By Paul Chek, HHP, NMT
Founder, C.H.E.K Institute
People become vegetarians for many reasons. Some people do so for what
they believe are sound health reasons. We are, for
example, experiencing the greatest occurrence of cancer cases and other
chronic diseases in history.
Some people convert because of a growing concern over the health of our
I decided to share my opinions on vegetarianism because in my career I
have worked with many unhealthy vegetarians. Often my
vegetarian patients were in need of animal nutrition yet, for the above
reasons were initially resistant to my suggested inclusion
of animal foods for regaining their health.
While I can't address all of the reasons why one might become a vegetarian
here, I want to examine a few of the more common arguments that claim vegetarianism
is better for your health. In the end, I hope this may clear up some of the
dogmatic resistance to a diet that includes meat.
Is Red Meat Really Bad For You?
The most common argument that I hear is that eating red meat is bad for
you. In fact, many vegetarians claim their lifestyle is better for your heart
and your health in general. We often read and hear the same claim in the news
-- eating red meat is unhealthy.
Consider Weston A. Price, who traveled the globe studying the diets
of native societies in the 1930s while there were still natives untouched by
white man and his processed foods (Nutrition & Physical
Degeneration by W.A. Price).
His primary result was to show that wherever natives were exposed to
processed foods, such as white flour and sugar, degeneration and disease soon
followed. But he also discovered that there were no healthy
vegetarian societies or tribes. While he did find some vegetarians,
there were always healthier tribes nearby eating meat or animal products.
If you study cultural anthropology, you'll find the amount of meat eaten
by any society was determined not by religious beliefs or health fads, but
rather by availability alone. A clear example of this can be seen by looking
at the diets of traditional Aboriginals in Australia. The inland Aboriginals
eat a diet of approximately 75-90 percent vegetable and 10-25 percent animal
The coastal Aboriginals, who have access to fish and larger animals like
kangaroo eat about 75 percent animal and 25 percent vegetable foods. (1)
The conclusion that vegetarianism is safer for your heart is an unfounded
scare tactic fostered by the processed food industry. The first reported case
of a heart attack came only recently in 1921. (2) Hydrogenation of vegetable
oils began about 1908 and since that time, consumption of vegetable oils has
risen some 400 percent, while saturated animal fat consumption has reduced on
In short, we've had a reduction of animal fat consumption, an increase in
hydrogenated vegetable oils and an increase in heart disease since 1908. It's
hard to see how consuming less animal fats has made for
healthy hearts. Moreover, statistical analysis of chronic disease shows that
we are far worse off with today's dietary recommendations when looked at from
a disease perspective.
If viewed from a purely historical perspective, the current dogma over
eating meat and heart health is suspect as well. Humans have been eating
animal foods as a primary food staple in every part of the world with a
This includes the fish eaten in every region near lakes and oceans. If
eating meat were as unhealthy as suggested, we'd never have lasted as long as
Too Much Acid?
A similar argument against eating meat: It makes people too acidic,
disrupts the pH of their blood and thereby encourages disease. This argument
is just as problematic as the last. In fact, the whole issue of pH balance
and diet is very misleading and misrepresented by many who favor vegetarian
First of all, our environment has dramatically influenced our
biochemistry, particularly over thousands of years due to the rate of genetic
For example, Eskimos maintain optimal pH balance on a diet of 90 percent
animal foods, while some Hindus and inland Aboriginals maintain optimal pH balance
of the converse of 90 percent plant foods!
Many "experts" falsely blame high acidity levels on meat eating.
This really is just a lot of bunk. pH is specific to body compartment and
body fluid. Therefore, when making any reference to pH without making a clear
statement as to where the measurement is taking place (urine, venous blood,
arterial blood, saliva, and even specific organs) is meaningless.
The stomach, small intestine, and large intestine for example, all have
different optimal pH levels. It has also been argued by Rowkowski and others
(including very possibly William Wolcott) that sprinting around the block
once will produce a far greater shift in pH toward acidity than eating
nothing but meat all day long.
I have personally tested my own urine and saliva every hour for days on
end and let me assure you, if you were to do the same, you would quickly find
that what you do with exercise and how close you are to your needs for water
consumption will influence your pH far more than what you
I've knocked my urine pH down from 7 to 5 in 10 minutes of squatting with
sets of 10 on a one-minute rest in just a few sets!
The long and short of pH is that different pH levels are appropriate for
different people given their genetic heritage and is much more heavily
dependent upon variables other than meat.
The Real Reason ...
So what really produces the illusion that vegetarianism is better for you?
In many cases, converted vegetarians are eating real food for the
first time. They're often cooking fresh food for the first time and
eating much more raw food for the first time! Finally, they have stopped
eating so much packaged crap.
All this acts to increase one's vitality and mental clarity just like
using fresh water will clean your windows much better than dirty water.
Vegetarian diets are also very effective detoxification diets across the
board, greatly reducing body burden from lifestyles that included prolonged
periods of consuming junk food.
Finally, people going on vegan diets are often directed to do so by
holistic health professionals who also encourage the use of organic foods.
Since fat stores toxins and commercial farmers make their income by the
pound, most farmers stand to benefit from feeding their livestock harmful
foods. These harmful foods, in turn, produce livestock with much more fat.
The benefit from going vegan was to avoid those toxic commercial meats and
therefore nothing inherent to being a vegan per se. Those eating organic
meats will not suffer from the harmful effects of eating
This brief analysis certainly doesn't address all of the reasons why one
might go vegetarian, but I hope that it's enough to help you understand the
issue isn't so straightforward as some would have you believe. Genuine,
organic meat, as Price showed, has been an important component of all healthy
societies, so we ought to think twice before giving up on meat.
To read an unabridged version of this article, visit Paul's new Web
site at www.paulchek.com.
Paul Chek, Holistic Health Practitioner and certified
Neuromuscular Therapist, is the founder of the C.H.E.K Institute in Vista,
Calif. He is also a sought-after consultant to sports organizations,
and his services have benefited numerous professional sports teams,
athletes and individuals seeking optimal health worldwide. Paul has produced
more than 60 videos, 17 correspondence courses and is the author of several
books, audio programs and articles.
For more information on Paul's popular "You Are What You Eat"
audio/workbook program, or for any of his other health/exercise courses,
videos and books, call 800/552-8789, 800/552-8789 (New Zealand or Australia),
44 (0)1273-856-860 (Great Britain) or visit the CHEK Institute Web site. To learn more about
Paul and his upcoming Personal Professional Spiritual (PPS) Mastery
Program, visit his new Web site at www.paulchek.com.