It is clear to all of us today where meat comes from. It is clear that animals have to die for meat. It is also clear that animals raised for meat suffer such and other torments during breeding, before and after death. The torture of animals as a necessary component of meat is therefore beyond doubt. On the other hand, our society strongly condemns the torture of animals. Let’s remember the reactions of people when the news about high school students torturing cats or someone who brutally killed a dog resonated with the public. It is also clear today to what extent meat production and related livestock farming pollute and destroy the environment. On the one hand, most people are aware of the problem of environmental pollution, some even condemn the US for not signing the Kyoto agreement. However, on the other hand, meat-eating individuals together cause a similar amount of environmental damage (18% of total CO2 emissions) as the implementation of the Kyoto Agreement would reduce.
On the one hand, we condemn the torture of animals, and on the other, we torture them – directly on an industrial level. On the one hand, we condemn the destruction and pollution of the environment, and on the other, meat is one of the world’s greatest sources of pollution. So how do most people cope with this dichotomy?
The answer is simple: with excuses.
First, something general about excuses. What is this excuse? An excuse is a reason or statement that gives us ethical immunity in the case of certain ethically unacceptable acts. An act that would otherwise be ethically unacceptable makes an excuse ethically acceptable. Just as, for example, someone who would rob a company would claim that the company made this money by cheating and exploiting small people and therefore this money (as a small person) belongs to him. Or let’s say he stole a DVD from the store because the store has so many that one is less familiar to them at all.
In some cases, the reasons are justified, for example in the case of force majeure, where the threat to one’s own life may be an excuse for ethically otherwise unacceptable acts. Therefore, events over which we have no influence or where we do not have the possibility of free choice are not subject to ethical judgments. Only acts in which we have a choice can be ethical or unethical, but we consciously decide on a less ethical act.
So how do you separate legitimate reasons (such as silobran) from excuses? Excuses are based on untrue facts and / or incorrect logical conclusions. Excuses are also characterized by being based on conclusions whose application would lead to further ethically unacceptable acts.
Today, in the West, meat is eaten only for pleasure, tradition or habit. Eating meat is a matter of decision and not a matter of necessity, so these actions are certainly subject to ethical judgment. However, since torturing and killing animals and destroying nature for the sake of pleasure and tradition would be ethically difficult for most people, they are trying to find reasons that would make doing so more acceptable, more vital. Virtually all of these reasons, however, are based on erroneous data and logic, which in turn qualifies them as excuses rather than legitimate reasons.
Excuses can be divided into several groups. In the first group are those who try to show meat consumption as vital. These excuses work in the direction of proving that there is no way without meat, that there are some necessary ingredients in meat that we cannot get anywhere else. These excuses are supposed to show that eating meat is supposed to be a kind of saving our own lives, health, so that we are forced to eat meat, because otherwise we would get sick. Such excuses make animal torture a necessary evil, as they try to prove that we do not have the possibility of free choice, as we simply have to eat meat. In this way, an attempt is made to place meat consumption in the same group of events as silobran, ie among events that cannot be ethically judged.
The thesis that there are some substances in meat that we cannot get other than in meat has long been scientifically refuted, because there is nothing in meat that could not be easily obtained from other sources. Therefore, the position of the world’s largest dietary organizations is that the exclusion of meat from the menu is not only possible, but even healthy. It is hard to doubt such credible institutions, thousands of nutritionists, all of whom argue that meat should not be eaten by adults, children, infants, nursing mothers, pregnant women, manual workers or athletes. However, there are people – not only lay people, but also professionals – who oppose these organizations. Let’s take a closer look at the main excuses from this group and the reasons why they don’t apply:
Pronunciation no. 1: Without meat, a person does not get enough protein and essential amino acids or. more difficult to meet demanding quantities.
Although this excuse is proven to be the most wrong of all, it is also the most common. So let’s pay a little more attention to it. With the intake of protein in the body, we need to meet two needs. The first is the need for the total amount of protein, and the second is the need for all the essential amino acids.
So how much protein does a person need to take in through food? The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) within the WHO recommends 0.75 g per kg of body weight. So, taking into account the average body weight and energy needs of a person, our diet should contain between 7.5% and 9% of calories in the form of protein. Just in case, we round this value up a bit, so we can say with certainty that a person meets all the needs for protein if he eats food that has at least 10% of the energy value in the form of protein.
Animal proteinMinned beef31.4% Spinach51.7% Arugula41.3% Soybeans38.5% Lettuce, greens36.3% String beans31.1% Red beans30.9% Pumpkin seeds18.6% Wheat (durum) 16.1% Spaghetti (whole grains) 16.8% Almonds14.7% Maize12.3% Milk26.4% Breast milk5.9%
Table 1 (data source: USDA nutrient database)
Table 1 shows the protein content as a percentage of the energy value in some random foods. We immediately notice that practically all foods contain more than enough protein, as all of them exceed the value of 10%. Also in salad. The only difference is that a salad has few calories per unit weight, so you should eat a lot of salads to meet your calorie needs. However, if we ate enough of it, we would get about 4x more protein than we need. Soy is also nothing special, it is a completely ordinary legume, similar to beans. There is no special need to replace meat with soy, as there is more than enough protein in all plant foods. You just need to eat enough calories. Legumes on average contain about 30% protein, vegetables between 30% and 50%, cereals about 15%, as well as seeds and kernels. All these sources, however, far exceed the required 10%. So you would have more than enough protein even if you ate only popcorn. The claim that a person is deficient in protein if he does not eat meat is clearly completely wrong from a cursory glance at the table above.
What about essential amino acids? In order for the organism to function properly, a person must take into the body, in addition to the total amount of protein, also individual essential amino acids. Each protein is made up of different combinations of amino acids. There are several types of amino acids, but there are only 9 of them that the body cannot make – they are called essential amino acids. It is therefore important that the food we eat contains all nine amino acids in sufficient quantities. It doesn’t matter what kind of protein we eat, because after eating it, the body breaks down each protein into its basic building blocks – amino acids. It is only important that we get all nine types of essential amino acids into the body.
