Myths of Vegetarianism
Stephen Byrnes, ND, RNCP
unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only
method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion."
-- Alfred North Whitehead
and Tanya sat before me in my office in a somber mood: they had just lost their
first baby in the second month of pregnancy. Tanya was particularly upset. "Why
did this happen to me? Why did I miscarry my baby?" The young couple had
come to see me mostly because of Tanya's recurrent respiratory infections, but
also wanted some advice as to how they could avoid the heartache of another failed
questioning Tanya about her diet, I quickly saw the cause of her infections, as
well as her miscarriage: she had virtually no fat in her diet and was also mostly
a vegetarian. Because of the plentiful media rhetoric about the supposed dangers
of animal product consumption, as opposed to the alleged health benefits of the
vegetarian lifestyle, Tanya had deliberately removed such things as cream, butter,
meats and fish from her diet. Although she liked liver, she avoided it due to
worries over "toxins."
and Bill left with a bottle of vitamin A, other supplements and a dietary prescription
that included plentiful amounts of animal fats and meat. Just before leaving my
office, Tanya looked at me and said ruefully: "I just don't know what to
believe sometimes. Everywhere I look there is all this low-fat, vegetarian stuff
recommended. I followed it, and look what happened." I assured her that if
she and her husband changed their diets and allowed sufficient time for her weakened
uterus to heal, they would be happy parents in due time. In November 1999, Bill
and Tanya happily gave birth to their first child, a girl.
EVOLUTION OF A MYTH
with the unjustified and unscientific saturated fat and cholesterol scares of
the past several decades has come the notion that vegetarianism is a healthier
dietary option for people. It seems as if every health expert and government health
agency is urging people to eat fewer animal products and consume more vegetables,
grains, fruits and legumes. Along with these exhortations have come assertions
and studies supposedly proving that vegetarianism is healthier for people and
that meat consumption is associated with sickness and death. Several authorities,
however, have questioned these data, but their objections have been largely ignored.
we shall see, many of the vegetarian claims cannot be substantiated and some are
simply false and dangerous. There are benefits to vegetarian diets for certain
health conditions, and some people function better on less fat and protein, but,
as a practitioner who has dealt with several former vegetarians and vegans (total
vegetarians), I know full well the dangerous effects of a diet devoid of healthful
animal products. It is my hope that all readers will more carefully evaluate their
position on vegetarianism after reading this paper.
#1: Meat consumption contributes to famine and depletes the Earth's natural resources.
vegetarians have claimed that livestock require pasturage that could be used to
farm grains to feed starving people in Third World countries. It is also claimed
that feeding animals contributes to world hunger because livestock are eating
foods that could go to feed humans. The solution to world hunger, therefore, is
for people to become vegetarians. These arguments are illogical and simplistic.
first argument ignores the fact that about 2/3 of our Earth's dry land is unsuitable
for farming. It is primarily the open range, desert and mountainous areas that
provide food to grazing animals and that land is currently being put to good use
second argument is faulty as well because it ignores the vital contributions that
livestock animals make to humanity’s well-being. It is also misleading to think
that the foods grown and given to feed livestock could be diverted to feed humans:
animals have always made a major contribution to the welfare of human societies
by providing food, shelter, fuel, fertilizer and other products and services.
They are a renewable resource, and utilize another renewable resource, plants,
to produce these products and services. In addition, the manure produced by the
animals helps improve soil fertility and, thus, aids the plants. In some developing
countries the manure cannot be utilized as a fertilizer but is dried as a source
are many who feel that because the world population is growing at a faster rate
than is the food supply, we are becoming less and less able to afford animal foods
because feeding plant products to animals is an inefficient use of potential human
food. It is true that it is more efficient for humans to eat plant products directly
rather than to allow animals to convert them to human food. At best, animals only
produce one pound or less of human food for each three pounds of plants eaten.
However, this inefficiency only applies to those plants and plant products that
the human can utilize. The fact is that over two-thirds of the feed fed to animals
consists of substances that are either undesirable or completely unsuited for
human food. Thus, by their ability to convert inedible plant materials to human
food, animals not only do not compete with the human rather they aid greatly in
improving both the quantity and the quality of the diets of human societies. (2)
at the present time, there is more than enough food grown in the world to feed
all people on the planet. The problem is widespread poverty making it impossible
for the starving poor to afford it. In a comprehensive report, the Population
Reference Bureau attributed the world hunger problem to poverty, not meat-eating
(3). It also did not consider mass vegetarianism to be a solution for world hunger.
would actually happen, however, if animal husbandry were abandoned in favor of
mass agriculture, brought about by humanity turning towards vegetarianism?
a large number of people switched to vegetarianism, the demand for meat in the
United States and Europe would fall, the supply of grain would dramatically increase,
but the buying power of poor [starving] people in Africa and Asia wouldn't change
result would be very predictable -- there would be a mass exodus from farming.
Whereas today the total amount of grains produced could feed 10 billion people,
the total amount of grain grown in this post-meat world would likely fall back
to about 7 or 8 billion. The trend of farmers selling their land to developers
and others would accelerate quickly. (4)
other words, there would be less food available for the world to eat. Furthermore,
the monoculture of grains and legumes, which is what would happen if animal husbandry
were abandoned and the world relied exclusively on plant foods for its food, would
rapidly deplete the soil and require the heavy use of artificial fertilizers,
one ton of which requires ten tons of crude oil to produce (5).
far as the impact to our environment, a closer look reveals the great damage that
exclusive and mass farming would do. British organic dairy farmer and researcher
Mark Purdey wisely points out that if “veganic agricultural systems were to gain
a foothold on the soil, then agrochemical use, soil erosion, cash cropping, prairie-scapes
and ill health would escalate.” (6)
Neanderthin author Ray Audette concurs with this view:
ancient times, the most destructive factor in the degradation of the environment
has been monoculture agriculture. The production of wheat in ancient Sumeria transformed
once-fertile plains into salt flats that remain sterile 5,000 years later. As
well as depleting both the soil and water sources, monoculture agriculture also
produces environmental damage by altering the delicate balance of natural ecosystems.
