Recovering From Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism in Traditional Cultures?
Dr. Weston Price was very interested in vegetarian ideas. Of Vitu Levu, a large island in the Pacific Ocean, he wrote, “I had hoped to find on it a district far enough from the sea to make it necessary for the natives to have lived entirely on land foods…one of the purposes of the expedition to the South Seas was to find, if possible, plants or fruits which together, without the use of animal products, were capable of providing all of the requirements for growth and for maintenance of good health and a high state of physical efficiency.”
He expressed his “disappointment” that “…I have not found a single group of primitive racial stock which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by living entirely on plant foods. I have found in many parts of the world most devout representatives of modern ethical systems advocating the restriction of foods to the vegetable products. In every instance where the groups involved had been long under this teaching, I found evidence of degeneration.”
Dr. Price’s disappointment that vegan diets are invariably deficient appears to be echoed in the histories of many of us who follow his teachings. Who among us has not at some time tried to follow a vegetarian or near vegetarian regime? Vegan, fruitarian, vegetarian, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, with or without occasional fish or chicken…it sometimes seemed we were conditioned to eat as little animal food as we could get by on. Even after reaching an intellectual understanding of Price’s work and the critical importance of nutrients, especially fat-soluble activators, found only in animal foods, we often appear to be perhaps unconsciously concerned about eating too much of them. Such concern and an accompanying aversion to eating very much animal food is most marked, of course, before one learns about Price’s work. Years of vegetarian or near vegetarian eating result in, to use Dr. Price’s word, degeneration. How does one recover?
Vitamins A and D, Cod Liver Oil, Butter Oil
and Organs and Glands
Many of us who have never considered ourselves vegetarians may find ourselves deficient in critical nutrients after years of near vegetarian diets. Many people have relied for extended periods on dairy foods to provide needed nutrients, but because of the poor quality of commercial dairy products, they provide little in the way of critical nutrients and typically aggravate allergies and other chronic problems. Quality raw dairy products are difficult for most people to obtain. Commercial meats are avoided by most health-conscious people for obvious reasons, as is any substantial quantity of seafood because of the mercury content. Thus a dearth of quality animal foods has been characteristic at one time or another of the diet of many health seekers.
So it seems to me that most of us do have one degree or another of “recovery” ahead of us once we come to a realization of the importance of quality animal foods. And because we often tend to think even then that a little animal food is enough in a “balanced” diet, we may without realizing it never consume enough animal fat, with its activators and other nutrients, to reach robust good health.
According to Dr. Price, the most critical nutrients were those found in the fats of wild animals or grassfed domestic animals and their milk products. These nutrients include vitamins A and D, EPA, DHA and other fatty acids, activator X and perhaps other unknown nutrients. Along with enzymes supplied only in raw and fermented foods, these are the nutrients that are most lacking in modern diets. They are richly supplied in our high vitamin cod liver oil, butter oil, or ghee and organs and glands.
Misunderstanding surrounding vitamin D is typical of the confusion most people have about animal source nutrients. Dr. Price wrote, “There is misapprehension with regard to the possibility that humans may obtain enough of the vitamin D group of activators from our modern plant foods or from sunshine (my emphasis)…there are known to be at least eight D factors that have been definitely isolated and twelve that have been reported or partially isolated.” Misapprehension today generally goes much further. Even people who are aware of Dr. Price’s work often believe that optimal amounts of vitamin D can be obtained from exposure to sunlight. And just as most have been intimidated by the media and the medics into hedging their bets when it comes to the consumption of cholesterol-rich animal foods, most shy away from all but the smallest amounts of vitamin D supplementation.
This may be why I have always found cod liver oil to be one of the most valuable food supplements most people can take. I believe that many people who profess to eat “the Weston Price way” have in fact never fully recovered from the deficiencies of their vegetarian or near-vegetarian years. By richly supplying vitamin D and other fat-soluble nutrients, cod liver oil hastens recovery. That said, note that it is important to balance cod liver oil, butter oil or ghee and vitamin K2. See my recommended doses of these oils.
How much vitamin D might be optimal is somewhat controversial but the question is central to a discussion about recovering from vegetarianism. Modern diets are notoriously low in vitamin D, often providing not even the minimal 400 IU per day recommended by the government. Scores of recent studies, however, have indicated that much higher amounts protect against a host of chronic diseases, including cancer. Something of a consensus has recently emerged among scientists who study the issue that about three or four thousand IUs per day may be optimal.
Raw Food Nutrients
Many people are eating diets that are based on vegetables, fruits, and grains, and include modest amounts of meat, seafood, fowl, eggs and perhaps some raw dairy. Such natural foods diets seem reasonable enough, and fit well with the concept, promoted by many popular politically correct articles and books, that our ancestors ate a diet that was low in fat and moderate in animal protein, and had lots of fiber. Such a dietary approach certainly beats scotch, pasta and cheesecake, and many people feel considerably better when adopting it.
But it is not a diet that is built to last, because the centerpiece of a truly healthy diet must be animal foods. That means a substantial portion of meat, seafood, fowl, eggs or raw dairy at just about every meal. That is how one recovers from vegetarianism and builds lasting health and strength.
It is not necessary to eat a lot of meat in such a regime, or any at all for that matter, if grassfed raw dairy is used liberally. In fact, because things go best when a large part of the animal fat and protein is consumed raw, grassfed raw dairy is especially important for those who do not eat raw or undercooked meat.
