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Nov. 16th, 2003 | 01:54 am
mood: frustratedfrustrated

When people talk about things where I have a minority opinion and am emotionally committed to my point of view, instead of trying to convince people of my point of view I just sit and stew in my silence.

One common frustration I have had is with religion–many seemed to find it helps them somehow where I tend to see religion and as a yoke that has shackled humanity.

But the issue I actually want to complain about is the Atkins diet. Considering the British Food Standards Agency felt the need to criticize the diet I can safely assume that many people are following it.



After an entire collective of friends converted to it, I started wondering about the environmental costs of the Atkins diet. Since it encourages eating more meat and cheese, both of which are require more land per delivered calorie than vegetarian diets, I wondered how many more people are going to be starving to death from grain shortages. How many more hectares are going to be plowed under to provide the additional grain to feed the cattle. How much biodiversity will be lost in those monoculture fields?

And if you think I'm exaggerating about people dying because of eating habits, consider World Facing Fourth Consecutive Grain Harvest Shortfall. The 2003 grain harvest fell short of consumption by 93 million tons. (out of approximately 1800 million tons)

From this site I found a chart showing that the affluent AKA "typical american" takes about 1500 kg /year of grain equivalent while the vegetarian diet only takes a little under 500 kg. (It seems to me like the Atkins diet is even worse than the "typical american diet". (Though for the individual it is somewhat better as it forbids several classes of exceptionally bad for you foods).

Switching to a vegetarian diet is an important part of getting our consumption under our supply. (Alternative solutions include things like hoping HIV/AIDS manages to wipe out enough of humanity to drop us back under the current carrying capacity).

One of the recent estimates for the carrying capacity for Earth would be about 2 billion or one-thirds of the current population, if everyone ate like the "typical american". Which would mean that out of every group of 3 people, 2 of them would need to die to push demand back below the available supply.

Also vegetarianism can be much healthier than meat eating.

Even excluding the problem of how persistent organic pollutants move up the food chain (and thus collect in the tissues of meat, allowing meat eaters to enjoy a more concentrated supply of dioxin, etc). Vegetarians have health advantages with respect to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

And I just found a reference that suggests Rhumatoid arthritis treated with vegetarian diets

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Comments {16}

[you'll find a light, find a friend, find a way]

(no subject)

from: artemii
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 01:59 am (UTC)
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i quite literally don't even understand the self-contained "logic" of diets like atkins. i don't get how eating more meat and cheese (or whatever) is supposed to make you healthier! and i've yet to meet a person who follows a low-carb diet and eats primarily non-animal sources of protein.

you've mentioned the RA link before. :) as i said then, many people have had especially good results with vegan diets; dairy seems to make many peoples' RA much worse.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 02:05 am (UTC)
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Actually in the aforementioned cluster of friends one of them is a vegetarian and has been able to conform to both diets. (Though he is eating cheese.)

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[you'll find a light, find a friend, find a way]

(no subject)

from: artemii
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 02:08 am (UTC)
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i personally don't know anyone. :) what does he eat then, other than cheese? how is he getting complete dietary enzymes, etc. on a low-carb vege diet?

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 02:24 am (UTC)
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I don't know if he's actually getting enough nutrients or not. (Actually I'm not even really sure what he's eating.)

I've seen him eat nuts, a salad, various processed atkins diet snack foods, and veggie dogs.

Before the atkins thing he was more of the cheese and pasta kind of vegetarian.

He's also tends to complain about the deprevation of the atkins diet far more than the carnivores.

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(no subject)

from: musicwomyn
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 02:10 am (UTC)
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I don't understand dieting, in general. No diet has been proven to work in a healthy way for long periods of time. The Atkins diet is known for causing cholestoral and heart disease problems [considering the diet is primarily fat based (and animal fat, at that)]. Of course you will lose weight if you don't eat carbs. You can also lose weight from getting cancer, but we don't advocate that as a dieting option.

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[you'll find a light, find a friend, find a way]

(no subject)

from: artemii
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 02:15 am (UTC)
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I don't understand dieting, in general

me either, but that seemed a digression. :)

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 02:20 am (UTC)
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Eating whole vegetarians foods that are largely unprocessed does help with weight loss. (Mostly because it's hard to eat enough of those kinds of foods to get too many calories.)

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Usqueba

(no subject)

from: usqueba
date: Nov. 17th, 2003 08:07 pm (UTC)
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Eating whole vegetarians foods that are largely unprocessed does help with weight loss

The "caveman" diet. If people way back then didn't eat it, neither can you. Processing stuff is one of the WORST things you can do to food. It adds fat, takes out nutrients, adds additives and other weird stuff. The more "raw" it is, the better you can digest it, etc.

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her other side

(no subject)

from: saltbox
date: Nov. 17th, 2003 07:29 am (UTC)
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My s.o., though not on any diet like Atkins, tends in general to limit his intake of carbs.[*] He also primarily eats non-animal sources of protein, and not all that much cheese. Right now, he's on a big seitan kick (mostly the canned chili mock chicken we get at the local Chinatown). He eats a ton of green veggies, too, mostly spinach and broccoli and stuff. When he does eat starchy stuff, it tends to be the more high-protein grains, like quinoa.

