In Defense of Meat and Other Animal Products
By KAREN GAY
May 4, 2015
This continues my previous article about the Weston A. Price Foundation’s dietary principles. I’ll discuss the Foundation’s belief that health is best found in a diet of unprocessed, traditional foods containing some sort of animal product, be it fish, shellfish, fowl, sea mammals, eggs, milk and milk products, or even reptiles or insects. There has been some discussion in the Wave regarding the virtues of a vegetarian diet, and I’d like to provide a gentle rebuttal to those points of view.
Weston A. Price was a dentist born in 1870 who noticed that most people who had serious dental problems also had degenerative health issues. Over the course of 10 years he travelled to study isolated indigenous societies to determine the factors responsible for good dental health. Dr. Price visited tribes in Alaska, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, and even sequestered villages in Switzerland. After analyzing the foods used by these societies he saw that in comparison to the American diet of the 1930s, they provided at least four times the water soluble vitamins, calcium, and other minerals, and at least 10 times the fat-soluble vitamins — from animal foods such as butter, fish, eggs, shellfish, organ meats, and animal fats.
In his travels he had been hoping to find a society which demonstrated good health solely from fruits and vegetables, but he was disappointed. In his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, he concluded ”As yet, I have not found a single group of primitive racial stock which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by living entirely on plant foods. I have found in many parts of the world most devout representatives of modern ethical systems advocating restriction of foods to the vegetable products. In every instance where the groups involved had been long under this teaching, I found evidence of degeneration in the form of abnormal dental arches to an extent very much higher than in the primitive groups who were not under this influence.”
What about the cruelty issue?
My neighbor, Wayne Creed, spoke eloquently in the Wave of the confined animal feeding operations that produce most of our meat available in traditional grocery stores. I support Wayne in urging people to boycott meat from animals that have not been treated humanely. However, everyone’s definition of what is humane is different. I believe that meat animals should be grown in the natural environment in which they thrive and in populations that do not overwhelm the natural resources of the land. So, to me, this means that cattle are raised in pastures with plenty of fresh green grass, hay, and shelter in the winter. Chickens should be outdoors in the sun pecking for insects, and hogs should free range under the shade of trees where they can dig for tubers and insects.
CONTINUED FROM FIRST PAGE
Animals should not be fed grains, especially those that are genetically modified. When these animals are killed, they should not be in a stressful environment, nor should they have to travel hours to a USDA butcher where they wait in line watching the animals in front of them die – all in the interests of sanitation.
I would like to be able to buy meat that my farmer has butchered, because this ensures the least stress to the animal, and I would only buy from a farmer that I trust to do this. Unfortunately, today, the law prevents farmers from butchering their cows and pigs for sale to the public. Oddly enough, they are allowed to process up to 2,000 chickens a year without getting inspectors involved.
The process I describe seems humane to me and serves two purposes: it reduces the stress on the animal and respects its life in that it is raised in an environment that allows the animal to thrive, and it provides sustenance for small farmers who do not have to practice confined animal feeding operations. In addition, small, sustainable farming provides natural limits on the supply of meat so that people pay the farmer a higher market price for the added quality of the meat products.
Where then, can you find meats that have been raised outdoors in the sun, eating the diet that their bodies require? My goal is to find farmers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia who produce the animal products that I would like to eat. I have visited several small farms already and will try to visit every small farmer on the Shore who raises animals using humane methods.
My next several articles will focus on the few small farmers who have the potential to provide the food I want. In time, maybe some of my readers will have an interest in this too. For now, I have been shopping at the Village Butcher in the Hilltop North shopping center in Virginia Beach. They have a good supply of grass-fed meats and bones for broth. I am also in the process of buying half of a pig from a farmer who I’ve known for a good while. We’ll be sharing this with another family.
What if you think you cannot afford to buy pastured meats? I would suggest looking for a farmer to buy in volume as we are doing with pork. In addition, you can look for the cheaper cuts of meat which, by and large, are much more nutritious than the leaner cuts of meat. When I buy a pound of ground meat I stretch it with vegetables and it lasts for two meals. It’s important to note that we do not need to eat meat with each meal or even every day. Small quantities of especially nutrient dense meat like liver go a long way.
Why eat animal foods?
What is missing in vegetarian diets that can be completed by the use of animal products? The key missing elements are the fat-soluble vitamins and B12. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 are called activators because they work together to make minerals in food available to our bodies. Without adequate amounts of these vitamins it is possible to be starved for minerals, as many people are today. These vitamins are primarily found in animal products. Without the vitamins and minerals provided by animal products people are susceptible to having weak bones and teeth, calcification of the arteries, and an increase in wrinkles as one ages.
Vitamin A is required for the following processes in our bodies: protein and calcium assimilation, proper growth, prevention of birth defects, proper function of the endocrine system, thyroid and immune system function, production of stress and sex hormones, and support to eyes, skin, and bones. Vitamin A can only be found in animal products. Many people equate beta carotene, found in plants, to vitamin A, and in some cases it can be converted to vitamin A. However, the conversion ratio is something like 21 units of beta carotene to one unit of vitamin A. Also, conversion and storage of beta carotene to vitamin A is difficult or impossible for babies, children, diabetics, and people with poor thyroid, liver, or intestinal function. The Weston A. Price Foundation believes that even under optimal conditions, plant sources of carotene cannot supply sufficient vitamin A for optimum health.
Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, reproduction, healthy skin, insulin production, immune and nervous system, cell function, and provides feel-good chemicals. Common wisdom is that we only need to expose our face and hands to sunlight for 10 minutes each day to get enough vitamin D. The fact is that our bodies make vitamin D out of cholesterol by the action of UV-B sunlight on the skin — but unless you live in the tropics, UV-B sunlight is available only at mid-day during the summer months. This means that most of us do not get sufficient vitamin D. Synthetic vitamin D2 is made from vegetarian sources but is less absorbable and has the opposite effect to vitamin D3 from animal sources in that it is more likely to cause softening of bones and hardening of organs and arteries.
As I mentioned earlier, vitamins A and D work together, and when vitamin D is low, vitamin A can be toxic, even at low doses. When vitamin A is low, vitamin D can be toxic. Vitamins A and D can be found in such foods as liver and other organ meats, animal fat, butter, cream, fish eggs and livers, fish liver oil, shell fish, oily fish, and egg yolks.
When I originally heard about the use of vitamin K in foods, I thought of the blood clotting vitamin K1. Recently discovered vitamin K2 is needed to deposit phosphorus and calcium in our bones and teeth. It prevents calcium from going to the arteries where it can cause heart disease. Vitamins A and D tell cells to make certain proteins, and vitamin K2 activates these proteins after the signaling. Taking any of these vitamins alone will rapidly cause a deficiency in the other two. Vitamin K2 is found in many of the same sources as vitamins A and D: chicken and goose liver and fat, egg yolks, butter, fatty meats, organ meats, fish eggs, and fermented cod liver oil. There are vegetarian sources of K2 in natto, which is a fermented soy product, and traditionally fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.
A B12 deficiency can lead to pernicious anemia and nervous system degeneration. In the 1930s physicians discovered that pernicious anemia could be treated with liver. Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products although some bacteria, if present in the small intestine, can synthesize absorbable B12.
A long-term vegetarian diet ultimately depletes the body of key nutrients that are so easily obtained from animal products. As you can see, deficiencies in A, D3, K2, and B12 can have severe consequences over time.
A word about soy products, which seem to be a staple of the vegetarian diet. Several vegetarians have told me that they rely on soy for protein. Soy is definitely not a perfect food. First of all high levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Normal and traditional methods of preparation such as soaking, sprouting, and long, slow cooking do not neutralize the phytic acid in soy. In addition, soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and contain antithyroid agents. There’s much more to the soy story than we read in the soy industry press.
Weston A. Price Foundation members and vegetarians have a lot in common!
Each year well over a thousand people attend the annual WAPF meeting, and many of them are vegetarians who attend to benefit from the health-related information always present. In addition, both groups typically oppose genetically modified foods and support the ideals of organic and biodynamic agriculture. Both groups decry the unsustainable methods of corporate agriculture which drives out small farmers, depletes the soil, and causes harm and suffering to animals. On occasion, when I have vegetarian relatives and friends for dinner, I find that it’s not hard to plan a meal. After all, I have jars of dried beans, grains, and nuts in my larder, a cornucopia of vegetables in my refrigerator, and absolutely no processed food in my cabinets. In my mind, all of this, plus a bit of meat for B12 and those fat-soluble activators A, D, and K2, makes a perfect nutrient dense meal.
Venison Meatloaf with Tangy Tomato Sauce
Here is a recipe for meatloaf that I made just the other night. Please just don’t notice any black (or burnt) edges to the photo. I assure you, there was nothing burnt about this meatloaf. Really. The photo shows a ground venison and pork meatloaf, although you could just as easily use beef or liver. I browned onions, carrots, and celery, added a dollop of wine and garlic and it was just delicious! Readers, let me know what you would do differently.
I was so fortunate to have a friend who gave me two pounds of ground venison that she had in the freezer. I have never cooked with wild game before and I was a bit intimidated in getting started. In reading about venison, I learned that it is a very lean meat, so I decided to add ground pork to the mix. Later I learned from farmers I’ve been interviewing that making burgers with ground venison is wonderful all by itself. That’s what I’ll try next!
1 lb. ground venison
1 lb. ground pork
½ cup old fashioned oats covered with water
2 eggs, beaten
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 TB Coconut oil
1 TB Celtic Salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
¼ cup red wine
- Soak the oats in water. When soft combine with the venison, pork, and eggs. Refrigerate.
- Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add carrots and celery. Add ¼ cup water, cover pan and steam until veggies are soft. Add more coconut oil, if necessary and cook over medium high heat until veggies are nice and brown. This may take 45 minutes or so, depending on the heat you use.
- Add garlic, cook a minute or two, and add wine and cook another minute or two.
- Add vegetables to meat mixture and add salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix well and form into a loaf.
- Cover with tomato paste. If you use ketchup instead, please avoid the commercial kind with the high-fructose corn syrup or an ingredient called HFCS!
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for about an hour or until the meat thermometer reaches the degree of doneness you prefer.
Tangy Tomato Sauce (from Ina Garten’s Stuffed Cabbage recipe)
3 tablespoons good olive oil (I use coconut oil)
1½ cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup raisins
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve as sauce for meatloaf.