Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
22 May

My Escape from Vegan Island

Every once in a while, I am alternately stunned and amused by what I see being promoted in the name of good health. I had one of those “stunningly amusing” episodes when I took an eight-day vacation with my family to an all-vegetarian health and adventure retreat in Costa Rica several months ago. We had joined a group of 125 headed by Dr. John McDougall, an accomplished and well-respected physician who uses a strict vegetarian/vegan lifestyle to address disease states in his patients and (ostensibly) to promote better health among the general population. I wasn’t too keen on attending, strict carnivore that I am, but I’m always up for an experiment of one and, moreover, I was convinced by my mostly-vegetarian wife and her vegan parents that our extended family would enjoy a nice tropical vacation together. And the food promised to be so yummy… so I made the leap with my wife, two kids, the in-laws and some cousins.

Beautiful Costa Rica

First off, I must say, I did have a very enjoyable time in Costa Rica with my family, rafting, diving, zip lining and hiking…but after what I witnessed during my stay, I can assure you that I have never been so certain that the Primal Blueprint way of eating – which I have embraced for over 30 years now – is the best way to achieve and maintain excellent health. Frankly, I was appalled at both the information being disseminated during this event and at what I saw being served at every meal in the name of “health food.”

I am an omnivore and always have been. Carrie, my wife, was a vegetarian for fifteen years until I convinced her about five years ago to starting adding fish to her diet to get more protein. She still considers herself, in the words of the Outback Steakhouse guy, a “semi-veg.” My wife’s parents have been strict vegans for nearly thirty years and are ardent followers of Dr. McDougall. McDougall’s own story involves having had a severe stroke at age 19 from which, at 59, he still limps. He became an MD and eventually realized that diet was an important part of the health equation. He’s a very likable and charming guy. I had a few superficial discussions with him, even attended a few of his nightly lectures. His heart is certainly in the right place, but I fear he is leading people down a wholly inappropriate dietary path. At the risk of oversimplifying, the basis of his program is that almost all starch is good, all fat is bad and meat of any kind is deadly. It is, in his words, a “starch-based” diet, high in grains and legumes.

The attendees were generally divided into two groups: those who were fairly new to the program – many of them had some serious weight to lose – and those who had been on the McDougall program for several years. Many of the latter group, I gathered, had come to McDougall originally with one or more chronic diseases and on multiple medications. Each evening, after the adventure activity of the day (all of which were pretty sedate), Dr. McDougall would deliver a lecture intended to inform the group of the evils of traditional medicine and big pharma – much of which I generally agree with – and to demonize beef, pork, chicken, fish, dairy of all kinds and most forms of soy. I got the general gist after the first evening. He’s not a fan of supplements either. But he does imply that when you eat vegetarian, you can have all you want…and therein lay the source of much amusement for me.

The lecture would adjourn and everyone would line up for the buffet line which would, at virtually every meal, include copious amounts of breads and rolls, rice, potatoes, pasta, beans, some anemic-looking steamed vegetables and a romaine-only lettuce salad. No dressings allowed. The only fat I could see was in the guacamole that served as a spread. The desert table had a variety of fruits and at least two choices of so-called “healthy” cakes. The drinks were generally overly sweetened fruit drinks.

Now I’m not one to judge. Okay, I am, but I usually keep my mouth shut – except herein. I watched at every meal as overweight, unhealthy people piled their plates with at least two pounds of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, desert cake, and a glass of fruit juice. Sometimes they went back for more. By my calculations these people were consuming 200 to 300 or more grams of (mostly simple) carbohydrates at each of three meals. There was no way these folks were going to lose fat on this trip. It was, in my view, a type 2 diabetes epidemic in-the-making.

In fending for myself, I focused mainly on the salads and the black beans mixed with a little rice. As you regular readers know, I don’t “do” breads, potatoes, pasta, desserts or fruit drinks. I think they are unhealthy. Go figure. I have to say, it sure got old after a day or two.

Carbfest

This is Kina’s Flickr Photo

Of those who had already been on the McDougall program for years, I had the following general observation: they don’t look too healthy. People who subsist on grains and simple carbs at the expense of quality protein for any length of time tend to lose muscle mass, regardless of their exercise regimen. They are what we call “skinny fat“. Essentially, they have no lean tissue and yet they have surprisingly high body fat levels, despite their loose “skin and bones” appearance. Lean body mass is a major defining criterion of good health; and these folks were sorely lacking. Excess carbohydrate turns to fat pretty easily, but you can neither build nor preserve muscle with it. Herein lies the confusion for many folks: while glucose serves as short-term fuel for muscles, it does not build nor maintain them. One woman, a 62-year old triathlete who trains hours a day and competes almost every weekend authoritatively suggested that I was a fool to eat meat and that I should embrace the McDougall program as she had for 15 years. Problem was, she looked like hell. No muscle tone at all and, I suspect, a fairly high body fat for someone who fancied herself an athlete. It took all I had to keep from saying something that might have spoiled her trip!

As with any diet regimen, Dr. McDougall backs his theories up with studies. But that’s the biggest problem with the “science” of nutrition: anyone can find a study here or there that supports almost any premise. To wit: Fish is great because it’s a source of important Omega 3 fats, but fish is bad because it’s a source of toxic heavy metals, but fish is great because the heavy metals are not actually present at realistically dangerous levels, but fish is bad because the fish lobby was the one funding the study on relative safety, and on ad infinitum.

If there were a right answer, everyone would be doing it. I guess the best any of us can do is to align the “receptivity filters” in our brains with our current belief systems and create habits that reinforce those beliefs – and that, hopefully, result in healthy bodies and minds. Ultimately, I have chosen to believe that we were programmed to eat primarily small portions of meat and vegetables, with a little fruit thrown in occasionally. It works for me (53 years old, 5’10” 165 lbs and 8% body fat).

Life's a beach!

Problem is, if you have no understanding of biology or chemistry, you can easily fall for that old vegan argument that meat is bad (notwithstanding the fact that there has never, in the entire history of man, been a country, culture or race that subsisted entirely on vegetables without animal flesh of some kind). Many people do fall for it. They also fall for the old “protein leaches calcium” argument, completely ignoring the fact that bones require protein as well as weight bearing activity to promote bone density and prevent osteoporosis. Or that stress has a far greater impact on preventing absorption of calcium than excess protein in the diet. But here I am giving you my opinion again and it’s only based on studies that my filters have shown align with my own beliefs…

I was fascinated by what I saw to be the complete antithesis of a healthy diet being offered up as the healthiest way to eat. And by people willing to accept that they could eat all they want of this high-carb fare and regain their lost health in the process. Try as I might, I couldn’t avoid losing a few pounds of hard-fought muscle myself over the week. Luckily, I was able to regain homeostasis shortly after returning home. And ultimately, I was left with a confidence that following Primal Blueprint path is exactly what humans were designed to do.

What are your thoughts on vegetarianism, carbohydrates, and protein?

Be sure to stick around for today’s Tuesday 10.

Best of MDA

(This piece was originally posted at my friend Art DeVany’s blog.)

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. You had me until the bit about losing muscle in a week… not possible! I weight train regularly… maintain a pesca vegan diet sometimes going a couple of weeks without fish. Never have I lost muscle mass in a week’s time!

    Vivian K wrote on March 4th, 2013
    • I thought that too – my understanding is that it takes a while to lose muscle. I also understood that fat is lost quicker while water is lost quickest of all…maybe it wasn’t muscle that was lost?

      Leon wrote on September 20th, 2013
  2. Look, I love animals so several years ago I switched to a veggo diet because I hated the industrial treatment of animals AND I wanted to be pretty & slim. Problem was this – I got REALLY dangerously depressed. Didnt really link it to my diet. 20 years later I’m diagnosed with bi polar 1 by top clinical asessors here in Oz – Black Dog Institute- so I dont say this cause I wanna have the latest “hip” illness. Faced with a lifetime of scary -ass meds I started to take responsibility & see what I could do to fight this illness. So I found out about the epilepsy John Hopkins ketogenic zero to low carb HIGH fat diet. Then I found out about paleo which was great as I was already a social ecology grad & permaculturist. So I became an urban farmer. Point is PLEASE TELL ME VEGANS: How do I get the cholesterol, the omega 3’s & other amino acids my brain needs to not be crazy? How do I get ketones beyond my blood brain barrier to flood my neural cells with necessary protons? I MUST eat fat. I MUST eat meat. It MUST be organic or at least pasture fed. Thank you well meaning vegans for imposing a lifetime sentence of misery & agony for me family & friends by starving me of the nutrients I must have & keeping me crazy. Please do tell how I stay in dietary ketosis on a vegan diet & I will start up my own chapter of PETA right here in sydney. I dont want to kill anything, but as I always say – study the food chain & you’ll realise that in the end everyone of us is just someone (or thing) else’s lunch.

    Aeon wrote on March 4th, 2013
  3. I was a vegan for a year and a half. I was raw vegan for ten months. I have never been hungrier or more miserable. I needed to lose about 50 lbs – was quite overweight. In that year and a half of veganism, I lost maybe 10 lbs. I was sick to my stomach and starving almost constantly. Like many vegans, due to blood sugar fluctuations from their carb-rich diets, I ate every couple hours. At least.

    Of course every time I told any other raw fooders I was miserable I was told I was doing it wrong. Even when following every “rule” of food combining, meal timing, etc., I remained constantly hungry. Every few weeks, I would cave in to my cravings, go to Whole Foods and buy a block of unpasteurized cheese and just sit there and stuff my face with cheese and nuts and avocadoes. And I would feel so much better, immediately. And I felt so guilty for it.

    I was told I needed to “detox,” that I still had toxins from animals in my system making me hungry, so I did a 2 week cleanse. Still starving all the time. So I decided maybe I needed to be a fruitarian, and I did that for a week, until I literally could not even muster the energy to drive my car home from work. That’s when I realized this was wroooong.

