Today, we have many people becoming vegetarians for one or more of the following reasons:
- The greatest occurence of cancer cases and other chronic diseases in history.
- A growing concern over the health of our ecosystem.
- A significant number of people are seeking spiritual grounding in response to a rising fear of Armageddon stimulated by an almost constant, worldwide coverage of war and conflict.
I decided to share my opinions on vegetarianism because in my career I have worked with many unhealthy vegetarians. Often my vegetarian patients were in need of animal nutrition yet, for one or more of the above reasons were initially resistant to my suggested inclusion of animal foods for regaining their health. As you can imagine, it is very challenging as a Holistic Health Practitioner when the patient resists coaching yet wants help at the same time! As a health coach, I applaud questions for they are often legitimate attempts to learn and grow. But it is just as important to see that dogmatic resistance retards education and growth.
If we are to make a genuine attempt to overcome the challenges of disease, environmental destruction, and the fear of Armageddon, you can rest assured we will need to be healthy. This is because health is the foundation for rational thinking and thus crucial to reasoning our way through these issue. To best manage such a significant and emotionally charged topic, I will address several of the common questions asked of me by those wishing to rationalize vegetarianism.
Q: I read and hear in the news all the time that eating red meat is bad for you and that a vegetarian lifestyle is better for your heart and your health in general. Why are you telling me the opposite of what many experts are saying?
Paul Chek: Consider that Weston A. Price traveled the globe studying the diets of native societies in the 1930’s while there were still natives untouched by white man and his processed foods (Nutrition & Physical Degeneration by W.A. Price). His primary result was to show that wherever natives were exposed to processed foods such as white flour and sugar, degeneration and disease soon followed. But he also discovered that there were no healthy vegetarian societies or tribes. While he did find some vegetarians, there were always healthier tribes near by eating meat or animal products. In fact, if you study cultural anthropology one of the things you will find is that the amount of meat eaten by any society was determined not by religious beliefs or health fads, but rather by availability alone. A clear example of this can be seen by looking at the diets of traditional Aboriginals in Australia. The inland Aboriginals eat a diet of approximately 75-90% vegetable and 10-25% animal foods. The coastal Aboriginals, who have access to fish and larger animals like Kangaroo eat about 75% animal and 25% vegetable foods (1).
The whole concept of vegetarianism being safer for your heart is an unfounded, scare tactic fostered by the processed food industry. Before 1920, coronary heart disease was rare (2). Hydrogenation of vegetable oils began around 1910 and between 1910 and 1970 consumption of vegetable oils increased some 400%, while saturated animal fat consumption decreased on the whole. In short, we’ve had a reduction of animal fat consumption, an increase in hydrogenated vegetable oils and an increase in heart disease since 1920. It’s hard to see how consuming less animal fats has made for healthy hearts. Moreover, statistical analysis of chronic disease shows that we are far worse off with today’s dietary recommendations when looked at from a disease perspective.
If viewed from a purely historical perspective, the current dogma over eating meat and heart health is suspect as well. Humans have been eating animal foods as a primary food staple in every part of the world with a winter. This includes the fish eaten in every region near lakes and the ocean. More generally, humans have eaten meat and saturated animal fats throughout an evolutionary history spanning hundreds of thousands of years. If eating meat were as unhealthy as suggested, we’d never have lasted so long.
Q: Won’t eating meat make me too acidic and disrupt the pH of my blood, encouraging disease?
Paul Chek: The whole issue of pH balance and diet is very misleading and misrepresented by MANY that favor vegetarian diets. First of all, the environment influences our biochemistry quite dramatically, particularly over thousands of years due to the rate of genetic modification. For example, Eskimos maintain optimal pH balance on a diet of 90% animal foods, while some Hindus and inland Aboriginals maintain optimal pH balance of the converse of 90% plant foods!
Many authors falsely attribute high acidity levels to meat eating. This really is a lot of bunk for the following reasons:
1. pH is specific to body compartment and body fluid. Therefore, when making any reference to pH without making a clear statement as to where the measurement is taking place (urine, venous blood, arterial blood, saliva, and even specific organs. The stomach, small intestine and large intestine, for example, all have different optimal pH levels!
2. It has been argued by Rakowski and others (including very possibly William Wolcott) that sprinting around the block once will produce a far greater shift in pH towards acidity than eating nothing but meat all day long. I have personally tested my own urine and saliva every hour for days on end and let me assure you, if you were to do the same, you would quickly find that what you do with exercise and how close you are to your needs for water consumption will influence your pH FAR more than what you eat. I've knocked my urine pH down from 7 to 5 in 10 minutes of squatting with sets of 10 on a one minute rest in just a few sets!
3. Any time someone is eating too much animal food or protein from any source, the tell-tale signs are as follows:
- Urine begins to smell and often gets thick and dark.
- Sweat begins to become pungent
- If this is not checked within a relatively short period (one to seven days in my experience), fatigue sets in followed closely by aching joints.