World rice production in 1993, for instance, caused 155 million cases of malaria
by providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes in the paddies. Human contact with
ducks in the same rice paddies resulted in 500 million cases of influenza during
the same year.(7)
is little doubt, though, that commercial farming methods, whether of plants or
animals produce harm to the environment. With the heavy use of agrochemicals,
pesticides, artificial fertilizers, hormones, steroids, and antibiotics common
in modern agriculture, a better way of integrating animal husbandry with agriculture
needs to be found. A possible solution might be a return to “mixed farming,” described
educated consumer and the enlightened farmer together can bring about a return
of the mixed farm, where cultivation of fruits, vegetables and grains is combined
with the raising of livestock and fowl in a manner that is efficient, economical
and environmentally friendly. For example, chickens running free in garden areas
eat insect pests, while providing high-quality eggs; sheep grazing in orchards
obviate the need for herbicides; and cows grazing in woodlands and other marginal
areas provide rich, pure milk, making these lands economically viable for the
farmer. It is not animal cultivation that leads to hunger and famine, but
unwise agricultural practices and monopolistic distribution systems.(8)
"mixed farm" is also healthier for the soil, which will yield more crops
if managed according to traditional guidelines. Mark Purdey has accurately pointed
out that a crop field on a mixed farm will yield up to five harvests a year, while
a "mono-cropped" one will only yield one or two (9). Which farm is producing
more food for the world's peoples? Purdey well sums up the ecological horrors
of “battery farming” and points to future solutions by saying:
Our agricultural establishments could do very well to outlaw the business-besotted
farmers running intensive livestock units, battery systems and beef-burger bureaucracies;
with all their wastages, deplorable cruelty, anti-ozone slurry systems; drug/chemical
induced immunotoxicity resulting in B.S.E. [see myth # 13] and salmonella, rain
forest eradication, etc. Our future direction must strike the happy, healthy medium
of mixed farms, resurrecting the old traditional extensive system as a basic framework,
then bolstering up productivity to present day demands by incorporating a more
updated application of biological science into farming systems. (10)
does not appear, then, that livestock farming, when properly practiced, damages
the environment. Nor does it appear that world vegetarianism or exclusively relying
on agriculture to supply the world with food are feasible or ecologically wise
#2: Vitamin B12 can be obtained from plant sources.
all the myths, this is perhaps the most dangerous. While lacto and lacto-ovo vegetarians
have sources of vitamin B12 in their diets (from dairy products and eggs), vegans
(total vegetarians) do not. Vegans who do not supplement their diet with vitamin
B12 will eventually get anemia (a fatal condition) as well as severe nervous and
digestive system damage; most, if not all, vegans have impaired B12 metabolism
and every study of vegan groups has demonstrated low vitamin B12 concentrations
in the majority of individuals (11). Several studies have been done documenting
B12 deficiencies in vegan children, often with dire consequences (12). Additionally,
claims are made in vegan and vegetarian literature that B12 is present in certain
algae, tempeh (a fermented soy product) and Brewer's yeast. All of them are false
as vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods. Brewer's and nutritional yeasts
do not contain B12 naturally; they are always fortified from an outside source.
is not real B12 in plant sources but B12 analogues--they are similar to
true B12, but not exactly the same and because of this they are not bioavailable
(13). It should be noted here that these B12 analogues can impair absorption of
true vitamin B12 in the body due to competitive absorption, placing vegans and
vegetarians who consume lots of soy, algae, and yeast at a greater risk for a
vegetarian authorities claim that B12 is produced by certain fermenting bacteria
in the lower intestines. This may be true, but it is in a form unusable by the
body. B12 requires intrinsic factor from the stomach for proper absorption in
the ileum. Since the bacterial product does not have intrinsic factor bound to
it, it cannot be absorbed (15).
is true that Hindu vegans living in certain parts of India do not suffer from
vitamin B12 deficiency. This has led some to conclude that plant foods do provide
this vitamin. This conclusion, however, is erroneous as many small insects, their
feces, eggs, larvae and/or residue, are left on the plant foods these people consume,
due to non-use of pesticides and inefficient cleaning methods. This is how these
people obtain their vitamin B12. This contention is borne out by the fact that
when vegan Indian Hindus later migrated to England, they came down with megaloblastic
anaemia within a few years. In England, the food supply is cleaner, and insect
residues are completely removed from plant foods (16).
only reliable and absorbable sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, especially
organ meats and eggs (17). Though present in lesser amounts than meat and eggs,
dairy products do contain B12. Vegans, therefore, should consider adding dairy
products into their diets. If dairy cannot be tolerated, eggs, preferably from
free-run hens, are a virtual necessity.
vitamin B12 can only be obtained from animal foods is one of the strongest arguments
against veganism being a "natural" way of human eating. Today, vegans
can avoid anemia by taking supplemental vitamins or fortified foods. If those
same people had lived just a few decades ago, when these products were unavailable,
they would have died.
#3: Our needs for vitamin D can be met by sunlight.
not really a vegetarian myth per se, it is widely believed that one’s vitamin
D needs can be met simply by exposing one’s skin to the sun’s rays for 15-20 minutes
a few times a week. Concerns about vitamin D deficiencies in vegetarians and vegans
always exist as this nutrient, in its full-complex form, is only found in animal
fats (18) which vegans do not consume and more moderate vegetarians only consume
in limited quantities due to their meatless diets.
is true that a limited number of plant foods such as alfalfa, sunflower seeds,
and avocado, contain the plant form of vitamin D (ergocalciferol, or vitamin
D2). Although D2 can be used to prevent and treat the vitamin D deficiency disease,
rickets, in humans, it is questionable, though, whether this form is as effective
as animal-derived vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Some studies have shown
that D2 is not utilized as well as D3 in animals (19) and clinicians have reported
disappointing results using vitamin D2 to treat vitamin D-related conditions (20).
vitamin D can be created by our bodies by the action of sunlight on our skin,
it is very difficult to obtain an optimal amount of vitamin D by a brief foray
into the sun. There are three ultraviolet bands of radiation that come from sunlight
named A, B, and C. Only the “B” form is capable of catalyzing the conversion of
cholesterol to vitamin D in our bodies (21) and UV-B rays are only present at
certain times of day, at certain latitudes, and at certain times of the year (22).
Furthermore, depending on one’s skin color, obtaining 200-400 IUs of vitamin D
from the sun can take as long as two full hours of continual sunning (23). A dark-skinned
vegan, therefore, will find it impossible to obtain optimal vitamin D intake by
sunning himself for 20 minutes a few times a week, even if sunning occurs during
those limited times of the day and year when UV-B rays are available.
current RDA for vitamin D is 400 IUs, but Dr. Weston Price’s seminal research
into healthy native adult people’s diets showed that their daily intake of vitamin
D (from animal foods) was about 10 times that amount, or 4,000 IUs (24). Accordingly,
Dr. Price placed a great emphasis on vitamin D in the diet. Without vitamin D,
for example, it is impossible to utilize minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and
magnesium. Recent research has confirmed Dr. Price’s higher recommendations for
vitamin D for adults (24).
rickets and/or low vitamin D levels has been well-documented in many vegetarians
and vegans (26), since animal fats are either lacking or deficient in vegetarian
diets (as well as those of the general Western public who routinely try to cut
their animal fat intake), since sunlight is only a source of vitamin D at certain
times and at certain latitudes, and since current dietary recommendations for
vitamin D are too low, this emphasizes the need to have reliable and abundant
sources of this nutrient in our daily diets. Good sources include cod liver oil,
lard from pigs that were exposed to sunlight, shrimp, wild salmon, sardines, butter,
full-fat dairy products, and eggs from properly fed chickens.