Dr. Price’s work makes it abundantly clear that indigenous people everywhere emphasized the consumption of raw or undercooked animal foods. Such food is nearly or completely lacking in most diets today. Along with the fat-soluble activators, raw fat and protein are in my opinion essential for robust health. Native diets were full of guts, grease and enzymes, the latter found only in raw foods, as well as the fat-soluble activators. Grassfed raw milk provides all of these nutrients in abundance, as do our high vitamin cod liver oil, x-factor butter oil, and organs and gland supplements in capsule form. Note, it is important to balance fermented cod liver oil, butter oil and vitamin K2. See my recommended doses of these oils.
Fermented and Raw Foods, Friendly Flora and Bowel Health
Fermented animal foods such as clabbered milk and yogurt and kefir made from raw milk, and fermented vegetables, support the proliferation in the intestinal tract of beneficial bacteria. Our innovative probiotic, Doc’s Friendly Flora, provides a rich supply of living microbes to populate the intestines and proliferate. The beneficial bacteria bulks up the stools, resulting in easy elimination.
Dr. Francis Pottenger wrote about another aspect of the influence of raw animal foods on intestinal health, explaining that raw food consists mostly of hydrophilic colloids. Hydrophylic means water loving, and a colloid is a suspension of solid particles in a gel-like fluid. Eaten uncooked, these colloids absorb large quantities of digestive juices, forming a gelatinous mass that maintains the mucosa of the stomach and digestive tract in a healthy state.
The heat of cooking precipitates out colloids, making them hydrophobic (water hating). The hydration capacity of the colloids is decreased, and they become less able to absorb digestive juices. Colloidal cellulose and pectins in plants can withstand greater temperatures without being precipitated than can proteins; this is why cooking has a less pronounced effect on the digestibility of plants than on that of animal foods. In modern diets, most people get it backwards, emphasizing eating vegetables raw while cooking all animal foods.
In Dr. Pottenger’s ten-year cat study, cooked-food cats were consistently found at autopsy to have much longer intestines than raw-food cats. Intestines of the former had many distensions and general lack of tone; the length was often up to twice that of raw-food cats. A similar process may be at work in humans as well. The argument has been made that the length of the human digestive tract demonstrates that humans are best suited for a vegetarian diet, because the remnants of the digestion of animal flesh may putrefy when stagnant in the rather long human intestines. The eating of refined and overcooked foods may indeed contribute to that length; problems allegedly due to flesh too long in the intestines may in fact be due to intestines that are too long. Price’s natives ate a substantial portion of their proteins and fats raw, and suffered no such problems.
Weston A Price and the Principles of Recovery
Dr. Price studied native people from the far north country of Alaska and Canada to the equatorial regions of Africa and the South Pacific, from the mountains of Switzerland to the jungles of the Amazon. He encountered a tremendous range of diets, all based on what food was locally available and upon wisdom passed down for hundreds of generations. From the information he compiled, we are left to draw conclusions about how to select foods today to restore and maintain health.
This is no easy task. I have sought to understand Price’s work and apply it in my own. Here are a few observations I have made about recovering from vegetarianism and the pervasive influence vegetarian thinking has had on most of us.
When it comes to quality grassfed animal food, more is better. One need not fear eating too much, and a substantial part is best eaten raw or undercooked.
Grains are a relatively new food for humans. Only a few of the cultures Price studied ate grains. When eaten, grains were very carefully and traditionally prepared. Grain foods that do not meet this criteria are best avoided. Many people feel best by simply eliminating all grain foods.
Almost every individual does well with the right kind and quantities of grassfed raw dairy foods for him or her, and with fermented vegetables.
The right special foods and supplemental nutrients for the individual result in a much more rapid and thorough recovery. These include high vitamin cod liver oil, butter oil or ghee, probiotics, organs and glands, and often other nutrients such as iodine, coenzyme Q10 and bone calcium. Note, it is important to balance fermented cod liver oil, butter oil and vitamin K2. See my recommended doses of these oils
The help of a practitioner who understands Dr. Price’s work may be invaluable. There is no one-size-fits-all diet you will find in any book by any “expert” (an expert being, in Will Rogers’ words, somebody who wrote a book and lives at least fifty miles away). Your needs are your own, based on your likes and dislikes, background and current condition, what’s available and practical for you, and many other intangibles that can only be understood in the context of a carefully taken medical history. A good practitioner is a mentor who can help you find the specific diet, special foods, and nutrients and proportions that are right for you.
Building Your Own Health
Think of your health as a dream house that you are at last free to build, a home that will shelter you for the rest of your life. Imagine for a moment that Dr. Price is the master designer and teacher who spent a lifetime studying homes throughout the world to learn the fundamental principles of house construction, principles which if followed will enable the home to be sturdy and beautiful. Imagine that your mentor is the architect who has learned what Dr. Price has taught, and learned from you just what you want and need, and prepared for you a marvelous set of blueprints – a detailed plan with which to build.
But imagine too in our little game that the rules say that only you can be the builder. To make the dream real you must act. To build your dream house, you would need to find the carpenters, the stone workers and artisans to construct the various elements and bring them together. You would need to learn new things and coordinate the work of many other people. It might be difficult. But you could do it, certainly, if, say, your life depended on it.
Building the house of your health is not so different. Here too you will need to learn new things, adopt new disciplines, and coordinate the work of others. You’ll need to find the food, and perhaps even the people who grow the food, to make the house of your health as beautiful, as sturdy, and as fine as you would like. But it shouldn’t be so hard – since your life does indeed depend on it.