File this one under You just made my day … I received this email from someone who recently watched Fat Head:

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I’m sure you get plenty of hate mail and plenty of love mail, but I wonder how much you hear from nutritionists whose minds you’ve changed. I’m a nutritional consultant (and a 6-year vegan/vegetarian), and I’ve gotta say… your movie totally blew me away. I went into it FULLY expecting to disagree with it from the very beginning. I was expecting to watch a few minutes, find key misinformation, and use that as an excuse to disregard & stop watching the film. Instead, I continued avidly watching, absorbing, and had an ‘aha’ moment of clarity & understanding that you were totally right.

I’m amazed that you were able to convince me to change my mind. I’m the crazy health nut among my friends & family, so they will be totally bamboozled to hear my stance has changed. I salute you for taking the time to create this much-needed documentary, and I can only hope that nutritionists & health teachers catch on. Today I have to create individualized diet plans for four of my clients, and your movie has completely changed what I’m going to recommend for them. I’m blown away, and I feel like I need a moment (a day, a week) to let this all sink in, to let it… saturate :)

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I told her in my reply that I was impressed she remained open-minded while watching the film, since vegetarianism can be a like a religion to some people.   Thinking about it later, I was even more impressed that she was willing to reverse the advice she’s been giving out as part of her job.  As explained in the wonderful book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), it’s difficult psychologically to reverse strong positions we’ve taken publicly.

She wrote back:

Oh my diet was definitely a religion for me, to the point where I developed an unhealthy obsession with health! I’m so glad to be back in a place of balance, and my clients will definitely benefit more from my new viewpoints (which began because of your film).

Yes, that sound you hear coming from the middle of Tennessee is me patting myself on the back.  But the little ego boost aside, I’m delighted to know people who’ve spent years promoting meatless and low-fat diets as the key to health can change their minds.

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71 Responses to “A Vegetarian Nutritionist Changes Her Mind”
  1. Mike says:

    Hey Tom,

    This is kind of off topic, but I figure I’ll get a faster response if I post on one of your recent entries. I have a question concerning cottonseed oil. Nuts are my favorite snack, and some of the ones I buy are roasted in it. Is this healthy to consume regularly, or should I try to avoid it?

    Keep up the great work.

    - Mike

    I prefer to avoid cottonseed oil. Do you happen to have a Costco nearby? They have a nice variety of nuts that are dry-roasted. The ingredient list reads: nuts.

  2. Amy Dungan says:

    What a fantastic letter! It’s great to see people finally getting it – and a nutritionist no less! She’ll be able to put that knowledge to good use and help so many people. Simply fantastic. Sending you back pats from Illinois. :)

    I received another one yesterday that put a lump in my throat. I may post that one this weekend.

  3. Firebird says:

    “The ingredient list reads: nuts”

    Saw that outside a mental health facility once. ;)

    Oh, you’re going to catch it for that one …

    We should post the same ingredients list outside the conference room the next time the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines committee holds a meeting.

  4. Auntie M says:

    This put me in mind of your scene with the Guy from CSPI:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/food-wine/5059823/Fast-food-chains-find-you-don-t-make-friends-with-salad

    Yup, The Guy From CSPI is probably working on some scheme to force people to order more of what he considers “healthy” options.

  5. While you’re accepting off-topic stuff, have you seen this from the April 2011 European Journal of Internal Medicine:

    http://www.ejinme.com/article/S0953-6205%2811%2900004-5/abstract

    I downloaded the pdf and read the abstract and summary. I can say with a high degree of certainty that it definitely has a lot of big words in it. The parts that I think I understand make me shake. Rage.

    I’d love to hear a “Science for Smart People” analysis.

    Cheers!

    I’ll give it a read. Talk about a topic near and dear to my heart.

    For those of you who don’t know, the Older Brother and I have been slowly losing our father to Alzheimer’s for the past several years. The extremely bright, witty man we knew all our lives no longer recognizes us and can’t form a meaningful sentence. Knowing this probably was avoidable, rage is the only reasonable reaction.

  6. C says:

    @JeremyR I had the same problem, only I wasn’t so lucky. My dog developed cancer after years eating dog food, and she died a few weeks ago. She was a great dog, and everyone who met her said so, and I’d like to kick myself for feeding her those horrible grain-based dog foods, which I’m 100% certain were what caused it.

  7. Firebird says:

    Tom, I have been a life long sufferer of depression, and not even low carb dieting can alleviate the symptoms. Best thing for me is to laugh about it. Even spent time in a couple over the years. I once tried to get up a card game but I couldn’t find anyone with a full deck.

