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Dr.Atkins and the Wrestlers

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Balajee, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    What does the diet guru have to do with wrestlers?. Nothing, at least directly but the diet of Indian wrestlers undertraining should make the doc emerge from his grave and do a joyful jig.

    Indian wrestlers, who train in traditional gyms known as akharas are on a diet the very mention of which could give your friendly neighbourhood cardiologist a heart attack. They consume oodles of ghee, full cream buffalo milk and almonds. Yet it hardly shows on these guys. They are fit, (many of them particularly in the lower weight catagories are quite lean), lithe and muscled. There have been cases of these wrestlers living up to 100 (One of them who turned into a coach even married in his eighties ) and none of them died an early death due to high bad cholestrol. levels.

    Doc Atkins would have been delighted. Guys on high fat and protein diet but still fit as fiddle. But there is a catch,. These wrestlers who won national and international awards have never tasted meat during their rigorous training that began in the childhood for many.

    What does that show?You do NOT need meat to be fit and fighting.

    No, I am no raving Maneka Gandhi. But the fact is meat has been proved to be the source of many ailments including colon cancer and heart diseases. And you can never be sure of the quality of your meat. There are well-docuented reports of the unhybgenic conditions in which it is produced. Cattle and sheep are often injected with growth hormones and the factory made crap they are fed could be toxic. You pay a very high premium for the meat of free range cattle and sheep that roam freely eating unpolluted grass and d5rinking pure water.

    And meat production is environmentally unsustainable in a world where water resources are dwindling and demand for the life giving liquid is soaring. A kilo of meat needs ten times more water than a kilo of wheat. And there are healthy vegetarian substitutes when it comes to high quality protein, say Tofu or even paneer and other milk products. ,

    So stay off meat and stay healthy.

    And by the way, these are not rpt not the words of a vegetarian TamBrahm who considers meat eating to be a sin but of someone who strictly speaking cannot be described as a vegetarian at all.

    So do I practise what I have preached here? Well, yes and no..

    I grew up in Delhi in a cosmopolitan atmosphere where double standards ruled the roost in my Tamil Brahmin household.

    My neighbours were Malayalis who regularly bought fish from a fishmonger who brought the stuff every morning in a cycle. I was fascinated as a kid with fish, which believe it or not were so fresh that they still used to squirm in the little bit of water in the fishmonger's container..

    My demands that we should also buy fish were met with slaps from my mother. How can a brahmin boy even have such sinful thoughts!

    The fact is I was a brahmin boy brought up on a regular breakfast of eggs and honey to help me put on some weight. The eggs were followed by a spoonful of malt -flavoured shark-liver oil. ( I am sure this non-vegetarian component of my diet did not make me put on weight. The credit for it must go to tregular ' consumption of aloo paranthas dripping with ghee. It took years of gymming for me to lose all that flab).

    You see the crux of the matter was thinking of eating fish and flesh of any living creature was sinful for a Tamil brahmin boy who regularly consumed shark liver oil forced down his protesting throat by his mother who herself kept popping Seven Seas cod liver oil capsules. Her brilliant logic was what we consumed was medicine while our Mallu neighbors ate fish as FOOD. You see, consuming fish product is not a sin as long as you don't consider it to be food.

    All this actually increased my rebellion against y family's dietarian hypocrisy. But still something, probably conditioning from childhood or innate good sense kept me from sinking my teeth into a juicy piece of meat. But when I went to study in Italy the chains of dietary slavery broke.

    I still stayed away from red meat but freaked out on fish. Throughout the week I would remain a modest vegetarian living on pasta, vegetables, fruit and cheese but on Friday turn into a raging carnivore when the universithy cafetaria served delicious sweet-tasting fish from a large fresh water lake between Umbria and Tuscany. A classic case of Dr.Jekyll turning into Mr.Hyde? Maybe. .

    And what if my pasta sauce contained animal products or my cheese was curdled with animal rennet? My idea of a non-veg item is simple. If the meat is visible it is non-veg but don't expect me to dig deep into the origin of my pasta sauce or the curdling agent of my cheese. Even now I don't bother to find out whether the jelly I eat contains animal gelatin and happily slurup soup that could contain meat or chicken stock as long as I don't see meat pieces. You see if the meat is visible it is non-veg but if it is not, it is veg.

    And for me heaven is fresh water fish simply cooked without drowning it in spices. A squirt of lemon is all it needs and my day is made. But if you put a plate of meat or chicken in front of me, I'd probably get up and walk out. .


    And I hate food dogmatists, particularly those who tell me that being a brahmin I should stay away even from eggs and fish. One female relative of mine proferred this advice and warned me that I would go to hell if I didn't change my food habits. I politely asked her whether the sooji halwa aka rave kesari she was greedily stuffing into her mouth was vegetarian. She gave me a strange look and answered with an emphatic'Yes'. I told her she was eating a non-vegatarian dish because the colouring agent in the halwa was made from crushed beetles and the sugar was bleached with animal bones.

    The plate fell from her hand and she rushed into the bathroom.from where presently strange sounds were heard. Obviously she was retching. Since then the lady has avoided me like bubonic plague.but I am not sure whether she has stopped eating sooji halwa.

    So stay away from meat friends,, but let me not be kept away from my finned friends, particularly when they are laid out before me on a plate!
     
  2. ojaantrik

    ojaantrik IL Hall of Fame

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    Great post Balajee. Contains rare wisdom and doesn't lack humour either. As I was reading you, I recalled what a musician acquaintance told me about Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He, according to this person, would stuff himself with endless quantities of ghee in the belief that it gave him the stamina as well as the stregth that a classical vocalist needed. I think he developed heart problems and, as we all know, he was neither lean nor muscular.

