Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets


There are many reasons why people choose to go vegetarian or vegan. Some are compelled by the environmental impact of confinement animal feeding operations (CAFO). Others are guided by ethical concerns or religious reasons. I respect these reasons and appreciate anyone who thinks deeply about the social and spiritual impact of their food choices—even if my own exploration of these questions has led me to a different answer.

But many choose a vegetarian diet is because they’re under the impression that it’s a healthier choice from a nutritional perspective. It is this last reason that I’d like to address in this article. For the last fifty years, we’ve been told that meat, eggs and animal fats are bad for us, and that we’ll live longer and enjoy superior health if we minimize or avoid them. This idea has been so thoroughly drilled into our head that few people even question it anymore. In fact, if you asked the average person on the street whether a vegetarian or vegan diet is healthier than an omnivorous diet, they’d probably say yes. But is this really true?

Plant-based diets emphasize vegetables, which are quite nutrient dense, and fruits, which are somewhat nutrient dense. However, they also typically include large amounts of cereal grains (refined and unrefined) and legumes, both of which are low in bioavailable nutrients and high in anti-nutrients such as phytate, and they eschew organ meats, meats, fish and shellfish, which are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. (1)

Vegan diets, in particular, are almost completely devoid of certain nutrients that are crucial for physiological function. Several studies have shown that both vegetarians and vegans are prone to deficiencies in B12, calcium, iron, zinc, the long-chain fatty acids EPA & DHA, and fat-soluble vitamins like A & D.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these nutrients on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Are plant-based diets missing nutrients required for optimal health? Find out!

Vitamin B12

B12 deficiency is especially common in vegetarians and vegans. I’ve covered the prevalence of B12 deficiency in vegetarians and vegans at length in another article. The takeaway is that the most recent studies using more sensitive techniques for detecting B12 deficiency have found that 68% of vegetarians and 83% of vegans are B12 deficient, compared to just 5% of omnivores. (2)

Vitamin B12 works together with folate in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. It’s also involved in the production of the myelin sheath around the nerves, and the conduction of nerve impulses. B12 deficiency can cause numerous problems, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Memory loss
  • Neurological and psychiatric problems
  • Anemia
  • And much more…

The effects of B12 deficiency on kids are especially alarming. Studies have shown that kids raised until age 6 on a vegan diet are still B12 deficient years after adding at least some animal products to their diet. In one study, the researchers found:

…a significant association between cobalamin [B12] status and performance on tests measuring fluid intelligence, spatial ability and short-term memory” with formerly vegan kids scoring lower than omnivorous kids in each case. (3)

The deficit in fluid intelligence is particularly troubling, the researchers said, because:

…it involves reasoning, the capacity to solve complex problems, abstract thinking ability and the ability to learn. Any defect in this area may have far-reaching consequences for individual functioning.

A common myth amongst vegetarians and vegans is that it’s possible to get B12 from plant sources like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and brewers yeast. But plant foods said to contain B12 actually contain B12 analogs called cobamides that block the intake of, and increase the need for, true B12. (4)


On paper, calcium intake is similar in vegetarians and omnivores (probably because both eat dairy products), but is much lower in vegans, who are often deficient. (5) However, calcium bioavailability from plant foods is affected by their levels of oxalate and phytate, which are inhibitors of calcium absorption and thus decrease the amount of calcium the body can extract from plant foods. (5a) So while leafy greens like spinach and kale have a relatively high calcium content, the calcium is not efficiently absorbed during digestion. 

One study suggests that it would take 16 servings of spinach to get the same amount of absorbable calcium as an 8 ounce glass of milk. (5b) That would be 33 cups of baby spinach or around 5-6 cups of cooked spinach. There are a few vegetables listed in this paper that have higher levels of bioavailable calcium, but it’s important to note that all of the vegetables tested required multiple servings to achieve the same amount of usable calcium as one single serving of milk, cheese, or yogurt. This suggests that trying to meet your daily calcium needs from plant foods alone (rather than dairy products or bone-in fish) might not be a great strategy.


Vegetarians eat a similar amount of iron to omnivores, but as with calcium, the bioavailability of the iron in plant foods is much lower than in animal foods. Plant-based forms of iron are also inhibited by other commonly consumed substances, such as coffee, tea, dairy products, supplemental fiber, and supplemental calcium. This explains why vegetarians and vegans have lower iron stores than omnivores, and why vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce non-heme iron absorption by 70% and total iron absorption by 85%. (6, 7)


Overt zinc deficiency is not often seen in Western vegetarians, but their intake often falls below recommendations. This is another case where bioavailability is important; many plant foods that contain zinc also contain phytate, which inhibits zinc absorption. Vegetarian diets tend to reduce zinc absorption by about 35% compared with omniovorous diet. (8) Thus, even when the diet meets or exceeds the RDA for zinc, deficiency may still occur. One study suggested that vegetarians may require up to 50% more zinc than omnivores for this reason. (9)


Plant foods do contain linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), both of which are considered essential fatty acids. In this context, an essential fatty acid is one that can’t be synthesized by the body and must be obtained in the diet. However, an increasing body of research has highlighted the benefits of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA. These fatty acids play a protective and therapeutic role in a wide range of diseases: cancer, asthma, depression, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

While it is possible for some alpha-linolenic acid from plant foods to be converted into EPA & DHA, that conversion is poor in humans: between 5-10% for EPA and 2-5% for DHA. (10) Vegetarians have 30% lower levels of EPA & DHA than omnivores, while vegans have 50% lower EPA and nearly 60% lower DHA. (11) Moreover, the conversion of ALA to DHA depends on zinc, iron and pyridoxine—nutrients which vegetarians and vegans are less likely than omnivores to get enough of.

Fat-soluble vitamins: A and D

Perhaps the biggest problem with vegetarian and vegan diets, however, is their near total lack of two fat-soluble vitamins: A and D. Fat-soluble vitamins play numerous and critical roles in human health. Vitamin A promotes healthy immune function, fertility, eyesight and skin. Vitamin D regulates calcium metabolism, regulates immune function, reduces inflammation and protects against some forms of cancer.

These important fat-soluble vitamins are concentrated, and in some cases found almost exclusively, in animal foods: primarily seafood, organ meats, eggs and dairy products. Some obscure species of mushrooms can provide large amounts of vitamin D, but these mushrooms are rarely consumed and often difficult to obtain. (This explains why vitamin D levels are 58% lower in vegetarians and 74% lower in vegans than in omnivores.) (12)

The idea that plant foods contain vitamin A is a common misconception. Plants contain beta-carotene, the precursor to active vitamin A (retinol). While beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in humans, the conversion is inefficient. (13) For example, a single serving of liver per week would meet the RDA of 3,000 IU. To get the same amount from plant foods, you’d have to eat 2 cups of carrots, one cup of sweet potatoes or 2 cups of kale every day. Moreover, traditional cultures consumed up to 10 times the RDA for vitamin A. It would be nearly impossible to get this amount of vitamin A from plant foods without juicing or taking supplements.

But don’t vegetarians live longer than omnivores?

At this point you might be thinking, “Well, so what if plant-based diets are lower in some nutrients. Everyone knows vegetarians live longer than omnivores!” While it’s true that some observational studies suggest that vegetarians and vegans enjoy longer lifespans, these studies were plagued by the “healthy user bias”. The healthy user bias is the scientific way of saying that people who engage in one behavior that is perceived as healthy (whether it is or not) are more likely to engage in other behaviors that are healthy. For example, vegetarians tend to be more health conscious on average than general population; they are less likely to smoke or drink excessively and more likely to exercise, eat fruits and vegetables and take care of themselves. (14)

Of course the flip-side is also true: those that engage in behaviors perceived to be unhealthy are more likely to engage in other unhealthy behaviors. The healthy user bias is one of the main reasons it’s so difficult to infer causality from observational studies. For example, say a study shows that eating processed meats like bacon and hot dogs increases your risk of heart disease. Let’s also say, as the healthy user bias predicts, that those who eat more bacon and hot dogs also eat a lot more refined flour (hot dog and hamburger buns), sugar and industrial seed oils, and a lot less fresh fruits, vegetables and soluble fiber. They also drink and smoke more, exercise less and generally do not take care of themselves very well. How do we know, then, that it’s the processed meat that is increasing the risk of heart disease rather than these other things—or perhaps some combination of these other things and the processed meat?

One way to answer that question is to design a study that attempts to control for at least some of the healthy user bias. In other words, instead of comparing the “average” meat eater (who tends to be less health conscious) with the “average” vegetarian (who tends to be more health conscious), what happens when you compare vegetarians and omnivores that are both health-conscious?

Thankfully, we have a study that did just that. It compared the mortality of people who shopped in health food stores (both vegetarians and omnivores) to people in the general population. This was a clever study design. People who shop in health food stores are more likely to be health conscious, regardless of whether they eat meat, which reduces the likelihood that the study results will be thrown off by the “healthy user bias”. What did the researchers find? Both vegetarians and omnivores in the health food store group lived longer than people in the general population—not surprising given their higher level of health consciousness—but there was no survival difference between vegetarians or omnivores. Nor was there any difference in rates of heart disease or stroke between the two groups. (15) In other words, omnivores who are health conscious live just as long as vegetarians that are health conscious.

Final thoughts

With care and attention, I think it’s possible to meet nutrient needs with a vegetarian diet that includes liberal amounts of pasture-raised, full-fat dairy and eggs, with one exception: EPA and DHA. These long-chain omega fats are found exclusively in marine algae and fish and shellfish, so the only way to get them on a vegetarian diet would be to take a microalgae supplement (which contains DHA) or bend the rules and take fish oil or cod liver oil as a supplement. Still, while it may be possible to obtain adequate nutrition on a vegetarian diet, it is not optimal—as the research above indicates.

I do not think it’s possible to meet nutrient needs on a vegan diet without supplements—and quite a few of them. Vegan diets are low in B12, biovailable iron and zinc, choline, vitamin A & D, calcium, and EPA and DHA. So if you’re intent on following a vegan diet, make sure you are supplementing with those nutrients.

It’s worth pointing out that there are genetic differences that affect the conversion of certain nutrient precursors (like beta-carotene and alpha-linolenic acid) into the active forms of those nutrients (like retinol and EPA and DHA, respectively), and these differences may affect how long someone will be able to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet before they develop nutrient deficiencies. This explains why some people seem to do well for years on these diets, while others develop problems very quickly.

From an evolutionary perspective, is difficult to justify a diet with low levels of several nutrients critical to human function. While it may be possible to address these shortcomings through targeted supplementation (an issue that is still debated), it makes far more sense to meet nutritional needs from food. This is especially important for children, who are still developing and are even more sensitive to suboptimal intake of the nutrients discussed in this article. Like all parents, vegetarians and vegans want the best for their children. Unfortunately, many are not aware of the potential for nutrient deficiencies posed by their dietary choices.

I hope this article can serve as a resource for anyone on a plant-based diet, whether they choose to start eating meat (or animal products, in the case of vegans) again or not.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Christopher says

    I wholeheartedly that caution should be exercised with vegetarian/vegan diets. I was a vegetarian for twelve years with relative success but a two year switch to veganism seriously damaged my health: I was malnourished, eating mostly carbs and soy products. My blood pressure and blood sugar levels sky-rocketed and I was wracked with migraines and pelvic pain. Blood work also revealed I was deficient in several key vitamins and minerals. My doctor persuaded me to start eating fish and I slowly made the changeover to eating more traditionally/ancestrally. My health has improved tremendously.

    • Janelle says

      A vegan or vegetarian diet consists of mostly veg and fruits. Soy and grains are not the predominent foods to either diet, and should be considered a side or treat.

      I am a vegan and have successfully gotten all the necessary nutrients listed above through eating a variety of veg. I get my blood tested every year. And am in great health.

      I have recently started taking B-12 because it is an easy way to ensure I get it, despite not needing it, via bacteria that produce the nutrient.

      I just wanted to message that it is possible incase you wished to return to it. It does takes a passion for food and lots of fresh fruit, veg, nuts and seeds.

      If your current diet suits you, all the best, and congratulations in finding what is right for your body.

      • says

        Unless you do raw vegan, grains and soy are THE predominant staples of a modern vegan. Maybe in some vegan utopia, people would consume primarily veggies and fruits, but that’s not the reality of things.

        • Isa says

          I disagree. It’s like saying that McDonalds and Coca Cola are the staples of a normal western diet. For some – sure. But I still wouldn’t consider burger, fries and coke as staples.

          I know plenty of vegans who omit soy completely and eat only gluten-free grains. Their staples are indeed vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and gluten-free grains like quinoa, buckwheat and sometimes brown rice. They are in great health and shape.

          Humans are very variable concerning their nutrition. Otherwise it would be impossible to exist on an Inuit diet vs. a tropical diet. There are plenty of options for a healthy and wholesome diet, including a vegan one. If you chose unwisely and unhealthily, don’t blame it on the vegan diet. The only thing that should be substituted in my eyes is really B12, everything else you can get from an intelligent vegan diet.

            • Rachael says

              I was a vegetarian for over 30 years, and indeed, grains and soy were my staples. I was never vegan, but due to main-stream fat phobia I avoided most dairy and eggs. Sure, I ate ( and still eat) about twice as many fruit and vegetable servings as the average, but really, it was all brown rice and seitan for me. The up-shot was a variety of severe deficiencies, Celiac, and diabetes. My vitamin D level was 0! Saying that a vegetarian diet is mostly fruit and vegetables is silly, the vast majority of American vegetarians eat grains, beans, and as many vegetables as they can afford. Nuts are too expensive for most to eat a substantial amount.

              • Annette says

                Grains and soy were your staples? And seitan??? I wouldn’t touch that stuff with a ten foot pole- ever. It’s no wonder you didn’t succeed. Saying a vegetarian diet is mostly fruits and vegies is NOT silly at all. What’s silly is when people decide to ‘go vego’ and do it all so terribly wrong.

                • Christopher says

                  Most vegans I knew during my period of veganism whole-heartedly espoused tofu and seitan as a primary source of protein. I ate those things frequently. And since I couldn’t get satiated on fruits and veggies alone, I ate a lot of carbs: bread, rice, potatoes, etc. These are vegan staples and a fast track to bad health. Those of you who have been successful as vegans, I feel are in the minority. Of the 25 committed vegans I knew ten years ago, only one remains a vegan. The others are all eating meat and fish now due to nutritional imbalances. Ancedotal, yes but between their stories and mine, convincing enough.

                • Dirk says

                  As you can see from these comments regarding soy and grains, most people today don’t have a clue as to where our ideas around veganism and vegetarianism originate. Macrobiotics has influenced greatly the post-WW2 natural foods industry in America to the point we don’t even realize that before that food movement reached the USA foods like organic brown rice, tofu and seitan were unavailable. The pre-WW2 *health food* landscape was influenced by the Kellogg Brothers, not only the one who made cereal but his even more influential brother who operated the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Does anyone today still think corn flakes are healthy?

              • Annie says

                Oh, but food and health has everything to do with politics. And that this article is right has been recently confirmed by a study of the association between eating behavior and various health parameters at the Medical University Graz, Austria which found that vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life.

            • sarah says

              What an obnoxious reply. Are we to assume there’s no communist meat eaters? Guess you’ve never been to China.

            • Jesse G says

              sarah, judging by your comment, it seems like your implying that the people a long time ago throughout the world were crypto-communists, like the Greeks, Romans and Joos just to name a few? what’s so “anti-western” about vegetarianism when people a long time ago, since the ancient past like in the Bible (for western audiences) people had conflicting opinions about what foods should be ideal to eat for humans?

          • says

            I haven’t started a vegan diet but I try to follow a vegetarian diet as close as possible. Rarely do I eat meat. Only small portions or when mixed in with something when we are eating with others. I don’t think I eat 5 pounds of red meat a year unless it is fish. I do feel better and have been able to focus on eating more greens, veggies and healthy organic grains, nuts and legumes.
            This was prompted by my doctor who informed me that it would make my weight loss efforts more successful. He was right. I’ve lost 32 pounds in the last two years. I do take the best vitamins I can find as well. I can’t help but think eating healthy is far superior to being over weight and taking cholesterol and blood pressure meds. Have you watched the movie (Forks Over Knives)? It is a straight forward scientific study that supports a vegetarian diet and the facts aren’t opinions. It’s probably the most life changing movie a person can watch!

        • Richard says

          I am a vegan and do not eat soy so I am not sure where you get your information that a vegan must consume soy…
          If you are talking about protein, grains, beans and lintels have ample protein not to mention the protein in vegetables. There are grains that are gluten free if that is what bothers you.

            • Sam says

              Is not meat eaters or former vegetarians or former vegans that make the claims of problems with the diet. Even the very own vegetarians report that they are unhealthy and feeling worst that people on other diets.


              Moreover, our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life. Therefore, public health programs are needed in order to reduce the health risk due to nutritional factors.

              • Richard says

                The last place I look for information is on a government site. Are you aware of how many decades the USDA gave food recommendations to the public only to support agricultural industries?
                Studies I have seen say that vegetarians are healthy but after all the blah blah on this subject do you have evidence of any diet that reversed heart disease other that those famous for it like Ornish, Esselstyn or Fuhrman? If everyone else is so healthy why do the studies of dead soldiers during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts show so many clogged arteries of people around 20 years old?

        • drv says

          I also disagree. In the bahamas where I live and practice, Most of my vegan patients are well educated and completely avoid all processed soy ( mostly due to price). They eat a variety of whole, nutrient dense food primarily, with the bulk of calories coming from nuts/seeds and root vegetables. We have a large Rastafarian population ( religious mostly vegan), and they are some of the healthiest patients I have. I’m always much More concerned if someone claims they eat “Normal Bahamian food” vs if hey claim they are they are vegan.

          • Marie says

            I think the GMO soy and corn really is what causes the problems for vegans…It is in everything and cannot be avoided 100% of the time(maybe in Cali)

        • Melissa says

          My daughter is vegan. She eats a wide variety of vegetables, beans, grains, fruits and nuts. She hardly ever eats soy. If you do your research you can get everything you need in a vegetarian or vegan diet. Yes, there are unhealthy vegetarians/vegans but there a lot more unhealthy people who eat animal products.

        • Richard says

          You do not control what goes into your mouth? Seems to me if grains are so bad then not only vegans should be avoiding them but how do you explain the cultures that have done far better than average on grains?

        • Richard says

          Really? How did you decide that soy and grains must be part of a vegan diet? Anyway I do eat grains but I soak them for 24 hours along with nuts and seeds before cooking.
          I would consume some soy if I could get natto or other fermented soy but I am not drinking soy milk.

        • SteveL says

          We have gone Vegan for health. We do eat fruits and vegetables as our main staples. Some whole grains/rice/rye as well [gluten free is not an issue for us]. We never eat Tofu (I hate the stuff as most people serve it) but will make fermented cheese and cream out of cashews. That’s an occasional thing.

          As I said, we did it for health after a Type II Diabetes diagnoses along with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high everything. 1 year and 60 pounds lighter, all blood work has normalized.

          Prior to this, we were mostly eating meat and some veggies, and a lot of potatoes. And a huge amount of dairy (cheese mostly). We have never been much into sweets but did used to have a lot of ice cream binges. That dairy really is like crack. Our weight went up so high so fast because of our eating habits.

          I think new vegans these days are doing it right. Focusing on the whole foods and veggies. If your focus is on health as opposed to animals, then you are likely going to make right choices.

          I am still a bit surprised at how aggressive and hateful people who eat meat get whenever commenting on vegans. Even in my own family and with friends and work, people really get their hackles up. I don’t even have to say a word. There must be some psychological reason for this.

          • says

            I think the reason they do that is because many vegans they find on the internet are crazy lunatics with an agenda who want to make it against the law to eat any animal products, so they generalize all vegans like that.

        • says

          I am a vegan and personally know many others including my husband, mother, son and close friend, many other acquaintances and associates. All of us are in good health. We all eat different things. Yes I’ve had my blood tested – twice a year. I know not one person who ever turned away from veganism. If you do then you were on a plant based diet – this is different to veganism. A vegan does not eat for health, although everyone vegan know is healthy. A vegan chooses not to eat animals and their products for the same reason you choose not to eat your dog or cat or drink your dog or cat’s milk or make cheese out of it. We really are all the same. It’s just that once you are vegan you no longer discriminate. Therefore you no longer eat animals or their products. You learn the truth about health and you learn the sad truth about our culture of discrimination. Once vegan it is like a butterfly – the butterfly will never be a caterpillar again nor would it ever want to. But all of us are butterflies – kind and wonderful people. It’s just a matter of channeling that into everything, including the food we eat. Peace.

      • Brian says

        Thank you Janelle & others for chiming in. I’m not a vegan, however, I have many vegan friends who are thriving. I’ve run vegan experiments for 6 months eating fresh berries, ripe fruit, salads, steamed veggies, & some mineral/vitamin supplements & did quite well. It’s not my path, however, I cannot deny that people that really dig into the plant food path can flourish, like anything in life the total alchemy of the path needs to be considered. The vegans I have met that seem to be flourishing are usually fairly physically active, get sunshine, watch less t.v. & movies, take getting quality sleep seriously, take hydration seriously, don’t drink stimulants like coffee regularly or at all, & similar types of healthy habits. I’ve also encountered people on vegan/vegetarian paths who are not doing well & they usually eat lots of processed junk ‘health’ foods. My personal theory is that plant foods are lighter in energy, so a person’s body built from only plant foods will become lighter & more sensitive in form & receptivity. If such a person also adapts their total lifestyle & habits to be in harmony with this lighter body, then perhaps there are greater conditions present to flourish with radiant health. If a person lives like most people in the modern age racing around & stuffing their body & mind with processed food & garbage stimulants & overly stimulating media, perhaps this will be taxing & exhausting to the lighter body. It’s not my path, as I eat some animal foods, however, as a person deeply involved in natural healing & learning about the radiant possibilities of the plant world, I feel that I’ve seen plenty of evidence that the vegan path can work if people fully respect & harmonize their lifestyles & habits with the body they are building. For many people, the more hunter/gatherer wider diet including animal foods may be better suited for them & their lifestyle. I respect everyone’s paths & critiques on this aspect of human life. <3 & best healing wishes always

        • Royce says

          “My personal theory is that plant foods are lighter in energy, so a person’s body built from only plant foods will become lighter & more sensitive in form & receptivity.”

          Thank you for sharing your theory. Unfortunately, it there is no empirical evidence that it has any validity, and plenty of empirical evidence that many of those who follow such wishful thinking suffer damage to their health.

        • pam says

          “plant foods are lighter in energy, so a person’s body built from only plant foods will become lighter & more sensitive in form & receptivity.”

          indeed, too light in energy, i got hungry + cold in 2 hours after a vegan meal. & i become very sensitive & receptive to cold temperature.


        • Marjalyn Henson says

          What a good balanced approach. I am 78 and very healthy and well (? good ancestral genes, see my soon to be 100 Aunt.). I have been very interested in healthy living since my teens. No health food shops then. I think that unless a vegetarian is VERY well educated about nutrition or living in some place where everyone has available good quality, well grown food it is very difficult to be healthy. It is also easy to be unhealthy on a modern processed refined carb rich diet. We have massive advertising campaigns giving dis information so need to be personally aware.

      • says

        Even if you eat a whole foods, plant based diet (and not tons of soy, grains, meat analogues, etc.) heavy supplementation is still required, as mentioned in the article. DHA, retinol and B12 only come from animal products, and other nutrients like iron are difficult to obtain from plants. I think eating lots of plants should be the basis of any diet, but certain micronutrients are only available from animal products or supplements. You can “think” you can get all nutrients from plants, but the science doesn’t support that unfortunately.

        • Barbara says

          This is a load of crap. Most people with vitamine B12 deficiency are animal eaters.
          My personal experience is that on a vegetarian diet I was B12 deficient. However, after changing to a vegan diet the deficiency went away. Without supplements.

          • Tallulah says

            I have to agree. I’d been a vegetarian for 18 years and vegan for about a year now. When I started the vegan diet I also started taking vitamin supplements. My doctor told to me to save my money on the B12, that I didn’t need it.

        • Carrina says

          Algae has DHA and some eggs do also (From chickens fed DHA foods), most nut milks are fortified with B-12 as is nutritional yeast and probiotics, retinol from what I understand is created naturally when you eat foods rich in vitamin A, and consuming too much retinol in it’s active form (from meat.) is believed to increase the chances of getting osteoporosis. The important thing is to really learn how to be healthy if you become vegetarian or vegan. Some people do fall into the “junk food vegetarian”. This is because of lack of knowledge. If you want to continue to eat meat and get healthier, simply reduce your meat intake to several times a week, or have smaller portions. Fill up on the plant based foods. So what I do is I eat more then half of my calorie intake in non-starchy veggies (at least 8 servings a day), fruit is about 3 or 4 servings, same beans and legumes I do 2 or 3, same with nuts or seeds or avocado, grains, and starchy veggies I eat less then 2 times a day, I eat a egg or dairy product once or twice a day, then have a clean and lean meat option twice a week or less. No processed meats or grains. (These are the things that really get you, especially all that corn. Almost all processed foods have a whole lot of corn!) I was very sick before I started eating this way. I was borderline diabetic, was lethargic most of the time, and had high blood pressure. Now I do not, and I have slimmed down which is the super awesome bonus!

            • Carrina says

              Thank you Frank. I learned a lot of this from different places. I think it is also important to remember that everyone’s body is going to react differently to different diets. So what might work for me may not work for another person. Genetics play a part in this, too.

          • Nkosinathi says

            It is not true that DHA and B12 come only from animals; we produce B12 mainly in our intestine and in the mouth. Cows being some of the best producers of B12 actually eat grass as we know; with a proper balanced diet (eating fruits and veg, grains, legumes, seeds and avoiding refined or processed foods while focusing on whole foods) you can only produce B12 and DHA by yourself. DHA just needs a good nutritious diet for your body to produce it. Many when they change their diet focus more on removing certain foods more than on adding, this will lead to lack and a plant base diet will be blamed, but the problem is with the person. Also one must learn to cook vegetables in a proper way that will avoid the losing of nutrients to too much heat (over cooking) or water (e.g. in the case of boiling). Going raw only will lead to problems as some veg need heat to release all their benefits. There is more that can be mentioned that one must take into account. Oh and as an example, veggies rich in iron will give you more iron than meat, as your body will absorb the iron far much better with the help of vitamin C food. meat may seem to have more, but our bodies cannot breakdown the meet properly. God created us as plant eaters (Genesis 1:29), but after the flood in Noah’s day the vegetation was flooded, hence He allowed the eating of flesh (Genesis 9:2-3). When God called the children of Israel, He sort to restore to them a proper diet by removing flesh from their food (Deuteronomy 8 and Exodus 16), but since they lusted after flesh, He gave them flesh and He gave guide as to what may be safe to eat (Leviticus 11), but He also mentioned that in the future He wound allow sickness even in the animal kingdom due to the increase of sin (Hosea 4:1-3). The plant base diet was the perfect diet that was not merely limited to longevity, but had to do with a health mind that we would be able to understand God (Deuteronomy 8). Flesh eating continued but from the late 1800s things changed and diseases increased in proportion to the increase of sin, and are worse today. Do you know they never found the cure for mad cow disease? It is like a time bomb waiting to happen, but like I said longevity is just a fringe benefit, you could die any time, but have you examined your ways?
            Soy products and veg patties should not be a permanent feature in your diet, but if you take them, take care that they do not dominate your meals. For the poor, lets advice good choices within reach, we cannot prescribe an exact diet for everyone… you might kill the poor person.

            Let us all learn more, and eat well 

            • drew says

              B12 comes from the biological activity of microbes in the soil. Virtually all other areas that produce a variant are NOT enough for our sustenance.

      • katie says

        I whole heartedly stand up for a plant based diet. I have been a vegan for over 3 years. Everytime I get my labs done they are great. My cholesterol levels are supremely including my hdl levels that some people may say I can’t get without animal products. My b12 levels have been incredible. Same with iron, calcium, and protein.
        I have sat down with registered dietitians and they have said I am an A+ model for supreme health. I am extremely active and have never had any issues.
        yes, it is difficult. I have to be diligent about my diet. I don’t love off of salads and fake soy products. I almost never consume soy. But I truly believe plant based diets are perfectly safe as long as you eat the way you should.

