Why You Should Think Twice about Vegetarian and Vegan Diets | Chris Kresser

Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

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Vegetarian and vegan diets can’t offer the same nutrients as this grilled meat.
Are vegetarian and vegan diets healthy? If you’re not eating meat, you’re missing out on key nutrients animal products provide.

This is an update of an article I published in 2011. I affirm that animal products are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat and that vegetarians and vegans are at risk for multiple nutrient deficiencies. I have included up-to-date research and expanded the list of nutrients that are often lacking in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Maybe you have considered going vegetarian or vegan for the health benefits. Or maybe you know someone who feels strongly about it as an ethical choice, and you wonder if they can really follow the diet in a healthy way. 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 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 50-plus 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 heads 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?

If You Want Nutrient-Dense Foods, You Need to Eat Animal Products

Plant-based diets emphasize vegetables, which are quite nutrient dense, and fruits, which are somewhat nutrient dense. 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 like phytate. Most importantly, vegetarian and vegan diets eschew organ meats, other meats, and fish and shellfish, which are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. (1)

Followers of vegetarian and vegan diets, beware: You could be missing out on B12, iron, calcium, and other key nutrients. Is it time to rethink your diet plan and add meat back to your plate? Find out.

Vegan diets, in particular, are almost completely devoid of certain nutrients that are crucial for physiological function. Deficiencies can take months or years to develop, and many are easily missed because they are not routinely tested for in primary care settings. Several studies have shown that both vegetarians and vegans are prone to deficiencies in:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA
  • Fat-soluble vitamins like A and D

Let’s take a closer look at each of these nutrients.

It’s generally better to get your nutrients from whole foods rather than supplementation. In many cases, that means leaving a vegetarian or vegan diet behind and adopting a Paleo template that includes animal foods. But making that lifestyle shift is difficult. Even in cases where there’s a diagnosed deficiency, it’s hard to leave behind a long-held lifestyle.

That’s where health coaches come in. Health coaches are behavior change experts. They understand how to support their clients, empower them to uncover their true motivation, and facilitate change—especially when it’s hard.

In the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program, we’re teaching the next generation of Functional health coaches how to help people change and meet their health goals. We don’t just teach the ins and outs of motivation and behavior change; we also provide our students with comprehensive course materials on different diet variations, including vegetarian and vegan diets.

Do you want to learn how to help people reach their health goals while embracing a Functional and ancestral health perspective? You can—with the ADAPT Health Coach Training Program. Find out more about our program.

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Don’t Provide Enough Vitamin B12

B12 deficiency is especially common in vegetarians and vegans. To properly evaluate B12 status, total serum vitamin B12 isn’t enough. A better marker for vitamin B12 is holotranscobalamin II, the biologically active fragment, which should be measured along with total homocysteine and methylmalonic acid. Low B12 is correlated with low holotranscobalamin II, while homocysteine and methylmalonic acid are usually increased in later stages of vitamin B12 deficiency. (2) The most recent studies using more sensitive techniques for detecting B12 deficiency have found that up to 77 percent of vegetarians and 92 percent of vegans are B12 deficient, compared to just 11 percent of omnivores. (3, 4, 5)

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 symptoms, including:

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

It’s a common myth among vegetarians and vegans that it’s possible to get B12 from plant sources like:

  • Seaweed
  • Fermented soy
  • Spirulina
  • Brewer’s yeast

These plant foods don’t contain B12. They contain B12 analogs, called cobamides, that block the intake of—and increase the need for—true B12. (6)

If You’re Vegan, You Might Be Missing out on Calcium

You know that calcium is important for bone health, but did you know it’s essential for muscle and nerve function and that it’s involved in blood clotting? On paper, calcium intake is similar in vegetarians and omnivores (probably because both eat dairy products). Vegans, however, are often deficient. (7, 8, 9)

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. (10) 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 eight-ounce glass of milk. (11) That would be 33 cups of baby spinach or around five or six 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 might not be a great strategy. For those who don’t tolerate dairy well, fish with edible bones like sardines are great sources of calcium on a Paleo diet.

You’re Also More Likely to Be Iron-Deficient on a Plant-Based Diet

Vegetarians and omnivores often have similar levels of serum iron, but levels of ferritin—the long-term storage form of iron—are lower in vegetarians than in omnivores. (12, 13) This is significant, because ferritin depletion is the first stage of iron deficiency.

Moreover, although vegetarians often have similar iron intakes to omnivores on paper, it is more common for vegetarians (and particularly vegans) to be iron deficient.

For example, this study of 75 vegan women in Germany found that 40 percent of them were iron deficient, despite average iron intakes that were above the recommended daily allowance. (14) Among Australian men, iron intake among vegetarians and vegans was 29 to 49 percent higher than omnivores, but their serum ferritin concentrations were barely half that of omnivores. (15) Despite similar iron intakes, another study published this year showed vegans and female vegetarians having low ferritin levels. (16)

Why would this be? As with calcium, the bioavailability of the iron in plant foods (nonheme iron) is much lower than in animal foods (heme iron). Plant-based forms of iron are also inhibited by other commonly consumed substances, such as:

This explains why vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce nonheme iron absorption by 70 percent and total iron absorption by 85 percent. (17, 18)

Red Meat, Fish, and Poultry Are Your Best Sources for Zinc

Zinc is important for the immune system, cell growth, and wound healing. You won’t usually see overt zinc deficiency in Western vegetarians, but their intake often falls below recommendations, probably because red meat, poultry, and fish are the best sources.

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 percent compared with an omnivorous diet. (19) Thus, even when the diet meets or exceeds the RDA for zinc, deficiency may still occur. (20) One study suggested that vegetarians may require up to 50 percent more zinc than omnivores for this reason. (21) A meta-analysis of 34 studies found that both zinc intakes and serum zinc concentrations were lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians. (22)

You Might Be Missing out on the Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

Plant foods do contain linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 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 and DHA. These fatty acids play a protective and therapeutic role in a wide range of diseases: (23, 24)

While it is possible for some ALA from plant foods to be converted into EPA and DHA, that conversion is poor in humans: between 5 and 10 percent for EPA and 2 and 5 percent for DHA. (25)

Although no official recommendation exists, the daily suggested intake of combined DHA and EPA is around 250 to 500 mg. In theory, this means vegans and vegetarians would need to consume between five and 12.5 grams of ALA per day to obtain 250 mg of DHA. In reality, vegetarians and vegans consume merely 0.97 g/day and 0.86 g/day of ALA, respectively, according to a study of over 14,000 Americans. (26)

Vegetarians have 30 percent lower levels of EPA and DHA than omnivores, while vegans have 50 percent lower EPA and nearly 60 percent lower DHA. (27, 28) Moreover, the conversion of ALA to DHA depends on zinc, iron, selenium, and pyridoxine—nutrients that vegetarians and vegans are less likely than omnivores to get enough of. (29303132) Eating 12 to 16 ounces of cold-water fatty fish per week remains the best way to get adequate EPA and DHA. The fish will also provide bioavailable protein and selenium.

Vitamins A and D: What You’re Missing

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 like:

  • Seafood
  • Organ meats
  • Eggs
  • 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 often low in vegetarians and even lower in vegans. (33, 34, 35, 36)

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. (37, 38) 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 two cups of carrots, one cup of sweet potatoes, or two cups of kale every day.

Moreover, traditional cultures consumed up to 10 times the current RDA for vitamin A. It would be nearly impossible to get this amount of vitamin A from plant foods without juicing or taking supplements. And if supplements aren’t consumed with a fatty meal, the actual absorption will be low. (39)

Vegans and Vegetarians, You Could Be Missing These Key Nutrients

If you don’t eat meat or other animal products, you could also be missing out on:

  • Choline
  • Creatine
  • Taurine
  • Methionine
  • Glycine
  • Selenium

Choline

Vegetarian and vegan diets, along with the Standard American Diet, pose risks of choline deficiency. (40) Choline is required for:

  • Healthy cell membrane function
  • Methylation
  • Cognitive development in children

It’s so important that the FDA recently set a daily recommended intake of 550 mg for men and 425 mg for women, which should increase to 450 mg during pregnancy and 550 mg during breastfeeding. Recent research suggests that only 8.5 percent of women meet the daily choline requirement. (41) With egg yolks and organ meats as the most potent sources of choline, it’s not surprising that even omnivores are not getting enough. This is another reason I encourage giving organ meat dishes another try.

Creatine

Creatine plasma and muscle levels are usually lower in vegetarians than in omnivores, as meat provides the richest source of creatine. (42) Creatine may play an important role in cognitive function. A randomized controlled trial found that six weeks of oral creatine supplementation significantly improved vegetarians’ performance on tests of fluid intelligence and working memory. The difference in scores between groups was enormous. (43)

Another study found that creatine supplementation in vegetarians improved memory, while having no effect on fluid intelligence or working memory in meat-eaters. (44) These results suggest that vegetarians’ baseline scores may have been impaired due to low creatine intake.

Taurine

Taurine has a central role as a neurotransmitter, promotes the development of the central nervous system, and upholds the structure of cell membranes. Although the body can synthesize small amounts of taurine, vegetarians and vegans often still have low plasma and urinary taurine levels because taurine is found primarily in animal products. (45, 46) Low plasma taurine in newborns is associated with lower scores on mental development and arithmetic tests at age seven, suggesting that dietary taurine aids in neural development. (47)

Methionine

Methionine is another amino acid that is restricted on a plant-based diet. Low methionine intake has been linked to longevity in scientific research. However, methionine is still an essential amino acid, and too little methionine may impair detoxification and reduce fertility. (48, 49) After being activated using ATP, methionine becomes the universal methyl donor.

On the flip side, too much methionine can also pose problems. After methyl donation, methionine becomes homocysteine and must be recycled back to methionine by B12, folate, or betaine (derived from choline). Because meat is high in methionine, diets heavy in muscle meats but low in connective tissues can result in increased homocysteine levels, a risk factor for CVD.

That said, studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans have significantly higher homocysteine levels on average than omnivores. (50) In one study, the average homocysteine level among vegetarians was 13.9 nmol/L and among vegans, 16.4 nmol/L, compared to 11.3 nmol/L for omnivores. (51) This puts most vegetarians and vegans in a range that carries significant risk of CVD. In fact, according to one study:

The prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia among vegetarians may actually be higher than that among non-vegetarians already diagnosed with heart disease. (52)

Glycine

Vegetarians and vegans don’t consume as much glycine as meat-eaters, as the richest sources are the “odd bits” of animal foods, like: (53)

  • Skin
  • Bones
  • Collagen
  • Gelatin

Glycine is one of the building blocks of collagen, found in our connective tissues. In addition to its structural role, glycine can also act as a neurotransmitter, plays a role in blood sugar regulation, and stimulates the production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. (5455, 56, 57)

Some Paleo dieters can be susceptible to low glycine intake, too, if they are eating tons of muscle meat and ignoring the “nose-to-tail” philosophy. Glycine helps balance out methionine levels, in part by acting as a buffer for excess methyl groups. Low choline and glycine intake, common in vegetarians and vegans, can further contribute to high homocysteine levels and increased risk of CVD. Eating bone broth regularly can help balance glycine/methionine levels.

Selenium

While a few studies show no difference in selenium status among diet types, most research shows lower intake and/or levels in vegetarians and vegans compared to omnivores, including one study that measured glutathione peroxidase, a selenium-dependent enzyme and an excellent marker of active selenium status. (58, 59, 60, 61) Selenium has a role in immune function, supports thyroid hormone synthesis, and protects the thyroid from excess iodine damage. (62, 63) Selenium also helps prevent mercury toxicity. (64)

Selenium deficiency is also common in those with digestive health issues like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. (6566) The best sources of selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Crimini mushrooms
  • Some sea foods
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Turkey

I recommend getting selenium from whole foods instead of supplementing, as selenium supplementation can be dangerous.

