A Little Bit of Everything

Archive for March, 2010

Debunking Vegetarian Propaganda

Okay, these two points are points I’m seeing people who are promoting vegetarianism, bringing up regularly and it’s annoying me.  They’re not necessarily lying to you, they’re just conveniently not telling you things that would discourage you from doing what they want you to do.  It is important that you know these things though.

A lot of vegetarians like to sing the praises of soy, saying it has this nutrient  and that nutrient, is high in this vitamin and that mineral, and is very good for this.  What they’re telling you is absolutely correct.  What they’re failing to mention though is that in addition to its nutrients, soy also contains toxins which, when consumed more than every so often (once every two weeks or so) can act as carcinogens.  Hmmm, personally I think that little tidbit of information could be useful.  Also something to watch out for is, the same people will probably try to draw your attention to the Japanese, saying that they eat a lot of soy and their cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world.  Those two points are also absolutely correct.  What they fail to mention however, is that the majority of the soy consumed by the Japanese, is fermented.  The fermentation process pretty much kills the toxins in the soy and renders them harmless.

Some people are trying to convince us to go vegetarian by talking about how a cow’s metabolism of energy from vegetation is so inefficient that the same amount of vegetation that feeds one cow, could feed 20 vegetarians.  That is partly true and partly false.  It is true in that cows’ (and other herbivores’) metabolic processes ARE fairly inefficient and the amount of vegetation needed to give a cow a certain amount of energy does not reflect the amount of energy the vegetation is storing.  The part that is false is that, that vegetation could feed 20 vegetarians.

This is because the majority of energy in a plant is stored in a compound called cellulose (some energy in plants is stored as starch, all energy in animals is stored as glycogen or fat).  Cellulose is the most abundant form of carbohydrate and energy on the planet.  Unfortunately, it is a very complex structure that can ONLY be broken down by an enzyme called cellulase.  Herbivores have tons of this enzyme present in their stomach(s) and intestines but sadly, humans have barely a trace.  What does that mean for humans?  It means that they would probably get more energy from the cow than all the vegetation the cow ate.  An important thing to remember is that there may be a lot of vegetation but way more people would be able to get an adequate amount of energy by sharing a cow than the vegetation the cow would eat because the meat is such an energy dense substance and is also way easier to digest.

Of course, you can’t just live on energy.  You also need vitamins and minerals, of which vegetation is an excellent source.  All I’m saying is that energy to run your body is a necessity and due to not being very digestible, vegetation would not be a very good source.  That is due to the high amount of cellulose in most vegetation.  I did mention that some energy in plants is stored as starch.  Potatoes, bread, and pasta are good examples of this.  They are excellent sources of carbohydrates.  Even with those though, I don’t think a vegetarian diet would be able to totally fulfill someone’s energy needs.  Obviously, vegetarians survive, but I have to question their health and energy levels.

I guess the main thing to look at really is, we are omnivores people, not herbivores.  If you look at diagrams of both kinds of digestive systems, you’ll notice they do not look the same.  Herbivores often have multiple stomachs and their intestines are much longer than ours.

Anyways, I just wanted to confront those two misconceptions because they were really frustrating me.  By the way, I’m majoring in animal biology with a minor in nutritional and nutraceutical sciences so I DO have class material to draw from for this.  I’m not just spouting random stuff.



I’m up against the world and wondering if it’s worth it

By that, I mean the views of the world.  And by that, I am specifically referring to the view that it is mandatory that all women shave their legs and armpits.

I rarely shave my armpits, have never shaved my legs, and honestly think it’s kind of silly to do so.  The only reason I have shaved my armpits is because I know I will be in a situation (bathing suit, etc.) where my armpits will show and I don’t want to draw any unnecessary attention.  This will be discussed in further detail below.

The reason I think it’s silly?  I’m a biologist.  Biologists know about evolution and the fact that an organism’s body does not waste time and energy forming something that is not necessary for survival.  A very plausible explanation for the purpose of the hair is; protecting us from disease.  The skin of your armpits is very porous, which is why a lot of your sweat comes out that area.  This could make it a lot easier for a disease to get into your body.  Women only started shaving their armpits less than century ago (see footnote about origin of shaving) which means that it is very possible that the disease disappeared before then.  As we have seen in the past decade or so, diseases can resurface.  So what if that particular disease does and catches the majority of the female population without hair protecting their armpits?

