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. Even though you’re 53 years old, you look so much younger than that! Actually I was an almost vegan for a few months and I was looking back on what I ate then, there were a lot of carbs, so little protein and delicious fat. I was eating vegan substitutes and that didn’t help. I have now incorporated more animal products like butter, eggs and whey. I’m not sure if I want to eat meat again. I’m eating more saturated fats but my blood pressure is pretty low like 100/60. Yay for healthy fats!

    Arusa wrote on May 26th, 2012
  2. I recall as a missionary visiting the home of a “Vegan Woman”. she was really in to this lifestyle. I remember we took a local member with us. I think this was because of some sort of “woman’s issue” I remember Sister Hunt crying after we left because this poor woman was living in the most deplorable conditions I have ever seen.
    In scripture we have been warned of this sort of thing>>>
    1Timothy 4:1-4

    1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart fom the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

    2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

    3 Forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

    4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.

    Genesis 9:1-3.

    1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

    2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

    3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

    And from my own beliefs we have…
    D&C 49:18-19

    18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;

    Vegan-ism really does go against the teachings of Judo-christian beliefs. It also goes against nature. Mankind is not vegetarian but omnivorous.

    There is also the issue man being the top of the food chain. The federal government has been introducing predators in the western states. In many cases into areas where they were never were in the past. They they claim they are protected. This does two bad things. One it leaves live stock in peril. The second, which is worse, is that these predators have no fear of man. As a result of this they will enter cities and kill humans.
    The whole thing makes me sick.

    Brian wrote on June 1st, 2012
    • Brian…you’re correct to a certain extent, the Bible also teaches that if you dine at a home where they do not eat meat do not expect they should serve you meat….in other words you should be respectful of other’s eating habits. Don’t see much respect for other’s eating habits here though, perhaps we should be a bit more truly Christian about the topic. However, meat eater or no, nothing wrong with respectfully debating reasons presented for choosing to be either.

      Xfingxfing wrote on January 3rd, 2013
  3. Chris Ahmed, you should have to shampoo bigfoots crotch for being such a rot mouth.

    I do have one burning question….

    WHAT THE HECK ARE ALL THE VEGETARIANS DOING ON THIS WEBSITE??

    BTW with my intolerances, a vegetarian diet would kill me, so I must do something else.
    To all vegetarions, rock on! if it keeps you healthy, just do it, but dont come on this forum and post a bunch of inflamatory junk.

    Kat wrote on June 6th, 2012
    • World English Dictionary
      sentience or sentiency (ˈsɛnʃəns)

      — n
      1. the state or quality of being sentient; awareness
      2. sense perception not involving intelligence or mental perception; feeling

      sentiency or sentiency

      I live in a rural area, I have spent time in fields watching cows, they eat, they drink, they void, and out of instinct take care of their young. Not a single one of them attempts to communicate with me in any way. If one of them dies the other ones walk away and dont attempt to bury or consign their lost comrade to the afterlife. They dont love, when their offspring gets big enough, they are on their own. They certainly dont care for their grandchildren or work harder to pay for college.
      as I said these are just observations.

      Kat wrote on June 6th, 2012
  4. Im not here to judge anyone’s diet but I’d like to add my own experience with the Vegan diet. I wanted to try this more “humane” way of life, I felt great for about 2-3 weeks until I noticed that I began to feel weak, irritable, tired, lowered sex drive, etc….even my hair started lookin like crap/shedding. WHen I returned back to the animal diet, all returned bac to normal in about 2 months. I must add that I suffer from anemia, it’s just not worth it to me…

    Penny Loafing wrote on June 25th, 2012
  5. I have to disagree with one thing. I don’t think the “Primal Blueprint path” is what we were designed to do. People have very little in common with any animal that eats meat and much more in common with those that don’t. Also this fails to mention that legumes are a great source of protean.

    Gypsey wrote on July 7th, 2012
    • Just totally spelled protein wrong. lol.

