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June 28, 2013: Excuses made by meat eaters: blood types, anemia, etc.

Originally posted on this blog.

Being a vegetarian, one hears many excuses from people as to why they continue eating meat. Two such excuses come up quite often. The first is that they are/were anemic, and need meat to ensure healthy levels of iron in the blood. The second is that they belong to a blood group for whom it is unhealthy to become vegetarians, so, alas, they must continue eating meat. Although it is understandable that sometimes people who have bad habits (which is how I and others like me view eating meat) find relief in "scientific" proof that enables them to think that what they're doing is actually good, many nutrition experts, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, believe that the above-mentioned theories are flawed, if not completely wrong.

First letís take the anemia theory. The idea that you canít get enough iron from a vegetarian or vegan diet is about as faulty as the one that you canít get enough protein from that diet. (By the way, if you still believe that whole protein=meat myth, check out http://www.veganbodybuilding.com - Youíll see that itís perfectly easy to get great results from plant based proteins.) There are indeed many great sources of iron for vegetarians and vegans, - a quick Google search will result in informative articles such as this one or this one, which outline exactly which foods to eat (and how to combine them) in order to ensure normal levels or iron. Anemia can be fought with a plant-based diet as effectively as it can be with a meat-based diet. In fact, I have a couple of friends who actually improved their iron levels AFTER becoming vegetarian, by following the advice given on the above websites. Unfortunately, many people donít search for this info themselves, but just rely on what their doctors tell them. Vegetarians and vegans should remember that when it comes to nutrition, your doctor's word is not gospel. Many doctors have been taught very conservative (sometimes archaic) solutions to nutritional problems . To ensure that youíre not following some outdated advice, always inform yourself by doing an online search on something before making a decision.

Another famous theory is the blood type theory, made famous by the book "Eat Right 4 Your Type" (Putnam Adult) by Peter D'Adamo, which puts people in three categories related to their blood type. In brief, according to this belief, type A people function best as vegetarians, type O people have the hardest time being vegetarians (hence the excuse, "I have to eat meat, Iím type O."), and type B individuals are somewhere in between. After doing some research on this theory, I found that many if not most nutritionists actually see very little scientific merit in it. Articles such as this one in the Chicago Tribune quote prominent nutritionists stating that the conclusions are "based largely on anecdotes", and that "there have been no peer-reviewed studies published showing that different blood types perform better on certain foods". But even if one believes this theory, one has to remember that even the author himself has stated that itís not that type Os are "prohibited" from being vegetarians, itís just that they "may want to explore a more high-protein, lower-carbohydrate lifestyle". As I have stated above, it is possible to ensure high levels of protein without eating any meat or animal products, so it turns out that the infamous blood-type excuse is not much of an excuse at all.

I have always stated that whether you eat meat or not, a balanced diet is key. You have to ensure that youíre getting all the nutrients that your body requires. A vegetarian diet is not unhealthy. In fact, as even a little research will show, a diversified non-meat diet is, in fact, a lot healthier for you than its meat-based counterpart. There is a ton of information online about which foods are good sources of plant-based protein, iron, and more. Hopefully this information will help you take steps to minimize your meat intake, and to eventually leave behind the cruelty of the meat industry.

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