[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine

                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #47                9-20-87
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                        THE ZEPHYR II BBS 
                    (Mesa, AZ - 602-894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1987

   Over on "Oh, Yeah!" there has been a semi-discussion on the 
value and dangers of meat, and the value of avoiding meat. The 
misconceptions, misinformation and distorted definitions were 
enough to cause this issue. 
   The author is Chris Mitchell. I've used (and hopely have not 
misused) my "editorial privilege" in making some comments of my 
own on this subject. 

   I'm not a vegetarian now. I was for several years prior to 
my marriage, and never felt better! That lifestyle drove my wife 
bonkers so I abandoned it. (Shows you where my priorities lie, 
doesn't it!)
   As a preface, there are various reasons for being vegetarian. 
One is for health. It's established fact that meat, and red meat 
in particular, is bad for you. Your body can handle it, but only 
to a certain degree. It cannot effectively deal with the poisons 
contained in meat.
   Then there are the philosophical reasons - the realization that 
taking a life for your own comfort and convenience is silly. That 
cow slaughtered so you can have a Big Mac was doing nothing to 
offend anyone. It was wandering around, chewing on the grass, then 
one day some guy comes along, guides it into a pen, and blows a 
glorified staple through its brain. (The method for getting pork 
and chicken is worse. Those are basically strung up by the back 
legs and swung down a conveyor while someone stands there and slits 
the necks. With fish it's even worse. They die by drowning in the 
air - a death that takes up to an hour, or more.)
   After that it comes down to a matter of degree. Killing a cow 
can feed meat to a family for months. Killing a chicken will feed 
maybe two people for one meal. A couple of fish might satisfy the 
hunger of one person for one meal. For dove hunters, a half-dozen 
makes a fair snack. A dozen oysters stripped out of their shells 
is something you gulp down in the New Orleans airport on the run.
   Then come those who take to more of an extreme. No eggs, since 
those could have become living animals and were purposely kept from 
becoming animals. (Kinda like planned abortion, but with chickens 
instead of people.)
   Some much smaller groups think of plants as important and viable 
lifeforms. These people won't eat anything that means that even a 
plant has to die. To harvest a potato or carrot, for example, the 
plant has to be ripped up. What we essentially is the root - kinda 
like eating the heart of a cow. The living thing still dies. This 
group will eat only from plants that have already died, or fruit of 
a plant once that fruit is no longer used by the plant for its 
health. (An orange, for example, can actually injure the tree if 
left on the tree.) 
   The next step up are those who very carefully take precautions to 
preserve and replant those seeds. (Kinda tough with a tomoto or a 
   A few VERY isolated groups take it all the way. The ultimate 
religious act in such cases is to allow oneself to let the bodily 
bacteria have free rein - to starve oneself to death so that the 
minimum damage is done while the body itself serves to provide 
nourishment for the other lifeforms.
   All of that is more to stave off some of the ridiculous 
objections that are bound to come up. If you want to talk about 
plants being alive as compared to animals, go right ahead. I have 
no desire or intention to squelch whatever comes up as a result 
of this week's issue. 
   At the same time, I do request that you show some sense. The 
topic is eating meat.
   The simple, proved and verifiable fact is - meat is NOT good for 
anyone beyond puberty, is of questionable value to anyone beyond the 
age of 5 or 6 (when the brain and nervous system have reached optimum 
growth), and possibly of uncertain value at any time.
   Yes, we're omnivores. But that's by choice. That Big Mac tastes 
pretty darned good. So does turkey dinner at Thanksgiving. We *can* 
eat those things, and our bodies *can* handle it pretty well. 
   But do we need it?
   What has come up on Zephyr has been a typical stream of 
misinformation and twisted concepts. (Like the "Catholic" idea 
that fish is not meat, for example. That fish was a living 
creature until someone killed it so someone else could eat it. 
The distinction between "meat" and "flesh" is absurd!)