Eating Animal Products Could Also Help Your Thyroid Health

Thyroid hormone synthesis requires iodine, a nutrient that can be lacking from omnivore and plant-based diets alike. Most iodine comes from the sea; the soil—and therefore vegetables grown in soil—usually contains very little. In a typical mixed diet, the highest sources of iodine are iodized salt and animal products like:

  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Seafood

Vegetarians and vegans are at risk for low iodine intake. (67)

In the Boston area, urinary iodine levels in vegans were barely half that of vegetarians, and vegans were at high risk of iodine deficiency. (68) Several studies of Scandinavian populations confirm that vegans finished last in iodine intake and/or urinary iodine levels. (69, 70, 71) To make matters worse, isoflavones found in soy products, which are sometimes consumed in large quantities in vegan and vegetarian diets, may exacerbate iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. (72)

But even those following a Paleo template can be at risk for iodine deficiency if they are not regularly consuming seafood. (73) Sea vegetables, especially kelp, are the highest sources of iodine ounce for ounce.

Your Kids Need Nutrient-Dense Foods to Thrive

Because of the prevailing idea in our culture that vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy, more and more children are being raised from birth (and even from conception!) on meat-free diets. Both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and USDA have said that vegetarian and vegan diets are safe during pregnancy, but critical analyses by several researchers have questioned whether these recommendations are based on sufficient evidence. One review remarked that “the evidence on vegan–vegetarian diets in pregnancy is heterogeneous and scant,” suggesting that more research is needed to answer the question of whether they are, in fact, safe during pregnancy. (74)

Vegetarian and vegan diets for children carry significant risks of nutrient deficiencies that can have dire health consequences. (75, 76, 77)

Studies have shown that kids raised until age six on a vegan diet are still B12 deficient years after adding at least some animal products to their diet. One study found an association between B12 status and measures of intelligence and memory, with formerly vegan kids scoring lower than omnivorous kids. (78) Devastating case studies have reported B12 deficiency in young vegan children that have led to neurological damage and developmental delays. (79, 80)

Low nutrient intake extends beyond vitamin B12. Other case studies have attributed hypothyroidism in young children to a maternal and/or childhood vegan diet. (81, 82) Compared to omnivores, breast milk from vegan mothers had lower levels of DHA and EPA, which are vital for brain development, especially in the first year of life, when a baby’s brain literally doubles in size. (83) In short, just like adults, children on vegetarian and vegan diets often have lower intakes of iron, iodine, vitamin A, zinc, and more.

Childhood is the critical time for proper nutrition. Kids can be notoriously “picky eaters,” so we should be sure that each bite counts by providing the nutrients they need to thrive.

Your Best Choice for Optimal Nutrition Isn’t a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet, but a Paleo Template

With care and attention, I think it’s possible to meet most of your 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 or bend the rules and take fish oil or cod liver oil as a supplement. (84) Still, while it may be possible to obtain adequate nutrition on a vegetarian diet, it is not optimal—as the research above indicates.

I don’t 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
  • Bioavailable iron and zinc
  • Choline
  • Vitamins A and D
  • Calcium
  • EPA and DHA
If you’re intent on following a vegan diet, make sure you’re supplementing.

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.

Is It Time to Rethink Your Diet?

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 your 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.

1,873 Comments

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  1. Great informative article. Clearly well researched and easily accessible. Thanks!

    I’m vegetarian for ethical and environmental reasons but will have small amounts of fish a few times a year because even with supplements, I get deficiencies due to a genetic disorder that I have. I simply can’t absorb and hold onto certain things.

    I think it is possible to be vegetarian and vegan and healthy but you also have to be able to afford the supplements. It’s not cheap to buy 6 different vitamins monthly.

    • You don’t need to buy 6 different types of vitamins. And even non vegans should take vitamins (good quality) because non vegans can’t get all they need either. Especially with our soil being so poor anymore, and animals being shot up with all kinds of steroids, etc. I’m a student, and have been fully vegan for 12 years. I also have a son, and have to pay for his school. My husband uses his money to get us out of debt and pay our bills. Yet we have all been vegan for many years (my son since conception), and we can afford the one or two different vitamins we take. We take a good, natural multi for vegans, and a good quality liquid B12 spray. The thing is, more meat eaters have been found to be lacking B12, and calcium (milk actually causes osteoporosis. Look it up) far more often than vegans, because we study how to be eat and be healthy because we have to rethink everything we were taught.

      • This is very true. I’m an omnivore and recently I was told I was deficient on B12 and vitamin D. So who knows what the deal is there. Anyway, I’m considering eating way more plant based foods and occasionally having organ meats and cheeses. Wish me luck.

          • Hi Oof! Me and my husband just watched “What the Health” on Netflix a couple of days ago and this has really opened our eyes to what is really going on in food industry and how this is slowly destroying our body and our environment. We are slowly transitioning to becoming Vegan after what we have seen in this documentary! It still makes me cringe thinking about what we saw in that movie and that it is the harsh reality of our food industry!

          • Now why would you want to watch a propaganda film like “what the health” when it contains bad science? You can read the studies online, where it is easy to fact check it.

            • You can actually fact-check the points made in the documentary as well, and I’m not talking about Google. Actually do some due diligence and read a book or journal bc, contray to popular belief, Google doesn’t have all the answers.

  2. I really wish that if you choose to comment it is constructive, well thought out and researched. Its incredibly disrespectful to be so self indulgent to make everyone have to read through some of these immature and disrespectful dialogues. Please consider exchanging emails so you can indulges your selves and spare us.

  3. Fake information Raw Vegans are really active person, really full of energy, we can talk for ours with no stop. Go to any Raw Vegan channels on you tube and see how mentally healthy we are. It’s the all way around animals products have a net value in the nutrition scale and you know very well this, but you agenda it’s to make others think that vegan is because we want to save animals live or because we are sick.

    • If you are not trying to save animals or are on a medically mandated diet to avoid animal protein (organ, muscle, etc) then there is no reason to avoid including them in your diet.

      I’m not saying that you’re sick or a tree/animal-hugger, nor am I decrying those that are. I’m saying if you’re not, there’s no reason, nutritionally, to do so. The only way you eat a balanced diet as a complete raw vegan is with supplementation, which is 100% against the very core that is raw veganism (no processed).

  4. To establish my ethos – I hold a BA majoring in Psychology and minoring in philosophy, and a BSc majoring in Biological Sciences. I am currently half way through a two year MSc in the biological sciences department. My main topic of interest is biomedical science, I have completed both undergraduate and post graduate courses in medical biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, research preparation, and protein science, and so on. I have hands on experience in several different laboratory settings, including chemistry labs, biochemistry & protein science labs, social psychology labs, cellular & molecular biology labs, etc. and many hours experience trawling scientific literature, and with research and review article preparation. My current research is in the area of drug resistance in cancers.

    I think many of the articles on this website are heavily biased. When publishing scientific information, whether for a journal or for a public article, it is crucial that claims are fact based and that the overall weighting of the literature has been adequately considered. Cherry-picking of studies that suit an authors prior position will significantly undermine the core recommendations of any article that the author publishes.

    There is a large scientific literature base documenting large amounts of strong evidence in disagreement with a number of the claims made in many of Chris’s articles. I encourage anyone reading this article to do their own research. Do not take my word for it, and do not take the author of this articles word for it. Fact check everything, and be as objective as is humanly possible.

    Chris, I think you have a well designed website and a well coordinated team. Your writing style is, overall, clear and effective. This site really could be something that is overwhelmingly positive for society…Please consider looking at ways to constructively criticize your own positions, and the articles that you publish. Promotion of healthy lifestyles is a highly valued pursuit, but at the moment there is a lot of room for improvement of article quality.

    Cheers.

    • Most “scientific” studies are biased and “fixed” but presently differently. If you are in research you know this is true.

      A lot of research studies are paid for by the people who want the outcome to favor them.

      Not saying anything else but that.

    • Why is it that everything posted online draws rude people that just want to insult and debate over everything and anything? I think the author made some good points and believes that you can be healthy or unhealthy, regardless of whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. I actually found it quite refreshing to hear such a balanced view that doesnt choose one way over the other or make the claim that there is only 1 way to eat in order to be healthy. Others clearly believe differently and choose to eat a particular way based on what they believe, which is their choice and perfectly fine. We all know that so many things go into health, including things we have no control over, such as genetics. There are also countless variables besides diet that affects peoples healths, including how they handle stress, the quality of love in their close relationships, their faith beliefs, other habitual lifestyle choices, medications they take, the list could literally go on all day – that can and do affect their health, so to conclusively say that one way of eating is the only way to achieve health is not very logical and is a very limited view of holistic health. Plus, we all know that in everything, what works well for one person isnt necessarily guaranteed to be the best choice for another person because we are all different. I also think people like to read things that agree with their point of view and if it doesnt, then they attack as though someone personally insulted them. I noticed that almost every comment here seems to come from enraged people who only want to demean & invalidate the author, while at the same time elevating their own intelligence and point of view with their own examples and experiences. This isnt a debate and no one “wins”. Has anyone here ever heard of ” Live and Let Live” ?

      • I disagree the article discourage to go for more information o vegan style. For example in your case you are ignoring that every body are different but don’t know why. Our body contains trillions of bacteria like a forest preserver and every person have a different print of balance between god guys and bad guys. So we are not only depend on what we eat is also how we absorb or eliminate the toxins. The symbiosis in our guts make the difference of course the life style also. But animal protein does not have a net values in nutrition vs raw vegan.

      • Bahahah I don’t even feel the need to comment on anything you’ve said here (unsubstantiated and based on popular thought without knowledge of emerging research) because anyone who asks a group of vegans (who are simply opposing an article based on half truths claiming that our lifestyle and our diets are misguided) if we’ve ever heard of “live and let live?”
        Did you have a stroke when you wrote that?
        You do realize that everything we stand for is essentially based on that principle, right? We live, and we let animals live… we don’t operate under the dated, anthropogenic modality that we (1) need the corpses of non-animals to survive and (2) that we have any right to inflict suffering on other creatures for our own benefit.

        I honestly don’t blame you because it is clear that you have never been taught to think or had the drive to break out of the mold society laid out for you. If you had, maybe you would have more to contribute than regurgitated cliches that don’t help your case in any way.

        Also not for nothing this article does have a “balanced” view.

        Peace, love and vegetable <3

    • I have mixed feelings on this subject. I have been vegetarian most of my life, although I was not vegan, but I easily ate vegan many times per week and was strict vegan for a little over a year. I did it mainly, because wanted to avoid harming living creatures as much as possible… You can not talk people out of their ethics.

      As a vegetarian, I was pretty healthy. Once I had low iron, but was not anemic. That’s it. Oddly, as a meat eater for a few years, I was anemic and also had a D deficiency. So, there you have that. However, I never experience the illness I developed as a vegan and I was never tested for B12 levels… so, perhaps I was already sick and veganism exacerbated?

      Let me preface, I was a “healthy” vegan. At least I thought I was. Not only did I eat abundant vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains- I cooked almost all of my meals and even grew a lot of my food. I took a B complex and a Multi-vitamin just about daily. I thought I was doing everything right.

      I never felt great after become vegan, but I felt good at first. I had more energy, digestion was better and I felt better emotionally, as eating animals was a burden for me. However, I had been chronically plagued with fatigue even as a vegetarian and a meat eater and this never left me. I used to attribute it to my chronic and severe back pain, which I think now, is caused by my gluten sensitivity (after an elimination diet I am 80% better- I have played with this, introducing and eliminating for a year and I know for a fact, Wheat products cause me severe pain). Anyhow, I mention this, because I suspect that I may have celiac or something similar that could be inhibiting absorption of nutrients and maybe I was low in B12 before the sickness from veganism began.

