A weight Problem……
Some decades ago, there was a philosophical exchange between two rival diet warriors named G.B. Shaw and G.K. Chesterton. Shaw was a lean, sardonic vegetarian, whereas Chesterton was a hearty, obese meat eater. During this famous encounter, the meat-eating Chesterton said to the vegetarian Shaw, “Looking at you, Shaw, people would think there is famine in England.” To this insulting notion that a vegetarian diet was malnourishing, Shaw replied, “Looking at you, Chesterton, people would think you were the cause of it.” (1) Shaw was inferring that the meat-based diet in affluent societies significantly reduced the global food supply and thereby contributed to starvation in deprived countries. The question is: Is it morally right to eat grain-fed fat cows and allow children to starve?
Like drinking Coca-Cola and wearing Levis, eating beef has become a symbol of the American way of life. (2) But eating beef from grain-fed cows has contributed to a chubbier North America, while people go hungry in the Third World. The irony is that as North Americans struggle sporadically to lose weight with fad reducing diets, the “big bellied children nursing on empty breasts tell of the other ‘ weight problem.’ “. (3)
A Look at World Hunger
Between 450 million and 1 Billion people in the world go to bed hungry from not getting enough to eat. Every day, 15,000 people die of malnutrition as a consequence of starvation – 10,000 of them are children. (3) The absolute number of malnourished people is increasing yearly. (4)
However, there is enough food produced yearly in the world to feed all mankind. Even during the world food shortage of 1972-1973, 632 pounds of grain was produced annually for every person on earth. All that is needed for adequate nourishment is 500 pounds per person. Although some may suggest that population growth is increasing, the figures for grain production are also increasing. (2,3) Then, where is all this surplus grain going?
A World Hunger Parable
Let us suppose that “someone discovers a way of processing food so as to give it a radically new texture and taste.” The processed food is no more nutritious than its unprocessed form, but people come to like the way it tastes. They dine on it several times a day. A great industry develops from it. There is only one catch – the conversion process is extremely wasteful. To produce one pound of the processed food, seven pounds of unprocessed food are needed. This means that the new food product is expensive. Only rich people can afford to eat it. Meanwhile, the poor, who make up 1 out of every 4 people in that country, do not get enough to eat. Is it morally right to waste six-sevenths of nutritious food resources, while people are suffering from starvation? The rich of that country tell the begging children: “I have seven times the food I need, but I can’t let you have any of it, because I am going to use it all to make myself something really tasty.” (3)
The above parable illustrates the picture of world hunger. Affluent countries feed their animals enough grain to nutritionally support themselves and at least another billion people who suffer from malnutrition. (2,3,5)
Disadvantages of a meat-based diet
Ideally, animals increase the supply of food for humans by consuming resources that are inedible to people. Edible grains would be fed to livestock and poultry only when the supply of such grains exceeded that needed by humans worldwide. (4) But neither the former nor the latter is the case today. With the availability of cheap grain, the demand for tasty, fatty meats, and the lucrative profits in store, more and more animals are fed grain to achieve heavier weights. The grains and legumes that could adequately feed the hungry world are fed to fatten animals in an inefficient protein-calorie conversion.
The average range of conversion of vegetable feed to animal products ranges roughly from 16 pounds of grain protein per one pound of beef protein formed, to 3 pounds of grain protein to one pound of egg protein produced. (2,6) This is well illustrated in the chart:
In fact, in 1979, 145 million tons of grain and soy were fed to America’s beef cattle, poultry, and pigs. Yet only 21 million tons were returned in meat, poultry and eggs for human consumption. The rest, about 124 million tons of grain and soybeans, was lost in the inefficient conversion process of vegetable protein to animal protein. (2) The lost protein in the inefficient conversion is sufficient to wipe out malnutrition worldwide. If this inefficient protein conversion could be reversed in developed and developing countries (where a meat-based diet is the norm for the rich), every child born could be ensured the right to eat and the right to live.
The cost of using fossil fuel energy to produce meat is another disadvantage to a meat-based diet. Land, water, energy, natural gas, oil, fertilizers, and other raw materials are limited resources worldwide. (4,7) Raw material shortages are a potential risk to all. Fossil fuel energy is being wasted in producing meat. “Each calorie of protein we get from feedlot-produced beef costs us 78 calories of fossil fuel.” Grain and beans cost from 22 to almost 40 times less than beef in terms of fossil fuel. This is shown by this graph:
“What more shall I say? For time would fail me to go telling about” (Heb.11:32) the lower essential amino acid yield per acre with meat production, and the many cultural taboos on consuming animal products in starving groups. (8)
All in all, the disadvantages of a meat-based diet from a philosophical, economical, and nutritional point of view in an attempt to end world hunger are primarily:
1. The inefficient protein – calorie conversion of vegetables to meat;
2. The waste of limited natural resources in the production of animal products.
These two disadvantages together yield one prosperous meat-eating, obese minority and one malnourished, starving majority.
