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Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian? What’s the best diet?

Sunday October 1 2017 is World Vegetarian Day!

Founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978, October 1 is the kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month.

How can you eat more healthfully? In a Nutritional Update for Physicians on plant-based diet, the authors conclude that, “… the major benefits for patients who decide to start a plant-based diet are the possibility of reducing the number of medications they take to treat a variety of chronic conditions, lower weight, decreased risk of cancer, and a reduction in their risk from ischemic heart disease.”

Worried about not getting enough protein or energy from avoiding animal products? Many world-class athletes are vegans, including Carl Lewis and Martina Navratilova. John Lewis, athlete and vegan personal trainer, is also known as the “Badass Vegan.”

Going vegan isn’t for wimps.

Bill Clinton revealed his dietary change to a vegan diet in 2010.  He told CNN he made the decision to jump off the meat wagon after getting an ultimatum from his doctor — his blocked arteries needed treatment, Now!  He changed his diet and the resulting 30-pound-plus weight loss remains clearly visible today. He says he has a new lease on life, adding, I have so much more energy now! I feel great.

Clinton said that he knew he’d played “Russian roulette” with his life, tried to “diet” by cutting calories and dietary cholesterol, but the improvement wasn’t enough. So, he said, That’s when I made a decision to really change.

Clinton’s plant-based regimen (Dr. Dean Ornish’s diet) was extremely low in all types of fat, providing less than 10% of his total calories each day. It’s a diet that, in clinical trials, has been shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol, and reverse atherosclerosis. And it worked for him.  Click here for more information.

However, All fats are NOT created equal

But only 10% of calories from fat? That’s awfully low.

Very low fat gets high ratings for heart disease and stroke, but very low rating for “easy to follow” and “long-term weight loss” (click here for the U.S. News 2017 Best Diets report). And studies link the no-fat craze to the explosion of obesity in the ‘80s. As Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard University nutrition professor and researcher said, “One of the most unfortunate unintended consequences of the fat-free crusade was the idea that if it wasn’t fat, it wouldn’t make you fat.” Read more here.

Extremely low fat excludes most naturally occurring “healthy” fats from plants and fish — from salmon, trout, and sardines (sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids).  You miss out on the healthful nutrients from other nuts, seeds, grains, avocado, and legumes.

And boring!  A very low-fat diet can make for a pretty unappetizing diet and may cause you to eat more of other (unhealthful) foods to create a little excitement.

Clinton has changed his eating habits lately to include some fish and poultry too and he continues to maintain his weight loss and heart health.

Take some advice from food and opinion writer Mark Bittman, who suggests a lifestyle modification, not a complete change. He generally eats only plant foods during the day and says that being a part-time vegan gets you a better diet without feeling that you can’t eat anything but plant foods.

Bittman says, What seems to happen to people (who change their diets) is that they are more conscious about the choices they make, as they feel better about eating more plants and less of other stuff, their dinners become more moderate, too.

The  MayoClinic.org reports just eating less meat has a protective effect and report on a National Cancer Institute study of 500,000 people found that those who ate the most red meat daily were 30 percent more likely to die of any cause during a 10-year period than were those who ate the least amount of red meat. Processed meats correlate most strongly with heart disease: sausage, luncheon meats and other processed meats are most risky.

A Healthier Environment

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) reports, “Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. The byproducts of animal agriculture pollute our air and waterways. By shunning animal products, vegetarians are de facto environmentalists.”

Just because it’s made from a plant doesn’t automatically make it healthy. If it’s made from white flour and sugar, processed with artificial flavors and preservatives, stripped of its original nutrition and labeled “fortified” that means that there’s something lost in the transformation from plant to packaged.

Calories still count. You can be a vegetarian, even a vegan, and be overweight and undernourished.

Definition of “diet”

The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats

Considering vegan? Or vegetarian? Strict vegans avoid even honey from bees, which is probably too extreme for most people. Don’t think you can give up meat or live the strict vegan lifestyle? You don’t have to go all the way to benefit from a healthier diet.

