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-   -   Musings on red beans and rice... (https://www.veggieboards.com/forum/11-vegetarian-support-forum/142538-musings-red-beans-rice.html)

Siv 08-21-2013 06:48 AM

I believe that in times past, meat was the preserve of of the wealthy. If the poor got to eat any animal produce, it was probably offal or bones. But somehow the poor (who were by far the vast majority of the population) managed to get their whole proteins through combinations such as red beans and rice, hummus and pitta, couscous and chickpeas, beans and corn tortillas, baked beans on toast, peanut butter on whole grain bread etc etc.

 

What I find fascinating is that before science and analysis of complete proteins (or even the identification of what a protein is), humans developed a cultural food heritage that includes the essential protein combinations. To me this indicates that the vast majority of the protein intake for the bulk of the population was historically from vegetable sources.

 

Now fast forward to modern civilization and we seem to be developing a culture which rejects our historical learning (beans and rice is poor mans food) and focuses on everyone acting like the wealthy of yesteryear (eating meat is a sign of status) which is also defended by prejudiced science.

 

I've heard many people state that a vegan diet is only made possible in the modern world with "smart substitutions" or engineered vegan food products however I think this is only a recent phenomenon given that historically so many people existed on what was practically a vegan diet with meat only for special occasions.

 

I've been reading some "opinions" on what poor people ate historically and it's often soups or stews of grains and vegetables and meat "if they had some". I wonder if the meat is evidenced or merely added by historians who cannot believe that humans survived without eating meat? Also, if you read some historical accounts of the diet of the poor in places such as Egypt, you would be forgiven for thinking that they were practically carnivores as the accounts seem only to focus on the meat they ate. And given that literacy was the preserve of the wealthy, perhaps we only have reliable evidence of what they ate as the life of the poor was largely undocumented.

 

I note that "vegan" as a word is a relatively recent invention in the history of humanity, perhaps made necessary by the need to differentiate oneself from a society that was mostly veg*n before but seem to have recently developed into a carnivorous, animal abusing extreme. However the real poor of the world (the Indians and Africans living in mud huts) survive on practically a veg*n diet to this day.

 

There are always exceptions (e.g. the Maasai or Inuit) so I don't know if my theory holds much water... I know that much of what I have written is based on limited knowledge so I would appreciate your thoughts and perspectives.


jpaul 08-21-2013 06:58 AM

My wife and I eat  a lot of beans and rice and love it and sometimes she'll say, in paying homage to her childhood in Louisiana, "Wonder what the poor folks are eating."


ponyboy85 08-21-2013 07:01 AM

As you may have read in my posts in the past I spent 6 months living in West Africa. The staple food is without doubt rice and beans along with fruits and peanuts.

These guys and girls were monsters, very little bodyfat and large amounts of muscle mass. They were incredibly fit and strong and worked very long hours without any meat. I would so their meat intake was maybe 2 small portions a month. Many locals didn't trust it and wouldn't go near it due to being scared of illness. Unfortunately their diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals so suffer from illnesses more often, this isn't through lack of meat but lack of a varied diet.

luvourmother 08-21-2013 10:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siv View Post

I believe that in times past, meat was the preserve of of the wealthy. If the poor got to eat any animal produce, it was probably offal or bones. But somehow the poor (who were by far the vast majority of the population) managed to get their whole proteins through combinations such as red beans and rice, hummus and pitta, couscous and chickpeas, beans and corn tortillas, baked beans on toast, peanut butter on whole grain bread etc etc.

What I find fascinating is that before science and analysis of complete proteins (or even the identification of what a protein is), humans developed a cultural food heritage that includes the essential protein combinations.

Protein combining is unnecessary.

Siv 08-21-2013 11:42 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by luvourmother View Post


Protein combining is unnecessary.


Thank you for your valuable contribution to this discussion.


ElaineV 08-21-2013 01:36 PM

It's true that many "poor people's food" is coincidentally vegan or easy to veganize. And it offers "complete protein". Some examples beyond red bean and rice (a Cajun specialty often made with bits of sausage but easy to make without sausage):
-Mexican refried beans and rice
-Irish split pea soup
-Indian pita/rice and dal
-American peanut butter and bread
-Carribean black beans and rice
-Native American succotash

Protein combining is not necessary but it doesn't hurt and seems to taste pretty good wink3.gif

Tom 08-21-2013 05:08 PM

^^^Elaine's last sentence nails it. When I first went vegetarian, I got a copy of Frances Moore Lappe's "Diet For A Small Planet", which focusses largely on the protein content of various foods and the ideal proportions of mixing different foods at the same meal to maximize their usable protein. I don't pay as much attention to protein combining these days as I used to (although I still think about it), but my food usually is more interesting and tastier when it has a mix of ingredients. Rice and beans taste better than either just rice or just beans mixed with spices, vegetables, etc. My home-made whole wheat bread is even better with my home-made chili or black bean soup.

 

EDITED TO ADD: I do agree with Siv that much of humanity has lived mostly on plant foods out of necessity. I cannot say whether or not people had some sort of body wisdom that told them, on some level, to eat a variety of foods because this was healthier. Also, I think it's probably a good idea to eat a variety of foods for other reasons: foods differ in vitamin/mineral content and other nutrients, so that a limited diet might well pose other problems besides inadequate protein.