A Model to Imitate
The Genesis account gives us a look at how an ancient civilization dealt with famine. The record says that Joseph, the governor of Egypt, devised a food aid plan which eventually saved the Hyksos dynasty and the Middle East countries from starvation during a terrible seven-year famine. What did he do? He stored up wheat grain “as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.” Genesis 41:49
He built large storehouses in cities and filled them with wheat. Genesis 41:48,56. Joseph recognized that grains were easier to store, had longer shelf life, were easier to transport, and were more affordable than the dried, salted flesh foods of his day. He knew that the grain to animal conversion was a factory in reverse. So he decided to store cereal grains instead of flesh foods to feed “all countries” that would come to Egypt for food during the great seven-year famine. Genesis 41:57. There is also evidence that Joseph adopted a meatless diet during this time. The record says he ordered “bread” for food and sent wheat and bread to his father in Canaan. Genesis 43:31; 45:23.
Likewise, the last book of the Bible, Revelation, describes that the people of the future will all be vegetarian. There will be no sorrow, no death, no slaughterhouses, and no hunger. All citizens will eat the fruit of the vineyard and the fruit of the tree of life. Revelation 21:4; 22:2. Until that day comes, we need to remember the hungry children!
A nineteenth century religious leader stated this principle: “Every intemperate person renders himself accountable, not only for the sins which he commits in his own person, (see Romans 14:21 and James 4:17), but for the evil results that his dissipated course of life has brought upon his family and upon the community.”
So, How Can I Lose Weight Nutritiously and Feel Good While Losing?
As you have applied the principles of the New Nutrition, you have probably already started to lose weight, (if you were overweight). Now we will more specifically address the principles of losing weight.
Ninety percent of all Americans are interested in how to lose weight! You probably are too. Of the American population of 260 million people, 125 million are overweight. Added together, those overweight pounds add up to the incredible total of 3.2 billion pounds of extra fat!
Dangers of Being Overweight
Research has shown that being overweight may be dangerous. For example, the risk of severe atherosclerosis increases 2.5 times, hypertension increases 5 times, and diabetes mellitus increases 10 times in obese persons when compared to non-overweight people. Obesity also contributes to other diseases and disorders, such as gallbladder disease, psychosocial disability, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, liver disorders, breathing difficulties, thromboembolisms, gout, cancer, menstrual irregularities, and even a decrease in longevity. But probably the single most dangerous overweight contribution is to heart disease. One out of every two people in North America dies of heart disease. The Bible alludes to this when it says, “Their heart is as fat as grease.” Psalm 119:70, RSV Autopsies of obese persons who have died from heart attacks show that their hearts were saturated with fat and cholesterol.
Causes of Overweight
Although various genetic and environmental theories have been proposed in professional circles, the Bible is very clear on the three main causes of overweight and obesity. The wise King Solomon said, “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.” Proverbs 23:21,R.S,V. Alcohol consumption, overeating, and underexercising or oversleeping are the three main causes of obesity. Control these three factors, and you will lose weight.
Alcohol is a toxin which the liver uses to produce 7 calories per gram, whereas fruits, vegetables and cereals contribute only 3 or 4 calories per gram. The more calories ingested, the more fat will be made and the more weight gained. You see, anything eaten or drunk in excess will cause a person to gain weight, because all alcoholic beverages and all extra carbohydrates, protein, and especially fat – the diet caloric nutrients – are converted in the liver into fat for storage as a future energy source. Thus gluttony and overeating also cause obesity. Underexercising and oversleeping are the third cause of overweight and obesity. This has to do with the first law of thermodynamics. Ever since God created man on this earth, this law has been in force: “matter cannot be created or destroyed.” And this includes fat. Thus the only way is to convert matter or fat to energy by exercise and to eat less and drink less alcohol.
Most Common Questions
In lecturing to groups on weight reduction, the three questions most frequently asked are:
1. How much should I weigh?
2. How much weight should I lose per week? (And of course)
3. How can I lose weight?
To find out if you need to thin down, find a body-length mirror and just look at yourself, or compare your present weight to your weight at age 25. Or refer to the “Ideal Body Weights for Males and Females” table. The ideal body weight (IBW) is what a person should weigh according to his or her height. Ten percent below the ideal body weight means a person is likely to live longer, according to life insurance statistics. Interestingly, vegetarians tend to be ten percent below their ideal body weight. Statistically, vegetarians live six years longer than the general population. However, ten percent above the ideal body weight means a person is technically overweight. He or she is likely to live a shorter length of time. Twenty percent or more above the ideal body weight is considered too heavy or obese, and such a person is at serious nutritional risk.