- Continued abuse of optimal balance in nutrient intake and water intake will result, most likely, in disease!
Q: Won’t eating animal foods, particularly red meat encourage inflammation in my body?
Paul Chek: You can get increased inflammation from omega 6 rich vegetable oils just as rapidly as you can with animal foods. Vegetable oils in general are high in omega 6 fatty acids which stimulate the arachadonic acid cascade, producing inflammation. I deal with inflammation and chronic pain management all the time. The reasons why so many do well initially on vegan diets include the following:
Often they are eating real food for the first time! They often cook fresh for the first time and eat much more raw food for the first time! Finally, they have stopped eating so much packaged crap. This all acts to increase vitality and mental clarity just like using clean water will clean your windows much better than dirty water.
These diets are very effective detoxification diets across the board, greatly reducing body burden from those falling into category #1 above.
Often, people going on vegan diets are being directed by holistic health professionals who also encourage the use of organic foods. Those eating organic meats will NOT have the body burden and the burden is great. Since fat stores toxins and commercial farmers make their income by the pound, these farmers stand to benefit from feeding their livestock harmful foods. The benefit from going vegan was to avoid those toxic commercial meats and nothing inherent to being a vegan per se.
Q: When I got cancer, I was told that living a vegetarian lifestyle would be necessary to reduce the burden on my body and would support my immune system. It worked, so why should I quit now when it obviously eliminated my disease?
Paul Chek: Frequently, disease is caused by the following three factors.
1. Eating too much processed food which contains potentially toxic and even carcinogenic additives, preservatives, colorings, emulsifiers, solvents and many such related chemicals. In fact, Americans today consume an average of 150 pounds of such chemicals yearly (3)!
2. Consuming commercially grown produce is routinely sprayed with dangerous farming chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and rodenticides. In fact, some 2,000,000,000 (that’s 2 Billion!) pounds of such chemicals are used annually in the US alone (4).
3. Eating commercially farmed animals that are raised on steroids, antibiotics, foodstuffs laden with mycotoxins (very poisonous toxins from mold and fungus), and other toxic additives. For example, the use of plastic chips, cement dust, sewage and dead animal parts are but a few of the items approved or used for commercially farmed animals (5)!
Typically, many doctors and holistic health practitioners that recommend vegan or vegetarian type diets also recommend organic or biodynamic produce. These foodstuffs are grown without toxic agents and generally have far greater nutritional value than commercial produce. The inclusion of organic foods, be they animal or produce, results in dramatically reduced incoming toxicity, supporting the immune and detoxification systems of the body. Where people often make a mistake with the philosophy that vegetarianism cured their disease is in not realizing that:
Frequently, this is the first time most such people have eaten high quality food. Sadly they had to look death in the eyes to start!
Their diet was often previously limited in living produce and was excessive in processed foods, trans-fatty acids, synthetic additives, colorings, preservatives and processed grain products that disrupt blood sugar levels.
The commercial animal foods they ate up until the point of creating their disease were at least as toxic as they themselves were, thus creating sizable burden on their body.
In reality, what has happened in most cases that I’ve seen where vegetarian diets were used as part of a cancer or disease treatment protocol is that for the first time, patients:
- Ate high quality nutritious foods
- Eliminated multiple sources of toxins and non-foods. This is particularly the case in light of how toxic the animal foods previously eaten were!
- Ate much higher quantities of raw, or living foods
Organic animal products such as eggs, organ meats and bones provide a wide variety of essential and supportive nutrients such as sulphur containing molecules, vitamin B12, calcium, trace minerals, fat soluble vitamins, and more. Not to mention that the fatty acid profile of grass fed, organic raised and organic free-range meats is notably more favorable than their commercial counterparts. Quality animal nutrition not only provides nutritional value that can’t be obtained from vegetarian diets, but supports liver function, detoxification and general tissue healing. In this same vein, conventional thinking on nutrition fails to recognize the fact that animals and fish of all types offer concentrated forms of both life-force and consciousness when properly handled, prepared and eaten. These subtle energies and the consciousness afforded by our anthropogenic ancestors frequently support our animal subsystems. This knowledge has been with us for some time, as St. Hildegard demonstrated long ago in her writing on the nutrients offered by various animals and their use in healing (6).
Q: I don’t want to eat meat because to do so would retard my spiritual development.
Paul Chek: This is a common misconception. First of all, if one reads about the life of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians or Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe, you will find clear evidence of the deep spirituality lived and practiced by many Native American tribes all of whom consumed meat as part of their diet (7). The same can be said of Eskimos and most native peoples, particularly before being influenced by Christian missionaries, who typically brought with them both processed foods and the fear of God. If you want further proof of the rich spiritual development of the many meat eating native peoples, I suggest you read Wisdom of the Elders by David Suzuki (8).
