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Why I don’t eat meat: non-issue1: health

posted by Joshua on December 20, 2011 in Blog, Fitness, Nature
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Following up yesterday’s post on liberating ourselves from moralists, meddlers, and others who want to impose their subjective values on us in the name of objective truth, let’s start with health since I listed it as the first non-issue two days ago.

First, nobody chooses what they eat solely for health, so claiming to eat meat or not as a wholesale policy based on health is a red herring.

Next, let’s look at what I claim is a typical example of someone claiming health as a foundation for eating meat or not. This example goes one way, but it ones in the other direction go the same.

In graduate school I knew a guy who claimed eating meat was necessary for life. We had a conversation like this.

“Some nutrients exist only in meat. If you don’t eat it you’ll die.”

“Well, I haven’t eaten meat in over five years and I feel fine.”

“It can happen slowly.”

“In that time I’ve run a marathon, played Ultimate Frisbee at Nationals and Worlds levels, got into a PhD program in physics, and more. When will this problem kick in?”

“It may take decades.”

“You mean it may take 80 years?”

“Yes, it might.”

Is the idiocy of this guy’s argument apparent? First, he claimed to help me, unasked. Second, he had no basis for his claims. Third, he claimed something crazy — that the problem could take longer than my lifetime to happen.

And he was in a PhD program at Columbia University. In a science!

If he had cited sources, and I’ve read countless, I guarantee the error bars would have been so large as to make them irrelevant. And no scientific study on the necessity of eating meat can overcome the billion odd population of India, a large fraction of which don’t eat meat.

No appeals to science to say meat is necessary or poisonous can withstand that the complexity of our bodies makes perfect understanding impossible. More importantly, too many counterexamples exist of the billions of people who did or didn’t eat meat and lived healthily their whole lives. For that matter too many counterexamples of each group that lived unhealthily exist too.

By no means do meat eaters have a monopoly on idiocy. People who don’t eat meat talk about the healthiness of plants and fungi, as if the world isn’t covered with people who eat meat. As if a plant or mushroom being healthy made meat unhealthy.

Bottom line

You can live as healthy or unhealthy a life as you want eating meat or not.

For that matter, health doesn’t have to do with why most of us choose what we eat most of the time anyway.

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