Table 2: Table for men aged 18-70 (source: USDA nutrient database)
Essential aminoxlin Request. Amount. Pumpkins Corn Red beans Soy Spinach Minced beef Breast milk TRIPTOFAN0.39 g2.38 g
608% 0.64 g
162% 2.72 g
695% 4.18 g
1067% 5.20 g
1327% 2.63 g
671% 0.73 g
185% ISOLEVCIN1.40 g6.99 g
499% 3.68 g
263% 10.19 g
728% 13.95 g
996% 19.76 g
1411% 10.56 g
754% 2.39 g
171% VALIN1.79 g10.90 g
608% 5.29 g
295% 12.06 g
673% 14.36 g
801% 21.84 g
1219% 11.43 g
638% 2.69 g
150% HISTIDIN1.01 g3.76 g
250% 6.42 g
770% 8.58 g
798% 0.98 g
97% LEVCIN2.86 g11.49 g
402% 9.91 g
347% 18.40 g
644% 23.42 g
820% 30.03 g
1051% 18.57 g
650% 4.06 g
142% LYSINE3.08 g10.13 g
329% 3.90 g
127% 15.83 g
622% 23.66 g
635% 2.90 g
(CYSTINE) * 1.40 g4.71 g
190% 5.98 g
607% 11.70 g
616% 1.71 g
(TYROSIN) * 2.63 g12.39 g
296% 18.96 g
984% 32.11 g
649% 4.23 g
161% TREONIN1.51 g4.99 g
244% 9.70 g
826% 16.51 g
679% 1.96 g
- both proteins can be converted, so the content of both together is important. Table 2 shows the content of all nine types of essential amino acids in some foods. The numbers in the table tell you how much of a certain type of amino acid you would take into your body if you ate only that food all day (if you met all your daily calorie needs with that food alone). So if we ate only pumpkin seeds all day, we would get 608%, ie 6 times more (!) Tryptophan than necessary, 499% isoleucine than necessary, etc. A cursory glance at the table reveals that with every plant food we get all the essential amino acids – we get even significantly more than the body needs. So if you ate only popcorn all day, you would get more than enough of all kinds of essential amino acids, just like protein (it should be emphasized that food should be as varied as possible and it is not recommended to consist of mostly one food). The claim that plant foods do not contain certain essential amino acids is completely untrue. So even the claim that a person is deficient in essential amino acids if he does not eat meat is completely wrong. The claim that a meat-free diet lacks protein and essential amino acids (or that it is harder to eat enough if the diet does not contain meat) is based on completely wrong facts. This means that this claim is just an excuse without a basis in the facts. Pronunciation no. 2: Man needs both plant and animal proteins. As already mentioned, after eating, the human body first breaks down each protein into basic building blocks – amino acids. Since all amino acids except the nine essential ones can form the body itself, only the intake of essential amino acids is important. Both animal and plant proteins are broken down in the body into the same basic building blocks. At the end of this process, it is not possible to determine whether a single amino acid has entered the body as part of an animal or part of a plant protein, so separating it into animal and plant proteins is complete nonsense. And as we saw in the previous paragraph, protein with ALL the essential amino acids (in more than enough) the body obtains without difficulty, even without any meat intake. This statement is therefore also based on false facts, so it is just an excuse. Pronunciation no. 3: If a person does not eat meat, he may be deficient in iron. The answer to this claim is multifaceted. First, let’s see if meat really has more iron than plant foods. Food iron
g / 100 kCalMinned beef0.69 gThymean44.75 gParsley17.20 gSpinach15.52gSalad, greens5.73 gArugula5.84 gStrong beans4.69 gSoy2.97 gPumpkin seeds2.77 gRed beans2.25 gPurger (wheat) .04 gAlmond0.74 gCair0.56 gMilk0.06 gMother milk0.04 g Table 3 (source: USDA nutrient database) Table 3 shows that most plant foods contain much more iron than meat. The values in the table are expressed in 100 kCal of each food instead of 100 g of each food as usual. The reason is that the prescribed amounts of food to be consumed daily are determined by the energy value (kCal) and not by weight. Since it is necessary to consume a certain energy value per day, but not a certain weight, it is only reasonable to express and compare the value of minerals in food in a unit of energy value (100 kCal) and not a unit of weight (100 g).
Since there is more iron in plant foods than in meat, it is clear that even in the omnivorous diet, the majority source of iron (between 70 and 80%) is from plant sources. As a result, iron intake in a vegetarian and omnivorous diet is very similar. In energy-balanced diets, iron intake in vegetarian diets (due to higher iron content in plant foods) is higher than in omnivores. So there is more than enough iron in plant foods, even significantly more than in meat. The only foods that have virtually no iron are milk (both cow’s and mother’s) and dairy products.
However, because iron from meat is better absorbed by the body than iron from plant food sources, let’s see if this affects iron deficiency in vegetarians. Some theorize that reduced absorption of iron from plant sources in vegetarians should lead to greater iron deficiency. However, an extremely large amount of research in practice has shown that vegetarians are no more at risk from iron deficiency than omnivores. Also, a large number of studies have shown that technically measured lower absorption of iron from plant food sources over time is less important or even insignificant, as the body’s internal mechanisms nullify any differences. As a result, those who do not eat meat are no more at risk from iron deficiency than those who eat it. Experts from the renowned dietary organizations ADA and DC also share this view. The claim that a person who does not eat meat is deficient in iron (or that he is more likely to run out of it) is proven to be untrue in many scientific studies cited. So even in this case, it’s just an excuse. Pronunciation no. 4: If a person does not eat meat, he is deficient in zinc. First, similar to iron, we check how much zinc is in a food. Zinc food
g / 100kcalcink
(all-day intake) Ground beef 1.40 g 33.24 mg (415%) Endive4.65 g110.14 mg (1377%) Spinach 3.30 g78.31 mg (979%) Arugula 1.88 g 44.56 mg (557%) Sesame seeds1,80 g42,76 mg (535%) Pumpkin seeds1,38 g32,68 mg (409%) Wheat (durum) 1,23 g29,08 mg (364%) Lettuce, green1,20 g28,44 mg (356%) ) String beans0.88 g20.88 mg (261%) Red beans0.73 g17.34 mg (217%) Spaghetti (whole grains) 0.68 g16.14 mg (202%) Soybeans0.66 g15.75 mg (197%) ) Almonds0.58 g13.78 mg (172%) Maize 0.44 g10.53 mg (132%) Milk0.86 g20.38 mg (255%) Breast milk0.24 g5.76 mg (72%) Table 4 (source: USDA nutrient database) Table 4 shows that plant foods contain, on average, a similar amount of zinc as meat. Some foods less, others more. The last column calculates the value you would get if you ate only this food all day (all your daily calorie needs). So if we ate only pumpkin seeds all day, we would get 409% (over 4x more) of zinc than we actually need. The last column therefore shows how a good source of zinc is a particular food. If the number is greater than 100%, it means that you would receive enough zinc with this food. The higher the number, the more zinc you would receive. On average, plant foods contain a similar amount of zinc as meat, which means that a meat-free diet can easily meet the required zinc needs.
For a long time, zinc was considered to be less absorbed from plant food sources (similar to iron). However, recent research has refuted this, as measurements have shown that there are no large differences between the absorption of zinc from plant foods or meat. So only the amount of zinc that is taken into the body through diet is important. Table 4 shows that most plant foods contain more than enough zinc and are therefore relatively easy to meet zinc requirements even without meat. This fact is also confirmed by a series of scientific studies that have shown that the state of zinc among vegetarians is within normal limits.
The claim that a person who does not eat meat is deficient in zinc is not based on real facts, so this statement is just an excuse. Pronunciation no. 5: If a person does not eat meat, he is deficient in selenium. Again, first check how much selenium is in each food. Food-selective
mcg / 100kcalselen
(all day intake) Ground beef7.09 mcg168.03 mcg (306%) Brazil nut292.23 mcg6925.75 mcg (12592%) Wheat (durum) 26.37 mcg625.01 mcg (1136%) Spaghetti (wholemeal) 20.98 mcg497.16 mcg (904%) Wholemeal bread16.32 mcg386.68 mcg (703%) White bread8.46 mcg200.61 mcg (365%) Spinach6.52 mcg154.57 mcg (281%) Lettuce, green4 mcg119.60 (218%) Soybean4.22 mcg100.01 mcg (182%) String beans1.67 mcg39.50 mcg (72%) Arugula1.20 mcg28.44 mcg (52%) Red beans0.98 mcg29.17 mcg (53%) Pumpkin seeds1.04 mcg24.53 mcg (45%) Almond0.48 mcg11.48 mcg (21%) Maize0.19 mcg4.39 mcg (8%) Milk5 mcg118.50 mcg (216%) Breast milk2.57 mcg60.94 mcg (111%) Table 5 (source: USDA nutrient database) Table 5 immediately shows that many very common foods of plant origin contain an extremely high amount of selenium, much more than meat. This is especially true for cereals and some nuts. Ordinary wholemeal bread and spaghetti, for example, have much more selenium than meat. It is therefore not surprising that scientific analyzes have shown that vegetarians generally have satisfactory selenium levels. Table 5 shows that it is extremely easy to get enough selenium, even if the menu does not include meat.