      Anyhow, a few months into being vegan I woke up several times shaking. I didn’t know what was happening, thought there was an earthquake, in retrospect, I was having either- seizure, convulsion or tremor… it’s unclear. I started supplementing with a better quality B12 lozenge and seemed better for months, only occasionally would I get this shaky feeling- which I referred to as some type of tremor. Mainly, I would only feel this internally and there were no outward clues.

      Months later a doctor ran a B12 test, which she did not direct me to fast or stop my supplements, so the test was inaccurate. I didn’t realize this at the time… She told me to ease off the B12 because my levels were too high, and I did and BOOM! It took a few weeks, Shakes started slowing before bed then became tremors, vibrating sensation, intense depression- emotional breakdowns, literally thoughts of suicide… my digesting slowed to a halt. I felt like I was dying. These tremors, shakes, convulsions, perhaps they are even seizures started happening every night- it’s been terrifying. Of course, at first I wanted to believe it was just stress and tried to yoga and meditate it away, which – these things help ease the stress, but this is a REAL ailment that can’t be Om-ed away. I began taking my high dosaged of B12 again, which didn’t eliminate but eased the symptoms. I literally though Parkinsons, MS… I mean these symptoms were severe! and I still do not have answers yet, but we are still working on a diagnosis. Because I don’t have great doctors, so it’s taking forever as they order a few tests at a time rather than a complete nutrition profile, which I think would speed this process along.

      I was supposed to stop taking my supplements for a week, last week, to get accurate B12 levels and I only lasted 4 days before the neurological symptoms became unbearable… the tremors, shakes, vibrations would be nonstop all day, all night- I couldn’t sleep or work.
      It’s literally my entire torso into my legs. I get cramps in my feet, feeling of being pinched or bitten in random parts of my body, sometimes it feels like a bug is crawling on me, shadows in the corner of my eyes… it’s enough to think I have gone mad! I have had to do a lot of self-soothing throughout this ordeal. I ended up taking the test early and am hoping the results are accurate. And now I am back on supplements and feel better. I am also eating small amounts of animal products: fish and eggs. What a gross combo! Lol.

      Testing has confirm slightly low vitamin D and also showed that hands down I get my D mainly from sun, as D2 was tiny levels (that’s D from plants). Although my iron looked better than ever, that is probably due to supplementation. My MCH was low- pointing to anemia or B12 deficiency though we don’t know for sure yet as B12 was most likely a false high, my alkaline phosphatase was low, which also points to malnutrition or deficiency… It’s so difficult to know what it off specifically, because I have been supplementing and at this point, I seem to get horribly sick if I stop taking the supplements even for long enough to get accurate blood readings.

      One thing this has taught me, supplements are to supplement your diet, NOT REPLACE!

      I am going to also get the calcium test, as I did not know it but you can have severe symptoms from calcium deficiency such as tremors and many of the symptoms I have been experiencing. I will say, eating a little animal product, taking high doses of B12, at least 5,000mcg, taking Vitamin D3, Magnesium and Calcium Citrate has made my symptoms much better, nearly over night- although, they are definitely not gone- it’s just less intense and terrifying.

      This has been such a scary experience. With that said, I am not sure veganism is bad, my problems could be unique to me, perhaps I have something else wrong like I am not absorbing nutrients correctly… or maybe I am nuts- not talking almonds here! (Also, I took probiotics, was fermenting my own foods and used apple cider vinegar quite a bit to aid in absorption- I was a “healthy” vegan, or so I thought). I think some people can be vegan without issue. And I also think we should not mindlessly gorge ourselves on dead animals not treat them the way we do, they do not exist to be food. They may become food, but that is not their only purpose. I really do stand behind that.

      With that said, never in a million years did I think a nutrient deficiency(ies) would ever do this to me. (Did I mention I am also very healthy, do yoga, job, weights, meditation etc?). I am definitely rethinking the benefits of small amounts of animal product and researching more info on leaky gut and malabsorption issues while I wait for my official prognosis, which I KNOW is a nutrient deficiency. It is not a coincidence that a radical diet change happened and then this.

      On a positive note for veganism! My cholesterol appeared slightly elevated, but further investigation showed it was due to GOOD HDL being so high, I had adequate protein and iron and besides the Vitamin D, MCH and Alkaline Phosphatase- all other blood work was great. So, definitely, this story is not an excuse for cannibalistic glutony! Please, eat greens and veggies primarily… but maybe some animal stuff is okay too. I guess make decisions you can live with, for me- I am still struggling for my malnutrition haze and half the time don’t know what to eat. Tried eating meat a few times in the last few weeks. I was capable of it, but did not enjoy. Dairy was repulsive. I think the little kippers and eggs will have to suffice for now.

      I do apologize for any snarkiness I have had throughout my life in regard to this topic or judgements I may have held.

    • This was an excellent response by Matt. I’ve come to Chris’s site looking to hear points of view regarding nutrition and longevity, but I’m highly disappointed in this article.

      He completely cherry-picked and misrepresented several research studies. The one he chose as a solution to the “healthy person bias” hardly looked at what he was talking about at all. They made a few singular comments in the entire study that he grabbed and misstated.

      For example, they found that vegetarians were 15% less likely to suffer heart disease, but that it was insignificant using their statistical method. Overall, the study aimed to look at high fiber diets, not vegetarian for omnivore.

  5. I don’t agree with this info. I am not a medical or nutritional or dietary expert, but I do know this: I switched to a vegan lifestyle, with occasional vegetarian, while taking a b12 supplement, and it has done wonders for my health. The labs my Dr has last done were so very much improved, he encouraged me to continue. A family members Dr told him to adopt the diet I was using. Feel better than I have in years. And losing weight. There needs to be more research done by you in this, because what you are saying is all misinformation. Just my two cents.

    • He did say, ‘some people seem to do well for years on these diets, while others develop problems very quickly.’

      I was a vegan for 4 years, then a vegetarian for 3. Had little energy, my hands and feet were always cold and I became badly emaciated. I did, however, feel lighter and cleaner. It could be because I didn’t implement the diets properly (you shouldn’t need a degree in nutrition to apply veganism) or I had underlying digestive issues.

      Ayurveda supports the genetic difference point of view. ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’. If you are 300lbs and live in California, of course you will improve your health on a vegan diet. If you are thin as a rail and shivering in Alaska, I wouldn’t recommend it.

      Most vegans wash out after a few years. In the meantime they are ideologically insufferable.

  6. Because of an allergy to cooked ocean fish (I can eat Sashimi just fine) I get almost no Ocean Omegas.

    My allergy makes me hesitant to try fish oil (EpiPens are expensive) but on top of the premium “vegan” price, the “vegan” Algae Omegas seem to have issues with additives and bioavailability.

    I can’t imagine my EPA/DHA numbers are very good on a basic Omnivore diet of ALAs. How do I check and what might be the best DHA/EPA supplement solution?

  7. I’m so sick of every tablet and vitamin out there being “vegan” that I literally decided to take a break from taking vitamins for a few months. I’m sure my energy will suffer, but I just can’t face the continual hopscotch of “no, that one has FOS, no that one has iron in it, no that one has ginkgo, no, that one has a bizarre ratio of vitamin a to c… etc”

    Whoever comes out with a line of NOT vegetarian vitamins with good things in it to help people with gut problems, they will be my #1 brand. For heaven’s sake, use gelatin, people! Give me magnesium sulphate (epsom salt) for my magnesium… please! It works great for my gut. Add molybdenum, or a bunch of trace minerals, give me iron free and iron containing options, give me the option to leave out the calcium/magnesium if I want… Is there someplace that makes custom vitamins? Maybe I should ask at a compounding pharmacy.

  8. Any functional medicine principles info on fibromyalgia would be helpful to me and others. . I’m already on anti inflammatory diet and have followed the Gaps diet in 2015. I Eat fermented foods and take probiotic supliments. I choose sardines , eggs , salmon and chicken stew for proteins. Avacado, butter , nuts for fats. White rice and select veggs daily. Thanks for an interesting site. Very helpful.

  9. it is purely a personal preference based entirely upon personal reasons or should be. as for health; you can be a healthy vegetarian just as you can be a healthy omnivore. there are certainly some things you need to address with regard to nutrition and potential health concerns if you choose vegetarianism but then again so there will be with eating meats too. we can go back and forth yelling about which is the better lifestyle and the answer is simple, whichever one you prefer. as a physician and clinical nutritionist for over two decades i have treated many vegetarians and many meat eaters. imo the problem with our health and nutrition issues in this country arent meat or non meat based but instead; sugars. but thats for another topic forum.

  10. This was the most uneducated article on veganism and vegetarianism I have EVER read. Well, besides one that states that vegans and vegetarians eat animal flesh. Which is also a false.. like most of the BS I just wasted my time reading. But there are so many “facts” and statistics backed by your “research” with 50 WOW, 50!!! participants that are just absolutely ridiculous and incorrect. I do not understand how this could be published, and you are considered to be someone people go to for advice on health and nutrition. My cat knows more about animal products than you do, and by the sounds of things, she eats a healthier diet. Anyway, this was a waste of my time, and as someone who is a vegan of 30 years, and 9 months if you count the time I was in the womb (omg I am surviving) I am NOT lacking these nutrients, I take a simple multi-vitamin, my blood work is pristine from my physician when needed and I am not deficient in any of the above nutrients. And guess what, I have a younger brother who was raised vegan as well, and we are both thriving, are not FAT like the rest of America because we are not EATING COWS and other innocent animals. SO NO, there is no reason to think twice about going vegan or vegetarian. If you want to be vegan or vegetarian, do it! Do it for the animals, for your health, for the planet, or just do it for the hell of it! You will thank me later when you stop getting the common cold, when you lose that stubborn weight, when you start to feel better, and when those pesky diseases this fool writes about on this blog start disappearing, because your health is everything. Good luck!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. CK’s “essay” is so ridiculously inept that it’s impossible to address the myriad of mistakes and misinformation. Suffice it to say that there is much better information on vegan and/or vegetarianism elsewhere.

      And to just add a little personal info – a friend, raised whole food plant based (which is different from plain ol vegan) had an angiogram for a structural/mechanical reason. His cardiologist commented afterword that he had never in his life seen healthier blood vessels in an adult man. My niece – vegetarian until 12 and then vegan until present, at 29, just gave birth to her daughter, a healthy baby. And yes, she was monitored by her doctor throughout her entire pregnancy with no nutritional problems at all. Dr. Benjamin Spock – also known as America’s Pediatrician – recommended WFPB-diets for all in his last book, children through adulthood.
      As well – if you are interested in reversing cardiovascular disease, if you have it, read Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esseltyn, M.D. Dean Ornish, M.D. has also reversed cardiovascular disease through his program. These programs to reverse heart disease are so successful and work so well that Medicare – the government health insurance program for the elderly – PAYS FOR YOU TO ATTEND AND REVERSE YOUR HEART DISEASE. They followed THE SCIENCE and determined it is less expensive to pay for you to attend Dean Ornish M.D.’s reversal program than to treat your heart disease for the rest of your life. Medicare Insurance will also pay for the Pritikin Heart Disease Reversal Program as well. Both are whole food plant-based (WFPB) vegan programs. Both have decades of research, now, to backup the facts.
      As well, Dr. Ornish has also shown that a WFPB program will reverse some prostate cancer. How, you might ask, did he prove that scientifically? He took men with PSA levels that were elevating and showing prostate cancer but not cancer aggressive or progressed sufficiently to warrant more extreme treatment like surgery or radiation or chemotherapy. These were cancers that needed careful watching. While they were watching, some of the participants were put on a WFPB vegan diet. The controls in the research stayed on their regular American diets. Over time the PSA tests of the WFPB vegan diet eaters REVERSED – the PSA numbers went down and back to normal levels. Dr. Ornish was able to REVERSE THE PROSTATE CANCER. The “Controls” in the research all went on to require surgery. None of the WFPB-vegan diets eaters required surgery. If you are interested, you can learn a little bit more about this here:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cancer-reversal-through-diet/
      Thank you.

