To Vegetate or Not
Are you low on energy, stressed, facing chronic illness or aging faster than you feel you should be (or would like to) or just not feeling like you did ten years ago or up to par mentally? Here's some possible solutions.
Our newspaper, The Miami Herald, recently ran an article on a group of students attending an alternative school who were challenged to become vegans or vegetarians for one month. As some in the culinary class progressed with their change in diet, others joined in. The results were astounding! Most reported more energy, less need for sleep, and increased vitality. Some reported that running laps, lifting weights and other exercises left them less tired, and many athletes stated that being on this diet had them "chewing up the competition". They also reported their minds were clearer -- in fact, one instructor reported that no one in her class got less than 85 on the final exam. Are these privileged kids from intellectual families who can be easily motivated? No, most of them had been sent to this school by the court system! Now that the month is over, many plan to stay on the diet permanently, which included 8 glasses of water a day, something very few of us find easy to do.
It's true that meats, milk and even eggs can carry many traces of hormones and antibiotics as well as harmful germs. These high protein foods are harder on the kidneys, harder to digest, and many have gotten a bad rap from highly respected sources, such as Dr. Weil.
Meats are harder to digest, and often have a higher fat content (of the worst kind) adding to the burden on the heart and circulation. Dr. Pritikin was one of the pioneers in a modified partial vegetarian diet; he was widely ridiculed for some years until the evidence became overwhelming that his approach pulled thousands back from the brink of heart disease, kidney failure and many other ailments that ruin the quality of life or end it early.
While vegans avoid all animal based foods, as well as many other artificial flavorings and the like, many vegetarians pick and choose among milk products, eggs and even fish, a healthy choice. Pritikin, for instance advises using meat and even other high protein sources almost as sparingly as seasonings, removing every trace of visible fat in the process. In fact, following Pritikin's diet is the only way I have ever been able to actually lose weight!
While some people have gone vegetarian or vegan because of animal rights issues, others have joined the ranks because of the benefits to their own health. This is not something you can jump into by picking your favorites among the non-animal food sources and eating just those. Doing so may push you right into a deficiency of some kind. You still need a balanced diet, and if you change to this philosophy of eating, you need to do some research. If you have any serious health problems, you'll wish to either consult a dietitian or other expert and/or run the diet past your own personal physician (who may, however, pour cold water on it or refuse to listen, due to personal prejudice, lack of information or shortage of time).
If you're not quite ready to go all the way (vegetarian, we mean), at least follow the advice I've given over and over and over..... eat your veggies. And fruits. And beans and good stuff. Avoid junk food. And look into vegetarianism to see if you want to at least go part of the way towards better health, higher performance and clearer thinking.