Vegetarian anatomy

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Wisdom_Seeker, May 23, 2011.

  1. WillNever Valued Senior Member

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    Fraggle, I am not a vegetarian.

    However, I do acknowledge that vegetarianism is a healthier diet. It has been shown that vegetarianism significantly reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They also seem to have a reduced risk of gastric and colon cancer, probably because their diet is inherently higher in dietary fiber.

    As well, calling humans "carnivores" is illogical. Carnivores subsist *primarily* on meat. That does not hold true for humans, by a long shot. And humans are certainly not *obligatory* carnivores.

    If you were "raised on meat" then you craving for it isn't programming. It's more similar to an addiction. And like any addiction, if you "stay off it" for a while, you will probably lose your taste for it and cease to crave it. It's similar to salt in that way. Some people love salt. They crave it, actually. So they put it on every meal. But if you go for a week or so without eating salty food, you'll find that you lose your taste for it. That holds true for sweets and fatty food as well. Tons of money is spent by food companies to research food addiction and food cravings.

    Also, I think it isn't healthy if eating any single type of food constitutes one of your life's greatest pleasures. Eat to live. Don't live to eat. It will do wonders for your long term health.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Oh I also love chocolate. And to an (only slightly) lesser extent, virtually all sweets. Dessert is five of my favorite meals of the day.
    I'm 67. I've already beaten the odds. I'm ready to relax and do whatever the hell I want. Any years beyond this are a bonus. I've already got "long-term health."

    I'm not big on veggies but I do eat a very creative salad three or four nights a week. I eat a lot of fruit and take very carefully calculated vitamin/mineral supplements in case I miss something. I avoid transfats. My weight is a few pounds beyond ideal, which is what a lot of people are starting to recommend at my age in case I get stricken by some illness that destroys my appetite for a week. I work out. I get enough sleep. I'm surrounded by stress-reducing dogs. I have a fabulous job doing work I enjoy for people who treat me well. My blood pressure and all those other numbers are just fine.

    Unfortunately there's one major problem in my life which is that my wife and I are 3,000 miles apart for business reasons so we fly across the country to be together when we can. And this has nothing to do with nutrition.

    Other than that, I'm way ahead of the game. If I drop dead tomorrow I've got no regrets.
     
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  5. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

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    Humans are unique animals. We are the only species on planet Earth adapted to using technology. One of the technologies we use is cooking. This is shown in the shortness of the human gut - smallest gut for our size of all primates, by a large margin. We cannot properly digest uncooked meat, and most uncooked vegetables.

    Evolution equipped humanity with a limited gut to save weight in a hunting animal that needs high levels of stamina. A fit young human can run continuously for a longer period than almost any other animal. (The horse being one of the very few that can beat us.) This stamina is of no use for anything except hunting. Pretty damn strong evidence that we are adapted to eat meat!

    Meat should be cooked to permit our smaller gut to digest it. When it is, lots of Billvon's objections disappear. Cooked meat is easy to chew, meaning it does not choke us. The 'cafe coronary' is normally undercooked steak, which is harder to chew. Cooked meat also contains no pathogens.

    Where meat is a health problem to modern day humans is because the animals we currently eat are bred to be fat. Wild meat is very lean. Try cooking wild venison, and see how much fat it has! However, even modern meats do not have to be fatty and unhealthy. While McDonald's hamburger may have over 20% fat, if you use leaner meats, and trim fat off, you end up with less than 5% fat, and even to 2%.

    When posters use the word 'vegetarian' they are posting zero information. This word can mean a wide range of possible diet options. The form of vegetarianism that includes such things as fish, eggs, and dairy products can be very healthy. However, if a poster means total vegetarianism, also called veganism, then we are talking of something else entirely.

    As Fraggle said, it is really, really difficult to get a proper balanced diet on a vegan food selection. In fact, such things as iron deficiency anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency disease are very common among vegans. Lack of dairy products make calcium deficiency common (The best source of calcium is low fat milk). The best source of zinc is animal protein. Even getting the full range of amino acids is difficult with a vegan diet. Vegan diets are less than ideal.

    Conclusion : eating at least some well cooked animal protein every day is good for you, if you avoid fat.
     
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Well, we can digest raw vegetables pretty easily. "Raw foodists" do pretty well. I agree, though, that cooking has changed a lot. It allowed us to go from what we were (primarily herbivores who would eat things like grubs and termites) to something that's far more omnivorous.

