“What if you could turn it all around? Lose weight, regain the ridiculous energy levels of your youth [….] How about if you could do that while still eating really well? You know… all the good stuff […] juicy steak, eggs pretty much any way you like them, roast chicken, heavenly bacon and more?” – The Real Meal Revolution
The above is a quote from a suddenly popular book, The real meal revolution, which proposes that people should follow the Banting (low carb, high fat) diet for weight loss and health (it is essentially a paleo-style diet as I understand it). In two previous posts I considered, respectively, healthy eating and ethical eating. One of my problems with these new-fangled diets, in my opinion, is that they make it much harder to do something I find to be an ethical imperative: eat less meat.
It is well known that meat production is far worse for the environment than crop production (partly because you have to grow a bunch of crops to feed the animals) and uses much more land. If we are to feed a growing population of humans (expected to stabilize at around 10 billion, I believe) and prevent the worst of global warming we cannot continue to eat as much meat as we do now. I am not a vegetarian – I do not believe animals should be mistreated but I have no qualms about animals being killed to feed me. I do, however, care about the environment and as such I am (with varying degrees of success) trying to reduce my meat consumption.
I asked a colleague who eats little or no meat whether he would follow a low carb diet and he thought it would be far too hard to do. A low meat, low carb diet may be possible, but I imagine it would be very hard to pull off. To be sure, the Banting diet is not meant to be a high-protein or high meat diet. However, you must fill your stomach by some means. I have a hard time thinking that people concentrating on reducing their carb intake (and it takes a lot of concentration) give much thought to reducing their meat consumption – heck, they’ll probably increase it (citation needed). After all they can (or even should) eat “juicy steak” in order to be healthy. One might even think that a vegetarian diet must be unhealthy, or at least less healthy.
These fad diets have yet to be proven (in fact there is already some evidence that they might not live up to all their claims). They may well fall away, but they have made it harder to make very clearly needed (for the world, that is) lifestyle changes.