Monday, 20 July 2009

No, I Don't Eat Raw Meat Pt 2 - Animal Rights Guilt-Mongering

This article is hard-hitting. It's not written for the majority of you, but for those eating meat, whether cooked or raw.

When we eat meat, we eat death.

Eating meat is eating death and suffering. We pick fruit - the tree continues to grow. And the seeds inside the picked fruit can grow, and, if we were living naturally, we would expel these seeds out of our bottoms into the earth, to create more life.

But when we use an animal's flesh for food, it can live no longer, nor can any part of it reproduce. It has no life in it; we eat its corpse.

Everyone who eats meat, whether they kill the animals themselves or have others do it for them, is directly responsible for terrible suffering.

Dr Jane Goodall (chimp researcher): 'Thousands of people who say they 'love' animals sit down once or twice a day to enjoy the flesh of creatures who have been utterly deprived of everything that could make their lives worth living and who have endured the awful suffering and the terror of the abattoirs.'

I won't go into the details of the living conditions some farm animals endure, as I suspect many meat-eaters reading this blog will be buying meat from suppliers who reassure that the animals have led 'happy lives'. So let's think about that...what's being proposed here is that it's OK to kill them way before the end of their natural lives and eat them. It's a bit like saying, 'oh, we're human being-lovers. Yes, we do eat humans (occasionally), but we're careful to look for humans that have been raised on organic food, been given lots of space to roam around in, and have led happy lives.'

And no matter how 'humanely' the animals have been raised, their killing is another matter. When they're no longer any good for producing eggs and milk, or, in the case of males, are no longer needed as studs, they're transported to the slaughterhouse, where their lives are ended - brutally and bloodily. It's been said that if slaughterhouses had walls no one would eat meat, and the occupation of 'slaughterhouse worker' has one of the highest turnover rates. Slaughterhouse workers routinely witness the strangling, beating, scalding and skinning of live, fully conscious animals.

If you are a meat-eater, imagine a scenario where you, or a parent perhaps, are transported to a slaughterhouse where you then suffer in the way the animals suffer. Even if you've told yourself that none of what I've just said is true (please see the film 'Earthlings') and you have some idea that it's just a 'stun-gun', and it's all 'painless' really, imagine yourself being transported, then killed 'humanely', to satisfy people who've told themselves they're caring people because they've thought carefully about different ways of killing. Use your powers of imagination. Empathise.

Some who eat meat do believe that it's important for us to understand how meat gets to our plates. And TV cook programmes have courted some controversy for showing this. But, have they? Have any of them showed slaughterhouses in action? Or animals' throats being slit before the 9 pm 'watershed'? But 'chickens strangled'? Yep, they reckon audiences will stomach that, blood! And of course we're told the chickens have led happy lives... So that's OK then. A turning point for me came after a foray back into meat-eating, when I watched a programme that showed a chicken flapping its wings so furiously as it was being strangled, fighting so hard to hang on to life - it desperately wanted to live! But, no, it was killed to persuade some moron who lived on burgers ('I don't eat vegetables.') to switch to 'organically-fed' chickens.

So, if you've given up 'red meat', but think chicken's acceptable, imagine the smallest, most defenceless, innocent person you know being strangled. If you are feeling upset or annoyed at that suggestion, ask yourself why that is.

Did any UK readers see that programme in which the foul-mouthed TV chef showed off his 'survival' skills by shooting a stag? That stag was a beautiful creature - the epitome of health and strength (which I suppose is why it was deemed worthy of execution) - achieved by living a life for many years totally in accordance with nature. The chef shot this defenceless creature, burned its body with fire, and ate the flesh - committing that act of atrocity for just a few minutes of taste sensation, only to expel it from his bottom later (couple of days later, probably). What a clever fellow.

Ah, but of course he should have 'thanked' the stag. This is an idea that has really taken hold with the 'spiritual', 'compassionate' people recently, and even popped up in the film 'Avatar' with it's depiction of a people living (it claimed) in perfect harmony with nature. If we 'thank' the animal for 'giving up its life for us', it's all OK - we're good people. It's amazing what things we human beings will come up with to justify our worst acts. Those who think that 'thanking' makes it all better conveniently forget that we thank those who generously give (of their own volition) things to us. Stealing, murdering then 'thanking'?!?

Fish...for many years pre-raw I'd managed to persuade myself that eating fish wasn't so bad...and indeed perhaps their physiologies are such that they don't feel pain in the way other creatures do. Whatever, it seems reasonable to suggest that they might suffer greatly from the experience of what is essentially suffocation. Check out Joe Goldfarb's thought-provoking account of his enlightenment following the eating of a salmon.

Man has no natural instinct to eat flesh.

'Give a lion-cub a rabbit and an apple. He'll eat the rabbit and play with the apple. Give a small child a rabbit and an apple. He'll eat the apple and play with the rabbit.' (Harvey Diamond, 'Fit for Life'.)

At our most pure, when we are little children, we have no natural instinct to eat flesh. We eat flesh and come to like the taste of it through socialisation based on depravity.

My cat, as early as I can remember, would 'rattle' his teeth if he saw a bird through the window. There's no such reaction from a toddler when he sees a hen. But he will pick at your freshly-shelled peas or cut cucumber.

Carnivores, when hungry, will look for movement, rustlings, scratchings - they will instinctively be drawn to hunt, to pounce, to kill animal life. We have no such instincts.

