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Chickens Are Not Vegetarians

Posted in Food for Thought

While browsing through Whole Foods awhile back, I came across a package of eggs from “vegetarian fed chickens”. That got me thinking. What did they have to do to force their chickens to be vegetarians? Chickens are not vegetarian by nature. I know, I’ve raised chickens my whole life. I never found any vegetarian chickens.

One activity we liked to do as kids was grab some bugs or worms and throw them into the chicken yard. Then stand back and watch as the chickens chased them around and ate them. The moment a chicken sees a bug moving, it zeroes in for the kill. This is a natural response. Chickens have been doing this for thousands of years. Wild chickens didn’t have a feeder stocked full of corn, they had to find their own food.

According to Wikipedia: “In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even larger animals such as lizards, small snakes or young mice.” Eating insects is not vegetarian. Eating lizards, snakes, and mice is certainly not vegetarian.

Turkeys are even more voracious hunters. From as young as a week old, baby turkeys will stalk and attempt to eat any fly that lands nearby. This is instinct, they didn’t learn it from us, they didn’t learn it from their mother. In the brooder, they only have each other to learn from.

Vegetarian Fed Means Kept Indoors

When I see “vegetarian fed” on a carton of eggs, or a package of chicken, I feel bad for those chickens. They’re clearly not living their lives out in the pasture. If they were, you couldn’t call them vegetarians. The only way to ensure that a chicken only eats what you want, is to lock them in a building. Controlling their environment ensures that they don’t eat any of those nasty bugs or worms.

The word ‘fed’ in vegetarian fed sounds like a weasel word. Chickens, even ones in buildings, may still be able to find bugs to eat. Bugs that crawled or flew in. Manure attracts bugs. That said, there’s no bugs or animal products in the feed. Hence, vegetarian fed.

“Eww! Chickens eat bugs! That’s gross.”. No, it’s not gross, it’s natural. What isn’t natural is forcing chickens to eat only what you consider fit for consumption. I find it rather amusing that someone wanting to eat meat would want to force that meat to be vegetarian. I have no idea where this idea even came from. Surely not from vegetarians, they don’t eat meat. Are that many consumers grossed out about chickens eating bugs?

Bugs are the most nutrient dense things a chicken can eat. When a chicken eats bugs and other non vegetarian things it turns the pale yellow yolk of an industrial chicken into the healthy orange yolk of a pasture raised egg.

When you deprive chickens of their natural diet of bugs and grass, you have to replace it with vitamin supplements. Man made vitamin packs and mineral supplements are never going to be as good as simply letting a chicken eat their natural diet. Not to mention, locking thousands of chickens in a building is not healthy, nor humane.

Why are store bought egg yolks a pale yellow? Because 10,000 hens locked in a barn with a small yard have nothing to eat except the same premixed chicken feed. There are no bugs to be found and any grass in the yard is quickly eaten and scratched down to dirt. There’s very little nutrition in a dirt yard. In my article, Pastured Raised Eggs, I explain why raising chickens on pasture makes for healthier eggs.

Sustainable farms raise chickens out on pasture, where they’re meant to be. This makes for happier chickens and healthier eggs. Raising chickens in the pasture is more work, but they don’t mind. Seeing those happy hens everyday makes it worth it. I hope you agree.

A Vegetarian Diet is not Cruelty Free

Posted in Food for Thought

Many people have chosen to become vegetarian or vegan because they think that being so will save animal lives. What they fail to understand is that nature is a constant cycle of birth and death. If humans don’t kill a certain animal, something else will. It’s always been this way and we’re not going to change that no matter how many protests have or cute Disney movies we make.

Growing Fruits & Vegetables Requires Killing as many as 100 Animals per Acre

There’s a lot of little critters in one acre of land. There’s mice, rabbits, moles, gophers, birds, deer, and more. If you think suburban sprawl is disruptive to wildlife, then you’ve never been in a cornfield. When a farmer decides to clear cut an acre of forest or till up an acre of pasture, he’s disturbing and displacing the animals that heretofore called that land home. The bigger the farm, the more acres are disturbed.