Just shifting to a plant-based diet offers many health benefits, for you and for the planet.  Consider becoming a flexible vegetarian, or a “flexitarian!” Focus on plant foods, and on occasion, you might eat animal-sourced foods, such as wild-caught salmon, organically raised chicken and eggs, or dairy.

ConsumerReports.org writes, “It’s never too early or late to embrace a healthier lifestyle… the benefits come quickly and continue to accrue with time.”  They cite a study that showed that women in their 50s who ate a mostly plant diet were 34% more likely to be free of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease 15 years later than women whose diets included more meat.  Read more here.

If you’re curious about being a vegan, check out the Vegan Society. Choose carefully to get enough vitamins and minerals that are more easily found in animal products, including vitamin B12 and calcium, iodine and zinc.

Health experts suggest a multi-vitamin with 100% of the RDI for major vitamins and minerals. VeganHealth.org also has a comprehensive, professionally edited website to help you plan a complete vegan diet.

Ideas For Change

  • Eliminate processed meats to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The term “processed meats” differs in definition, but generally, we’re talking “meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives.” Read more here.
  • Reduce the risk of major killers such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer: not by replacing meat with refined carbohydrate foods, but with healthy protein-rich non-meat options including whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Boycott factory farmed meat (also known as “intensive farmed” meat) both for your health and for animal welfare. The system is inefficient and harms the environment, and the conditions for animals is barbaric. Some reports show that factory farming of animals is dramatically impacting our planet, destroying rainforests and other wildlife habitats, increasing greenhouse gases and accelerating global warming. Factory farms are notorious for polluting water and the air. Read more here.
  • Although there are tradeoffs to eating more plant foods — (are we harming the environment by importing grapes from Chile and exporting to China?) buying from sustainable farmers and buying locally grown (not shipped from tens of thousands of miles away) is a great strategy to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • And think about waste. At least 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted yearly, and if wasted food were a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, after the U.S. and China. Read more here.
  • Freezing food doesn’t negatively impact its nutritional value; so for the planet’s sake, and for your health, take a look at this brief article for some great ideas about beefing up your produce intake, and some practical ideas to reduce food waste.

Sources

ConsumerReports.org. The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet. https://www.consumerreports.org/diet-plans/plant-based-diet/

Greatist.com. 29 Smart and Easy Tips to Reduce Food Waste. https://greatist.com/health/how-to-ways-reduce-food-waste

GreatVeganAthletes.com. Thirteen vegan athletes who set World Records or became World Champions.http://www.greatveganathletes.com/

MarkBittman.com. Mark Bittman says you can be a part-time vegan. http://markbittman.com/tag/vb6/

PBS.org. Frontline. Did the Low-Fat Era Make Us Fat?

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/diet/themes/lowfat.html

RollingStone.com. In The Belly Of The Beast.http://www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists

PETA.org. Vegetarianism and the Environment.https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/animals-used-food-factsheets/vegetarianism-environment/

Science.Time.com. The Triple Whopper Environmental Impact of Global Meat Production. http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/

Scientific American. Public Health. What’s the Definition of Processed Meat? https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-s-the-definition-of-processed-meat/

The Permanente Journal. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/

TheVeganSociety.com. How to go vegan. https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/how-go-vegan

U.S. News Wellness. Best Diets.Ornish Diet. https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/ornish-diet

YouTube.com. Former President Bill Clinton is Vegan, a CNN Interview with Dr. Esselstyn.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Kg_mBujaMg

29 thoughts on “Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian? What’s the best diet?

  1. If diet is “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”, the unspoken completion of this statement is “to sustain life”.

    Using this definition then, there are no vegans. Vitamin B-12 deficiency from following a vegan diet will kill.

    It’s true that taking vitamin pills will avoid the permanent nerve damage and death that result from a lack of B-12, but being fed a slurry of nutrients in a hospital via a tube down one’s gullet will keep a person alive, but that can’t realistically be called a diet either.

    Everyone starts out with breast milk or a carefully-concocted replacement, which is a 100% meat diet. Veganism takes over much later in life, when people have topped up on B-12, whose deficiency can take up to 20 years to manifest itself, as I understand. So anyone claiming to be vegan isn’t, or was, and died from it, or is a temp.