    True, what works for one person may not for another, and vice versa. But I’ve never in real life met a vegan who was muscular and healthy-looking. Yes, they are often thin, but they are “skinny flabby.” I worked with a vegan who was thin and pretty at first glance, but if you looked at her arms and legs she had no muscle tone whatsoever.

    Being vegan effed me up. I think it exacerbated my insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. I wish I’d never done it. I have a friend who is constantly vegan proselytizing on FB and it just makes me angry. She’s encouraging people to do something that I know for a FACT is not the beautiful sunshiney answer to good health for all humans. But if you say that you’re just a dumb indoctrinated toxin-soaked unethical animal-murderer who didn’t do veganism “right.” Over it.

    Don’t know how you survived that trip without hitting someone in the face. With a roast. Or sneaking into the kitchen and destroying all the bread.

    Kristen wrote on March 10th, 2013
  4. I read Mark’s story of the vegetarian vacation, and while it re-enforced the fact that I will always eat meat, fish, and fowl, I was more surprised by the vast number of comments by Vegans & vegetarians. If Mark’s lifestyle is so abhorrent, unethical, unhealthy and unsustainable, I cannot understand why you are visiting Mark’s Daily Apple?

    Brian Omnivoe wrote on March 29th, 2013
    • I think this question is a tad bit disengenous. I’m sure you could come up with a number of reasonable answers if you spent as long thinking about it as you spent making this comment. Here’s some ideas to get you started:

      – There are a number of vegetarian keywords in this post.
      – Once a flame war has started, people link their friends.
      – They ended up at another vegetarian-friendly post through googling, enjoyed it, read or searched the rest of his blog and ended up here.
      – There are some vegetarians who don’t feel personally offended by Mark’s position on meat, though they disagree, and read the blog reliably anyway for general natural foods/low carb eating advice. They remain generally content not to assert or defend their vegetarian position, until they feel a post like this starts a fight.

      L.V. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. Huntress, To your remark , “Extra carbohydrate is stored as fat preferentially over fat and protein”. Look again—- I believe you missed the main idea so to clarify the point I have quoted the text ( see below) . As to your remark as to the publishing company, let’s not waste time on that point clearly it has been sold in mass, nationally and internationally. So who cares who published it. Publishing is about distribution and cutting the right deal.

    While most of the book is based on peer review, their are other factors that do come into play. While food is the main building block here what has not been discussed is how safe are the foods we consume? So let’s not bicker but enhance our information transfer. Rice is tainted with Arsenic : see links beloehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/29/leafy-greens-food-poisoning_n_2573905.html?utm_hp_ref=food-safety

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/arsenic1112.htm

    And most organic consumers who are buying Organic need to read the country of origin. Strawberries from Mexico labeled organic, frozen organic fruit found in many health food stores like Whole Foods are from Chile etc. Standards there are not the same as they are in California .The meat, dairy, and fish industry foods are a bazillion times worse. Drinking water is another story. Very few know how to be safe and reduce the risk of health issues from what they put in their mouth. You want to make this blog block buster beneficial, cover those those topics as citizens who are aware or comply with this information as few as 1%.

    The authors of the China study first defined simple and complex carbohydrates. They express the simple fact that if you eat more processed carbs like flours, breads chips sugars etc fat will happens. Plenty of fat vegans and vegetarians out there. AKA as weapons of ass destruction..

    Also the writers conveyed” Consuming diets HIGH in protein and FAT transfers calories away from their conversion into body heat to their storage form-as body fat
    ( unless severe calorie restrictions is causing weight loss).” “Chinese consume more calories both because they are physically active and because their consumption of LOW-fat, LOW protein diets shifts conversion of these calories away from body fat to the body heat.”

    Gary wrote on April 3rd, 2013
    • Gasry,

      For the sake of continuity, it wold be helpful if you kept your comment in the thread it is a part of. If you’d like to move it there, I’ll certainly respond.

      paleohuntress wrote on April 3rd, 2013
    • Gary,

      I find Mark’s mail notifications don’t always take you to the correct comment- but we were conversing on Page #1. We are in a thread that has no more individual comment replies available, so just scroll up to the next up-comment above ours with a reply-button (at the lower right hand corner). Your comments will appear in order if you do that.

      ~Huntress

      paleohuntress wrote on April 3rd, 2013
  6. You lost a few pounds of hard earned muscle in one week?

    You had me going until then….

    You didn’t lose any muscle in one week… eating their junk.

    And you make it sound like they can’t get protein if they get rid of some of their junk and eat whole foods?

    Surely you jest?
    Do I believe/feel/agree that animal proteins are essential?
    Yes… but not every day… and a week or a month hiatus is not going to make much difference.

    Pure Science wrote on April 4th, 2013
  7. I bought the whole Dr John McDougall’s 12 Days to Dynamic Health years ago (12 Days Book, Cookbook, another book, cassette tapes, VHS). I followed it religiously but it made me feel like crap. I did try another promising vegetarian diet later but that too had the same negative results. At first I felt great but then I felt like crap again where my energy was zapped. I tried Protein Power diet and it had exceptional results. It practically cured my acid reflux problem but McDougall’s diet did not. My blood pressure dropped more on the Protein Power diet than McDougall’s. My doctor did a blood test on me and told me to quit McDougall’s diet because my triglycerides sky rocketed but it did a huge nose dive on the Protein Power diet (it is a good diet but I call it the constipation diet). I am no longer on Protein Power diet but I now do a diet that is loaded with fruits and veggies but also meat (sardines, chicken). I believe our bodies are wired differently. I do not believe one diet suits all and that seems to be recognized by many these days. Some really benefit from a vegetarian diet but I am not one of those people.

    Dave wrote on April 25th, 2013
  8. I agree with you! Great and balanced commentary on biologically and chemically healthy eating—especially where healthy muscle development and maintenance is concerned—a very important principle especially as we age—think sarcopenia!

    I was a miserable vegetarian for about five years, and when I came out of it, I ate a whole chicken!! Yikes, that’s not a smart thing to do—but I craved some protein. Seriously, I believe we need some lean meat, not much, or at the least some grass fed whey protein for Pete’e sake.
    I would add that I believe there is some scientific credence to the blood type theory, and that those of the blood type A persuasion do the best with lots of HEALTHY carbs, and less meat(s) and dairy. Myself being type B, I thrive on grass-fed dairy—raw milk, yogurt, kefir and butter, and some grass-fed beef and wild caught fish. Yum. Avoid anything pasteurized and homogenized. Google Weston A Price (Foundation) and/or Jordan Rubin (Beyond Organic). Get to know your blood type and observe how your body responds to certain food groups—we should feel energized and alert after eating food, and not drained and achy. (think gluten-free, too, if you eat carbs) I am a Dietitian and CNHP, and believe people need to educate themselves on nutrition and foods—it’s all online for the asking, but stay balanced–veganism is awfully extreme—need to watch B12 levels especially.

    Well, that’s my take.

    J. Ann wrote on May 9th, 2013
  9. I’ve spent almost an hour reading all that I can from this site, I appreciate the time you’ve taken to explain the science behind everything, but you’ve also added a human side by not encouraging us all to strive to be perfect. I’m also loving the information regarding grains & vegan diets – thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m quite sick of being preached to about the benefits of living vegan!

    Cheers,
    Genevieve

    Genevieve wrote on May 19th, 2013
  10. “a 62-year old triathlete who trains hours a day and competes almost every weekend” and has been following the diet for 15 years! How can you possibly call her unhealthy? If this diet is as bad as you say it is then how is she able to do triathlons every weekend at the age of 62?! In my experience you have to be pretty dam healthy to do that!
    If she is able to run triathlons at 62 after being on this diet for 15 years it must be doing something right. Her story SUPPORTS the diet!

    Emily wrote on May 21st, 2013
    • Emily,

      “If this diet is as bad as you say it is then how is she able to do triathlons every weekend at the age of 62?!”

      Mark didn’t call her unhealthy- he wrote, “she looked like hell. No muscle tone at all and, I suspect, a fairly high body fat for someone who fancied herself an athlete.”

      Lochte ate McDonald’s food for nearly every meal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and won four medals, including gold in the 200-meter backstroke.

      100-meter world record holder, Bolt, says he practically lives on chicken McNuggets.

      Justin Verlander was quoted as saying, “I eat Taco Bell, every night at home, every start. You’re welcome, Taco Bell.”

      Joe D’Amico, a.k.a McRunner, consumed for the 30 days leading up to the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon: 91 McDonald’s hotcakes, 24 orders of McDonald’s oatmeal, 23 McDonald’s hamburgers, 24 McDonald’s chicken “Snack Wraps” and lots of McDonald’s cookies. Then he ran the marathon. He averaged less than six minutes per mile and broke a personal record.

      US Olympic cyclist Bobby Lea described the athlete hordes at McDonald’s as a “mob scene. Every athlete in the (world) wants a maccy d’s.” Other sources said of the same phenomenon: “swarms of Olympians made a beeline for the golden arches…” and called the scene, “post celebration madness” and noted that the “lines were crazy.”

      Using your logic, diets sourced from McDonald’s and Taco Bell are absolutely ideal, as several of the most elite athletes in the world eat their food in quantity. But the fact is, some people manage to do well as an athlete in SPITE of their poor diets, rather than because of them. Some people are simply born athletes. A 62 y/o skinny-fat vegan triathlete is no more evidence that veganism is healthy than an olympic athlete subsisting on McDonald’s is evidence that junk food is healthy.

      paleohuntress wrote on May 22nd, 2013
  11. Whole wheat sourdough bread is simple, minimally-processed, and very delicious. This recent gluten-free or bread-free fad is just as misguided and extreme as veganism and all the rest. I’m sure sciencebasedmedicine.org has said something about gluten-free; I know they’ve written about the faulty reasoning that goes into caveman diet before.

