Conscious Living: Open Your Heart
You can be an active, conscious participant in healing the earth by not being a vegetarian. It is a fallacy to think that the vegetarian lifestyle is the best for you and for the planet. Eating beef is good for you and for the planet.
This is the point at which it is critical to understand that all beef is not equal. Most beef (99,96% of South African beef ) is worse for you than vegetarian food and certainly worse for the environment than vegetables. However, it is very important not to throw the ruminant baby out with the putrid bathwater of confinement farming, as you will discover there is a specific form of regenerative agriculture that exists which heals the earth. is type of agriculture can only exist with the help of ruminant animals. The byproduct of this method of regenerative agriculture is delicious, nutritious red meat.
A constant theme in this column is the damage that we are doing to ourselves, to the planet and to the animals in confinement “farming” operations. For more on human beings’ species-wide suicide attempts, please read my other columns in this magazine. We can no longer live in denial about the unsustainability of our existence.
The first issue is that vegetarianism is the second-best food choice for environmental impact. In fact, organic vegetables are the second-best choice, and non-organic or conventional or chemically farmed vegetables are the third-best choice. Confinement animal “farming” is by a long way the worst for the environment. Organic vegetable and fruit farmers, through compost, mulching and foliar feeding, slowly build soil carbon, whereas conventional fruits and vegetables are grown with nitrogen-based fertilizers that burn up soil carbon.
At this stage, let’s divert to carbon, the scaffolding of all life. Since the Industrial Revolution, man has been increasingly releasing carbon into the atmosphere, which is causing climate instability. The safest place for carbon is in the soil. I will elaborate later on how carbon can be sequestered (stored in the soil) in the quantities needed so that global warming can be reversed. As soil carbon increases, so does the water-holding capacity of the soil, as well as the ability of the soil to house the nutrients and minerals needed for plant growth.
Let us return to vegetables. In addition, the nitrogen-based fertilisers keep the plants in the vegetative stage for too long and, accordingly, the secondary plant metabolites (which give the plant avour and the ability to ght disease) don’t develop as they should, resulting in a tasteless, sick plant, which then needs more pesticides to keep it from being destroyed by insects that exist to destroy food not suitable for higher animals. A dream scenario if you are an agricultural chemical sales rep.
Every year the EWG does an analysis and then publishes a list, known as the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen, of fruits and vegetables with the most and least different types of pesticide residues on them. Conventionally grown kale, which is 16th on the list, has 51 ’cides sprayed on it. Apples are top of the Dirty Dozen and Avocados top of the Clean Fifteen. Organic fruits and vegetables don’t have any of these residues on them.
As an aside, cide is the Latin word for death. Conventional agriculture liberally uses herbicides, pesticides, larvacides, nematicides, insecticides, etc, which are all on the side of the agricultural chemical company and not on the side of the farmer or the consumer of the fruits and vegetables coated with these ’cides.
The food choice for the best environmental impact is meat from ruminants managed in a specific manner. Known as high-density grazing, it is the most effective way to store large amounts of carbon in the soil. Simply, it is a lot of animals in a small space for a short period of time, with a long rest before regrazing. The best proselytiser of this method of carbon sequestration is Allan Savory. His TED talk is excellent. The most effective ruminant in this type of regenerative farming is the cow.
The second issue is that vegetarianism is not the best choice for your health. The most complete, global dietary study ever done was by Weston A. Price, who travelled the world for 10 years looking for healthy people, and instead discovered degenerating health wherever the white man’s food was being eaten. He did not find one healthy vegetarian society. His book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is an illuminating read. All of the healthy societies consumed some form of animal protein. Long-term vegetarians, longer than 30 years, develop health problems because they are short of the vitamins and minerals and connective tissues that are in animal protein.
It is key to understand that, in contrast to confinement/ grain-fed meat, the meat from grass-fed ruminants has all the right fats and, critically, the correct balance of omega-3 and 6. e modern Western diet is overloaded with omega-6, which is the root cause of the plethora of inflammatory diseases that assail modern man. The major problem that all Banting coaches are causing is not explaining to their patients that eating confinement/grain-fed beef is an overconsumption of omega-6. A lot of the good they are doing by getting people o the poison that is sugar is being undone by their willful ignorance of the dangers of grain-fed/confinement beef.
There is an increasing number of people who say they provide grass-fed beef. Before you buy their meat, check whether or not they finish the animals on grain, because as soon as grains are introduced into the herbivore’s diet, the bacteria in the rumen change, acidosis commences and the nutritional value of the meat goes down as the omega 6s increase, and hence the correct balance of omega-3-6 is upset. These animals are, by design, herbivores and not grainivores.
As dangerous as the overconsumption of omega-6 is from your confinement/grain-fed beef, so is your unwitting consumption of the carcinogen glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in the most commonly used agricultural chemical (also used on your lawn and your driveway. In addition to being a carcinogen, glyphosate is patented as a chelator of micronutrients, which means they are unavailable to you in your body. This poison in our food is something I will return to in a future column.
The most nutritious part of the animal is not the muscles that we obsess about, but the organs inside the body. If you cannot handle meat or organs, then make a bone broth and drink some of that elixir daily. By adding turmeric to the bone broth, the meaty flavor is removed.
As always, you are most welcome to visit me on the farm in Stellenbosch when you are in the area.
Who is the writer?
Farmer Angus is a biodynamic farmer based in Stellenbosch. Follow him on Twitter @FarmerAngus or go to his website at www.farmerangus.co.za.