To The Vegetarian Evangelists …

      150 Comments on To The Vegetarian Evangelists …

Dear Vegetarian Evangelists:

Since you keep showing up on my blog and trying to convert me to the Church of the Holy Plant-Based Diet, I’ve decided it’s time to explain, once and for all, why you’re wasting your time. You seem like nice people and all, but really, this is getting tiresome.  Every time I answer the doorbell, you stand on my porch and repeat the same old sermons by the same old preachers:   Joel Fuhrman, John McDougall, Dean Ornish, T. Colin Campbell, etc.  This may surprise you, but I don’t find those sermons any more convincing on the 100th repetition than I did on the 10th.

Perhaps if I actually heard a new sermon now and then, I might pay attention, but sadly that’s never the case.  So in the future, when you ring the bell, I’m going to simply refer you to this post and bid you good-day. 

I know some of you will label this as closed-minded.  That’s because to an evangelist, the definition of “closed-minded” is “does not agree with me.”  The truth is, I’m being polite.  Even though I believe your religion is based on a mixture of emotions and faulty reasoning, I don’t show up on your doorstep and try to talk you out of it.  Unlike you, I don’t get emotionally involved in other people’s dietary choices.  If you believe it’s better for humans to shun animal foods, please do so.  I don’t really care.

But you obviously care very much that I eat meat, since you keep trying to convince me I shouldn’t.  Sometimes it seems as if you all got together and said, “There’s a meat-eater who lives in that blog over there!  We must take turns showing up on his doorstep and preaching to him until he sees the light!”  I give you credit, by the way, for attempting to cloak your arguments in something resembling science.  You apparently noticed the “Meat is Murder!” tactic just makes me laugh, so you’ve taken to presenting the same sentiment as a health issue.

Nice try, but it isn’t going work, and I’m going to explain why.  I’m not foolish enough to think I’ll change your minds — evangelists aren’t swayed by evidence, as Eric Hoffer explained brilliantly in his book The True Believer — but I figure there’s an outside chance you’ll finally realize I don’t find your arguments the least bit persuasive, in which case you actually might give up and go away. 


I’ll start with the reason that’s the least valid scientifically, but frankly the only one that ultimately matters to me:  my own experience.  I was a vegetarian for several years (yes, I’m a fallen-away believer) yet somehow never experienced all the magic health benefits promised to me by your preachers.  I did, however, experience arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, gastric reflux, restless legs, lower back pain, irritable bowel, fatigue, slow but consistent weight gain, listlessness, depression, frequent colds, canker sores, cavities, and receding gums that required grafts.  None of those ailments were caused by sugar consumption, because I already knew sugar was a sin and didn’t indulge except on very rare occasions.  I’ve since learned that some of those ailments were caused by a lack of fat and cholesterol in my diet, while others were likely caused by the lectins found in grains and beans.

Now that I’ve gone over to the dark side of low-carb/paleo eating, I don’t suffer from those ailments anymore — not one.  It’s also no longer a battle to keep my weight down.  I’m 51 years old, but feel better than when I was 30.  I moved to Tennessee a year ago and haven’t even bothered to look for a doctor yet, since I’m never sick. 

Given my personal history, I don’t really care how much cherry-picked evidence bean-eaters like Fuhrman and McDougall can cite,  because my body told me they’re wrong.  I listen to my body.  If I whack myself in the head with a rubber mallet and my body says, “You know, that gave me a headache and made me dizzy,” I’m not going to do it again —  even if you cite a Fuhrman study concluding that head-whacking improves mood and prevents sexual dysfunction.

I also have to consider the experiences of my friends and acquaintances.  I’ve known plenty of vegetarians over the years, and as far as health status goes, I wouldn’t trade places with any of them.  They’re all on prescription drugs.  I’m not.  I’ve seen them suffer from arthritis, auto-immune diseases, spinal degeneration and cancer, to name just a few.  One vegan friend in Los Angeles had to undergo extensive dental surgery because she lost half the bone mass in her jaw.

But of course, those are mere anecdotes and therefore aren’t scientifically valid.  Now, you and I both know you’re only interested in the so-called “science” that supports your religion, but since you insist on pretending otherwise, I’ll deal with your science (ahem, ahem) as well.

First, let’s look at some basic principles of science.  In real science, we control for confounding variables when testing a hypothesis.  We also don’t consider a hypothesis valid unless the results are consistent and repeatable.

The studies you cite when you show up to preach at me are observational studies, which are notoriously awful when it comes to controlling variables.  So Fuhrman and McDougall can cite a few studies that linked saturated fat to heart disease and cancer … so what?  I’m sure that’s true to an extent, at least in America.  But some of the biggest sources of saturated fat in the American diet are grain-based desserts (sugar and refined flour), dairy desserts (sugar), pizza (refined flour) and Mexican dishes (refined flour).  Do you see any possible confounding variables there?

If animal fats are the culprit, then the supposed link between heart disease and saturated fat would hold up across time and across the world.  But it doesn’t.  Humans have been meat-eaters for hundreds of thousands of years, and yet heart disease and cancer are referred to as “diseases of civilization.”  As researcher Peter Cleave told the McGovern committee back in the 1970s, blaming modern diseases on ancient foods is ludicrous.

There have been native peoples all over the world who lived primarily and sometimes exclusively on animal flesh and animal fat — the Masai tribes, our own buffalo-hunting tribes, the Inuits, etc. — but heart disease was nearly non-existent among those people.  Doctors who visited them were stunned at how healthy they were.   The buffalo-hunting tribes didn’t become fat, diabetic, and plagued with heart disease until they stopped hunting and started living on sugar and flour.

A century ago, Americans consumed four times as much butter and lard as we do now, but again, heart disease was quite rare.  We didn’t see a surge in heart disease until we began eating a lot more sugar and substituting processed vegetable oils for animal fats.   Even today, the French and Swiss consume far more cream, butter, cheese and pork than Americans, but have a much lower rate of heart disease.  (They do, however, consume far less sugar, soda, processed vegetable oils, and white flour.)

In other words, the observational evidence that Fuhrman and McDougall cite isn’t consistent.  It doesn’t hold up across time or geography.  Not even close.

Clearly something other than animal fat causes heart disease — my guess is sugar and refined carbohydrates, because that result does hold up.  Go around the world, look at different cultures throughout time, and you’ll see that heart disease, cancer, and other “diseases of civilization” show up shortly after sugar and white flour become dietary staples.

Many of you have preached to me that the Fuhrman-McDougall-Ornish diet is superior because it lowers cholesterol.  I’ve got news for you:  That’s one of the least convincing arguments you can make, because I don’t want my cholesterol lowered.  Check the longevity figures against various cholesterol levels.  People with low cholesterol have shorter lifespans.  They’re more likely to die of cancer, stroke, infections and suicide. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can sense you reaching for that chapter from the prayer book already:  “No, you see, cancer CAUSES low cholesterol!”  Uh-huh.  If high cholesterol is linked to heart disease, it must mean cholesterol is causing the disease.  But if cancer is linked to low cholesterol, by gosh, it must be the other way around — because preacher Fuhrman says so.  Since the low cholesterol often shows up years before the cancer, that’s quite a trick.  And good luck explaining how strokes and suicide cause low cholesterol.

But about that link between high cholesterol and heart disease:  it doesn’t actually exist, except in males below the age of 65 living in a few countries.  It certainly doesn’t hold up around the world.  Some of you have quoted McDougall as saying he’s never seen a heart attack in anyone with cholesterol below 150.  (Notice he didn’t say he’s never seen cancer or a stroke.)  Well, if that’s true, it merely means McDougall has never visited Australia.  Aborigines have one of the lowest average cholesterol levels in the world.  They also have one of the highest heart-disease rates.  Autopsies have shown plaque-filled arteries in heart-attack victims whose total cholesterol was as low as 115.   If high cholesterol causes heart disease and low cholesterol cures it, how is that possible?

Some months ago, I dug up the WHO data on average cholesterol levels and heart-disease rates around the world.  If high cholesterol causes heart disease, then plotting those figures against each other would produce a nice, recognizable trend-line.  And as it happens, I did plot them against each other.  You can see the result below:

Do you see a trend-line there?  I certainly don’t.  When I ran the CORR function in Excel, it showed a very slight negative association between cholesterol and heart disease — in other words, higher cholesterol was correlated with a slightly lower rate of heart disease.

I found a similar result when I ran an analysis on the American Heart Association’s own data:  people with LDL over 130 actually have a slightly lower rate of heart disease than people with LDL below 130. 

So once again, the observations your preachers made that you keep quoting don’t hold up.  They’re not consistent, and they’re not repeatable.  Therefore, they’re not scientifically valid.

Many of you have offered yourselves as evidence that the Fuhrman-McDougall-Ornish diet works.  Some of you have even sent me pictures of your now-skeletal bodies, apparently thinking I’d be impressed.  I wasn’t.  I have no desire to look like I take my meals in a concentration camp.

If your health improved, I’m happy for you.  But you might want to ask yourself which aspect of the diet improved your health.  Your preachers insist you give up animal foods, but also sugar and refined carbohydrates.  Then when your health improves, they offer it as proof that animal foods were the problem and only the Holy Plant-Based Diet can lead to eternal health and happiness.

But I also gave up sugar and refined carbohydrates, and my health also improved, despite adding more animal fat to my diet.  Hey, ya know … perhaps it’s the sugar and refined flour that are the real problem here.

You’ve preached about how Ornish and Furhman have reversed heart disease in their patients.  Fine, I believe you.  But so have doctors like William Davis and Al Sears, and they don’t tell their patients give up animal foods; they tell their patients to give up sugar and refined carbohydrates.  A friend of mine went on the Atkins diet — no sugar, no refined carbohydrates — and his labs improved so much, his doctor took him off his statin and said, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

Notice anything consistent about the diets that reverse heart disease?

If merely giving up animal fats and switching to all plant-based foods were the key to avoiding heart disease, that result would hold up around the world.  But it doesn’t.  Vegetarians in India have one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world — higher than the Indians who aren’t vegetarians.  They don’t eat meat, but they do consume sugar and flour.

