Archive for the ‘Animals & Ethics’ Category

Interview With a Vegan Paleontologist

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Let Them Eat Meat has an excellent interview with Robert of PaleoVeganology. Link

Response to Paleosister

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

I received a ping back from an ex-vegan and ex-animal rights activist, Paleosister. She writes:

> “Jack Norris, who I remember seeing speak at AR 2003 and greatly admired, writes that we should try to consume as little animal flesh (and other animal products) as possible. Quite frankly, you’re missing the point, Jack. The world is being destroyed due to agriculture; entire ecosystems are ruined—the habitats’ of animal populations destroyed—because of the foods vegans and the left are promoting.”

Some background: Paleosister is another person who failed to thrive on a vegan diet. She writes about that:

> Another common response is simply disbelief that it’s really possible to experience a physiological change with just a bite of meat….the first time I sat down to eat meat, I thought, “that is the strangest thing. I actually do feel better!” Then, for the first time in nearly a decade, I didn’t have suicidal thoughts for an entire hour!

First of all, I want to say that I feel bad that Paleosister had poor health and suicidal thoughts as a vegan. It is a serious problem that some people don’t thrive on the vegan diet, and we should not blame the victim.

I suspect that part of the problem is that vegan propaganda often includes the message that “diets based on whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables provide all the necessary nutrients.” For one thing, they don’t – they don’t contain vitamin B12. But the mantra also simplifies the situation regarding a lot of other nutrients.

For too many years, groups promoted such an idea. Instead of making sure that vegans were getting enough protein, we talked about how it was impossible not to get enough protein. Instead of telling vegans to get enough calcium, we told vegans that calcium isn’t important. Instead of telling people to get a regular source of vitamin B12, we downplayed the need. Instead of telling vegans to get a normal amount of fat, we have promoted very low-fat diets.

In fairness, much of the vegan community has changed its tune since the 1990s and now many urge vegans to make sure they get enough of these nutrients. Also in fairness, some research has indicated that low-fat vegan diets can help effectively treat heart disease and diabetes. And since studies have shown vegetarians (vegans and lacto-ovo) to have good health over time, and many of us feel just fine, we didn’t think there was a problem.

Paleosister apparently did not find any help for her health problems when she looked. I do not know what she tried, nutrition-wise, and what she didn’t. She says:

➢ It’s not the placebo effect. It’s most likely not even the effect of any nutrient we know of.

It is highly unlikely that there are any essential nutrients required by a large portion of the human population that are not currently known – the success of soy infant formulas and tube-feedings indicate this. However, there are a variety of non-essential nutrients that some people might not make enough of when following a vegan diet, especially if their bodies have been dependent on those substances from animal products up until the point of going vegan.

The fact that many children whose mother’s were vegan from conception and who are vegan from birth (except breast-milk), grow and thrive, is proof that meat, dairy, and eggs are not needed to produce healthy human bodies (at least in many cases).

I am becoming more and more concerned about promoting “healthy eating” along with veganism. So often, when someone goes vegan, they make other changes that they think are for the better – no more junk food or very low fat. It seems safer, from the perspective of animal protection, that new vegans eat as closely as they were to the way they previously had eaten so that they feel similarly; that is, unless they were previously feeling badly due to poor diet.

We should also not view ex-vegans who failed to thrive as our enemies. Who can blame someone for eating meat if they felt terrible as a vegan? I understand that we believe animals have a right not to be killed, but there would be a very strong incentive to reshape such views if we felt miserable if we didn’t eat animal flesh. It would be nice to be able to work with such people who still care about animals but cannot be vegan, rather than vilifying them; or their vilifying us for that matter.

Our message needs to become more nuanced if we want to minimize the problems we see with failure to thrive.

Now back to the point that Paleosister says I don’t get:

> The world is being destroyed due to agriculture; entire ecosystems are ruined—the habitats’ of animal populations destroyed—because of the foods vegans and the left are promoting.

No matter what humans eat, there is going to be environmental harm. I do understand that monocrops are generally bad for the environment, but I do not agree that vegan foods, in general, are significantly worse than grass-fed animal foods.

In the U.S., most animal foods are made using monocrop feeds. It does not seem realistic to feed 300 million people (or six-billion), grass-fed animal products as the bulk of their calories.

