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It’s been so many months I wanted to write this post. I’ve been doing some homework when clinic hours gave me some free time to study about this subject.

The following lines are personal statements and do not pretend to be judgemental for those whom firmly became vegetarian. This is my truth (not THE truth) and I will explain the reasons behind my conclusions.

Let’s start by some medical statistics which are easily searchable at your end:

  • Vegetarian children are more prone to health problems than children who eat meat, particularly to psychomotor impairment. These symptoms do not appear in the short term.
  • Vegetarians are prone to muscle loss and bone damage. They, on average, have lower muscle strength and higher risks of developing disabling osteoporosis at early ages.
  • According to census data vegetarians die younger than people who eat meat. Please do this research at your end to confirm this statement.

From my clinical experience, I have yet to meet a healthy vegetarian. I must say I have not an extensive clinical experience yet but they’ll come with some common healthy issues: pale face, fatigue no matter how many hours they sleep, upper back pains that comes and goes for no reason, low moods, etc.

Let’s start by saying our physiology is designed to work with plants, eggs and meats. To be healthy and full of energy we require a substantial amount of protein every day.

Vegetarians have every right to follow their belief and to make decisions about their personal eating’s habits. However there are no healthy reasons behind to turn into a vegetarian. 

I understand there are several popular nutrition books and studies which show that plants are full of nourishment and vitamins. However they’re analysed in a laboratory and in my opinion, they’re deceptive. Why? Because, in a laboratory all sorts of methods and chemicals for extracting nutrients from plants are not the same way our digestive system work. Human gut has a limited ability to digest plants and to extract from them. That’s why we loose them through fences. We have one stomach only whereas ruminants have 4. 

Insisting of being vegetarian goes into a medium-long term exhaustion turning into chronic fatigue, GAPS diseases, musculoskeletal pains, undermine their recovery from diseases and so on. Obviously these symptoms appears in the medium-long term so at the beginning everything seems to be working well though.  

Even further, if the person has a weak digestion (as it happens as we’re getting older), moving to a plant-based diet is positively dangerous. As the digestive system becomes more damaged, it is less able to nourish the person and so nutritional deficiencies develop quite soon: vitamin B12, B2, niacin, essential amino acids, zinc and proteins are the common ones. That’s why becoming vegetarian goes hand in hand to have supplements. 

During centuries, people knew that plant foods were hard for humans to digest, that’s why all traditional cultures have developed methods of food preparation to extract more nutrition from plants and to make them more digestible such as fermentation, malting, sprouting and others. I think these methods are not practiced nowadays anymore.

From a Chinese Medicine’s view, having a vegetarian lifestyle cool your body down turning into cold blood. What does it mean? Basically fruits and vegetables are cold foods which usually are served as cold cooking dishes. In addition, having this type of diet in cold countries like Ireland and during winter consumes so much body energy making your metabolism to get exhausted. That’s why it makes more sense to be vegetarian in warmer countries where it is more beneficial than northern ones. 

The decision to become a vegetarian has to be taken very seriously. One must study nutritional values of foods, learn to cook properly and plan meals carefully in order to obtain all the necessary nutrition from vegetarian foods. Unfortunately, in many cases this does not happen. There are studies that find correlation between anorexia in teenage girls developing after a period of irresponsible vegetarianism.

Considering that vegetarianism happens during young ages, makes sure that if your child/teenaged or younger suddenly decides to become a vegetarian, it has to be taken extremely seriously: misguided vegetarianism is rapidly becoming a major cause of mental illness in young people. I believe what these young people do not know is that plant foods are generally hard to digest and they are low in useful nutrition. As they’re hard to digest can damage the gut developing digestive problems which are the first symptoms in those beginner vegetarians developing IBS symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and flatulence.

I believe our youngsters are not going to be familiar with this information when he or she decides to become vegetarian. However I believe from a western and eastern point of view, it is prejudicial. Chinese Medicine don’t have the reductionism thinking of saying this is good or not; but foods are good for some people and not for others based on their nature and current medical condition: some people should eat more meat and others less, always based on their nature.

Photo by Randy Fath

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