From the above data, the statement that a person who does not eat meat lacks selenium is obviously not based on real facts, so this statement is just an excuse. Pronunciation no. 6: If a person does not eat meat, he is deficient in vitamin B12. Of all the claims about what vegetarians are supposed to lack, this claim is the most ideologically colored. Since this ideology can be extremely dangerous (both for vegetarians who accept it and for omnivores who blindly believe it), let’s take a closer look at it all. First, some basic facts about this vitamin. There is only one source of this vitamin in nature, and that is bacteria. No plant and no animal can produce this vitamin, but only bacteria can do it. This vitamin enters the diet only through one or another bacterial activity. Herbivores get this vitamin by ingesting impurities in their food (the vitamin can be found in the soil) or it is added to their food afterwards by the action of bacteria in their guts. Due to the high sterility in the preparation of food for humans, none of these methods is practical, reliable or sensible. However, we can produce any amount of this vitamin with the help of bacteria, so realistically there is no fear that this vitamin may be missing in the diet. It is therefore interesting to ask why, despite the fact that this vitamin is very easily produced in large enough quantities, there are claims that a meat-free diet is deficient in this vitamin.
The reason lies, as already mentioned, solely in ideology. And this ideology dictates that any cultivation of bacteria for vitamin B12 that takes place outside the intestines of animals is unnatural and as such unacceptable. It sounds ridiculous, but this same ideology allows for a completely unnatural environment in which we raise chickens today to produce our eggs or raise cows to produce our milk. However, the cultivation of bacteria in order to produce B12 for us is not natural according to this ideology and as such is unacceptable. The illusion of this ideology is also supported by the fact that e.g. egg produced with the help of hens, a concrete meal, while vitamin B12, produced with the help of bacteria due to its small size (about 3 mcg) as a stand-alone dish is not suitable, so it is mixed with any other food. And because we add it to a food, the ideology immediately labels it an “unnatural, artificial additive.” Of course, he deliberately ignores the fact that even in natural conditions, such as animals that eat plant foods, this vitamin is always only added (as an impurity or as a subsequent action of bacteria) and is never an integral part of the diet. Also, this ideology deliberately ignores the fact that without unnatural technology (cutting and other mechanical treatment, sterilization by heat treatment, salting, smoking, etc.), man would not be able to eat meat, which he describes as the only natural source of B12. Like all other ideologies, this one is meaningless and serves a specific purpose. It is understandable that the meat industry and meat supporters are eagerly spreading it in the absence of real arguments. It is unfortunate that many vegetarians also take it and look for “natural” sources of this vitamin in the form of algae or similar things. So if we look past this unnecessary, nonsensical and dangerous ideology (which, as we will see later, appears in a multitude of other excuses), then it is clear that vitamin B12 can in no way be deficient in a meatless diet unless we consciously choose to we don’t want to include it in it. All of the vitamin B12 available today is of bacterial origin, as chemically (synthetically) produced B12 does not exist. This vitamin has already been added to many foods, but it can also be added in any amount. However, the story of vitamin B12 does not end here. Vitamin B12, found in milk, eggs and meat, is bound to proteins, while vitamin B12, produced by bacteria, is found in free form. This means that more metabolic steps are required to absorb B12 from animal sources than to absorb the free form of B12. This fact has also been proven by numerous studies that have shown that the likelihood of vitamin B12 deficiency increases with age, even if eaten in large enough quantities. B12 deficiency occurs because this vitamin is ingested in an “animal” form that is less well absorbed. At the same time, the fact that consuming B12 in free form eliminates the deficiency is extremely important. So free vitamin B12 is, on top of everything, superior due to better absorption and much more suitable for humans than the vitamin found in foods of animal origin. That the matter is very worrying is evidenced by the results of a study which showed that up to 30% of people over the age of 51 are not able to absorb vitamin B12 from meat or that their ability has been severely impaired. With age, this percentage continues to grow. However, not only the elderly are exposed to this problem, all age groups have a problem with the absorption of vitamin B12 from meat. However, anyone with these problems can easily absorb vitamin B12 in its free form. This is where the extreme danger of the above-mentioned ideology emerges. Namely, this ideology spreads extremely misleading claims that only vitamin B12, which is found in animal sources, is suitable for humans, and that meat is an extremely good source of vitamin B12. Omnivorous people, in the false belief that they get enough of this vitamin from meat, do not even suspect its deficiency. Unlike omnivores, however, vegetarians who consume a much more suitable, free form of vitamin B12 for humans do not have these problems. Only vegetarians (vegans) are at risk, accepting the ideology imposed on them about the “unnatural” vitamin B12 and avoiding this vitamin unnecessarily.
In developed countries, due to the above-mentioned serious health problems resulting from poor absorption of vitamin B12 from meat, the mandatory addition of free vitamin B12 to human diet is being seriously considered. Of course, such a conclusion would strongly imply the above-mentioned ideology, as it would be a recognition that meat is not a good, and not at all reliable source of vitamin B12. The only reliable and good source for humans is the free form of vitamin B12, produced with the help of bacteria and added to foods. To conclude: vitamin B12 can be produced by bacteria in any amount, so a meatless diet can contain it in sufficient quantities. There is no (non-ideological) reason why vegetarians are deficient in this vitamin. Studies have even shown that those who rely on vitamin B12 from meat sources are significantly more at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency due to poor absorption than vegetarians who consume it in free form. So just the opposite as the assertion from the beginning of this chapter claims. This, of course, means that even this claim is just an excuse based on ideology and untrue facts. Pronunciation no. 7: A vegetarian (vegan) diet is more risky than a diet that includes meat. In the above paragraphs, we realized that all the substances found in meat can be easily obtained from other sources as well. Therefore, it is not surprising the position of important world dietary organizations that a properly planned vegetarian diet is suitable for infants, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly, as well as for athletes and pregnant women. It is very difficult to dispute the above-mentioned reputable professional organizations and the scientific evidence mentioned in points 1-6 of the first part. Therefore, some proponents of meat in the diet resort to the claim that a properly planned vegetarian diet is completely healthy, but such a diet requires a lot of knowledge and therefore such a diet is more risky.
From the aforementioned views of professional organizations, it is therefore clear that a properly planned vegetarian diet is healthy for all stages of human development, including children. Research further shows that a well-planned omnivorous diet can be close to, but not exceed, in terms of health benefits. So how do you assess the knowledge and risks required when planning an omnivorous and vegetarian diet?
