From The News …

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Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

Given all the arterycloggingsaturatedfat! headlines we’ve seen over the years, I have to admit this headline made me chuckle:

Low-fat diet could kill you, major study shows.

That’s from an article in The Telegraph, and I’d say it’s wee bit overblown. We are, as usual, talking about an observational study. Here are some quotes from the article:

Low-fat diets could raise the risk of early death by almost one quarter, a major study has found.

The Lancet study of 135,000 adults found those who cut back on fats had far shorter lives than those enjoying plenty of butter, cheese and meats.

Researchers said the study was at odds with repeated health advice to cut down on fats. Those doing so tended to eat far too much stodgy food like bread, pasta and rice, the experts said, while missing out on vital nutrients.

Yeah, yeah, okay. So the real risk (again, in an observational study) is consuming too many processed carbs.

An article in Science Daily provided less-dramatic quotes:

Contrary to popular belief, consuming a higher amount of fat (about 35 per cent of energy) is associated with a lower risk of death compared to lower intakes. However, a diet high in carbohydrates (of more than 60 per cent of energy) is related to higher mortality, although not with the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The data are from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study which followed more than 135,000 people from 18 low-income, middle-income and high-income countries. The study asked people about their diet and followed them for an average of seven and half years.

The research on dietary fats found that they are not associated with major cardiovascular disease, but higher fat consumption was associated with lower mortality; this was seen for all major types of fats (saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and mono unsaturated fats), with saturated fats being associated with lower stroke risk.

We’re talking about food questionnaires and all the usual problems with observational studies on diet and health. I wouldn’t make too much of this one. But since observational studies were the source of arterycloggingsaturatedfat! hysteria in the first place, I suppose it’s nice to have one to wave in the faces of the anti-fat warriors. Fair is fair.

A man-tax for vegans?

A vegan restaurant in Australia has started charging men extra for the same meals. An article in The Sun explains why:

A cafe is making waves after it began charging blokes more money in a bid to close the gender pay gap. The feminist vegan owner of Handsome Her eatery in Melbourne, Australia, is making them pay an 18 per cent “man tax” as well as giving women priority over seating.

A feminist vegan owner. Sounds like a fun person to be around. I’m thinking of a joke …

Q: How many feminist vegans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Your aggressive humor is NOT FUNNY, you ciscentric ANIMAL MURDERER!!

Anyway …

Owner Alex O’Brien told Broadsheet website: “I do want people to think about it, because we’ve had this (pay discrepancy) for decades and decades and we’re bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds.

“I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit.”

I don’t know the breakdown in Australia, but in the United States, 79 percent of vegans are women. So I wonder if the “man tax” might make a few men stop, question their privilege, then go order a hamburger at another restaurant.

This may ignite a new debate about the costs of obesity.

WCPO in Cincinnati reported on an unusual fire:

A “freak accident” started an unscheduled fire Wednesday night at the Hillside Chapel Crematory in Cincinnati, owner Don Catchen said.

“My operator was in the process of cremating remains and (the body) was overly obese and apparently it got a little hotter than the unit is supposed to get,” Catchen said. “One of the cremation containers that we had close got caught on fire and that’s what burnt.”

I’m not overly obese, but I like to think I could start a similar fire just because so much of my body mass began as sausage and bacon.

The danger of fires when cremating obese bodies isn’t an entirely unknown issue for the funeral service profession: “As you may realize, when a morbidly obese person is cremated, there’s a danger of what can only be called (in layman’s terms) a ‘grease fire,'” according to Caleb Wilde, a licensed professional who runs the blog Confessions of a Funeral Director.

In October 2014, a Virginia facility caught fire while cremating a 500-pound body. Fire investigators there said excessive heat ignited rubber roofing near the crematorium’s smoke stack. Another fire, two years earlier in Austria, left firefighters “covered with a layer of sooty grease.”

Good grief. If this keeps up, Meme Roth will be demanding higher funeral costs for obese people.

Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part one.

