by Don Carpenter
Hi, my name is Don and I eat meat.
So why do I want to stop? I’ll explain. Perhaps you’ll find your own reason here. My wife, Lisa, is fond of three-pronged attacks. If you're going to use a pronged attack the accepted number is three. I've never heard of a four- or five-pronged attack. Have you? So three it shall be: Mind, Body, and Spirit.
I'd also like to note that this is a personal choice. I'm not trying to convert anybody. Writing this down is my own learning process and it helps me remember why I’m doing it. I'm simply sharing my thoughts. Live whatever way you feel is best for you.
Being vegetarian costs less. I'm saving money for that lair I've always wanted (sharks with laser beams not included). And speaking of saving money, my health care costs will go down! It is possible to spend more money, and though my raw vegan friend Tonya Kay has said, "I don't have a discount body" when discussing the cost of organic produce, you’ll generally spend less. Poor people worldwide thrive on a diet of rice and beans. With a little knowledge and ingenuity you can have an exotic and nutritious meal on the cheap. Heck, you don't even have to cook it! And it can be fun!
Shelf Life Differential
Leave some lettuce on the counter for a day. Leave out some uncooked beef for a day. Which one is likelier to make you sick if you eat it? If you eat meat you need to constantly worry about cross contamination. When you hear stories about contaminated vegetables on the news the cause is generally pesticides or contaminated runoff from livestock. Eating fruits and vegetables is safer; much, much safer.
Being vegetarian is an efficient use of resources. Twenty vegetarians can live off of the same amount of land as 1 meat eater. If Americans cut down their meat intake by only 10% enough grain could be freed up to feed 60 million people. Result? The cost of food around the world would drop and more people could be fed. The use of modern agricultural methods has resulted in increased efficiency of grain production but the cost of bread, etc. continues to rise. Why? Most grain grown isn't fed to people.
Pollution: The presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects
You can be a climate change denier. I'm really OK with that. Climatology is a new and inexact science. It's OK to be skeptical. What's not OK is pollution. It's not OK to pollute the water you drink, the air you breathe and the food you eat. Don't let some corporate shill denying climate change so he can make a buck con you into believing pollution is OK. There are no pleasant after effects of pollution, and the industrialization of livestock farming has created a monster. When I say "industrialization", I'm not talking about the small family-owned farms or what they call hobby farms in Texas. I mean the large scale operations. They have been a significant problem in the recent past. In 1993, overflow from an outbreak of cryptosporidium in Milwaukee's drinking water supply caused 100 deaths and sickened 430,000 people. The same type of runoff has also caused algae blooms and fish kills. I didn't have to go to Wisconsin to find those. I just looked at the St. Johns River in Jacksonville where I live. The air pollutants from these farms have also been linked to causing and increasing people's vulnerability to respiratory illness. The effects aren't limited to people. They can make plants more vulnerable to disease as well.
These are just a few examples. A great deal of information is available on this subject. Go out and read some of it.
Contamination from Seaboard Farms in OK
Spontaneous Abortions possibly caused by runoff from feedlots, CDC
The human animal is one of the most adaptive species on the earth. We live in a variety of climates and in all sorts of terrains. One reason we can do this is because we're omnivores. People can eat darn near anything, but we don’t have to.
Three ounces of Zonocerus Variegatus’, commonly known as grasshoppers, have around 21 grams of crude protein, 7 grams of vitamin A, 5 grams of iron, and 35 grams of calcium plus other human nutritional requirements. Technically grasshoppers are way more nutritious than beef. Insects can be an absolutely fabulous source of food and we are very capable of digesting them and using the nutrition provided. So why not? Because in the Western world it's not culturally acceptable. There is a movement in the United Nations led by Professor Arnold van Huis trying to change this. And he is not the first to suggest this by far. Vincent M. Holt published a pamphlet on the subject complete with recipes in 1885. The practice even has a name, entomophagy.
I’m not trying to get you to eat bugs. What I’m trying to get across is that alternatives to what we view as traditional sources of proteins are not a new idea.
You don’t need to eat insects. You also don’t need to eat meat. Humans can get most of the nutrition we need from a plant based diet. There are very few nutritional concerns but you can get supplements in the modern world. Supplements you should be taking even if you eat meat. There is no real NEED to eat meat. It's a WANT. You can eat meat, grasshoppers, or beans (the best known high protein vegetarian option). Of those choices only beans offer no cholesterol, decrease the chance of heart disease as well as cancer, and are high in fiber. Oh yeah, and you don't have to capture and kill beans. They're pretty docile.
Besides heart disease and cancer eating meat can contribute to:
If I am vegetarian I will live longer. I will likely be in my 70s should my daughter Grace decide to tie the knot. I want to dance with my loving wife, Lisa, at my daughter's wedding. I've started taking dance lessons and would really like to be there. I may be good by then, you never know!
Think of vegetarians and skinny, pale and weak? Think again! VGirlsVGuys is a project of photographer Melissa Schwartz, an accomplished artist and vegan activist.
This is a less selfish topic that some of you will hate. Remember, I’m not trying to change any minds. This is all for me. Do what you will.
Think for a minute on the topics I written on above, specifically the items under MIND. By becoming vegetarian I stop thinking about what’s happening and start doing something about it. If enough consumers vote with their wallets, changes will be made. Of course these industries are heavily subsidized by billions of tax dollars. You’ll have to speak louder than lobbyists. It will take millions of people to out yell those megaphones of millions of dollars in political donations. I do hereby add my tiny voice.
