Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Meat is Good For You. Except When it's Full Of Hormones, Which are Bad For You. And it's Always Full Of Hormones.

I'll give Abi the hat tip for this one, although the article's already at the top of the NY Times "most emailed" list. But I read it on Nanopolitan first.

Let's put it this way: when I began this blog, Michael Pollin had just written the NYT article "Unhappy Meal" (I'd link, but you'd have to pay $15.95 to read it, so... won't bother). Pollin told us all that meat was full of chemicals and hormones and that we shouldn't eat it.

Since this correlated with some other articles I had recently read (in particular the scary article linking hormone-laden meat to early-onset puberty in children -- sometimes as early as age 5), and since finding non-hormone-laden meat in a supermarket is just about hard as finding non-sweatshop-labor clothing, I began to switch to a "flexitarian" diet, which quickly became a vegetarian one after I began to notice dramatic changes in my health and physiognomy.

Skeptics, however, correlated this change not to my vegetarianism, but to the fact that I had taken up cooking and had stopped eating this kind of garbage.

Anyway. Pollin's article stayed at the top of the NYT "most emailed" list for weeks; but now Nina Planck provides a different, equally scientific reason as to why we should eat meat, and her article has jumped into the lead.

Technically Planck's article is an argument as to why we should eat animal-based protein, as she notes that certain cultures (care to take a guess?) have been vegetarian for hundreds of years, with no ill effects. But she's pushing the meat, and the simple fact that humans -- particularly baby humans, who need meat the most -- "are built from protein, calcium, cholesterol and fish oil."

(Fish oil????)

So. What's a girl to do? Continue her regularly scheduled cookingventures, or grab a nice recipe for chicken biryani?

Truth be told, after I read Planck's article I went out and had a turkey sandwich for dinner. With bacon. And it tasted... bad. Like S. says: "When you eat meat in America you can taste the chemicals."

And thus, the conundrum: is chemically-laden meat better than no meat at all? What about soy, which (if you'll note the scary article again) contains a good chunk of synthetic ingredients proven to increase the production of hormones in the body? What about eggs, with their own set of hormones (not to mention the e. coli)? What about beans, and their proven link to musicality?

Has anyone yet found anything icky associated with dal?


Anonymous said...


been a vegetarian all my life, ate mostly Indian food for the first 23 years of it...now I eat any cuisine, as long as it is veggie...I don't know of any ill-effects of a balanced diet - I think the keyword is balanced - so even if you do eat meat, as long as you accompany it with suitable proportions of carbs etc. I imagine you'll be fine. Since you've made such a good start with cooking Indian food, maybe you can cook meat Indian style as well - and from what I got from carnivorous friends, the dish with meat in in was one item on the menu, maybe 3 times a week at most - even in wealthy households...that sounds a lot healthier than the std. American diet. One point to consider though - if you have weaned yourself off meat now, perhaps you shouldn't start again just before going to India? Most travel forums seem to indicate that meat dishes are the ones that cause problems for unwary stomachs in India...and your options for cheap veggie food are so many in India - I don't know what the same would be for meat...as for eggs - the local Costco carries a brand of eggs that it proudly claims as hormone free/organic etc. How about something like that? And I didn't think ecoli survived cooling fully...make "egg burji" - very cheap and filling, perfect student food, when eaten with noodles (Maggi!) and toast!


Ennis said...

She wasn't arguing against ovo-lacto veg, she was arguing veganism, especially for pregnant women. As a matter of fact, she says:

Indigenous cuisines offer clues about what humans, naturally omnivorous, need to survive, reproduce and grow: traditional vegetarian diets, as in India, invariably include dairy and eggs for complete protein, essential fats and vitamins. There are no vegan societies for a simple reason: a vegan diet is not adequate in the long run.

So she's arguing against a pure plant food diet. You're fine as long as you eat eggs and cheese, etc.

Abi said...

I too came here to say that Planck's op-ed was specific to vegan diet for pregnant women and for babies, but Ennis beat me to it.

While Planck seems to be pushing a carnivore agenda, she also seems to be okay with vegetarian diets which include dairy products (and in some cases, eggs). It's pure veganism she's against.

BTW, here's a working (non-paywall) link to Pollan's article.

Blue said...

Ennis and Abi -- yeah, I know that Planck's article is about pregnant women and babies. (Under the Bush admin. I am officially designated as "pre-pregnant," but that's another story.)

I should go back and re-tweak this one because I meant for the point of the thing to be something more along the lines of "animal protein is necessary but meat is full of hormones, eggs are full of hormones +bacteria, cheese is full of hormones+saturated and chemical fats, etc."

And -- despite Planck's writing primarily about babies we can apply her concerns to the diets of adult humans, yes? Or no? Vegans do survive (and they would say thrive) after all.

Bitterlemons -- thanks! Your advice makes sense, and I like the suggestion for egg burji. S. is urging me to try it as well. ^__^

Blue said...

Oh, and Abi, super thanks for the Pollin link. ^__^

Abi said...

Do check out Jeff's comment. In addition to criticizing Planck's article (and questioning her methodology), he also offers a couple of links about the adequacy (and advocacy, too!) of vegan diets -- even for pregnant women and toddlers.