating it is bad for you.

Muhammad Ali, who was a vegetarian when he won the title back from George Forman in 1975.  So much for the myth that one must eat meat in order to excel in athletics.

Then, I sometimes think about the story of the 4-H gal who raised her sheep with all the love and affection a child can give an animal.  She came home to find that her beloved was to be dinner, didn’t eat a thing that night, and never ate any meat again.

        The studies about red meat being bad for you have people genuflecting all over the country . . . as if this is something new?!?!  Honestly, I made a choice to eat less meat in 1975 BECAUSE I saw many studies indicating it is bad for you.  Dick Gregory was one of my original nutrition mentors, and his book, Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat,”was my nutritional Bible starting out.  We know more now – Dick and I.
    Ariel Kaminer writes a weekly ethics column in the New York Times Magazine, which I often enjoy.  This week’s edition announces a new essay column for Times readers, inviting them to submit 600 words stating the strongest case for eating meat.  You know what that makes me want to do?  State my OWN case, which is now 37 years old.  Damn, I just gave away my age.
    At the beginning of my sophomore year in college, I made a decision to eat less red meat because I read that it slows down the digestive process, metabolism and mind-body performance. I was playing basketball and running track at Rhodes College, a Division III school, and felt like this would help me perform better.  I didn’t decide to become a vegetarian, but rather to cut out all pork, cold cuts, junk meats, burgers and other abominations.  I would still eat a good steak once a week.  As November wore into December, I was eating less and less of the steak and just lost my appetite for it.  It began to feel heavy and taste dirty.  Over the next several months, I cut out chicken & poultry in the same manner.  I didn’t plan to stop eating fish, but a series of bad meals and limited choices took care of that.  Plus, I moved to Michigan in 1978 at the height of the Great Lakes fishing ban.  Mercury, lead and arsenic were showing up at alarming rates in fatty fish, and it was prohibited as food.
    Higher development of uric acid as a consequence of heavy meat-eating has been well-documented for decades.  Hello gout, arthritis & rheumatism.  Studies also show that uric acid build-up increases the likelihood of a variety of cancers.  
    Heavy red meat never fully digests in the human body.  Residual fat and chemicals from the animal husbandry process lingers for decades, if not a lifetime.  Why?  Because the human body is not designed to digest meat, and does a very poor job of it.  When compared to others in the animal kingdom, the human body more closely resembles the anatomy and digestive system of the apes, who are natural vegetarians.  Big cats and other natural carnivores have very short digestive tracts, with powerful enzymes for breaking down the meat and tissues, which humans do not have.  People have elongated digestive tracts, similar to the apes.
    Though Dick Gregory was my primary mentor, I also took great inspiration from Muhammad Ali, who was a vegetarian when he won the title back from George Forman in 1975.  So much for the myth that one must eat meat in order to excel in athletics.  Training tables in the NBA, NFL and NCAA also reflect this common acquiescence to common knowledge.  MLB players, on the other hand, have no sense of good nutrition, body chemistry or right & wrong, so they’re nobody’s example to follow.  Muhammad noted in both a Playboy and broadcast interview, “Since I quit meat, I sleep better, I rest better, I perform better, I feel lighter . . .”  THAT was all the positive reinforcement I have ever needed for this lifestyle I have chosen.
    So, my reasons are selfish, aside from the big picture of the world’s ecology.  Twenty pounds of grain to make one pound of meat?  Well documented?  Eating all the unhuman chemicals and hormones injected into the animals at feed lots?  Don’t need it.  Overconsumption of water and other scarce resources to maintain a feedlot?  Check.  The unconscionable cruelty of herding animals for slaughter, subjecting them to the cries and smells of death right before its their turn?  Please no.
    Then, I sometimes think about the story of the 4-H gal who raised her sheep with all the love and affection a child can give an animal.  She came home to find that her beloved was to be dinner, didn’t eat a thing that night, and never ate any meat again.
    Well, I exceeded my allotted 600 words, but no apologies!

Originally posted to H Scott Prosterman on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 11:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by Meatless Advocates Meetup.

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Comment Preferences

  •  had me scared for a minute Scott..republished (4+ / 0-)

    to Meatless Advocates...Thanks!

    Macca's Meatless Monday

    by VL Baker on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 12:05:03 PM PDT

  •  Well said. (6+ / 0-)

    I haven't eaten meat since 1972. Watching the food fads sway this way and that has been interesting. I still eat grains, beans, vegetables, nuts seeds and fruit for the most part. Gave birth to three healthy children, nursed them all when they were babies and now they are grown. Feeling fine!

