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Meat Needy America

February 25, 2012

Does any country eat more meat than US? I’m questioning what is behind this, and how good it is for our health. Studies show that eating red meat or processed meat can significantly lower your life expectancy. Even the  meat-eaters among us, of which I am one of, could not argue with this universally-accepted fact by now.

Once upon a time, I went vegan, for a four year period, as an experiment in personal health. It was a rewarding and eye-opening experience. During that time, I read avidly on different types of dietary systems, and learned a lot about the corporate profit-driven so-called food that most of us consume on a daily basis – processed crap, with little nutritional value – that is essentially killing us. It is no wonder why America is the fattest country in the world; and in spite of having the most advanced medical technology, we are some of the sickest people in the world as well. Our overall healthcare system is not very effective or unbiased when it comes to educating people. Instead, we are treated like consumers, with dollar signs on our heads, so that every food and healthcare-related company can essentially say “what can we get out of this family or person? what can we sell them at the highest possible price and profit margins, and convince them that it’s great product or service?” Believe me, I’ve been working inside the belly of the beast, as a marketing professional, for 16+ years now. And this is exactly the conversation that happens. Very few business people really care about their customers, no matter what tag lines they say, or “thank you” letters they post on their websites.

Coming back to the need for meat, is it an addiction? Or have we simply been programmed to believe “you have to get your protein” through meats? How do we measure the quality of meat that we consume at restaurants, or even what’s available at the grocery store? Do we really need as much as we consume?

Although I did “switch back” to a non-vegetarian diet in 2006, I still do value the concept of “meat fasts”, limiting types or quantity of meats and pure vegetarian diets altogether. From my own four-year experience, I can tell you that energetically and health-wise, I was in great shape and suffered no negative side effects from cutting meat (and dairy) out of my life. Of course, it’s hard to do a fully formal, objective analysis on oneself, as far as measuring vitals and organ functioning; but those studies have been done with large groups of vegetarians, and the results are fairly clear. Vegetarians experience less illness and organ failure, and generally live longer lives. John Robbins elucidates these arguments in The Food Revolution, Healthy at 100 and Diet for a New America. I highly recommend all three books, starting with The Food Revolution, which was a big-time eye-opener for me, and others whom I shared it with. If you watched the movie Food Inc., The Food Revolution goes deeper into those same topics – if you haven’t, I highly recommend you watch it!

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which is a show about a chef who transformed the school lunch programs across the UK, and is now starring in his own reality show (which airs on ABC) about doing the same in the US. Of course, he meets significant resistance from entrenched interests and basically lazy people, who are beyond the point of no return.

I’m not making any arguments here. This isn’t about vegetarians vs. meat-eaters – I’ve been both, and think that one can lead very healthy and very unhealthy lives on both sides of that fence.  The main goal is to raise the reader’s awareness on the following topics:

  1. You are what you eat.  What you put in your body has a huge impact on your physical health as well as your moods and mental well-being.
  2. Super-Sizing.  The value of portion control and conscious shopping choices.  Avoid emotional over-eating.
  3. Factory Farming.  Watch Food Inc and read The Food Revolution for a shocking, eye-opening look at the lengths that corporations, with complete approval from our complicit government, will go to for the sake of profit maximization, at your family’s expense.  The most alarming common practices by these ruthless conglomerates involve the treatment of animals, use of antibiotics, steroids, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and meat processing.
  4. Corporate Media Bias, Advertising and Mind Control.  Very few food companies have a vested interest in your personal health.  They will generally sell you whatever they can convince you is good enough to buy.  Great packaging and “well-known” brands don’t mean much in terms of nutritional quality.  Yes, media, ad agencies and paid nutritionists are all part of the game as well.

If you’re not already on this path, of being a highly vigilant food consumer, that is not afraid to experiment with new dietary programs in order to see what makes you feel your best, consider this a call to action.  There are many ways to take charge of your own personal health plan, starting with doing some research and questioning mainstream sources of dietary advice, which are 99% of the time, paid corporate interests that have little care for people.  This is not to say that all food companies are bad – absolutely not – and there are ways to gage how ethical food producers are.  Here is a quick checklist that can get or keep you on the right track:

  • Essentially, the more transparent companies are about their entire supply chain, the better.  Live webcams into every aspect of the supply chain – something I haven’t seen yet – would be the ultimate level of transparency.
  • Farmer’s markets are generally better than supermarkets.  Personally knowing your farmer(s) or food providers, which is virtually impossible for those of us living in metropolitan cities like New York, would be great.
  • Paying attention to Social Media related to particular food brands.  I’m not talking about company-driven games and contests; but what other educated consumers are saying about those brands and their products.
  • Organic and Non-GMO foods are generally better than alternatives, especially when it comes to meats and vegetables.  Get those pesticides and hormones out of your system!
  • Speaking to a dietician or nutritionist is not a bad idea.
  • While calorie counting is not a full-proof health strategy (since it counts quantity, not quality), using a personal health mobile app to help you monitor your eating choices and limits is useful.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 29, 2012 5:59 pm

    Hey Arman,

    So, why did you abandon veganism, if you don’t mind The Beet-Eating Heeb’s prying?

    Your post is great, but it only addresses one of the pillars of veganism: personal health.

    Animal-welfare, environmental and religious considerations also make veganism an utterly compelling choice.

    BEH

    • March 1, 2012 3:14 am

      BEH,

      Thanks for your insightful comments! I believe in those other aspects of veganism as well, in terms of being Conscious of the impact our decisions have on the world, welfare of all life forms and overall ecosystem. I’m still not personally convinced that we (human beings) “should not ever” eat meat, as a spiritual or religious rule of some kind. Human beings have been able to live, survive and thrive both ways (vegetarian and non-veg) for ages now. Life isn’t stagnant though – we are (hopefully) evolving, and what the current and future times call for include some dramatic shifts and serious self-reflection.

      I am of the opinion that different paths are “right” or let’s say “better” for different people – in all areas, not just dietary. Also, what is/was “right” for me five years ago doesn’t necessarily hold for the rest of my life. My decision to take back meat was based on intuition, personal science and natural cravings for it, which I had been able to avoid during the four-year vegetarian period. In my personal science, I have many eye-opening observations on what the shifts were like (non-veg to veg, then veg back to non-veg). Each year, I observe some type of meat fast, for the purpose of cleansing (some as long as 40 days); and I won’t rule out the possibility of longer meat fast periods, or even giving it up altogether.

      At this stage, I have come to respect both ways of life as viable or not, depending on the way we go about it. Better quality ingredients, improved farm to table dynamics, animal welfare issues and environmental issues, all need to be considered. God bless those of us that are able to be Conscious of these issues, which is very difficult in most modern cities. Thankfully, there are enough movements and earnest food providers coming about (ie. Gluten free products, Non-GMOs, etc), and voices like the ones mentioned in my blog entry, to improve consumer education. Unfortunately, the forces and powers that be (ie. companies with all the money, who care little about public health) have bigger marketing budgets and have politicians, scientists and nutritionists in their pockets! Beware the master spin creators, who have us on feed, just like cows on the factory farms.

      • March 1, 2012 4:45 pm

        Thank you Arman for your thoughtful reply.

        If you’re not convinced that there is a religious mandate for veganism, I’d like to invite you over to my place (www.thebeeteatingheeb.com) on or after March 8, when there will be a post on this subject.

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