    I wonder if anyone has really investigated the all-meat diet since the 1920s when Vilhjalmur Stefansson, arctic explorer and anthropologist, and a colleague underwent a medically-supervised and documented year of it. Among Stefansson’s many sojourns in the Arctic, he routinely went for years at a time eating only meat and water, as did the people he lived with. They were all fine for it too.

    Showing environmental awareness is good, but eating eco-chow isn’t the solution either. The earth just has too many humans. If our global numbers were 1% of what they are, or less, most of our current problems simply wouldn’t exist. It wouldn’t matter what anyone did because there wouldn’t be enough of us to have much effect.

    If everyone, starting today, eats nothing but plants, our numbers will keep growing, every kind of environmental degradation will continue, and there will be an inevitable crash. At least my age ensures that I’ll miss the fun. Don’t know about the rest of you out there, but good luck, eh?

    Basic info on Vilhjalmur Stefansson: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vilhjalmur_Stefansson

    He also wrote a book called “Not by Bread Alone”.

    1. That is so silly, Dave. It’s perfectly possible to eat a vegan diet without dying of vitamin B-12 deficiency. You can easily get your B-12 from other non-animal sources, and you’re so outrageous to equate babies drinking mother’s milk to adults making a conscious choice to not eat animal products.

      From the Vegan Society Frequent use of foods fortified with B12 so that about one microgram of B12 is consumed three times a day with a few hours in between will provide an adequate amount. Availability of fortified foods varies from country to country and amounts of B12 vary from brand to brand, so ensuring an adequate B12 supply from fortified foods requires some label reading and thought to work out an adequate pattern to suit individual tastes and local products.

      Taking a B12 supplement containing ten micrograms or more daily provides a similar absorbed amount to consuming one microgram on three occasions through the day. This may be the most economical method as a single high potency tablet can be consumed bit by bit. 2000 micrograms of B12 consumed once a week would also provide an adequate intake. Any B12 supplement tablet should be chewed or allowed to dissolve in the mouth to enhance absorption. Tablets should be kept in an opaque container. As with any supplement, it is prudent not to take more than is required for maximum benefit, so intakes above 5000 micrograms per week should be avoided despite lack of evidence for toxicity from higher amounts.https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/nutrients/vitamin-b12/what-every-vegan-should-know-about-vitamin-b12

      You can certainly choose to remain childless to improve the health of the planet and I’ll choose to not eat factory-farmed animal meats. Susan

      1. Right. The key is “fortified”. As I understand, B-12 is produced by a soil fungus, picked up by herbivores and biologically magnified in their tissue, and then consumed by humans. Since humans don’t eat dirt, the only way to naturally acquire B-12 is via meat. Therefore, a way of eating based solely on plants will inevitably lead to death. I.e., it will not naturally sustain life, and is not a diet as defined. Just pointing out the all-too-often glossed over obvious.

        Doesn’t name calling seem a bit uncharitable as a way to support your ideas?

        1. I’m not sure you understand the purpose of my column, Dave. Your statement that the only way humans can get B12 is by eating dirt or meat is specious. You can be a vegan and be healthy. The purpose of my column is to detail the research that confirms the health benefits of reducing the amount of red and processed meat in your diet, in favor of whole foods from plants. Also, to confirm that a flexitarian diet can be a healthy option. I didn’t call you “names” and welcome comments from readers who may have conflicting research, as long as the research cited is credible.

          1. Susan, I’m not sure if you realise it, but you have just admitted to confirmation bias with this statement.

            “The purpose of my column is to detail the research that confirms the health benefits of reducing the amount of red and processed meat in your diet, in favor of whole foods from plants.”

            You have made up your mind that red (and processed) meat has a negative impact on health and you are simply searching for articles which confirm your belief. That is not how good science works. If your hypothesis is that red meat is harmful to all humans or that vegetables are good for all humans then the scientific method is to search for something that proves your hypothesis wrong.

            As soon as you find your ‘black swan’ (to the hypothesis that ‘all swans are white’) you have disproved your hypothesis and should move on to the next one.

