Raw Food Explained: Life Science
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You can no longer cook and eat pet dogs in some parts of the country. Within the past year, a state (Texas) legislature passed a law which prohibits the sale of dogs for food. It seems that some people in this state were raising and selling special breeds of dogs to certain immigrants who were used to eating them as part of their national diet.
The pet lovers of this state raised such an outcry that a law was enacted to protect dogs from being used as food. Of course in some parts of the world, household pets are still part of the evening meal. In these countries, leftovers are not fed to the family dog—the leftovers are likely to be the dog!
Almost no American would consider having Fido or Rover on the dinner plate, yet millions line up each day for a serving of old "Bossie" at the local hamburger joint.
And they think vegetarians are strange!
Vegetarianism is one of the most popular approaches to good health through better nutrition. It has been proven that ancient man was a vegetarian first, and came to eat meat only much later in his development. The vegetarians were first, but the carnivores have gotten the upper hand in the past thousand years.
Because vegetarianism is such a proven method for improved health, and since it has a firm basis in historical fact and precedent, everyone who wishes to teach and practice healthful living should be eminently knowledgeable about the types of vegetarianism, its past, and its relationship to the Life Science diet. This lesson discusses vegetarianism in this light.
History of Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism is not new. It has been around as long as recorded history, and before. In the Far East, vegetarianism was devotedly practiced by the Hindus thousands of years before America was discovered. In the west, the ancient Greeks glorified and praised the virtues of vegetarianism. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Ovid, and Hippocrates were only a few of the great classical thinkers who strictly avoided meat and flesh.
The Romans gave us the word "vegetarian" from the Latin word vegetare. This word has nothing whatsoever to do with "vegetables." Instead, the word "vegetare" means "to enliven" or to fill with good spirits. When the Romans called someone a "vegetarian," they were not calling him a "vegetable eater," but instead were referring to him as a vigorous person, sound in mind and body.
The original definition of vegetarian, then, is not someone who eats vegetables, but a person who possesses radiant health, a lively mind, and a sound spirit.
The common definition of a vegetarian is "someone who doesn't eat any meat." Meat includes chicken, fish, insects, and any living creature above the rudimentary cellular level. In other words, you can still consume small living microorganisms, or microscopic "animals," and still be considered a vegetarian. You cannot, however, eat tunafish once a week or turkey at Thanksgiving and still be a vegetarian.
This is the loose definition of vegetarianism—the avoidance of animal flesh as part of the diet. The correct definition of a vegetarian, however, is this: A vegetarian is a person who practices living solely on plant products.
This means that not only is a vegetarian diet strictly from the plant kingdom (no eggs, no honey, no dairy products), but someone who practices true vegetarianism will not use or wear any products made from animals. This means no leather shoes, no fur coats, no purses or billfolds made from cowhide, and so on. It also means that household products, such as soaps, glues, etc., made in part or whole from the remains of animals are not used.
Obviously, few people are total vegetarians. In our society, it is very difficult to avoid all products made from animals. It is, however, quite simple to avoid all foods derived from animals. Dietary vegetarianism is not only a practical reality, but an imperative one. We can no longer afford to exploit our resources to produce expensive meat for the select few.
The Two Approaches To Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism is both a moral and ethical issue, as well as a dietary and health practice. Although people may come to the vegetarian way of life for a variety of reasons, there are two major categories of vegetarianism: 1) Ethical Vegetarianism, and 2) Dietary Vegetarianism.
The Moral and Ethical Aspects of Vegetarianism
Some people practice vegetarianism because of their religious beliefs or personal morality. These people simply feel that it is “wrong” to kill and slaughter animals for food. Often, they also believe that animals should not be exploited, abused, or mistreated in any way. This means that an ethical vegetarian would object to vivisection, the skinning of animals for furs and leather, animal experimentation, hunting, fishing, and any other practice in which animals are hurt or murdered.
Vegetarianism is also a tenet of many religious teachings. The Hindus in India and various Christian sects in this country, such as the Seventh Day Adventists and Church of Latter Day Saints, often avoid all meat eating. In these religions, the prohibition against the eating of animals is related to the taking of life. They simply believe that it is wrong to murder or kill anyone, whether it be a human, a cow, or chicken.
Many Buddhists who preach nonviolence generally practice vegetarianism, but they will also eat meat that is offered to them by their hosts. They do not kill animals for food, but will often eat such animals that have already been killed by others. Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was a strict vegetarian.