Since your religious tracts are full of cherry-picked observational evidence, I’m going to close by asking you to make an observation for me …  just one, and if your preachers are correct, this should be easy:  Find me a culture, now or in the past, where people subsisted on a diet high in animal foods and animal fats but consumed little or no sugar and flour, yet had high rates of heart disease and cancer.  If you can do that, I’ll answer the bell and listen to you preach the next time you feel like asking me to join the Church of the Holy Plant-Based Diet.

Until you can do that, go away.  You don’t stand a chance of converting me.


150 thoughts on “To The Vegetarian Evangelists …

  1. T

    I will continue to post comments here as desired by Mr. Naughton. Please refer to the following link for some of my previous posts:
    It appears that Mr. Naughton is trying to convince viewers of Fat Head that there is a worldwide conspiracy involving the authorities from every member in the United Nations which strongly recommend against the large consumption of many of the foods that Mr. Naughton and the other cholesterol skeptics in Fat Head are trying to advocate as being health promoting, such as butter, meat (including processed and red) and salt. Mr. Naughton also appears to believe that statements from authorities around the world, such as the one in the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines that clearly stated the “preponderance of evidence” shows that there is a strong association between dietary cholesterol and saturated fat (and trans fat including ruminant sources) and cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes [53], as merely being sourced from “a handful of badly-designed studies”. Also, trying to claim that the world leading experts cannot differentiate between saturated fat and refined carbohydrates is an insult to their intelligence. He also expects people to believe him in regards to the unpublished claims by one his William Davis, Al Sears and one of his friends of reversal of heart disease, rather than the peer reviewed studies published in top medical journals where advance technology was used to prove the reversal of even severe heart disease in patients on plant based diets, including the studies carried out by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., [39][40] Dean Ornish, M.D.,[29] and nuclear cardiologist Richard M. Fleming, M.D.[38]. Patients in these studies eliminated many of the foods Mr. Naughton advocates as being health promoting to a much greater degree than refined carbohydrates.
    The health authorities are fully aware of the major flaws and omissions in a recent meta-analysis showing no relationship between saturated fat and heart disease, which was biased in favor of the National Dairy Council which funded the study. The European Heart Union released a paper, titled “European Heart Network position piece: Impact of saturated fat on cardiovascular disease obscured by over-adjustment in recent meta-analysis”, stating that “the meta-analysis (and an accompanying opinion piece by the same authors) is compromised by a number of serious flaws and omission”. The paper goes on to state that “Adjustment for serum cholesterol levels will inevitably bias the results of the meta-analyses towards finding no association between dietary saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease, but the authors do not mention this limitation in their article”. “As Jeremiah Stamler asserts in his editorial, what was actually found by the meta-analysis was ‘a statistically non-significant relation of SFA [saturated fat] to CHD… independent of other dietary lipids, serum lipids, and other covariates’. A more appropriate and informative analysis would have included non-adjusted associations between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. An examination of the forest plots provided in the article shows that those cohort studies that did not adjust for serum cholesterol levels were more likely to find a positive association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease, suggesting that a meta-analysis of unadjusted data would likely produce positive results.”
    The full paper along with references to studies showing a strong relationship between saturated fat and heart disease can be viewed here:

    Same old, same old. Another observational study showing a link that doesn’t hold up across time or geography. Drs. Sears and Davis aren’t interested in conducting clinical research and publishing results. They’re interested in helping patients, which they do.

    Ornish didn’t just have his patients quit eating animal fats. He had them give up sugar and white flour, quit smoking, start an exercise program and learn stress-reduction techniques. You can’t quote a multi-variable intervention program and say one variable did the trick.

  2. T

    Since Mr. Naughton is asking to for somebody to find a him a culture “where people subsisted on a diet high in animal foods and animal fats but consumed little or no sugar and flour” but display poor health, I will explain about the actual state of health of the native populations that he is trying to make people believe have “non-existent” disease. The Masai, and Inuit.
    The first piece of evidence comes from the study titled “Atherosclerosis in the Masai” that was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1972, and was carried out largely before sugar and flour played a part in the Masai diet.
    The researchers concluded that “The hearts and aortae of 50 Masai men were collected at autopsy. These pastoral people are exceptionally active and fit and they consume diets of milk and meat. The intake of animal fat exceeds that of American men. Measurements of the aorta showed extensive atherosclerosis with lipid infiltration and fibrous changes but very few complicated lesions. The coronary arteries showed intimal thickening by atherosclerosis which equaled that of old U.S. men. The Masai vessels enlarge with age to more than compensate for this disease. It is speculated that the Masai are protected from their atherosclerosis by physical fitness which causes their coronary vessels to be capacious.” [54]
    This was the study that contained the largest number of Masai hearts and aortas autopsied published to date, therefore provides more significant evidence about Masai heart health than other studies. This study showed that the Masai tribe who consume diets based around meat and milk (and not sugar and flour), have a similar amount of atherosclerosis vascular disease as old American men, but at a much younger age. African researchers have noted that the in the Masai, life expectancy is 45 for women and 42 for men, and that adult mortality figures for Kenyan Masai as having a 50% chance of dying before the age of 59 [55], which is very short, even by third world standards. This study also shows that up until the relatively young age the Masai tend to die at, that their fitness plays a large role in the prevention heart attacks. This data may suggest that the Masai would have higher rates of heart attacks if they lived to a longer age.
    The Eskimo’s (Inuit) have a numerous number of health problems as well. The next piece of evidence comes from researched published in an article in the June 1987 issue of the National Geographic, titled “Sealed in Time: Ice Entombs an Eskimo Family for Five Centuries.”
    The article was written in regards to autopsy results of two Eskimo women, one in their 20’s and one in their 40’s that were frozen in ice five centuries ago. The research showed that these Eskimo “…suffered from atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries caused by deposits of cholesterol and fat, probably the result of a heavy diet of whale and seal blubber. “. and that “… they showed signs of severe osteoporosis, bone-mass deterioration ” [56]
    Evidence from both these populations show that even when traditional diets based around animal foods (and not flour or sugar) were consumed, that they had gross evidence of atherosclerosis at a young age, and also that the Inuit suffered from bone loss at a young age.

    They have found some thickening of the arteries in Native populations. What they don’t find is anything close to our rate of actual heart attacks. The study you just quoted yourself was trying to explain why the Masai DON’T die of heart attacks as often as westerners.

    If animal fat causes heart disease, then you’ll have to explain to us why the French, the Swiss, the Spanish, etc., all consume far more animal fat than we do, but have a lower rate of heart disease.

    Longevity figures for all native populations were low, because they didn’t have access to our antibiotics and advanced medical care. But when Jared Diamond compared the skeletons of farmers and hunters among native populations, he found that the hunters lived several years longer on average.

    As for the Masai and heart disease specifically:

    The Maasai herd goats and sheep, including the Red Maasai sheep, as well as the more prized cattle.[61] Electrocardiogram tests applied to 400 young adult male Maasai found no evidence whatsoever of heart disease, abnormalities or malfunction. Further study with carbon-14 tracers showed that the average cholesterol level was about 50 percent of that of an average American. These findings were ascribed to the amazing fitness of morans, which was evaluated as “Olympic standard”.[62]

    From the journal Atherosclerosis:
    A field survey of 400 Masai men and additional women and children in Tanganyika indicates little or no clinical or chemical evidence for atherosclerosis. Despite a long continued diet of exclusively meat and milk the men have low levels of serum cholesterol and no evidence for arteriosclerotic heart disease. The reasons for this disagreement with the popular hypothesis relating animal fat intake to coronary disease are examined. The authors concede that some overriding protective mechanism such as freedom from emotional stress or abundance of physical exercise may be present. They favor the conclusion that diet fat is not responsible for coronary disease.

    There they go again, trying to explain why despite all that meat and milk, they’re looking at people with no heart disease. No consistency, no scientific validity. If animal fat causes heart disease, they wouldn’t have found those results.

  3. T

    Despite the fact that most Eskimo’s (Inuit) populations consume on average the highest quantity of calcium in the world (often above 2,000mg), from bone tissue, as well as modest amounts of vitamin D found in animal fats, they also have the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world. Studies show that “unusually rapid bone loss” in all the studies published on Inuit bone health as being caused by the “acidic effect of a meat diet.” [57-61]
    In one study titled “Bone mineral content of North Alaskan Eskimos” published in 1974 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researches found that in regards to bone mineral content, that “age 40 the Eskimos of both sexes had a deficit of from 10 to 15% relative to [United States] white standards”. [57] This study showed that the Inuit’s have significantly higher rates of osteoporosis compared to populations who already have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis on earth (United States whites). This is not surprising as it is well documented that that animal protein consumption is strongly related to an increase rate of bone loss, partly due to a high acid load. [62]
    One study that shows the relationship between excessive protein and excessive bone loss is titled “The effect of milk supplements on calcium metabolism, bone metabolism and calcium balance”, a study that is clearly shown in the paper as being funded by “a grant from the National Dairy Council”. The study was carried out on postmenopausal women who consumed three 8-ounce glasses of skim milk every day for two years, and their bones were compared to those of a control group of women not given the milk. The dairy group consumed 1,400 mg of calcium per day and lost bone at twice the rate of the control group. According to the researchers, “The protein content of the milk supplement may have a negative effect on calcium balance, possibly through an increase in kidney losses of calcium or through a direct effect on bone resorption.”, and that “this may have been due to the average 30 percent increase in protein intake during milk supplementation. … The adverse effect of increases in protein intake on calcium balance has been reported from several laboratories, including our own (24-32, 45)”. Notice how the researchers cited 10 studies?
    The Inuit also have very high toxin content in their blood, and the women have very high levels of PCBs in their breast milk. The Inuit also have been shown to “accumulate the highest levels of these contaminants” because “They’re at the top of the food chain,” [64]
    Studies show that the Inuit Greenlanders, die 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer that the Canadians. [65]
    In the referenced study the researchers stated that “Age-standardized death rates for the total population for all causes decreased from 2,500 to 600 per 100,000 person-years during the period 1950 – 70. Tuberculosis and infectious diseases almost disappeared as causes of death. Simultaneously, chronic diseases, especially cancer and heart diseases, became more visible.” Although this was a period when refined carbohydrates started playing a larger role in the diet of the Greenlanders, middle-aged and elderly people would have been exposed to a diet much higher in animal foods during youth and would also have been less likely to have adopted a Western style diet, which suggests that their traditional diet also played a role in causing these diseases.
    Some studies have shown further deterioration of health in these populations when adopting a diet much higher in processed food. These studies however do not provide sufficient evidence that their traditional diets are more optimal than ones higher in vegetables, fruit and nut intake, nor do they show that their traditional diets promote long-livity.
    There does not seem to be any sufficient documented proof of long lived populations consuming diets similar to the ones recommended by the so-called experts in Fat Head.