            The fact that many people in the communities I am involved in thrive on red meat and find they are harmed by any amount of plant material in their diet disproves the ‘purpose’ of your column. You should look at the interview on this page: https://zerocarbzen.com/interviews/

  2. I’m doing very well on zero-plant diet and have maintained it for 2 and a half years so far.

    Far from being bad for the environment, cattle produce the most nutrient dense food with ALL the amino acids and fatty acids we MUST have – all in one convenient package. What’s more, they can do this by eating grasses from land that is not suitable for growing other crops. Not only that, but the land regenerates better and holds more water and healthy microbes because of the improved root structure and depth. Done properly, growing meat on such land doesn’t require fertilizers made from not renewable petro-chemical sources.

    On land which grows monocrops like grains and legumes, the soil quickly depletes, requires constant attention with fertiliser and because it doesn’t get the chance to develop large root systems will eventually cause water to pan on the top and eventually wash away all the soil by flooding.

    I’m 63, fit and healthy and on no medications. I’ve arrived at this way of life by using scientific, logical and plausible understanding of what works. I was overweight when on a mixed diet, but have regained a healthy weight since going low carb and then zero carb.

    1. It’s like global warming. You might select factoids that you think support your argument, but they don’t make it valid. There is overwhelming credible, scientific evidence that the increase in factory farming is profoundly impacting the environment. Your “zero-plant diet” may be effective for you, but eliminating all carbohydrate foods from your diet long-term is a choice that is known to be deficient in vital nutrients, fiber, pleasure, and ultimately unnecessary for weight management. I’ll be at JungleGym Cuenca on Calle Larga for the next six weeks on Wednesdays at 12:15, and we’ll talk about eating for energy, diets, cooking, and enjoying a rainbow of foods. Come join us. By the way, from Time Magazine Science: “You may think you live on a planet, but really you live on a gigantic farm, one occasionally broken up by cities, forests and the oceans. Some 40% of the world’s land surface is used for the purposes of keeping all 7 billion of us fed — albeit some of us, of course, more than others. And the vast majority of that land — about 30% of the word’s total ice-free surface — is used not to raise grains, fruits and vegetables that are directly fed to human beings, but to support the chickens, pigs and cattle that we eventually eat.” And read this from the Union of Concerned Scientists: “No matter what methods are used, agriculture always has some impact on the environment. But industrial agriculture is a special case: it damages the soil, water, and even the climate on an unprecedented scale.” Susan

      1. You might want to do a little more research on this before educating the public. https://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change#t-17218

        B12 is not vegan sourced and have you thought of the environmental damage millions and millions of plastic supplement bottles cause over a lifetime?

        I’ve been from one end of Ecuador to the other and everywhere I see cows grazing on grass. Imagine if all that grass were to be used to vegetables and grains! There would be no more top soil and we’d have a desert with time. I did see a few chicken farms. Is factory farming of beef even a topic here? How many factory farms are there in Ecuador? How many veggie and grain farms are poisoning this country’s land and farmers with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides?

        Have you read Susan Schenk’s book “Beyond Broccoli”? Having tried the vegan diet and ruining my thyroid in the process of getting fat and subsequently discovering countless others who have done the same has caused me to throw my nutritional consultant diploma out the window. We have all been brainwashed by various agendas and before we teach others we need to look at more than just what we learned in school.

        Your comments are very patronizing to those who are trying to show you something you’re very clearly unaware of. A good teacher needs to be humble and continue learning. Here’s an opportunity: https://zerocarbzen.com/zero-carb/

        1. Anybody that cites Susan Schenck as a source knows absolutely nothing about science. She is anathema to anything that has to do with real science and I’ve debunked her nonsense dozens of times over the years.

          And instead of inferring what your screen name means, I’ll just say that “detoxing” is pure BS. No more than popular pseudo-science.

      2. Thank you for your reply, Susan. I do not wish to denigrate you by using words like ‘factoid’ to sum up your assertions/arguments. I can only say that we have each arrived at our respective positions over a number of years of learning combined with our own unique ways of thinking whether it be logical or otherwise. We cannot be certain whether today’s poor nutrition is caused by nutrition ‘science’ or whether poor nutrition has led to a greater number of nutrition ‘scientists’. Let us just say that most of today’s causes of death are linked to poor nutrition. It is an inescapable fact that foods which were predominant for humans over the last 2.6 million years of evolution have been animal-based. If you feed an obligate carnivore such as a cat, carbohydrates, it WILL become sick and fat. (Or fat and sick depending on which leads the other.) This also happens with humans – to date I have not met a healthy long-term vegetarian. I’ve not heard of a second or third generation vegan.

