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Thread: Giving up meat

  1. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by kally View Post
    Hey Polliwog - I am weighing in here too. I am vegan and for those two reasons.

    1) my personal health is so dependent on eating a vegan diet

    2) I will never ever eat meat, once my eyes were opened to factory farming.

    Good for you. I am used to eating what I eat and I sometimes think I arrange food more than cook it.
    1. My personal health is extremely dependent on a diet that contains meat and bones.
    2. I eat less, pay more, and get my meat (and other animal source foods) from small, pastured livestock operations, thus cutting out factory farms.

  2. #72
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    I have been a lacto-ovo (eats dairy and eggs) vegetarian all my life until recently. In the past few years I have started to have a lot of fatigue and muscle weakness. Last year I decided to try to start eating a little meat (fish and foul only) but I could never get used to it. The difficulty I had with it is probably due to the thought of it, but also all new textures, smells and tastes. Too much to get used to, and my digestive system just doesn't have the right enzymes to process the meat.

    I tried veganism for about a year in 2001-2002 and I found that my allergies were much better and my sinuses were clearer. I was just visiting my uncle who knows a lot about nutrition and he said we only need 10% of our diet from protein, way less than most people think. Not only that but no more than half of your protein should come from animal sources (dairy and eggs), and ideally it would all be from plant based sources. Any more than 5% protein from animal based sources is cancer promoting. He had a book about it where they did scientific research on this.

  3. #73
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne View Post
    1. My personal health is extremely dependent on a diet that contains meat and bones.
    2. I eat less, pay more, and get my meat (and other animal source foods) from small, pastured livestock operations, thus cutting out factory farms.
    To what extent do you think DNA and roots factor into how well we do on different diets. In other words, if we all were to take that Ancestry.com DNA test to find out where our roots are, is there any reason to suspect that the vegetarians come from places where the growing season was longer and meat eaters come from the places where there was a short growing season and they had to depend on meat? Of course, I might debunk my own theory because I suspect there would be a lot of Northern European DNA present in my case, and I actually do really well on a vegetarian diet, even though I grew up on standard meat-and-potatoes. Just curious.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  4. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    To what extent do you think DNA and roots factor into how well we do on different diets. In other words, if we all were to take that Ancestry.com DNA test to find out where our roots are, is there any reason to suspect that the vegetarians come from places where the growing season was longer and meat eaters come from the places where there was a short growing season and they had to depend on meat? Of course, I might debunk my own theory because I suspect there would be a lot of Northern European DNA present in my case, and I actually do really well on a vegetarian diet, even though I grew up on standard meat-and-potatoes. Just curious.
    Hi Catherine,
    There is a very high genetic component to our ability to deal with different diets. Each generation gets a fresh shuffle of genes, plus we're constantly evolving. Some of it is related to our regional origins, but a lot is sheer dumb luck. For example, about 25% of my DNA is northern Dutch/Afrikaner. I'm lactase-persistent as one might expect. But I can't eat fish or seafood, dietary staples for northern Dutch. My mother, sibs,and children all eat fish with no problems. My other ancestry is also European - Irish, English, Italian.

    There are some regional trends. Patrick Simoons mapped caeliac disease, finding the highest incidence in groups with the shortest wheat-eating history. People with Middle Eastern ancestry do better with wheat. Lactase persistence is also regional, as northern Europeans, south-west Eurasians, and some groups of Africans, tolerate fresh milk very well. Lactase-persistence is murkier, as it's a dominant gene, so a person only needs one copy. Lactase-persistence is a case of convergent evolution driven by need to maximize food extraction from marginal grassland environments.

    Starch-tolerance is also convergent evolution. Salivary Amylase 1 is a gene that occurs in variable copy numbers. The ancestral number is 2, shared with chimpanzees. Humans whose ancestors ate a starch-rich diet can have as many as 15 copies. The Hadza, hunter-gatherers who eat a lot of wild tubers, and the Japanese, who've been growing rice as a dietary staple for 10,000 years, average 6 copies. Tropical forest hunter-gatherers, on a low-starch ancestral, have few copies. Clearly, people with more copies tolerate starch better than those who inherited fewer.

    Sugar enzymes: some people produce no sucrase at all, while others produce only small amounts. Fruit is a real dietary poison for those people. It's possible that the gene was lost in groups of people for whom fruit would not have been commonly available, and transmitted by interbreeding as populations started migrating and mixing.

