Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jane Goodall on Giving up Meat

"People . . . ask how I coped when I first gave up meat. Psychologically, I felt really good about it, especially during the first few months, when the smell of bacon still made my mouth water, and I could be proud of my strength of will! But soon I began to feel so much better physically, too. Lighter, somehow. Other people who have given up meat have said the same. Nor is it surprising, for when we eat meat we waste a lot of energy getting rid of the toxins in the flesh that the animal was also trying to get rid of before it died. Perhaps that was why I started to feel so much more energetic. Since 1986 I have been traveling three hundred days a year, lecturing, going to meetings, lobbying, teaching, and so on. Never in one place for more than three weeks consecutively, and usually only a few days. I honestly don't think I could have maintained this pace when I was thirty years old - and I believe that giving up meat is the reason why I can today. [She was born in 1934; the book published in 2005.]

"If I was not on the road all the time I'd probably be a vegan. But it is not easy when you spend 300 days per year on the road and stay with people in all parts of the world to maintain a balance diet without any animal products. It's fine if you can cook yourself, or go to a good vegan restaurant. But home-cooked vegan food and vegan restaurants are not options on much of my travels. So I still eat eggs and cheese, and I know that milk is present in many sauces and desserts. Whenever possible I get organic, free-range animal products, but it's often not possible.

"Many people believe that meat is necessary for good health. The opposite is usually true. First, humans do not have the right kind of anatomy for frequent heavy meat eating. There is a difference in the length of the intestines of carnivores and herbivores. Carnivores have short intestines (about the length of their bodies) and are able to pass the nondigestible portion of their food quickly through the body before it starts to putrefy. Herbivores need more time to get the nutrients from the vegetable matter they eat and so have long intestines (about four times their body length). Humans have long intestines, too, so that flesh may sometimes stay for much too long in our guts. In other words, the human species does not have the physical attributes of the carnivore - and that includes ripping, slashing teeth and claws. And, finally, unless they only eat organic products, they are constantly contaminating their own bodes with the hormones and antibiotics fed to factory-farmed animals."

-Jane Goodall in Harvest for Hope - a Guide to Mindful Eating

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