        As one sign of our decline because of plants we can look at brain size. The human brain reached its peak size about 90,000 years ago, remaining fairly constant for the next 60,000 years. Then about 30,000 years ago began a decline of around 3% over the 20,000 years of increased plant-eating. The following 10,000 years of full-on agriculture saw a further 8% decrease in size. This equates to an 11% reduction in brain-size over the last 30,000 years. B12 deficiency is implicated in decreased brain-size and vegans lead the world in this trend. In one community the smallest brain of an omnivore was measured as larger than the largest of those of the vegans.

        Other signs of health decline (particularly since grains became part of our diet), are bone density, tooth decay, general stature, and of course all the diseases of civilisation, from diabetes,heart disease and cancer to autoimmune diseases and dementia. Indeed our entire health system is now primarily trying to address food with drugs and surgery. Prior to 1900 our major causes of mortality were trauma, infection and childbirth. Modern science has either reduced these or increased the aforementioned diseases of civilisation (or both).

        Your mention of ‘pleasure’ in regard to food is very telling. Certainly carbohydrates have a significant effect on the dopamine levels and expression in the brain. Eating for ‘entertainment’ is a major preoccupation with the unhealthy in this day and age. All other animals simply treat food as fuel and stop eating when they’ve eaten enough to provide their energy and growth needs. (At least that is what they do when fueled by protein and fat.) Once the food you eat starts activating the pleasure centres without triggering the satiety signals – a property of carbohydrates – nature allows us to ‘fatten up’. This is fine in a seasonal setting – but overwhelming in a supermarket setting.

        Now that 30% of us are simply overweight or pre-diabetic and a further 30% are obese or fully diabetic, it is clear to me that there is something seriously wrong with today’s human diet in general. I have found that it is easier to strip carbs out of my diet altogether than to have the temptation to overeat because they are in my life. Your assertion that my sort of diet is ‘known to be deficient in vital nutrients’ is yet to be shown in the scientific literature.

        “Do Humans Need to Eat Carbohydrate?

        * “The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life apparently is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.”

        Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes, 2008″

        1. This is why your posts are unreliable. … ” to date I have not met a healthy long-term vegetarian. I’ve not heard of a second or third generation vegan.” Quite unscientific, Gregg. The plural of anecdote is not data. I didn’t make that up, but it’s a useful phrase to describe your sophism.

          Your “N of 1” isn’t science, and trying to weave a healthy whole foods diet containing a rainbow of foods at suitable portion size against a ketogenic diet doesn’t fly. It’s really silly stuff, Gregg, and as my old mentor and boss would say, “that dawg don’t hunt.”
          Susan

          1. Bravo, Susan. You cut right through the nonsense and made your point brilliantly. Of course paraphrasing my nostrum that “The plural of anecdote isn’t data, it’s anecdotes” is where much of the brilliance comes from. Of course I’m kidding because I stole it from faulkner years ago but I’m sure it predates even him by decades.

            Of course the other issue is one that a famous guy named Ken something or other always trots out at the appropriate time and that is the whole N=1 business. Sadly, talking in the terms of science to those that aren’t versed in it is an exercise in futility and it’s pretty obvious that Gregg has conflated pop-science with real science. Some people are just impressionable and seek out information that only reinforces their already held beliefs.

            “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest…”

            Simon and Garfunkel, circa 1968, The Boxer.

            1. Perhaps if you had an argument, StillWatching, you would care to state it. Rather than attack my logic with ‘smartass’ comments you might look to some alternative logic with which to refute what I’ve put forward. My n=1 ‘black swan’ trumps the ‘all swans are white theories’ to the contrary every time.

              1. Horsepuckey. Your argument was a LACK of logic, not logic based. Honoring the rest of your drivel with point by point refutation is an honor I won’t pay you.