Older readers will remember a time when it was normal for children to 'play out', unsupervised. What attracted us for food? The rustle of a mouse? A lamb in a field? Or blackberries, or perhaps the sight of ripe plums overhanging a wall?

Aesthetically, we are attracted to colourful, vibrant fruit and vegetables, not bloody dead animals.

Meat-eaters will do anything not to be reminded of what they're actually eating.

When I tell 'cooked' meat-eating people I'm a raw foodist, they'll often say 'you don't eat raw meat, do you?', with a grimace. That's because the thought of eating raw meat is repugnant to most people. That is, except a very small group of raw foodists who have pushed aside their natural revulsion, and made themselves eat it.

One of the reasons man cooks flesh is to try to disguise it. The realisation of what people are truly doing when they eat meat makes them feel uncomfortable. (There's a reason for that!).

When it's made into cuts and cooked, it doesn't look too much like an animal any more. True, we sometimes see pigs on spits. Many people do find those disturbing, but will shut out impulses of horror, anaesthetising themselves sufficiently to have a pork sandwich or whatever. They'll carve off the belly or haunch, but few will carve into the face (which might result in those inconvenient feelings of 'what on earth am I doing??' popping up and bothering them.)

The word 'meat', thousands of years ago, was often, if not always, used generically for 'food'. It's only relatively recently that it's become a euphemism for flesh. We'll call a lettuce a lettuce, a fruit a fruit, but I've noticed that meat-eaters can get very hot under the collar if we use the word for what is actually being eaten. Again, it's because they don't wish to be reminded of what they are doing. Imagine the parental 'outrage' if a primary school teacher used the word 'flesh' instead of the non-offensive 'meat' in a lesson on nutrition - forbid the thought!

TV programme-makers have been criticised for showing slaughtering of animals because, uh-oh, children might see. It would be upsetting for children to see animals murdered. But, it's because children have been shielded from the reality of knowing what's behind the 'meat' they've been persuaded is good for them, because they have been encouraged by their parents not to emphathise, not to develop compassion to other creatures, that most people do grow up as meat-eaters. As my friend John Coleman said recently ' must ask what is human 'nature'? Are we not entitled to suggest that compassion for other species is part of our 'nature', that is, suppressed by cultural programming?'

Even when meat is eaten raw, it's generally eaten in a way that doesn't remind the eater too much of the animal. It's drained of blood. Animals aren't fussy about blood in their meat, but again, humans...don't like to see all that blood, bile and general mess...we must ask ourselves why. I suggest because it is unnatural for us to eat dead animals.

'Venison' (deer) will be thinly sliced, perhaps 'smoked'. A section of a cow's leg will be made into 'mince'. Liver may be finely sliced, perhaps adorned. Fruit-eaters will happily pluck a fruit from a tree, but a raw meat-eater generally won't pluck a liver from a corpse and bite into it. (Of course, there will be a few individuals in the world who will no doubt do this, but don't tell me it's 'natural'.)

Whether raw or cooked, cut into little 'cutlets', wrapped in plastic, sliced, minced...flesh will be dressed up in any way possible that helps people remain unconscious of the fact that they are eating an animal, who lived, breathed and experienced pain and suffering in just the way we do.

'Let's not think about that, darling, shall we?'

Human beings have free will...we can CHOOSE.

I'm going to start here with a premise borne from observation.

Human beings are not like 'all other animals'.

Animals have not been given free will. They just 'do' as they're made. For some reason (and I think the reasons have filled a billion or so books, so...won't go into those here), we're a different sort of creature from 'all other animals'.

Amongst the differences are: we can reflect, we can empathise, we can choose.

Not only in diet, but in a multiplicity of ways is there proof that humans can choose their behaviours. 'Animal instincts' are often used as an excuse - when we've behaved in a base way, when we've 'missed the mark', when we don't want to take responsibility for actions and want to persuade people that we 'didn't have a choice.'

I remember restaurant critic A A Gill mocking vegetarians once. He said that they don't smile much, as if they did, and looked in the mirror, they might see their canines, which would remind them that they are meat-eaters. Chortle, chortle. Regardless of the fact that one pointy tooth each side does not give us the faintest resemblance to meat-eating animals - derr - the very fact that we have a varied selection of teeth is evidence not that we should be eating meat, but that, sure, we can choose whether or not to. And that's the point!

We have been given teeth, and a digestive system, that can cope with all sorts of food - animal or plant - but note I use the word 'cope' and not 'thrive'. We have choices.

We are surrounded by examples in the animal world. Who knows - perhaps that's why they're there (with apologies to some vegans, who would see this as an unacceptably humancentric view of the world!). We see that some creatures, such as the horse, the stag, the ox, the gorilla, can be strong and healthy on plant foods, causing no suffering to other creatures. We see that other animals, such as the lion and tiger, are strong and healthy on animal foods, causing much suffering to the creatures they catch. So, here we have a conundrum. If we, as human beings, are in the fortunate position of being able to eat anything we like...

...which animals do we choose to copy?

Human beings have EMPATHY.

With free will comes responsibility. Why, because we've been given/evolved/whatever a number of gifts that appear to be unique to human beings.

We have awareness and empathy. We know the suffering that animals endure through our choices, whether we try to push that beneath our consciousness, and/or whether we try to disguise the horror of what we're doing (as described). The brain I've been given tells me that my cat has no empathy with the mouse he rips apart, alive, while it's screaming, but that, certainly as adults, adults who have developed consciousness, we most certainly would have doing similar.

We can feel the suffering of others. We can imagine. And, yet, most of us go right ahead and continue to inflict the most dreadful suffering.