    Yes, other paleo bloggers have pointed out that Eskimos suffered from osteoporosis, which is probably the result of going their whole lives without eating any green vegetables. But 1) that’s not heart disease or cancer, which is what the anti-saturated-fat hysterics tell us we’ll develop if we eat animal fats, and 2) I don’t recommend people live on nothing but meat and fish for 40 years. I recommend meat, fish, eggs, green vegetables, nuts, and low-sugar fruits.

    You and the other vegans have somehow gotten into your heads that people who recommend low-carb or paleo diets are anti-vegetable. That’s silly. Now that I don’t eat bread, pasta, rice, cereal or white potatoes, I eat more vegetables, not fewer.

    When researchers compare the bones of hunter-gatherer trribes to the bones of farming tribes, the hunter-gatherers are the winners by far: thicker bones, taller, fewer deformities and far less evidence of arthritis. That’s one of the reasons Jared Diamond called agriculture “the biggest mistake in human history.”

    You are quoting cancer and heart-disease disease figures for Inuits from an era when they began consuming refined carbohydrates, which is pointless and doesn’t “suggest” the animal foods the older people consumed when they were younger had anything to do with it. If anything, it suggests that people who go most of their lives without refined carbohydrates have very little tolerance for them and will succumb to their effects quickly. This makes perfect sense. I used to get arthritis when I ate wheat. Now that I’ve given up wheat, it only takes a wee bit of the stuff to bring back the aches. I’ve lost my tolerance for it.

    From the Lancet:
    During the second half of the 20th century, Inuit societies underwent major changes in lifestyle and living conditions, and the risk of lifestyle-associated tumours, especially cancers of the lung, colon, and breast, increased considerably after changes in smoking, diet, and reproductive factors.

    Second half of the 20th century … when they adopted western diets, western smoking.

  4. T

    In regards to long-livity, Mr. Naughton claimed that “The Mormons had even less disease and longer lifespans” than that of the Californian Seven-day Adventists, which are two religious populations that both promote healthy life styles including the avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol. One major difference in the two populations is that the Californian Seven-day Adventists are also largely vegetarian (and flexitarian) due to religious beliefs. The recognition of the Adventists long-livity has turned their home town of Loma Linda, California into one of the four known Blue Zones (long lived regions where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years). [66] All the populations in the Blue Zones have traditionally consumed the majority of calories from plant based foods, and consume legumes regularly. [67]
    Data from a study showed that the life expectancy data for the Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons) between the years of 1994 and 1998 showed that on average the men lived to 77.3 and women to 82.2. [68] In the 12 year study between 1976 and 1988 of 34,000 Californian Seventh-day Adventists, the life expectancy from birth was 78.5 for men and 82.3 for women. However, the vegetarian Seven-day Adventist life expectancy from birth was 80.2 years for men and 84.7 years for women. For Adventists that survived past 30, life expectancy was 81.2 for men and 83.9 for women, and for vegetarians it was 83.3 for men and 85.7 for women. [69] This data verifies that the vegetarian Adventists lived longer than the Mormans, even though a further increase in adjustment in life expectancy is required due to the increase of average life expectancy in the US between 1988 and 1998 from 74.8 to 76.6.
    The 21 year follow-up study on 27,530 adult Seventh-Day Adventist, also confirmed that the vegetarians lived longer than non-vegetarians. The researchers stated “All-cause mortality showed a significant negative association with green salad consumption and a significant positive association with consumption of eggs and meat. For green salad and eggs, the association was stronger for women; for meat, the association was stronger for men. All the observed associations were adjusted for age, sex, smoking history, history of major chronic disease, and age at initial exposure to the Adventist Church.” [52] Also, a review of 6 prospective cohort studies on long-term vegetarians and low meat intake from the Adventist Health Study confirmed that a very low meat intake was associated with significant increases in longevity.[51]
    For comparison sake, the life expectancy in Okinawa in 1995 was 81.2 (combined male/ female average). [70]
    I could not find any data in regards to Mormans having less disease than the Adventists, but in one study the researchers stated “Some tumor rates are higher in Mormons, e.g. malignant melanoma, also all types of malignant lymphoma and myeloma.”[71]

    From UCLA:
    If you want to live a long healthy life, you may want to take a tip from the Mormons…. A group of actively practicing Mormons in California, followed for a 25-year period, had the lowest total death rates and the longest life expectancies ever documented in a well-defined U.S. cohort. The authors believe the findings suggest a model for substantial disease prevention in the general population.

    One of the fruits of Mormonism is that the males that were highly committed to the Mormon lifestyle had a life expectancy of 84.1 years which was 9.8 years greater than that of U.S. white males. Highly committed females had a life expectancy of 86.1 years which was 5.6 years longer than U.S. white females.

  5. T

    I would also like to comment on some of Mr. Naugtons claims in regards to low total cholesterol and LDL and the increase of excess mortality, suicide and chronic disease.
    First I feel that I need to revisit a study from one of my previous posts. The study comes from the Framingham Heart Study that studied the population of Framingham, Massachusetts. The researchers stated that “Under age 50 years these data suggest that having a very low cholesterol level improves longevity. After age 50 years the association of mortality with cholesterol values is confounded by people whose cholesterol levels are falling–perhaps due to diseases predisposing to death ” [34].
    This study is often referred to by Mr. Naughton and many other cholesterol skeptics, such as Barry Grooves. However they only refer to the part of the study that relates falling cholesterol and excess mortality and ignore the rest of the conclusion, possibly because it is not inline with their claims. They believe this study is of high enough quality to support their claims, but fail to mention that the people with life-long rates of very low cholesterol had improved long-livity, and also the fact that the researchers seem to realise that the falling cholesterol in the elderly with excessive mortality was most likely caused by pre-existing conditions.

    I also stated in a previous post about conditions that affect the livers ability to produce cholesterol caused by known cholesterol lowering cancers including lung, liver, lymphatic and hematopoietic cancer. [36, 37].
    Mr. Naughton quotes “Since the low cholesterol often shows up years before the cancer, that’s quite a trick “. He was correct in regards to the fact that the falling cholesterol is often noticed years before the cancer diagnosed, as I explained that in previous post that “cancer cannot be diagnosed with radiographic technology for over a decade after the initial formation as it needs to be large enough to be seen by the human eye”. This is especially the case for studies that monitor cholesterol frequently such as in the Framingham Heart Study.
    Refer to the study from the link that shows “Data linking low cholesterol with excess mortality have been gathered from both observational and clinical trials… The association are that low cholesterol is a consequence of disease or is a confounder associated with other variables” [35]

    The Japanese have traditionally had lower average serum cholesterol compared to other developed nations, and have also led the world in average life expectancy since the mid seventies. [72] However in more recent years the average serum cholesterol in Japan has been increasing along with a decreasing life expectancy lead compared to other developed nations.

    No, the Japanese rates of heart disease and stroke have gone DOWN since their cholesterol levels have gone up. And as for those who adopt an American diet and then die at younger ate, researchers found that if they keep their traditional culture as opposed to adopting the American fast-paced lifestyle, that doesn’t happen.

    From the American Journal of Epidemiology:
    Among men of Japanese ancestry, there is a gradient in the occurrence of coronary heart disease (CHD). It is lowest in Japan, intermediate in Hawaii, and highest in California. This gradient appears not to be completely explained by differences in dietary intake, serum cholesterol, blood pressure or smoking. To test the hypothesis that social and cultural differences may account for the CHD differences between Japan and the United States, 3809 Japanese-Americans in California were classified according to the degree to which they retained a traditional Japanese culture. The most traditional group of Japanese-Americans had a CHD prevalence as low as that observed in Japan. The group that was most acculturated to Western culture had a three- to five-fold excess in CHD prevalence. This difference in CHD rate between most and least acculturated groups could not be accounted for by differences in the major coronary risk factors.

    Especially striking was the finding that emigrants who stuck to the Japanese tradition, but ate American food ran a smaller risk of heart disease than emigrants who were accustomed to the American way of life but ate Japanese food (113).

    No consistency, no scientific validity, no matter how many studies you decide to cherry-pick.

  6. T

    Here is a quote from a report of a joint World Health Organization/ Foods and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations expert consolation:
    “Populations should consume nutritionally adequate and varied diets, based primarily on foods of plant origin with small amounts of added flesh foods. Households should select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses or legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods. The evidence that such diets will prevent or delay a significant proportion of non-communicable chronic diseases is consistent. A predominantly plant-based diet has a low energy density, which may protect against obesity.” []
    Sourced from

    The next statement comes from a World Health Organization report that was unanimously endorsed by all 192 members of the United Nations. The paper stated the following in regards to the global increase of chronic disease:
    “The adverse dietary changes include shifts in the structure of the diet towards a higher energy density diet with a greater role for fat and added sugars in foods, greater saturated fat intake (mostly from animal sources), reduced intakes of complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre, and reduced fruit and vegetable intakes.”
    Sourced from:

    You’re quoting the U.N. as experts? You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s as convincing as quoting the USDA.

