Two dietitians on vegetable versus animal proteins

Blogger, agro-dietitian and organic farmer Irene Prinsen-Bruins from ERF-1 read a message on LinkedIn from a dietitian and plant-based advocate. He claims that there is nothing unique about meat, dairy and eggs. Her message is: ‘Skip the animal as much as possible and go straight to the source: plants’. But is it really that simple? Live Green Magazine asked Irene how she sees this. Read the two statements below.

Of cows and plants
The ‘Grøntsags’ dietitian argues in his article that cows do not produce calcium, chickens do not produce proteins on their own, and the reason that pork contains B12 is that they are supplemented with it through animal feed. She claims that none of the nutrients come from an animal. Irene: “I’m not against plant-based, but I find this vegetarian position, which prohibits food from animals, difficult. Also in combination with sustainability, animal welfare or health.”


Everything starts in the ground
The ‘Grøntsags’ dietician states that ultimately all nutrients come from the soil, from the sun or that they are produced by microorganisms. Irene: “Even on ERF-1, the story often starts with healthy soil. The 100 hectares of heavy Zuiderzee clay soil on our family business is maintained by our 160 cows. Because of this cooperation on our organic soil – which does not contain artificial soil. fertilizers and plant protection products – we get a lot of soil life and biodiversity back It is crucial for us as cheese makers The connection between good soil health, good feed and healthy cows that produce healthy milk is reflected in a healthy colostrum traditional. natural rind cheese, like our Kamper Terp Kaas. There are now a firm belief that healthy soil also produces healthy food.”

Dietitians’ different views on vitamins
The editors of Live Green Magazine are therefore very curious about Irene’s view on these statements from the ‘vegetable’ dietitian: Minerals come from inanimate nature and originate from the earth. Vitamins are produced by plants and vitamin D (not really a vitamin) under the influence of the sun on our skin. B12 comes from microorganisms, of which a supplement is the most reliable source today. Irene: “Even during nutrition and diet training, I learned that we shouldn’t look at nutrients in isolation. Raw milk is a really good example of this. The lactase in it helps our body use the lactose. Good butter also contains a lot of vitamin K2, which enhances the effect of vitamins A and D. Real foods are wonderfully engineered and go beyond ‘just’ supplementing a nutrient.”

Grass becomes food
Furthermore, the ‘vegetable’ dietitian claims that meat, dairy products and eggs should be seen as ‘used nutrients’. Because, she says, you put a lot of calories and raw materials into an animal to get much less return in return. Irene: “Because of the heavy rain, arable farming is difficult on Kampereiland. That’s why grass has been grown here since 1432. As humans, we cannot eat this, and a ruminant has this grateful quality. They then convert this grass into meat and milk . We don’t call that ‘used nutrients’, but think it’s super nice that a cow can do it, and we can make a living from it!”

Vegetable versus animal proteins
Irene: “Furthermore, when it comes to animal proteins, Prof. Imke de Boer states that in a circular food system, the most sustainable diet contains about 20 grams of animal protein per day. Although it is half of what we eat now, there still a sustainable diet that still has room for eating milk and eggs. And therefore also for meat. Because if you drink milk, a calf is also born. It would only be ungrateful if it ended up in the bin as waste. regarding to yield, Prof. Imke de Boer, that you need more land for a completely plant-based diet. Besides that, our animals are an important part of the cycle on our farm. We process products that are not suitable for human consumption as feed. Think on the whey that is ERF-1 goes to the pigs.”

Healthy vs unhealthy
The ‘Grøntsags’ dietitian also states that animal proteins are not particularly healthy. For example, with every nutrient you consume, you will also consume many unhealthy substances, such as saturated fat, trans fat, and dioxins. Irene: “During my education, I learned that you should advise margarine and low-fat margarine. It was already against mothers’ sore legs. Today we see more and more scientific research where the saturated fat in dairy products is not connected to cardiovascular disease. disease. As little processed food as possible is still preferable. I am in favor of the farmer once again being able to produce according to health: i.e. not as many liters of milk as possible or grams of protein and fat, but as healthy as possible, for people and animal “I know from my own experience at ERF-1 that it is difficult. We should have more sales of our dairy and cheese at a good price, so I can ask my brother Klaas-Jan, for example, to supply the cows with less corn and more fodder hay.”

