MARK L. BAKKE'S
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REPLY #2 TO
"EXTREMISTS"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

How is eating meat or other animal products "bad" for you?
(R) In response to this statement, meat is loaded with fat and cholesterol, the biggest causes of heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in America.
(MB) Well, actually cancer is the biggest killer in America, but that's not the point here. It should be obvious that fat and cholesterol, in and of themselves, are not deadly. In fact, they are essential nutrients in the respect that they are sources of energy that the body needs. It is the overeating of foods that supply fats and cholesterols (combined with a lack of exercise) that is the major health problem. Almost anything can become hazardous to your health when consumed immoderately. Also, not all types of fats and cholesterols are harmful and not all meats contain similar amounts or types of those substances. To remove all meats from one's diet solely out of fear of fat and cholesterol is an unfortunate and unjustifiable overreaction to a limited set of data.


(R) Here we are trying to cure aids, when the biggest killer is right around us.
(MB) Gotta agree with you on that point. The big issue here is that cancer and heart disease are neither sexual in nature nor confined primarily to the members of one vocal and organized minority special-interest group.


(R) Fifty percent of Americans are fat! (Sure some is due to sitting in front of computers all day:), but most due to diet.)
(MB) You gain weight from an overconsumption of calories from food combined with a lack of exercise that would otherwise burn up those calories. That can happen just as easily on a vegetarian diet as for those of us whose diets are more well-rounded. As you suggest, it's the sedentary lifestyle that really makes the major contribution towards obesity.
    In my own case, I'm currently 41 years old, 5'9" tall and weigh 153 pounds and like nothing better than a big, thick steak. My waist is the same size today (29") as it was when I graduated high school at the age of 17 although I'm 25 pounds heavier from added muscle. I don't live in the gym (in fact, I don't go to the gym at all), but my Army Physical Fitness training and life-long sports activity have kept me in pretty decent physical shape. I'm not on a body-builder regimen and don't do anything special with my diet. I neither smoke nor drink and I take no supplements of any kind. I tend to eat whatever I want, to include eggs, milk, cheese, bacon, and the aforementioned steaks.
    I think that my own example is good evidence that meat in one's diet does not doom one's health. There are many factors that must combine in order to promote health and physical fitness. Incidentally, I *do* pretty much sit in front of a computer for most of the day at work...*grin*



(R) The environmental aspects of having millions of cows and livestock roaming on land which could be used for farming. Comparing the use of land for farming or cattle (eating plants), ten times the ammount of people could be fed per acre of land, than cattle.
(MB) Is the environmental impact of cattle ranching any more detrimental than the impact of the pesticides and chemical fertilizers that must be used to grow crops that are resistant to weeds and adverse weather? In fact, I'd say that cattle ranching is better for the environment since it is the cattle's natural state to roam around the grasslands whereas the application of pesticides and fertilizers to the land produces unnatural conditions.
    I grew up on a farm in North Dakota that produced both beef cattle and various cereal grains (primarily durum wheat and barley), so I have some reasonable experience from which to draw comparisons. Cattle are relatively easy to raise and don't require much pasture land if that land grows grass readily. Crops require large fields and you can't grow crops all year long or year after year in the same field. Those fields must lay fallow (and, therefore, unproductive) for at least one growing season out of every three in order to recover essential nutrients that are exhausted by the grain crops. Also, cattle reproduce themselves while new seed must be acquired and planted to grow each new crop.



(R) And one can't seem to leave an argument about food without bringing up the people in china starving while Americans grow fat on beef.
(MB) What's the point here? People starve due to their relative economic conditions and to overpopulation and not due to their society's dietary habits. I remember when my mother used to tell me that I had to eat my cauliflower because there were people starving in China. I told her that I would be willing to send my portion to them. Somehow, that didn't go over very well.


(R) What about the rainforrest, being cut down to grow beef for people?
(MB) What about it? The reason that cattle are raised on the cleared rain forest lands are two-fold. One, rain forest soils are not suitable for sustained yield agriculture and typically "burn out" in less than five years. Two, the governments of those countries provide large tax incentives and guaranteed price supports for cattle production.
    Don't get me wrong. I also oppose the destruction of the rain forests for many reasons above and beyond what's currently being done with the cleared land.



(R) How many chemical booster and hormones do they pump animals up with to make them grow faster and be extra tender?
(MB) That depends on what part of the country you're from? In North Dakota, none of that is needed since there is abundant prime grazing land and cattle don't have to roam far and wide to feed. They will then get fat and tender with no chemical assistance. In some other parts of the country, the ranches are huge because grass is scarce and their cattle's muscle mass gets much tougher due to the required extra ranging they must do to stay fed. They must then use chemicals to make the meat comparable to that of the drug-free cattle. In any case, proper growth hormones are entirely natural and safe, but they aren't a perfect substitute for prime rangeland.


(R) I admit that meat used to taste better than most stuff, but is taste alone worth it, if you die a lot earlier and do your part to destroy the environment for your kids?
(MB) I think I've already addressed those concerns.


(R) By the way, without super-carful watch of your diet as a vegan, you can become vitamin deficient. In response to your comment on iron, I do take vitamin pills, but only to be sure I'm getting them all.
(MB) So, it's obvious that a vegan diet is not sufficient to keep one healthy and does not supply the essential nutrients of a well-rounded diet which includes meat and other animal products. I would agree that most people could benefit from eating additional veggies, but that's no reason to abandon meat and animal products altogether. Like I said before, I eat anything I want and don't take or require any supplements whatsoever. Perhaps, the major benefit of a vegan diet/lifestyle is peace of mind. If that's the case, I would say "more power to you".



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