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Call Me Old Fashioned But... It's my body and I'll eat what I want to

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | January 31st, 2011

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
The human species has long had a nasty habit of condemning things it does not understand. Any sign of difference or nonconformity seems to lead to the eruption of shit storms largely fuelled by personal attacks, as opposed to factual evidence. And so, it was my public display of pride in relation to my choice to lead a vegan lifestyle that resulted in insults, from me being labelled a member of the gay community, to part of some elitist anti-human vegan society to a supporter of the extremist actions undertaken by the animal activist group PETA. For the record, I am none of the above. But more importantly, vegetarianism and veganism are actually nothing new, nor are they really as "radical" as one may presume.

The human body, in its modern form is, believe it or not, best tailored to digest plant materials over anything else. For starters, neither our saliva nor stomachs are acidic enough environments to properly break down flesh; hence cramping, constipation and indigestion are common ailments associated with the consumption of meat. Perhaps more obviously, if we take a gander at our dental records or the lack of claws extending from our fingertips, we'll see that our delicate constitutions are very different from those possessed by carnivorous animals.

If that weren't proof enough, it has been documented that ingesting too much protein, particularly of the animal variety, can lead to kidney impairment, nutritional deficiency, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, obesity, tissue, organ and cell damage, not to mention faster aging! As noted in New York Times bestseller Skinny Bitch, "People in cultures that consume half the amount of protein that North Americans do, tend to live longer, healthier lives."

When it comes to the dairy side of things, sorry, cheese lovers, I've got some equally disheartening news: 96 per cent of Asians, 35 per cent of African Americans and 19 per cent of Caucasians are lactose intolerant. Another seven per cent of the human population is allergic to the proteins in cow's milk. As for "milk doing the body good"? According to studies conducted by Harvard, Yale, Penn State, and the National Institutes of Health, dairy products have been linked to acne, anemia, anxiety, arthritis, attention deficit disorder, fibromyalgia, headaches, heartburn, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain, osteoporosis, poor immune function, allergies, ear infections, colic, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, autism, Crohn's disease and breast, prostate and ovarian cancers. Sound familiar? Further, there is no other animal species in all of nature that continues to ingest milk or milk by-products past infancy, let alone the milk products of another animal.

None of this, of course, even begins to touch upon the horror that is "factory farming" and all of the hormones, antibiotics, and toxins you're ingesting as a consequence of wanting to eat meat and dairy products. True, non-organic plant products are not free of harmful chemical pesticides either. However, as noted in, Diet for a Poisoned Planet, "Of all the toxic chemicals found in food, 95 to 99 per cent come from meat, fish, dairy and eggs." Moreover, The Journal of Clinical Nutrition and The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that "Meat eaters are much more likely to be overweight than vegetarians," as a consequence of the coupling of the aforementioned toxins with animal fats. Oh but wait, haven't you been told your whole life that you wouldn't get enough nutrients from merely eating plants? That it'd lead to lethargy, nutritional deficiencies and a depressed psyche? Wrong again!

Nutritional experts outline a healthy diet as one consisting of approximately 60 per cent complex carbs, 20 per cent lean proteins and 20 per cent unsaturated fats. Please note that this goal can be achieved by both meat and plant eaters. In fact, there are many vegetarian protein substances, such as quinoa, that are not only far more nutrient- and protein- rich than meats and dairy products, but further are packed with all eight essential amino acids.

I believe in living in harmony with my body's needs, and it is for that reason and that reason alone that I made the switch to veganism. I don't drink caffeine if I'm tired, and I don't believe in forcing myself to ingest human-created toxins in order to aid in the digestion of something that my body naturally wishes to reject. The very thought of another hypothetical creature higher up on the food chain harvesting my eggs for a nice morning breakfast makes my stomach more than turn. It's weird when you think about it, isn't it? The things that we're eating but I digress.

With all that said, I'd like to add one final caveat: let it be known that I'm no health expert, nor am I in the business of trying to use scare tactics on any of you to make the switch to a lifestyle that I have chosen for myself. It's your body, eat what you want to! However, if you care about your health, I highly recommend you read up or watch some docs on this stuff. I know for me, it was more than I could stomach.

If you're on board with everything I've just overviewed, and the only excuse you've got preventing you from "following your gut" in regard to making wiser food choices is that it's too expensive to go vegan and/or organic, I hate to break it to you but you're wrong again! Because organic vegan foods are so much more nutrient-rich than anything else on the market, you'll find you'll get full consuming smaller portions, necessitating the purchasing of less food on a regular basis. I rest my case.

RCP's recommended viewing list:
Food Matters (on YouTube)
Food Inc.
Fast Food Nation
The Corporation

RCP's recommended reading list:
Skinny Bitch
Diet for a Small Planet
Politics in Healing
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