In Defense of Meat and Other Animal Products

Wave Columnist

May 4, 2015

This continalttableues 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.


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!

Meatloaf Ingredients

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
Tomato paste

  1. Soak the oats in water. When soft combine with the venison, pork, and eggs. Refrigerate.
  2. 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.
  3. Add garlic, cook a minute or two, and add wine and cook another minute or two.
  4. Add vegetables to meat mixture and add salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix well and form into a loaf.
  5. 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!
  6. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Serve as sauce for meatloaf.


8 Responses to “In Defense of Meat and Other Animal Products”

  1. Ayesha Stuart on May 4th, 2015 3:03 am

    Thanks for this. Very interesting. Well researched.
    (United Kingdom)

  2. Andy Zahn on May 4th, 2015 11:01 am

    Most older people recall when food tasted better and was reasonably priced. There were a few events that changed all of that. Our all knowing government, and also many housewives, decided that fat was bad and so the meats we buy are lean and it is the fat that makes it tasty, tender and juicy. Then the USDA lowered the grading of beef so USDA “good” was moved up to USDA “choice” and that allowed grass fed cattle to grade “choice” but in truth it is more suited to dog food than our dinner tables. Next LBJ came up with the “Great Society”, and just look at what we have become, and along came food stamps which soon saw all food prices skyrocket. Food stamps was a good idea but there are side effects such as stamps buying other than food and now around half the population receiving them.

    While it’s nice to allow animals, such as chickens and cattle, to have freedom and let them be on range there are problems which make it not feasable and not economically viable. There is bird flu which is highly contagious and is borne by domestic fowl and wild birds and so chickens must be isolated from all sources of infection. Chicken farmers must practice strict bio-security. Hawks, owls, fox, dogs and other animals love a chicken dinner and owls have been known to wipe out entire houses full of chickens in a single night. I have lost chickens, goslings, ducks and turkeys due to owls, hawks, dogs and racoons.

    Animals running free are a danger to themselves and to humans. Chickens, dogs and deer are often killed by cars and in some cases an accident causes serious damage to the vehicle with the possibility of a human being injured or killed. Recently in Albany, NY a herd of buffalo got loose and they can knock over railroad cars and sadly they had to be destroyed.

    Farm animals need to be protected and handy to the farmer for care and feeding. Wild animals and birds need to be kept away from the feed as they will consume great amounts of food and money. Cattle have four stomachs and can make their own protein while most other amimals need a protein supplement. Raising day old chicks I don’t know of any other way but to start them on a growing mash and then later a laying mash. When we raised hogs they were on pasture but also were fed corn which produced wonderful pork. Yes, they had fat and we rendered fat and made lard. I still use lard and a few years ago bought a too fat hog which was delicious. A lot of waste because we didn’t eat all the fat on a pork chop but the hams and bacon I cured and smoked were outstanding. The solution is simple. If you don’t like fat, don’t eat it but don’t stop everyone else from having what they want. We buy a smoked ham and when you remove the rind there’s no fat and it seems all the store bought meat comes from Jenny Craig.

    There is no such thing as a “gamey flavor”. If the dead animal is cared for properly, here’s where the work comes in, cleaning the inside, skinning, removing any bloodshot meat and with racoons removing all the fat and glands, cooling the meat and refrigerating and finally preparing it properly which means treat it like any other good meat. I bone out my venison and all scraps are made into hamburger. I don’t waste an ounce of meat. Hamburger can be used just as if it were ground beef, a plain hamburger not overcooked or in meat sauce or anywhere else. The chops not overcooked and salt and pepper is enough. Pot roast is great. Pot roasted racoon or possum in a pressure cooker is wonderful. Beef and venison should be aged for around a month at a temperature just above freezing to tenderize and bring out the true flavor but our beef is not aged anymore and the ambient temperature in this area is far too warm to let a deer hang outdoors for any time at all.

    Sad as it is deer must be controlled and that is by hunting. When you look on your field of soybeans and see 15 or more deer eating away it’s not a pleasant sight and when you run your combine where they were feeding and have nothing but bare earth and weeds you know they have cost you a bundle.

  3. David Ulrich on May 4th, 2015 1:49 pm

    While I am sure that the author has the best intentions, this article has a lot of misleading information in it. First of all, the Weston A. Price Foundation was taken over by the animal agriculture industry long ago. Their mission is to promote meat consumption by any means necessary. We are told here that people eating a plant-based diet will be deficient in Vitamins A, K, D, and B12. Well, let’s look at that.

    Vitamin A: A 3.5 ounce serving of ground beef contains 0 International Units (IU) of Vitamin A, whereas a medium-size carrot contains 10,191 IU, or 203% of the Recommended Daily Allowance.

    Vitamin D: a serving of ground beef contains 7 IU of Vitamin D, whereas a serving of grilled portobello mushroom contains 17 IU. It is further disingenuous to suggest that people can only get Vitamin D from its natural source, the sun, at noon during the summer. There are many factors determining the amount of Vitamin D absorbed at any given time. These include the amount of skin exposed, the duration of exposure, and the pigment content of the skin. However, in London in the dead of winter a person would only need to expose their face and arms to sunlight for a little over an hour a day to get 100% of their Vitamin D from sunshine.