Most of the fruit and vegetables a vegetarian eats, comes from mega farms. These farms raise the vegetables in giant monocultures, where only one type of plant is grown on tens or hundreds of acres. Everyone is familiar with the sight of a cornfield, where hundreds of acres are planted with nothing but corn as far as the eye can see.

When you think of your everyday vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, or celery. You think of a nice little garden where tomatoes are growing next to carrots, next to lettuce, next to potatoes, etc. This is not the case. The lettuce you bought at the supermarket was grown next to acres and acres of the exact same lettuce.

When farmers grow crops in monocultures like this. It invites pests. This is why farmers have to use pesticides. When you have a bug or animal that likes squash plants, it will thrive in a field full of squash plants. Deer love vegetables like corn or lettuce, that makes them a pest. Pests must be eliminated.

A farmer growing vegetables has to rid every acre of pests including mice, rabbits, deer, moles, raccoons, the list goes on.[1] These animals are trapped, poisoned, shot, or eliminated by whatever means necessary. All this death is a waste. The animals are disposed of like so much trash, or left out for the vultures to eat. Many herbicides warn to stay out of the field for at least three days. That’s some toxic stuff. But what about the wild animals? They can’t read.

Organic Still has Pests

Organic farms are no exception when it comes to pests. Of course, being organic they don’t spray conventional pesticides. They have their own organic certified biodegradable poisons. These sprays still kill insects indiscriminately. They kill the good bug along with the bad ones. Oops.

Being organic means they do not use conventional poisons. Except for self contained bait traps for pests. Those can contain whatever kind of poison they want as long as no poison comes in contact with any plants or soil. A dead pest is a good pest, right?

I’m sure there are farms who are committed to trapping and relocating pests. However, this is more expensive and not as effective as killing the animals. They may come back. And even if they don’t, now they’re just someone else’s problem. And that person may have no reservations on killing these new pests.

Raising Animals on Pasture doesn’t Require Killing Hundreds of Animals

When a farmer raises animals on pasture, they do not need to dramatically disturb the natural ecosystem. In fact, proper pasture raising is right in line with nature. It follows the example that nature has set out for us.

Pasture based farms are not tilling up the soil. Tilling interrupts the balance of natural bacteria, fungus, and other critters. Critters that are necessary for making the soil fertile. They’re not blocking off hundreds of acres that would normally have mice, rabbits, moles, etc. living on it.

A pasture based farm doesn’t worry about mice, rabbits, or moles disturbing the livestock. They can coexist just fine. All they ask is that the critters don’t get into the feed bins. It’s not unusual to see deer eating grass next to the cows. That’s fine, they’re happy to share. Deer aren’t the enemy when you’re raising meat.

A Vegetarian Earth is not Sustainable.

If everyone on earth stopped eating meat, there would be a huge shift in agriculture. Not all ranch land can be converted to cropland. Arid climates can sustain pasture, but crops require more water. Irrigation is expensive and not sustainable in these climates. The Colorado river is nearly dry, thanks in part to agriculture.

Livestock populations would plummet. With no viable income streams, most ranchers would get out of the business. The only livestock remaining would be in zoos and nature preserves. Organic farming would suffer as a result. The majority of organic fertilizer is manure. Without livestock to produce this manure, the only fertilizer left is going to be expensive or synthetic. But of course, synthetic is not allowed in organic. At least not yet.

The increase in man made fertilizer will lead to even more agricultural run off. We already have a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey  Runoff from farms in the Midwest flow into the Mississippi river and dump out into the gulf. This has depleted oxygen and caused algal blooms.[2, 3] This renders the water inhospitable, killing millions of fish.

The marginal increase in cropland would not sustain the developed countries. We would have to import more food to make up for the loss of meat. More food would have to travel further to get to the consumer.

Don’t let the bleeding hearts guilt you into giving up meat. Meat, properly raised, is very humane. Seek out local farms who raise their animals on pasture. Who treat them like the animal they are. Not some cog in a giant industrial machine, able to be manipulated like some raw material. Pasture raised meat is more humane than vegetarianism. Period.



