A Little Bit of Everything

Posts tagged ‘vegetarianism’

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!


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.


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.