Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why I'm not a Vegetarian anymore

Yes, I have to admit I was a vegetarian for 8 long years. I was young and impressionable at the time, and I liked the idea of being nice to the cute little animals. I mean ever boil a lobster?
(I have recently, it still feels oddly sadistic). I was guilty of scorning meat eaters the way non-smokers harass smokers. Turning down delicious homemade foods at dinner parties, and then defending myself at Christmas from relentless taunts of relatives. The worst part is deep down inside, I wanted that cheeseburger so !@#%ing bad. I actually believed that eating vegetarian was the gold standard for health, and that meat eaters lived short brutish lives, and died young of heart attack and cancer.

The truth is that as a vegetarian, I was plagued with upper respiratory infections, the flu, colds, and a general lack of ambition. I became abnormally thin at first. Later as my cravings grew, and my consumption of carbs (especially beer!) grew, so did my waistline, and worse yet lovehandles. I was most likely becoming insulin resistant. In my first year of vegetarianism I went from being a jock like 6'2 and 190lbs., to a scrawny 160! My body literally had ate itself! Those 30 lbs. were all muscle, and now I looked like an ethiopian. Within less than 3 years I had reached 210, and when I finally quit being vegetarian I had grown to 230 lbs. (and despite working out 5 days a week it was not muscle).

Like a lion who was being deprived blood, my cravings for something carnal began to haunt me! Under the influence of alcohol I would find myself at 7-11, devouring a pair of 99 cent chilidogs. When I finally came back to being an omnivore, it was like a layer of fog lifted. I could stop this lie, I could finally release the beast, and it felt good!

I think my first wake up call was reading The Zone by Barry Sears, followed by The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston. Then came Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, and all the Weston Price literature. By far the most convincing, and paradigm shattering book is Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. If you have not read it, read it! Especially the a-hole who wrote this article: Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. He has a point, but then fails to let us know what will make us thin... and by this point it should be so obvious!

CUT THE CARBS AND SUGAR. When I started cutting carbs, I realized just how much sugar and flour I consumed as a vegetarian. Sugar and carbs in coffee, muffins, almond croissants, pies, frappuccino, pancakes, juice, whole wheat bread, pasta, ketchup, rice. The whites were giving me the blues. It was when my wife quit smoking that I finally took the plunge to do something equally drastic, cut all refined sugar 100%. You can cut the carbs, but until you cut the sugar, you're still an addict. I swear I got the shakes that first week of cold turkey.

The six pack came back. Thats right, my weight has finally returned to the jock like 190, and I am now a 35 year old sporting six pack abs. After so many years of trying to figure out the secret to health, so much chronic cardio, weightlifting, dieting etc... The secret was eating simply. If it grew from the ground or was alive eat it, but if man had to process it push it aside. I like to think about what a caveman would do. I am sure he would pick an apple, or eat a grub. Tubers sure, Broccoli why not. Wooly Mammoth, thats food for a month! Grain? How often have you tried to gather 1000's of tiny seeds at just the right time, just for a boring meal? Got to have a lot of time on your hands.

In conclusion, being a vegetarian has a lot of wonderful aspects... but it just is not practical for health. Us meat eaters still have a lot of responsibility. It doesn't mean eating Mcdonalds without the bun. Far from it, we should be hunting out the most humane grass fed beef, pastured chicken and eggs, hitting up the local (and sustainable) farmers markets, hunting your own wild game and fish, or raising your own farm animals. On top of that we must always eat our veggies!

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