    Your post clarifies that it was probably not the ghee that did him in, but the meat that he must have been consuming simultaneously. However, even if he avoided meat, he would need to exercise the way the wrestlers do to rid himself of the flab. So, exercise ought to be an important component of a health plan.

    As you have mentioned, red meat has now been identified as a source of colon cancer. In fact, they have found statistical evidence that proportionately more people in Bengal contact colon cancer than elsewhere in India. Of course, statistics is not proof, but it draws our attention to a possible problem.

    What I liked particularly about your post was the link you established between red meat eating and scarce water resources. It may me wonder. South Asians probably eat more curried meat compared to the rest of the world. Elsewhere, grilled or roasted forms are quite common. In fact, they rarely eat curries. So, I guess, the social wastage of water applies to us more than them. On the other hand, I read recently that chicken kebabs our style could also cause colon cancer. And, if that is the case, then the West ought to watch out too. I mean grilling or roasting too could have ill effects. Not social, but private.

    I am primarily a non-vegetarian, but I gave up red meat a few years back. I eat chicken of course, as well as fish. Unlike most Bengalis, I don't go gaga over fish though. Nor over any kind of meat. More importantly and once again unlike an average Bengali, I have no difficulty at all in shifting over to a full vegetarian diet. (Of course, your halwa tale raises a fresh question in my mind. Have I ever eaten a food item that was unadultrated vegetarian?)

    In fact you have raised vital questions regarding the very possibility of vegetarianism. I began to think and was drawn precariaously close to pure Jainism when I read the following web definition of bio-fertilizers: "means the product containing carrier based (solid or liquid ) living micro organisms, which are agriculturally useful in terms of nitrogen fixation ..."

    As I see it, you are viewing the entire issue from a scientific viewpoint. It's not a question of sin or morality (except for the water wastage issue, because it implies one's destroying a natural resource, thus causing damage to the rest of the world).

    A thought provoking post that I enjoyed reading.

    The reference to Italy reminded me of an incident. Long, long ago, I was passing through Rome in the company of a few Bengali young men of my age. One in the group was worried to death about beef and when we were taken to a restaurant for dinner, he kept on rejecting most of the things that the menu had to offer. The waiter didn't know much English, but he knew enough to understand what this boy didn't want. Finally, out of frustration I guess, he said, "Veal cutlet?" Our staunch Hindu companion was mighty pleased to hear this new word. I have no idea what he took veal to be, but grinning brightly, he responded, "Thik hyay, veal cutlet hi le aiey ..." Yes, exactly the words I have written, but for his Bengali accented Hindi. The waiter understood and, looking vastly relieved, rushed off towards the kitchen. Frankly, to this day, I don't believe that the waiter was cheating my friend. He simply wasn't thinking when he suggested veal. Anyway, I did save a Hindu from committing the ultimate sin as I explained to him what veal was. Upon which there was great commotion. I can't recall what this guy finally ate. Could have been a salad or fruits.

    oj
     
  3. Deaf woman

    Deaf woman Senior IL'ite

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    Hi balajee,
    Enjoyed your post.Even i faced the same fate in the hands of my mom who is a pure veg .She tried to stuff with me with egg milk ,which i used to vomit the very next minute enraging my mom further.I am vegetarian by birth and by choice too.The smell of non veg of any kind turns me off.Once when in Italy we asked for a veg dish in a restaurant and got served some fish based item .For them ,fish is considered veg :spin.If that is true ,you liking fish will definitely make you a vegetarian .
    Din't know until i read your post here i am being good to the environ by being a veggie:crazy

     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  4. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Balajee,

    A superb blog full of humor and facts.I was laughing all the way, for u are very little different than me.You love fish, so do I, i avoid red meat, u too do, i love eggs like u.

    and i think i must make Harsha read this blog. She is so fussy, as to put me off at times,. like she does not eat Kraft Cheese, for it contains Rennet, choclates some varieties for it contains egss, etc.

    As u rightly say, if meat is not visible, then it is not meat,:rotfl

    Superb one, Balaji, full of humour, i think u will make a good Guru on TV , my friend, and if u become, i will be the first shisya u will have.

    Regards

    kamal
     
  5. Sriniketan

    Sriniketan IL Hall of Fame

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    Enjoyed the facts you had given here Balajee...relating to veg. and non-veg. things.

    sriniketan
     
  6. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    Oh wow! UJ, your feedback is almost as long as the blog itself and far more in depth. My target is mainly food dogmatism. I respect those who say they are vegetarians because they hate killing living creatures for food but those who say eating beef is a sin and eating mutton is not, I find them ridiculous.

    The environmental and health costs of red meat are a bit too high in an age of increasing water shortage. It has nothing to do with curries or roast but with the amount of water that is consumed in meat production. .It is 10 times that of producing one kilo of wheat.. What I say is if you want to give up meat do give up, but dont get entangled in faith based contradictions.

    As I have said if we have to be 100% vegetarian we cannot eat many of our popular sweets and must also give up sugar (Which may be really good for health). What we need to do is to abjure turning food habits into a dogma and be a bit pragmatic about what goes into our stomach.
     
  7. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    DW many people have complained that they had tough time getting veg food in Italy. I suspect it is due to communication gap caused by ignorance of local lingo. If you had known Italian, you could have ordered veg dishes like a simple pasta with garlic, basil and olive oil or with Tomato sauce. Most of non-veg items also turn me off the worst being chicken. But I do enjoy fish and if you consider egg to be non veg an omelette too.
     
  8. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    Kamalji, if you become my disciple what is the guru dakshina that I'll get?
     
  9. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    Sri tks. By the way, which of the two sides are you on?
     
  10. Sriniketan

    Sriniketan IL Hall of Fame

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    Kept you guessing..haha..
    I am on the veggies side..

    sriniketan
     

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