The easiest way to assess the difficulty of achieving an optimal diet is to assess the risks that arise due to possible errors in the composition of an individual diet. Therefore, it does not make sense to compare properly planned diets. We need to compare incorrectly planned and through them the most probable errors in the composition of the diet of each type and then assess the consequences of such an error on health. Several aspects are important in impact assessment; we need to determine whether the consequences are remediable or permanent or even fatal. It is also very important whether the symptoms appear early enough for successful action or late when action is difficult or no longer possible at all. It is also important to know how difficult it is to eliminate them. Listening to the advice of some Slovenian nutrition experts, who list a bunch of warnings about vegetarian diet, we can get the feeling that nutritional risks are associated exclusively with vegetarian diet; if the diet includes meat, these risks should no longer exist. This, however, is very far from the truth, as each type of diet carries certain risks and the omnivorous diet is no exception. In order to determine which diet is actually more risky, it is necessary to assess which risks are possible and the most common in each diet and how severe the consequences can be. To begin with, let’s take a look at what the most typical risks are associated with an omnivorous diet. It is important to point out that the menus described below are incorrectly planned and therefore all the problems listed below can be solved by proper diet planning. High intake of saturated fats and cholesterol. To prevent this mistake, it is necessary to know how to properly choose and prepare meat, as meat is full of hidden fats. The consequences of this defect (high blood pressure, carcinogenicity, high cholesterol) are usually not manifested outwardly. However, once the symptoms are visible (cancer, cardiovascular disease), action is difficult or impossible. Therefore, the consequences of this error are classified as very dangerous. Entry of meat products (salami, prosciutto, sausages, pate…). The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) argues that any, even minimal, amount of meat products in the diet is associated with an increased chance of developing cancer. Numerous studies link eating meat products with a large number of serious diseases, in addition to cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Eating meat products during pregnancy increases the chance of newborn brain tumors. Due to the serious and dangerous consequences, we classify this error as very dangerous. Excessive intake of heme iron (type of iron in meat). WCRF claims that heme iron is one of the risk factors for cancer. Numerous studies have linked heme iron intake to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Due to serious and dangerous consequences, we also classify this error as very dangerous. Too few antioxidants. Meat, especially meat products, contain substances that have an oxidative or carcinogenic (heme iron, nitrites, nitrates, salt, animal proteins, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, etc.), so it is extremely important to include a lot of antioxidants in a diet that includes meat. The more meat there is, the more antioxidants are needed. Because daily calorie intake is limited, this means: the more calories from meat, the fewer calories can be entered into the body from foods that contain antioxidants. Since meat does not contain any antioxidants, it is extremely important to know exactly the content of antioxidants in other foods and to choose the right foods. This mistake is also extremely dangerous. Too little fiber. Fiber is important in digestion as it accelerates the passage of substances through the intestines. Thus, they reduce the retention time of feces in the intestine, which reduces the possibility of its failure. Fiber is also extremely important in lowering blood cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is especially important in a diet that includes meat, as research shows that meat, even in small amounts (only a few times a month), can significantly increase the risk of developing this disease. As with antioxidants, the intake of daily calories is limited: the more calories from meat, the less fiber-containing foods can be taken into the body. As meat does not contain any fiber, it is extremely important to know exactly the fiber content of other foods and to choose the right foods. Research also shows that fiber inhibits the development of diabetes, breast cancer and bowel cancer. Excessive calorie intake. Because meat is a high-calorie food, it is possible to consume more calories in one meal than with plant foods. Therefore, there is a greater chance of consuming more calories than necessary. This results in weight gain. Higher body weight is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and a variety of other diseases. The symptom of excessive calorie intake (obesity) appears before serious problems occur, so timely action (before the consequences occur) is possible. Incorrect heat treatment of meat. These are basically two separate risks. The first risk is that the meat contains many pathogenic microorganisms and parasites, which the human digestive system is unable to neutralize without the use of technology. Therefore, it is extremely important that a person uses one or another technology before eating meat, which properly sterilizes the meat and thus makes it suitable for human consumption. If sterilization is not correct, it can lead to infection, which at best leads to intestinal problems, and at worst (especially in young children and the elderly) can even lead to death. These infections are especially dangerous during pregnancy, as they can also cause severe damage to the fetus.
The second part of the risk relates to the thermal sterilization of meat. It has been proven that thermal sterilization (cooking, roasting) produces carcinogenic substances in meat (heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Especially dangerous is frying in oil or on the grill, which produces a lot of carcinogenic substances. To reduce this risk, we need to know and control heat treatment procedures well. Too little folate intake. Folate is extremely important in preventing cardiovascular disease. Lower folate intake is also associated with an increased risk of cancer. Folate intake is especially important in women who become pregnant. Lower amounts of folate in the diet of pregnant women have been shown to increase the risk of fetal harm. Too little free form B12. A very common mistake of the vast majority of omnivores is that they do not consume the free form of B12, as they rely only on the bound form of this vitamin. As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the ability to absorb the bound form decreases with age, which can lead to B12 deficiency. Symptoms of B12 deficiency are easy to overlook, and the consequences can be severe, ranging from anemia to permanent nerve damage. Too much processed food. Very often there are too many “empty” foods in the diet (junk food), ie foods that have a caloric value, but do not contain the necessary amounts of nutrients. Such foods include desserts with a lot of refined oils and sugars, alcoholic beverages, fatty snacks (chips, french fries), sweet drinks and the like. Because these foods contain calories and because daily calorie intake is limited, whole foods (ie foods containing vitamins and minerals) are displaced from the diet. As a result, the diet contains fewer vitamins and minerals. In an omnivorous diet, this usually means less intake of folate, antioxidants, fiber, phytochemicals, magnesium, potassium. The consequences of this are: increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. Improper handling of raw meat. This is not a mistake in the composition of the menu, but it is also an important part of the omnivorous diet. Raw meat contains many pathogenic microorganisms. Until the meat is sterilized, these pathogenic organisms in the meat are a threat to health. Therefore, special measures are needed in the handling of meat, in particular in its selection, storage, transport, processing and preparation. Disrespect or ignorance of these special measures can lead to infection (including cross-contamination of other foods), which at best causes intestinal problems, and at worst (especially in young children and the elderly) can even lead to death. These infections are especially dangerous during pregnancy, as they can also cause damage to the fetus. Let’s take a look below at what the most typical risks are associated with a vegetarian (vegan) diet. Again, misplaced menus are described, so all of the problems listed below can be remedied with proper diet planning. Too little calorie intake. Because plant foods are less caloric, more calories need to be consumed to meet daily calorie needs. This can lead to us consuming too few calories per day. The result is malnutrition, and due to the insufficient amount of food, we take in a smaller amount of nutrients, such as e.g. iron and zinc, which can lead to a deficiency of these two minerals. This can result in weight loss, weakened immune systems, impaired growth in children and anemia. The consequences of this error usually manifest very early, even before they become permanent, and the elimination is relatively easy (increasing the amount of calories consumed), usually without lasting consequences. This mistake is typical for people who have decided to (wrongly) lose weight by limiting their calorie intake below the required daily minimum. Too much processed food. As with an omnivorous diet that includes meat, this is a very common mistake in a vegetarian diet. There are too many “empty” foods in the diet (junk food), ie foods that have a caloric value but do not contain the necessary amounts of nutrients. Because these foods contain calories and because daily calorie intake is limited, whole foods (ie foods containing vitamins and minerals) are displaced from the diet. As a result, the diet contains fewer vitamins and minerals. In a vegetarian diet, this usually means a lower intake of iron and zinc, which can lead to a deficiency of these two minerals. Insufficient intake of vitamins A and B2 is also possible. The most common consequences of this error are weakened immune system, impaired growth in children, anemia. As above, these symptoms are noticeable early, even before the lasting effects occur, and the elimination is relatively easy. The best solution is to replace “empty” foods with more wholesome ones, and the (less appropriate) consumption of mineral and vitamin supplements can also eliminate the problem.