#4: The body's needs for vitamin A can be entirely obtained from plant foods.
vitamin A, or retinol and its associated esters, is only found in animal fats
and organs like liver (27). Plants do contain beta-carotene, a substance that
the body can convert into vitamin A if certain conditions are present (see below).
Beta-carotene, however, is not vitamin A. It is typical for vegans and vegetarians
(as well as most popular nutrition writers) to say that plant foods like carrots
and spinach contain vitamin A and that beta-carotene is just as good as vitamin
A. These things are not true even though beta-carotene is an important nutritional
factor for humans.
conversion from carotene to vitamin A in the intestines can only take place in
the presence of bile salts. This means that fat must be eaten with the carotenes
to stimulate bile secretion. Additionally, infants and people with hypothyroidism,
gall bladder problems or diabetes (altogether, a significant portion of the population)
either cannot make the conversion, or do so very poorly. Lastly, the body's conversion
from carotene to vitamin A is not very efficient: it takes roughly 6 units of
carotene to make one unit of vitamin A. What this means is that a sweet potato
(containing about 25,000 units of beta-carotene) will only convert into about
4,000 units of vitamin A (assuming you ate it with fat, are not diabetic, are
not an infant, and do not have a thyroid or gall bladder problem) .
on plant sources for vitamin A, then, is not a very wise idea. This provides yet
another reason to include animal foods and fats in our diets. Butter and full-fat
dairy foods, especially from pastured cows, are good vitamin A sources, as is
cod liver oil. Vitamin A is all-important in our diets, for it enables the body
to use proteins and minerals, insures proper vision, enhances the immune system,
enables reproduction, and fights infections (29). As with vitamin D, Dr. Price
found that the diets of healthy primitive peoples supplied substantial amounts
of vitamin A, again emphasizing the great need humans have for this nutrient in
maintaining optimal health now and for future generations.
#5: Meat-eating causes osteoporosis, kidney disease, heart disease, and cancer.
vegans and vegetarians will try to scare people into avoiding animal foods and
fats by claiming that vegetarian diets offer protection from certain chronic diseases
like the ones listed above. Such claims, however, are hard to reconcile with historical
and anthropological facts. All of the diseases mentioned are primarily 20th century
occurrences, yet people have been eating meat and animal fat for many thousands
of years. Further, as Dr. Price’s research showed, there were/are several native
peoples around the world (the Innuit, Maasai, Swiss, etc.) whose traditional diets
were/are very rich in animal products, but who nevertheless did/do not suffer
from the above-mentioned maladies (30). Dr. George Mann’s independent studies
of the Maasai done many years after Dr. Price, confirmed the fact that the Maasai,
despite being almost exclusive meat eaters, nevertheless, had little to no incidence
of heart disease, or other chronic ailments (31). This proves that other factors
beSeveral studies have supposedly shown that meat consumption is the cause of
various illnesses, but such studies, honestly evaluated, show no such thing as
the following discussion will show.
Herta Spencer's research on protein intake and bone loss clearly showed that protein
consumption in the form of real meat has no impact on bone density. Studies that
supposedly proved that excessive protein consumption equaled more bone loss were
not done with real meat but with fractionated protein powders and isolated amino
acids (32). Recent studies have also shown that increased animal protein intake
contributes to stronger bone density in men and women (33). Some recent
studies on vegan and vegetarian diets, however, have shown them to predispose
women to osteoporosis (34).
protein-restricted diets are helpful for people with kidney disease, there is
no proof that eating meat causes it (35). Vegetarians will also typically claim
that animal protein causes overly acidic conditions in the blood, resulting in
calcium leaching from the bones and, hence, a greater tendency to form kidney
stones. This opinion is false, however. Theoretically, the sulphur and
phosphorous in meat can form an acid when placed in water, but that does not mean
that is what happens in the body. Actually, meat contains complete proteins and
vitamin D (if the skin and fat are eaten), both of which help maintain pH balance
in the bloodstream. Furthermore, if one eats a diet that includes enough magnesium
and vitamin B6, and restricts refined sugars, one has little to fear from kidney
stones, whether one eats meat or not (36). Animal foods like beef, pork, fish,
and lamb are good sources of magnesium and B6 as any food/nutrient table will
belief that animal protein contributes to heart disease is a popular one that
has no foundation in nutritional science. Outside of questionable studies, there
is little data to support the idea that meat-eating leads to heart disease. For
example, the French have one of the highest per capita consumption of meat,
yet have low rates of heart disease. In Greece, meat consumption is higher than
average but rates of heart disease are low there as well. Finally, in Spain, an
increase in meat eating (in conjunction with a reduction in sugar and high carbohydrate
intake) led to a decrease in heart disease (37).
belief that meat, in particular red meat, contributes to cancer is, like heart
disease, a popular idea that is not supported by the facts. Although it is true
that some studies have shown a connection between meat eating and some types of
cancer (38), its important to look at the studies carefully to determine what
kind of meat is being discussed, as well as the preparation methods used. Since
we only have one word for “meat” in English, it is often difficult to know which
“meat” is under discussion in a study unless the authors of the study specifically
study which began the meat=cancer theory was done by Dr. Ernst Wynder in the 1970s.
Wynder claimed that there was a direct, causal connection between animal fat intake
and incidence of colon cancer (39). Actually, his data on “animal fats” were really
on vegetable fats (40). In other words, the meat=cancer theory is based on a phony
one looks closely at the research, however, one quickly sees that it is processed
meats like cold cuts and sausages that are usually implicated in cancer causation
(41) and not meat per se. Furthermore, cooking methods seem to play a part
in whether or not a meat becomes carcinogenic (42). In other words, it is the
added chemicals to the meat and the chosen cooking method that are at fault and
not the meat itself.
the end, although sometimes a connection between meat and cancer is found, the
actual mechanism of how it happens has eluded scientists (43). This means that
it is likely that other factors besides meat are playing roles in some cases of
cancer. Remember: studies of meat-eating traditional peoples show that they have
very little incidence of cancer. This demonstrates that other factors are at work
when cancer appears in a modern meat-eating person. It is not scientifically fair
to single out one dietary factor in placing blame, while ignoring other more likely
should be noted here that Seventh Day Adventists are often studied in population
analyses to prove that a vegetarian diet is healthier and is associated with a
lower risk for cancer (but see a later paragraph in this section). While it is
true that most members of this Christian denomination do not eat meat, they also
do not smoke or drink alcohol, coffee or tea, all of which are likely factors
in promoting cancer (44).
Mormons are a religious group often overlooked in vegetarian studies. Although
their Church urges moderation, Mormons do not abstain from meat. As with the Adventists,
Mormons also avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. Despite being meat eaters,
a study of Utah Mormons showed they had a 22% lower rate for cancer in general
and a 34% lower mortality for colon cancer than the US average (45). A study of
Puerto Ricans, who eat large amounts of fatty pork, nevertheless revealed very
low rates of colon and breast cancer (46). Similar results can be adduced to demonstrate
that meat and animal fat consumption do not correlate with cancer (47). Obviously,
other factors are at work.
is usually claimed that vegetarians have lower cancer rates than meat-eaters,
but a 1994 study of vegetarian California Seventh Day Adventists showed that,
while they did have lower rates for some cancers (e.g., breast and lung), they
had higher rates for several others (Hodgkin’s disease, malignant melanoma, brain,
skin, uterine, prostate, endometrial, cervical and ovarian), some quite significantly.
