Omnivore, Vegetarian, Vegan, (Almost) Vegan. Is one superior to the rest?
Well, yes and no.
Let me explain.
First, in case you were unsure, here are some rough definitions:
Omnivore: Routinely consumes both animal and plant foods. (Paleo would sort of fit in here.) Basically, eats anything that suits his/her palete preferences.
Vegetarian: Consumes no meat products (beef, pork, chicken, turkey), but consumes some or all of the following fish, seafood, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt. There are varying degrees of vegetarianism.
Vegan: Consumes no animal products whatsoever. No meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy products. Also, nothing made by/from animals like honey and gelatin.
(Almost) Vegan: Mostly eats like a vegan (90-95% of the time). However, infrequently eats a small amount of animal products.
Studies keep turning up saying how bad regular meat consumption is for both your health and our planet. Remember this post? Like all animal sources of protein, meat is highly acidic to the body. It can quickly wear a body out, leaving it susceptible to all sorts of diseases, especially since it takes 20 times the alkalinity to make up for 1 acid. For someone who eats a lot of red meat (all those steak lovers out there), the saturated fat compounds the issue.
Have you heard the horrors and statistics on factory farming, a system used to grow the great majority of our animal products? I will spare you all the gory details for now, but to sum it up, it’s a cruel practice and is destroying our planet.
Our waters are overfished. Water life populations are dwindling at an alarming rate. Certain types of seafood contain high levels of toxic mercury and farm-grown fish lack in nutrition. Don’t get me started on dairy. Cruel treatment of cows (shortening their lives to just a quarter of what they should be), antibiotics and hormones in milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, another strong acid which robs your bones of calcium (surprise, it doesn’t make them stronger!), and causing mucus and allergies in most people whether they realize it or not.
Vegans pretty much have it going on, if they are doing it the proper way with adequate plant proteins, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Studies show that people following a plant-based diet are healthier than their omnivorous counterparts. Naturally, a more alkaline diet full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber can’t be bad for you.
But here’s the kicker: there aren’t any big differences in health between 100% vegans and those who just eat vegan most of the time. Let’s look at a really good example of this: Asians. Asian populations eating their native diets generally live longer than the rest of the planet. The majority of what they eat is vegetables and grains and they’re quite healthy people. Meat is eaten like a side dish, a small flavor enhancer if you will. As well, that meat isn’t raised on a factory farm, fed corn and hormones for breakfast. Growing up in the Philippines, my mother’s family raised their own animals and had a garden. They ate meat on Sundays only.
Choosing to be 100% vegan for ethical reasons is great. It’s a wonderful, healthy way to live if done properly. Trust me, I care about how our animals are treated. I think factory farming is an unnecessary evil. I choose to eat meat and eggs sparingly, but I make the best choices possible. I get certified organic and humanely raised beef, chicken, and eggs. The animals were treated with respect and were allowed to live as they should.
If everyone ate a significantly reduced amount of animal products, it’s amazing what it would do for our health and our planet. We’d be living more vibrantly and energetically and our planet would be able to support us for generations to come. At our current rate, we’re abusing it and using it faster than it can keep up.