Are vegan diets healthy?

vegan diet
Are vegan diets healthy over the long-term?

I’ve been chatting to a vegan on the Happy Guide blog for a few days, and as usual, the debate gets quite intense, vegans are certainly passionate about their choices.

Vegan diets untenable

I want to say something about this because basically, my view is that vegan diets are essentially dangerous. My reasons include “big picture” stuff like…

  • Homo genus has been eating animal foods for 2.5 MILLION YEARS.
  • Eating animal foods is what MADE US HUMAN, e.g. availability of long-chain omega-3 needed for our brain development.
  • Traditional cultures and hunter-gatherers highly valued certain animal foods and would often spend a huge time/effort to get them, especially known to be needed for healthy pregnancy. Tradition is not something to be sniffed at. Healthy behaviors get built into culture over thousands of generations based on observations about “what works.” Science can now dissect these behaviors to understand the mechanisms e.g. cooking with onions reduces formation of heterocyclic amines, cod liver oil, fish eggs, fermented foods and organ meats have micronutrients that are very healthy… omega-3 DHA, preformed vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K2… this is cutting edge science that was always there in healthy traditions.
  • Our gut physiology clearly shows adaptation to higher nutrient density foods available from animals.
  • Archaeological evidence from early humans that clearly show diets based primarily on hunting, e.g. cro-magnon in France.
  • Study of modern-day hunter gatherers and their diets.
  • There are no examples of vegan cultures where vegan diets maintained healthy populations over generations, not now, not ever in history.
  • Nutrition is an emerging science, and science is what you do when you don’t know what you’re doing. We don’t know it all yet.
  • Testimony of long-term health failure on vegan diets.

… as well as the micronutrient evidence like…

  • Our partial need for dietary taurine shows evidence of adaptation to animal foods.
  • Some people need dietary cholesterol and don’t make enough of their own.
  • Poor conversion in the body of plant-based omega-3 into DHA.
  • Healthy balance of omega-3 and 6, essential to prevent chronic inflammation is not possible on a vegan diet.
  • Poor conversion of carotenoids to retinoids (vitamin A).
  • B12 is only found in animal foods. Vegan B12 status has been found to be very poor in studies. B12 is essential for heart health, involved in pathways with homocysteine that is a risk factor for heart-disease. B12 also needed for healthy myelin sheath that protects nerves, and many other processes in the body. Inadequate dietary sulfur amino acids (methionine and cysteine), and glycine needed for methylation.
  • Thyroid problems from excess plant goitrogens including soy but also many other plant foods.
  • Inadequate zinc, B6, choline and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2
  • Selenocysteine, an animal-based form of selenium is safer at high levels than the plant form selenomethionine, which can cause selenium poisoning.

The poor conversion of plant forms of micronutrients is evidence of adaptation to animal sources of these nutrients that are in the form we need. Click here to read a nice article by Denise Minger about some of these poor conversion issues.

… as well as the macronutrient/food evidence like…

  • Lack of high quality, highly absorbable protein. This is one reason why sedentary women do best for longer on vegan diets, their protein needs are very low. Vegan men often use large amounts of protein powder, a highly industrialized process where the cost to nature is hidden. Protein powder is missing all the healthy cofactors found in natural protein sources. Protein is absorbed and utilized by the body depending on the source. Animal proteins have a higher biological value, more is absorbed, so grams of vegetable protein does not equal grams of animal protein.
  • Reliance on grains (unnatural for humans) which cause a whole cascade of problems in the long-term.
  • A high carbohydrate diet is a main factor in insulin resistance and inflammation, a primary cause of many diseases, including heart-disease.

… as well as insights into the real cost to nature of our diets…

  • A grain based diet is a tragedy for nature and the environment. If land is cleared for planting monocrops, then all the life, the complex ecosystem that was there, is gone forever, until it is returned to nature or a polyculture way of producing food crops that mimic nature. Harvesting grains kills mammals and nesting birds. These are just a couple of examples. There is no death-free food (see book recommendation below). If we care about LIFE, then we need to produce food in harmony with natural ecosystems. Permaculture is good to research. I remember chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall saying that when she first went to Africa, the rivers were overflowing with life, a situation that has sadly changed in such a short time. Abundant LIFE as natural ecology is the humane and sane future, not veganism.

Vegan pillars have shaky foundations

Two of the main arguments used by vegans are The China Study and Dean Ornish’s lifestyle intervention studies showing reversal of atherosclerosis of near vegan diets, very low fat.

China Study — fatally flawed

The China Study was a massive epidemiological i.e. observational study in China where people’s diets were analyzed against health outcomes. A book was written by lead author Colin Campbell based on his conclusions of the China Study, that animal protein causes disease.

This is not how science is done, this is not the scientific method, that has been developed so as to avoid wrong conclusions so easy to come to if we’re not careful.

