Is Vegetarianism A Substitute For Exercise?

I think it’s pretty clear by now how insulting I believe most health advice to be. The tragically low expectations for the results possible, and for your willingness to be inconvenienced by the effort involved, is pretty shocking to me.

So I want to take this opportunity to reinforce my desire for you to know how great the possibilities are for your Quality Of Life. I am also convinced that you care enough to do what that takes. Even if I’m wrong about that last part, how is anyone ever been helped by being kept unaware of what their lives can be?

The greatest piece of awareness that is missing is about the specific nature of the goal. In other words, what does a high Quality Of Life look like, and how can you be personally aware of either its presence or absence.

As noted previously, a high Quality Of Life is identified by your personal energy level for life (the Goal), and characterized largely by the degree to which you exhibit that on a regular basis. Further, your degree of vitality is always measurable by the level of functional capacity you possess as evidenced not by what you’re capable of theoretically, but what you actually do. That’s a big distinction.

Note that the subject of this post is posed as a question, not a statement.

If you were to take this a step deeper it would be good to understand the nature of functional capacity, but that’s a topic for another time (and explained elsewhere on this site). Just to be clear though, a component of a high Quality Of Life is the presence of the desire for activity, not just the tolerance of it. For now though, I just wanted to set the stage for how we miss the mark when we’re not clear on what Quality Of Life looks like and how we can measure its existence in our lives. Based on this awareness, whenever I assess a lifestyle choice with prevention as it’s purpose, I consider the above in determining whether it has any value for me and my only Goal. To make that determination I need to be in tune with everything that boosts the observable presence of vitality.

Note that the subject of this post is posed as a question, not a statement. I have traveled many roads in the search for health and Quality Of Life, but I have never been a vegetarian. That can be simply explained: it didn’t take me long in my awareness of lifestyle choices that boost vitality to determine that vegetarians do not seem to possess this quality. Plus, we know from studying athletes—or whatever you choose to call people for whom physical performance is of paramount importance—that those who consume animal proteins as a general rule just perform better. That’s pretty clear based even on observation alone.

…are vegetarians averse to physical challenges as a result of their diet, or is their diet a result of being averse to physical challenges?

That awareness has deterred me from ever wanting to eliminate animal proteins from by diet. But I will quickly add that I am sympathetic to the stated motivation of those that are vegetarians, and I know more than a few athletes who are also vegetarians and perform quite well; albeit with tremendous attention paid to micro-managing their food intake to a degree rarely practiced in vegetarian circles. But notice I said, “stated motivation”.

Here’s another observation I have about vegetarians: as a group their participation in physically challenging activities is very low. That got me to wondering: are vegetarians averse to physical challenges as a result of their diet, or is their diet a result of being averse to physical challenges? Either way, it appears to be bad news for their health. It is possible that one of the ‘unstated motivations’ for becoming a vegetarian is that it is the exercise-free way to manage weight. I say that because that is exactly the role that is seems to fill for a large number of people. Perhaps you’ve noticed that also.

Besides all of the ethical concerns and health advantages (that is, when you have no definition of health), vegetarians have discovered that this diet choice will keep them underweight with very little additional effort or attention. It is entirely common in modern society to view bodyweight as a primary indicator of health (a misunderstanding of health), and by extension whatever serves the goal of lowering body weight must also serve the goal of health. This is likely the main reason that vegetarianism is so often linked to health as a lifestyle choice.

If you are a vegetarian… you don’t get a free pass on having to justify that (health) claim just because the ethics are noble.

Sadly, when you truly understand what health is and you come to experience that your Quality Of Life is inextricably linked to your functional capacity, you begin to see that being a vegetarian is observably counter to that goal. Many would not be swayed by that awareness in that their primary concerns are the ethical treatment of animals and maintaining a low body weight. But those truly interested in a high Quality Of Life will quickly see the contradiction between vegetarianism and health.

But back to the question: there may also be lurking in the unspoken attraction to vegetarianism the awareness that we can have the appearance of health—if not the substance (of which few could identify anyway)—without ever lifting a finger for messy, inconvenient, sweaty, and uncomfortable exercise.

If you are a vegetarian, and claim human health as one of the results of that choice, you don’t get a free pass on having to justify that claim just because the ethics are noble. You are inevitably faced with the same line of questioning with which all lifestyles must grapple: how can you justify a claim of health without the measurable presence of excellent function? Remember that every quality we attribute to health is indicated by our present functional capacity. Every one. I would be interested in hearing from vegetarians who make a claim of health. How does that claim hold up to these facts of life.

I also want to be clear that many vegetarians have made their choice with no consideration for health. I can always respect a lifestyle choice for reasons other than health as long as everyone is clear on that. To do otherwise is to do a disservice to those for whom measurable health is the goal. They might just see you as their model.


Add a Comment