when food becomes a religion

We were featured in a podcast on a fantatic website called Low Carb Conversations.

Listen to the podcast HERE!

When did food and eating become a religion?  A religion full of fanatics at that!  Everybody has a theory about proper diet and what works.  There are a million and one books on the subject and more coming out every day.  It’s confusing enough to understand why my clients resist me in my quest to help them find their path to balanced health.  It’s no wonder millions of people choose to eat garbage day in and day out because eating healthy doesn’t seem to be as simple as the McDonald’s drive-thru window.

I won’t name names and, frankly speaking, it isn’t the first time this debate has gotten my attention, but I was reading an article about a woman who struggled with cancerous tumors and went predominantly raw and vegan at the prompting of a friend’s advice.  She tried it for 8 months, actually gained weight, and was so bloated and uncomfortable that she started introducing lean sustainably sourced grass-fed and free range meat and poultry back into her diet.  Almost immediately her body normalized, she lost some of the weight quickly, and the bloating subsided.  It was a brilliantly written very insightful article about HER experience with her own body.  She used her intuition on how to nourish HER body.  I couldn’t find fault with the article.

What was surprising-well, maybe not so much surprising as disheartening- were the comments that followed.  Vegans came out of the woodwork to tell her everything from she didn’t wait long enough for the detox symptoms to go away because she struggled with tumors so she obviously dangerously acidic.  (The acid is the point with which I agreed, the year long detox not so much) That same person told her she should have done more research on how to be a vegan the correct way.  He all but called the author an idiot.  Another one told her she obviously ate avocados and did too many simple carbohydrates and that’s why she gained weight and was bloated..  (She did admit to eating avocados but she emphatically stated in the article that she didn’t fall into the typical vegan traps.)  There was one woman that responded I actually liked because she talked about Ayurveda and the fact that many people struggle in the winter with raw foods because of the body’s natural desire for grounding warming foods.(She still went on to imply that raw veganism was for everyone and that she should go back on the path.)  It was shocking that this obviously brave lady who simply wanted to share her own voyage of discovery was vilified by what seemed to be the entire vegan community.  Oh there were a few that acknowledged that it wasn’t the path for everyone.  There were far more “haters” than supporters in those comments.

It got me to thinking.

When did eating become such an “ism”?  I remember about six months ago getting into a heated discussion on LinkedIn with a woman who did not like the fact that I had the opinion that different types of people needed different diets.  (We will be discussing metabolic typing over the next few weeks.)  If she could have leapt through the computer,choked me to death and snacked on my bones (oh wait, she was a die hard vegan, she might have fed them to her dog) she probably would have done just that.  She maintained that we all had the same intestinal tract, the same organs, the same blood cells, etc. etc..  I fired back with the fact that different people have different sensitivities to certain foods, different groups of people have more defined canine teeth (commonly used for tearing meat) in comparison to others with flat canines (used for grinding vegetables, soft foods including fish, and perhaps even wild grasses), and, in fact, different blood profiles and types.  She brought up The China Study, the “doctrine” by which vegans prove many of their theories.  I cited countless flaws in China Study research. I also hit back with how different cultures have flourished eating animal proteins and precious little else, including sub Saharan tribes like the Masai whose traditional diet is meat, milk, and blood.  Eskimos existing eating primarily fish and whales and the Japanese who eat a tremendous amount of fish and have some of the lowest incidences of breast cancer in the world.  And still, even gave her a few examples of some subcultures that thrive on a vegetarian diet.

The argument went back and forth.  I cited the differences in the way my husband eats in comparison to the way I eat.  If he eats raw vegan every day he gets fatigued.  His eyes get very dark and he gets anemic very quickly.  (And I dare you to use the “detox”argument on me. I double dog dare you.)  Give him a little meat and he perks right back up.  He eats a lot of dairy.  He doesn’t love a lot of vegetables and, aside from tomatoes and cucumber with everything, never craves them.  Yes, I know, married to a holistic nutritionist, how does that work?

I, on the other hand, can go weeks without meat.  I crave vegetables.  I can eat a platter full of roasted cauliflower (and probably a whole head raw too!), pasta with roasted veggies, salads, you name it. My husband would prefer something much more substantial.   We do both love our veggie juices.  Neither of us do well with fruit juices.  My husband will eat vegetarian with me but, every once in awhile, I recognize when he’s veggie weary and needs some animal protein.  I have the most amazing husband.  He hides it well for long periods of time because he loves me but I know  it gets too much for him sometimes and when to toss him a steak.

Before all of you carnivores go all sanctimonious thinking I am singling out the vegans, you can be just as negative and fanatical.  “I could never give up meat!” “Those tree huggers can’t be healthy!” “What’s left for them to eat if they give up meat?” Carnivores can be just as judgemental as vegans.

Vegans use the “meat is murder” argument along with citing the environmental issues as a reason everyone should be giving up meat.  The environmental issue is a great argument considering the majority of our meat is produced by grain feeding (Over 80% of the grain grown in the US is fed to conventionally raised livestock) and takes a tremendous amount of energy to raise it and get it ready to end up on your supermarket shelves. It’s also full of antibiotics and hormones and raised in really inhumane conditions.  You might not want to acknowledge it but conventionally raised livestock is a problem for the environment and the body.

