Interesting tidbits from my email inbox and life in general:

USDA back off on Meatless Mondays

Leave it to the USDA to both hand out advice and then retract it for all the wrong reasons.

The message seemed innocuous enough, coming as it did from the federal agency tasked with promoting sustainable agriculture and dietary health: “One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias,” read a United States Department of Agriculture interoffice newsletter published on its Web site this week, “is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative.”

Hmmm, I think the writer for the New York Times might be showing a teensy bit of bias here.  The message may be “innocuous” to her, but to me it’s just plain stupid.  The idea that raising cattle causes global warming is even more bogus than the “science” produced by the ClimateGate crowd.  And just because the USDA is “tasked” with promoting sustainable agriculture and dietary health, that doesn’t mean they’re actually doing either.  Is subsidizing farmers to overproduce wheat and corn sustainable?  Are the USDA dietary guidelines based on actual science?  No and no.  I’m surprised the writer doesn’t argue that Meatless Mondays must be a good idea just because so many people are going with it.

Thousands of corporate cafeterias, restaurants and schools have embraced the idea of skipping meat on Mondays in favor of vegetarian options, an initiative of the nonprofit Monday Campaign Inc. and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Look, lady, just because a bunch of goofs embrace an idea, that doesn’t mean it’s a good one.  Countless cafeterias, restaurants and schools also embraced the low-fat diet.  Look where that got us.

But by Tuesday afternoon, amid outraged Twitter messages by livestock producers and at least one member of Congress, the agency’s “Greening Headquarters Update” had been removed. “U.S.D.A. does not endorse Meatless Monday,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. The newsletter, which covered topics like the installation of energy-efficient lights on the Ag Promenade and recycling goals, “was posted without proper clearance,” the statement said.

Let me interpret that:  some vegetarian zealot at the USDA posted the article without checking with the boss first.  Then the USDA caved because of political pressure, which is the wrong reason to cave on anything.  Bad advice, withdrawn for the wrong reason.

PETA rooting for meat-eating senator to die

The folks at PETA reacted to the USDA brouhaha by cementing their reputation as a bunch of vegan lunatics:

PETA upped the ante Thursday, jumping headfirst into a feud involving the Department of Agriculture, the meat lobby and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

In response to a controversial tweet — now retracted — by the USDA in support of the “Meatless Mondays” program, Grassley Tweeted he was planning on eating an extra helping of meat in order to “compensate for stupid USDA recommendation about a meatless Monday.”

But on Thursday, PETA posted a scathing missive on its website, bemoaning the fact that the senior senator is apparently “anxious to show his campaign contributors that he will fight to the death (literally, perhaps) over Americans’ right to be sick and fat.”

I used to be fat and sick.  That was during my vegetarian phase.

The post, written by Alisa Mullins, continues on to say: “We’re taking bets (place yours in the comments section below) on how long it will take Sen. Grassley to succumb to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or some other meat-related disease.”

So those are all meat-related diseases, are they?  Well, let’s see … Senator Grassley is 78 years old and hasn’t succumbed to a meat-related disease yet.  I wonder if PETA would mind if we had placed bets on when these vegetarian celebrities would die:

George Harrison – died of lung cancer at age 58
Robin Gibb – died of liver and colon cancer at age 62
Linda McCartney – died of breast cancer at age 56
Davey Jones – died of heart disease at age 66
Steve Jobs – died of pancreatic cancer at age 56
Bob Marley – died of malignant melanoma at age 36

Apparently it’s not necessary to actually eat meat to die of a meat-related disease.

Scientists Are Freakin’ Liars

I’ve read about plenty of  bad scientists, but this guy should win some sort of prize:

Dr. Yoshitaka Fujii seems well on his way to becoming the patron saint of scientific fraudsters, setting a record for the most extensive output of fake data. As near as anyone can work out, Fujii started making up data with abandon some time in the 1990s. By 2000, his fellow researchers were already on to him, publishing a comment in which they noted, “We became skeptical when we realized that side effects were almost always identical in all groups.”