If most people switched to a vegan diet, an enormous amount of land currently grown for feed crops could be turned back into natural ecosystems, and that would be a huge gain. And at the same time it promotes an ethic of respecting the lives of animals.

New Blog: QuasiVegan

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

QuasiVegan, written by Christina Arasmo, is a new blog discussing failure to thrive in vegans. Christina is not a health professional, but I have been very impressed with what she has written.

In particular, I am intrigued by what she has been saying about low cholesterol possibly being the cause of many of the health problems ex-vegans have experienced. I have considered this in the past, but given that cholesterol levels of around 100 mg/dl are supposedly commonplace in Asian countries, I have figured it probably was not such a problem for most people to have a low cholesterol level.

Early studies on blood cholesterol and mortality showed a U shaped-curve, indicating that very low blood cholesterol was associated with increased mortality. But this was thought to be due to undiagnosed disease causing low cholesterol levels and not that low cholesterol levels were causing the disease.

Meta-analyses such as this indicate that the lower the blood cholesterol, the better.

That said, I have often wondered that perhaps a cholesterol of 150 to 170 mg/dl might be ideal (for people without heart disease) and have told otherwise healthy people who have written me worried because their cholesterol was not under 150 mg/dl that they should not worry about getting it that low.

I would love to find out if the problems are caused by low cholesterol because in most cases there is a very easy and fun solution to that problem – eat more fat.

Looks like another topic to add to the queue of research reviews I need to do.

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Ginny Messina on The Voracious (Ex-)Vegan

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

If you haven’t heard yet, Tasha the The Voracious Vegan has gone back to eating meat (I had never even heard of Tasha before she went back to eating meat).

Ginny Messina responds to the ex-Voracious Vegan’s blog post about her journey: Do Ex-Vegans’ Stories Make the Case Against Vegan Diets?

One comment from me. Tasha writes:

My first bite of meat after 3.5 years of veganism was both the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. Tears ran down my face as saliva pooled in my mouth. The world receded to a blank nothingness and I just ate, and ate, and ate. I cried in grief and anger, while moaning with pleasure and joy.

This is the exact same reaction I have every time I eat a Jokerz candy bar!

PaleoVeganology: Does Daniel Vitalis Eat Bugs?

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

I know I probably shouldn’t link to every PaleoVeganology post, but this is another good one:

“There’s darn good evidence that our earliest hominid ancestors ate lots of bugs. Termites in particular. If hominids have an “ancestral” diet at all, it’s frugivory and insectivory. And while there are a few paleo-gurus who hint at the benefits of bug-eating, most won’t come anywhere near it. They are absurdly and tellingly fixated on big game.”


Ginny Messina Reviews The Vegetarian Myth

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

This is ultimately a sad book. Lierre Keith has suffered from multiple health problems all of her life and was desperate to find an answer. She landed on vegetarianism and then spun a tale to support her theory. Her intent seems heartfelt; she sees herself very much as a savior of vegetarians and wants us to learn from her mistakes. And the book has been widely embraced by those who want to believe that meat-eating is healthy and just. The problem is that there is truly nothing in this book that accurately supports that conclusion.


PaleoVeganology: R.I.P., E.T.H. (Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis)?

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Another interesting post at the PaleoVeganology blog.

“In short, if the evolutionary pattern of hominid brain size is steady rather than punctuated, and if butchery and meat-eating have been part of hominid behavior since the days of the australopithecines, then the likelihood that meat-eating and hunting sparked sudden increases in cranial capacity goes down considerably.

“This is not to dismiss the ETH out-of-hand. It’s a serious and legitimate hypothesis, with experimental support in the literature… It may turn out to be true; many other respected theories began this way. But the appeal of its simplicity is also its danger.”


Let Them Eat Meat Interview

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Rhys Southan of just posted an interview he did with me about veganism.

Click here.

A. afarensis may have eaten meat; so what?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

After my recent post, Grains vs. Meat, a reader brought the PaleoVeganology website to my attention. The post of August 14, A. afarensis may have eaten meat; so what?, is very interesting. Update: Raw Food Vegan Diets

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Dr. John McDougall often points out that “people love to hear good news about their bad habits.”

Indeed, we do. And if eating cooked food is one of your bad habits, you might be interested in the most recent update of my article Raw Food Vegan Diets.