We not only know the suffering we are inflicting through eating meat, but we have also been given brains and communication skills to accumulate knowledge sufficient to tell us that, whatever we think about the various health arguments, meat-eating is, at least, unnecessary.
And, as I mentioned in Part 1, the only society that is relevant to us is the one we are living in - it is pointless to dream up 'what if' scenarios that might or might not apply to others living in different places, but sure as hell don't apply to us.

Certainly, in this century, we have full awareness in a way that few had in former times.

Children copy the behaviours of whatever is looking after them. They are constrained in their choices to a great extent, and don't have full consciousness and empathy with other beings in the way an adult does. As we grow, we develop these human qualities, which enable us to make conscious, informed choices in ways that we couldn't as children. We also receive lots of new information that enables us to revise the maps of the world that our parents gave us.

99.9% of us are not facing situations in which we have a choice whether to die of starvation or kill an animal.

So, faced with all this awareness, the human quality of empathy, the information at our disposal, and the societies in which we have the good fortune to live...

what do we do?

Most people still go right ahead and kill animals! (Or have others kill them for them.) Why? For a few minutes of tastebud titillation.

When people eat meat, they push out of their minds feelings of compassion, of empathy, of emotion. These are human qualities, and, if allowed to rise to the surface, would...make meat-eating obviously... less enjoyable. The few who do kill animals themselves for meat are proud of the fact they do this. Although it's certainly true that they are not hypocritical in the way 99% of meat-eaters are, I ask how they can kill without 'pushing out of their minds', removing from their conscious minds, any identification with the creature, any compassion..Is the pushing out of their minds those human qualities something to be proud of?

Scientists believe that we all started out in warm climates where plenty of plant food grows, then moved outwards (were the Inuit forced to travel to and settle in lands where there was no, or little, plant food for them?) For people who are the ancestors of those who chose to travel to barren lands, and are living on a high-meat diet, they will be suppressing some of their humanity to enable them to do so without it bothering them. To some extent their choices are constrained - it is harder for them. But, interestingly, some who are not remotely in such a situation will refer to such as justification for their own flesh-eating.

The eating of meat, however it is killed, must always to some extent be an unconscious act. How can it be otherwise?

It's interesting to see some of those pro meat-eating actually dismiss the strongest arguments of all against meat-eating as being 'emotional'! The more we refuse to let emotions affect our thinking, the more inhuman we become.

There are some who'll say, 'sure, eating meat may be wrong, but what about plants? They feel pain!'. This is one of the sillier arguments for continuing to eat animals, so I'll deal with it briefly. Studies have shown that plants may well 'react' to adverse circumstances, but our brains and senses can tell us they don't suffer in the way we know animals clearly do when de-beaked, strangled, hung upside down and throats slit. There are others who will point out that animals may have suffered in the production of plant foods - for example, bonemeal may be used in fertilizers. Well, sure, if so, those are issues we have to tackle as well - they're not a reason not to bother doing something that really is relatively easy for most of us to do - stop eating animals.

Slightly more plausible is the argument that says 'well, vegans are eating tiny insects on their unwashed organic lettuce'. Well, sure...and maybe that's not good (which is where fruit scores - relatively easy to avoid doing this) , but firstly it's not (generally) intentional, and secondly there are grounds for hoping that the physiology of an insect might mean that it doesn't experience pain in quite the way, or to the same degree, that we do. Of course we don't actually know, but...that's the point. Why use something that we can't be sure about, to justify the intentional killing of creatures that our intelligence tells us definitely suffer as we would if someone transported us away to be killed?


The world's major religions/philosophies believe that in some way we will experience the consequences of our actions - perhaps in this life (for example, through physical suffering), in the next life, or via a combination of the two. For example, Buddhism teaches that all of our actions, including our choice of food, have karmic consequences and that by involving oneself in the cycle of inflicting injury, pain and death, one must in the future experience in equal measure the suffering caused. Millions of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains all over the world choose not to eat meat for moral reasons, as do millions following other religions. The Essene Gospel of Peace says that if we do eat meat 'their death shall be your death' (and, no, I'm not quite sure what is meant here, but it echoes Buddhist teachings.)

Even those who don't believe there's anything after death, and all that religious stuff is hogwash, why increase the chances of your suffering physically in this life through consuming the flesh of murdered animals (see Pt 1). And, even if you believe that is all 'vegetarian propaganda', why most definitely contribute towards the suffering of animals as described in this Part?

Finally, if I've come over holier-than-thou, believe me, I'm very far from that. I have myself eaten fish for many years prior to raw, and even went back to meat-eating for one year as an adult. If there is any anger (well, emotion at least!) in this article, it's as much directed to my own hypocrisy, the intellectualisations I've used to make myself better - the little stories I've told myself in the past to justify my actions, as well as to the society that taught and encouraged me to think (or, more accurately, 'not think') unconsciously. I've also contributed towards the killing of animals in other ways for poor reasons (if ever there are 'good reasons', apart from genuine self-defence). I hope that with this article I can in a small way take one step towards recompense for this.

I'm a slow learner. It's taken quite a lot for me to see, to really see. There are some who see from birth. But stopping eating meat is always a good choice, whether we make it at 19 or 90.

The best reasons for not killing animals then feasting on their flesh?

Because we don't have to.

Because we have a choice.

Because we are human beings.


