Over the past 5 years I have gradually shifted towards a high fruit, whole food, plant based diet.
I’ve had several people ask me why and challenge my personal beliefs on the matter. Besides experiencing major improvements in my own health during this time (and witnessing countless others have success reversing their own chronic health conditions), the reasons I have span various aspects:
Biology / Evolution / Health / Research / Logic / Philosophy / Compassion
Note: This is not going to be like my other posts where I include a list of references. While I have spent several years investigating nutrition, detoxification, and self-healing, it would probably take me a solid week to find the proper sources and compile them all. This is a personal choice that I simply wanted to be able to share with others. The research and information is out there.
Let’s jump into it.
Biologically, physiologically, anatomically:
Our bodies weren’t really designed to eat or digest meat. We don’t have fangs or claws for tearing through raw flesh, we don’t have digestive tracts/systems like carnivorous animals such as cats, we don’t have good night vision like predators typically have.
Instead, we have opposable thumbs… for grabbing and picking fruits. When it comes to our digestive systems, fruit is the quickest, easiest, and most efficient to digest of all foods we try to eat. It takes about 30 minutes for fruit to fully digest. When we fast and eat nothing for a few days, you can still eat berries and grapes, and other water-rich fruits and the body does not respond negatively or need to shift energy or resources towards digestion like it does when reintroducing other foods. Everything else takes longer to digest and requires the pancreas to work harder to make digestive enzymes. Meat can take up to two DAYS to digest in our gut, and long before then, it begins to putrefy (rot and decay) and this causes a negative impact on our microbiome. This occurs regardless of the quality of the meat (organic, grass fed, etc.).
Our brains run on carbohydrates / fruit sugar. That is the natural fuel / energy source for our bodies. Fruit is also extremely satisfying to our tastebuds (for a reason!) and very hydrating. We require a lot of hydration and it is advantageous and safer to hydrate via water-rich fruits rather than drink from a river or lake that may be contaminated with the feces of another animal. Animal flesh is neither hydrating nor contains any fiber whatsoever, while all plants contain fiber. Fiber is required for peristalsis (the contracting movement of our intestines that pushes food along the length of our digestive tract). The longer the food waste sits in our intestines, the longer the unwanted toxics within the waste have a chance to be absorbed into the blood stream.
Let’s look at our closest relatives, considering evolutionary biology: primates.
Primates (monkeys and apes) are considered “frugivores”, and typically eat 60-70% fruit, the majority of the rest being plants, then about 3-10% insects and eggs or meat of smaller animals (low protein, low fat). However these primates also have fangs. While it is claimed that they are primarily used for display, they do eat some meat, and clearly fangs in the animal kingdom are typically used for tearing through the flesh of other animals… Humans, however, are the only primates that do not have fangs. To me, common sense says since we don’t have fangs, we probably shouldn’t be eating meat, or at least not as much meat as these other primates.
The “canine” teeth that humans have are not for tearing through animal flesh (they are not true canines), but actually exist for biting into the “flesh” of fruits like apples.
What is fascinating is the example of the pacu which is native to the Nile River. This fish evolved to eat fruit that dropped from tree branches hanging over the banks of the river. The diet of the pacu consists of mostly fruit and other plant matter… and guess what their teeth look like?
No seriously, this is a set of teeth, on a fish:
When it comes to health…
A whole food, plant based diet, high in fresh fruits and leafy greens, has been proven to increase lifespan and even turn off genes involved in the development of chronic illness and cancer.
Fruit is the most detoxifying food we can eat – it provides nourishment while not burdening our digestive systems, which allows our bodies to continually use the energy we get from the fruit for healing and repair rather than always focusing on digestion. Plant foods supply pre-biotics for the beneficial microbes that we need for gut health. The research shows that vegetarians, and then vegans even more so, have a much lower risk of serious illness across the board, including heart disease, heart attack, cancer, and stroke (top killers in the US). (Watch “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death” by Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org.)
When it comes to cancer, many cancers use the amino acid methionine in order to grow. A raw food, low fat diet is low in methionine and animal products tend to be very high in methionine. Animal products can be aggressive cancer promoters and research shows that the more meat you eat, the greater your risk of developing cancer.
High protein diets impair kidney function. When a person begins to show signs of kidney failure, the diet that helps sufferers begin to regain kidney function is a very low protein diet. (Again, regardless of the quality of the protein.)
High protein (meat, eggs, etc.) diets greatly increase your risk of sudden death.
A little detour…
Q: Why is this? A: As stated previously, high protein diets impair kidney function. In order to excrete (remove) toxic waste and byproducts of all the cells in our bodies, our kidneys need to function well. They need to filter out that waste. When our kidneys do not work well, our lymphatic systems get backed up and waste can end up being pushed through our “third kidney”, our skin. We get rashes, eczema, acne, etc. When our digestive systems are so burdened with constantly digesting meat that we cannot divert energy and resources to elimination and excretion, our immune systems shut down. It stops responding appropriately to external and internal stressors. We may think that our carnivorous or Keto diet is magically healing ourselves or our friends/family, but what is happening is all of that toxic waste is being trapped inside the body and in essence we/they are shifting themselves into an immunosuppressive state. This is why the risk of sudden death dramatically increases… there are no warning signs (symptoms of excretion) because the immune system is no longer able to actively extract and remove the toxic waste build up in vital organs and tissues, leading to critical stages of degeneration.