But you can’t let such skepticism from your peers slow you down—and Fujii certainly didn’t. Even after the comment was published, two different medical schools hired him as a faculty member. He continued to publish, generally using faked data, racking up an eventual record of 200+ bogus papers.

An investigation later determined that out of 212 studies published by Fujii, only three were based on actual data.  His specialty was anesthesia.  With such an amazing ability to simply fabricate research, I’m surprised he wasn’t in the nutrition field.

It’s high blood sugar that kills you, not obesity

This was an observational study, so we don’t want to make too much of it.  But the results were certainly interesting:

The atmosphere of doom, blame and guilt has grown pretty thick around the subject of obesity these days, in case you hadn’t noticed. In documentaries, public health warnings and, increasingly, in their doctors’ offices, obese Americans hear a drumbeat of bad news and reproach. Among the most alarming of the warnings: Obesity will almost certainly cut short these Americans’ lives.

A new study, just published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, says that may not be exactly true. The study, which tracked 50,994 Americans between the ages of 19 and 90 for a total of six years, suggests that obesity itself may not be a harbinger of impending death: Rather, hypertension and type 2 diabetes — admittedly common fellow travelers to obesity — make people more likely to die in the near term.

Put another way: At any given age, an obese person who does not have type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure is no more likely to die sometime in the next six years than is a person of the same age who is of normal weight.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  it’s not being fat that kills you.  But the foods that are likely to make you fat are also likely to make you sick.  You can be fat and healthy, and you can be skinny and sick.

The study deepens the body of emerging research that suggests that body mass index alone is not a terribly good predictor of an individual’s health status — and that, in some cases, carrying a little extra weight appears to confer some benefits.

In fact, the type 2 diabetes patient who is of normal weight — with a BMI between 20 and 25 — was more likely to die of any cause during the six-year study period than was a type 2 diabetes patient who was overweight or — yes — obese, the study found. And the super-thin patient with type 2 diabetes? The underweight (those with BMIs below 20) were far more likely to die during the six-year study period than their obese peers, the study found.

The authors of the study, physicians from the University of California Davis’ department of family and community medicine, acknowledge it may seem they’re splitting hairs here. After all, obesity undeniably makes type 2 diabetes and elevated blood pressure much more likely.

But people of normal, “healthy” weight — indeed even underweight people — get those diseases too. And once you know that it’s those diseases — and not obesity per se — that predict an untimely death, a physician can accurately assess which of his or her patients is at greater mortality risk and should be most aggressively treated.

If you want to live longer, spend less time obsessing with the scale and more time checking your blood sugar.

Slow progress on the knee

I’ve heard about people having surgery for a torn meniscus and walking a week later.  I’m still on crutches.  At a follow-up appointment today, the surgeon pulled up some before and after photos taken inside my knee during the surgery and explained why:  he had to do more than the usual amount of cutting.  The meniscus was frayed in several areas and one torn flap had folded under itself.

I also had some kind of thick tendon inside the knee that shouldn’t have been there.  He suspects it’s been there since I was born … apparently when a fetus is developing, that tendon shrinks and goes away.  Mine’s gone now because he removed it.

The bottom line is that the extra cutting means extra pain, stiffness and swelling.  His guess is that if I keep up with the physical therapy exercises, I’ll be walking normally in two more weeks.  Let’s hope.  The crutches are a bother.

We’re leaving tomorrow for Illinois.  I don’t know yet if I’ll write a post on Thursday.


32 Responses to “News and Notes”
  1. Galina L. says:

    I had the worst health in my life when I tried eating an anty-inflammatory diet recommended by Dr. Weill (he is on board of Physicians for the responsible medicine) before I started LC. I am passionately against that humane health sacrifice for the sake of PETA’s members delusions. In my mind PETA members just enemies of humans.

    When they’re rooting for someone to die because he eats meat, you have think they care more about animals than people. Dr. Neal Barnard, the psychiatrist who’s head of PETA, was raised by ranchers. Freud would no doubt have some theories about his behavior.