                       Staying Vegetarian
     Lately the topic of vegetarianism and nutrition has popped 
up on this BBS. There has been lots of debate, but most of what's 
been said is based on misinformation, heresay and ignorance. I 
feel somewhat qualified to speak out on the subject because my 
wife and I have completely avoided meat of any kind for over 15 
     Somewhat curiously, when we tell people that we're not meat 
eaters, they say, "Well! You must eat an awful lot of fish!" Or, 
"Don't you get tired of chicken all the time?"  Sometimes, 
depending on the mood I'm in, I have to bite my tongue. (Oops! No 
chewing flesh!)  I feel like saying, "Excuse me, but apparently 
you have the cognitive ability of a senile yak. I said NO MEAT! 
If it swims, flies, crawls or walks, I'm not gonna eat it!" Of 
course, like anything else that varies from the norm, there is a 
lot of ignorance about vegetarianism, and we've found that 
maintaining a good sense of humor is vital. 
     The inconveniences are minor, but sometimes pretty funny. 
When invited over for dinner at a friend's house, I have to be 
careful to make my dietary preferences known. It would be 
insensitive of me not to. Can you imagine if someone spent all 
afternoon cooking up a storm, only to have their culinary delight 
rejected by the guest?  (I have known people who complain loud 
and long, in a superior manner, when served something they can't 
or won't eat. That's stupid. I find that a low-key approach works 
much better, and is much kinder. If someone is interested or 
curious, they'll ask for more information.) 
     Company picnics and the annual Chr.shtmlas parties at work are 
a challenge, too. You just have to smile and hope that there'll 
be an hors d'oeuvre plate handy. I've grown quite fond of little 
crackers with cheese, black olives, and those stupid chunks of 
broccoli and cauliflower. And you have to be VERY careful of the 
dip: it's usually either clam or loaded with bacon. (Over the 
years, I've probably passed up $7,500 worth of good caviar.) 
     It took my parents a few years to get comfortable with the 
idea, but we were helped by the fact that my brother and his wife 
are also nutritionally aware. My inlaws took much longer. They'd 
laugh nervously and try to make jokes when we'd pass up even the 
most sacred food tradition in this country:  the Thanksgiving 
turkey dinner! Over the years they've gotten the idea that this 
isn't a passing fad, and now when we visit we're often delighted 
to find that they've actually stocked up on stuff that we feel 
comfortable eating. (Lentils, veggies, and all the "phony" stuff: 
meatless hamburgers, hot dogs, luncheon slices and so forth, made 
entirely from spun soybean protein! Check your Safeway sometime.) 
     Restaurants are a different story. There are VERY few things 
that we can get to eat. Now, we're not extremely strict to the 
point of fanatacism or paranoia. We're ovo-lacto vegetarians, 
which means we eat eggs occasionally and dairy products, like 
cheese and milk. (More on that later.) In restaurants, you really 
don't know what you're getting, so you just ask questions and use 
your best judgement. Most meatless Italian food is okay; many 
Chinese dishes are just fine, and I could eat non-meat Mexican 
food 5 times a week!  In my heart of hearts, I know that there 
are probably some less than desirable ingredients here and there, 
but life is full of compromises and you just have to do your 
best. I've ordered cheese enchiladas and gotten chicken more than 
once. You can't flip out--you just get the mistake corrected and 
carry on.
     Lately, there have been some exotic restaurants opening up 
that are VERY good. Several east Indian places, and one that 
specializes in Moroccan food. It's kind of nice to tell the 
waiter that you're a vegetarian and have his or her face light up 
with joy instead looking at you like you're a bag of used kitty-
     Once we went to a nice Chinese place, and explained about 
our needs. The waiter finally understood: "Ah! No meat! Yes! No 
meat!" Well, when dinner arrived, they had very carefully 
garnished everything with chopped pork and shrimp. They'd gone to 
so much trouble we almost hated to send it back. (But we did.)
     Believe it or not, we have better luck with airlines. If you 
are on a special diet, whether it's low-sodium, kosher, pareve, 
vegetarian or whatever, all you have to do is call a week or so 
in advance and tell 'em you need a "special meal." Then when it's 
food-time, the staff usually brings the exact right thing to you 
without your even having to ask. (Of course, their idea of 
vegetarian is simply a larger than usual salad, a couple of extra 
cherry tomatoes, and an extra slice of wheat bread. At least 
they're trying. Now if they just remember to get the flaps up...) 
     So, basically, when you choose a different path, you're 
pretty much on your own to find your way! 
