Point of Order – Vegetarianism

Got my first email question regarding vegetarianism. It was from a concerned friend.

One of the insructors at my gym – a vegetarian - is fighting a cold, and
is often slightly sick.

Beside the diet, she is way over-trained (she is the instructor for 15
or so intense aerobics classes per week).

She has 2 problems – diet and over-exercise. Her lifestyle and her job
make it impossible to change either – and her immune system suffers.

I really wish her well, but I don't think I, or anyone else could be of any meaningful help. We simply are not evolutionarily adapted to be vegetarian. We're not adapted to do 15 intense aerobics/cardio sessions per week. Combining the two is a recipe for disaster. When is the last time you saw lions, tigers, wolves, or even omnivores out jogging every day? The life of an animal evolutionarily adapted to energy and nutritionally dense animal protein and fat is one of languid rest, play, and intense — all in — explosive bursts. So, my response:

I'm going to maintain a strict policy with regard to vegetarians and vegans. No advice whatsoever. The "advice" I give out is based on my own experiences, and I have none with respect to avoiding the two healthiest and essential macronutrients in the human diet: animal protein and animal fats.

To quote Barack Obama, "you can put lipstick on a pig, and it's still a pig." Vegetarianism / veganism is so unhealthy, it is to me like trying to advise people what's good to eat out of the garbage can.

Robb Wolf won't work with them in his cross fit gym, either. He says they won't make any progress, and they'll just end up arguing all the time.

And according to Art de Vany, the two branches of bi-pedal hominids that stayed vegetarian (A. Robustus and Ramidus) went extinct (2.5 million years ago, if I recall). Pre agriculture, it would have been impossible for a vegetarian with our physiology (big, fat, energy hogging brain) to survive.

One of the trackback links to Art's post references the brain shrinckage of humans over the last 15,000 years. Make of that what you will, but I suspect the gradual replacement of animal products for grains and sugars.

Later: Reading over this posts suggests it could be offensive to some. I have close friends and family who are vegetarians, I respect their choice, and I endeavor to be accomodating when I prepare meals where vegetarians will be in attendance. And, most vegetarians I know also try to accommodate the meat eaters when they entertain as well. We should try to accommodate each other's preferences when eating together. I have eaten all vegetarian meals that I have enjoyed. It's no big deal. Wouldn't want to do it all the time, but it's very important to be gracious with what dinner hosts provide. I'm a great guest. I like all food, and even if they served up grain-based meals like pizza, pasta and such, I will be gracious and partake, and I'll very likely enjoy.

That said, I'm offended by the often smug demeanor I've encountered (though none from family and friends). Have you? It's this underlying assumption that being vegetarian is, of natural course, a far superior life way, and too bad for all those meat eaters who just can't seem to help themselves. Bullshit. Double bullshit.

But I really don't care to argue the matter.

About a year ago Bea and I were invited to the house of a former student of hers. Very interesting people, whose company I enjoyed. Right up to dinner. Turns out they're vegetarians (I wasn't aware 'til dinner). The meal was 100% vegetarian, curries and such. It was quite good, but then when I commented about all the meat-based Indian dishes I like, the guy says, "I don't eat any of that stuff." "Stuff." Then I get the lectures, the funniest being how his [fat-butted] wife "squeezes the fat out of everything." He must have mentioned it a half-dozen times. Woeful ignorance. Needless to say, suggestions that we ever get together again are dealt with polite indeterminateness.

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  1. Bill on September 15, 2008 at 12:03

    I have a question Richard,
    are vegetables necessary for the human diet?and if not than why does every one eat them, if meat and fat are the main food source.


  2. Adam on September 15, 2008 at 12:14

    Off the top of my head I can think of a few "animals" (kingdom animalia) that move around at high speeds quite often in a given day…birds and insects…and have you seen the calves on a bird lately? I didn't think so.

  3. Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2008 at 13:15


    Well, the Inuit seem to be the exception that disproves the notion that vegetables are essential for survival, or even for good health. But I believe we're adapted to thrive off of a wide array of foods, including even starchy ones, and fruit — provided one's metabolism hasn't been overly compromised through years of abuse with processed foods. I eat them because I like them, usually. Like Art, they are great for adding texture, crunch, and color to meals.


    Yea, but then birds, for example, spend all their time hunting for food because of their enormous energy expenditure.

  4. Walter Tallent on September 16, 2008 at 07:01

    About 12 years ago, while in college, I briefly dated a girl who was vegan. She insisted that I had to be as well before she would date me. I was infatuated enough with her, and thought she might have a moral point at the time, that I went along. Turned out she was also bi-polar and insessently criticized all things great and small. After 3 months, enough was enough. About 8 years ago I heard she had been diagnosed with diabetes. As far as I know she still clings to her imagined superiority.

  5. Walter Tallent on September 16, 2008 at 07:03

    Sheesh. I hope she doesn't read my comment and notice that I spelled incessant as insessent. I'll never hear the end of it!

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