  7. T

    Here are some quotes from the American Institute for Cancer Research, sourced from;

    “The evidence from the expert report that red meat is a cause of colorectal cancer is convincing. This evidence is much stronger now than it was in the mid-1990s. Red meat contains substances that are linked to colon cancer. For example, heme iron, the compound that gives red meat its color, has been shown to damage the lining of the colon. “
    “Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat less plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties.
    There is also convincing evidence that choosing processed meat increases the chances of colorectal cancer. The expert panel advises limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat. Studies show we can eat up to 18 ounces a week of red meat without raising cancer risk. Research on processed meat shows cancer risk starts to increase with any portion.
    When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) can be formed. These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer.”
    “Research shows that vegetables and fruits probably protect against a range of cancers, including mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, lung, pancreas and prostate. There are many reasons why vegetables and fruits may protect against cancer. As well as containing vitamins and minerals, which help keep the body healthy and strengthen our immune system, they are also good sources of substances like phytochemicals. These are biologically active compounds, which can help to protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer.
    Foods containing fiber are also linked to a reduced risk of cancer. These foods include whole-grain bread and pasta, oats and vegetables and fruits. Fiber is thought to have many benefits, including helping to speed up ‘gut transit time’ – how long it takes food to move through the digestive system.”
    “The expert panel found that salt and salt-preserved foods probably increase the chance of developing stomach cancer. Studies have shown that high salt intake can damage the lining of the stomach. This is one way in which it might increase the risk of stomach cancer. “

    I am not quite sure how Mr Naughton’s theory of “follow the money” holds up very well against these statements of the United Nations and many of the worlds authorities. I am not sure who is paying off the majority of the members in the United Nations to tell people to consume a predominately plant based diet and limit saturated fat. Who is paying the authorities to recommend limiting salt, to limit red meat regardless of how lean it is, and recommend against the consumption of any quantity of processed meat.

    Yes, most of the so-called “experts” in the world have bought into “animal fat kills!” What you seem to be saying is that they must be right because by gosh, everyone says so. So by your logic, trans-fat filled margarine was good for our health during the decades that all the experts said so.

    The association between red meat and cancer was based on observational studies that defined “red meat” as hot dogs, deli sandwiches, pizza, etc. See any possible confounding variables there? As Dr. Richard Feinman has pointed out, ALL of the studies linking red meat and animal fats to diseases were looking at a diet that also included refined carbohydrates.

    Where was all the cancer among the buffalo-hunting tribes? If red meat — which was the staple of their diets — causes cancer, they should’ve been riddled with it, but weren’t. No consistency, no repeatable results, no scientific validity.

    And if avoiding meat were the sure-fire way to avoid cancer, Linda McCartney would be alive today, wouldn’t she?

    The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute of Cancer released a 700 page report in 1997 titled “Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer.” It stated that there was no convincing or even probable evidence to believe that fatty diets caused cancer. The Women’s Health Initiative study also failed to show a link.

    An Oxford based study that followed 65,000 people throughout the 1990s found that vegetarians, far from being protected from colorectal cancer, actually displayed a slightly higher incidence. (The same study found no differences in mortality rates between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Now, considering that vegetarianism is a lifestyle generally adopted by people who are interested in health and are less likely to indulge in bad health habits, that’s pretty interesting, don’t you think?)

    And last year, in a letter to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Professor Stewart Truswell of the University of Sydney asked why several large studies which found no link between red meat consumption and bowel cancer had been rejected by the Word Cancer Research Fund panel. He also found mistakes in its data reporting. In other words, they’re cherry-picking.

    So like I said in the post, you can cherry-pick the studies that support your beliefs all you want, but unless the results among numerous studies are consistent, there’s no scientific validity.

  8. Auntie M

    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! I don’t look at the site for a couple of days, and all hell breaks loose!

    T and Meat, you’re missing the point. If being vegan/veggie works for you, fantastic. You’re entitled to eat what you choose and believe what you choose. America is still kind of a free-ish country at the moment. Sort of. However, Tom isn’t trolling your blogs, so quit trolling his. I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish, but you’re not succeeding at all. In fact, you’re alienating people instead of converting them. We have functioning brains over here, and Tom will continue to use his against your rather anemic arguments. I don’t care what you eat. It’s none of your business what I eat. Go away.

    Honestly, Tom….didn’t they READ the article?????

    Doesn’t matter if they read it or not. They heard someone believes meat-eating isn’t bad for you health, and to the evangelists, that’s a sacreligious statement that must be disputed.

  9. TonyNZ

    “the women have very high levels of PCBs in their breast milk.”

    What’s that got to do with fat other than that PCBs are lipid accumulating? This means we should not pollute the environment with toxic chemicals so that they don’t end up in the food supply, not that we should stop eating meat. That’s the same as saying we shouldn’t eat veges because they can have pesticide residue on them. Therefore, veges are bad for you.

  10. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    If the Internet were available during Copernicus and Galileo’s time, T and Meat would be trolling and making arguments in support of the more than a thousand year old dogma that the Earth was the center of the universe on sites that said otherwise.


  11. Todd

    I suggest “MEAL” read The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith. It would be a very eye-opening experience.

  12. M Kerrigan

    It’s too bad that the argument against refined carbohydrates has become the ‘pro-meat’ side of a debate between vegetarians and omnivores.

    I’m a vegan, but I also fully subscribe to the ‘evil carb’ theory of health, because it seems to correspond more closely to reality than the current ‘fear the fat’ paradigm. I believe that you can choose to avoid animal products for ethical reasons without declaring that there is no other healthy way to eat.

    A ‘paleo’ view of our diet offers some important insights into how vegetarians/vegans can maximize their health and shouldn’t be dismissed. I soak all my grains and beans to break down the anti-nutrients and make sure I avoid refined oils and cook with coconut oil to get saturated fats into my diet.

    It’s too bad more veg types don’t take your arguments seriously, because if we end up less healthy, fewer people will be willing to give up meat in the end.

    For some reason, certain vegans (present company excepted, of course) seem to think a low-carb or paleo diet means eating nothing but piles of burgers and bacon while avoiding all plant foods. Paleo humans ate lots of plants … but not sugar and flour.

  13. Brendan

    Wow, T is putting in lots of work to convince us saturated fat and meat are bad for us. We(paleos, low carb, weston price..etc) don’t go around vegan blogs trying to convert vegans. Sheesh..this reminds me of an overzealous jehovah witness that tried to convert me by facts obtained from his “authority”.

    Like what Tom has said, we can pick any study to confirm our beliefs. But if there is no consistency in the results of these studies, there’s no scientific validity. So it is not valid to say saturated fat is harmful for us.

    Can T or anyone out there explain to us why the conclusions of these studies below are false? Why these conclusions if saturated fat, cholesterol, meat, dairy and a low carb diet are bad for us.

    “SFA (saturated fatty acid) intake was inversely associated with mortality from total stroke, including intraparenchymal hemorrhage and ischemic stroke subtypes, in this Japanese cohort.”

    “A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”

    “Of the more than 300 women in the study, those randomly assigned to follow the Atkins diet for a year not only lost more weight than the other participants, but also experienced the most benefits in terms of cholesterol and blood pressure.”

    “During the first 6 months, the low-carbohydrate diet group had greater reductions in diastolic blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lesser reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels…The low-carbohydrate diet group had greater increases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels at all time points, approximating a 23% increase at 2 years.”

    “However, compared with those with the lowest intake of full-fat dairy, participants with the highest intake (median intake 339 g/day) had reduced death due to CVD”

    Last but not least, explain why the kitavans who eat 17% (compare to about 10 % in the US) of their calories in saturated fat are not dying of heart diseases.

    Exactly. There are studies in which saturated fat was associated with heart disease, and studies in which it wasn’t. That means researchers are isolating the wrong variables. It would be like trying to find associations between heart disease and hair color.

  14. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    “It would be like trying to find associations between heart disease and hair color.”

    Heart disease is obviously strongly associated with gray hair and male pattern baldness. 😀

    That’s right. I’m thinking of buying a toupee to reduce my heart-disease risk.

  15. Sue

    I don’t read extraordinarily long posts by vegetarians or vegans. I eat meat, I know it’s healthy for me and I wll continue to eat meat.

  16. Obee

    I can tell you my experience. Throughout my childhood and into early middle age I suffered from severe pollen allergies, and in the fall I would typically need two different kinds of inhalers to breathe. About a dozen years ago, I went on a very low carb diet, and after about two months I realized that I hadn’t had as much as a sniffle, let alone needed inhalers. Through trial and error, I figured out that it was the wheat that was causing me all the problems, and I have avoided it ever since. I also seem to have eliminated all my allergies. My first advice to anyone suffering from pollen allergies, or even asthma, would be to eliminate at least wheat, and possibly all grains, from the diet for a short time and see what happens.

    That seems to a common reaction. Imagine how many people suffering from asthma and allergies could reduce or eliminate the symptoms if we weren’t told grains are health food.

  17. your older brother

    Interesting that one of your posts with the most comments is one where you’re responding to True Believers bringing the same tired old stuff about your post that you weren’t going to respond to True Believers anymore who keep bringing the same tired old stuff. I think I’m getting a touch of cognitive dissonance myself!

    I have a suggestion, but first – an old joke (as your older brother, I of course don’t have any other kind):

    – – – – – – –
    Through a series of tragic circumstances, a man finds himself convicted as a first-time felon and is sent off to the penitentiary to repay his debt to society. He is befriended by an old-timer who takes pity on him and helps school him on the mores of his new environment.

    At a lunch period shortly into his first week, an inmate in another corner of the cafeteria gets up and clears his throat, whereupon everyone stops talking and focuses. The man opens his mouth and says:


    Upon which everyone begins laughing uproariously. The new man is completely puzzled and looks to his mentor for an explanation.

    “Look, buddy,” he explains,”almost everyone in here is a lifer. We’ve been here forever and we’re going to be staying here forever. A few years ago, we realized that we were wasting a bunch of time telling the same jokes everyone’s heard over and over, so we came up with a system. Once we’ve all heard a joke a few dozen times, we assign it a number. Then, when someone wants to tell one, instead of making everyone listen to same old lines for the umpteenth time, they just tell the number. Keeps it from getting on people’s nerves.”

    The prodigy, wanting to fit in, spends months memorizing all of the old jokes and numbers, until he’s able to join in on all of the laughs, too.

    After a year or so, while at lunch, he is reminded of a particularly apropos joke, and rises to his feet, clearing his throat. Everyone turns and faces him:


    An uncomfortable silence follows, with a few polite chuckles.

