26 August 2009

Why vegetarianism isn't the answer

PETA recently began a new ad campaign and put up a billboard in Jacksonville, FL suggesting that overweight Americans should turn to a vegetarian way of eating to "lose the blubber." See the story here.

I've said before that if you maintain a vegetarian lifestyle due to moral/ethical reasons, then more power to you, but it is very far from the ideal human diet for optimum health and weight loss. In my opinion, humans require protein (and more explicitly animal protein) to function at their best.

It is very difficult to obtain all the necessary amino acids (proteins), vitamins, and minerals living a vegetarian lifestyle without supplements (which are not nearly as effective as obtaining them from whole foods). Plant protein sources are "incomplete proteins" because each only contain select amino acids. Animal meats contain all essential amino acids and therefore are "complete protein sources." Sure, you can get all the essential amino acids from plant sources by eating a large variety of plants, but most vegetarians tend to turn to soy based proteins (tofu, edamame, soy milk, etc.) and beans. Soy has long been marketed as a health food (just like wheat breads and corn cereals), but you have to remember that this is one of the top crops grown in the U.S. (like wheat and corn) and subsidized by the government (like wheat and corn). Soy has been linked to many issues including thyroid problems, immune system malfunction, breast cancer, and increased estrogen. Vegetarians also eat beans for protein, but your body has trouble digesting beans efficiently and effectively. Everyone knows beans cause gas right? That's your body telling you it didn't really like those beans you fed it last night at Casa Ranchero or whatever.

In addition, if you are not eating 400 to 800 calories a day from protein, your body will find another way to get those calories that it needs to function. I promise that more often than not a vegetarian will choose to get those calories from carbohydrates. Most vegetarians easily consume over 3oog of carbohydrates each day in pasta, bread, cereal, crackers, energy bars, milk products, soy products, and everything else (which the government loves), but these carbs are spiking insulin levels leading to insulin resistance and the storage of fat. I feel like a broken record sometimes, but it's the truth and you need to know it.

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