        • says

          Again did you read the article? So funny you think you can intellectualize yourself into overcoming your genes. Your just more efficient at making up for a deficient diet. The birds will come home to roost.

          • Jonny O. says

            It’s a little funny, as well as pathetic that you have such a bone to pick (no pun intended) with the fact that someone is doing well on a plant-based diet. That really gets under your skin huh? Here’s what you sound like ~ “There’s no way she could be correct, because I said so. My ego is so attached to my own diet that differs from hers that to hear that she’s doing well on it, is a personal attack that cannot be tolerated!” Here’s a crazy idea, get your nose out of other peoples’ diets, and perhaps learn not to root for someone else’s failure. But of course, you gotta have a little empathy, and you test results just came back, turns out you’re very deficient.

            • ohsan says

              The comment was not at all derogatory or against the author or her diet in ANY way. The person is just trying to say that the vegan diet that she has been following, has been working marvelously well for her which is in contradiction to this article. I get it that your not smart enough to understand other people and their choices but just Do us all a favor, stick this ‘vegan being a deficient diet’ up your ass and stop being a bitch about any other person trying to voice their opinions.

        • kaytee says

          All the folk bashing of the plant based diet should review the years long studies of 7th day Adventists who for more than 100 yrs have encouraged their members to live a vegan, hydrated sleep filled, faith based lifestyle. Plant based foods is the original diet from Eden. Since man decided to mess with the genes of plants our food sources have been compromised. We may do well to made more noise about that than count on science study which is often sponsored by some special interest group to support positions.

          Visit wesites such as Weimar Institute, Wildwood Lifestyle in GA, Eden Valley Lifestyle in CO for more info that is based on real results from real people whose lives have been recreated from plant based lifestyle that is more than just plants.

          • Janet says

            The Adventist also abstain from smoking and other unhealthy habits so this falls under the “healthy user bias” mentioned. You can google articles about meat eating Mormons who follow similar lifestyle practices and actually have been shown to live 4-7 years longer than the Adventist. Plus as a population Adventist have higher incidents of certain types of cancer then the rest of the population and lower incidences in others possibly related to the vegetarian diet and higher incidents of thyroid issues probably from high soy consumption. It is never as black and white as we would like it to be. I think stress more than diet affects our health more than anything else. Plus the Adventist I know are not Vegan but vegetarian they eat a lot of dairy and eggs and soy products.

            • Michelle says

              As a member of the Adventist church, I can attest to the fact that many aren’t vegetarian either. I am not. The reason for vegetarianism is that in the late 1800′s it was the cutting edge diet in “sanitariums” that promoted health. You will see that the Mormons have a similar health message in regards to alcohol/tobacco/caffeine and limited meat, as that church formed in the same time period. The principle of the time (and today) by both churches was to live as healthy as possible so that you could do God’s work and live a healthy life. The problem with it today is folks aren’t sticking with the principle and adjusting their knowledge of nutrition but just sticking with the same ol same ol. I won’t touch the fake meats, or do I frequent potlucks which is often flour, cheese, and dessert.

              Janet is spot on about the study, and the article talks about it also, that there are just to many variables to a healthy lifestyle to pin it on diet. I liked how the article discusses the genetic aspect as well…many can go years feeling incredibly healthy as a vegan or vegetarian before noticing issues, and some notice it right away. There are really so many variables.

          • JLA says

            kaytee, the author of this article is probably an atheist, and certainly subscribes to an evolutionary world view, so it is useless to point out that “plant based foods is the original diet from Eden”. However, for those who claim to subscribe to a Biblical world view, a vegan diet is not only the diet given to us directly by our Creator, but it will be the diet of the coming kingdom for eternity.

            Loma Linda, CA (with it’s high percentage of Seventh-day Adventist population) is one of only 5 or so “blue zones” in the world, where there is a high number of centenarians. Apostate Adventists who eat meat can naysay all they want, and vegetarian Adventists who consume high amounts of dairy and eggs would do themselves a favor and read the writings of Ellen White, or at least read The China Study or watch Forks Over Knives.

            • FrankG says

              Oh Noes!!!

              You mean to say that the author of this article Chris Kesser, might actually be rational human who does not blindly believe in supernatural magic-stuff?!? :-P

              Personally I would take such an “accusation” as a compliment… I just wish the rest of the world were like that, then maybe we could start to mature as a species, instead of so many basing their beliefs on bronze-age books :-)

            • John Richards says

              JLA, regarding your claim that a vegan diet is the diet given to us directly by our Creator, I urge you to read Acts 11:1-9. In that passage God authorizes the eating of all sorts of animals.

        • Rich says

          The term “plant-based diet” is very disingenuous. Call it what it is – vegetarian or vegan.

          I actually eat what could be called a plant-based diet. The majority of my intake is plants of some sort, with moderate amounts of meats, eggs, and fats. That is a more genuine use of the term.

          • bcflyfisher says

            Good call Rich. I think most people eating a paleo diet are indeed eating a plant-based diet. I just happen to include lots of animal products in my plant-based diet.

            I would also add that anyone switching from a SAD to a veg*an diet will probably feel like they’ve made the greatest change in the world. That doesn’t mean it’s optimal, just better. Kind of like switching from white bread to whole wheat…better, but still not optimal.

            • Alx says

              I say the same thing about going from SAD to Paleo.
              I went from SAD to Atkins (this was before paleo became a buzz word), lost some weight but felt dizzy during my work outs. My blood levels were all over the place, especially my cholesterol levels, which went through the roof. On the advice of my doctor, I then tried a vegan diet. All my blood levels returned to normal I lost a lot of fat and gained lots of muscle. I’ve been on that diet for over 15 years and feel like I’m doing pretty well for someone in their mid fifties. I only supplement B12 and D2 in the winter months. My B12 levels have always been good. My insurance doesn’t cover the test for D, but my wife’s levels are good. (apparently post menopausal women are covered under insurance).

          • Rhonda says

            It’s not disingenuous; it’s a way to distinguished between people who avoid animal products for ethical reasons (vegans) versus people who do not eat animal products (plant-based diet).

            • Rich says

              Quite to the contrary, actually.

              No one was confused about the terms vegan and vegetarian. Plant-based started gaining traction due to the negative connotations of being ‘vegan’.

              Plant-based and plant-exclusive are different things. I will say again that my diet is plant-based and includes animal products. I use the term properly. Someone who excludes all animal products is not plant-based. They have a diet of plants. Period.

          • OnTheFence says

            I don’t see why Paleo/meat eaters hold on to one nutrient as a reason to eat animals in today’s modern society (reductionist theory/research). Today, taking a B12 supplement is easy and extremely cheap – we don’t need much. Meat is expensive and vast majority in our culture – factory farmed. Meat eaters also are encouraged to take other types of supplements by Chris himself. So while I am on the fence – this doesn’t move me.

            • einstein says

              If you dont see, then you know very little yet and have a long way to go before you do. Dont stop learning. I keep my fingers crossed for you, and for all the vegans and vegeterians out there.

              • Jonny O says

                Einstein, I’ll bet it really gets under your skin to hear that a Vegan/Vegetarian is doing alright on their diet huh? Really burns you up? Try disassociating your ego from your diet and you might not be so angry about what other people choose to do with their own lives? Being an intolerant egomaniac doesn’t have a great track-record in history, you might do some light reading some day on totalitarianism. Anyway, I think it might possibly be YOU that has a little ways to go and sadly in much more than intellect.

            • Ashley says

              Since bacteria are living creatures just like animals and they are the source of b12 supplements (because ultimately, we have to have animals or animal-like creatures make b12 for us), it seems more sensible to go the route of doing the least harm and get b12 from the most efficient source possible. While researching various b12 sources, I discovered that eating 2 servings of clams per month is enough to completely satisfy this requirement. Since many vegans are vegan based on their desire to do no harm and inflict no pain or suffering, clams would be the way to go. They are about as intelligent and social as bacteria. For those who assert that intelligence/pain don’t matter and it is the sanctity of life that must be respected, it should be remembered that bacteria and plants are alive as well. Therefore, optimizing the intake of b12 can be achieved by consuming the most b12-dense “animal” (bivalve) in the world: clams. They filter our water and act symbiotically in aquatic ecosystems, so even farming them is beneficial to every organism involved.

            • LCC says

              If you have to supplement your diet with vitamins/minerals/extras, you’re likely eating the wrong foods.

              How many animals have you seen in the wild taking supplements?

          • Witho says

            I’ve been a vegan for over 20 years, have had regular bloodwork done. Have never been deficient in anything, apart from iron levels have been a little low directly after childbirth. B12 has always been high normal. I have had occasionally low vit d, but that’s normal for someone who spends a lot of time indoors in the winter in this part of the world. I’m raising two vegan children who are both flourishing. My eldest is the top of her class and very able. Neither is frequently ill. It works if you eat well. Most people don’t eat well.

            • FrankG says

              Well great for you and your kids.. seems that your gamble with their development and long-term health is working out so far.

              I don’t think there is disagreement that it is possible to source everything you need from just plants — after all we are opportunistic omnivores — but as you say yourself “Most people don’t eat well” and I keep seeing this same idea repeated here.. anyone who “fails” as a veg*an didn’t do it right!

              Why is it so darn difficult?!?

              When did it get so complicated to eat that we need a degree in nutritional science in order to nourish our bodies?

              • AK says

                Same goes for the people promoting any diet, including the Paleo diet. Why is it so hard to work out what to eat and then do it?

                It’s hard because “we” (people here) have a scientific mind and we’re attempting to optimise our diets. For people who really don’t feel they need to optimise everything down to the last molecule, they chose a lifestyle and then live that way. Some do it with junk food and die early, some eat and live well and live long. Some from either camp have genes that will get them through or hurt them early.

                It’s not hard raising children vegan (My wife and I do it) if you do the basics, just like most meat eaters do. If you want to go that step further then no matter what diet you follow, it’s going to take more effort.

            • FrankG says

              Or put it another way… all these “most” people (including veg*ans?) who you say “don’t eat well”… do you think this they should be raising their children as veg*ans?

        • Kim says

          I’m guessing you’re fairly young. Many of these deficiencies will show up later as you become less efficient at overcoming them. BTW, lower cholesterol numbers are not necessarily better.

        • danae says

          Hi Katie,
          thank you for your contribution.
          I am considering to switch from vegetarian to vegan. would it be possible to give me an example of your diet?
          I have added linseed, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds in my daily diet in a good amount, in addition to vegetables, fruits, legumes and brown rice.

          did you supplement with b12, vitamin d, or zinc your diet.

          thank you in advance!!!

      • Michael says

        I am curious why someone would even become vegetarian or vegan?

        I normally hear two reasons; a) to be healthier b) they are an animal lover/ killing animals is wrong etc

        In the case of ‘A’, just do your research. A Diet filled with quality meat (not processed crap), fruits & veggies, some dairy products, nuts & seeds, and gluten-free grains like rice is going to suit humans in general best. Play around with the ratios of everything and find what works for you.

        In the case of ‘B’, yes modern day farming can be pretty disgusting, but if it really bothers you then get your meat from a farm that treats the animals the way you want, or care for the animals yourself. To say that humans shouldn’t kill animals for food/materials goes against history and nature. The way we treat animals (livestock) in modern society is really bad, but my diet still contain meat for the health benefits.


        • JacquieRN says

          Clinical care: not just preventing, not just slowing, but truly reversing the number #1 killer of men and women – coronary artery disease = heart attack – remarkable, unheard of and clearly documented via imaging.

          I have talked with patients whose lives have been changed dramatically. I am not talking a micronutrient here or there – but pain to no pain (angina), stents placed to live every month/CPR to revive to no stents and no CPR, out of wheelchairs to quality of life, etc.

          One place to see the images is here, only if you are interested: http://www.heartattackproof.com/resolving_cade.htm

          • charles grashow says


            “Participants were asked to adhere to a diet that derived less than 10% of its calories from fat. They were to avoid oils, meat, fish, fowl, and dairy products, except for skim milk and nonfat yogurt. ”

            “Each participant also received an individualized prescription for a cholesterol-lowering drug. The most frequent regimen included cholestyramine, 4 g twice daily, and lovastarin, 40 mg to 60 mg daily. Time-release niacin was prescribed for a short while but was discontinued when many patients reported nausea, vomiting, and swollen ankles.”

            Were the patients ever taken off statins?

            How much of the reduction in TC was due to diet or due to the drugs?


            Look at Table 3

            High Trigs usually indicate small LDL-P which are very bad.

            • einstein says

              yeah, that sounds like the experiment where the evil professor wanted to finish off all the participants. killer approach, really…

              • charles grashow says

                Ignore the questions – the fact is ALL of the patients were given drugs and the good doctor never states if the patients were ever taken off the meds!

                Were the patients ever taken off statins?

                How much of the reduction in TC was due to diet or due to the drugs?

                • Foodie says

                  My understanding – these patients were very sick heart patients and often in pain so i bet they were already on a cholesterol lowering pills. From the little i know, this would be very common. So I don’t think the pills they were still on or not are a concern – that fact that the arteries opened was/is remarkable – i don’t think I can find fault with the results and health these people gained.

        • jennym says

          I changed to a vegan lifestyle when I was constantly sick.
          Every time after eating a meat product (even eggs or cheese) I would have severe stomach upset and headaches…not to mention the lack of energy b/c my body was busy trying to break down the animal product I just consumed.

          Every month I was sick…I could set a calendar to it…cold sores would cover the inside of my mouth, my temp was up to 103 and I couldn’t eat for days…and this lasted for 3 days each month…doctors couldn’t figure it out, just wanted to medicate me…I said no and went on my own journey to use food as my medication.

          I use a lot of soaked nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamia) for meals and chickpeas/sweet potatoes as my base for my “faux burgers”….love hemp seed and add it anywhere I can (btw…it’s a perfect protein…has EVERYTHING the body requires and is even the closest resemblance to human DNA…)

          Highly suggest Brendan Brazier’s books…Thrive Diet, Foods to Thrive and his new book Thrive Cookbook…..reading this changed my outlook on how the body really uses food as fuel, and how it’s WE that use food as emotion, comfort etc…

          Since changing to vegan I’ve had more energy, more mental clarity then I’ve EVER had with a meat based diet.

          I’ve never touched (and never will) soy, and I’m not a big fan of legumes…

            • jennym says

              Dumb answer Charles….I call them “faux burgers”…I don’t buy the prepackaged soy based ones in the freezer…I MAKE them. You ass

              • FrankG says

                Why? If teh ode aof eating meat is so abhorrent then why on earth make a burger substitute? Is your imagination, or your knowledge of the incredibly vast range of edible foods (and the ways they can be prepared) on this planet really so limited?

                • AK says

                  As someone who keeps trying to use science to promote your diet, relying on strawman arguments makes you look desperate.

              • FrankG says

                Why? If the idea of eating meat is so abhorrent to you, then why on earth make a burger substitute? Is your imagination, or your knowledge of the incredibly vast range of edible foods (and the ways they can be prepared) on this planet really so limited?

                • jennym says

                  No…it’s just an easier way when out camping with my family to make, store and prepare my food…is that ok with you?

                • jennym says

                  You are nothing but a troll on here….trying to piss people off….

                  I’m happy, healthy and vegan…so suck it.

                • Carrina says

                  I think the idea that a burger has to be made from one thing. I always thought of it as a generalized thing. There are meat burgers, nut burgers, mushroom burgers, bean burgers. It’s just something to describe a formed substance to put in a sandwich.

                • Dillon says

                  FrankG you have too much time on your hands, buddy. Go out and preach to the world about the bad Vegans and non-meaters. Looks like you don’t have a job, otherwise.

                • Mia says

                  Also, a black bean “burger” is just a sandwich. It’s not trying to be a hamburger. I don’t know why they are called burgers. Do you think a cheese sandwich is a meat substitute? A sandwich is a sandwich.

          • einstein says

            your body was trying to break down meat? meat is one of the few things we have enzymes to digest. it is vegetables and fruits we need bacteria to help us digest them in the bowel. who knows what kind of junk meat you were eating to evoke your stomach problems. red slime burgers perhaps. nobody ever got stomach trouble fm grass fed beef. EVER!

            • jennym says

              I agree…I grew up on a dairy farm and our freezer was stocked full of beef…..but the beef I had growing up is not the beef you can purchase now at the grocery store (which is where I was buying it)
              Unfortunately, farming has become more about how much to get out at a little cost to the producer…..since I’ve switched to vegan, my husband and children still consume meat, but now we go to a beef farmer and purchase half a cow, so we know what kind of meat is in the freezer.

              …and yes, the body does have to break down meat in order to digest it…no different than anything else….use your head, or change your name.

              • einstein says

                of course the body needs energy for digestion. but its amount is hugely overrated. it provides much more energy than is needed for its digestion. which is not true for vegetables. their digestion costs more energy than they provide. and energy expenditure for digestion has nothing to do with stomach upset, whatsoever. you need to read better before rushing to answer.

                • jennym says

                  There’s no rush to answer…I think you may be miselad…leafy greens and colourful veggies deliver energy by way of conservation instead of consumption….meaning….as soon as we eat something (anything) the body starts spending digestive energy to convert the energy stored within food (aka calories) into useable sustenance to meet the body’s biological requirements……whenever energy is transferred from one form or another, there is some loss of energy….however, it depends on what you eat as the process varies greatly based on what is eaten.

                  Digestion is the body using energy….it’s no coincidence that the cultures that have the largest meals at lunch also enjoy and participate in afternoon siestas…

                  Natual, unrefined whole foods require less energy to digest….therefore GAINING more usable energy when eating foods in a natural whole state (even if they have fewer calories as veggies, seeds, nuts, and fruit do compared to meat)

                  Plant based is also better internally for your body as it produces an alkaline environment within the body…if the body is too acidic (which comes from meat sourced meals) it affects our health at the cellular level immediately with inflammation and cellular death….as well, people with a low body pH are prone to illness and fatigue (that was something that I was experiencing with a meat based diet)….acidic enviornment in the body over time causes the immune system to fail and falter, opening the door to more extreme illnesses.

                  For me, switching to a plant based diet helped eliminate the issues that I was dealing with health wise (and I wasn’t eating poorly to begin with…just meat at almost every meal)….I’m not saying vegan is the ONLY way to go…it’s just the way to go for me….it’s you that is shaming those for choosing it.

                • FrankG says

                  “[Natural], unrefined whole foods require less energy to digest”

                  Are you saying that chewing raw sugar-cane is a more efficient way to raise my blood glucose than by drinking a can of soda?

                • FrankG says

                  “…if the body is too acidic (which comes from meat sourced meals) it affects our health at the cellular level immediately with inflammation and cellular death….”

                  Are you saying that my meat-based diet is somehow actually killing me… despite the fact that every one of my health markers as measured in a lab, has improved (including my teeth, gums and hair) and I rarely even get a cold these days?

                  Yes I realise that you ended your speech with the caveat “….I’m not saying vegan is the ONLY way to go…it’s just the way to go for me….”
                  but you made no such distinction in your generalised earlier points.

                • jennym says

                  Frank..you honestly need to use your head….maybe you need more veggies in your diet to clear help form clear thoughts….

                  Chewing on raw sugar cane and drinking a can of pop will do the same thing to your body…come on…be smart, not smart-assed…..the body takes sugar as sugar, no matter the source…for me, I’d rather the more natural source then one that is bleached and altered in a lab (think Aspartame and such)…..but I don’t have a lot of sugar in my diet (and in regards to fruit…I don’t consume more than necessary..)

                  My body digests plant based protein better than meat based protein…plain and simple…..actually I think it’s the quality of meat that is out there that has created MY issues over time.

                  By plant protein I mean hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sweet potato (yes, there’s protein there) and chickpeas….

                  It works for me, but I don’t need YOUR approval.

                • einstein says

                  jennym, you are so wrong, so wrong. the acid alkaline myth and a lot of sensless generalisations too. i wouldn’t know where to start to put you straight, so I’ll leave it at that. good luck to you.

                • FrankG says

                  So you call me a troll jennym.. tell me to “suck it”and then expect to continue rational discussion? LOL Including additional comments regarding my mental state? :-P LOL

                  It seems that YOU are the one who is confused and in need of decent nutrition… I was NOT questioning whether raw sugar-cane or soda were better quality foods but using them as examples to counter your statement … “[Natural], unrefined whole foods require less energy to digest”

                  Clearly your statement is nonsense… just like most of the verbiage you have written so far.

              • Jonny O says

                Jenny I’m afraid you won’t get far arguing with these people. They are absolutely enraged by the sheer thought that you could be a vegan and healthy. I have no idea why but they seem to be taking what you choose to do with your own life as an it as an attack on their own. It’s actually quite frightening, and the only thing I could imagine that it would be is their own underlying guilt for knowing that they continue to kill living things when they don’t have to. They perhaps haven’t come to terms with this repression and sort of continue the denial by pushing hard against anyone who seems to succeed without such brutality. Perhaps they will understand one day, but sometimes I wonder if there are people who simply lack any idea of empathy. We eat meat because we have the guns and we can, plain and simple. If we didn’t we would be foraging for berries, nuts/seeds, plants and the rare treat of an already dead animal, like our ancestors more likely did.

                It’s kind of funny in a morbid way though how in 50 years time most of the world will probably be vegan anyway, not by choice, but because of the goon heads today that have no concern with how they get their food or what impact it has on their world.

            • Richard says

              Ahhh Einstein, we would be so blessed if you only knew half of what you think you do. Some of your comments are ready for comic books!

              You guarantee that grass-fed beef is nothing but healthy? You are the one that needs to read some research that has been done on cultures that are healthy and live to an old age then see what they eat on a daily basis….there are none that are big meat-eaters but there are some that are vegan or near-vegan like in Okinawa where for decades they sustained themselves on mostly sweet potatoes.

              Vegetables take more energy to consume than they produce? Which comic book did you lift that quote from? Stop eating meat for three months and see if your body produces the enzymes you are fond of.
              How do you justify the very recent research that shows if you stop eating meat for as little as 24 hours and consume whole plant-based foods the bacteria in your gut reverts to a much healthier group than meat-eaters have in their guts?
              Ahhh research, who needs it when we have people like Chris and Einstein to tell us what to eat?

        • Kevin says

          Having tried the strict vegan diet for over a year, I have some input for you. My girlfriend, my daughter and I all did it for different reasons. I did it because I saw evidence that it would greatly reduce the chances of recurrences and complications (i.e. cancer) from my chronic illness. My girlfriend was trying ANYTHING to cure her migraines (the vegan diet didn’t work, as expected, but she felt better for it). My daughter wanted to be healthier and stay skinny (she feels great and stunningly fits into her old jeans).

          First, I’d like to point out nutritionfacts.org to anyone wanting more information on studies that support the health benefits of a plant-based diet. No doubt, this guy has an agenda, but it seems to be protecting your health as much or more than saving the animals of the world, and he backs his findings up with references to actual clinical studies, not a lot of psuedo-science of the kind I’ve seen from the likes of Mark Sisson or “I think”s like the author of this article provides. Don’t get me wrong, I thank the author of this article for his efforts to inform me, but I’ll go with clinical studies over “I think . . .” any day.

          Secondly, it was an interesting journey, being a strict vegan for over a year. It was easier than I thought, with help from the two most influential people in my life and a work-at-home job. More interesting was the mental journey. When folks used to talk about inhumane treatment of animals in commercial food production, I didn’t let it into my head. That would have created too much cognitive dissonance, I guess. Living the vegan life made it okay for me to give credence to the “crazies” and the things they spouted. Not that I’ve made a complete transformation, but they don’t seem so crazy now – most of them anyway. What seems more crazy is the SAD and the many outright lies that give it credence in our society (e.g. the food pyramid decided with great influence from the food-producing industry that profits from, for instance, all of those eggs we eat).

          Now, most of my meals are vegan. I think I feel a little stronger when I eat meat a couple of times a week and don’t worry so much about the things my diet might be missing, and it’s not like I’m breaking an oath to eat a plate of enchiladas occasionally. I’m fighting chronic inflammation, which, for me, has convincingly implicated as a supporting factor in almost every major diseaseAfter MUCH reading, I’m convinced animal products come with a substantial cost in reduced long-term well being, if not entirely, then at least at the level of consumption we’ve come to see as normal. Also, I’m doing much better on an almost entirely well-chosen plant-based diet.

          I realize animal products were part of what enabled our species to succeed evolutionarily to our current place in the world and would not contest that meat is a very nutritious meal in many regards. At the age of 50, the evidence I’ve see suggests I just don’t need much of it at all anymore, and it’s doing me harm.

          In case you were wondering, my affliction is Ulcerative Colitis and, although still on meds, I have not been having the frequent flare-ups I’m accustomed to since cutting most animal products from my diet. For the record, I take B12, Calcium and vitamin D supplements and try to get a little sunshine as often as possible, and I feel pretty damn good for a 50-year-old sickie.

          • einstein says

            have you tried to avoid sugar in all forms (yes, including fruit) and see if that hepls you? i am just reading yudkins PURE, WHITE AND DEADLY and he mentiones a clinical study done by italian doctors where high sugar consumption increased the chance of getting ulcerative colitis two and a half times. there is no way meat can cause that illness. meat never reaches the colon in the first place. veggies and fruit do, due to their high fiber content. and there were many cases of Crohns, where elimination of sugars in all forms, grains and vegetable oils lead to nothing short of miraculous recoveries. i just read such a story abt. a month ago on sisson’s website among the sucess stories. hey, I am not arguing, just trying to bring your attention to stuff you might want to read. good luck.

          • Kirsten says

            He said “I think” once, and his articles and books are based on years of science-based research. Same with Mark Sisson. You say that nutritionfacts.org has an agenda – if you’re really into science-based information, you ought to know that having an agenda is a big red flag for data cherry-picking and fact-bending.

        • Luna says

          Regarding B, I think you are missing the point. To a vegan/vegetarian, there is no humane way to kill an animal, and no need to eat it’s flesh. While it is even worse that most of the time the animals are treated terribly, the act of murder itself is what makes people shun meat.

          “To say that humans shouldn’t kill animals for food/materials goes against history and nature.”

          Probably the worst argument for why we should eat meat that people ever use. Yes, we historically have killed and used animals, and yes, it has helped our society advance. However, this is true of many awful things: murder, rape, abuse, torture, and other treacherous acts are part of human history and nature, some of our advances are a direct result of such heinous acts. It doesn’t justify continuing them.

          To me, taking a bite of an animal’s body just feels wrong, like I wouldn’t murder and cook up my mother and dig in, so why should I do it to any other creature? They are all capable of feeling pain and fear. They don’t want to die or suffer. I can get all the nutrients I need without killing them, so there is no point. Even if I do run the risk of a deficiency, I wouldn’t really care. I was anemic when I ate meat, now I’m not since I supplement.

          I understand that in some cultures and situations one must eat meat just to live and function, and that it is natural to eat meat, but for most of us it is a matter of preference over need. If you choose to eat meat for whatever reason, that’s all fine and dandy; it’s your life, live it how you please. What I don’t get is why it is that omnivores feel a need to tell vegans/vegetarians that their reasons for not eating dead animals aren’t good enough. Wanting to cause as little harm as possible should be respected, even if it means we might not be eating the physically ideal diet. That’s kind of selfish.

          Also, look into the ecological impact of eating meat. It’s hard to justify eating a steak when it is extremely harmful to the entire planet. You know the old “vegans are hurting the planet by eating too many plants!” argument, well you need to grow way more plants and use way more water to grow animals for food, it takes an awful lot of plant calories to grow a cow. This has an impact on impoverished workers as well as the environment. Waste runoff from farms can contaminate the water. The meat and dairy industry is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions (higher than all transport).

          I do agree that it is possible to be healthy as an omnivore, it’s also possible to be healthy as a vegetarian or a vegan. The human body is highly adaptable. It doesn’t really make sense to avoid eating animals if your intention is 100% health-related. However, which diet is healthier isn’t really a concern to vegans who are avoiding meat to harm as few animals as they can. Just imagine for a second that human meat was very nutritious, and if you didn’t eat it you would have to supplement. Most people would choose to take supplements rather than murder and eat other people. That’s how vegans feel about animals.