In fact, many founders of the world’s greatest religions were originally vegetarians or became so after their period of enlightenment. There are a goodly number of serious Biblical scholars who also think that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian.
Vegetarianism as part of a religion has always existed, and will always continue to do so as long as there are proscriptions against the taking of life.
Other ethical vegetarians, however, may refuse to eat meat on moral principles, yet not be associated with any religion or dogmatic belief. Percy Bysshe Shelley, an English poet of the nineteenth century, was both an atheist and an ethical vegetarian. In 1813, he stated in a treatise on diet that “man’s digestive system was suited only to plant food” and that he abhorred the killing and slaughter that goes hand in hand with meat eating.
You may be considered an ethical vegetarian if you believe that all killing, including animals, is morally wrong. There are those who never eat any meat, not because they consider it unhealthy or even unnatural, but because the murder of any living creature is morally repugnant to them.
The Dietary and Health Aspects of Vegetarianism
Besides the ethical vegetarian, there is the dietary or health-minded vegetarian. This type of vegetarian may or may not believe it is morally wrong to take an animal’s life. In fact, the question of morality or ethics really does not enter into this type of person’s decision to eat meat or not.
Meat is avoided because of the health problems it creates. It is not included in the diet because of its past association with cancer, heart attacks, kidney failure, arthritis, and other debilitating diseases.
In the past, most vegetarians were so because of ethical or moral beliefs. Now with all the scientific findings about the harmful effects of meat and animal products, more people are becoming vegetarians for dietary or health reasons.
What Type of Vegetarian Are You?
Most people are vegetarians for both ethical and health reasons, and this is probably the best balance.
Ethical vegetarians, for example, often tend to be somewhat sickly and less healthy than those who are vegetarians for health reasons. Why is this?
Ethical vegetarians avoid meat for moral reasons; they may or may not be concerned with their health.
Consequently, they may indulge in white sugar, pastries, poor food combinations, and bizarrely concocted “meat substitutes.” The one thing you can be sure of, however, is that those who are ethical vegetarians for moral reasons tend to be more consistent in their vegetarianism. They rarely revert back to meat eating because they have strong convictions.
On the other hand, those that come to vegetarianism for purely health reasons may go back to eating meat if their health does not improve or should fail. They are usually willing to try the vegetarian diet for a year or two, or maybe for five or six years. Yet all too often they may start including fish or chicken back into their diet. They see nothing “morally” wrong with eating meat.
The best approach to vegetarianism is both an ethical and health-minded one. If you are not only convinced that vegetarianism is a superior way to health, but that killing animals is morally unacceptable, then you are more likely to be steady in your practice. Vegetarianism without ethics cannot last; vegetarianism without a health-minded and rational attitude is ineffectual. We should imbue our vegetarian practice with both morality and a practical concern for health.
How Many Vegetarians Are There?
If you are a vegetarian, you are not alone. At least one out of three people in the world today are vegetarians. For some of these people, however, vegetarianism is not a moral or dietary choice: it is a practical necessity. Meat may not be available or it may simply be too expensive to buy.
In America, there are a few people who are vegetarians for economic reasons, but the majority of people who avoid meat in the United States (second highest per capita of meat consumption in the world) do so out of ethical or health concerns.
In 1978, an extensive poll was conducted by the Roper organization to determine how many vegetarians there are in the United States. Here are their findings:
|Class||Percent of the Total U.S. Population:|
|Strict vegetarians—those that never eat any meat, fish, or fowl||0.5%|
|Mainly vegetarians—those that eat meat less than once or twice a week||2.6%|
|People who say they are “careful” about how much meat they eat||17.0%|
|People who eat meat less often than they once did||75.0%|
In other words, about one out of 200 people in this country practice vegetarianism or approximately 1,150,000 Americans do not eat meat. Of course a goodly number of these vegetarians also eat milk, eggs, cheese, honey, and other animal products. In fact, about nine out of ten vegetarians still eat dairy products and eggs, it is somewhat encouraging, however, that the great majority of Americans are at least consciously cutting back on their tremendous meat consumption.
The reasons that these vegetarians gave the Roper organization for becoming a vegetarian are also revealing. Over half of those people who practice vegetarianism do so purely for health reasons (56%). About one out of six vegetarians (16%) do not eat meat for humanitarian or moral reasons. Saving money and the high cost of meat are the main reasons that 25% of all vegetarians follow their diet, and the remaining two or three percent vegetarians avoid meat because of the wishes of their family, spouse, parents, or children.
