My gang…always asking the light and easy questions! Seriously, I really appreciate everyone’s participation in “stirring the pot” around here, and I wanted to address a few of these most recent questions out here in the open forum. (These came from Trevor and Lisamarie in response to our last entry.)
1. What are the most common mistakes people make on the veggie diet? When someone tries to replicate their usual shitty diet with vegan versions of what they’re used to eating. In other words, they’ll continue on with much of the same Standard American Diet-style meals and snacks, but either avoid the animal product component or swap it out with a highly-processed veggie substitute like a veggie burger, soy milk or vegan cheese. Of course, if this is what it takes for someone to transition, so be it. They’re better off on the short term eating this way than continuing to hammer their bloodstream with all of those animal products.
But many folks presume that as long as they’re not ingesting animal products, their diet is healthy. Such is not the case, as these veggie diets often include lots of refined white rice, bread and pasta, chips, sodas, fries, coffee, cold cereals, etc. You still need to get those multiple servings of fruits and veggies every day. And you need those whole grains, those legumes, some nuts and seeds here and there, along with plenty of super greens and plenty of water…every day. And while a couple servings a day of some kind of soy meat or soy milk is generally harmless, the bulk of your diet must be nutrient-dense with these other foods to be healthy.
One other common mistake is not paying attention to those few key nutrients that are sometimes harder to get on the vegan diet (due mainly to our current agricultural processes and lifestyle choices). These include B-12, Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids. You can get these from food (vitamin D comes mainly from the sun unless a food has been enriched with it), but you have to know where to find it AND how often you’re getting it. (More on this shortly.)
2. What about Esselstyn’s no oil component? From his perspective, I agree. Remember, he’s dealing with extreme cases…with life and death situations where he’s trying to reverse heart disease primarily through diet. In those cases, it’s smart to avoid oil all you can. Truth is, we don’t need it. Truth is, olive oil is NOT a healthy food choice, it’s just the lesser of the evils when compared to other types of oil. Truth is, we can get all of the healthy “oil” (fat) we need via modest amounts of nuts, seeds and avocado each week. About the only kind of oil I personally would recommend is a tablespoon of flax oil in your smoothie a few times a week.
Now, having said all that, modest portions of olive oil-based dressing, for those of us with total cholesterol levels comfortably under 150, sure does make all those salads more palatable! And even if you haven’t hit that magical below-150 spot, I think this kind of dressing probably isn’t the worst thing in the world, so long as the rest of your diet is clean. Just don’t go ape-shit with the total amounts.
3. As for the questions regarding the fate of employees in animal agriculture – as well as the animals themselves – as we contemplate the notion of a fully vegan world…
A) Regarding people, it’s all about transition. Just like any technology or product that is replaced by a better or newer one, there is always a transition that happens. The old (animal products) company would gradually let people go as the demand for their products decreases, while the new (vegan products/plant-based foods) company would gradually hire more folks as their demand increases. Of course, sometimes it’s messy, and there’s a disproportionate amount of firings to hirings. But this transition will NOT happen overnight. So I think we would see a gradual shift as described here.
B) Regarding animals, there are two main points to remember; the only reason we have the 15+ billion farm animals going through the system each year is because humans have gone to tremendous extremes to unnaturally breed these animals. So, again, as the demand lessens, so will their extreme “quotas” of reproduction.
Also, the overwhelming majority of these billions are chickens, and if a chicken has been raised as a “broiler” for food, then their life span would typically be only one year, presuming they were spared a trip to the slaughterhouse in this transition scenario. But truthfully, I think the transition will be gradual enough that they will cut back on the rate of breeding long before they would have all of these farm animals just hanging around somewhere.
And finally – on the longer term and in the “perfect world” – I believe that farm animals may wind up back in their “native environment” of the classic farm as companion animals. I believe there will be strict regulations regarding spay and neuter, like there is now for dogs and cats in many places. And the reason I make this comparison is, just like with dogs and cats, there is really no indigenous location for farm animals to go, since humans are solely responsible for their staggering propagation throughout the world. At the same time, once we cease to commoditize them, there will be little reason to encourage their breeding.
C) To Trevor’s question: “Or will Mother Nature win out by culling the human population (due to our misuse of arable land), therein teaching us the real kick-in-the-ass lesson we need?”
As was alluded to in the Dr. Zeus entries in the Warrior Utopia excerpts, I don’t know that Mother Nature would ever seek to “punish” us or “teach us a lesson,” per se. I just think that anytime we impose a way of being on the earth that is inherently unsustainable (as animal agriculture clearly is), there are natural cause-and-effect consequences that will happen. And as we reach a point where the downside of a way of being outweighs the upside to the extent that our very survival will be in jeopardy – which I believe could be within the next 40 years if we don’t wake the fuck up – then it will be us humans who will atone by making different choices, and Mother Nature can go about the business of healing herself.