    • Omg yes! I completely agree 100%.. downright misinformation on the authors part.. anybody can get a vitamin deficiency if they don’t include it in their diet. Meat eaters are the highest ranking in vitamin deficiencies, diseases and digestive problems out there. Who in their right mind would want that for their children?

    • If you take a multi-vitamin then you were lacking these nutrients, you just found a different way to get them instead of eating meat, didn’t you?

    • I am a vegan or was, until I began having what we are still figuring out is tremors, seizures or convulsions… I took my multi-vitamins, cooked all my meals, grew my own veggies, worked out everyday… I am very sick right now, and it comments like yours that encouraged me to not link my veganism to my health problems for 10 months while I became progressively worse. I am still figuring out why I have these problems, especially being raised vegetarian and eating plant based most of my life- but it wasn’t until full veganism was applied that I got very sick. Neuroloogical problems from deficiency is the most terrifying thing I have every experienced. While I think we should do our best to avoid animal products, I also think that some people have different needs. It could be do to underlying conditions like malabsorption problems. Literally, I have markers in my blood tests that show malnutrition. Regardless of the ridiculously healthy foods I eat and the supplements I take, I am deficient to the point of illness which I never had before being an occasional ovo-lacto vegetarian. This can’t be ignored. I don’t want to die, nor do I want to kill animals- however, I have incorporated some eggs and some small fish like sardines and shrimp (lower food chain). I don’t feel great about it ethically, but I really think my body is sick because it’s not getting what it needs from my vegan diet. I wish I didn’t have any problems and was as healthy as you as a vegan. I grew my own food for goodness sake! Has numerous cooking pages where I taught people how to savor healthful vegan food, cook veggies… I can’t believe this happened to me. I look completely fine too- in shape- nice hair and complexion, I am not overly thin at all- most people guess me 5-10 years younger than I am. Definitely benefits of eating lots of veggies. But, I am deficient in D, B12 and Calcium and probably more- despite taking supplements every day. Sucks- and the tremors are terrifying especially around my heart.

  11. I would also like to comment that while these things may be true of Stereotypical vegetarians and vegans, that would be including all vegans and vegetarians who do not necessarily calculate WHAT they eat, merely just not meat and dairy

    Secondly, there are only 14 articles used to support this theory. There are dozens and dozens more articles supporting plant based diets as a way to cure and reverse chronic diseases. In addition most of the articles he sites are not double blind placebo controlled randomized control studies, therefore do not have the highest level of evidence. They are also very small sample size studies therefore not able to be generalized to a larger population.

    • Let’s get real here. It is well-nigh impossible to conduct long-term, double-blind, placebo controlled study on diet. You have a way of feeding humans different diets so that they do not know what they are eating? And what might a “placebo food” be? There are no tests of plant-based diets fitting these criteria, either. Tests of human diets are correlational/observational by their nature. We can argue these points until the cows come home, or the soybeans are harvested, but there are uncertainties and bias in all analyses of human diets. When the Cochrane group recently analyzed the “studies” correlating CVD and saturated fats, they found no conclusive evidence to support the advice to replace saturated fats with unsaturated ones, despite years of advice to do so by the medial establishment. I am not sure what you mean by stating “there are only 14 articles used to support this theory”. What “theory”? And why would you think the number of “articles” (pop media reporting? peer-reviewed studies? other?) is the defining factor for any “theory”, as opposed to the quality of supporting research?

  12. I find these types of articles amusing. But also a little irresponsible. I’ll explain.

    First, I should make clear that most people don’t have access to the kind of research the author (I’m guessing) does. PubMed and other peer-reviewed sources that professionals refer to are typically off limits (and often too expensive) for the layperson to access. But without them, the public is vulnerable because it’s impossible to properly fact check any of this stuff, which, I’m sure, is a large factor in why we have so much conflicting advice out there.

    The thing is, if you did have access you’d learn that yes, vegans on average DO tend to be deficient in a number of nutrients (namely B12, D, Calcium and Zinc). That’s good news right? Absolutely, particularly if you stop there.

    But in this case, there’s more to the story. See, if you can view the vegan numbers you can also see the other numbers. And here’s where it gets messy for the author and others like him… Turns out, almost EVERY lifestyle diet has tendencies for deficiencies in various critical nutrients (vegan, Paleo, SAD, etc) and the nutrients vary depending on which diet you follow.

    This is a pretty big omission. It muddies the author’s own argument so I see why he left it out, but it certainly can’t reflect well on his professionalism.

    But let’s get back to this trend of cross-platform deficiencies.

    In Tech-speak, we might classify this as a “user error” issue. In other words, if “users” are experiencing the same problem (i.e.: nutrient shortfalls) regardless of which software they use, the first place to look might be to the user. In this case, it appears that misinformed consumers of all stripes don’t know (or care) enough about nutrition to make sure they’re addressing whatever likely deficiency their preferred diet tends to lack.

    Look, I’m not here to bash ANY particular diet. My point is this: a false equivalency persists among the general public about nutrition because of information out there like this, which on the surface is factually correct, but omits just enough to skew toward whatever agenda serves the author’s business model. In the end, the consumer winds up the loser.

    Bottom line: If information isn’t balanced, it’s safe to assume there’s an agenda.

    Over and out.

  13. I find it unfortunate that your blog will not allow contrary views and healthy debate by taking an extraordinarily length of time to moderate and post an extremely respectful reply.

    And, I have also noticed, you do not place reply buttons on most of the pro Paleo, pro grass-fed comments, while always putting a reply button on others.

    I think all of your readers, want a real debate, not one that is manipulated in any way, except for the rare exception of someone being inappropriate.

    • Reply to Annie,

      I have already mentioned I am veganish with a bit of fish, frequent nori seaweed, and lots of chia, flax and some walnuts, so I do get lots of omega-3’s in my diet, eliminate vegetable oils, so a good omega ratio, including EPA and DHA in my diet. But, thanks, I guess, for your concern on my DHA.
      I just don’t eat any mammal meats, eggs or dairy. So feel free to point out that I am not getting enough cholesterol, choline, (actually collard greens) saturated fats, carnitine, calcium (chia, kale, bok choy, fortified plant milks) heme iron in my diet, if you wish. I got really thick skin.

      Secondly,
      My beef with grass fed beef, is the amount of land, and crops (hay, wheat straw in case of grass fed beef) needed to grow and, most of all, the effects of the poop.

      Organic Legumes, grains and tubers do not have these problems. I include tubers like sweet potatoes, as an example, because they actually are a good calorie, and decent calcium and other mineral, nutrient rich food that can replace some of calories and nutrients from grass-fed butter, cheese and milk, with a lot less sodium, than cheese and butter.

      Paired with just a tbsp. of chia, or a little cooked bok choy (more calcium) they easily replace dairy servings in the diet, and they are so prolific, even in colder Midwest climates.

      In organic soil, it is amazing the pound of product and calories you can get in such a small space! The kids at school were amazed at the growth underground and the immense harvest they had.

      I have not seen any scientific evidence from you showing me growing organic beans and whole grains for human consumption takes more land, resources, water, habitat loss, loss of animal habitat or life etc. than grass fed beef.

      Remember, most crop farming is for animal consumption, 70% in America.

      The beans and grains are a good nutritional substitute for b-vitamins and protein in meats. While grains and seeds provide the zinc.

      In my opinion, great nutrition without the poop problem.

      • Again, you are complaining about things I never said. Please copy and paste in your reply the alleged comment where I claimed that growing said vegetable foods takes more resources than producing beef. As far as the “poop” and the land, I have already steered you to references, including CK’s newest blog, that the “poop” enriches the land on which the livestock are grazed, just as the poop of wild herd animals has done for millions of years: and that it does not “take” arable land for livestock production. Grass-fed livestock are, as those references note, raised on scrub and grasslands unsuitable for any agricultural purpose other than grass-feeding. So, even after I gave you sources, you have just reiterated the same opinion that you did several comments prior. So, as another commenter asked me, “why do I bother?”

        • You make it sound that grass fed cows’ poop, water and forage needs have no impact on the environment and, this is simply not true.

          If the government, said 100% no to grain feeding cows, and we had 100% grass-fed operations, this would still cause an environmental problem due to the green house gases, including refrigeration, transportation, methane, and production of hay, and wheat straw to feed these cows.

          Grass feeding cows does not magically take away the environmental problems of beef production to meet American very high demands for beef.

          Though I think, grass fed is better nutritionally and in many environmental ways, these animals take much longer to fatten up. This may mean 2 more years of eating forage, meaning 2 more years of farting and pooping, before their meat is harvested.

          As far as the bonus of manure used as fertilizer, the same fertilizer can be found by composting the non-edibles of the legume, grain and tuber plants. So, the stalks, leaves etc. can be composted.

          If people choose organic beans and grains, these plant parts, as well as, city grass and tree clippings can be recycled to enrich soils. We really don’t need all that poop.

          I really do want to be open minded about this. Can you give me a scientific comparison of green house gases, water, and land needs for a 4 oz. serving of grass fed beef to a 4 oz. serving of beans?

        • annie is missing the point and on another rant.

          the reason deanna posted her diet is because annie accused her of not having enough preformed dha.

          so i must assume that annie has overdosed on dha, which is causing the comprehension problems.

          • It is extremely arrogant, presumptuous, and inaccurate of you to think you can assess what I am “missing”. I know very well what Deanna’s diet includes, as she posted it several comments back — perhaps you “missed” it? However, eating “a bit of” fish does not guarantee one is getting enough DHA. You “missed it” completely, but that was a bit of snark because of comments she made. “On a rant” — that’s amusing. Perhaps if you did not project so much, you could follow the thread and recognize a bit of sarcasm.

            • It is extremely arrogant, presumptuous, and inaccurate of you to make a comment about Deanna and DHA and write it off as “a bit of sarcasm”

              talk about projection.

              • Oh, didn’t you just gripe about “parroting”? If a little snark bothers you so, perhaps the mean ol’ freewheeling “Net is not the best venue for your tender constitution.

        • I really want to be open minded.

          Could you give me a comparison of greenhouse gases, land and water use of 4oz. of grass-fed beef and 4 oz. of organic beans for human consumption?

          You assume grass-fed beef is on non arable land and that somehow there is this infinite supply of non-arable land for all people to eat grass-fed vs. grain fed beef, making it sustainable for the whole world, but this is not reality.

          If the govt. said no to grain fed beef, the same issues of poop, and land and water use would remain, even if these animals are fed forage.

          Also, non-edible parts of bean, tuber or grain plants are composted and used to fertilize soil. Along with tree, grass and shrub clippings from urban areas to fertilize plant sourced proteins; we don’t need the poop fertilizer.

          Viewed a presentation by environmental scientists tonight, who said that grass fed cows need about 70 pounds of forage food daily, and because they take longer to come to slaughter, release more greenhouse gases in their lifetime, than grain cows. I do not agree with grain fed ruminant livestock, however.

          It also takes huge amounts of water!!