  2. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, 2016

Processed Food

Posted in Food for Thought

Processed foods are everywhere. Supermarkets are full of them. It’s true that humans have always processed food through cooking, fermenting, drying, etc. However, that processing is minimal when compared to industrial processing.

In the grand scheme of things, industrially processed foods are new. They’ve only been around for little over 100 hundred years. Most of the chemical additives, preservatives, and flavors are less than 50 years old. Mankind is participating in a mass experiment. An experiment to see whether eating chemical food is really safe. Not whether it is safe short term, but whether it’s safe long term.

Humans have been eating minimally processed foods for thousands of years. You may believe that we were designed this way or evolved to this, but either way, the message is the same. Humans are not meant to eat highly processed foods. Our ancestors never ate MSG, refined vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, or large amounts of refined carbohydrates. Nowadays, up to 5,000 additives find their way into our food.[3]

What do Common Diets Have in Common?

There are many popular diets floating around. Most of them are fad diets that don’t live up to their claims. However, there are three popular diets that have stuck around. Because they do get results. The strange thing is, they couldn’t be more different.

The Paleo Diet, also called the caveman diet. It recommends only foods that would have been available during the paleolithic era: all animal foods, including fat and dairy, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and low-glycemic fruits.

The Mediterranean Diet calls for less meat and emphasizes everything plant based: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lots of olive oil. Dairy, fish and poultry are limited to moderate amounts while red meat is only allowed sparingly.  

Whole Food, Plant Based, also known as vegan. On this diet you’re allowed lots of unprocessed starches from potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and some vegetables and fruit. Very little fat is allowed, even from plants.

So how could all three of these diets possibly claim similar success? One is high in animal fat, one is high in plant based fat, while the last is low in all fat. These diets are as different as apples, oranges, and hot dogs. But they do have one thing in common. They all shun heavily processed food. Refined flour, refined sugar, industrially processed vegetable oils, lab-produced additives and preservatives. Pretty much anything you buy at a fast food restaurant or prepackaged supermarket junk food.

So it seems to me that the removal of animal products isn’t the answer. It’s removing highly processed ingredients from your diets. You won’t find that in a box on the supermarket shelf. These foods are full of additives and components that maximize shelf life. The longer the expiration date, the more profitable. Real food goes bad. Milk sours, meat spoils, vegetables wilt. Processed food is designed to not perish. Consider this, if a food has a shelf life longer than you, maybe you shouldn’t eat it.

What do Highly Processed Foods do to Us?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is comprised of around 78% processed glutamic acid and 22% sodium with moisture. While natural glutamic acid is used in the biosynthesis of proteins, the processed free glutamic acid causes people to suffer adverse reactions. MSG is associated with cancer, obesity, and irritable bowel syndrome.[4]

MSG is a money maker for the food industry. Eating it forces the release of insulin even with no carbohydrates present. This flood of insulin causes the person’s blood sugar to drop, making them feel hungry as quickly as an hour later.[9] Chinese food anyone? This insulin flood is also responsible for weight gain. Insulin is a fat producing hormone. The primary way it removes sugar from the blood is by storing it as fat.

Avoiding MSG can be tricky. Even foods marketed as having “no added MSG” can contain high amounts of free glutamate. MSG is camouflaged under many different names. Ingredients such as: flavors, natural flavors, maltodextrin, citric acid, gelatin, enzymes, and more, may contain MSG.[9]

In his book, A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting on with My Life, Richard Morris describes how eliminating all processed foods containing MSG allowed him to finally lose the weight he had been fighting to lose.

Vegetable oil as a product is a bit misleading. Vegetable oil is not made from vegetables. It’s made from seeds. Mostly soybeans or corn, but also rapeseed(canola), cottonseed, peanut, sunflower, grapeseed, etc. Crude vegetable oil is dark, sticky and smelly. It has to go through a heavy refining process to produce a clean-looking and smelling oil. Degumming, bleaching, deodorizing, filtering, and removing saturates. Many processors add hexane to squeeze every last drop of oil from the seeds. In the process, antioxidants and nutrients disappear, but much of the pesticides remain.[1]

The rise in vegetable oil consumption occurred as americans decreased our consumption of saturated fats. In 1909, 82% of the fat we ate came from animals. 100 years later, only 44% of our total fat intake came from animals, while 66% came from processed vegetable oils.[3] Much of this oil has been partially hydrogenated, creating trans fat.