    Myaushka wrote on June 11th, 2013
  12. I see so many different health practitioners & advisers recommending so many different ways of eating. What if a particular way of eating is something an individual just can’t do, it doesn’t appeal to him, and he is always thinking about some “forbidden” food?

    I would think that a diet that is right for a particular individual will not only improve his health, but also be something he just loves, day in and day out. It’s all well and good to smirk at someone who can’t follow that oh-so-healthy diet that saved YOUR health and life. We are not all built the same.

    Wyandotte wrote on June 14th, 2013
    • Could someone please weigh in on my ideas as expressed above? I’m looking for commentary on the fact – that is, F A C T – that those healthy diets are impossible for some people to keep to for more than a week or so.

      Wyandotte wrote on June 21st, 2013
      • I’m not sure what you are referring to specifically Wyandotte…?

        What diet are you talking about? It’s true that there are many different health practitioners and advisers recommending all sorts of different ways of eating, but there really is only one ideal diet for humans and that is one based on cooked complex carbohydrates…aka starches aka unrefined whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, yams, cassava, etc. Anyone who tells you otherwise is misguided…

        There have been many people on the “primal” and paleo diets who have gotten good results in the short run, but the scientific evidence is very strong that the high animal foods consumption in these diets is the primary cause of diseases of affluence such as cancer, heart disease, MS, diabetes, etc. The reason these people get good results in the short run is largely because they eliminate most refined and processed foods such as white breads, sodas, fast food, sweets, etc. However, the science is clear that no matter what kind of meat or dairy one consumes, over the long run, these substances do tend to make people sick…

        Read the China Study…I can vouch for what Dr. Campbell espouses…I’ve lived in China for over 3 years and spent a good chunk of it traveling in the countryside…There can be no doubt that rural Chinese people, who subsist mostly on rice and vegetables are on the whole some of the healthiest, fittest people I have ever seen…Some of this can be explained by greater activity level/exercise…Nevertheless, they are a very good-looking people! In fact, I had several girlfriends in China and many of the prettiest ones were from the countryside! :) The city girls on the other hand, were were noticeably less healthy and fit…Their diets are vastly different! Chinese people in the city eat lots of denatured, oily fast food, for breakfast and for snacks…they eat an increasing amount of sweets (bakeries are popping up everywhere)…and of course, they eat animal foods at every meal…Milk is also becoming more popular among children…That said, their diet is much better on the whole than the SAD…

        Chinese people in the countryside do eat meat, but it’s always in tiny amounts, and the main ingredient is either rice or noodles and vegetables stir fried in some kind of sauce…If you don’t believe me, go travel in rural China, southeast asia, and India and you will see that “primal” eaters are very confused…

        Tony wrote on June 21st, 2013
        • How long would anyone here be able to stick to their ever-so-healthy diet? If you’ve been at it for only a few months, and feel and look great, that is all well and good. What if you don’t feel so good after, say, a year or two? Then what will your conclusions be? That you merely have to tweak your basic diet a bit, as you did, Tony? What will you paleo dieters have to say when you start getting worrisome symptoms in a few years? Because it always happens. I am interested in human nutrition and follow these things.

          Big mistake to attribute both good health and serious symptoms to your diet alone. Over the years, we will have to make serious adjustments in our food intake (as well as overall lifestyle) not just minor tweaks. At some point we may have to resort to medical intervention, hopefully something noninvasive and respectful of our body. That’s life.

          Wyandotte wrote on June 23rd, 2013
  13. It’s so sad that this is an opinion of vegetarian/vegan diet. it’s clearly not healthy, and there are many vegans/vegetarians who follow a very healthy lifestyle.
    Being a vegan myself, I find I’m considerably more healthy than I was when I was vegetarian/omnivore. Though each body works differently, and I’ve found what works best for me – and it’s a continued learning process.
    I would’ve hated to be on that retreat, as I try to avoid bread like the plague.
    One thing I’m curious about, is the possibility of maintaining a vegan lifestyle while adopting a paleo/primal (which is the word to use for it?) diet. I’ve been really curious about this, as I fully agree with the belief about grains… And using more healthy fats, veggies, etc.
    I just can’t have meat or dairy.
    Does anyone have some advice on a way to approach this as a vegan? (Please no judgmental comments, I’m currently very set in my ways with this and am not one of those “judgmental snarky hippie vegans”.
    Thank you :)
    -N

    Nikki wrote on June 17th, 2013
    • I think the most vegan “primal” thing you could do besides adding more healthy fat would be to avoid the processed vegan products that mimic whole foods. Maybe try adding more fat to your diet from things like lard…KIDDING! I’ve found coconut oil to be a great way for me to add healthy fat to my diet.

      Danielle wrote on June 19th, 2013
    • As a recent vegan myself, I think the whole “paleo/primal” lifestyle is a load of #$&* having been on that diet for 4 months myself. We know so little about what the ancestral diet actually was, and speculating is an incredibly unreliable way to go about finding the answers…

      Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, plus looking at diets of healthy cultures is in my opinion a much better way to go about it. Just eat whole plant foods…

      Must disagree with you about grains though…the whole phytic acid argument is complete nonsense…rural Chinese in the China Study had high levels of hemoglobin even while eating brown rice…the idea that unfermented grains pilfer minerals from your body is much more likely to be due to parasites due to poor sanitation than to phytic acid…The Weston Price foundation likes to point out that the Scottish people in the Outer Hebrides ate cod liver head stuffed with oats…Thinking about it now, these people probably ate way, way more oats than cod, and that’s why they turned out healthy and strong, but this is not what the WAPF implies…

      Soaking grains is enough to reduce the phytic acid appreciably, and the body takes care of the rest…

      Also, fats are not healthy…they are not whole foods…They are unnecessary for optimal health and there have been studies showing that the “healthy” oils like olive oil are just as bad in some regards as saturated fat…There’s no evidence that I have seen that indicates that extracted oils offer significant benefits compared to the whole food from which it is extracted…we certainly would not have evolved eating on a consistent basis extracted vegetable oils from anything over millions of years prior to civilization no matter how cold pressed, unrefined or organic…

      If you are set on using a “paleo” approach though, just eat lots of potatoes, taro, cassava, and sweet potato…these should provide enough calories so you don’t starve…:)

      Tony wrote on June 20th, 2013
      • Funny, even the Ayurvedic gurus disagree with you and yet you still keep plugging the same tired, unsubstantiated arguments.

        Bummer, Tony. Closed minds wither and die.

        paleohuntress wrote on June 20th, 2013
        • “closed minds” …wow

          Which Ayurvedic “gurus” are you talking about btw? Do you even know anything about Ayurveda? Have you actually read what Ayurveda recommends? Talk about a closed mind…you reference Gabriel Cousens as being an authoritative Ayurvedic guru, when in fact the only solid argument he makes through his understanding of biochemistry is that different people seem to have slightly different metabolisms…This is, in fact, exactly what Ayurveda outlines as well with its description of different “doshas.” I am by no means an expert, but what Cousens proposes as a diet philosophy is much different from traditional Ayurveda…

          You sound angry huntress…Chinese medicine says that anger is related to liver imbalances…since eating lots of animal foods taxes the liver and kidneys, you might want to consider going back to a more peaceful and sane whole foods plant-based diet…you’ll feel much better…

          Tony wrote on June 20th, 2013
        • Tony,

          “closed minds” …wow”

          Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s still better than a lie.

          Which Ayurvedic “gurus” are you talking about btw?

          Besides Cousens? How ’bout Dr. Marc Halpern and Dr. John Douillard.

          Do you even know anything about Ayurveda?

          That’s funny, I was about to ask you that very question. You don’t seem to know all that much about Ayerveda- you appear to have picked and chose what fit in with YOUR philosophy and ignored the rest.

          Have you actually read what Ayurveda recommends?

          I have, yes. Here, let me help you along with a few quotes from the above gurus:

          “Ayurvedai, the traditional healing system from India, is based upon the understanding that each person is an individual with unique nutritional needs. It would be wrong to conclude that fat is either absolutely good for us or absolutely bad for us. Fat has always been known to play an important role in the body, particularly in the production of all cell membranes, many hormones, the sheaths that surround nerves, and the oils that keep our skin healthy. Those who receive too little fat in their diet are more likely to suffer from a multitude of conditions including hormonal imbalances, brittle hair and nails, dry skin.” ~Dr. Marc Halpburn, President of the California College of Ayurveda

          “In Ayurveda fat is “sneha” which is a synonym for “love”. So there were a lot of love-deprived people running around! Today we know that fats are an essential part of the diet, and low fat diets can actually increase the risk of diabetes.”~Claudia Ward, M.A., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., Dipl. C. H, Cofounder of the Prana Center, Center for Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, CA

          “In Ayurveda it is suggested that our best medicine is foods harvested in-season. Squirrels eat a naturally high protein, high fat diet in the winter, emphasizing nuts and grains. Nature provides us humans a similar antidote to the cold of winter — soups, stews, meats, grains and fats. It is the high protein, high fat time of year.” “Marinating foods in olive oil, wine, lemon juice, or cider vinegar can also help protect the foods.” ~Dr. John Drouillard

          And here are a few more from Ayervedic resource sites-

          “We need to fuel up for the day, and this is exactly why I recommend a high fat, high protein breakfast with lots of above-ground veggies that add fiber. Eating this way ensures that the blood sugar is replenished but at a steady rate that extends over many hours, using the body’s ability to burn fats and proteins slowly. This is very much unlike the starchy breakfasts such as cereal, oatmeal and toast favored by many”. ~Todd Caldecott, Practitioner of Ayurveda since 1997, Author of the textbook Ayurveda: The Divine Science of Life

          I could go on, but it’s all the same.

          “you reference Gabriel Cousens”… “the only solid argument he makes through his understanding of biochemistry is that different people seem to have slightly different metabolisms.”