[*] He claims it has something to do with when he's on the training portion of his running rather than the race portion of running, when he does load up on carbs. Don't ask me, I find the whole marathoning thing unfathomable. But I don't find his diet to be all that detrimental to the environment, so I'm not quibbling.

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Bolowolf

Diet shmiet

from: bolowolf
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 08:58 am (UTC)
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Diet's don't make any sense to me either. I don't believe what the FDA has to say about food. What I do know is that if I try to keep myself informed about general health information, eat in moderation, and make the best decisions I can my body is usually pretty happy with that. I still have my own food issues, I'm no saint there, but it seems too many people get overreactive about diets/food. That's of course not even taking into consideration spiritual beliefs about the food we eat.

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Life Rebooted

(no subject)

from: hopeforyou
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 11:06 am (UTC)
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I totally see your point and agree with it -- eating more meat means using more arable land for animals rather than crops. And going on the Atkins diet has the potential to be quite unhealthy for some people -- especially if done improperly -- like eating so much protein and not consuming enough water, thus screwing one's kidneys (not to mention the heart-related problems you cite).

However -- outside of using high protein diets for weight loss -- there is proof that the high protein, low carbohydrate diet actually helps people with diabetes or insulin resistance, and women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Most vegetables are high in carbohydrates -- as are grains -- so meat (and some nuts) has a very low glycemic index and doesn't break down into sugars like carbs.

I am in the unfortunate position of having to adhere to a meat-centric diet though I would much prefer to be vegetarian. I have had to make a choice between my individual health and eating vegetarian so I can do other things to help the environment and other people. I try to lessen the damage by buying free range meat only and organic produce -- and not supporting factory farms and major pesticide users.

I haven't found any way to do a meat-free diet and remain healthy. If I eat carb-centric food, my mind gets fuzzy and I get sluggish; I have little energy. It messes with my immune system, too. Outside of this, I'm not sure a lot of vegetarian options are going to work for me anyway: Gardenburgers contain mushrooms and I'm severely allergic to them; many veggie dishes contain fungi by default. I have a doctor who has advised I cut back on my dairy and avoid tofu. This doesn't leave me much in terms of proteinaceous food items as a vegetarian. =(

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 12:37 pm (UTC)
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I can't recommend The New Becoming Vegetarian any higher. Though this review of the previous edition does point out that it could be more in depth.

My first time I tried being vegetarian I just cut out meat and substituted in more breads, pasta and cheese which wasn't that healthy.

After reading this book I learned that I should include nuts and seeds in addition to vegetables and whole grains. They're an excellent source of a number of trace nutrients as well as protein and "good" fats.

Also some vegetables are much higher in protein than one might expect. Broccoli, for instance, is surprisingly high at 34% protein, 9% fat, and 57% carbohydrate. Spinach is even higher at 40% protein, 11% fat, and 49% carbohydrate.

Lean ground beef for comparison is 37% protein, 63% fat, and 0% carbohydrate.

The chart I'm looking at (on pg 59) shows the recommended distribution being 10-20% protein, 15-35% fat, and 50-70% carbohydrate.

Alternatives to soy include come from the legume group, "For those who are keeping an eye on their weight, lentils, split peas, and most beans are extremely low in fat while high in protein, iron, zinc, and fiber. A lentil or bean soup or stew fills up and gives us staying power between meals"

Also this book stressed the importance of getting a source of B12 and if you're vegan omega-3 fatty acids.

I also found Vegan cooking for one helpful to push my cooking skills to include some better dishes.

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her other side

yet another post on seitan

from: saltbox
date: Nov. 17th, 2003 07:36 am (UTC)
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Outside of this, I'm not sure a lot of vegetarian options are going to work for me anyway: Gardenburgers contain mushrooms and I'm severely allergic to them; many veggie dishes contain fungi by default. I have a doctor who has advised I cut back on my dairy and avoid tofu. This doesn't leave me much in terms of proteinaceous food items as a vegetarian. =(

How about seitan? Though maybe it's not quite low in carbs for you---though lower in carbs than, say, actual wheat, it isn't carb-free. But it's yummy and picks up flavors pretty well.

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her other side

(no subject)

from: saltbox
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 11:09 am (UTC)
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Hey hey, you're not alone! Other friends of mine have been ranting about the environmental costs of the Atkins diet, too. (Though technically a vegetarian on the Atkins diet could just eat tofu.)

Argh, Atkins, SUVs, hummers---more and more people just don't seem to care about the broader effects of their actions.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 01:00 pm (UTC)
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I think the vegetarian atkinser might also be able to eat nuts too, but they wouldn't lose any weight.

I'm wondering if there are so many things clamoring to be cared about that they just snap and disconnect.

There's all the progressives saying that we need to do these x things to save the world, while the typical person is just struggling to survive the daily stresses of their life.

Another thing is by the time I was comfortable enough with my life-style changes to try and convince people to live like me I've already moved really far from the standard american lifestyle.

I suspect it might be intimidating to compare their current lives with someone whose been working at minimizing their environmental impact for many years.

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her other side

(no subject)

from: saltbox
date: Nov. 16th, 2003 01:13 pm (UTC)
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Which is why I'm happy when I can get people just to carpool or take public transit every now and then---it's not a full success, but it's better than nothing. And, hopefully, a step forward.

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