We’ve been eating saturated fats from animals and tropical oils for thousands of years. Our bodies know what to do with them. When presented with trans fat, our bodies can’t tell the difference. These trans fats get used to build cell membranes.[2]  The more trans fats we eat, the more synthetic our bodies become. Because of the chemical substitution, reactions that should happen can’t happen. Enzymes and receptors no longer work properly..

The dangers don’t stop there. Even non-hydrogenated oils can be dangerous, especially in fast food. Restaurants typically cook at high temperatures, these temperatures cause polyunsaturated oils to oxidize. Turning linoleic acid into a toxic aldehyde called 4-hydroxynonenal that seeps into the food being fried.[3, 10] This toxic aldehyde interferes with DNA. Another aldehyde byproduct is formaldehyde. You know, the stuff morticians use to embalm dead people.[2, 3]

You’ll find vegetable oils in many products in the supermarket: Salad dressings, crackers, bread, cereals, peanut butter, etc. Luckily, vegetable oil is much easier to spot than MSG. It may be listed under its plant name: soybean, canola/rapeseed, cottonseed, corn, etc.

White Sugar is pure sucrose, derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. It’s a combination of glucose and fructose. High fructose corn syrup is similar to sugar except that instead of being half glucose and half fructose, it’s mostly fructose. The processing of sugar eliminates the vitamins or minerals.[7] Sugar is a heavily refined product, much like cocaine. In fact, brain scans show that our brains light up the same way for sugar as they do for cocaine.[3] This makes sugar addictive. It isn’t your sweet tooth making you want sugar, it’s your brain.

Our sugar consumption has skyrocketed in the last three hundred years. In 1700, average sugar consumption was 4 pounds a year per person. In 1800 it went up to 18 pounds a year. Then the industrial revolution made sugar cheaper and consumption quintupled to 90 pounds per year. Now with the advent of modern farming and subsidies, sugar consumption is up to 180 pounds per year. That’s one cup of sugar a day. Of course, this is just an average. Some people consume more than one cup of sugar a day.[7]

While sugar consumption was on the rise in the last two hundred years, so has obesity rates. In 1890, the US obesity rate for white males was 3.4%. In 1975, the rate for the entire population was 15%. By 2010, it was 32% and climbing.[7] Now this does not mean that sugar alone is making us fat, but it is an interesting correlation. Sugar may not be the only factor in our obesity epidemic, but i would argue such high consumption is not doing anyone any good.

Everyone knows that sugar is a risk factor for diabetes and hypoglycemia. But it’s also been associated with many other diseases: ADHD, cancer, depression, candida overgrowth, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, malnutrition, obesity, poor sleep, and more.[7]

Avoiding sugar isn’t easy. It’s easily one of the most popular food additives. Whether it’s in the form of regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup, it’s everywhere. A half cup serving of Prego Traditional contains more than two teaspoons of sugar.[3] Even healthy sounding items can be sugar laden. A typical bottle of chocolate milk contains more sugar than a similar bottle of soda.[2] A medium fruit-and-yogurt smoothie at dunkin donuts contains four times as much sugar as a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut.[6] It’ll be okay, right? After all, yogurt is good for you, isn’t it?

