meat production, which is a vile, sick and pollution riddled giant that has managed to cover its tracks through slick campaigns convincing people they are protein deficient even though there is protein in just about everything we eat! And now the dairy industry is getting back into the saddle with this sentiment as well, merely to the effect that milk really doesn’t provide the body enhancing nutrients it has been boasting for decades. Either way, I don’t think it is possible to turn every person on the planet into a vegan, which is the goal of many of my ilk. Mankind, if anything, is stubborn and self destructive and will use all available violent means to justify their stubbornness. Some just cannot be changed, which I am fine with, no matter what truths and argument are presented to them. For the longest time, I always held meat in a high regard, but if anything, it was more of an addiction than a real dietary condition.
It’s interesting when you think about it, but for as long as I can remember, we have always placed vegetables on a high pedestal, much to the tune of “if you eat your vegetables, you will grow big and tall.” I always kind of hated it when my parents said this, especially when I looked at my father and my uncles and realized that I was going to be tall regardless, so being forced to eat the steamed spinach was more of a death wish for me than a healthy option in my life. One thing that has been clear to all of us is in order to live a healthy life, we must have an abundance of vegetables and fruits. Growing up, the food table always recommended somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-11 servings, which in itself was kind of ambiguous due to the fact no one really understood what a serving of vegetables was. Of course, the food pyramid took on a complete life of its own, where once there used to be four different food categories exploded into five categories with three sub categories for oils, sugars and alcohol (drink moderately they say! hehe). It’s no wonder the collective waistline of America has expanded. With no clear set of standards that can be cross referenced and put into measurable units, it is no wonder people just say “Screw it!” and start eating what they want. The system is so complicated that it was a great punchline for the show South Park, when the boys solved a perceived gluten panic by flipping the food pyramid and making fats and oils the most important part of the daily food requirement (which saved their party, allowing them to freely serve steaks topped with a stick of butter and claiming it was healthy because the government said so!). Even with the more colorful food plate that was instituted in 2010, there is still too much ambiguity. It’s pretty interesting the problems we constantly have about food, merely to the effect we have turned food into an escape as opposed to sustenance.
Either way, we must now prepare for some new guidelines in regards to how we eat soon enough. Every five years, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Health and Human Services Department release dietary recommendations for the general populace, a primer of sorts to help people out with their current dietary needs. These recommendations are built up over a series of meetings that examine research and toss about recommendations for the upcoming five years. While the report hasn’t even been made yet, the ripples being caused by some of the leaked findings are already making some people rejoice or grumble. Of course, within my world, the committee is most likely going to remove the recommendation of eating lean red meats from the dietary recommendations while placing a heavier emphasis on eating fruits and vegetables. https://www.yahoo.com/health/5-things-to-look-for-as-government-writes-new-107508680492.html Vegans have been singing the praises of this initial finding, and it is something that has been a long time coming so to speak. While the committee will not promote a complete plant based diet, the biggest culprit they will be focusing on is high processed meats, whether it be the leftover junk you find in highly processed cans of chili or stuff you find in the frozen food section that can last a five years. Along with this recommendation, the committee finally looked at the role of sustainability in regards to the current diet, which is a massive problem when you consider the amount of resources and waste that occurs due to the deluge of livestock raising in this country (and for the rest of the world for that matter). Already, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association has launched an attack at the committee’s findings, and will most likely ramp up the rhetoric when the official report is released sometime within the next few months.