          That is what ALL of Ayurveda teaches. ALL of his arguments are solid. It is YOU who fails to have an understanding of the practice.

          “what Cousens proposes as a diet philosophy is much different from traditional Ayurveda…”

          LMAO Tony, you need to spend a little more time researching your religion and a little less time telling others why their diet choices can’t work when they clearly DO.

          “You sound angry huntress…”

          This is a phenomenon called “transference”- where you perceive what YOU are feeling as something coming from another. It’s like cheating spouse who doesn’t trust his partner. This is because he knows he can’t be trusted himself.

          paleohuntress wrote on June 21st, 2013
        • And a little more-

          MAHARISHI AYURVEDA: THE TRADITIONAL BENEFITS OF GHEE
          08 Dec 2010/in Ayurvedic Knowledge/by Wellspring Health

          Enhances digestion and absorption
          Regulates elimination
          Balances stomach acid
          Makes the complexion clear and bright
          Enhances the production of ojas, the finest product of digestion, responsible for bliss, health and immunity
          Supports mental function—improving intelligence, memory and comprehension

          Ghee: the golden oil of Ayurveda

          Ghee is simply clarified butter — butter with all the milk-solids removed. Ghee is a time-honored alternative to hydrogenated oils that clog arteries and promote free-radical damage.

          paleohuntress wrote on June 21st, 2013
        • It’s funny you mention Americans as being Ayurvedic “gurus”…Pick up a few books on Ayurveda written by Indians and then get back to me…

          Read my response to Danielle below concerning fats…

          You and I have different definitions of “fats”…you seem to be discussing the macronutrient…which is totally useless in terms of constructing an individualized diet…When I say “fats” I am referring to extracted fats and oils, aka butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.

          “Fats” as a macronutrient are of course essential for proper metabolism, but fats as extracted oils are not, and this is what I was getting at, and I stand by that statement…

          Interestingly, none of the “gurus” you quoted are saying that one should ladle extracted fats onto every meal, simply that fats as a macronutrient are important…which is of course, beyond dispute…

          Here’s the thing Huntress: most whole foods contain varying amounts of fats already, so if you eat whole plant foods, you will not be deficient in fats, which shouldn’t make up more than 10% of total calories anyway…

          If you really think ALL of Gabriel Cousens’ arguments are solid, why aren’t you a raw “live food” vegan? Traditional Ayurveda most certainly does not espouse a raw vegan diet…eating too many raw foods will cause problems in the long run, as will eating lots of animal foods, even when doing so may provide benefits in the short run…a cooked vegetarian diet is optimal…Read the literature and find out for yourself…

          Tony wrote on June 21st, 2013
        • Ghee has these properties you mention and others…

          But it’s for MEDICINAL purposes, not for frequent, daily use…Emaciation and malnutrition were common problems a long time ago, and they still are in certain parts of the world today…For someone suffering from malnutrition, hunger, reduced appetite, etc., ghee may be highly beneficial…but for people with no apparent imbalances or deficiencies, it is not! With a balanced whole foods, plant based diet, all fat requirements are usually satisfied…The problem with just parroting what is written online is that people tend to take things out of context, and assume as you did, that because ghee is reputed to have these properties, it should become an integral part of one’s daily fare…nothing could be further from the truth! An analogy would be to eat tons of carrots everyday because you see something online that says that carrots improve one’s vision…This is exactly how the supplement industry makes so much money…we hear about the purported benefits of certain vitamins like beta-carotene, and suddenly there are pills with 50000 IU of beta-carotene on store shelves, and people buy them! Do some more research…you will see that the properties of certain foods as mentioned by Ayurveda and TCM should not be taken out of a MEDICAL or HEALING context…neither of these traditions recommended consuming large amounts of extracted fats on a daily basis…

          The TCM “ideal” diet is the “qingdan” diet…which literally means “light and bland”…added fats do not fit into this picture…

          Tony wrote on June 21st, 2013
        • Tony,

          “It’s funny you mention Americans as being Ayurvedic “gurus”…Pick up a few books on Ayurveda written by Indians and then get back to me…

          You’re not actually suggesting that one must be Indian to be an expert, right? That would make you a racist. Are you Indian?

          “When I say “fats” I am referring to extracted fats and oils, aka butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.”

          Kewl. My fats come from whole food. ALL of them. Sometimes I render out some fat from tonight’s dinner and use it to cook tomorrow’s breakfast in. Sometimes I grate the coconut and make milk, flour and oil and I eat all three parts. Sometimes I separate the eggs, whip the whites and fold the yolks back in… Whole foods. =)

          Ghee is Ayurvedic TO THE EXTREME. lol

          Ayurvedic (and Indian) physician Dr. Bhagyashree Zope of Santulan Ayurveda writes- “fats are an integral aspect of our diet and traditional ghee is the best form of fat that your body can ask for. In cases of blocked arteries, it helps remove the plaque deposited in arteries and facilitates its dissolution. It improves the ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) to LDL (bad cholesterol) and helps control triglycerides. In fact, heart patients should have about eight to 10 teaspoons of ghee every day if they want to increase their HDL and to bring down the LDL and triglycerides.”

          From the journal “Ayu” (The International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda– but what do THEY know…) The effect of ghee (clarified butter) on serum lipid levels and microsomal lipid peroxidation: “Ghee, also known as clarified butter, has been utilized for thousands of years in Ayurveda as a therapeutic agent. In ancient India, ghee was the preferred cooking oil.” “A study on a rural population in India revealed a significantly lower prevalence of coronary heart disease in men who consumed higher amounts of ghee.”

          Now we could look at the Indian culture and it’s prevalence of disease or we could look at Cousens diet and it’s healing of disease. I know which one makes more sense to ME.

          “which shouldn’t make up more than 10% of total calories anyway…”
          You can’t help yourself, can you? If only repeating it ad nauseum could make it true. ~wistful sigh~ Maybe if you just say it again it’ll work this time.

          “If you really think ALL of Gabriel Cousens’ arguments are solid, why aren’t you a raw “live food” vegan?”
          A solid argument doesn’t make it the right conclusion for everyone. The biggest drawback to Cousens philosophy is the COST. I ate raw vegan for 3 months and I never spent more on food in my life. My current diet is optimum for me- it isn’t meat based, it’s plant based. Lots of it is raw too. =) But at least Cousens, who unlike you is an actual Ayurvedic expert with over 40 years treating people with diet, understands the realities of human diversity.

          THIS is why I respect him- he is humble and he knows better than to suggest that there is any one thing that will work for everyone. And bottom line, my diet works really well for me— and if it aint broke…

          When you stop looking for avenues to support your religion, you become more open to the truth. If 80/10/10 is your savior, that’s really awesome. But don’t pretend to know what works for everyone else. A high starchy carb, vegan diet triggered diabetes in me. And contrary to what most vegans suggest, staying on that diet even LONGER and praying to the vegan deity for good health merely results in worsening disease.

          paleohuntress wrote on June 21st, 2013
        • Huntress, at the end of the day, the difference between us is that I look at tradition and the evidence…

          You on the other hand have had your views on diet primarily shaped by personal experience…because you had such a miserable experience being a raw vegan (I am not surprised, I would be miserable too as a raw vegan), you mistakenly assume that meats and added fats are your savior…this is your “religion”…In fact though, it’s hard to get enough calories being a raw vegan because it’s so hard to digest the foods and the volumes are too big…In fact, if you were and still continue to eat lots of raw plant foods and also eat meat and fats, the addition of these animal foods would provide easy to digest and necessary calories…

          The reality though, is if you went back to eating a mostly cooked whole foods high starch diet, I am willing to bet everything I own that you would not become diabetic again (unless you have type I)…and you would be healthier…of course you do not want to risk that because it’s too frightening to change back to what you perceive made you ill in the first place…Almost 100% guaranteed that you were simply eating unwisely as a vegan…there is no evidence, scientific or traditional that meat and fats are essential for human health…

          At the end of the day though…the evidence is fairly overwhelming that even a diet composed of more than 10% animal foods increases your risk for all sorts diseases in the long run…

          Tony wrote on June 21st, 2013
      • “fats are not healthy for optimal health” and this is where we stop the debate. If you believe a fundamental part of your cell membrane is not needed, a molecule that provides more energy than carbohydrates, there’s nothing else you say.

        Danielle wrote on June 20th, 2013
        • I think you need to do a little more research on your own Danielle…I understand your skepticism…I used to think added “healthy” fats like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, etc. were essential parts of a balanced diet…Indeed, even the Harvard School of Public Health praises vegetable oils saying, “Good” fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower disease risk.” Of course they make no mention of the vast differences between fresh, unrefined, organic fats like certain olive oils and refined, industrially extracted ones like canola oils made from GMOs…This difference should be highlighted because it is quite significant in my mind…

          However, the idea that without added extracted fats our cells would somehow wither and die is complete nonsense. Is fat an integral part of cell membranes? Absolutely. Do human beings require certain “essential” fatty acids? Definitely. Do we have to consume extracted fats and oils to get those EFAs? Nope. The body makes cell membranes without our having to consume extracted fats. We can get all the EFAs we need from whole foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Eating a whole olive or some avocado is much healthier than consuming olive or avocado oil…

          Do foods taste better with added fats? I think most people would agree they do…In addition, added fats are necessary for cooking, but generally over-used by most people…the important point is that healthy cultures are not so because of these fats but in spite of them. In cold weather, upping added fat intake to no more than 10% of total calories may actually be wise, but at all other times, they are unnecessary for most, displace healthier whole foods, are expensive, and are easy to over-consume, leading to liver and gall-bladder imbalances in the long run…

          Tony wrote on June 20th, 2013
      • Tony,

        at the end of the day, the difference between us is that I look at tradition and the evidence… You on the other hand have had your views on diet primarily shaped by personal experience…

        lol Considering you have provide no evidence of science OR tradition and I have provided BOTH, I hink you are living it backwards land.

        you had such a miserable experience being a raw vegan (I am not surprised, I would be miserable too as a raw vegan)

        I had a miserable experience being VEGAN. Now I could insert yet another reference to how veganism causes memory loss or the lack of ability to comprehend language, but instead, I’ll simply cut and paste my response the last time you made this reference and let the folks reading it come to their own conclusions about your biases. We (my dietitian, my doctor and myself) tried, “more/all/less cooked, more/less fat, more/less calories, more grains, no grains, etc… etc. In the end, veganism CAUSED the very disease I was hoping to avoid by engaging in it.”

        you mistakenly assume that meats and added fats are your savior…

        You mistakenly assume that you have a clue… about anything.

