Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
kotmj

kotmj's shift towards a meat-reduced diet: Sort of like a diary.

Recommended Posts

There are basically two things from which people die prematurely of. One are all the diseases linked to eating meat and dairy: metabolic syndrome, coronory heart disease, stroke, kidney failure. The other is cancer.

 

Avoiding the first is very straightforward. Eat less meat. As simple as this sounds, there is an accelerating trend of people dying prematurely from excessive meat consumption, even in Asia with its very old culinary traditions. How much less is little enough?

 

Well, most of the people in my parent's generation derive most of their calories from starches (more specifically, rice). So meat does not take center stage. But there is meat at every meal -- a meal without meat almost never happens and is unthinkable. Many people of my parent's generation have died or will die from eating meat. So we know that meat at every meal is too often.

 

If not at every meal, maybe once a day only? Or maybe every other day? Once a week?

 

"Never" is the wrong answer. Every civilization out there ate meat. In fact, if one stopped eating meat, the body has a way of removing buildups in the veins, which tell me that our bodies have evolved to deal with meat-eating. Just not the in quantity and frequency that we do today.

 

So empirically, I know that even a diet based on starches is not good enough if meat is present at every meal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I'm experimenting with is a primarily vegan diet that has meat in it infrequently, i.e. once a week. This doesn't mean I seek to eat meat once a week. It's just that I sometimes do "social eating", and it is no fun for those I eat with if I avoided all the meats and picked at the vegetables only.

 

I'm shooting for a diet that is very low in meat and which has an emphasis on starches and vegetables. It has been shown that cancer is suppressed by certain compounds found in plants. Anti-cancer compounds have not, so far, been found in animals. Every month, there seems to be a new "superfood" discovered by the American nutrition industry. Green tea is a good example. Even coffee is anti-cancer. Goji berries. Brocolli. The list goes on. I think the concept of superfood is nonsense. If they looked hard enough, I think they'll find that all plants help suppress cancer because plants bolster our immune system.

 

So it's about plants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is maybe my third week on such a diet. Many unexpected things:

 

a) Cleanup is a breeze. Vegetables and starches are mostly boiled, steamed, or simmered. Leafy greens are stir fried by the Chinese, but the process is different from stir frying meats -- it's almost a sort of "boiling in own juice" than a proper sautee with browning effect. So all the pots and pans and dishes are not greasy and cleanup is remarkable easy and fast.

 

b ) I was having dinner just now and asked myself if I wished for a meat dish. The answer was a no. I have no craving for meat so far.

 

c) There seems to be a shift in the taste perception, or palette. Vegetables now taste different to me. Only by dropping meat did I discover just how strong some vegetables taste. I think with my present re-calibrated palette, meat would taste overwhelming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't thought about eggs. I would treat them as meat.

 

I recall that I watched a documentary on TV of Japan's oldest man. It was many years ago. I don't remember much, but the guy had a daily ritual to which he attributes his longevity. He would drink a glass of milk and eat a banana between lunch and dinner. So a glass of milk a day seems to do no harm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was checking on what Mark Bittman is up to of late. He's a food writer for the NYT, and was the recipe guy. He'd do these little videos about how to cook this and that dish. One of them went mega-viral. It was a recipe for a bread that required no kneading. I've made that bread myself many times and let my German colleagues try it and they all adored it.

 

Well anyway, Bittman went vegan! No kidding. His latest book is "Eat Vegan Before 6:00". Here an excerp:

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Six years ago, the man I most trusted with my health said to me, “You should probably become a vegan.”
 
Not exactly the words I’d wanted to hear, and certainly not what I was expecting. But I’d asked Sid Baker, my doctor of thirty years, what he recommended, given that he’d just told me that at age 57, I had developed the pre-diabetic, pre-heart-disease symptoms typical of a middle-aged man who’d spent his life eating without discipline.
 
He’d laid out the depressing facts for me: “Your blood numbers have always been fine but now they’re not. You weigh 40 pounds more than you should. You’re complaining of sleep apnea. You’re talking about knee surgery, which is a direct result of your being overweight. Your cholesterol, which has always been normal up until now, isn’t. Same with your blood sugar; it’s moved into the danger zone.”

A more conventional doc would’ve simply put me on a drug like Lipitor, and maybe a low-fat diet. But Lipitor, one of the statin drugs that lowers cholesterol, is a permanent drug: Once you start taking it, you don’t stop. I didn’t like the idea of that. Furthermore, its effectiveness in healthy people has never been established, and it’s also been implicated in memory loss and other cognitive complications; I didn’t like the idea of any of that, either. And at this point, low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets have essentially been discredited: They might help you lose weight, but they’re not effective for maintaining that loss in the long term, and they may even wreak havoc on your system.
 
But becoming a vegan? A person who eats no animal products at all? Calling that a radical change to my lifestyle was more than a bit of an understatement. Yet it was clear that something had to be done. I asked Sid, “Is a compromise possible? Any other ideas?”
 
“You’re a smart guy,” he said. “Figure something out.”
 