    Completed dispirited, he sits down next to his old friend and asks “What the hell was that?”

    The old man shakes his head in resignation, then says ”Well, some people just don’t know how to tell a joke.”
    – – – – –

    So, I’m thinking maybe you could summarize “T” and “Meat…” and the rest of the True Believers’ same tired old stuff and assign them numbers with the appropriate responses in an index of the blog. Next time one of them brings out, for instance, the China Study(!), you could just reply, for example, “93!”
    Us regulars can laugh our butts off and get on to something more important while the evangelist goes and reads up before preparing their next withering fusillade.

    Just a suggestion.

    I always thought 48 was a scream, by the way.


    Brilliant idea.

    I was aware that I broke my own vow not to respond to these bozos, but when they toss these underhand softballs right over the plate, it’s too tempting … especially when Meat expressed his utterly uninformed belief that his plant-based diet will save the environment.

  18. Your older brother

    Well, at least this “T” fellow seems polite enough and also seems to have an endless source of very well documented bad science to fall back on instead of just hilarious screed.

    I think the numbering system would be particularly useful here, as while I was reading through his sequential posts I got a distinctly uneasy feeling that he may run out of internet. Kind of reminds me of my editorial first drafts before I have to start squeezing them down to 300 words.


    Have to admit, I enjoyed responding to Meat more. He kept getting loonier and loonier. Toward the end, I was waiting for him to set himself on fire as a protest.

  19. PHK

    awesome! thanks.

    i downloaded your chart so i could show it to friends & my (retired & brainwashed MD).

    do you mind if i post the graph on my blog? naturally, i’ll link to your original article.


    Grab the graph and post away.

  20. Bill Strahan

    You know why they keep telling you they feel better after going vegan? Because it’s a high animal fat diet. I wrote a very short article about it here:

    In a nutshell, they’re burning their own bodyfat at the start of the diet! Once that fat store is gone, the vegan diet is low in good fats (animal fats, coconut oil, etc) and high in bad fats. Then the health decline starts. But by then they’ve felt good during the weight loss and they just decide they’re not strict enough.

    Trust me, I know. I was briefly vegetarian 14 years ago. When I lost about 20 pounds, I didn’t feel so good, so I kept eliminating things. I reached the point that I just ate what I called “sludge”. At least I was honest. It was lentils, brown rice, and beans all cooked together with no salt or any fat of any kind. It’s not a happy memory.

    I felt worse and worse and with encouragement from my parents I went from that to Atkins. I suddenly felt tons better and got to the best body composition I’ve had in my life.

    I’ve been all over the map up until a couple of years ago when I read Good Calories Bad Calories. Thank God I’m a paleo/primal meat eater today!

    Well done piece. All weight-loss diets are “animal fat” diets, as you explained. Our body fat is a lot like pork fat, as I wrote about quite awhile back:

  21. T

    Brendon and others, please read my first post or go to the following link in regards to the “European Heart Network position piece: Impact of saturated fat on cardiovascular disease obscured by over-adjustment in recent meta-analysis”, which explains about some of the major flaws and omissions in the recent meta-analysis showing no relationship between saturated fat and heart. Jeremiah Stamler, M.D., stated in a editorial that: “An examination of the forest plots provided in the article shows that those cohort studies that did not adjust for serum cholesterol levels were more likely to find a positive association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease, suggesting that a meta‐analysis of unadjusted data would likely produce positive results.”. This study was funded by the National Dairy Council, dairy being the number one contributor of saturated fat in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. It was also conveniently published just before the USDA lowered the dietary recommendations of saturated fat for the first time in 20 years, from 10% to 7% of total calories.

    In regards to safety of carbohydrate restricted diets and favorable changes to lipid profile:

    In the only study that actually measured the underlying heart disease (rather than relying on risk factors such as cholesterol) in patients on low carbohydrate using nuclear imaging technology (SPECT scans), the low carbohydrate group showed an average decrease of 39.7% blood-flow to the heart over the period of 12 months. However, patients in the low saturated fat plant based group had an average increase of over 40% blood-flow over the same period and were reversing their heart disease.

    In one study the researches stated that “One person on the low-carbohydrate diet was hospitalized with noncardiac chest pain during the third month of the study. Two persons in the low-carbohydrate group died, including one who died of complications of hyperosmolar coma 5 months into the study and another who had severe ischemic cardiomyopathy and died suddenly 10 months after study enrollment. Laboratory values obtained 14 days before this person’s death showed no electrolyte abnormalities.”* Electrocardiograms (ECGs) do not measure heart disease as accurately as a SPECT scan or an autopsy would. Researchers in another study stated that “47% (n=166) of the events during follow-up occurred in patients with a “normal” exercise ECG, emphasising the limitations of ECGs for risk assessment.”** This also suggests that the accuracy of the electrodiagrams used in the 1960’s field study that measured heart disease in the Masai (referred to by Mr. Naughton) would have been very poor.

    In another study, despite statistically significant weight loss reported in the Atkins group, every single cardiac risk factor measured worsened after a year on the Atkins Diet (measures included LDL, triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL, total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio, homocysteine, Lp(a), and fibrinogen). While the LDL in the Atkins group increased 6%, the LDL cholesterol levels in the whole-foods plant based group was cut in half—dropping 52%.

    As I said in the post, you can cherry-pick all you want, but unless the results are consistent and repeatable, they’re not scientifically valid. Or as my brother suggested, you can just call out “number 37!” and we’ll all have a good laugh.

    1. Alicia

      The funny part is that if you click the “” link you find a study whose abstract (there was a pay wall for the full thing) concludes that a low carb diet is better than the conventional one.
      Also curious how many health events there were for the control group…

  22. T

    In a study funded by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation, the researches stated that “However, 2 participants in the low-carbohydrate diet group dropped out of the study because of concerns about elevated serum lipid levels. In 1 participant, the LDL cholesterol level increased from 4.75 mmol/L (184 mg/dL) at baseline to 7.31 mmol/L (283 mg/dL) at 3 months. One participant dropped out after a local physician measured her serum lipids 4 weeks into the study; her LDL cholesterol level was 4.70 mmol/L (182 mg/dL) at baseline and increased to 5.66 mmol/L (219 mg/dL).”

    In a study funded by the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine conducted on healthy volunteers, the researches stated that “At some point during the 24 weeks, 28 subjects (68%) reported constipation, 26 (63%) reported bad breath, 21 (51%) reported headache, 4 (10%) noted hair loss, and 1 women (1%) reported increased menstrual bleeding.”

    Here is part of one of my previous posts that seemed to have been deleted (perhaps not intentionally), in regards to weight loss and favorable changes to lipids on Atkins type diets.

    “A meta-analysis of 70 studies showed a strong relationship between favorable changes to lipid profiles (including total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides) with weight-loss. [4]*
    The relationship between weight loss and favorable changes to lipid profiles can also be seen in studies on patients who undergo cancer chemotherapy. One study showed that compared to breast cancer patients not undergoing cancer chemotherapy “plasma lipids, phospholipids, triglycerides, cholesterol and free fatty acids levels were all lower in blood obtained from CMF [chemotherapy] treated breast cancer patients. HDL-cholesterol level were significantly increased in these patients”. [5]
    These studies show that it is not necessarily that health properties of cancer chemotherapy or a carbohydrate restricted diet cause favorable changes to lipid profiles, but rather that it is in despite of it.”

    It is therefore not uncommon to find that groups that lose more weight to have a more favorable change in lipid profile despite the type of diet consumed. Another reason that the patients on the low-carbohydrate diet have favorable changes to their lipid profile is because they are generally given cholesterol lowering supplements such as fish oil. People seek calorie dense foods, and because both of these types of diets do not generally promote the consumption of foods with a low calorie density and a high micronutrient density, patients do not consume large amounts of foods that have a negative calorie effect (food that require more energy to digest than contain energy) such as cruciferous vegetables. Patients in both groups are more than likely consuming calorie dense, low nutrient food and therefore neither diet is truly healthful nor are the benefits as great as the ones seen in other studies. Patients on low fat diets in the majority (not all) of these types of studies typically consume about 30% calories from fat, which is several-fold of that consumed traditionally in the Okinawan diet (6% fat in 1949, which is however dangerously low).

    In a recent study of over half a million people, the researchers came to the following conclusion: “Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.”

    Lipid panels for people on low-carb diets tend to overestimate LDL because of the Freidewald equation, which isn’t accurate when triglycerides are below 100, which is often the case with low-carb diets. (Mine were at 70 last time I had them checked.) In one case, a man whose LDL was calculated at 175 had the real LDL test, which produced a score of 125.

    1. Alicia

      As I think you mentioned elsewhere, cholesterol and triglycerides often have a brief spike at the beginning of a real-food diet. A low animal fat high sugar (American) diet will tend to cause fatty liver. Restoring animal fat will correct the choline deficiency causing fat and cholesterol to be stashed in the liver, causing it to flood the blood. Only if blood levels remain high for a longer period should they be considered medically significant. These people may have quit their real-food diet because it was healing the effects of the SAD diet they’d been on!

  23. T

    Interesting statistics were taken during the period of 1940 to 1945, when the Norwegians saw a 50% decrease in heart disease during the occupation of the Axis forces, who which removed the large majority of their livestock, causing a diminishing consumption of animal based foods. It took only two years from the reintroduction of an animal-based diet for the Norwegians to see the same stroke and heart attack rate seen prior to the war.* There was not only a great disappearance of atherosclerosis in Norway, but also in other Axis occupied countries such as Belgium, Holland and Poland during the war years.
    * Strom A, Jensen RA. Mortality from circulatory disease in Norway 1940-1945. Lancet 1951:1:126-129 , ,

    Which brings me to a question, out of all the studies carried out on patients on low carbohydrate diets, how many patients have ever managed to achieve such a favorable changes to their lipid profile that Tom Naughton apparently saw in the period of only one month with minimal weight loss when he was on his saturated fat pig-out? (total cholesterol decreased from 222 mg/dl to 209 mg/dl, and LDL-C decreased from 156 mg/dl to 130 mg/dl). In a slightly more extreme study that examined the effects of an exclusive meat diet, the researches stated that one patient “had a maximum [serum cholesterol] of 800 mg. per 100 cc. on one occasion. This increase did not persist after the meat diet was discontinued and is therefore to be attributed to the large quantity of ingested fat.”

