An Offal Vegetarian

Recently, I have been thinking about the ethical side of a vegetarian diet. I have several thoughts on the topic and they will likely spill over to other blog posts, but in this one, I want to revisit a thought experiment I had years ago and extend that discussion.

Four years ago I posted Proposal: Vegetarian/Vegan Offset Credits. I wanted to take an economic concept and apply it to nutrition.

The short version is that a vegetarian or vegan would most likely nutritional benefit from having an occasional animal-based meal to shore up any nutritional deficiencies. And that a typical meat-eater would benefit from taking a break from the meat and having a nutritious vegetarian meal.

An ethical vegan would be able to eat animal protein for a day and still be within their moral guidelines provided they were able to convince a fast food eater to eat vegetarian/vegan for a day. They might even prepare the meals to assure that the fast food eater stays away from animal protein.

My conclusion was:

The impact to the planet is neutral, yet both parties should be nutritionally better off. Actually, I am guessing the vegan would consume grass pastured or more humane forms of animal protein, so the ecological effect would be a net positive.

I liked the idea, but it was just a thought experiment and I’m guessing the vast majority of vegetarians and especially vegans would never entertain my credit idea because they don’t want to personally be connected with any additional animal suffering.

Then I got an offal idea.

People that are into nutrition – such as the readers of this blog – know that some of the most nutritious parts of an animal are the parts that most Americans do not eat. Organ meats and bone broth. The offal parts.

Because Americans (and I’m assuming most 1st-world Western countries) do not eat the liver, the kidney, the heart, or use the bones for soup, a lot of this food gets wasted. Some of it is traded to Asian countries, but a lot is thrown away.

If a vegetarian consumed offal, they would not be adding to the animal death count, as those animals would already be bred and killed for muscle meat. Would those calories be ethical?

Then I considered that a vegetarian diet is not a diet without animal suffering. Small animals are killed during the farming of grains and legumes – which are staples of non-meat eaters. That number is likely small, but it is not zero. So if a vegetarian could displace some of those calories with offal, would it actually result in fewer animals deaths?

Even if the idea of an offal vegetarian is awful, it would still seem more ethical for meat eaters to replace a few of their muscle-meat meals for those nutritious parts that were destined to be thrown away.

I could be wrong.

UPDATE: About an hour after posting, I wondered how much offal ends up in pet food. And once pet food and exports to Asia are tallied, how much waste is left? A lot, a little?

cow

Photo credit

Stomach Woes Update

This is a follow up to the post Stomach Woes Have Snuck Up On Me, which I put up almost 2 months ago. Rather than just tell you my story, I want to cover how I approached the problem, so if there is any wisdom here, others might benefit.

This is not medical advice. I tend to be anti-doctor until I’ve given up hope or a problem is too intense for me to ignore. My approach to this problem was to see if I could solve it myself. If I could make things better on my own, then I knew I was on the right path. If not, I would surrender and visit a doctor.

What Was the Cause?

My research led me to two candidates that seemed more likely than others as the cause of my stomach woes. First was slow digestion. The second was SIBO. If I had slow digestion, how could I get it back up to speed? If I had SIBO, could I take care of it on my own?

3-Pronged Approach

I took a 3-pronged approach to my hypothesis.

  1. What foods should I remove?
  2. What supplements should I try?
  3. What behaviors could I adjust?

Foods

If you go down the rabbit hole of Internet research, you will find someone that got better or worse with just about every food out there. I decided to simplify the problem by removing the foods that I consumed far more than the average person.

Those being potatoes, carbonated water, and ice cream. There was one other food, but I’ll save that part of the story for the end.

Potatoes? Yep. I’ve been preaching the Potato Hack Diet for a long time now. Could eating 10+ pounds of cold boiled potatoes every week for 2 years cause an issue? Resistant starch is supposed to be good for the gut, but could it be feeding SIBO? The article Resistant Starch – Friend, Foe or Lover? was a detailed dive into the topic that left me uncertain. The only way I would know is if I took a break from potatoes.

I also removed those cans of lemon-lime flavored water, which I was knocking back about 3 times a day. I also ended my end-of-the-day ice cream treat. The only other dairy I eat regularly is cottage cheese. If removing the ice cream made things better, I could remove other dairy items, but I seriously doubt I would suddenly develop a dairy issue after thriving on dairy since birth.

Supplements

I got digestive enzymes and ginger root capsules to help with digestion. In the event, it was SIBO I started taking oil of oregano drops.

Behaviors

I eat a late dinner. It helps me sleep better. I decided to follow the standard advice of eating hours before bed. I also started adding walks after meals, based upon the article Really? The Claim: Taking a Walk After a Meal Aids Digestion.

One Month Results

After one month, I couldn’t tell if the ideas above were helping as I would be fine for a few days and then have a relapse. There was a tiny voice in the back of my head whispering a word that I didn’t want to hear, but at the start of the 2nd month, I listened.

That word was…

Coffee

In my initial post on this topic, I mentioned that my stomach starts gurgling loudly when I drink black coffee first thing in the morning without food. Half & half helped a little.

Later I started drinking a mix of marshmallow root and slippery elm to coat my stomach before my morning coffee. When I went back to the herb store where I got the mix to buy more, I told the owner how the mix was working, because it let me drink coffee first thing in the morning with fewer stomach issues. She then said that maybe the coffee was trying to tell me something and that masking the symptoms might not be the best strategy.

She was probably right, but I didn’t want to hear the message.

A few weeks ago, I cut my coffee intake in half and I feel a lot better. Instead of 3 coffees a day, I started brewing three 1/2 cups of coffee with my Aeropress. Each time with food.

I wish it were ice cream or carbonated water or even potatoes, but it appears to be coffee. The good thing is a 50% reduction has solved 90% of the problem. My guess is reducing further would help more, but I’ll need to find that sweet spot.

So I doubt it was SIBO. It was likely all a stomach acid issue that was being aggravated by decades of high coffee intake that finally caught up with me.

The good news is I’ll be adding back potatoes next week.

I won’t be drinking big cups of coffee like this anytime soon. More like 4 or 5 ounces cups for me.

Stomach Woes Have Snuck Up On Me

In the last year, I have had increasing issues with stomach pain. Nothing too bad. Yet with increasing frequency.

At first, I thought that the increased fiber from a peasant diet was the culprit. I also thought it might be legumes (still properly prepared). So I reduced both and then I had issues with two meat-based meals at restaurants. Another suspect was the high amount of resistant starch I was getting via chilled potatoes. To address that I started re-heating potatoes.

I’d feel better for a few days. Then worse. I could not find a pattern, other than the frequency has been increasing.

Then a week ago, I may have discovered the trigger. After 25 years of drinking black coffee on an empty stomach with zero issues, I don’t think I can anymore. I’m not 100% certain. More like 60% now. But what happens is my stomach starts gurgling loudly when I drink black coffee first thing in the morning without food.

My initial tests have been trying to find the least amount of food I can still consume at 5:30 AM so I can drink coffee. Those tests are not going well. I really do not want to start my eating window this early. An eating window of more than 12 hours almost always leads to weight gain. Plus I am not hungry that early. I just want glorious coffee. I started adding half & half to that first coffee and it seems to help.

I am also feeling fuller for much longer after eating. It feels like my digestion is slower.

I am at the initial stages of trying to solve this riddle. If you have any experience you can share or tips, please leave a comment. I lost 4 pounds in the last week and I was trying to gain muscle. Not good.