Is a Vegetarian Diet Healthy?

January 5th, 2009

Most people associate a vegetarian diet with good health, but is this true? I came across a comment today suggesting that humans are more suited to be vegetarians than carnivores. I don’t quite agree with that and thought it would be a nice topic for discussion.

Vegetarianism is a fairly common practice and I’ve come across quite a few people who have embraced it. Some of them are healthy, yet some aren’t. But if fruits and vegetables are so good for you, how can this be? The answer is simple. Everyone is different. We each have a unique need for different nutrients and not all of us can get the nutrients we need from a vegetarian diet.

A Delicate Balance

There are many systems that regulate our daily function and significantly affect our sense of well being. Our metabolism, nervous system, and endocrine system are just a few of them. Each of these systems are directly impacted by the foods we eat, which in turn means that our diet directly affects how we feel and function.

Our individual genetic makeup results in various strengths and weaknesses throughout these systems that vary from person to person. Because certain foods stimulate and support certain aspects of each system, it’s important to eat the foods that will support your weaknesses and promote balance. This is an essential part of feeling your best.

Evolution, Heritage, and Diet

If you’re at all familiar with native cultures, you should be well aware of how drastically different the traditional diets of various ancient cultures around the world were, and in some cases, still are. The primary cause for this difference is that each culture evolved to thrive on the foods that were most abundantly available to them. After all, evolution is about survival of the fittest, and those that did well on the foods available to them were strong, healthy, and more likely to survive.

Take a moment to consider some of the world’s different climates. In some locations, you have hot weather all year long where plants and fruits flourish. In other areas, it is cold for much of the year and plant life is limited. And as you get closer to the Earth’s poles, there’s virtually no plant life at all, even during summer. Consider an Eskimo living on an icecap and thriving on a diet based almost entirely on protein and fat. How would they do on a vegetarian diet? Are they more suited to be a herbivore than a carnivore?

The Consequences

Fine, so maybe you’re not an Eskimo. But many people who come from lineages that originated in colder climates tend to do very well with a moderate amount of meat in their diet, and sometimes more. Some of the reasons for being a vegetarian are very noble, but at the same time, some people are sacrificing their health and well being for their noble cause. There are many case studies of people becoming seriously ill from following a vegetarian diet long term and then miraculously recovering by reintroducing meat to their diet.

Sure, there are stories that go in the opposite direction as well, but that only proves my point further. Some people can do really well on a vegetarian diet while others will feel miserable.

How Can You Tell?

There is a highly underrated branch of nutritional science called Metabolic Typing. It’s sole focus is on the individuality and unique nutrient requirements that exist from person to person that I’ve been referring to. Based on your tendencies and physical features, it is possible to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your various control systems, and based on that, identify the type of nutrition that will bring you toward optimal balance.

There will always be those that stick tightly to their views and opinions, even in spite of their health. But for anyone else who’s considering or already following a vegetarian diet and not feeling their best, getting on the Metabolic Typing diet could change your life! It has certainly changed mine!

To learn more about Metabolic Typing, you can read the article I wrote about it or get a copy of The Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott and Trish Fahey.

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