This article published today at Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET)
Apparently, vegans and paleos /”cavemen” are completely at odds, and may even hate each other, according to numerous articles you can look up yourself..
[ If true, then how, – and to which extent am I wondering.., – does this apply to Transhumanists.. ]
This (far from) objective truth, however, could do with some healthy myth-busting if you ask me.., which is not to deny certain tensions exist.., – on the basis of which vegan marathoner and author of ‘No Meat Athlete’, Matt Frazier, wrote an article in the Huffington Post, tittled Why Vegans and Paleos Should Stop Hating Each Other…
Matt Frazier is of the opinion that “we’re far more alike than we are different“, and personally I tend to agree with this assesment, except I’d probably exclude the “far”.., but let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we are alike /think alike:
- Fast (and processed) food is awful.
( e.g. the generation of Okinawans born since the arrival of the US airbase and its accompanying fast-food outlets have demonstrably declining health. )
- Whole foods are crucial.
( i.e. we should eat food as close to its natural state as possible. )
- Dairy products are bad, – for humans..
( e.g. it isn’t natural or healthy for humans to drink milk meant for baby cows..)
- Vegetables are good, – and organic vegetables are better.
- Fruits are good. – (with some (Paleo) qualifications).
- Nuts are good.
In conclusion, Vegans and Paleos are..
“the weirdos who avoid fast food, – pass on milk, and choose whole foods, – in a world of processed food and rapidly expanding waistlines…“
Add to that a passion about suffering / animal welfare, –e.g. both “camps” agree that factory farming is disgusting. (Paleos like grassfed free range food or wild food). – But I am deliberately ignoring any futile one-upmanship about which part is the greater ethicist, – as compared to health-“freak”..)
Ok, – so I can’t avoid touching upon our differences any longer.., and perhaps I should tell you also that I am a “veg’an” myself, – (currently a pesco-veg’an, who occasionally eat a bit of cheese also.)
As I understand it, the main argument in support of the Paleo-diet is an assertion to the effect that we humans are genetically disposed for being carnivores.., – thus: If the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t eat it…
Now, I find it somewhat futile to bicker about this “carnivore versus starchivore” issue, so suffice to say it is debatable, – read, for instance, this highly informative article: Even Our Ancestors Never Really Ate the Paleo Diet, – or this: Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians…
Let us presume, however, that the Paleo-pushers – (no offense) – are right.. – Then, – and here I am asking from the perspective of being a Transhumanist, – with an emphasis on TRANS.., – what about it ? – I mean, if , – IF, that is, – it was / is “human” to eat flesh, – should that require us not to change our ways, – not to make progress, not to evolve, biologically, morally, etc. ?
If so, there’s something about TRANS-“humanism” that I have thoroughly misunderstood..
[ My personal story is this: Already as a teenager I began having scruples about surviving – in part – on the flesh of my fellow creatures. Then, in the early 70’ies, while staying in a kibbutz in Israel, I decided to take advantage of this great opportunity to become a vegetarian, which is to say I stopped eating any kind of meat, but continued to eat / drink dairy products.
Years later, – and now it was no longer just a matter of ethics but one of health also, – I became strictly vegan. Ten years later or so, I began eating some fish, and in principle I have stayed pesco-veg’an since. Against my best intentions, however, I do eat a little cheese now and then, but.. I am contemplating going back to being strictly vegan again…
I should add that never at any point, – (including the initial change from a typical meat and dairy-heavy Danish diet, to vegetarianism), – have I experienced any health-issues, sudden changes in energy-levels, moods, etc. – In terms of energy, sleep, memory, etc., I’m just the average person, but I do enjoy normal blood-pressure, blood sugar level, blood count / haemaglobin percentage, cholesterol-levels and what can I tell you.., – oh yes, – suffer from no allergies whatsoever, never take / took any kind of pills, – (psst.. apart from.. in my young days..), – and.. well, I am basically doing quite ok..
In other words, my personal dietary journey /story is of little use as testimony for one way of eating over another, except.. I must be doing somethin’ right.. ]
Anyway, instead of trying to follow in the footsteps of what cave-men may or may not have eaten ages ago, why not – disregarding if you will the ethical aspects – base our diet on what is healthy according to modern science.., – not that there’s any real consensus, – far from it, – but still..
Depending on your preferences, e.g. if you favour the paleo lifestyle, you may argue there is not a large body of evidence supporting claims about the superiority of a veg’an (vegetarian / vegan) diet, and personally I think the highly popular site, “wiseGeek” – (futurist Michael Anissimov among its contributors..), – is stretching it a little when they give the following, categorical, answer to this question: Has it been Proven that a Vegetarian Diet is Really Healthier?
“The short answer is a resounding yes; it has been conclusively proven through extensive worldwide studies by independent, highly respected international health advisory boards that a vegetarian diet is significantly healthier than one which includes meat and animal products”.
However, just for starters, read up yourself about Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians, who live four to seven years longer than other Californians, and /or the low calorie diet of long-living Okinawans, – high in tofu and fresh vegetables, plus fish several times a week, but minimal dairy products and meat intake.
Consider also, – provided it is true what I’ve read somewhere.., – that health insurance companies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands offer discounted rates for vegetarians..
Longevity is also associated with:
- little processed food
- moderate to low calorie intake
- limited consumption of refined sugar
- being lean, i.e. low /”normal” Body Mass Index (BMI)
Veg’ans: Check ! – Paleos: Check !
As Matt Frazier, – the vegan marathoner.. points out in his Huffington Post article, –
“the biggest misconception about the Paleo diet is that it’s all about eating meat. Not true! – Paleo is about eating whole, real food that hasn’t been processed a thousand times and packed with tons of sugar.
There’s a lot to suggest then, that he is right in asserting that “when you set ethics aside and talk about health, the distinction between Paleo and vegan is completely insignificant“.
Repeating myself, I tend to agree, except I’d exclude the “completely”, as, apart from the meat / no meat controversy, there are disagreements about legumes and grains.., but.. we can discuss that another time, as this article is already long enough, and, I should think, plenty for you to.. ahem.. stomach in one go..
Also related: My strategies for longevity