In that study the authors actually admitted that:
consumption, however, was not associated with a higher [cancer] risk.
significant association between breast cancer and a high consumption of animal
fats or animal products in general was noted. (48)
it is usually claimed that a diet rich in plant foods like whole grains and legumes
will reduce one’s risks for cancer, but research going back to the last century
demonstrates that carbohydrate-based diets are the prime dietary instigators of
cancer, not diets based on minimally processed animal foods (49).
mainstream health and vegetarian media have done such an effective job of “beef
bashing,” that most people think there is nothing healthful about meat, especially
red meat. In reality, however, animal flesh foods like beef and lamb are excellent
sources of a variety of nutrients as any food/nutrient table will show. Nutrients
like vitamins A, D, several of the B-complex, essential fatty acids (in small
amounts), magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, iron, taurine, and selenium
are abundant in beef, lamb, pork, fish and shellfish, and poultry. Nutritional
factors like coenzyme Q10, carnitine, and alpha-lipoic acid are also present.
Some of these nutrients are only found in animal foods--plants do not supply
#6: Saturated fats and dietary cholesterol cause heart disease, atherosclerosis,
and/or cancer, and low-fat, low-cholesterol diets are healthier for people.
too, is not a specific vegetarian myth. Nevertheless, people are often urged to
take up a vegetarian or vegan diet because it is believed that such diets offer
protection against heart disease and cancer since they are lower or lacking in
animal foods and fats.
it is commonly believed that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol "clog
arteries" and cause heart disease, such ideas have been shown to be false
by such scientists as Linus Pauling, Russell Smith, George Mann, John Yudkin,
Abram Hoffer, Mary Enig, Uffe Ravnskov and other prominent researchers (50). On
the contrary, studies have shown that arterial plaque is primarily composed of
unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated ones, and not the saturated
fat of animals, palm or coconut (51).
acids, as opposed to saturated fats, have been shown by researchers such as Enig,
Mann and Fred Kummerow to be causative factors in accelerated atherosclerosis,
coronary heart disease, cancer and other ailments (52). Trans-fatty acids are
found in such modern foods as margarine and vegetable shortening and foods made
with them. Enig and her colleagues have also shown that excessive omega-6 polyunsaturated
fatty acid intake from refined vegetable oils is also a major culprit behind cancer
and heart disease, not animal fats.
recent study of thousands of Swedish women supported Enig’s conclusions and data,
and showed no correlation between saturated fat consumption and increased risk
for breast cancer. However, the study did show,as did Enig’s work, a strong link
between vegetable oil intake and higher breast cancer rates (53).
major population studies that supposedly prove the theory that animal fats and
cholesterol cause heart disease actually do not upon closer inspection. The Framingham
Heart Study is often cited as proof that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat
intake cause heart disease and ill health. Involving about 6,000 people, the study
compared two groups over several years at five-year intervals. One group consumed
little cholesterol and saturated fat, while the other consumed high amounts. Surprisingly,
Dr William Castelli, the study's director, said:
Framingham, Mass., the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate,
the more calories one ate, the lower the person's serum cholesterol ... we found
that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, [and]
ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.
Framingham data did show that subjects who had higher cholesterol levels and weighed
more ran a slightly higher chance for coronary heart disease. But weight
gain and serum cholesterol levels had an inverse correlation with dietary
fat and cholesterol intake. In other words, there was no correlation at all (55).
a similar vein, the US Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, sponsored by the
National Heart and Lung Institute, compared mortality rates and eating habits
of 12,000+ men. Those who ate less saturated fat and cholesterol showed a slightly
reduced rate of heart disease, but had an overall mortality rate much higher
than the other men in the study (56).
diets, therefore, are not healthier for people. Studies have shown repeatedly
that such diets are associated with depression, cancer, psychological problems,
fatigue, violence and suicide (57). Women with lower serum cholesterol live shorter
lives than women with higher levels (58). Similar things have been found in men
on low-fat and/or vegan diets can suffer from growth problems, failure to thrive,
and learning disabilities (60). Despite this, sources from Dr Benjamin Spock to
the American Heart Association recommend low-fat diets for children! One can only
lament the fate of those unfortunate youngsters who will be raised by unknowing
parents taken in by such genocidal misinformation.
are many health benefits to saturated fats, depending on the fat in question.
Coconut oil, for example, is rich in lauric acid, a potent antifungal and antimicrobial
substance. Coconut also contains appreciable amounts of caprylic acid, also an
effective antifungal (61). Butter from free-range cows is rich in trace minerals,
especially selenium, as well as all of the fat-soluble vitamins and beneficial
fatty acids that protect against cancer and fungal infections (62).
fact, the body needs saturated fats in order to properly utilize essential fatty
acids (63). Saturated fats also lower the blood levels of the artery-damaging
lipoprotein (a) (64); are needed for proper calcium utilization in the bones
(65); stimulate the immune system (66); are the preferred food for the heart and
other vital organs (67); and, along with cholesterol, add structural stability
to the cell and intestinal wall (68). They are excellent for cooking, as they
are chemically stable and do not break down under heat, unlike polyunsaturated
vegetable oils. Omitting them from one's diet, then, is ill-advised.
respect to atherosclerosis, it is always claimed that vegetarians have much lower
rates of this condition than meat eaters. The International Atherosclerosis Project
of 1968, however, which examined over 20,000 corpses from several countries, concluded
that vegetarians had just as much atherosclerosis as meat eaters (69). Other population
studies have revealed similar data. (70) This is because atherosclerosis is largely
unrelated to diet; it is a consequence of aging. There are things which can accelerate
the atherosclerotic process such as excessive free radical damage to the arteries
from antioxidant depletion (caused by such things as smoking, poor diet, excess
polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet, various nutritional deficiencies, drugs,
etc), but this is to be distinguished from the fatty-streaking and hardening of
arteries that occurs in all peoples over time.
also does not appear that vegetarian diets protect against heart disease. A study
on vegans in 1970 showed that female vegans had higher rates of death from heart
disease than non-vegan females (71). A recent study showed that Indians, despite
being vegetarians, have very high rates of coronary artery disease (72). High-carbohydrate/low-fat
diets (which is what vegetarian diets are) can also place one at a greater risk
for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer due to their hyperinsulemic effects on
the body (73). Recent studies have also shown that vegetarians have higher homocysteine
levels in their blood (74). Homocysteine is a known cause of heart disease. Lastly,
low-fat/cholesterol diets, generally favored to either prevent or treat heart
disease, do neither and may actually increase certain risk factors for this condition
which conclude that vegetarians are at a lower risk for heart disease are typically
based on the phony markers of lower saturated fat intake, lower serum cholesterol
levels and HDL/LDL ratios. Since vegetarians tend to eat less saturated fat and
usually have lower serum cholesterol levels, it is concluded that they are at
less risk for heart disease. Once one realizes that these measurements are not
accurate predictors of proneness to heart disease, however, the supposed protection
of vegetarianism melts away (76).
should always be remembered that a number of things factor into a person getting
heart disease or cancer. Instead of focusing on the phony issues of saturated
fat, dietary cholesterol, and meat-eating, people should pay more attention to
other more likely factors.
would be trans-fatty acids, excessive polyunsaturated fat intake, excessive sugar
intake, excessive carbohydrate intake, smoking, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies,
and obesity. These things were all conspicuously absent in the healthy traditional
peoples that Dr. Price studied.