        The reality though, is if you went back to eating a mostly cooked whole foods high starch diet, I am willing to bet everything I own that you would not become diabetic again (unless you have type I)…and you would be healthier…of course you do not want to risk that because it’s too frightening to change back to what you perceive made you ill in the first place…

        Healthier than WHAT? Healthier than I am? You think it’s about fear? What kind of MORON would stop eating the diet that has proved to be utterly optimum for them? Seriously… what kind of moron would even suggest it? The high starch, low fat/protein part of veganism was the absolutely worst of all the iterations. I felt like utter crap… I even gave up my daily walk because I didn’t have the energy. But hey, it’ll be different now- because veganism is magic… just ask a vegan, especially a NEW vegan… who is still in the honeymoon phase but is SO sure he knows the secrets to a long and lasting marriage that he’ll even tell folks who’re already IN that marriage, that they’re doing it “wrong”.

        Almost 100% guaranteed that you were simply eating unwisely as a vegan…

        You are SO utterly arrogant- does your head even fit through doorways or do you have to live outdoors to encompass your bloated, self-righteous melon?

        At the end of the day though…the evidence is fairly overwhelming that even a diet composed of more than 10% animal foods increases your risk for all sorts diseases in the long run…

        And yet, you have failed to provide even one. But hey, if you say so, it must be true. Especially if you just say it over and over again.

        paleohuntress wrote on June 21st, 2013
  14. A diet such as veganism is a luxury of the modern world. A century ago, only a small percentage of our ancestors would have been able to spend so much energy trying to obtain energy. The human body is all about efficiency, and that diet isn’t efficient. If you trade your SAD for more real food, you will become healthier; however, that doesn’t mean you need to be a raw vegan do so.

    I won’t even go into the ethical dilemmas vegans raise. Any high school student who passed biology can tell you that the goal of any species is to survive and reproduce. Plants, like all other organisms, do just that and respond to their environment. The ONLY vegan diet I can understand is that of the Jains. Strict Jains will not eat organisms grown underground (onions, garlic, root vegetables) because it can harm small animals when it is pulled up. It seems like western versions of their diet are like ordering breakfast from McDonald’s because you don’t have time to cook it from scratch — reminiscent of the original but less fulfilling.

    I will never be able to understand how one can eat plants and yeast but not animals. If an animal, plant, fungus, or bacteria is killed for me to eat, it was not killed in vain. I support healthy facilities for all organisms for a better quality of life for them and for me. The carbon in their body will once again be recycled and keep the Earth moving.

    Danielle wrote on June 19th, 2013
  15. Thank you very much for your lengthy reply. Yes, there IS such a thing as depleted soil.

    You can eat paleo-primal or you can eat starch-based, unrefined, properly prepared, but if these foods, plant or animal, came from, yes, depleted soil, you will not have optimum health. While I am not religious, there is some wisdom in the bible, e.g., where it says, “And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground.” Dust means minerals; minerals are what keeps us alive and – if we get enough of the right kinds – healthy. They spark enzyme reactions, which are the basis of life itself. You can grow nice lush organic plants & animals but if there’s some trace element missing, you can ultimately count on health problems over time.

    As to mineral supplements, they are making better ones these days, far more digestible and usable. In any event, you sure are correct about Vitamin D. Get out in the sun, people. And don’t slather yourself with sunscreen.

    I don’t know if grains, regardless of preparation, are “good” or “bad” for us. I do know that we should eat according to our ethnicity (in general), plus or minus adjustments for personal preference because the diet of our ancestors is what our bodies recognize. But minerals are what count the most – yes, the devil’s in the details.

    All populations ate what they did, as you say, because they had little choice in diet except for the aristocrats, who had access to food from far away. Now, we all in this part of the world eat like royalty – and are now as sick as they! Compre Henry VIII and Queen Elizabaeth the First to their rural populations. For aeons, people had little choice in their daily food, lived in the same place their whole lives and had little opportunity for variation.

    However, I’d say that since we here do have access to a great variety, we should take advantage of it by changing our diets from time to time.

    Lots of meat for your first 30 or 40 or 50 years and have health issues? Then go vegan. Been vegan since Day 1 and don’t feel right? Try some animal food if it doesn’t offend you. Rawfooding it and having issues? Try a cooked food diet not unlike the Chinese rural diet you describe. All cooked food? Go raw. And so on.

    I enjoy reading the debate you are having and admire your patient, even-tempered way of presenting your views even though I don’t agree 100%. Thank you.

    Wyandotte wrote on June 21st, 2013
    • I agree with most of what you said…and I think it’s great that you respect the choices other people make regarding diet…That said, there is only one ideal diet for human beings, science will eventually bear this out, and that diet is one centered around cooked complex carbohydrates…Once that is established, the proportions of various food groups and types of grains, vegetables, legumes, fruit, etc can be varied depending on the individual’s needs at any given time…Animal products should not be used except for remedying extreme deficiencies or imbalances, and even then only in moderation…

      Even Socrates was a vegetarian and believed that lawyers and doctors would become the norm in any meat-eating society…All those other diets you mentioned that people try are simply attempts to develop in a new direction, but they are all doomed to failure in the long run, even if those people do not end up getting a degenerative disease…the reason I say that is that these people will never get to experience their maximum potential state of health…The link between one’s diet and one’s state of mind is very unclear, but for some people like me, I derived significant mental and emotional benefits from becoming vegan…I became calmer, more balanced, more focused, more energetic, and happier…

      Human beings are 99.9999% similar…I understand what you are saying regarding eating like your ancestors, but if they ate lots of animal products, you will probably get some kind of degenerative disease in the long run…It’s just physiology…Even if I were descended from the Inuit, I would still be a vegetarian…I wouldn’t eat a meat-centered diet…Also, it’s incredibly difficult to replicate the diet of one’s ancestors…mine are from somewhere in Russia…they probably ate a lot of buckwheat, animal fat and meat, milk, and cold weather vegetables…does that mean I should eat the same way? Absolutely not, except for the buckwheat and veggies. Personally I prefer sprouted brown rice to buckwheat but to each his own…

      Soil deficiencies are possible…in theory…On a day-to-day basis though, the wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables grown in all different locations around the country and the world make becoming deficient in certain vitamins and minerals highly unlikely…This is why supplements are totally unnecessary, and all the current evidence indicates that they have no benefits and many are harmful…it doesn’t matter how they’re manufactured…they’re still isolated components which do not fit a physiology that is built to only metabolize whole foods…even those multivitamins that are made from whole foods using S. Cerevisiae are still not whole foods…they deliver concentrated doses of certain vitamins and minerals in a way that is never found in the natural environment anywhere…Even traditional Chinese medicine uses whole herbs to create certain medicines…they never tried to refine or extract individual components, nor did they have the technology to do so…The only way to prevent disease and maintain health is to nurture the body’s own ability to regenerate and repair itself…

      Tony wrote on June 23rd, 2013
  16. Tony, why do you think that just because fruit, vegetables and other plant foods are “organically grown” that they have all the necessary minerals? Please do some reading on soil & mineralization. Also, some people, because of various stresses and their own genes, need more than others. Certain populations were fabulously healthy in the past not because it was grain based or meat based or anything else. It was likely because whatever they did consume grew on wonderful soil.

    I ate the kind of diet you are thriving on for a few years, mostly cooked, and loved it. My hypoglycemia was cured. Not “controlled”. CURED. I could eat 3 small meals, work all day, and still not get low blood sugar, which had previously plagued my life.

    Boy, did that change when I got pregnant. I wanted cheese in rather supposedly unhealthy quantities. I wanted raw fruit. I needed chocolate on occasion. No point in avoiding needs just because you thrived on a pre pregnancy type of diet.

    There are so very many considerations when it comes to eating. Me, I reject nothing, except aspartame. lol One thing, though: anything more than a small qty of animal food, and I right away want sugar. FWIW Those of you who love lots of animal food, fine for you. My metabolism is different. Those of you who like low protein, grain-based, I’m glad for you, too. Yes, we have the same basic genes, but they don’t all express themselves correctly. Read up on the role of minerals for this.

    By the way, HOW the heck do you get brown rice to sprout? I can’t do it, so I buy the sprouted brown rice protein powder.

    Tks to you and huntress and everyone else for being here and thrashing this all out.

    Wyandotte wrote on June 23rd, 2013
    • I agree with you about organic foods, they’re just as likely to be deficient as conventionally grown foods. Farmers still use “organic” pesticides and fertilizers and consumers are still warned to wash their produce first because the stuff is toxic.

      Last year Mat Lalonde (Harvard Biochemist) completed an analysis of nutrient density in foods using the nutrition information available from the ADA. The LEAST nutritious of the whole foods were grains. The analysis was done using the total nutrition that the foods CONTAIN by volume and not what is bioavailable- meaning they were graded based on the BEST case scenario, that all of the nutrition is 100% bioavailable. Unfortunately, even with ancestral prep methods, that isn’t the case. And when foods are graded by nutrient density per calorie, grains fared even worse, which is hard to imagine. The more grain a person eats, the more real nutrition is displaced from the diet. Dietary nutrient density comes down to the volume of nutrients compared to the energy content of the diet. Sometimes too it can take a while for malnutrition to kick in. The irony is that grain agriculture destroys the soil and decimates the environment. Topsoil is lost 17 times FASTER than it can be replaced and for all of the nutrients that the plants pull from the soil, what the grains give a person as a foodstuff is paltry.

