The Vegetarianism Apocalypse, Round 1: 1994

At  4:21 PM 12/5/94 -0500, THE CANDLE'S FLAME wrote:

>Kudos to Jason and Ed for seeing the TRUE purpose
>of animals--to provide sustinence for the hunter...ever wonder
>why your teeth were not FLAT???

No need to wonder: your incisors are edged to bite into hard
fruits and vegetables, and your extensive molars are there for
grinding them.  Check your jaw - it's set to move in a lovely
grinding motion, just like cows.  And very much unlike lions,
and other carnivores, who are set up for tearing and rending. 
Also, the digestive tract of most carnivores (in particular,
lions and other big cats), is shorter than ours by about a
factor of six.  That's why they can eat animal flesh all the
time and not die of colon cancer (like all the Americans are

Anyway, don't take my word for it, ask your ancestors - the
fossil record shows they were overwhelmingly herbivorous (you
can tell from the absence of scarring on the teeth that occurs
when you eat off of the bone, and from fossilized fecal matter).

You can eat whatever you want, I guess, but please don't try to
convince others to participate in your detrimental diet plan by
distorting the facts.

Mr. Fuches


At  5:02 PM 12/5/94 -0500, Mr. Blonde wrote:

>You're right.  We certainly aren't carnivores.  Check your
>mouth.  The tooth layout is virtually identical to a bear's. 
>Bears are OMNIvores.

You can make this argument, with some success.  Where you go
quite wrong is in your claim that...

>Wild animals are an excellent source of lean, concentrated

Animal flesh is, in fact, an AWFUL source of concentrated
protein.  Aside from the fact the vegetable protein is in
general healthier, animal protein comes with a lot of ugly
baggage - like cholesterol, growth chemicals, and lots of other
lovely carcinogens.  And again, the flesh tends to rot in your
gut - they've pretty much linked colon cancer right to flesh

Much more to the point, our need for protein is substantially
overblown.  Most humans (particularly Americans) consume *much*
more protein than they actually need.  One study actually fed a
group of adult human subjects nothing but RICE (starches are not
a notoriously good source of protein) for 6 weeks, at which time
they showed no signs of protein deprivation.  (Reference: _Jane
Brody's Nutrition Guide_, the chapter entitled "The Protein

So, your claim is a little like pointing out that kitchen
sponges are a great source of concentrated water.  Maybe, but
you still haven't convinced me there's some overriding need to
eat kitchen sponges.

>as well as several vitamins and amino acids that can't be
>gotten efficiently from veggies.

Oh, yes, I always heard that as a child: "Eat your pork chops,
you need your vitamins."  The last vitamin they *think* can't be
gotten from a completely *vegan* diet (no animal products
whatsoever) is B12.  And I personally anticipate  that they'll
disprove that thesis, as they have all the other theses about
vital nutrients that supposedly can't be gotten without eating

One notable among those disproven theses goes to your claim
about amino acids:  First it was claimed one couldn't get all
the aminos from vegetable proteins.  Then that was revised to
say, "well, amongst *different* vegetables, all the aminos are
there - but your body can't store them, so *you have to at least
eat a variety of vegetable proteins AT ONE SITTING*." 
Finally, they figured out that your body can store and combine
aminos across several days, so you're okay if you eat pretty
much any kind of variety of foods whatsoever.  No flesh

>Whether or not meat is part of a healthy diet depends on what
>constitutes a healthy diet for one's lifestyle.

I appreciate your reasonable tone, but I have to insist that
eating animals cannot be described as healthy.  It's perfectly
possible (and very common, I'm sure) for certain people to
consume animal flesh, and suffer no ill effects from it their
whole lives (health-wise, anyway).  But some people also survive
4-story falls without being hurt.  I still don't recommend it.

And, as you noted, we're just discussing the health arguments
against flesh eating.  The ethical, environmental, and economic
issues haven't even been touched.

All these facts, taken together, make the question of "what to
eat" a pretty easy one for me.  Or, at least "what not to eat" -
namely, dead animals.

Mr. Fuches Doesn't Consider Carrion To Be Food And Also Hastens
To Note That He Didn't Bring This Up - He Was Merely Commenting
On RoadKill


At 10:20 PM 12/5/94 -0500, Mr. Blonde wrote:

>Read it again.  I said "wild" animals.  Wild animals don't come
>with growth hormones.

