Thursday, November 16, 2006

my experience as a pseudo-vegetarian

"you should probably lose 5-10 pounds this year". that's what set it in motion earlier this year. i couldn't believe what i was hearing from the doctor reading back my physical results but i understood it. my body mass index for my height was a little excessive, but not bad (5'8", 175lbs) given that i was fit and wearing a bit of that excess as muscle (but certainly not all). the rest of everything else (cholesterol, heart rate, etc.) was good, i just needed to shed a few pounds. i sort of knew this already, i'd made myself a promise i would stay at 32 waist pants back in college and had since crept up to a snug 33".

i had no interest in going on a diet but rather wanted to learn about nutrition. set out to find a book on nutrition and reading websites.

i admittedly started down a little bit of a rabbit hole by exploring colonic irrigation since it's been a hot topic of late. after reading about it, pros and cons, i have little interest. it's just not natural to shove a tube up yer can and pump gallons of water through your innards. chances are nothing will go wrong but if it does, you can perforate your colon (split the sucker in 2). bad idea, no matter how many marbles and sticks of swallowed chewing gum i might have in my gut. the interesting thing about it though was how much undigested or partially digested red meat ppl had in their systems. i made a mental note of this. i started eating more fish, less meat and dropped about 3 pounds over the next 2-3 months. not bad. little change that was easy, sustainable and had good results.

as i searched further, just about the only book i found about nutrition rather than a diet pitch was the china study. admittedly, even this author ends up advocating a vegan diet in the end. the book is a little dogmatic at times and you get the point about mid-way through, but well worth sticking it out through the end where campbell breaks down his conspiracy stories on the national dairy board and other govt/lobbying groups paid by companies to manipulate the nutritional facts to their benefit.

i won't give away the book, but the idea is that lots of bad things happen when you eat a diet rich in animal protein and not enough plants and whole foods. basically, the traditional american diet sucks, ppl are too fat, and doctors are stuck in a reactive mode and do not advocate nutrition which can prevent or mitigate many of the diseases of affluence afflicting westerners today (e.g. heart disease, diabetes).

after reading the book (truthfully i started reducing animal protein early in my reading), examining counter-arguments and dramatically reducing my animal protein intake (i eat meet every 2-3 days now and limit cheese and dairy), here's my personal take and experience on vegan/vegetarianism as well as the x-files style conspiracy theories:

- i've lost about 6-7 add'l pounds and am back down to a 32" waist size. i'm weighing in around 165 and feeling good. didn't happen over night but that's fine by me. i'd like to shave off another 4-5 but would need to cut back on booze to do this. that's gonna take a while, i like beer too much and want my glass of red at the end of the day :-)

- eat lots of fruits and vegetables and don't worry about calories or carbs so much. nothing wrong with wholegrains and the like. i eat more frequently than i did before, enjoy it just as much and don't sweat it when there's nothing but meat available. fine by me, i'm still ok with knowing an animal died to feed me. top of the food chain baby!!!!

- vegan is nearly impossible and likely unnecessary. it's not unnatural to eat meat and most benefits are obtained by simply reducing animal protein intake to 10% or less. anyone who is vegan does not travel for business much or starves.

- vegetarian is not that hard in cali but really hard in the austin airport (haven't these ppl ever heard of a bean burrito?) and was nigh impossible in south america. nonetheless, it's been a lot easier than i expected and a lot more natural than counting calories or trying to reduce carbs. alternatively, i think there's far too many vegetarians who end up unhealthy b/c they substitute eating meat for consuming lots of other animal proteins (mostly dairy) or junk starches. they'd be better off eating meat and a healthy diet in my estimation.

- supplements are unnecessary. just eat healthy stuff. the body is too complex to expect to properly absorb all the needed nutrients in a pill. not to mention this being a completely unnatural means of acquiring nutrients.

- western medicine seems largely broken. it is based on reactive measures, lacks any solid nutritional advocacy and is poisoned by big drug company motivations. prevention is not easy but a lot better than relying upon expensive drugs & doctors who know little or nothing about nutrition


Charles said...

Hey Dave - if fitness is what you are looking for, check this site out The workouts are incredible and they have a modified diet discussion on there relating somewhat to the things your post covers. Bot sure how far away from you they are, but if they are in the neighborhood, I'll be stopping by before too long :)

dc said...

hey thanks chaz. i was looking really for better nutrition more than anything else, or at least knowledge thereof.

the crossfit stuff looks intense! i'm pretty happy with my current workouts (running, hockey and some gym time) but i'll give it a glance. not all of us are made to be the greek adonis that you are :-)