by Carlotta Bul
Only fruit and vegetables?! Oh that is extreme!! Your diet is so restricted…. Aren’t you always hungry? Where do you get your protein?! And your calcium?! I would rather prefer ‘free-range human slaughter’ than stop eating meat…. what about the food chain, aren’t we supposed to eat meat’?!
Being vegan living in a western society so used to its highly processed foods of doubtful origins and overloaded with animal products and saturated fats, I easily find myself labelled as the “vegan dreadlocked hippy girl fighting for animal’s rights condemned to eating salads for the rest of her life”. Even if I was such a character, what’s wrong in finding joy in simply eating the most natural food for my body – fruit and vegetables? Often society finds it hard to accept alternative lifestyles that differ from the majority, or flock of sheep, repudiating them as something wrong, inadequate, weird and obsolete even before truly knowing anything about what these alternatives are about. Consequently, people easily create stereotypes, prejudices and inappropriate assumptions on the basis of genuine misunderstandings and convenient ignorance – both limiting the natural drive of human beings towards endless research and knowledge.
In case of veganism, which for me is a lifestyle based on essentially eating whole plant based foods in their most natural state to get the best energetic beauty that nature could offer me, society generally prefers to create misleading conceptions (see the ones described above). Instead, stop for a moment and deeply reflect on the kind of polluted consumer-based lifestyle celebrated nowadays.
In this 2 part blog series, I will explore some common stereotypes and misconceptions about what we eat. In part 1 my focus is on what I eat. In part 2, I will explore some of the facts about what non-vegans eat.
Lets now discuss in detail and challenge some of the most common misconceptions about what I eat:
Where do you get your protein?!
Despite the advertising hype of the meat and dairy industries, humans require an extraordinarily low amount of protein in their diets. Basically protein is an essential nutrient for growth and repair. The period in our human life when we need to grow quickly and healthily is mostly at the time when we are infants. This is the time where we will experience our most rapid growth and thus have our highest need for protein per calorie, ever. Logically and most naturally, the acquisition of such protein early in our lives is through human breast milk. If we need protein to grow, you would expect that breast milk should have the most amount of protein for calories of anything that we would ever need to eat during infancy. At a nutritional level, the truth is that human breast milk is only 6% protein! This low percentage is actually less than the percentage of protein contained in cherries, oranges, peaches, strawberries, watermelon, tomato, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and countless other fruits and vegetables.
The typical US recommended daily allowance is currently 46g per day for women and 56g of protein per day for men, this is roughly 0.36g per pound of body weight or 0.8g per kilogram of body weight. The World Health Organization recommends 0.66g per kilograms per day of protein. In reality the percentage of protein from our entire daily intake is more important than the grams of protein. According to the longest nutritional study ever conducted, the China Study, which was based on over 40 years of research, we require only 5% to 6% of calories to come from protein. The 9% to 10% that has been recommended for the past 50 years has been set to assure that most people get their 5% to 6%. The China Study also showed that animal derived protein is incredibly cancer-causing and detrimental to health in a number of ways whilst the plant protein, even in amounts of excess of 10%, showed no ill health effects.
Where do you get your calcium?!
Most of us had been raised with the doctrine that milk is necessary for building strong bones. Thus calcium is generally a common concern for people contemplating going vegan. This doctrine has been originally diffused by dairy industries’ propaganda and advertisement trying to maximize their profit selling cow’s milk… but wait a second!! Where does the cow get her calcium from?
Cows get their milk from the soil. Calcium is basic mineral element that is neither created nor destroyed. Plants absorb calcium and other minerals from the soil through their roots, which are consequently absorbed by the cow when she eats grass. Why should we drink milk of another animal species when the best sources of calcium are plants? Plants are able to build strong bones in humans, cows and other animals like even giant elephants! Dark leafy greens are an amazing sources of calcium, as are grains, fruit and beans. There is as much calcium in a cup of dried figs as in a cup of milk.
The problem is not about finding enough calcium in your diet, but holding on to that calcium through your mother’s milk, whilst your bones were growing. Many scientific studies have shown that animal protein, especially the protein in milk (casein) actually leeches calcium from your bones, in order to alkalize the acidic environment created by the animal proteins. It turns out that populations that consume the most amount of cow’s milk have the highest rates of osteoporosis, hip fracture and kidney stones in later life. Osteoporosis is mostly caused by our diet – the greatest risk comes from foods that are high in protein and dietary acids (generally animal products).
Whilst our bones neutralize the acids from our foods, they also leech calcium in the process of producing urine. If we overindulge in calcium, especially the one contained in dairy products, the intestinal cells block the excess whilst the kidneys work to eliminate it – often resulting in kidney stones. In conclusion, cow’s milk is definitely for calves, not for humans.
Your diet is so restricted!!…
Do you still believe it is restricted?! I call this abundance, not restriction. Just eat the colours of the rainbow!
What about the food chain, aren’t we supposed to eat meat?!
If we were supposed to eat meat, our physical structure and our digestive system should be similar to all carnivores in nature – it is not. Therefore, it is important to underline some of the differences:
The tongue: Only carnivorous animals have rasping rough tongues. All other species have smooth tongues. We have smooth tongues.
Teeth: The molars of a carnivore are pointed and sharp. Ours are primarily flat, for mashing food. Our ‘canine’ teeth bear no resemblance to true fangs, nor do we have a mouth full of them, as true carnivores do.
Chewing: Our ability to grind our food is unique to plant eaters. Meat eaters have no lateral movements in their jaws.
Saliva and urine: All plant-eating creatures maintain alkaline saliva and urine most of the time. Meat eaters however, have acidic saliva and urine.
The intestines: Our intestinal tracts measure roughly 12 times the length of our torsos. This allows the slow absorption of sugar and other water borne nutrients from fruit and vegetables. In contrast, the digestive tract of a carnivore is only 3 times longer than the torsos, which is necessary to avoid rotting or decomposing flesh inside the animal. Carnivores depend on highly acidic secretions to facilitate digestion and absorption in its very short tube. Also, our convoluted colons are quite different from the smooth colons of carnivores.
Do you still believe we had been made by nature to eat meat?!
The truth is that we were born and raised in a society which evolved to eat meat: a world of groceries and convenience stores surrounded by fancy, shiny packages that hide the real nature of those products and alienate our comprehension from the true violence at the basic of any slaughter house. If you simply imagine yourself in a natural environment, untouched by any sort of civilization and without any other technological tool apart your own hands to gather food, at the sight of a squirrel running on a peach tree, would you instinctively jump on the squirrel and kill it with your mouth in order to eat it or would you grab a peach and bite it?
We live in a society full of contradictions where generally by law it is recognized that my rights and my choices end where your nose begins. Yet we have collectively fail to logically extend this to other non-human animals. I will explore this in Part 2 of my blog.
Like most things in life, veganism is one of the many lifestyle choices available. So before we start to make assumptions and stereotype people, find out why someone has chosen that lifestyle and maybe it might open your mind to new, healthier ways of living. Understanding and disagreeing is better than name calling and ignorance.
An Italian girl living in London tenaciously looking for a truth
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