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My reasons for not being a vegetarian

I thought I’d post this since I posted it as a comment on an article and I really like it.  The article was about meat being considered more ‘macho’ than vegetarianism and a lot of vegetarians were leaving negative comments about people who eat meat.

“Although I don’t believe that eating meat makes anybody more ‘macho’, I don’t personally agree with vegetarianism.  I like to abide by the ‘Everything in moderation’ maxim.  I grew up believing that a good, balanced dinner meal consists of 1 part vegetables, 1 part starchy material (like rice, potatoes, or noodles) and 1 part meat.  Since then, the vegetable portion has grown, and I don’t panic if there occasionally isn’t meat in the meal but I still like to go to that as my basic proportions.

If others want to be vegetarians, go ahead, I am certainly not going to condemn them.  However, these are MY personal reasons for not being a vegetarian;

I am done my third year with a major in animal biology and a minor in nutritional and nutraceutical sciences and there a couple nutrients I have learned about that seem to not be available from plants.

Vitamin B12; there IS a form in plants however it is not accessible to humans.  The only non-animal sources are fortified breakfast cereals (which usually only have 25% of your daily value in 1 serving so you would have to eat 4 servings each and every day) and supplements.  Whether this is really a non-animal source is debatable though since, the vitamin would probably have to be isolated from meat products.  Vitamin B12 is important for neurological development, red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and for enzymes that affect metabolism.  Unfortunately, symptoms can be masked by an adequate folate intake but there are still significant neurological effects.  This is especially visible in newborns.  We saw a case study of a vegan mother with a newborn.  The mother wasn’t showing symptoms because she had good folate intake (which comes from green leafy vegetables) but the newborn wasn’t developing properly.

Iron;  There are two types of iron, heme and non-heme.  Non-heme is available from plants and is used by the body for a lot of functions.  Heme iron is only available from animal products and is essential for your red blood cells to be able to carry oxygen.  Iron deficiencies have to be pretty severe to lose your hemoglobin because your body holds onto its heme iron the longest, but it IS a concern, especially if you have a large amount of blood loss.  Additionally, non-heme iron from plants isn’t always absorbed well because of the presence of oxalates in phytates.  There is a misconception that spinach and beets have particularly high amounts of iron.  Spinach, because of a clerical error made when first recording the iron content, leading to people believing there was 10x more iron in it than there actually was.  Beets, because the red colour resembles blood.  

According to Health Canada’s DRI tables, daily iron requirement for non-vegetarian men is 8mg/day and for vegetarian men, 14.4 mg/day (requirement is increased for vegetarians because of low bioavailability in purely vegetation-based diets), 18 mg/day for non-vegetarian women and 32.4 mg/day for vegetarian women. With the phytates and oxalates inhibiting absorption, a serving of beets only gives you 0.8 mg of iron per 100g if raw, and 1.82 if canned while 100 g of spinach gives you 2.71 mg if raw and 3.57 if cooked (cooking can help break down some of those inhibitory compounds but not all).  Legumes are the best vegetable source of iron however they still have a lot of phytates and oxalates which inhibit bioavailability.  To improve this, you can ferment soybeans and soak other beans for long periods of time.  Other ways of increasing iron absorption from vegetables include; accompanying the vegetable with animal product (which is obviously out of the question for vegetarians), or increasing vitamin C intake.  Of course, the question is, how much help can that be?

Protein;  A lot of vegetarians eat soy.  As I mentioned above, soy is high in phytates and oxalates which inhibit absorption of protein, as well as iron.  Fermenting helps destroy some of these compounds.  Unfermented, soy has a protein source number of around 0.6, where 2.0 is considered the best protein source.  Another fact proving this is the fact that if you look at the japanese diet, a diet praised as being high in vegetable matter and fish, and low in other animal products, the majority of the soy they eat is fermented (miso, natto, tempeh).

Energy; Meat is very energy dense because fat is energy dense.  Too much fat is bad but a little goes along way.  Fat is often used to fuel the body’s normal functions while carbohydrates fuel the brain.  The main source of energy in plant matter is carbohydrates.  Some plant matter contains starch but most contains cellulose, which is the most abundant source of energy on the planet.  Unfortunately, cellulose is only digestible for herbivores.  Humans do not have enough enzymes or bacteria in their gut to be able to get any substantial amount of energy from it.  Somebody would have to eat a ton of grains, legumes, nuts, starchy foods like potatoes, and fatty fruits like avocadoes to get the same amount of energy that a regular diet of a small piece of beef in a meal can give you.

I’m not convinced that switching to an all vegetation diet would be more economical or environmentally friendly; People seem to say that the space needed for vegetation consumed by one cow could feed more of the world if used for crops.  As I said above, you need a large amount of crops to equal the amount of energy available in the meat from a cow.  This would mean that more habitat would probably have to be destroyed than is destroyed now, to have enough crop fields to feed the world.  Additionally, having several fields of a single crop drastically decreases biodiversity in that area, which has a negative impact on the ecosystem.