    We actually have a much longer gut than most carnivores since we had to digest vegetables. (Vegetables are harder to break down.)

    "Choking on meat" is still the #1 way to die of asphyxiation, so we haven't solved that problem evolutionarily - and cooking has clearly not solved the problem completely.

    Agreed.
     
  8. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

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    You may note that my comparison was to primates, not carnivores. If you look at a photo of a young female model in a bikini (and who would not want to?), and compare that to a photo of a young female chimpanzee, it becomes immediately clear who has the bigger gut for their body size. Since most of the gut is between breast and pelvis, the fact that our young female model goes in and the chimp bulges out at that point indicates relative gut size.

    On choking on meat. I agree that cooking has not totally solved the problem. But it has made the problem much rarer. It also means that humans can have essentially herbivore teeth while incorporating lots of meat in the diet.

    Of course, humans have used cutting and stabbing tools in place of teeth and claws, also. This permits humans to be effective hunters while not having carnivore natural weaponry.

    Overall, technology of this, and other varieties, has enabled humans to be unique in the animal world. Our capabilities are not limited by our bodily adaptations. We can have a general purpose body, and be massively successful.

    On 'raw foodists'. One thing that all devout raw foodists have in common is that they are all skinny as hell. I have seen no evidence at all about their overall health. Is there a study to refer to? I suspect that, in the long run, their health suffers. They clearly do not get enough calories in their diet, and we already know that many nutrients in raw food are not easily absorbed by the human gut. Better absorption comes with cooked food.


    Humans also have another adaptation for stamina which is very clear. That is : functional hairlessness combined with sweat glands over the entire body surface (with a couple of minor exceptions, like palms of the hands). This gives human runners a cooling system that is better than almost any other animal. A major contribution to stamina, for better hunting.
     
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The least healthy part of the modern American diet is probably corn syrup - at least, since the quiet removal of the worst of the hydrogenated vegetable oils.

    The other modern modification doing harm is probably the replacement of (well tended) chicken and fish and the like with factory chicken, cornfed beef, and other industrial meat production.

    Meanwhile, the contribution of meat is probably most critical during gestation and early childhood - for mother and child. This may account for the relative success or competitive advantage of human cultures able to acquire lots of meat, compared with those unable.

    If there is a robust, healthy population of strictly vegetarian humans anywhere on earth I haven't heard of it.
     
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Not as easily as the other apes, with our shorter gut. Vegetable tissue is largely cellulose and it takes a symbiotic intestinal bacteria culture to efficiently break down cellulose; we don't really have good enzymes for that job. This is why full-time grazers have such large and complex digestive tracts. Cattle have multi-chambered stomachs that are basically giant vats of bacteria that eat the cellulose and turn it into more bacteria: cells that the cattle can then digest. This is a very slow process so they have to be able to store a lot of food in various stages of digestion.

    Where we really fall down flat is in the attempt to extract protein from raw plant tissue. The only place there is a significant concentration of amino acids in plants is in their seeds. Nuts and a few other kinds of seeds are not well protected and we can eat those. But the richest source of seed protein is grains and beans, and that protein is protected by an impenetrable layer of cellulose. We simply cannot digest raw grains and beans.

    This was the quantum leap in human nutrition brought about by the technology of taming fire. Cooking grains and beans breaks down the cellulose so we can digest the protein.

    It must be noted that no type of plant seed contains a complete balanced set of amino acids necessary for human nutrition. You have to combine grains with nuts or seeds to get complete protein. Either that or add a modest amount of milk, since the poorly named "essential amino acids" are ones that we only need in small quantity.
    Cooking made a quantum improvement in our lives. It's been well estimated that to obtain a day's ration of nutrition from raw meat requires about three hours of chewing. (Especially since the flint blades of the Paleolithic Era could not cut meat into precise bite-size pieces like our steel blades.) Eating cooked meat gave us back a couple of hours in our day that we could use for inventing new technologies or advancing our culture in other ways.
    Considering that most carnivores are of the order Carnivora and have had tens of millions of years to adapt to eating meat, whereas we've only had a fraction of that time, this is no surprise.