Epidemiology is good for creating hypothesis, an idea of possible causation, but cannot show causation itself, further study involving ideally double-blind clinical trials are needed to attempt a first step in teasing out the cause-effect. Attempt is made to isolate a variable while keeping all others constant to test the effect of that single variable.

Clever science bods have recently looked at Campbell’s work and found it to be full of holes, bias, selective interpretation of data based of his personal agenda, and frankly, shoddy science. Here’s an enlightening chat between Dr. Mercola and Chris Masterjohn about how Campbell’s work is fatally flawed. It’s in 4 parts, I recommend watching the whole thing if you are a China Study believer…

The China Study, analyzed objectively actually shows meat consumption to be neutral for health outcomes, fish to be protective, but WHEAT to be incredibly strongly correlated with disease, the strongest correlation of all. If you’d like to dig deeper into the flawed science of The China Study, here’s some good places to start…

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/cancer/the-china-study-vs-the-china-study/

http://rawfoodsos.com/the-china-study/

http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study.html

Dean Ornish lifestyle intervention

The other main pillar of veganism is Dean Ornish’s lifestyle intervention study which was the first to prove that lifestyle could reverse heart disease. I think in terms of understanding the power of lifestyle, Dean Ornish has us done a huge service, but in my view, a couple of things need to be clear…

  • A diet to reverse a certain condition is NOT necessarily a diet that will maintain health of a population over generations, or prevent the disease in the first place. Fasting also has a tremendous record of healing, but it won’t maintain your health for long :-)
  • The mechanism behind Ornish program was not understood, there were MANY factors in his study including smoking cessation, exercise, meditation etc. Until the mechanism, the causes are understood, it is not scientific or even humane, to recommend a diet without understanding the full implications. Since Ornish’s early work, atherosclerosis HAS been reversed on even HIGH FAT diets. So, it seems to be the process of weight normalization, insulin control etc that are the true causes, i.e. NOT vegan low fat.

So, the pillars of veganism are so shaky, and only hold up at all due to the momentum gained from popular exposure to flawed science like the China Study book, and EARLY intervention studies like the work of Dean Ornish. All in all, vegan diets in my view have no basis for recommendation whatsoever, and are frankly dangerous.

Vegan health failures

I regularly come across accounts of health failure on vegan diets. The book recommendation below “The Vegetarian Myth” (author 20 years vegan) is a detailed account, and I recently came across another book called “The Meat Fix” (author 26 years vegan) about long-term health failure and recovery by eating animal foods. Interestingly, the author reports being able to throw away his glasses after a while on his new carbohydrate-controlled, animal foods based diet.

Here’s a very interesting account by Dr. Chris Masterjohn about his journey into vegetarianism, and veganism spurred on by reading “A Diet for a New America” by John Robbins. Then his subsequent worsening dental problems, irregular heartbeats  and panic attacks, and finally his return to health using nutrient dense animal foods. Anxiety, panic attacks, poor libido, dry skin, tooth decay and digestive problems are the most common issues I see reported, and the length of time it takes for these to manifest varies depending on the health of the person in the beginning, and the choices made while vegan. Here’s Chris’s story:

http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Vegetarianism.html

Here’s an excellent page of vegan failures (including Gandhi)  and reasons by the Natural Hygiene Society, previously advocates of veganism…

http://naturalhygienesociety.org/diet3.html

E.g…

Kevin Gianni, “Renegade Health”: What diet do you eat now Kevin?
“At one point I was taking 6-10 vegan supplements a day to attempt to override my deficiencies – B complex, DHA, Vitamin D, B12, a mineral supplement, protein powder, chlorella, and more. I also adjusted my diet to add more cooked foods to see if that would change the way I felt as well. This was over a 2 year period. ….. After the introduction of goat’s kefir and yogurt, I immediately felt an increase of energy, slept better and many issues started to clear up – my acne started to disappear, my knees stopped aching after a run, I gained back weight lost, I was able to retain muscle mass better, I could get out of bed in the morning, etc.”

Brain damage

“By far the most intractably damaged brains and nervous systems I have ever encountered have to the letter been vegetarians and especially vegans.” — Nora Gedgaudas, Primal Body, Primal Mind. Click for excellent video.

Vegetarianism is do-able if you can tolerate dairy

(not recommended, but less damaging than veganism)

The compassion, desire for health, and to do the right thing for the planet are noble ideals, ones I can relate to (although I definitely question the idea that veganism, or vegetarianism are the best ways to achieve either goal).

Veganism is a bridge too far… but vegetarianism can support health as long as dairy foods can be tolerated. We do not recommend it, because it’s so hard to say who is affected by dairy, and who isn’t. The effects of unnatural foods can be insidious, doing damage over a long time frame. BUT if someone is not willing to eat animal foods that involve the death of the animal, then vegetarianism is an option to consider. Personally, I would say go for pescetarianism, which would allow fish. Adding this gives us fish, dairy, eggs, shellfish, and THAT is definitely doable for health over generations and we have models for it e.g. Kitavans.