I read your post correctly, and appreciate the distinction. 
Animal flesh generally contains lots of unhealthful stuff *in
addition to* growth hormones, which admittedly are not found in
*wild* animal flesh.  I included growth hormones on my list of
the health dangers of flesh eating for the reason that the
majority of flesh-eating Americans (e.g. the people on this
list) do not eat wild game that they have felled.  They eat
factory farmed livestock.  You know, like the cattle that are
boarded onto packed trains where their hooves get caught and
damaged in the floor slats, arrive at factory farms, are
dehorned, castrated, injected with numerous chemicals to induce
growth and fat development, have their throats slit and are bled
to death, and are chopped up and put under plastic in Kroger. 
(Don't hate me for simply describing it - I'm not the one
responsible for it.)

>have you checked out the cholesterol in some veggies?  Try an

Yep, a very few fruits and veggies have lots o' cholesterol, and
even fat (like avocado, which is, unbelievably, 70% fat).  I
don't advocating eating everything that grows out of the ground.
I do advocate not eating animals.

[Ed. Note: Cindy Highsmith of the University of South Florida
writes in to note that "NO THEY DON'T! The only dietary source of
cholesterol is animal foods. Avocadoes, palm oils, etc., have
saturated fat, but definitely no cholesterol!!"]

>I didn't begin to claim that these vitamins and amino acids
>CAN'T be gotten from a vegetable.  I asserted that eating 20
>pounds of a vegetable in order to get a complete dose is just

That's misleading.  No one needs to eat huge quantities of
vegetable protein to be adequately supplied.  You well know,
George, that no animal flesh has passed my lips since 1991; and
I *haven't* been consuming 20 pounds of vegetables at a sitting
(except for those occasional pasta binges  8^)  ); and I'll
compare my muscle tone and general health with you or any
omnivore in the Band.

>some people, like anyone who does alot of physical work (as a
>job or for recreation), need better sources [of protein].

I believe that is very much incorrect.  Can we agree, for
example, that an athlete is a person who "does a lot of physical
work for recreation"?  From _Jane Brody's Nutrition Book_: "It's
been known for hundreds of years that muscles use carbohydrates
and fats, not protein, for fuel.  Yet the myth that athletes
need extra protein persists.  ...nine Swedish athletes tested
for endurance on a stationary bicycle lasted nearly three times
longer after a three-day diet high in vegetables and grains but
low in protein than they did after three days of a high-meat

  * Paava Nurmi trained on a vegetarian diet and set 20 world
running records between 1920 and 1932.
  * Bill Pickering, a British vegetarian, swam the English Channel
in 1956 in record-breaking time.
  * Murray Rose, an Australian who had been a vegetarian since
the age of 2, at age 17 became the youngest Olympic triple gold
medal winner for swimming evens in 1956.
  * Bill Walton, of the Portland Trailblazers [I believe the NBA is
pretty demanding physically] is a vegetarian"

I think you need to rethink your assertion that those who do a
lot of physical work need animal flesh as "a better source of

[Jane Brody, just for reference (and since I keep quoting her),
holds a degree in bio-chemistry from the College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences at Cornell University, and has been a science
and medical writer for the New York Times since 1965; she's been
writing the Times Personal Health column since 1976.]

>I never, once, in my assertions tried to claim that meat was

I acknowledge and appreciate that.  However, I am going to go on
to attack your assertions that meat is okay.

>As a matter of fact, the most efficient manner for humans to
>eat would be to eat other, healthy humans.

While that sounds nice, it's not correct.  Eating "high on the
food chain", i.e. eating animals instead of plants, is a bad
idea if only because toxins, carcinogens, and other poisons
(such as DDT, which is now quite widespread), are cumulative. The
higher you eat, the greater your chance of accumulating these
poisons.  This is what has happened to birds like falcons,
osprey, and eagles: they eat big fish, which ate smaller fish,
on down to one-celled organisms; each creature accumulates the
residues of pesitcides (in this case, usually DDT) from the
animal it ate; the birds at the top have so much DDT that their
reproductive functions are now all whacked.

>I acknowledge the fact that I lead, on the average day, a
>herbevorous diet, but no one else has posted anything fun to
>argue about.

I appreciate that.  I want you to be around at age 50, because
no one else will believe all the stories I'll be telling about
what we did in the Pep Band.


At 11:38 PM 12/5/94 -0500, Will wrote:

>        You fuss at other people for trying "to convince others
>... by distorting the facts," so I'm wondering, what all
>Americans are you talking about -- who are all dying from colon
>cancer they developed from eating red meat? Nobody in my family
>has ever died of such causes, in recent generations, that is.

