‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ice Cream and Potato Chips are Vegetarian Too

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you’ve probably read a headline or two endorsing vegetarian diets. Alarmist headlines claiming ‘meat will put you in an early grave’, ‘beef is a silent killer’ or ‘vegetarians live longer’ are pretty common. Ever wondered about the science and small print behind these articles? Well, strap yourself in for a ‘meat’-eoric ride on the gravy train express to Meat Town… I’ll meat ya there.

There are several kinds of vegetarian diets. Some allow dairy (lacto vegetarian), while others allow both eggs and dairy (lacto-ovo vegetarian), where others allow fish (pesco vegetarian) in addition to plant products. Then there is the extreme vegan diet that excludes all meat and animal products. The more restrictive the diet, the more likely it is your pie hole is missing out on key nutrients. See part II of Ice Cream and Potato Chips are Vegetarian too'.
Why do news articles so often sermonize the benefits of vegetarian diets? Well typically, it’s because vegetarians are reported to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol than their carnivorous counterparts.

Why is that? Meat, particularly red meat, is high in saturated fat, calories and salt. These are the drivers of high blood pressure and cholesterol, which can increase risk of heart disease, heart attacks, being overweight and ultimately, well… death.

No meat equals less saturated fat and salt. Now, you need a new source of protein. Whether it’s beans and legumes, tofu or other plant sources, the result is you’re eating more fibre, fewer calories as well as the aforementioned fat and salt.

Now that’s all well and good, but what about all the other foods that are vegetarian, or manufactured for vegetarians, that are still ‘bad’ for overall health? Ice cream, chips, fries, crackers, cakes, cookies, pastries etc. Basically, being vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re healthy. In fact, a poorly planned vegetarian diet can lead to all sorts of gaps in your nutrition whether you’re slim and trim or not (see part II).

The Australian Guide to Health Eating recommend 2.5-3 serves of meat/fish/tofu/legumes per day (see Figure 1), and the US recommends 5-6 ounces (155g) per day. Eating the recommended 65g piece of beef, lamb, kangaroo or whatever, isn’t going to give you heart disease. It’s eating that 250g porterhouse steak that might.

Figure 1: Aust. Guide to Healthy Eating: Meat and meat alternative serves and portion sizes

So in the end, the decision to become, or remain, vegetarian could be ethically or religiously driven; but it shouldn’t be ‘to get healthy’. If you love meat, don’t give it up. That would be like never watching TV, for fear of being forced to watch an hour of Glee. Food is, and should be, an enjoyable and delicious part of every day; meat in moderation in your pie hole is the main moral of this story. 

Part II of 'Ice Cream and Potato Chips are Vegetarian Too' will be available next week. Part II will discuss which nutrients are most often missed in vegetarian diets and why.



  1. You put the dismembered and cut up body parts of murdered animals in your body.
    You drink the breast milk designed for a baby calf, even though you're an adult human.
    You eat the periods of chickens.
    If you aren't vegan, what are you really doing with your life?

    1. Thanks for sharing your opinion. The articles on this blog simply reflect the current scientific research findings about food and human nutrition.

  2. Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. I m happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post vegetarian chips