#7: Vegetarians live longer and have more energy and endurance than meat-eaters.
vegetarian guidebook published in Great Britain made the following claim:
and your children don't need to eat meat to stay healthy. In fact, vegetarians
claim they are among the healthiest people around, and they can expect to live
nine years longer than meat eaters (this is often because heart and circulatory
diseases are rarer). These days almost half the population in Britain is trying
to avoid meat, according to a survey by the Food Research Association in January
commenting on this claim of extended lifespan, author Craig Fitzroy astutely points
' nine-year advantage ' is an oft-repeated but invariably unsourced piece of anecdotal
evidence for vegetarianism. But anyone who believes that by snubbing mum's Sunday
roast they will be adding a decade to their years on the planet is almost certainly
indulging in a bit of wishful thinking. (78)
that is what most of the claims for increased longevity in vegetarians are: anecdotal.
There is no proof that a healthy vegetarian diet when compared to a healthy
omnivorous diet will result in a longer life. Additionally, people who choose
a vegetarian lifestyle typically also choose not to smoke, to exercise, in short,
to live a healthier lifestyle. These things also factor into one’s longevity.
the scientific literature, there are surprisingly few studies done on vegetarian
longevity. Russell Smith, PhD, in his massive review study on heart disease, showed
that as animal product consumption increased among some study groups, death rates
actually decreased! (79) Such results were not obtained among vegetarian subjects.
For example, in a study published by Burr and Sweetnam in 1982, analysis of mortality
data revealed that, although vegetarians had a slightly (.11%) lower rate of heart
disease than non-vegetarians, the all-cause death rate was much higher
for vegetarians (80).
claims that studies have shown that meat consumption increased the risk for heart
disease and shortened lives, the authors of those studies actually found the opposite.
For example, in a 1984 analysis of a 1978 study of vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists,
HA Kahn concluded,
our results add some substantial facts to the diet-disease question, we recognize
how remote they are from establishing, for example, that men who frequently eat
meat or women who rarely eat salad are thereby shortening their lives. (81)
similar conclusion was reached by D.A. Snowden (82). Despite these startling admissions,
the studies nevertheless concluded the exact opposite and urged people to reduce
animal foods from their diets.
both of these studies threw out certain dietary data that clearly showed no connection
between eggs, cheese, whole milk, and fat attached to meat (all high fat and cholesterol
foods) and heart disease. Dr. Smith commented,
effect the Kahn [and Snowden] study is yet another example of negative results
which are massaged and misinterpreted to support the politically correct assertions
that vegetarians live longer lives. (83)
is usually claimed that meat-eating peoples have a short life span, but the Aborigines
of Australia, who traditionally eat a diet rich in animal products, are known
for their longevity (at least before colonization by Europeans). Within Aboriginal
society, there is a special caste of the elderly (84). Obviously, if no old people
existed, no such group would have existed. In his book Nutrition and Physical
Degeneration, Dr. Price has numerous photographs of elderly native peoples
from around the world. Explorers such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson reported great
longevity among the Innuit (again, before colonization). 
the Russians of the Caucasus mountains live to great ages on a diet of fatty pork
and whole raw milk products. The Hunzas, also known for their robust health and
longevity, eat substantial portions of goat's milk which has a higher saturated
fat content than cow's milk (86). In contrast, the largely vegetarian Hindus of
southern India have the shortest life-spans in the world, partly because of a
lack of food, but also because of a distinct lack of animal protein in their diets
(87). H. Leon Abrams’ comments are instructive here:
often maintain that a diet of meat and animal fat leads to a pre-mature death.
Anthropological data from primitive societies do not support such contentions.
regards to endurance and energy levels, Dr Price traveled around the world in
the 1920s and 1930s, investigating native diets. Without exception, he found a
strong correlation between diets rich in animal fats, robust health and athletic
ability. Special foods for Swiss athletes, for example, included bowls of fresh,
raw cream. In Africa, Dr Price discovered that groups whose diets were rich in
fatty meats and fish, and organ meats like liver, consistently carried off the
prizes in athletic contests, and that meat-eating tribes always dominated tribes
whose diets were largely vegetarian. (89)
is popular in sports nutrition to recommend "carb loading" for athletes
to increase their endurance levels. But recent studies done in New York and South
Africa show that the opposite is true: athletes who "carb loaded" had
significantly less endurance than those who "fat loaded" before athletic
#8: The "cave man" diet was low-fat and/or vegetarian.
Humans evolved as vegetarians.
Paleolithic ancestors were hunter-gatherers, and three schools of thought have
developed as to what their diet was like. One group argues for a high-fat and
animal-based diet supplemented with seasonal fruits, berries, nuts, root vegetables
and wild grasses. The second argues that primitive peoples consumed assorted lean
meats and large amounts of plant foods. The third argues that our human ancestors
evolved as vegetarians.
“lean” Paleolithic diet approach has been argued for quite voraciously by Dr.’s
Loren Cordain and Boyd Eaton in a number of popular and professional publications
(91). Cordain and Eaton are believers in the Lipid Hypothesis of heart disease--the
belief (debunked in myth number six, above) that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol
contribute to heart disease. Because of this, and the fact that Paleolithic peoples
or their modern equivalents did/do not suffer from heart disease, Cordain and
Eaton espouse the theory that Paleolithic peoples consumed most of their fat calories
from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources and not saturated fats. Believing
that saturated fats are dangerous to our arteries, Cordain and Eaton stay in step
with current establishment nutritional thought and encourage modern peoples to
eat a diet like our ancestors. This diet, they believe, was rich in lean meats
and a variety of vegetables, but was low in saturated fat. The evidence they prFrom
authoritative sources, we learn that prehistoric humans of the North American
continent ate such animals as mammoth, camel, sloth, bison, mountain sheep, pronghorn
antelope, beaver, elk, mule deer, and llama (93). "Mammoth, sloth, mountain
sheep, bison, and beaver are fatty animals in the modern sense in that they have
a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, as do the many species of bear and wild pig
whose remains have been found at Paleolithic sites throughout the world."