I know from personal experience with a number of vegetarians who have gotten on a spiritual path (such as Hinduism or Buddhism) where the chosen guru was of East Indian origin or from a country where meat is naturally scarce, such as some regions in central America, the student adopted the diet of the guru in hopes of experiencing enlightenment. While studying under a guru may be helpful for accelerated spiritual development, ignoring one’s genetic, racial or ethnic needs for fat and protein only diminishes health and vitality. This is obviously antagonistic to spiritual development. This becomes obvious when you consider the fact that all hormones are protein based. Steroid hormones are derived from both protein and cholesterol, of which animal foods are not only the best source, but the most bioavailable as well. This is very important because hormones are molecules of emotion and any disruption of hormonal health/balance impacts our quantity and quality of consciousness (9). Since spiritual development is optimal and/or expanded consciousness and our consciousness is dependent upon our bodily health, we need to be sure that we eat appropriately.
Q: Why would I want to eat meat when killing an animal is an extreme act of cruelty?
Paul Chek: Many vegetarians avoid eating animals because they are sentient creatures. But if you look at the research of Cleve Backster (See the book Secret Life Of Plants and Secret Life Of The Cell), you will find that plants, while less mobile, may be just as sentient as many animals! If so, then we can hardly avoid consuming sentient creatures for food. People should not be worrying about whether to eat meat. Rather, they should be more concerned about what they can contribute to society with what they’ve eaten.
Moreover, we can provide these animals with a better life than they might have otherwise had. Everywhere you look in nature, you will see that life eats life. If you’ve ever seen a wolf, lion, alligator, large snake or carnivorous fish kill their prey, you would be well aware that the experience of running and fighting for your life while being gashed, bitten and bleeding to death is far more brutal than any method used by a skilled meat packer!
Q: Do you really think the 7 billion people on our planet can be sustained as carnivores without mass agro-industry and mass thoughtlessness of what this does to land and creatures?
Paul Chek: We can easily feed our population ethically and effectively with organic farming. China fed a MASSIVE population on a TINY land mass (only 14% of China's land is arable) for a very long time while importing little foods just by farming organically! In his Farmers of Forty Centuries, Professor King shows clearly that we could feed the world effectively through organic farming by following the lead of the Chinese farmers. The way to feed people in the future and not end up in wars caused by radical blood sugar and hormonal fluctuations is to husband plants and animals ethically and allow them evolve through love, respect and human consumption.
In addition, if you trust in Divine Law, if you trust in Mother Nature, you have to come to the conclusion that all native societies that were healthy ate meat so they could be healthy and maintain ecological balance. What would happen if we were to ignore the divine law of Mother Nature? If we were to stop eating the sheep in New Zealand, where the animals naturally proliferate, the consequences could be disastrous. Project mentally and you will surely come to the realization that what is now co-habitation of plant, animal and man, would soon become an imbalance with sheep damaging the ecology by excessive eating, tramping and secretion of toxic body waste. Sadly, this is very much what man himself does most everywhere he goes these days!
Walter Russell said it beautifully in his description of the Love Principle (10). The microorganisms eat each other for the benefits of the grass (and plants), the zebra eats the grass, which serves him out of love, the lion eats the zebra, who serves him out of Love, the lion dies and feeds the microorganisms, serving them out of love and the whole cycle continues. The plant evolves through the zebra, the zebra evolves through the lion, and the lion evolves through the experience of its group soul.
The most important thing any of us can do is eat organic foods and eat according to our metabolic type. By loving and respecting all we eat, we are fostering spiritual evolution of all. Mankind has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that when he is unhealthy, he is less conscious, less rational and certainly more prone to violence. Studies such as those of Sir Robert McCarrison have also shown this to be true for animals. When we eat right, drink right and move right, we think right. Only when we think right/rationally, can we ever expect to improve the condition of the world and society as a whole!
1) Wharton, Charles Heizer. Metabolic Man: Then Thousand Years from Eden. Orlando, FL: Winmark Publishing, 2002.
2) Fallon, Sally and Mary Enig. Nourishing Traditions. 2nd Edition. Winona Lake, IN: New Trends Publishing, 1999.
3) Kellog, William R. and Andrea S. Dworkin. Surviving the Toxic Crisis. Comprehensive Health Publishers, 1996.
4) Kimbrell, Andrew ed. Fatal Harvest. Sausalito, CA: Foundation for Deep Ecology, 2000.
5) Chek, Paul. Lifting the Veil of Deception. Vista, CA: C.H.E.K Institute, Forthcoming.
6) Strehlow, Wighard and Gottfried Hertzka. Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine. Santa Fe, NM: Bearn and Company, 1988.
7) Nerburn, Kent, ed. The Wisdom of Native Americans. Novato, CA: New World Library, 1999.
8) Suzuki, David and Peter Knudtson. Wisdom of the Elders. New York, NY: Bantam, 1993.
9) Pert, Candace. Molecules of Emotion. New York, NY: Touchstone Press, 1997.
10) Russell, Walter. Universal Law, Natural Science and Living Philosophy. Waynesboro, VA: The University of Philosophy, 1972.