          • Deanna, please check out the references I’ve already given, especially CK’s latest blog. I’m not going to waste time reinventing the wheel with yet another calculation. You’ll find in CK’s interview (the latest blog) why there is such wide variation in “unit this per pound of that” — the numbers are highly dependent on the base assumptions (which are arbitrary) and the weighting assigned to various factors (e. g. feeding the world’s population vs. minimizing GHG vs. minimizing all-cause mortality vs. whatever-your-pet-priority-is). I also gave a reference to a recent study done by a team of scientists from Cornell University and other institutions, and published in the journal Elementa, that concluded farming for a lacto-vegetarian diet is the overall “best” choice for land use. And that requires cows.

            • What I just can’t understand is why you feel the need to detail your achievements and education in quite such a confrontational manner. You are obviously very well read on the subject – I congratulate you. However, I suspect your complaints about veganism have fallen on deaf ears, including my own. I think perhaps your passion could be better exercised in a more suitable forum. Enjoy your retirement – put it to better use than arguing with strangers on the internet about what they choose to put in their bodies!

              • Interesting that you think I am being argumentative, when there are some commenters sending 10-15 replies to me every day, asking for citations, justification for producing certain foods, etc. Perhaps your comment says more about your mindset than my posts. I don’t care what people eat. I have never told folks they should eat meat or dairy or anything else. There are some here that feel compelled to attempt to lay a guilt trip on those that follow an omnivorous diet, and actually tell others what percentage certain foods should make up in their diets. But, it easy to see what you want to see, rather than what’s there, when you have an agenda.

                • Diet should not be immune to critique just as religion should not be. Can I lay a guilt trip on those who eat my human friends? Would that be allowed? Some people equate animals and humans thereby avoiding speciesism.

                • Although another person’s diet OR his religion is none of your business, you make yourself a sanctimonious clown by pretending to be the “moral” scold of this blog. By all means, if anyone kills and eats a human friend of yours, criticize away. Most would think it more effective to call 911 and report the murder, but, in your case, none would be surprised if you used the occasion for a frugivore screed.

                • What a psychopath! All that sugar from too much fruit does that to people. If one of your friends gets killed and eaten, you’d be my prime suspect.

                • No, dear, you are the hypocrite. You are a speciest, too, but you want to pretend otherwise. If it were worth my time, it would be easy to do reductio ad absurdum in your case. The natural world is speciest. You like to call others denialists, but that’s just your projecting.

            • I did see the lacto-ovo- vegetarian as winner in another article I read also.

              So beans are better than beef, for your choice of protein!!

              Almond milks and fish would not be the best eco choice for calcium, agree with that.

              However, there are a couple of big problems with this. Many Americans, particularly if you are not caucasian, are lactose intolerant. Those like me, who have breast and ovarian cancer in family history… will not touch bovine estrogens and progesterones with a ten foot pole.

              And, if you are already vegetarian, eating conventional eggs will certainly tip your omega ratios in the wrong direction- omega 6 heavy. (Though organic, omega 3 enhance would have a much better ratio).

            • From: Food Revolution Network:

              https://foodrevolution.org/blog/the-truth-about-grassfed-beef/

              There is a dark side even to grassfed beef. It takes a lot of grassland to raise a grassfed steer. Western rangelands are vast, but not nearly vast enough to sustain America’s 100 million head of cattle. There is no way that grassfed beef can begin to feed the current meat appetites of people in the United States, much less play a role in addressing world hunger. Grassfed meat production might be viable in a country like New Zealand with its geographic isolation, unique climate and topography, and exceedingly small human population. But in a world of 7 billion people, I am afraid that grassfed beef is a food that only the wealthy elites will be able to consume in any significant quantities.

              What would happen if we sought to raise great quantities of grassfed beef? It’s been tried, in Brazil, and the result has been an environmental nightmare of epic proportions. In 2009, Greenpeace released a report titled “Slaughtering the Amazon,” which presented detailed satellite photos showing that Amazon cattle are now the biggest single cause of global deforestation, which is in turn responsible for 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Even Brazil’s government, whose policies have made the nation the world’s largest beef exporter, and home to the planet’s largest commercial cattle herd, acknowledges that cattle ranching is responsible for 80 percent of Amazonian deforestation. Much of the remaining 20 percent is for land to grow soy, which is not used to make tofu. It is sold to China to feed livestock.

              Amazonian cattle are free-range, grassfed, and possibly organic, but they are still a plague on the planet and a driving force behind global warming.

              Trendy consumers like to think that grassfed beef is green and earth-friendly and does not have environmental problems comparable to factory farmed beef. But grassfed and feedlot beef production both contribute heavily to global climate change. They do this through emissions of two potent global warming gases: methane and nitrous oxide.

              Next to carbon dioxide, the most destabilizing gas to the planet’s climate is methane. Methane is actually 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and its concentration in the atmosphere is rising even faster. The primary reason that concentrations of atmospheric methane are now triple what they were when they began rising a century ago is beef production. Cattle raised on pasture actually produce more methane than feedlot animals, on a per-cow basis. The slower weight gain of a grassfed animal means that each cow produces methane emissions for a longer time.

              Meanwhile, producing a pound of grassfed beef accounts for every bit as much nitrous oxide emissions as producing a pound of feedlot beef, and sometimes, due to the slower weight gain, even more. These emissions are not only fueling global warming. They are also acidifying soils, reducing biodiversity, and shrinking Earth’s protective stratospheric ozone layer.

            • Couple problems with this:

              Most adults who are not caucasian, are lactose intolerant.

              Women, like me with breast and ovarian cancer in family history, would not touch bovine estrogens, progesterones and natural growth hormones with 10 foot pole.

              And, vegetarians, already not eating fish, when including conventional eggs and dairy would be tipping their ratios of omegas, way into too much omega-6. Though omega3 enriched eggs do have a better profile, and grass fed a bit better on dairy.

              But the study does show beans are more economically friendly than meats, as primary protein source.

              • If you disagree with the study, why not argue the points with the authors? I am not getting paid to defend anyone’s studies; I just pointed it out as a reference, among many, that disagrees with your position. Your statement on lactose intolerance is not correct; lactase persistence is prevalent in many populations that have traditionally been herders. There are peoples in Africa that measure their wealth in cattle, and whose diets are rich in dairy products. Likewise in Asia. I’d suggest you track down the study, and contact the authors for further info if the article does not address your questions.

                • Scientific study at Cornell on lactose intolerance:

                  Sherman and former Cornell undergraduate student Gabrielle Bloom ’03, now a graduate student at the University of Chicago, compiled data on lactose intolerance (the inability to digest dairy products) from 270 indigenous African and Eurasian populations in 39 countries, from southern Africa to northern Greenland. Their findings will be published in a forthcoming issue of Evolution and Human Behavior.

                  On average, Sherman and Bloom found that 61 percent of people studied were lactose intolerant, with a range of 2 percent in Denmark and 100 percent in Zambia. They also found that lactose intolerance decreases with increasing latitude and increases with rising temperature, and especially with the difficulty in maintaining dairy herds safely and economically.

                  http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2005/06/lactose-intolerance-linked-ancestral-struggles-climate-diseases

                • This study is supporting my view that a 90% plant-based diet is the way to go, and they specifically stated it be vegetarian, no beef at all.

            • Sorry, you can try but you just cannot

              polish this turd.

              The methane, nitrous oxide and eurtophication caused by grass-fed poop cannot be ignored or denied. In the scientific community it is well accepted, and, thus the vegetarian recommendation you pointed out.

              • I have given you several references that address the questions you raise. It does not appear you have read them. I will address your “poo” and methane issues when you explain why these “issues” have never been a problem for the vast herds of wild ruminants that have existed for millions of years. You might also want to do a little research on why cow manure is such a valued fertilizer, as compared the plant-waste compost. Here, in Western Washington, where it rains a lot, and we have an amazing number of ocean-connected waterways, and runoff contamination is a big issue, every County has a “manure exchange” program to encourage its usage by gardeners, community growers, and farmers that don’t have their own on-site livestock. The soil companies charge the highest rates for their ag mix that contains a large percentage of manure. I could give you many other examples, but you have just ignored them, and keep reiterating that it is a problem. Obviously, there are many private parties, government agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, sustainable ranches, etc., that are seeing the glass at least half full, even if you disagree with them. Obviously, my continued replies and citations are not working to encourage you to research the issues for yourself. “You can lead a horse (or cow) to water….”

                • I can easily explain why wild ruminants have never been a problem in history.

                  In history, the govt. never subsidized crops fed to stock, to make it a cheap food for the masses. At one time, meat was too expensive, and people could not afford to eat it regularly.

                  People never ate the huge amounts of DOMESTICATED ruminant meat and dairy products that Americans, Australians, and Europeans do today.

                  Predators, and natural, rather than AI , kept wild ruminant populations in balance.

                  When settlers started killing too many buffalo for their hides; they almost went extinct, no fear of this would happen with artificial insemination and domestication.

                  There was a natural respect to keep your food supply coming; unlike settlers, Native Americans were smart enough not to overhunt and overeat buffalo, and included many other calorie sources in the diet, so each year they would have enough buffalo to get them through winter, but leave enough alive to breed and continue the cycle.

                  Wild ruminants like deer, elk mountain goat, sheeps etc. have never been staples or large portions of the human diet in history, for all large, thriving populations.

                  For centuries, staples (largest percent of calories) of countries and various cultures around the globe have been starches: rice, cassava, taro, potatoes, corn/maize, wheat etc…

                  Besides cold climates, mostly European and Scandinavian countries, dairy has not traditionally been part of the diet, most Asians and Africans are not lactose persistant.

                  Our much larger human population today eats much more large ruminants and their byproducts on such a large, unprecedented scale.

                • Cow manure is very intense, but also very acidic, which limits its use for some plants and soil use.

                  Compost works wonderfully on our valley farm CSA. Never seen greens and tomatoes so abundant!!

                • Some ranches are more sustainable than others, for sure.

                  The evidence I see is that beans, tubers and grains for human consumption is the more eco-friendly choice, than grass fed beef, on many levels, and this is what the experts at Cornell found.

                  I did read your citations, and, of course you can always improve things a little, but the evidence truly supports eating more beans rather than beef for green house gases, land, water use and health of waterways.

                • Annie, I appreciate your patience and the back and forth debate we have had. But we likely need to agree to disagree.
                  
You said, people who say it can’t be done should step aside to those who are doing it.

                  
Many said, reversing heart disease with diet and eating a 100% plant-based diet couldn’t be done long-term, but both myths have been shattered by Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish, doing both simultaneously with whole plant foods and no oils, (not just throwing animal products under the bus, here), reduced amounts of sodium and modest sugar intake.


                  So, I would say to those needing to take a stance that plant-based diets, vegan, vegetarian, veganish with fish or eggs etc. is not doable, ridiculous, unnatural, what have you, need to step aside and let those doing it successfully do it, without degradation, condescension, or shaming due to need for B-12 sup. and lower blood levels of DHA in studies. (However, I do think it wise to use this info. to improve the diet with inclusion of more ALA and EPA in seaweed or algal sups. available, if need be.)

                  
The unfortunate fact is, 50% of Americans succumb to cardiovascular disease, many times decades before their natural health span and with many years of disability.


                  Every 80 seconds, a woman suffers a cardiovascular event, and 1 in 8 American women will have invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.


                  Don’t kill the messenger, but It is true that…
                  dairy is associated with increased risks (breast , ovarian and prostate cancer) and decreased survival in breast cancer patients. Butter has 11x the estrogen and 14x the progesterone in milk.

                  So, before attacking those minimizing and avoiding animal products, why not have an open mind to what they have to share and say?

                  

I am very happy with my veganish diet, it has been sustainable for me for over a decade with vibrant health; I am lucky. And I feel very good about my diet in terms of carbon footprint, etc…
                  I am not creating the local lake algal blooms with butter, yogurt, cheese pizza and ice creams cones, from dairy poop run-off. It already has been suggested by papers to taper consumption to save the lake.