      Gypsey wrote on July 7th, 2012
      • Beans contain high levels of certain amino acids, but unfortunately, a significant amount can’t be assimilated due to the protease inhibitors they also contain. Add in that the lectins and indigestible starches that make them the “musical fruit” also rush them through the digestive tract, and you have what amounts to a really poor source of protein but a great source of empty carbohydrate.

        paleohuntress wrote on January 4th, 2013
  6. Well, since raw vegans are technically eating nothing but “pre-agricultural” foods. The is discussion seems a bit off key. Seems to be some other agenda at work here…

    Jesse wrote on August 12th, 2012
  7. I have been seeing a low carb weight loss Dr for two months—After countless hours of endless dogmatic pestering from some of my Vegan (unhealthy looking but thin) friends all I can say is—like the Eskimo
    —and the Masai
    —and the Plains Indians—my diet is noe about 43% Protien, 48% Fat (Saturated), and 9% Carbs.

    My Type 2 is in remission, my hdl/ldl is 64/119, and I have lost 35 pounds in two months.

    I am 69 years old and did the Mt Everesjt Base Camp Climb with my wife in Feb/March 2012—- my fitness during the climb was not what I should have have had—-I came back determined to fix the problem. The low carb/high protein diet seems to be the answer.

    Dorn wrote on August 21st, 2012
  8. Jainism espouses vegetarianism, as does Hindhuism. There is a long history of vegetarianism in the Indus valley civilization.

    Ben wrote on October 8th, 2012
    • Yah the killers a pretty good at knocking off us pacifists though..

      Jesse wrote on December 26th, 2012
    • Uh, you better start reading the Upanishads and the different Gita’s. They used to slaughter 200,000 animals at a time for many feasts. They mainly became vegetarians because of an overflow of people and they could feed more people with cheese and milk. I’ve been to India several times and I’ll tell you, the vegetarian lifespan is somewhere around 45 years old. And yes, I do they they are very poor there!

      Nocona wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  9. i been vegetarian for 6 years.vegan for almost 2 when done the right way you will get enough protein/nutrition,and vitamins.when i firsted turned vegetarian i was a horrible example i thought long as it wasn’t meat i was good so i would eating alot of whatever and high amounts.gained up to 280lbs at one point then got back on track starting 2009 and now i’m back to being in a good shape.its all about your macros protein,carbs and fats.once you find the right ratio for you and cut out processed food you’ll lose the pounds.

    i think the chefs and people that thought of the trip are bad sounds like way too may carbs but then again it was a trip lol 😛 that doctor isn’t the only example of a veggie diet.

    ndem wrote on December 28th, 2012
    • Boy, just listening to how hard it is to move things around and mix just the right combos and make sure you get your B12 and how do you get your Omega 3’s again? Does this sound like the diet you were meant to live on? Can you imagine Grok sitting around saying, “how are we gonna fill in all our dietary needs?” I’ll take the American Indian approach. What a beautiful, simple life. What beautiful bodies.

      Nocona wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  10. This argument is like arguing about religion: if there were only ONE true way we would all follow it. Be primal and enjoy how it benefits you, but don’t assume that it will work well for everyone. I don’t get the need to be self-righteous vegan haters. Most of us don’t care what you eat and contrary to egotists’ beliefs, we also don’t spend all of our time judging you. FTR, I have been vegetarian/vegan (NO meat) for 24 years, I am VERY fit (not emaciated or overweight) and I run ultramarathons. The human body is an amazing system — lots of different, healthy nutritional lifestyles are possible.

    EssDub wrote on January 15th, 2013
    • You may not spend all your time judging, but you probably spend all your time figuring out what to eat to fill all your vegetarian needs. Did I get enough B12, did I get my Omega 3’s, do I need to eat some frankenfood to fill this or that gap? I’ll take what humans ate for mellenia over some Vegan type experiment any day of the week.

      Nocona wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  11. I was an on again off again vegan for YEARS! I could just cry thinking of all the mornings I ate oatmeal when I really wanted eggs, and all the dinners where I ate rice with veggies and was feeling hungry an hour later. It’s nearly impossible to manage your weight as a vegan cause you’re ALWAYS FREAKIN’ HUNGRY!

