Search This Blog

Monday, 28 April 2014

Burying The Vegetarian Hypothesis

Doug DiPasquale
Nov 2010

In 1999, Sally Fallon published the instant classic, Nourishing Traditions. It was subtitled "The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats"; a curious turn of phrase not only because the book is so much more than a cookbook, but because it promises to challenge "politically correct nutrition". What could politically correct nutrition possibly mean?

If we look at the term political correctness we see that it connotes the idea of making an effort, through language or action, not too offend anyone. Unfortunately, what it usually amounts to is trying to predict what could possibly offend others and self-censor; usually in the most ungraceful and obvious manner so as to draw attention toward the effort being made and leading to an increase in discomfort for all involved. What could be more uncomfortable than having laid bare what another person thinks would offend you, usually without any insight to who you are as an individual but rather acting on simplistic stereotypes and even then completely missing the mark?

Politically correct nutrition can be looked at in the same manner. It is eating in a way that is designed not to offend anyone, particularly those who conform to the conventional mainstream perspective of what constitutes healthy eating. It is undeniable that at least part of the answer to the vast majority of the chronic health problems currently plaguing our population is to radically change and improve our diets, but just what changes need to be made is generally a hotly debated topic. The politically correct answer is what we have been told for the last half-century or more - eat less, exercise more, lower fat consumption, avoid cholesterol and, increasingly, eat less meat.

It seems that consensus in mainstream diet-recommending bodies is that meat consumption is a bad thing and that cutting down, if not eliminating entirely, one's meat consumption is what is best for one's health. Meats are slowly moving their way up to the narrower end of the government mandated food pyramid to take up fewer recommended portions per day. Gone are the days of the 4 basic food groups, when meats were given as much value as fruits and vegetables. If one is consuming a politically correct diet, one is a vegetarian at the very least, vegan ideally. The mantra of Michael Polan, media darling and current king of the erudite food writers, is a prime example of the politically correct nutrition mantra: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Increasingly, 'health food' is associated with vegetarianism. Often, newly processed vegetarian concoctions line the shelves of health food stores while healthy meats, if present at all, are relegated to a freezer section in the back. A healthy, organic butcher, preparing meats free of chemicals, hormones and antibiotics seems far removed from this 'health food' culture. Even amongst the aware health aficionados, who know enough to avoid processed foods, raw food veganism is the default, not conscious omnivorism.

But the question that needs to be asked is whether this move towards a vegetarian diet is in our best interest from a health perspective. There are many arguments for vegetarianism, but do any of them bear up under investigation?  

Read more

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...