(94) Analysis of many types of fat in game animals like antelope, bison, caribou,
dog, elk, moose, seal, and mountain sheep shows that they are rich in saturates
and monounsaturates, but relatively low in polyunstaurates. (95)
while buffalo and game animals may have lean, non-marbled muscle meats, it is
a mistake to assume that only these parts were eaten by hunter-gatherer groups
like the Native Americans who often hunted animals selectively for their fat and
fatty organs as the following section will show.
such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson reported that the Innuit and North American Indian
tribes would worry when their catches of caribou were too lean: they knew sickness
would follow if they did not consume enough fat (96). In other words, these primitive
peoples did not like having to eat lean meat.
Canadian Indians would also deliberately hunt older male caribou and elk, for
these animals carried a 50-pound slab of back fat on them which the Indians would
eat with relish. This “back fat” is highly saturated. Native Americans would also
refrain from hunting bison in the springtime (when the animals' fat stores were
low, due to scarce food supply during the winter), preferring to hunt, kill and
consume them in the fall when they were fattened up (97).
Samuel Hearne, writing in 1768, described how the Native American tribes he came
in contact with would selectively hunt caribou just for the fatty parts:
the twenty-second of July, we met several strangers, whom we joined in pursuit
of the caribou, which were at this time so plentiful that we got everyday a sufficient
number for our support, and indeed too frequently killed several merely for the
tongues, marrow, and fat. (98)
Cordain and Eaton are certainly correct in saying that our ancestors ate meat,
their contentions about fat intake, as well as the type of fat consumed, are simply
various vegetarian and vegan authorities like to think that we evolved as a species
on a vegan or vegetarian diet, there exists little from the realm of nutritional
anthropology to support these ideas.
begin with, in his journeys, Dr Price never once found a totally vegetarian culture.
It should be remembered that Dr. Price visited and investigated several population
groups who were, for all intents and purposes, the 20th century equivalents
of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Dr. Price was on the lookout for a vegetarian
culture, but he came up empty. Price stated:
yet I have not found a single group of primitive racial stock which was building
and maintaining excellent bodies by living entirely on plant foods. (99)
data support this: throughout the globe, all societies show a preference for animal
foods and fats and our ancestors only turned to large scale farming when they
had to due to increased population pressures (100). Abrams and other authorities
have shown that prehistoric man's quest for more animal foods was what spurred
his expansion over the Earth, and that he apparently hunted certain species to
also found that those peoples who, out of necessity, consumed more grains and
legumes, had higher rates of dental decay than those who consumed more animal
products. In his papers on vegetarianism, Abrams presents archaeological evidence
that supports this finding: skulls of ancient peoples who were largely vegetarian
have teeth containing caries and abscesses and show evidence of tuberculosis and
other infectious diseases (102). The appearance of farming and the increased dependence
on plant foods for our subsistence was clearly harmful to our health.
it is simply not possible for our prehistoric ancestors to have been vegetarian
because they would not have been able to get enough calories or nutrients to survive
on the plant foods that were available. The reason for this is that humans did
not know how to cook or control fire at that time and the great majority of plant
foods, especially grains and legumes, must be cooked in order to render them edible
to humans (103). Most people do not know that many of the plant foods we consume
today are poisonous in their raw states (104).
on all of this evidence, it is certain that the diets of our ancestors, the progenitors
of humanity, ate a very non-vegetarian diet that was rich in saturated fatty acids.
#9: Meat and saturated fat consumption have increased in the 20th century, with
a corresponding increase in heart disease and cancer.
do not bear out such fancies. Butter consumption has plummeted from 18 lb (8.165
kg) per person a year in 1900, to less than 5 lb (2.27 kg) per person a year today
(105). Additionally, Westerners, urged on by government health agencies, have
reduced their intake of eggs, cream, lard, and pork. Chicken consumption has risen
in the past few decades, but chicken is lower in saturated fat than either beef
a survey of cookbooks published in America in the last century shows that people
of earlier times ate plenty of animal foods and saturated fats. For example, in
the Baptist Ladies Cook Book (Monmouth, Illinois, 1895), virtually every
recipe calls for butter, cream or lard. Recipes for creamed vegetables are numerous
as well. A scan of the Searchlight Recipe Book (Capper Publications, 1931)
also has similar recipes: creamed liver, creamed cucumbers, hearts braised in
buttermilk, etc. British Jews, as shown by the Jewish Housewives Cookbook
(London, 1846), also had diets rich in cream, butter, eggs, and lamb and beef
tallows. One recipe for German waffles, for example, calls for a dozen egg yolks
and an entire pound of butter. A recipe for Oyster Pie from the Baptist cookbook
calls for a quart of cream and a dozen eggs, and so forth and so on.
does not appear, then, that people ate leaner diets in the last century. It is
true that beef consumption has risen in the last few decades, but what has also
risen precipitously, however, is consumption of margarine and other food products
containing trans-fatty acids (106), lifeless, packaged "foods", processed
vegetable oils (107), carbohydrates (108) and refined sugar (109). Since one does
not see chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease in beef-eating native peoples
like the Maasai and Samburu, it is not possible for beef to be the culprit behind
these modern epidemics. This, of course, points the finger squarely at the other
dietary factors as the most likely causes.
#10: Soy products are adequate substitutes for meat and dairy products.
is typical for vegans and vegetarians in the Western world to rely on various
soy products for their protein needs. There is little doubt that the billion-dollar
soy industry has profited immensely from the anti-cholesterol, anti-meat gospel
of current nutritional thought. Whereas, not so long ago, soy was an Asian food
primarily used as a condiment, now a variety of processed soy products proliferate
in the North American market. While the traditionally fermented soy foods of miso,
tamari, tempeh and natto are definitely healthful in measured amounts, the hyper-processed
soy "foods" that most vegetarians consume are not.
soybeans and foods made with them are high in phytic acid (110), an anti-nutrient
that binds to minerals in the digestive tract and carries them out of the body.
Vegetarians are known for their tendencies to mineral deficiencies, especially
of zinc (111) and it is the high phytate content of grain and legume based diets
that is to blame (112). Though several traditional food preparation techniques
such as soaking, sprouting, and fermenting can significantly reduce the phytate
content of grains and legumes (113), such methods are not commonly known about
or used by modern peoples, including vegetarians. This places them (and others
who eat a diet rich in whole grains) at a greater risk for mineral deficiencies.
soy foods are also rich in trypsin inhibitors, which hinder protein digestion.
