I was emailed this link from Precision Nutrition because I am on their email list for some reason, anyway this is a good article that I thought ya'll would enjoy.
Meat: Good For Us or Disease Waiting to Happen?
by John M Berardi, February 18th, 2009.
Meat: The Debate
As most of you know, I recently embarked upon a little ďvegetarianĒ or, plant-based diet journey. Well, as of last week, my journey came to an end. Right now Iím in the process of wrapping up my reports, including compiling all my body comp data, pictures, etc. And Iím hoping to report back next Wednesday with my final tally and thoughts.
However, this week, I wanted to discuss something thatís come up quite a lot over the last few weeks. The question of whether eating meat is actually good for us - or whether itís disease waiting to happen.
It seems that this subject is one of the hottest topics in todayís media climate, with omnivores and vegetarians lining up on opposite sides of the fence and lobbing information bombs back and forth at each other.
Of course, whenever someone tries to justify their own personal lifestyle, post hoc, with references, research, and citations, objectivity goes out the window. Indeed, on the anti-meat side, guys like Dr Colin Campbell (of ďThe China StudyĒ fame), an outspoken vegan himself, is called into action. And on the pro-meat side, guys like Dr Loren Cordain (of ďPaleo DietĒ fame), an outspoken omnivore, is called in to pinch hit.
So, whoís right? And whoís the moron?
Well, not so fast. I mean, both are very well educated. Both are well published. Both are highly accomplished. And both seem to make a lot of sense. So neither is a moron. And maybe neither is wrong. Indeed, hereís how I look at it.
Itís sometimes possible for two intelligent people to look at the same information and come up with different conclusions.
Itís also possible for two intelligent people to come up different conclusions that both happen to be correct, depending on the circumstances.
The Vegetarian Interview
A few weeks back, Chris Shugart, over at T-nation, caught wind of my little plant-based experiement and asked for an interview. You can read the interview transcript below:
Can Vegetarians Build Muscle
And after the interview, on the T-nation forums, there was a really rich discussion thread. As expected, there was some real polarity. The meat-eaters thought my experiment was ridiculous. Never would they give up their precious meat. And the vegetarians thought the experiment was great. Finally some validation.
The truth, however, is that many of them missed the point. I didnít do this experiment to see whether vegetarian eating was better than meat eating or vice versa. I did it to see what merit could be drawn out of BOTH approaches.
Further, and perhaps more importantly, I did it to draw some attention to the very real risk vs. reward analysis that must be done when choosing a meat-heavy diet or a plant-based diet. Itís certainly possible to degrade your health in a big way with both types of eating.
So the key isnít choosing between the two. Itís understanding the merits and drawbacks of each style of eating. And, whichever style you choose, making the absolute best nutritional decisions.
So, Is Meat Bad?
This is the main question isnít it? Many vegans, influenced by Dr Colin Campbell, are asserting that meat is indeed bad for us. That it causes cancer. That it dramatically increases disease risk.
But are they oversimplifying the issue? Truthfully, I think so. After all, hereís a similar question:
Is fat bad?
Thatís a silly one, isnít it? In this day and age we all know that the question is too simple. What kind of fat? In what amount? Prepared in what way? These are all distinctions weíd need to know before rendering a verdict on the value of fat in our diets.
And the same goes for meat.
Thereís no question that eating the right kind of meat in the right amounts definitely fits in to an overall healthy diet. And more than health, itís a solid part of a muscle-building or muscle-preserving diet. The high protein content, high B-vitamin content, and high iron content is important. Indeed, both health and muscle building are severely compromised if any of these nutrients are missing.
However, there also seems to be good evidence that eating too much of the wrong types of meat can be problematic for some. For example, thereís no question that thereís a relationship between eating meat and cancer risk. And thatís not just speculation. Over 100 epidemiological studies have shown it.
Now, for meat eaters hereís the big question Ė whatís the link? Well, a large part of it may be that most typical high meat eaters also tend to eat less of the other healthy stuff. Like veggies. Like whole, unprocessed grains. Like healthy fats. So their diets tend to be high in calories, high in saturated fat, and low in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, etc. This is a pretty good recipe for disease risk for most people.
http://www.musclehack.com/wp-content...urated-fat.jpgIf This Is Your Lunch, You Might Be In Trouble
Now, the logical solution here isnít to avoid meat. Rather, itís to avoid displacing all those other healthy foods with meat. Itís to include both meat and high fiber foods, fruits, and veggies, and more.
Meat, Cancer, and Hormones
Beyond dietary displacement, as discussed above, there are two other concerns with diets high in meat. First, carcinogens. Second, hormones and antibiotics.
Thereís some pretty compelling evidence nowadays that a host of potentially carcinogenic compounds are introduced into our bodies when we eat cooked meat Ė including: N-nitroso compounds, heterocyclic amines, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These compounds are most linked to colon cancer and stomach cancer. There are other links reported but theyíre not as strong.
In the end, though, the meats that seem to be most problematic are processed meats (lunch meats, canned meats, jerkey, etc.) as well as heavily grilled meats Ė blackened or charred.