So if you are vegan and unwilling to consider meat or fish, please consider some or all of the following that in my view will offer you some protection against the long-term damaging effects of vegan diets…

  1. Eat some cheese now and again if you can tolerate dairy, preferably made from raw whole milk, esp goat milk, but emmental is widely available and made from raw cow milk. Quality yogurt and kefir are also good, again if you can tolerate dairy.
  2. Eat fermented vegetables e.g. sauerkraut.
  3. Take a high-quality B12 supplement, it ain’t worth the risk.
  4. No gluten grains, stick with white rice, quinoa, millet, or learn to prepare whole grains in the traditional way that removes anti-nutrients… soaking, sprouting etc can ameliorate some of the damage of grains.
  5. Eat some eggs from happy free-range chickens that can eat wild greens with omega-3 in them.
  6. Take a DHA/EPA supplement derived from algae.
  7. Don’t eat vegetable oil high in omega-6, use macadamia oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. Butter/ghee if OK with dairy. Don’t cook with olive oil, use it for salads.
  8. Don’t overdose on nuts, and favor ones lower in omega-6 like macadamia, hazelnut, pistachios, almonds. Soak nuts overnight and be sure to dry them if you want to store them, I soak and eat the next day.
  9. Don’t eat soy apart from limited amounts of fermented soy products like tempeh.
  10. Favor roots/tubers over grains as a starch source… sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, taro, cassava, squash etc.

A full accounting

vegetarian mythI have one more strong recommendation for vegans and would-be vegans and that is to read “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith who was vegan for 20 years, a woman passionate about justice, compassion and equality.

It’s an impassioned, powerful read. Her health was destroyed by 20 years of veganism, a story I’ve heard over and over.

She calls for a “full accounting,” meaning the big picture of what has to die to feed you. Eye-opening, and a good start to explore the bigger picture of diet and how we live. See it on Amazon.com

Best wishes,
Michael Kinnaird

23 thoughts on “Are vegan diets healthy?

  1. “And we’ve not even talked about taurine”

    Redbull

    “and choline yet, or protein”

    Eggs

    “the list gets longer and longer and nutritional science moves on.”

    Knowledge hasn’t changed that much nutritionally in a long time. Though “naturalism” isn’t really even anything most vegans hang their diet on anyways or reasons for it. Strict vegans likely should take certain supplements and multivitamin.

    “And you would risk your health on an unproven diet?”

    Animal foods have a lot of their own risks. Scary ones.

    “Even though every piece of the puzzle points to the inadequacy of vegan diets?”

    I’m not even vegan anymore, I’m vegetarian. Though from the 18 years that I was strictly vegan I didn’t experience any bad symptoms or health problems from the diet. In fact I never even got sick, common colds etc more than once about every 5 years. No aches or pains, no drugs, no issues I ever needed to see a doctor for. I felt fine and normal. Normal weight, recovered quickly from the gym, put on muscle easily, etc. Most people I meet even still assume my age to be 10 years younger despite completely neglecting any skin care.

    How many omnivores can say those things? Majority struggle with weight, diabetes, aches and pains, acidity, constantly getting sick, endless medications etc. Sure they eat a standard diet that isn’t that healthy, though I ate a lot of carbs and grains and legumes and felt fine.

    “When people’s health is destroyed despite the best intentions? And for what? Some misplaced ethic?”

    My health was never destroyed because of my ethics. In fact it’s been at least above average!

    “The check list of daily dos for veganism is not going to happen in the real world, in people’s busy lives, even if it was technically doable, which it isn’t.”

    Same could be said for a specialized “paleo organic grass fed” diet with all it’s speciality foods and resourcing rare supplies of those special types of foods. I mean you’re asking people to give up breads, sandwiches and pizzas! Plus all their fast packaged processed foods etc.

    “Vegans think they are saving animals but mammals and nesting birds are killed by harvesting grain. Just a tiny example.”

    So that’s an excuse to enslave and torture billions of animals?

    “And I can tell you that getting enough choline, D, A etc is tough enough when choices are not limited.”

    Not that tuff. A few egg yolks, a tsp of cod liver oil. Done!

    “The paleo template is valid, and gets real results, people heal.”

    Why even call it paleo then? Just call it what it is, an organic whole food domesticated diet. It eliminates only 1 type of farmed food only, that doesn’t change that what is still in it is all domesticated foods. The whole “paleo” thing is all only a gimmick…

    “There’s a lot of misunderstanding about modern fruits and such, that they are unnaturally sweet, but this isn’t true, as most African native fruits have a similar profile.”

    Interesting. Definitely a lot more appetizing looking than roadkill.

    “Animal foods are prized by hunter-gatherers. And for good reason, they are highly nutritious. Following quote from Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets”

    Oh god, not that again! It’s already been updated that they don’t really know what made up their diets and their past methods at trying to hypnotize completely unreliable and inaccurate.

