Wellness expert, Jason Gootman, offers a practical solution to the debate over vegetarianism. What’s your take?
It’s a debate that takes on Republican-Democrat fervor. Camps of meat-eaters and vegetarians firmly entrenched on their side of the aisle. Both sides equally adamant about their stance. Vegetarians believing with absolute certainty that abstaining from eating meat is the key to robust wellness and that eating meat is a surefire path to obesity, disease, and early death. Meat-eaters wholeheartedly believing all vegetarians are whack-jobs that have no sense and are starving themselves by not eating meat.
So who’s right? Let’s consider what the nutritionists say. Well, that won’t exactly split the tie. There are nutrition professionals who both preach and abhor vegetarianism. There are scientific research studies espousing the benefits of meat-eating. And, yes, there are scientific studies that so going meat-free enhances well-being.
I’m going to propose a radical possibility. Maybe each of us is a bit different? Maybe, even with regards to whether we eat meat or not, or maybe how much meat we eat, we are all unique. Maybe there’s more than one right answer?
There’s an emerging train of thought in nutrition that our genetic histories determine a lot of what kinds of foods we thrive on and what kinds of foods don’t work so well for us. A lot of this has to do with digestion. It appears that people who lived in places where meat (of any kind) was readily abundant developed digestive systems that were adept at digesting meat. People who lived in places where meat was hard to come by at lots of plant foods and developed digestive systems that were best at digesting plant foods. This may explain why we can truly have people that do very well with little to no meat, while we also have people that feel and perform their best when they do eat meat.
I’ve got a great way for you to see what works best for you:
- For two weeks, eat no meat. That’s no beef, chicken, fish, other meat, or eggs. Also, do not drink milk or eat milk products.
2. During this two weeks, eat lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, herbs, and spices. Make that the base of your diet. Eat grains, grain products, beans, and lentils as your hunger dictates.
3. See how you feel. See how you are performing in your life.
4. If you feel awesome, you may not need much meat.
5. If you feel less than awesome, in the following week, have meat with one meal a day.
6. Re-assess how you are feeling and performing.
7. Continue in this fashion, stopping when you feel awesome, and adding in more meat until you do.
8. You can add meat by having meat at more meals or by increasing your portion size at the meals you are having meat.
9. That said, most people who do best as meat-eaters do best with a steady intake, meaning a modest portion at almost every meal instead of a very large portion and sporadic meals.
The beauty of this approach lies in the fact that you are letting yourself tell you what is best. Not the evening news. Not a book. Not your friend. You determine what is best for you by seeing what actually works. Give it a try.
This article originally appear at IThrive.com
Photo credit: Flickr/Taryn
About Jason Gootman
Jason Gootman leads the I THRIVE movement and community where fellow THRIVERS nourish themselves with movement, food, and a wellness-lifestyle and support one another in doing so.