    Murf wrote on January 20th, 2013
  12. There is absolutely no requirement for meat in the human diet–Ivy schools Cornell and Harvard have already determined that the optimum amount of meat required in the human diet is ZERO!
    This is not dogma–this is fact!
    You went into this retreat with a closed mind despite your writings to the contrary. You were already convinced in your mind that paleo primal which has zero actual science behind it is better. If an overweight person is about to eat tons of starch based carbs they will feel satisfied and they will not consume harmful fat. You demonize carbs like Atkins and all of the other paleo promoters, but you have no clue about the role of natural sugars and fats in the body. You mistakenly blame sugar and carbs for diabetes when fat is and always has been the culprit. Fat interferes with proper sugar metabolism and messes with the insulin receptor sites and overworks the pancreas. Carbs such as starch have been staples for every single successful culture in existence since the beginning of time. This blog is quick to utilize anti-vegan dogma which makes the intentions of the blogger suspect. The lame argument that is quite often seen around the internet right now is “There has never been a culture that hasn’t eaten meat” This type of thinking intimates that our (bad) habits and virtues label our culture. Over 10 % of U.S. citizens are vegetarians right now. Is the U.S. predominantly a meat eating culture—yes right now it is. It is also a culture of rapists and murderers if we were to judge it by repeated offenses and habits. Change dictates that we move from one place to another and quite often that change may be the hardest thing to do. Adopting a plant strong diet is difficult for most Americans because they are obese, addicted, and constantly fed confusing and conflicting information that has no basis in science like the blog above.
    PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) of which Dr. McDougall is a part are a large group of doctors who conduct clinical research and collect pertinent data regarding the diseases of affluence and their root causes. They have observed over the years the constant success of their diet programs and are not out to capitalize on the sick by submitting them to drugs, surgeries and protocols that do nothing for the patient but ensure lucrative returns for physicians.

    Mark wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Hmmm very strange that as a type 1 diabetic my insulin sensitivity has increased massively since going low carb (zero grains) and high animal fat. But i’m sure you’d be able to explain that, exspecially with all the references you’ve povided to back up these ‘facts’.

      greg wrote on February 14th, 2013
      • Same here Greg. My son is a type 1 and he uses half the insulin he used to. His endocrinologist is thrilled about his improved A1C numbers (typically below 7). And we don’t eat ‘no carbs’, he gets a half a sweet potato or a full fried plantain or a whole grapefruit at least once a day and boy is he getting big (and lean), no growth stunting here! Paleo eating is the best thing that has ever happened to my family, bar none.

        Interestingly before being paleo/primal, we were raw vegan for nearly a year and I have never been sicker. I had to start taking advare for my asthma again and my allergies were out of control. That was three years ago. Now I don’t take any pharmacrap and I’ve been RUNNING in the 23 degree weather with aplomb.

        Sadly, I wish the vegans and vegetarians could see that we agree on 90% of the things here: eat whole foods, don’t eat processed crud, eat leafy greens and fresh fruits. The only difference is that paleo/primal avoid grains and eats high quality meats (and delicious heart healthy natural saturated fats). See? Not that different at all! 😉

        -Tim

        Tim wrote on February 14th, 2013
    • My god Mark, you are truly ignorant. It is carbs you have absolutely no need for in the human diet. You would die without fat or protein. You would not die without carbs. I could through every one of your opinions that have no basis in fact, but it’s exhausting to even think about it. Sorry, you can’t fool many folks on here. The Paleo community is one of the most scientifically studied, fact based, well read areas on the internet today. Yes we make mistakes, but we are always willing to learn more when the research bears it out..and we will look into it with open eyes and not emotion.

      Nocona wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • How about “different strokes for different folks”? You know, we are all individuals? Aboriginals left to themselves (no contact with civilization) never completely avoided carbs.

        If biological individuality doesn’t count, how the heck can some folks consume quite a bit of fruit and sugar, yet stay slim and energetic even though they aren’t terribly active?

        It could be opined that needing – and just as important, enjoying & thriving on – a 99% protein + fat diet is a sign of a particular form of constitution. No more or less.

        Does anyone here address the matter of why some of us just can’t hack the lean protein + fat diet? Are we somehow inferior from birth? (Serious question.)