However, a much bigger problem occurs if we consume too many calories with caloric “empty” food and our body weight increases. This can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Too varied diet. For a healthy diet, it is necessary to eat as varied a diet as possible, which includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals. This defect is most common in underdeveloped countries, where due to the shortage they eat mainly one type of food or even a single food (mainly one of the cereals, such as rice or corn). Because nutrients are distributed differently in different foods, some substances may be deficient. In the West, too much milk and dairy products are a common mistake in a vegetarian diet. This can dangerously increase the intake of saturated fats, and at the same time, milk is the only food that does not contain iron, in addition, it also inhibits its absorption, which can potentially lead to a deficiency of this mineral. It is also a common mistake not to eat enough vegetables and fruits. Because vegetables are an extremely good source of iron and zinc, and fruits significantly increase the absorption of these minerals, this can also lead to iron and zinc deficiency. Too little free form of vitamin B12. As with the omnivorous diet, many vegetarians do not consume the free form of B12, as they rely on the bound form of this vitamin, which is found in milk, dairy products and eggs. As the ability to absorb this form decreases with age, a deficiency of this vitamin can occur. Therefore, it is also important to include the free form of this vitamin in a vegetarian diet. Because the intake of bound form B12 is usually lower than in the omnivorous diet, deficiency may occur earlier. Eliminating this risk is very easy, as the only reason vegetarians don’t take this vitamin is solely because they don’t want to. The risks of a vegan diet (ie a diet that excludes eggs, milk and dairy products in addition to meat) are not so different from the risks of a vegetarian diet. The first difference is that a vegan diet has a much lower chance of problems due to excessive calorie intake, which is one of the main benefits of this diet. On the other hand, low calorie intake is more likely (which can be wrong especially in very young children). The difference is also that the usual mistakes in the vegan diet can cause in addition to the already mentioned problems even lower calcium intake, which can lead to lower bone strength. However, this is an easily remediable problem, and if taken in a timely manner, it leaves no lasting consequences. The bigger problem is that many vegans don’t want to consume free form of B12. The vegan diet, unlike the omnivorous and vegetarian diet, does not contain the bound form of this vitamin. Failure to include free form of B12 in a vegan diet can be extremely dangerous; in newborns it can cause permanent damage or even death. Non-inclusion of B12 in the diet is the most common and at the same time the easiest mistake to eliminate vegan diet. Table 6: Risks in the omnivorous dietRiskIncreased risk of Elimination of consequencesSymptomsHigh intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and very long-lasting, sometimes not possibleappear late, usually in the advanced stage of the diseaseInput of meat products (salami, prosciutto). cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors in children severe and very long-lasting, sometimes not possible occur late, usually in the advanced stage of the disease Excessive intake of heme iron, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and very long, sometimes not possible occur late stage of advanced disease Too few antioxidants are severe and very long-lasting, sometimes not possible, occur late, usually in the stage of advanced disease, too little fiber, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease , arthritic and very long lasting on, sometimes not possiblefirst symptom (obesity) occurs earlyIncorrect heat treatment of meat (too few) intestinal and gastric problemsimple, without consequenceswith the onset of symptoms, treatment is possible in some cases, but not in others.possibility of death in young, fetal damage in pregnant womenIncorrect heat treatment meat (too) raw and very long-lasting, sometimes not possible occur late, usually in the stage of advanced disease Insufficient intake of folate, cardiovascular disease, fetal damage in pregnant women severe and very long-lasting, sometimes not possible , permanent damage to the nervous system, especially in the elderly, some consequences are irreversible, they occur late, usually in the stage of severe deficiency. betting, without consequences in the event of symptoms, treatment is possible in some cases, but not in others. Possibility of death in young people, fetal damage in pregnant women Table 7: Risks of a VEGETARIAN diet Risk Risk of increased risk of elimination of consequences without consequences appear early enough for timely action overweight, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and very long-lasting and sometimes not possible. Insufficiently varied diet free forms of B12anemia, permanent damage to the nervous system, cardiovascular disease, some of the consequences of which are irreversible. dangerous problem Table 8: Risks in VEGAN Diet Risk Risk of increased risk of elimination of consequences very simple, no consequences appear early enough for timely action. Insufficiently varied diet anemia, poor immune system, poor growth in children, osteoporosis. timely action very easy, no consequences appear early enough for timely action. cardiovascular diseases some consequences are irreversible occur late, usually in the stage of severe deficiency – Serious problem – Very serious (irreparable) problem – Deadly problem As can be seen from Tables 6, 7 and 8, there are certain risks associated with each type of diet, and each risk carries certain consequences. Each of the written mistakes makes the diet unbalanced and thus inappropriate.
It is also clear from the tables that the omnivorous diet offers a lot of potential for mistakes, which are very dangerous mainly because they usually remain hidden. Most omnivores survive without the slightest sign of trouble for a decade or more, despite the mistakes they make in eating. This creates a misguided and very dangerous general opinion (which is unfortunately also supported by some experts) that such a diet is not risky. However, when (if) these errors manifest, it is usually too late for successful treatment. In addition, the consequences of these errors are extremely serious, leaving permanent, irreparable damage or even death. Both make such a diet very risky.
In contrast to the omnivorous diet, errors in the vegetarian diet occur soon after the onset of the defect. Unfortunately, many experts misinterpret this as proof of the inadequacy of a vegetarian diet, but in reality it is one of the main advantages. Elimination of the consequences is in most cases simple and without permanent damage. This makes vegetarian and vegan diets much less risky, as they offer us the possibility of corrections, the possibility of “optimization”, and above all the possibility of timely response to errors, which in most cases does not apply to omnivorous diets.
Therefore, it is not surprising that recent articles in the professional literature are extremely pro-vegetarian diets, as shown by the expert article , which analyzes the risks and benefits of vegetarian diet for the human population, concluding: “Recent scientific findings in the field of nutrition have led to a change in the scientific consensus: plant-based diets (such as a balanced vegetarian diet) are seen as a factor in improving health, not causing disease, as opposed to meat-based diets.” In: “A vegetarian diet (like any other) carries certain risks, but from a public health point of view, the positive properties of a vegetarian diet far outweigh any risks.” Both are in complete agreement with our findings above.
Unfortunately, this change in the scientific consensus has not yet reached the ears of many experts in Slovenia, who stubbornly cite decades-old data and, contrary to modern scientific consensus, insist on meat as an indispensable part of the diet.
From all of the above, it is clear that the risks associated with an omnivorous diet are significantly greater than the risks associated with a vegetarian diet. Therefore, the claim that a vegetarian diet is risky is just an excuse based on distorted, flawed, highly outdated and false facts. Pronunciation no. 8: Anyone who doesn’t eat meat needs to know a lot about diet. We have partially refuted the above statement in the previous explanation, as it is clear that in the omnivorous diet it is necessary to consider (know) several traps; this means that much more needs to be known for such a diet in order to avoid these pitfalls.
In addition, most of the most dangerous mistakes of the omnivorous diet are related to meat. If we want to eat a diet that includes meat, it is necessary to have an extremely good knowledge of foods, especially meat, you need to know a lot about the choice of meat, methods of preparation, handling, etc. The less meat there is in this diet, the lower the risks associated with it. It is therefore not surprising that the omnivorous diet, which in the comparative study approached vegetarian in terms of health benefits, contained extremely little meat (meat was eaten by omnivores in this study on average only a few times a month !!). Here is an interesting and very important question. Omnivorous diets that are comparable in health to vegetarian diets contain so little meat that the importance of the proportion that meat contributes to the diet is questionable. The dilemma is best illustrated by scientific examples: a study trying to determine how adding meat to the diet affects iron absorption found that more than 50 g of red meat should be included in the diet for any perceptible improvement in absorption. On the other hand, the Cancer Research Organization (WCRF) argues that a population that consumes an average of more than 42 g of red meat a day significantly increases the risk of cancer. These data therefore suggest a paradox that in order to have a positive effect on meat, it is necessary to consume quantities that are harmful to health. This thesis is also confirmed by a study of children in which 60-85 g of red meat was added to children’s diet per day (ie amounts that significantly exceed the carcinogenic limit of WCRF), but this did not improve iron or zinc or vitamin A or B2.