[From Brody]: "Researchers here and in England have shown that
when the diet contains lots of fats and cholesterol [as found in
red meat], bacteria that live in the gut break down these
foodstuffs into substances that can cause cancer....  Since such
diets usually contain relatively little bulky, fibrous foods,
the stool tends to be concentrated and to stay longer than usual
in the colon, exposing colonic tissues to these carcinogens." 
[emphasis mine, to answer Will's question]  It is uncommon,
however, among peoples in countries where the diets rely less on
meats and other proteins and more on vegetable (high-fiber)

One study (of Seventh Day Adventists) showed that those who at
one time in their lives had eaten meat were 2 to 3 times more
likely to develop colon cancer than those who had stuck to a
vegetarian diet all their lives.


At  9:48 PM 12/5/94 -0500, Sara Kirsten Rasmussen wrote:

>Actually, Michael, you're wrong about peoples' teeth.  We
>evolved to be carnivors.  Incisors are for cutting into

Where Mandys's claims seemed very much based on fact, Sara's
(above) strike me as somewhat spurious.  Actual carnivores (the
kind we can agree on, lions and tigers and whatnot) have *fangs*
- long, strong, pointed canine teeth.  I don't know about you,
but mine only come out during exceptionally intense love-making.
 8^)  These are often called "flesh teeth" and slice through
flesh like shears.  We don't have 'em.  True herbivores have
small canines, sharp cutting incisors, which are suited to
cutting off mouthfuls of all kinds of stuff, and flat molars
which are used to grind those mouthfuls of food.  (Carnivores
generally swallow whole, hardly chewing at all.)

Ours are much more like herbivores: sharp front teeth for biting
(not stabbing and tearing), miniscule canines (compared to
carnivores), flat molars, and mobile jaws for chewing and
grinding (though not, as Mandy pointed out, to the extent that
cows do - we don't have 2 stomachs either, an herbivorous

>Compare us to other carnivores- most carnivores have
>stereoscopic vision- their eyes point forward- so do we.  This
>is so you can hunt and prey better.

I don't know - stereoscopic vision probably doesn't hurt at all
in the creation and use of tools, the making of fire, the
building of shelters, as well as reading and writing.  This is a
matter for speculation, hardly conclusive.


At  5:18 PM 12/5/94 -0500, SeanMike Whipkey wrote:

>From what I remember of biology (and it's been four years, so
>bear with me) humans were scavengers, omnivorous (sp)...much
>like bears.  They ate mostly fruit and vegetables because they
>didn't fight back or run away.  But given the opportunity,
>they'd eat anything that came around...

As I alluded to earlier, Dr. Alan Walker of Johns Hopkins U.
conducted microscopic analyses of the wear patterns on the teeth
of our ancestors - they had none of the scratch marks found on
the teeth of carnivores (from gnawing on bones, whatnot). 
Analyses of fossilized feces also show that man subsisted mainly
on fruits, nuts, tubers, berries, and grains. The American Dietetic
Association says "most of mankind for much of human history has
subsisted on near-vegetarian diets."

However, the flip side of that coin is that people *have* always
eaten some animal flesh.  I found plenty of opinions and
evidence that people are, as SeanMike asserted, naturally
*opportunistic* eaters - eating what's available to survive. 
So, okay, we look somewhat like omnivores.  We also look like
food to the tiger, but we don't go out of our way to let *them*
eat *us*.  The point is, I think, that we currently have a
choice about what to eat.  We also have the sense, and the good
fortune, to choose to eat what is best for us, for the planet,
for our fellow people, for our fellow animals, without having to
resort to whatever is available for survival.

Mr. Fuches
Going It Alone


At 10:55 AM 12/6/94 -0500, Saint Ed of Virginia wrote:

>The United States is in no way experiencing any strain on it's
>agricultural resources. We could continue to feed the entire
>population of the US with half the farms we have now.

>So if one of your reasons for becoming vegan include. "I'm
>making this world more efficient and helping to provide food
>for others you are gullible, among other things.

Ed's  claim that consumption of animals places no strain on our
agricultural, and other resources is incorrect.  Aside from
Luci's points about nitrogen depletion of the soil, animal
consumption is responsible for global deforestation, pollution
of the water table, and, yes, Ed, global famine.  On a
world-wide scale, the higher you eat on the food chain, the less
food is available for people - by as high a factor as 10. 
Consumption of animals is a tremendously expensive luxery, and
neither we nor the planet are going to be able to bear the costs
for too much longer.  The actual numbers on these issues are
summed up by John Robbins, in his _Diet for a New America_. 
Here are some excerpts:

Human population of U.S.: 243,000,000
Humans who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by US
livestock: 1,300,000,000

Percentage of corn grown in the US eaten by humans: 20
Percentage eaten by livestock: 80
Percentage of protein wasted by cycling grain through livestock: 90

Number of pure vegetarians who can be fed on the land
needed to feed one person eating a meat-based diet: 20
Number of people who will starve to death this year: 60,000,000
Number of people who could be adequately fed by the grain saved if
Americans reduced their meat intake by 10%: 60,000,000

Water needed to produce a pound of wheat: 25 gallons
Water needed to produce a pound of meat: 2500 gallons
Cost of hamburger meat if water used by meat industry
was not subsidized by US taxpayers: $35/pound

Leading source of pesticide residues in the US diet: Meat (55%)
Second leading source of pesticide residues in US diet: Dairy
products (23%)
Total pesticide residues in US diet supplied by vegetables: 6%


At  8:44 PM 12/6/94 -0500, Beth Anne wrote:

>        Everything FUN has been proven to cause cancer for
>god's sake!!!