                  But, I appreciate other peoples’ choices, I have been a dairy and beef eater most of my life, so I have been there.

                  I just wish there could be a little more respect and more open minded thinking in some of the Paleo crowd for plant-based diets, and potential benefits of the environment, and health for those who choose this (even if it’s not for you).


                  WFPB and Paleo both forgo processed foods (oils, refined flours, excess sugar), so there is some common ground.

                  
For everyone, whatever diet you choose, I wish you good health and happiness.

                  And, Annie I will continue to read about food choices and the environment, but for now I am going to leave the blog. As long as they post this last post of mine.

            • I am glad you mentioned the lacto-ovo vegetarian environmental recommendation.

              Previously, I mentioned my advocacy of 90-100% whole food plant based diet.

              This environmental recommendation is in accordance with what I was suggesting.

              People could add 1-10 % calories from an organic omega3 enhanced egg, non factory farmed, huevos rancheros with poached egg, or goat cheese on a salad, or yogurt, but if lactose intolerant soy yogurt or an oat milk kefir would be a better choice, and without the hormones in lacto (goat or dairy products). I also still stand by advocacy of a bit of wild game people may hunt that could be included in this 10%: wild rabbit, turkey or deer.

            • I did read CK’s blog about grass-fed, but Diana was I believe, inaccurate and sometimes misleading in many of her claims.

              Chris said B-12 and iron are common deficiencies, but they are just as common in heavy meat eaters as vegetarians and light meat eaters, mainly due to gastric atrophy in elderly who only eat meat and no supplemental B-12 (95% of B-12 deficiency in US happens in meat eaters . Iron deficiency (though sometimes genetic influences may play a role) is typically caused by heavy periods or aberrant bleeding This iron deficiency during pre menopause is not more common in vegetarians.

              So his and Diana’s thoughts here do not support good reason to eat beef, not that it does not have other great things like zinc or concentrated protein. In all honesty, vegans and vegetarians, can occasionally cook in cast iron pans during their time of highest risk, premenopausal stage. Most postmenopausal women and men, not only rarely become anemic. It is shown this population is at high risk of iron overload associated with Alzheimers’ and atherosclerosis,

              Water Claims in article:
              A lot of grass fed dairy products are produded in CA, and dry parts of the West, similar to CA. Whether using grey, blue or green, it requires a lot of energy because it needs to pumped mostly from the thaw of the Sierra Nevada, to where it is needed. requiring a lot of energy (CO2 emissions) to use.

              Pumping and irrigating dry Western ranches for cattle farmers requires energy to move the water, there, even if it is mostly retained rainwater or Mountain snow thaw from somewhere else.

              Also, she said 410 gallons of blue water needed to produce beef. I’m sorry but, it is misleading only to give blue water use.

              I have seen much higher numbers for beef and much lower numbers for plant foods. Is she also giving blue water numbers for rice. It appears she is not, so this is not an accurate comparison, and misleading.

              Again, other water (grey, green) still has environmental impacts, if it has to be pumped and irrigated to the cows.

              Meat production is 30% of America’s total water footprint.

              But what I have read, it appears tofu, beans, oats, fruits, whole grain pasta, vegetables, and even rice (its never caused environmental water, eutrophication, GHG land use or water problems for centuries in China, and Asians are eating less, so why shouldn’t we eat more?) are good choices for reducing water footprint. But, it is true nuts do require a lot more water.

              Manure and CO2 sequester:
              Plants like beans, grains, fruit trees and vegetables also sequester CO2, but do not release the large amounts of the more damaging methane and nitrous oxide to our ozone layer, so this is nothing special about cow poop.

              Cow poop and grazing with increasing demands and larger herds, actually can overly acidify the soil and unbalance the plants/forage ecosystem to other animals trying to coexist with the cattle.

              Comparing beef farming to mono cropping used to feed grain fed animals, does not make grass-fed beef a better environmental choice than organic beans, vegetables, grains and fruits staples of a plant-based diets, with convetional and organic, rotation crop farming for plants for human consumption.

              Her concerns about people eating more plants:
              The US has plenty of valuable farmland, that can more than meet the demands of most Americans adopting a 90-100% plant-based diets. The 70% of farmland growing food for livestock, can be used similarly for raising plant foods for humans. So her comment about food storage, or chemicals for direct crop growth for human consumption, holds no water.

              She displays two very misleading charts, showing money spent rather than actual amounts (calories or pounds eaten) and the global calories for meat. Americans, Australians, Canadians, Brazilians Europeans are making the most GHG impacts from meat eating, because we are more eating in many cases double and triple amount of reasonable share of the pie.

              Meeting Protein/Caloric Needs for Plant-based diets:
              A combination/balance of beans/legumes, fruit, whole grains, seeds and vegetables including more calorie rich starchy vegetables are not only nutritionally rich, including robust protein to meet, rather than double or triple recommended amounts, and calorically sustainable, but easy to grow on America’s farmland to meet demands of plant-based diets.

              Her tips to improve GF beef farming…

              It’s great that she mentions, increase non-grazing feeding, but in most of the climate areas in the US, this can never happen. Grass fed dairy is concentrated in many areas, with many months of grass/forage dormancy.

              Rest the land tip is also great, but if all corn/grain fed cattle operations were shut down because everyone went to grass fed, this gets increasingly difficult (higher volumes) along with 100% grazing. Just not reality, not sustainable for the masses (if everyone at GF beef). I am not suggestion grain fed livestock- more beans, less beef.

              Area of agreement!
              I would also like to see America eating less sugar, high fructose corn syrup etc that she suggested but for animal based foods, for best nutrition and overall best for environment I would suggest…

              Much less big fish (tuna and salmon), but replace with smaller fish: sardines, herring, possibly scallops- eat lower on the fish food chain, and include some Nori seaweed for prolific source of EPA in diet.

              organic omega-3 enriched eggs, from humanely raised chickens

              wild game: rabbits, duck, turkey and deer

              for those not lactose intolerant or needing to steer clear of animal hormones: grass fed goat cheese

              Rather than GF beef.

              And include more eco-friendly plant foods:

              Less almond milk, more organic oat and soy milks

              Less nuts, but more seeds: flax, hemp, chia

              Eating variety of organic beans for protein, b-vitamins, antioxidants, resistant starch etc..

              Interestingly, the world is eating grain and in some areas starchy vegetables, as staples and outside of Western countries, they do not have the osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers and obesity rates we do. Don’t see whole grain as a problem, but rather paired with more beans and miconutrient rich greens, vegetables, maybe a little bit of lithe fish low on food chain and wild game, and less sugar, as a solution!!

              • Just can’t let go, eh? What I find so amusing about “vegans and LF plant-based diet” advocates (since you are not a “true” vegan) is the complete lack of awareness of the hypocrisy. It’s OK for LFPB’ers to keep on and on, repeating the same mantra, ignoring the natural world, and they characterize themselves as “perspicacious”. But, if someone that supports a different dietary regime pushes back, then the push-backer is being “argumentative”, “flaunting her knowledge”, “obsessed”, etc. These characterizations say a lot more about the LFPB’ers and their vegan friends than about the supporters of a more moderate, evolutionary-based diet. Does the vegan/LFPB lifestyle attract such personalities? Or, is there something in that lifestyle — a deficiency, perhaps — that drives those folks toward that behavior? The old “chicken or egg” conundrum.

                • Truly, I respect your tenacity and the strength of your convictions, Annie, even though our views are contrary. In fact, I think this is something we have in common.

                  I know that I personally have never used any of those words, you mentioned to describe you: argumentative, flaunting her knowledge or obsessed.

                  In my opinion, being in a debate and being a bit argumentative is part of the fun of visiting a blog, and I would rather woman let their intelligence shine than hide it. And, if I called you obsessed, I would be calling the kettle black.

                  Thought I was just having a spirited back and forth, respectful debate, and I was respectfully, though I know laboriously at times, making rebuttal to claims and citations you gave me.

                  You, Chris and Diana’s comments about GF beef, as being just as environmentally sound and sustainable as plant-sourced foods such as beans, grains and tubers, is not in agreement with my views. I don’t think you should be surprised I won’t just let it go, or because I won’t change my views that means I have any character flaws.

                  Perspicacious: shrewd, perseptive, discerning.

                  Though I do have character flaws, definitely prone to getting stuck into debates with people with very different views than my own as part of the list, I do feel I am persipacious or discerning.

                  I used to eat the healthy omnivore diet, meat and dairy with lots of veggies and whole fruits, no chips, soda, candy etc.. But I was still struggling with my weight and feeling sluggish, even though I exercised.

                  With much research about nutrition, at book store, online at the library (Have read a lot Paleo, Zone, Jillian Michaels, a little of everybody)

                  When reviewing it all, I found Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, most compelling and scientific, and decided to give it a try, partly because my Dad and Grandpa had very clogged carotid arteries, and seeing my Grandpa suffer through a devastating stroke, was an incredibly painful experience for me.

                  Dr. Esselstyn’s plan worked for me. Because I do not have established heart disease, I am not quite as strict as his patient protocol, but I have found a balance that works for me.

                  Knowing something is not working, researching how to make it better, and then finding a solution that works, in my view, is discerning. This is what I did with my own health.

                  I know that I am confident and passionate about my position/views on nutrition and environment, but have remained here as long as I can, partly to work on my debate skills, but also to open my mind to what you and others have to say, and I have read everything, all the citations you have given.

                  Definitely, I do not think you have a character flaw, just because I have not changed your mind. Never expected that I would, but hopefully, I have made you think just a little bit about some of the things I have brought up, and maybe gained acceptance that what may not work or be desirable for me, may work for someone else.

                  I never once said to you, personally, that you needed to eat a different way or suggest that you have certain nutrient deficiencies you need to address.

                  Only gave what I thought is a great option for people, both nutritionally and environmentally; something that has worked for me.

                  Lastly, I honestly, do not believe I am ignoring the natural world as you said. My diet is very similar in plant sourced and animal sourced foods as the traditional Okinawans, Loma Lindan Adventist population, the PapauNew Guinea Highlanders, Central Africans, traditional rural Chinese (billions of people) and, really, is probably most like the Sardinians, because I often choose sardines, and I like to have my red wine on the weekend! Too bad it is Monday morning, ’cause I think I could use a glass right now. But will just sip the rest of my green tea and wish you well.

                  So I will agree to disagree and I will let you respond to this and have the last word.

                • Deanna, I did not want to leave the impression that I was accusing you of saying I was argumentative. That was said by another commenter that was not even involved in our conversations. I personally believe that such discussions as we have had are productive — they at least get us thinking about other viewpoints, and perhaps further researching information that supports both viewpoints, even if, ultimately, we just agree to disagree. They also make us realize that the entire field of human nutrition/food production is very complex, and that there are no black-and-white answers. Why that bothers uninvolved parties, I do not pretend to understand.

            • I did read CK’s blog about grass-fed, but Diana was I believe, lacking accuracy and did not portray the realistic conditions of grass fed operations in cold climates, and was misleading at times. Let me explain.

              Chris said B-12 and iron are common deficiencies, but they are actually more common in heavy US meat eaters as vegetarians, mainly due to gastric atrophy in elderly who only eat animal products with no supplemental B-12 (95% of B-12 deficiency in US happens in meat eaters). When a B-12 deficiency occurs, the doctor does not prescribe a not very well absorbed piece of meat, but a well-absorbed B-12 supplement, usually the type that dissolves on tongue that is directly absorbed in body without entering stomach.

              Iron deficiency (though sometimes genetic influences may play a role) is typically caused by heavy menstrual periods or aberrant bleeding or sometimes, heavy junk food eating. This iron deficiency during pre menopause is not more common in vegetarians.