                I’m a trained scientist and as such, I reject anecdotal evidence out of hand as proof of nothing.

          2. It has also been said that an assertion is not an argument and that repeated assertion is not a debate.

            I am flattered that by calling my words ‘sophistry’ you hold my arguments to be clever, I am nevertheless disappointed that you choose to refute them with assertion and derision.

            While your article is only an opinion piece and doesn’t present any science itself, you see fit to point the ‘science’ finger at my opinions which are backed by rational argument.

            Well, I’ve got plenty of science if you want that. Here is my page of references to the links between carbohydrates and cancer: http://dietshack.weebly.com/carbohydrate-and-cancer.html

            Here is some science showing vegetarians are likely to have more cancer, allergies and mental health disorders http://www.science20.com/news_articles/vegetarians_found_to_have_more_cancer_allergies_and_mental_health_disorders-133332#.U-Kjng-Tbtw.facebook

            1. You’re a phony. Right from the second paragraph in the link you just presented is this:

              “But some people go overboard and just eat meat. Or just eat vegetables. Evidence for health benefits of exclusive diets is scant.

              Spending more time debunking your nonsense just isn’t on my agenda once a person has destroyed his own credibility.

            2. “I am flattered that by calling my words ‘sophistry’ you hold my arguments to be clever,…

              More disingenuous crap. You cite PART of the definition of sophistry to make it appear to other readers (I’m sure you know the full meaning) that Susan has paid you a compliment by calling your nonsense “sophistry”.

              Sophistry is clever but deceptive reasoning. Hardly a compliment.

              1. The standard of your debate, StillWatching, is making my point far better than I am able to. Are you a vegan by any chance?

                1. My eating habits aren’t even remotely germane to the discussion, but for the hell of it, and because I’m sure it will allow you to make a bigger fool out of yourself than you already have, I’ll indulge you. No, I’m not a vegan of any sort. I’m a happy omnivore.

              2. I was simply choosing to take the positive view on what was patently an unprovoked insult. Not once has any attempt been made to counter my statements with actual science – only with invective. I simply stated what my experience was with regard to my experience of what is, after all, the opposite to a vegan diet. I backed up my reasons with sound statements regarding the nutrient density of the respective foods. I was immediately, and ironically, met with assertions claiming that I was using factoids for my own points.

                The first point was to try and negate my point about sustainable farming practice and soil management by conflating the argument with a reference to ‘factory farming’. It seems that, in the mind of Susanthedietitian at least, farming cattle is equivalent to ‘factory farming’. (You should note that in a later comment I tried to clarify that I wasn’t referring to factory farming).

                Following on from that is an assertion that my long term elimination of carbohydrates is ‘known’ to lack vital nutrients, fibre and pleasure. (Well it is known to lack fibre but there is no evidence that suggests it lacks ‘vital’ nutrients and there is no evidence to show that fibre is in any way necessary – in fact there is mounting evidence that putting indigestible, insoluble material into our digestive system will actually cause harm.

                The irony may also have escaped you that, while dietitians actively support vegetarians in removing an entire food group (animal based food) from their diets, they (at least the ones funded by the artificial food companies) eschew the removal of carbohydrates (which have still no scientific evidence proving them essential in the human diet). The double irony here is that while animals can provide a ‘complete’ source of nutrition for us by providing ALL the essential amino and fatty acids as well as the vitamins and minerals. We have to process and fortify plant-based foods to achieve the same – something that must be done at a factory level, beyond the resources of a human living in the wild.

                I have tried to present a counter opinion to the opinion expressed in the article – I felt no more obliged to provide scientific evidence than the writer of the article seemed to feel (providing nothing but links to opinion pieces). I am perfectly willing to provide links to actual scientific peer-reviewed articles to support my views – but my one attempt was totally ignored so I suspect any further ones will be as well.

                1. Every single issue you have raised here addresses issues you seem to have with Susan Burke March, yet you address them to me as if I was a conduit or a proxy for Susan. I am nobodies proxy. I suggest you take it up with Susan.

                  I find you pedantically boring and you write poorly. Please learn the proper meaning of the word “ironic”. I have no interest in engaging your further for reasons I’ve already stated.

