[PLUG-TALK] Vegetarianism

Jason Dagit dagitj at gmail.com
Mon Jan 5 15:51:04 PST 2009

On Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 2:30 PM, Michael Robinson
<plug_1 at robinson-west.com>wrote:

> The assumption that vegetarianism is better than any other diet is
> being defended quite aggressively on here, but there is a problem
> with vegetarianism.

Really?  By whom?  If you really think that's what I was arguing then I
encourage you to re-read what I wrote.  I was defending vegetarianism yes.
I don't recall anyone on this list making a remark that it is better than
any other diet.

The human body is not designed for it long term.

Evidence please!

> The theory is that going lower on the food chain will increase
> the amount of food available for people to eat.  This is assuming
> that people can get everything they need from plant sources alone.
> Plant sources are not a good source of vitamin B12.  Not eating
> fish ignores that most of the earth is covered by Ocean where
> fish are a good source of iodine among other things.

Iodized salt is also a good source of iodine in first world countries.  We
need only trace amounts anyway.  I think the comment about B12 is probably
the best counter argument I've seen you come up with.  But, even so it's
possible to get enough B12 with a balanced diet.

> If ancient man did indeed develop on the Savannahs of Africa, he
> did not survive on plant material.  Grass is not something that
> the human body can digest.

If you want to go the route of evolutionary arguments then we should note
that there is pretty good evidence to support the idea that our ancestors
were vegetarians first and later became omnivores.  Also, I thought that our
ancestors lived in trees in Africa first and then came down from the trees
as northern Africa turn into grasslands.  Either way, we're not trying to
feed our evolutionary forefathers.  I thought the discussion was modern man
and modern agriculture and global trends.  If you're not making an
evolutionary argument then this point is lost on me.

> There are places in eastern Oregon that you can only set up grazing
> animals on and no these aren't corn fed animals.

Well, then kudos to those ranchers, farmers and wild grazers.

> Let's assume that noone eats food from the rivers and the oceans
> anymore, how much more food has to be grown on the land?  Like I said
> before, growing grain in the Andes anyone?  How about legumes and soy
> beans, do they grow everywhere?  What do you replace soy with if it
> isn't healthy to consume soy for extended periods of time?

Are you in the camp that believes that plant based estrogen in soy destroys
the brains of men?  Better yet, what is the problem with eating soy for
extended periods?

How many healthy Seventh Day Adventists are there?  Do they supplement
> their diet with vitamins that come from meat based sources?  I think
> you'll find that they do.

Again, I would like to refer you to endurance athletes for examples of
people who can make these lifestyles work.  Endurance sports are very
demanding on the body.  They require higher amounts of protein for example.

> Manure is a natural fertilizer and a source of hydrogen.  Feed lots can
> be equipped with factories that process the manure to produce chemical
> slurry that will flow nicely through pipelines or transport on trucks.

I'd just like to reiterate that I think this is a good way to treat a
symptom but that we should treat the cause as well.

> Eggs are high in protein, they are a good substitute for soy even on
> a short term basis.  There is also genetically modified corn which is
> a complete source of protein.

I don't have anything to add here.

> If corn is grown with dead fish and legumes, fertilizer isn't needed.
> This is the way that Native Americans grew corn and the way American
> farmers should do it, but it isn't catching on.  Of course, grass is
> something that cows can eat that humans can't making hay a choice for
> cows.

Yeah, ruminants are quite useful to us.  But, feeding them on corn as we
mainly do here in the US is bad.  It's bad for them which translate to bad
for us as their consumers.  And growing all that corn has the other bad side
effects I mentioned when this thread started.  One of my main points remains
that the extreme to which we are doing the industrial agriculture is the
primary problem.  A partial solution is to eat lower on the food chain and
thus reduce the impact.

> I question the value of vegetarianism on four grounds:
> 1)  Only grazing animals can utilize a significant portion of the
>    earth's land.
> 2)  The Ocean covers much of the earth with it's bounty of fish.
> 3)  There is the risk that meat, dairy, and fish products
>    contain essential nutrients and chemicals that allow us
>    to absorb those nutrients which aren't found in plant
>    sources of food.

Given the number of healthy adults with a pure vegan diet the risk here must
be small and manageable.

4)  Soy and other vegetarian sources of plant based protein
>    may be detrimental to human health over the long term.

I'd like to read more about this if you can produce the article you got the
information from.

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