Last week, I explained why lying liars lie: they believe it’s okay to abuse the truth if what they consider a Big Truth is advanced in the process. Morgan Spurlock was, by his own admission, an alcoholic for decades, yet allowed the world to believe eating at McDonald’s for 30 days trashed his liver. I suspect he told himself it was okay to lie, since McDonald’s is an evil corporation that sells unhealthy food.
I’m convinced the world of nutrition research is full of lying liars telling lies. And most of the lies they tell are about the dangers of eating animal foods.
I understand when vegans who are scientific illiterates insist meat will kill us. The poor little dears don’t know any better. Yesterday on Twitter, I broke my rule about arguing with idiots and had some back-and-forth exchanges with a vegan. It was, of course, the same old, same old. The vegan cited a couple of observational studies as proof that meat is deadly.
Since this was all in response to a tweet in which I mentioned Tim Noakes, Professor Noakes replied to the vegan as well. He explained that observational studies don’t prove cause and effect. The vegan’s reply? Saying “observational studies don’t count” is just semantics. The evidence is very strong.
Yes, you read that correctly. A guy who thinks the difference between clinical and observational studies is just a matter of semantics was arguing about science with Tim Noakes. It was like watching a child who’s learned to play three notes on a recorder arguing about music theory with Mozart.
Anyway, we can forgive the vegan. He was simply regurgitating what the vegan preachers always say and doesn’t know enough to recognize how little he knows. I don’t believe he was being intentionally dishonest.
But then there are the lying liars — doctors and researchers who simply can’t be that ignorant. And yet they ignore all the contrary evidence — not to mention the principles of basic science — and continue to tell us animal foods will kill us.
Why? I can think of two reasons. The first is that they believe eating animals is immoral. That’s certainly the case with the loonies at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
PCRM is, of course, an organization founded to promote veganism, not a group of concerned doctors. Only a tiny fraction of its members are physicians. Dr. Neal Bernard, the founder, grew up on a cattle ranch and now preaches about the dangers of eating meat. Perhaps Freud would have something to say about that. What I’ll say about it is that Dr. Bernard will say pretty much anything to scare people away from animal foods.
One of PCRM’s biggest campaigns warns people about the dangers of eating eggs. And yes, they can point to observational studies in which eggs are associated with diseases. But there are plenty of studies that show the opposite. For example, here’s the result of an observational study reported in USA Today:
The results showed people who consumed one egg a day carried a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and strokes compared to those who didn’t eat eggs at all.
And here’s the result of a clinical study reported in Science Daily:
Eating up to 12 eggs a week does not increase cardiovascular risk factors in people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Bernard is a zealot, but not an idiot. He has to know about the studies that show no harm from eating eggs. But that’s the little truth (otherwise known as the actual facts). He’s more interested in the Big Truth, which for him means that people shouldn’t eat animals because it’s immoral. So he’ll happily lie about the evidence.
Other lying liars have different motivations. As I recounted in a recent post, Walter Willett of Harvard is now claiming that one-third of premature deaths could be prevented if we all became vegetarians. One-third! That’s a huge, unbelievable number … especially since some large observational studies (like this one and this one) showed no difference at all in the lifespans of vegetarians and meat eaters.
Surely Dr. Willett is aware of those studies. So why would he tell us going vegetarian can have a huge effect on mortality that’s never been demonstrated in any study?
Perhaps this will explain it: Willett is now the co-chair of an organization called The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health. Here are some quotes from their website:
The Sustainable Development Goals cover topics ranging from urban life and education to oceans, inequality and gender.
Food production is notoriously energy-intensive. Reducing the amount of energy used in developed countries’ food systems is an important step to lower GHG emissions and environmental impact.
Food production contributes around a quarter of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. By eating limited amounts of meat or none at all we can reduce methane emissions and improve our diets.
Reducing inequalities between countries and within societies themselves will require a huge boost for those at the bottom of the ladder.
Goal 5 is the gender equality stand-alone goal, but it can only be successful if women are integrated into each and every goal. That means goals around food too. There are many reasons to focus specifically on women’s nutrition: For example, healthy women are better equipped to break existing barriers to equality and they can nourish healthy babies.
There is also a reverse relationship between food and peace, justice, and strong institutions: A lack of these can also be a root cause of dysfunctional food systems, hunger and poor nutrition. Getting it right on food can both depend on this goal, and strengthen its attainment.
I could go on and on with quotes, but you get the idea. These are a bunch of social justice warriors, and Willett has become one of them. He believes eating meat is bad for the planet, bad for social equality, perhaps bad for women and children, etc., etc.