This means that in a well-planned (vegetarian diet comparable to omnivorous) diet there is so little meat (almost 10 times less than the average Slovenian eats) that from a nutritional point of view, this meat does not have a significant impact on nutrient supply . This further means that in such a diet, plant foods must be relied upon to achieve adequate amounts of nutrients. So the same knowledge of food is important for a healthy omnivorous diet as for a vegetarian diet. In other words: a suitable (well-planned) omnivorous diet is one from which meat can be removed without worry, but will still remain appropriate. Or in other words: a proper omnivorous diet is a properly planned vegetarian diet that includes negligibly small (you could say unnecessary) amounts of meat.
From the above research, it also follows the possibility that the omnivorous diet contains dangerous amounts of meat, which still do not contribute to nutrition. This means that an omnivorous person who wants to eat healthy with such a diet, in addition to the knowledge a vegetarian needs to eat, must have additional knowledge to reduce the risks posed by the inclusion of meat in his diet. It follows that an omnivorous person needs to have more knowledge about healthy eating than a vegetarian. So the statement that a person who does not eat meat needs to know more about diet is not based on real facts. This statement is also an excuse. Pronunciation no. 9: If the diet contains meat, it is easier for the body to get all the necessary nutrients. If the diet is well planned, then it contains all the necessary nutrients. In the first paragraphs, we looked at some of these nutrients and saw that it is not overly difficult to meet the required amount, even if the diet does not include meat. To assess what kind of diet provides the body with nutrients more easily, it makes no sense to compare well-planned, balanced diets, as as such they all meet the required amounts. So let’s take a look at how unbalanced versions of individual diets provide the body with nutrients. Table 9. Dietary possible deficiency / over-balanced unbalanced substance deficiency: fiber antioxidants folic Acid potassium magnesium a simple form of vitamin B12 vitamin D harmful excess substances: saturated fats animal protein heme iron substances to be avoided: cholesterol nitrates nitrites heterocyclic amines polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons unbalanced vegetarian deficiency of substances: zinc iron B2 vitamin A a simple form of vitamin B12 vitamin D unbalanced vegan deficiency of substances: zinc iron calcium B2 vitamin A a simple form of vitamin B12 vitamin D Table 9 shows that nutrient deficiencies can occur in an unbalanced diet of all kinds, not just vegetarian. There are not many differences in this, only that different diets lack different substances. So the statement written above should read: “If the diet contains meat, the body gets some substances easier and others harder.” At its core, however, the statement is erroneous and, above all, misleading, as it suggests that only one condition is important for proper nutrition: adequate intake of nutrients. This is not true, as proper nutrition requires three things:
- Sufficient nutrients must be ingested.
- Some nutrients should not be consumed too much.
- Certain substances in the diet should not be ingested (they should be avoided). So the basic argument takes into account only the first condition. However, if we also take into account conditions 2 and 3, we see that in a diet containing meat, in addition to the lack of certain substances, harmful excesses can also occur, which is usually much more dangerous. Therefore, we can say that the above statement is not true, and on top of that it is misleading, which qualifies it as an excuse. Pronunciation no. 10: If I eat a little meat, there is nothing wrong (meat is not harmful, only large amounts of meat are harmful). As we have mentioned several times, a small enough amount of meat in the diet reduces the risks to such an extent that they are difficult to determine by statistical methods. That’s why most people say when they talk about the harmfulness of meat: “I eat very little of it.”
Of course, there are always complications when defining the amount of “little”. Taking this definition from the above study, anyone can check to see if they are really eating a little meat. On the monthly calendar, mark every day you spend completely vegetarian, ie without salami, prosciutto, steaks, čevapčić, kebabs, pizza with ham, hot dogs, fish, canned tuna, tuna spreads, pate, etc. If there are more than 25 such completely vegetarian days on the calendar each month, then (according to research) he can claim to eat little meat. Not many people could claim that. Let us emphasize here that with such a quantity (only a few times a month) the statistical probability of risk is reduced to such an extent that it hides behind other factors influencing the risk. This does not mean that there is no risk, it just means that it is statistically difficult to determine. And most importantly, such a small amount of meat included in the diet has not been proven to be of any benefit, it is completely unnecessary. Just to illustrate, we can mention that the same goes for other harmful habits, such as smoking. A sufficiently small amount of tobacco smoke added to the air causes statistically imperceptible damage. However, smoke in the air is completely unnecessary, and in addition, it may soon happen that there is too much of this smoke. It is exactly the same with meat in the diet. A small enough amount added to the diet causes statistically insignificant damage, but it is completely unnecessary. And what may soon be too much meat (lack of self-discipline), and the consequences can potentially be very severe. Statistically, it is possible to reduce absolutely any harmful substance to such an extent that the danger of this substance is negligibly small. This applies to tobacco, meat, radiation, various toxins… However, it should be borne in mind that the inclusion of such substances is always a risky thing to do, even if they are “statistically few”. It is especially pointless to do so if the inclusion of these substances does not bring any perceived positive effects. However, a person who would include such amounts of meat in their diet needs quite a bit of extra knowledge (and also a lot of self-discipline) to be able to do it right. This further increases the risk. Let us mention in this chapter another extremely popular (but very dangerous) variation of the above excuse. This reads: Just as the harmfulness of any potentially harmful substance in sufficiently small quantities is statistically undetectable, a completely harmless thing (eg ordinary water) can be dangerous to health in extremely large quantities. So it is only the quantity that is supposed to be dangerous, not the substance itself. So how to distinguish between harmful and harmless substances, since by this logic this concept completely loses all meaning? Harmful substances are not supposed to exist at all, only harmful quantities are supposed to exist? So is smoking harmless? This, of course, is not true, it is just a manipulation of words.
So how do you determine in practice which substances are actually harmful and which are not? Simple: a substance that is harmful in normal, typically ingested quantities is harmful. Harmless, however, is one that does not harm in normal, typical quantities. Anyone who drinks water usually does not drink it in harmful amounts, so we usually claim that water is not harmful. Anyone who smokes usually smokes more than is statistically safe, so we usually claim that smoking is harmful. The data show us that the typical amount of meat that people eat is much higher than the statistically safe amount, which means that meat in the diet should also be classified as harmful.
This excuse is perhaps even the most dangerous of all, as people use it to give themselves a subjective urge for health to be potentially dangerous and, above all, unnecessary. Pronunciation no. 11: Children need to eat meat for proper development. Let us emphasize at the outset that the above statement contradicts the views of all the world’s most important diet organizations, which claim that a properly planned vegetarian diet is suitable for all stages of human development, including infants, children and adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society agree. It is important to emphasize that the position of these organizations is based on a large amount of scientific research. Many highly qualified dietitians and paediatricians researched the professional literature for many years before signing under this position. In addition, we have shown in the first six points that all the substances contained in meat can be easily obtained from other sources. It is therefore not surprising that a large number of studies show that the health of children who do not eat meat is completely comparable to the health of omnivorous children. Even a study in which large amounts of red meat were added to children’s diets did not confirm the positive effect of meat on children’s diets. This research shows that the state of the observed nutrients in the body of children with the addition of meat has not significantly improved. The only exception was vitamin B12, which is very easy to include in a diet even without meat. In addition, vitamin B12, which is produced by bacteria, is more suitable and of better quality for humans than B12, which is found in meat, which we looked at in more detail in point 6.