Some perfesser I saw interviewed years ago explained the politics of how to get a study funded in today’s academic environment: if you title your proposed paper something like The Migratory Patterns of Squirrels, you probably won’t get funding. But if you title it something like How Gobal Warming Is Affecting The Migratory Patterns of Squirrels, you will get funding. Then you can study those migratory patterns.

I thought about that while reading this article in Science News:

A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.

Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link low selenium with such troubles as weak immune systems and cognitive decline. And in severely selenium-starved spots in China, children’s bones don’t grow to normal size or shape. This vital element could become sparser in soils of major agricultural regions as the climate changes, an international research group announced online February 21 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That global warmi—er, climate-change thing sounds awful. If only we could identify the major causes.

Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part two.

Thank goodness, an article in the U.K. Daily Mail tells us what’s driving climate change:

Feeding our beloved cats and dogs plays a ‘significant role in causing global warming’, a shocking study has revealed.

My, that is shocking … the shocking part being that anyone believes this hysterical nonsense.

Pets have heavily meat-based diets which requires more energy, land and water to produce.

Rascal, our family cat, is a sweet little dude. In fact, he’s lying at my feet as I write.  But I’m pretty sure if I stopped feeding him a meat-based diet, he’d sneak into the bedroom some night and rip chunks of flesh from my face.

Research from the University of California, Los Angeles, found pets are having a big impact on environmental issues such as climate change.

You mean there are other environmental issues pets are affecting? Are they causing acid rain too?

Feeding cats and dogs is creating the equivalent of 64 millions tons of carbon dioxide a year in the US alone, according to shocking new research.

That’s twice the reporter was shocked. She should probably find somewhere to calm down … say, in a vegan restaurant that charges men extra. She’ll get priority seating.

The paper found pets are responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the US.

So it’s not the pets themselves; it’s the MEAT that’s causing all that climate change. Maybe we should all become vegetarians to save the planet. But then we’d have to deal with …

Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part three.

Perhaps ordering a salad instead of a burger won’t save the planet after all, according to an article in Scientific American:

Bacon lovers of the world, rejoice! Or at the least take solace that your beloved pork belly may be better for the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than the lettuce that accompanies it on the classic BLT.

This is according to a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who found that if Americans were to switch their diets to fall in line with the Agriculture Department’s 2010 dietary recommendations, it would result in a 38 percent increase in energy use, 10 percent bump in water use and a 6 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

And here I thought I was ignoring the USDA dietary guidelines because they’re full of @#$%. Turns out I was also saving the planet. Pass the bacon.

The reason for this is because on a per-calorie basis, many fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood—the foods the USDA pushes in the guidelines over sugary processed food and fats—are relatively resource-intensive, the study finds. Lettuce, for example, produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than bacon.

Chareva grew some lettuce this year. I didn’t think to go out to the garden with some equipment and measure the gases they were emitting. An opportunity lost.

“You cannot just jump and assume that any vegetarian diet is going to have a low impact on the environment,” said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decision sciences and engineering and public policy and one of the authors of the study. “There are many that do, but not all. You can’t treat all fruits and veggies as good for the environment.”

Fischbeck said that even though it seems counterintuitive, the best diet for the environment would be terrible for a person’s health. “If you totally forget health, which diet would have best impact on the environment?” Fischbeck asked. “You’d eat a lot more fats and sugars.”

Hmmm, in that case, here’s how I suggest we handle all this conflicting data: eat the diet that’s best for your health, period. If you feel guilty about including climate-damaging meat in your meals, do your part for the planet by getting rid of your meat-eating dog.

Or maybe not …

Global Warmi –er, Climate Change, part four.

Here are some quotes from a PBS article online:

If you’ve decided to go vegan because you think it’s better for the planet, that might be true—but only to an extent.

A group of researchers has published a study in the journal Elementa in which they describe various biophysical simulation models that compare 10 eating patterns: the vegan diet, two vegetarian diets (one that includes dairy, the other dairy and eggs), four omnivorous diets (with varying degrees of vegetarian influence), one low in fats and sugars, and one similar to modern American dietary patterns.