Even if you don’t accept that as a possibility, why take the chance?  Like I mentioned when I was talking about evolution, I doubt the hair we have serves no purpose.  This is why I think it is silly to remove the hair for appearance purposes.  It’s kind of like a person who has never had to fight for their lives going ‘Hmm…these fingernails are unsightly and don’t seem to serve much of a purpose so I’m going to just remove them’.

As I mentioned before, I don’t much like attention so this is where I’m in a bit of a bind.  On one hand, I believe in my views very strongly and don’t want to ever have to forsake them but on the other, I really don’t want people to look at me strangely and stuff if I am in a situation where my armpits are showing.

This is how I feel I am up against the world.  Is it worth it to have to forsake my views to be able to avoid unwanted attention?


Footnote:  Around 1912, a company for men’s shaving products decided they weren’t getting enough profit and they needed a new market.  They then created probably the most effective marketing campaign in history and now almost every woman shaves bother her armpits, and legs.  Freaky, huh? How easy it is to manipulate women when the appearance is brought into the equation?

A look back…

Last night I was thinking about a post I made a couple months ago where I was really angry with this documentary I saw.  To recap, it was about this orca who was without a pod on the coast of B.C and so started swimming along rivers and bays looking for human companionship.  He/she would swim up to people’s boats and the people would either touch the orca or just watch.  Although there hadn’t been anybody who had tried to hurt the orca, a group decided that to prevent the possibility, they would fine people who associated with the whale.  They would then boat around and tell people who had stopped their boats to see the orca that they had to leave or they would be fined.  Essentially, these people were depriving a social animal of companionship and this pissed me off so much!

Anyways, when I thought about it last night, I could feel the hostility build in me again.  I decided to try and pinpoint what exactly was causing the hostility.  I thought about how people would saythat they had to protect the animal from people who would take advantage of his/her friendliness and hurt him/her.  Not only does that involve humans imposing their will on other species, which ticks me off because, I mean, how egotistical and self-absorbed are we? but it also is extremely indulgant.  I say that because it’s basically people totally ignoring the fact that the problem is the people who think they can hurt animals.  ‘Officials’ would rather impose their will on another creature and spout that it’s ‘for their own good’ when it’s really just harming the creature (the orca wanted friendship and was deprived of it by humans who got off on playing god >.>) than actually confront the real problem and deal with the people who would harm the animal.  Those people need to be dealt with the same way they would be if they harmed a human being; jail, or at least a major fine.  Maybe this will show people that they can’t view animals as lesser beings.  That goes for ‘officials’ though too.  They have to stop believing that they know best when it comes to other species’ lives and just preoccupt themselves with keeping their OWN species in check.


Why I have a problem with vegetarianism even while I don’t

Okay, I’ll explain the ‘don’t’ part first because it’s easier to explain.  I do not judge people based on any particular trait such as race, gender, sexual orientation.  Choosing to be a vegetarian falls under that umbrella.  I just don’t see how anything like that could have anything to do with their personality.  It’s trivial in light of actually talking to and getting to know them.

Now that that’s covered, I’ll explain the reasons why I don’t agree with vegetarianism.  In relation to what I mentioned above, I normally wouldn’t bring this up unless somebody was trying to guilt me into becoming a vegetarian, but hey this is a blog and blogs are for opinions, right?

I strongly believe that any and all possible arguments that a vegetarian can make can be refuted with three words.  We are omnivores.  However, since that’s not enough for most people, I will go on.  In the logical progression from that first idea, if we were able to survive on a diet of only vegetation, we would be herbivores.  That’s the way the world works.  Deal with it (sorry, a little bit of snark aimed at the vegetarians who piss me off by being all holier-than-thou).  Something we learn in high school biology is that nature does not waste time and energy creating something that is not necessary.  So basically, we don’t just have canine teeth and the capability to digest meat, just for the heck of it.  We have those things because meat is necessary for our survival. 