Auxin 08-21-2013 07:09 PM

People are critters of habit.

With very few exceptions simply getting enough calories from whole foods ensures enough protein and enough essential amino acids, but throughout history famine was a recurring thing. In starving times a food that is high in fat and high in "high quality" (human flesh-like) meat protein is a god send for maintaining people until the famine ends. But being critters of habit people keep eating those 'famine foods' on into the good times.

Menudo is a great example, in a mexican famine people were so hungry they resorted to eating stomachs, intestines, and brains soup. Now its a traditional dish and recommended as a hangover cure (they used to use cactus flowers for hangovers).

Up north, in starving times people got so hungry they would eat reindeer vomit. Yes, rudolf the red nosed vomit. It became a traditional ethnic food.

In my dads youth his family of nine could often only afford two eggs, so they boiled the poison out of a local poisonous weed that no one cared if the poor harvested and scrambled their two eggs up in that. Poke salat, originally a thing of the desperately poor, its an 'ethnic food' now.

Our respective cultures have their foodways based on old habits and traditions from many different reasons.

People like to defend their (past) 'culture' but cultures are in continuous flux, they cant be held static, so eliminating old bad or obsolete habits should be ok. It could even be a sign of maturity.

 

People are also vain critters.

Meat used to be symbolic of luxury so people like to be seen eating meat, and they like to see themselves eating meat. It can be a thing of pure conceit. Not consuming to absurd excess could also be a sign of maturity.

 

As for historic foodways we mostly only have written records from the wealthy. People like to point out that written cookbooks for the pharoes involved loads of meat and the 'ancient egyptians' were healthy and strong and built pyramids... of course, they ignore the fact that the pharoes who were wealthy enough to eat meat every day were riddled with heart disease.

One interesting exception to the lack of information on normal peoples diet was Marcus Porcius Cato's book on farming. Cato, an ancient roman, basically wrote a guide on how to start and manage a farm. It included a passage on what, and how much, to feed the different workers.

 

Quote:
(LVI) The following are the customary allowances for food: For the hands, four pecks of meal for the winter, and four and one-half for the summer. For the overseer, the housekeeper, the wagoner, the shepherd, three pecks each. For the slaves, four pounds of bread for the winter, but when they begin to cultivate the vines this is increased to five pounds until the figs are ripe, then return to four

Thats it for feeding farm workers. Grain. The romans, like the greeks, just went out and harvested edible herbs and wild veggies as needed but they had to grow or be paid in grain (meal).

In other historical accounts roman soldiers would complain when they were fed meat because it made them slow and weak. Grains and wild herbs propelled the roman army across europe.

 

Another historically interesting source is the original buddhist suttas. For fourty years (about 2550 years ago) the buddha wandered around teaching. The suttas are the events and teachings of those times, theres a lot of them! People of all classes would give him food to eat, he would teach people in terms familiar to their lives, and he'd just wander around and encounter ordinary stuff. In all the surviving records of that he was mentioned as eating meat one time, meat with jujubes (like a cross between an apple and a date, theyre good). Elsewhere in other suttas there is food all over the place, usually either vegan or lacto-vegetarian with honey. Buffalo boys were described tending dairy cows and once a butcher was described cutting up a cow at a crossroads but when people ate it was things like steamed barley and rice, vegetables and rice, vegetables and bread, etc. and when a young girl mistook the buddha for a tree spirit laugh.gif (its india) she gave him a offering of milk-rice porridge, food prepared for the gods.

The buddhists also encountered the Jains, who were around at the same time. They were like the monks and nuns of ethical veganism! Not only did they strain any macroscopic living creature out of water they were collecting to drink like the buddhists did but they wore masks to keep from breathing in little flies and they carried delicate brooms to sweep insects off walking paths.

 

Naturally there are lots of historical records of meat eating, but vegetarianism and even veganism is as old as recorded history.


khadijah 09-27-2013 12:39 PM

Ive lived in Egypt for last  Five years, and there nothing poor about any one here, sure the economy is not great, but thats every were. what i see is the staple food being mostly rice foul, and tayeyah( Falafel) now also they eat meat and vegetables. salad, and so fourth,. So  to say this is a poor country to be poor the people look well fed. Dont know what part of egypt you mean being poor but its def not in cairo.


frozenstar 09-27-2013 03:13 PM

Though it's true you don't have to combine to make complete proteins at every single meal, you do have to combine overall by the end of the day to get complete proteins.

 

Protein needs probably depend on the person, but for me, as an athlete, complete proteins are vital.

 

I felt horrible, weak, and almost depressed before I knew how to make complete proteins, and how to get essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins from plant sources, now that I

 

routinely combine I feel great.  

 

We each have to listen carefully to our own bodies, and meat is NOT necessary, but proper nutrition certainly is.


Vegan Dave 09-28-2013 07:17 PM

Red beans & rice, or black beans & rice, or lentils & rice....they're all good.  :up:    

 

Throw in a side of plantains & you gotta meal!!!!  :nana::nana::nana: 



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