      Changing topics- I’m curious to know what you think about the propensity for the plant-based community to refer to any diet that includes animal foods as “meat based/centered”. I wonder, why does a diet have to be 100% plant food to be called “plant based”, but ANY amount of animal food turns it into “meat based”. Shouldn’t that require 100% animal food? There is something seriously lacking in vegan logic, IMO. I eat animal food every day, maybe even with every meal… and I still get the bulk of my calories from plants. Technically, this makes my diet plant based.

      Thoughts?

      FWIW, my youngest son (12) is a vegetarian. It isn’t about health or ethics, he has simply never liked animal foods. When I went vegan, he stopped eating eggs and bacon too, the only actual “meat” he was still eating at the time. I make him homemade sourdough bread twice a week- he gets brown rice, barley, potatoes, corn, etc. He won’t eat a raw veggie to save his life and his fruit choices are apples and grapes. Of my three boys, he’s the only chubby one. His last physical was 2 months ago– he’s 50lbs overweight and his cholesterol is already high- though he eats NO cholesterol-containing foods and is VERY active. He also has severe seasonal allergies and asthma. I call him my “starch-atarian”- and his diet is killing him. It breaks my heart.

      My oldest son (17) went from eating a WAPF type diet last Fall- one that was paleo with the addition of the grains/starches I make for my youngest included. He’d been gaining weight for a couple of years. (He still remembers me at 300 lbs, and has the best memory of my journey back to health.) He asked me to help him go fully Paleo and by the end of the school year he’d lost 40 lbs and had increased his physical performance in his fitness classes significantly. He’s over 6’2″ and down under 200lbs. He doesn’t eat low carb, I still make him sweet potatoes and squash and he loves fruit. But he no longer eats ANY grains, legumes or dairy save for the once a week pizza treat he eats with his friends.

      There really is no “one size fits all” diet. I agree with your comment on genetics, it isn’t just about the actual genes, but is far more about which bits of DNA are turned on or off. Epi-genetics is a far better way to look at genetic influences, as our parents’ and grandparents’ diet and lifestyles significantly impact the way our DNA is expressed.

      Best!

      paleohuntress wrote on June 24th, 2013
      • I finally understand why you are so belligerent! You’re a mom! You’re trying to do what you believe to be best for your kids…I guess some of your previous nastiness can be somewhat forgiven in that light…never get between a mother and her kids…still, you’re not very polite…and you still haven’t given me any explanation for how in the world you became diabetic on a supposedly cooked whole grain based diet when it is physiologically impossible to do so unless you also eat lots of added fats, refined carbs, sugars, and/or alcohol…

        Mat Lalonde is very intelligent, but also very misguided…Another reductionist attempt to rank foods, as if they were just a bag of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, etc. Each food in vivo has its own unique properties, and that is the only true way to assess whether or not they should be consumed…Also, most of the topsoil in America is being lost to corn agriculture, which is being grown for what?…to feed cows in CAFOs, dairy cows, chickens, pigs…If everyone switched to a whole grain-based diet, the world could easily accommodate several more billion people…probably even more if potatoes were grown instead because those provide higher yields per acre than grains and with modern technology could be freeze-dried and sold as a basic dietary staple, like what the Incas did to make chuno…the same cannot be said if most people eat as much meat as is advocated by the primal or paleo diets, which can definitely be defined as “low-carb” and which may or may not be “plant-based” for most people…stated simply: eating meat everyday is unsustainable for the planet…of course if the future of the planet is of no interest, then by all means, have as much as you want…

        Your question concerning vegan logic is just another attempt to bash what you perceive to be “the enemy” which does not actually exist except within your own mind… In reality “vegans” are actually a small and growing part of the population composed of many different people whose only defining trait is that they choose not to eat any animal foods…Low-carb diets are by definition animal-food centered diets, primal included…Everything started with Atkins…that’s probably why many self-identified vegans are critical of paleo…probably one of the most environmentally destructive ways of eating on earth…

        Tony wrote on June 24th, 2013
    • It’s true that soils nowadays have probably been devastated by modern agriculture, but who really knows the extent of it? How do you quantify nutritious soil? It’s definitely not an easy task…simply measuring the amount of minerals won’t cut it…soil is literally one of the densest ecosystems on the planet, it’s more than the sum of its parts…

      I still think the probability of becoming deficient in certain vitamins and minerals is highly unlikely…As for your diet during pregnancy, I can believe that you wanted certain animal foods, and it was probably very wise that you listened to your body…

      I am still undecided as to whether or not animal foods are necessary for optimal human health…I feel fine now, but I may start eating a little bit of meat maybe once a week at dinner…I think the research is clear that this will not greatly increase my risk of chronic disease as long as I keep the whole foods, cooked starches and veggies high and leave out the added sugar and keep added fats to maybe one teaspoon every few days at most In addition, traditional Chinese medicine generally seems to oppose a pure vegan diet long term except for those who are trying to cultivate themselves spiritually…I would still like to do more research in this area, because many TCM practitioners simply affirm without much critical reasoning that vegetarianism is too extreme long term…I think some of this may have to do with the fact that most Chinese people have been eating white rice for at least a couple hundred years now, and when you refine the bran away, meat may become necessary to fill in the nutritional gap…For whole brown rice, though, I think it may be perfectly feasible to get adequate nutrition without adding meat…even Gandhi thought so…

      I decided to become vegan more out of health concerns than to save the planet, but it cannot be denied that if animal foods are entirely unnecessary to sustain health and live a long life, this would greatly benefit so many people around the world, and would go a long way toward protecting the environment…

      I buy my sprouted brown rice online, but if you buy raw short grain brown rice, it’s relatively easy to sprout…time consuming though…check out sproutpeople.com

      Tony wrote on June 24th, 2013
      • “I think it may be perfectly feasible to get adequate nutrition without adding meat…even Gandhi thought so…”

        “For my companions I have been a blind guide leading the blind. The crores of India today get neither milk nor ghee nor butter, nor even buttermilk. No wonder that mortality figures are on the increase and there is a lack of energy in the people. It would appear as if man is really unable to sustain life without either meat or milk and milk products. Anyone who deceives people in this regard or countenances the fraud is an enemy of India.” Mahatma Gandhi, 1946

        paleohuntress wrote on June 25th, 2013
  17. Vegan diets, paleo non-grain diets, raw food diets, heavy meat/low carb, etc. etc – these are all temporary healing diets, intended to balance a previous deficiency or excess. That’s all.

    Re brown rice/starchy/whole foods diet – sounds like the standard macrobiotic diet of the 1960s and 70s. Not one of the leaders and preachers of this eating crusade escaped serious illness, mostly cancer. Look it up.

    It is not clear why “plant-based” is misinterpreted to mean plant food only. If you want people to know what you eat, I guess you have to make a list and that way there’ll be no misunderstanding.

    Also, “paleo” usually means lots of meat, a few lowcarb veggies, and that’s it. No fruit. I guess some paleos eat that way.

    Wyandotte wrote on June 24th, 2013
    • Oh how disappointing, Wyandette. You speak about diets with the same authoritative finality as Tony… You can’t both be right though, lol. The world is full of experts… I just wish we have a few here. I really and truly can’t help but wonder why a whole food diet with as much or as little protein, carbohydrate and fat as each individual needs would ever be “temporary”. Grains cause disease in many people. Gluten has been shown to cause gut inflammation… in EVERYONE. In most people it’s transient- but do you suppose it’s ideal to have gut inflammation when you’re trying to absorb the nutrients in the food you’ve just eaten? What kind of absorption inhibition do you suppose that causes…. in EVERYONE.

      I have no idea what you’re getting at with macrobiotic diets and disease. Veganism kills people, you’re preaching to the choir. Also, I’m not the least bit interested in people knowing what I eat… my point was that vegans call EVERY non-vegan diet “meat-based” whether that’s 2% or 90% of calories. And yet, a plant-based diet is defined as 100% plant food. You’re not required to weigh in on that, I just wondered what you thought. And given your utter INSISTENCE that your points be addressed, it seemed harmless to ask you to do the same.

      “Also, “paleo” usually means lots of meat, a few lowcarb veggies, and that’s it. No fruit. I guess some paleos eat that way.”

      So which is it? Is it “usually” or “some”? Paleo diets are defined by what they DON’T include- most grains, legumes and dairy. They range from low to high fat- from low to high protein and from low to high carb. So no, paleo doesn’t usually mean lots of meat.

      paleohuntress wrote on June 25th, 2013
  18. It would seem to me that there’s an important psychological component to one’s dietary desires. If a person very strongly identifies with animals, and doesn’t wish to cause them any harm, then they will twist everything about meat-containing diets to “prove” that animal products are “bad” for everybody most of the time. Fortunately, you, Tony, recognize that sometimes animal foods are necessary. As it was for me during pregnancy. And I believe you when you say you are doing well on your particular diet.

    If you were once very fat with high cholesterol, diabetes & that whole syndrome, then you will likely benefit from the paleo way of eating. As Huntress has demonstrated with her own story of transformation. As Dr. Mercola can’t shut up about, though I sense he is starting to change his mind just a wee bit.

    By the way, my friend’s mother (in a nursing home) was told by her mainstream M.D. she had to stop eating meat in order to cure her difficult-to-manage diabetes. It’s called brittle diabetes. It worked, but she got iron-deficiency anemia. Her old body was too accustomed to meat to extract the iron from plant foods. Better, I say, to have to take iron pills, than struggle with diabetes.

