Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat is Killing Us and What We Can do About it.

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Author(s): Garth Davis and Howard Jacobson

Published: 2015

Report Published: On Launch

QUAKE Magnitude: 7.0 major quake stamp_100x36

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Field Survey

The health and fitness genre is a noisy place with pseudo-science promoted as the latest “must have” diet, resulting from conflicts of interests and a limited understanding of how science is funded, researched and published. All this confusion and contradiction has led to “religious” tribes and heated debates rather than a meaningful discussion on how certain eating habits are killing too many people, too soon. And that, Field Agents, is what really matters and ultimately why having the right book on your bookshelf is of fundamental importance.

Proteinaholic is one of the few books in this genre that I do permit on my bookshelf. Why? Because beyond the sensationalist title, which was a good marketing strategy, this book is extremely well written and painstakingly co-researched by Davis, a bariatric surgeon who on the frontline of the battle with metabolic syndrome, decided he had seen enough unnecessary suffering in his Houston clinic.

Twenty percent of the book is dedicated to references, which the reader is invited to check. Davis and Jacobson even go as far as making papers readily available so we don’t have to trust any claims, if we are prepared to go through the same painstaking process of sifting through the academic literature. As an academic I did just that and found their scientific interpretation not only sound but well broken down so people, like my mum, can make informed choices such as whether or not statin is really the way forward.

I don’t agree with everything written in this book, especially when it comes to protein quantities in extremely active athletes or people like myself who train with heavy weights for two hours a day during certain months of the year, but I do recognise that most people who eat as much as I do in those periods don’t train nearly as hard, if at all. Being vegetarian I also know that meat eating doesn’t make you stronger or bigger like training hard and training smart does. Food is of course fundamental to that mix and in every case it carries an opportunity cost. Sometimes that cost is a matter of life and death, sometimes the difference between passing and failing a fitness test. What I know for certain is that Proteinaholic will challenge the perceptions of many of you, triggering a lot of tectonic shifts in its wake… which is what makes it such a brilliant QUAKE book.

Highlights

“It is important to have role models to aspire to, but you should be one of them.”

“Some of us eat protein to lose weight, whilst others eat protein to gain weight. Ponder that paradox for a moment.”

“By putting together a social network that encourages and reinforces my goals, I’ve shifted the odds in my favour.”

QUAKE Moment

There were a few but the most noteworthy was triggered when upon closing the book I said “God, I only eat meat once a month and whilst I agree with what has been said, I really need a reason to give it up for good.” As the last word fell out of my mouth the phone rang. It was unusual given the time of night and it was my aunt. She told me to pack my suit as my grandmother was dying from a heart attack caused by blocked valves. Well God didn’t have to tell me twice.

Aftershock

My grandma died and armed with the knowledge that I have gathered, I remain angry that people are not able to make informed decisions when it comes to what they put on their plate. Yes, some will still choose to make poor choices anyway, but not everyone. Look at smoking. With enough publically available evidence and societal pressure over decades, most people choose not to pick-up habits they know to be inherently harmful, if not antisocial.

After reading Proteinaholic and suiting up for my grandma’s funeral, I made a solemn promise that from now on my food was going to serve me and not the interests of others. It certainly will never stop me from doing what I want for however long I want to do it for.

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