Monday, October 18, 2010

My bone to pick with vegetarians

As far as I see it, there are two reasons to become a vegetarian: for health, and for ethics.

Reason number one is moot. The healthiest diet is one that has at least 3 servings of green stuff and 2 servings of colorful stuff per day, yes, but it is also one that includes animal fats and proteins. This can be achieved easily by lacto-ovo vegetarians, but the matter stands that cutting out meat for health purposes has no scientific finding.

Reason number two is what I find most fascinating. The goal is to reduce the suffering of others, and it is a very noble goal. To reduce suffering of animals, you must not increase demand for their deaths and mistreatment. A bird with ample food and space to roam seems happy to me, though others may define it differently, so I think organic, cage-free eggs should be a large part of anyone's diet - all the health, and none of the suffering. A justly run dairy farm gets excess milk from the cows - and does not remove the calf, so, again, much nutrition (for those who can digest it) for no suffering.

How else can you get increased nutriton for little suffering? How can you decrease demand while not causing your own suffering?

Enter, stage left: roadkill. This is an argument often brought up in debates. Why should the ethical vegetarian have anything against naturally-dead animals?

First, let me point out what would be wrong with this argument. First, it's not sustainable (or hygienic) to the whole population to wait until the animals die of natural causes to eat it. Second, it would increase demand indirectly because scavenger/hunter animals would have to hunt more.

However, in practice in our human culture, "roadkill" has some value. We try hard to get the message across that waste is worse than the killing - so why not reduce that waste? The scraps of meat on chicken bones that the more carnivorously minded would be dumped into the trash, which does no one any good. For a Vegetarian Who Picks at Bones, the leftover scraps provide nutrition without increasing demand. Further, taking those bones and making stock has an incredible amount of nutrition. Then the Picky Vegetarian can take the soaked bones, grind them up, and put them in raw dog food or use as fertilizer.

These are things society SHOULD do daily, naturally, as a part of course to reduce our impact on the creatures around us. Gathering up chicken bones may make you look a little crazy and desperate - but you are just making the most of your situation. How terrible it is to see those bones thrown away for naught! For the most devout ethical vegetarian, would it not be most ethical to take the bones and make stock, and provide the stock to the hungry? Or make soup for carnivorous friends in order to decrease their dependence upon factory produced meat based canned soups?

Maybe, eventually, you will find that there is no "roadkill" left, once you get non-ethical-vegetarians to adopt the practice of making stock, etc. At that point, that ideal point when society has found itself with an incredibly reduced amount of waste, I urge you to become strict vegetarian at your own discretion.

But, for now, what's stopping you from having making a little chicken soup from society's roadkill?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bone Marrow

I did cave, but with good cause. I found a local bison and pork producer at the farmer's market, so I have added in small amounts of organic meats to my diet.

The most interesting thing to me is that the healthiest parts of meat are the parts the general populace do not eat - bone marrow, organs, you know, the fatty stuff. So I'm trying to make this the focus of my experiment - eat the uneaten stuff because it's healthier and also less demand-generating. (I do not want to generate excessive increased demand for meat.)

If we actually ate the bones, too, we'd not be deficient in calcium and promoting milk as that false osteoporosis-preventer. If we ate liver from grass fed cows, we'd be getting tons of nutrients. Theoretically, a diet high in organ meat does not have as much need for vegetables. They are then more important in acid balance than in the obtaining of nutrients. I don't know the exact nutrient profile of bone marrow (can you believe the USDA data bank doesn't have it?) but it is, assuredly, one of the healthiest parts of an animal.

So I've made it a point to suck the marrow out of chicken bones, and hopefully I'll be making my own stock rather than that "chicken flavored" stuff. I got a tongue from the bison place last week - made beef stew, but the family wouldn't eat it, so it was on my menu for a whole week. To be honest, meat would squick me out too if it weren't so fascinating. Cutting apart a chicken is an experience. Skinning a tongue is an epic journey. I like to experience my food - to discover new foods, new flavors; to spend time on something and taste my hard work. I love change, and, luckily for me, the world never stops.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I noticed some weight gain

Weight gain is not on my list of goals! It was all in the abdominal area, it seems, so that makes in really a problem I do need to solve, thanks to the correlation between visceral fat and chronic illnesses.

There have been many changes in my lifestyle - from increased exercise to the reduction of carbs, and then some. I believe this made my body not know if it was hungry or not - it just decided to eat when there was food, because it no longer had immediate carbs and it never 'knows' when it's going to need to go for another run.

Because of this, I have found it necessary to account for calories in a new way.

I have taken to eating low-calorie high-water foods (i.e. vegetables) in extremely large amounts. These are accompanied by an "adequate" portion of protein and fat.

For instance, when I started this low-carb thing, I would do something like a 2-egg omelette with a handful or two of spinach for breakfast. This is often times just too much for me in one sitting. Contrast this to today - I shredded and squeezed the water out of 2 summer squash (yes, two whole summer squash), combined with an egg and some garlic, cooked in coconut oil, and served that with mustard. This provided a very satisfactory nutrition profile of just 200 calories with 18:28:55 protein:carb:fat as well as 30% of my daily vitamins and minerals. It left me full but not stuffed like the 2-egg ommelette.

So I was overeating because I wanted to ensure I got sufficient nutrition, but it turns out that less is more for protein, and more is less for vegetables, so just eat those veggies up. But another aspect of this overeating was because my body was adapting to the changes, leaving me occasionally tired when I ought not to have been. I thought it would be smart to fix this by eating before doing anything demanding - this was not the answer. Yes, I COULD eat a large lunch before going to work, but chances are someone will have made a large dinner by the time I get home, and that is too much food. I am much better off with a small lunch, an emergency bag of nuts, and eating my fill when I get home.

I've done this only for a few days and my weight has started to go down again. I hope that it will continue.