        Wyandotte wrote on February 23rd, 2013
        • This gets me everytime: it’s not a choice between massive vegtables + carbs and massive protein + fat. Paleo is not all protein and fat. Paleo is Vegetables fruits and protein and fat. Now the ratios differ somewhat depending on which paleo person/guru you talk to but to think that we all eat only steaks and bacon all day is absurd. I personally eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies with my complete proteins and heart healthy natural saturated fats. Heck this morning my breakfast was a fruit+coconut oil+egg smoothie. That said, I can’t have a lot of carbs or sugars or I feel lethargic and start putting on weight. Others might not have that problem… and that’s fine. I get sick of being labeled a ‘low carber’ when I am far more concerned with getting nutrient dense food and avoiding the birdseed that used to make me sick.

          -Tim

          Tim wrote on February 23rd, 2013
        • Exactly. Paleo is about the quality of the food you eat and what you leave OUT. People get so hung up on the idea that it’s “low carb”, but frankly, only a low-carb Paleo diet is low carb enough to be labeled as such. There are moderate and high carb paleo diets too. Within the paleo parameters, a person can find whatever combination of macros works for them. Chances are, if you’re already lean, you’re not looking to lose weight, but if you’re overweight, you likely have some metabolic derangement going on and cutting carbs is the way to go. If you’re storing fat, CUT CARBOHYDRATE.

          I also eat a ton of veggies, more than I did when I was VEGAN even, and I enjoy carrots and parsnips and yams on occasion too. The more active I am, the more starch I can healthfully eat. Paleo isn’t any single diet.

          ~Huntress

          paleohuntress wrote on February 23rd, 2013
        • Wyandotte, who said anything about completely avoiding carbs? I was answering Mark in an above post. The human body does NOT need carbs to survive, but that’s not saying we can’t get great nutrients out of many fruits and vegetables. Who said anything about a 99% protein and fat diet on here. You need to read the site before you make ridiculous claims. We just may eat more veggies than most vegetarians because we cut out all the grains, pasta, potatos, legumes, etc. and fill that in with more fat and veggies.

          Nocona wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  13. Oh my gosh, i don’t remember when i laughed so darn much.

    Thank you

    Nala wrote on February 7th, 2013
  14. dr mcdougal has cured more than 5000 people, ‘primal’ diet/atkind etc kills people (atkins died fat with congestive heart faliure) atkind type diet works short term then most people blow up and start binging on unhealthy things – atkins type diet is not sustainable. I know i was on it for 2 years folling advice from my personal trainer who is now depressed and taked tonns of suppliment just so he can stay awake, with dr mcdougal programme i eat things i love and have all the energy i want to thinings in life that i want to do.

    peaceandhappy wrote on February 14th, 2013
  15. Mark,
    I agree that processed carbs are not a healthy diet.

    You stated “I couldn’t avoid losing a few pounds of hard-fought muscle myself over the week.
    Q: What objective measure did you use to quantify this conclusion?

    JD Mumma wrote on February 19th, 2013
    • Uh, maybe he stepped on a scale. He doesn’t have much fat to lose!

      Nocona wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  16. This is just a gross misrepresentation of what the mcdougall diet is all about. He doesn’t offer sugary drinks, He doesn’t promote refined foods, he doesn’t insinuate that you can supplement. He strictly advocates against all three of those things. Besides B12. Author is a liar. Mcdougall has helped countless people, with various ailments. Someone should club mark sisson with a brontosaurus femur everytime he lies.

    Rob wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • “This is just a gross misrepresentation of what the mcdougall diet is all about. He doesn’t offer sugary drinks”

      He recommends fruit juice- I’m looking at his page now. 8 ounces of fresh apple juice contains more sugar than the same amount of Sprite. Do you consider Sprite a sugary drink?

      “He doesn’t promote refined foods

      Soy and nut cheese aren’t refined foods? Ener-G Egg Replacer? Tofu mayonaise? Light Tofutti? Frozen juice bars? I’m looking at the list of “allowed foods” on his official website right now. You are mistaken.

      “He strictly advocates against all three of those things. Besides B12.”

      You are mistaken. (And the B12 IS a supplement after all.)

      “Author is a liar.”

      Mark is dead on… not a single lie.

      “Someone should club mark sisson with a brontosaurus femur everytime he lies.”

      Perhaps it would be helpful to club the ignorant instead, before they get their hands on a keyboard.

      ~Huntress

      paleohuntress wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • Huntress, that was a sublime reply. Most of these vegetarians STILL think fruit juice is healthy. It’s off the charts full of sugar (not to mention the newer and newer varieties of fruit grown with more sugar content, unlike the much less sweet whole fruit of ancient days). Just look at all that Frankenfood the Doctor served, and I use the word Doctor loosely.

