Free U.S. Shipping on orders over $20.00


New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community

Monday, April 23, 2012
What Are We Really Supposed to Eat? by guest blogger Brian L. Patton, aka “The Sexy Vegan”

Everyone is different. We have different body chemistry, different nutritional needs and restrictions because of genetics or allergies, and different upbringings and emotional states that cause us to associate certain aromas and flavors with feelings and memories. The sum of all this, multiplied by some very powerful advertising, results in the foods that we choose to consume. If we toss genetic anomalies, emotion, social stigma, 60 years of “meat marketing,” and even ethical and environmental considerations out the window, we're left with a simple question: What are we really supposed to eat?

It's very confusing. There seems to be as much research saying that we need to eat high-protein diets as there is saying we need to eat low-protein diets. The average person just doesn't have time to closely examine and sift through all this research. We just end up seeing a headline: "Eat meat — it's good for you." And the next day we see "Don't eat meat — it's bad for you." We rarely realize that what we're reading or watching is an obvious or not-so-obvious paid advertisement. In the end, all this funded "research" cancels itself out, leaving us with the easiest way to figure out what we should be eating: by taking a look in the mirror.

As members of the animal kingdom, we come equipped with the tools necessary for obtaining the food that our bodies need and extracting the nutrients that our bodies use as fuel. The lion, a carnivore, is fast and strong, with powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth and claws — perfect for chasing down a zebra and dismantling it for consumption. Additionally, the lion doesn't need to marinate, tenderize, or grill its zebra before eating it. It's born with all the tools, right down to its digestive system, that it needs to gather and extract the proper nourishment from poor Mr. Zebra. The grizzly bear, an omnivore, is also fast and strong, and capable of chasing down a deer, tearing through its flesh, and easily digesting the raw musculature. The grizzly bear is also capable of extracting nutrients from vegetation and insects, hence its omnivore status.

Are we, humans, really meant to consume animal products? Is it optimal for our longevity? According to what we see in the mirror, I think not. Humans have long been thought to be omnivores — just like the grizzly. We're so much alike, aren't we? I'll tell you what: you show me the guy who can chase down a deer on foot, kill it with his bare hands, tear through its flesh with his own teeth, and digest the raw innards every day without getting ill (and not "ill" in the good, ’80s rap song way), and I will reconsider my stance.

Can humans digest and extract nutrients from animal products? With processing, yes. Can we be relatively healthy people while eating a diet including animal products? Sure. But, based on the logic of the animal kingdom, we are designed to eat plants. Our teeth are dull, our jaws are weak, and eating raw animal flesh usually makes us sick. The tools we are born with lend themselves to obtaining and digesting food that doesn't increase cholesterol, have unnecessary fats, or try to run away or bite us back. I know, it makes us sound like the wussies of the animal kingdom. Maybe that's why we're so enamored with eating other animals — it makes us feel like the Grand Poobahs of the planet.

The average person not only survives but thrives on a vegan diet — if they do it right. The way we have been brought up to eat is not conducive to becoming vegan. We can't just throw away all our hamburgers, replace them with frozen veggie burgers, and expect to have optimal health. The lettuce and tomato must be elevated from topping to main course. We have to relearn the portrait of the plate.

Once we become acquainted with these new nutrient sources and how to utilize them, we can achieve a healthy and sustainable dietary balance. There are scores of vegan professional athletes, from cyclists to body builders to martial artists, who have learned this balance and thrive on vegan diets. Vegan moms, vegan babies, and vegan great-grandparents — they walk and thrive among us. Unfortunately, we only hear about the child who dies of malnutrition whose parents were feeding him just soy milk. Bad vegans and sensational media do a great job of giving the vegan diet a bad name.

I’m not going to lie — transitioning to a vegan diet is work. Not because it's unnatural but because we've been taught differently our entire lives. Old habits are hard to break. The work, however, is all in our heads, not our bodies. Our bodies want us to change — they’re screaming it through their clogged arteries and layers of fat cells; it’s our minds that truly need the convincing.

Brian L. Patton is the author of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook and executive chef for Vegin' Out, a vegan food delivery service in Los Angeles. As the quintessential “regular dude” vegan chef, he started posting instructional cooking videos on YouTube as his witty, ukulele-playing alter ego "The Sexy Vegan" and quickly gained a large following. Visit him online at


Blog RSS Link  RSS

Add to Google