To raise your chicken and eat it too?

A little while ago, I listened to an episode of the Man School Podcast, featuring an interview with “The Vegan Wrestler”, Austin Aries. I grew up watching wrestling, though haven’t in years, and I know how big those bodies tend to be. I didn’t actually look up a picture of Austin until after the episode was done, and I thought he looked pretty normal. That is to say, had I seen the picture first and not known he was vegan, I would never have guessed.

For the record, and for the moment, I’m not a vegan, or even a vegetarian. I did make the silly mistake on a family vacation many years ago of trying to go vegetarian, “cold turkey”. Let’s just say I got sick of lettuce pretty fast. It’s generally not wise to try and make huge life changes on a whim without doing some actual research.

I have tried to reduce my red meat intake of late, mainly because I keep hearing that consuming a lot of red meat elevates your risk of cancer and heart disease. So I figured, I’ll eat less, and at least lower that risk. The longest I can remember having gone without eating red meat was something like 5 days, and by that point, nothing else I ate instead would satiate my hunger. I do however eat quite a bit of fruit and vegetables, and I do love me some peanut butter so I usually only eat meat once a day, sometimes not at all (i’ll swap in some filling pasta instead).

Last night, for the first time, I decided to try a veggie burger. I just decided, why not? Either it would taste terrible and I’d never do it again, or it wouldn’t taste terrible and I could switch to that. The good news is, it wasn’t terrible at all. It was actually pretty good, and I plan to eat veggies burgers again/more.

But my mind is still not necessarily “made”. I would like to eat less meat, or at least get it from the most humane and healthy sources as possible (but I am not rich). I do also work out regularly and I know that animal protein helps build muscle the best and fastest (though obviously not necessary as per Austin Aries).

I had been meaning to post the Austin Aries podcast anyway, then I tried and liked a veggie burger, and then I just listened to another podcast on the subject – Intelligence Squared US Debates. The motion of this episode was “Don’t eat anything with a face”. I have to say, I think this is one of the best debates I have heard on the subject of whether or not to go vegan. Both sides made excellent points and I don’t feel either side made a slam dunk argument. I think I still want to move towards less meat eating (for health and environmental reasons), but I don’t know that the arguments for veganism are all as clear-cut as some people make them out to be.

I am also (slowly) reading Temple Grandin’s book “Animals Make Us Human” right now (which I hope to review here in some form when I finish), and it is a really fascinating book that talks a lot about many of the problems with the factory farming industry and how things could be much better. Temple writes a lot about the ethical and humane treatment issues at animal raising facilities. I think she would advocate that we get rid of factory farming altogether and probably reduction of consumption of animals, but I think she also understands the economic argument in play.

Anyways, I wanted to recommend listening to both podcasts if you’re on the fence or are looking for some additional information/viewpoints. I really enjoy the Intelligence Squared Debates because they are on a fairly high level but the information is presented so that even someone who has little to no prior knowledge of the subject can understand and follow along. It feels a bit like getting a university course of lectures distilled down into an hour.

It’s probably also worth reading this article about whether sugar or fat is worse for your health.

Here is the full debate (the podcast is edited down to 50 minutes):

And here is the Man School Episode:

Care to share your thoughts?