Your Guide to Reading Between the Tines

Archive for the 'Vegetarianism' Category

“But How Do You Get Your Protein?”

I can pretty much guarantee you that this is the single question most heard by vegetarians across the country. As a group, that is. I am sure if some individual vegetarian has a tattoo of the London Underground in a conspicuous place or a wonky name like Hoover McFiddlewarts, questions regarding such will probably trump the protein issue. But I digress.

We Americans love protein. It takes a starring role at the dinner table, and most people believe it is the primary source of the American talent of growing so big and strong. We worship protein as the driving force behind Olympic athletes, NFL linebackers, and The Rock’s bulging biceps.

Speaking of which…can you smell what The Rock is cooking for dinner?

Here’s a hint: it’s probably not grilled tofu with a side of spinach. To the best of my knowledge, the Rock’s massive physique is a product of an omnivorous diet. When most people think of famous vegetarians, they think of waify Natalie Portman or whip-thin Tobey MaGuire as a jockey in Seabiscuit.

However, Angela Basset is also the product of a vegetarian diet. Hello, muscles.

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Vegetarianism 101: The Up Side for You

Looking at the details of the meat-packing industry, the importance of consuming meat from naturally raised, antibiotic-free animals with space to move around becomes obvious. However, raising animals this way means it takes longer to grow them to the desired size for slaughter and you need a lot more space for them to feed on grass. For that reason, buying organic, grass-fed beef or organically raised pork or poultry in the grocery store can be prohibitively expensive for people on a budget. Plus, the “organic” label is far from perfect where meats are concerned. After all, hopefully you’ve surmised by now that feeding a cow organic corn doesn’t improve its health much.

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Vegetarianism 101: Confined Animal Feeding Operations

A lot of vegetarians have chosen their diets because of a belief that killing animals for food is wrong. While the Unicyclist and I respect that belief, we are aware that tilling fields and clearing them kills a lot of rabbits, mice, pheasants, and the like. Basically, modern agriculture isn’t animal-friendly any way you slice it. Even so, ethics are a part of why we are vegetarians.

In the past couple days, I covered some of the impacts of industrial ranching and CAFOs (Confined or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, depending on whom you ask) on your health and the health of the environment. For anyone wanting to have a realistic understanding of the wider implications of the way they eat, looking at the conditions in CAFOs is essential.

In about fourteen months, a steer in a CAFO will go from 80 to 1100 pounds and to slaughter, raised on a diet of corn, protein and fat supplements, and drugs. Animals in a CAFO are packed into a confined space, be that a pen crowded with other animals, or, in the case of many pregnant pigs, in a tiny enclosure where they likely can’t turn around.

Original image courtesy of the EPA

Original image courtesy of the EPA

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Vegetarianism 101: Your Health

Someone cover the ears of the beef lobby. (And the pork lobby.) I gots something to tell you.

Ready? Okay.

Meat isn’t good for you. In fact, substantial evidence has been mounted showing that, as a cornerstone of your diet, it’s actually harmful for you.

When I say meat is harmful for you, I’m talking about “modern meat,” the kind fed whatever is cheapest and gets the meat to market fastest, the kind produced in produced in factory-like operations, the kind kept in such close, crowded confines that cutting beaks and tails is routine. I’m not fixated on saturated fats and cholesterol when I say this. Honestly, I think that meat raised under certain conditions can be a healthful food, especially for certain individuals. However, that is not the way the meat industry is run in this country.

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