What the Heck is Reverse Vegetarianism?

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Chevanne asks:

What do you think about Thai body types, as in Thai yogic massage?

Thai yoga massage, they call it Thai yoga massage and sometimes people get confused in terms of what that means. In most Thai massage schools, they teach yoga as part of the training, but some people call Thai massage assisted yoga.

I don’t really consider them the same. I consider it more like massage and yoga are two different things. That said, of all the massage modalities that I’ve tried, Thai massage is for sure the most yogic, in that there are backbends and deep twists and things like that.

In terms of the body types in Thai yoga massage, they’re similar to Ayurvedic body types, if I understand correctly, and that different people have different constitutions. And I think those are pretty interesting to take a look at. Every system has its limitations, and trying to pigeonhole yourself into one body type can be problematic. But at the same time, you can learn a lot about your tendencies and your natural tendencies, and so I think it’s interesting to take a look at.

That said, I don’t know a ton about Thai massage, except that I’ve had a bunch of them, because I lived in Thailand, like hundreds of them. And so I’m definitely not an authority on that.

Tricia asks:

I have loose skin and would like to get it tight. Is yoga proved to work there? How about the Yoga Trapeze?

This is an interesting question, Tricia, and it happens with age and also with weight loss, where people get excessive skin or loose skin. This has to do with a couple of different things. One is weight loss and weight gain can really affect loose skin. That could be fat loss and fat gain, that could be muscle loss and muscle gain. So body builders, for example, who stop lifting, they can end up with a lot of loose skin.

The one caveat I’ll say is that there’s a huge, huge, huge genetic factor here, and it has to do with the surface tension of your skin. What I mean by that is you’ll meet people who are quite heavy and who lose a bunch of weight and they still have very great elasticity of their skin, and you’ll meet people who have gained and lost 10 pounds and they have lots of loose skin. It really depends on your body type.

So like me for example, I have very low tension, surface tension in my muscles and surface tension in my skin, so I can grab skin off my arms, I can grab it off my neck and I can pull two or three inches off my body, whereas many people can’t even grab half an inch of skin because they have high surface tension in their muscles and high surface tension in their skin.

So how do you regain skin elasticity? It’s really a challenge, and this is why they have skin removal surgeries and things like that, is because some people can’t. And it’s not great news, but I do want to be realistic, that some people can’t.

Now, you can improve the elasticity of your skin by, the best way is to improve your muscle tone underneath that skin. And so let’s say you have lose skin on the underside of your arms, which is a common thing for middle-aged women, increasing the muscle tone of your arms can really help to remove some of that, but all of that is within limitations.

In terms of specific yoga poses, Yoga Trapeze, all of that stuff might be helpful for toning your body. I think it’d be a mistake to think that that’s going to be the solution.

Caroline asks:

I love raw food, but I got really sick and it seemed that raw food just wasn’t enough. I’m from Sweden and the weather is different here, so during the summer season I can eat a lot of raw food but in the winter my stomach and immune system say no. Does weather has any influence?

Caroline, this is something that raw foodists talk about a lot. Personally, I don’t find it any easier or any more difficult to eat raw food in the winter or in the summer. It’s a really common thing and most people do, and most people just talk about being really cold, physically cold, from eating raw food. I don’t know. For me, it never made sense. I don’t mind it at all. The more grey and snowy it is, to me, it just feels like luxury to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. But for sure, the vast, vast majority of people find the same thing to be true.

And I do a lot of work in Thailand, and when people come to Thailand, eating a high raw or even purely raw food diet is really easy for a lot of people, and then they go to cold weather, Northern countries, Scandinavian countries, Northern part of North America as well, and people find a similar thing.

So with all that in mind, yes. I think weather does influence it for most people. The one thing that I will say is people get really caught up on these percentages and also these false lines in the sand. Is this raw, is that raw, is this organic, is this vegetarian? And at the end of the day, they’re all pretty arbitrary, and for the most part these labels are talking about what your diet is not, instead of what it is. The reason that’s important is you can get all the benefits of eating a raw food diet, without being so restrictive or so strict, and I found that most of the healthiest people eating a high raw diet are not so strict, in terms of drawing these arbitrary lines in the sand in terms of what’s raw and what’s not raw.