Sunday 26th July
Raw Food Picnic in the Park
(organised by Gina 'The Raw Greek' Panayi)
2 pm - 7 pm
FREE (take your own food, utensils etc.)
Kensington Gardens, London W. The picnic will take place between the Physical Energy Statue (in the middle of the park) and the round pond.
Please let know if you can come so that she can contact you if any changes (eg bad weather).

I'll be there, and looking forward to meeting any of you who can make it.

Saturday 1st August
80/10/10 Summer Gathering
(organised by Dr Doug Graham)
9 am - 5 pm
Storrington Village Hall, 59 West St, Storrington, Sussex
More details under 'Events' at www.foodnsport .com

Can't make this one due to a clash, but have been to previous events, and would recommend it. Great opportunity to ask Doug all those questions you've been saving up, and for making raw friends.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

No, I Don't Eat Raw Meat Pt 1 - 'Health Reasons'

Although I haven't eaten meat for most of my adult life, I did go offtrack once, and have certainly had a lot of fish, so certainly can't claim a 'clean' history on flesh-eating (the 'About Me' on the site will give an indication).

But, a couple of months before going raw, it was as if the scales finally fell from my eyes. I started to become truly conscious of what I was eating in a way I never had before, and 'liking the taste' alone was no longer sufficient motivation to put something into my body. From that point on I knew that animal flesh would never be part of my diet again.

When I went raw, I found that most raw fooders felt the same way. But, then on one international forum I found a small group who were advocating meat-eating. I got into fisticuffs with a couple of members of the group, but, as the forum was officially 'omnivore' (the only raw forum I know that is), and not wanting to get involved in such discussions again, thought it would be easier, in future, simply to write an article and link to that if the subject ever came up. Also, I have no wish to get into 'personal' arguments with meat-eaters. After all, lots of my friends, and some of the people I am very close to, eat meat.

It's also occurred to me that some people coming to raw will ask about meat, because although in the past raw foodists tended to come to raw via veganism or vegetarianism, raw has become so high-profile in recent years that some are coming from cooked omnivorous diets, and may be thinking, 'well, if I ate meat cooked, why not eat it raw'?

In the two parts of this article, I'll be arguing against meat-eating per se, whether cooked or raw.

Some who eat meat say that because 'primitive man' ate it, we should do too. They've been persuaded by evidence from human remains that show that flesh foods, fruit and nuts were consumed by people long ago. However, I don't think they've found evidence that every primitive human consumed all these foods, just that each of the three groups was amongst the foods consumed. Just as these would be amongst the foods consumed by modern-day man.

We don't know for sure what happened thousands of years ago, or why it did. Explanations, theories, are almost always to some extent subjective. 'Evidence' to support one viewpoint invariably conflicts with 'evidence' to support another. Interpretations of 'scientific evidence' regarding diets of thousands of years ago are highly coloured by personal preferences, especially when interpreters are using them to justify meat-eating, or, for that matter, vegetarianism.

The 'thousands of years' thing has never washed for me as an argument for doing (or not doing) anything anyway. 'People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.' (Isaac Singer) The only way in which 'thousands of years' is useful for me is when I remember that for 'thousands of years' there have always been individuals, communities and even cultures, who have not gone with the prevailing mode of thought, who have objected to the mistreatment of other humans, and of animals, have not followed the herd, and who have, thankfully, spoken out.

To me, what some humans did or didn't eat in the past is pretty irrelevant anyway. I work on the basis that, as I came into he world in 1958, the only habitat that is relevant to me is the one I'm in now, in the UK, 21st century. The only digestive system relevant is the one I have now. The life I've been given, in which to learn whatever I can in the years I have, and try to make good choices, does happen to be in a country where I am free to eat anything I like.

I won't be dreaming up hypothetical situations such as 'What would I eat if I had to survive in the wild?' as this would be pointless, as right now I'm not having to do that, neither am I ever likely to have to (and if ever I was, I'd simply make choices in the situation I found myself in). I live in a society where my choices are not constrained, and, most wonderful of all, people in the hot lands from which I'm told my ancestors migrated from, will share their food with me. There may be environmental disadvantages to that, but if it makes it easier for me to eat raw vegan (and methane-producing cows have a few environmental disadvantages as well!) then I'm happy to eat a mango that's got here on a plane.

My society has developed to the point, where, thankfully, I'm not faced with the terrible choices that I'm told my ancestors might have been faced with to survive. And, because I am fortunate to have many choices, I have full responsibility for those I make.

So, why have I chosen not to eat animals?

Just saying I know it's wrong isn't very useful for those who are still wondering about the subject, and don't share that conviction. And it could be possible that the 'revelatory' experience I described at the beginning of the article could simply have come as the result of various experiences, observations and reflections throughout my life, combining to make my choosing not to eat meat finally make sense at every level.

In Part 1, I'll be looking at what are generally called the 'health reasons' for not eating meat. In Part 2, I'll be looking at what are variously called the 'moral', 'compassionate' or 'emotional' aspects of eating meat. As, I've noticed that many of those who eat meat tend to put those out of their mind and even deem them as less important than the health reasons. To me, they're by far the most important, and I'll be tackling them head-on.

But, 'health reasons' first.


Certain pig-meats are linked with various cancers - generally stomach, pancreatic. Sure, the meats in question tend to be 'processed', eg ham, bacon. But some of my readers will still be eating those, so worth a mention.

Everyone will have seen the constant flow of media reports on the links between beef and various cancers - particularly bowel/colon (and this is not just fatty meat, but lean meat as well).
'It could be the carcinogens created when meat is cooked, or meat's highly available iron, or something else in meat,' speculates Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health.