              • FrankG says

                Doesn’t help at all really.. you are still trying to force your own emotional overtones of this discussion onto me. This is NOT a reasonable discussion.

                • Luna says

                  Not actually. I said very many times, that it is my opinion. I respect yours, and expect the same back. I was simply educating someone on why people choose to be vegan. I don’t know why it upsets you so much. Whether I use the word murder correctly or not is a very empty argument. It shows that you are emotionally invested in the issue to the degree that you have to find the smallest flaw and attack it.

          • FrankG says

            You are perfectly entitled to your own feeling about killing animals.. no-one is telling you that you must kill and/or eat animals.

            What you do NOT have, is the right to force your views (or feelings) onto others who disagree with you.

            We are ALL part of the same life, part of the same genome: animals AND plants… one massive recycling project… what goes around comes around… we ALL have to borrow life, in order to be alive.

            I realise that trying to have this discussion with you is akin to trying to persuade a New Earth Creationist that the Earth is actually over 4 Billion years old and we have evolved from simpler lifeforms… bu these ARE the facts as I see them today — it is hard to reason with blind faith, emotions and ignorance.

            • Luna says

              “no-one is telling you that you must kill and/or eat animals.”

              Did you read the comment I responded to? It was actually someone trying to explain why vegetarianism was stupid and was asking for peoples reasoning on why they would still opt out of meat eating after what he said. So I gave my answer.

              I do not force my beliefs on others. It is actually more often done by omnivores, as is seen in the above comment that I responded to. I have never tried to force my vegetarianism on another person, but the amount of meat eaters that try to convince me to eat meat is insane. Like why? Why do you care so much what I eat? If I said I didn’t want to eat bananas ever again because I didn’t like them no one would list reasons why choosing not to eat bananas doesn’t make sense, they wouldn’t care.

              Whether or not you have encountered vegetarians who push their beliefs on you says nothing about vegetarians on a whole. Don’t assume things about what I do/do not know and what I would/would not believe.

              I was responding to a direct attack on my beliefs, I even said I don’t care if you choose to eat meat, but from my perspective, I can’t bring myself to eat an animal. You know, responding properly to someone’s question rather than getting emotional and making assumptions like you are doing.

              It’s interesting that you make the religious comparison when in my post I actually said that I understand why people would eat meat, but that in my opinion death without reason is unnecessary, thus I try to avoid it. I don’t know how much more reasonable I could be. Also, you can’t just say “these are the facts” when there are no facts. Fact: you don’t think an animal’s life is as important as the use you get from it. I understand that, and I know there are many times when the fact that we use animals saves peoples lives, and I am not against that. But another fact is that you can live healthily without eating animals, you can’t contest that. The millions of vegetarians and vegans prove that.

              It isn’t blind faith, emotions, or ignorance guiding my decision to not eat meat. It is the fact that I see the pain. Science shows animals feel pain and emotion. Science shows vegetarians can be healthy. So instead of taking an emotional stance of “but that’s the way it is, we eat meat, we are meant to eat meat, so that’s what I’m gonna do”, I decided to look at the facts, the facts about the impact on animals and the environment rather than just what may or may not be optimal our bodies.

              It seems as though you saw that I confessed to not eating meat and didn’t read anything else in my argument.

            • Luna says

              As I said in my original post:

              “If you choose to eat meat for whatever reason, that’s all fine and dandy; it’s your life, live it how you please.”

              So I don’t know what your point is. Because I made it clear that those were all my reasons. To educate the person who asked why I would avoid meat when there is humanely slaughtered meat, and those are my reasons. My personal reasons. Which I made clear. So unless you have a real point, and not just that you are so upset over the idea that someone else has different beliefs that don’t hurt you but you don’t agree with, your post was utterly useless.

              • FrankG says

                You are either genuinely naive, or being disingenuous if you really think that what you are saying and your choice of word is not harming others… “murder”, “slaughter” etc.. are highly emotive terms used to generate a reaction — so please don’t act so surprised when you get one. They are also political tools to help direct policy towards a veg*an agenda.. already prevalent as Chris points out in this article: where it is commonly (and blindly) accepted that fruits and vegetables are somehow “blessed food”.. I disagree strongly with this approach and see only great harm for many (and vast profits for a few) if we continue on down this road. Mass starvation food riots etc…

                Read the rest of the comments, including my own and you may get a better understanding — or perhaps you would be better off staying on blogs more suited to your own life choices and sensibilities :-)

                • Jonny O says

                  You realize that factory farming is one of the major reasons of world starvation right? I’ve been reading your comments here, watching you run around and very smug-like assume that it is everyone else around you who is naive, and let me say, it’s given me great entertainment! You have a seriously strange phobia of veganism to the point where you assume there seems to be some grand conspiracy to get everyone to become vegan, and you only finally revealed yourself with this last comment, which was essentially a politically motivated disdain for corporate profits, etc. etc. Wow. Did you hear the whoosh when it all went way over your head? Needless to say, I’m loving how irate it makes you that someone happens to be a vegan and succeeds on it. The childish tantrums you’ve thrown in this article’s comment section alone have really been a good jest.

          • einstein says

            you did not read the article or what? right in the beginning chris says this is for those who eat vegan because they think it is healthier than omnivore. not for those who eat vegan for religious or moral reasons. everybody has a right to die for his ideals and as far as I am concerned, veganism is one way to do it. piece.

            • Luna says

              I wasn’t responding to the article, I was responding to a comment made by another individual who asked why someone would go vegan for health reasons and why they would for ethical reasons when you can get meat that isn’t treated as badly. Scroll up and read what I was responding to. It makes sense that way.

            • Luna says

              It’s the comment by Michael that starts:

              “I am curious why someone would even become vegetarian or vegan?

              I normally hear two reasons; a) to be healthier b) they are an animal lover/ killing animals is wrong etc”

              I did read the article and thought it was fine. I agree that going vegan for health reasons makes no sense, as I said in my above reply.

      • einstein says

        whoever is eating abnormal quantities of fruits sets course towards fatty liver disease due to the excessive fructose load. and you can’t live on veggies alone unless you are a gorilla munching tree leaves all day and have a 6m long bowel like he does (hint: you don’t). I can’t believe in today’s world of accessible information people still don’t take the pain to do proper research before they go full steam and damage their health by following wrong advice. Quite unbelievable, I tell you.

      • says

        Thanks for not being quite as indignant as other vegans who post on such a topic – but i want to point out that you may THINK you have all the nutrients – your blood tests show OK (BTW how LONG have you been vegan? – cause b12 takes about 5 years to run out of if you formerly ate animal products) – but blood tests measure ONLY A FRACTION of the nutrient/vitamin/mineral needs of the human body –

        i do tire of the “everyone finds their own diet good for you” comment – it shows a total intentional or unintentional disregard for basic human physiology and biology (as Chris pointed out CLEARLY in the article) -sure you can keep a cat ALIVE on cereal-based cat food with little or no meat – but the cat will not thrive, and will fall victim to chronic ills at a younger age –

        same with you – you may feel great now – and even be losing weight making you happy, but you are not vegan technically – because your body is robbing your bones, muscles and tendons – literally eating itself – in order to save your internal organs and to maintain that claimed good blood work –

        keep it going – you will find out – hopefully not too late – that you are on a dead-end nutritional path.

      • Still Learning says

        Thank u!! Most people are not getting this concept. Vegetarian, vegan or other diets. Well rounded meals and eating the right foods are key. To be honest I am vegetarian but my husband is making the switch to vegan. It is a change up. It requires different prep. But done RIGHT one can be very healthy. And yes I see sooooo many people saying they are vegetarian or vegan and they consume mostly carbs and soy. This would b unhealthy for any diet!! –

      • Jack says

        Sorry but I don’t believe you are being a vegan if you have to take side supplements. It is better to eat the required food to rely on pills and over the counter supplements. Most Vegans and vegetarians have health problems and are on supplemental diets. but the general view is they are healthier!, This is a huge misconception.

        • Nick says

          “Most Vegans and vegetarians have health problems and are on supplemental diets.”

          Garbage. Which studies show this false opinion is true?

          The truth is, as I already referenced here, that eating meats is either of negligible health difference (the large-scale European studies) or eating meats is MUCH more UNHEALTHY, much increased mortality (The American Adventism studies: 5 YEARS off your life! – and remember that is *across the board* E.g. some eating meats, perhaps reading this blog, will die because of it in the next couple of years, bowel cancer one of the major killers implicated, whereas others will get away with it being unaffected.)

          Your claim of an alleged misconception is a misconception.

    • Zoe says

      Do you think perhaps “eating mostly carbs and soy products” was the problem and not that you were vegan? If you eat poorly you will feel poorly regardless of whether you are vegan or a meat-eater!

      • Christopher says

        It is possible but eating those products was the norm among the vegan community I affiliated with; as well, I should’ve made clear that I ate plenty of veggies and fruit but struggled for satiation with them, thus carbs. And eating beans every day got boring, thus soy and seitan. When I was vegetarian and ate eggs and yogurt and drank milk, my health was definitely a-ok.

        • Mike says

          I’m still waiting to hear why soy and grains are bad for you. There is no credible evidence to say that moderate amounts are.

          The whole soy is bad because of phytoestrogens scare was thoroughly debunked and unless you have celiac disease, gluten is just another type of protein.

          This is a sloppy opinion piece disguised as coming from a place of science.

    • Tim says

      As an omnivore, I think its important to occasionally go vegan for a day or two out of the month… The same reason I get the supersized Big Mac at McDonalds. I’m in great health, its all about a balanced bio-diverse diet and lots of exercise/meditation/yoga.

    • Whisper Horse says

      I think anyone who is investigating any kind of diet should always take into account any nutritional precautions. If it is done the right way then no one should be getting sick. A whole foods plant based vegan diet following one of the health programs that already exist has zero reports of any deficiencies what so ever. So making a generalized statement about the vegan diet causing deficiency is somewhat biased. If you look into the omnivore diet, one of of every three American’s will die of a heart attack where heart health problem are very rare for someone following a healthy vegan diet. Heart disease still exists in vegetarians as well.

      • says

        I think anyone investigating nutrition should realize that you have a genetic requirement for food. Meaning you can’t make up for a nutrient deficiency by reading a book. Either you give your body what it needs and you flourish or you don’t and you suffer. The more you meet your needs the higher your function the further away the lower you function. You can mask it for many years but eventually you will have detriments. No matter how you slice it.

        • Nancy says

          Right on, Daniel. You nailed it. I love vegetarian and vegan diet and was one or the other most of my life but feel so much better on diets that include high quality animal protein in terms of overall health, energy, and performance. Paleo diet works even better for me because my body does not tolerate ANY grains, legumes, or dairy and the intolerances to these and processed foods got worse as I got older. I concluded that my body does not care what types of foods I prefer – it wants what it needs and if I do not give it, it cannot and does not serve me well. I have learned to listen to my body by closely monitoring how I feel after I consume a new food. I found this to be the right path for me and my guess is for many others.

    • Kaitlyn says

      So you had a poor diet and then choose to blame the problem on “vegetarianism.” I just cannot believe the amount of times I have seen this raised in arguments on the internet, when in fact it is a non argument. Plan your diet well – vegetarian or omni. It is not excuse to scare people off a healthy, ethical and sustainable way of living if they wish to do so!

      • einstein says

        you know what’s liberating about paleo? you don’t need to plan your diet! fm the comments I have a strong feeling that vegetarians and vegans spend a lot of time planning their diets and making sure they don’t run into deficiencies (those who do it “well”). those who don’t do it well, suffer. i don’t plan anything, not even my next meal. and if i have not time to eat, i simply skip the meal and am not even hungry! and I can’t go wrong because the only thing I do is I avoid food which does me harm and eat everything that supports my health. because at the end of the day, health is all that counts. a healthy person has many wishes, ideals and fantasies. an ill one, has only 1. to be healthy again. moral, ethics and ideals go down the drain as soon as you get sick because the survival instincts kick in. so if you are ready to die for your ideals, that is completely fine. many people do. not me though, not me…

        • FrankG says

          On a Diabetes forum where I post, is a lady who like me, uses an LCHF diet to manage her condition.

          She chooses not to eat meat for her own reasons, which I respect and she certainly never tries to force her views on anyone else.

          She freely offers that: it is a great deal harder for her to manage an LCHF diet as a vegetarian (allowing eggs and dairy), than it is for me eating meat. She does not think that vegan would be possible for her.

          I also see throughout the comments here, feedback to “failed” vegans who “didn’t do it properly”.. and have asked (without any response) why and when nourishing our bodies became such a complicated task? It seems you almost need a degree in nutrition.. which further underlines for me my concern regarding forcing such a lifestyle choice on innocent children; during their vital years of growing and development.

          I see veg*ans pointing to figureheads like Einstein (even on a veg*an website I read that he probably only ate vegetarian for the last year of his life) or the current world strongest man, who did not get that way by eating vegetarian… he reportedly became vegetarian in 2005 and vegan in 2011 — just in time to become the spokesperson for PETA (I wonder how well that pays?)

          Dr’s Neal Barnard and McDougall both grew up on their families’ livestock farms. Barnard in particular not “converting” to meatless until his 20′s. Now he fronts the PCRM… which for some reason tries to obfuscate their vegan agenda.. why try to hide a good thing?

          Like you, I can enjoy a tasty varied diet, even missing meals, as I trust my body… confident that I am well-nourished and healthy. If I need further proof, I have years of lab tests and marked improvements to my teeth, gums, skin and hair — plus I rarely even get a cold these days.

          • Curious says

            FrankG: what is your area of expertise? Are you helping Chris K on this blog too – as I see many, many posts by you here – just wondering is all especially since you mention above you post on a Diabetes forum?

            Just curious as well, how it is that the PCRM bothers you so much because you posted this many times here as well. I think many docs today are clearly using whole food plant based (first used back in the 80s) instead of vegan for many reasons, i.e. vegans can eat very poor diets.

            I don’t think that any one is arguing there are health/nutrition clinical conditions for eating or not eating certain foods thereby adjusting diet if necessary.

            • FrankG says

              Why do you ask “Curious”?

              If my comments don’t already speak for themselves, then I see no reason to justify myself to yet another anonymous pseudonym.

                • FrankG says

                  Then perhaps you should heed the cautionary tale (tail?) of the proverbial cat.

                  I’ve no intention of discussing who I am, or why I am here with you.

                  I think that my comments stand on their own.. if you feel that they do not and you have specific questions regarding them, or counter-arguments to them, then you so far as I am concerned you could probably feel free to say so.

                  But given that you seem unable to grasp why I take issue with the VPCRM hiding their true agenda, pretending to be one thing while saying another… and that several others have referenced the PCRM site as if it were a reliable source, then I have serious doubts that we can see eye to eye on many issues here.

          • Tallulah says

            FrankG, I’d like to address one issue and ask one question. I believe that nourishing our bodies has become such a complicated task because the quality of our food has become so compromised over the last few decades. We have modified our food sources so much that we can’t possibly know what long-term effects we may be creating. History is full of examples of wonderful innovations that proved to be detrimental. Regardless of diet, we all would do better to educated ourselves on what we put into our bodies. My questions to you is about your stated marked improvement in teeth, gums, skin and hair. This suggests that at some point these things were worse than they are now and that the improvements are due to dietary changes. However, you never said what you changed – or I missed it. So, what exactly is the dietary reason for these improvements?

        • AK says

          But it can be argued that you are dying for your ideals as well. A statement like that does nothing to move the discussion forward.

      • Still Learning says

        I agree! Stop blaming the label of ur diet. Omni eaters or vegetarian, bad eating habits are BAD eating habits regardless the label. And u will suffer health problems due to these habits.

    • Sky Child says

      Why I don’t have to think twice about my vegan diet — There’s no ethical way to take a life.

      Taken directly from the article,
      “but there was no survival difference between vegetarians or omnivores. Nor was there any difference in rates of heart disease or stroke between the two groups. In other words, omnivores who are health conscious live just as long as vegetarians that are health conscious.”
      Meaning that you can go through an entire life without supporting the meat industry, without existing by taking the lives of others to sustain your own, and live just as long as omnivores. The fact is that you no longer need to eat meat to live a healthy life, so why do you?

      Finally, even if my health was negatively affected by my diet, EVEN IF, by some absurd study, the injury that has taken away everything I love in life for the last year was proven to be a direct result of my diet (and not, as I suspect, from my own mistake of overtraining three hours a day, six days a week for a very long time) then I still would make no change. I will gladly sacrifice a portion of my own health in order to prevent cruelty and slaughter of others.

      As a side note, if you’re going to promote a paleo diet, and then go on to say that
      “EPA and DHA. These long-chain omega fats are found exclusively in marine algae and fish and shellfish”
      is essential to your health, then count out a large part of land dwelling people throughout history. I highly doubt the likelihood that something available only to those cultures that ate fish is absolutely necessary to our body. Beneficial, sure, but hey, Silk has got you covered with Soymilk with DHA and 30% more calcium than milk.

    • Richard says

      Nancy, your comment does not make sense. A vegan diet is likely as healthy as it gets. Maybe you are allergy to some whole plant-based food but need medical help to figure that out.
      There are plenty of studies and well-documented books that show dairy and meat are not good for you.

      • Rich says

        There are just as many, and likely more, that prove that dairy and meat can be perfectly healthy parts of a good diet.

        Any study that claims “meat”, especially, is bad for you fails to control for anything else, such as source of meat and other lifestyle factors. Is vegan healthier than eating industrially-produced food and fast food all the time? Yes. Is vegan healthier than my diet, which consists of locally-raised grass-fed beef and chicken, as well as produce from local farmers? Nope.

    • Melanie says

      This is a very ignorant article. And if your lack of education on the subject does not make a vegetarian bad for you. Non fermented soy products should not be consumed especially by men. There are B 12 supplements. I’m just so confused about the lack of knowledge. .. Our ancestors, including the “ice man” were actually proven to eat no or little meat. There are long term scientific studies proving a plant based diet is better for you and the environment. Watch the movie Forks Over Knives. … This is the dumbest article I’ve read in a very long time…

      • einstein says

        sorry to have to say so but your comment is the one which is very dumb. your wishful thinking won’t change the facts of live. stay entrenched on your misguided ideals and pay the price years fm now with your health. you must be very young to be so naive…

        • Foodie says

          Reviews and critiques of other peoples work abound. I am glad Minger is involved in making her opinions informed and sharing those with others. I am also glad I can do my own research when a mass produced book, edited for sales and same for a movie are released. I wish Minger would do such and in depth public critique of Cordain’s work/ for book is full of errors and untruths, just to fair to the public.

          Nutritional studies

          • Foodie says

            posted before completed:
            Nutritional studies and research, for the most part, are hard to do – can’t do blinded studies in most all cases because people have to see/report what they eat. However, epidemiological and retrospective studies do provide information. Then you need to factor in genetics, etc. – meaning we all know people who practically abuse their bodies and live long healthy lives…not all smokers get cancer or emphysema, etc.

            • einstein says

              i seriously doubt you do your research the way Minger does. that girl is a genius and i know one when i see one :-). I must admit I did not read Cordain’s work (I have a big problem with the low-fat paradigm), but I heard about it. I am a big fan of the Jaminets, Sisson, Taubes, Kresser, Robb Wolf, Masterjohn, the Drs Eades, Peter Attia, of course Minger etc. Could it be possible that they are all wrong? You don’t need to be me, to answer that question :-)

              • Foodie says

                Quite an assumption on your part einstein! I have done extensive research in this area and was part of research IRB approved in another area of healthcare – behavior change. As far as I know, Minger, who is an intelligent person, has done her own published research – just saying since you brought it up.

                Of course they could all be wrong, whether the research or just a someone interrupting research. “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”

                The real: Albert Einstein

                • Foodie says

                  correction: As far as I know, Minger, who is an intelligent person, has NOT done her own published research –

                • FrankG says

                  Oh right.. so we should just ignore everything she has done? LOL :-P

                  I’m getting a little pissed off at those who think that an appeal to authority holds any meaning…

                  What formal qualifications did Galileo have or Newton for that matter… if they were around today would we similarly ignore them?

                  Tel you what: imagine Albert Einstein (who pretty much flunked “high” school and dropped out of University) walked into a room full of physicists and made a pronouncement about a new hypothesis of his. Do you imagine that for one second his past genius and qualifications would in any way make those other scientific minds accept what he had to say, without question or scrutiny?!?

                  There is no free ride in science. The data speaks for itself which is what Denise Minger points out… and T. Colin Campbell based his conclusions on his own vegan agenda… that is inexcusable in my view.

                  Being able to apply the scientific method is not limited to those with a degree in a scientific field.

                • FrankG says

                  Einstein was working as a patent clerk when he wrote world-changing papers. Leonard Susskind: one of the leading figures in string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology started his working life as a plumber!

                • Foodie says

                  No reply button below so adding follow up here: I was quoting Albert Einstein so, not sure why the backlash. The list is quite long – Bill Gates didn’t finish college – no one will argue that brilliance CAN come from outside established schooling. I was responding to einstein’s ” seriously doubt you do your research the way Minger does.” comment as the only reason I was pointing out that I have done research into the subject like Minger and have this as a life experience. This is confusing – you want science you don’t want science?
                  I am off to do my own research.

                • einstein says

                  2 things. so you did your own research into the subject like Minger. that’s a bold statement and there’s no way I believe it without a link to it. and your results came out similar to those of Campbell’s? As much as I don’t like Campbell’s biased conclusions, I don’t think you are in the same league with him, as a scientist, are you? Minger knocked that guy out of his socks and left him breathless and did not even need to do research. She “just” cracked the numbers of Campbell’s own research and interpreted them correctly. Isn’t that funny? Now if you are serious about your own research blabla, drop a link to it. I promise to read it with a critical eye but without bias. or go and try to fool somebody else with your fake credentials.

          • FrankG says

            Great to hear from yet another supporter of Denise Minger’s approach to pointing out the flaws in works such as The China Study and Forks Over Knives… always good to hear :-)

      • FrankG says

        ‘Our ancestors, including the “ice man” were actually proven to eat no or little meat. ‘

        The “ice man” Ötzi, was Neolithic not Paleolithic. And the debate continues as to the diet on which he grew up and lived… who has the better evidence.. those who study the stable isotopes in the bone, teeth, or hair samples? It makes sense to me that the bone and teeth isotopes are more reflective of lifelong diet that the hair would be.

        Regarding his last meals…
        “According to the DNA reconstruction, the man’s last meal was composed of red deer (Cervus elaphus) meat, and, possibly, cereals; this meal had been preceded by another one based on ibex (Capra ibex), different species of dicots, and cereals.”


        • AK says

          I don’t understand how looking at the last meals of a man who died 5000 years ago in a world with such different food to what we have now, in an environment so different to where we live now, can tell us what we should eat now.

          He was 45, died of a wound, was 1.65m, and 50kg in weight. What does that really tell us about how optimal his diet was?

      • John Richards says

        Fact is, until recently people who lived in very cold climates subsisted mainly on seal blubber. Plants don’t grow so well in ice. You should study the Inuit Eskimos.

    • Erk Rohm says

      Of course caution should be taken! There is to much bashing going on here. The science is definitely not “in” that being vegetarian is bad for you, most studies say otherwise. If there is new evidence coming out then we should weigh that, but the science is not in, and maybe it never will be. Most people are bashing vegetarians bc it fits their MO of wanting to eat their tasty fleshy treats, but all this article is saying to me is that you need to be smart about it and that goes for every kind of diet.

      We know there are bad diets, but there is no perfect diet, and everyones body is different. I encourage vegetarianism from an ethical, environmental, and health standpoint, but I believe and know that some people need to eat meat and that in small amounts it can be very healthy and possibly more so than vegetarianism. This article shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to bash what is a very compassionate, healthy, and beneficial way of living, but as a way for vegetarians to be smarter and not be arrogant about our lifestyles.

    • hannah says

      Christopher, no offense, but you are not malnourished if you eat mostly carbs and soy. That is definately not a healthy vegan diet. you should have eaten mostly veggies and fruits, also some GOOD carbs and not so much soy. with this kind of nutrition it is in fact not possible to get sick..if you tried living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle for ethic reasons and stuff, maybe you can try again with a proper nutrition.

    • Richard says

      WOW, that is interesting because my natural plant-based diet has had the opposite impact on my health. Besides feeling better than I have for decades my weight is well below the maximum for my height, my waist is much smaller, my blood pressure and uric acid levels are way down.
      I do not miss that meat, milk or cheese, which in many cases is near poison…

    • Richard says

      Yes, if you are a vegan on diet coke and French Fries eventually it will catch up to you.

      Try eating whole plant-based food focusing on legumes, greens and other vegetables, nuts, avocado and seeds with occasional fish and eggs.

    • SteveL says

      Dude, why would you eat mostly soy and carbs? There are all sorts of online resources available to show you how to do it the right way. Try Engine 2 diet. Or Forks over Knives…

      I would die of malnutrition if I ate mainly soy and carbs because I hate soy and carbs are mostly processed foods… yuck.

  2. Deanna says

    I have met a few people lately that eat a low animal protein diet because of the research that animal protein increases the risk of cancers. Can you please show is some research that refutes that? Thank you!!

    • Michael Cohen says

      One can endlessly cherry-pick different studies to support ones preconceived conclusions. This is why in order to obtain a realistic view point I keep coming back to the longest running and most extensive dietary study extant. It is called human history. If the Vegan Way of Eating was at all proper and natural for humans should’nt we see many examples of it in nature? In fact the OPPOSITE is true. There are NO reproducing vegan cultures, one has never been observed.Man living in his most natural state,that of the Hunter Gatherer, gets on the average 2/3 of his calories from animal foods. . Some like the Masai, Inuit, and Plains Indians get/got almost %100 of their calories from animal sources. These populations were observed to be virtually free of modern degenerative diseases until they start eating modern foods, namely white flour,sugar and vegetable seed oils. If we look at the foods in the modern diet that in the last century that have increased along with the increases in modern diseases,we see the same culprits, refined carbohydrates and vegetable seed oils.

      • tim says

        I think you completely misunderstand why you see no vegetarian diets in hunter gatherer societies. It is not due to nutrient deficiency, but caloric intake compared to caloric output.

        It is a lot more calorie efficient to hunt just may than to gather would gains, fruits and vegetables. This is why hunter gatherers eat a primarily meat based diet. However as far as I’m aware nowadays we can do all our “gathering” in one convenient place called a supermarket. This is much more calorie efficient system, hence why we use it.

        • Michael Cohen says

          But you dont come from a VEGAN culture.(There are none) Traditional lacto-ovo vegetarian societies get many of their calories from the saturated fats in whole milk products. It is curious that vegetarian India has some of the highest diabetes and heart disease rates in the world. Why? Perhaps substituting cheaper vegetable fats (inflammatory,carcinogenic) for ghee. Refined grains and sugars.

          • einstein says

            you nailed all three reasons in one sentence. congrats. not to mention most Indians look very very sickly. even the “healthy” ones. at least they did the last time I was there, which is less than a year ago.

            • Dillon says

              You should post a picture of yourself so we can all get a good look at your appearance… then make a judgement on how it relates to your diet. Preferably next to one of those “sickly Indians” you encountered on your esteemed travels for comparison’s sake.

      • SteveL says

        Hunter gatherers? You mean like the American male that hunts for bacon, roast beef and steak at the grocery store so he can sit on his fat ass on the couch and eat it while gathering his metabolic syndrome diseases?

        The problem with Paleo (like Atkins) is that probably a very small proportion of people that claim to be on it are actually following it. I mean, who really is going to go out and buy extremely expensive grain fed meats or wild game? And, seriously, since people talk about what our ancestors did, who is actually going to take a spear and run around a forest for 3 days in order to kill a mesquite smoked honey glazed bacon beast and then drag it back 10 miles to the camp so that it can be shared by the tribe? All the while living on nothing but nuts and berries on the way.

        I remember when Atkins came along and gave the green light to eat whatever high fat revolting piece of flesh you wanted to eat. Sure, he recommended leaner meats but nobody actually followed that recommendation. And he recommended vegetables but nobody followed that either.