Now, I don’t care what your views on social equality, gender equality, peace, love, justice, clean water and free healthcare for all happen to be. If we’re talking about the effects of eating meat on human health, leave them at the door. Your social-justice goals shouldn’t figure into the discussion … unless you’re the type who believes it’s okay to abuse little truth in order to promote Big Truth.
Yes, I’m only speculating, but in light of his outlandish and unsupported claims about how we’d avoid one-third of all premature deaths by going vegetarian, I’m convinced Willett is promoting his Big Truth at the expense of actual facts.
An article with the rather provocative headline No amount of alcohol, sausage or bacon is safe according to cancer experts landed in my inbox recently. Here are some quotes:
No amount of alcohol, sausage or bacon is safe according to a new global blueprint on how to beat cancer.
Even small amounts of processed meats and booze increase the risk of a host of cancers outlined in World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) guidelines updated every decade.
The respected global authority has unveiled a 10-point plan to cut your risk of getting cancer by up to 40%.
Boy, human beings must be remarkably delicate creates if no amount of bacon or alcohol is safe. I hadn’t heard of the World Cancer Research Fund, so I went looking. I found this article from the Huffington Post illuminating:
Among ten recommendations on how to avoid cancer, the [WCRF] report argues that there is “convincing” evidence that red meat and processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
However, the largest ever study examining the link between colorectal cancer and red and processed meat consumption did not find any association. But it was never been published – even as 19 other studies on cancer and diet were published by the Pooling Project.
The fact is that their colorectal cancer study had more subjects than many of the other studies published by the Pooling Project – and the four-year delay in publication cannot but raise the question of whether their results just didn’t fit in with the nutritional beliefs of Harvard’s School of Public Health, one of whose senior figures – Dr. Walter Willett – has long recommended limiting red meat and who, coincidentally, is a board member of the World Cancer Research Fund.
I don’t believe I need to comment. Draw your own conclusions as to why Willett would perhaps block publication of a large study that found no association between cancer and red and processed meats.
I don’t think we can blame Willett for this one, but it’s another fine example of lying liars telling lies: A recent article in the U.K. Telegraph was titled Atkins diet may cause heart failure, major new protein study finds. Ah, so they studied the Atkins diet, right? Wrong.
The Atkins diet may raise the risk of fatal heart disease, according to a new study.
Analysis of more than 2,440 men found that those with a high protein intake faced a 33 per cent increased risk of developing heart failure, where the organ is unable to pump sufficient blood and oxygen around the body.
Those who ate the most protein from animal sources had a 43 per cent higher risk of heart failure compare to those in the study who ate the least.
It wasn’t a study of the Atkins diet at all. It was just another lousy observational study based on food questionnaires. Men who ate more animal protein had a slightly higher rate of heart failure. Okay, fine. And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) the men who ate more animal protein also ate more sugar, drank more alcohol, etc., etc. There was no mention whatsoever of any subjects being on a low-carb diet.
The New York Post ran an article on the same study titled Are high-protein diets quietly killing middle-aged men? Go look at the photo that accompanies the article. It’s a lean, muscular guy clutching his chest. Yeah, that happens all the time. Lean, fit guys have heart attacks because too much protein quietly kills them.
Here are some quotes from the article:
The American Heart Association study’s authors say there’s more research to be done on the connection between high-protein diets and heart failure.
However, it doesn’t look good for middle-aged men who gorge on burgers and bacon instead of whole grains and veggies.
In other words, the American Heart Association once again conducted an observational study and discovered that by gosh, they’ve been right all along. We should be eating more whole grains and veggies and stop gorging on burgers and bacon. Too much protein will give you heart failure.
But then the American Heart Association will have to explain this study, which was posted on the site for the European Society of Cardiology under the headline Heart failure patients with a higher protein intake live longer.
Heart failure patients who consume more protein live longer, according to research presented today at Heart Failure 2018 and the World Congress on Acute Heart Failure, a European Society of Cardiology congress.
This study investigated the association between protein intake and survival in 2,281 patients with heart failure in the BIOSTAT-CHF study, which was conducted in 11 countries in Europe. Patients were divided into four groups according to the amount of protein they consumed, and then the association with mortality was assessed.
At the end of the median 21 month follow up period, 31% of patients in the lowest quartile of protein intake (40 grams or less per day) had died compared to 18% of patients in the highest quartile of protein intake (70 grams or more per day).
After adjusting for multiple confounders, including age and renal function, patients in the lowest quartile of protein intake had a 46% higher risk of death than those in the highest quartile of protein intake.
So I guess more protein will save your life if you’ve had heart failure … but a high-protein diet is the reason you had heart failure in the first place. Yeah, that must be it.
Or it could just be that lying liars lie. When doctors and researchers tell you meat will kill you, I think that’s the safe assumption.