Artificial Sweeteners are not a suitable substitute for sugar. Aspartame, the one in the blue packages, is the most popular sugar substitute. When digested, it will break down into methanol and formaldehyde. Aspartame can also lead to headaches, brain cancer, seizures, and damaged vision.[7] Sucralose(splenda) has not had very good results in test animals. Reduced immunity, decreased red blood cells, problems with liver and kidneys were found.[7]

Agave Nectar is not a health food. It is made the same way as high fructose corn syrup. A process where starch(glucose) is converted into fructose. The body cannot use fructose very well. While glucose can be metabolized by any cell in the body, fructose must be metabolized in the liver. Heavy consumption of agave or high fructose corn syrup can lead to liver damage. In fact, rats fed high fructose diets end up with livers like those of alcoholics.[7]

White Flour is what’s left after processing strips virtually all the nutrients and fiber out of whole grain wheat. Whole wheat is rich in nutrients. During processing, the bran and wheat germ are removed. At the same time, the B and E vitamins as well as many minerals are removed.[11] Wheat germ oil contains 136 mg of vitamin E per 100 grams.[8] White flour contains practically nil. To make up for this deficiency, synthetic vitamins are added to ‘fortify’. Some synthetic B vitamins are derived from coal tar.[11] Yummy.

Synthetic vitamins can lead to imbalances. As the body works to fix the imbalance deficiency in certain B vitamins can develop. Symptoms can include: depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, poor memory, trouble sleeping, and more.[11]

You already know that eating too much sugar will lead to blood sugar spikes. What you may not know is that white flour breaks down into sugar when digested. This leads to the same blood sugar spike as sugar. When blood sugar spikes in a healthy person, the pancreas pumps out insulin to bring the level back down to normal. This can lead to a crash in blood sugar levels as the glucose is stored as fat, burned, or eliminated. You may have experienced a crash like this after eating heavy carbohydrate snacks like doughnuts.


As you can see, the answer isn’t in eliminating any one type of food. Low-carb, low-fat, low-protein, none of these are the answer. The only consistently effective way to live healthy or lose weight seems to be eliminating highly processed foods, while eating moderate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. And of course, plenty of fruits and vegetables.

While most of the food at your local supermarket falls into the highly processed category, not everything does. One good strategy is to shop the edges. This is where the minimally processed whole foods are kept. Meat, dairy, produce, eggs, cheese. Look at the labels, can you pronounce all the ingredients? That’s a good start.  

Edge foods from the supermarket are definitely healthier than their processed cohorts, but they’re still raised using industrial methods. Pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, herbicides; even the most basic products of a supermarket can contain these. Not to mention the inhumane ways industrial farms treat their animals.

By far, the best source of food for your family is local farms. Farms where you can visit and see how the animals are raised. You can verify that no hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or herbicides are used. If you need help finding local farms visit, or



  2. The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholz, 2014
  5. Cholesterol Is Not the Culprit, Fred A. Kummerow, PhD with Jean M. Kummerow, PhD

Are You a Plant Murderer?

Posted in Food for Thought

Are you a plant murderer? Do you systematically chop plants up and eat them? Never thinking about how the plant may feel about this? You always hear people claiming that meat is murder. Did you ever stop to consider that salad is also murder? How do you think that lettuce feels? Or the onions? Well they don’t feel anything anymore, because they’re dead now.

A continuous genocide happens every year in this country and all over the world. Billions of plants are grown then viciously chopped down in the prime of their lives. We commit this grievous crime in the name of survival. “We cannot live without food.” proponents claim.

But we are also biased in our consumption. We only eat certain plants which we have arbitrarily deemed fit for consumption. There are thousands of domesticated plants that are now nearly extinct because of our biased consumption. We no longer eat them. In 1910 there were 15,000 different types of apples growing in the United States. 100 years later, it has been whittled down to about 500. Most supermarkets carry less than 12 varieties.9

We import 20 million tons of bananas each year. Supermarkets buy them by the pallet. Walmart reported that bananas were the best selling item they carry. Yet bananas are one of the least nutritious foods you’ll find in the produce section. There are about 12,000 varieties of bananas grown across the world, yet Americans have chosen one banana, the cavendish, as the one they like best. 

Meanwhile, the pretty plants get a pass. How is that fair? Have you ever seen anyone eat a rose or a daylily? No, they get to live in our gardens for years to grow old and die.