    “The amount depends on protein and other needs. If one has good natural muscle mass and is active, that pretty much sets the level of protein needed. At that level, and choosing a variety, many other nutrients automatically are eaten in sufficient amounts like A and choline etc. For example I need about 100g a day, if that we’re to be only from plant protein, 120g because it’s not absorbed as well. This isn’t doable, which is why vegan men eat protein powder.”

    It is doable. Some vegan men eat protein powder for the same reason meat eating men eat protein powder despite the whole food protein sources in their diet. Though the actual amount of protein optimal in the diet is still of much debate anyways.

    “The further you go back, the less likely grains to be eaten at all.”

    And the further you go back, the less likely animals to be eaten! Only fruits and leaves etc like the other primates. Though we’re talking about evolution and adaptation here…

    “Foods can be processed sure, but people won’t, they are too busy, not enough time or inclination. Easier, AND healthier to have roots/tubers instead. And more natural actually, the digging stick goes a lot further back than the milling stone.”

    Lol. That’s no reason to tell people they ‘shouldn’t’ at all, even processed correctly. Paleo people seem to think nuts and seeds are totally alright and ‘Paleo’ foods. Though then when it is pointed out that nuts have as much and sometimes more phytic acid and anti nutrients than various grains, they say “oh yeh maybe we should process and sprout these nuts first and limit them in the diet”. So, why wouldn’t the same be true for certain whole grains instead of just saying they are bad in any amount or any type of processing and to stay away? Think people are going to take the time to sprout their almonds? Though most food is highly processed anyways and not much phytic acid left in the cooked white flours etc. Even the animal foods have to be processed to be safe. They have to be throughly cooked to kill all the pathogens. Though not cooked too much or certain ways or else they are the food with the highest AGEs.

    Personally, it’s not just the ethical issues for me. It’s how disgusting those ‘foods’ are…

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    1. “Redbull”

      Only trace amounts there, and hardly a good argument, yet another supplement sticky plaster for a poor diet.

      “Eggs”

      Not vegan, you are arguing a case for veganism, which is what this post is about.

      “Knowledge hasn’t changed that much nutritionally in a long time. Though “naturalism” isn’t really even anything most vegans hang their diet on anyways or reasons for it. Strict vegans likely should take certain supplements and multivitamin.”

      We are in the midst of the collapse of The Lipid Hypothesis. Much research into all kinds of things…. essential fats, K2 etc. Plus we have the rise of the Ancestral Health movement, and continuing discussion about healthy diets, a much needed conversation, since our diets have major consequences for health and happiness. If you need a supplement, then the diet is flawed in its basic concept.

      “Animal foods have a lot of their own risks. Scary ones.”

      There are issues with modern farming, but we should address the true cause of problems. The answer is not veganism, but education so that consumers choose healthier foods. That then drives the market for those healthier foods. Consumers choosing lowest price, drives abuse.

      “I’m not even vegan anymore, I’m vegetarian.”

      If veganism is so great, why the shift? I said in the article that vegetarianism is doable, but that’s a different debate, this one is about veganism.

      “Though from the 18 years that I was strictly vegan I didn’t experience any bad symptoms or health problems from the diet.”

      I don’t think you’re being entirely honest about your health status. Also, deficiencies can take a long time to manifest into disease. The body is resilient and has many coping mechanisms. A diet must be judged on its performance over generations, its ability to continue the species, healthy babies, over 100 years. Veganism will fail badly.

      “How many omnivores can say those things?”

      Paleo and SAD are both omnivorous diets, chalk and cheese though. Paleo REVERSES disease, and so a diet has to be exceptionally robust to do that.

      “So that’s an excuse to enslave and torture billions of animals?”

      No, it’s a reason to look at how we produce foods in a sustainable and ethical way. Combine- harvesting rodents and birds doesn’t feel good to me, nor killing insects with chemicals, or putting mineral chelators onto “weeds”to kill them, nor extermination of ecosystems to grow endless miles of monocrops, nor using carbon inputs into a a high energy system. Insanity of the system of $$$.

      “And I can tell you that getting enough choline, D, A etc is tough enough when choices are not limited.”

      “Not that tuff. A few egg yolks, a tsp of cod liver oil. Done!”

      Not vegan, not even vegetarian.

      “Why even call it paleo then? Just call it what it is, an organic whole food domesticated diet. It eliminates only 1 type of farmed food only, that doesn’t change that what is still in it is all domesticated foods. The whole “paleo” thing is all only a gimmick…”

      Not a gimmick at all, it’s a concept… to eat the types of foods we are genetically adapted to, just as any animal. Where to look? The paleolithic era is a good place, and to modern-day hunter-gatherers. If you want to feed any animal its natural diet, look at what it eats in the wild. Flawless concept. Can’t argue with it, very enlightening, and most importantly IT WORKS, people heal from all manner of diseases. That’s the true test… does it get results. What are the results of veganism? Dry skin, anxiety, osteoporosis, anger issues, cavities and rotting teeth, etc. These are typical… Google “failure on vegan diet testimonials” or something, seek and ye will certainly find no end of examples.

