The Reckoner!

Should I become a vegetarian?

I eat meat probably 3-4 times a week. I like it, but I'm also pretty health-conscious. I work out every day and try to watch what I eat in general. Yeah, I know I could stick to lean meat and everything in moderation blah blah blah, but I keep reading that the more plants go in our bodies, the better. I also don't like what I hear about the way meat is processed, and I'm not sure I want to be a part of it anymore. 

I am concerned about the environment, but this question is more about me personally and not ethics. If I really cared, I could find organic meat.

Should I drop meat totally in favor of more plant food? Will it be easier to stay healthy as a vegetarian? Is meat really adding that much positive stuff into my diet? Is it true that it's better for the environment if more people become vegetarians?

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From my perspective, if it isn't an ethical question for you, stick with the meat.  It's generally unhealthy to eat too much meat (and we do generally get too much of it in our modern diet), but man was meant to occassionally eat it as part of a balanced omnivorous diet.

Personally, I love meat.  Chicken fingers are my desert island food (if anything, because dying early of a heart attack is preferable to most of the ways you can expect to die on a desert island).  It's the ethical consideration of how meat is generally processed in this country that makes me wonder about stopping.  Folks, don't take that slaughterhouse tour if you ever want to sleep (or eat) again.

While Dan is correct that man was meant to eat meat, the problem is that the meat available to us today in no way resembles meat that is good for you. If you want to go healthy, you really should cut out meat loaded with hormones, pesiticides, anitbiotics, etc. It's incredibly unhealthy and more and more research is coming out about how it can cause heart disease, cancer, etc.  Vegetarianism has become mainstream mainly because more studies have been released linking meat eating to significant health problems. And lastly, even Bill Clinton's gone vegan. Who can argue with that? 

This seems like a pretty innocuous question-why anonymous?

Your health information is dated.  Meat is healthy and fat is good for you.  Even Andrew Weil has come around to the belief that fat is not a problem.  After going paleo (and eating meat daily) my total cholesterol dropped to 156 from the low 200s!  If you really want to be healthy dump the grains, sugar, and seed oils.  IMO, the jury is still out on legumes, but many say to drop those as well.  Vegetarianism is way overrated as a healthly eating plan in my opioning.  Not to say you shouldn't be eating lots of veggies, you should, but we evolved, particularly our bigger brains, when we started eating meat and cooking our food.  

Oh, and Maggie is right about the hormones, et. al.  If you can find a good source of grass fed, non-hormoned, injected, CAFO, etc. meat, all the better.  Sometime there are local farmers who sell at a competitive price, although you have to seek them out and often need a freezer.  Personally we just shop at Food City and don't worry as much about it.  Compared to the damage that the above mentioned foods do to your body, the meat is probably a lesser concern.  

I can, however, argue w/ Bill Clinton going vegan.  Veganism is a disastrous diet with long term problems.  Any change he made from his junk food diet would have been an improvement and we don't know the impact of years on the diet.  Just eat a variety of whole, non-processed foods, including meat, and you should be fairly good to go.

@James Houston,

The original asker got in touch with us at Reckoner Central.  They said they kept it anonymous because they've got a couple siblings that are always Googling the family, and they don't want to take any crap for thinking about going vegetarian (at least, until they actually go vegetarian, that is).

That's a great point, Bill.  I know a couple of other folks who went paleo, and once they got past the initial shock of dropping the grains, they mentioned that they felt great -- energy went up and weight went down, in a hurry.

I think the tough part of doing a restricted diet is exactly as you mention --  in many cases, the replacement items you eat in lieu of eating what you actually want to (meat in this case) can be worse than just eating what you wanted to in the first place.  

I remember reading an article in GOOD Magazine where someone tried to go vegan for a month and made the mistake of learning that Bac-Os were vegan (which they are, amazingly enough).  He put Bac-Os on every meal he ate, and spiked his cholesterol something like 40 points overnight.  That's an extreme example, but I'm sure it happens to many folks in a milder way.

If you don't eat meat, you have to be careful that you're getting all your proteins, say in a beans-and-rice combination.  There's also some trace elements that a veggie diet doesn't provide, but can be covered with some dietary supplements.  My preference would be to simply cut back on meat, not cut it out completely.  Have fun experimenting with different foods.  Try using tofu and polenta and other meat substitutes and see if you can create something tasty.  Go with ground turkey instead of ground hamburger.


the thing about any diet is that you have to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs. So if you cut out any food - grains, meat, etc. you still have to ensure you're getting the things you don't have. If you do veganism in an intelligent, then it is very healthy and raises your energy level a lot. 

Now i don't think eating meat is entirely bad at all. But at the state the meat industry is in our country, unless you're eating healthy meat, it can be very harmful to your health.


As for the paleo diet, I think eating just meat is unecessary. People argue that it's the diet of early man. But this is in no way true. Early man only ate meat when he could find and hunt it, which was rare. Mostly they ate grains and berries. Now if you're running after your meat to hunt it, that's a different story, but the best diet is really to get a balance of everything and not to eat too much of any one thing. 

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