Want to save the planet? Don’t blame the cows.
Dr Robert Szabo, a Melbourne-based GP, started low carb clinic four years ago, helping patients who are looking to reverse insulin resistance and adopt a low carb diet to improve their health. He is also a well-researched environmentalist, who sees a link between low carb eating and living sustainably.
Seven years ago, Robert was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which led him to try a low-carb diet himself.
“I saw the power that had in reversing the disease, giving me this health and vitality that I didn’t think was going to be possible.”
He is frustrated that it took his being sick to gain the insight he now has.
“I was ashamed when I was diagnosed,” he says. I kept it to myself. I was 10-15 kg heavier than I am now, but I wasn’t obese. I still felt like I’d done something wrong. That’s how it’s taught to us – that there is a mistake you’ve made in your lifestyle. I wasn’t sure what mistake that was. At the time I didn’t recognise that the sugar in my life had been the cause.”
“A lot of the things I’ve learned that are the most powerful, I kind of had to stumble across. It shouldn’t be that way. This stuff should be in our lectures as medical students. This is the critical life and death stuff.”
“This was out in the 1880s with William Banting and then we spoke about it with epilepsy in the early 20th century, and then we spoke about it in the 70s and 80s with Atkins, and now we’re speaking about it again. This will not go away. Because this works.”
Whether it’s looking after the insides of organisms or looking after the planetary organism, it’s all connected, says Robert.
“The big issue of our time is this climate situation, and the big gripe that I have is the role of animals in carbon sequestration, particularly the role of ruminants – cows and sheep – resulting in soil build-up and soil growth, i.e. carbon sequestration is not being spoken about nearly enough.”
All these people who are so well-intentioned with their vegan diet, thinking they’re going to be saving the planet, they are actually accelerating climate change through leading to the erosion of soil, he says.
“The best way you can get the carbon back in the ground is by utilising ruminants. This is the bizarre irony – we’re demonising something that is actually part of the solution.”
However, the way we are farming animals at the moment is not ideal – growing soy and corn to feed the animals, let alone the cruelty of industrialised farming.
“Sustainability is not enough,” he says. “We can’t sustain an absolutely destroyed eco-system. We need to renew our eco-system and this is what cattle can do for us.”