Sadly, weight reduction has become a multibillion dollar business in North America and Western Europe. In the U.S. alone, Americans spend $10 billion a year to lose weight. Fad diet book suggestions, anorexic drugs, health food formula powders, and fasting regimens have been documented in the professional literature as being “monotonous,” “expensive,” “nutritionally inadequate,” and “life threatening.” All offer an easy, fast, guaranteed solution to losing weight. But since they do not incorporate life-long changes in eating habits, people experience the “yo-yo” effects. The yo-yo effect means they lose weight while on their strict, unhealthful regimen and then gain all their weight back and even more once they go off the fad diet. Frequently, all the original weight loss is water loss. For example, in 1978, 17 obese people died while following a fasting and formula powder diet. Why? Because they lost too much weight too fast, placing stress on the heart, which could not keep pace with the rapid changes in volume. Two to four pounds (1 to 2 kilograms) is the most a person should lose per week, even when following a nutritionally sound weight reduction program.
Five Steps to Losing Weight
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being of most importance and 1 of least importance, how would you rate your desire to lose weight at this moment in your life? If it is not a 10, psychologists say to forget it. It takes a great deal of motivation and will power to overcome the god of the belly. Philippians 3:19. But you can say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
Incorporate the following five suggestions to reach your ideal body weight.
First, eat less fat but more fiber. Fat gives twice as many calories as protein or carbohydrates. Fiber is calorie free. Fat is found primarily in flesh meats, whereas vegetables, fruits and cereals are rich in fiber, carbohydrates and protein. Recent research suggests that a high carbohydrate, high fiber diet – a vegetarian diet – appears to be the most effective for weight reduction. As the apostle Paul wrote to the obese Romans, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine.” Romans 14:21, RSV Abstain from eating flesh meats like pork, beef, chicken and fish and drinking intoxicating alcoholic beverages. Eat less deadly fried foods, such as french fries and potato chips, and entrees containing oil. If you find this hard to do, repeat the Psalmist’s prayer, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3, RSV Start a healthful vegetarian eating pattern. God Himself, the Creator, prescribed man’s original diet as being vegetarian. “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’ ” Genesis 1:29, RSV Eat more crisp green leafy raw vegetables, such as spinach, watercress, celery and broccoli. Abstain from fatty salad dressing. Eat more juicy citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, lemons and oranges. Eat more nutty whole grains, such as wheat, rye and corn. Eat all your meals rainbow style. Let your meals be made up of plant foods of different natural colors.
The Optimum Vegetarian Diet will include fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Many people are concerned that they will not get complete protein on a vegetarian diet. Actually, with a little forethought, complete protein is simple to obtain on the vegetarian diet. All you need do is combine a corn or wheat protein (actually any grain will do) with a nut or legume protein – it’s as simple as that. EXAMPLES: Peanut Butter sandwich on whole wheat bread. Beans and rice. Bean burrito, enchilada or taco, tofu stir-fry, etc. Eat moderate quantities of seeds and sprouted seeds, nuts and legumes together,
How about vitamin B-12? Can you get this very important B vitamin on a completely vegetarian diet? Yes, in fact the residues of antibiotics in many animal foods today could be harming your body’s ability to manufacture this vitamin in your intestines. How?- you ask. Because these residues kill all bacteria including the beneficial kind in your intestines. If you are still concerned that you are not getting enough B-12, you can help restore your body’s ability to manufacture this vitamin by taking acidophilus capsules or simply take B-12 supplements. (Actually, if you are taking the Multiple Vitamin-Mineral mentioned in Lesson 2 you already have enough B-12 as well as all the other B vitamins.)
Second, wake up like a king. Conquer your food early. Eat your big meals in the first part of the day, not at night. Thus you will burn those calories throughout the day, not store them through the night. Actualize the old proverb, “Eat breakfast like a king, dinner like a prince, and supper like a pauper.” Benjamin Franklin, the eighteenth century American politician and philosopher, wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanac: “Eat fewer suppers, and you’ll need few medicines.” Follow King Solomon’s advice when invited to eat out at night, “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite.” Proverbs 23:1,2. RSV
The idea is to have less for supper but more for breakfast and lunch. For example, eat dried or fresh fruit, cooked cereal and whole grain bread with soya or skim milk in the morning. For the afternoon, eat a salad of raw vegetables with 1-2 cups of cooked lentils, peas or beans and a whole grain like rice or millet. Then, eat only some fruit and whole grain crackers, bread or popcorn early in the evening. Remember the advice given to King David, “All the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was yet day.” 2 Samuel 3:35, RSV
Third, make it a rule never to eat between meals. The munchy-crunchy snacks add up to tons of calories! “Never let a morsel pass your lips between your meals.” “The stomach may be educated to desire food eight times a day, and feel faint if it is not supplied. But this is no argument in favor of so frequent eating.” If you feel hungry between meals, drink cold water instead. Water will also help flush out ketones, acetone, and acetic acid, and butyric acid – which form in the body from the breakdown of fat. The wise King Solomon recognized the importance of eating only at mealtimes. He said, “Blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time – for strength and not for drunkenness.” Ecclesiastes 10:17, N.I.V. Let at least five hours pass between meals, drinking fluids between, preferably grapefruit juice or water. For example, it is good to drink several cups of water on rising, an hour before each meal, and one to three hours after eating.