The Types Of Vegetarian Diets
Although we can strictly define what a vegetarian is, there is not a standard vegetarian diet. Some vegetarians eat everything but meat; others eat cheese and eggs. There are vegetarians who eat only raw foods and vegetarians who eat strictly cooked foods. There are even vegetarians that never eat vegetables, and those that eat fish and still call themselves vegetarians.
Clearly, there is no one vegetarian diet and there are several dietary approaches to vegetarianism. The only thing common to all true vegetarian diets is a strict avoidance of flesh. Since vegetarian diets are so popular among health seekers, you should know the different types and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
For the sake of convenience, vegetarian diets have been divided into six general categories. Each category of diet is explained, and its strengths and weaknesses are noted.
The Unrestricted Vegetarian Diet
This particular form of vegetarianism is simple to describe: its adherents eat everything but meat. Vegetarians who follow an unrestricted diet consume dairy products, eggs, and even animal fat in the form of lard occasionally. They eat sugar, white flour, salt, fried foods, fast foods, and junk foods.
They eat just about anything that cannot crawl, swim, or run. And they are often very unhealthy.I met a man and his wife who had been vegetarians for over ten years. They were both fighting a serious weight problem. “I never thought I’d be an overweight vegetarian,” the man joked with me, “but Susan and I each weigh nearly twenty-five pounds more than when we got married ten years ago.”
I worked with the man, and had a chance to see how he became a fat vegetarian. His diet was unrestricted to say the least. He continually drank soft drinks with sugar because he didn’t want those “artificial sweeteners.” He certainly enjoyed ice cream, and ate many of his lunches from vending machines in the form of snack cakes and cookies.
His wife and himself enjoyed cooking gourmet vegetarian meals, and they used eggs, butter, and cream in all of their cooking for a rich taste. One day he told me: “You know, I hate to say it, but I think Susan and I are going to have to start eating meat again.” I was astonished. After ten years, he and his wife were going back to eating animals. Why, I asked him.
“Well, we read a book that said some people are probably not meant to be vegetarians. It has to do with the pituitary gland, and how it needs animal protein to be stimulated. When your gland is stimulated by eating meat, your metabolism increases and you lose weight. We keep getting fat on a vegetarian diet, so I guess we’ll try something new. Susan’s fixing fish tonight, and it’ll probably be pretty strange eating meat after all these years. Still,” he said as he patted his stomach, “I’ll eat anything to get rid of this.”
Of course that was exactly his problem. He had been eating “anything” and everything on his vegetarian diet. Listen to what Dr. Herbert M. Shelton has to say about vegetarians who follow such an unrestricted diet:
“Vegetarians often have the erroneous idea that the rejection of meat is all that is required to carry them into dietetic heaven. They do not know that a vegetarian diet may be even more dangerous than a properly-planned mixed diet. Indeed, the eating of most vegetarians is so abominable that one cannot blame people for not following them.”
The unrestricted, eat-anything-you-like vegetarian diet is indeed poorer than the diet which includes meat but rejects other unnatural foods. Meat eating, for example, has been around much longer than white sugar, white flour, preservatives, and other junk foods. There is more in man’s background that predisposes him to a raw hunk of meat than to a sugary ice cream cone.
This is not to say that we should consume meat in preference to vanilla ice cream; neither has a place in the healthful diet. Some vegetarians have only seen half the truth, and remain “ice cream” vegetarians—addicted to junk foods and sugar, while proudly rejecting meat.
The unrestricted vegetarian diet has little to recommend it. It is certainly better than an unrestricted meal diet, yet it cannot be depended upon to build and maintain health. In summary, the unrestricted vegetarian diet can be evaluated as follows:
Advantages: All flesh and meat products are eschewed which reduces the level of toxicity in the diet.
Disadvantages: Old and poor diet habits are maintained. Junk foods are often substituted for the missing meat. The person is deluded into thinking that he has improved his diet, when in effect, only a small portion of the harmful foods has been removed.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The only thing the unrestricted vegetarian diet has in common with the recommended Life Science diet is the mutual avoidance of meat. Other than that, the unrestricted vegetarian diet is more closely aligned with the traditional American diet than with the Life Science diet.
The Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian Diet
Like the unrestricted vegetarian diet discussed, the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is a very liberal dietary approach. Both diets include all dairy products and eggs in the foods eaten. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian (abbreviated as LOV) eats cheese, drinks milk, and uses eggs as part of the regular diet.