So, if it's the cooking, sure, that lets raw meat off the hook, as it were... However, if it's iron, that would apply whether the meat was raw or cooked. In a 10-year study, scientists looked at a large group of men and women who were initially cancer-free. The male subjects who developed cancer showed higher iron stores than the men who remained cancer-free. Cancer risk was 40% greater in men with high levels of iron in their bodies. And...Guideline No 7 from the UK Cancer Prevention Research Trust: 'low blood iron helps protect you from cancer'.

John Robbins discusses meat and iron in his book 'Healthy at 100'. Paraphrasing the information in pp149-51, for many people one of the 'health' reasons they might give for eating meat is the iron in it.

The iron in meat is called 'heme iron', and the iron found in plant foods is 'nonheme' iron. 'Heme iron' is certainly more easily absorbed by our bodies than nonheme iron and some people have taken this to mean that, because of this, nonheme iron is in some way inferior to heme iron. But excess iron poses dangers to health. Antioxidants are deservedly recognised for their role in preventing cancer and other illness. But iron is the opposite of an antioxidant; it is a potent oxidant. Excess iron causes the production of free radicals hich can damage cells, leading to disease.

'For example, when sufficient quantities of heme iron are present, as is likely to happen when diets contain appreciable quantities of beef, cholesterol is oxidised into a form that is more readily absorbed by the arteries, leading to increased rates of heart disease. With nonheme iron - the kind found in plants - it's a totally different story. Your body absorbs only what it needs.'

Dr Thomas T Perls (Harvard expert on longevity): 'It's possible that higher iron levels, which may have been considered 'normal' only because they are common in males, actually speed the aging process.' According to Dr Perls, lower iron levels in adults (up to a point, of course) are an advantage and that 'it may turn out that adults, and perhaps even adolescents, are speeding up their aging clocks by maintaining iron levels that are now considered 'normal', but may in fact be excessive.'

'The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of 'real food for real people' you'd better live real close to a real good hospital.' (Neal D Barnard, MD, President, Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine.)

Chicken has been linked with colon cancer. The American Journal of Epidemiology reports that researchers examined the eating habits of 32,000 men and women over a six-year period and then monitored emerging cancer cases for the next six years. Among participants who generally avoided 'red meat', but who ate 'white meat' less than once a week, colon cancer risk was 55%higher than for those who avoided both kinds of meat, and those who had white meat at least once per week had more than three-fold higher colon cancer risk.

A google will reveal all sorts of scientific studies linking meat-eating to various cancers. I could fill this article with more, but it would get boring.

Other illnesses

I'll skip over heart disease, as most meat-eaters have been persuaded that this is to do with the fat in meat, problems exacerbated by the cooking of it, and raw meat-eaters will say that raw fat (for those who don't find the idea of eating that repulsive - see Pt 2) is fine.

But how about rheumatism, gout, osteoporosis, etc?

Animal flesh contains uric acid. Carnivorous animals secrete an enzyme - uricase - which breaks this down so it can be elimated. Humans don't generate this enzyme. Instead, we absorb the uric acid. As a result, calcium urate crystals form and concentrate in joints, feet and the lower back, leading to arthritis, gout, rheumatism, etc.

Meat in general results in acid by-products. It's high in phosphorus. Our bodies will do everything they can to maintain a slightly alkaline (7.4) internal environment. If we ingest lots of acid-making food the body will put this right by raiding its alkaline mineral reserves, for example, by leeching calcium from the bones, resulting in osteoporosis.

Now, raw meat-eaters have their own 'evidence' that runs counter to the 'evidence' above. They debunk what they call the 'myth' meat-eating increasing the chance of cancer (and other illnesses) and say that vegetarians are just trying to 'scare' people into not eating animals. Even when they do admit there is a link between meat-eating and some cancers, they maintain that this is more to do with the way meat is eaten nowadays rather than meat as such, and they believe all's fine if the meat eaten is raw, from an animal that was organically-fed etc.

Their arguments sound very convincing and scientific - scientists (some - there are plenty of vegetarian scientists) are as keen as other meat-eaters to come up with arguments that persuade them and others eating meat is a healthy thing to do. They'll tell you that people ate meat in the past and didn't die of cancer (how do they know?). They'll cite examples of people who eat high-meat diets and appear to be thriving (did you know it's likely that half of 50 year-olds already have a tumour but just don't know it? If you think that's tosh, please ask me for details of a credible report on autopsies done on younger male victims of accidental death that I think might persuade you otherwise). They'll also tell you that cultures known for following high-meat diets, such as the Inuit and Masai, are perfectly healthy. However, I have conflicting information that includes reports that Inuits suffer from one of the highest osteoporosis rates in the world, and that the Masai do in fact suffer from cardio-vascular disease, arthritis and osteoporosis (particularly the males).

But, at the end of the day, the arguments will rage, and who can be sure what facts aren't being 'massaged' to suit an argument? Those pro-meat will want very much to continue eating it and want others to do similar. Those anti-meat want very much to persuade people to stop killing animals. There are strong motivations behind each pitch.

All I ask, and hope, is that any readers here who at this point are still skeptical about the 'health reasons' for not eating meat, will read the rest of this article, and, particularly, Part 2, which contains arguments against meat-eating that are a little more troublesome.


Essene Gospel of Peace: 'For in his blood every drop of their blood turns to poison; in his breath their breath to stink.'