    It seems that both I and Tom Naughton agree that native populations such as the Masai and Inuit have evidence of atherosclerosis vascular disease in the relatively young, but he does not see this as a cause for concern. It also seems that we both agree that a very acidic diet like the one consumed by the Inuit will also lead to osteoporosis in the young, and that alkaline food including fruits, vegetables and nuts protect against osteoporosis. We also would probably both agree that removing baked processed carbohydrates foods would help to reduce carcinogens (cancer causing substances) such as acrylamides. Although I am sure he does not see a problem with other known carcinogens that are found in the food he believes to be “health enhancing” such as meat cooked at a high temperature which are known to contain many types of carcinogens such as benzo(a)pyrene (also found in cigarettes), and carcinogens found in processed meat such as heterocyclic amines.

    Uffe Ravnskov and Malcom Kendrick have both looked into the changes in diet during WWII. Bottom line is that people ate far less of everything, including sugar.

    1. Alicia

      No. They ate more fish. Also, gasoline was rationed, so people got more exercise. More fish, less sugar, more exercise. Sounds like a good start on improving most people’s health!

  24. T

    In a search through centenarian studies, it can be seen that centenarians are on average very lean, with the men almost being exclusively lean, as well as having low average serum and LDL cholesterol, low levels of IGF-1 and high anti-oxidant levels. The parts of the world with the highest centenarian prevalence rates are Okinawa of Japan and Sardinia in the Mediterranean. In the Okinawan Centenarian Study, the centenarians had an average BMI of between 18 and 22, a total cholesterol of 166.1 mg/dl, triglycerides 108.3, LDL-C 102.4 and HDL-C 49.8. In a further break down in a study of Okinawan Centenarians, the group between the ages of 108-111 had an average BMI of 17.43, a total cholesterol of 160.9 mg/dl, LDL 87.4, HDL 50.1 and triglycerides 92.5. The long-lived Okinawans are also known for their short stature, regular practise of calorie restriction and also having very clean coronary arties (although atherosclerosis is found in the aorta). The elderly Okinawans do see a small reduction of BMI and serum cholesterol as they age, however still maintain a similar weight and average serum cholesterol seen in Okinawa during their youth. Taking a look back at the traditional diet the centenarians would have been eating during their youth, the U.S. National Archives statistics for Okinawa in 1949 showed that they ate 1785 calories a day, with 85% calories derived from carbohydrate, 9% from protein, and 6% from fat and only 3.7 grams of saturated fat. Fish consumption was on average 15 grams a day, meat (including poultry) was 3 grams, eggs 1 gram, 1133mg sodium, legumes 71 grams, and nearly 1000 grams of vegetables (though largely from sweet potatoes).* Pork is consumed in much more significant quantities in recent decades, however before the socioeconomic status of Okinawa significantly increased, pork was more of a ceremonial type food and was not consumed frequently.
    • *
    In the Tokyo Centenarian Study, that studied 24 males and 67 females, there was an average BMI of 19.2, total cholesterol 163 mg/dl, HDL-C 46.2 mg/dl and IGF-1 (mcg/dl) 65.2. In studies from other parts of the world that have a lower centenarian prevalence rate, higher average BMI, and serum cholesterol can be observed, however can still considered relatively low. Some of the other studies on centenarians include the New England Centenarian Study and the Italian Multicentric Study on Centenarians. It is interesting that the numbers associated with risk factors seen in the people who live the longest are the types of numbers the so-called experts in Fat Head claim to be unhealthy. On another note, Ancel Keys actually became a centenarian before he passed away in 2004.
    I have already viewed graphs showing the average serum cholesterol in various nations in comparison to the average life expectancy, and I cannot emphasize enough that the nations that live longer have a higher socioeconomic status and thus better health care.

    Okinawan Centenarian Studies:
    Tokyo Centenarian Study (tables in English):

    1. Adinda

      I see so far nobody has told you about what is good for your heart. I can tell you for sure to ignroe the previous posts. Your diet would depend to some degree on the type of heart problem you are beginning to have. But generally, you need a diet low in saturated fats, and that means fatty meats, lard, and any fat that is solid at room temperature, including butter. There are some fats that are heart healthy and the main one is extra virgin olive oil. Other than that, look for cold water fish, like salmon and mackerel. Avoid fried foods. Avoid salt. Don’t add any salt to anything while cooking or at the table. A rule of thumb is to limit salt to 2 grams a day. You can get the sodium content per portion of everything you eat from the nutrition label on food products. One gram has 1000 mgs in it. If you have high blood pressure, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not you should limit the fluids you drink in a day. You need to do that if you have congestive heart failure as well. Avoid full fat anything. That means for all the foods you buy and eat, buy low or no fat versions. Eggs are OK in moderation and it is generally not a safe practice to eat them raw, as someone suggested. Boiled or poached is best. It’s been recommended that we eat only 30% of our daily caloric intake as fats, but if you are male, you can go way lower than that. It is impossible to eliminate fats totally from your diet, which is why you need to make sure you are eating only the fats that have a cardiac benefit and avoiding the ones that don’t. If you are female and of child-bearing age, you need a minimum of 18% fat for proper hormonal metabolism. Otherwise, you can go lower than that, too. How do you know what % of fat you are consuming? On every nutrition label, you will see how many grams of fat are in a serving. Multiply that number by 9, because every gram of fat contains 9 calories. Then divide the number you get by the number of calories in the serving. You will be dividing a larger number into a smaller number, and that’s why you will end up with a decimal point in the answer. For example: let’s say you are eating something with 5 grams of fat per serving. 5 x 9 = 45. Let’s say this item has 100 calories. 45 divided by 100 = 0.45, or 45%. That item would be too fattening. Aim for at least well under 30%. That should be a beginning for you. Good luck.There is somebody here advocating a high fat diet and what they don’t understand is that even if some fats, like the monounsaturated ones I mentioned do have a positive and protective effect on the heart, any diet high in fats (over 30%) will cause the heart to work harder. Why? Because whether cholesterol clogs arteries or not, being overweight causes the heart to work more. It simply has larger volume of body mass to send blood to. And a diet high in fats will make you fat. Period. There are a group of people online these days who are trying very hard to get people to eat a lot of saturated fats because they say there is research that backs up it is protective of the heart but they leave out about half the data, that the studies specifically mentioned fats from cold water fish as the protective ones for human hearts and they ignroe the simple mechanics of the heart’s having to pump blood to miles more blood vessels when someone is obese and how that wears out heart tissue. Go with what you know and ignroe those who seem to have an agenda all their own, like maybe getting published. They do a lot of damage, and try all the time to shut me up when I point out the flaws in their research data. Good luck to you.So one person once had a bad reaction to Lipitor and now, that poster below has decided I’m all wrong. This someone who plainly states on his profile page that he hates pharmaceutical companies. Well so much for logical thinking here. Decades of clinical research down the drain because a pharmacist disagrees with it. There are some people here asserting very dangerous data, based on skewed research, and also interpreted in a skewed way, who keep saying we should eat all the fat we want I say they, including that pharmacist below me, must be cardiovascular surgeons, out to find a wave of future patients So sad they are willing to risk your life and health to make a buck for themselves down the road. Don’t listen to people who are telling you to eat a high fat diet. One bad reaction from one pharmacist, who hates drug companies passionately enough to post that online, has not a clue, nor the appropriate training to state whether a nutritional study is legit or not. Pharmacists study medications, not the intricate interactions of diet and heart disease or how to research the two. And even if Lipitor were somehow found to be totally wrong for everyone all the time (which isn’t going to happen), that still would have NO impact on whether or not fat is good or bad for heart health. There is no logical connection there.

      So you’re preaching the same standard advice: low-fat, low-salt, take your statins, etc. Thanks for the effort, but I can promise you my readers are laughing at you right about now.

  25. T

    In regards to weight and life expectancy, studies clearly show the slimmest people live longer. In a paper from the Harvard Nurses Health Study with data on 115,195 U.S. women, the researchers concluded that “Body weight and mortality from all causes were directly related among these middle-aged women. Lean women did not have excess mortality. The lowest mortality rate was observed among women who weighed at least 15 percent less than the U.S. average for women of similar age and among those whose weight had been stable since early adulthood.” The researchers in a 27-year follow-up of 19,297 middle-age men also similarly concluded that “Body weight and mortality from all causes were directly related among these middle-aged women. Lean women did not have excess mortality. The lowest mortality rate was observed among women who weighed at least 15 percent less than the U.S. average for women of similar age and among those whose weight had been stable since early adulthood.”
    Studies that measure the BMI towards the end of life may show a higher mortality rate among people with a low BMI as there is a tendency to lose weight before death due to pre-existing conditions and depression, as well treatments such as cancer chemotherapy, all which can inhibit hunger. However studies that measure BMI over the entire life-span (or at least adult life-span) show a strong correlation between an average low BMI and long-livity. These studies suggest that government recommendations in regards to healthy BMI and serum cholesterol may be too permissive rather than being too strict.

    In regards to Mr. Naughton’s statements about the Mormons living longer than the Adventists, it seems that the statistics were sourced from a study of 9815 religiously active California Mormon adults over a 25 year period ending in 2004.
    The data was limited to those people “which emphasizes a strong family life, education and abstention from tobacco and alcohol”. For these people the “Life expectancy from age 25 [not birth] was 84 years for males and 86 years for females.”
    The Adventist data I previous described, only covered statistics up to 1988, while this Mormon data is up until 2004. During this time period between 1988 and 2004, there was a life expectancy increase of 2.6 from 74.8 to 77.4 in the U.S.. Considering that the life expectancy for the vegetarian Adventist from age 30 (not 25) was 83.3 for men and 85.7 for women, this would regulate an adjustment for life expectancy of approximately an additional 2 years for the Adventist data, which would clearly put the Mormons behind.
    However, since many people are not born into the religion, the statistics I stated did not describe life long vegetarians. When the data was limited to those Adventists who were vegetarians for at least half their lives, the data showed that they lived 13 years longer than non-smoking Californians.*
    * Ruckner C., and J. Hoffman. 1991. The Seventh-Day Adventist diet. New York: Random House, 1991.

