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Two interesting recent articles on vegetarianism. (See also Can I be a Vegetarian?, Vegan to Primal, Oysters and other posts.)

Ordering the vegetarian meal? There’s more animal blood on your hands, Mike Archer, The Conversation.

The ethics of eating red meat have been grilled recently by critics who question its consequences for environmental health and animal welfare. But if you want to minimise animal suffering and promote more sustainable agriculture, adopting a vegetarian diet might be the worst possible thing you could do.

Eating Animals, Nicolette Hahn Niman, The Atlantic.

Why a group of longtime vegetarians and vegans converted to the idea that flesh and other food from animals can be healthful, environmentally appropriate, and ethical.

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For years you were vegan. You ate fruit, vegetables, grains and beans, and things produced from them like tofu. Or you were a raw food vegetarian who ate a few eggs and a little dairy. For whatever reason, you decided to start eating meat. Perhaps your health was going down hill no matter how hard you tried to take care of it. Or perhaps you read The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith and woke up. Whatever the reason, you read about Primal and decided to give it a try.

Perhaps a rasher of bacon completely converted you to Primal, including eating organ meats and bone broth. Great! But this post is aimed at converters who hedge their bets.

3 egg yolks

Egg yolks, Wikipedia

You gave up wheat and beans. You started eating eggs but the conventional message about cholesterol nags in your brain. So you scramble three egg whites with one yoke. You eat only the leanest beef and only skinless chicken breast. If you use dairy, you choose non-fat or at least low-fat versions. You use organic commercial broth, which is always fat free.

You realize that your body is hungry for meat. You put lots of roasted skinless chicken breast on your big assed salad for lunch. For dinner, if you are not having chicken breast, you have a large, ultra-lean steak. You fry it in your non-stick skillet using maybe a few drops of olive oil. Or you make something with 99% fat-free ground turkey. You have two slices of bacon for breakfast but you cook as much of the fat out of them as you can and vigorously pat them with paper towels to get the rest.

At first, you feel great! You have lots of energy. Then your health starts to slide again. You stop losing fat. You no longer have all that new energy. What’s up!

Methionine, Choline, Betaine and Folate

Your body didn’t evolve to eat only lean meat and egg whites. If you are going to eat meat and eggs, you gotta eat the whole animal/egg or make up for not doing so.

Muscle meats and eggs are very rich in methionine, which increases our need for homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients (vitamins B6, B12, folate, betaine, and choline), and also increases our need for the amino acid glycine, found most abundantly in skin and bones. Chris Masterjohn, Anyone Doing Paleo Without Liver, Bones, Skin, and Greens? in The Daily Lipid.

Getting lots of methionine increases homocysteine and therefore increases our need for choline, betaine, folate, B12, and B6.

Gently panfried slice of Berkshire pig's liver...

Liver & onions, Wikipedia

What are the best sources of folate?  Liver, beans, nuts, peanuts, seeds, corn, asparagus and greens. Liver disgusts you, and when you started Primal, you stopped eating beans, seeds and nuts, which you love.  That daily big assed salad helped but perhaps you got tired of it and don’t eat so much any more. (Maybe, like me, you generate kidney stones and were told to avoid greens.) Folate is added to processed foods now but you avoid those, circling around the outside of the grocery store.

What are the best sources of betaine?  Our bodies can make betaine from the choline in egg yolks and liver. However the best source is spinach. Beets are also high, but you don’t eat those because of the sugar. Americans typically get their betaine from grains, which you also reluctantly gave up.

I currently believe that dietary fat, whether saturated or unsaturated, and anything that the liver likes to turn into fat, like fructose and ethanol, will promote the accumulation of fat as long as we don’t get enough choline. Once that fat accumulates, the critical factor igniting an inflammatory fire to this fat is the consumption of too much PUFA (polyunsaturated fat from vegetable and perhaps fish oils). Chris Masterjohn, The Sweet Truth About Liver and Egg Yolks — Choline Matters More to Fatty Liver Than Sugar, Alcohol, or Fat, The Daily Lipid

What are the best sources of choline? Liver and egg yolks. So, again, if you don’t eat these, you have to make up for it.

Homocysteine

. . . homocysteine is thought to do all sorts of bad things, like stiffen arteries and increase the proliferation of smooth muscle cells leading to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.  Homocysteine is also thought to be associated with joint and cartilage stiffness, weak bones, and is probably directly neurotoxic. . . .  [It] has also been associated with anger . . . . Emily Deans, Anger and Homocysteine, Evolutionary Psychiatry

So not getting enough homocysteine-neutralizing nutrients, namely vitamins B6, B12, folate, betaine and choline means trouble.

Gelatin for Nails, Hair, Joints and Tendons

My fingernails had been brittle for years. Using unsweetened gelatin made them strong. I don’t give a damn what the conventional wisdom “experts” say. It worked for me.

Gelatin is a mixture of proteins extracted from animal collagen by a process known as hydrolysis. Collagen actually makes up almost a third of all the protein in the human body. It is a big, fibrous molecule that makes skin, bones, and tendons both strong and elastic. Health Benefits of Gelatin

Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

They are good for you.

Homeodynamics of Plant vs. Animal Foods

Yin Yang

At the 2011 Ancestral Health Symposium, Don Matesz gave a presentation on the balance of plant and animal foods. After 14 years of paleo, Matesz found his health going down hill. He now does a plant-based form of paleo, which he doesn’t call paleo. I am not suggesting you do that necessarily. But consider what he says about the balance between animal and plant foods.

Farewell to Paleo | Symposium Video | Symposium Slides | Further discussion in his blog

Practical Solutions

  • If you don’t want to eat meat with saturated fat, use plenty of coconut and palm oil.
  • Drink bone broth. Google for recipes.
  • Use unsweetened gelatin. I put it in soups, stews and anywhere else I can. Or you could make gelatin with fruit, stevia, etc.
  • Eat pork rinds. Whole Foods has ones that are fairly clean and mild.
  • Take dessicated liver tablets. I have tried to stomach liver but I can’t. So I take the tablets.
  • Supplement choline, betaine and folic acid if necessary.
  • It isn’t Primal or Paleo, but I am going to suggest that you eat some traditionally soaked beans. Watch your total carbs, of course. But they are good for you.
  • Eat the damn egg yolks! Stop tossing them down the drain!

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Let me begin by saying that this does not taste like guacamole. You won’t taste the avocado at all. It will taste delicious though.

Ingredients
Avocado – two genuinely large ones, not the tiny ones they call “large” in stores.
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 1/4 cup
Vanilla Extract – 2 tablespoons
Coconut Cream – 1/4 cup (The stuff at the top of the can.)
Sweetener – to taste
Whipped Cream (optional) – Leave this off for strict Primal/Paleo.
Chocolate – Shavings, nibs, etc. for topping. (optional)
Berries (optional – a few to top or more to layer)
Sprig of mint (optional)

Directions
Mix avocado, cocoa, coconut cream and vanilla in blender, food processor or bowl.
Add sweetener of your choice to taste.
Put in parfait or wine glass, layering with berries if you like.
Top with whipped cream, chocolate nibs or shavings, berries and mint. (optional)

Image © Vanillla | Dreamstime.com

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