  8. Linda says:

    Also off topic………………………..Is it just me, or do others become filled with depression, anger or disgust when shopping for groceries? Ever since becoming a follower of the LC way of life, and learning more than I ever had regarding food and what is actually in it, it just drives me nuts when I see the garbage in grocery carts as I walk around and check out. Today seemed particularly noticeable. Tons and tons of sugar laden bottles and cans of pop, potato chips, cookies, hot dog and hamburger buns of all sizes and styles, sugary BBQ sauces, etc. And of course, in the same cart, low fat yogurt and sugary drenched cereals. Another totally non-nutritional, sugar infested holiday coming up. Hooray!

    That’s what I point out when people want to blame McDonald’s for the rise in obesity. How is the junk most people buy at the grocery store any better than a burger and fries?

  9. Vanessa says:

    OH NO. I’m SOOOOOO sorry to hear about your father. I almost lost my grandpa to a heart attack, but thankfully he pulled through. However they won’t listen to anyone who tells them to low carb. My aunt went on an Atkins-type diet and they were talking about how she was on “some crazy diet” and needed to get off it. They eat strict low-fat, and I’m so afraid something worse will happen in the future if this continues…the heart attack was a hard time all around and something worse would be a catastrophe.

    Oh boy … maybe they’d be willing to read a book or two on the subject?

  10. Erik says:

    For the person who wants to feed table scraps to their cats – I’ve noticed that they tend to like human food more if you add lots of salt to it – much more salt than you would add if you were going to eat it yourself.

    If you can’t get your cats to eat wet cat food, you might put some salt on top and see what happens. My cats prefer freshly ground Himalayan pink rock salt to ordinary table salt, but you know how finicky cats can be.

    The cats also love meat that’s been brined. For example, when my family is done picking the meat off a Costco rotisserie chicken, I usually leave the carcass out for the cats as a treat. Within 2 days, there’s nothing but clean white bones. I know the bones are supposed to be bad for them, but I’ve seen each of these cats bite the head off a live bird and eat the whole thing, beak and all. So I’m not convinced that some chicken bone is going to do them in. At any rate, there haven’t been any fatalities or other noticeable problems. But if you’re concerned, you can just pick the meat off yourself and give it to them that way.

  11. Veganism is an eating disorder, and vegetarianism just might be. The only way someone could subject themselves to that sort of torture has got to be guided by blind faith. I figure that most of the time, it’s not worth it to talk to vegans or vegetarians about diet.

  12. Robinowitz says:

    Thanks to everyone for the cat-feeding suggestions. I have tried the homecooked food–which they didn’t go for–but maybe if I just give them our table scraps they’ll still be eating much better than the dry, expensive grain-free Catfood. They really do like the idea of sneaking food off our plates:)

  13. Nate says:

    Unfortunately it is not just at the grocery stores. I went to our farmers market today to get fresh lettuce, young carrots (only about 3 inches long), etc. As i walked around, I noticed all of these “health conscious” people eating vendors food – pastries, fruit drinks, elaborate chocolates, fruit drinks, smoothies, $5 coffees, fruit drinks, crepes with fruit, low fat yoghurt, etc. All i could do was shake my head in disbelief. Oh, and the three kids who were screaming and having fits. I know kids can get cranky when they are tired, but these fits were very extreme and probably related to blood sugar.

    We’ve noticed our girls are far more likely to misbehave after eating sweets. After seeing Dr. Vernon’s slides on how the high-carb foods send glucose levels on a roller-coaster ride, it makes sense.

  14. Craig says:

    @Juba. That’s a little extreme. I was a vegan for two years, and vegetarian for a few years longer. It was motivated by animal welfare rather than health concerns but I didn’t believe it was any *less* healthy. It was a rational position based on the information I had at the time. And my food was generally delicious; certainly not ‘torture’.

    If somebody had given me the kind of information Tom presents in his film and here on his blog, then I probably would have gone back to eating meat earlier than I did. Many people – of all kinds, not just vegetarians – turn into ‘true believers’ over their views, but there are plenty like me who are willing to listen to reason.

  15. Paroma says:

    The Fat-Head documentary was such an eye-opener and I have made a few changes in my eating habits since then. Wasn’t really a problem for me as I already loved meat, eggs, butter etc etc. I just feel a bit frustrated when I look around at my friends who are mostly vegetarians/vegans. They are pretty happy eating what they do and will not really ever change their eating habits. I posted the link to the fathead documentary and this blog a couple of times on facebook and yet nobody has bothered to see it. Also several of my relations who are not vegetarians have almost totally given up red meat and butter. Am planning to buy the DVD and just gift it to them in a final attempt! Sigh.