Textured vegetable protein (TVP), soy "milk" and soy protein powders,
popular vegetarian meat and milk substitutes, are entirely fragmented foods made
by treating soybeans with high heat and various alkaline washes to extract the
beans' fat content or to neutralize their potent enzyme inhibitors (110). These
practices completely denature the beans' protein content, rendering it very hard
to digest. MSG, a neurotoxin, is routinely added to TVP to make it taste like
the various foods it imitates (114).
a purely nutritional level, soybeans, like all legumes, are deficient in cysteine
and methionine, vital sulphur-containing amino acids, as well as tryptophan, another
essential amino acid. Furthermore, soybeans contain no vitamins A or D, required
by the body to assimilate and utilize the beans' proteins (115). It is probably
for this reason that Asian cultures that do consume soybeans usually combine them
with fish or fish broths (abundant in fat-soluble vitamins) or other fatty foods.
who feed their children soy-based formula should be aware of its extremely high
phytoestrogen content. Some scientists have estimated a child being fed soy formula
is ingesting the hormonal equivalent of five birth control pills a day (116).
Such a high intake could have disastrous results. Soy formula also contains no
cholesterol, vital for brain and nervous system development.
research is still ongoing, some recent studies have indicated that soy's phytoestrogens
could be causative factors in some forms of breast cancer (117), penile birth
defects (118), and infantile leukemia (119). Regardless, soy's phytoestrogens,
or isoflavones, have been definitely shown to depress thyroid function (120) and
to cause infertility in every animal species studied so far (121). Clearly, modern
soy products and isolated isoflavone supplements are not healthy foods for vegetarians,
vegans, or anyone else, yet these are the very ones that are most consumed.
#11: The human body is not designed for meat consumption.
vegetarian groups claim that since humans possess grinding teeth like herbivorous
animals and longer intestines than carnivorous animals, this proves the human
body is better suited for vegetarianism (122). This argument fails to note several
human physiological features which clearly indicate a design for animal product
and foremost is our stomach's production of hydrochloric acid, something not found
in herbivores. HCL activates protein-splitting enzymes. Further, the human pancreas
manufactures a full range of digestive enzymes to handle a wide variety of foods,
both animal and vegetable. Further, Dr. Walter Voegtlin's in-depth comparison
of the human digestive system with that of the dog, a carnivore, and a sheep,
a herbivore, clearly shows that we are closer in anatomy to the carnivorous dog
than the herbivorous sheep. (123)
humans may have longer intestines than animal carnivores, they are not as long
as herbivores; nor do we possess multiple stomachs like many herbivores, nor do
we chew cud. Our physiology definitely indicates a mixed feeder, or an omnivore,
much the same as our relatives, the mountain gorilla and chimpanzee who all have
been observed eating small animals and, in some cases, other primates (124).
#12: Eating animal flesh causes violent, aggressive behavior in humans.
authorities on vegetarian diet, such as Dr Ralph Ballantine (125), claim
that the fear and terror (if any, see myth #15) an animal experiences at death
is somehow "transferred" into its flesh and organs and "becomes"
a part of the person who eats it.
addition to the fact that no scientific studies exist to support such a theory,
these thinkers would do well to remember the fact that a tendency to irrational
anger is a symptom of low vitamin B12 levels which, as we have seen, are common
in vegans and vegetarians. Furthermore, in his travels, Dr Price always noted
the extreme happiness and ingratiating natures of the peoples he encountered,
all of whom were meat-eaters.
#13: Animal products contain numerous, harmful toxins.
recent vegetarian newsletter claimed the following:
people don't realize that meat products are loaded with poisons and toxins! Meat,
fish and eggs all decompose and putrefy extremely rapidly. As soon as an animal
is killed, self-destruct enzymes are released, causing the formation of denatured
substances called ptyloamines, which cause cancer. (126)
article then went on to mention "mad cow disease" (BSE), parasites,
salmonella, hormones, nitrates and pesticides as toxins in animal products.
meat, fish and eggs do indeed generate cancerous "ptyloamines," it is
very strange that people have not been dying in droves from cancer for the past
million years. Such sensationalistic and nonsensical claims cannot be supported
by historical facts.
nitrates and pesticides are present in commercially raised animal products
(as well as commercially raised fruits, grains and vegetables) and are
definitely things to be concerned about. However, one can avoid these chemicals
by taking care to consume range-fed, organic meats, eggs and dairy products which
do not contain harmful, man-made toxins.
are easily avoided by taking normal precautions in food preparations. Pickling
or fermenting meats, as is custom in traditional societies, always protects against
parasites. In his travels, Dr Price always found healthy, disease-free and parasite-free
peoples eating raw meat and dairy products as part of their diets.
Dr Francis Pottenger, in his experiments with cats, demonstrated that the healthiest,
happiest cats were the ones on the all-raw-food diet. The cats eating cooked meats
and pasteurized milk sickened and died and had numerous parasites (127). Salmonella
can be transmitted by plant products as well as animal.
is often claimed by vegetarians that meat is harmful to our bodies because ammonia
is released from the breakdown of its proteins. Although it is true that ammonia
production does result from meat digestion, our bodies quickly convert this substance
into harmless urea. The alleged toxicity of meat is greatly exaggerated by vegetarians.
Cow Disease,” or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is most likely not caused
by cows eating animal parts with their food, a feeding practice that has been
done for over 100 years. British organic farmer Mark Purdey has argued convincingly
that cows that get Mad Cow Disease are the very ones that have had a particular
organophosphate insecticide applied to their backs or have grazed on soils that
lack magnesium but contain high levels of aluminum (128). Small outbreaks of "mad
cow disease" have also occurred among people who reside near cement and chemical
factories and in certain areas with volcanic soils (129).
theorizes that the organophosphate pesticides got into the cows’ fat through a
spraying program, and then were ingested by the cows again with the animal part
feeding. Seen this way, it is the insecticides, via the parts feeding (and not
the parts themselves or their associated “prions”), that has caused this outbreak.
As noted before, cows have been eating ground up animal parts in their feeds for
over 100 years. It was never a problem before the introduction of these particular
Purdey has gained support from Dr. Donald Brown, a British biochemist who has
also argued for a non-infectious cause of BSE. Brown attributes BSE to environmental
toxins, specifically manganese overload (130).
#14: Eating meat or animal products is less "spiritual" than eating
only plant foods.
is often claimed that those who eat meat or animal products are somehow less "spiritually
evolved" than those who do not. Though this is not a nutritional or academic
issue, those who do include animal products in their diet are often made to feel
inferior in some way. This issue, therefore, is worth addressing.
world religions place no restrictions on animal consumption; and nor did their
founders. The Jews eat lamb at their most holy festival, the Passover. Muslims
also celebrate Ramadan with lamb before entering into their fast. Jesus Christ,
like other Jews, partook of meat at the Last Supper (according to the canonical
Gospels). It is true that some forms of Buddhism do place strictures on meat consumption,
but dairy products are always allowed. Similar tenets are found in Hinduism. As
part of the Samhain celebration, Celtic pagans would slaughter the weaker animals
of the herds and cure their meat for the oncoming winter. It is not true, therefore,
that eating animal foods is always connected with "spiritual inferiority".
it is often claimed that, since eating meat involves the taking of a life, it
is somehow tantamount to murder. Leaving aside the religious philosophies that
often permeate this issue, what appears to be at hand is a misunderstanding of
the life force and how it works. Modern peoples (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)
have lost touch with what it takes to survive in our world--something native peoples
never lose sight of. We do not necessarily hunt or clean our meats: we purchase
steaks and chops at the supermarket. We do not necessarily toil in rice paddies:
we buy bags of brown rice; and so forth, and so on.