    We share ancestral genes for meat-eating with chimpanzees. Those genes evolved in tropical Africa before 5 million years ago, so long cold winters don't really come into it. Human ancestors really stepped up meat-eating about 1.8 - 2 million years ago, still in Africa, and in the East Africa region of the northern Rift Valley, and it's this dietary shift that very likely drove the sudden leap in brain size. The major dietary factor was bone marrow and brain, resources available to tool-wielding early humans but denied to nonhuman predators. Our brains are ~60% fat, and our nerves ~70%. These are not just any fats: a quarter of the brain's fat is cholesterol, and the rest is DHA and EPA, richly supplied by bone marrow and brain. So the building blocks of our big brain almost certainly came from meat-eating. There's good archaeological evidence for this - stone tools, cut-marked bones, bones that have been cracked for marrow, and disproportionate numbers of large antelope skulls, likely scavenged from predator kills, that were carried to home sites and broken open to get at the brain.

    Around 250,000 years ago, the Apo-E3 gene, which is unique to humans and associated with meat-eating. Fully modern humans evolved in East Africa and spread from there, first ~195,000 years ago, and then in a big pulse ~60,000 years ago. There's a whole family of these Apo-E genes, and depending on which variant a person has the most of, they strongly affect his/her ability to digest and assimilate meat and animal fat, as well as brain and nerve function.

    While humans can convert ALA (found in plants) to first EPA and then DHA, the rate varies from as much as 10% conversion for genetically-blessed humans to less than 1%. EPA and DHA are vital for the maintenance and functioning of the brain and nervous system, and deficiencies are associated with neurological and depressive disorders. I have a neurological disorder that sporadically causes loss of myelin sheathing in my peripheral nervous system, usually with an upsurge in migraine attacks. It stays in remission while I'm eating plenty of good bone broths and animal source foods from pastured livestock. This may tie in with ancestry: my northern Dutch forebears migrated to South Africa in 1588, and for over 300 years their staple diet was meat, eggs, and dairy foods. Most of South Africa is not conducive to grain growing, especially wheat. It's only since the mid-1950s that cultivars were bred that would grow reliably in the Free State, Transvaal, and Natal, and these need to be irrigated. To get back to the point: over this 3 1/2 centuries, there was very strong genetic selection for people who were good at digesting animal source foods.

    Hypoglycaemics are sensitive to both sugars and starches. They have a hair-trigger pancreas and very likely an altered insulin metabolism. Many chronic migraineurs are hypoglycaemic; they have altered insulin metabolism and altered mitochondrial function. It's murky, because migraineurs fall into 3 constellations, each with its own comorbidities and triggers. I'm in constellation 2, and my comorbidities are best handled by a diet high in omega-3 essential fatty acids. My ALA conversion rate is very poor, so I need my DHA and EPA preformed.

    Ability to thrive on a vegan/vegetarian diet depends on ability to convert carotenes, found in plant foods, into vitamin A. Those of us who don't do this well need it preformed. When I was first ovolactovegetarian and then vegan, my skin became yellowish-orange from carotenes deposited in my meagre stores of subcutaneous fat and showing through my very thin skin. Does this inability stem from a couple of centuries of high dependence on foods rich in vitamin A, so that our bodies didn't need to make it? Maybe! Once I added meat back into my diet, the colour gradually faded over the next two years, and my skin thickened to a reasonable level. It was so thin before that any bump or nick would bruise or bleed profusely.

    Then there's vitamin B12. For people who with low levels of intrinsic factor and stomach acid, it's hard to maintain good stores of B12. Some people are able to recycle B12 well, with small losses, so that it can take them two or more years to deplete their stores, while the less-fortunate may burn through theirs in 3 months. I can go from good serum B12 to frank deficiency in 90 days. Does this reflect the centuries when my ancestors ate very rich B12 sources, so selection for B12 efficiency was relaxed?

    Then there's iron. Some people have a higher need for heme iron, while others bioaccumulate it to dangerous levels. My three servings of red meat per week keep my iron levels at the lowest end of normal. Cut out the meat, and my ferritin levels plummet, despite a diet rich in non-heme iron and vitamin C.

    Legumes are a poor protein source for some. Legumes tend to be starch-rich, and that in itself can be problematic. For migraineurs, some factor in legumes irritates the trigeminal nerve, which is why they're on the NO! list. I proved, very painfully and repeatedly, that this is the case for me, despite my love of legumes and my determination to be the exception. Even prolonged leaching to get rid of tannins, and very long, slow cooking, didn't save me. This is weird, because my Afrikaner and northern Dutch ancestors ate a lot of dried beans. Some people struggle with legume sugars, for which humans don't produce enzymes. We're dependent on colon bacteria to digest them. Gut bacteria are weird; it's thought that once the gut has been colonized by random bacteria after birth, the bacteria change the gut to make it impossible for other bacterial guilds to survive. While the ratios of various bacteria within the gut colony shift somewhat with dietary changes, they don't change radically to another guild.