     It might be worth discussing how we came to this diet. In 
the early '70s, people were experimenting with many facets of 
life. Politics, open relationships, free love, recreational 
drugs, spiritualism--and diet. A friend of mine became totally 
sold on a very strict, radical vegetarian way of life. He became 
almost evangelical about it. In fact, come to think about it, he 
was a pain in the ass. But nonetheless, he turned me on to 
several books on the subject, and I played around with it for a 
while. Inevitably, though, I got a little bored and fell off the 
     In my high school days, one of my weaknesses was eating ham 
& swiss sandwiches at Tony's Delicatessan in Reno. (Fantastic, to 
this day.)  Well, my wife and I got a couple of those suckers and 
devoured them. We got VERY ill. I'm not saying that we got sick 
just from eating the meat... I'm pretty sure that it was due to 
the fact that the ham had gone bad. It really doesn't matter: 
that was the turning point, way back in the summer of 1972. We 
bought some more books, and really started learning about it. 
     There was one more incident. We were in Maine visiting my 
parents, and picked up a bunch of lobsters right off the boat one 
afternoon. Got home, boiled a huge pot of water, and tossed the 
critters in. The sound they made was pretty weird... and it sunk 
in that in the space of 2 seconds what was once a living sea 
creature had been reduced to a hunk of dead meat. Obviously 
that's one of the prices you have to pay, but I decided that the 
price was too high--at least for me. We fasted that night. 
     There are many reasons for giving up meat. Some people are 
so into animal rights that that's reason enough. Others cite the 
substantial savings in your food bills. Most are into it for the 
health benefits. In my case, it's a little of all the above. 
     I really do think that the way we treat animals in this 
country is abysmal. Have any of you seen the stories on "60 
Minutes" and elsewhere about how poultry is raised in this 
country? Or veal? Or beef cattle for that matter? Or how about 
the "puppy farms" that provide us with our pet dogs?  It's truly 
sickening, but people would prefer to not think about it. 
     Before someone beats me to it, let me toss in that I'm not 
anti-hunting, if it's done responsibly. Hunting is indeed a valid 
way to manage some species of wildlife. I love to fish--and if I 
catch anything (rare) I either throw it back or give it to 
someone. And I love to shoot. Targets... not living beings.
     There is no doubt that our grocery bill has gone down 
dramatically simply by avoiding meat, which is very expensive. 
     And, ah, yes... the health benefits.
     I'm now going to do some direct quoting from one of our 
favorite cook books, "The Oats, Peas, Beans & Barley Cookbook" by 
Edyth Young Cottrell, (c)1974, pub. Woodbridge Press Publishing 
Co. (ISBN 0-912800-07-0). This'll save time, and since it's not 
just me spouting my opinions, should cut through a lot of the 
     Page 10:
     "Why oats, peas, beans, and barley...and other such simple 
1. Because they are direct food crops--not secondary foods of 
animal origin, or processed, "fractioned" foods.
2. Because they are foods which, eaten together, give improved 
nutritive value.
3. Because, as direct food crops, they best utilize the land, 
producing the highest yield per acre of high-quality proteins, 
minerals, vitamins, and essential calories.
4. Because they are generally economical even though their 
nutritive value is high.
5. because many of them can be grown in the home garden, or even 
a small area in the back yard or in a flower border.
6. Because of the delicious goodness of these foods.
7. Just because...! 
     These direct products of nature offer much, much more for 
your money, not only in quantity and quality of foods but also in 
other values which are above price."
     On page 13, we start seeing some hard scientific evidence, 
backed by sources attributed. "Improved quality of vegetable 
proteins: Use of combinations of foodstuffs of vegetable origin 
to prepare foods with protein values comparable to those found in 
animal proteins. 'Properly supplemented vegetable proteins cannot 
be distinguished nutritionally from those of animal origin.'" 
(This quote comes from R. Bressani and M. Behar, "Proceedings of 
the Sixthe International Congress on Nutrition" (Edinburgh: E. 
and S. Livingston, 1964.)
     "Ample mineral and vitamin content. Use of unrefined grains, 
nuts, fruits, and vegetables to supply an adequate store of 
minerals and vitamins in a balance provided by an all-wise 
Creator. Use of dark-green, leafy vegetables or fortified soy 
milk as sources of calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin A (fortified 
soy milk or brewers yeast for B-12) in case milk is restricted in 
the diet."