Back to it…
Too much pre-formed vitamin A from eating meat can be toxic to our livers, while carotenoids from eating plants can be eaten in excess (even several pounds of carrots made into carrot juice) without harm. In fact, people have cured their cancers by juicing ten pounds of carrots each day and drinking that juice.
B12. B12 is always the argument. It comes from microbes in the soil, not from animals. It was unnecessary for vegans to supplement decades or centuries ago when people were growing their own food in cleaner environments and not thoroughly washing their produce prior to eating. Nowadays though, even a significant percentage of meat eaters are B12 deficienct. Animals raised for meat require B12 supplements because they become deficient (especially if they are not grassfed from healthy soils). Again, low B12 is due to a lack of healthy soil based microbes in the diet, not lack of animal products in the diet.
The Blue Zones. Research on the longest living people/groups of people in various countries on earth revealed that their diets were highly whole food, plant based with lots of fruits and vegetables, beans, sweet potatoes… some wild caught fish once a week or so, and a very small portion of meat or eggs about once a month.
Let’s really think about eating animals, logically.
When you see a rabbit, another small animal, a pig, or a cow – do you begin to salivate and feel the urge to attack and kill? Or do you think fondly of the animal and/or want to be kind to them and/or take care of them? When you see an animal that has just died, do you salivate and want to eat it, or does it make you feel a bit sad, or do you even feel a bit repulsed at the sight of its blood or entrails (if not, maybe you have been desensitized)? Why does the natural aroma of even living animals tend to be unpleasant to our senses? Why doesn’t the smell of living animals smell appetizing to us? It’s not often that people eat meat – as is -without (of course cooking it first, and) adding a lot of herbs and spices (plants) to the meat, in order to… give it flavor that we enjoy.
These behaviors and natural responses are within us from day one. It is innate. Biological. Neurological. Our brains do not send the signal and we do not experience the subsequent urge to attack and kill animals innately. This is a learned behavior (using weapons to inflict mortal wounds, not our own clawless hands), based on necessity during times of famine or long winters, etc.
Of course not everyone is Christian, religious, or spiritual and I personally don’t like to put a label on my own beliefs. However I grew up in a Christian family and I find these passages in the Bible, very interesting.
Let’s look at God’s original plan…
in Genesis 1:28
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.
The diet for every living creature on earth, given by God, was primarily fruit, and green plants (leafy greens!). There is mention of eating animals or animal products.
In those days, it was recorded (in the Bible) that people lived up to 700-900+ years.
As time went on, God began to see the people of the world were wicked, and he regretted making man.
In Genesis 6:3: Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
While this verse is interpreted a number of ways, I find it interesting when taken in context with what follows below.
After this God commanded Noah to build the ark.
In Genesis 9:1, After the flood, God gives a new commandment to Noah about what humans will eat and what their relationship will be with the animals of the earth (this was not God’s original, superior plan):
“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.”
If we take the Bible literally in these passages, and also consider scientific explanations, it may be that, due to the flood, there was not much in the way of fruit and “green plants” to eat for some time until the earth was restored to pre-flood conditions, which would necessitate meat-eating for survival.
Consider what it would be like for Noah and his family, to exit the ark without being able to easily forage for food. There would be evolutionary pressure for all living creatures towards meat-eating. And yes the gentle plant-eating life that all once lived, would become terrifying.
After this, the Bible documents that the longevity of human life began to drop dramatically. Today, the longest living people on record live about 120 years.
>> Fast forward to Daniel 1.
Daniel was chosen by Nebuchadnezzar as one of the choice men in the kingdom and was given the king’s royal food and wine to drink. Daniel did not want to defile himself and asked for just vegetables and water for the men to eat instead:
Daniel 1:15-16 “At the end of the ten days they [Daniel and the others who ate just vegetables and water] looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.”
The less harm I can inflict, the more healing I can bring, the better I and everyone around me will be.
Fruits are the only food that exists on the earth that, when eaten, it does not inflict harm. Fruit is grown by the plant or tree with the intention of an animal eating the fruit, and spreading the seed elsewhere. Eating fruit facilitates the propagation of the plant itself, which is beneficial to all. Again, eating fruit benefits both the plant and animal. Of course, eating animals requires inflicting harm to a creature who has an innate survival instinct and does not want to be killed.