Unlike the unrestricted vegetarian diet, the LOV diet generally excludes junk foods, white sugar, white flour and other widely-known debilitating foods. The LOV dietary approach, then, is a health-minded way to a better diet.
People who are lacto-ovo-vegetarians (“lacto” for milk, “ovo” for eggs) usually are former meat eaters who have decided to eliminate meat and, at the same time, substitute more whole and natural foods for processed foods. People follow a LOV diet for two reasons: 1) They are not yet confident enough or nutritionally educated enough to give up all animal foods and products. They continue to eat eggs and milk to “make sure they get plenty of protein,” or whatever. 2) They do so for social and family convenience. A LOV diet allows a great deal of latitude in dining out, and it may be followed with a minimum of inconvenience.
Advantages: Meat is eliminated and a gradual trend is started to a better, more wholesome diet. The LOV diet is socially convenient, nonthreatening. and requires a minimal amount of change in lifestyle.
Disadvantages: Milk, milk products, and eggs are totally unnecessary in the diet. These foods are constipating, acidic, and full of pesticides, hormones, and growth additives.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The LOV diet has only two things in common with the Life Science diet—it too avoids all flesh, and it also emphasizes more whole and natural foods over processed and refined foods.
The Lacto-Vegetarian Diet
The lacto-vegetarian diet is the most popular vegetarian diet in the world. This diet avoids all animal products except for those made from milk. Eggs, lard, and the most blatant junk foods are avoided. Yogurt, butter, cheese, cream, and milk, however, are consumed in unrestricted amounts.
Many people follow a lacto-vegetarian diet for reasons convenience or nutritional “safety.” Again, a lacto-vegetarian diet makes it easier to dine out and eat conventional foods. Some people use milk products in a vegetarian diet in order to meet the inflated Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) calcium standards. Milk and cheeses are used in such a diet so that enough calcium may be consumed.
Calcium requirements, however, can be easily met and exceeded on a vegetarian diet that includes absolutely no dairy products. In fact, there is much doubt that calcium from pasteurized and heated milk products can be absorbed by the body at all. Calcium requirements on an alkaline vegetarian diet are far lower than for a meat-eating, acidic diet. In other words, meat-eaters need larger amounts of calcium than do vegetarians.
If you know vegetarians who use milk products as a matter of convenience, there is probably little you can do to enlighten them. If, however, they are adding dairy products to their diet solely to meet calcium requirements, then tell them the truth: It just isn’t necessary.
Advantages: The healthy lacto-vegetarian diet does eliminate many of the harmful foods eaten today: meat, animal products, eggs, junk foods, white sugar. It is a relatively easy and simple diet to follow, and may be conveniently adhered to by those who do not wish to make major changes in their lifestyles.
Disadvantages: Most lacto-vegetarians greatly overeat on dairy products. It is a fact that lacto-vegetarians generally eat more cheese and drink more milk than many meat eaters and those on conventional diets. Dairy products are often used as a high-protein substitute for meat, yet they too are full of hormones, additives, and pesticides.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: Like the LOV diet, this diet has in common with the optimal Life Science diet the avoidance of meat and many substandard foods and junk foods. Eggs, too, are eliminated as in the Life Science diet. Yet the lacto-vegetarian diet still includes many, many foods not considered natural to our dietary heritage. Cooked grains, legumes, onions, garlic, spices, herbs, and foods eaten in poor combinations are all present in the lacto-vegetarian diet. Although another step in the right direction, the lacto-vegetarian diet still slops short of embracing the full principles of Natural Hygiene and Life Science.
All vegans are vegetarians—not all vegetarians are vegans. Life Scientists or Natural Hygienists are usually vegans—not all vegans are Natural Hygienists. Confusing? Let’s explain:
A vegan is a vegetarian that does not consume any animal products whatsoever. A vegan diet does not include eggs, meat, milk, cheese, or any other animal products. The vegan diet even eliminates honey, an animal product used in many vegetarian diets. The vegan is the true vegetarian. Those vegetarians who continue to eat eggs or drink milk are really just nonmeat eaters. Estimates have placed the number of vegans at about 10% of the vegetarian population; in other words, only one out of ten vegetarians strictly avoids eggs, milk and dairy products.