Fourth, take time to eat more slowly. Serve yourself only once each meal. Spread out your food on your plate so it looks like there is more of it. After each mouthful, put down your fork or spoon and chew your food well. Chew the food as long as it will stay in your mouth. Proper salivation will improve the digestion and absorption of nutrients. “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” Proverbs 17:1, N.I.V. If you take time to eat slowly with peace and quiet, this will reduce the number of calories you consume. After 15 minutes of chewing, the stomach notifies the brain via the vagus nerve with a microelectronic satiety message. In other words, the stomach tells the brain that it is no longer hungry. Always leave a little food on your plate, symbolically signifying that the meal is over. As the saying goes, “If you taste your food before you swallow it, you will not have to taste it afterward.”
Finally, sweat off the extra weight. Energize your muscles, oxygenate your organs, relax your mind, and convert your cholesterol into vitamin D to strengthen your bones as you start walking every day. Work this into your schedule after each meal, and it will benefit your digestion. It must be continuous exercising over a stretch of 30 minutes. It is after 30 minutes of straight exercise that the body can benefit from a cardiovascular training effect. Nevertheless, always exercise within the intensity that you can still talk aloud to a friend without feeling exhausted. Decide whether you are a “solo” or “social” exerciser. Solo exercisers like to exercise alone, whereas social exercisers prefer the company of friends. So plan your aerobic exercises – walking, jogging, swimming or cycling – accordingly. If you jog one hour a day, you will lose one pound a week. Also, use the stairs instead of the elevator. Research has shown that no weight reduction program is complete or successful without an exercise component.
In summary, lose weight nutritiously. Reduce your chronic disease risk. Reach your ideal body weight through the things that you have learned earlier in the Makeover and now through a completely vegetarian diet. Eat juicy fruits, crispy vegetables, and nutty whole cereals, but abstain from fried and flesh foods. Have your kingly meal at sunrise, not at sunset. Drink, don’t eat, between meals. Chew your food well. And exercise before sundown. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31, RSV
As we have seen, the biggest dietary problem for one to lose weight or maintain optimum weight is fat in all of its forms. Saturated fat and cholesterol are the most dangerous though because of their effect on arteries and their difficulty of digestion. (Meat and high fat dairy products can take up to five times as long to digest as vegetarian foods.) Due to the increased time in the digestive system, especially the colon, heavy meat-eaters run a higher risk of colon cancer. Once a person sees the practicality of a vegetarian diet this could be one of the greatest motivators to actually make the switch. A vegetarian diet is: More healthful, more economical, more wise in its use of our earth’s diminishing food resources and more humane, (because of eating little or no meat, fewer animals would have to be confined or killed to feed the population).
Finally, even the Bible mentions the diet God gave to man as a vegetarian one. Mankind was very close to his Creator in those halcyon days and he lived approximately 10 times longer than our life expectancy today. A loving God knew the best diet to give to man, and modern research bears out this fact: it is still the best diet for man.
So whether you want to lose or gain weight or just maintain optimum weight, cut out the saturated fat, cholesterol and lots of chemical additives by cutting down or cutting out the meat.
(1) Rosenberg, I.H, “Where’s the Beef?” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 42:564, 1985.
(2) Lappe, F.M., Diet for a Small Planet, Ballantine Books, New York, 1982.
(3) Rachels, J., Vegetarianism and the Other Weight Problem, in Aiken, W., World Hunger and Moral Obligation, Prentice-hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1977.
(4) Steering Committee, “World Food and Nutrition Study”, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1977.
(5) Fager, C.E., “Vegetarians: A Force Against Famine?” Christian Century 92:971, 1975
(6) Altschul, A.M.,” Seed Proteins and World Food Problems,” Economic Botany 16:25, 1962.
(7) Potter, N.N., “World Food Needs,” Food Science, 3rd ed., AVI Publishing Co., Inc., Westport, Connecticut, 1978.
(8) MacGillivray, J.H., and Bosley, J.B., “Amino Acid Production Per Acre by Plants and Animals,” Economic Botany 16:25, 1962.