Sunday, August 7, 2011

Calcium has two allotropes, says Wiki

I've been thinking more about a few things, including propaganda of various kinds, particularly since the other day - we were standing at the bus stop and I made a joke about how a particularly plump bird nearby (not sure what kind it was) looked good to eat. Then I remembered that one of the friends I was with was vegan, and said sorry.

And he laughed, and said why should I be sorry, and something about being sorry for me because I was going to get bowel cancer from having rotting meat sitting in my bowel for 6 days at a time; a remark that sounded extremely like something out of Skinny Bitch. I was - maybe unreasonably - gobsmacked. I gave a shocked laugh and said I get plenty of fibre, water and exercise, thankyou very much, and I can't believe you just said that.

That was the best I could do at the time. But he seemed so AGGRESSIVE in that moment, and it actually really freaked me out.

This got me thinking about some value things. On my friend's blog, he has a recent post about some things that bother him about other vegans, and some omnivores' attitudes towards veganism. In another post, he also mentions not wanting to kill and maltreat animals 'just so I can eat'.
I want to make it clear that I have no problem with veganism - there are many things about it that I admire.  And I hate the idea of 'factory farming'. But I take issue with the implication that people's eating is not important. I believe that whatever kind of diet you eat, and lifestyle you lead, somewhere high on the list of priorities should be health. Your own as well as the planet's and all the creatures on it. (And I mean HEALTH, not being skinny, which is popularly marketed as health.) And of course part of health is wellbeing, which doesn't come about by obsessing to the point of getting stressed and ranting at people.

Sometimes considering the ethics of eating, it occurs to me and other thinkers/writers that eating meat/animal products - and also eating plants - has shaped our evolution in some ways, such as the use vs. disuse of our appendix, the length of our intestines, and as the meat ads on TV say, something or other about the brain. But maybe if we are designed to eat meat, we need the nutrients we get from it, like B12 and heme iron? Of course it seems there are other ways of getting most things. For ages now, though, the dairy issue has fascinated me. Especially as more meat and dairy is consumed in countries where it hasn't previously been such a part of the culture.

And I am somewhat lactose intolerant, which has also contributed to investigations about this. (Ironic on a blog named as this is, I know.)

Anyway, I've read dairy propaganda and vegan propaganda. Everyone wants you to buy what they're selling. And it may be the academic in me, but when I see a reference from a journal called 'AnimaLife' or similar, it seems a little bit dubious. As is a reference from a meat or dairy association. And nearly all of them are, because if you've got a vested interest, you're going to do the research, aren't you, but you're also going to talk about the evidence that makes your point look good and the other irrelevant.

The cry goes round my mind, again and again, 'Are there no objective investigations into this?'

I have found a couple of pieces with a pretty neutral tone, that also make it possible to feel you understand the principle of the thing, because attempting to Wiki calcium just makes me wish I'd kept doing chemistry past year 11. Anyway, thank goodness for LiveStrong. Have a look. And also the tone of a level-headed Singaporean vegan, whose thoughts on the issue (of calcium and bones) make sense and are beautifully written and, actually, who has just posted today on why some vegans are so angry, which I'm not writing on today, but have been thinking about.

Also, can anyone else put the science of this calcium-leaching issue into a clear light? Or got a reference that explains it slowly and clearly?

P.S. My attitude, from my mum, remains 'everything in moderation.'

P.P.S Phrased differently, from my dad: 'The best diet is a good vegetarian diet. Plus meat.'

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