Carnivores use the argument that animals were put on this earth to be eaten.  Many even go so far as to cite the Bible in their logic and can recite verse after verse where God told them to eat the animals on the earth.  Of course in biblical times animals were raised in the open, foraging on grass, living, for the most part, the way God intended them to live and therefore lived happy animal existences, or at least as happy as the animals not at the top of the food chain could live.  They weren’t put in pens with little sunshine, no grass, where they could not even turn around, knee deep in their own excrement, impregnated time and time again to keep their milk flowing, or given food that their bodies could not digest just to “fatten” them up to slaughter.

Meat eaters think vegans are fanatic hippies and vegans think meat eaters are murderers.  Vegans think meat eaters are earth destroying, blood thirsty idiots who can’t possibly be truly healthy and meat eaters think vegans are protein starved loonies that all belong to the same cult.  While I have seen a few couples that coexist beautifully, one as a meat eater and one as a vegan, I have seen far more polarized arguments (and been involved in a few myself) where names are called, feelings are hurt, people are yelling and screaming, and there are crazy looks in everyone’s eyes.

Vegans and vegetarians will go to their often B-12 deficient graves citing health/ethical/environmental reasons their “religion” is the only way to go.

Meat eaters will go their Vitamin A deficient graves citing that they are superior because protein from animal sources is better absorbed by the body and is God’s plan.

Which side of the fence am I?  Precisely in the middle.  I am a careful omnivore.  I don’t eat meat in the spring or summer, for the most part.  I add a little meat and poultry into my diet every once in awhile if my body asks for it in the late fall and winter.  I eat a lot of vegetable sources of protein and am a huge quinoa fan which is a better quality protein than most conventionally raised meat.  I make sure my beef is grass-fed, my chicken is free-range and hopefully foraging, and my fish is wild.  When I eat it, I enjoy it.  Immensely in fact.  Much of the time, I can take it or leave it.  Some of the time it’s all I can think about. I have friends I adore that are die hard vegans and family I love deeply that are consumate meat eaters.  I am a flexivore.  I am not a flexitarian.

What’s the difference?  I have come to the conclusion that if you can attach an “ism” or an”ian” onto anything that has to do with food, it becomes dogmatic, fanatical, and frankly, no fun.

Different people react to different types of eating paths.  One man’s meat is another man’s poison.


Wishing you peace and balance,


9 replies
  1. Marcia
    Marcia says:

    Yes, I’ve noticed the fanatical rages and rants of both as well. While I want to eat clean, healthy food, I am reminded that God tells us that nothing is unclean or should be rejected when received with thanksgiving. Does that mean I always choose a Big Mac over a platter of roasted veggies? Of course not. But, if I am invited to a BBQ by some dear friends I am not going to decline the invite or what they put on my plate. I am certainly not going to preach to them about it either!

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      Amen to that Marcia! I agree with you wholeheartedly. There have been too many extremes in our country over food and, unfortunately neither “side” has all the answers! The answer lies in balance. I don’t like all the preachy platitudes and holier than thou attitudes that are going around from both sides! I show people every day how to live balanced healthy lives including the occasional treat! Isms do not belong in nutrition.

  2. mary
    mary says:

    Agree very much. I’d consider myself a flexivore too (great word) though I have been vegetarian in the past I tend to feel better with mostly veggie but with a little meat here and there.
    It’s crazy to assume that one diet fits all as much as one size fits all.
    I think about plants and how they require different amounts of water, sunlight, minerals etc….why should people be any different?

  3. Pamela R
    Pamela R says:

    you summed it up well “Different people react to different types of eating paths” — I’s like to eat A LOT more healthier then I do and I applaud those who have made the choice to do so, I cannot for the life of me see the point to hurting someones feelings just because they don’t agree with your diet–If we all agreed on everything I’d find the world a pretty boring place!

  4. ClinicalPosters.com
    ClinicalPosters.com says:

    I have been a vegetarian for nearly two years. Before that I ate meat for seven years. Prior to that I was a pescatarian for seven years. And before that I was a carnivore. My dietary needs changed over the years. I prefer vegetarianism but if health dictates otherwise, as it did in the past, I would humble myself and eat meat again.

    I try to be balanced when dining out with friends — selecting venues that have equally good vegetarian and meat options. I ask how their meat dishes taste so I can recommend it others in the future. Often they want to sample my vegetarian dish.

    If you eat meat, enjoy it. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, enjoy that. There are enough food choices for everyone. No need to convert everyone to one specific persuasion.

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      I love how you are always the voice of reason! It was exactly the purpose of the article to show that diet should never be about converting people to be vegan or carnivore, simply the healthiest they can possibly eat.

  5. Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club
    Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club says:

    I loved this! Yes, we’ve gotten so kookoo, fanatical, judgmental over diet. It bugs me like everything else overboard religious we have to endure on this planet, but I have resigned to the fact that we the human animal are mostly fanatically religious. It’s built in, with a small percentage of us de-programmed somehow. Just my own personal take, but I think you’re right about each person needing their own personal diet. Makes all the sense in the world to me.

    Wanted to wish you a very lovely and Merry Christmas!!

  6. Jay
    Jay says:

    To me exercise and eating is my religion, so I know what you mean. I only eat food that has health benefits. I started eating grass fed beef about a year ago. It’s the best. I order grass fed steaks from La Cense beef about once a month. Any time I want to grill a steak, I just take it out of my freezer. They make it so easy to eat healthy. Their new catalog has lots of deals to choose from. I’m always telling my family and friends to check them out.


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