Science, research and the views of all major international food organizations argue that children of all ages do not have to eat meat. An interesting question, then, is why some still insist that meat is essential in children’s diets. The reason is that individuals who want to prove the importance of meat in children’s diet in any way, usually seek research that addresses groups with significantly more limited diets, such as fruitarians, macrobiotics, metabolites. Some even go so far as to declare starving children in the third world as typical vegetarian children, who do not eat meat due to lack (and neither do the piles of other foods). In children in these groups, research shows that they are more likely to be deficient in certain nutrients, mainly because such diets usually do not meet the required caloric intake. And individuals who want to prove (or believe in) the importance of meat in children’s diets are completely wrong to pass on the results of this research to children who eat a significantly more varied, calorie-rich meatless diet with enough B12.
Typical of virtually all of the above groups is the fact that members of these groups do not want to enjoy B12, mainly due to a misguided ideology of “naturalness” imposed on them by the meat lobby. The latter also includes some vegans who also do not want to consume B12. Thus, most children in this group are deficient in vitamin B12, not because it would be difficult to consume, but because of a completely unnecessary ideology that avoids this vitamin (see point 6). Significantly, it is individuals who strive to prove the necessity of meat in the diet, among those who spread this ideology to the detriment of the entire population. In line with this ideology and contrary to the facts, they claim that vitamin B12 is extremely difficult to consume without eating meat, milk or eggs, believing that foods of animal origin are the only source of B12. Why this is not true, we looked in more detail in point 6. If we ignore this unnecessary and dangerous ideology, vitamin B12 is extremely easy to include in children’s diets, regardless of their diet. Therefore, the research usually cited by proponents of meat in children’s diets is inadequate and can be briefly classified into the following groups: – Observation of very limited diets (macrobiotic, metabolic, fruitarian) therefore, as such, they are not relevant for demonstrating the need for meat in children’s diets.
- Observing the diet of groups that do not want to include B12 in their diet due to ideology. Because B12 is extremely easy to include in the diet regardless of its type, even such research does not prove the necessity of meat in children’s diets, it only shows the necessity of vitamin B12 in the diet (which is more than easy to include in any type of diet).
- Observing groups that do not include meat in their diet due to poverty or scarcity (mostly in the third world). Due to differences between the Third World and the West in food availability, such research is completely meaningless as proof of the need for meat in children’s diets.
- Observing children who eat an unbalanced vegetarian or vegan diet, ie children who consume a lot of calories through sweets, sugary drinks and salty snacks, or children who consume too few calories. In such diets, the problem is not in not eating meat, but in not eating enough (unprocessed) plant foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. At the last above point, let us refer to Chapter 7, where we analyzed the risks of individual diets. There, we found that the risks of an unbalanced vegetarian or vegan diet are less life-threatening and show up immediately after the onset of the defect, as opposed to the risks of an unbalanced omnivorous diet, which usually shows up late and is much more dangerous. The same goes for children’s diets, but this is all the more misleading, as errors in omnivorous children’s diets (lack of antioxidants, folate, fiber, nitrate intake, nitrites, nitrites, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, excessive saturated fat, cholesterol…) they don’t usually show up in childhood, but only much later. This creates the illusion that an omnivorous diet for children, despite possible mistakes, is more appropriate. That this is not the case is also shown by the conclusion of the authors of the study that malignant processes that manifest only in adulthood are likely to begin in childhood as a result of meat in the diet. According to research, the incidence of cancer is significantly reduced only in people who do not eat meat practically from birth. To this we can add the results of research that show that for any perceived impact on the nutrition of children with nutrients, we should include in the diet really large amounts of meat, ie amounts that are far above the carcinogenic limit given by the WCRF. Both call into question the position of those who promote meat in children’s diets as beneficial. Also important is the fact that children who eat an unbalanced omnivorous diet grow up believing that their diet is appropriate because they have not (yet) made a mistake in childhood. Therefore, they continue with such a diet into adulthood. It is also known that adults find it extremely difficult to get rid of eating disorders acquired in childhood. Therefore, the doctrine of favoring meat in children’s diets has an extremely negative impact on the health of the entire population. Science, a wealth of research, the views of all major international food organizations and the views of many pediatric associations argue that children of all ages should not eat meat, which means that the claim that children should eat meat is just an excuse. Pronunciation no. 12: People who do physical work need to eat meat for strength. This is an extremely popular statement based on two simple but erroneous conclusions:
protein gives strength and because meat is a better source of protein than plant foods, this means that meat in the diet is essential for strength.
Let’s first look at the first part of this claim that protein gives strength. Protein is indeed necessary for muscle growth (as well as other tissue), but this statement contains the idea that higher protein intake also means greater strength, which is not the case. The body uses only the amount of protein it actually needs to build and rebuild the body, and excretes the excess. This excess does not turn into “extra” muscles, as some assume. Of course, muscle growth is less if you consume too little protein. However, we have seen in point 1 that protein with all the essential amino acids is practically more than enough in practically all plant foods and therefore too little protein intake through plant foods is extremely unlikely. Athletes’ needs for protein increase due to training, as the body needs more protein to build new tissue. However, training (physical activity that consumes energy) also increases the need for energy, which in turn means higher food intake. More food also takes in more protein, which satisfies the additional protein needs. Therefore, it is not necessary to increase the percentage of protein in the diet (10%) for increased protein intake, as additional protein is provided by additional food intake. This is in line with the recommendations of professional institutions, which at the same time confirm that the need for protein does not depend on the source of protein (it does not matter whether we consume animal or plant protein). Some recommend a slightly higher intake for bodybuilding, up to 30%, but at the same time recommend an extremely low fat intake, which means that most of these proteins should not come from meat, but from protein supplements. However, the above statement is usually not about the desire for bodybuilding, but about people who use physical force for their work; for them, the same is true for athletes: they use more energy through intense work, so they have to eat more food, which means more protein. Therefore, the required percentage of protein in the diet does not change, remaining at 10%. Increased protein intake does not increase strength, but is simply eliminated from the body. In the case of energy-intensive activities or training, increased protein intake can lead to significant protein surpluses, even with a 10% protein intake. The second part of the claim that it is possible (or easier) only with meat to get enough protein for muscle growth or. power, however, is checked in Table 1. It is immediately clear that the vast majority of plant foods contain an amount of protein that significantly exceeds the required 10%. As mentioned several times, more than 10 percent protein content does not cause additional muscle growth, but is eliminated from the body. Most plant foods are well above this 10% (especially legumes).
At this point, let’s touch on another rather misleading fact. Namely, in the promotion of meat as a source of protein, only lean meat is usually cited. So meat from which we have previously removed fat in one way or another (non-protein part of the food). It is not appropriate to compare such a refined food with whole plant foods, as we can also remove non-protein portions (fats or carbohydrates) from plant foods and thus increase their protein content. In Table 10a we can see the protein content as a percentage of the energy value for whole meat and some plant foods. We immediately notice the low protein content of whole meat, which is due to the relatively high fat content in such meat. Furthermore, Table 10b shows that meat has a high protein content only when fats (lean meat) are removed from it. However, Table 10b shows that the protein content also increases sharply in plant foods if fats or carbohydrates are removed. Fat is removed by pressing, and the removal of carbohydrates is done by grinding and rinsing the flour. Table 10a. (source: USDA nutrient database) Food proteinsFat beef17.3% Soybeans38.5% Pumpkin seeds18.6% Wheat16.1%
Table 10b. (source: USDA nutrient database) Food proteinsFeat with fat removed62.3% Soy with fat removed63.0% Pumpkin seeds with fat removed76.7% Wheat with removed carbohydrates81.2%
Although a 10% protein intake is sufficient for normal muscle activity, Table 10b shows that any high amount of protein can be obtained from plant foods alone if such a high intake is desired for one reason or another.
