Should you be vegan for health reasons?
Updated: Apr 29, 2022
Pound for pound, animal products are some of the most nutritious foods we can consume. Humans have understood this intuitively for Thousands of years. The healthiest populations in the world have subsisted on a diet primarily of meat and vegetables. In the last 50 years, American's have consumed less meat than ever. This is especially true for beef. We've shifted towards eating more grains, more seed oils, and more sugar. And it hasn't been without consequence. Americans are fatter and sicker than ever before. If continue in the same direction, 100% of American's will be overweight or obese by the year 2048.
Why is meat healthy?
There are 3 main reasons meat is healthy for us as human beings.
1. Low glycemic and high protein
Low glycemic foods spike insulin levels in our body minimally. Animal products are some of the best low GI foods on the planet. High levels of insulin have been linked to compromised longevity, obesity, and diabetes.
2. Balanced ratio of Omega 3:6
Talk of Inflammation and the immune system is in vogue. For good reason. High levels of systemic inflammation decrease longevity, increase pain, and make it hard to lose weight. Meat, specifically grass-fed meat, has a perfectly balanced 1:1 ratio of omega 3:6 fatty acids for a balanced inflammatory response and excellent health!
3. Packed with nutrients
Meat is especially high in B-vitamins and amino acids. Check out the graph below for how beef ranks against beans in a bunch of different categories.
But what about cancer?
You've seen the headlines. "Red meat causes a 20% increase in cancer." They are sensational and get attention. On the surface, they seem like great reasons to stop eating meat or to have meatless Mondays.
But, studies like this one are hardly solid evidence against eating meat. This was an observational study. They asked subjects to report how much meat they had eaten over the last year. What they found was that people who reported eating more meat were more likely to have colorectal cancer. It wasn’t a 20% absolute increase in risk. It was a relative increase in risk. The subjects started with a 0.5% risk of getting bowel cancer. In those who ate the most processed meat and red meat, that risk increased 20%—to 0.6%!
From 0.5 to 0.6%. Sure, that’s an increase, but is it something to overhaul your entire diet for? To give up the best sources of zinc, iron, B vitamins, protein, carnosine, creatine? All that for a measly 0.1% that hasn’t even been established as causal?
What about Seventh Day Adventists?
Some will cite people-groups such as the Seventh Day Adventists as proof for the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Seventh Day Adventists are some of the healthiest people in the world. However, The Mormon people, who have many of the same lifestyle habits as Seventh Day Adventists are also extremely healthy. But Mormons eat meat. SDA's and Mormons focus on community, don't smoke or drink alcohol, and eat vegetables. Could it be that other factors besides being vegan are responsible for the SDA's health? I think so.
Should I only eat meat?
No. We guide our clients to eat tons of vegetables AND get the benefits of animal products. Vegetables are PACKED with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep us energized, lean and healthy. Don't neglect them.
Most folks don’t realize that the best place to get the majority of micronutrients is from well-sourced animal products. For example, liver contains nearly twice as much vitamin A as carrots. The form of vitamin A liver contains is more readily used by the body. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t recommend vegetables! We try to get all of our clients eating 5+ servings of vegetables a day.
But what about feedlots?
Sometimes folks are turned off to meat by the idea of large industrial feed lots and animal abuse. We get pretty upset about this too. The kind of animal products we recommend don’t come from this type of environment. We recommend animal products that come from regenerative farms. These farms balance animal and plant life, restoring entire ecosystems. We love companies like Force Of Nature Meats and White Oak Pastures.