Meat in general has already taken a beating the last couple years, and it is pretty easy to see why. Studies have indicated that one has a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes as they increase their meat intake. The Mediterranean Diet has become something of the diet du jour recommendation for doctors who don’t feel comfortable recommending plant based diets even though partaking in the diet pretty much puts you on the doorstep of being a full vegan. And then there is the cost of meat, which is starting to pinch people in the pocket books and actually causing people to eat less meat rather than more (though we are still the top meat eating country in the world and by a huge margin mind you). http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/were-eating-less-meat-why/?_r=0 However, the interesting part of the upcoming report will certainly be the addition of “environmental impact,” a subject few tend to talk about as more and more details continue to be revealed about the meat industry. Thanks largely to clandestine eco-spies and documentaries like “Fed Up,” people are learning some rather disturbing details about the industry, like the fact 70 to 80% of the antibiotics sold by big pharmaceutical companies are pumped into livestock due to the feed they are eating, which is provided at a low cost due to massive corn and soy subsidies across the board from the government (cattle can’t digest corn without getting sick, so they need antibiotics to keep them somewhat healthy). This brings an interesting problem within the argument. How can the government supply money to those who are aiding in making our country unhealthy while at the same time claiming the product they help subsidize is making us unhealthy? Talk about a breach of ethics. http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/07/what-usda-doesnt-want-you-know-about-antibiotics-and-factory-farms And then you have other details, like how some livestock ranches literally have mountains of excrement to deal with or entire pools of excrement and blood that is seeping into the water tables. And then there is the rising cost and the lessening supply, which is forcing some industries to supplement supplies from China (interesting how some complain about stringent regulations in our country, but then balk when we start floating ideas about receiving food from China, which pretty much has non-existent regulation….so dirty air and water and dirty, inefficient energy is fine in our country, but “dirty” food from China is bad?). Dealing with all the waste is becoming a problem, and it is leading many to cut corners in regard to the clean-up. http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/1536/beef-feedlots-grapple-never-ending-waste/5 Either way, while I’m sure the new report will cause a bit of an uproar within some communities, it will be interesting to see if there are any real changes made, especially in the school lunch programs throughout the country. Recently I saw a great Tumblr that illustrated the differences in school lunches with our first world peers. Even in meat centric cultures like Brazil, Italy and South Korea, their lunches were far more healthy looking than the American one. Heck, the Greek school lunch would probably cost at least 10 bucks in America if you purchased it at a restaurant! http://sweetgreen.tumblr.com/post/103458679563/school-lunches-around-the-world
While the meat requirements will certainly garner all the headlines when the report eventually comes out, there is still some other interesting points the new guidelines will encourage when dealing with daily food intake. First of all, sugar is finally going to be looked at with a disdainful eye. I’ve already written about the hidden dangers of sugar as the argument against eating large amounts of it starts to intensify. http://blog.parsonstrainingtucson.com/2014/10/my-struggles-and-apparently-rest-of_30.html There is already a legal battle in the courts that may force companies to display how much added sugar is in their products on the health labels, a tidy fact that many trade organizations are fighting against. And then you have the simple concern of the measurement of added sugar, which is also being argued over since the FDA wants to use the more visual “teaspoon” measurement rather than the ambiguous “gram” measurement (even though the gram measurement would be higher…but on the other hand, how many Americans know what a gram is anyway?) According to some initial reports, the advisory council that is setting up the new health guidelines is putting a specific amount of sugar intake per day--50 grams a day or a little over 12 teaspoon. This would certainly be disastrous for the junk food industry, especially any company that produces sugary drinks. If anyone actually did try to follow the outlines of the advisory council, soda would have to be removed from the diet permanently! According to the average amount of sugar in a soda, you would easily blow up that requirement with roughly 18 ounces of cola! (interesting side story, a man nearly drank a 12-pack every day for a month, and this is what happened http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/man-drinks-ten-cans-coke-4725796)
Now, I’m sure a lot of people are going to go all apeshit and declare the USDA and Human Health Services as a bunch of pinko socialists, the key factor to the argument is still based in the realm of choice. If you choose to be unhealthy, you will continue to be unhealthy. Personally, I chose to remove meat and dairy from my diet, and I feel I am the better for doing so. I chose to remove soda from my diet, and I know I am the better for it, for it could have been the key to my entire weight problem. I don’t know if I will be able to get under the recommended daily sugar intake, but I will certainly give it the old college try. You’ve seen what I used to be, and you read what I am now. Which would you rather be?
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.