There’s a popular belief today that if you really care about animals and are serious about health, you should be a pure vegetarian, better yet vegan or raw food-tarian. Drawing on over 40 years of experience, Ruth Sackman, (1915-2008), FACT co-founder and former president, saw things differently. Here’s her take on why the completely fleshfree life may not be for everyone.
For some people vegetarianism seems to be a universal truth. Personally, I would prefer to be a vegetarian as I feel a gut sympathy for animals, but I have to face the reality of my years of experience at FACT which have brought me into close contact with so many patients and clinicians. Some patients regain their health as vegetarians and others cannot. Should those who require meat protein jeopardize their health for ethical feelings about the slaughter of animals? I think we have to adjust to the circumstances of life and choose what is indicated for each individual.
The claim by vegetarians that the design of the human body (teeth and digestive system) is equivalent to that of vegetarian animals is not anatomically correct. We do not have the very short digestive tracts of carnivorous animals, but nor do we have the enlarged fermenting sacs of herbivores, like cows with 4 stomach compartments. We have one stomach and a medium length digestive tract, as well as teeth capable of tearing flesh and chewing fine vegetation, while most herbivores lack canines and upper incisors. It would seem that Nature has placed us somewhere in between. It is my view the human system adapts to its environment over generations, thereby rendering some people omnivorous. Nature has the wisdom to make this adjustment in order to sustain life. The offspring of generations of meat-eating ancestors have evolved into omnivorous entities and now require meat in small amounts in order to maintain homeostasis.
The following example of research conducted by Robert Good, M.D., may give some insight into vegetarianism for the cancer patient.
Dr. Good, who at one time did immunology research at Sloan Kettering, conducted a research project when he was at the University of Minnesota to determine the effect of a no-protein diet on mice bred to produce cancer. The results were most interesting. Initially, the tumors were reduced. But, when the mice were deprived of protein over a long period of time, the tumors regrew. There is a logical explanation for this phenomenon.
The body, when it is deficient in some element which it needs for metabolism, attempts to recreate the necessary balance by taking it from places which we call storage. If the body needs calcium in the bloodstream, it takes it from the teeth and bones. In this instance it would seek protein from either the muscles or the periphery of the cells where excess protein is stored. As long as the protein is available, the body maintains normal function (homeostasis). But when the stored protein is depleted and can no longer provide enough to correct the imbalance, the body function goes awry. When there is a biochemical imbalance, the body is then vulnerable to the production of abnormal cells.For cancer patients this can be deadly.
The only reason that this final chapter of Dr. Good’s study is available is because the project was extended long enough to see the actual results of protein deprivation. Most cancer research is discontinued too soon. Adequate time should always be an integral part of cancer research as immediate results, which may manifest in tumor reduction, cannot reflect the more usual picture of cancer’s history. I have been constantly critical of the fact that, more often than not, the cancer research projects are not extended long enough to accurately reflect the condition of the human species. Cancer is a slow-growing disease and just achieving tumor reduction is not a conclusive indication of a cure. Tumors are cut out and discarded, reduced by chemotherapy or radiation, yet too often there is a recurrence.
If flesh protein needs to be included in the diet, it should be from organically-fed,pastured animals, which, of course, means free of contaminants. Red meat, in particular, has gotten a bad rap; when produced from grass-fed, sustainably-raised animals, it provides vital nutrients in compact form. What is unbalancing and unhealthy today is the industrial production of agriculture that is totally counter to Nature and the survival of all species. The items used in producing much of the meat today remind me of a laboratory with a mad scientist mixing the concoction: hormones which can upset hormonal balance, antibiotics which kill good intestinal flora, road-kill as feed which can cause mad cow disease. There are probably other components which we don’t even know about, though these three are more than enough to cause havoc.