    Well, gee, I guess that proves it. Since according to your preferred dataset the beef-eating Mormons “only” lived into their 80s, I should give up meat immediately. Look at how those beef-eaters are dropping dead in the prime of their middle age.

    Do you even recognize the absurd lengths to which you’re going here? Try to get this through your thick vegan head: I lived on the Oh So Holy Plant-Based Diet you’re busy pushing like an annoying Jehovah’s Witness trying to get me to read the Watchtower. I was fat, sick, and fatigued. Now I live on something close to a Paleo diet, and I’m energetic, strong, and never sick. Do you really think you’re going to convince me that in spite of being fat, sick and fatigued on a vegetarian diet, I would live longer if I’d just stick with it? (Do fat, sick, fatigued people have longer life expectancies?) Do you really believe if you can dig up a different study somewhere that “proves” the vegetarian Adventists outlive the beef-eating Mormons by a wee bit, I’ll go back to the diet that made me fat, sick and fatigued in hopes that I might live to be a fat, sick and fatigued 83-year-old?

    If you believe that, you’re mentally unhealthy. If you don’t believe that, what do you think you’re accomplishing with all your cherry-picked arguments?

  26. T

    The paper from the Oxford-EPIC study I believe Mr. Naughton was probably referring to (as it is cited by other low carbohydrate advocates) in regards to life expectancy in vegetarian and non-vegetarians as well as rates of various cancers, is a paper titled “Mortality in British vegetarians: review and preliminary results from EPIC-Oxford”. This study compared the statistics from The Health Food Shoppers Study and the Oxford Vegetarian Study. The researchers came to the following conclusion: “The mortality of both the vegetarians and the nonvegetarians in these studies is low compared with national rates. Within the studies, mortality for major causes of death was not significantly different between vegetarians and nonvegetarians, but the nonsignificant reduction in mortality from ischemic heart disease among vegetarians was compatible with the significant reduction previously reported in a pooled analysis of mortality in Western vegetarians.”

    This study showed that the health shoppers (who seek health), have similar low mortality rates as the average British vegetarian (who which only some seek health while others consume large amounts of processed junk foods like white bread) than compared to the rest of the (omnivorous) population. Therefore this data suggests that people on a plant based diet that seek health would have an even lower mortality rate.

    Most people in the West who follow plant-based diets (not necessarily strict vegetarians), change to these diets later in life, and therefore there are few studies that show the benefits of a life-long vegetarian diet. We also do not see significant differences for various types of cancer, especially hormonal cancers which are those cancers that are significantly impacted by diets consumed before and in youth when the greatest amount hormonal activity is occurring. Below is 60 year follow-up study showing a strong relationship between an increased fruit and vegetable intake earlier in life and a decreased cancer occurrence later in life.

    Linda McCartney was well into her 30’s when she adopted her vegetarian diet, and therefore dying from breast (hormonal) cancer should not be considered surprising. Diets may not be able to reverse cancers that have already formed, however dietary changes have been shown to increase the chance of cancer survival. One study published by Dean Ornish, M.D., actually showed a reduction in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) among men with prostate cancer on his plant based diet, allowing all of these patients to avoid the surgery that they originally required.

    In order to see the true benefits of plant based diets we need to look at the statistics in countries that have traditionally eaten this way. For example, when compared to the United States, both Laos and Thailand had only one-twentieth occurrence of breast cancer in the age group between 50 and 75.* Studies also show that while Asian born Asians have only a fraction of breast cancer seen in U.S Caucasians, U.S. born Asians have similar rates of breast cancer as the U.S. Caucasians, showing that their traditional dietary and life style factors is what made the difference. **

    *Doll R, Muir C, Waterhouse J. International Union Against Cancer (UICC) Cancer Incidence in five continents. Vol VI, Lyon 1997.

    Dean Ornish’s “plant-based diet” is also a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates. See any confounding variables there?

    I see your point. You’re saying since I’m already in my 50s, it’s useless for me to adopt your plant-based lifestyle, since 20 years of it didn’t save Linda McCartney from cancer and therefore won’t save me. I guess that means you can stop trying to convince me now.

  27. T

    Regarding the chart showing relationship between cholesterol and deaths from heart disease, I would strongly like to emphasize that occurrence of heart disease and dying from heart disease are two completely different things. People from nations with a lower socioeconomic status have less access to advance treatments which is why there is an increased likelihood of dying from the disease, as well as a much shorter time period between developing heart disease and dying from it when compared to people from nations with a higher socioeconomic status. In other words people in richer nations have a higher heart disease survival rate. We would see many countries with a lower socioeconomic status in the upper section of the chart if the names of the country had not been removed (I have viewed similar charts before). Another problem with this chart, is that it does not reflect average life-time cholesterol. An example of this would be the Japanese who had significantly lower average cholesterol several decades ago, which is one of the reason Japanese suffer from relatively low rates of heart disease despite currently having a moderately high average serum cholesterol. This is sometimes referred to as the“time lag hypothesis”, which is seen in other parts of the world including France.* Statistics showing dietary consumption of animal fat and serum cholesterol concentration in developed nations do actually show a strong correlation between mortality from heart disease. ** Another problem with the data of the French is that “French doctors tend to certify some (such as those caused by heart failure and other late complications of myocardial infarction) as poorly specified causes.”*
    • * ,
    • **

    If am sure that leading experts do not think highly of the low carbohydrate crowds over-simplistic observations of statistics. If we take Mr. Naughtons over-simplistic observations to compare cigarette consumption and lung cancer in different nations, we would again see results showing no strong positive correlation:

    There are many reasons why deaths from heart disease are a lot higher now than 100 years ago. One of the obvious reasons is that in 1910 is that the average life span was only 48.4 for men and 51.8 for women. According to the American Heart Association “Over 83 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older”. Despite this fact, out of the 696,856 deaths reported in the United States in 1910, 75,429 were from disease of the heart, and this was the year that heart disease became the number one killer.* As life expectancy increased by reducing infectious diseases and reducing childhood deaths, heart disease became more apparent. Also since then, other heart disease risk factors have increased, included air pollution, lower vitamin D levels, a sedentary life-style and very importantly an increase in obesity. In a study from The Harvard Nurses Health Study carried out on 115,886 U.S. women, the data showed that a greater weight was correlated with an increase in coronary heart disease. The researches also stated that “After control for cigarette smoking, which is essential to assess the true effects of obesity, even mild-to-moderate overweight increased the risk of coronary disease in middle-aged women.” Another paper from the Nurses Health Study with 115,818 women also confirmed a strong relationship with an increase in BMI and coronary heart disease and concluded that “Higher levels of body weight within the “normal” range, as well as modest weight gains after 18 years of age, appear to increase risks of CHD in middle-aged women.”

    I once checked insurance tables from 150 years ago. The “average lifespan” was skewed by infant deaths and childhood deaths. If you lived past age 30, the odds of making it to 70 were nearly as high as today. Look at some of the Founders of the country: Thomas Jefferson – 83. Ben Franklin – 84. James Madison – 85. John Adams – 91. George Washington (bled to death by his doctor) – 67. Sam Adams – 81. John Jay – 83. The theory that heart disease was rare because most people only lived to be 48 and therefore didn’t have a chance to develop heart disease is absurd. If you lived past age 30, the odds were very good you’d live long enough.

    France, where people consume much more saturated fat, has a much lower rate of heart disease than Britain or the U.S. (which has the best emergency care in the world; even the UN admits that). Same goes for Switzerland — high-fat diet, low rate of heart disease. All are modern countries. Try explaining those paradoxes away by differences in medical care. (Nice attempt to explain away the French Paradox by questioning the ability of French doctors to diagnose a cause of death, but I doubt that one. And given the Swiss reputation for insistence on precision in all things, good luck suggesting they’re sloppy when assigning a cause of death.)

    I would certainly expect overweight people to have higher rates of heart disease, because sugar and refined carbohydrates both make us fat and encourage plaque growth. That has nothing to do with animal fats.

    As for heart disease and animal fats, let me try explaining this again, since you didn’t get it the first time: I don’t care how many cherry-picked studies you want to quote, if the same results don’t show up time after time, there’s no scientific validity. You seem to have convinced yourself that if you can just cherry-pick a few more, I’m going to slap myself in the head and say, “Oh my gosh, I was wrong all along! The foods we’ve been eating for hundreds of thousand of years do cause heart disease after all!” (And of course, I’ll also decide that all the ailments I suffered in my vegetarian grain-eating days — psoraisis, gastric reflux, athritis, irritable bowel, steady weight gain, fatigue, etc. — were just my imagination … or, to use the vegan zealot’s favorite retort, I wasn’t giving up meat in “the correct” way.)

    As science philosopher Karl Popper explained, if your theory is that all swans are white, it’s invalid as soon as a black swan appears, even if you can point to 100 white swans. Here are are just a few black swans to fly in the face of your theory that all swans are white:

    BMJ 1965; 1: 1531-1533. Men who had already had one heart attack were assigned to one of three study groups. These were given polyunsaturated corn oil, monounsaturated olive oil or saturated animal fats respectively. Blood cholesterol levels were lowered by an average of 30% in the polyunsaturated group, while there was no change in the other two groups. At first sight, therefore, it seemed that men in the polyunsaturated group would have the best chance of survival. However, at the end of the trial only 52% of the polyunsaturated group were still alive and free of a second heart attack. Those in the monounsaturated group fared little better: 57% survived and had no further attack. But the saturated animal fats group fared the best with 75% surviving and without a further attack.

    1950s, PRUDENT diet study. One group of men ate a high-fat diet, the second group switched to low-fat diet, limiting fat intake to mostly vegetable oils. In round one, no deaths in the high-fat group, eight deaths in the low-fat vegetable oil group, despite lowering their choleterol an average of 30 points. In round two, involving thousands of men for three years, there was no difference in the heart attack rate.

