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Con: Meat is necessary in diet

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 11, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated March 10, 2012 at 9:11 p.m.


About 2 billion people worldwide live on a meat-based diet, which is consumed in great quantities in wealthy countries like the United States, Britain and Australia.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends two to three servings a day of lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs to maintain a healthy diet.

Isaac Almeida, a certified professional fitness trainer in Victoria, said he does not advocate vegetarian diets for his clients.

"I would never recommend a diet to my clients that does not include meat," Almeida said. "It provides nutrients for the body to survive, and it helps build muscle."

Almeida, who owns Fit Strong United - a boot camp and cross-training company that incorporates nutritional counseling into their physical training programs - said a meat-enriched diet provides appropriate vitamins for the body, which can reduce muscle soreness when a person is regularly exercising.

"I recommend lean cuts of red meat, chicken and fish to my clients - as long as you're maintaining the appropriate portion controls," he said. "You can't go out there and consume enormous amounts of protein. The body can't handle that."

Almeida said the main part of a healthy diet, about 40 percent, should be made up of carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, with very few starches. The next 30 percent should be comprised of healthy fats, such as nuts, oils and vegetables like avocados. And the remaining 30 percent should be proteins, with lean red meat, poultry and fish.

Tim Holcomb, a chiropractic neurologist and nutritionist in Victoria, also encourages his clients to include lean meat in the diet, which offers essential B vitamins, especially B12, as well as essential enzymes and proteins for strong bones, healthy skin and blood.

"Plant-based diets and vegetarian diets can be risky. It can lead to a B12 deficiency, which can affect the brain," Holcomb said. "I don't advocate plant-based diets."

Holcomb said when he works with his clients, he emphasizes a diet rich in vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and carrots, followed by a minimal amount of meat that is ideally organic, free range, wild caught and free of artificial hormones and antibiotics.

Meats also provide nutritional content such as vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium.

"The diet should have meats and plants," he said. "I think we should eat plants, and a minimal amount to fruit. And we eat too much grain."

Though Holcomb endorses meat eating to his clients, he admits the U.S., in general, consumes more meat than necessary.

"We weren't designed to be carnivores. We don't have fangs and talons. We have flat nails and flat teeth," Holcomb said. "Our colons and intestines are long, and when meat sits in the colon too long, it can putrefy. Predators are genetically designed to eat meat, and they have short intestines to digest meat quickly."

Geographical and genetic predisposition may contribute to a person's dietary needs, but in general, eating meat twice a week should be a perfect amount for the average person's diet, Holcomb said.

"Some people are more genetically able to get their protein from plants, but you have to be careful," Holcomb said. "And even then, you run the risk of B12 deficiency."

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