I choose life -- and Okra Jambalaya -- over a steak

Eat Less Meat (dem's fightin' words)

By Don's Early Light, Donald J. Brix, Ph.D.

John Robbins’ website, The Food Revolution, recently passed along a list of six claims the (red) meat industry is promulgating, trying to stem Americans’ diminishing consumption of its product. Robbins, probably justifiably, calls the six statements “lies.” Here’s the list with a few observations.


There is no science linking red meat to cancer, stroke and heart attacks. It’s a mystery how the meat crowd is parsing the published literature which would lead them to say such a thing. The widespread occurrence of severe atherosclerosis and its deadly consequences, heart attacks and stroke, which characterize the American population are virtually unknown in societies whose diet is predominately vegetarian.

These words are close to a verbatim quote of Dr. William C. Roberts, a premier cardiologist of five decades experience with a bunch of impressive credentials, but I’m not gonna bore you with the list. Once upon a time, it was from reading one of Dr. Roberts’ articles that I learned it’s impossible to feed enough animal fat to a genuine carnivore, e.g., a dog or cat, to produce atherosclerosis, whereas it’s easy to do so in an herbivore. Hmm . . . I’d just bet there’s a lesson here about . . . well you can finish the sentence can’tcha.

Meat today is “leaner” than it used to be, and better for you. Go back thirty or forty years, and it was the tobacco guys telling us stuff like Camels are easier on your T-zone and, after all, your doctor smokes ‘em too.

Meat is an ideal protein because it is “nutrient dense. No lie here, but then so is asparagus through zucchini. Plants provide ample nutrient density along with lots of fiber which meat provides, let see . . . I think it’s none of, zero, zilch. Eat enough to sustain yourself, and you’re gonna get plenty of protein. Yep that’s right, but meat does include lots of heme iron and has the potential to create carcinogenic bile acids, both of which can be problematic.

The salt in meat is good for you! Trust me. I’m not makin’ this up. So all that stuff you’ve been hearing about the scourge of salt in processed meats, fergit it. Probably the only reason you haven’t been eating corny dogs at the State Fair.

Millions of Americans can’t be wrong. Despite it being a bit dry compared to my zippy verbiage, I’m gonna quote the Robbins’ people here. “Defending a food simply because it has ‘palatability’ and people like it certainly puts the cart before the horse. You could say the same thing about cigarettes. Toddlers, after all, like cough syrup and dogs like chocolate.” Well, maybe I’m wrong. That was a little bit zippy.

Red Meat warnings violate consumer “rights.” Uh, oh. Does “big meat” want to silence me? Yikes!

It was last September when I began quietly making these occasional deposits in select persons’ inboxes, then running for cover. Since then I’ve been gratified by the rich exchange of ideas and, believe it or not, occasional kudo that it has prompted. Well this past week it happened again. My way splendid niece, Teresa Danne, a CPA, works for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama. As I’ve been growing old and wizened, she’s become full of wry humor, masterful at detecting and laughing at life’s ironies, and remarkably free of self-defeating attitudes and behavior. The kind of person who causes people, after being with her, to feel better for the experience.

So it was she who reacted to the quote by Marion Nestle that was the capstone of last week’s letter. She covered lots of ground, but the unmistakable undercurrent was “individual responsibility” when it comes to consumer behavior. Here’s a brief sample.

“There is no shortage of lies, damned lies and statistics used by most companies in an effort to sell more, capture market share, increase the bottom line. The statement by Nestle suggests that food companies are the only group that would be this devious. I contend a better statement is that companies will make and market any product that sells, regardless of its effect on health, consumer need for it, outrageous claims or sheer ridiculousness. And consumers will be gullible enough to eat it up (pun intended).”

“Sheer ridiculousness.” That’s what came to mind when, last Sunday, thumbing through the coupons section of the newspaper, I noticed, “Save $1. GREEN TEA: IT’S ALL IN THE LEAVES.”

Well…not exactly in the leaves. Turns out the pitch wasn’t for green tea to drink but rather “diet gummies” of the stuff. That’s not all. You can get the gummies in four different versions: Diet Gummies, Fat Burner Gummies, Triple Fat Burner Gummies, and Carb Blocker Gummies. All, cohabiting of course, with that highly regarded elixir, green tea. Promise, I’m not makin’ this up. And like Teresa says, “consumers will be gullible enough to eat it up.” I hope she’s wrong, but fear she’s right. Weight loss hint: Don’t add a ridiculous pill to your daily routine; instead omit something that’s fat. For starters how ‘bout vegetable oils? Pure fat, can’t do better than that. Throw ‘em out.

Once again, time for the mantra. Low-fat, Whole-Foods, Plant-Based. That’s it! Green Tea Gummies don’t make the cut.

Think I’ll go make a batch of Okra Jambalaya. Chop up some okra, onion, celery, red and green bell pepper, and garlic. Steam saute all of it in my trusty Wok for a while, dump in a can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes along with a can of kidney beans. Toss in a teaspoon each of thyme, powdered rosemary and smoked paprika. Oh, almost forgot. I have some cooked rice on hand, so I’ll add some of it too, let it simmer for awhile and call it lunch. Hmmm . . . wonder if I have any green tea in the pantry?


WE CAN STOP EATING ANIMALS for our health, for our conscience, for our planet, or for the cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, dogs, and cats. Or we can do it for all of those reasons.

Good eatin’, Don

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