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.