(In response to the people who are saying that they look down on hunters, do you just mean sport hunters?  Because, if you’re talking about people who actually eat the meat, that’s a much more environmentally-friendly way of getting food.  It promotes conservation of habitat and biodiversity.  Even hunting for fur is environmentally-friendly, because conservation of habitat HAS to be important to the hunters or else they won’t be able to find animals)

Our digestive system; We are omnivores, and our digestive system is much different from those of herbivores.  Personally, I think that is an important reason why to include meat in my diet.

We have a place in the ecosystem; I personally think that as omnivores and predators, we  have a place in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem, especially since we have gotten rid of so many natural predators.  If the human race were to stop eating meat, it’s possible that the balance of the ecosystems could be thrown completely out of whack and that would be bad.

So, those are my reasons for not being a vegetarian.  Nutrition-wise, I imagine a really determined person who’s willing to do a lot of research, could get by okay.  For me though, because of the other reasons, I am not willing to do all the work to find alternatives for certain nutrients when I can simply eat a little meat with my meals and get the proper nutrition.”



What I find distasteful about the ‘British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery league’

Hey guys,

I know, I know, long time, no talk.  I’m crazy busy with university but I decided that I wanted to make another post here, and hopefully make a few more in the near future.

I just read an article about a bunch of British actresses that have joined a group created by Kate Winslet, called “The British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League”.  What I found interesting, and deserving of a Musing, was my immediate gut instinct.  Uneasiness and dislike.  I thought it was interesting because I don’t particularly like the idea of cosmetic surgery and I doubt I’ll ever get it myself.  So, I decided to examine the feeling.

What I dislike about the idea of that league has nothing really to do with the fact that it’s against cosmetic surgery and everything to do with the principle of the thing.

Freedom to make my own choices in regards to my life is very important to me.  It bugs me when people try to take that freedom away because they don’t agree with it and feel that others should think like them.  Why is the group targeting cosmetic surgery when they could be targeting the PRESSURE to get cosmetic surgery?  or making sure that people who decide to go under the knife have made an educated decision?  Cosmetic surgery is a choice that some people make.  Yes, there are people who make that choice out of feelings of insecurity or pressuring from others, but there are also people who make the choice after educating themselves and thinking long and hard about what they want.  Often, those people undergo the surgery not for others, but for themselves.  Isn’t cosmetic surgery just a more serious and permanent form of make-up?  Why should those people be punished because a group of influential people have decided that they don’t like the idea of cosmetic surgery and thus it must be wrong?

I’m all for empowering people to feel good about their looks.  Hey, I don’t even wear make-up.  What I am not comfortable with, is attempting to take away choice.

At the moment, it looks like this group is just making public statements and not trying to lobby the government to ban cosmetic surgery or something; I really hope things will stay that way.


Did Ignatieff just stab his fellow coalition members in the back?

Okay, so I just read an article on sympatico.ca talking about how the Liberals, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, and Green party succeeded in toppling Harper and the conservatives.  That seems good to me because Harper has been doing some sketchy stuff.  What really pisses me off is that; right after, Ignatieff, leader of the liberal party, makes this statement; “If you vote for the NDP, if you vote for the Bloc and if you vote for the Greens, you’ll get more of this: more contempt for democracy, more neglect of the priorities of Canadian families,”

WTF kind of backstabbing is that?!

Okay, while I am writing this, somebody commented on my facebook that Ignatieff meant that if people vote for one of the other parties and not for him, Harper will still win because of the split vote between the other parties.  Still…that comment made him sound like a right arse and I’m not so sure I want to vote for him now.

What do you guys think?


On a personal note: counseling

So, I just signed up for my first session of counseling!  I actually feel pretty good.  Going into it, I felt really nervous because I’d never gone before and because I wasn’t sure my particular issue could be dealt with by a university counselor.

After I filled out my information and checked the little box beside the category I felt my issue fell under, it looked a lot more like I made a good choice.

I was probably also nervous because, well…counseling seemed like something that people with problems need, and I didn’t like thinking of myself as somebody with problems.  The thing is though, a lot of people seek counseling for a lot of different reasons and I feel a lot better now because I’m no longer feeling the pressure of solving my issue all by myself.

In other news, I am currently typing this on a computer in my university library due to the fact that my laptop crapped out at the start of reading week last week. Really.  Really.  Frustrating.


The pending Ohio ban on exotics

Hi guys,

Somebody on a forum asked if somebody could write them a blog entry about the pending Ohio ban on exotics.  I wrote one and have decided to post it here as well.  Also, I reccommend you visit her blog, as she has tons of awesome information on keeping exotics;


Here is the entry;

“Hello everybody,

I am not normally the blogger for this page but it has been requested that somebody write a post on a subject that is very close to my; the blog owner’s; and the rest of a large community’s, hearts. Earlier this summer, HSUS made an agreement with the farm bureau and Governor Strickland of Ohio on some regulations that would be passed. Included in this agreement was the prohibition of the acquisition of exotic animals. Effectively, Ohio, which has long been a state of freedom for exotic animal owners, was going to do away with that freedom without giving any warning or time for opposition. It was an extremely underhanded deal. HSUS failed to pass their last bill banning exotic animal ownership because of our community and so now they’re trying to slip it in without giving us time to react.