What they found was that the carrying capacity—the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely by the resources of an ecosystem—of the vegan diet is actually less substantial than two of the vegetarian diets and two out of the four omnivorous diets they studied.

Lower carrying capacity? Must be all that lettuce in the vegan diet …

If modern agriculture in the U.S. were adjusted to the vegan diet, according to the study in Elementa, we’d be able to feed 735 million people—and that’s from a purely land-use perspective. Compare that to the dairy-friendly vegetarian diet, which could feed 807 million people. Even partially omnivorous diets rank above veganism in terms of sustainability; incorporating about 20 to 40% meat in your diet is actually better for the long-term course of humanity than being completely meat-free.

Well, that is a relief. Especially in light of …

Americans eating more beef.

Here are some quotes from an article in USA Today:

As backyard grills fire up this summer, one thing is clear: Americans no longer have a beef with beef.

Thanks to lower prices, more disposable income and a guarded thumbs-up from the wellness community, the once-maligned meat is now seen by many shoppers and diners as an ingredient in a well-balanced and even trendy diet.

Americans ate an average 55.6 pounds of beef in 2016, up from 54 pounds in 2015, according to the Department of Agriculture. This comes after a decade during which U.S. beef consumption plummeted 15%.

The article attributes much of the rise in beef consumption to falling prices, but then adds this:

The increase of meat-intense diets, such as paleo and keto, has also jump-started America’s rekindled love affair with all things cow. Gone are the days of dismissing meat as a heart attack inducer or the unsophisticated grub of Middle America. Now, there’s a premium segment that’s lighting up diners, thanks to their increased demand for organic and grass-fed beef.

As an unsophisticated inhabitant of Middle America, I’m happy to include beef in my grub. But I may have Chareva start charging me a man-tax.


76 thoughts on “From The News …

  1. Justin McCullough

    The one about the restaurant owner really struck me as odd. I wonder if she pays her employees the right amount? Also, I would like to try to mess with her system. Do some funny business with having different people coming and going at the tables.

      1. JIllOz

        That cafe does not compel men to pay extra, it is purely optional. Some men do pay the (OPTIONAL) tax in sympathy with the ideals of the owner of the cafe, with which they agree.

        She does not compel any male customer to pay this tax.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I once made the mistake of eating a bowl of vegetarian chili. I contributed to global warming later that day.

          1. chris c

            Next time I hear vegans I’m going to talk equally loudly about how I carry a spray can to mark the sheep and pigs for later consumption when I drive past the farms

        1. Bonnie

          I just read that about the firefighters & the sausage – insane! I’m upset that they apologised about their fb post. Think they’ll put it back with another apology to me? If Peta-types think the pigs should have had a life-time pass, they should offer to keep the 6-month-old (& up) pigs in their homes. I think they’d change their minds before long.

          Too many people think of Piglet & Wilbur.

  2. KidPsych

    Someone should immediately study the effects of Jerusalem artichokes on climate. I’ve heard them referred to as fartichokes, so one can assume that there is methane involved. Perhaps a researcher could also leverage a political angle here too?

  3. Tom Welsh

    “You mean there are other environmental issues pets are affecting? Are they causing acid rain too?”

    You really mean to tell me you have never had a cat pee in your flower beds? Much the same as a small cloudburst of acid rain IMHO.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Our cat stares out the window and imagines himself as king of the jungle he sees out there, but he lives indoors.

    2. Kerstin

      I have to say though…over the years in which I have my dog on a completely meat/bones/offal diet, his pee has gotten much less acidic…it does not actually kill the vegetation it hits, his poo is smaller and disappears more quickly and also does not kill the grass where it lands, so…

      However, due to remaining issues with his gut, he does still happily add to offgassing…with an odor, to boot…

  4. Tom Welsh

    “Americans ate an average 55.6 pounds of beef in 2016…”

    Crikey, that’s only about a pound a week! Some of us are a lot closer to a pound a day, and working hard to close the gap.