  2. Drew Stephens says:

    I had a meniscus tear repaired two years ago at 24 and recovery had me on crutches for 6 weeks, so you need not feel too old & broken if you need the crutches for a bit longer.

    That must’ve been some tear. I’ll be happy if I’m walking in two weeks. I’m supposed to travel to Chicago with a work buddy the weekend after next to catch a White Sox game on Friday and a Cubs game on Saturday. I wouldn’t watch to crutch my way around a stadium.

  3. zbig says:

    this meatless mondays have a long tradition, in the communist block it was in place 30 years ago

    Wikipedia says:
    “In the People’s Republic of Poland, the meat-free day was a custom cultivated by the government because of a deficit in the market. It was targeted at limiting meat consumption, mainly in favour of flour-based foods. The meat-free day was traditionally Monday, or later Wednesday”

    I suspect the USDA was motivated partly by the belief that meatless meals would be grain-based or soy-based meals.

  4. smgj says:

    I don’t se any opposing sides of eating meat and caring for the well-being of animals. I want my meat to live vell and die healthy. It may not be of old age, (and illness or accidents), but it will be after a good life.

    In my view an animal in good health produce the most healthy food for a human. And it should get a swift death in due time.

    The vegetarian “food” isn’t more animal friendly as large crops removes the natural habitats for the wild animals and don’t get me started on pesticides.

    I wish you a swift recovery. And I’m looking forward to your next post. They’re always high-quality food for thought.

  5. Nick S says:

    Is there some actual science behind the climate denial here, or are you just making up your mind about it along political lines? For someone who does such a great job synthesizing nutrition science, I’m very surprised to see you dismissing climate change, especially on grounds as weak as the so-called “ClimateGate” scandal.

    I dismissed climate change after reading up on the topic quite a bit. The bottom line is that climate scientists haven’t even identified all the variables that influence climate, much less precisely calculated their influence on each other. The computer models used to predict disastrous consequences 50 years from now weren’t even able to correctly predict the previous 10 years. As for ClimateGate being a “so-called” scandal, I’d label it a true scandal. We had supposed scientists refusing to share their data with other researchers, scheming to hijack the peer review process to make sure only people who agreed with them reviewed their work, scheming to circumvent freedom of information cases to force them to release their data, and (based on a computer programmer’s comments in code) deciding ahead of time what results their computer models should produce. Those aren’t the actions of honest scientists.

    The proper word here isn’t “denial,” it’s “skepticism.” As Professor Robert Carter pointed out in this speech, all good scientists are supposed to be skeptics:

  6. Elenor says:

    “He suspects it’s been there since I was born … apparently when a fetus is developing, that tendon shrinks and goes away.”

    Ah! See? You’re a mutant! THAT explains why you were able to lose weight and regain health while eating meat! It explains why you haven’t DIED yet from all that disgusting meat rotting in your gut! You’re not entirely human!

    {shake} Oh. Oops. {blush} Sorry — was just channeling Banana-boy and his vegan friends for a sec there.

    Hope the repair keeps healing! Dyah take glucosamine and chondroitin? There are hints (maybe more by now?) that it may actually help knee cartilage re-grow! It’s, fer shure, made my (arthritic) knee pain go away! (Costco sells Cosamine-DS, which is highly recommended, for a decent price. Interestingly, a few years back I switched to’s G/C — and it stopped working! Went back to Cosamine-DS and the pain went away again.) (Anecdotal, observational… {shrug} You might test it: N=1)

    I haven’t looked into those, but I will.

  7. Firebird says:

    I’m a huge Beatles fan, and was not aware that George Harrison was a vegetarian. Even if he was, I wouldn’t underestimate his life long habit of cigarette smoking as the cause of his lung cancer.

    Of course the smoking figured into it. Another example of why cancer isn’t a “meat-related” disease.