“But, we can’t eat flowers.” apologists claim. Not true. Dandelions are very nutritious. But we don’t eat them. Why? Because they’re a weed. Here’s is another bigoted attitude that favors the killing of certain types of plants over others. If it’s too pretty, we don’t eat it. But we also won’t eat it if it’s too ugly. Just look at kale, who eats that?

Much of our eating habits as Americans is based on emotions. “I don’t eat meat, those poor animals.” So you’re saying you don’t eat meat because you feel bad. That’s fine, as long as you admit that. But most of us don’t feel bad.

The Vegetarian Argument

“But aren’t we, as humans, better that that? We don’t have to eat meat.” That’s an emotional argument. It’s an opinion. If it makes you feel better, that’s fine. You can point your nose at the sky and feel superior to the rest of us barbarians all you like. But you’re opinion doesn’t make you better than me.

It’s true that we can survive without eating meat, but that doesn’t mean we’re better off. Pound for pound, meat contains many times the nutrients of plants.1 In addition, many of the nutrients in plants cannot be efficiently used by the human body.2

Vegans and vegetarians point to soy as their savior. Processed soy, to be exact. Soy contains protein, which vegetarians are lacking due to not eating meat. Soy may contain protein, but it also contains trypsin inhibitors which hinder protein digestion.2 Soy contains anti-nutrients which can lead to deficiencies in other minerals and nutrients.2

In order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins from our food, we need to eat fat. Namely, animal fats. Studies have shown that consuming beta-carotene with beef tallow instead of sunflower oil increased the amount absorbed from 11 to 17 percent.

The American diet is laden with trans fats and refined vegetable oils as replacements to saturated fats. These vegetable based oils are vegetarian in nature, but they are poison to your body. The trans fats created by partially hydrogenating these oils have been linked to various conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc. Vegetable oil is no better. When vegetable oil is heated, like in deep fryers, toxic byproducts are created. Aldehyde and formaldehyde are two. These chemicals are normally used to preserve dead bodies.3

Research shows that eating animal fat raises your HDL-cholesterol – the good kind. HDL-cholesterol has a larger indicator of heart disease risk than LDL-cholesterol. The Framingham study showed that people with low HDL-cholesterol have a rate of heart attacks eight times higher than people with high HDL-cholesterol. Only animal fat has been found to raise HDL-cholesterol.3

A Confession

I must admit, I am also a plant murderer. But I don’t limit myself to plants. I also consume meat. And since meat is murder, i therefore, must be an animal murderer. But like many of you, i only eat the ugly animals. You know, “those” animals. The ones mankind has arbitrarily deemed okay to eat.

I eat chicken, not dog. I eat beef, not horse. Again, we’re letting our emotions dictate our food. Dogs and horses are cuter and prettier than chickens and cows. I understand why we don’t eat dogs, carnivore meat isn’t very healthy and it just doesn’t taste very good. But horses are herbivores, like cows. They taste very similar. I’ve heard.

“But horses are noble creatures. We ride them.” you’re probably saying. That may be true, but you can ride a cow also. My mom tells us stories of how she used to ride the family milk cow when she was a kid. Sure, she wasn’t winning any races, but she had fun. And when that cow got too old, they butchered it and ate it.


We need to refrain from demonizing and eliminating any one type of food. I am not advocating a plant-free diet. We should all eat plenty of meat, plenty of fruits and vegetables. Even grain has its place, namely sprouted grains. Don’t blindly follow the same shoddy science that demonized fat and promoted carbohydrates and vegetable oils as the replacement.3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Anytime you hear some news story demonizing meat, fat, or some other type of food, be skeptical. Chances are, that story was promoted by some industry looking to gain market share. And before you accuse me or my references of being shills for the meat industry, stop and ask yourself something. Who has more money, the processed food industry or a small group of local farmers? I’m telling you to stay away from industrial food. Truth doesn’t need millions of dollars in PR.



  3. The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholz, 2014
  4. Defending Beef, Nicolette Hahn Niman, 2014
  5. Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, 2010
  6. Death by Food Pyramid, by Denise Minger
  7. Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, 2001
  9. Eating on the Wild Side, Jo Robinson, 2013