Native Americans killed a game animal for food, they would routinely offer a prayer
of thanks to the animal's spirit for giving its life so that they could live.
In our world, life feeds off life. Destruction is always balanced with generation.
This is a good thing: unchecked, the life force becomes cancerous. If animal food
consumption is viewed in this manner, it is hardly murder, but sacrifice. Modern
peoples would do well to remember this.
#15: Eating animal foods is inhumane.
question, some commercially raised livestock live in deplorable conditions where
sickness and suffering are common. In countries like Korea, food animals such
as dogs are sometimes killed in horrific ways, e.g., beaten to death with a club.
Our recommendations for animal foods consumption most definitely do not endorse
noted in our discussion of myth #1, commercial farming of livestock results in
an unhealthy food product, whether that product be meat, milk, butter, cream or
eggs. Our ancestors did not consume such substandard foodstuffs, and neither should
is possible to raise animals humanely. This is why organic, preferably Biodynamic,
farming is to be encouraged: it is cleaner and more efficient, and produces healthier
animals and foodstuffs from those animals. Each person should make every effort,
then, to purchase organically raised livestock (and plant foods). Not only does
this better support our bodies, as organic foods are more nutrient-dense (131)
and are free from hormone and pesticide residues, but this also supports smaller
farms and is therefore better for the economy (132).
many people have philosophical problems with eating animal flesh, and these sentiments
must be respected. Dairy products and eggs, though, are not the result of an animal's
death and are fine alternatives for these people.
should also not be forgotten that agriculture, which involves both the clearance
of land to plant crops and the protection and maintenance of those crops, results
in many animal deaths (133). The belief, therefore, that “becoming vegetarians”
will somehow spare animals from dying is one with no foundation in fact.
VALUE OF VEGETARIANISM
a cleansing diet, vegetarianism is sometimes a good choice. Several health conditions
(e.g., gout) can often be ameliorated by a temporary reduction in animal products
with an increase of plant foods. But such measures must not be continuous throughout
life: there are vital nutrients found only in animal foods that we must ingest
for optimal health. Furthermore, there is no one diet that will work for every
person. Some vegetarians and vegans, in their zeal to get converts, are blind
to this biochemical fact.
individuality" is a subject worth clarifying. Coined by nutritional biochemist
Roger Williams, PhD, the term refers to the fact that different people require
different nutrients based on their unique genetic make-up. Ethnic and racial background
figure in this concept as well. A diet that works for one may not work as well
for someone else. As a practitioner, I've seen several clients following a vegetarian
diet with severe health problems: obesity, candidiasis, hypothyroidism, cancer,
diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, anemia and chronic fatigue. Because of the widespread
rhetoric that a vegetarian diet is "always healthier" than a diet that
includes meat or animal products, these people saw no reason to change their diet,
even though that was the cause of their problems. What these people actually needed
for optimal health was more animal foods and fats and fewer carbohydrates.
due to peculiarities in genetics and individual biochemistry, some people simply
cannot do a vegetarian diet because of such things as lectin intolerance and desaturating
enzyme deficiencies. Lectins present in legumes, a prominent feature of vegetarian
diets, are not tolerated by many people. Others have grain sensitivities, especially
to gluten, or to grain proteins in general. Again, since grains are a major feature
of vegetarian diets, such people cannot thrive on them. (134)
enzyme deficiencies are usually present in those people of Innuit, Scandinavian,
Northern European, and sea coast ancestry. They lack the ability to convert alpha-linolenic
acid into EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids intimately involved in the function
of the immune and nervous systems. The reason for this is because these people’s
ancestors got an abundance of EPA and DHA from the large amounts of cold-water
fish they ate. Over time, because of non-use, they lost the ability to manufacture
the necessary enzymes to create EPA and DHA in their bodies. For these people,
vegetarianism is simply not possible. They MUST get their EPA and DHA from food
and EPA is only found in animal foods. DHA is present in some algae, but the amounts
are much lower than in fish oils. (135)
is also apparent that vegan diets are not suitable for all people due to inadequate
cholesterol production in the liver and cholesterol is only found in animal foods.
It is often said that the body makes enough cholesterol to get by and that there
is no reason to consume foods that contain it (animal foods). Recent research,
however, has shown otherwise. Singer's work at the University of California, Berkeley,
has shown that the cholesterol in eggs improves memory in older people (136).
In other words, these elderly people's own cholesterol was insufficient to improve
their memory, but added dietary cholesterol from eggs was.
it appears that some people do well on little or no meat and remain healthy as
lacto-vegetarians or lacto-ovo-vegetarians, the reason for this is because these
diets are healthier for those people, not because they're healthier in general.
However, a total absence of animal products, whether meat, fish, insects, eggs,
butter or dairy, is to be avoided. Though it may take years, problems will eventually
ensue under such dietary regimes and they will certainly show in future generations.
Dr. Price’s seminal research unequivocally demonstrated this. The reason for this
is simple evolution: humanity evolved eating animal foods and fats as part of
its diet, and our bodies are suited and accustomed to them. One cannot change
evolution in a few years.
Abrams said it well when he wrote:
have always been meat-eaters. The fact that no human society is entirely vegetarian,
and those that are almost entirely vegetarian suffer from debilitated conditions
of health, seems unequivocally to prove that a plant diet must be supplemented
with at least a minimum amount of animal protein to sustain health. Humans are
meat-eaters and always have been. Humans are also vegetable eaters and always
have been, but plant foods must be supplemented by an ample amount of animal protein
to maintain optimal health. (137)
author would like to thank Sally Fallon, MA; Lee Clifford, MS, CCN; and Dr. H.
Leon Abrams, Jr., for their gracious assistance in preparing and reviewing this
This paper was not sponsored or paid for by the meat or dairy industries.About the Author:
late Stephen Byrnes, PhD, RNCP, is the author of Diet & Heart Disease:
Its NOT What You Think and Digestion Made Simple (Whitman Books; 2001);
and The Lazy Person’s Whole Foods Cookbook (Ecclesia Life Mana; 2001).
Recommended Further Reading:
Weston A. Price Foundation
I am Not a Vegetarian
Paleolithic Diet Page
Great Fallacies of Vegetarianism
Animal Interest Alliance
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of Animal Science posted at http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds.
Breeds of Livestock. University of Oklahoma, Department of Animal Science posted
W Bender and M Smith. Population, Food, and Nutrition. Population Reference
B Carnell. Could vegetarianism prevent world hunger? Posted at http://www.animalrights.net/faq/topics/diet/vegetarianism_world_hunger.html,
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S Fallon and M Enig, Nourishing Traditions, 6.
M Purdey, op cit.
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