  8. Marilyn says:

    Galina, I’ll repeat myself here, because I’ve posted something like this before, here and on other blogs: PETA is full of beans. People who eat meat are responsible for the deaths of a limited number of animals, usually killed in controlled manner. People who eat grain and soy — and to a lesser extent, vegetables and fruits — are responsible for deaths and injuries to all manner smaller creatures that are in the fields when the machines go through. It is simply not possible for anyone to eat completely “ethically.” I can’t imagine that the ranch on which Barnard grew up was so completely isolated from crop farming that he doesn’t know this!

  9. Marilyn says:

    @Galina. Plus those PETA folks had better not wear any cotton clothing, since cotton growing and harvesting surely kills little creatures in the fields. And as people look for ways to be “sustainable” and avoid the use of petroleum products, etc., they’d better be sure that their cars or homes don’t contain soy materials, which would have been responsible for the death of little creatures in the fields. And they’d better not use paper, because no doubt forestry and logging are hard on some little creatures. . . PETA. . . Persons for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. . . But just some animals. . . The ones they want to notice and make a stink about. Let’s see; what’s the definition of “hypocrite” again?

  10. Hitssquad says:

    For your Thursday post, maybe you could respond to this comment someone left today about you on 30badsucks:

    July 31, 2012 at 10:00 am
    If i’m not mistaken, I believe this guy was funded by McDonalds to make this film to try to minimize the damage of Super Size Me

    Yup. McDonald’s funded it — even paying you to eat mostly at their competitors’ restaurants. The internet sleuths are onto you, Tom. You might as well fess up now. 😉

    Then there was this comment by EdFlowers:

    The problems occur when it becomes an unshakable habit and you have fast food everyday and sometimes twice of three times a day. Then you are just asking for it.

    I thought you demonstrated, in your movie, that was false — as long as one brings his brain with him to the fast-food restaurant and restricts himself to low-carb choices.

    I don’t respond to criticism about me or the film on other blogs.

  11. Bill says:

    Apologies if this has already been posted, but a couple of researchers have come up with a better metric for bad outcomes than BMI:

    Looks like it actually might work, too!

  12. Shawn says:

    “Hmmm, I think the writer for the New York Times might be showing a teensy bit of bias here. ”

    Yeah, the NY Times can’t shake its addiction to low-fat/high-carb/anti-meat thinking, despite the amount of space they’ve given to Gary Taubes (I even had an email exchange with Gary about this). It’s hard to read the NY Times for more than about 3 days in a row without seeing another article either outright promoting calories in/calories out, high carb diets or making claims about diets high in fat.

    Partly I think this is because Tara Parker-Pope, the ‘Times “Well” blog author and frequent byline in health related stories is overweight (admitted in her own NY Times Magazine cover story) and is accepting of both the “high carb” paradigm and the assumption that she’s stuck being fat.

    The other factors are the stubborn intractability of the “low fat/high carb” paradigm among people generally and what I think is a basic acceptance of the political and moral arguments of vegetarianism (harvesting meat is cruel, producing meat is ecologically unsound, etc) as well as the general social cachet being “vegan” has among the left-leaning writers.

    It’s so frustrating considering the amount of work Gary has published in the ‘Times. You’d think they’d stop accepting low fat/high carb at face value.

    It’s extremely difficult for both individuals and organizations to reject a position they’ve held for decades.

  13. Sorry for the long comment but just had to throw this in. For over a year now I’ve been researching the effects of carb loading and high carb and vegan/vegetarian diets on marathoners and other high level professional athletes after noticing how many of them die young, often during the event or at the finish line, from heart attacks & heart disease and later from cancers despite their superb physical conditioning.

    I’ve found some astounding information & studies showing high carbohydrate diets and carb loading of high serotonin carbohydrate foods is the mechanism that causes coronary fibrosis, heart attack and Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome from cardiac electrical (electrophysiology) signalling disruption as seen in elite marathon athletes such as Jim Fixx and the idiopathic cardiomyopathy of the recently deceased vegeratian mountain runner “Caballo Blanco” aka Micah True who was found dead on a mountain trail after having gone missing for 4 days, not to mention the cancer it caused in 9 time New York Marathon winner Grete Waitz.

