Q: I can’t understand living in Alaska and being purely vegetarian. Is there something wrong with eating meat or fish?
A: The main problem with eating commercial meat, poultry or farmed-fish is the way these animals are raised. I believe that humans were given teeth to be able to eat apples, carrots and other things that require some chewing, like wild meat. Venison and moose killed by subsistence hunters are excellent sources of lean and clean protein — in moderation. Eating red meat more than twice a week can prematurely deplete our supply of digestive enzymes and cause us to limit the necessary intake of 2 to 3 servings of fresh vegetables and fruit daily. Fish is an excellent food, if caught wild. Fish is a high-quality protein food which also contains essential minerals, vitamins and fats. In general, the nutritive value of fish is similar to that of beef, except that shellfish and salt-water fish are also rich in iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper and calcium. Herring is also exceptionally high in zinc. Fatty fish, such as salmon, cod and albacore tuna, supplies a good amount of the fat-soluble vitamins D and A. All fish is high in the anti-stress B vitamins. Fish and shellfish have high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids which tend to lower blood cholesterol. Fish oils have also been well-documented to help lower blood pressure. This is because the fatty plaques which cause blood vessels to constrict are made of fats and oils that the body cannot readily digest. Fish is much more easily digested than red meat — 85 to 95 percent of fish protein is well absorbed by the body.Fish oils have also been proven to reduce the incidence of stroke because it prevents the platelets in the blood from excessively clumping together. Platelets rush to the scene of a wound and are what causes a scab to form over a cut or abrasion. But we don’t want them clumping unnecessarily. One of the most exciting aspects of recent research on the benefits of eating fish, is the potent anti-inflammatory effect the oil provides. Anyone with chronic inflammatory problems, such as acne, asthma, bronchitis, ulcerative colitis, hepatitis, or recurrent infections may greatly benefit from regular ingestion of fish.
When cooking fish, it is best to use a low temperature which allows the meat fibers to break down evenly as the heat penetrates. Juices are lost as the meat becomes hotter. After any meat, fish or fowl gets to 170 degrees F, the protein begins to get tough and dry. Don’t salt your fish before cooking, because this will draw out the juices. Buy your fish carefully. Signs of freshness to be looked for are: eyes are bright, clear and bulging; gills are reddish-pink and free from slime; scales are tight to the skin, bright and shiny; flesh is firm and elastic; and the odor is fresh.