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, b-e-e-f.

  5. Tom Welsh

    I read in today’s London “Times” that the planned Hollywood remake of “Lord of the Flies”, with girls instead of boys, has run into an unexpected obstacle.

    Apparently a feminist group has complained that it would be utterly unrealistic, as girls would never behave as badly as the boys in William Golding’s famous novel.

    Roll that around your tonge for a while, and enjoy the delicious aroma of feminists insisting that girls are quite, quite different from boys in their essential nature.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Some columnist — can’t remember who — summarized the attitude as “we’re no different from men, except in the many ways we’re better.”

      1. KidPsych

        Well, I won’t say that females are superior, but I was relieved both times I learned I would be having daughters. (I might be biased. It’s rare that a female client will rip the crap out of my office.)

    2. Emily

      I saw that the script is going to be written by men, and while I think it’s possible they could do a good job, I’m iffy about it. This isn’t because girls are little angels — far from it. But the way girls are horrible to each other is usually different from the ways boys are horrible to each other. When I was in middle school, I often wished girls would bully me with fists rather than words because it would hurt less. Girls can be vicious politicians, smear campaigners, and ostracizers. They can implant self-hatred that can undermine you for years or even for the rest of your life.

      I’m not sure that someone who hasn’t lived that can write it all that well. But the mark of a truly good writer is to be able to convincingly write outside their own experiences; hopefully these writers are excellent.

      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        Exactly what I told my girls. Boys who don’t like each other get into fist-fights, then it’s over. Girls gang up on each other socially until one of them develops an eating disorder.

        Fortunately, Sara in particular has adopted my attitude of “don’t concern yourself with what idiots think of you.” She shows no interest in participating in girl vs. girl dramas.

        1. Jean Irvin

          I used to teach students excluded from school for bad behaviour. Give me a naughty boy any day – the girls could be evil!

        2. Emily

          Good! I didn’t want to participate either, and that’s what made me a target. Probably. Really, it’s often hard to tell.

          But once I made it through, high school was pretty good. It helped immensely to be able to go on long walks alone with my dog and cat. Reading fiction also helped a ton. Your girls have plenty of support at home and will be able to escape into the natural world when need be, so I’m sure they’ll be fine when inevitable drama happens around them.

          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            I think our girls will be fine. Chareva and I both tend to just roll our eyes at the drama-queen types. I hope the girls have picked up the same attitude.

        3. JIllOz

          I’ve been physically damaged – technically battered – by 2 female dentists, and also by one male.

          I knew a girl who had been essentially mugged at school by girls in a gang.

          There are plenty of violent girls and women, just not quite as many as men.

          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            Of course, some females commit violence. But in all my years of school, I never saw two girls go at each other with fists.

  6. Stephen T

    The PURE study is still suggesting a diet of 50 – 55% carbs is ‘moderate’. I’d call it the diet that got us into the current mess.

    I have vague childhood memories of women who wanted to lose a little weight eating less bread and potatoes. They couldn’t eat less rice and pasta because they didn’t eat any. Very few people in the UK ate rice or pasta before the low-fat diet made them suddenly ‘healthy’.

    As for the vegan feminist and male ‘privilege’. In the UK men pay 72% of income tax, working to keep their families and keep the show on the road. I have never heard a woman talk about privilege who wasn’t middle-class and university educated. They are always employed in safe, clean and often useless jobs.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Cutting back on bread and potatoes was what people did until the low-fat diet came along. The “waist trimmer” meal in restaurants when I was a kid was a burger, tomato slices, and a scoop of cottage cheese.

      1. Firebird7478

        — The “waist trimmer” meal in restaurants when I was a kid was a burger, tomato slices, and a scoop of cottage cheese. —

        Truthfully, I would not go to a restaurant to order THAT! Much like an all you can eat Chinese Buffet, I’m not there for the salad bar! Honestly, I can make a healthy low carb, high fat/protein diet work in any restaurant and enjoy it.