      3. By the way, Susan, I have no argument with you that factory or industrial farming is part of the problem rather than the solution. My main premise is that growing plants to feed humans is an inefficient process. Some animals have developed digestive systems which efficiently convert plant material to fuel. Albeit in different ways, ruminants and gorillas have gut bacteria which convert carbohydrate into fatty acids which they use for about 60% of their energy needs. It is notable that most of their stored energy is in the form of fat.

        Likewise with humans.

        However we do not have similar mechanisms and if we eat carbohydrate for energy, virtually all of the energy comes from the direct use of glucose. It makes sense that we are similar to all other animals in that we do best when we derive most of our energy from burning fatty acids for fuel – after all, that is our preferred form of storage – only plants store significant amounts of energy as starches.

        You mention that science is showing that factory farming is damaging to our environment. I agree, and there are scientists productively employed on re-inventing the wheel to take us back to the sort of grazing of ruminant animals that existed before humans started interfering. We are finding that by keeping tight herds and mimicking the effect of ruminants surrounded by predators, we can feed the herds on perennial grasses which require no input from us apart from letting them recover by keeping the herds moving on to the next area. These scientists are finding they can sequester another 3 tonnes of carbon per hectare by using such methods. However we really must cease the practice of growing and eating grains and legumes in monocropping situations as they are ultimately destroying us and the planet.

        It is worth having a look at some of the work they are doing – here is a site to look at http://soilcarboncowboys.com/

    2. You might be interested in the following. I magically found it via a random web search:

      “THE FAT OF THE LAND”, by Vilhjalmur Stefansson

      Enlarged Edition of Not by Bread Alone, With Comment by Fredrick J. Stare, M.D., and Paul Dudley White, M.D.

      (C) 1956 BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

      The url is: http://www.highsteaks.com/the-fat-of-the-land-not-by-bread-alone-vilhjalmur-stefansson.pdf

      I read the original over 50 years ago as a young squirt, and can’t say that I’m going to suddenly begin eating piles of seal meat, caribou, and raw fish (including the bones), but it has been proven that the only major nutrients necessary for life are protein and fat, and they, along with all vitamins and minerals, are covered by eating meat, as are all other requirements such as “fiber”.

      Nina Teicholz recently wrote a book titled “The Big Fat Surprise” detailing the recent history of nutritional research and where it went off the rails in the 1950s and 1960s. She went back to the original documents and whenever possible she not only interviewed the original researchers as well. She has one or two TED talks available if the book isn’t an option for you.

      1. I was gifted ‘The Big Fat Surprise’ a few years back (2014) when I wrote an essay on the improvement in the health of my wife and I (because of our adoption of a low carb diet) for a competition set up by professor of public health at Auckland University of Technology, Grant Schofield. The first of the three essays on this page: https://profgrant.com/2014/07/29/3-low-carb-success-stories/

        ‘The Fat of the Land’ is also a book I have in my library.

    3. You think good. (Write good too.) Thanks for the info.

      I’ve been chewing on this subject lately, and it occurred to me that there is likely only one source of food that has been with humans since even before they were humans, and that is mammal meat.

      Every habitable continent had, and still has, easily-available mammals. Fish? No, not in huge quantities except along seacoasts. Plants? No – they vary wildly by region. For example, Europe didn’t have maize, potatoes, or red peppers until virtually last week. Each continent has its own peculiarities.

      But mammals are everywhere. So humans must have evolved to process mammal meat and mammal fat. It was both universal and offered by far the biggest payoff. I’m guessing that sometime in the near future it will be found that mammal fat, the good old saturated stuff, is the healthiest.

      Plant fat (plant oil of any kind) is unnatural. Plants don’t have large quantities of free fat. What’s more, even if one or two did, there is no plant found in every part of every continent that a person can bite into and receive gobs of fat from.

      Plant fats are industrial products. They have to be mechanically extracted from plants and then processed and packaged.
      Unlike roast beast, which has been available to everyone from the beginning. (Kill it, roast it, eat it. All you need is a stick and some fire.)

      So since humans evolved eating the most rewarding source of nutrients, which is the stuff on the hoof, I bet we’re not only adapted to it, but that it’s the healthiest food we can find.

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