     "The use of direct food crops (grain crops, vegetables, and 
fruits) when whole-heartedly put to full use according to the 
knowledge of today, carries us further than we formerly supposed 
toward a food supply of optimal nutritional value." (This from 
Henry C. Sherman, "The Nutritional Improvement of Life," writing 
in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association 22:579. July, 
     It's clear that these are not crack-pot statements by a 
bunch of dissident Democratic homosexuals. Oh, wait... that's the 
OTHER discussion... 
     Here's the one that strikes home the most with me. It has to 
do with the efficient use of the land. Kids, we're facing a 
world-wide food crisis. We're damn lucky in this country, but 
time is running out. (We all know that people are starving to 
death all over the world, including here at home. And why is it 
necessary for Willie Nelson to have to organize Farm Aid III?) 
We're in deep dung. So here're a couple of paragraphs from pages 
16 and 17 of Edyth Young Cottrell's book: 
     "One acre of wheat will supply 27 times as many calories, 13 
times as much protein, and 17 times as many vitamins as beef 
produced on one acre. The ratio per acre of soybeans to beef is: 
calories, 34 to 1; protein, 49 to 1; vitamins, 33 to 1. The ratio 
per acre of peanuts to beef is: calories, 28 to 1; protein, 16.6 
to 1; vitamins, 11 to 1." (This information comes from the U.S. 
Army Medical Service Graduate School, 'Notes: Medical Basic 
Sciences Course.' U.S. Govt. Printing Office.) 
     "Combinations of cereals and legumes have prevented or cured 
protein deficiency diseases in children. Dark-green, leafy 
vegetables contain a protein of growth-promoting value as well as 
an abundant supply of minerals and vitamins. Since these foods 
can be produced in greater abundance and in much less time than 
meat proteins, a reduction of one-third in the consumption of 
meat would increase the world food supply very materially.
     The number of additional people that could be fed if the 
whole population of the United States were willing to exchange a 
third of their protein from meat and milk for that from soybeans 
would run from ten to thirty millions." (C.M. McCay, "Increasing 
the Use of Plant Proteins," Federation Proceedings 4:128. June, 
1944.)  [Note: just think what the numbers would be 43 years after 
that was written!] 
     "As the world supply of complete animal proteins becomes 
increasingly short, the economic significance of this concept is 
evident. In developing countries, where protein deficiencies are 
endemic,...a well-planned vegetarian diet based on the concept of 
mutual supplementation would appear to be one logical solution to 
the protein problem." (Michael G. Wohl, 'Modern Nutrition in 
Health and Disease - Dietotherapy', Philadelphia: Lea and 
Febiger, 1968.)
     Now, as I said, these are not opinions of a bunch of flaked-
out weirdos. Scientific facts. One thing that has come up in the 
above quotes more than once is the principle of "mutual 
supplementation." It's also called food combination.
     It's very simple. Many foods contain proteins that are 
limited in one or more of the essential amino acids. All ya gotta 
do is combine one or more foods correctly, and BINGO! complete 
proteins, often of a higher quality (Essential Amino Acid Index 
value) than any meat. For a very quick example, one slice of 
whole wheat bread with just one-half cup cooked pinto beans has a 
protein rating of 78. A "passing grade" for a growing child is 
70; adult maintenance requires a value of 60 or more. Beans and 
bread = complete protein!  Amazing, no?  Quoting again: "The same 
supplementary principle holds true for the proteins of a wide 
variety of cereal grains which may be supplemented (or improved) 
by combining with peas, soybeans, beans, lentils, garbanzos or 
any of a variety of legumes, nuts, dark-green leafy vegetables, 
or milk."
     But little Johnny or Suzie needs meat to grow big and 
strong! Hah. "It is now known that suitable mixtures of vegetable 
proteins can replace satisfactorily the animal protein in the 
diet of the young child."  (Stanley Davidson, et al., 'Human 
Nutrition and Dietetics', Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1959.) 
     Remember what was mentioned above about the Index value? 