The vegan diet, like so many other vegetarian regimens, however, usually relies upon grains and beans for a large portion of its calories. Foods are often eaten in poor combinations and in large amounts. Vegans often substitute processed and refined soybean products in place of dairy and meat. Soy milk, tofu. tempeh, soy ice cream, and soy meat substitutes are the darlings of the vegan diet.
A heavy reliance on soy products, due in part to a misplaced concern about protein, is the major drawback to the vegan diet. Soy products cannot be completely digested due to enzymes present in the soybeans, and soy foods also inhibit iron absorption. Still, the soy foods are superior to the milk and eggs used by other vegetarians and to the meat consumed by flesh eaters.
Advantages: The vegan diet completely eliminates some of the worst foods in the American dietary—meat, milk, eggs, and junk foods. It also eschews honey, a food often abused and overused by vegetarians and other health seekers.
Disadvantages: Vegans still use sweeteners such as maple syrup or molasses. They consume too many soy products, and eat a preponderance of grains and legumes. They often worry about “complete” protein combinations, and often eat a majority of the foods cooked or otherwise processed.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The vegan diet can be easily adapted to the Life Science diet. All the vegan must do is to eliminate all processed foods, such as soy products, sweeteners, etc., eat more foods raw, and watch food combinations. If you follow the Life Science diet, you may also be considered a vegan, or “true” vegetarian, at well.
The Macrobiotic Diet
The macrobiotic diet is not strictly vegetarian, although most people regard it as such. Fish and seafood are often a small but frequent part of a macrobiotic diet.
Grains form the bulk of foods eaten by a person on a macrobiotic diet. In fact, most macrobiotic supporters recommend a diet that is at least 50% whole grains, and it is not at all uncommon for a macrobiotic diet to be 80% grain based.
The second most important foods on a macrobiotic diet are legumes (10 to 15% of the diet), followed by seaweeds and hard vegetables. Nuts and seeds are rarely eaten, and usually salted and roasted when consumed. Fresh fruits are almost never eaten by a person following such a diet; indeed, apples are about the only raw fruit eaten, and other fruits are usually cooked and sweetened as a dessert.
Salts, salted foods, pickles, tamari (soy sauce), and miso are used heavily in the diet. The Japanese, from whom the macrobiotic diet was chiefly imported, eat more salt than any other population in the world. Even their plums are preserved and heavily salted. Nothing escapes salting in a macrobiotic diet.
Strangely enough, the macrobiotic health seeker avoids most fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and other raw vegetables have no place in the macrobiotic diet. In fact, someone once said as a joke (but which is true) that a macrobiotic person is “someone who would rather eat a fish than an orange.”
An avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables occurs on a macrobiotic diet due to application of the mystical “yin-yang” outlook. Fresh fruits are considered too “yin” to eat, and they are often categorized in the same department as white sugar and artificial sweeteners. Most meat is considered too “yang” to eat, and grains (especially brown rice) are said to have the perfect combination of “yin and yang.”
Besides the overuse of salt and the avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables, the major drawback of the
macrobiotic diet is that it is so heavily grain dependent. Dr. Shelton, when discussing grain diets, stated: “A cereal and pulse (legume) diet with a deficiency of green foods and fresh fruits is obviously inadequate. It is deficient in alkaline elements and Vitamins.”
Another health pioneer, Dr. Densmore had this to say about the grain-based macrobiotic diet: “I object to bread, cereals, pulses and grains not only because of the predominant proportion of starch in them, but also because their nitrogen is distinctly difficult of digestion and the cause of unnecessary waste of vitality.”
The macrobiotic diet has a strong appeal for those changing over from a conventional meat-based diet. Heavy grains tend to be as constipating and acidic as the meat that has been left behind. The heavily-salted foods exceed the high-salt American diet. The avoidance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet certainly finds a kindred soul in the processed food diet of most Americans.
Yet it is an undisputed fact that people who follow a macrobiotic diet enjoy better health than those on a typical American diet. Why is that? Primarily because the macrobiotic diet is largely vegetarian. It avoids all dairy products and eschews white sugar. Simply the elimination of red meat, sugar, and dairy products will greatly increase one’s health and vitality, and this is the strong point of the macrobiotic school.
Advantages: The macrobiotic diet is largely vegetarian. It eliminates many of the harmful foods present in the modern diet. It has a well-established history and provides an easily understandable dietary framework with specific recommendations and rules. It provides an easy transition for those breaking their addictions to white sugar, red meat, junk foods, and heavily-processed foods.
