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  1. #1
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    Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    It's time to kick the high-protein diet habit ? before it kills you
    by Holly Baxter, The Guardian
    March 5, 2014

    Whenever I order a veggie burger, the question comes up. A member of the group will lean over between tearing meaty chunks out of their double-beef special, and make a concerted effort to feign benevolent interest as they ask: "So, you're a vegetarian, are you? Is that because you prefer it or for, well, ethical reasons?" Here, the questioner is offering the questioned a polite way out. It is phrased so you can apologetically gesticulate towards your halloumi and mutter something self-deprecating about a weak stomach and a delicate constitution. You can chow down quietly on your balls of fried falafel and then scuttle off with your quiet personal views about factory farm conditions, global warming and antibiotic overuse like someone who secretly believes in a particularly suspect 9/11 conspiracy theory. Either that or you can admit that your food choices are, yes, "technically for ethical reasons", and then endure the 212th exhaustive conversation about exactly why you stick to them. Inevitably, this will end up with some well-informed carnivore telling you all about how you are a hypocrite for eating cheese while bacon fat drips slowly down his chin.

    Personally, I am completely on board with the idea that most of my views are hypocritical while I still buy butter and enjoy mozzarella. I accept that my position on food is complicated, as well as everybody else's, and I couldn't care less about the bacon fat or the spaghetti bolognese or the rare steak being consumed next to me. Like the majority of people in Sudbury, Suffolk, I don't think that butcher's shops should have their dead animal displays censored when all they do is quite rightly draw attention to the reality of where meat comes from. And to be perfectly honest, a sizeable chunk of my reasoning for vegetarianism comes from a selfish place: I've always had the vague notion that meat ? and, in particular, red meat or processed meat ? doesn't do the human body much discernible good.

    According to the latest study into protein consumption, it turns out that this theory may well have something to it. The National Health and Nutrition Survey has been collating data on 6,381 people across the US, and found that diets rich in animal protein (as opposed to protein routinely taken from plant sources) could be as harmful to health as other vices such as smoking. Those under the age of 65 who regularly consume a lot of meat, eggs and dairy are four times more likely to die of cancer or diabetes ? although it's worth noting that, if you make it to 66, beginning to eat a high-protein diet for your remaining years is a better shout than sticking with the steamed kale.

    Perhaps you would accuse me of perpetuating the "everything gives you cancer" agenda. But it's not only sensationalist carcinogenic claims that deserve attention in light of these findings. Consider the diets endlessly touted in women's magazines and the most successful self-help books of the late 20th and early 21st century: the Dukan diet, for instance; the internationally renowned Atkins plan; and of course "going paleo". All of these emphasise a drastic cut in carbohydrate intake and a regular protein overload. All of them claim to base their advice on medicine (and, in the case of the paleo diet, sketchy pseudo-scientific claims about what we are "naturally intended" to eat if we are to "mimic the diets of our caveman ancestors".) Now it turns out that losing all that weight for your health might be backfiring spectacularly, taking months of your life off with every spare tyre you shed.

    Having been raised in a vehemently anti-veggie northern English city on a steady diet of chicken nuggets and turkey dinosaurs, years before Jamie Oliver began to suggest there was anything wrong with feeding kids the components of dog food, I don't expect to reap the benefits of a lifelong healthy diet anytime soon, either. But if it's true that 39% of women report being on a diet "most of the time", and that the average woman spends 31 years on a diet, then we in particular are setting ourselves up for serious middle-aged falls.

    Where protein shakes for "bulking up" and adverts that demand to know whether or not a passerby is "man enough" to eat a five-tiered burger have remained masculine domains since time immemorial, the high-protein dieting phenomenon is fairly new for women. The long-term effects haven't emerged in enough numbers to draw definite conclusions, but this latest finding shouldn't be ignored. It is a credible warning about a society currently obsessed with protein and weight loss, operating in meat production hyperdrive with some of the most accessible fast food that ever existed.

    Ultimately, it makes no difference whether you did it for the love of fluffy lambs in spring or deep-seated narcissism combined with a fierce survival instinct: the fact is you should probably eat less meat. You may well have to face a couple of awkward questions over a bowl of hummus, but hey, we all have our crosses to bear. And so, for the love of the NHS, please consign your well-thumbed paleo book to the dustbin. Because it turns out that you may be taking its simpering promises to make you thinner literally at your own peril.

  2. #2
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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    Every day billions of poor helpless plants and vegetables are slaughtered

    I'm going to save a plant today: Going to Harvey's for lunch but no lettuce on my burger

  3. #3
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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    I became a vegetarian over 20 years ago because of Peter Singer -- a philosopher/professor who wrote a lot against animal cruelty. Ironically, he doesn't have the same compassion for humans, especially those with disabilities. Many have said he has been in his ivory tower too long.

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    Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    Not sure if you know or like the musician Moby but he writes a lot about being a vegetarian or vegan for that reason - animal cruelty.

    I'm not a vegetarian although I do struggle with the animal rights issues and I think that some of the ways mega-farms in particular treat animals bred for food is utterly appalling and unconscionable. Converting to vegetarianism or veganism does require extra work and extra vigilance to ensure that one gets the needed nutrients, though.

    Like Holly Baxter in the article above (no relation by the way, as far as I know), my current focus is more on reducing beef consumption especially for health and environmental reasons. Beef farms take a lot of real estate and are not even close to being environmentally friendly.

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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    Some "caught on video" incidents I saw on the news in the last year in a couple poultry establishments was quite troubling etc.

    I too have cut back on red meat for health reasons but what really helped cut back is the insane prices of beef lately.

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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryQ View Post
    but what really helped cut back is the insane prices of beef lately.
    Don't get me started on the prices of fake hot dogs, burger patties, etc., often still made out of the same ingredients as cheap dog food (soy, wheat gluten, etc).

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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    Well, yes. But cutting back on meat doesn't mean you have to eat fake meat, right?

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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    Yes, I see them as more like training wheels for the new vegetarians/vegans. My husband though still likes the fake ground beef as ground beef was the only meat he ate before becoming a vegetarian. When I met him, he had a beef cow as a pet in the backyard

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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel View Post
    Yes, I see them as more like training wheels for the new vegetarians/vegans.
    Now, THAT is hilarious!

  10. #10
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    Re: Kick the high-protein diet habit before it kills you

    By the way, I have found it helpful to think of healthy vegetarian diets as usually starch-based diets, and that is one way of eating affordably and healthy at the same time:

    The food industries’ goals have been, and always will be, to entice the consumer to eat more meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and processed foods because those are the high profit items. Rice, corn, and potatoes are plentiful, easy to grow, and cheap.

    https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2009nl/feb/starch.htm

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