        Nocona wrote on February 22nd, 2013
        • Nacona,

          Thank you. =) And I agree, his dependence on soy foods is pretty scary. Indigestible sugars, biounavailable proteins, estrogen mimickers, chelators and goitrogens does not a healthy food, make. ~shudders~

          paleohuntress wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • Certainly, taken out of context without reading the whole program one might assume he advocating drinking processed big name pure sugar fruit juices. of corse, he isn’t. The juices hes talking about are fresh juices, squeezed at home. but i did forget that this is the low carb, we-think-we-know-how-people-in-the-paleolithic-era-lived-and-fruit-is-what-makes-america-fat forum, regardless of what science says. For that, i apologize for even commenting in the first place. Contrary to how it may sound, all (ok most) of those substitutes he offers are minimally processed and could be made in a kitchen. He does go on to say how small a role all of those things you mention should have in someones diet. While he allows those foods as a means to keep the diet from being impossible for some people or newcomers to follow, he does stress the importance of keeping your diet “whole”. As far as the B12 “argument” goes, its one of the most neglected nutrients in any diet, vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. Animals dont make it, Heat destroys it, disinfecting our food kills it and washing soil off of food kills it. If we still foraged for food the way they did in the past, we would surely get B12 rich soil in our diet. im not eating dirt, so ill eat a supplement. Pretty sure Weston A. Price tub-o-lard Sally Fallon is a big B12 advocate as well, among many others that may or may not be respected in the paleo world. plus, if “going primal” was so perfect why are there two sidebars on this page selling supplements? Mark IS a liar, A liar who bases his ideas on poorly researched half-truths or incomplete information. His poorly researched ideas and easily debunked hypothesis on diet, genes and how we evolved as a species single-handedly (yes, im exaggerating) turned me into a vegan and managed to cure a litany of ailments, for that, i suppose i should thank him. Managing heart problems while still eating grain products, does put a monkey wrench in the gears at Paleo Inc. but it also feels great, having tried a low carb fad paleo type diet and feeling miserable, now, being able to take control of my life.

        Rob wrote on February 22nd, 2013
        • Rob,

          “one might assume he advocating drinking processed big name pure sugar fruit juices. of corse, he isn’t. The juices hes talking about are fresh juices, squeezed at home.”

          You’ll note that I said fresh squeezed apple juice. Not the stuff from the supermarket. And I’ll repeat, a freshly juiced apple contains more sugar (and more free fructose) than the same amount of Sprite.

          “fruit-is-what-makes-america-fat forum”

          We know with absolute certainty that primitive man didn’t have access to fruit for more than a few weeks a year. We also know that that glut of fructose in the Fall triggered seasonal leptin and then insulin resistance, and that it is this adaptation that allowed primitive man to store fat to get him through lean Winters. We know with absolute certainty that the fruit he DID have access to contained significantly less sugar than today’s fruits do.

          “He does go on to say how small a role all of those things you mention should have in someones diet. While he allows those foods as a means to keep the diet from being impossible for some people or newcomers to follow, he does stress the importance of keeping your diet “whole”.”
          Perhaps if you’d been genuine in your criticism and used this language to begin with, you wouldn’t have been slapped down so harshly.

          “Animals dont make it” [B12]

          That’s very true- but their flesh does contain it, and the primary source of B12 is the gut flora of an animal.

          “Pretty sure Weston A. Price tub-o-lard Sally Fallon is a big B12 advocate as well”

          Why do people think Sally Fallon is respected in the Paleo world? She advocates eating grains, beans and dairy- all THREE of these things are eschewed in paleo diets. Why would we CARE what Sally Fallon advocates?