              So his and Diana’s thoughts on iron and B-12 deficiencies, do not support eating beef.

              Iron is in many environmental friendly plant foods. In all honesty, premenopausal women pairing eating fruit for dessert with legumes, vegetables, grains…. can increase iron absorption from plants X4, and can occasionally cook in cast iron pans during their time of highest risk, premenopausal stage. However, cast iron is absolutely not recommended for men and postmenopausal women. Most postmenopausal women and men, not only rarely become anemic (except for bleeding polyp or other bleeding); it is shown this population is at high risk of iron overload (storing too much heme-iron ingested) associated with Alzheimers’, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

              Water Claims in article:

              A lot of grass fed dairy products are produded in CA, and dry parts of the West, similar to CA. Whether using grey, blue or green, water it requires a lot of energy because it needs to pumped mostly from the thaw of the Sierra Nevada, to where it is needed, requiring a lot of energy
              (CO2 emissions) to use.

              Pumping and irrigating dry Western ranches for cattle farmers requires energy to move the water, even if it is mostly retained rainwater or mountain snow thaw, from somewhere else.

              Also, she said 410 gallons of blue water needed to produce beef. I’m sorry but, it is misleading only to give blue water use.
              I have seen much higher numbers for beef and much lower numbers for plant foods she listed. Is she also giving blue water numbers for rice? It appears she is not, so this is not an accurate comparison, and misleading.

              Again, other water (grey, green) still has environmental impacts, particularly in the dry West states, where much of the ranching happens, it has to be pumped and irrigated to the cows. So I thought the blue water emphasis was not entirely accurate and misleading.

              Meat production is 30% of America’s total water footprint.

              By what I have read, it appears tofu, beans, oats, fruits, whole grain pasta, vegetables, and brown rice (its never caused environmental water, eutrophication, GHG land use or water problems for centuries in China, and Asians are eating less, so why shouldn’t we eat more?) are good choices for reducing water footprint.

              But, it is true nuts do require a lot more water, which many times can easily tip your omega 6’s in wrong direction and put too much fat in diet, so best to eat sparingly anyway (if you do eat nuts, choose walnuts with better omega ratio).

              Manure and CO2 sequester:

              Plants crops: beans, grains, fruit trees and vegetables also sequester CO2, but do not release the large amounts of the more damaging methane and nitrous oxide to our ozone layer, so this CO2 sequester is nothing special about cow poop and is a drop in the bucket, compared to methane produced, in terms of impact to ozone layer.

              Cow poop and grazing with increasing consumer demands and larger herds, can and does overly acidify the soil and unbalance the plants/forage ecosystem to other animals trying to coexist with the cattle, on some ranches; it is not as 100% rosy as she describes.

              Comparing beef farming to mono cropping used to feed grain fed animals, does not make grass-fed beef a better environmental choice than organic and conventional farming of beans, vegetables, grains and fruits staples of with rotation and mixed crop farming for plants for human consumption. Her point only drives home the need not to allow or encourage mono cropping.

              Adressing her concerns about people eating more plants:

              The US has plenty of valuable farmland, that can more than meet the demands of most Americans adopting a 90-100% plant-based diets. The 70% of farmland growing food for livestock, can be used similarly for raising plant foods for humans. So her comment about food storage, or chemicals for direct crop growth for human consumption, holds no water.

              She displays two very misleading charts, showing money spent rather than actual amounts (calories or pounds eaten) and the global calories for meat. Americans, Australians, Canadians, Brazilians, Europeans are making the most GHG impacts from meat eating, because these countries are eating in many cases double and triple amount of their reasonable share of the world pie of animal products.
              
Meeting Protein/Caloric Needs for Plant-based diets:
              ▪ A combination/balance of beans/legumes, fruit, whole grains, seeds,vegetables including more calorie rich starchy vegetables are not only nutritionally rich, including robust protein to meet, rather than double or triple recommended protein amounts, are calorically sustainable, but easy to grow on America’s farmland to meet demands of plant-based diets.
              ▪ 
Her tips to improve GF beef farming…
              ▪ 
It’s great that she mentions, increase non-grazing feeding, but in most of the climate areas in the US, this can never happen. Grass fed dairy is concentrated in many areas, with many months of grass/forage dormancy.
              ▪ 
Rest the land tip is also great, but if all corn/grain fed cattle operations were shut down because everyone went to grass fed, this gets increasingly difficult (higher volumes) along with goal of 100% grazing, much harder to do with higher volumes. Just not reality, not sustainable for the masses (if everyone ate GF beef). I am not suggesting grain fed livestock- rather more beans, less beef.
              ▪ 
Area of agreement!

              ▪ I would also like to see America eating less sugar, high fructose corn syrup etc that she suggested but for animal based foods, for best nutrition and overall best for environment I would suggest…
              ▪ 
Much less big fish (tuna and salmon), but replace with smaller fish: sardines, herring, possibly scallops- eat lower on the fish food chain, and include some Nori seaweed for prolific source of EPA in diet.

And include more eco-friendly plant foods:
Less almond milk, more organic oat and soy milks. 
Lot less nuts, but add some seeds: flax, hemp, chia. 
Eating variety of organic beans for protein, b-vitamins, antioxidants, resistant starch etc..
Interestingly, her chart shows the world is eating lots of grain and in some areas starchy vegetables, as staples. Outside of Western countries, they do not have the osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers and obesity rates we do. Don’t see whole grain as a problem, but rather paired with more beans and miconutrient rich greens, vegetables, fruits and less sugar and oils- a solution, both environmentally and nutritionally!!



        • With respect, you have brought up…

          that grassfed beef (meaning take away all grain fed cows and replace with grass fed cows) would be sustainable for the whole world, so me bringing up land use is an appropriate rebuttal.

          You have brought up habitat loss and killing of other animals due to crop farming with fire, herbicides, pesticides and, I believe, farmers directly killing animals scavenging their plants. So land use and growing of forage crops (not grain), and iterating the large amount 60lbs. daily of forage, is an appropriate rebuttal; these same problems happen with forage crop farming. And forage crops are almost never grown without herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers (causing algal blooms, destroying lakes and pond ecosystems).

          I have seen with my own two eyes the feeding of grass fed cows with dried forage crops (hay and wheat straw) and also, being fed grass, alfalfa and other forage growing in fields that formerly grew crops (corn, wheat, soybeans etc.. ), so it is not accurate to say grass fed beef is only grown on non arable, unfarmable land.

          Any farmers’ coop in any town, will have dried forage (hay, wheat straw) for sale to grass-fed farmers needing it. And the farmers who are selling it, are rotating these crops, meaning on the years they do not grow hay or wheat straw for the grass-fed cows, they are growing soybeans, corn or other crops. This forage for grass fed cows is grown on farmable land!!!

          So, my bringing up these points: land use, forage needs etc.. in comparison to crops grown directly for human consumption (organic beans, tubers, grains) are in direct rebuttal to claims you have made.

          • So, because some of your neighbors are not farming/ranching sustainably, that means that people that are doing so, or that want to start doing it, should not be allowed to do so? And, folks that are producing hay, even though it’s been done for thousands of years, should stop because they are rotating crops on arable land (even if they are vegetable crops), and resting/enriching their soil? No one shall be allowed to let any arable land go fallow or produce a non-edible (to humans) crop. That does not seem logical, but, we could try one of go’s “thought experiments”, and we could play that game on any number of other activities, too. Several commenters have noted they tried vegan or vegetarian diets, and were unsuccessful. In some cases (by their own descriptions), it appears they were not doing all they could to achieve success. So, because they failed, even if that failure was their own doing, no one else should try such a diet, and the people that are following such a diet should stop. We could have a lot of fun applying this approach to lots of other activities, as well.

            • This is not though experiments. The study you pointed out did not say eat grass fed beef. Their recommendation was a vegetarian diet with some eggs and dairy.

              • As I said previously, this is getting ridiculous. You keep wanting to “refute” things I’ve never said. Yet, you fail to address what I HAVE said. You continue to insist that your neighbor’s feedlot operation is somehow relevant to sustainable ranching. You continue to insist that some activities, like winter feeding and manure removal, are absolute necessities for ruminants, but you fail to identify who did these activities for, say, the buffalo before they, the humans they fed, and the prairie ecosystem where they thrived were essentially exterminated to create marginal “cropland” that now requires massive inputs of chemical fertilizers, fossil water that cannot be replenished, and vast quantities of pesticides and herbicides. Nor do you address the huge GHG impact of producing the chemical fertilizers — more than a ton of CO2 per ton of fertilizer, which is usually produced from natural gas, with its attendant CH4 emissions. Of course, the fertilizer and pesticide runoff, the erosion of soil (the “buffalo commons” now = the dust bowl), and the groundwater contamination by past and present fertilizer and pesticide production can just be conveniently ignored. And, there, we’ll just glide by the false equivalence of equating a pound of veggie waste compost to a pound of manure, or a pound of processed soy with a pound of beef. I can see you have a hang-up with cows, and I can also see that you are determined to let nothing in the way of facts deter you from it. So, have fun demonizing cows! Don’t let me, other sustainable farmers, research scientists, NGOs, the UN or environmental protection agencies stop you. I find it is sad, but true, that sometimes the factory-farm folks are more reasonable in achieving progress toward sustainable agriculture than those that profess to be environmentalists or animal advocates.

                • It is relevant.

                  They are doing the best they can with the climate they are in.

                  Grass fed cows cannot graze on frozen ground.

                  This requires growth of forage crops for feeding during the grass, alfalfa etc. dormancy in winter.

                  There happen to be a lot of dairies saturated in our area. They make a lot of cheese nearby. This saturation is causing the problem. They are farming based on high demands of consumers.

                  Americans eat a lot of cheese.

                  I am not sure what you what me to respond to that I have not already, but like I said the moderators have not posted many of my replies.

                • Conventional crop farming with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is far less than ideal, in comparison to organic crop farming, no doubt. But methane gas emissions are some of the most damaging and potent climate change factors.

                  I would encourage everyone to eat as much organic and do as much edible organic landscaping as they think they want to tackle: grapes, apple trees, planters of herbs, vegetables, berries etc.

                • Causing more damage to the ozone layer, which GF beef does with the methane and nitrous oxide, not offset by CO2 sequestration, by what I have read, is not sustainable for our planet. I am sorry.

                  What I don’t understand is why you are so against someone like me eating and promoting organic beans, steel cut oats, greens, plant milks and other plant foods with sardines for my main source of protein, calcium and all the other nutrients needed, rather than GF beef and dairy?

                  This diet is both sustainable and kind to the ozone layer, and uses no synthetic fertilizers and pesticides? Why are you so angry about what the environmental scientists at Cornell and the UN would call a fabulous choice.

                  Headline: UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

                  Excerpt: Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.

                  Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet

                • I am not “against” you. I think you are misrepresenting, albeit based on sincere beliefs, other approaches to producing healthful, sustainable foods. I’ve already stated my views on the evolutionary/historical bases for ranching and farming, so I am not going to go through those again. As you said, let’s just agree to disagree. I think if we actually compared our diets, we’d find a lot of common ground, besides the sardines and red wine ;-).

                • The only NGO’s that, I think, will try to stop me would likely only be:

                  The Dairy Council, Milk Marketing Board, and the Beef Council.

                  But I don’t think their interest would be to stop me from ruining the ozone layer and accelerating climate change.

