Not made for meat
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — “This whole fantasy that we need meat to get our protein, it’s actually bulls___. I mean, look at a gorilla. A gorilla will f___ you up in two seconds. What does a gorilla eat?” - Damien Mander, Founder, International Anti-Poaching Foundation. 

All athletes seek an advantage over other athletes. Whether it be additional strength, more stamina, greater speed or faster recovery from workouts and injury, they’ll find an edge. But there are still some areas where athletes are uncomfortable making adjustments in. Diet is probably the most influential, particularly the notion that we must subsist on a diet of meat. For the great majority of athletes, they believe that animal meat is the single largest source of protein in their diet. Science is now discovering that animals are only middlemen who mainly get their protein from plants.

Where did the notion of needing meat come from? 

Archaeologists long believed that early man was a carnivore based on remains of primitive hunting weapons, which were made of stone and wood that eventually petrified. They assumed that the absence of plant material meant cavemen did not eat plants. Recently, paleobiologists explained that plant matter degrades faster, and was previously undetectable. Now, however, more advanced equipment cab detect fossilized microscopic plant matter at old archaeological sites, proving that nomadic primitive man was mainly a plant eater. In fact, analysis of the excavated bones of Roman gladiators, the elite athletes and soldiers of their time, showed high levels of strontium, an indicator of a vegetarian diet.

In the mid-1800s, German chemist Justus Von Liebig postulated that humans derived energy from animal protein, and vegetarians would be incapable of sustained activity. This was adopted as policy by the US Food and Drug Administration or FDA. It spread so widely that, to this day, the majority believe that meat is the key to health. 

Biologically, humans are not designed to eat meat. As this writer said in this column roughly a decade ago, we do not have claws, talons or huge teeth like carnivores. Our teeth are not sharp and designed like scissors for slicing up tough meat, but are flat and shallow for grinding plant matter. Carnivores in the animal kingdom also possess shorter digestive tracts than humans. Humans also have a wider visual range, allowing us to discern different colors of fruits and vegetables to discern which are ripe enough to eat.

As early as the start of the 1900’s, Olympic gold medalists and champion athletes like runners Emil Voigt, Paavo Nurmi, swimmer Murray Rose and tracksters Edwin Moses and Carl Lewis all won on plant-based diets. 

Many of the world’s greatest athletes today thrive on a plant-based diet. Multiple Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger used to consume 10 to 15 eggs a day. Today, the 70-year-old legend still works out, but vouches for a plant-based diet. MMA fighter Nate Diaz, who famously defeated Conor McGregor at UFC 196 with only 11 days’ preparation, is vegetarian. McGregor called himself a lion, and made fun of Diaz by branding him a gazelle. Diaz defeated the Irish Champion by submission. Ultra marathoner Scott Jurek broke the record for the 46-day, 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail run by three hours despite a torn quadricep. Jurek transitioned to a plant-based diet about a decade ago. NBA players, Olympic cyclists, NFL players, professional boxers and champion athletes in most sports live on a plant-based diet. Many are just quiet about it due to the stigma of being vegetarian.

The Insect Food Project based in the Netherlands has deployed researchers and chefs around the world, from India to Mexico to Africa and beyond, discovering more than 1900 species that may conceivably put on our menu to replace meat. They argue that once people overcome their initial squeamishness, they learn to appreciate the various flavor profiles and nutrition that grubs, bugs, crickets and worms and the like bring to the table. No pun intended. They also explain that honey, one of the most in-demand, pirated, faked and diluted foods in the world, is essentially vomit. Moreover, since more than three-fourths of the world’s water supply goes to growing food for farmed animals, it would relieve the strain on the environment. For example, a regular hamburger actually needed 2,400 liters of water to produce. A restaurant in San Fernando, Pampanga serves a locust adobo, sweet revenge against the pest that consumes central Luzon’s rice crops. In Europe, grasshoppers, earthworms, ants and even cockroaches are considered delicacies.

It seems we need to rethink our obsession with eating dead animals.

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