    • einstein says

      do your homework, don’t expect others to do it for you. you have google, right? those studies are crap, and there is a truckload of studies on the net that prove them wrong. just one question. ever since I got interested in nutrition and devote a lot of time studying it, I see a lot of vegans and vegetarians giving up this lifestyle once they get sick and turning to a paleoish diet (reintroducing some meats), after which they praise how good they feel again. but I have not seen any paleo acolate turned vegan. not one! doesn’t this reveal something?

  3. summer says

    Thank you for this important article, Chris. It took a near hip break at 31 and the discovery that I had the bone density of a woman twice my age for me to finally give up veganism after 16 years. Once I put my biases aside and began researching the type of diet that would heal my body, I realized I needed more than the supplements I was taking as part of my therapy and transitioned from a two decades-long vegetarian diet to one that included fish, eggs, and eventually red meat. There was period of adjustment but I wish I had done it sooner. The vegan community, whatever its intentions, has done a great disservice to women (and especially those recovering from eating disorders, for which veganism is often a cover) by touting the diet’s (imagined) health benefits.

    • drew says

      This myth has been so debunked over the years that it is almost alarming to hear it still be promulgated. Every study the world over proves that every culture with high dairy intact has the most issues with poor bone density. The intact of dairy actually forces the bones to leach calcium.

      • einstein says

        so wrong, so wrong. especially the last sentence is complete nonsense. go tell the masai that they have weak bones. there is more to none density, much more. vit D, calcium and especially vit K2! ever heard about that one?

        • drew says

          .. my point on calcium and dairy are proven in many many unbiased studies the world over, should you decide to look.

    • Shari Burckhardt says

      Your post is just another inaccurate generalization. While vegetarian/veganism may not have been beneficial for you that does not mean you can assume it is not beneficial for some. Every human has different health issues to deal with and different genetic makeup. For me, going vegetarian is what saved my life. I have health conditions that put me in the E.R. up to 3 times a month and the week I went vegetarian that stopped. Even with my amazing results I do not think vegetarian/veganism is best for everyone. Each individual needs to find out what their body needs and adjust their diet accordingly. You have to know how to blend a proper menu to get all the nutrients you need as with any way of eating. If you do not pay close attention to what you are and are not getting from your food sources you can become deficient and do more harm than good. But this can be seen with all menu plans. My point is there is no one miracle way of eating that works for every person on this planet. Each individual needs to find what works best for them and strive to make sure their menu meets those needs.

  4. sharon says

    I started eating meat and fish again two years ago after being vegetarian for two decades. For a couple of years i’d had experienced cravings, for meat in particular, but i couldn’t get myself to eat it. Now though i can say that starting to eat meat and fish again was the single best decision i could have made. The way my health started improving after a couple of months, both physically as mentally, is ridiculous. I could never go back.

  5. Erica Martell says

    I’d feel better about this if your article said “Please familiarize yourself with the process by which your meat gets to you (i.e. they just discovered men having sex with cows in an Idaho dairy.) More than ten million pounds of rotten beef has been recalled in the past week or two alone. The alternative, happy slaughter, is a myth. All animals fear death, know it’s coming, and don’t go willingly to it. Then you are truly offering your readers a service. Then they can honorably make up their own minds. Or they can take a vitamin or two instead. Otherwise your article is self-serving. I know you have drilled down to the micro-nutrient value of everything, but most people don’t optimize their lives to that extent anyway. Everyone is deficient in many things, starting with Vit. D, so laying that, to people who don’t know better, at the foot of veganism, is disingenuous because you know that is the case.

    • Neil says

      What relevance does the fact that a few perverted people had sex with cows in one American state. I’m from Australia. Does this mean that we omnivores should avoid carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, bananas and the like for the obvious (‘wink wink’) connotations these may have? As to the comment on spooled food, do what I did for most of last year and spend some time in third world countries to see the quality and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables in many of those countries. It is enough to make you want to eat meat!

      • Hope says

        Cows are pumped full antibiotics. They are milked with special machines. They’re fed absolute crap. Not the natural stuff their suppose to be fed. Then their utters end up infected from all of that. So of course theirs puss that the company isn’t filtering out of the cow since they’re allowed to have so much pus in a container of milk. So what you’re drinking is absolutely disgusting. Another fact: Our intestines are 3 times longer than any other omnivores or carnivores, so while we eat fruits and vegetables they go smoothly and quickly through our body. But the reason people get cancers is because meat moves slowly through our body and rots. just like if you sat some meat in a really warm room it would rot. And it sits in there for at least 48 hours. Other animals don’t get cancers but we do. and that’s because we eat this stuff that we shouldn’t. Meat isn’t something we’re suppose to put into our bodies. Please research Freelee the Banana girl on youtube. She fallows a fruit based diet and she’s extremely healthy. She has also post a video of a speech given by a vegan who will tell you the same things I told you here. It’s definitely worth watching.

        • Katie says

          Meat doesn’t cause cancer. What could be in the meat can. Antibiotics, growth hormones, whatever the cows eat we eat. If the cow ate GMO corn, we’re also eating GMO corn. Same goes for the vegetation. If it’s GMO or smothered in pesticides, same poo different pile. You know who’s actually pumped full of pus, hormones and antibiotics? US HUMANS. If you think the cow is really bad off, you should see the stuff they’re giving humans. Do you even know what those doctors are giving you, really? I mean, some of us even take a pill to affect our very ability to produce children and instinctively find a viable mate to produce healthy children with – AND NO ONE SEEMS TO QUESTION IT.

          “Our intestines are 3 times longer than any other omnivores or carnivores, so while we eat fruits and vegetables they go smoothly and quickly through our body. But the reason people get cancers is because meat moves slowly through our body and rots.”

          Who is to say it goes smoothly and quickly, or that it’s a good thing it does? That means you may not be absorbing everything you need from it. Also means that if meat is actually ROTTING in your intestines, you’d be feeling it a lot sooner! If your stomach acid is in working order, you are chewing properly, and aren’t impairing your stomach in ways such as diluting with water before a meal or being very stressed, digesting meat in reasonable portions should not be an issue.

          We are not lions or wolves. We cannot eat JUST meat. We have canines, stomach acid, a small and large intestine for a reason. It’s true their stomach acid is 20x stronger and intestines are shorter, but they also can go a very long time before they have to eat again and they eat in large chunks without proper chewing. Keeps them fuller for longer.

          If you tried to go and live off the land right now as a vegan or vegetarian, and this is without your supplements, you probably wouldn’t fair well. Especially if you live no where near the equator, and that’s a fact you can see with every native tribe that lives off the land. Even within these tribes, they actually value the bones and fat the most, as the marrow contains many AMAZING enzymes (like the ones in the home made chicken soup when you’re feeling sick), and the saturated fat containing the necessary energy to keep going for a long time. The meat they ate last is the meat most people try and buy today such as “lean meats” and muscle tissues.

          Stress/adrenaline from the adrenal glands shut down digestive enzymes so you can’t break food down properly, something of which we see in this society today. So much stress that it just further promotes the idea that being a vegan is the smartest thing to do but is it really if you gotta take ANY supplements to make up for the lack of bioavailability?

          Cancer, by the way, is inflammation. Instead of blaming meat (ludicrous, btw) you should be looking at undigested sugars from carbohydrates, starch (potatoes and rice) and refined sugars. Yeast causes cells to inflame, which allows cancer to tamper with the mitochondria of our cells and take over. As yeast dies off, it releases toxins into the blood stream and if a sufficient amount of die off gets to your brain, you’re basically dead. With a natural healthy balance of organic vegetables and free range meat, this isn’t typically a problem. When you’re doing a yeast cleanse, you actually have to avoid eating fruit and raw vegetables because of the natural yeast cultures on the vegetables. Sharks don’t get cancer, and what do they eat? Fish. Meat. Not plants. They’re also the rulers of the sea and highly muscular. When they’re not hunting, they’re also gentle creatures.

          The paleo lifestyle has been working absolute wonders for me and I’m actually seeing myself recover from chronic fatigue, but seeing posts like these infuriate me because you’re doing nothing more than perpetuating the notion that we aren’t supposed to be eating something that we have been consuming for thousands of years and if it was really bad…

          WE WOULD NOT BE HERE. HUMAN RACE WOULD HAVE CROSSED THE FINISH LINE CALLED EXTINCTION. We did not evolve over hundreds of thousands of years to eat a carrot.

          I’m only 20 years old and it bothers the crap out of me that every aspect of our food supply has been tampered with and that the food guides promoted by government appointed nutritions are saying 25% of our diet at least should be grains, and now there’s people bashing meat because there’s big corporations that want to make a quick buck at the consumers expense by compromising the treatment and integrity of animals. If this were 100 years ago, the hardcore vegans would literally have no argument other than meat might have been expensive if you couldn’t afford it.

          Anyways, to top off everything, I highly recommend checking this out.
          “The Ideal Human Diet” a presentation by a naturopathic doctor named Dr. Paul Theriault


          Question EVERYTHING. Question me, question yourself, question what you think is right / wrong. Don’t ever assume you have all the answers and put ideologies aside to find out what your body TRULY needs. Be realistic, be grounded – this is a lacking trait in the vegan community, and I can’t respectfully stay quiet and let someone impressionable think you’re absolutely right and possibly ruin their health.

          • einstein says

            thanks katie. your post made my day. so young and so reasonable. definitely on the right track. i am glad for you.

          • Richard says

            How do you know meat does not cause cancer? Well, what if it is excess animal protein that causes cancer….would you feel better with that and just continue eating all the meat you want along with dairy and eggs?

        • Honora says

          It might be all about the genotypes: 3 vegan women did a traverse of the South Island of New Zealand a few years ago. (Mana Wahine). 2 did very well but one started to fade and had to address a required change in her regime. They were eating the same food.

          I have a heterozygous mutation affecting 1298ac, which along with other mutations I have, affects the methylation pathways. It’s crucial to have a functional amount of Vit B12 and folate to offset this. It’s pretty much standard for everyone to have some form of mutation affecting methylation.

          I’m also wondering about some amino acids such as taurine being in short supply on a plant based diet but need to research this a bit more. I know cats can’t manufacture taurine and need it in their food. I think having a look at Dr Terry Wahl’s input on the same email from Chris says it all…

        • John says

          It’s a complete myth that meat rots in your colon. It’s completely digisted by the hydrocloric acid in your stomach. Plant matter, on the other hand, does that. It is what’s broken down by the bacteria in your intestine. This is the definition of rot. So it’s not plant matter that rots in your colon, it’s plant matter. However, that in itself isn’t a reason to not eat plants, either. Many people have found benefits to feeding their gut bacteria with resistant starch. So any “rotting” action in your colon could very well be a good thing.

          • bcflyfisher says

            How dare you inject logic and reason into this discussion?! :)

            But of course you’re correct. Meat gets dealt with promptly in the stomach. It’s plant matter that makes the long (actually, relatively short) journey through our digestive system, “rotting” along the way. But that’s ok. As you stated, we have wonderful healthy colonies of bacteria that exist in perfect harmony with that plant matter. We evolved alongside animal and plant foods.

            We are omnivores and our physiology clearly demonstrates that. Trying to outsmart our genes by replacing our ancestral food sources with pills may sound good on paper but I question the effectiveness.

            • einstein says

              true, and that’s why nobody gets bloated after eating meat, but there are many types of vegetables that blow you up like a balloon. those bacteria and the rotting process do produce a lot of gas…:-)

          • Richard says

            Is it also a myth according to you that people who eat large quantities of meat have a higher risk of colon cancer?

            I would like to see a reference to the study verifying that…

        • Karla Smith says

          “Other animals don’t get cancers but we do”. Wrong, other animals, fed on a western diet (cat and dog food) do get cancer and cats are carnivores with short guts, back to the drawing board for that theory. & when stomach acid has a Ph of 1-2 I don’t think meat just sits there and rots somehow.

        • Mina says

          Are you serious when you say something like meat “rots” in the intestine. That it is similar to sitting out in a warm room?! Did you never take biology, human anatomy, a health class for God’s sake?! The intestines are breaking down the meat and the vegetables and anything else you put in there, starting with the saliva, continuing with the stomach acids etc. Come on, let’s at least be half educated in our comments?

        • Kim says

          OMG! Seriously? Shoulda known the 30 banana’s a day nuts would show up defending their bizzare views. You just can’t get it through your nutrient deficient brains that there are actually livestock that don’t exist in feedlots. There are in fact, herds of cows and bison that graze off the grass like they are suppose to. You might try downloading the TED talk by Sir Allan Savory: http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

          • Richard says

            And they go right to the slaughter house from your dream meadows? I do not think there are many that do that….the owners prefer to fatten them up before slaughter and also give them plenty of antibiotics or worse if they need it to sell them.

        • einstein says

          your comment reveals such ignorance, that I wouldn’t know where to start educating you beyond the scope of a short reply. no wonder so many people are up to their necks in sh… it is not about food. the root cause of all misery is ignorance. so sad….

    • Peter Johnson says

      Thank you for pointing out what I already knew. It is unfortunate that some systems of slaughter put animals through more distress than is necessary and I certainly don’t believe in “happy slaughter” – a term I haven’t actually heard before. But I’m ok with the fact that animals face some distress in slaughter. I can see no way of avoiding a certain amount of distress in the process. Minimization of that distress is desirable. So know that at least one person is informed and will happily continue eating meat.

      • Josh says

        Sorry but your comment epitomises whats wrong with the human race – animals are living beings too. Meat eating is socially and culturally cultivated. It was a survival tactic in the early ages but there is no reason why people should consume it now. I think it boils down to people who just lack the foresight, intellect and compassion to understand the bigger picture.

        • John says

          Plants are also living things. And they also try to defend themselves from being eaten by employing a variety of anti-nutrients. The truth is, no living thing wants to end up as food, but we all do eventually.

          • Luna says

            That’s not entirely true. Fruits (and foods that we call veggies but are actually fruits like cucumbers and tomatoes) actually do want to be eaten. Anything with seeds or a pit wants to be eaten; that’s how they reproduce. People/animals eat the fruit of the plant, run off somewhere else, a little while later the seeds are eliminated along with some awesome fertilizer, or they eat the fruit and toss the pit aside, which can then grow into a new plant.

            Aside from that, more plants die in order for people to eat meat then if you just eat plants. It takes a lot of plant calories to get a cow to size. Less animals and plants are harmed if we just eat plants, instead of filtering them through another animal. While some degree of suffering must be present in the way our world works, you would think minimizing it should be everyone’s duty. And while everything ends up food eventually, it’s pretty messed up that we bring billions of creatures into existence every year for the sole purpose of being food.

      • Honora says

        I was talking yesterday with a farmer who homekills his animals for food. I mentioned how someone at work recalled how the pigs would get distressed on her farm early in the morning that her father had in mind to slaughter one of them. He said in response to this that he’d often observed his flock of sheep would surround the one that he had chosen to kill that day. Hmmm….

    • says

      Thanks for your eloquent rebuttal… It sure saved me the time doing it myself. I see this as a self serving article as well. I’m seeing a pattern emerge that every time there’s a video/expose’ released some “health” site posts the disadvantages of being vegan. I’m beginning to think it’s part of damage control. And I wouldn’t put it past them…

    • anna says

      ” All animals fear death, know it’s coming, and don’t go willingly to it:
      And you know this how? Are you sure they will never die if we stop eating them?

    • Isa says

      The fear of death is one of the least problems with modern meat production, I would say. The “life” these animals have before is so full of suffering and cruelty it doesn’t even deserve this term.

      But people continue to be egoistic and care only about good taste and stuff.

      • Helen says

        That rather depends on the farmer, my meat (I can go and view it on the hoof ) spends up to 3 years grazing on grass and clover, never kept in barns over winter as it is a native hardy breed.
        Winter it feeds on grass or silage.

        I too spent several years eating as a vegetarian, my health in December took a very serious turn and I became very ill. I went onto a veggie and meat based diet and am much improved. I have no choice when it comes to eating meat but I do have a choice where my meat comes from and how it has been reared. Carefully reared and slaughtered in a small local slaughter house where they believe in minimising stress, animals are kept by farmers to make a living and the good ones do it well. They don’t keep them to make the fields look pretty

      • FrankG says

        And if the vegans had their way, what kind of a life do you think that cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens etc… would have? NONE! Do you think the farmers would keep them on as pets if they had no value to us? Stop living in a fantasy and get real

        • Annette says

          So if someone put you in captivity, exploited your reproductive organs by artificially inseminating you, then took away your babies so they could kill and eat them, are you meant to be grateful that at least your babies got to ‘live’? Are THEY meant to be grateful? Go and eat all the animals that are sitting in the farms- but stop forcing them to reproduce so you can eat their offspring!

          • FrankG says

            Who said anything about gratitude?

            I may be grateful to be a small part of this life-cycle/ecosystem but I don’t live in some kind of a Disneyfied fantasy world of talking bunnies and doe-eyed deer.

            I am against factory-farming. I am against cruelty and disrespect for life… yes including humans — my own species! I am also against vast mono-cultures that are sucking up and wasting natural resources at an alarming rate.

            But instead of whining and complaining, I am actually doing something about it.. not least of which is voting with my dollar; by supporting local, seasonal sustainable sources.

            If you insist on adopting an unrealistic attitude to the facts of life, then please feel free to “stop the world and let you off”… just don’t expect that everyone else is barmy enough to jump ship with you.

            • Annette says

              “I am against cruelty and disrespect for life” LISTEN to yourself. Here I stand, vegan since birth, 30 years later- WITHOUT EVER having to have gone out of my way to harm or kill to fill my stomach and fuel my body. And you have the hide to claim to respect life? Give me a break- and don’t ever say that to a vegan again unless you want to be laughed at! What a joke.

              • FrankG says

                So what life have you taken in your 30 years.. or what has been taken on your behalf?

                Because you cannot live without taking life form another life-form on this planet.

                Maybe you subscribe to the “we are all equal… but some are more equal than others” school of thought?

                If I am a joke then you are an hypocrite.

                • Annette says

                  Life as in SENTIENT life with complex nervous systems and the ability to experience pain. I’m sorry that you need people to point out the obvious without having the ability to see it by yourself.

                • FrankG says

                  You are really showing your ignornace now Annette, if you think that the dark-ages human-defined idea of sentience and complex nervous system are all that count these days. Do you really have no comprehension of just how complex and intertwined all life on this planet is and how even plants are now recognised to have reactions and “behaviours”..?
                  Time to get with the program and do some learning.. although that might end up undermining your dogmatic approach to life.

                  Even accepting your contentions about sentience and complex nervous systems, what about the animals which were “displaced” so that your plants could be grown? Or those poisoned — directly or indirectly — by pesticides and other chemicals used to speed their growth? Or those killed during the harvest, storage, processing and transportation?

                  Just so long as you can can bury your head in the sand or put your fingers in your ears so you don’t have to hear the screams personally eh?

                  Like I said.. hypocrisy.

                • Cappy says


                  The number of plants grown for your food is 15 to 40 times the number used to grow my food. You seem to lack the basic understanding that the animals you eat for food eat a lot of plants. A lot of that in grains. And those grains are bought from countries and the poor there cannot afford to buy it at the prices offered from the meat industry. So, your meat animal is fed well, while the poor starve.

                  Animal agriculture uses more biocides than any other industry. And if farmers don’t use intensive farming techniques, they have to use much greater quantities of land which displaces more wildlife, increases green house gases, increases soil erosion, spreads water pollution, and increases the demand for more grazing land which is the primary reason why rain forests are being cut down.

                  Your head is the one buried in the sand. You are fighting tooth and nail to defend your atrocities and using every logical fallacy you can find to avoid looking at the evidence. It is out their, and you have to make a conscious decision to remain ignorant.

                • FrankG says

                  I could easily say pretty much every word for word right back at you Cappy…

                  Unlike you, I actually KNOW where my food comes from and NONE of the meat I buy is fed anything other than grasses and hay… stuff which is indigestible to humans (‘cos were not herbivores in case you missed that basic lesson in biology), stuff indeed, which can grown on land totally unsuitable for growing grains or other plants… but stuff which herbivores can efficiently convert into valuable food for humans, while simultaneously creating new topsoil and depositing biomass which helps in the next growth of even more grasses.

              • Christopher says

                What a joke is right, Annette. You are a total hypocrite! The self-righteous whiff of the vegan reigns supreme with you. One cannot live on this planet without harming or killing for your food and fuel. To think otherwise is utterly delusional.

              • AP says

                If you think your lifestyle is less intrusive to nature, I think you need to re-examine how many lives are lost through agriculture. bugs/rodents/birds/pesticides?

              • Karin says

                Hi Annette,

                I noticed that you state that you are a vegan since birth, and was wondering if you would consider responding to my challenge posted below, which asks for a 3 day vegan meal plan for children that would fulfill all of their nutritional requirements. Thanks!

                P.S. Organic agriculture is currently completely dependent on animal-based agriculture.

              • Dila says

                Both plants and animals are alive and capable of feeling pain. If plants don’t scream when you cut them because they don’t have vocal apparatus it doesn’t mean they don’t feel pain, it doesn’t mean they want to die. Trees drop their fruit with their babies (seeds) inside in order to propagate, not to satisfy your hunger. They know animals will eat them and spread the seeds. Do you plant the seeds of the fruit you have eaten? Fact is- you kill or let others kill every day so you can continue living. It is difficult to accept but to state otherwise is delusional and hypocritical. Open your eyes and be honest with yourself. Thank food on your plate for their sacrifice. And don’t think you are better than others because you don’t eat meat.

                • OnTheFence says

                  As per another post: Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or to experience subjectivity. Plants just don’t have the biology – brain/pain sensors/organs which enable them to see, hear, taste, etc. like animals do.

              • Mina says

                Annette, you my poor thing have never worked in a vegetable processing plant. Your delicious vegetables come chock full of rodents, reptiles, birds and insects that are killed, some gruesomely, in the mass harvesting of said vegetables. Threshers and other harvesting machines mangle the little creatures. Like someone else said some of us live in the real world, life does not exist without death. You have 1st world problems and have never had to scramble for sustenance. Be happy you live in this country where you can make up fantasies about food. Fantasies have no place in most of this world,

                • juliet says

                  1. Let’s say you kill 10 animals (rodents, birds, etc) per kilogram of plant food. You need more plant food to feed livestock than to feed humans, therefore you kill even more little animals.
                  2. Just because animals used for dairy and meat exist only because of us, doesn’t mean that we should exploit them. Maybe it would be better for them not to ever live?

    • Christina says

      You may not agree with the way certain animals may be slaughtered but there are definitely humane ways of going about this task. Do your own research. Find a sustainable farm that practices the correct methods. This society is extremely lazy. All that most people want to do is roll out of bed and have everything prepared for them. Do the homework. Whether your meat is grass fed, pastured raised, organic or from the store butcher (hopefully, the first two would be your choice) you will get the proper nutrients needed. This of course depends on the bioavailability of the nutrients and proper digestion. (Digestion is so, so important.)
      What you also need to understand here is that plants are alive too. All plants have a natural defense mechanism. They do not want to be eaten, by humans or by animals. When humans ingest plants (vegetables and fruits) they are ingesting many of the goitrins (goitrogens, thiocyanates, flavonoids (soy flavonoids and isoflavones, millet flavonoids and quercetin to name a few.) These are naturally occurring chemicals that disrupt the digestive system as well as normal thyroid function, pancreatic function, kidney function, etc. etc. Ruminant animals have 3 to 5 stomachs that assist in the digestion of these so called vegetable goitrins. We are not ruminant animals. We are omnivores, true, but we are mostly carnivores. Need I say more. Vegetables are important and provide us with beneficial nutrients (especially when cooked, soaked and fermented because here most of the goitrins can be removed, except for soy. Cooking, soaking and fermenting soy will never destroy the goitrogenic activity of soy isoflavones.)
      After all that, the point that I am trying to make, is that when one continuously kills the plant, one disrupts the soil and life cycle of the plant and therefore one disrupts the food source of our ruminant animals. Animals need plants for nourishment and humans need animals for survival…There have been many studies on how man can survive on protein alone…to date there have been no studies of man surviving on only vegetables only.
      Eat some pasture fed chicken (dark meat especially) or a grass fed burger seasoned to perfection – minus the bun of course. That is an entirely different topic of discussion. After all we are protein and without it we will incur malnutrition and tremendous nutrient deficiencies.

      • Walter says

        Perfectly stated Christina. Obviously people do not understand the laws of nature and how all the inhabitants of the earth play a crucial role in it.
        Also, we must be weary of feeding into the industrial-agricultural machine. After all they are only concerned about profits, whether it be from genetically modified organisms or the prescription drugs that you will be taking to help rid yourself of the disease that has been inflicted. Sadly, the vegetarian/vegan lobbyists blindly support the overzealous production of crops( especially rice, soy,wheat, etc) resulting in the destruction of the soil.

        • Cappy says


          Around 80% of the soy and corn produced is fed to animals who are then slaughtered for consumption. In many poor nations, there food is bought to feed to animals leaving them starving. Animal agriculture is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gases, soil erosion, soil depletion, water pollution, and air pollution.

          Grass-fed and other so-called healthy meats are even more destructive to the environment. More land is needed, more greenhouse gases produced, more water used, more soil erosion, and far less sustainable.

          • JoAnne says

            That assertion is not true. There are many biodynamic farms (like the kind run by Joel Salatin) that do not damage the environment in any way, shape, or form. Where did you get your information? Here is an organization dedicated to it that can explain why it is better for the environment to practice farming this way: https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html

            • Cappy says


              Plenty more info on the internet.

              ALL forms of farming damage the environment in some way. At the very least, you are displacing wild life. However, animal agriculture is not sustainable. If everyone ate grass fed beef, we would need to cut down the rain forests at an even faster rate than we do now to create more grazing land. Yes, that is right, meat demand is the single largest cause of destruction of the rain forest.

              The amount of plant-food is over 40 times the amount produce by grass-fed beef on the same size land.

              Meat is in no way sustainable. Those claiming sustainable, healthy, or happy meat are the least sustainable. Yes, they are liars.

              You have to ask yourself, is killing a sentient animal, starving the poor, and destroying the environment really worth a few moments of pleasure to eat something that will significantly increase your risk to all the major diseases? There is nothing in meat that cannot be better obtained from plant sources.

              Oh, and I would google the author. There are a lot of bad reviews. I find it ironic that he talks about vegans being deficient in nutrients, but most of the reviews are him prescribing many very expensive supplements to his clients. I have been vegan for 9 years and I don’t take any supplements. I get all the vitamins I need from a plant-based, whole-foods diet.

              • Annette says

                He also thinks that nuts and seeds are THE highest source of magnesium and encourages magnesium supplements! Unfortunately people like him will always have a following, because when presented with a new, challenging idea, the vast majority of people will spend all of their time and energy defending their current beliefs and only a small handful embrace the idea as something serious to consider. The author clearly lies in the vast majority, and so do his followers. It is truly a shame that so few people experience the benefits of a whole food plant based diet. It really is a higher bar, and one hard to meet on the sort of diet promoted by this author.

                • Honora says

                  I read an article on a vegan website linking to research that said vegans adapted to low input of B12 by recycling what they had very efficiently so it took about 20 years to develop B12 deficiency. With my genotype indicated a slightly increased risk of Parkinson, one great aunt who suffered from that disease and my father and his 2 sisters becoming demented, I’m not taking the chance, thanks.

              • Christopher says

                All forms of human activity, particularly in the form of contemporary civilization, harms the environment in some way. Farming is just one of many practices that wreck our planet but practicing traditional agriculture and husbandry is far less damaging than factory farming, etc. No solution will really make a jot of difference given the overpopulation on this planet and the overconsumption in general by the privileged few.

              • Tam says

                Cappy- thank you. You are awesome. It bothers me so much that meat eaters got to try and tear us down. Seriously? Cause we have compassion for animals, and care about the environment? Everyone dies. You’re not getting out of it. I choose to be kind to the world around me as much as I can. And since I eat everyday, I choose to eat with compassion.

            • Annette says

              How many of these biodynamic farms do you think we would need to replace intensive farming for our growing population? What about in 50 or 100 years from now? Where will we find all this land? On another planet?