                • Those are not really “NGOs”, but industry/trade groups. NGO generally refers to charitable nonprofits — Red Cross, Kiva, Heifer Project, FINCA, Doctors without Borders, etc., that perform social work projects that governments sometimes do. I am never surprised that industry trade groups push their own agendas (perhaps sometimes stretching the facts) — that’s what their members finance them to do. I think their ability to stop outspoken critics is more limited these days, since the court system has “slapped” them back when they try to use a SLAPP lawsuit to intimidate folks whose opinions they don’t like. It’s a different story when many of our government agencies (particularly the FDA and USDA) function as trade groups. The USDA especially, as it has a two-fold mission, the parts of which are inherently in conflict — to protect the consumer of agricultural products AND to promote the sale of US ag products. Then people wonder why there’s little progress in restricting practices like the wholesale dosing of food animals with antibiotics, or the widespread use of pesticides that kill off pollinators. These practices hurt people that are trying to follow a more healthful lifestyle, whether vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. It’s too bad there is not more cooperation in addressing these issues across the spectrum of proponents of more healthful lifestyles.

            • I never, ever said my neighbors were not using sustainable practices. In cold weather you have to feed forage crops!!!

              The problem in our area is the huge demand for dairy, and the saturation of dairy farms in our area. There is just too much poop. They have, trust me, tried turning the poop into biomass and all kinds of things to try and solve the problem.

              It is really sad. We have one of the most beautiful lakes, and it is being destroyed by cow poop run-off.

            • I am suggesting a 90% whole based diet; I am not telling anyone they need to go vegan or vegetarian.

              I myself am not vegan or vegetarian. But I am best described as veganish with only fish.

            • We would not be letting arable land go fallow.

              The goal would be to get Americans to not eat 6% of calories from whole plant foodsby hard working American farmers, but 90% of calories, and 10% from animal sourced foods.

              The land opened up by less grass fed livestock and forage and grain crops to feed stock, would be used for the higher demand of organic beans, tubers, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. And not import all that sugar, chemicals and not real food that Americans are eating now.

              Like Michael Pollan said,
              Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants

        • For all grass fed cows, in areas that have ground freeze (mostly Nov.-April), they need to be fed 60lbs. of forage crop daily. This is a big portion of the US. In the milder portions, that tend to be very dry, it requires huge amounts of water to irrigate forage crops and water the animals.

          In the very cold months, their poop is hauled out of the barn with an electrical manure machine plopped on one side of the barn.

          As this manure thaws in the spring, though some of it can be used on other crops, much of it seeps into the ground and into the underground water. It eventually makes its way to creeks, ponds and lakes, over or excessively fertilizing the algae, causing algal blooms and destruction of pond or lakes’ beauty and ecosystem, killing fish and other waterline and making it unsafe for people to swim there.

    • Might this be a problem with your computer or ISP, or a “technical difficulty”, rather than with the moderator? I get copies of all the comments, and all have had “reply” links. I have not noticed any undue delays in copying comments to subscribers, either. All of your recent ones have come into my inbox quickly.

      • There has been one post, completely respectful, so should not be deleted, that did not get posted.

        And, most of your comments do not show a reply button on my screen.

        • All of your posts, and everyone else’s, show up in my inbox with a reply link. That’s why I asked if it might be possible that what you are seeing is a tech problem. Have you gotten in touch with Chris’s webmaster to see if there is something of that sort? I think most folks that come to Chris’s site learn from the back-and-forth discussions. I doubt that there is an active effort by any of his folks to stifle the give and take.

          • Experiment, I will post it here and see if moderators do post it or not.

            Annie, I appreciate your patience and the back and forth debate we have had.

            But we likely need to agree to disagree. If you could give me a comparison of greenhouse, gases, land use and water for 4 oz. grass fed beef vs. organic beans for human consumption; this might help me to open my mind or persuade me to look differently grass fed beef vs. plant foods (beans, tubers…)

            
You said in earlier post, people who say it can’t be done should step aside to those who are doing it.

            
Many said, reversing heart disease with diet and eating a 100% plant-based diet couldn’t be done long-term, but both myths have been shattered by Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish, doing both simultaneously with whole plant foods and no oils, (not just throwing animal products under the bus), and reduced amounts of sodium and modest sugar intake.
 So, I would say to those needing to defensively take a stance that plant-based diets, vegan, vegetarian, veganish with fish or eggs etc. is not doable, ridiculous, unnatural, what have you, need to step aside and let those doing it successfully do it, without degradation, condescension, or unnecessary fear-mongering because of need for B-12 sup. and lower blood levels of DHA in studies. (However, I do think it wise to use this info. to improve the diet with inclusion of more ALA and EPA in seaweed, reducing omega 6 oils, adding algal sups. available, if need be.)

            
The unfortunate fact is, 50% of Americans succumb to cardiovascular disease, many times decades before their natural health span and with many years of disability.


            Every 80 seconds, a woman suffers a cardiovascular event, and 1 in 8 American women will have invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.

            Don’t kill the messenger here.. 
It is true that…
            dairy is associated with increased risks (breast , ovarian and prostate cancer) and decreased survival in breast cancer patients. Butter has 11x the estrogen and 14x the progesterone in milk. The trend to put grassfed butter in coffee and eat with wild abandon is akin to taking a mini-hormone replacement pill for women, proven to increase risks of heart attack, strokes and breast cancer in women.


            So, before trying to shame a plant-based eater on their need to take B-12, or eat Nori, with very little omega6 oils, and maybe take an algal supp., why not have an open mind to what they have to share and say?


            
I am very happy with my veganish diet, it has been sustainable for me for over a decade with vibrant health; I am lucky. And I feel very good about my diet in terms of carbon footprint, etc… In my local world, I am not creating the local lake algal blooms with butter, yogurt, cheese pizza and ice creams cones, from dairy poop run-off, that is really destroying the natural beauty we are blessed with.It is a huge problem where I live.


            But, I do appreciate other peoples’ choices, and everyones body is different. I have been a dairy and beef eater most of my life, so I have been there. I just wish there could be a little more respect and a more open minded thinking in the some of the Paleo crowd for plant-based diets, and potential health benefits (for some- even if it’s not for you) and benefits of the environment, for those who choose this.

            
WFPB and Paleo both forgo processed foods (oils, refined flours, excess sugar), so there is some common ground.
 I feel I have been able to debate my views with accurate information in a respectful tone. And, again, I have appreciated your patience in our debate.

            For everyone, whatever, you choose to eat, I wish you good health and happiness.

            • Thank you for posting this. I do feel that you are being fair moderators by posting, this, though I don’t know why it took so long.

              But thank you.

      • Just sent two respectful, but maybe hit a nerve posts. One twelve hours ago, and one 10 minutes, ago with no reference study to look through and both are still in moderation.

        But my other posts get posted within second?

  14. I am hoping you will not dismiss my very respectful post, I recently sent.

    It will give me closure, and I will not feel the need to post anymore. Not sure why this post would take so long for moderation.

    Don’t want to be a Paleo troll, but you did write an article about vegans and vegetarians that come up on our Google searchers.

  15. I will not badger you, Annie, after this post. I will agree to disagree with you on environmental impact of animal sourced grass-fed proteins vs. plant sourced (organic legumes and grains). This is more time consuming than getting sucked into political debates!


    You said, people who say it can’t be done should step aside to those who are doing it.


    Many said, reversing heart disease with diet and eating a 100% plant-based diet couldn’t be done long-term, but both myths have been shattered by Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish, doing both simultaneously with whole plant foods and no oils, (not just throwing animal products under the bus), and reduced amounts of sodium and modest sugar intake. 
So, I would say to those needing to defensively take a stance that plant-based diets, vegan, vegetarian, veganish with fish or eggs etc. is not doable, ridiculous, unnatural, what have you, need to step aside and let those doing it successfully do it, without degradation (WWWWAAAACCCCKKKOOOO s
    Vegans are wackos- posted in reply to my giving info. on omega-6 fatty acids in dairy, chicken, eggs…), disrepectul banter and condescension.

    The unfortunate fact is, 50% of Americans succumb to cardiovascular disease, many times decades before their natural health span and with many years of disability. 
Every 80 seconds, a woman suffers a cardiovascular event, and 1 in 8 American women will have invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.
It is true that…

    Dairy is associated with increased risks (breast , ovarian and prostate cancer) and decreased survival in breast cancer patients. Butter has 11x the estrogen and 14x the progesterone in milk. The trend to put grassfed butter in coffee and eat with wild abandon is akin to taking a mini-hormone replacement pill for women, proven to increase risks of heart attack, strokes and breast cancer in women.
So, before attacking those minimizing and avoiding animal products, why not have an open mind to what they have to share and say?


    Grass-fed or grain-fed cows, poop. Heightening the demand for beef, indisputably, puts more poop out there, and the problems that come with it

    .
I am very happy with my veganish diet, it has been sustainable for me for over a decade with vibrant health, I am lucky. And I feel very good about my diet in terms of carbon footprint, etc… I am not creating the local lake algal blooms with butter, yogurt, cheese pizza and ice creams cones, from dairy poop run-off. It is a huge problem where I live.


    But, I appreciate other peoples’ choices, I have been a dairy and beef eater most of my life, so I have been there. I just wish there could be a little more respect and a more open minded thinking in the some of the Paleo crowd for plant-based diets, to the potential benefits to the environment and health (for some, even if it’s not for you).

    WFPB and Paleo diets both forgo processed foods (oils, refined flours, excess sugar), so there is some common ground.


    If I am passionate and outspoken about plant-based diets, and that makes me a wacko in someone’s eyes, I am more than ok with that, and I feel I have extended a factual and very respectful tone to my views.

    I share my views, because I believe, this diet, for some with as much as 10% animal foods, can alleviate some of our greatest ills, both health of people and planet, not because I want to prove anyone else’s opinion wrong.

    Whatever diet you choose, I wish you good health and happiness.



    • Deanna, this is a well-stated comment.

      I would suggest one course correction, however. Namely, using V belief to defend your views on their health benefits is not in your best interests. According to the most recent and well done, relatively large survey of those diets when compared with a meat-centered diet clearly shows that mean dietary fat is virtually the same for all three, 30.0-30.9%, while mean dietary sugar is 22.6-22.9%. Dietary nutrient composition is the best predictor of food effects on human health. These data show therefore why the health benefits of the V diets are often only modest. This occurs because 90% of vegetarians still use dairy, often with some eggs and fish. Vegans, while choosing not to use animal-based foods for ethical reasons, does not mean that this conclusion applies to the scientific evidence. This is why vegans still get much too much heart disease and cancer and people on the whole food plant-based foods do not. And this is why critics of these V diets are getting away with their criticisms. Arguments for the health benefits of plant-based eating which are primarily based on ideological belief may do more harm than good.

      • Thank you for the response.

        I know, for me, two of the best things I ever did, was reading the China Study, and Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

        Because, I do believe for me, it was not until I really squeezed the oil out of my diet that I gained the vibrant, unbelievable health and increased cardiorespiratory fitness, I enjoy today.

        Another lifesaver, was Jeff Novick, who gave some great tricks on how to squeeze and dilute the extra sodium out as well, from foods seemingly healthy like salsa, condiments etc..

        I am glad you reminded me, and everyone on this blog, that it is important to clarify the WFPB diet it is not just the limiting of meat products (as you see in vegan, and vegetarian diets), but also the oil, sugar and total low amounts of fat (including limiting vegetarian choices: coconut, dairy, eggs…) that make WFPB diet, such a health success!

  16. There’s nothing wrong with veganism when one takes the time to do it correctly in order to stay healthy. But most people with bad dietary habits could make reasonable changes that would be much easier than trying to throw themselves into a strict regiment like veganism. The majority of folk who are overweight and feel unhealthy could make great strides towards losing weight and improving their general health by simply cutting back on meal portions and after snacking outside the 3 daily meals.

    • Uh. oh. There you go, being logical again! What you are recommending is a version of the KISS principle. It seems people would rather contort themselves into vegan pretzels instead of trying this simple, no-cost (actually would save them money on grocery and medical bills) approach.

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