Disadvantages: The macrobiotic diet relies too much on grains and grain products which are third-rate foods. Salt is used in large amounts, and foods are almost always cooked. Fresh fruits, salads, sprouts, and nuts are rarely eaten, and never make up more than 5-10% of the overall diet.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The macrobiotic diet is only similar to the Life Science approach in that junk foods, white sugar, red meat, and dairy products are eliminated. Other than that, 95% of the macrobiotic diet is unrelated to the optimum foods eaten on the Life Science diet—fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouts.
Raw Food Diets
A diet much closer to the Life Science regimen is the raw food vegetarian diet. People who are “raw fooders” eat a variety of foods, but all are eaten uncooked.
Some raw fooders eat uncooked grains, and others include raw milk, raw cheese, and raw cream in their diet. Many times raw fooders will concoct entrees and main dishes that contain 15 to 20 ingredients, all chopped and mixed together. They often overeat on salads and raw vegetables and neglect fruits. They consume salad dressings, raw oils, and various nut butters with their plates of raw vegetables.
They rely heavily on avocados, dried fruits, and nuts, sometimes to excess. They are often enamored with raw juice therapy, and drink pints and quarts of fresh-squeezed juices each day.
One of the main problems with the raw food diet followed by most people is that its adherents eat far too little fruit and far too many nuts, fats, oils and seeds for their fuel. Raw fooders who do not make fruit the major part of their diet will overeat on nuts, oils, salad dressings, or other concentrated foods.
They are on the right track, but may fall short when it comes to food combining or avoiding inappropriate raw foods (such as onions, garlic, raw cheese, raw honey, etc.).
Advantages: The raw food diet, when it does not include dairy products or other relatively-indigestible foods, can promote the highest level of health. The diet is supers charged with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids—all in an easily-digestible form. By eating foods raw, you avoid totally-inappropriate foods such as meats, junk foods, breads, and so forth.
Disadvantages: The raw food diet may still include certain noxious vegetables such as garlic and onions. Honey and raw dairy products may be included. An over-reliance on salads, salad dressings, and nuts is common. Weight loss may occur too rapidly if not enough fruits are included.
Compared to the Life Science Diet: The raw food diet comes very close to the Life Science diet. If all herbs, spices, and seasonings are avoided, as well as all animal products, the raw food diet can be said to be 90% similar to the Life Science diet. When raw foods are eaten in proper combinations and according to our fruitarian biological heritage, then this diet closely approximates the Life Science diet of raw fruits, supplemented by vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Pros And Cons Of Vegetarianism
Should We Be Vegetarians At All?
After all of this discussion of vegetarianism and the different types of vegetarians, we probably should ask the question: Is the vegetarian diet really that suited after all for optimum health?
If we consider the vegetarian diet to be chiefly based upon vegetables (greens, grains, stalks, tubers, roots, etc.), then we can answer: No, the vegetarian diet is not the best diet to promote health and well-being. The only diet that can truly insure the highest level of health is one that is based primarily on the foods of our biological heritage: Fruits.
Man is not suited to live on grasses, stalks, greens, and roughage that make up the greater part of the vegetable category. These may be additions to his natural diet, but such vegetables alone cannot give the highest-quality nutrients and fuel that we require. Fruits with their abundance of minerals, vitamins, natural sugars, and amino acids can furnish us with all of our needs. They are nontoxic (something that vegetables cannot make a claim to) and they may eaten with relish with no preparation (unlike grains, tubers, and hard roots).
Since T. C. Fry has addressed this question so well in the supplemental material following this lesson, we’ll end this discussion by simply saying that the typical vegetarian diet as envisioned by the majority of people does not meet all the criteria for optimum well-being. We hasten to add that this is true not because a vegetarian diet is deficient or lacking, but because fruits alone should form the majority of foods eaten, and not vegetables.
Yet for its shortcomings, the vegetarian diet is vastly superior to the typical American diet and is unreservedly recommended as at least a first step for those seeking to improve their health. Let’s look at just some of the more obvious benefits of a vegetarian diet.
The Beneficial Aspects of Vegetarianism
A recent study comparing diets and deaths from heart disease in seven countries showed that those people who ate the highest amounts of animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, etc.) also had the highest death rates. Finland, which had the highest amount of animal foods, topped the list in heart disease. The United States, second largest consumer of animal products, also took second place in death rate due to heart disease. The Japanese, which (had the lowest incidence of meat eating, also had the lowest amount of heart disease.