Whatever studies are quoted, whatever science is used to debunk, it really is quite difficult to argue that eating meat is healthful when it is is surely unsuited to our digestion.

Meat is already decaying, decomposing flesh which, once inside us, continues to rot. A carnivore in the wild eats meat freshly-killed. The carnivore has acidic saliva which plays a significant role in pre-digestion. The carnivore's stomach secretes huge amounts of hydrochloric acid (much more than we are able to) to break down meat in the stomach quickly. The digestive tract of the carnivore is about three times the length of the body, and smooth. It's body is designed to dissolve food rapidly and pass it quickly out of the system to minimise putrefaction of the flesh.

We, on the other hand, rarely eat our meat freshly-killed (our natural abhorrence to sinking our teeth into a passing cow could have something to do with that). So, our meat, before we even eat it is decomposing, rotting. It's carcass. Most of the raw vegan foods I eat have life in them. I remember a detractor of the raw vegan diet making fun of the phrase 'life-force', so I'll explain it here in case anyone is unsure. A papaya will ripen off the tree (and this is not decomposing - it doesn't do that until it is over-ripe.) Put a carrot top in water and fronds will grow. Soak a wheatberry and it will sprout. Plant seeds from melons and mangoes and they will grow into plants. That's the life-force. But meat has no life in it - only death.

The flesh is already decomposing, and things get worse when we put it into our bodies.

As our saliva is alkalising, rather than acidic, we can't predigest meat in the way an animal can.

As we don't have fangs, and our teeth are set close together, bits of meat get stuck between them and rot, resulting in the worst 'poo-breath'. This isn't from a vegetarian or vegan site, but from a dental site: 'Most of the volatile sulphur compounds that cause bad breath are waste products created by anaerobic bacteria as they digest proteins. As we consume meat and fish, the bacteria feed on these and produce waste products. Two of these waste by-products are: cadaverine - the smell we associate with corpses, and putrescine - the compound responsible for much of the foul odour produced by decaying meat.' The worst breath I have ever smelt has been on meat-eaters. Although my breath may not always be sweet, since adopting a raw vegetarian, then raw vegan, diet, I have asked those close to me to tell me if they can ever detect that 'killer breath' on me. No reports yet.

Our stomachs secrete far less hydrochloric acid in terms of concentration and quantity than carnivores' stomachs, which means our bodies labour to digest meat, lots of energy is expended, and further putrefaction occurs while digestion is delayed.

Our digestive tracts are five to six times the length of our body, that is, proportionately much longer than an animal's. They're also corrugated as opposed to smooth. Our bodies are designed to retain food as long as possible, until all possible nutrients have been extracted; this is ideal for plant food, but is the worst possible condition for the digestion and processing of flesh. For, meat has no fibre. As it moves through our long digestive tracts far more slowly than plant foods, poisonous byproducts of bacteria (their poops, basically)are released. Meat rots further in our guts.

Meat-eaters don't generally wait for meat to be digested and evacuated before they eat the next meal. So more food piles in on top of the meat. Because the undigested meat is blocking the exit of the new food, even innocent plant food (eg fruit) will get up to tricks as it...waits. That food starts to rot (in that warm, moist environment!),resulting in fermentation, gas, big tum, bad smells...and a packing of undigested food, resulting in constipation.

I'm not saying vegetarians never get constipated, but the problem is far more common in meat-eaters, and, consequently, their poos (when they come...) can smell dreadful. Arthur M Baker ('Awakening Our Self Healing Body') says: 'After several years on a conventional low-fiber diet, the average adult carries about 10-20 pounds of fecal matter on the colon walls. In many cases, the distended abdomens of those who are overweight are not due solely to fat as they are to the accumulation of faeces over a period of years. Autopsies have revealed over 50 pounds of fecal material within some bodies.' Now, OK, Arthur's statement most certainly has been disputed - included more for gory fascination! However, even if 'impacted faeces' aren't in fact present in the colon, a googling of medical sites and the experience of many says that they can most certainly be 'impacted' in the rectum, and, wherever faeces are 'impacted''s not good.

I don't actually need any of the above to explain to me why a vegetarian diet is easier on the digestive system than an omnivorous one, and perhaps some readers will identify here. I remember as a child often passing hard poos, infrequently, sometimes painfully, as a result of a diet that included meat daily (usual in the Sixties). When I turned vegetarian as a young adult, constipation was a thing of the past. In fact, even in the years I ate vegetarian+fish, I only remember having a problem twice in 20 years - after giving birth, and on a Greek holiday once. So I'd grant our bodies appear to struggle less with fish. I've heard some meat-eaters talk of routinely 'going' only every few days! As on a raw vegan diet I go quickly and easily twice a day at least, I can't imagine feeling that uncomfortable.

If there's anyone reading who still believes that human beings should be eating animals, consider this (with thanks to the poster known as Carl Andrews on 30BaD):

'William C. Roberts MD has five decades of experience in the field of cardiology, written over 1300 scientific publications, a dozen cardiology textbooks, and has been editor in chief of the American Journal of Cardiology for a quarter of a century. He is arguably the most highly regarded cardiologist in the world today.

In his 2008 editorial "The Cause of Atherosclerosis", published in the peer reviewed journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice, Roberts reminds us that high cholesterol causes heart disease. What is the cause of high cholesterol? Saturated fat and animal products.