A few more detailed biology facts is that not only is an herbivore’s intestinal tract longer than ours but it usually has multiple stomachs that contain a lot of an enzyme called cellulase.  Cellulase is the enzyme that breaks down cellulose, the main form of carbohydrates found in plants and actually the most abundant form of carbohydrates on earth.  Too bad humans have very little cellulase in their stomachs.  Yep, you heard me, humans have a very hard time getting any energy from plants.  That doesn’t mean plants aren’t good for anything since we DO need nutrients which plants have a lot of but at the end of the day, it’s energy that keeps your body functioning.  Also note that the B12 and iron vitamins that are specifically tailored to plants, are of no use (or little use, in iron’s case) to humans.  I know, I know, we get told that plants like beets give us tons of iron but that’s because they’re absolutely PACKED with iron so that although it’s difficult for us to get iron out of plants, it raises our chances of getting some when there’s lots of iron in the plant.

I also believe strongly that we have a responsability.  As omnivores, we are predators and have an important place in maintaining the balance of a fragile ecosystem.  We keep herbivores in check and if the whole race of humans suddenly stopped eating meat, the balance would definitely be thrown out of whack.  Herbivores would reproduce like mad, there would be less predators because we have killed a lot of them off and eventually the herbivores would eat all the vegetation.  Have you seen how quickly horses can strip a couple acres of its vegetation?  It would not be long until there is no vegetation left.  Then we would all starve.  That’s not an exaggeration; you don’t want to play around with ecosystems.

I would also like to address supplements.  People trying to promote vegetarianism like to talk about how you can just take them to get any nutrients you would normally get from meat.  The thing is, science is advancing every day and it’s very likely that the supplements that are produced today will be proven to be inadequate in a couple months.  How do we know scientists have even discovered all the vitamins that we need?  Why rely on something that could change any moment when you could just eat the correct portion of meat and know that you’re getting the right nutrients in about the right amounts?

Last but not least, why should animals not be eaten and plants should?  They’re living creatures too.  Why don’t we just starve ourselves? After all, that seems to be the only logical progression of vegetarianism.


‘Wild’ and ‘tame’

Those two words are used very often when talking about exotic pets especially when the speaker is against them, and I just wanted to discuss them.

When speaking against exotic pets, a statement that is very commonly used is, ‘these animals shoul be in the wild where they would be happy’.  Okay…I think people need a reality check.  1) The ‘wild’ is slowly becoming a month due to human encroachment, and 2) Do you know what it’s actualy like living in the wild?  It’s not all happy and free like people try and make it sound.

The typical life of an animal in the wild is very short and involves constantly worrying about being able to feed him/herself, constantly looking over his/her shoulder for predators or rivals and then dying a very painful death due to either disease, starvation, or being ripped apart by a predator/rival.

Now compare that to a life where the animal has quite a large enclosure filled with tons of things to keep him/her entertained, doesn’t have to worry about predators, and gets fed and loved regularly; which life do you think that animal would choose, given the choice?  If you still think that he/she would choose the wild, then you’ve got yourself extremely deluded.

Now I want to talk about the word ‘tame’ and the word ‘wild’ used as an adjective.  I strongly dislike both words and the fact that people think that an animal has to fit in either category.  ‘Tame’, I feel, implies servitude to humans, and then when an animal doesn’t want to do something a human has told it to do, it gets labelled as ‘wild’.  AR activists always say that ‘oh, an exotic animal is a wild animal and will always be wild’.  Well, an exotic won’t just do anything for you because you want him/her to and will lash out if pushed but then again, a domestic cat won’t either, and will probably lash out if pushed as well yet we don’t label them as ‘wild’.  The only real difference here is size.  Some people think that’s an adequate reason to ban exotics but I say, why should it be a problem?  If you respect the animal like you would any other human, and you treat him/her like the companion they are, size shouldn’t be an issue.

Referring to animals as either ‘wild’ or ‘tame’ is both simplistic and shallow in my opinion and I think it’s one of the things we have to get rid of before we can live in harmony with animals.