(Also called the biological value.)  Kids need 70+, adults 
somewhat less. Well, how 'bout good ol' buckwheat coming in at a 
whopping 77?  Or cashews at 72?  Potato: 73. Cow's milk, (which I 
pretty much avoid) at 85!  Chicken eggs are the grand-prize 
winner at 94, and if you're into fungi, strap on a mushroom pizza 
sometime. Mushrooms hit the scale at 80, the cheese a respectable 
72, and of course the crust is made out of bread (at least 40.) 
     And don't forget about supplemental combinations: put those 
mushrooms and cheeses together and slap 'em on a piece of bread, 
eat it all in combination (that's the key), and you've got a very 
complete protein!  Now all you need is a Nautilus machine to work 
off the excess... but actually pizza isn't all that fattening. 
It's the pitcher of beer! (And beer is very nutritious, too!)
     I could go on and on, but I think the basic information here 
makes the point. Human beings don't HAVE to eat meat. You can be 
just as healthy, or healthier, without it. It takes a certain 
amount of effort, but to me it's well worth it for the reasons 
I discussed above. But that's just for me and my family. What you 
do is up to you, as long as you do it CONSCIOUSLY. Why do you eat 
the way you do?  Because Mom and Dad do?  And their Moms and 
Dads?  When was the last time you actually THOUGHT about what you 
stuff into your face (and body)?  
     You won't get a lecture from me if we go out to dinner 
sometime. 99% of my friends and acquaintances are meat eaters. I 
don't preach, but if they ask I'm more than happy to be as 
helpful as possible. And check this out: my doctor, a regular old 
family doctor, is actively exploring our way of eating, and has 
pretty much knocked off all red meat. And he certainly has more 
access to the latest scientific knowledge than I do! Every time I 
see him he's closer and closer...
     It's not for everyone, but I'm convinced that it could be. 
And it certainly wouldn't hurt anyone to give it a try, or at 
least CUT DOWN on the meat you consume. I know you'll save money, 
and I think you'll feel better in the long run. 
     In closing, just let me mention one other thing that's a 
related subject:  what goes INTO our food. You can guess how I 
feel about it, and all I suggest is that the next time you go to 
the store, take a minute to READ the ingredients on EVERY item 
you purchase. In case you weren't aware, ingredients are listed 
in order of quantity. I've got an 8 oz. can on Contadina tomato 
sauce here: tomatoes, salt, dextrose, spices, onion powder, and 
garlic powder. Serving size: 4 fl. oz.; sodium per serving: 600 
milligrams. (I'm not sure, but that sounds like an awfully large 
amount of salt!  And, of course, 'dextrose' is another way of
saying 'sugar'. So, if you want a quick education, start reading 
your labels. 
     Above all, eat a balanced diet, no matter what it is. Live 
long, and prosper! 

Until Next Time

   That article touches on most of it. 
   My wife and I eat meat. We've gone out to dinner with Chris and 
his wife, and have had them here, on a number of occasions. He's 
dead serious when he says that he doesn't make a big deal of it. 
You can believe me - he's NOT a fanatic!!! He has just found a way 
of life he prefers, and has done the research to do it right.
   As I've said elsewhere, the misconceptions and misinformation on 
this are astounding. 
   What kicked it off this time was a statement by one user (Tom 
Emerson) that his digestive system doesn't seem to handle meat as 
well as it used to, followed by the finding that meats in particular 
tend to leave undigested blockages. Another user (Hans Utz) claimed 
that this was just a matter of education - that the several pounds 
of goop left behind doesn't exist except in the mind.
   Fish and chicken are a little better. They contain fewer poisons 
than beef or pork. But, despite the contrived definitions so many 
people use, they are still meat. Flesh of living animals. Such a 
twisted definition of "meat" becomes a matter of convenience for a 
society that is based around the taking of animal life for comfort.
   Feel perfectly free to make your comments. My one request is that 
you do a bit of research first. ("I like a steak now and then," is 
just fine. Chris won't argue that point, and I rather enjoy steak 
myself. It's just not the point Chris is making.) 
   I just request that we avoid opinion and uneducated (or miseducated) 
statements as much as possible. And for those who make them, be 
forewarned that your opinions will be blasted in return with 
established fact. 

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.