He says: Atherosclerosis is easily produced in nonhuman herbivores (eg, rabbits, monkeys) by feeding thema high cholesterol (eg, egg yolks) or high saturated fat (eg, animal fat) diet…Indeed, atherosclerosis is oneof the easiest diseases to produce experimentally, but the experimental animal must be an herbivore.It is not possible to produce atherosclerosis in a carnivore…"He elaborates in an earlier editorial:I t is virtually impossible, for example, to produce atherosclerosis in a dog even when 100 grams of cholesterol and 120 grams of butter fat are added to its meat ration. (This amount of cholesterol is approximately 200 times the average amount that human beings in the USA eat each day!). (The American Journal of Cardiology, 1990, vol. 66,896.)

He then utterly annihilates the human omnivore myth in a single sentence. here it is:***Because humans get atherosclerosis, and atherosclerosis is a disease only of herbivores, humans also must be herbivores.***'

'Essential nutrients'

It is not necessary to eat meat to obtain essential nutrients. I know most of my readers won't need educating on that one, but as I was surprised to hear one of my young relations recently come out with that old chestnut 'if you don't eat meat, where do you get your protein?', here's a link for anyone who hasn't noticed that the millions of vegetarians (including athletes, bodybuilders etc) are doing just fine!

Furthermore, there is no good reason for a raw vegetarian/vegan to have problems with calcium, or iron, or Vitamin D. Contact me if you'd like more information on this, and, if you don't want to take my word for it, I can put you in touch with a raw vegan nutritionist.

B12 is a much-debated area, with some believing it to be problematic for raw vegans rather than raw vegetarians (although many meat-eaters are deficient in B12). Suffice to say that some raw vegans supplement for B12, whilst others believe there is no need to. There is certainly no evidence to suggest that if you are a raw vegan and don't supplement it is only a matter of time (as one pro meat-eating site will tell you) before all sorts of awful things will happen to you for sure. The 'B12 thing' is a little more complex than that.

If the US stopped eating meat, it could feed the world.

Whilst people protest at the amount of grain used for biofuels, more than seven times as much is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. A unit of land can produce far more grains and vegetables than meat, so using it for meat is wasteful. According to a Feb 2008 article by the USDA, it takes 7 lbs of corn to produce 1 lb of beef, and 2.6 lbs of corn to produce 1 lb of chicken. A reduction in meat-eating of just 10% would enable resources to be diverted to feed millions of people.

So, there are the 'health reasons' for not eating meat.

There may well be meat-eating persons out there sharpening their quills...However, the arguments above are but chicken-feed (possibly unfortunate turn of phrase) compared with the real arguments against eating animals. You know...those daffy, 'non-scientific', emotional ones...

I'll be discussing those in Part 2.

PS Here's a video where a medical doctor explain, graphically and entertainingly, exactly we should not be consuming animal products. Yes, it's an hour long, but if you're omnivore, please watch at least the first 15 minutes.

Here's a five-minute video that shows the inside of the colon of someone who eats meat and dairy and the difference when they do not.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Herbs - Yea or Nay? Pt 2 - Flavourings, fragrance


In Pt 1 I explained the Natural Hygiene view of herbal medicine and why I wouldn't use herbal medicine now, any more than I'd use conventional medicine.

However, NH doesn't just see herbal medicine as toxic. It sees herbs as toxic per se.

NH says herbs shouldn't be ingested at all. Not for healing. Not for teas. And...not in any other way either.

But, we find, amongst those who are known to be Natural Hygiene in philosophy, differing opinions on the use of herbs as flavourings. It appears that although the majority of classic Natural Hygiene writings veto herbs across the board, some who we might describe as Natural Hygiene-orientated, such as Dr Doug Graham ('80/10/10 Diet') and (the less famous) Debbie Took, do mix herbs with their food.

The 'could we make a meal out of it?' argument

Some NH'ists say that the test of whether something is a suitable food for human beings is whether we'd enjoy it in large quanties.

It's fair to say that I wouldn't enjoy eating a bowl of parsley, or basil, on its own. But then I wouldn't 'make a meal out of' celery either, which NH does say is a suitable food for us. I quite like the taste of celery in small quantities, but wouldn't relish more than a stick, or possibly, two. In fact, I find the taste changes from pleasant to unpleasant soon after that. I greatly enjoy a little chopped celery added to meals, as a flavouring, and in that respect I can find little difference between adding celery to meals and adding parsley.

And, much as I enjoy bell peppers, chopped and added to salads, I don't find the thought of a bowl of them attractive. I also use lemon and lime juice for flavouring, in small amounts, both of which are recommended as flavourings in Natural Hygiene texts.

So, it doesn't seem logical to me to say that herbs shouldn't be ingested because we 'can't make a meal out of them', as NH'ists are fine on using other substances that they would almost certainly not enjoy eating in large quantities.

What do animals do?

Sometimes nature can provide clues as to how to eat optimally, eg animals don't damage their food by cooking it, they eat simply, they don't blend 'abombo-combos', and they eat foods singly rather than mixed. And not only do they not mix their foods, they don't add 'flavourings' either. But then, there are many differences between humans and 'all other animals', and they're not all bad...those relevant to this discussion could include: we decorate, we combine, we create...

Also, animals do sometimes seek out certain plants to ingest in small amounts only. There are various theories as to why they do this, and I won't go into those here, as they're theories only, suffice to say simply that animals do occasionally ingest things that they don't eat in large quantities.

'If it tastes nasty that's nature's way of telling us we shouldn't eat it.'

