Thoughts on Vegetarianism

The following post is derived from The Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing, Chapter 10, Essence: Diets and Supplements (Reid, Daniel 1994).

Vegetarian diet

“This is one of the oldest dietary systems in the world, both East and West. Plato and Pythagoras were strict vegetarians, and throughout the ages many Hindus and Buddhists have followed strict vegetarian diets. Properly practiced, vegetarian diets can be very healthy, but they are not appropriate for all people in all circumstances.

Truly strict vegetarian diets that eliminate eggs and dairy products as well as all meat are called ‘vegan.’ Those that permit dairy products are called ‘lacto-vegetarian’, and those that also permit eggs are known as ‘ovo-lacto-vegetarian’. Considering the ill effects of most of the pasteurized cow’s milk products and commercial chicken eggs on the market, the pure vegan diet is probably the best choice in vegetarianism.

However, those who follow this dietary system must be careful to avoid some common pitfalls. There is often a tendency to binge on sugar and starch to compensate for the absence of animal fat and protein. This can cause rapid weight gain, metabolic malfunctions, skin problems, and sever fluctuations in mood and energy. It is therefore important to ensure adequate intake of protein and essential fatty acids by consuming sufficient quantities of whole grains, beans, sprouts, nuts, seeds, and seaweeds, and to avoid refined sugar and starch.

Some people who follow vegetarian diets experience a critical deficiency of vitamin B12, the richest dietary sources of which are meat, liver, and fish. However, if you eat plenty of whole grains, especially oats, as well as seaweeds, you should have no trouble getting sufficient supplies of B12 on a vegetarian diet, but only if you strictly limit your intake of sugar, which tends to rob your system of all B vitamins. Another good vegetarian source of B12 is fermented foods, such as tempeh (fermented soya bean), miso, sauerkraut, kimchee, and natural unpasteurized beer.

Climate is another important consideration. Most vegetarian diets originated in tropical and semitropical climates, where people don’t require so many calories just to keep their bodies warm. In cold northern climates, however, people generally require some form of animal fat, such as butter, meat, or fish, in order to provide sufficient long-burning calories for warmth. Remember that gram for gram animal fat contains more than twice the potential energy of any carbohydrate, and that the heart, which has to work harder in winter, prefer fat over all other forms of dietary fuel.

Other factors include stress and sexual activity. If you are subject to chronic stress, you may need the more concentrated nutrients and energy contained in meat, fish and fowl in order to compensate for the constant drain in energy reserves. And if you wish to maintain a sexually active lifestyle, which requires abundant supplies of ‘sexual essence’ (sexual secretions are composed largely of proteins and minerals), you may find that a purely vegetarian diet leaves you lagging and listless in bed, especially if your partner has the sexual appetite of a meat eater. One of the main reasons that Buddhist and Hindu monasteries in the East serve strictly vegetarian fare is to eliminate the sexually stimulating elements contained in animal foods from the diets of celibate monks and nuns, so that they may focus their energy and attention on spiritual practices.”

When considering vegetarianism consider these factors: job, environment, exercise, health, addictions. And be honest with yourself, are you committed…to your kitchen?

Many philosophies consider vegetarianism a therapeutic diet… that heals…….but one that is meant for a limited time, not to exceed in most cases, ten years.

Life committed to farms and local food allows for humane consumption of animal products. There is a big difference between a BigMac and farm raised, grass fed, beef. The body requires very little animal nutrients to be balanced. Get organized. Be informed. Your mind depends on it!

Cheers to your health! -Bigmama   (Below: FACTORY VS. FARM)