    1957, Western Electric Trial. Investigators tracked diets and coronary disease rates. No difference between the groups after 20 years, but after four years, more men in the low-fat group had developed heart disease.

    1960s, MRFIT trial. Thousands of men from several countries assigned to a control arm or an intervention arm, which included a low-fat diet and limited red meat. No difference in heart-disease rates after several years.

    1965 study, The Lancet. Intervention group limited animal-foods intake to three ounces of meat, one egg, and two ounces of skim milk. Cholesterol dropped 30 points, but heart-attack rate was the same as in the control group.

    1969 Minnesota Coronary Trial. Intervention group given diet high in vegetable fats, very low in saturated fat, plus extra vegetables. Among men, the intervention group had a slightly lower rate of heart disease, but among women the intervention group experience a higher rate of heart disease. Overall, a higher rate of heart disease was found in the intervention group.

    Those are just a few of many, many studies in which diets that limited animal fats or meats failed to produce any improvements in heart-disease rates. Now add in the fact that the Surgeon General’s Office set out in 1988 to review all the studies and prove the Lipid Hypothesis, but abandoned the effort after 11 years and 100 million dollars spent, calling the results “inconclusive.” That’s in spite of the fact that one of the researchers admitted they went into the effort with a “preconceived notion” that the Lipid Hypothesis was true. Even biased researchers couldn’t make it stick.

    So once again (try to grasp the concept this time), you can cherry-pick all you want, but when there are black swans all over the place, your theory that all swans are white is invalid, no matter how many of them you point out. That’s what people interested in real science understand, but zealots choose to ignore. If saturated animal caused heart disease, those clinical intervention studies wouldn’t have been “inconclusive” and the French and the Swiss would have high rates of heart disease.

    Not consistent, not repeatable, not scientifically valid.

  28. PHK

    sorry me again,

    what is the unit of y axis (death rate per some number of people)?

    or better yet, where can i down load the WHO data?

    cause it looks like y = 1/x may be a better fit.



    Coronary Heart Disease deaths per 100,000 people.

  29. Leah

    What I never understand about vegetarians like the above arguing that they “respect all forms of life” is that they seem to respect all life forms save other humans who don’t agree with them. How does one live with the cognitive dissonance in that philosophy?
    Oh, and, for the record, I’ve taken master’s level courses in psychology, so by the above’s standards, I am an expert in the field.

  30. Brian C

    Rock on Tom!
    My father in law passed away (cancer) about 10 years before my own father (smoking). My father in law was into health food before it was the big craze (60’s and earlier). Vegetarian for many years. My dad in contrast ate the steak potatoes diet.

    Even my father in law laughed about the ways some in the health industry want the same for everyone…..

  31. Dani

    Leah, I definitely agree with you re: respecting all forms of life. It seems that the one animal species that the Evangelical Vegans (if that’s what we’re calling them) do NOT resepect is…the human. Even MEAL claimed that he was vegan for ethical/moral reasons, than health reasons. You see, cows and pigs and chickens need to live long, healthy lives, but humans can’t be afforded such luxury. We should live miserably so that the other animals can live well.

    Nope, doesn’t work for me. I’ll admit that I’m selfish (which is what MEAL really wanted, right?); I want to live well, be healthy, raise my (theoretical) kids, and live to see as much of the world as I can. Damn right I’m selfish.

    If you’re living, something else is dying to keep you that way. Whether you want to admit it or not.

  32. Voni

    I’ve only just discovered this blog – where were you 4 years ago when I picked up the book “Skinny Bitch” and immediately decided that I HAD to become a vegetarian? I was already lean enough, but vanity and stupidity took over and for 9 months of living off pasta, bread, rice pulses and fruit & Veg I gained 18kg! Yep, that’s right, for all you Americans out there, that’s 39.6 lbs – and on my small frame (162 cms) that was a lot. My hair stopped growing, started falling out, my nails became brittle, my depression increased to a point where I was contemplating suicide (no kidding) I was constantly ill, I ended up with two viruses, one after the other, both of them had to be treated with steroids and mega doses of antibiotics. As soon as I felt well enough, I said to my husband “ENOUGH! I’ve only (in the last 6 weeks) discovered FAT, ooh, so good, no more cravings, gas or bloat, my abs are popping even though the scales show no change, my waist is tiny – 58 cms and my hair seems to be growing like wildfire.

    I’m halfway through all your posts, they are so entertaining, I hope that Australia will embrace you like NZ has! We are lucky here in Oz, quality grass fed meat is plentiful, my local butcher is biodynamic as well, and smokes his own ham and bacon (Nitrate free) My 9 year old daughter is weaning herself off sugar (once a week it’s allowed!) and I’m constantly bombarding her with facts and statistics, which I hope will sink in before she starts sucking down Red bull in an attempt to stay up all night to study.

    Thank you

    Welcome back to real food and real health.

  33. Allison

    The general feeling I get from T (and vegetarians in general) is best summarized in my paraphrase of a famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

    “The vegetarian doth protest too much, methinks.”

    Why does he feel the need to continually come back to a pro-animal fat, pro-meat blog and fight you on all this? Who is he really trying to convince that the vegetarian/vegan way of eating is best? You? Us? … or himself? Seems like if he really believed his way of eating is best, he’d just do it and stop trying to convince the world he’s right.

    Though, this analysis could just be the libertarian in me getting annoyed.

    On a happy note, I’ll be rendering my own lard from pig fat I buy from the farmers market for the first time this weekend. Mmmmm.

    They’re like religious zealots. They can’t stand it that anyone anywhere doesn’t share their beliefs.

  34. Liz

    T’s posts are fine. I like seeing both sides of the argument. I dont really know what I am supposed to eat anymore. I know whole foods its the way to go. I think high fat moderate to low protein and carb. Lightly cooked (meat) or raw (veggies). Kitavans seem supremely healthy, and they eat saturated fat and fish daily. According to theory they should be dying of heart disease and stroke, but are not. I think theres more to it than saturated fat is evil, meat is evil avoid at all costs. All ancient groups of people had animal foods in one way or another. Insects, grazers, milk, fish, birds. Theres hardly any vegan animals at all, since herbivores consume insects without noticing.

  35. David Walters

    What is clear to me is that NONE of the long lived societies where Centenarians are more common than in 99% of other societies are based on veganism. Seventh Day Adventists, not all of whom are vegetarians, are vegans. Both among Ecuadorian Centenarians (and here is IS likely a combination of genetics and altitude with their massive think marrow filled bones) and Georgians all are not vegans but part-time vegetarians. Okinawan EAT FISH and among the those over 100 years of age, simply eat *low quantities* of animal proteins. And that, my friends, is the key. Avoid the excessive “American style” diet and you will, without a doubt, live a lot a longer.

    I love the worlds foods too much to give up anyone item. However, I feel better, always, when eating less carbs, less calories generally, and less red meats. I feel BETTER when I eat slower, small quantities of anything and everything. I particularly FLOURISH when eating seafood of which no quantity seems too large. That’s me.

    Humans have almost always eaten meat. We can clearly survive eating vast quantities of it. But we live longer and we live better when we eat much less of it and vary the animal proteins between fowl, mammal and sea creatures (and might as well throw in insects since its in vogue these days). Anyone can find a study to back up their favorite way of eating.

    My suggestion is to live your life the way it feels best for you using whatever criteria you can come up with that makes sense to YOU. Don’t over indulge. Don’t let others tell you how to live your life.

  36. Nancy Wheeler

    My suggestion is be vegan; have compassion for sentient beings hat have the same nervous system and feel pain in the same degree as animal humans. If you love your dog or cat and are against killing dogs and cats, think about the other animals that tremble in fear before the knife in the same way you would if a knife was pointed at your throat. Animals have not done anything to hurt us, why would you contribute to their suffering????? Think about that, and put yourself in their place. Be compassionate and kind to animals and this world will be a better place. Compassion starts on our plates. I am vegan and I go to bed every night with peace of mind knowing that I have not contributed to any animal suffering. Amen.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Snooooooze ….

      If you think your vegan diet means no creatures suffered or were killed to feed you, it just proves you’re entirely ignorant about how food is grown and produced — even vegan food. Enjoy your blissful ignorance. But if you’d rather not be ignorant, read the sections of “The Vegetarian Myth” that explain how many critters are killed during the process of farming those soybeans.

      As Ms. Keith puts it, it’s not ethics that separates her from moralist vegans. It’s knowledge.

      I tried that fear-and-trembling, have-some-compassion, same-nervous-system arguments on the racoons who were tearing the throats out of my chickens. They didn’t listen, so I shot the little bastards.

  37. Daniele

    “Find me a culture, now or in the past, where people subsisted on a diet high in animal foods and animal fats but consumed little or no sugar and flour, yet had high rates of heart disease and cancer. ”

    Here’s a good summary on research of people who had traditional high protein diets.
    This Inuit are a population who are plagued by heart disease and get most of their needs from animal products

    The Masai also suffer from atherosclerosis , but because most die young and they run 19km per day have lower heart disease incident than older and more sedentary American populations

    “They had disease (coronary intimal thickening) on par with older American men. Over 80% of the men over age 40 had severe fibrosis in their aorta, the main blood vessel from the heart that supplies the rest of the body with blood. Yet there were no heart attacks shown on autopsy and these men still had functional heart vessels without blockages because their vessels had become larger. Researchers thought this might have been related to their rather extreme daily physical activity.”

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Nice try. What does this mean to you?

      Yet there were no heart attacks shown on autopsy and these men still had functional heart vessels without blockages because their vessels had become larger.

      No heart attacks means no heart disease. As for the fibrosis, you quoted a section stating that they run 19 km per day. Now read this:

      However, long-term excessive endurance exercise may induce pathologic structural remodeling of the heart and large arteries.

      I’m sure you’d love to blame the animal foods, but it appears to be all that running that caused the fibrosis.

      And did you miss this part about the Inuits as well?

      Certainly significant amounts of bread and sugar were consumed as long ago as 40-50 years ago, at least as documented by trading post activity.

      Yes, when you take a traditional high-fat diet and add bread and sugar, you will get disease. That’s why I specified people who consume little or nor sugar or flour.


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