          • Walter says


            First and foremost, I do not support “factory farms” and secondly, you obviously did not read, let alone, comprehend anything Christina wrote. You seem to lack the understanding of basic biochemistry, the digestive system, and how nutrients are absorbed and utilized in the body(these subjects are insanely beyond the scope of these posted comments). Your comments pertaining to sustainable farming practices are ridiculously and grossly devoid of facts. Plowing and turning over vast acres of land exposes the soil to the elements of wind, sun, and rain to name a few. Too much exposure destroys the microorganisms and many other components rendering the soil depleted of its nutrients. The practice of adding manure and composted matter into the soil is one of the absolute best ways, if not the best, to enrich and give back desperately needed nutrients. Mono-cropping of our lands has devastated ecosystems. Take a look at what soy,rice,wheat and corn production alone has done to the environment in places like China, the Middle east, South america, etc. Hell, look what it has done here in the states. Nutrient deprived, dead soil is the result. Instead of embracing sustainable methods, chemical fertilizers and a host of pesticides and herbicides are administered. Do some research into the conservation methods of the Native American Indians, particularly those that inhabited parts of California. It is quite impressive. They embraced the symbiotic relationship between animals, plants, and humans. They understood natures cycle of life and consumed both plant and animal. Also, research the history of the “agricultural revolution”. You will find that the plow and sickle has caused countless wars( land grabbing), enslaved and displaced millions of people(and animals for that matter), and destroyed entire ecosystems. Every time “modern” diets and food items have been thrust upon traditional cultures, the outcome is always devastating. By the way, the lands being cleared in the Amazon region are for the corporate-industrial factory farms, but a larger percentage are being cleared for corn, soy, and sugar cane to name a few. I could go on but what is the point? I embrace the natural symbiotic relationship between plants, animals, and humans as it should be.

            • Tam says

              Walter, are you talking about permaculture? Where plants, animals, and humans all contribute to the environment and benefit from the land. That’s the way farming should be done always! Everyone benefits and nothing is exploited. Organic farming today, although it’s better than going the pesticide route, really only serves itself and doesn’t give back to the land. The whole system needs overhauling. I agree with the natural symbiotic relationship of all living creatures….we’re all connected. But I don’t think that this connectivity proves I should eat meat….I choose to live as non-harming as I can to get by.

          • bcflyfisher says

            Quote: “Grass-fed and other so-called healthy meats are even more destructive to the environment. More land is needed, more greenhouse gases produced, more water used, more soil erosion, and far less sustainable.”

            You should come to BC and see how we grass-feed our cattle. Nothing you’re saying applies here.

            I eat the best quality animal products I can afford, raised as humanely as possible, as locally as possible. I buy my beef from the guy who raised it and I catch my own wild salmon. My eggs are a store-bought brand but I’ve visited the farm that produces them.

            The fact is, nothing we do to feed our species on a global scale is going to be completely sustainable any more. Agriculture allowed us to grossly overpopulate the planet. Veg*ns say there are so many people that eating meat is no longer an option. Their solution? Agriculture. *sigh*

          • Drumroll says

            Who’d have thought? Raising animals for grazing and meat consumption can actually restore grasslands and lower the effect of greenhouse gas emissions?


        • FrankG says

          Agreed Walter… I respect ALL life on this planet (including humans) and ALL life shares a common genome, animals AND plants.

          Living requires recycling *life*.. there is no other way to sustain it, other than borrowing it for a time from another living thing (including humans)… I daresay I am being eaten alive by microbes as I type these words and let’s not forget that the bacteria in my gut outnumber the “human” cells in my body by a factor of 10 to 1!

          If others choose to put some forms of life “higher” in importance based on something arbitrary like they have big cute eyes, or a face, or a mother, then I guess that is their choice — but to dress that up as science, or as rationale for health, or saving the planet is where they cross the line and start becoming barmy. I don’t share their views so don’t try to force it one me.

          Do you honestly think that a cow is more important than an 1,000 year old giant sequoia??? Nonsense… just think of the mini-ecosystem living in the tree’s branches, let alone sustained by its roots, or the oxygen it produces, or the water it catches and slows down from becoming run-off etc.. etc…

          Sure we humans need to clean up out act and become more respectful of ALL lifeforms (including ourselves), or we risk killing ourselves off… the planet will go on just fine without us.

          And yes that includes working out (or rediscovering) sustainable ways of feeding ourselves (on borrowed life)…

          In my world-view, that includes livestock and animal products; because I care about my own health, the health of my family and the health of the ecosystem which sustains us.

            • FrankG says

              ALL life is important… we are all part of a interconnected web… an ecosystem.

              Every day researchers find new connections hitherto unknown. Who is to say how important apples, lemons and figs (or something that feeds or otherwise interacts with them) are to human life?

              What annoys me is the attitude I get from vegans that other animal’s lives are more important than humans… just so long as those other animals have faces, cute eyes and mothers of course… who cares about ants, worms, microbes and all those yucky things… ewww!

              • Annette says

                “What annoys me is the attitude I get from vegans that other animal’s lives are more important than humans” How so, because you think humans are sacrificing their health for the well-being of animals? I certainly have not sacrificed anything. My grandfather certainly didn’t either. He hadn’t touched animal products since the week he was diagnosed with liver cancer 25 years ago and was given 4 months to live. A whole- food plant based diet rid him of his cancer and allowed him to thrive for another 25 years before a car accident. HE certainly didn’t make any sacrifices for HIS health. And there are so so so many others.

            • Rich says

              Is this trick question? Of course we should put human life above fruit.

              Nature is objective. Nature doesn’t get offended when humans kill animals or plants for consumption, just as nature doesn’t get offended when a bear kills a salmon for a meal.

              You’re projecting feelings upon a world which doesn’t care for them.

    • says

      Thank you for totally craping on mother nature. Cycle of life. Life eats life. Guess what that plant has a desire for life too. You tout your view point as morally superior? All you are is afraid of your own death. Its a cycle get over it. The lion eats the gazelle. If he didn’t the gazelle would eat all the grasses and all the gazelle’s would die. Your position in NO way is morally superior. It is inferior.

    • says

      Is anyone under the impression that animals not slaughtered for meat somehow find death in a peaceful pasture surrounded by flowers and rainbows? When animals die in nature, it’s not pretty. Usually involves being eaten alive or something more horrible…just a thought. I am absolutely against CAFO’s and other ways of raising meats in which the animals are not allowed to be animals during their life. But they all have to die sometime, right? Or am I missing something?

      • Amber says

        Humans all die too does that mean you want an execution date set up for you from the day you were born?

  6. says

    Thanks for this Chris — it’s a topic I really feel strongly about. I understand if people are concerned about animal welfare but destroying their body and their health is not the solution.

    • anna says

      Particularly destroying the bodies and health of children. I suspect that at a certain moment the law will have to interfere.
      Personally, I’ve met only one vegan (sorry ex-vegan) who is decent enough not to put his two cats on a vegan diet.

      • Katie says

        Only one vegan that was decent enough to not make their cats eat vegan as well? That’s a scary statistic to observe…

        Animal welfare is SO important, but it’s true, human welfare is also important. Why do people put animals before themselves and name themselves selfless? Especially when they’re just taking away the food supply from the herbivores? Their bodies are a lot better at energy and nutrient conservation (although despite that, their lifespans are often shorter, might I add)

        Cows are cute, chickens are cute, but I feel there’s a balance and all living creatures understand it. It’s part of being an Earthling.

          • Katie says

            Annette, being malnourished may not show on the outside. These people could look great but could croak any second. Just because the car’s blinker light isn’t going off, doesn’t mean everything’s good.

            I would also like to know what exactly they’re taking to supplement loss? Are they eating rice, potatoes, wheat, soy, beans? How about those vegan powders with a bunch of ingredients in them?

            Could they do this living off the land? If society wasn’t able to float their lifestyle could they actually obtain this on their own?

        • anna says

          Yes, my sentence was misleading. I noticed the problem, but there is no “edit” button here. I thought that my comment didn’t deserve additional corrective comment.
          I just know only one ex-vegan. An he is pretty decent. I don’t know about others.

  7. charles grashow says


    Why have you changed you position on white potatoes and white rice? I thought they were “safe” starches that were okay to eat.

  8. says

    I get that “healthy user bias”. Makes sense.

    But some studies, such as the “Blue Zone” studies of the long-lived all over the world, do not compare health food shoppers to others, etc, but examine whole societies that maintain a traditional way of eating that are thought to be the reason behind their longevity.

    (More on this here: http://www.garmaonhealth.com/diet/blue-zones-longer-life)

    There are common traits among these long-lived societies irrespective of where located on the planet.

    Some eat meat, but the quantity of it is overwhelmed by veggies, legumes, beans, nuts… plus a big dose of low intensity, constant moving.

    I’m glad that Chris is more open to a wider banquet of food than the Paleo archetype, because if the Blue Zoners are an example of which diets support a long and healthy life, it’s one with more than meat and veggies on the table at every meal.


    • Chris Kresser says


      The Blue Zone studies are problematic, just like the China Study. I’ll post a critique of them in the future.

      There were few, if any, traditional cultures that were vegetarian, and anthropological evidence suggests that up to 50% of daily calories for our Paleolithic ancestors came from animal products.

      There’s not much support from an evolutionary perspective for a vegetarian diet, and even less for a vegan diet.

      • says

        Appreciate you taking the time to reply, Chris.

        Enjoyed your Book Talk Nation interview. Wish there was more time as I noted that there were some pretty interesting questions submitted that the moderator chose not to/didn’t have time to ask… questions that would not be easy to answer via google.

        For instance, there was someone seeking your perspective re high fasting blood sugar levels. This was asked by a self-proclaimed Paleo who eschews carbs, and has 5% body fat. But he suffers from some chronic fatigue syndrome and other energy-sapping stuff.

        One of your blog posts was very helpful for me to understand that my own high (100) fasting blood sugar number may not be problematic if post meal sugar, triglycerides and hemoglobin A1c tests numbers were good (which they are).

        It seems that nuances matter.


        • says

          hey Joe, I was casually reading the comments and realized you were speaking about my ? during the Book talk nation event:) I’m actually a “patient” of Chris Kresser(one consult, but haven’t been able to get a 2nd consult in several months b/c of his book tour…that is another story) and I am trying to sort out why my fasting glucose is rising despite Paleo. Like yourself, I appreciate the wealth of info that Chris Kresser provides and feel his articles are an amazing resource for people like myself that have been forced into “self treatment” b/c of the failures by the medical system. I’m one of those people that when “healthy”(before chronic illness struck), tried Vegan diets, raw foods, & vegetarianism for many years and performed as a “pro-level” athlete, but looking back I can only hypothesize that I would have performed better with a higher fat diet w/ high quality animal proteins. Unfortunately, I have not realized the amazing turn around that many people realize who undertake the “paleo type” diet, but my case is quite severe(osteoporosis in my 30′s, CFS, Fibro, leaky gut, sjogrens autoimmune, possible Lyme, & more fun diagnoses). However, Chris(during our consult) and my other doctors all proclaim they think I’d be much worse off if I hadn’t started on “strict paleo”…hence, my 5% body fat and fit appearance, despite feeling like death most days with debilitating physical/mental fatigue(used to surf daily, cycle everywhere, travel the globe, never miss work, fitness model, etc..not a “quit on life” type of guy). Certain biomarkers like fasting glucose that are getting worse, progressive bone loss(despite K2 supplementation), are making me rethink if Paleo is actually helping my particular case. I’d trade in the appearance of health that the Paleo diet seems to have provided me for even a 20% improvement in my daily cognition and the energy to simply walk a mile, let alone surf the open seas again(my passion before illness struck..I actually fell deathly in in Indonesia in 15 years ago, in a story eerily similar to Kresser’s..why I was so hopeful he could solve my case). If I were smarter or could just be less brain fogged more often, I could likely utilize all the free and amazingly informative information that Chris Kresser provides(selflessly in my opinion) to resolve my own case…however, I just don’t have that much faith in my brainpower;) Watching Kresser’s meteoric rise has actually been a joy, despite it preventing me from following up with him for my personal case…a true example of good people being rewarded for hard passionate altruistic work. I feel bad, I gently “trolled” Chris during that online forum looking for a way as a patient(I paid a huge consult fee to him and was on a long wait list) to have my questions answered since I have not been able to schedule a follow up with his office. I feel bad b/c in no way did I want to take away from the incredible service he provides so many desperately ill people and those simply hoping to optimize their health, but I was also at a loss of how to get through to him. I realize this is a bit off topic and I apologize. I digress, my glucose might be rising for unrelated reasons and as you said may not be an issue for me..however it is a challenge to explain this to the Naturopaths and MDs I see here in Oregon. Funny anecdote, an OHSU(research hospital here) resident Internal Med who saw me was literally in awe & starstruck that he was “sharing” a patient with Chris Kresser…this is a great sign if allopathic medical students are being reached by Kresser’s message(sadly the student couldn’t put into practice what he learned from following Kresser’s work). I think it is important to note as Chris points out in his new book, that Paleo is not one size fits all and I believe this is the case for most “diets/lifestyles” in general. I also feel as Dr. Terry Wahl’s will attest, diet can help those with major health issues, but if your case is severe like mine, diet alone will not resolve most major health cases. It takes diet in combination with lifestyle change, supplements, medication(i.e. LDN), & community(real>virtual, virtual>zero). I have had many a heated debate with family and friends telling me that my “restrictive” diet obviously isn’t working and I should just eat gluten and “live a little”….of course they are viewing things through the privileged lens of robust health, despite bad eating habits. I’ve also had to bite my tongue when trying to convert my autoimmune friends over from their Vegan diets, realizing that it just isn’t that simple for most. Even if I do overcome my many health ailments(looking less likely as I approach 40), I have promised myself to never proselytize to others about any specific diet that has helped me overcome my own unique health predicament. Chris Kresser’s approach resonates so well with many(including myself) because he seems to be open to new research at all times and does not come off dogmatic, while providing excellent fodder for healthy debate. I wish we could all fast forward into the future and see the long-term double blinded studies that show which particular diet provides health and eternal bliss to all…until then, vegans will fight meat eaters for supremacy in online forums, athletic events, TV/movies/stage;)(MMA fighters: Vegan Mac Danzig vs. nearly all MMA, triathletes:Rich Roll Vs. Ben Greenfield, Famous folk: Bill Clinton/Al Gore/Woody Harrelson/Jayz/Beyonce(Vegans) vs. Matthew Mcconaughey/Megan Fox/Jessica Biel) I think the famous examples of both diets, go a long way in showing how success can be fueled by vastly different sources…without getting into the “moral debate” of either lifestyle, “whatever works” for the individual in my opinion is the best approach. It takes trial and error and it is impossible to take all the “bias” out when judging if an individual is healthy or looks good because of or despite the diet they pursue. Again, I apologize for my all over the place input and somewhat off topic comment… To all those reading who are also desperate to overcome long-term, stigmatized amorphous conditions(i.e. CFS/Fibro/Lyme/autoimmune)…keep advocating for yourself and you are not alone, seek community and GOOOO Vegan or GOOOO Paleo, ha, ha I kid, do what works for you! peace:) Most important, if you have a friend or loved one who is ill or even a stranger, try not to judge…a modicum of compassion can save a person’s life.

      • charles grashow says








        “Ikarians, by contrast, eat meat on average just five times per month. And Ikarians eat about a quarter as much sugar as Americans do, and very little processed food (although that is beginning to change.) The overall diet is classic Mediterranean. Buettner describes a typical couple’s daily food routine:

        [A] breakfast of goat’s milk, wine, sage tea or coffee, honey and bread. Lunch was almost always beans (lentils, garbanzos), potatoes, greens (fennel, dandelion or a spinachlike green called horta) and whatever seasonal vegetables their garden produced; dinner was bread and goat’s milk. At Christmas and Easter, they would slaughter the family pig and enjoy small portions of larded pork for the next several months.

        So they’re eating a low-meat, relatively seafood-rich, nutrient-dense diet with plenty of greens and (he emphasizes elsewhere) olive oil. Buettner also mentions a warm beverage they drink which he translates as “mountain tea,” “made from dried herbs endemic to the island,” a rotating, seasonal list that includes wild marjoram, sage, mint, and dandelion leaves. Buetnner had samples of the greens tested in a lab, and they proved to be “rich sources of polyphenols” with “strong antioxidant properties.””

        • anna says

          Well, problems …
          -What is classic Mediterranean diet?
          - Don’t you think there can be diversity there?
          - Don’t you think that “Mediterranean diet” can be some fiction?
          - The “Mediterraneans” I’ve met eat meat even in summer in spite of heat. Did you check the climate there including the amount of sun? Did you check their lifestyle? Are you sure that the “Mediterraneans” spend their days and nights in cubicles? Is it possible that Canadians and Norwegians won’t last long on Ikarians” diet? etc.

        • Chris says

          The Ikarians also fast for 150 days a year, and given its proven links with increased health markers, it’s difficult to attribute their longevity to other factors such as dietary macronutrient composition.

        • teri says

          Well, let’s see…

          1 – Goat milk: In order to produce milk, goats must have babies. What do they do with the babies? I’m quite certain that at least the males are eaten. Otherwise their island would be overrun with goats by now.

          2 – Eating meat 5 times per month: That’s about once a week plus. That’s pretty regular meat consumption, even if it’s in small amounts.

          3 – Slaughtering a pig twice a year: You can bet that if they’re going to the trouble to raise and slaughter pigs, they are using as much of the animal as they can. This would lead me to believe that they are probably cooking regularly with the fat from the animal, as well as likely making stocks or soups from the bones.

          4 – “relatively seafood rich”: While not mentioned in the snapshot of a typical daily diet, this quote (and the fact that they live on an island) tells me that they are also eating fish and/or shellfish on a regular basis. Last I checked, that is also the meat of an animal.

          Does this culture seem to eat less meat than the standard American diet? Yes, but they are far from vegetarian, and definitely not vegan. They also eat far more fresh food than most Americans, and seem to lead far less stressful lives — I would be much more inclined to attribute greater health and/or longer lives to those two factors (along with regular movement, as mentioned by Joe above), than to their non-existent vegetarian diet.

          (For clarification, I am responding only to the quoted material above. I have not clicked through and read the links.)

      • Tara says

        The culture who brought us sublime and highly advanced Spiritual practices such as Yoga (observance, not the physical workout) and Ayurveda (the science of self healing) were vegetarian. And they’ve been around for yonks! The wisdom goes beyond studies, and counting vitamin and mineral content. As Vimalananda calls westerners ‘time watchers’ – only able to measure things on the visual plane. It’s funny to watch the veg debate vs the paleo (which there’s a plug a book for on your post). It’s a level of consciousness that evolves over many lifetimes to need very little food and yet be in radiant health, that you hardly need sleep and yet have boundless energy.. and more. Let people eat what THEY are consciously evolved to want or need on their journey. You can’t tell another what is right for them…no matter how many ‘studies’ there are…

        • JoAnne says

          I live in India now, and can say that there is often a visible difference in health between Hindus and Muslims (who are meat eaters). It is visible in facial structure and dental health.

          This is especially true in the middle class, because development has brought more processed foods to India, and Hindus buy tofu, for example, which was not really common in India before. There has been some movement away from traditional foods toward refined vegetable oils and boxed foods, low fat stuff like skim milk. And lots of sugar!

          Historically, Hindus still ate a lot of dairy in the form of ghee, milk, yogurt, buttermilk, and paneer. While many would not eat eggs, because it’s not considered vegetarian, dairy has been an important staple.

          Muslims, on the other hand, eat meat a few times per week, eggs, and also consume a lot of dairy. When goats are slaughtered here, the organ meats are important. My MIL always gave my husband goat kidney or brain if he was getting a cold. All of his siblings, his parents, his 36 aunts and uncles, too-many-to-count cousins, etc, have beautiful smiles and wide faces. No braces needed. Husband was 28 the first time he visited a dentist, and not because of lack of access.

          His family was Hindu as recently as my husband’s great great grandfather. Since the family converted to Islam at that time, they have enjoyed good health on a natural diet that includes lots of animal products.

          It mirrors many of the observations of Weston Price.

        • Rich says

          You make many assumptions here. Your definition of health is based on being very thin and having the energy to participate in things such as yoga.

          Many people care to lead a much more active lifestyle, and the type of diet common for your ‘boundless energy’ would be completely insufficient for those people. I play baseball, basketball, practice parkour, AND do yoga regularly. I have more muscle mass than all vegetarians/vegans I know, and am confident that my lifespan will match any one of theirs. Eating meat does not equal eating an unhealthy diet.

      • Harry says

        You need to take a course in anthropology.

        Do you really think women ate the same as men during our evolution ? Women and their children didn’t “hunt” with the men. I would imagine men ate ten times as much meat as women.

        If you do some reading, you’ll find reasonable evidence that women ate mostly veggies, roots, nuts and fruits as they walked with their children. Do you really think men in those days would drag home a dead animal for say three miles for the women and children ? And have you ever considered that the ideal diet for a woman maybe quite different from that of a man ?

        Well before 10,000 years ago when our current agriculture began, I believe the meat eaten was mostly animals remains left there from recent animal kills by animals…. no bow and arrows then, no knives.

        And lastly, what hemispheres are you basing your research on ? You cannot generalize worldwide on the evolution of humans and diet because the climate and environment around the world are so different….and in the USA citizens come from all over the world.

        • Liz says

          You need to take a course in anthropology – this time pay attention, take lots of notes, and leave your sexist and ignorant assumptions out of the classroom.

          “You cannot generalize worldwide on the evolution of humans and diet because the climate and environment around the world are so different…” Yet you still state rather decisively that “Women and their children didn’t ‘hunt’ with the men.” Care to provide some evidence of this? Because its insulting to women everywhere and in every time to just assume that women are incapable of killing prey due to lack of testicles.

          Say you’re right (you’re not), and women in hunter-gatherer societies never ever hunt WITH men. Doesn’t mean they lack meat! In cultures like the Bushmen of the Kalahari, the men DO, in fact, “drag home a dead animal for say three miles for the women and children”. Because many foraging societies were and are fiercely egalitarian, the idea of the men keeping all the meat to themselves would be unthinkable (see Marshall Sahlins’ paper, “Notes on the Original Affluent Society”).

          But lets not stop there! The women GATHER many foods beyond fruits, nuts and tubers. They also gather ostrich eggs and a huge variety of insects – hello protein! (see Brian Morris, Insects and human life). Now, this is just an example of women in a friggin desert! Imagine the possibilities in other bioregions. What about women’s psychological or physiological makeup renders them incapable of trapping, catching, killing, and “gathering” rodents, reptiles, birds, small primates, insects, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, eggs of all kinds, or even “animals remains left there from recent animal kills by animals”.

          So thanks, Harry, for informing everyone here that us poor girls must have a different diet because we just don’t have the wherewithal to feed ourselves. Next time, let the ladies speak for themselves.

          • FrankG says

            I’m just a guy but I was cheering you on all through this comment Liz :-)

            Take a look at even extant hunter-gatherers like the Australian aboriginals: to see women taking an active (if not the leading) role in gathering animal-based sources of fat and protein such as lizards, fish, eggs, birds, witchetty grubs etc…

        • bcflyfisher says

          I agree that “man the hunter” is grossly overstated. The vast, vast majority of our evolutionary history was probably spent as omnivorous scavengers. It’s quite likely that plant matter, including starchy tubers, made up a significant portion of our diet for more than a million years. We would have gladly dined on carrion when we found it but fighting off the owner would have been a dangerous game, one we certainly wouldn’t have been dabbling in a million years ago.

          As for genetic differences around the world, in the context of human evolution, I wonder whether the timeline really is sufficient to have altered the framework of our nutritional needs. Homo sapien DNA existing in geographically isolated pockets is a relatively new phenomenon and one which is slowly ceasing to be relevant except in the most extreme locations.

          • JanC says

            Just 7,000 years ago the cave dwellers in Spain (who had dark skin and blue eyes) were lactose intolerant and unable to digest starches.


            The article goes on to say that the diet was mostly protein (they omitted to mention the fat, but I doubt that the fat was wasted).

            We are still learning a great deal about the diets of early people. Those people from the Spanish caves had not yet discovered agriculture. Hunter-gatherers in other parts of the world, no doubt, may have had a diet that was largely starch – and by that time possibly largely grains – but we can’t make blanket statements about the diets of early peoples the world over. We do know, however, that very early humans ate the fatty and soft parts of killed animals and this enabled their brains to grow. Cooking may well have started 1.9 million years ago, making meat easier to eat (Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Wrangham). It’s not that easy to chew a piece of muscle meat. Early people would have been able to consume more nutrient-dense calories this way.

            In a programme I watched about modern-day hunter-gatherers, the men ate the parts of the animal that would go off the quickest – the organ meat – and took the rest back to the village to share.

  9. Debbie says

    Please read Nicholas Kristoff’s column in the New York Times today, and the slew of comments that followed. As usual, as a response to a factory farming article, every commenter is touting some form of vegetarianism. It’s scary. I worry meat may be banned one day.

    • anna says

      Nothing (and nobody) in the world can force me to read Kristoff (and increasingly the NYT, or at least its columnists)

  10. Elizabeth says

    I understand that dairy is your best bet for available calcium. I suffer from vitiligo and have switched over to a paleo diet after being told for years there was nothing I could do and to expect it to get worse. I have actually seen some of my spots begin to re-pigment while doing the autoimmune protocol only to stop any progress when I re-introduce foods. If it turns out that I have a problem with dairy, how can I get enough calcium without supplementation? I know that I am low in Vit D so I assume that is effecting my calcium levels as well, and not eating dairy… It is such a struggle trying to get help from conventional doctors and even the naturopathic doctors I see seem to abide by conventional wisdom. Thank you for what you do…

    • Pip says

      Very finely ground up egg shells added to things like pasta sauce or on your cereal in the morning are a great way to add bio-available calcium to your diet (surprisingly, milk and dairy are not very bio-available sources of calcium).
      After using the egg, rinse and dry the shells completely. Drying them in a very low oven is a good way to do this. Then grind the shells up in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle until they are a fine powder.

      • Honora says

        Constructive advice. Thanks for that. I’ll just need to get past the fact that the neighbours’ free range eggs are covered in poo streaks, Ah well.

    • sharon says

      Elizabeth, for calcium i drink nettle infusion. it contains copious amounts of calcium and other vitamins and minerals. if you do a search online for ‘nourishing nettle infusion’ you’ll fine plenty of information. it tastes quite strongly but there’s way to getting around it with some tweaking. i usually drink it cold, diluted with some water and with fresh lemon juice and grated ginger.

  11. says

    Thanks so much for this info, particularly the paragraph on iron. I adopted an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet in my early 20s (so around 25 years ago) for ethical reasons. I felt amazing for the first three weeks or so, but after a couple of months I was plagued with fatigue, headaches, irregular heartbeat (I already had a congenital murmur) and irregular menstrual periods. Two different doctors told me that I was severely anemic and that while most people have more trouble absorbing non-heme iron than heme iron, I had even more trouble with that than the average person and really didn’t seem to be absorbing any at all. This explained a lot about my lifelong borderline anemia. So I added meat back into my diet with the understanding that my body needed heme iron, but I never knew until reading this article today that a vegetarian diet makes the body even less able to absorb non-heme iron! Geez, no wonder I was so anemic!

      • Honora says

        I read there was evidence of a link between non-fermented soy (tofu) and dementia but none between fermented soy (tempeh). Tempeh isn’t that great to eat, I reckon, miso is lovely but natto – ugh! You can disguise it with mayonnaise, sauerkraut and mustard. Being quite hungry helps too.

    • Bear says

      Oh please, post links to these studies. Dementia wiped out an entire generation in my family, and it’s also affecting members on the other side of my dna. Every single person I’m related to that has demetia has been a lifelong meat eater, so please, show me the studies that say non-meat eaters are the ones who are more likely to be affected.

      • Dila says

        You might want to read the book called “Grain brain” by Dr. Perlmutter. Or watch the interview with him where he explains about his findings on how high carb and low fat diet can destroy your brain.

        • Sharon says

          Dr Perlmutter’s opinion has been debunked.

