Concerning following a vegan or vegetarian diet there are many misconceptions that need to be cleared up.

Last week we discussed two misconceptions: 1) Meat-eaters have higher rates of cancer than those adhering to that of a vegan diet; and 2) Vitamin B12 can be obtained from plant sources.

Now, I realize that this topic can be one that may become more heated than the discussions of politics and/or religion, so please read the prior column to bring yourself up to date.

MISCONCEPTION #3: The human body is not designed for meat consumption.

CARNIVORE (wiki definition): The meaning 'meat eater', is an animal with a diet consisting mainly of meat, whether it comes from animals living or dead.

OMNIVORE (wiki): Are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source. They are opportunistic, general feeders not specifically adapted to eat and digest either meat or plant material exclusively. Pigs are one well-known example of an omnivore. Crows are another example of an omnivore that many people see every day. Humans are also omnivores.

HERBIVORE (wiki): Animals that only eat plants.

Please take a good look at the anatomy and physiology of the human body and try to tell me we are anything but an OMNIVORE! It is clear…..we are omnivores.

We have teeth that are serviceable with meat AND vegetables, but not great, like the carnivore’s teeth for uncooked meat or the herbivores teeth for uncooked vegetables.

We, as omnivores, have stomachs that are able to produce hydrochloric acid (better enabling us to break down meat products); the herbivores do not have this ability.

Omnivores also have a pancreas that has the ability to manufacture a full range of digestive enzymes (capable of handling both animal and vegetable products).

It has also been shown (Dr. Walter Voegtlin study) that when compared to a dog (carnivore) and a sheep (herbivore) we are closer in anatomy to the carnivore.

As far as intestines, like teeth, the omnivore’s are in between the shorter length of the carnivores and the longer length of the herbivores (by the way, we don’t chew cud or have multiple stomachs either (herbivore traits)).

Just by looking at our physiology it is clear we are mixed feeders (omnivores).

MISCONCEPTION #4: Vegetarians live longer and have more energy and endurance than meat-eaters.

Have you heard of the “nine-year advantage” that you supposedly receive by not eating meat and living on a vegetarian diet? If so, you have come across a piece of anecdotal evidence for vegetarianism that is completely without scientific evidence. Do you want to live longer, have more energy and endurance? Than you need to consume a HEALTHY omnivorous diet.

The majority of people who choose this non-meat and meat product lifestyle make complementary lifestyle choices to improve their health: A. They are non-smokers; and B. They partake of regular exercise. In a nutshell, this group is making a CONSCIOUS effort to not only improve this world (which I applaud), but their health as well. Unfortunately, we are making a very good case why forcing an herbivore diet on an omnivore is not potentially dangerous, IT IS DANGEROUS.

A couple studies of importance concerning life longevity: 1) Russell Smith, PhD, found while studying heart disease that the consumption of animal products actually DECREASED the death rates, while such rates were NOT obtained among non-meat eating subjects; and 2) Burr and Sweetnam (1982) found that though the mortality rate for vegetarians was slightly lower (.11) than non-vegetarians the all-cause death rate was much higher.

Many experts are claiming that meat-eating people have shorter life spans, but all of the anthropological studies I have looked into paint a completely, I mean completely, different picture.

For example; the Aborigines (of Australia), the Inuit (of Alaska, Canada and Greenland), the Russians (of the Caucasus Mountains), the Hunzas (of Pakistan) are all known for their robust health and longevity, all while consuming diets full of all sorts of meat. In contrast, the predominately vegetarian Hindus (of southern India) have the SHORTEST life-spans in the world. So, in all honesty, there doesn’t seem to be ANY correlation between meat-eaters and premature death!

Concerning energy levels and endurance, anthropological studies would make a case for raw cream, fatty meats and fish, and organ meats (liver) being of great benefit. These meat-eating tribes consistently dominated the largely vegetarian tribes in athletic contests. Because of recent scientific studies making this point, it is common now for elite athletes to “fat-load” vs. “carbohydrate-load” before athletic events.

I would like to close with this thought. We ALL have very specific biochemical individualities, but these individualities are within the omnivore sphere between carnivore and herbivore. Personally, I am on the protein/fat (carnivore) side of the omnivore scale, but you may be on the carbohydrate/vegetable/starch side (herbivore). My health would quickly decline if I even made an effort to develop a nutritional regimen that was deprived of meat products; but the truth for you may be something quite different, but for the sake of your health, it just can’t be free of all animal products!


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Vegetarianism: Part III