I thought about this for a few days, and I recognized that what he was saying made sense. There are no silver bullets, and over the years it’s become increasingly clear—much as none of us wants to hear it—that the most sensible diet for human health and longevity is one that’s lower in animal products and junk food and higher in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and minimally processed grains.
 
I knew that, and I’m guessing you do, too. Yet the idea of becoming a full-time vegan was neither realistic nor appealing to someone accustomed to eating as widely and as well as I do. Furthermore, I had no interest in becoming an isolated vegan in a world of omnivores and—though I have vegan friends, to be sure—the world of omnivores is where I live. Full time.
 
Yes. I like vegetables and grains; I love them. I love tofu, too, when prepared well. Even back then, I was eating beans far more frequently than I ever had. But none of this got in the way of my enjoying pork shoulder, pizza, bacon, and burgers. I was not prepared to give up that kind of food. That sounded untenable and, more importantly, unsustainable for more than a couple of weeks.
 
So the question became: What could I do with the conflict between what was undoubtedly Sid’s very sound advice—“become a vegan”—and my own established, beloved, well-socialized lifestyle?
 
The answer, to me, was this: I’d become a part-time vegan. And for me, this part-time veganism would follow these simple rules: From the time I woke up in the morning until 6 in the evening, I’d eat a super-strict vegan diet, with no animal products at all.
 
In fact, I decided to go even beyond that: Until 6 p.m., I’d also forgo hyper-processed food, like white bread, white rice, white pasta, of course all junk food, and alcohol.
 
At 6 p.m., I’d become a free man, allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted, usually—but not always—in moderation. Some nights, this meant a steak dinner; some nights, it was a blow-out meal at a good restaurant; other nights, dinner was a tunafish sandwich followed by some cookies. It ran, and runs, the gamut.
 
Whatever happened at dinner, though, the next morning I turned not to bacon and eggs or a bowl of Trix but to oatmeal or fruit or vegetables. For lunch, rice and beans or a salad—or both. Throughout the day I snacked on nuts and more fruit.
 
I called the diet “vegan before six,” or VB6. And it worked.
 
A month later, I weighed myself; I’d lost 15 pounds. A month after that, I went to the lab for blood work: Both my cholesterol and my blood sugar levels were down, well into the normal range (my cholesterol had gone from 240 to 180). My apnea was gone; in fact, for the first time in probably thirty years, I was sleeping through the night, not even snoring. Within four months, I’d lost more than 35 pounds and was below 180—less than I’d weighed in thirty years. And the funny thing was, the way I ate in the daytime began to change the way I ate at night.
 
So why be vegan just until 6 o’clock? Am I suggesting that 6 p.m. is some kind of magical metabolic witching hour? Not at all. Truthfully, the hour itself doesn’t matter much, and if you habitually eat dinner very early, your plan may be VB5—or VB9, if you live in Spain. The point I was making to myself, and that I’m saying to you, is that dinnertime sets you free. Dinnertime, because that’s when you’re likely to want to eat the most, because that’s when you’re most likely to drink (and lose discipline!), because that’s when you’re most likely to combine eating with socializing, an important and even beneficial thing.
 
But even though the time itself is arbitrary, it has the power to make you stop and think before acting. In fact, the rules are what VB6 has in common with “regular” diets; because anyone can say (and many people do), “Eat sensibly, don’t overeat, increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, eat less junk and high-calorie, low-nutrition foods.” If it were that easy, there’d be no need for diets. But by telling you “Don’t eat animal products or refined foods during the day, and feel free to eat what you like at night,” VB6 gives you the structure you need to exercise limited but effective discipline in a way that accomplishes all of those things.
 
During the day you’ll be observant, and eat way more fruits and vegetables than you probably have until now, and virtually none of the foods that we know cause your metabolism to go haywire, putting a downward spiral in motion. In the evening, you’ll still eat more thoughtfully, but won’t necessarily avoid or limit foods you love and can’t imagine eliminating from your diet. Simply put, at 6 o’clock you can put “the diet” on hold—a compromise that offers the benefits of restraint without the hardship of perpetual denial. Even reading this now, six years after I began, it still sounds pretty good to me.
 
This is not to say that my adapting to VB6 was seamless. I wasn’t exactly “becoming a vegan,” but this new diet was certainly not the way I was used to getting through the day. In 2007, when I first embarked on this plan, I’d been a professional food writer (and eater!) for more than twenty-five years. My diet had become increasingly indulgent and untamed, and my opportunities for eating “well”—that is, lavishly—were near constant. I had few rules and, I thought, little need for them. Like many of us, I ate what tasted good to me.
 
Even before this conversation with Sid, my thinking about food and eating had begun to change—enough so that his suggestion that I become vegan wasn’t completely out of left field. I knew, for example, that we Americans eat too much junk food and too many animal products. I knew that food was being produced in an increasingly mechanized and unprincipled manner, without taking into account the welfare of consumers—that’s us—or the environment or animals or the people who grew or processed it. And I knew that our health as a country was going down the tubes, and that the Standard American Diet (SAD for short, and it is just that) was at least in part responsible.
 