          “Mark IS a liar, A liar who bases his ideas on poorly researched half-truths or incomplete information.”
          This is the second time you’ve called him a liar, and he still isn’t. Do you think if you say it again, it somehow becomes true? Mark isn’t the only Paleo expert out there- there are many others (Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, Matt LaLonde, Ray Audette)- and most depend on peer-reviewed science as their resource. So if you think his ideas are poorly researched, quit bitchin’ and provide your own. Please do share your citations to peer-reviewed evidence. I for one am always open to learning something new. I spent two years as a vegan and was pretty heavily invested in it until the science showed me otherwise. So please, show me I’m wrong. Show me that the resolution to the diabetes, the hypertension, the GERD, the depression, the infertility and the acne were just a fluke- that my cholesterol came down from over 300 to just over 130 after leaving veganism, and I lost 100 pounds and my inflammation markers vanished due to some unaccounted-for confounder. Because really and truly, I’m always looking for better science.

          Above all though, be genuine. For someone to be a liar, they actually have to LIE. You not agreeing with them isn’t the same thing, especially when you don’t bother backing it up with evidence.

          ~Huntress

          paleohuntress wrote on February 22nd, 2013
        • Rob, what exactly was taken out of context? Huntress has her arrows pointed at you like a deer in headlights. You are dead in the water my friend. Try a different track next time.

          Nocona wrote on February 23rd, 2013
      • I have read The Starch Solution and in my opinion you are taking the facts out of context. Mark Sisson is not a liar, but he also has not read McDougall’s books and in my opinion, he implies certain things in the article that are more an indication of his biases than anything grounded in fact aka marathon runner, “she looked like hell,” ergo vegan diet is the cause. This can be easily debunked by the fact that 1) Triathletes are generally not muscular-looking 2) Age and 3) If you used to be overweight your skin will tend to be “baggier” and age will cause it to sag over time (she was overweight, I checked) 4) Spending a lot of time in the sun will give you wrinkles. The fact that she is 62 and still an athlete is actually quite remarkable, and should indicate that her internal organs are functioning quite well even if she doesn’t look great on the outside. How many 62-year-old triathletes do you know?

        I think McDougall allows fruit juices and those other “refined” foods and sauces as a transitional step, not as a large and meaningful part of a starch-based diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Many people who attend these kinds of “live-in” programs have some pretty severe problems; they are not very healthy. You can’t simply ask them to give up the SAD overnight. That’s a huge change in lifestyle. Hence the need to flavor ingredients like potatoes, beans, whole grains that are much blander than hot dogs, hamburgers, fried foods, etc. When asked what the ideal diet is, he is unequivocal: sweet potatoes and vegetables. This is what the Kitavans and Okinawans ate; Peruvians used to eat 75% potatoes with a variety of fruits and vegetables and small amounts of animals foods. Every single large and successful human population on earth has survived on a starch-based diet. There can be no disagreement on this point. McDougall is 100% correct when he says that human beings are primarily “starchivores.”

        The controversy arises when vegans and paleo followers debate the necessity of animal foods in human diets. McDougall makes clear that it is at present “unknown” according to scientific research if meat in small amounts occasionally is necessary for optimal human health over the long-run, but he is again 100% absolutely right that most people are eating too much animal foods. The reason he advocates a vegan diet and not a starch-based diet with small additions of meat is because, in his own words, “it’s a slippery slope.” If your goal is to treat very sick people who eat animal foods every day, the only way to really get the drastic results these people want is to cut out all animal foods entirely.

        Traditional Chinese Medicine says it’s ok for people to eat animal products 3-4 times week but not more than 2-3 oz in one day. Dairy products are used in vegetarian Indian cuisine in small amounts. Fish eggs and seafood were eaten again in small amounts by the Okinawans. It’s all about balance…Humans are starchivores, they need to eat cooked vegetables and grains primarily with some fruit, nuts and seeds in small amounts. Animal foods may or may not be necessary…Science will tell us eventually…

        Tony wrote on June 9th, 2013
  17. Ive been vegetarian for about 10 years, I eat my pet chickens their eggs though. I agree that higher fat is good. I tried high carb for a while but it screwed up my menstruation, I lost too much weight, my skin became very dry, and other weird shit… I now eat more fat and I am very healthy. I don’t eat gluten and mostly eat vegetables, lentils, beans, some rice, buckwheat, and lately more fat like coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, eggyolks… My skin improved dramatically. Because I had been low fat for years before that. At first i thought low fat was the way to go, but it isn’t.

    I don’t need or eat meat though, I am a vegetarian not for health reasons but for the love for animals :) My own chickens are treated like kings and queens.

    Ann wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. “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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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

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