Food for thought

I have been busy watching political documentaries on Netflix lately. A few months ago we watched Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t seen that yet, it is a great breakdown on why choosing plant foods is the best for our health. The more plants we eat, the better our bodies function and are able to fight diseases. The more animal foods we eat, the worse everything works. This does not mean you need to go 100% vegan for the rest of your life, but it means cutting meat and dairy (combined) to a few ounces a month is the safest choice if you choose to eat it at all. This also doesn’t mean that “vegan” is a healthy choice. Potato chips are vegan, but no one will ever argue that anything deep fried is healthy. What I am coming to understand is that plant foods as close to their natural state as possible are the healthiest to eat.

The next one we watched was called Cowspiracy. This one hit me pretty hard. I grew up in California in the midst of the last big drought. I have heard about water conservation efforts my entire life. It even carried over to when we lived in Oregon. I would take dishwater out to the garden instead of pouring it down the drain! This film truly opened my eyes to how ridiculous all of this is in the face of how much animal agriculture we as a society use. The amount of water that goes into a pound of cheese or a steak is simply staggering. Not to mention the environmental devastation caused by toxic runoff. There were a few scenes that were too graphic for me. I had to cover my eyes a few times. But it was an amazing movie with such fantastic information. I strongly encourage everyone to watch it, especially anyone who considers themselves in anyway an environmentalist.

We also watched one called Living on One Dollar. This was all about what people who are living below the poverty line go through on a daily basis. Two economics students took two film students to Guatemala for 8 weeks and the four of them lived on $1 per day each. There was so much beauty and so much sadness in this one. What people go through is simply astounding. But there was so much love and generosity there, too. It shed a light on the struggles that so many of us never have to worry about. The idea of paying $25 for medicine when the daily income is so low and not guaranteed was simply overwhelming.

I also recently read a book called Proteinaholic that discussed the physiological effects of eating too much meat and dairy. It has cemented for me the idea that vegetables are what humans should eat. The amount of disease that comes from eating too much animal protein (and really, there doesn’t seem to actually be a safe threshold on this) is simply too big to truly comprehend.

With all of these things mulling in my brain I have been thinking about self-sufficiency – or at least reduced dependence – and how the government and medical establishment share information about how our diet is affecting us as people and as a species.

There is so much information about how meat and dairy affect us negatively. Why are we still being told to eat so much? It seems like every other commercial on TV is pushing some meat or dairy product or at least protein. Have you ever heard of anyone actually being protein deficient who wasn’t also literally starving?

The answer is no.

Protein is so important to all life forms that there is an abundance of it in everything we eat. As long as you are eating enough calories, you are getting enough protein.

So what is going on here? We are constantly being told to eat more protein. It has gotten to the point that people don’t even identify meat on their plate anymore – it is simply called the protein. But that’s not truly accurate. Chicken and beef contain fat, as well.

Also, did you know that the RDA amount is not a minimum threshold we need to meet everyday but the ideal amount? So if adults are supposed to get about 50 grams of protein a day and we can get all we need from plant foods, why would we risk making ourselves sick with too much protein plus all the other bad stuff like saturated fat, cholesterol, and pathogenic microbes in meat?

What are your thoughts on this? Do you ever worry about the percentage of your macronutrient intake? Do you ever count grams of any of them? Do you think about the true cost of eating meat and dairy – both to your health and to the planet? Share in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “Food for thought

  1. I love both those documentaries! I have no worries about my protein intake and have saved a lot of money being vegan! And I feel so much better for it! Good work! I have lots of low fat and diet recipes on my blog, hopefully you will find something you like! Jess – http://www.feedyourprettysoul.com

  2. This is a really well written piece! I took a course on Coursera.org about sustainability and it highlights a lot of the points you’ve made. It led me to an article in the New York Times from a few years ago that delved into the developing advertising methods over the past few decades. I wish I remembered what the article was called or could find it, but in summary it listed the history of advertising and how the meat industry was starting to fail in the late 80’s because of the awareness of fat and caloric intake from meat. So they literally started selling the idea that protein makes you more full and you need a certain amount, without the actual information of what happen when you have too much or that you even CAN have too much. All to cover up the fact that fat is bad. It also led to the rise of the increase in sugar and ‘fat-free’ fad that’s still abundant today.

  3. Great post! I’ve watched several of these documentaries as well and find them very interesting. While I will never be vegan or even vegetarian, I do believe in significantly decreasing the amount of dairy and meat in our diets and when I eat those things they come from grass-fed, pasture-raised, local farms where I can know everything about how they are produced. I think the biggest thing these documentaries teach us is that we need to educate ourselves by going out there and seeing it for ourselves, rather than relying on the government’s opinions. Thanks for sharing!!!

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