          Here is a quote from the article–

          Here are my thoughts on the diet–

          I checked out articles about the Grain Brain book and found the book to be quite biased with much fallacies about diet. I think the author suggested his diet of high fat and low carbs because the brain that is made up of 60% fat is more vulnerable to glycation damage on proteins(including blood veins) due to high blood glucose(from consuming high GI carbs) compared to other parts of the body that have more protein percentage to shield against glycation’s protein damage.(view footnotes about glycation)

          I also think that the earliest human species had to binge on fat because it was the most convenient source of calories because fat has 9 calories per gram compared to carb’s and protein’s 4 calories per gram. And they didn’t know when their next meal would be coming so they had to binge efficient calories(from fat) as much as possible. Fat was also needed to keep bodies warm during cold winters.

          So I don’t think modern humans have to necessarily follow the eating habits of ancient humans. Modern people now have the luxury of eating more healthy foods and less of a need to binge on high calorie fat, and also are able to obtain good heating during cold winters so there is less of the need to require fat to keep the body warm.

          Much modern advances in acquiring food and heating means that the human species can more easily adopt a vegan lifestyle in modern times compared to the past.

          I feel that the author has committed the fallacy of thinking that the ancient diet is most natural and that modern man has to follow it. There is also the fallacy of thinking that carbs has to be drastically reduced just because the brain is more vulnerable to glycation’s protein damage compared to other parts of the body.

          • Dila says

            Debunked by who? Care to share links?
            Also, Sharon, you say “I feel that the author has committed the fallacy of thinking that the ancient diet is most natural and that modern man has to follow it.”
            So basically, you think we should disregard our ancestral diet and go for something that our bodies are not adapted to subsist on.
            I suggest you watch this (if you can do it with an open mind) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WemanmrAYvg

            • OnTheFence says

              I watched the video you recommended. I don’t have faith in Weston-Price Foundation as too many things are unscientific – quite scary: “The diet of modern American women is so appalling, and their preparation for successful breastfeeding so lacking, that their breast milk provides no better nourishment for their infants than factory-made formula.” “If you have any qualms or fears about not having enough milk, assemble the ingredients for homemade formula…”

              Of course, I agree with Keith on certain aspects of how the earth is being devastated by us humans. But the “agriculture” causing the land to stripped is more due to growing food for feeding animals not humans and the massive amount of mono planting is also due to crops used to feed animals – not humans.

              Meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is expected to double again by 2050. This is happening in large part because economies are growing and people can afford more meat. Basically, there’s no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people.

              Marine fish provide 15 percent of all animal protein consumed by humans. Under this intense pressure — 15 percent of 7 billion people (and growing), every year, year in, year out — global fisheries are collapsing.

              While Keith is in an environment where she can find food in a natural environment – doesn’t work for the masses or me.

              Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or to experience subjectivity. Plants just don’t have the biology – brain/pain sensors/organs which enable them to see, hear, taste, etc. like animals do.

              Meat consumption worldwide has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is expected to double again by 2050. This is happening in large part because economies are growing and people can afford more meat.


          • Tam says

            Sam- please do not use the “animals kill each other so it’s okay for us to kill them” argument. Most people also say that humans are superior to animals due to intellect, conscience, morals, emotional capability, etc. Sooooo….if we’re so superior in those aspects then choosing not to kill would be a reason proving we are superior? Right? So the very basic argument that meat-eaters use to try to convince themselves it’s okay to eat the morally inferior beings is completely debunked! Veggies win :)

            • FrankG says

              Who are these “most people” who suddenly morph into just the “meat-eaters” in your straw-man argument?

              I for one accept the humans are just another animal… just another part of the wide ranging and incredibly varied life on this planet — ALL of which is from the same genome.. ALL descended from the same common ancestor… animals AND plants.

              Each day it seems that researchers overturn yet another idea about what separates us from the rest of life… being bi-pedal seems to be just about the only thing we have that is distinct.

              As for being “superior” we are certainly not the fastest, strongest, longest-living, best equipped with senses etc.. etc… etc…

              Sure we are aware of our own abstract thought and able to communicate it to others in our species (well some of us are anyway) but we make a mistake when we judge other life only by our own standards… just as you are doing.

              Even plants are now being shown to “react” to the environment and external stimuli.. they exhibit “behaviours” — although I hesitate to use those human-descriptive words for something that we barely comprehend yet…

              PBS – Nature: What Plants Talk About…


              ALL life is important and ALL needs to be treated with respect.. including humans

              Be careful, or you own line of thinking may leave you with NOTHING to eat.

              • RudolphNitler says

                lol Frank. I love you man. I’ve read many of your comments and I have to say, well played sir. You have utterly pwned these dimwits. Thanks for your time and contributions.

  12. Julia says

    I agree that vegetarian and especially vegan diets are deficient in essential nutrients, and that optimal diets contain animal products. However, we live in a toxic world where environmental pollutants concentrate in animal fat, even from animals raised organically on the most pristine pastures. Perfluorochemicals, DDT, hexachlorobenzene, PCB’s, dioxins, organochlorine pesticides concentrations are much higher in fish, meats, cheese, dairy and poultry than in vegetable foods. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/food-sources-of-perfluorochemicals/

    • Chris Kresser says

      See this article I wrote that puts the risk of dioxins and mercury in fish and other animal products into perspective. Short version: it’s a non-issue in most cases. The benefits of eating these foods far outweigh the potential harms.

  13. Queen says

    If we’re on paleo, we shouldn’t consume dairy, but in your article you don’t suggest so eating only vegetables to get calcium. So are you suggesting that paleo people should go back to consuming dairy? Sorry, I’m just confused and want to have a good understanding. Thanks!

    • says

      Most Paleo dieters today do consume FERMENTED dairy (so, little lactose remains). Some do rice too. In the earlier days of Paleo (when Wolf’s book came out), things were more strict. Now, it’s not so. Even Wolf himself eats these now.

      The Caucasian people who used to live past 100 yo, ate mostly goat milk kefir, for example. But it was always fermented, and from casein A2 animal (goat/sheep/buffalo).

      So, as long as you don’t have a major dairy intolerance, where even a minute amount of lactose, or all types of casein being problematic, there’s no problem to have fermented A2 dairy.

      Speaking for myself, I get stomach pain when I drink plain milk (full fat, raw not available here), but I have zero problems with home-made goat kefir, fermented for 24 hours.

      I’d go as far as to say that lentils aren’t the evil that Paleo people think they are either. Research is lacking, but there are three papers that show that when SOME legumes are soaked and pressure-cooked, they become WAY LESS problematic than nuts (which are full of anti-nutrients and omega-6, and yet, Paleo has endorsed them).

      So, Paleo in 2008 is not the same as Paleo in 2014. New papers have come out, millions have tried the diet and tested what works for them and what not. Paleo is a template, not a hard rule. If it was a hard rule, we shouldn’t be eating any of the modern veggies and hybrid fruits either. But we do.

        • says

          Yes, but they usually mix it with other cows’ milk in the industry, so unless you’re buying directly (usually from the Amish), you won’t find “jersey cow milk”. While goat, sheep and buffalo, are marked as such. So for all intends and purposes, it’s best to avoid cow milk (if casein-intolerant) if you don’t know exactly from which type of cow it came from. This is why I didn’t mention Jerseys.

          • Honora says

            Chris Kresser has sourced A2 milk for himself. We have it here in our local supermarket in Christchurch, New Zealand but sadly it seems to go sour very quickly as it has a slow turnover on the shelf due to the price I suspect and it’s only available in 2L bottles which is a lot for moi to drink on my own.

            • Lizzy says

              I only drink raw Jersey milk from a dairy that only raises Jersey cows using traditional pasture-based methods. It is definitely worth researching what you eat, because when I first switched to raw cows milk I still had digestion problems due to consuming milk of both Jerseys and Holsteins. I don’t have any problems with raw Jersey milk.

        • Helen says

          Not always, a herd local to me is approx 80% a2, I asked the farmer , though it is raw. He is working to increase his herd to 100% a2
          Buffalo milk and goats milk I believe is a2

      • anna says

        Good comment, but “The Caucasian people who used to live past 100 …” is problematic.
        Oh, to have the Caucasus (particularly older, purer one), in New York …

    • Chris Kresser says

      I just wrote a book called “Your Personal Paleo Code”. The idea behind that book is using the Paleo diet as a starting point, rather than a destination. I’ve argued that full-fat dairy, dark chocolate, alcohol, nightshades and even properly prepared legumes and grains are all healthy when 1) well-tolerated by the individual, and 2) consumed in moderation.

      The argument that legumes are toxic because of lectins isn’t supported by the evidence. Raw lectins are certainly problematic, but lectins in beans are destroyed by heat, and I don’t know anyone eating raw beans. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

  14. John McDonell says

    I think you missed one Chris, the amino acid taurine. Taurine is a quasi-essential nutrient, in that children will auto-produce it from cysteine, but adults absolutely need it from food and fish/meat are THE best sources vs vegetables that have none. R. Huxtable found that taurine tightly binds zinc onto membranes of cells. Because taurine is a Zwitterion (oppositely charged on each end of the same molecule) it gives each cell-surface its negative charge and since like-charges-repel, cells stay apart. [important for environmental allergies] This binding of the zinc onto membrane sites makes it THE ‘pool’ of zinc for inside-of-cell usage. This coupling is also the way cells channel potassium to cell’s inside, while leaving sodium outside cells. [if interest: zinc is gleaned from foods-eaten by the ligand PgE2. Long-considered a bad guy PgE2 promotes inflammation and helps ??? when sesame lignans block inflammation ... do they block zinc uptake too?]

  15. Peace says

    There is way of eating that supports non-violence. To not kill animals or plants and even microbes etc. Since on a physical level we do not see much immortality perhaps we could only eat things that have died from natural causes in addition to nuts and fruits. To kill is very bad karma, and to advocate killing by supporting in any way the existence of a society that supports killing is not that good.

  16. FrankG says

    Thanks for this Chris. I share the concern which I think you raised about children being raised as vega*tarians… like religion, I think this should be an choice left ’till adulthood.

    Humans are opportunistic omnivores and it may be possible to meet our complete nutritional needs without any animal products (although ALL life on this planet shares the same genome and is part of massive recycling project.. including humans) but I daresay it is a great deal easier to get full nutrition from say as steak than from multiple fruits and vegetables.

    In particular: growing children have much different needs than a mature adult and the lack of essentials can lead to a lifetime of issues.

    Notably, I understand that both Drs. Barnard and McDougall were raised on cattle ranches.. only choosing to eschew meat as adults.

    • Annette says

      I was one of the very fortunate few people in the world who was raised by health- conscious, awakened parents who never fed me animal flesh or products. See, as a baby, I never instinctively wanted to kill animals- instead, I preferred to pat and cuddle them. The act of killing animals or paying others to kill them is something that is learned through social conditioning. If anything, children should be raised vegan and should choose as adults whether or not they want to begin to unnecessarily cause harm to others for no reason other than palate pleasure.

      • says

        Or perhaps children should be raised as ecologically appropriate omnivores with humanely sourced animal products, and then they can choose to become vegetarian once they’re at the age where they can make a decision that will potentially affect their long-term health.

        God forbid you force veganism on a child who has a genetic polymorphism that leaves them unable to convert vitamin A, B12, or omega-3 fats from plant foods, (perhaps they have the MTHFR mutation or a beta-carotene SNP) and they end up seriously ill from lack of bioavailable nutrients.

        Not everyone thrives on a vegan diet, and it’s inhumane to experiment on a young child who may face a lifetime of poor health thanks to inadequate nutrition during their critical formative years.

        • Annette says

          Inhumane? That’s a big call. I am also fortunate to have access to dieticians who are more educated in REAL nutrition than most, and are not still brainwashed by much of the bias of the the farming lobbies- I mean, educational institutions.

          • says

            Well personally I would never advocate a vegan diet for a child, but that’s based on my own knowledge and continuing daily study of human nutrition, biochemistry, and genetic influence on dietary needs. But hey, that’s just me. If it works for you, go for it. At least the information is out there for people who want to make an informed choice.

      • Christopher says

        Annette, you’ve “never instinctively” wanted to kill an animal and eat it because you’ve never had to. Starvation is not social conditioning and god forbid you are ever starving and the only thing to eat is an animal you’ll have to kill.

  17. says

    I’m actually kind of bummed that Chris simply re-iterates the well known veg*n deficiencies, e.g. B12, DHA, retinol A. But what about all the rest? The lesser known, but equally important?

    These can ONLY be found in meat or fish too, and they are needed as much as other well-known vitamins:
    - Taurine
    - Carnosine
    - L-acetyl-carnitine
    - Creatine

    And not to mention things like CoQ10 and PQQ which are super important, and can only be found in good quantities in animal hearts (plants have very little of them). And of course, collagen. Ever wondered why so many vegans have white hair by the age of 30?

    • Chris Kresser says

      The peer-reviewed evidence is not as strong on these nutrients, and their requirement in the diet is not as well-established in the literature, so that’s why they’re not included here.

      And believe me, the deficiencies listed in this article are *not* well-known or accepted in the mainstream health world, much less the vegetarian or vegan worlds.

    • Annette says

      30 year old here who has never consumed a shred of meat in my entire life with not even one remotely grey hair on my head.

      • Fred says

        Just wait. It happened to me around age 36-38. Massively. Wirey grey hair like all vegetarians I ever saw growing up. I thought they were healthy and much older, but now I realized the truth. They look healthy for older people, but not for their actual age.

    • John McDonell says

      I think that one biggy, (that is usually analyzed as two separate things, rather than be formally related) is Zn-carnosine to stabilize the gut. {I think it to be high levels in human-colostrum, but do not know for sure.}

  18. Ross says

    This was at first appearances a well researched and referenced article. However, the first (and only) two references I clicked through to in no way supported the assertions being made in the article:

    1. the ‘myth’ that seaweed, brewer’s yeast and fermented soy provide real B12. The article referenced just listed the test results for a single specific supplement (spirulina). It made no claims about any naturally occurring sources of B12.

    2. the study showing that vegetarians don’t live any longer than omnivores when health consciousness is factored out. The study in question neither had this as a stated aim. nor was it a finding that it claimed to have made. It was just about whether eating fresh fruit and veg affected mortality.

    These quickly undermined any confidence I had in the writer, and I gave up on this article after that. If you want to make unsubstantiated claims, please have the good grace to present them as opinion and not to hide them behind false references and academic pretensions.

    • Chris Kresser says

      1. You can find many additional references showing that B12 in plant foods is not a viable source here: http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/comp-anat/comp-anat-7c.shtml.

      2. You have to read the full-text of the study. Look at Table 3. After adjusting for age and smoking, vegetarians had a slightly higher risk of death from all causes than omnivores among the health-conscious group. It is not relevant that this wasn’t a stated aim of the study; the finding is in the data.

    • Adam says

      I have found the same thing with most of Chris’s references. The study on the omnivores vs vegetarians also found that a vegetarian diet was associated with a lower risk of death from ischaemic heart disease, and they also referenced other studies with the same finding. Of course, that detail was left out. Another study previously quoted by the author to support the omni vs veg having same lifespan was the EPIC study. Yet, this study found that red meat was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Again, not mentioned.

      I also find it hard to believe that choline deficiency is a concern… the average person gets over 1,000 mg a day despite the RDA being only about 420mg. I use choline in my daily research and know it well. One recent study showed that men in the highest quintile of choline intake had a 70% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer.

      I could get into the other flaws in this article, but I have neither the patience nor the time.

      • says

        “I also find it hard to believe that choline deficiency is a concern… the average person gets over 1,000 mg a day”

        Do you have some data for that? That statement directly contradicts the findings of this study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x/abstract

        “Mean choline intakes for older children, men, women, and pregnant women are far below the adequate intake level established by the IOM. Given the importance of choline in a wide range of critical functions in the human body, coupled with less-than-optimal intakes among the population, dietary guidance should be developed to encourage the intake of choline-rich foods.”

        • Adam says

          My apologies, I could have sworn I saw that number somewhere, but you are right: it is inaccurate. Must have had a brain fart!

          I still don’t see potential choline deficiency as a reason to not eat a vegan diet. Studies in the literature looking at choline deficiency give their subjects less than 50 mg per day for several days to induce the deficiency. The only way to match this on a vegan diet is to eat mostly junk food, since plants contain adequate amounts of choline.

          Also, the study you referenced concluded that mean intakes were below that established by the IOM – which means these people were below the RDI even though they consumed meat. Doesn’t really make the case for eating meat.

          It also mentions that choline plasma levels are also dependent on folate. Given that the majority of our population is folate deficient, this may explain why most are exhibiting a secondary choline deficiency. Sure enough, when you give folate to people with a choline deficiency, they get better.

          Perhaps, instead of advising people to eat meat, we should be advising them to eat leafy green vegetables and beans so that they have adequate folate and choline.

          There is no evidence to suggest that a vegan diet comprising of plenty of folate-rich green vegetables will result in a choline deficiency. If there is, I would love to see it. And given the association of high choline intake with prostate cancer, we should be wary of getting too much of it.

  19. says

    This is a very one-sided argument. I have been vegan and omnivorous. I am much healthier as a vegan and my recent medical record (overcoming one autoimmune disease, several intolerances and getting off all prescription medicine) and my high endurance and energy are a testament to the diet. That said, it’s a choice, and I think people should choose a diet that makes them feel the best, not a diet that someone dictates to you. Life is short–enjoy the journey!

    • Chris Kresser says

      The experience of one person, though surely valuable to the person in question, is not a valid scientific defense of veganism and does not detract from the central argument of this article, which is that nutrient deficiencies are common in vegetarian and vegan diets.

      I do agree that people should choose the diet that makes them feel best, but the problem is that can be misleading. If someone is eating a “standard american” omnivorous diet with a lot of processed and refined food, and then they switch to a vegan diet, they will surely feel better. They went from eating crap to eating real food. But that does not mean a vegan diet is optimal, nor does it mean they won’t develop nutrient deficiencies over time with such an approach.

      • Cappy says

        “The experience of one person, though surely valuable to the person in question, is not a valid scientific defense of veganism and does not detract from the central argument of this article, which is that nutrient deficiencies are common in vegetarian and vegan diets.”

        This is complete hyperbole. People who consume plant-based diets might have lower levels of some nutrients, and higher levels of other nutrients. A lower level of a nutrient does NOT make someone deficient. Deficiency means an insufficient amount, or a lack of, which means that symptoms must be present for it to be considered a deficiency. If no symptoms, then there is an adequate amount.

        The baseline for nutrient levels is obtained from a sample of the population. In Western cultures, especially the US, the norm of the population is an overweight person who eats a lot of animal products and processed foods, doesn’t work out, and has high cholesterol & blood pressure. Your norm is unhealthy, so comparing someone who eats a plant-based diet on blood levels alone is ludicrous.

        Let’s look at health.
        People who eat a plant-based diet are the only group, on average, to have a healthy BMI. http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v27/n6/full/0802300a.html

        Lower risk of heart disease.

        Lower risk of cancer.

        Lower risk of diabetes.

        The list goes on and on, and yet not a single “deficiency” you mentioned is cited as a cause for any remotely common disease, let alone symptoms. Yet, eating animal products is cited as a contributor in every single major disease. How brainwashed do you have to be to find a 1 in 3 chance of dying from a heart attack to be less of a threat than an extremely rare vitamin deficiency.

        I suggest people research this info on their own and not simply listen to the propaganda repeated by the meat, dairy, and egg industry that have become irrational paradigms.

    • Karen says

      I find this extremely ONE sided as well. I’ve also done both ( vegan/whole30) as well as a raw diet for a very short while. I recently started the whole30 and have extended it indefinately because of the results. My diet does include meat, it’s no more than a fifth of what is on my plate and is less meat than what I eat prior to the whole 30. Everything else is veggies with limited fruit. I’ve cut out all processed/refined/dairy/grains/legumes/potato/soy … anything that is not a meat, veggie, fruit or nut with the exception of unrefined coconut oil. I have had great results with this and credit it to the increased amount of veggies I eat. I try to buy the best quality food I can as well as support local farmers by joining a CSA.
      I believe whether you go whole 30/paleo or vegan/vegatarian, the key is to eat correctly, eliminate the processed crap, add lots of fresh fruits and veggies which are awesome for you ( I can’t believe I hear people making statements against veggies ) and for me, eliminating dairy, grains & sugar was the best thing i’ve ever done.

  20. A says

    I recently suffered pelvic pain and was told to stop consuming grains. In fact, four of my doctors told me to stop consuming grains. I told one of my docs that the China Study and various documentaries I have seen had me concerned about eating meat. She had a good suggestion; to reduce my meat consumption and to eat the best quality meats I can find. My new diet is not easy…but in a short while, I feel Much better. I’m not eating grains, eating less meat, but good quality meat, very very little dairy (only organic and only lactose free), not eating sugar at all, lots of good water, no sodas at all, a max of one Truvia packet a day…a LOT of veggies a day, fruit daily, etc. For me, grains seem to be the big culprit and I also think we might eat too many animal products. I’ve had to listen to my doctors and listen to what my body was telling me and adjust accordingly. I pray I can keep this up. I know in my heart a good, healthy diet is imperative! Best wishes to all who seek to find good health.

    • Christopher says

      I also beat pelvic pain with diet and reducing grains and sugars was primary in that success. Listening to your body is important — it will tell you when things are out-of-whack and nutritional imbalances leading to inflammation and pain are easy to overcome if you catch them early enough. If you can tolerate it, try eating some full-fat yogurt and other fermented foods as they will help heal your gut and ease discomfort that leads to muscle tension in your pelvis.

      Oh, and look into gentle stretches that activate the psoas muscle — the tension of which is a top cause of pelvic pain.

  21. Trina says

    While the paleo rationales make sense to me, and while I seem to need to eat meat to control depression, I have to wonder why the studies show no difference between health conscious meat eaters and non meat eaters if vegetarianism is as deficient as you claim. I mean, if this were all true, shouldn’t they show worse health?

    Also, I was reading P. Jaminet’s discussion about omega 3 toxicity levels and ease of rancidity, and it occurs to me that maybe we don’t want a “good” source of it. Maybe a poorly converted plant source is just what we need! (if omega 6′s are in check, of course)

    • Annette says

      Good point made. My grandfather was vegan for the last 25 years of his life (he became vegan after he was diagnosed with liver cancer and was given 4 months to live). He was so energetic, fit and healthy, he even gave up his pension because he was too restless. He worked 14 hour days, 7 days a week- at age 80. Everyone who didn’t know his diet wanted to know his secret, and we all joked that he would break a record for the longest living human. Unfortunately before his 81st birthday he was on his early morning walk just before the sun rose and was hit by a car and killed. I wish he was alive for many reasons, but one would be to show him this article. I bet it would have made him chuckle.

      • Mina says

        Anette my grandfather ate meat and vegetables and grew up in another country, went through war and famine and wow, lived to be about 84 and died peacefully in his bed. My brother-in-laws mom grew up in a polluted mining town, smoked all her life, ate meat and veg, got lung cancer, beat that and died in her 90s. What is your point?

          • FrankG says

            You mean to apply this pearl of wisdom to BOTH Mina’s AND Annette’s anecdote,,. of course???

            Such a negative person.. seeing only fallacies around her…

    • says

      Actually, a poorly converted plant source might reduce your ability to use the biologically active form of omega-3 fats. I would say the ideal source of omega-3 is fresh, lightly cooked or raw fatty fish or pastured egg yolks that have not been exposed to oxidative damage and yet have high amounts of omega-3 fats, DHA in particular.

      I suggest you read this excellent article for more information:

      • Annette says

        Thanks for the link but no thanks- I’m a few steps ahead of you and I’ve been through these conversations before.

      • Trina says

        Well, as modern humans we can choose something optimal over evolutionary, but I did wonder what source of cold water fish we would have been eating in Africa, what fish we ate before nets were invented, and what eggs we ate most of the time as in the wild they are highly seasonal … I was just suggesting that maybe there is a reason our requirements are so low. The problem seems to come from gorging on the modern seed oils, I guess

  22. Ann says

    I just recently bought your book! I also have recently been through a lot health wise and am making changes. I’ve had pelvic pain and have been dx’d with an autoimmune disease. My doctors wanted me off grains and that seems to be helping me with my many uncomfortable symptoms, including the pelvic pain. But I had some concern about animal products too, so I’m eating them in smaller portions and looking for good quality. I don’t see where being a vegetarian and especially a vegan is ideal. I’ve had low B12 in the past and that is miserable. So, now I don’t eat grains or sugar and eat moderate amounts of meat and fruits and lots of vegetables and small portions of organic dairy. For example, sometimes I want a little butter on my veggies…and I see nothing wrong with that. Honestly, I’m very concerned about my health and know in my heart that a healthy diet is vital. Looking forward to reading your book…just got it!!!!

    • Honora says

      For the reasons cited above in the opening paragraph, I too began to follow a vegan diet but in my research soon got scared off. A considerable number of the paleo community have been vegan and then due to resulting ill-health, began eating meat etc. Some of them are still recovering slowly from the ill-effects of the stated possible deficiencies.

      I suspect it’s all about genotypes whether some people thrive on vegan diets and others become very poorly. Also there may be come compensatory mechanisms for some individuals that other individuals can’t achieve e.g. conversion of flaxseed oil to EPA and DHA which would account for some people doing well on a vegan diet and others not so much.

      23andme can generate genomic data which third party sites such as mthfrsupport.com and genetic genie can analyse to help explain or guide people in their dietary choices. The heartfixer.com website can help explain things as well. Factors such as haemochromatosis have to be taken into account when making choices. At least we all agree that sugar’s not a good idea!

      • Annette says

        Yes I am aware that many paleos tried plant based diets. I’ve read all the “been there, done that, it doesn’t work” stories. I have found that in almost every single case it’s obvious they were approaching it wrong, and most of the time it’s because they did things like turn to soy and grains as staples to replace the flesh they were so used to eating. I was raised on a plant- based diet since birth and so I have never felt the need to “replace” anything. When I look at food I see the nutritional value- I’m not trying to replace the same feeling in my belly or on my tongue that something else used to give me. In this sense I cannot relate to meat- eaters trying to ‘go veg’, but I do have some perspective that helps me to understand why so many fail.

    • FrankG says

      Sure let’s hold up muscle-bound freaks as paragons of health and wellness! Good grief!

      But seriously I wonder how little digging it would take to find our which of these are “true” vegans like Bill Clinton… who indulges in occasional salmon, eggs etc. .so as to avoid nutrient deficiencies?

      Or how many of these have been raised as vegans since conception? A fate I assume many of you are forcing on your innocent children and pets. Are you really so cock-sure that is the best thing for their future health and well-being?

      • Annette says

        I was raised vegan since birth, and I’m 30 years old. I’m alive and well- and consider myself incredibly fortunate that my parents used their common sense. My grandfather was vegan for the last 25 years of his life and thrived. In the end it was a car accident that killed him- not long after he gave up his pension because he wanted to grow his business at 80 years of age (so much energy). You can argue till the cows come home but as you can see it’s a waste of time.

        • FrankG says

          Oh I can tell that trying to have reasoned discussion with you is a waste of my breath but despite what you claim here, just below you contradict yourself…

          “I occasionally have a metabolic analysis which lets me know how my carb, fat, protein metabolisms are doing as well as things like electrolyte levels, nervous system, vit c, alkaline/ acid balance etc and tweak my vegan diet accordingly.”

          Why would you need to tweak perfection? And what potential harm could this do to a growing child? Missing an essential nutrient at a crucial moment in their development? What if you identified this shortfall in your diet just as you were conceiving a child? And sure I recognise that could also happen with an omnivorous diet… it’s just that it is far less likely; as a steak (for one example) has such a huge list of nutrients, as compared to a cabbage.

          • Annette says

            Oh dear I can see you feel a bit defeated and are now trying to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find come- backs! I will waste no more time with you. Please go away- don’t you have some magnesium supplements to take? Goodbye

            • FrankG says

              Yes, I’m sure you like that wouldn’t you.. if people like me would just go away.

              So awkward when you are unable to respond to issues raised against your fantasy world.