        1. chris c

          I was pleased to have a relatively low carb meal in the pub the other week. Smoked chicken with bacon and salady stuff. OK it did include “wheat berries” but lacked the usual chips or other forms of potato, or pastry.

          We had whitebait for starters, with their little eyes staring out of the batter. Even my vegetarian cousin indulged in the whitebait, then he had vegetarian risotto. After that he was farting for the both of us.

          Pretty much everywhere has vegan dishes nowadays, you have to work harder at low carb but it can be done, except in some places where the chef has a snit if you try editing your meal.

  7. Emily

    I’ve seen quite a few studies saying that dairy fat in particular lowers the risk of stroke for women. I can’t recall if any were clinical rather than observational, though. What I do know is that since I started to get plenty of dairy fat every day, my life-long anxiety has disappeared completely.

    As for the Australian vegan restaurant: I’m a feminist. And the way a whole lot of feminists are behaving these days, I feel like my Christian friends who are angry with the nuttier, louder Christians. The nuttier, louder people always get the most press, of course. But does this woman think all women and men live single, solitary lives, with no pooling of resources ever?

      1. Emily

        Thanks for the link! Personally, I wasn’t eating a diet particularly low in fat before. I ate cheese, meat, etc. But I still had anxiety, and I thought it was just the inevitable result of my genetics and circumstances. I switched to whole milk because I read a lot of studies linking dairy fat to a lower risk of strokes for women, and strokes killed both of my grandmothers… eventually. After previous strokes had destroyed their memories.

        What really flustered me was how quickly switching to whole-fat milk killed my anxiety. It took maybe three days, tops. I’ve been the kind of person to stay awake worrying about the state of the world and feeling like it was my fault, while knowing how irrational that was, since I was around 10 years old. To have that just disappear after one tiny diet change has been boggling.

        And the extremist feminist thing: We talked about this kind of thing in my Women’s Studies class in the 90s. The consensus was that we were glad that kind of stuff had been relegated to the fringe. I never met anyone who espoused Andrea Dworkin’s nuttiest ideas until Tumblr had been around for a few years, and I still haven’t met any in person. I have no idea what happened — it’s like I blinked and the whole world went insane. Social media, I guess.

        1. Stephen T

          Emily, that’s an astonishing change after going to full fat dairy. What a pity that you ever had anything else.

          After doing my research and making my decision, I went from a very low-fat diet to full fat everything. Within a week I felt a huge surge of mental and physical energy. Skin blemishes mysteriously cleared up. A slight tremor in my left hand disappeared.

          I feel very badly let down by terrible public health guidance. So much needless ill health and unhappiness.

    1. JIllOz

      Fear not, that restaurant made the tax optional, it was just a stunt to make a point and they have not forced anyone to pay it. Purely voluntary.

  8. Archie Robertson

    “I don’t know the breakdown in Australia, but in the United States, 79 percent of vegans are women.”
    Victims of the propaganda specifically formulated to appeal to the soft-hearted?
    I suspect that at least 95% are urban, and have never even seen a farm (except on TV)…

    1. Butter Fury

      >I suspect that at least 95% are urban, and have never even seen a farm (except on TV)…

      And propably accquired all their knowledge about nature, animal kingdom, and humanity’s relationship with those from Disney cartoons. I all too often have a feeling that that’s the case with vegans.

        1. Walter Bushell

          Less than nothing; sounds like they know things that aren’t so.

          I saw a video of a lion pride taking down a giraffe, and the tourist family was
          screaming in anger and terror. “That’s Horrible!”

          No, that’s life. Human society is equally rough except the predator usually just
          takes his preys money. But their is plenty of violence in the illegal trades for
          territory and customers. The drug trade is the closest we have in America to
          a free market.

          1. chris c

            Back in the seventies or eighties, long before the internet or social media, or Augmented Reality, I was at an air show in the UK when the Goodyear Blimp flew overhead.

            A couple of typical American Tourists (sorry but a stereotype not uncommon in the UK/Europe, fat even then, with a loud wife and even louder shirt) were standing nearby. Her to him

            “Oh look, an airship! Is it real?”