I strongly disagree.  I enjoy vigorous physical exercise,
numerous sports, meaningful interaction with other people, sex,
music, literature, debate, art, film, and yes, eating - all of
that stuff is good for you.

>        A long time ago I decided I wanted to enjoy life, do
>things that made me happy...what other way is there to live,
>and live properly?

Living happily is good.  I think so is living morally.  And that
involves, I think, considering the consequences of your actions
on others.  Just my $0.02.

>if we were meant to be strict vegetarianists, eating meat
>would not have come into play

I've conceded, based in part on the strong physiological
evidence offered by Sara and Mandy, that people have eaten
*some* (not mostly) meat throughout our history.  (It's only
in the U.S. since WWII that meat with every meal, and meat
as the centerpiece of our diets, has become the norm.) That aside, I
want to point out the distinction between doing what "we were
meant to" do, and making free choices based on consideration of
what's best to do.  I choose the latter, my canine teeth aside.

At 12:54 AM 12/7/94 -0500, wrote:

>Once you take meat out of your diet, you'd better not cut much
>more out, or you're in trouble.

See, I really, really hate this.  As Wolfgang Pauli once said,
"That's not right.  That's not even wrong."  Luci's claim (and
Mick's similar one after it) imply that animal flesh contains
some vital element for human nutrition.  It implies that
vegetarians are people who decided for some bizarre reason that
they can't eat meat anymore, and are now struggling to find
something, anything, to eat to keep body and soul together. 
This, I attest on the basis of personal experience (as well as
the medical/nutritional facts), is utter bullshit^H^H^H^H^H^H^H
an ill-founded characterization.

As I noted in my last post, no animal flesh has passed my lips
since 1991.  In the 2 years before that, the only flesh I ate
was the rare free kind (Lambeth cook-outs, and the like - I'd
eat anything that was free).  And, for most of that period,
eating "several different types of legumes and veggies" [- Luci]
and "doing the homework" [- Mick] were about the last things on
my undergraduate mind.  I pretty much just ate pasta for several
years, as a matter of fact.  And during all that time, have I
"been in trouble?"  "wound up malnourished and getting fucked up
at the beach?"  Wasted away?  Absolutely not (as I pointed out
I'm healthier, in better shape, and sick less often, than the
great majority of people I know), and there's no reason
whatsoever to think I should have wasted away, aside from
discredited 1950's era ideas of nutrition (remember the 4 Food

The consumption of meat *in moderation* (if you can stomach the
killing, and the environmental damage) is, admittedly, not going
to result in any dire health problems for most who indulge in
it.  As Beth pointed out, there aren't many things that will
kill you, *in moderation*.  However, some of you would do well
to get it out of your heads that the lack of animal flesh in
your gullet poses some kind of dire health risk.  That's
entirely incorrect.  And for the great majority of Americans, it
is the *presence* of such that poses huge health risks.

doctor.  Ask any competent nutritionist.  It doesn't get much
simpler than that.

And, anyway, I eat what I do only secondarily for health
considerations.  I don't eat slaughtered animals because
consuming fat and muscle tissue is repulsive to me - I don't
consider it food, and I'd sooner eat dirt; as some vegetarians
say, I "won't eat anything that has a face," or " I won't eat
anything that would run away from me if it knew what I had in

Foremostly I won't do it because I'll only kill in self defense
(or defense of friends and family).

Mr. Foods


At  2:19 PM 12/8/94 -0500, Bill Pemberton wrote:

>You don't seem (up until this message) to be promoting "meat
>is something you can live without", you seem to be promoting
>"meat is something that you MUST live without".

Meat is something almost everyone is BETTER OFF without.  Even
if you escape the numerous health problems directly associated
with it (specifically cancer and heart disease, which together
kill most Americans - and which we all pay for as huge national
health care costs), you're still killing the animals (most of
them live and die badly), damaging the planet, and wasting

Far be it from me to stop you.  But I will take issue when
people choose a course of action and then claim the consequences
are something other than what they are.

"Know the score." - William S. Burroughs