image source: Earth from Apollo 15.jpg – Wikimedia Commons
A poignant article called How the Anti-Meat Narrative is going to get us all Killed was recently posted online and it prompted me to dust off the below article to give my own five cents worth…
People who don’t understand paleo (essentially a whole foods’ movement), give paleotarians flak for eating animals.
The knee-jerk reaction I get when I tell someone about my lifestyle is almost always: ”eating paleo is unsustainable for the planet because of the meat aspect”. This often coming from someone who has made next to little effort to eat foods from more sustainable sources. The irony of it all…
But despite the irony, they happen to be right… to some extent. Because indeed, everyone including the most fast-food-addicted junkie will agree that the state of affairs at the moment with factory-raised livestock worldwide (especially in the US) is inhumane, unethical and definitely unsustainable.
However, beyond this fact, is eating paleo really unsustainable?
Here’s what I generally respond when people give me grief for my “carnivorous” diet.
- If you eat whole foods, you’re definitely not eating fast food anymore. You care about where your food comes from; you go to the farmer’s market and by local produce, including your meat and animal products. You also buy grass-fed, hormone free and perhaps even organic if you can afford it (and most of the time you can). Get most of our world population eating this way and it (again) equates to fewer feedlots around the planet. No more feedlots not only = no more livestock being raised (and mercilessly sacrificed), but also the survival and revival of entire ecosystems (fauna and flora), once decimated by land clearing.
- No more grains, means you’re no longer part of a long chain of events which leads to more land clearing this time to grow wheat, corn, soy, barley, spelt and other such things for human consumption. Because if you’re going to quit eating meat in favor of grains, you will be indulging in an eating practice that also results in animals being killed for the sake of feeding humans. People might not like or want to admit it but it is definitely a reality. Ultimately, we all have blood on our hands and annihilating our planet’s ecosystems on such broad scale to feed our species isn’t sustainable either.
- Eradicating grains to exclusively grow vegetables and fruits translates into substantially less fresh water needed to irrigate plant fields.
- A whole foods approach devoid of grains (and most) dairy products definitely minimizes that negative impact we have on nature.
- When you consume whole foods, you don’t overfeed yourself because your hormonal hunger signals aren’t out of whack thanks to crazy-high quantities of carbs in your diets contributed mostly by sugar and grains–which are known to derail hunger hormones such as leptin. Thus you eat when hungry and stop as you start to feel satiated. Less food consumed equals fewer resources to sustain your body, which ultimately leads to eating less animal flesh even if you were to eat meat at every sitting.
- Because you’re lean (like a lot of paleotarians I know), you ‘re more likely to use fewer resources.
- As a paleotarian, you might even practice the art of intermittent fasting (as I do); you might go 16 to twenty hours without a single morsel of chow. You end up eating 1-2 meals per day as opposed to the three square meals and two snacks the average person would eat.
- Because you understand how nutritious offals are, you consume its marrow, organs, and blood. You end up consuming more of the animal–which is something we touched on in We Love Paleo. Doing so, obviously translates into less waste and a lesser number of animals being killed year in year out.
To some extent, I can understand why a dietary practice involving eating animals would come up against misconceptions and resistance. There’s no doubt in my mind that the current state of affair regarding the meat industry worldwide is fuelling the polemic. However, demonizing the consumption of a food that has been proven to be very nutritious, and to some extent essential to our health is not the solution either.
https://www.wilderness.org.au/impacts-land-clearing http://www.marksdailyapple.com/leptin https://chriskresser.com/b12-deficiency-a-silent-epidemic-with-serious-consequences https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26750191 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26750191