      Here’s a good start from the Natural Hygiene movement, who were inclined towards veganism originally…

      http://naturalhygienesociety.org/diet3.html

      “Interesting. Definitely a lot more appetizing looking than roadkill.”

      A feral child found in France lived on frogs, berries, insects and such… you might be amazed what you would eat in the wild… not much quinoa or algae derived DHA capsules or B12 tablets there.

      “Oh god, not that again! It’s already been updated that they don’t really know what made up their diets and their past methods at trying to hypnotize completely unreliable and inaccurate.”

      Doesn’t need to be accurate… we have Innuit at one end, Kitavans at the other. We only need to look at modern-day hunter-gatherers to see that on average, they get over 50% of calories from animal foods. It’s a no brainer, no need to split hairs about it.

      “It is doable. Some vegan men eat protein powder for the same reason meat eating men eat protein powder despite the whole food protein sources in their diet. Though the actual amount of protein optimal in the diet is still of much debate anyways.”

      The same reason? purlease! Vegan men are eating powder despite adequate protein in a vegan diet?… you must be joking. Bodybuilders are the most obsessed people on the planet when it comes to nutrition and vegan bodybuilders will be top on that pile I guarantee it.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8700446

      Try getting that from your quinoa.

      “And the further you go back, the less likely animals to be eaten! Only fruits and leaves etc like the other primates. Though we’re talking about evolution and adaptation here…”

      You are delusional… already mentioned bonobos and chimps. And yeah, we can’t eat like a gorilla, already covered that.

      “Lol. That’s no reason to tell people they ‘shouldn’t’ at all, even processed correctly. ”

      I consider it a very good reason. We don’t know what health challenges a reader has. We want to present a diet that will WORK, and that is EASY. I see no good reason to include grains that need heavy processing. If people want to do it, they can, but we won’t be recommending it for the excellent reasons stated.

      “Paleo people seem to think nuts and seeds are totally alright and ‘Paleo’ foods. Though then when it is pointed out that nuts have as much and sometimes more phytic acid and anti nutrients than various grains, they say “oh yeah maybe we should process and sprout these nuts first and limit them in the diet”. So, why wouldn’t the same be true for certain whole grains instead of just saying they are bad in any amount or any type of processing and to stay away?”

      Nuts/seeds are very easy to process compared to grains.

      “Think people are going to take the time to sprout their almonds?”

      Sure, it’s so easy… put a handful in some water in the morning, eat the next morning, while eating, put another handful in water. Pretty easy.

      “Personally, it’s not just the ethical issues for me. It’s how disgusting those ‘foods’ are…”

      It’s a mental thing, our world is so sanitized and fluffy, we are never exposed to nature. I saw a Maori catch an octopus and eat it on the spot… it’s about culture, and modern life, and being hypnotized by Bambi and friends with overly big eye and human emotions. I’ve seen Maori children catch lobster and cook them on open fires in their lunch break, Different world.

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  2. “You say you haven’t delved deep into the issue cause it is not relevant to you, though you claim to know as a fact that it is a certain way for those who it is relevant to…”

    I don’t need to delve deep because it’s just ANOTHER red flag, another potential risk for veganism. And it fits with the big picture, that humans evolved eating animals, it’s what made us human, and like nature always does, we adapted to it. As you say, we are omnivores. Our bodies are resilient, we can go a long time without eating animal source foods but problems show up. The body can store B12 for example and people can feel fine but when B12 becomes deficient, then irreversible damage can happen. And we’ve not even talked about taurine and choline yet, or protein, the list gets longer and longer and nutritional science moves on.

    “Neither proven”

    And you would risk your health on an unproven diet? Even though every piece of the puzzle points to the inadequacy of vegan diets? When people’s health is destroyed despite the best intentions? And for what? Some misplaced ethic? Vegans think they are saving animals but mammals and nesting birds are killed by harvesting grain. Just a tiny example. So I see no good reason to risk health. I spend a lot of time using nutrient analysis software. And I can tell you that getting enough choline, D, A etc is tough enough when choices are not limited. The check list of daily dos for veganism is not going to happen in the real world, in people’s busy lives, even if it was technically doable, which it isn’t.

    “Maybe you do. Others just need one that works for them and that they feel good with and believe in. You can’t speak for everyone.”

    Specious again… where are these mythical people whose bodies are different to mine and can eat a vegan diet? Do their bodies make B12 where mine doesn’t? Are they super converters of beta-carotene and omega-3? Have they lower needs for choline, zinc, iron, B6 and taurine? Can they somehow cope with high levels of omega-6 and still ward off long-term disease? Where are these humans? Maybe we need to reclassify them as a different species so we don’t get confused about what is natural for each.

    “She was arguing that the specific types of foods, fruits, vegetables and meats etc. touted by the majority of the fad “paleo” diet books are actually “farmer’s foods”. ”

    The paleo template is valid, and gets real results, people heal. We approximate what we can using the choices we have, absolutely nothing invalid about that, in the same way as in the paleo era, some had access to mango, some to oranges. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about modern fruits and such, that they are unnaturally sweet, but this isn’t true, as most African native fruits have a similar profile.