    From Wikipedia re Cardiac Fibrosis, (some parenthesis added by me for clarity):

    “Fibrocyte cells normally secrete collagen, and function to provide structural support for the heart. When over-activated (by high serum levels of serotonin) this process causes thickening and fibrosis of the valve, with white tissue building up primarily on the tricuspid valve, but also occurring on the pulmonary valve. The thickening and loss of flexibility eventually may lead to valvular dysfunction and right-sided heart failure.

    Connection with excess blood serotonin (5-HT)

    Certain diseases such as gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors of the mid-gut, which sometimes release large amounts of 5-hydroxytryptamine, commonly known as 5-HT or serotonin into the blood, may produce a characteristic pattern of mostly right-sided cardiac fibrosis which can be identified at autopsy. This pathology has also been seen in certain West-African tribes who eat foods (Matoki—a green banana) containing excess amounts of serotonin.”

    Then in the Wikipedia article about Serotonin, Effects of food content:

    “Effects Of Food Content

    In humans, serotonin levels are affected by diet. An increase in the ratio of tryptophan to phenylalanine and leucine will increase serotonin levels. Fruits with a good(?) (high) ratio include dates, papayas and bananas. Foods with a lower ratio inhibit the production of serotonin. These include whole wheat and rye bread.[15] Research also suggests eating a diet rich in carbohydrates and low in protein will increase serotonin by secreting insulin, which helps in amino acid competition.[16] However, increasing insulin for a long period may trigger the onset of insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and lower serotonin levels.[17][18] Muscles use many of the amino acids except tryptophan, allowing more muscular individuals to produce more serotonin.”

    More muscular? You mean like athletes?? Doesn’t sound good to me.

    Then in the Wiki article re SUDS:

    “Sudden unexpected nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS) has been cloaked in superstition. In Thailand, it is particularly believed to be linked to eating rice cakes.[citation needed] Filipinos believe ingesting high levels of carbohydrates just before sleeping causes bangungot.

    It has only been recently that the scientific world has begun to understand this syndrome. Victims of bangungot have not been found to have any organic heart diseases or structural heart problems.[citation needed]

    However, cardiac activity during SUNDS episodes indicates irregular heart rhythms and ventricular fibrillation. The victim survives this episode if the heart’s rhythm goes back to normal. Older Filipinos recommend wiggling the big toe of people experiencing this to encourage their heart to snap back to normal.[6]”

    PETA and the USDA are not even close to the real science of no meat diets.

    Neither group cares about the real science.

  14. js290 says:

    Actor Michael Clarke Duncan apparently became a vegetarian a few years ago and unfortunately suffered a heart attack recently.

    Getting blood sugar under control will probably lead to weight being under control, too.

    Tom, I’m not sure the leg extensions did any favors for your meniscus even done super slow. I’d recommend Bill DeSimone’s new book Congruent Exercise on more joint friendly exercises.

    I may have to give those up. I’m leaning more towards compound movement exercises.

  15. Underground says:

    A week? I was walking right after I got home (no crutches), though not well, and that was both knees.

    Crutches, pffft. 😉

    PETA members should probably sacrifice themselves then for a big BBQ, you know, to save some animals. It’s the only right thing to do. Sigh.

    I wouldn’t eat them for a main course, but might consider them as a side of vegetables.

  16. Ash Simmonds says:

    Fun fact: me (carnivore) and Alicia Silverstone (vegan) are exactly the same age, and we were born on World Animal Day.

    So I’m guess astrology doesn’t determine the lifestyle choice.

  17. Marc Sitkin says:

    Hope you are healing quickly. A quick question on the mortality stat’s for diabetics-any idea about the stats for a type 2 who maintains an A1C in the range of 5.0-5.3? I know people who are in the 6-7 range and not considered diabetic, and wonder why they are considered in better health? I know I am heavily penalized financially when buying health insurance due to the diabetic “label” They could care less about my ability to control blood sugar through LC diet.