So that’s a roundabout way of saying if it’s winter and you feel you need to eat a cooked vegetable soup or some steamed veggies instead of raw veggies, it’s not going to make that big of a difference. In fact, you might feel even better. So I wouldn’t be so strict about it. Focus on eating a whole food, plant-based diet. If you eat animal foods, try to get good-quality animal foods, and cooking those in a really natural way as well, not over cooking them.

Hay asks:

My psoas major and gluteal area are the areas that I struggle with most. I wonder if there are specific exercises targeting these areas with the trapeze.

That’s a great question. First of all, I’ll tell you a couple of floor poses that are essential. The first one is Blaster, which is a passive lunge that we teach in the Gravity Yoga Series. It’s great for your psoas. It’s also great for your glutes. It’s super, super strong. Lightning Bolt is a pose that we teach that’s really fantastic for your psoas as well. When you’re on the trapeze, you want to do a Wheel Pose, like a gymnastics wheel, and so what you do is you just hang back and let your arms and legs go. If you can, this is kind of a deep stretch, I don’t know where you’re at, but if you can, grab your ankles. So you’re just passively doing a backbend, you grab your ankles and that’s a big, big passive stretch on your psoas muscle. You get a little bit of leverage grabbing your ankles, and that’s a great one.

The truth is, if you’re really struggling with those areas, I’d work on the floor. You’re going to get more bang for your buck working on the floor than you will with the trapeze, with those specific muscle challenges.

Frank asks:

Does flexibility increase your running speed, reflexes, jumping ability and balance, like balance in tight roping?

This is an interesting question. The answer is maybe. Flexibility tends to increase performance in lots and lots of sports. Now, over flexibility might do the opposite, in certain things. Over flexibility is so, so rare that I think it’s a little bit silly to even talk about, because so few people have it, but it is something to consider.

For the most part, with running and if you’re doing jumping, which would be track and field type activities, in terms of balance and things like that, flexibility, increasing your range of motion, tends to increase your ability to perform. You’re faster, less injuries, your nervous system is trained in a different way, so almost everybody reports an increase in performance. But it’s within reason. So if your core sport is running, I would for sure focus on running, and use flexibility training to improve your running, rather than the other way around, if that makes sense.

Edward asks:

I’m starting the Atkins for vegetarians. There’s lots of cheese. What should I do?

Atkins, most of you listening have probably heard about it. It’s a 30-some year old diet. Robert Atkins really pioneered the high-protein weight loss diet, high-protein, high-fat weight loss diet, which continues to this day. The reason it continues is because it does work. If all you eat is protein and fat, you will lose weight. There’s some big flaws with that. The biggest one is it’s not sustainable. The other one is it screws up your hormonal balance and some people really rebound from it. Atkins for vegetarians, with a lot of cheese, is a disaster. I would not recommend that at all.

I teach something I call reverse vegetarianism. I’ve been a plant-based guy for over a decade, and so I kind of come from a different perspective, but when I look at the vegetarian movement I think they’ve got it all wrong, meaning people are giving up meat and then they’re focusing on dairy as their primary sources for fat and protein.

I would recommend, from a health standpoint and also from a moral and ethical standpoint, to go the other way. And this is really controversial, people get really mad at me, but if you sit down, you do the research, from a moral and ethical standpoint, from an environmental standpoint and absolutely from a health standpoint, reverse vegetarianism is a better way to go.

So what is reverse vegetarianism? Well, instead of giving up the meat first, give up the dairy first, and you’re going to find it’s a whole lot more effective. So why? Why would you do this? Okay, so first of all, dairy products that we have right now come from these freaky animals, these bovine creatures, right? These are as weird as a poodle. They’re these funky animals that have been selectively bred over the years to give maximum yield of meat and milk, and they’re very, very weird. They’re very unhealthy animals, they’re very sickly animals. And so it’s very hard to even keep them alive. They’ve got to keep them all kinds of antibiotics. They live in terrible conditions, blah, blah, blah. You know the story. Cows are a disaster.