              Me go away? Not gonna happen…

            • Jay says

              Wow. You’re still commenting this far down the page and getting obviously upset. You need to calm down. Maybe debating diets with strangers on the internet is not healthy for you?

          • Cappy says

            Animal products have at most around 27 nutrients. All plant-products have over 10,000 nutrients. Plants are packed fill of phyto-chemicals of which animals products have none.

            1/3rd of US Citizens will die of heart disease. Another 1/3 will die from cancer. Add on the number of people who will die from auto-immune disorders and you are looking at a most of the population. All of these diseases list animal products as a major cause. A whole-food, plant-based diet is not attributed to one single disease, and is actually proven to risk factors of all the previously mentioned conditions.

            In other words, enjoy your heart attack. While you are having it, think of the thousands of animals you killed, the poor you starved, and the environment you destroyed to give you the heart attack.

              • Cappy says

                It is ironic that when people are completely brainwashed by advertising and cultural paradigms that they actually view the truth, based on scientific evidence, to be propaganda.

                • FrankG says

                  I could and do say the exact same thing about your own narrow-minded view of the world. You are brainwashed.

            • Christopher says

              Wow, Cappy. I want you to think of the “the thousands of animals you killed, the poor you starved, and the environment you destroyed” just by existing. If you live in America and indulge in our consumerist culture in any way, you are contributing to those issues as much as any meat eater. It is delusional to think otherwise. Or are you a hermit who lives in a hut without electricity and only eats food you grew yourself? Well, you are on the internet so I doubt it.

            • meg says

              I cannot believe the venom that comes out of the mouths of vegans. I thought veganism was to embrace compassion and empathy for all living creatures. For the love of God listen to yourself. Are you really moving toward a better world? Shame.

  23. Wayne says

    I’m very health conscious. I shop at farmers markets, co-ops, health food stores, and I grow my own. I am omnivorous in my eating habits, so I buy all my free range, grass fed meats, eggs, and raw dairy from local farmers directly. Big corporations make no money from me nor my family.
    That being said, I live a healthy and happy lifestyle with a moderate injury related paralysis challenge that is manageable.
    Quality of life is more important to me than quantity, so if the vegetarians outlive me, I couldn’t care less. I wouldn’t trade my quality of life for theirs, based on my observations, and despite my physical challenges. I think most health conscious omnivores have vegetarian friends, and I am no exception.
    My question is; is it me, my selection of vegetarian friends, or a common symptom of a vegetarian diet, that they are so often very crabby. They also struggle with stamina and seem to lack motivation. Healthy or not, I do not want this kind of life. Especially a long lived one.

  24. Stephen Albers says

    The question about optimal diet is an important one because diet is an easy way to influence health. While the American Dietetic Association states that carefully designed Vegetarian Diets can meet all nutritional needs and there are many examples of successful vegetarian and vegan athletes, there is a broader question here that this article mentions: variable absorbency by different individuals.

    The solution to this problem is so simple: Everyone should just get tested periodically to confirm they are absorbing optimal levels of all nutrients of interest. Testing is widely available at reasonable cost and entirely takes the guesswork out of determining proper nutrition.

    A primary issue about animal products is not nutrition but avoiding a long list of bad things: saturated fat, cholesterol, protein, pollutants, antibiotics and hormones.

    I have myself tested annually to verify optimal nutrition absorption from my vegan diet. I supplement and tweak my vegan diet modestly. Further, it is easy to test for toxin build up that is a major concern from eating inorganics and animal products and make diet adjusts for that too.

    Everyone should stop guessing about nutrition by being tested and guided accordingly.

    • Annette says

      I second this. I occasionally have a metabolic analysis which lets me know how my carb, fat, protein metabolisms are doing as well as things like electrolyte levels, nervous system, vit c, alkaline/ acid balance etc and tweak my vegan diet accordingly.

  25. Russell says

    “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

    • says

      As a dietitian, that statement really upsets me.

      Especially the part where they say a vegetarian diet is appropriate for pregnancy, infancy and childhood. While some people can be healthy on a vegetarian diet, I know of many people who have gotten quite ill on a vegetarian diet. To impose a plant-based diet on children (without supplemental nutrient dense animal foods) is really unfortunate, especially when they’re at a critical period for growth and development. Not everyone can get the nutrients they need from plants, as we all have genetic variations that affect our ability to absorb and metabolize nutrients.

      • Annette says

        I was raised vegan from birth and I consider myself to be very fortunate, quite the contrary to what you believe. My children will also be raised vegan and will receive every nutrient their body needs, as I do, and others I know who experience optimal health on a whole food plant based diet.

      • Cappy says

        Of course it bothers you Laura. That is because you are completely indoctrinated by the meat, dairy, and egg industry propaganda. After all, they helped write the books for your education(indoctrination).

        If you truly understood nutrition, you would never generalize a diet of infinite possibilities as vegetarian or vegan. You can be vegan eating Oreos and potato chips. As a professional, I don’t tell people to go vegetarian or vegan. I tell them to eat a plant-based, whole-foods, mostly raw diet, because it provides the best protection against the most number of diseases. This is what Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn promotes, and he has a 99% success rate of curing has patients of heart disease. But he must somehow be wrong, because your text books say otherwise, eh?

        In addition, you force a child to eat meat. You don’t force them to eat plant foods. Put a small child in a crib with an apple and a bunny. If the child eats the bunny and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car. Meat is unnatural to us. That is why we have to cook it or otherwise specially prepare it to prevent getting sick. Please show many omnivore in nature who cooks their meat before it is eaten.

        • says

          Oh dear. Quite a bizarre experiment you’ve proposed there. I don’t know a single omnivore who would pick up a live animal and try to bite into it. Can’t imagine rabbit fur feels too good going down your throat!

          And I’d imagine that if you put a soft piece of slow-cooked, fatty lamb and a raw kale leaf in that same crib, that the child would most likely put the meat in its mouth. (But now we’re both just making suppositions.)

          • Cappy says

            Humans are frugivores. Fruit is the preferred food. That is why I said an apple and not kale. Don’t they teach comparative anatomy to dietitians?

            And the mere fact that you said “cooked” shows how disconnected you are from a natural diet. Name me one other omnivore or carnivore that has to cook its food, or specially prepare it before consumption.

            And you are right, a mouth full of fur is not appetizing. Please find me another omnivore or carnivore that wouldn’t eat a rabbit because it was covered in fur.

            • FrankG says

              So now humans are frugivores? This should be good.. references???

              In the meantime you might care to check out what out nearest genetic cousins the chimpanzees actually eat.. it ain’t just bananas Toto!

              As for raw meat and comparing humans other omnivores… you surely must be aware of the hypothesis that we developed our large brains (which sadly some seem intent on wasting away) by virtue of reducing digestive effort by cooking our food

              Or to put it in language which you may understand, “find me another omnivore or carnivore” where the brain uses over 20% of its resting energy?

            • says

              I’m sorry but this is getting too ridiculous. First of all, humans are not “frugivores”, we have an omnivorous digestive tract. Here is a good comparative anatomy chart between the three types of digestive systems: http://highsteaks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/carnivore-herbivore-omnnivore-comparison.jpg

              Second, there’s evidence that the reason humans are as advanced as we are is because we cook our food. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/cooked-food-diet-primates-brains_n_2033975.html

              I want to ensure that anyone reading these comments who is on the fence about a vegan diet will have plenty of information from both viewpoints to inform their decisions.

            • bcflyfisher says

              “Humans are frugivores”.

              And that’s why Steve Jobs is dead. Smart guy, but he should have starved his cancer instead of feeding it.

  26. Donna says

    I think I will just continue my own “personal best” diet/lifestyle habits: Eating mainly veggies, fruits, nuts, and the occasional dairy/eggs/meat/fish (all as local as humanly possible).. as little processed crap as possible, NO fast food, lots and lots of water and green tea, a few good organic vitamin supplements…. exercise daily, get sunshine and fresh air… indulge once in awhile in a nice wine or beer, a decadent dessert or piece of yummy dark chocolate… and lots of laughter and love. It works for me :-)

    • LizF says

      I think that’s amazing Donna! I’m a vegetarian myself, but I think that’s a much better lifestyle than most have – and the important thing is you lead one that makes you happy!

  27. says

    First, e leading source on why many different kinds of vegan diets are not just nutritionally adequate but optimal: Vegan Diets: Sorting Through the Nutritional Myths at http://freefromharm.org/vegan-diets-sorting-nutritional-myths/

    Second, this article is based on a lot of old and outdated nutrition information. See Catching Up With Science: Burying the “Humans Need Meat” Argument at http://freefromharm.org/health-nutrition/catching-up-with-science-burying-the-humans-need-meat-argument/#sthash.NfHOMTLg.dpuf

    Third, many of the nutrients the author claims are lacking in a vegan diet are actually being artificially supplemented to the feed of animals raised commercially for food, including B12, and yet we are told that relying on supplement and fortified foods is not a “natural” way to eat. If you really want to learn how unnatural and cruel animal exploitation is today, please do visit my organization’s website. In fact, forget about the worst case scenario for animals on large, industrialized farms and just take a closer look at the so-called “humane” and “sustainable” farming practices today at http://freefromharm.org/animal-products-and-ethics/a-comprehensive-analysis-of-the-humane-farming-myth/. Would this be acceptable to do to your neighbor’s dog? Of course not. So how can one have any integrity by paying someone else to abuse and violently kill animals at a fraction of their natural lifespan we have no biological need to eat?

  28. Ann says

    I pretty much agree with the earlier poster, Donna. I think that we are all individuals and likely need to figure out what is best for our bodies. Maybe through observation and testing. Years ago in the middle of a bad autoimmune flare, I read Fit for Life and the author promoted grain free and meat free living. I agreed with the grain free part, but had trouble with the meat free part. He also said it took approximately 24 hours to digest meat, this DID concern me. So, I started eating meat every other day. I stopped grain and sugar and greatly increased veggies. After this change in my diet, I was so healthy, my doctor couldn’t believe it. For some reason, I fell off the wagon and I’m paying for it dearly today. I noticed, generally speaking, we seem to be all or nothing thinkers. I know for me, it seems that eating lots of meat products might not be a good idea, but I do think they are a good part of a healthy diet. And I’ve cut way back on dairy, only using organic butter for example, on top of my veggies. I think, most of us realize that Americans in particular don’t seem to eat enough vegetables….which should be a very important part of a healthy diet. So very similar to Donna, for me it is about watching the needs of my body, and finding good quality foods, a little good quality animal products for their special benefits, lots of vegetables, some fruits, a tiny amount of organic dairy, no sugar, no grains, no junk food, maybe a very Occasional piece of dark chocolate….with the help of some good doctors, observation, testing, I’m creating a diet that I hope will optimize my health. It’s not all or nothing or doing exactly what someone else is doing.

  29. Rudy Steffen says

    You should think twice before posting misinformation:

    Where health is concerned, a plant-exclusive diet is viable for practically everyone.

    *Note* The term ‘vegetarian,’ as used by some of these organizations, does not distinct itself from a 100% plant-exclusive diet, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescatarian, etc. It encompasses all plant-based diets.

    1) The Mayo Clinic: the first and largest integrated not-for-profit medical group practice in the world, employing more than 3,800 physicians and scientists and 50,900 allied health staff. It spends $500 million dollars on research a year.

    “A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breast-feeding women. The key is to be aware of your nutritional needs so that you plan a diet that meets them.”


    2) The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

    “… [vegetarian diets] are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases…are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”


    3) Dietitians of Canada (DC): is the national professional association for dietitians, representing almost 6000 members at the local, provincial and national levels. DC is one of the largest organizations of dietetic professionals in the world.

    “A vegan eating pattern has many potential health benefits. They include lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Other benefits include lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk for gallstones and intestinal problems.”


    4) The British National Health Service (NHS): is the largest and the oldest single-payer healthcare system in the world. It provides the majority of healthcare in England.

    “With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.”


    5) The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF): team of nutrition scientists that conducts academic reviews of published research on issues of diet and public health. Aims to to advance the education of the public, and those involved in the training and education of others, in nutrition; and to advance the study of and research into nutrition for the public benefit, and to disseminate and publish the useful results of such research.

    “A well-planned, balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate…”

    “Studies of UK vegetarian and vegan children have revealed that their growth and development are within the normal range.”


    6) The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA): is the peak body of 5,100 dietetic and nutrition professionals providing strategic leadership in food and nutrition through empowerment, advocacy, education, accreditation and communication.

    “…with good planning it is still possible to obtain all the nutrients required for good health on a vegan diet.”


    7) The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP): a branch of the USDA that aims to improve the nutrition and well-being of Americans by focusing on advancing and promoting dietary guidance for all Americans, and conducting applied research and analysis in nutrition and consumer economics.

    “Vegetarian diets can meet all the recommendations for nutrients.”


    8) The National Institutes of Health (NIH): comprised of 27 separate institutes and centers, and with an annual spending of around $26 billion, NIH is the is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research.

    “There is no single type of vegetarian diet…People who follow vegetarian diets can get all the nutrients they need.”


    9) American Heart Association (AHA): with 22.5 million volunteers and 2,700 employees, AHA is the nation’s oldest, largest voluntary organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

    “Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.”


    10) Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF): having invested over $1.35 billion in heart and stroke research, HSF is one of Canada’s largest and most effective health charities.

    “Vegetarian diets can provide all the nutrients you need at any age, as well as some additional health benefits. Vegetarian diets often have lower levels of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than many meat-based diets, and higher intakes of fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Vegetarian diets may lead to lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, healthier weight and less incidence of Type 2 diabetes, all of which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.”


    11) American Cancer Society (ACS): with over 3,400 local offices, and raising $934 million in 2012, this 100 year old society works to save lives and create a world with less cancer.

    “Some studies have linked vegetarian diets to lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. A strictly vegetarian diet must be properly planned to be sure it provides all the required nutrients.”


    12) Harvard School of Public Health: is one of the most selective and prestigious public health schools in the world with half of the students already holding a medical doctorate.

    “With a little planning, a balanced and varied vegetarian diet can meet the nutrient needs of nearly everyone.”


    13) American Diabetes Association (ADA): with 90 local offices across the US, the ADA utilizes 73% of its $34.6 million in fund raising (2012) to support research and projects concerning diabetes.

    “A vegetarian diet is a healthy option, even if you have diabetes. Research supports that following this type of diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that carbohydrate and calorie restrictions were not necessary and still promoted weight loss and lowered participants’ A1C.”


    14) The Perelman School of Medicine (Penn Med): a medical school ranked second for research in 2012.

    “A well-planned vegetarian diet can give you good nutrition. A vegetarian diet often helps you have better health. Eating a vegetarian diet can help you: [r]educe your chance of obesity; [r]educe your risk of heart disease; [l]ower your blood pressure; [l]ower your risk of type 2 diabetes.”


    15) Cleveland Clinic: is regarded as one of the top hospital in the United States. With around 1,700 staff physicians representing 120 medical specialties, this hospital helps patients not only from all 50 states, but from more than 100 other nations.

    “There really are no disadvantages to a herbivorous diet! A plant-based diet has many health benefits, including lowering the risk for heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, plus maintain weight and bone health.”


    16) New York Presbyterian Hospital: is an esteemed university hospital system affiliated with two Ivy League medical schools. It is the largest not-for-profit hospital in the US.

    “People who follow a vegetarian diet are relatively healthier than those who don’t. Vegetarians tend to have a lower incidence of obesity and fewer chronic health problems, including some cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”


    17) University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC): with 4,200 licensed beds and 400 outpatient sites, UPMC is one of the largest medical centers in the world.

    “A well-planned vegetarian diet can give you good nutrition. A vegetarian diet often helps you have better health.”


    18) The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (UCLA): having research centers covering nearly all major specialties of medicine, UCLA is considered on of the top three hospitals in the US. This hospital has been ranked in the top twenty in 15 of the 16 medical specialties ranked in the US News ranking.

    “Some of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet may include: [d]ecreased blood cholesterol levels;
    and blood pressure; [l]ower incidence of heart disease, some forms of cancer, and digestive disorders like constipation and diverticula disease; [l]ower incidence of obesity and some forms of diabetes.”


    19) Kaiser Permanente: the largest managed care organization in the United States, published an article supporting the adoption of a plant-based diet earlier this spring.

    “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods. Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”


    *** A follow up written by Dr. John McDougall and his son, Dr. Craig McDougall concerning Kaiser Permanente’s warning about potential nutrient deficiencies:

    “In our experience of treating more than 5000 patients with a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based (vegan) diet, with follow-up lasting as long as 28 years, we have not seen any deficiencies of protein, iron, calcium, or essential fatty acids.”



    Special thanks to Anders Branderuds:

    Organization summaries provided by Wikipedia and said group’s website

    • FrankG says

      “*Note* The term ‘vegetarian,’ as used by some of these organizations, does not distinct itself from a 100% plant-exclusive diet, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescatarian, etc. It encompasses all plant-based diets.”

      Are you implying that when the research shows a lacto-ovo vegetarian or pescatarian diet can be healthful (to which I’d agree.. it can be, if carefully thought through) they might as well be saying the same for a vegan or 100% plant-exclusive diet?

      If that is your contention, then I strongly disagree.

      • Rudy Steffen says


        I encourage you to examine the sources. You will understand the highlight in question better. Before buttressing the viability of a plant-exclusive, or plant-based, diet, the organizations define exactly of what a “vegetarian” diet consists.

        As for your deduction, I agree. That would not be logical to expand a plant-exclusive diet beyond plants. To your assertion that a diet consisting of animal products can be healthful, I also agree. It, an omnivorous diet, however, is not moral. That is where the debate concerning veganism rests. These smoke-screens of articles only delay the inevitable.

        Back to nutrition. Here is a study that gauges healthfulness between dietary ranges of “vegetarianism:”


        • FrankG says

          A vegan diet certainly falls into the set known as “vegetarian” but a vegetarian diet does not necessarily mean vegan… this is misleading at best and disingenuous at worst

          Speaking of which.. the PCRM… a vegan-promoting organization that pretends not to be.. why the need for deception? Why hide if they are confident in the truth? I don’t trust this kind of behaviour.

          • Rudy Steffen says


            It seems like you ran out of information as you have fallen back to slander and ad hominem.

            You could not logically deduce that some of the most prestigious medical facilities and organizations in the world, with a combined research budget of 30 billion+ mind you, would make the mistake of devoting a page to vegetarianism, mention “veganism” and not decipher between them when addressing their support. Secondly, you did not address the information provided by PCRM you instead tried to defame the non-profit.

            Sorry friend, but I do not debate with people who turn to such tactics. It is a waste of energy.

            • FrankG says

              “Friend”??? I hardly think so… I don”t even know you, let alone have much trust or respect for you, based on just these few interchanges.

              “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”… what a moniker.. sounds like an upstanding group of MDs right?!? But they are a vegan front organisation who try to obscure that fact… why?

              Why not “Vegan Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”???

              Is that important to know?

              Do you think they provide unbiased advice and research on diet related health issues?

              One may as well ask the Third Reich for unbiased advice on race-relations!

      • John Richards says

        For starters, that quote from the Mayo Clinic article is disingenuous to say the least. If you bother to read the details you’ll find that it admits:
        “…because conversion of plant-based omega-3 to the types used by humans is inefficient, you may want to consider fortified products or supplements, or both.”

        “Vitamin B-12 deficiency may go undetected in people who eat a vegan diet. This is because the vegan diet is rich in a vitamin called folate, which may mask deficiency in vitamin B-12 until severe problems occur. For this reason, it’s important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.”

        As they say, the devil is in the details.

    • David says


      The part about vegan diets being appropriate for those in lactation, infancy and childhood is the point where the organizations lose all credibility.

    • John McDonell says

      Rudy, That certainly is one impressive list! I’m wondering just how this fits with vegan … non-dairy; non-fish; likely non-sea-creatures like krill; lobsters; oysters, etc …. vs vegetarianism, fits as wholesome? Then there is the difficulty posed because of human breast milk/colostrum. Do you think this non-vegan food ethically can be fed to human newborns? Is a properly designed vegan diet ever a good choice for human children? {I wonder if any of these has considered such a stance for their own offspring} … or has anyone refuted the extra needs of a cold climate dwellers for things like vitamin D3, K2, omega-3 oil, and … . You will find people (and organizations) based-in/living-in California or Hawaii making silly pronouncements about the merits of veganism but I absolutely defy any plant to live long enough to be food-source for humans in cold climates. We sentient-beings starve/go-hungry while plants die.

      • Rudy Steffen says

        John M.

        I appreciate your curiosity. As I was telling FrankG, the institutions / organizations put a plant-exclusive diet underneath the heading of ‘vegetarian diet.’ For efficiency purpose, I suppose, they wanted to encapsulate the full spectrum of plant-based with a single word.

        As many of the sources that I provide state, a plant-exclusive diet is viable for all stages of life. With this in mind, it becomes transparent that the consumption of animal products in all cases save self-defense / preservation is immoral.

        Vitamins D3 and K2 can be found in plant options (interestingly enough, the most abundant source of K2 is natto, a fermented soy dish).


        Omega-3 is even easier: two tables spoons of ground flaxseed. I did the calculations one day, and I believe it costs 17 cents a day to reach the recommended dose without considering the other vasts amount of omega 3 that one derives from other whole plant foods.

        One may want to focus on certain nutrients during pregnancy and lactation, however, these nutrients can easily be derived from plant sources. The Physician Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has put out the following information:


        Concerning morality and cold weather individuals without access to a variety of vegetation year round- are we talking about Siberia? That is an interesting topic of debate for sure! However, it does not apply to a vast majority of the individuals who see the information that I share. To justify one’s eating habits on another one’s circumstance is intellectually dishonest.

  30. Ann says

    Thank you Rudy. I have seen some of those and later will look at more of what you posted. I have also watched some of the documentaries out about vegan eating. And I have read a few of the McDougall books.
    I have greatly reduced my animal product consumption, keep my portions small, stopped sugar and grains and greatly increased my vegetables.
    I have had low B12 before, so that is on my mind. It is fine now…even a little high by some reports.
    For now, I am ok with eating small portions of animal products now and again. There is a food writer by the last name if Pollan (I think that is the spelling) who has done a nice amount of research on this topic and this is what his final conclusion is about the subject. Eat food…mostly plants…or something very similar to this comment.
    I believe he recommends good quality animal products about twice a week, small portions, for their potential benefits. And making vegetables your mainstay.
    This is where I am leaning. I suppose it is a middle ground, but I notice I feel good eating this way and my tests are improving.
    But, I do read a lot on the subject; including vegetarian/vegan literature. I will continue to do this, personally monitor how I feel, and continue to have myself checked out thoroughly by doctors including traditional docs and functional physicians.

  31. prema says

    I am a vegetarian though I will not go into the details of why I chose to do so. However I take all the supplements that you describe here and if one is concerned about nutrition they would know all of this information. I would like to add something…Even meat eaters today are deficient in B12 and other of the nutrients you suggest. Meat of any kind today is full of the fear of the animals as we slaughter them in disgustingly inhumane ways. Do you really want to eat that. Please our animals are not fed a healthy diet so even if eaten they do not give the nourishment they would have 100 or more years ago…..I think a better approach to telling people what we need to make sure is part of our diet is not to compare vegetarianism to meat eating cannibals but to understand that there is hardly any nutrition in any of the food we eat and that certain supplements must be taken….
    Peace for all beings….

  32. Erica Martell says

    We get most of our information about nutrition from the latest popular books, which often make their writers successful, and speak to different audiences depending on who the author feels is his target market. The Paleo Code written by Rob Wolf was one of those, sort of a modern Atkins, South Beach. Considering they barely teach nutrition at Harvard medical school it’s sort of a “new” science for most people. If you are eating burgers and donuts, Paleo would be an extension of your knowledge and your capacity to handle your own choices about your health. However, everything is on a continuum, and Paleo was an idea, not an answer, which is something Chris Kresser addressed in his book The Paleo Code, which said you should use the information as a tool for yourself, not as dogma.
    It’s moved us further down the line in terms of understanding and self-care. Someone here pointed out that paleo in 2014 is not paleo in 2008.

    Two things though – I observe that people love to argue about this stuff on the internet, however I have no doubt that many people who can quote chapter and verse on taurine, choline and other nutritional minutiae are also sitting behind their screens eating donuts. Internet research is not the same as spending alot of time calibrating what you actually eat. Two, there is a continuum – what I see meat eaters talking about here is themselves – optimizing their own enjoyment, and down the continuum – their own health. What I hear vegetarians and vegans talking about is the “whole” which includes animal welfare and the earth. In this gap there seems to be no communication.

    Vegans are saying “put on the lens that shows you that our entire lives are deeply entwined with the violence that is done to animals” in the same way that early abolitionists were committed to rejiggering reality until all people saw through the lens that slavery was not just this or that but was incompatible with and central to living a just life on any level. You can imagine the conversations then – when slavery was something everyone had grown up with and took for granted as the way things were, even most slaves. So this is the palette that vegans are working with.

    I suggest if you want to eat meat you at least get on Facebook or the internet and take a look at the violence inflicted on cows, pigs and chickens. I don’t think you can necessarily get it all at once. I myself refuse to expose myself to much of it, especially the videos, and the honorable alternative, I decided, was that if I could not watch, I should not eat it. I’m not a vegan, yet. I’m making changes every day, because it involves my clothing and feeding my dog, as well as adjusting those things that have supported me through stressful times, like half and half in coffee. My thought about this is not to replace them with vegan alternatives, like soymilk in coffee, or veggie burgers and fake bacon, but to take a completely new look at what’s out there. Maybe I’ll try espresso instead and of coffee with half and half….much of the world chooses it. I’ll look into Indian food, Thai food, raw food, etc. etc. It’s the beginning of paying close attention, and if I need to take a supplement or two, I’ll figure it out. In these arguments remember that much of the world is starving and and Albert Schweitzer said “Give a thought to the suffering from which you so carefully protect yourself.” (slight misquote from memory).

    • FrankG says

      Firstly I do NOT get my “information about nutrition from the latest popular books”, nor am I sitting here “eating donuts”.

      But most importantly I am getting more than a little sick of the sanctimonious preaching and attempts at guilt by those opposed to animal cruelty. Read my comments… I am ALSO against animal cruelty, factory-farming, mono-cultures and all the other ills of our modern food-supply chain. It is disrespectful, damaging to our health and that of our ecosystem… and it is NOT sustainable.

      I am not a hypocrite: I have before and would again, kill and prepare my own meat.. face to face. No hiding behind anonymous, boneless, skinless, shrink-wrapped protein patties. It is not something I relish, look forward to, or enjoy
      but it is something that can be done with dignity and respect for all life… including humans.

      Local, sustainable farms COULD feed the world, but if they can’t, it would be because we have already over-reached ourselves as a species, with our throw-away attitude to finite resources such as fossil fuels.

    • JacquieRN says

      Hi Erica, if you have not read the following book yet, I think you might find it interesting: Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy, PhD Ed.M. (Harvard-educated psychologist, professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston)

      “We don’t see meat eating as we do vegetarianism – as a choice, based on a set of assumptions about animals, our world and ourselves. Rather, we see it as a given, the “natural” thing to do. We eat animals without thinking about what we are doing and why, because the belief system that underlies this behavior is invisible.”

      • FrankG says

        No “invisible belief system” here, it is a sane, rational, well-researched and well-thought out conviction about what is best for me, best for my family and best for the planet.

    • Karin says

      Well, I was a vegan for many years before I became deeply thoughtful about the reality of human life on earth. And I’ve seen all of those videos. I actually met my husband interning at Farm Sanctuary, in Ithaca, New York. And I found it very interesting that the same people who were criticizing meat eaters for not killing the animals themselves chose to feed their resident cat with industrially produced animal-based cat food! Yes, they did offer the cat a vegetarian option, (which the cat absolutely refused to eat). But they also decided that they had no choice but to offer the cat meat. They could have carefully killed the resident chickens on the cat’s behalf, and did it in the most humane way possible, but of course they chose not to. Ask almost any vegan cat owner what he/she feeds his/her cats. Passing the buck is not exclusive to omnivorous humans.

      By the way: Do you honestly believe that transporting your coffee thousands of miles from its source is a benign process? How many animals would you estimate are killed in the act of providing you with this little pleasure?