    "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time." - Terry Tempest Williams

    by your neighbor on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 12:06:25 PM PDT

  •  A bit off-target, don't you think? (3+ / 0-)
    Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.
    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    I'll be interested in reading the essays that actually address the topic of the contest. This one ... doesn't.

    Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

    by Clem Yeobright on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 12:08:57 PM PDT

    •  Just a little... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StateOfGrace, melo

      Is it ethical to cut down hundreds of square miles of Brazilian rainforest to graze cattle? Is it ethical to increase Society's health care costs through excessive meat consumption?  Is it ethical to be that inefficient in allocation of water resources to raise cattle?

      These are all issues that will confront Humanity over the next few decades.

      Please sign angelajean's petition to FLUSH RUSH from AFN (Armed Forces Network).

      by GDbot on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 12:55:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another reason not to eat meat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon

    is because meat is damn expensive.  Expensive to purchase, expensive to produce, and expensive environmentally.

    "We'll explain the appeal of curling to you if you explain the appeal of the National Rifle Association to us." - Andy Barrie

    by HugoDog on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 12:15:45 PM PDT

  •  I don't quite get it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    icemilkcoffee, Hualapai

    Why does he/she want the 'strongest case for eating meat'?  Does he/she plan to debate/refute whatever case he/she considers the strongest?

  •  Long time veggie here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hualapai

    and I can't envision me ever eating animal flesh again.
    I remember a discussion I had with a baptist preacher in NC, who told me that Jesus feed his deciples meat, my response was that there is quite a lot of evidence that Jesus and the early Christians were vegetarian, and that Meat in Aramiac, the language of that time, meant Food. Not sure of the accuracy of that, but not something I just made up. It sure got the preacher upset though.

  •  Meat is hard to digest ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Catte Nappe

    That one struck me as odd, as I had always heard the exact opposite.   For example NASA fed the astronauts steak and eggs for breakfast before leaving earth.  Both were considered to be "low residual" and anything that saves you from having to poop in space is a good thing.  Granted, much of what is labeled as meat these days could be anything from wood chips to pink slime, but that is a different problem.

  •  Apes are not vegetarians. Their diet is primarily (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xgy2

    vegetarian but not exclusively. If animal food is plentiful, they eat it as well.

  •  We, the accidental vegetarians, salute you! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beach babe in fl

    I love stories like yours.  Mine is similar.  Had never intended to be a vegetarian and vegetarians were always talked about in those hushed tones to emphasis that they were abnormal and strange like ... ah, you can guess the list.  Anyway, great article.  I had to reread the title a few times to make sure I wasn't misreading it.  That seems very anathema to what has recently been proven that strict vegetarianism and veganism reverse heart disease.  

    They say there are strangers who threaten us, ... That those who know what's best for us | Must rise and save us from ourselves. "Witch Hunt" - Neil Ellwood Peart, Canadian lyricist with the band "RUSH".

    by Hualapai on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 03:10:25 PM PDT

  •  Stupidity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angela Quattrano

    You know, I don't care what people eat. I have never figured out why veg*ns have to be so dishonest to make their case for being a veg*n.

    To say that red meat "never fully digests" in the human body is one of the most ignorant comments veg*ns tend to make. Humans have eaten meat ever since we got fast and smart enough to catch it. As far back in our evolutionary history as researchers have been able to go, humans ate animals (meat). And sometimes animals ate us.  And you say that SUDDENLY we're not able to digest it?

    I live in a rural area and I see dozens of kids work hard to raise lambs, steers, pigs for their 4-H project and I'll tell you that I've never seen one vegetarian. Most of them don't eat their projects, they sell them and put the money into their college funds....after setting aside more money for another project.  But don't let the facts get in the way of your sweet little story.

    Ali was not vegetarian when he won the Championship. See? More dishonesty.

    •  This isn't . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hualapai

      This isn't my word against yours.  Rather, you've offered a screed of deep denial.  I don't usually dignify such shit, but yours has to be called out!  Science bears out that "meat never fully digests"; history bears out Muhammad Ali.  No dishonesty here - only denial there!

      •  Meat digests fully (0+ / 0-)

        because there is no fiber. Someone who ate mostly meat, as our ancestors did for millions of years, would have little or no poop because of this. They would be constipated. If meat did not digest fully that would mean it was high in roughage, a good thing, but clearly not the case. The idea that it does not digest and instead "rots" or some other damned thing is just sign of a misunderstanding of the digestive system.

        Science does not bear out that "meat never fully digests". You got that off a vegan propaganda site where they make up all their "data", or you heard it from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone who read it on the internet, so it must be true.

        Muhammed Ali is not any sort of icon that proves meat is "bad" and vegetarian is "good". A single point of data proves absolutely nothing. It's not like he was all that healthy a person his entire life.

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