    I've often wondered what a panda's digestive tract is like. It's one of the rare species that has reversed the evolution of its clade (bears) and changed back into a herbivore. The fact that it can only digest one type of plant tissue (bamboo) suggests that its herbivorous digestive system is pretty primitive and just barely works at all.
    Never eat unground meat alone, and make sure several people you eat with know the Heimlich. It's not as easy to choke on hamburger since by the time it gets into your throat it's in much smaller pieces. And I consider myself pretty safe since as far as I know no one has ever choked to death on chocolate.
    The second-order effects of factory farming may be even worse: Because of their filthy, crowded living conditions their flesh is drenched with antibiotics. This has spurred the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    Their meat is also laced with hormone supplements. These are surprisingly resistant to breakdown and pass right through us, into our sewage, and then into our waterways. Hermaphrodite fish are well documented right here in the Potomac River. Imagine what that stuff is doing to us!
    I don't think there has been a population of strictly vegetarian humans on this planet since the speciation of Homo sapiens. Brain tissue requires an enormous amount of protein for growth and maintenance. (This is why dogs, which have adapted to a scavenger's diet, have smaller brains than wolves, which are still predators.) We could never have evolved these uniquely gigantic brains without our ancestral species already eating meat.

    It was the invention of the technology of flint blades several million years ago by one of our ancestral species that set us on the track toward big brains. Blades allowed them to efficiently scavenge the meat that predators left on the bones of their kill. More protein allowed subsequent species to have larger brains, larger brains made them even more clever at inventing new technologies, and eventually they had the spears and organizational skill to become predators. Even more meat, even larger brains, and presto you've got H. sapiens, the apex predator of the entire global ecosystem, who dines on the flesh of both bears and sharks.
     
  11. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    ‎"If there is no meat eater, there will be no animal killer" - Shabkar Tsogdruk
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    So this dude is so out of touch with reality that he thinks we're going to stop killing rats and mice for breaking into our pantries, raccoons and coyotes for strewing our trash all over the yard, deer for eating our parks and gardens, gophers for eating them from the bottom side, bears and cougars for eating our pets, foxes for spreading rabies, chimpunks for tunneling under our houses so the foundations collapse? And those are just a few of the species classified as "vermin" in my country. I'm sure other countries have different arrays of species that need to be culled to keep them from taking over.

    We don't kill animals solely for meat. This lama needs to step out of his monastery and see how normal folks live.
     
  13. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    I rather be weird

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  14. Walter L. Wagner Cosmic Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

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    You forgot cockroaches. I kill them with a vengeance. Houseflies, mosquitoes, wasps/hornets are also on my vengeance-kill list whenever near my home.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I deliberately restricted myself to mammals. Even the most vengeful of us might well have mixed feelings about killing animals with gigantic forebrains capable of rather complex thought. Insects and other arthropods have brains but they're much more primitive.

    Nonetheless the Jains attempt to avoid killing all animals, brain or no brain. That they don't extend the same courtesy to the other five phyla of plants, fungi, algae, bacteria and archaea raises some interesting questions about their creed.
     
  16. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Just to clarify, this is the position for many vegans, but by no means all. What I (and others) find most objectionable are the deplorable living conditions for dairy cattle and chickens: with cattle, the male calves are immediately turned over to the veal industry--along with the females who show indication of not being especially "productive"--and the rest are kept pregnant for their remaining three or four odd years to ensure maximum "productivity" and then sent off to slaughter; the scenario for chickens is even grimmer, and seemingly only slightly less so with respect to so-called "free-range" chickens.

    I've no objections to employing animals to do what they are so inclined to do--provided they demonstrate the inclination and desire. Anyone who has ever earnestly and honestly worked with animals knows fully well how to read their desires and proclivities.

    Since my heelers (the late Parmalee was a blue, Daisy is a red, and I've fostered and trained countless others) were never active "working" cattle or sheep, I've found countless other ways for employing them--primarily through biking. You wouldn't believe the number of times a motorist or pedestrian passer-by on the street has shouted at me as though I'm tormenting my dogs for having them run alongside a bicycle. They're not on leads, and they've always run just ever so slightly ahead of me, so I'm clearly not dragging them along on some agonizing chore; moreover, the almost maniacal grins they display whenever the subject of bicycling comes up clearly indicates that there's nothing better they'd rather be doing!

    Meh. It's not that difficult--I've done it for nearly 25 years. And I'm not one for the "spa cuisine" style of vegan cooking--I consume a shitload of fat (and my BMI is just under 18)--so I don't "suffer" so much with respect to "flavor."
     