    “It shows that people (hunters and gatherers) only really ate animals in their diet (as needed) for survival when their options were more limited in plant choices or abundance. And when plant choices and abundance was high, that was their preference of diet (when they had a choice) and made up the majority of their diets.”

    Animal foods are prized by hunter-gatherers. And for good reason, they are highly nutritious. Following quote from Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets.

    “Our analysis showed that whenever and wherever it was ecologically possible, hunter-gatherers consumed high amounts (45–65% of energy) of animal food. Most (73%) of the worldwide hunter-gatherer societies derived >50% (≥56–65% of energy) of their subsistence from animal foods, whereas only 14% of these societies derived >50% (≥56–65% of energy) of their subsistence from gathered plant foods. This high reliance on animal-based foods coupled with the relatively low carbohydrate content of wild plant foods produces universally characteristic macronutrient consumption ratios in which protein is elevated (19–35% of energy) at the expense of carbohydrates (22–40% of energy).”

    “If man needs any animal foods at all, it’s only in small quantities, not the MAJORITY of their diet. That is only true when it’s the only choice. We have other choices. And as far as any adaptability if applicable, it would vary depending on one’s own individual ancestry. Not the claimed “this is what everyone is adapted to and needs” type of claims they give.”

    The amount depends on protein and other needs. If one has good natural muscle mass and is active, that pretty much sets the level of protein needed. At that level, and choosing a variety, many other nutrients automatically are eaten in sufficient amounts like A and choline etc. For example I need about 100g a day, if that we’re to be only from plant protein, 120g because it’s not absorbed as well. This isn’t doable, which is why vegan men eat protein powder.

    “Some barley was found in a Neanderthals teeth… stop press!!!”

    “I’ve heard many “paleoist” claim that all grains are unnatural, can only be eaten cooked, and pre agriculture man didn’t eat them. Maybe not all claim that, though many do. We don’t even know how “occasional” or not it was. Various cultures had diets heavily based on things like that, it depends on what was available to them in their region at the time.”

    The further you go back, the less likely grains to be eaten at all. Grass seeds might have been eaten seasonally but it’s a once a year deal, and in recent paleo, some people clearly knew how to get grains to be edible. Remove husk, soak for a few days, maybe sprout or ferment, mash and cook. The same process works for pretty much all toxic seeds, grains, nuts.

    “Yeh, so… man has always been processing foods in some way, fermenting etc. All that shows is it’s not so unnatural or that big of a deal to do and doesn’t mean things should never be eaten just cause they require different processing first. Nuts need to be soaked etc.”

    Not always, agriculture is around 10,000 years but it depends, I mean there are still hunter-gatherers today. Foods can be processed sure, but people won’t, they are too busy, not enough time or inclination. Easier, AND healthier to have roots/tubers instead. And more natural actually, the digging stick goes a lot further back than the milling stone.

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  3. “Common dietary beta-carotene has a retinol equivalent of 12:1”

    Fortunately, we don’t need that much retinol, only small quantities of it and even with a 12:1 conversion, it does not equal that much beta carotene foods in practicality. In other words, it is still very easy and practical to consume enough beta carotene foods to get enough retinol even with a 12:1 conversion. That is not no conversion. On the other hand, getting TOO much vitamin A is well known to be extremely toxic! So at least you’d be safe from getting a toxic dose of vitamin A from consuming too much of it. It might be claimed among various highly biased people and sources that it is too difficult or unreliable to convert beta carotene. Though I still have not seen any reliable studies or non biased sources suggest or prove that. They say the opposite. You say you haven’t delved deep into the issue cause it is not relevant to you, though you claim to know as a fact that it is a certain way for those who it is relevant to…

    “Enough retinol for one. This is such a specious argument. It seems groovy, until you look into the reality of actually getting the nutrition you need, e.g. retinol, DHA etc.”

    Neither proven… even DHA is converted in the body from parent EFA’s, which by some are claimed to be the only truly “essential” FA’s, since the rest can be synthesized from them.

    “We need a ROBUST dietary model, and veganism isn’t it.”

    Maybe you do. Others just need one that works for them and that they feel good with and believe in. You can’t speak for everyone.

    “Bonobos and chimps both eat animal foods.”

    Very small quantities and infrequently. Nothing that could be compared to the excessive amounts eaten by “paleoists”, and no argument for the need of large portions of animals in the diet.

    “Consumers drive the market, consumers choosing lowest price drives abuse of people and nature.”