    There are people who don’t fit easily into either of these categories. There are people with genetic, metabolic, hormonal or psychological issues who cannot stick to these restricted ways of eating. I know such folks. It’s not a simple matter of: “Get off yer big arse, exercise, eat this healthy diet, stop eating these 250 things you just loved for 40 years, and then you’ll experience total healing!” Yah right. There are folks who’ll kill – KILL – for chocolate and sugar and barbecued ribs soaked in god knows what flavoring, and unless they are locked in a cell they will find those things and wolf them down. Just because “you” found what was right for you, doesn’t mean all persons are so blessed. I have seen so many eating so terribly it makes me weep. Cases of pepsi; pounds of chocolate, 16-ounce steaks every day. They need help way beyond dietary info – they know damn well they are doing wrong. The hand of God is required.

    How old are y’all anyway. I’m in my 60s. I’ve tried various diets over the years both for personal/emotional reasons as well as health considerations. I now eat whatever I want. It is not as simple as sometimes presented here. Thank you for listening.

    Wyandotte wrote on June 25th, 2013
  19. We should take their word for it? Surely you jest?

    There are plenty of grains that MAN shouldn’t and Can’t eat that animals do well on.
    This is a sustainable part of the lifecycle…

    When we figure out the balance between too much and too little then we will find a happy medium.

    This hype about animal suffering is just plain silly. LIFE is suffering and more or less is just part of life.

    Zion and 10,000 feet and 195 miles wrote on June 30th, 2013
  20. I’ve eaten very little meat and fish for most of my life, and in my 20s got very sick so I started eating according to a paleo / primal diet because I didn’t know what else to do. It helped me to feel better because it eliminated the foods I now know I’m allergic or intolerant to (dairy, gluten, soy), but I never managed to feel well on that diet. I had digestive problems, low energy, and often hungry, although I ate plenty of animal protein, vegetables, and fats. In addition, I had immense inner struggles about what I was doing, as I considered the diet I was eating very problematic and unsustainable from an ethical, ecological, and humanitarian (world nutrition situation) perspective. I often started crying in the supermarket when buying meat or during eating. After about a year or so, I started adding carbohydrates back in – legumes and brown rice – and felt better, then tried to switch to a vegan diet but terribly failed because I rushed into it too quickly. It took me another year during which I gradually reduced animal products (only fish in the end) and increased legumes to which my digestive system needed to get used to. Eventually, I was down to eating a small (2 oz) serving of fish probably twice or three times a week, but I still used to wake up very early in the morning after too little sleep, feeling nauseous and irritated. Only when I eliminated all animal protein from my diet, this got better. Switching to a vegan diet was easy then, but I first made the mistake to focus on optimizing my nutrient intake and stuffed myself with salads, leafy greens, legumes, and fats from nuts and seeds. In consequence, I got extreme bloating and was hungry a lot again, while depriving myself of the foods I actually love and wanted to eat – brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes. It happily happened that I stumbled across Dr. McDougall’s dietary approach, and I ordered his book and also watched many of his lectures on YouTube. The science he refers to seems valid to me (I’m a scientist myself, so I’m used to reading scientific papers), and I realized I was focusing too much on protein and fats and that was misleading me. I decided to give his program a chance and try it out, but I was sceptical because I’ve eaten a high-carb diet for several years in the past and felt terrible with it. However, back then I’d eaten a lot of fruit (thus sugar) and still consumed gluten and dairy, and McDougall’s diet focuses on complex carbohydrates from whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes, which is a different story. In sum, I can just say I am endlessly happy I’ve given it a try, because I’ve never felt so good. I can eat foods I love as much as I like and as often as I want, I’m pleasantly satisfied without feeling stuffed, and I can finally let go of any control issues with food because my body tells me when it needs food and when it has had enough. I don’t have to think about my eating nor worry about my weight (I rather have to be careful to eat enough not to lose weight). This is so amazing that I almost can’t believe it! Suddenly there’s so much space in my mind for things that actually matter to me, and I’m experiencing inner peace because the diet is in congruence with my moral values. I can just thank Dr. McDougall for giving me my happiness back.

    Kath wrote on July 5th, 2013
  21. Your article is flawed in so many ways. Firstly of course you can eat just as badly as a vegan as you can with as a meat eater. Piling your plate high with endless pasta and potatoes is not good. The evidence of the health improvements of those who switch from meat eating to a properly balanced vegan diets is overwhelming. I am 60 years old and EVERYONE asks me how I do it, do I work out, what have I had done, why am I never sick etc. etc. I suggest a good book ‘People Who Never Get Sick’ ……… Of course if I ate some meat or fish it wouldn’t make much difference, but then I refuse to contribute to the horrific cruelty and pollution caused by those industries.

    Janet wrote on July 11th, 2013
  22. Listen, don’t let this experience make you think that veganism is unhealthy. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to be vegan, and I’ll admit that too many carbs is a bad thing. But as with carbs, everything needs balance. Now, I’m not sure why you seem to think that protein is hard to come by on a vegan diet. I didn’t think you’d be one to believe that myth. Most vegans don’t face a protein deficiency, and there are even vegan bodybuilders and athletes.

    Trajayjay wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  23. I read The China Study. At first I thought it was credible, but the lack of Any peer reviewed work put me off. I have had no mammals in 40 years. I do eat birds and sea life. Do supplements. In my late 60’s just retired from extremely stressful job. Just had an executive type physical.. I was totally clean, cholesterol , psa etc. body fat and bone density measure (not even close to osteo anything bad). But my glucose was a little high because of diet ice creams.
    I tried every aspect of vegetarianism, but could not sustain it due the inevitable lower gut problems. I have been on a mostly paleo diet and I have not felt this good in 40 years.

    If you want to read a real authoritative book try “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes. None of this quasi-science stuff you see in the (shudder) China Study.

    Todd wrote on August 14th, 2013
  24. i am a strict vegetarian: but hear me out.

    the only animal foods i eat are organic/local eggs and grass-fed dairy products (lactose free since I am lactose intolerant). i agree with everything Mark said in this article, but many of the comments left by the community members made me sad.

    i would also like to state that i, like many other vegetarians, refuse to eat meat simply because i like animals. i despise the industrial food processes by which most Americans get their meat (factory farms and CAFOs), but i truly appreciate hunters and local farmers that raise food animals humanely. i understand that humans evolved to thrive on a meat-based diet. i look at it this way: i can eat a very healthy meal without harming another creature, and so i will.

    i never drink friut juices, grains, or proccessed garbage. as i primal vegetarian, i consume local homemade whey powder, cheese, nuts, seeds, butter, olive oil, raw coconut products, red palm oil, bee pollen, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, berries and citrus (in moderation), raw coco powder, nightshade veggies (also in moderation), and sea veggies on a DAILY basis. i practice “bulletproof intermittent fasting”, crossfit, and enjoy living primally. thank you Mark for this article. as for everyone else, go easy on the vegans. they aren’t trying to hurt anyone!

    Brianna wrote on August 18th, 2013
  25. Thinking of going vegan, I took my family to a vegan dinner meeting. I was astounded at how sickly, tired, and lackluster the attendees appeared; despite the fact that most were thin to super-thin. The dinner consisted of mainly cooked vegan/Indian food with lots of grain based platters of overcooked veggies, honey soaked desserts, and no fresh, raw fruit or veggies, To be honest, the food and the people, many with dark circles under their eyes, were glow-less and gray. About 20 minutes into their meeting, an older couple walked in who positively GLOWED with health. I told my husband I was going to find out THEIR vegan secret because, by the look of them, they were obviously doing something different from the others Turns out they were retired, visiting travelers who ate vegan when at home but ate meat while on the road every 2 months to various famous places around the United States. The wife said it proved difficult to maintain a totally vegan lifestyle when visiting say, “a Texas city known for it’s BBQ.” That got me thinking about all the committed vegans/vegetarians and a few fruitarians I knew who seem unusually lifeless and tired and sporting iron deficiency dark under-eye circles. Having been a vegetarian for about a year, until I too had that same mantle of spacey tiredness come over me, I decided to go with limited meat with lots of fresh fruit and veggies. I’ve never looked back because I’ve lost the bloated stomach, yeast and skin rashes; gained muscle, and lost 20lbs with very little exercise. Contrast that with losing NOTHING while excessively exercising when I was a vegetarian. I now KNOW and FEEL that meat is good for MY body but I also KNOW that moderation is the key. There is no all or nothing because if there was, more “ALL OR NOTHING” people (like vegans and fruitarians) would be the healthiest of older people and that is just not occurring. Look to the teeth, I say.

    Paia wrote on August 22nd, 2013
  26. My kids went to the same summer swimming classes as McDougall’s kids while I lived in Texas. Saw his wife there, still breast feeding a son of perhaps 3 AND a girl of about 5. Pallid Mrs. McDougall looked bone thin and as tired and run down as her extremely thin kids. The kids and their mom had dark circles under their eyes. I felt for her kids as they kept saying they were cold in what was a record Texas, end of July summer. One day, I overheard the swimming teachers say that Mrs. McDougall was a vegan (which I immediately thought accounted for the “anemic look” of her and the children) and the wife of a Dr. McDougall whom they all seemed to admire. I’d never heard of or seen him before. Then, later that morning, into the pool area walked the healthiest-looking man I’d ever seen. I soon learned it was Dr. McDougall and had to do a double-take. Health wise, he was the total opposite of his wife and kids. He literally glowed! And I thought when I saw them together, “That man is no vegan; he’s getting meat, maybe not at home, but from somewhere.” From my experience, looking at soft, whipped cream, blushed cheeks and an effervescent personality full of energy, he was just too darn healthy and robust for a vegan. He was tall, with sun-kissed blond/brown hair and skin that literally glowed with health, and, no dark-under eye-circles of the typical vegan. Over my years in my neighborhood, I’ve watch our aging Asians who live predominantly on cooked foods centered around the starchy grain, rice. Many have become near bald with very dry, papery skin and those whose families shunned a lot of milk and meat had short children. It is very hard to absorb and utilize nutrients eating a grain centered diet. It is primarily why Asian men living in industrialized countries where they get lots more of milk, eggs, fat and meat nutrients, trend toward taller than their Asian continental cousins.