Vegetarians not only avoid heart disease, but also have lower blood pressure. A Boston study showed that vegetarians who ate little or no animal products (dairy, eggs) had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than their meat-eating counterparts.
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, a publication noted for its conservative position on the role of diet in health and disease, Dr. W. A. Thomas reported that “a vegetarian diet can prevent 90% of our thrombo-embolic disease (blood-clotting) and 97% of our coronary occlusions.” In his book, Heart Attack, You Don’t Have to Die, Dr. Christian Barnard cites several medical studies which prove that “people who eat a diet high in animal products (meat, eggs, milk, etc.) have a higher incidence of coronary heart disease than those who do not.”
Not only do vegetarians suffer from fewer incidents of heart disease and high blood pressure, they fare much better when it comes to cancer. Several epidemiological studies and sources have shown a very strong correlation between the incidence of cancer of the colon and meat consumption.
One of these researchers says: “Because eating of vegetarian foods, free of animal fats, results in a shorter transit time and probably the production of less carcinogens, the incidence of cancer of the colon should be substantially less for vegetarians than for omnivores.” He then goes on to make this very revealing statement: “At the present time, there have been no cases of such cancer among those who are total vegetarians (vegans).”
Cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure—the list of meat-related diseases and illnesses—grows and grows. The true health benefits of vegetarianism, however, must be experienced to be fully appreciated. Not only does physical well-being increase dramatically along with new energy levels on a vegetarian diet, but emotional stability and mental equanimity are much more likely to occur when meat is no longer eaten.
The vegetarian diet has so many benefits that few ever think that it could have pitfalls or disadvantages. Yet there are aspects of vegetarianism that you should avoid.
The Vegetarian Trap
Vegetarianism has been vigorously promoted by many health schools. And for good reason, when you consider the alternatives of blood-letting, murdering, and corpse-gorging that meat eating offers. Yet is vegetarianism without its drawbacks, shortcomings, or traps for the unwary? We must answer: No. There are pitfalls for the health seeker who turns only to vegetarianism for his answers. Let’s look at some of the traps that vegetarians must avoid.
Vegetarianism: Not Far Enough
Whenever someone asks me what Natural Hygienists or Life Scientists believe, I jokingly answer that “we’re somewhere to the left of vegetarianism.” The point I try to make is that while some people consider vegetarians “radical” health seekers, Natural Hygienists view them as only beginners on the path to radiant health and well-being.
Vegetarianism is only the first step to a better diet, although it is an important step. The major trap for vegetarians is that since they have changed their daily diet so radically from the standard meat-centered American diet, they often feel complacent and self-satisfied. They feel that they have done enough to improve their diet simply because they have stopped eating meat.
Unless vegetarians give up all animal products, eat a majority of their food uncooked and unprocessed, and practice food combining rules, they will be doomed to a much lower level of health than those who follow the teachings of Natural Hygiene and Life Science. In addition, vegetarians must also embark upon a regular program of exercise and fasting to complete the detoxification process of their bodies.
Vegetarianism is unequivocably recommended and urged for every human being alive today, and the world will doubtless be a much better place if all gave up slaughtering and killing for food. But, becoming a vegetarian is only a very small step forward from the masses of sick and diseased meat eaters. To become truly well, truly healed, and firmly established on the road to total health, you must go beyond vegetarianism. Do not become smug, self-complacent, or self-satisfied simply because you no longer eat meat—you still have a long way to go before your lifestyle is in harmony with the universe. This is the first trap that vegetarians must avoid: the belief that vegetarianism alone is enough to insure health and well-being.
Vegetarians People Love to Hate
Another trap that vegetarians must avoid is the feeling of separateness and aloofness that sometimes accompanies a change in diet. Here’s a conversation I overheard while shopping at a supermarket in California:
“Hey, look at all those idiots waiting at the meat counter for their poison,” a smirking man said to his wife.
“Yuck. I can’t believe people eat baby animals and feed them to their kids too. I can smell the blood from here. I’ve got to get out of here. I can’t believe people are so stupid about eating decaying meat,” his wife agreed with him.
I passed by them and asked, “You must be vegetarians. How long have you stopped eating meat?”
The smart smiled proudly. “I quit six months ago. My wife ate fish only for the last two years, but now she’s a veggie, too.”
