My 16-year old daughter Emma has been a vegetarian since age 11, and she loves to evangelize. When there’s a debate in a school class (it always seems to revolve around “where do you get your protein?”), she comes to me and asks for verbal ammo.
Right now she and I are both writing on our computers. She’s writing a speech for her AP Government class on the issue of government subsidies of the meat and dairy industries.
I suggested the topic and told her she would be outraged to study how our government is using our tax dollars: to fatten the wallets of our farmers with the biggest operations, the ones who already have incomes far surpassing affluent Americans. We heavily subsidize meat and dairy in the U.S. Meat would cost about $20/lb. if there were no government support. This makes sense when you consider that it takes 1,000 gallons of water, and 20 lbs. of plants, to raise one pound of meat!
Emma just came in my office to show me a graphic illustrating that only one-third of one percent of government subsidies go to fruit and vegetable growers. Over 75% of it goes to meat and dairy ranchers, and the rest goes to the wheat, soy, and corn that feeds the cattle and chickens.
Her thesis is that we could kill three birds with one stone, if you’ll forgive the pun. By eliminating subsidies on meat and dairy, the free market system will correct America’s health problems, the ways we grossly mistreat animals, and our obscene tax burden. Vegetables and fruits will cost $1/lb. and animal products will be exorbitantly expensive, so people will naturally begin to eat more plants and fewer animals.
Emma’s in love with this kid, the Vegetarian Athlete, and sent me this link.
This 21-year old college athlete is 6’6″ and has never eaten an animal in his life. He was taught from early childhood, “Animals are our friends, and we don’t eat our friends.” This became a core belief. Now he and his sister are adults and the idea of eating (pus-, antibiotic-, steroid-, growth-hormone-, bacteria-tainted) meat is unthinkable to them. Check out the chart his mom shows in the video, that the top 5 highest-protein foods are plant foods!
Protein is a non-issue, as he explains. Here’s my report on why we really don’t need to manipulate macronutrients to increase protein levels.
Emma printed off the chart of high-protein foods and supplied it to a girl at school named Vanessa, whom Emma recently converted to a meat-free diet. (Many people WANT to be converted—they just need a little pinkie push, in the form of some compelling information.)
Apparently Vanessa’s mom was resisting her vegetarianism, telling Vanessa she had to eat meat to be well nourished. Vanessa presented her mom the list showing grains and legumes and nuts among the highest-protein foods. And that did the trick! (Vanessa’s mom was once a 4th grade teacher at my children’s elementary school and even though she’s a kind and dedicated teacher, I requested the OTHER teacher, only to avoid all the candy-as-rewards in her classroom.) Even the educated among us, I find, have little knowledge about health and how critical nutrition is.
Another example of that, yesterday at the workout for my tennis club, one of the players was nagging our coach, Peter, to get a flu shot. After she walked away, I told him I’ve never been sick in my life like I was the winter in my 20′s when I was required to get that shot in order to work on the State Hospital for my 2nd year of practicum in grad school. I told him the vaccines are full of chemicals, plus dead bacteria from several flu strains, which does nothing to protect you from dozens of other strains. Both the coach and the player I’m describing have advanced degrees but they believe that injecting yourself with dead bacteria and chemicals will have some kind of positive effect on your health. More tomorrow.