Biological part of the solution
The Green Paper from Bionext (the chain organization for organic farming and food) states that health is broader than just personal health. Organic farming focuses on the health of the entire ecosystem with healthy soil, crops, animals and people and their living environment. Now and in the future. Organic farming can make a real difference to a viable future. Irene: “Many studies show that organically produced products contain more nutritional value. And that many pesticides are still used in the cultivation of conventional vegetable proteins. You can then wonder what is healthy. What is safe is , that higher-quality animal protein is so plant-based protein. And we also know that it’s very difficult to follow a plant-based diet. You have to eat a lot of it, so there’s a risk of deficiencies. Certainly in certain groups or if you not implementing it properly. That is why I think it is also so important that vegetarians and flexitarians do not attack each other, but help each other with the transition in our food system. Because it is clear that we all need to eat less animal proteins and more plant-based .”

Are meat substitutes the solution?
Irene: “Vegans often buy expensive and processed meat substitutes. I think there is another option, and that is to go back to the basics and get to know the origins of our food again. I show this based on a conversation I had with my 4-year-old daughter had.”

“My daughter asked what we were going to eat. I planned a sausage and an interesting conversation ensued: ‘From a pig?’ asked my daughter “Yes, from a pig,” I replied. “Is the pig dead?” she said. “Yes, that pig is dead,” I said. “How does he die?” was her follow-up question. .. Of course, it was a challenge to answer. In search of understandable language, I made an attempt that was as close to the truth as possible: “It happens at the butcher’s with a gun.” ‘Does it hurt?’ she asked. I said, “Perhaps, but the butcher gets it done as quickly as possible, and then he cuts the meat into steaks and sausages!” Cleverly she cried, “Then I’ll eat his bottom.”

Know what you eat
“Fortunately, I know where our meat comes from. That the animal lived outside, burrowed in the ground, could take a mud bath. And – it is sometimes forgotten – that the animal also had a function. Pigs are an important part of the cycle on our farm. They process our rind bucket and prevent losses, such as the disposal of cheese whey. This comes from the production of our Kampereilander cheese from the milk of our own cows. Because our cows can use biodiversity production of pasture milk. Something I can’t do myself!”

Growth, flowering, life and death
“I grew up with the story of growth, flowering, life and death. It is also an important part of my upbringing. It taught me to respect the animal. For me, humans are above the animal, and therefore it is our duty to take care good at it. And the animal also looks after us. That experience ensures that I respect my food. And it makes you critical of how your food is produced and how much you consume. Because you know how your veggie(s) burger was made and how the vegetable proteins contained in it were grown?”

Reframing meat
“Again, fine if someone eats vegan. But I feel the need to weigh in on the framing of meat from the vegan angle. Because we don’t have to completely ban animal protein. Meat, dairy, cheese and eggs still fit into a balanced and sustainable diet, and the animals provide important fertilizer to keep the soil fertile in which the plant-based food grows. As a dietician, I fully support eating milk and meat in moderation, just as I advocate eating more vegetable proteins.”

Less animal protein
“We all face a big task. As a vega(n) movement, instead of beating the animal, I would rather make people aware that they are going to eat less meat and, just as importantly, maybe a little more expensive, but produced sustainably” Farmers who get more (financial) appreciation for this can work even more sustainably to produce healthy food. In this way, we move away from producing a cheap product as far as possible. As a consumer, you would then no longer be able to buy your groceries in the cheapest supermarket. must get food, but from a farmer who produces in a way that you support.”

Fair history
“Fortunately, my daughter sees how we treat our animals every day. I hope I teach her as much respect as I was taught in the past. And I will not shy away from telling the honest story of growth, blossoming, life and death. I wish all children, dietitians and other adults that experience!”

In addition to being an organic farmer, Irene is a dietitian by profession. To combine agriculture, nutrition and health, she became an agro-dietitian. Irene: “That connection is necessary. In healthcare, healthy food is not the first priority. And in agriculture, the focus is on the number of liters of milk and the amount of protein and fat it contains. It is logical that as a consumer you no longer know , where your food comes from and what is healthy. Here at ERF-1 we bring together Agro, Food and Health. In everything we do. And we would like to invite you along.”

Source: Live Green Magazine

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