So the deal is, when you’re eating their dairy, because it’s a bodily fluid, all the bad stuff in bodily fluid ends up in cow’s milk. Now, there’s the argument that your body protects it, and that’s true to some extent, but a lot of the junk ends up in there, everything from antibiotics to hormones to bacteria to all kinds of other stuff.

So then what they have to do is cook the hell out of it, so you’ve got this really cooked, processed thing, and then it’s got this really weird protein in it called casein, and casein is one of the most carcinogenic compounds on the planet and it’s found in bovine protein and in milk proteins and it’s one of the most allergenic compounds on the planet as well. So if you’re looking at the things that cause massive, massive allergies, casein, which you’ve got casein and whey in your dairy products, it’s one of the huge ones. So that’s why people get gas and bloating, that’s why people get acne, that’s why people get chronic, chronic gastrointestinal problems from dairy products.

Now, milk would be the worst, yogurts and fermented cheeses and things get better and better and as you get to butter it becomes less and less allergenic. But all of them can be a problem, and the dairy industry is a huge problem. It’s just disgusting. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven past or visited a commercial dairy. It’s a horrible, horrible place. It’s toxic. You can barely breathe the air. If you drive by in your car, you have to turn off the ventilation because it smells so bad. It’s a disgusting, disgusting place, and it’s very much factory farming, even at its best. Even when you’re drinking organic milk, it’s still a disaster.

Now, of course beef is not a fantastically, exciting place to get food either, but there are better options. There are better options, and at the end of the day, from my research, the animals live a better life, even in the worst case scenario, they live a better life than a dairy cow that’s strapped to machines for years and years and then killed.

The thing about meat is while there are some complications with meat, it tends to have far less allergies and far more nutritional benefits than do dairy products. This is really, really hard for people to wrap their head around, because really for 30 years, the American Heart Association has fed us a whole bunch of lies about saturated fat. There’s all these fears around red meat and all these kinds of things, and most of it’s not justified and it’s going to come full circle, but there’s been so much, from public legislature to all kinds of things, that it can’t happen overnight and it’s really, really – there’s been a huge, huge amount of money invested in the idea that we have to have milk to get calcium and that somehow we’re all calcium deficient, which just isn’t true and it’s really not an issue. People are scared that their bones are going to break and all this kind of crazy stuff. The Dairy Board has spread this.

Dairy is a disaster, and it’s an environmental disaster, it’s a moral and ethical disaster and it’s a digestive disaster. Now that said, there are people who do really, really well with dairy and they tend to come from Scandinavian countries. I think Belgium, somebody who is an ethnic, Belgian has the best ability to digest milk. In all the Scandinavian Nordic countries, they tend to be the best. The further South you head, the worse the story gets. So for example, people from Africa, people with African roots, people with Asian roots, absolutely terrible at digesting milk.

So what does that mean, if you can’t digest milk? Well, it might mean that you get a little bloating, it might mean that you’ll get a little gas, it might mean you get acne for your entire life. It might mean that you have irritable bowel, it might mean you have symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. It might mean that you have foggy brain, it might mean that you gain weight. None of which are good, but all of which might go unnoticed because in some diets, like in the U.S. for example, dairy is everywhere.

So, Edward, I think it’s awesome that you’re interested in vegetarianism. I think it’s awesome that you’re looking at weight loss. I would encourage you take a look at this concept of reverse vegetarianism. It’s controversial. People don’t consider you a vegetarian, which is not really fair because you’re doing just as much as your average vegetarian who cuts out meat, just by cutting out dairy, and it’s a much, much healthier way to go.

In terms of starting Atkins and focusing on cheese and milk and those kinds of things, I would not do it. That’s going to be a disaster, in most cases, unless you come from, again, one of those countries. Unless you know that you do really well with dairy, I’d stay away from it.

So again, big, long answer, kind of a controversial answer. If you have questions or comments about this, please do post them down below. This is something we’ve been talking about a lot lately, reverse vegetarianism, and I’d love to hear from you. Want to Quit Coffee?