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    To which I'll add, many of the vegan and radical ecology-types I allude to above derive much of their inspiration--with respect to both theory and praxis--from primarily Marxist and anarchist sources, which has earned the more active sorts the status of Public Enemy No. 1 in America over the past couple of decades--that is, Domestic Terrorists No. 1.

    In spite of the fact that there is no documented incident of an environmental or animal rights action for which any single person has ever been harmed. Moreover, the actors have made it abundantly clear that they make every conceivable effort to do no harm to any animals of any sort, human or otherwise.

    Funny how certain varieties of right-wing activists--the anti-abortionists, militias, racial separatists, etc.--have caused untold harm, including, you know, killing people and shit, and yet they've managed to escape the categorization as "terrorists." But this isn't the Politics forum, so I'll desist...
     
  18. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Is there really all that much evidence to support the contention that "iron deficiency anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency disease are very common among vegans?" (I'm not being snide, I'm genuinely asking for the data.)

    I would agree that a balanced vegan diet is difficult if one were ill-informed, or if one were not to avail oneself of the plethora of foodstuffs (and supplements, if one deems such necessary) available to those of us in affluent, industrialized nations, but otherwise, not so much. Perhaps for very particular scenarios, i.e. those with certain medical conditions, possibly pregnant/nursing women, infants, etc., but again, for the average person: not so much.

    And given that a substantial portion of the world's population is lactose intolerant, are dairy products really the best source of calcium? Also, I've read in many places (will provide links upon request) that the calcium in dairy is not well-absorbed owing to certain amino acids (I think?) in the protein milk. Of course, I've also read the converse, but this may very well be just plain propaganda from the dairy industry--it's not as though much of the purportedly objective data on human nutrition isn't biased and compromised by "special interest" groups.
     
  19. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    Pretty much...I don't see it as terribly hard...when I was losing weight I started counting my protein grams for a while to make sure? But I get enough.
    I supplement anyway...for about the same reason one gets insurance. Also because lots of B's are supposed to help with general brain wonkiness.When they drew my blood last it all came out ok.
    :shrug:
     
  20. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    OK, I looked around a bit--and came up with nothing. So can someone please substantiate this claim (which I did not make):

    Like I said, I found nothing. What I did find were a number of vegan proponents advising people to be attentive to these concerns, but nothing suggesting that B12 and iron deficiency are any more common amongst vegans than anyone else. (And we'll just conveniently ignore things like obesity, high blood pressure, etc. which are overwhelmingly common amongst meat eaters--especially in the U.S.)

    And please, no anecdotal crap.
     
  21. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry Parmalee.

    I don't trust the research as much as I do my own observations.

    B12 deficiencies are quite rare, although I boarded a horse once who required B12 injections for about 4 months to overcome circumstances he had endured before arriving here.

    As for other deficiencies that may be encountered on a strictly vegan diet, I rather suspect we are all at similar risk from soils that are becoming deficient in certain nutrients from overuse.

    I know several people who adopted a vegan or predominantly vegetarian lifestyle for years, one even for over a decade, who returned to eating selected animal protein and meat and claim that they feel much better for it and their vital stats are excellent, so I am paying attention to their claims, one being a chemist.
     
  22. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    I'm also skeptical of the "research," especially in this particular area for which their are wealthy and powerful interest groups with a clear agenda: keep people eating big-agra so-called "foodstuffs."

    My personal experience has been the opposite: I've been vegan for just over 25 years, with occasional periods during which I consumed some dairy--and most recently some more dairy on a fairly regular basis over a period of 2-3 years.

    Since I've ceased consuming dairy altogether I feel substantially better. I may or may not be lactose-intolerant proper--I'm certainly in the right demographic: lactose intolerance is far more prevalent amongst jews--but I know that I encounter a number of problems when consuming dairy, from gastro-intestinal stuff to respiratory problems.
     
  23. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    Your observations for dairy exactly fit with my own observations and experience. In addition to the above, I experience pain/tightness in my lower back muscles when I consume excess dairy. I observe that I can use butter without ill effect, and moderate amounts of uncolored hard cheese, cream and sour cream most sparingly, and Greek style yogurt seems to be fine, most other yogurts having gelatine, cornstarch and a bunch of other questionable components added.

    I certainly advocate a diet that is high in a variety of vegetables, whole fruits preferable to juices, whole grains over processed, modest amounts of meat, homemade soups and stews and adequate amounts of clean water.

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