    This is a very long answer! To sum up, I'd say that to succeed as a vegan, a person needs
    Low protein requirements
    High ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA
    High starch-tolerance and good insulin sensitivity
    Low heme iron requirements
    High ability to convert carotenes to vitamin A
    High ability to convert shorter-chain fatty acids to longer chain forms
    High ability to convert essential amino acids to the so-called non-essential or conditionally essential amino acids
    Good tolerance for high-fibre diets (some people lose their gut villi if they eat too much insoluble fibre for their personal tolerance)
    Good ability to ferment fibre in the caecum and colon, for the production of volatile fatty acids

    How much of this can be traced to deep-time ancestry, how much to recent ancestry, and how much to luck-of-the-draw gene shuffle - I don't know!

  5. #75
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Very interesting info, Suzanne. Thanks.
    As Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

  6. #76
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Suzanne, you dazzle me with your understanding of nutrition and how it affects you personally.

    My genetic background is about 95% Northern/Central European. But more importantly, I have a genetic tendency toward hyperinsulinemia/hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism, which renders starchy carbohydrates and unfermented soy products problematic for me. I suspect my physiology is very similar to Suzanne's, from the way my body reacts to various foods.

  7. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneV2.0 View Post
    Suzanne, you dazzle me with your understanding of nutrition and how it affects you personally.

    My genetic background is about 95% Northern/Central European. But more importantly, I have a genetic tendency toward hyperinsulinemia/hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism, which renders starchy carbohydrates and unfermented soy products problematic for me. I suspect my physiology is very similar to Suzanne's, from the way my body reacts to various foods.
    Jane, you are so right! I'm hypoglycaemic and hypothyroid!

  8. #78
    Member ButterflyBreath's Avatar
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    I have had genetic testing done on 23andme.com. I wanted some health info and this was the least expensive way to do it. It says I'm 99.9% European. I came from Poland, Ireland, France, and a little from Germany. Oddly I have Arab genes from my moms side. Predominately Northern European though.

    My mom says they tried to get me to eat meat when I was younger and I wouldn't. My dad denies that though. They fight and have differing views on everything. So I don't know. Wouldn't Northern Europe be cold and necessitate that inhabitants eat meat? Maybe I was meant to eat meat but was born into the wrong religion, Seventh Day Adventism, which predominately teaches vegetarianism.

  9. #79
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ButterflyBreath View Post
    I have had genetic testing done on 23andme.com. I wanted some health info and this was the least expensive way to do it. It says I'm 99.9% European. I came from Poland, Ireland, France, and a little from Germany. Oddly I have Arab genes from my moms side. Predominately Northern European though.

    My mom says they tried to get me to eat meat when I was younger and I wouldn't. My dad denies that though. They fight and have differing views on everything. So I don't know. Wouldn't Northern Europe be cold and necessitate that inhabitants eat meat? Maybe I was meant to eat meat but was born into the wrong religion, Seventh Day Adventism, which predominately teaches vegetarianism.
    Or maybe you have that predominant Arab gene going way back to the Fertile Crescent! Or, maybe, as Suzanne says, it's just the roll of the dice.

    BTW, Suzanne, yes, I always look forward to your insights on food and nutrition. Thanks for the reply to my question!
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  10. #80
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    I think meat-eating is more about seasonality than just about cold, as well as the kind of environment in which one lives. During seasons that are very dry and hot, few plants can be harvested from the wild (maybe tubers, roots, bulbs, and corms, if you're in a good place for those!) or grown without irrigation. Nonhuman animals can make good use of plant material - like dry grass, or twigs and hard leaves, that humans can't eat, so humans eat other animals. The same holds true for very cold regions, with or without snow and ice. When Homo erectus took up meat-eating in a big way, it was in tropical East Africa, during a time when grasslands were expanding enormously. Meat is very easily dried or salted and can be stored for long periods. However, lean meat alone is a poor energy source, and needs to be supplemented with fat or carbohydrates. In very cold regions, fat is much easier to come by (fatty sea mammals, birds preparing for migration), while storable carbohydrates tend to be in short supply.

    I am definitely not saying that everybody HAS to eat animal source foods to be healthy. Choice to abstain is simply that, a choice. Meat-abstention can't be supported by evolutionary claims, or one-size-fits-all claims of veganism as a perfect or even natural diet. People with the right biochemistry can do very well without meat or other animal products, provided they have the nutritional knowledge and financial resources to craft a diet that meets all their needs. However, people who don't have the lucky genotype either have to support their belief systems by using artificial supplements or accept themselves and eat meat. Again, simply eating meat doesn't guarantee good health and longevity - the whole diet still has to be carefully crafted for the individual.

    I know I've quoted him before, but this long email from the vegan doctor and researcher Michael Klaper is excellent reading regardless of dietary orientation! http://www.indiadivine.org/content/t...ry-long-email/

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