Thoughts on “A Delicate Balance”

A Delicate Balance Click the pic and watch A Delicate Balance

So begins “A Delicate Balance“, a documentary film by Aaron Scheibner, which investigates the correlation between our diet and our failing health. A nominee for Best Unreleased Documentary by the Australian Film Critics Association, and narrated by Dr. Adrianna Scheibner, “A Delicate Balance” describes, in detail, the effect of animal protein on our bodies, citing the research of prominent mainstream doctors and researchers from distinguished universities such as Harvard and Tufts.

One notable interviewee is Howard Lyman, a lifelong dairy farmer who believes dairy consumption was to blame for his cancer. He won his battle with cancer, converted his farm to an organic farm, and eventually became a vegan. He later appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, convinced her to give up hamburgers, and was sued by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (he won that battle, too). He also travels the world talking about the harmful effects of a meat-inclusive diet, advocating that we first give up dairy products in our quest for healthier living.

Vegan diet 06Some interesting facts and observations emerge from the film. In spite of the current prevailing belief in dairy as necessary for robust bone health, we discover that countries with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest rates of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone condition often attributed to old age, wear-and-tear, and insufficient calcium. According to research documented in “A Delicate Balance”, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and cancers are also on the rise due to a global excessive consumption of animal products. The film dispels the notion that fish is a healthy meat alternative, given the toxins in our oceans and fish farms, and some of the same destructive animal proteins present in fish as well as animals.

Another revelation by the film: we commonly accept the theory of evolution and its accompanying premise that each species evolved with the tools necessary for its survival. This is relevant because we often hear the protest that “humans have always eaten meat”. Yet one look at humans’ physiology and a quick comparison of our teeth, hands and digestive systems to those of truly carnivorous animals discount that idea altogether. As the film states, we have no long, pointed teeth for ripping flesh, no claws for tearing it apart, and no short digestive system for the quick processing of meat, which rots if left undigested for too long. However, the biggest, bone-heavy mammals, such as giraffes, subsist solely on a diet of plants, and have a tooth structure similar to ours. These are facts, and if not outright evidence of our need for a vegan diet, at least a thought-provoking argument for one.

Vegan diet 02Finally, the film explores the relationship between meat consumption and our deteriorating environment. It takes far more resources, such as water, to produce meat than than it does to produce grain. In fact, we are basically channeling huge amounts of grain, which could be used to feed millions of people, into the production of relatively small amounts of animal protein. It’s quite a raw and disturbing paradox: millions of people starve or live consistently malnourished, while millions of others become sicker due to eating that which consumed the grain which could have been fed to the starving. Meanwhile, the film argues, methane emissions from our livestock contribute significantly to global warming. And old-growth forests, which capture water and prevent soil erosion, are being destroyed to create grazing land for an ever-increasing number of livestock.

There is so much more valuable information in “A Delicate Balance,” but to briefly summarize it, our planet is out of balance. We are producing animals for slaughter, and along the way, destroying the beauty of nature and our environment for food that will eventually destroy us as well. So how do we fix this, as individuals and as a global society?

I will be the first person to admit that it’s hard to turn your back on old habits. However, to paraphrase the famous quote, each journey begins with a single step. For example, after watching the film, the following day’s lunch was an avocado sandwich, an apple, and a handful of raw almonds. I wasn’t hungry, and in fact, was on my feet the whole day without feeling fatigued.

At home, you can begin by having Meatless Mondays or Tofu Tuesdays. Challenge yourself to buy organic almond milk for your latté. I know I will be doing this one, because I’m not sure I can function without my morning cup. Use the internet to find delicious vegetarian and vegan recipes. If you’re just starting out as a parent, and want to go this direction as a family, begin early with your children by feeding them alternative sources of protein. You could also plant a family garden.

Vegan diet 05This spring, I planted one square foot of romaine lettuce, and haven’t had to buy any for the rest of the summer. And no pesticides! I built a wire cage to keep the rabbits out, and used organic mushroom compost in six inches of soil. The point is to illustrate what can be done, even on a small scale, in a small yard. However, also keep in mind that what works for me won’t work for everyone. It’s very easy for me, for instance, to make these suggestions knowing there are four Whole Foods stores, incredibly well-stocked grocery stores and regular farmers’ markets within ten miles of our house. Make the effort to do the best you can, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

As the French say, à votre santé! To your health!

Karin McLean

Karin McLean was born in Virginia but now calls Colorado home. Before she and her husband had children, she was a Graphic and Web Designer, but has been a stay-at-home mom ever since. Over the years, she has become interested in healthy eating and living, sustainable design and architecture, gardening and the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Besides writing, she likes to travel, read, make jewelry and sew.

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Author: Karin McLean

Karin McLean was born in Virginia but now calls Colorado home. Before she and her husband had children, she was a Graphic and Web Designer, but has been a stay-at-home mom ever since. Over the years, she has become interested in healthy eating and living, sustainable design and architecture, gardening and the three R's - reduce, reuse and recycle. Besides writing, she likes to travel, read, make jewelry and sew.

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