  33. Susan says

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself but after 32 years of being a strict low fat vegetarian I found myself with a B12 and B1 deficiency and osteoporosis. For over 4 years I have reversed all of these problems (plus a lot of digestive problems) by eating a diet of pastured, organic, grass finished and wild caught sources of animal protein, a LOT more vegetables and a lot of unprocessed fats (ghee, coconut and animal fats). I also don’t worry about gaining weight anymore. I found the change hard and a little heartbreaking at first but as long as I am careful to find local, humane sources of meat, I’m now okay with this. I don’t consume mass quantities, just high quality and I know I was meant to be an omnivore.

  34. Chris H says

    It’s an objectively correct article, but it’s also biased and full of generalizations. It’s very easy to write a blog post which ignores facts that do not support your argument. If I were to make as many generalizations regarding people with omnivorous diets as this acupuncturist has about people with vegan diets, I could write a lengthy and objectively correct article about why people with those unhealthy eating habits are more likely to suffer from afflictions such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc…

  35. David says

    To those that disagree with this article, would you please get a blood test for B12, calcium, iron, zinc, EPA & DHA, vitamin A & D, and post your results here? And repeat yearly, since for some it takes years for deficiencies to develop. Would you be willing to do that?

    • Stephen Albers says

      David makes a point that I forgot to include in my earlier post.
      Nutrients deficiencies are not a daily, weekly, or even monthly concern. Fasting regimens of up to 40 days where NO nutrients are consumed are routinely administered to patients without deficiency symptoms occurring because the body stores nutrients. Therefore a personal nutritional strategy should have a long term horizon. That is why nutrient testing is so valuable. It confirms what past absorption has been for whatever diet the individual has actually consumed for an extended period. Everyone who is concerned about nutritional adequacy should adopt the motto: Test, don’t guess.” Test results will eliminate the uncertainty by disclosing the truth in a clear easily understood form that can be the solid basis for future nutrition goals.

  36. Erica Martell says

    I think we are just obligated to move towards awareness and compassion, away from defensiveness and self-involvement. To become more and more aware of the whole. I don’t know why we’re so separated from the natural world – the only beings that move in disharmony. Kind of makes me feel Adam and the apple came from someplace… To come up with a 360 degree understanding of what we choose and why. It doesn’t matter if the world is over or if it makes a difference or if it’s too late.

    While we are alive we have to figure out what our purpose is and how we are going to play our cards. Most people who experience suffering or the suffering of others have an experience of awakening that changes their behavior towards compassion. The only thing anyone can ask of anyone else is to be open to exposing themselves to new information and to become mindful of their daily choices.

    For me – although I’d been a pescatarian for many years once, recently I’d been happily eating a little meat for over 25 years, not thinking anything about it. I recently completed health coach certification at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which was a great intro. Broccoli, good, kale, good… beef. hmmm.. There was only one lecture during the whole year on factory farming, by an ex-rancher, but it stayed with me. Then I met a man sitting in Central Park who owns a company that provides alot of beef to Whole Foods and he said to me “I’d never eat that stuff.” Just another piece of the puzzle that stayed in my mind. Then I got on Facebook for the first time a few months ago and started following dog rescues and somehow the cows and pigs and chickens got in there as well, and I began to be offered the opportunity to see things I had never seen – dogs boiled alive, dogs baked alive into flat pancakes, cows hacked apart while still not quite dead, baby chicks being dumped into a macerator by the thousands, thousands of livestock dieing on these boats of hell from Australia to the Middle East for what I call fetish slaughter…. I thought it might challenge my sanity, but I also thought I could not make believe it didn’t exist. So then what? I don’t grow my own chickens in the backyard, I don’t have a cow to milk. I don’t want anyone doing that violence in my name. Frankly I feel the people who are forced to do that in order to make a living are experiencing not much less violence than the animals they kill and it makes them brutal. That’s where I am now. I take everything into account and I try to make each decision mindfully and in the present moment.. I struggle but more often than not I am making them to come out on the side of all and not only my own interest.

    • FrankG says

      First paragraph of this blog post…

      “There are many reasons why people choose to go vegetarian or vegan. Some are compelled by the environmental impact of confinement animal feeding operations (CAFO). Others are guided by ethical concerns or religious reasons. I respect these reasons and appreciate anyone who thinks deeply about the social and spiritual impact of their food choices—even if my own exploration of these questions has led me to a different answer.”

      I agree with Chris… my own exploration of these questions has led me to a different answer.

      We are each of us allowed to choose what we eat, where it comes from and how we get it, just forget the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, preachy stuff, guilt trips, pseudo-science etc.. to try and convince others that your way is the only way.

      • chelsea says

        Preachy stuff? You mean like the suffering and death of billions of animals? That’s not preachy stuff that’s compassion. Try to get over all of this other b.s.

        • FrankG says

          Preachy stuff like you trying to force your world-view down my throat… I’m not the one bothered by your personal choices or what you eat and yet you seem overly bothered about mine

          I respect your choices to do as you please but please don’t dress it up as anything else in order to rationalise your choices.

        • John Richards says

          It’s preachy because you try to persuade by emotion rather than by science, and you fail to acknowledge that
          a) all living things have to die, and
          b) in the wild, many animals eat each other, often killing in very brutal ways.

  37. John Richards says

    You mention bacon as being a processed meat, in the same category as hot dogs. Just why is bacon bad, and is the same true for uncured bacon?

  38. Audrey says

    I like what Frank said and Erica too…even though they might seem somewhat contradictory.

    I’ve made the decision based on my own experiences, medical advice, etc. to eat some meat. But to really reduce the amount (s) I was eating previously. I didn’t feel good when I tried to be a vegetarian in the past and somehow I gained weight. I probably craved carbs. Now, I’m eating no grain, no sugar, no junk foods, small amounts of animal products, lots of vegetables…..just doing the best I can. I think that is all anyone can do. And I see my doctors regularly and have my vitamins tested and so forth.

    But I have seen those documentaries about animal cruelty. The things Erica mentioned. It is horrid.

    Even though I still eat some meat, I feel like the excessive consumption and demand for meat likely helped to cause such atrocious behaviors.mGreed, high demand, competition, lack of humane and appropriate regulations, etc.

    IF you can accept people see things differently and move forward….What can the general population do, both vegans and meat eaters, to help protest these in-humane behaviors in this industry? Is there any hope for change?

  39. Sybil says

    I have been on a vegetarian diet for the majority of 40 years. My annual blood work does not find me lacking in any of the nutritional elements discussed in your article. Like most people, I do take supplements….

    But the MOST important reason to be vegetarian/vegan is the cruelty of factory farming and the murder of cogent, sensitive animals.

    Other important reasons:
    …the enormous cost to our planet to raise animals for food. They eat more grain etc per pound than it would take to sustain hungry humans.
    …destruction of the rainforests to make room for cattle grazing.

    Our planet is in serious ecological difficulty, part of which can be offset with a vegetarian/vegan diet.

    Stop letting your taste buds dictate your conscience.

    • John Richards says

      What about the fact that in the wild these “sensitive cogent” animals tend to eat each other, ripping bodies apart without regard to humaneness?

      And what about all that forest land being changed to more and more intensively farmed crop fields, causing run-off of fertilizers and pesticides as well as depletion of essential micronutrients and microorganisms from the soil?

      I’m tired of vegans and vegetarians assuming this holier than thou attitude.

      • Whisper Horse says

        Actually the rain forests are being ripped apart for growing more feed for cattle and for raising “grass fed” cow flesh. A larger amount of green house gasses are caused by cattle than all of the vehicles on the planet put together. The run off of feces creating massive acres of dead zones. The number one destroyer of our planet is animal agriculture.

        • FrankG says

          It’s like someone opens a tap and out pours all the exact same vegetarian/vegan verbal diarrhea… dressed up as pseudoscience, or social, or moral commentary with the (probably sincere but hopelessly misinformed) devotees mindlessly repeating what they have read, or been told by other vega*tarians… without even pausing to question any of it, or bothering to read earlier comments where many of these points have already been addressed. What a monumental waste of everyone’s time.

  40. Sylvia RN MSN NP-C says

    Great article Chris! Thank you for sharing! After trying a vegan diet in college that left me feeling tired and sick I realized that it is NOT the way to go! I’m follow the Weston A Price/Paleo diet now today, in better health than ever before, as well as lean & muscular! :-)

    • JacquieRN says

      Hi Sylvia, as an RN MBA myself I am wondering what vegan diet you were eating in college that made you “jump” to Price? I had looked at several of the Price research articles and commentary – so many points are unscientific and find mythical – for instance: “…the diet of modern American women is so appalling, and their preparation for successful breastfeeding so lacking, that their breast milk provides no better nourishment for their infants than factory-made formula.”

      High protein diets will help short term for
      “lean” but can’t be healthfully sustained long term – just one paper with multiple research cited as example: http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/High-Protein-Diets.pdf

  41. says

    I was a vegetarian for over 20 (!) years so I speak from experience. While this diet suited me just fine for several years (a good clean out?) it was not healthy for me in the long haul. My thyroid was shot (too much soy?) and I was thin but low in muscle. During this period my first husband developed severe heart disease (he followed a low fat vegetarian diet) – needed 4 bypasses and heart valve replacement surgery. He survived only a year after surgery and was diagnosed with “failure to thrive”. I believe years of too little protein damage his heart ( a muscle) and left him without the resources to recover.
    I like to remind people who are on strict diets not to get too cocky about it. The diet you follow today may well NOT be the same one you follow years from now. You may find yourself “eating crow”. I used to teach macrobiotic cooking classes. I would NEVER thought I’d trade my tofu for a steak.

    • Sharon says

      If you have thyroid issues it could meant you were deficient in iodine. There are fat-soluble vitamins that need fats to be transported within the body. Too much high GI carbs in one setting can lead to inflammation of the blood vessels and glycation, which both can leave to heart disease. Omega 3 fatty acids has been found to lessen heart disease. Olive oil has been found to damage the endothelium(blood vessels) that can worsen heart disease.

  42. chelsea says

    No. Just no. I know that you’ve given up your morals to start eating meat again and this is your excuse, but no. Really try to come up with something better. Nutritionfacts.org is a great place to start. Good luck.

    • FrankG says

      How dare you judge others by your own “moral” standards!?!

      I do not see eating meat as in any way amoral or immoral.

      Get off your high horse and if you want to see respect for all life you might try starting with your own species.

    • bcflyfisher says

      Do meat eaters troll veg*an websites the way you’re doing here? You’re here strictly to preach your own misguided agenda.

      Yet I never see the reverse happening.

      Either way, believe whatever you want but don’t wander into someone else’s playground and start dictating the rules.

      Or, as Eddie Murphy said, “it’s my house, and if you don’t like it……”

      • OnTheFence says

        Actually, since i am on the fence I visit different sites/conversations and of course, then do my own research.
        Paleo/meat-eaters on numerous on the veg sites and most are not at all kind! Even here one of the “meat men” slammed all veg women – maybe they are “witchy” not due to food but they have to work with him – sorry as a woman I couldn’t resist that one.
        That is why this topic is not a battle of research – but from what i see and for me a battle of the heart. I am leaning a bit – the arguments on both sides are getting old. I think the amount of research and clinical outcomes on the mostly plants, rare meat or vegan side is greater and more convincing. Sustainability aspects = veggie. Animal CAFOs for those of us who don’t have farms or farmers near us = veg.

        Personal stories have too many variables – health vegans and healthy meat eaters – but then some % smokers live long healthy lives – so I look at decreasing risk.

  43. Whisper Horse says

    I’d also like to bring up results of the curing effect of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes by many many people now who have adopted a whole foods plant based vegan diet. If we were supposed to eat meat, cheese, and eggs, then why are all these people curing our top killing diseases by removing these animal products completely from their diets. Also, the physiology of our own bodies dictates that we do best with minimal to no acidic foods, our physiological system is not made for processing acidic foods and prefers to be on the alkaline side 7.5 so this bring up the truth about all and every animal product that exists, they are all highly acidic! An acidic body gives cancer a place to thrive because an acidic body has more inflammation and decreased circulation. Cancer thrives where there is decreased circulation, and it was shown in 1907 that cancer dies in an alkaline environment. Another study that was done, in fact the largest and most long term study on human nutrition that took over fifty years to complete The China Study that no one has yet been able to debunk because they can not debunk that big of a study. It not only took many doctors and medical scientists but because of the amount of time and effort put into that study it was reviewed and the results were astounding. Dairy is one of the largest cancer promoters that exists today, even more so than tobacco.

    • bcflyfisher says

      China Study? *sigh*

      Frank already answered that one. Welcome to 4 years ago!

      Want a long term study? Try Framingham.

      Next you’ll learn that meat doesn’t cause cancer, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol don’t cause heart disease, heart healthy whole grains are anything but, that “vegetable oils” are one of the worst things we ever invented, and that sugar is a wee bit of a problem.

  44. Erica Martell says

    This is how I hear these conversations breaking down: On one side “I’m tired of hearing….” “I want a belly full of bacon.” On the other side the arguments are always about the whole, never about the individual. In other words people who eat vegan diets are expressing here they do so after considering the whole, or others – even if they went back to meat at some point. People who are defensive about meat, or say they just like it are usually defending their individual interest. Be all that as it may, the way we are living is not-sustainable. Let’s hope there’s still time to change course, but it will require the willingness to change, and not stubborn self-interest. Some people feel it’s already too late, but whatever people feel, we’re on the path…

    • FrankG says

      Well you are wrong Erica…

      I HAVE considered the “whole” and am convinced (as I already stated in earlier comments) that the only sustainable way to feed the world and save the ecosystem which sustains us, is with small, local farms, including the rearing of livestock.

      • OnTheFence says

        Hi FrankG, how are you working toward this end? Are you able to farm or buy only directly from farms? How will small local farms provide enough of the animal products to feed the masses? I don’t have answers – only that it appears the buy decreasing consumption (which is healthy) supple and demand will slowly cause a correction.

        • OnTheFence says

          oops typos: only that it appears that by decreasing consumption (which is healthy) supply and demand will slowly cause a correction.

  45. JacquieRN says

    Chris, I see many beliefs; myths (and culture) surfacing in this discussion and as an RN having worked in many settings with many people so I am not stranger to this. Therefore, I respect you for your gentle words in this post. However, many are sweeping statements and these could easily be said about animal/dairy eaters and to me don’t make a compelling argument for optimal health choices. Maybe you will do a follow up post on “Why You Should Think Twice About Animal and Dietary Diets”.

    For 1 instance:

    “Vegan diets, in particular, are almost completely devoid of certain nutrients that are crucial for physiological function.” I would challenge this as not factually backed by meta-analysis and research studies. I could easily agree that some “vegans” may not be eating a healthy balanced diet that could be devoid of some nutrients if prolonged – eating Oreos, coke, potato chips, licorice, etc. If one eats a whole foods, plant-based diet only one supplement B12 (due to our sanitation practices) may be necessary if not eating any B12 fortified foods.

    However, the exact same could be said for the majority eating the standard, processed meat, poultry, and dairy diet – just because people eat animal products doesn’t change the fact they too are devoid of many nutrients that a plants provide.

    And you actually advocate people to take certain supplements in a link in this post so not much difference on vegans taking for optimal health if needed.

    Also, I am puzzled that you would have cited a research paper (12) that addresses “nutrients of concern” but clearly states vegetarians are healthier with lower mortality rates: “As a result of these factors, vegetarians typically have lower body mass index, serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and blood pressure; reduced rates of death from ischemic heart disease; and decreased incidence of hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers than do non-vegetarians.”

    Lastly, and most curious – you opened by saying: “Some are compelled by the environmental impact of confinement animal feeding operations (CAFO). Others are guided by ethical concerns or religious reasons. I respect these reasons and appreciate anyone who thinks deeply about the social and spiritual impact of their food choices—even if my own exploration of these questions has led me to a different answer. “

    You didn’t address how your social, spiritual, ethical, environmental impacts, etc. exploration lead you to a “different answer” – only the same belief that eating animal products = is to eat optimally. Change has to happen at the personal level to impact a global system that is no longer sustainable, if for no other reason than we should be good ancestors or there will be no food:

    “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” (Iroquois Law)

    • John Richards says

      Maybe you missed it but Chris has repeatedly stated that some of the anti-meat conclusions in research papers (12) do not distinguish between eating highly processed meats such as hot dogs and pepperoni versus eating only grass-fed beef. Then there are also unaccounted-for confounders such as meat eaters more frequently engaging in unhealthy behaviors including smoking and alcohol consumption.

    • Stipetic says

      Speaking of the Iroquois, which my great-grandmother was:

      Meat was also a large part of the Iroquois diet, it provided them strength and allowed them to endure the harsh winters.The men were counted on to bring the tribe its meat.The men hunted a vast range of animals using bows and arrows to kill black bear, elk, deer, rabbits, and wolves. They trapped wild turkey, ducks and other birds. They also hunted turtles for their meat and shells. Like many indigenous groups the Iroquois did not waste any part of an animal. Often bones and other unwanted parts were made into tools, spoons, knives and other household items. Whatever the men brought back from the hunt was cooked by the women and shared among the whole village.

      • OnTheFence says

        Oh yes, the Native peoples lived off the land and used all the tools they could to survive as did all our ancestors. Its just that the masses don’t live that way today. We need to keep evolving. Meat was used for most generations (and few populations today) when and where it could be found hunted down – which involved miles of walking and or running – for the masses we don’t hunt, run walk for miles, work to clean the meat and work to fashion tools. We drive to the store, hunt at the meat, fish, poultry counter. I am referencing populations not individuals – because we do have a very small number of people able to get true wild animals for food. I just don’t think we humans stopped evolving – no longer need wisdom teeth (jaw is getting smaller) the planet needs us to do so for generations coming – some thing has to change in how we are destroying our mother earth. PS: I don’t want to go back – I like modern conveniences, sutures, antibiotics, c-sections (rather that die in childbirth, etc.)

        • Christopher says

          Modern conveniences and ancestral eating do not need to be in opposition. As a species we benefit from improvements to medicine but we do not benefit from so-called improvements in food, particularly industrial processing.

          As for our jaws getting smaller, evolution may or may not be in play. There are theories that diminishment due to improper nutrition may be a factor as well.

        • Stipetic says

          In the previous post, OnTheFence, one of the vegan flock mentioned an Iroquois quote to support her position. Well, I’m using the same quote to support mine as I am only 3 generations removed from my great grandmother, and so it appears the Iroquois way should be maintained for at least four more generations; it is a way of eating that is still relevant as the time elapse is not enough time to have evolved much as a species. So, eating plentiful meat (from the entire carcass) seems like something I am optimally designed for. And so are you, if you open your mind to it. Whether I kill my own cute-faced prey is irrelevant as I don’t find this immoral, certainly no more than a lion devouring a wilderbeast while it is still alive. Nor is it relevant that I’m at a computer now or that I live in a large city, etc. I eat for health; animal products are exquisitely nutritious and healthy.

  46. JoJo says

    My goodness! Such a large amount of dogmatic preaching and not enough listening by the varied range of pretentious vegetarians. We choose our own paths as dynamic and unique individuals. What works for some, and not coincidentally, what works for some family lines, does not work for all as evidenced by the ongoing cracking of the human genome code. There will always be outliers and exceptions and that is what precisely reinforces our uniqueness. Instead of hurling insults and creating the perception that this article promotes the consumption of CAFO meat, just read and digest the comments. Nobody in this forum has given a thumbs up to this inhumane practice and yet the vegetarian brigade repeatedly thumps that bible.
    We all choose our path and few can be argued as morally superior to another because, as an active member of any society, our presence and habits have far reaching implications on all creatures, sentient or otherwise. The individual may think more highly of their own beliefs but that is inherently biased. And, when you only surround yourself with like-minded people you tend to only strengthen the vigor of your heel position.

    • Helen says

      Lol, my thoughts pretty much, lots of soap box preaching, riding around on personal hobby horses, certainly some not prepared to accept that we all can have a valid opinion, and that everyone is different. There are some on here determined to shove their views down everyone else’s throats, not the best way to go about things.

      What a can of worms has been opened :)

      Thankyou to Chris, he has certainly been a great help to me, I have bought his book, but also appreciate all the free advice given by him and others

  47. Jake says

    You can expose mushrooms to sunlight for more vitamin D
    “Here is a simple experiment we did one summer afternoon in Kamilche Point, Wash. We compared several forms of organically-grown shiitake mushrooms, which had starting levels of 100 IU/100 grams. We compared the vitamin D levels of three sets of mushrooms, all from the same crop. The first was grown and dried indoors. The second set was dried outdoors in the sunlight with their gills facing down. The third set of mushrooms was dried outdoors in the sunlight with their gills facing upward for full sun exposure. The most vitamin D was found in shiitake dried with gills up that were exposed to sunlight for two days, six hours per day. The vitamin D levels in these mushrooms soared from 100 IU/100 grams to nearly 46,000 IU/100 grams (see chart). Their stems, though, produced very little vitamin D, only about 900 IU. Notably, vitamin D levels dropped on the third day, probably due to overexposure to UV. “

  48. Timothy Tang says

    I just want to say that people who still think that meat is the only nutritious food is just plain stupid and backdated, and only want to believe so because they cannot move away from the addiction of strong flavors. There is a proper way to be vegan without facing the nutrient deficiencies. Stupid people can just remain in their stupid meat diet.

    • Karin says

      Ha ha ha! I don’t happen to eat meat, but I can tell you that a whole lot of paleo-style eaters would be more than happy to eat soy ice cream and boca burgers and bread slathered with Earth Balance if taste were such a priority!

      Bone broths and liver aren’t exactly addictive foods, lol. :-)

      • KTB says

        Hmmm……then why does my mouth water when I think of butter fried liver and onions and salty bone broth with lots of fatty marrow???? Not every body can thrive on plant foods. I know mine didn’t and I am so much happier and healthier eating plenty of healthy fatty meats with my gobs of veggies and fruits. Taking out grains and legumes was the healthiest decision of my life.

        • Karin says

          I totally agree with you, KTB. My only point was that people aren’t ADDICTED to liver like they are to Doritos, for example. They might find it desirable, however, because they are in tune with what their body needs. The notion that people who eat meat are only doing it for the sake of their taste buds is just patently absurd.

          • says

            If you have done your research properly, you would have known that vegans go back to eating meat because they crave salty foods and fats too perhaps, because they didn’t eat a balanced vegan diet and deprived themselves from much salt and fat.

            KTM even said he/she wants to eat salty foods, your 2-person team-up is like going backwards.

            • Karin says

              Or, if you do your research, you may find that it’s because they develop things like osteoporosis, gaping holes in their teeth, and neurological disorders.

              • says

                That’s because they didn’t know how to eat right and suffer from deficiencies. In another words, they were stupid. If only vegans can suffer from osteoporosis then all the people in the world who suffers from osteoporosis must be vegans? Not true. They did not consume enough calcium, the foods they bought were grown on nutrient-deficient soils that is the norm nowadays, they did not take enough fats to carry the fat-soluble vitamins and they did not take enough B12.

    • Michael Cohen says

      Timothy Tang by “stupid people ” do you mean the 99.999+% of humanity that is not currently vegan? My God !! have we stupid humans been doing it all wrong for the last 21/2 million years?
      Does it make any sense to you as to why there are no reproducing vegan cultures? Why one has never been recorded? Veganism is an intellectual construct based on a defective view of nature. It often reflects an extreme bodily negative attitude. One has to ignore or over-ride the 911 calls ones body is sending. It is a form of slow self-righteous starvation.

        • Karin says

          That reminds me, Timothy….did you make the computer that you’re on? Because last I checked, commercially produced computers are far from vegan. You’re making this too easy. :-)

          • says

            The idea is to minimize suffering to animals as much as possible. If I wanted to minimize all possible suffering to animals I would have killed myself. Maybe that notorious vegan girl from Britain killed herself for such a reason too.

            And I choose to buy 2nd hand computers unlike most people who buy new ones.

            • Karin says

              “The idea is to minimize all possible suffering to animals as much as possible.”

              Are you implying that you would DIE if you gave up use of that computer?!? Or can you be honest and admit that you just really LIKE to use your computer?
              After all, it would have been POSSIBLE for you to just give up computers altogether, right? (As I did when I went vegan, giving up TV, film, cameras, etc.)

              And if your second-hand computer had been sold to another bloke while you stayed true to your vegan principles, THAT would have prevented a new computer from being sold.

            • Michael Cohen says

              Timothy Tang “Minimize the suffering” This is exactly the distorted view of nature and the natural world i was talking about. A quality is added to the natural world and its cycles that simply does not belong there, it is “compassion”. Every living form is happily devouring other living forms in order to maintain its very existence. The purpose of an herbivore is to feed a carnivore, and most die in a very natural way, being killed and eaten by a carnivore. The vegan excuse, minimizing animal suffering comes from a disassociation from nature, not from a closeness. You have avoided answering my question so I will answer it for you.There are no naturally occurring vegan cultures because in the long run it is inherently nutrient deficient and anti life. Veganism is often the expression of a bodily and vital negativity. Self deniai is reveled in and justified because it is for a “good cause” Animal rights !!. Veganism is itself a form of animal abuse, it is the abuse of the animals most intimate to us, our bodies. Many many animals are killed growing grains and vegetables. Are their deaths qualitatively better than the deaths of animals used directly for food?

              • says

                Raising land animals up to 60 billion heads is not natural.

                “no naturally occurring vegan cultures”

                There are lots of monks in Asia who are vegan. The advancement of the B12 supplement and other minerals such as iodine also allows modern people to go vegan unlike precious generations.

                • Michael Cohen says

                  I said reproducing vegan cultures,surviving over generations. The negative effects and nutrient deficiencies will manifest more and more over generations until there will be no reproduction. The only person I know that was raised vegan was one of my teachers, a Taoist monk, raised in a monastery because he was orphaned as a child. He said that he started eating animal food the day he left the monastery. He has had lifelong bone problems. You point to an extremely isolated, miniscule part of society as an example of the universalviabilityof a vegan diet and ridicule me and dismiss my arguments saying that most of the world does not eat this way?

                • Michael Cohen says

                  A monastery is not a naturally occurring culture. It is based on intellectual and emotional constructs.No one naturally chooses to eat this way.

  49. Lucy says

    So who did the research. The meat and diary industries? There is absolutely nothing wrong with being vegan. In fact I have never felt this healty. I even was able to turn around my diabetes. Hmmmm

  50. Karin says

    I am a former animal-rights oriented vegan (at least I thought of myself as vegan at the time) and I was embarrassingly self-righteous about it. Now that I know more about human nutrition, agriculture, and sustainability (I have a degree in crop and soil science) I feel that incorporating carefully chosen, locally-grown animal products is a far more rational and ethical choice for me. (In fact, just about all “veggie” organic agriculture is COMPLETELY DEPENDENT ON CAFOs, so I actually don’t know that I’ve ever met an authentic vegan, but that’s a topic for another post). Anyway, I’m here to post today’s first challenge of the day:

    I will happily send $100 (via paypal) to the first poster who can provide a reasonable three-day meal plan for two children, ages 9 and 2.

    Here are the rules:

    1. It must be vegan.
    2. It must be based on whole, minimally processed foods.
    3. It must be soy and gluten free.
    4. It must meet children’s basic nutritional needs, including the U.S. RDA for vitamin, mineral, protein, and fatty acid requirements, without resorting to supplements. (However, for argument’s sake, lets make an exception for Vitamin B 12).
    5. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats must be less than 4:1.

    I post this challenge in peace. I hope that it will be instructive for everyone, including me! I will prepare the meals for my children and post our experience/thoughts on Youtube. Thanks and good luck! :-)

    • says


      For breakfast, eat organic rolled or quick-cooking oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit.

      For lunch, use dried chickpeas soaked for at least 8 hours(or overnight) and boil for 10 mins, then drain and serve whole or mashed in a food processor. Add sea salt for iodine if required. Spinkle flaxseeds if more omega 3 is desired. Variation: add a little tumeric powder for smoked ham flavor.

      Serve fruits such as honey melon or kiwi for dessert.

      For a dinner, the 2 yr old can eat pureed green peas or pureed b