The combination of thinking that way and my new way of eating led to profound changes in my life; it changed not only my diet but my work. I didn’t want to become a preacher or even a teacher, but the more I thought about our diet, the more I practiced VB6, the more I recognized that these changes were essential not only for our health but for that of the planet and many of the things living on it.
 
I began to write not only about cooking but about eating, about food. I began speaking publicly about the relationships among eating, health, and the environment, and I began changing my work at the New York Times: After nearly twenty years of writing about recipes, cooking, and the delights of food, mostly for the Dining section, I branched out to Week In Review and other sections. This led, eventually, to my becoming a Times Opinion writer, with my main subject being food: how, what, and why we eat, and the forces that affect those things.
 
There’s no lack of subject matter, that’s for sure: Food touches everything. You can’t discuss it without considering the environment, health, the role of animals other than humans in this world, the economy, politics, trade, globalization, or most other important issues. This includes such unlikely and seemingly unrelated matters as global warming: Industrialized livestock production, for example, appears to be accountable for a fifth or more of the gre...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What an incredible introduction! I need to learn to write like that.

 

"Humans do not instinctively know what to eat. Rather, foodways are learned primarily through exposure to the eating habits of others. In the past, human societies ate traditional diets which represented hundreds of years of experimentation with locally available dietary resources. Today, such traditional diets are largely a thing of the past, particularly in highly technological nations such as the United States. Here most people live in urban areas totally removed from the sources of food production and largely out of touch with most or perhaps all aspects of their past dietary heritage. Recent immigrants to the United States often cannot secure familiar foods and begin to alter their traditional dietary patterns, generally for the worse."

 

http://cast.uark.edu/local/icaes/conferences/wburg/posters/kmilton/kmilton.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"For almost 20 years now, I and my associates have been examining the nutritional components of wild plant foods, particularly those eaten by neotropical monkeys. These monkeys, like most anthropoids, are almost exclusively herbivorous. A strong focus on plant foods is characteristic of all great apes--our closest living relatives -- and there is strong concensus that the ancestral line giving rise to both humans and extant apes was likewise very strongly herbivorous."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I noticed two things today:

 

1) I can wear contact lenses comfortably all the way till 2 a.m. or later. This has never happened before. My eyes are always so dry and I would be rubbing my eyes after just a few hours of contact lens wear. Now I can wear them the whole day with no irritation.

 

2) I went to see one of the coatmakers today to scold him for his lack of process stability. I can work up quite a bit of controlled explosiveness in order to make an impact -- it has never been a problem. But today, I tried marshaling the energy, the steely gaze, the body language -- but they all failed me! My mind and body refused to get worked up. Where is the adrenalin? Gone! So there I was, strangely sedated, calm like a monk in meditation while in the act of scolding someone. It was so bizarre.

 

Bill Clinton went vegan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3ied_AD4iE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eating well is really not that easy or convenient while traveling.

 

The shop in Brunei now closes at 9 p.m. By then, most restaurants are closed, or closing. So dinner is tricky.

 

Had a German potato salad yesterday for lunch. It's more vegetarian than vegan: it has boiled eggs and cold cream and bacon fries in it (shudder). For dinner, at 10 p.m., the only shop still open near my hotel was an Indian place. The kitchen was closed, so only the pre-cooked stuff was available. Had the most spartan dinner in recent memory: dhal and rice. Turns out the Indians call this Dal Baht, and is widely eaten twice a day in India.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dal_bhat

 

This morning, I walked around and found a Chinese vegetarian restaurant near the hotel. Had a passable brunch.

 

Had sushi later, and went for the the sort of sushi I normally had zero reason to eat: cucumber sushi. Also had a vegetarian sushi wrap that has cucumber, carrots, avocado and mayonaise (alas) in it.

 

Dinner just now was again at the Indian place. Again the kitchen was closed. This time, they brought out a heaping plate of superlative steaming rice and a big plate of dhal. About twice the volume compared to last night.

 

Did some groceries during the day so I have fruits and canned beans (baked beans and red bean dessert) in the room.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"But dude," you might want to ask, "isn't the whole point of Multimedia Superkoridor, Smart tunnel, Wawasan 2020, 1Malaysia -- in short, civilization -- is so we need not eat like the Nepalese?"

 

You're probably right. Except I feel great. Also, most people my age are out of shape and obese. I look, measure, and feel peoples' bodies as part of my job, and I almost never come across someone my age with such low bodyfat levels as myself... I think you would have to kill yourself to reach such low bodyfat levels on a meat-heavy diet. With a vegan diet, it comes almost naturally, at least it did for me.

P8290524_zpsdadc88b6.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the vegan diet should not be marketed as health-promoting. It's just too vague and nobody cares about health until they lose it anyway.

 

The vegan diet should be marketed as abs promoting, a promise Men's Health has been selling for decades.

 

mh-cover-0808-753410.jpg

 

 

 

cam-gigandet-mens-health-december-2008-0

 

ryan-phillippe-7-for-all-mankind-mens-he

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×