Did you know that there is only one way to fully satisfy your appetite with delicious foods and stay trim and healthy for a lifetime? Apparently, unless you follow a low-fat vegetarian diet and exercise just a bit, you’re doomed to obesity, disease and moral stigma. So says John McDougall, a medical director and proponent of vegetarianism. Catchy little tidbits like this can be found on www.goveg.org – “facts” that would make any rational person disgustedly refuse to ever eat meat again. I decided to research this group a bit after I overheard a friend talking about a commercial he had seen focusing on a dazzling starlet emerging dripping wet from a pool. While that concept may sound like any other commercial on TV, this specific one was promoting vegetarianism, with the implicit promise that a simple change in eating habits could bestow a divine body like hers upon those who eschew meat.

I cut right to the meat of the matter and downloaded a “Vegetarian Starter Kit,” a 24-page booklet containing, in order of appearance, glamorous pictures of famous vegetarians, anti-meat pseudo-science studies and heartwrenching pictures of chickens looking sad. I don’t really have a problem with Hollywood stars endorsing something, but with some of the drama you hear about and quotations you read, I don’t know if I’d trust thespians to get anything right. Supposed studies bashing meat and dairy, however, do ruffle my feathers. Captions like this one, “The vast majority of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented simply by adopting a plant based diet?Meat, dairy products and eggs?are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, which can make us overweight and tired in the short term?” simply amaze me. Dietary cholesterol has been shown to reduce levels of bad cholesterol and, along with saturated fats, boost testosterone and maintain healthy hormonal and endocrine function. As for a link between cancer and meat, all you need to do is ask yourself, “How many things cause cancer, or cure cancer, nowadays?” and this point becomes laughable – not that statements like, “Eating a high-protein diet is like pouring acid on your bones,” don’t provide enough laughing matter.

Protein is another concern on a vegetarian diet. Even though this packet lists oatmeal, peas and mushrooms (heaven forbid!) as good protein sources, don’t get too excited. To get enough protein from oatmeal, a person would have to eat 16 half-cup servings of oats every day, totaling 2,400 calories. Show me a person that gets enough protein from a carbohydrate source and I’ll show you a diabetic.

Soy is a bean-based protein, manifested in many forms such as milk, yogurt and veggie burgers. It boasts a complete amino acid profile (meaning that it supplies all the essential amino acids, ones our bodies cannot produce) and relatively good protein-to-fat ratio. So what’s the catch? Soy protein contains isoflavones (also called phytoestrogens) and enzyme inhibitors.

Isoflavones have been shown to act similarly to the hormone estrogen when ingested. This means that men who rely solely on soy for protein may experience such embarrassing things as gynecomastia (man-boobs) and testicular atrophy, and women may experience hormonal fluctuation and symptoms similar to those from overdosing on birth control pills. Enzyme inhibitors prevent certain enzymes in your body from performing their task. Soy is high in a trypsin blocker, which essentially prevents your body from fully digesting the protein you take in, since trypsin is responsible for protein digestion. As for trying to win over the public with tragic images of downtrodden-looking animals, PETA should realize that their flyers and packets resemble so much wartime propaganda that can be found in any documentary concerning World War II. It may seem like these vegetarians are appealing to logic, but really they’re pulling at your heartstrings for an emotional response.

Wake up. If humans were meant to munch on twigs and leaves, we’d probably have evolved as ruminants, destined to chew our cud all day with big, dull molars. If you find a mirror nearby, give yourself a big smile, and notice those odd, pointy teeth, flanking your incisors. Yep, those are canines and they excel at tearing through meat. Granted, baboons may have ended up with red butts, but I trust that evolution has made the right decision with giving us canines. Most importantly, just imagine what Thanksgiving dinner would be like without meat or dairy: cranberry sauce.

Deland is a member of the class of 2010.



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