    Paia wrote on August 22nd, 2013
  27. Excellent article, and I have had similar experiences with people who believe animal-less is THE one twue way for everyone.

    I personally believe (and have experienced firsthand as well as with clients when I was a personal trainer) that you have to pay attention to what makes you feel “right”. I for one, while grains here and there are outright rejuvenating, do best with mostly meats and veggies for my diet. I feel horrible if I eat too much fruit beyond a little melon or some berries here and there. Following the food pyramid does NOT work for me. Some people thrive on paleo, and I do believe some people are supposed to be all-veg. Why? I don’t know, other than we are NOT all built the same.

    Regarding how our “ancestors” ate…first of all, you don’t really know how much that affects you NOW, since that was so far away from you.. Second…well, what was regional to your ancestors? And did your ancestors stay there and continue to eat indiginously or did they relocate early on so the centuries that followed were spent adapting to other foods? What my ancestors thrived on and what your ancestors thrived on may have been completely different.

    Lisa wrote on August 29th, 2013
  28. I’ve tested my own body reactions several times over in just this year alone.

    I cannot live well on a straight vegetarian diet. My digestion goes haywire, it becomes unpleasant with constant noises and gut bubbles, and I really would rather not go into further detail as it gets kinda gruesome.

    My blood sugar goes haywire as well and I wake up very tired, irritable, slightly nauseous, and with headaches.

    Why I should require at least an hour’s worth of recovery in the mornings from merely getting a good night’s sleep is beyond me. It’s infuriating and I won’t put up with it.

    I am NOT saying that vegetarian diets are bad.

    They simply don’t work for me.

    When I consistently eat meat I feel better.

    I’m gonna go Paleo.

    Kittypie070 wrote on September 23rd, 2013
  29. Its incredible how much time “health conscious” people will spend sitting in front of thier computers trying to convince strangers what they believe is healthy. Go outside. Get some sun.

    James IV wrote on October 11th, 2013
  30. So true! When I was a vegan I was ALWAYS hungry even when I’d eaten enough calories and exercised. I was also constipated all of the time even when I’d tried laxatives and loads of coffee[the ONLY thing that helped me go]. I’d grown pale, weak, and anemic all because I was promised a low-fat, meatless diet would put me in perfect health.RUBBISH. Nowadays I eat MOSTLY vegetarian, but plenty of fats and meat to keep me from needing supplements. Last time the doctor checked, I was in perfect health, and as far as I know I still am. Everything in moderaion is all that counts and we should listen to our body and do what’s best for ourselves. We’re all wired differently. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Sisson!:) A very good read indeed.

    Anya wrote on October 18th, 2013
  31. Bought the book “The Reverse Diabetes Diet” by Dr. Neal Barnard 3 years ago as a friend’s (a vegetarian) father had followed Barnards advice and turned around his type 2 diabetes and shifted a bucket load of weight in the process.

    I wasn’t diabetic but was up for the weight loss and his advice seemed to make sense. I followed it to the letter for 5 months! The result? 10lbs weight gained and a whole lotta gas due to the replacement of meat by legumes and pulses. The advice by Dr. Barnard to cut out the animal fat and replace the protein intake with legumes because of and because they have a high protein content is a pile of brown steaming dark brown stuff in this individuals opinion.

    Started the Primal diet on the 80/20 rule in March/April this year… 32lbs lost so far!, joint pain gone!, lower back pain gone! (it all ceased by the fourth day in…no lie and no kidding). No Colds or bugs caught when all around me are dropping like flies.

    Obey your genetic and ancestral origins people and STOP FOLLOWING THE MARKETING HYPE. I get real sick of the vegans and vegetarians I know crapping on about red meat and cancer. I don’t ram the way I choose to eat and live down your throats so back the hell up and wind it in. Do yourselves a favour, eat meat along with your veg and walk a lot more…oh and cut out the grains!

    Gary wrote on October 31st, 2013
  32. You asked, so here it is – I’ve tried the paleo/primal diet with zero success. A diet high in animal protein and fat makes me lethargic, physically ill (I throw up because I can’t digest the fat) and I gain weight like no one’s business.
    I was fatter, sicker and looked worse than I ever have in my life after eating paleo/primal.
    I finally wised up and went back to my mostly vegan ways (I do eat egg whites from my own chickens)….low and behold, the weight dropped off, I look better, I feel more energetic and I’ve not had another cold since ditching the all the meat and grease.
    Just for the record, I rarely eat soy, I never eat wheat and dairy and only the odd corn tortilla ever passes my lips.
    Everyone’s body is different and my body simply doesn’t do a good job processing large amounts of protein and fat.

    Violet wrote on December 17th, 2013
  33. I tried tem all for decades. Meat in small ammounts is good however we eat too much.

    If you look and compare Lorain Cordain and John McDougall in the videos you can tell which diet si certainly more healthy.

    Geo wrote on December 28th, 2013
  34. So I don’t follow McDougalls diet, but I eat a vegan diet. I’ve been eating clean since 2011. So giving credit to not eating processed food doesn’t work in my case. My usual is not consuming processed foods and I eat a diet high in vegetables. While I tried the paleo diet (with meat and higher fat diet), I felt bogged down and I got heavier. I basically tried the vegan diet as an experiment to see if I could do it because I believe it’s better for the environment. But I thought I would never stick with it because eating meat is super natural, right? Well, on a vegan diet, I noticed that I could eat what I wanted still sticking with same amount of veggies I normally eat. My energy felt awesome and my body started to naturally detox. I didn’t necessarily lose a bunch of weight because I’m very athletic but I noticed being lean is effortless at this point. And yes, I work out just as much now as I did then while eating paleo. I’ve made some pretty amazing gains as a crossfitter and it just surprises people when they find out I’m a vegetarian. (Who doesn’t eat dairy or eggs.)

    Amber wrote on January 14th, 2014
  35. Interesting discussions here …

    I believe we are blessed to have the resources and the time to carefully look into this. Have done so myself for the recent past years and I am happy with the results.
    Has anyone here read the book called Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer ?
    I would have liked to hear your opinion on it.

    irina wrote on March 18th, 2014
  36. Interesting commentary on the Costa Rica experience you had with Dr. McDougall. Thanks for sharing. I am no longer eating a strictly plant-based only diet after many years of doing so because I just don’t feel that good anymore, and I had been a pretty big fan of Dr. McDougall over the years. My problem is that it was too easy for me to eat a lot of empty calories trying to get enough to eat, and I was getting fat and fatigued. I did feel great for a while, but it was not working for me anymore. I am feeling much better now and have lost some weight since transitioning back to a more balanced diet that includes high-quality meats, fish, and eggs along with organic dairy products and elimination of vegetable oils. I am 49 years old.

    Interestingly, my in-laws are strict vegetarians and follow McDougall almost religiously. They have been to Costa Rica as well. I think it might be starting to take a toll on them. At first, my mother-in-law lost weight and looked great. Now, several years later, my mother-in-law is as heavy as I have ever seen her, and my father-in-law looks horrible, almost malnourished. It could be age (he is 82), but he has really gone down hill. He has always been athletic and energetic, having been a triathlete and marathon runner. He is having problems staying awake during the day, and my mother-in-law is complaining of starting to lose her cognitive abilities. She is 73. They both go to the gym regularly and are life-long nonsmokers and nondrinkers and have always been health-conscious people. My mother-in-law takes no medications and my father-in-law has recently developed Parkinson’s, so some of his issues are probably related to that as well. I worry about him getting adequate B12 and vitamin D, especially since Dr. McDougall strongly recommends taking no supplements.

    McFeist wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  37. What are the health statuses of the wife’s parents (having been strict vegans for 30-odd years)?

    Tyler wrote on March 25th, 2014
  38. paleohuntress wrote: ‘Extra carbohydrate is stored as fat preferentially over fat and protein. We have proof in the form of what is known as ‘scientific data’.’

    Cool – where can I read about that? All my friends seem to be into ‘paleo’ (pfttt) now, so I thought I would blindly follow too! Forget common sense, show me some ‘research’!!

    Leon wrote on April 10th, 2014
  39. Hi Mark,

    I like the way you think. I enjoyed the article a lot. I was wondering if you could shed some light on some of the things that i feel when i eat meat – I had many health problems, and slowly cut out everything that i felt my body didn’t want, i ended up going vegan – I tried grass fed beef, all organic, and although the inflammation did not come back which i was very happy about i did notice that little sharp pains where back over the following week, and cramp. Do you have any ideas as to what this might be?

    I am still looking for the best diet to eat, and as a vegan find pasta to be a problem, as well as any grain products.

    Look forward to any light that you could shed on this, oh and i don’t do oils, my diet was exactly the same as it always is, just a bit of meat added in. Which made me so tired after eating it that i had to have a long lie down! Which i had forget ever happened.

    Best Regards

    Dylan

    Dylan wrote on May 16th, 2014
  40. I put on ten pounds in less than a week just by following a vegan diet. I was buying Ezekiel bread thinking that because it was sprouted grains it was better for me. At least that’s what my well meaning Aunt told me. She also told me about agave, another supposed “healthy alternative” to sugar. So, here I was eating sandwiches with coconut oil and strawberries on Ezekiel bread and I”m going, “Look! I’m eating raw AND vegetarian” I must be so healthy, only to look at the scale and go, WTF, how does a person gain that much weight in less than one week? Then I got smart and found Paleo and I’ve never looked back.

    Pepper Culpepper wrote on May 30th, 2014

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