In addition to that, over the years I have developed a strong sense of respect for life – all life on earth. As my son grew up and became fascinated by all creatures big and small – especially small, even microscopic creatures – it became harder and harder for me to impose my will and exert my choices in playing “god” with the lives of other living creatures… (for example, choosing to kill a spider that was in the house… my son would not allow it…!). He cherished the life of insects and flowers and loves nature. He is fascinated by and adores God’s creation. Something about this seemed much more beautiful and right, than the learned inconsideration I felt within me for the smallest of God’s creatures (because it’s just a bug, right?). Even now when I see pet stores holding animals in small cages and tanks to be bought and sold as pets (or as food for other pets!), it hits me differently now and makes me a bit sad. It doesn’t seem like this honors God’s creation (and the animal life that was created).
Yes, God gave us “dominion” over the animals, but there is evidence that the original Hebrew word was translated incorrectly – not that we were meant to “dominate” animals, but that we were meant to live in some sort of communion with them and care for them (remember, before the flood, all creatures ate plants!). So for me I feel a little sad that we treat God’s beautiful creatures as objects to be bought and sold.
I tend to feel that we shouldn’t be making animals live their lives in cages (with or without fake plastic plants and painted rocks, for example) and that they should be free and live the way they were made… I don’t have anything against people who have pets. But we have tried having pets here and there and it never felt good to me or my husband. I always genuinely felt bad for the animals if they weren’t able to roam free (we had a pair of dumbo rats for a while). With a dog or a cat though, that’s different of course, because they aren’t typically confined to small areas.
And with that, there’s something else to consider.
Why do we treat our dogs and cats so lovingly and with such compassion? They’re just animals after all, right? But we know they feel emotions – fear, excitement, comfort, sadness, joy – and we know we can even connect with them on those levels. Have you ever watched a fawn, a dolphin, a bear, a ferret, or seal spend time playing? It’s not just the dogs and cats. Yet, the cows, the chickens, the pigs (pigs are more intelligent than dogs)… Well, they play too but we raise them to eat them… not to love on them and take care of them as we do with dogs and cats. Could you ever make the choice to kill a dog or cat that was your pet, let alone eat that dog or cat?
While I do understand that not all animals raised for meat / food are treated poorly in life, it does deeply upset me how so many animals raised for human consumption are treated in this world. The extent of the cruelty is beyond my ability to understand… it’s downright horrific. And when you watch a video of a mother cow calling out to her calf and running after the truck that is taking her baby away from her (because they don’t want that calf to drink its mother’s milk that will be sold for human consumption), it just feels so wrong. The videos of the cows with their throats being cut open with blood pouring out… watching the body language of the next cow in line, you can legitimately witness the terror that is felt by that animal. I have seen too much to not be greatly disturbed by what humans are capable of when it comes to factory farming. It is thoroughly sick and twisted – there is zero respect for life, and zero concern for the physical and emotional fear and pain that these animals live in. Oh, except for when it effects the quality of the meat (too much stress during slaughter can ruin the meat – google “pale soft exudative meat”, or “PSE” meat and learn about the stress hormone-filled meat that is ground up into other processed meats in order to hide the poor quality of that meat…
Ultimately, I feel drawn to a life of compassion and love for animals (and God’s creation in general).
For myself, I feel that, if (1) eating animal products is not necessary for health, (2) we weren’t really designed (biologically) to consume animal products, (3) if we are able to thrive on plants, and (4) eating animal products decreases life expectancy and increases the risk of chronic health conditions, I find it an unnecessary and unfair sacrifice to take the life of an animal that wants to live, for my consumption.
While I don’t claim to know everything (maybe in ten years I will look back and feel that I didn’t quite see clearly?) it has been a long journey of discovery and over time this choice by far just made the most sense to me.
ALL of the above being said, my dad is a hunter.
I grew up eating Swedish meatballs as a part of my favorite meal and having venison jerkey. Salami, chicken, summer sausage, ham, eggs, cheese, sour cream, and butter were consumed regularly. I have nothing against people who eat meat. I do however believe that the majority of people today probably would not eat animal products if they saw what most of these animals go through before these products ended up on their plates. And of course if they really knew the health benefits of not eating animal products, I believe that would make a difference too.
A note on the UN “Vegan” agenda…
In my opinion, the UN is not concerned with human health. It is far more concerned with limiting human impact on the environment. People get hung up on this because they don’t trust the UN (well I don’t either). They believe that anything the UN recommends must be a lie, and therefore, that a plant based diet is unhealthy (because the UN wants to slow population growth).
However a vegan diet is not equivalent to a healthy diet. There are many ways to do “Veganism” that are extremely unhealthy! Vegan bread, processed foods, fake meat products made with GMO soy and wheat, processed sugar, lots of salt and oil, etc. Again, the UN isn’t pushing or encouraging a high fruit, organic, whole food, plant based diet. The agenda they are pushing is – less meat – because of “climate change”.
Some recommended material:
The Game Changers (documentary on high performance plant based athletes) is now on iTunes for purchase.
Follow Chris Wark of Chris Beat Cancer: ChrisBeatCancer.com
Dr. Morse’s book: The Detox Miracle Sourcebook