Are you Vegetarian or Meat Eater?
By Annie Berryhill
The debate over which is the healthiest, Vegetarian or Meat Eater is a very hot topic , and from what I have seen and heard, people have VERY strong opinions. Most Crossfit people are completely subscribed to one side of the debate.
But get outside of the community and you will find a ton of different opinions. Some of that is based on ethical reasons, like the way animals are reported to be raised and slaughtered for food. But aside from moral or ethical reasons, is there really a difference? Lets take a look at arguments for both sides. Then, share your opinion, or experience with either.
On the Vegetarian side, the big authority to site is the book called The China Study. The book is all about how consuming any type of animal fat or protein is the reason for high cholesterol, heart disease and essentially the destruction of the human race. The diet consists of vegetables, no dairy, and everything that is not sourced from an animal.
The Pro Side says: Animal products are dangerous to consume and cutting them out and instead getting your macronutrient requirements from fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta, rice will make you healthy.
The Con Side says: Basically that a diet that lacks animal derived proteins and fats is a diet that will leave the user unhealthy and lacking in many key components to support and sustain a healthy body. In addition, the author of the China study makes all of his recommendations based on the study he did that was almost completely observational science, not science based on actual numbers and hard facts.
On the opposite side, The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf is all about eating high quality, free-range meat, organic vegetables, plenty of saturated fat (even from animal sources). A large part of this type of eating is based on keeping the blood sugar/insulin system in check and at healthy levels. Dr. Eades and Gary Taubes also have much to say about this topic each from a slightly different perspective.
For them, it is all about blood sugar balance. Insulin overproduction is the enemy and it is controlled by limiting carb intake, using primarily veggies and low sugar fruit. This is the primary nutrition prescription for most people in Crossfit for sure. Though there are always Vegans/ Vegetarians trying to figure out how to get leaner, stronger, more densely muscular without animal protein.
Sometimes we make decisions by just believing what someone writes. But ultimately, isn’t the better way to read, apply, learn and adjust? I know which camp I am in, and what has worked for me and a majority of people that I spend time with.
What about you? Tell me which you are and why;
(If you put them in the comment box, we can start the debate thread there!)
Omnivore or Vegetarian?
Low Fat or Plenty of Fat (saturated and mono)?
Processed Carbs or Non- Processed Carbs?
Scroll to the bottom to the comment box…
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Anne (Annie) Berryhill is a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer, USA Weightlifting Sports Perfomance Coach, Crossfit Athlete and competitor who owns and operates OC Fitness Revival in Orange County, CA. Services include personal and group training, nutrition classes and counseling, as well as providing incredible health-improving supplements to help people to make the most out of what they’ve got.
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"China study is based on 'observational science, not science based on actual numbers and hard facts.'"
Curious what the difference between observational science and science based on numbers/facts.
In the end, it's all about peer review. Peer review starts to weed out any bad reasoning.
Here’s Dr. Eades take on all of the China Study stuff
Excellent article Anne…I am a fan of 'Balance in Life' so that would also apply to 'Diet'. I respect both sides of argument but eating right for my 'Blood Type' requires a healthy balance! …Thank you, Hughie
Great article! So many people wonder about this very debate! After nearly 40 clinical years experience, we would have to agree that what you noted as the Crossfit primary nutrition prescription is right on target for strong healthy bodies for a lifetime.
So my answer is YES we eat meat and vegetables! BOTH are ideal for health and longevity! 75-85% veggies and low-sugar fruits, 15-25% lean proteins, eggs, organic dairy, wild fish. (Besides, when one takes a poll of most vegetarians or vegans, as a whole the majority actually eat very few vegetables, mostly grains! As you already know, leaving off meat and animal sourced foods does not make one a vegetarian… eating vegetables does!) Eat your veggies! Thanks for a great article and conversation starter.
I am all for balance; Jesus ate meat and that is my example, which means to choose untampered, nutrient-dense foods. Avoiding foods that have been processed or refined and choosing foods that are in a natural and fresh state. That is what my family goes by! Grea article and I agree there is so much written about it by experts and non-experts whch makes it sometimes very confusing. Thanks Anne
I always giggle a bit when someone looks at a plant based meal and asks, "where's the protein?"
There are many protein regulations given by different organizations. The organization that recommends the highest amount of protein says that we should be getting 10% of our calories from protein. Most vegetables and fruit contain around 10% protein, with the exception of corn, apples and a few others. Spinach is made up of over 40% protein. As long as someone is eating a VARIED plant based diet (ie, not eating the same foods all the time, but getting a great variety), they are getting more than enough protein to sustain a strong body – even if they are athletes looking to build muscle.
Great article Annie! I tend to believe that balance is best!
I'm still hanging in the middle regarding diet. I've always been a proponent of taking the middle path with many subjects, including diet. The reason is that there are so many variants to take into account and most studies seem to neglect something!
I enjoy eating a great many foods in limited amounts and that includes dessert!
We are generally meat eaters that eat tons of veggies too. Love my spinach etc.
Annie, I’m a bunny — I eat like a rabbit. Totally feel great this way and no shortage of energy–maybe enough for two. Love my fresh organic fruits and vegetables an obsessed over beautiful produce display of fresh ones. I immediately whip out my camera and take pictures. Can’t help it. Did it recently at hotel breakfast too.
Wow so much information to digest (no pun intended)! I have noticed the older I get the less I care for meat. On the flip side I tend to crave a lot of pasta based dishes. But my all time favorite is a huge garden salad with grilled shrimp…now I am hungry!! Great article, thanks for sharing!
I eat meat but small portions. I did try vegetarian for a year and loved it. Found it more expensive and difficult with entertaining. Interesting thing I saw on Dr. Oz, was the heat used to cook, high temperatures changes the chemicals which can be carcinogenic. Wow, sure is difficult to figure out how to eat healthy!