    I didn’t read the full paper, so I didn’t see anything on that.

  18. cTo says:

    I cant help but think that the possible mechanism that would explain the obesity vs T2 Diabetes results is that obesity is a PROTECTIVE mechanism against high blood sugar. As you so cleverly illustrated in your movie, Tom, fat cells expand when the body shunts excess glucose out of the blood in any way possible. The bodies of skinny T2 diabetics might not be as good at this, so their blood sugar remains higher longer and causes more oxidative damage.

    Yes, I’ve read that obesity is partly an attempt to protect the body against the effects of insulin resistance.

  19. Charlene Kunold says:

    Bob Marley was only 36 when he died.

    Not according to this:

  20. mezzo says:

    PETA-members and vegans cannot accept the fact, that if humans want to live and eat they have to accept that they are doing this at the expense / death of other creatures. There is no getting away from death.

  21. Hitssquad says:


    That Wikipedia link you just posted says Marley died “on the morning of 11 May 1981, at the age of 36,” and refers to “the compilation album Legend (1984), released three years after his death” — which agrees with what Charlene Kunold just told you.

    Either you’re denying he was born in 1945, or you’re denying he died in 1981. If you really believe he died at age 56, does that mean you believe he died in 2001? Was he secretly making new record albums all through the 1990’s (with songs about cell phones and the world wide web?) that none of us ever heard about?

    I’m blaming the post-surgery drugs.

  22. Lindsay says:

    I’m a scientist and I think it is such a shame that people manipulate their data to get ahead, it sets a bad example for the scientist studying under those people and creates a bad name for good scientists. If only there were bigger consequences. Yoshitaka Fujii was hired by a University I am currently attending, but I am not surprised, unfortunately it takes alot for a superior to be questioned.
    Thanks for all your hard work, the scientific community and the public need a good dose of skeptcism.

    I’m sure the good scientists are outraged by what Fujii and others like him do the reputation of scientists.

  23. Charlene Kunold says:

    Your link does show that he was 36…born 1945, died 1981 and they do the math right there “aged 36”. His death is one of the more well-known examples of artists dying far too young. Not one of the ’27 Club’, but still pretty darned tragic and senseless.

    I blame the post-surgery drugs. My brain saw 1981 and added 20 years.

  24. Marilyn says:

    Tom wrote: Not according to this:

    ??? (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) Isn’t that 36?

    Must be the post-surgery drugs. I read misread the year.

  25. Firebird says:

    I’d love to see vegans go to the wilds of Africa and do a pull apart when a lion attacks a cheetah.

  26. Ailu says:

    Sorry to hear about the slow progress on the knee. Hope you’re not in too much pain. I had neck suregry a few years ago, and boy was that painful. Made me very greatful for 21st century pain medication, although I was a little rummy, sure beat the agony I was in when it wore off. Hope it gets all better soon. 🙂

    It’s coming along. The swelling went down quite a bit over the weekend. I can see a bit of kneecap now.

  27. Scott says:

    Alisa Mullins is quite wacky heres her suggestion for Paula Deen all that real butter she used in her baked french toast casserole gave her diabetes don’t you know “face palm”

  28. Jacob Andrews says:

    This should help explain PETA’s behavior

    This is only an observational piece, not sure if vegetarianism causes mental disorders, or the vice versa, or some other variable, but still interesting non-the-less an interesting “study”

    Interesting chicken-or-the-egg question there — no offense to vegans who wouldn’t consume either.

  29. Dan says:

    I like the idea of ALL MEAT MONDAYS. 🙂

  30. Walter B says:


    How about all bacon Mondays!

  31. Walter B says:

    I wonder how many restaurants actually went meatless Monday? The last time a business owner wants is to say “No’ to a customer. IIUC, the last 10% of your customers provide all your profit, the 90% pay the overhead. And if a customer walks, she may never return.

    Well, I never encountered a restaurant that went meatless on Monday unless they were meatless all week long.

    You better be the only restaurant in town.

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