    All you can do is put it out there and see what happens. I have friends who still think meat is going to give them heart disease and cancer. One learned he has an elevated PSA count and responded by cutting the fat from his diet even more.

  16. Elizabeth Mattick says:

    thought this might be fun to hear about in the coming days:

    http://smartabouthealth.net/diet/2011/05/29/fda-to-trash-food-pyramid-use-food-plate-as-new-symbol/

    Oh, yeah, I’m on that one.

  17. Razwell says:

    Good post, Tom.

    It’s nice to see she changed her mind. These vegetarians and vegans talk with 100 % certitude when science has not even identified all the nutrients and how they are beneficial to huamn health, let alone how they interct synergystically.

    Hopefully the vegans will realize their produce is repeatedly sprayed with all sorts of pesticides, sulphur compounds and nasty gunk . Plants are not a panacea, and like all foods carry risk. There are many allergies to plant matter, as well as compounds which can be dangerous. They all assume that plants are 100 % safe and animal food is not. That would be a mistake.

    The smart vegetarian will admit variety is important, and that we just do not know enough yet about nutrition and what is truly healthful to be so sure of their “way”. Veganism and vegetarianism, contrary to the gurus, is no guarantee of health at all – far, far from it.

    Humans are human – diseases happen.

    Take Care,

    Raz

    A lot of us tried the vegetarian diet and didn’t do well with it. Some of them who show up here to preach to me must not be aware that I was once a member of the flock, and there’s a good reason I quit.

  18. Ralph Wiggum says:

    I totally wrote off vegetarianism years ago when I volunteered at a senior home. I was in college at the time, and I was around a lot of vegetarians and vegans. I believed a lot of what they had to say, but there was no way I was going to give up meat. I volunteered there for three years, and one thing I noticed was that nobody there was a vegetarian. Since vegetarianism was not invented in the 1970s, I figured that either vegetarians were so healthy that they did not need assisted living in their later years, they quit, or that they die sooner. Then I got to thinking, I had never met a 70+ year old vegetarian. Even today, I don’t believe I have ever met a senior citizen who is a vegetarian. When I hear a news story about somebody who just turned 100, I have never heard them attribute their longevity to not eating meat. So I have to ask the question, have you ever met a 70 year old vegetarian?

    Someone I heard on a podcast (don’t remember who) spoke about a project in which researches examined hundreds of people who’d lived past age 100, looking for the common traits. He said there were no vegetarians among them, but most of them had low fasting levels of glucose and insulin.

  19. Elenor says:

    “I know the bones are supposed to be bad for them, but I’ve seen each of these cats bite the head off a live bird and eat the whole thing, beak and all. So I’m not convinced that some chicken bone is going to do them in.”

    Erik — UNcooked bones are fine because the cat can chew them up. However, once the bones are cooked, they become brittle and can break into shards, which can perforate a kitty’s intestine! You may be lucky that your kitties don’t like the bones — but you probably shouldn’t really rely on that to protect them.

    With my Costco chicken carcass, I put on (Costco) surgical gloves (I’m LIKE a cat, in that I hate to get my “paws” all icky!), and strip the bones myself, making a pile of great kitty-food, without the chance of harm! It only takes a few minutes; and then I chuck the carcass into the crockpot with some spices, cover it with water, and make delicious broth!

  20. Tricia says:

    Tom, I haven’t yet seen the film. I converted (food IS like a religion when you have a strong opinion) to low carb eating after reading WWGFAWTDAI. It was a no brainer. No way I wanted to keep poisoning myself. Thank you for sharing your dialouge with this reformed vegan/nutritionist. I’ve added your movie to the top of my Netflix instant queue (Thanks for having it on there too). I will watch it so that I can recommend it to my friends who are too lazy to read, and hopefully get their wheels turning about what they are eating.

    Enjoy the film.

  21. Anthony Margraf says:

    I am 76 years old,very soon 77. I have not consumed animal protein for 65 years.
    I will put my blood pressure, BMI against anyone. My reason is personal ethics, not health. Very simple, should non human animals experience pain & suffering prior to death re industrial agriculture to provide me with a food that is not necessary to live a long and healthful life in the western developed nations. PS non human animals have central nervous systems the same as the human primate, thus suffer similarly. Are we truly civilized?

    If you think no animals suffer and die to put those soybeans and grains on your plate, you’re blissfully ignorant about farming.

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