    And understanding that helps people’s practical options… how? They still only have the options of conventional meats in 99% of the places they go and when they need to eat or order food. They still only have the option right now in all those situations of no meat or hormone injected poisoned and abused meat. And everytime they choose that, they are resupporting that market. It’s not just about lowest prices, it’s about access. I’m sure if some health conscious “paleo” diet person had the option of the types of “free range” healthier meats every where they went and dinned at they would choose that even if it were twice the cost. Though the fact is, it’s not even an option at 99% of places and occasions (even for the less educated or cheaper people). So their options are either support that terrible abusive and unhealthy market all those times, or to abstain from meat those meals all together, which they’re unwilling to do cause they think they’ll get deficient and die if they miss a meal of meat and eat an evil carb!

    “Hmmm yeah your scientist who is supposedly debunking paleo does nothing of the sort.”

    She was not arguing veganism vs meat eating at all. She was arguing that the specific types of foods, fruits, vegetables and meats etc. touted by the majority of the fad “paleo” diet books are actually “farmer’s foods”. Her argument had nothing to do with health or meat vs veg. Only that they are calling these foods “paleo” foods (as in pre agriculture foods) and then bashing farmer agriculture foods as unnatural and terrible foods for humans, so they should go back to the pre agriculture foods. Though the foods they are eating and promoting ARE FARMER FOODS from the agriculture era. They are not all foraging wild plants and hunting rabbits and eating insects. Instead they are going to the supermarket and buying big slabs of cattle, and all these new agriculture farmers vegetables, fruits and almonds and oils etc and saying they are eating a natural pre farmer “wild” diet! They’re not. They’re eating a farmer diet. That was her point.

    “Carbon isotopes are not what the paleo idea is hanging on.”

    I don’t know what the paleo diet is hanging on, though you made the claim about the studies of carbon isotopes saying that those studies had “proven that man is a top level predator”. And many other paleo people use those studies to make the same claim. She pointed out that they are unreliable and don’t prove what these people are claiming that they prove at all. If they are not handing on to those studies to base their arguments on then they should stop claiming that those studies mean or prove anything. Certainly they don’t prove quantities of consumptions.

    “She says that the amount of animal foods depends on location… wow, what a revelation!!”

    Well it should be considering how such a common sense fact is overlooked and misunderstood by most paleo people who promote such heavy meat based diets as the ultimate ideal and the most natural and the most needed etc. etc. They overlook this simple fact…

    It shows that people (hunters and gatherers) only really ate animals in their diet (as needed) for survival when their options were more limited in plant choices or abundance. And when plant choices and abundance was high, that was their preference of diet (when they had a choice) and made up the majority of their diets.

    In todays modern agriculture world, plant choice, variety and abundance IS available! Though they still want to believe they should act as though they are living in plant scarcity and need to eat the majority of their diet as animal foods! Wrong!

    If man needs any animal foods at all, it’s only in small quantities, not the MAJORITY of their diet. That is only true when it’s the only choice. We have other choices. And as far as any adaptability if applicable, it would vary depending on one’s own individual ancestry. Not the claimed “this is what everyone is adapted to and needs” type of claims they give.

    “Some barley was found in a Neanderthals teeth… stop press!!!”

    I’ve heard many “paleoist” claim that all grains are unnatural, can only be eaten cooked, and pre agriculture man didn’t eat them. Maybe not all claim that, though many do. We don’t even know how “occasional” or not it was. Various cultures had diets heavily based on things like that, it depends on what was available to them in their region at the time.

    “Some foods need complex processing… soaking, sprouting, cooking etc but they figured it out.”

    Yeh, so… man has always been processing foods in some way, fermenting etc. All that shows is it’s not so unnatural or that big of a deal to do and doesn’t mean things should never be eaten just cause they require different processing first. Nuts need to be soaked etc.

    No is arguing that “hunter and gatherers” didn’t actually hunt or eat animals. The argument is actually about “how much so” what types of animals. What portion of the diet really? It’s not an either/or thing. These fad books are promoting LARGE portions of the diet be predominately based on animal foods, and from these fattened domesticated Farmer animals no less! That is a big difference from a plant based diet that has ‘some’ animal foods or only occasionally etc.

    My only argument about a vegan diet is that it is possible and can be completely healthy if the correct foods are selected on one. It might not be as easy to get a few specific nutrients on the diet in large quantities, though still possible to get enough with a little more effort. And if those are the only arguments against the health of a vegan diet, if for arguments sake they were even correct, then such an argument would still not support a heavy meat based diet! It would only at most support the need to “supplement” the diet with small quantities of certain types of animal foods, as needed. Which would still be a plant ‘based’ diet. Which many “paleo” diets were… in the ‘good’ regions. I’d even go as far to say our natural climate supported mostly plant food! It was only going to unnatural climates people needed to change their natural diet.

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  4. “I have seen no proof that the inefficiency of “some” people to be able to convert carotenoids or omega’s is caused by genetics or adapting away from that ability. They are likely from the same causes and issues of bad health.”

    Unless you understand the science of vitamin A, it’s unwise to make such assumptions. I haven’t delved deep into conversion issues because I don’t need to, I am happy to get retinol from animal foods because there are so many red flags with veganism I’m not trying to be one. Common dietary beta-carotene has a retinol equivalent of 12:1. Whatever the mechanism, it’s not wise to rely on it for vitamin A.