But, again, these risks can also be managed. So, as discussed above, the strategy isnít to avoid meat. Itís to avoid processed meats. To be careful in overcooking grilled meat. And finally, to boost your intake of fiber and fruits and veggies. Fiber has a protective effect against GI cancers. And fruits and veggies boost antioxidant defense. This is the perfect antidote to the problems associated with processed and/or heavily grilled meats.
http://www.seasonedpioneers.co.uk/as...he%20grill.jpgDon't Avoid Meat, Just Eat More of This
Finally, beyond the cancer risk, in farmed meats nowadays we tend to see a lot more hormones, environmental pollutants, and antibiotics. Not good since we probably do absorb a small amount of these chemicals. But letís not throw the baby out with the bath water. Rather than avoiding meat, how about sticking with hormone-free, naturally raised meat. Note: grass-fed is probably the best.
Eat Meat, Wear Your Seat Belt
Now, before we move beyond this topic, itís important to be really clear about something. Almost everything we eat or do in life has its risks. In fact, Iím much more likely to get into a car accident and die than I am to die of colon cancer. But that doesnít mean I take either lightly. I try to understand my risks. And then buffer them.
For example, because of the car crash risks, I wear a seat belt. Likewise, because of the meat risks, I make sure that I avoid processed meats, I eat lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies as well as fiber rich nuts, seeds, and legumes, and I eat primarily naturally raised, hormone-free meat.
This way I get all the benefits of meat while buffering the risks. No vegetarianism required.
What About Meat Building Up In The Colon
Over the course my vegetarian experiment, many folks have asked me whether or not meat builds up in the colon. The answer, yes and no. Meals high in meat do take between 24-48h to digest and work their way through the GI tract. However, this is a pretty normal transit time. Most meals take this long to get through the GI tract. So thereís nothing all that unusual about meat in this regard.
However, 60-80lbs of undigested, impacted fecal matter building up in our body over years? Impossible. Have you heard the John Wayne story? This is whatís being used to support that absurd claim.
http://catholicdiscussion.files.word...hn_wayne29.jpgDon't Make Me Shoot Ya For Making Absurd Comments About My Colon, Partner.
Apparently when he died, they found 60-80lbs of undigested material causing a massive intestinal blockage. And apparently this was found during his autopsy. All according to many vegetarian and colon cleansing web sites.
Well, for starters, John Wayne never even had an autopsy. Now, he did have surgery for a cancer-related intestinal blockage about a month before his death. But that had nothing to do with impacted feces or his diet.
Of course, this doesnít prove that no one gets a build up of undigested fecal matter. Indeed, itís possible to get some fecal build up in the colon. Definitely not in multiple pound quantities, accumulation above a small amount would be quite painful. Also, only those in unique circumstances in which genetically susceptible people eat no fiber and take drugs that decrease digestion and GI motility.
So itís not the meat thatís responsible for any small build ups that might occur. Itís whatís missing from the diet. And what drugs folks are taking.
The Debate Rages On
As I said above, itís quite possible for intelligent people to see the same information and come to different conclusions. So I anticipate that there will be some disagreement even with the general recommendations I make in this article. And thatís ok with me.
Iím not here to convince anyone of anything. Nor am I here to push my way of life onto your dinner table. Rather, Iím simply here to present the information as I see it. And as Iíve experienced it as both an omnivore and a plant-based eater.
In the end, itís up to you to decide how youíll use this info. I just hope you use it wisely.
My Meat Run
Although I consider this project a big success, that doesnít mean Iím going to continue to stick to an exclusive plant-based diet. Indeed, just yesterday I did a meat run to Lake Land Meats in St Catharines, Ontario.
http://www.niagaragreenbelt.com/typo...3bfeb6701f.jpgLake Land Meats - High Quality Game and Local Meats
A member of the Niagara Culinary Trail, Lake Land is my preferred provider of local, free-range, and additive free meats. I can regularly pick up Ontario-raised venison, elk, wild boar, bison, ostrich, pheasant, duck, quail, rabbit, trout and more.
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wo...97-300x225.jpgJust A Few of Lake Land's Offerings
If youíre in the area, or in Ontario, check out their web site. You can either drop by to pick up some tasty meat or order some delivered to your home. Hereís what I picked up today:
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wo...96-225x300.jpgBison Burgers, Venison Pepperettes, Kangaroo, and Organic Chicken Sausage
Also, last week, my good (and sarcastic) friend, Alwyn Cosgrove, further stimulated the process by sending me a big, styrofoam package full of top quality, Omaha steaks. I must admit, after marinating with a few tablespoons of white vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning and cooking on my Foreman Grill, these were some of the best Iíve ever tasted.
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wo...89-300x225.jpgOmaha Steaks - Umm, Good.
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/wo...61-300x225.jpgFrom My Sarcastic Friend, Alwyn Cosgrove. Bringing Me Back From The "Dark Side," He Is. Click The Picture To Check Out His Message To Me.
But just because Iím back on the meat doesnít mean that my plant-based experience hasnít influenced my eating. In fact, as a result of this experiment, I have a ton of new plant-based meals and restaurants that Iíll continue to enjoy. Further, Iíve learned a whole lot about where my food comes from. And finally, I have a new found respect for the commitment that goes into exclusive plant-based eating.