So, should you eat animal protein, and if so, how much?
I’m a passionate gal and love everything about empowered living, smart fitness and clean nutrition In my younger years I tried every diet I could find, convinced each time that I had found THE perfect diet, advocated aggressively for it, sneered at others that didn’t agree… only to discover what seemed to be a better way sometime later. I was macrobiotic, vegan, was a Zoner, tried South Beach, ate raw, did Atkins, flexitarian, locavore, gluten-free, dairy-free, and many more people have never heard of. I wasn’t flaky; I was simply fueled by passion and love new research.
Now, back to our question. My answer on the meat issue is “It’s up to YOU; you’re the expert on this one.” Your perfect nutrition plan needs to meet the needs of your story and struggle, your psychological sensitivities AND your physiologic expression. I deeply believe that there is no one perfect diet but the best plan for you is the one that you can commit to, own, love, live with and see results from. So your answer to this question depends on HIWFY (“How’s It Working For You?, pronounced “hiffy”). Is your HIWFY “iffy”?
In truth, in the same way I might treat a diabetic for Diabetes, I often treat vegans for veganism, Paleo’s for Paleolithic eating. When they come to see me, something’s not working anymore and we need to try some changes.
So in my practice I absolutely honor my client’s individual struggles and stories but I suggest you consider your HIWFY and entertain a challenge. If ethical reasons are not at the root of your vegan/vegetarian diet, I say try adding some animal meat. If you’re purely Paleo, but don’t feel great, I say cut back on the meat a bit. You get the picture… if you’re “All-in” in one direction, try bringing some counter-balance.
Genetic panels will also give you a blueprint for your dietary needs. Having genetic SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphism’s) for vitamin B12 will put you at a greater risk of B12 deficiency on a vegan diet. PEMT genetic SNP’s require a greater needs for the nutrient choline, a key nutrient for brain and cellular health. Choline is found primarily in animal based foods. BCMO genetic SNP’s slow the conversion of beta-carotene to active Vitamin A. If you have BCMO SNP’s and eat a vegan diet, you will likely end up with a vitamin A deficiency.
For every “diet team” out there I can show you people that are failing miserably while others thrive… the same is true about eating meat. For just about every bit of research out there, I can show you equally good research that offers a variation or even the complete opposite. The reason: The success or failure of the diet, or the research… whether it’s positive or negative, depends on people and we’re all just so dang different.
You see, it’s all about HIWFY – you have to balance personal preferences, metabolism, sensitivities, genetic makeup, and such with positive and maintainable RESULTS.**
Let me know what you discover in your exploration.