We get advice to eat lots of whole grains, but we have not yet evolved to digest them very well.  Grains developed lectins to protect themselves from being eaten.  We have not developed a defense against them (such as four stomachs), and most of us have some degree of sensitivity, especially to the most well known – gluten.  Even when we don’t recognize any symptoms, the amount we are advised to eat can compromise our digestion and cause inflammation.

Farm animals have the same problem.  Lierre Keith discusses the effects of basing our diet on agriculture in a well reasoned and supported, passionate, easy to read book. She explains her purpose for writing: “this book is an effort to honor our deepest longings for a just world.”  The excerpt below summarizes what happens when we feed grain to the animals we eat, who are designed to eat grass (cows, sheep, goats) or insects (chickens).

“the first mistake is in assuming that factory farming – a practice that is barely fifty years old – is the only way to raise animals.  Their calculations on energy used, calories consumed, humans unfed, are all based on the notion that animals eat grain.

“You can feed grain to animals, but it is not the diet for which they were designed.  Grain didn’t exist until humans domesticated annual grasses, at most 12,000 years ago, while aurochs, the wild progenitors of the domestic cow, were around for two million years before that.  For most of human history, browsers and grazers haven’t been in competition with humans.  They ate what we couldn’t eat – cellulose – and turned it into what we could – protein and fat.  Grain will dramatically increase the growth rate of beef cattle (there’s a reason for the expression ‘cornfed’) and the milk production of dairy cows.  It will also kill them.  The delicate bacterial balance of a cow’s rumen will go acid and turn septic.  Chickens get fatty liver disease if fed grain exclusively, and they don’t need any grain to survive.  Sheep and goats, also ruminants, should really never touch the stuff.”  The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre Keith, p. 2

Conclusion: We are carnivores, but the flesh of sick, miserable animals does not nourish us.

Advice:  Buy naturally raised meats to nourish the ones we love (including ourselves).

Anne Whitson, MA, NS, NTP
© 2009 Ubbe's Fitness Studio