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Do you believe that animal protein is toxic?

We were reading a post in the community, I forget about what exactly, but it linked to a video of T Colin Campbell, of China Study fame. If you don't know who he is, his basic thesis is that animal protein (not necessarily just fat) is highly toxic and correlated to all the bad stuff that afflicts us.

As a meat eater, I am totally open to these ideas, and have so many questions. One I have is- if lots of greens are so good for you, does this offset the toxicity of animal protein?

Please don't start an ideological fight, but I am really interested in this whole idea. The video got me thinking so thanks for posting it.



Sun. Dec 21, 1:20pm

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I've wondered about that too. But I'm pretty sure that if you're eating meat from animals that have been warehoused, shot up with hormones and antibiotics, and generally raised in a way totally contrary to their natural existence -- then yes, the meat will be toxic because it's been made that way by the growers.

What I'd really like to know is if meat from free range animals who are treated humanely and allowed to eat their natural foods (such as cows and grass) is toxic to the human body. Until I know for sure, I've limited my consumption of meat to an occasional accent or condiment status. Not ready to give it up completely yet...

Sunday, December 21, 2008, 3:00 PM

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What does "toxic" mean in this context? Plants are CHOCK FULL of toxins, most of which are evolved to prevent or discourage insects and mammals from eating the plants. Digitalis, strychnine, cyanide, and all kinds of alkaloids come from plants. Some of these we generally manage to avoid eating, some of them we cook out of food, some of them (like caffeine) we enjoy, and some have no noticeable effect on people but aren't good for other mammals.

Almost anything we put in our bodies, whether of pure composition or not, food or drug has "side effects." You can take aspirin (or willow salic) for a headache, but it will also thin your blood. Or you can take ibuprofen, and it will also irritate your stomach. Or acetominophen, which is bad for your liver. While one can look at these options and choose to let the headache go away on its own, one cannot choose to not eat. Are the toxins in meat worse than the toxins in plants?

I do agree with the 3:00 poster that the scientifically helpful comparison to make is between organically grown vegetables and free-range, organic animal meat, milk, and eggs. All kinds of extra substances find their way into our diets otherwise.

But I also see (as a biologist) that human beings are, in their anatomy, omnivores. We have the teeth of an omnivore. We have the gut of an ominivore. This is really not argued among most serious scientists. We evolved able to eat -- and probably needing to eat, seasonally -- both animals and plants.

You ask in the blog, Jackie, why the Chinese are able to eat more calories. My first guess is that the average Chinese gets a lot more exercise than the average American. Not every Chinese household has a car, whereas I was reading recently that there is more than one car per driver in the US. But I assume this was controlled for, since it's so obvious.

The second thing that strikes me about this question is the "are able." This is a weightloss site and I know that we tend to focus on eating as much as possible while staying thin. But that is NOT an advantage!! Until very recently, all of human history was shaped and punctuated by starvation. Look away from North America and Europe, and there are still people starving all over the world. There were famines just this year due to rice shortages. The people who survive a famine are those who can maintain their weight on FEWER calories. Thus, the meat-eater is strongly ADVANTAGED.


Monday, December 22, 2008, 7:51 AM

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I have a very hard time believing that animal protein is toxic to humans. Evolutionarily speaking we are omnivores and like PP said, no one in science can really arugue that.

But also like PP, I agree that modern farming and ranching has changed how we eat meat. We eat a lot more than we are evolved to handle, and we are exposed to a lot more toxins and chemicals from those animals than if we were still hunting them in the wild.

I stive to only eat meat that has been hunted in the wild and avoid meat from the grocer or at a restaurant. I don't follow this rule 100%, but I do try.

Monday, December 22, 2008, 10:44 AM

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Agreed. The way our meat is handled makes it toxic, and unhealthy to our immune systems that are already bombarded by toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the jet fuel and plastic byproducts we all carry in our blood, and the chemicals on our plants. Doing everything you can to strengthen your immune system while living in this environment is so important - we evolved on a diet of antioxidants, and that's why I eat mostly plants and eat very little animal protein, usually wild game my SO has hunted and NEVER milk where everything bad seems to be concentrated.


Monday, December 22, 2008, 2:12 PM

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This is such great feedback. neon- what an interesting perspective. My gut tells me that meat from a place like Whole Foods is the way to go. As I speak my in-laws are preparing a standing rib roast!

Monday, December 22, 2008, 4:13 PM

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Grass fed (not grass finished which a lot of Whole Foods meat) is the way to go with meat...and it is hard to find. I have researched this a lot. You need a freezer AND a regular source OR some hunters in your circle of people.

The interesting thing with the research is it gets me really tuned into the animals who go to slaughter so we can eat which makes me NOT want to eat meat. I think the remove of plastic wrapped animal protein has us eating a lot more of it. (I am an omnivore who is trying to become more conscious about all of this and I do battle with wanting to close my eyes).

As Neon said, we are omnivores. We also need the Omega three's that come from animal protein (they are essential...we don't make them). Unfortunately, because most livestock is grain fed we don't get the 3's we need.

I take capsules of omega 3's derived from fish oil. This truly bothers me because it is the ultimate manufacturing and processing. But many of our present day inflammatory diseases originate from problems with the ratio of Omega 6's to Omega 3's...and this originates from our food sources.

The complexity of these questions is overwhelming. We need a complete overhaul of our food systems. It's ultimately a political issue.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008, 11:14 AM

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To answer your question do read The China Study, and The Rave Diet and Lifestyle. Its not just the hormones and pesticides on the plants the animals eat. Diets high in animal protein can be harmful to the kidneys, heart and other organs.
The part about the Chinese is that they eat more calories per pound of body weight. They eat more basic then we do and less animal protein. At least the rural areas do.
Finally I would say eating animal protein rather than veggies is much more toxic. Even with the sprays all over the plants you can wash some of it off. The animals are fed crops that have all kinds of different sprays, plus the mega dosses of hormes they are given. The toxic sprays are concentrated in the animals fat. When you eat an animal you are getting much higher doses of pesticides in your body.

With that being said, I would say moderation is a good rule of thumb.

Friday, January 16, 2009, 1:40 AM

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I disagree with the poster who said that we are omnivores by evolution. It is my understanding that our physiology is that of a frugivore- a fruit eater, judging by our intestines, not teeth, though our teeth are relatively flat too. Vegetarian protein, grains and legumes specifically, are toxic to my body-but that is a genetic anomaly. I'd like to quit animal protein and I'm interested in the research. keep it coming!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 12:44 AM

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I agree with the last post. People say that we should eat meat because of our incisors. However look the gorilla. A fruitarian and mountain gorillas eat mostly greens. The incisors are possibly used for tearing into tuff fruits or veggies. It also shows that you can gain lots of muscle by eating fruits and veggies by looking at the gorilla, or maybe the elephant. The biggest strongest animals on earth are veg eaters.

Thursday, January 22, 2009, 4:17 PM

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Primate incisors are mostly used for grooming, not feeding, since primates tend to pick things up and put them in the side of their mouths.
You say you never groom with your teeth? Hmm. You don't trim your nails or hangnails that way? :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009, 5:00 PM

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