Douglas V. Gibbs

Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

My wife, I think, is a lot like a good number of folks.  She loves meat, but she doesn’t want to think about where it comes from.  I have joked with her that when I go hunting, I ought to take the animal I killed to a butcher and have him package it so that she’s willing to eat the meat with me because she’ll think it came from the store.  The idea of knowing about the reality that an animal was killed is what bothers her, but if it is packaged, apparently you don’t think about that part of it so much.

To be honest, hunting is more humane.  Rather than standing in line waiting to be killed by some horrible machine, as the bloody smell of death saturates the air, my prey is killed with a shot to the head.  It’s quick, and almost painless.

PETA has got to be freaking out at this point, if they are reading my article.

You think that’s bad, wait until I begin talking about the dangers of vegetarianism and veganism.

Let’s back up, for a moment.  I am not telling those of you that refuse to eat meat to start scarfing down Betsy the cow, Mary’s little lamb, or Bambi the deer.  Enjoy your plant-based diet.  It’s a free country, and if that’s what moves you, knock yourself out.  But, personally I love to eat meat.  My problem is not that vegetarians and vegans exist.  My problem is that they are trying to move society into a direction that will force me to give up including meat in my diet.  Liberty doesn’t work that way.  If you want to be a vegetarian, fine.  But, don’t mess with my desire to eat meat.

Americans love their hamburgers, hot dogs, lamb chops, pork chops, bacon, fish, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, dairy products, and steaks, and many of us realize that as omnivores, animals are killed for the opportunity of us eating those things.  While the diet in the Garden of Eden was likely a vegetarian one, once on the outside, meat became a part of humanity’s diet because, like it or not, God made us omnivores.  We like to eat fish, we like to eat mammals, and sometimes we eat other critters, too.  It’s a part of the circle of life, I suppose.

Meat is a great way to eat less carbs, and meat has certain nutritional benefits that the vegetarians, vegans, and even the flexitarians, would prefer you are not aware of.

What’s worse, the new push for fake burgers is becoming a nutritional disaster.  The impossible burger and beyond meat burgers are, because of the man-made processing it takes to make them seem to be as close to meat as possible in taste, a death sentence.

First, let’s address the “save the planet” reasoning for eating less meat.

The argument is that if we eat less meat, less grazing areas will need to be cleared for animals to feed, which would reduce the rate of deforestation, which is, we are told, a major contributor to climate change.  Never mind the fact that changes in global temperature are a natural phenomenon, and the human influence on climate change is less than a small fraction of one percent.  That said, when it comes to eating meat, an anti-meat paper published by the World Resources Institute states that reducing heavy red meat consumption — primarily beef and lamb — would lead to a per capita food and land use-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction of between 15 and 35 percent by 2050. Going vegetarian could reduce those per capita emissions by half.”  Well, there’s that, and the reduction of cow farts if we have less cows because we don’t need to breed them in such high numbers to satisfy the carnivorous cravings of those right wing planet hating conservative republicans.

A second paper, published in Nature Communications, analyzed about 500 different food consumption and production scenarios worldwide and found that nearly 300 of them could feed the global population without cutting down more forests. The biggest contributing factor to food-related deforestation is eating meat, the study says.

The argument is not a legitimate argument, in my opinion.  I own 80 acres of land in Oregon zoned “forestry-grazing.”  We cut down trees constantly, and use the profit to help pay for maintaining the property.  In fact, when my father (from whom I inherited the property) bought the land in 1979 it was completely clear cut.  Not a single tree was on the property, and he did not take steps to replant any trees.  However, long before he passed away twenty years later the property was thick with trees and brush, so much so that unless you cut a path with a tractor, it is impossible to navigate through the thick vegetation.  In short, forests grow back.
In my case, we practice what is called “selective logging.”  We take the best tree for lumber out of every group of three trees, essentially thinning the forest without taking it completely down.  Then, for every tree we remove, we plant three.
Unfortunately, the slash and burn method is used quite a bit in the world, but that technique, which does kill a forest, is usually not for the purpose of feeding the cows and lambs that feed us, but to make room for more development, because as the population grows, so does the need for housing.  If there is a deforestation culprit, that is it.  There are concerns about the loss of forests in many parts of the world where we are not replanting trees for the sake of making from for human habitation.  Perhaps, for the sake of saving us from deforestation, the better strategy is not going vegetarian as much as it may simply be practicing smarter human habitation development strategies.
The increase of human population is another factor that has the environmentalist climate change warriors up in arms.  That said, I once read a study that indicated if you were to take every human on the planet with two feet of space around each one, you could fit the entire world’s population inside the city limits of Jacksonville, Florida.

The population bomb may not be the massive explosion the lefties make it out to be.

Personally, I believe the trouble we find on the planet with poverty, and starvation is not the result of high population numbers as much as it is political systems.  If socialism, and other authoritarian ideologies, were eliminated, and the whole world practiced the kind of liberty and free market strategies created by the Founding Fathers of the United States, poverty would be a minimal concern, and starvation would be nearly completely wiped out.

That said, the lefties don’t agree.  Going back to the first paper I reference above, it states that both the environment and the climate will benefit if people adopt a lower-calorie diet low in meat consumption, especially beef. Though beef demand has dropped 27 percent in the U.S. over the last 40 years, global beef demand is expected to spike 95 percent by 2050 compared to 2006 levels.