Perhaps a good thing to explain now; is how animal rights groups like HSUS work, and what their true objectives are. They want owning any animal to be banned. The reason they aren’t taking on the whole pet owners community is because they are cunning. They know that there is no way that they would be able to take on a group so large and win so they resort to following an old proverb; divide and conquer. They pick out the minority group and go after them; in this case, the exotic animal owners. The thing is, because those groups use bullying and intimidation tactics, the rest of the pet owners are nervous that they will have their pets taken away and therefore are more willing to agree with the AR groups in the hopes that they and their pets are left alone. The groups know this and use it to ostracise the minority group until it’s easy to take away their rights. This also ensures that once other groups are being targeted, the groups before them will not help them due to the fact that they were not helped when they were targets.


For those of you who are not already involved in the exotic animal community, here are some statistics to chew on. Approximately one person a year dies from a captive big cat attack, and one from captive venomous and non-venomous snake attacks(Deaths from other captive exotics are so small that they are not statistically significant). Approximately thirty three people die from dog attacks each year. Approximately sixty two people die from skydiving every year. These statistics illustrate two very big double standards. If thirty three people die from dog attacks every year, yet owning a dog is still perfectly acceptable, how does it make any logical sense to ban exotic animal ownership because of two deaths a year? And don’t try to use the ‘well, there are more dogs kept than exotics so the numbers pan out’ argument. That is a very flawed argument. You see, that argument assumes that as the numbers of captive exotics grows, so too will the number of deaths. Life does not work in perfect mathematical fashion like that. Yes, the number of deaths COULD grow, but they could also stay the same, or even reduce for all we know. So essentially, your argument is based on imaginary numbers. I’m pretty sure that politicians will agree that they want to base legislation on REAL numbers, not imaginary ones, and the real numbers tell us that more people die from dog attacks than exotic attacks.

The second huge double standard revolves around the fact that owning exotics is considered a hobby by a lot of people. You know what else is a hobby? Skydiving. Look back up at the statistics for deaths that come from skydiving; sixty two! Yet, nobody is calling out to ban that. Why is it that it is socially acceptable for a person to decide to skydive, fully knowing the risks, yet is not for a person to decide to own an exotic pet, fully knowing the risks. Well, I suppose you could say that not all prospective exotic pet owners know the risks, but I’m pretty sure I could say that about skydiving too. In fact, while it can be said that some people should not own exotic pets, the same could be say about dog owners and their dogs, and even parents and their children. The point is, people need to think about exotic pet ownership in the same light as similar hobbies, instead of singling it out, because that just leads to double standards and hypocrisy.

Last of all, I’ll leave you with this; exotic pet ownership is not a public safety issue as the AR groups would lead you to believe. If you search out the details of the twenty captive big cat attacks that have happened in the last twenty years (you can check this out at rexano.org), you’ll see that all twenty deaths were people that had voluntarily put themselves in that situation. Not one of them was a bystander.


So, I hope this has educated some of you who are not aware of the trials faced by exotic animal owners.


George Carlin on saving the planet

Blah, it’s been too long since I’ve posted on here. I’ll probably make a longer post in the next couple of days, after my first midterm. I just wanted to post this video because it has to do with some of the posts I’ve made. I like his view on things and think it aptly describes my way of thinking about the idea that vegetarianism will ‘save the planet’

Hope you enjoy it!


It’s been a while

Well, it’s been a while since my last post and I don’t have a specific topic to muse on but I’d like to replace the last post with a new one.

I finished my exams and my marks are generally a lot higher than they were for first semester.  They’re still not up to my standards but they show huge improvement which I am glad for.  Unfortunately, my parents don’t necessarily see improvement and will still be disappointed with my marks, which is why I’ve only told my mom; she’s not as harsh about it.  I’ll eventually have to tell my dad but I’m biding my time.

I haven’t talked at all about my sister on here.  My parents treat her much differently from me and I don’t really know why.  One thing is when they tell her something, they don’t follow through with it whereas if they tell me something, they follow through with it.  Example;  when we got blackberries due to a contest that was won, my parents said that we wouldn’t be getting another one if ours were lost or damaged so we had to be super careful with them.  My sister, being my sister and not really valuing anything, left her blackberry in the rain and it of course died.  What does my dad do?  He gives her another one.  Albeit, it was his old one but he still gave her another one nonetheless.  I don’t know what happened to that one, if it was damaged or my sister just decided it wasn’t good enough for her but she’s getting another one.

You see, if mine got damaged or was lost, I know that I wouldn’t get another one unless I paid for it out of my own pocket.  I know, it kinda makes you go ‘what the hell?’

Anyways, my mom came in with groceries and expects me to drop everything and help her so I gotta go.