I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not anti-vegetarian! I know many healthy vegetarians. But I know many more unhealthy vegetarians. And I speak from personal experience.
My own seven year experience with vegetarianism was a disaster. I never felt well. Fatigue and sugar cravings were my everyday companions. Digestive problems developed through the years as well.
Looking back, I thought I knew what I was doing. I was not a junk food vegetarian. I shopped organic and ate a lot of fruits, veggies and whole grains.
Breakfast was often granola with soymilk or low fat milk. For lunch I ate more veggie sandwiches with cheese and Vegenaise than I care to remember. Dinner consisted of stir fries, pasta dishes and lots of tofu meat substitutes a la the picture above. My favorite was a seasoned ground “beef” product. Man oh man did I make A LOT of tacos out of that.
But I really had no clue. So when I learned about real food I was shocked at how much I was doing wrong.
Because I see so many people, in particular women, making the same mistakes with so many associated health problems, I don’t recommend going vegetarian to anyone.
So in no particular order, here are five reasons I don’t recommend going vegetarian.
Note: if you are a vegetarian, do not be offended! This is not a vegetarian-bashing blog post. You CAN be a healthy vegetarian. But there are some important things you need to know. For that reason I’ve included some tips and links at the end of each of the five reasons to help you make better choices as a vegetarian.
Due to the widespread myth of low-fat diets, most vegetarians in America are not getting enough fat.
Trust me, I know what you’re thinking:
Saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Those are in animal products. Going vegetarian will will decrease my chances of getting heart disease.
That was my thinking when I went vegetarian. But nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fat and cholesterol are actually vital to the health of our heart.
Please understand that there is no culture on this planet that ever ate a low fat diet. For example, the traditional vegetarian diet of India is not low fat. It contains ample fats from healthy dairy. Those cultures that tend towards plant based diets in warm weather climates regularly consume healthy fats in the form of dairy, eggs, seafood, coconuts and palm oils.
And when you don’t get enough fat in your diet, you get fatigued. When you get fatigued, you look for energy!
Rarely is it beyond arm’s reach in modern day America. If so, it’s certainly not more than a quick trip to the kitchen away. Or the break room, vending machine, gas station, Dunkin’ Donuts or just about anywhere else.
It gives us a quick energy burst. It makes us feel good…temporarily. But sugar is a drug. And it’s addicting.
Over the long term sugar consumption degrades every system in our body and is a major factor in all of our modern health epidemics - chronic digestive problems, obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.
Most vegetarians eat way too much sugar, especially teenagers. And many become sugar addicts.
So what to do if you’re a vegetarian?
Finally, for those vegetarians that are not sugar addicts, many of them are using dairy for good sources of fat and protein. And that’ s good. But that brings up another problem.
Note I said “modern” dairy. Not “all” dairy.
A good example of a traditional healthy vegetarian diet is India. Indians consume a lot of dairy in the form of milk, ghee (clarified butter), yogurt and cheese.
But traditionally, as with any dairy-based culture, their milk was raw.
Raw milk is Nature’s milk, full of beneficial enzymes, probiotics, healthy fats and proteins.
Most milk in America is pasteurized and homogenized which damages milk’s nutritional profile and makes it highly indigestible.
Furthermore, conventional milk production in America is a disgrace. Cows are jammed into factory farms, fed soybeans, grains and industrial waste and shot up with chemicals and growth hormones.
Is it any wonder dairy sensitivities are on the rise is America?
This leads many vegetarians to forego dairy as well and for good reason. It leads many others to declare all milk unfit for human consumption without understanding the health benefits of raw milk.
So if you’re a vegetarian, just switch to raw milk, right?
Unfortunately, raw milk is hard to access in the majority of America. Some states ban it completely while most ban it from being sold in stores. This has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with corporate power and political influence by the conventional dairy industry.
So what to do if you’re a vegetarian?
OK, I’ll leave it at that for this blog post. To read part II with reasons three, four and five, click here.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please share in the comments below. If you consider yourself a healthy vegetarian, tell me why. If you gave up being a vegetarian like myself, tell me why.
I know this is a hot-button issue for many so please be respectful. Inappropriate, vulgar or abusive comments will be deleted.