I’ve also done something I don’t recommend for any meat eater. I found out where my meat comes from. I don’t mean cows, chickens, pigs and fish. Despite popular opinion I am not an idiot. I’ve simply stopped living under the illusion that the animals I have consumed were healthy and well cared for. They weren't. They often lived in deplorable conditions that, if done to a single animal in your backyard, would cause your arrest for animal cruelty. I’m not exaggerating. Look it up. What you’ll find will probably be old footage because laws have been passed preventing the filming of activities inside of factory farms and animal processing companies. It’s bad for business, you see; your lobbyist dollars at work.
Time Magazine - Caged Hens: An Undercover Investigation Reveals Apparent Animal Cruelty at an Egg Farm
Video Shows Farm Workers Kicking, Tossing Piglets
Nobel prize winner predicts a rise in veganism
I am a healthy omnivore that’s chosen to care for himself and his world by becoming a vegetarian.
But where will I get my protein?
Protein, protein, protein! Everybody wants to know where vegetarians get protein! Protein is not going to be a problem! There are other things you should give more thought to.
If you are a strict vegan, or even mostly vegan, there is a good possibility you will develop a B12 deficiency if you don’t take a supplement. And even though B12 is found mostly in the meat of animals, with smaller amounts found in eggs and milk, a deficiency often occurs in meat eaters as well. Some cereals are fortified but it’s not adequate. Take a vitamin supplement. Many daily vitamin tablets are sufficient, you just need to read the label.
There are a plethora of sources for iron in a vegetarian diet:
Tofu, black strap molasses, amaranth, lentils, swiss chard, dulse, lima beans, potato, wheat germ, pinto beans, kidney beans, dandelion greens, kale, pumpkin seeds, black beans, spinach, broccoli, almonds, pumpkin, beet greens, brewers yeast, quinoa, teff, figs, raisins, prunes, green beans, millet, whole wheat, parsley, kelp, oats, corn, peanuts, cashew butter, almond butter, blueberries, bananas and raspberries.
You can even increase the iron content of your tomato sauce by cooking it in an iron skillet. No kidding!
The caveat is that plant based iron must be accompanied by vitamin C to be absorbed, but that will not be a problem with a vegetarian diet.
Zinc is essential for the immune system, the nervous system, and your skin. If you are prone to infection increase your zinc intake for a boost. You can take a supplement but it’s not really necessary. You can eat wheat germ or go for more tasty options like swiss chard, lima beans, baked potato, oats, mustard greens, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, rice, kidney beans, ginger root, wild rice, peas, leeks, lentils, cashews, sunflower seeds, and lima beans.
Omega-3s - Look here
Almost all Americans suffer an insufficiency in these fatty acids. A great many vegetarians make an exception and take a fish oil supplement, but Omega-3s can be gotten by using flax seed oil, or by using flax seeds in your diet. Some can be gotten by including raw walnuts.
You can get this essential nutrient by using calcium enriched products such as soy milk, or you can just eat your greens! Greens are where it’s at! Ready vegetarian sources of calcium are: Cooked turnip greens, torula yeast, collard greens, cooked rhubarb, spinach, oatmeal, tofu, broccoli, dandelion greens, swiss chard, blackstrap molasses, soy flour, mustard greens, almonds, baked beans, filberts, oranges, cooked kale, fresh spinach, tahini, and garbanzo beans.
Still obsessed with protein?
How much do you need?
1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
Examples: a 220 pound male would need about 100 grams a day and a 120 pound female needs 55 grams.
An ounce of cooked meat or fish has about 7 grams of protein. An average serving size should be, and I say should because most eat way more, 3 ounces. This gives us an average of 21 grams per serving. So how does a diet of vegetables, dairy and eggs stack up?
One egg has six grams of protein. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and ate one egg. I think I was a five or so. UNRELATED TRIVIA: Why are there 100 folds in a chef’s toque (that tall white hat)? They represent the different ways to cook an egg.
One cup of milk has eight grams of protein. A 16 ounce glass, two cups, has 16 grams of protein. Dairy products are a real heavy hitter in the protein department. How do you think little calves grow into 1200 pound cows? The downside is that dairy products are often high in fat, and not the good kind, so be careful.
Lacto-Ova Vegetarians will not have a problem with protein. How about Vegans?
The common bean is the el magnifico of protein in your everyday vegetarian meal. Most beans have between 7 and 10 grams of protein per half cup. That’s half a cup! That’s 4 ounces people! And variety? There’s a taste and texture for every mouth!
Common types of beans on the American table are:
Black eyed peas.
Chickpeas, also known as garbonzo beans, are a personal favorite
Great Northern beans
Navy beans, also known as Boston beans
Another type of bean that’s becoming more common is the soy bean. The versatile soy bean is widely used in meat and dairy replacements. The edemame bean, an immature soy bean, makes a tasty high protein addition to your plate as well in salads or as a snack. Bean sprouts are a great way to add protein to a meal. The most widely used type of bean for sprouting is the mung bean. Mung bean sprouts provide 3 grams of protein per cup. Not as much as a mature bean but nothing to sneeze at.
Broccoli. Broccoli? Yes, broccoli. This bright green member of the cabbage family has been prepared in every possible way imagined. Broccoli offers 3 grams of protein per ounce both cooked and raw. Besides the protein this vegetable offers 100% or more of vitamins C and K and smaller amounts of many other vitamins. Your mother and grandmother were right; eat your broccoli!
You can also find small amounts of protein in unexpected places, like a tomato. Two tomatoes contain a gram of protein. Two carrots also has a gram.
And what of the favorite canned vegetable of a famous muscular seaman? Spinach has a little less than a gram a cup. The squinty eyed sailor would be better off with kale at two grams a cup. I’m surprised he didn’t choose seaweed. You’d think a world traveler like him would know that nori, usually used to wrap sushi but great in a salad, packs a massive protein punch at over 11 grams a cup! Move over meat! You’ve just had your butt kicked!
Protein is NOT a problem!