Agree. However, the taste thing can be a bit subjective. Renowned Natural Hygienist Herbert Shelton said: 'almost without exception, herbs are bitter, strong and foul tasting.' I can't agree with that. I've just run outside and torn off a basil leaf. Being as fair as I can be, I wouldn't say it tastes good. But wouldn't say it tastes bad either. I'd say it tastes 'interesting but I wouldn't like a lot of it.' A little mixed in with a salad? Definitely. I'd say similar for dill - which imparted a delicious flavour to a melon-cucumber soup made recently.

I've just tried a sage leaf. Looks beautiful, smells good. Tastes...not good. So, I'm thinking that perhaps sage shouldn't be eaten, or at least my body says no. If we've been raw for a while, I think we can trust our bodies to tell us as to whether something is 'so good, eat tons!', 'OK - maybe eat a little', or 'no way!'.
Cilantro (coriander leaves) is an interesting one. I detest cilantro and will only tolerate it if it well-disguised in a mixture. Natural Hygiene tells me that that means cilantro is not fit for human consumption. However, other raw people I know love it, and will eat it in quantity. So, I feel the taste test can work well for individuals, that is, cilantro is not for my body, but may be fine and even good for other bodies! So I'm not sure that it makes sense for one raw fooder to make a judgement on what food is or isn't optimal for all raw fooders based solely on what their own taste buds tell them.

'Condiments pervert the tastebuds.'

Many Natural Hygienists see herbs as flavourings just the way they see 'condiments' in general, such as salt or chili - the arguments against using them being that if we add such strong flavourings to food the tastebuds will become so accustomed to their use that, sadly, our food will seem 'bland' and unattractive without them.

However, although I've certainly had to work hard to wean myself off salt (and not quite there yet!), and it's certainly the case that use of salt can make foods seem flavourless without it (when of course the 'flavour' is that of the salt itself, masking the true flavour), this isn't the case with herbs. I can enjoy a dish with herbs, and without. I don't recall anyone saying that they can only enjoy such-and-such dish with herbs, but have heard many say similar about salt (and chili).

Are herbs toxic?

I've discussed the toxicity of herbs when made into medicines, and, even in natural, 'undecocted' states, herbs will contain toxins to some degree. As to whether the level is going to give our bodies any problems is debatable. Certainly they will in some herbs. For example, pennyroyal, a mint I used to have in the garden has been used in the past as an abortifacent. And there are herbs that will play havoc with our own hormones.

NH says that because there are volatile oils and alkaloids in (all) herbs that can result in severe illness or even death in some cases if large amounts are consumed, they shouldn't be ingested at all (although note alkaloids are contained in many plant foods, such as tomatoes and bell peppers).

This discussion links to some extent with the 'could we make a meal out of it?' argument. I'm thinking my tastebuds would soon find the taste of anything more than a tiny amount of a herb sufficiently repellent to ensure that my body did not receive a dose likely to cause problems. Again, the 'aliesthenic taste change' mechanism can come to our rescue here. When we eat raw, (note - doesn't work for cooked food, doesn't work for cooked herbs (medicines!) we can rely on our bodies to tell us, by eliciting revulsion, when we've had enough for our bodies' requirements.

At this point, I'm guessing that some readers will be sighing with relief along the lines of 'yes, exactly! That's what I feel!'. Others will be rolling their eyes, smiling at the efforts of this fledgling NH'ist to construct seemingly-plausible arguments to persuade herself that it's fine to carry on eating things she just doesn't want to give up.

And they may be right. But, at present, I'm not convinced that they should be 'non grata' in my kitchen, and a few strips of basil on hunks of sliced tomato evokes such sweet memories for me that, for now, I'm using some herbs in small amounts for flavourings. What's for certain though is that, while I am using them, I'll thoroughly enjoy the flavours, and will not be beset by anxieties as to whether I should be using them or not, as it's certainly not going to help my body cope with any toxins in them by enervating myself getting all stressed when I eat them!

Dr Doug Graham, who certainly takes a Natural Hygiene stance in most things, makes an exception for herbs. At a recent workshop, he had us listing all the herbs we could possibly think of, as possibilities for flavourings for dressings, soups...amongst herbs he used himself were cilantro, mint and rosemary, recommending rosemary with cauliflower (tried this - not to my taste!), and mango with 'chocolate mint' (now that was good, although I'd needed to make a visit to the Herb Farm to buy that particular variety of mint - it 'sort of' tastes like chocolate - 'After Eights' perhaps (from a previous life!)).


Now, most importantly...herbs, or at least most herbs, smell wonderful! Now, isn't that the main thing that differentiates herbs (or what we in present day call herbs) from all other plants? Fragrance! So, as they're special for that, might that not be a clue as to how human beings are to benefit most from them?

The aromas of herbs can lift our spirits. Lavender is said to be calming. The smell of thyme and curry plant on a hot day gives me a feeling of well-being, perhaps because the smells evoke memories of happy days in Greece. I might have a bath with a little lavender or rosemary sprinkled in. And if anyone who knows me is reading this, please could I have a massage with aromatherapy for next birthday?

I'm sure that herbs can help our bodies heal themselves, in that pleasant fragrances can make us feel good, happy, relaxed, and thus free energy for our bodies to be able to carry out vital work. That's got to be good!


So - I won't be making medicines out of nature's fragrant little gifts to us, as explained in Part 1. But I will be mixing in little bits of the unadulterated plants with my foods, for now..., revel in the beautiful fragrances, and appreciate their beauty (and hardiness - in most cases) in my garden.

(PS Do recommend a soup of blended (very) ripe mango with a few fennel fronds - courtesy of Dr Doug!)