The wonderful thing about humanity is that we have this incredible ability to adapt, and I am figuring as space gets a little tighter, and food demand increases, we will be able to adapt … but, once again, that kind of salvation would only work if the world was to abandon its progressive direction and instead embrace liberty and free market systems that are largely left to follow their own courses with as little government interference as possible.  If the lefties keep up their thrust for socialism, they will create a depopulation solution without meaning to, because billions will die of starvation as a result of socialist policies.  History proves it.  Look what happened under Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot, for example.  Currently in South Africa the food production is dropping rapidly because the white farmers are being driving from their farms, but once it happens, the authoritarians don’t farm that same land, they simply strip it of everything they can, and then it sits, unattended.  The bread basket of Africa, thanks to the destruction of their once prosperous capitalistic system being replaced by authoritarian Marxist principles, will lead that region in Africa to becoming barren, with a people starving while the very land around them could be feeding them if only they had not chased away the farmers, and a free market system that made farming profitable.
The “eat less red meat” crusade is more damaging than what I’ve merely talked about.  The problem is that the replacement foods are not only inadequate for a healthy diet, but because of the man-made processing involved, the new replacement meats are deadly to humans.

According to Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN, Contributor to Harvard’s Medical School website, the process to make new products that are designed to taste like meat may be a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but it draws its protein mainly from soy (soy’s isoflavones impersonate estrogen in bone, which has the male population nervous about consuming too much soy), the products “add vitamins and minerals found in animal proteins — like vitamin B12 and zinc — in amounts equal to (and in some cases, greater than) both red meat and poultry. This is a plus for vegetarians, because these nutrients are typically harder to come by when relying solely on foods from the plant kingdom. Vitamin B12, for instance, is found primarily in animal sources, and strict vegetarians and vegans must get their intake from fortified sources. What’s more, plant compounds such as phytic acid bind to minerals, which can increase requirements of zinc by 50% and may necessitate consuming about two times as much iron. For those who eat at least some animal protein, the vitamin and mineral fortification is less of a selling point.

“This doesn’t mean a plant-focused diet is lacking in nutrients. Beans, for instance, are a good source of both zinc and iron. They are also an important protein resource. Black bean burgers are never going to be mistaken for hamburgers, but they are typically a solid choice when it comes to health.

“The same can’t necessarily be said of the aforementioned beef substitutes, which have been created to mimic what many people love about a burger — the red juicy center and meaty taste. Along with the ambition to replicate hamburgers comes a comparable amount of saturated fat. Since diets higher in saturated fat are associated with increased rates of both heart disease and premature death, they may not be the type to opt for if your ambitions are purely health-related. They are also a significant source of sodium, particularly for those on salt-restricted diets.”

Editor’s Note: The dangers of saturated fat, according to some studies, may have been greatly exaggerated.  As with anything, it depends on the type of saturated fat, and of course moderation is always a good thing.  Don’t be a glutton about it, and it probably won’t be a big deal.

Back to the Gelsomin article, “If a lower risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease is your ultimate goal, aim for the kind of veggie burgers that showcase their beans, grains, and seeds front and center. Choose legume-based varieties studded with seeds and whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa.
The bottom line: Meatless burgers are good for the planet, but not always good for our health.”

We do know that processed foods (stuff you find in boxes and cans) are not as good for you as the real thing.  With that knowledge alone in our heads, why would we assume a processed meatless burger product processed with all kinds of artificial components to make it taste like meat would be any better for you than eating the real deal, a red meat burger?

A vegetarian diet typically reduces the intake of iron, Vitamin B, and zinc, which are important for hair growth.  This is one of the reasons that hair loss is a common side effect of vegetarian and vegan diets.  “Protein deficiency can [also] be a hazard, especially for vegans.”
That said, if a person is aware and is providing for themselves supplements to make up for the loss of needed nutrients from not eating meat, the losses can be compensated for.
Seems like an awful lot of work to make up for an unhealthy consequence from trying to eat healthy.

“The typical zinc deficiency symptoms include loss of appetite, hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin lesions, weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, and taste abnormalities.”

Sounds like a list of side effects one might see associated with certain medications.
“Iron deficiency can cause fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, a fast heart rate, or palpitations.”
Why not just eat meat, and not worry about those things?
Of course, eating meat increases your chances for diabetes, heart disease, and other nasty killers.
So, what’s the answer?
The Bible says to always practice moderation.  Vegetarianism and veganism are extremes, as is meat-only diets, or being too heavy on meat intake.  Common sense dictates that the best plan of action is to eat those things that are healthy for you (fruits and vegetables) in ample amounts, but don’t be afraid to compliment some of those meals with a hearty steak, a burger, a chicken breast, or other meat products.  Have a glass of milk every once in a while.  Enjoy some cheese or sour cream with your meal.  But, don’t go crazy with it.  Find balance.
I get it.  We are surrounded by all kinds of temptations, too.  I struggle with my diet, and my overweight condition reveals that.  It’s hard to stay away from all of the things being thrown at us.  I’m not saying we should not eat things like pizza, or processed foods, but they should be a rarity, not our primary source of food consumption.
I think in the end, once we all understand that and practice it (the latter being the toughest part) our health will be better.  We don’t have to chase vegetarian extremism, or eat processed meatless burgers that are actually harmful to us, to improve our health.  We just need to be reasonable about our diet, and deep down, we know what we need to do.  It’s just tough convincing ourselves to do it.
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