At the same time, Tables 10a and 10b show that it is extremely simplistic and misleading to label meat as a protein food. Meat becomes a protein food only when we remove fat from it. However, we can do exactly the same with plant foods, as shown in Table 10b, so meat in its basic (full-fat) form can in no way be considered a protein, but a fatty food. It therefore makes sense to compare only full-fat meat and full-fat plant foods, or lean meat and plant foods with fat removed. Comparing lean meat with whole plant foods is not appropriate, is misleading, and usually serves as a method of favoring meat as a source of protein. The statement that meat gives strength because it is a good source of protein is therefore not true. Because the influence of meat or. meatless diet on physical fitness and strength extensively researched, let’s look at some more scientific studies on this topic. A study comparing muscle growth in response to training in omnivores and vegetarian athletes found that the amount of meat in the diet did not affect either muscle growth or creatine levels in the body. Studies examining the impact of vegetarianism on physical fitness find that there are no differences in the physical fitness of carnivores and vegetarian athletes. The research sought to identify differences in physical strength and physical fitness between vegan and omnivorous women. The comparison showed that there were no significant differences in cardiorespiratory response to load and thigh muscle circumference. The study concludes that animal-derived proteins do not have a significant effect on physical strength or physical fitness. Research on the impact of meat on running ability (running length 5-8km) finds that excluding meat from the diet does not change athletes’ ability to run. A study of active athletes in Israel, which looked at the impact of diet on their physical abilities, shows that there are no differences between vegetarian and omnivorous athletes in aerobic and anaerobic abilities, arm and leg muscle circumference, arm grip strength, back muscle strength and other comparable parameters. Two studies looked at highly trained athletes whose diet and response were changed over a 6-week trial period. They found that meat in the diet did not significantly affect either the aerobic capacity of athletes or the isometric strength of muscles. In short, comparative research shows that meat has no significant effect on either physical fitness or strength. Also, professional nutrition organizations ensure that plant foods can be perfectly suitable for both anaerobic and aerobic sports.
Analysis of nutrition tables, numerous scientific studies and the views of professional organizations argue that plant foods can be perfectly suitable for athletes of all kinds, including professionals. If such food is sufficient for athletes, then we can conclude that it is also perfectly suitable for manual workers. Therefore, the claim that meat is necessary for physical labor is just an unfounded excuse. Pronunciation no. 13: Man is an omnivore, so meat is an indispensable part of the menu. Man is biologically qualified as an omnivore. However, this qualification is often misinterpreted. Although man is an omnivore, this says nothing about what the optimal or recommended diet should be for him, as all too often one tries to erroneously infer from this qualification alone. Omnivorous in nature is a broad concept, as it refers to an extremely diverse group of animals with even more diverse ways of eating. Omnivores can be carnivores that have adapted to include plant foods, they can be herbivores that have adapted to include animal foods. They can be animals that eat predominantly meat foods with little plant, they can be animals that eat predominantly plant foods and little animal. There may be animals that can get all the nutrients only from plant foods, yet others that need meat in their diet to absorb all the nutrients. They also differ in which plant food they include (leaves, fruits, nectar) and which animal food (meat, insects, eggs). In addition, the diet of most omnivorous animals depends on the food available. For a person as an omnivore, any of the listed diets could be optimal. We see that the word omnivore is far too vague to be able to determine the necessary or optimal food for man only through this label. The basic conclusion from the title of this chapter is meaningless, since it is not possible to deduce from the classification itself what type of omnivore man is; consequently, it is not possible to determine the optimal food for humans from this term. If someone only on the basis of this qualification claims that meat is a necessary part of the optimal human diet, then someone else can claim that the optimal diet for humans consists mostly of insects with added fruit, again a third can argue that only plant-based nutrition is optimal and that meat in the diet is necessary only in the absence of adequate plant foods, etc. And everyone can be right, given the breadth of the term “omnivore”. So who is right? The only way to determine which diet is optimal for humans is a scientific comparative analysis of the effects of different types of diet on health, but by no means simplified conclusions based on the word “omnivore”. If the thesis that a person is such an omnivore who needs a certain amount of meat in his diet for optimal health, then all these comparative studies would show significantly better health of those who include a certain amount of meat in their diet. In other words, if we were to compare groups with different proportions of meat in the diet, then the group with the optimal amount of meat should show significantly better health than other groups that would not have meat in the diet or those that would have more. However, research does not show this. Virtually none of the research shows that those who include any amount of meat in their diet would be significantly healthier than those who do not eat it at all. Research even shows that those who exclude meat from their diet are in significantly better health than those who eat it. At best, those who eat very little meat and take care of their health only get closer to the health of vegetarians, but do not exceed it. This undoubtedly means that man is the kind of omnivore who does not need meat in his diet. The position of the often mentioned professional nutrition organizations also clearly speaks about this. At this point, we should mention various attempts at comparative anatomy, which try to prove what kind of diet a person should be adapted to by comparing human physical attributes (tooth shape, bowel length). Such comparisons are meaningless because of the abundant technology that man has used in his diet since ancient times. Thus, certain adjustments (or lack thereof) may be due to the use of technology. Due to technology, human food is very different from the food of other animals (consumption of thermally and mechanically processed food, consumption of milk of other species in adulthood), so reasoning based solely on the comparison of physical attributes is meaningless. This finding is confirmed by the fact that in nature, animals with almost identical physical attributes (bonobo – predominantly herbivore, chimpanzee – omnivore) or related physical attributes (eg panda – herbivore, polar bear – carnivore) can eat completely different foods. We have already mentioned that the diet of omnivores is significantly affected by the availability of food, so even members of the same species can eat significantly different foods. Therefore, reasoning about what a person should eat based solely on physical attributes is even more meaningless than reasoning based on an omnivorous biological qualification. Again, the only way to reliably determine the optimal human diet is to compare different types of diet and analyze their impact on health. The result of these comparisons is clear: a person who eats any amount of meat never exceeds a group that does not eat meat. This means that in the human diet, regardless of physical attributes, meat is not an essential part of the optimal diet. As we mentioned at the beginning, we want to show that the fact whether we eat meat or not is a matter of decision and not a matter of necessity. We have shown that the qualification of man as an omnivore does not affect this choice, because human omnivorous does not mean that the diet must include meat or. that meat is optimal in the diet. This means that only a person’s decision is essential for the inclusion of meat in the diet, and not some external factor that forces him to do so and limits his choice. So human omnivorousness is a completely irrelevant factor in his decision for or against eating meat, as it does not limit this choice. There are parts of the world where plant foods are not available, where people do not have that choice. However, the lack of access to the food of others and their lack of choice do not change the availability of our food and are irrelevant to the choice we have (more on this in one of the following points). The argument that meat consumption is justified by biological qualification itself, although there is indisputable scientific evidence that there is no need for it, is something like labeling wars of conquest (eg World War II) as ethical and acceptable only on the basis of human qualifications. as a territorial being for whom struggles for territory are something normal. Both arguments are fundamentally wrong. Human omnivorous meat does not necessarily make it necessary in the diet. This means that the argument justifying eating meat with human omnipotence is wrong and is just an excuse.