    Vitamin K: A serving of beef contains 17 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin K, whereas cup of spinach contains 889 mcg — well more than the RDA.

    And lastly, Vitamin B12: A 3-ounce chicken breast contains only 5% of the RDA for B12, and a 5 1/4 ounce filet mignon contains 1.4 mcg of B12. That is only 23% of the RDA. To get your RDA for B12 from steak you would have to eat 15 ounces a day. That much meat would put you at almost 150% of the daily allowance for saturated fat and cholesterol. B12 does not come from meat. It is a byproduct of bacteria. It is modern sanitation which has removed B12 from our diet — not a cow deficiency. The ongoing Framingham Offspring Study found 39% of the US population sub-normal, while 16% had blood levels below 185 pmol/L. Experts suggest that levels below 185 are deficient. Interestingly, the researchers found no correlation between the amount of meat eaten and the level of B12, suggesting that B12 at best has limited bio-availability from meat sources. Most health experts recommend everyone supplement with B12. I am unaware of anyone who recommends eating a pound of meat a day in the hope that you might be able to get it there.

    Weston’s research was limited at best and highly flawed. We know where the longest-lived, healthiest people on the planet live and what they eat. All of them get most of their calories from eating plants. And none of them get more than 10% of their calories from meat. Clearly, eating lots of meat to try and satisfy nutritional requirements which are better met by eating plants is not the answer.

  4. Jack Demamp on May 5th, 2015 8:57 am

    Really the only thing that a vegetarian diet doesn’t provide you is omega 3 fatty acids, fish being a great source. Look at the people in Okinawa, they are some of the healthiest folks on the planet. Fish, whole grains, veggies, soy products, squid and octopus. Longer lives, less chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease, etc.).

  5. Karen Gay on May 5th, 2015 2:46 pm

    Mr. Ulrich, your statement that the “Weston A. Price Foundation was taken over by the animal agriculture industry long ago” is just plain silly. First of all, the Foundation has only been in place since 1999. It is a relatively small organization that gets by on member subscriptions. I know, because I am a chapter leader in this area and have attended a multitude of seminars and conventions given by the Foundation’s leaders. We advocate a well-rounded traditional diet consisting of properly prepared grains, seeds, vegetables, and yes, animal products. However, those animal products might just as well be fish, fish oil, raw milk and cream as beef, pork, and venison. If you look at Sally Fallon’s (the founder and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation) seminal book, Nourishing Traditions, you will find recipes ranging from vegetable salads, cultured dairy products, fish, poultry, game, grains, and legumes.

    My article discusses meat and animal products. I agree that beef contains very little vitamin A. However, other animal products such as shellfish, fish eggs, butter, cream, egg yolks, liver and animal fat contain vitamin A. An important part of the section on vitamin A was the fact that the conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A is not efficient, especially for babies, children, diabetics, etc. Therefore, the fact that a carrot contains 10,191 IU of vitamin A has very different consequences for a child or a diabetic and a healthy adult. A healthy adult would likely reap less than 500 IU of vitamin A from the beta-carotene supplied by the carrot.

    Regarding your statement on vitamin D, it is unlikely that people will expose their arms and face to the sun in the dead of winter, thus we need to consider how to ingest suitable forms of vitamin D. The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends the use of cod liver oil on a daily basis which provides at least 1,360 IU per tablespoon.

    The vitamin K that you cite in your reply represents K1, not K2. However, it does appear that there is controversy over whether vitamin K1 can convert to vitamin K2 in humans. This we’ll have to leave up to the scientists and time.

    I agree that it appears that vitamin B12 is difficult to absorb and no one in his right mind would want to eat a pound of meat. Instead, the Foundation suggests that people eat liver at least once a week. One chicken liver contains 7.41 mcg of vitamin B12 which is more than the RDA and there are no adverse effects to eating more than the RDA.

    The Weston A. Price Foundation is all about eating food that is nutrient dense and will provide people with the vitamins and minerals that they need to live energetic lives. To read more about how the Foundation views vegetarians take a look at this link:

  6. David Ulrich on May 5th, 2015 2:51 pm

    @Jack Demamp — Nonsense! Plants contain the proper amount of fatty acids in the correct proportions for proper human nutrition. It is only when people mess it up with unnatural vegetable oils that it can get out of balance. I do agree on the people of Okinawa, who live primarily on plant foods. There is no disagreement among researchers that a small amount of animal foods less than 10% of calories is not detrimental to health. But the question is, why would you want to since it is unnecessary for optimum health?

  7. Jack Demamp on May 5th, 2015 4:54 pm

    David — [In answer to your question,] because it’s so darn tasty! Especially the fish!

    According to one report I read, Okinawans diet:
    72% veggies, grain, fruit
    14% soy & seaweed
    11% fish
    3% meat, dairy, eggs

  8. Dana Lascu on May 6th, 2015 11:36 am

    I’ll have my nutrient-dense meal medium-rare, please.