            To be fair we also have our homegrown clueless muppets, like the ones who released a load of mink from farms into the environment. The slaughter of native creatures is still ongoing decades later.

    2. Emily

      That would be assuming vegans are soft-hearted. From my experience, they’re anything but. Lacto-ovo vegetarians often are, but full-on vegans are often extraordinarily nasty. I’m friends with one vegan who’s cool, but she’s anything but soft-hearted and is mostly vegan because of physical problems.

      The biggest vegan organization in the U.S. is PETA. PETA compares eating meat to the Holocaust, has no problem triggering rape victims by claiming milking cows is rape, wants pets to roam “free” (and therefore die horribly), attacks teeny women wearing fur but never big men wearing leather, and lies constantly. They’ve been known to straight-up kidnap and murder pets. Their founder wanted to kill all pit bulls. Their kill rate of animals they supposedly “rescue” is over 90%, whereas normal shelter adopt rates are over 90%.

      If you’re a soft-hearted woman who loves animals, you’re more likely to go lacto-ovo vegetarian and to volunteer somewhere like the ASPCA, the Humane Society, or your local animal shelter. If your goal is to feel self-righteously better than everyone else in a group that lets you do immense harm so long as you lie a lot, you’re more likely to go vegan and join PETA.

  9. Lori Miller

    “A group of researchers has published a study in the journal Elementa in which they describe various biophysical simulation models that compare 10 eating patterns: the vegan diet, two vegetarian diets (one that includes dairy, the other dairy and eggs), four omnivorous diets (with varying degrees of vegetarian influence), one low in fats and sugars, and one similar to modern American dietary patterns.”

    Do the researchers not realize that those eggs and dairy products come from chickens and cattle that get eaten?

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Perhaps they’d rather not think about that. Egg-laying chickens don’t make good chicken dinners for humans, however. The meat’s too tough by the time they’re old enough to stop laying eggs.

      1. Bonnie

        But good for dog & cat food. I just experimented with an almost 2-year-old rabbit – still good eating. Chickens don’t eat much, so when they stop producing I keep them on as pets. But they do earn their keep by eating bugs. 🙂

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          We figured old chickens might work for stock as well. We didn’t get to find out, since a raccoon wiped out the older flock.

    2. chris c

      Small child to mother, watching milking at a show farm

      “Why do they put the milk into the cows in the first place?”

  10. Pierre

    They still think that :

    You don’t choose to be obese, obesity chooses you say controversial Melbourne doctors

    “to start to view obesity as a disease, rather than a lifestyle choice.”

    if so then why this :

    “use of appetite suppressing drugs as another important part of managing long-term weight.”

    1. Stephen T

      Pierre, you’d think the researchers would be asking where was the obesity fifty years ago? I’m always suspicious that pharma just sees another opportunity to sell drugs. “It’s an illness, take this drug.” We used to have our own ‘off’ switch and many people still do.

    2. Pierre

      The moral problem is that they make believe obese people that it is a disease and they need to take a pill to solve the issue.

      1. Dianne

        A friend recently told me about an acquaintance of hers who was in very bad shape because her doctor had pierced the colon wall during a colonoscopy, causing a terrible infection. If doctors can’t get the scope in easily, they do have the option of doing a virtual colonoscopy, which isn’t quite as good as a regular colonoscopy and doesn’t allow the taking of tissue samples or the removal of polyps, but is a lot better than making the patient very sick or very dead.

  11. ELenor

    A latest study from Oxford University says that one in ten deaths are caused by red meat.

    Which is (not actually) terrifying.

    Because it means that nine out of ten people are killed by vegetables.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I have noticed gangs of vegetables pointing and me and whispering. I assumed they were just commenting on my choice of attire. Now I have to wonder.

    2. Walter Bushell

      100% of deaths are caused by parents. Once the sperm hits the egg, it’s all downhill. The bird is on the wing and death ensues in a split millennium.


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