    “Technically, there is nothing that humans can only get from animal food that can’t (across the board) be synthesized or converted from something else from plants or within the body.”

    Enough retinol for one. This is such a specious argument. It seems groovy, until you look into the reality of actually getting the nutrition you need, e.g. retinol, DHA etc. I have covered issues with these… we know fish oils are causing issues, how do you know the same is not true for extracted algae oils? We need a ROBUST dietary model, and veganism isn’t it.

    “On the other hand, there are things that can ONLY be gotten in sufficient enough amounts from plants and can’t be synthesized or converted from eating animals, such as vitamin C.”

    Raw animals foods have small amounts of vitamin C, that’s how the inuit diet was able to maintain healthy populations over generations. And who said not to eat fruit and veg? Not me. This is not a valid argument for veganism.

    “All TRUE carnivores, synthesize their own vitamin C…”

    Who said humans are carnivores? We are omnivores. Comparison to carnivores as evidence that we should eat only plants is the most ridiculous argument ever. Bonobos and chimps both eat animal foods.

    “It’s one thing to occasionally eat conventional fruits and vegetables, they just have some extra pesticides. Though conventional meat is full of synthetic hormones, steroids, antibiotics, corn fed, diseased, and on and on, in addition to the pesticides and toxins concentrated in the flesh.”

    Consumers drive the market, consumers choosing lowest price drives abuse of people and nature.

    “Quite the opposite actually. I was pointing out that the argument that it’s been “scientifically proven” and that these flawed “studies” of carbon isotopes etc supposedly “proving man is a top level predator” is what is clutching at straws… and in a major way! Though instead of trying to explain it, I’ll just let the scientists explain it for me…”

    Hmmm yeah your scientist who is supposedly debunking paleo does nothing of the sort. Carbon isotopes are not what the paleo idea is hanging on. She says that the amount of animal foods depends on location… wow, what a revelation!! Some barley was found in a Neanderthals teeth… stop press!!! ahahah. Broccoli is not wild broccoli!!! Let’s all be vegan then? Paleolithic man overwhelmingly ate fruits/roots/tubers/meat-nose to tail, fish, eggs. I’m sure there were many humans who occasionally ate grains and they figured out how to make them edible due to their intelligent brains which evolved because of good animal fat sources. Aborigines have figured out how to make all sorts of toxic wild plants edible… something that I always find amazing, the cultural wisdom. Some foods need complex processing… soaking, sprouting, cooking etc but they figured it out.

    The Tarahumara Indians are not vegan. Corn and beans are Mexican staples, who knows what genetic adaptations they have, as Northern Europeans can digest lactose, most cannot.

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  5. “You simply can’t compare issues of absorption with issues of adaptability to animal foods meaning low conversion of carotenoids and plant based omega-3, one is a health issue, the other is a genetic issue… humans are adapted to forms of nutrients obtainable from animal foods.”

    I have seen no proof that the inefficiency of “some” people to be able to convert carotenoids or omega’s is caused by genetics or adapting away from that ability. They are likely from the same causes and issues of bad health.

    Technically, there is nothing that humans can only get from animal food that can’t (across the board) be synthesized or converted from something else from plants or within the body.

    On the other hand, there are things that can ONLY be gotten in sufficient enough amounts from plants and can’t be synthesized or converted from eating animals, such as vitamin C.

    All TRUE carnivores, synthesize their own vitamin C…

    “Eh? I said plant a tree and find a farmer.”

    And this is going to help people’s dietary choices at their school, work, restaurants, on the airplane, at the sports event, at their friends house etc…. how? Carry around heavy slabs of “organic” raw meat in large ice chests from their local farmer everywhere they go and ask the restaurant chefs to use their meat? Or are they supposed to become housebound to be able to practice a “non-toxic” “paleo” diet?

    It’s one thing to occasionally eat conventional fruits and vegetables, they just have some extra pesticides. Though conventional meat is full of synthetic hormones, steroids, antibiotics, corn fed, diseased, and on and on, in addition to the pesticides and toxins concentrated in the flesh.

    “The Masai eat blood, milk and meat mainly, they are in excellent health.”

    And the fast racing Tarahumara lived off mainly corn and legumes with very little animal food at all and were also in excellent health. So, does that prove grains and legumes are good?

    “The system rewards sociopathic behavior. It puts psychopaths at the top… the people who will gladly tread on their brother to get ahead. System needs to change.”

    Sounds like that is not sociopathic behavior, though rather just nature and natural selection…

    “Clutching at straws now.”

    Quite the opposite actually. I was pointing out that the argument that it’s been “scientifically proven” and that these flawed “studies” of carbon isotopes etc supposedly “proving man is a top level predator” is what is clutching at straws… and in a major way!

    Though instead of trying to explain it, I’ll just let the scientists explain it for me…

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