The couple deserved a medal on the spot. Imagine—no meat for six months! No doubt they would continue to insult friends, alienate relatives, and give vegetarians a bad name for another six months, until they found some other fad they could indulge in and feel superior about.
This is the second trap of vegetarianism: us and them. When people first become vegetarians, they often act obnoxious and supercilious. They think of themselves as us against them—the meat eaters. They often forget that one, two, or even ten years ago, they were also lined up at fast food joints, wolfing down hamburgers and hotdogs with all the other “idiots.”
Vegetarians need humility, patience, and understanding of those who have not yet become vegetarians. The majority of people who practice vegetarianism in this country also once ate meat, and probably even more meat than most people in the world. Yet as soon as they give up their foul habit, they immediately start to proselytize and seek unwilling converts.
Being humble, patient, understanding, and forgiving does not mean that we should tolerate or accept meat eating as a viable alternative to a vegetarian diet. Make no mistake about it: the willing and conscious consumption of animals is wrong—morally and physiologically wrong. Yet, we must not become self-righteous or hypercritical of those who still eat meat. Kind compassion, sterling examples, and extended help and support are the qualities that will win others to vegetarianism and better health practices. Avoid the trap of self-righteous vegetarianism. Don’t become the vegetarian or health fanatic that everyone loves to hate.
Frequently Asked Questions
I'm a little confused about lacto-vegetarians and lacto-ovo-vegetarians. What do you call a vegetarian who eats fish?
A hypocrit. You probably wanted a better answer than that. In the last few years, it has become fashionable to be a vegetarian or to be concerned about one's diet and health. As a result, many more people are cutting back on the amounts of meat they eat. As soon as they eliminate pork or beef from their diet, these people usually proudly proclaim that they are vegetarians. They may continue to eat chicken or fish or perhaps they may eat meat only once a week or even once a year. They really aren't too sure what to call themselves, yet they feel they must make some distinction between themselves and those people who continue to eat large quantities of meat.
Vegetarianism is already such an overused and misused word that it can scarcely afford any more bending or abusing by these well-meaning but misguided souls. Perhaps we
should call these people who eat only fish or chicken or meat irregularly "half-vegetarians" or "reforming carnivores." Their goal is admirable, but their loose play with the term "vegetarian" only creates confusion in the public's mind and does a disservice to those who are stronger in their beliefs and will avoid all meat.
Is there any good book that teaches someone how to be a vegetarian? How can we teach others about vegetarianism?
You don't have to do anything to become a vegetarian. You just have to stop doing one thing: eating animals. Many books that conspire to help others become vegetarians are often full of meat-substitute recipes and devote far too much attention to the protein question. Some of the literature makes it sound like vegetarianism is a long and difficult transition, fraught with dietary perils. It is a fact: over 90% of all books on vegetarianism are bought by people who are already vegetarians.
A book or article may help a person make the final decision to give up meat once and for all. However, the desire to become a vegetarian must arise within the person himself. You cannot "argue" anyone into becoming a vegetarian. After the decision is made, however, you can offer your own support and provide an excellent example of the health-promoting effects of the vegetarian diet.
I want to become a vegetarian, but my husband is dead against it. The kids aren't too crazy about giving up hamburgers, either. Help! I don't want to start a family crisis, and I hate cooking two different meals all the time.
If you can't solve a problem head-on, be clever. Your mistake may be that you are trying to confront or convert your family. Nobody likes to think that they have been wrong all their life, especially when it comes to something so basic as the diet. Your actions are making your family uncomfortable because now they must also re-examine their dietary beliefs and habits. Be patient with them.
First, you do not have to eat meat to please any of your family. It is possible to be the only vegetarian in a family of meat eaters. My advice is to gradually phase meat out from your family's table. Don't do this by offering them unfamiliar substitutes or "weird health foods." Instead, try to have more and more of their favorite meatless dishes. Use meat more as a condiment or seasoning when you cook for them. Don't make it a point to tell them how bad meat is; eating is an emotional experience, and rational arguments rarely sway anyone. Arguing will only reinforce their mistaken beliefs.
Above all else, be happy, cheerful, and positive about your new lifestyle. Radiate health and well-being. Set a good example and keep a sense of humor about yourself and your diet. Your spouse and children must decide on their own to stop eating meat; otherwise, the change may be only temporary and be made grudgingly. The good health and happiness that a vegetarian diet will afford you will eventually win over your family to your side. Be patient, persevere, and remain confident that you are totally correct in your decision and that only good will come from it.
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