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.


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. Greg, you promote the use of logic yet you say, “Every type of food from an animal causes inflammation of some type in the human body”. Wow. Your statement is a brilliant example in the failure to successfully wield logic.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on December 23rd, 2012
  2. Agreed, Ron. 100 calories of sirloin is ANTI-inflammatory- having an inflammation factor of 16, (below zero is inflammatory and above is anti-inflammatory) while 100 calories of whole grain wheat is PRO-inflammatory (-60).

    I wish people would look at the actual science before making such sweeping generalizations.

    paleohuntress wrote on December 26th, 2012
  3. Yeah really Greg….have you not noticed that there are a number of fully functioning adults here that might like some sort of substance to back up such assertions, or do you enjoy exhibiting a complete lack of knowledge?

    Xfingxfing wrote on January 3rd, 2013
  4. Weston Price was also pro-grain, and LOTS of it. The Swiss had more dental caries than grain-free cultures, but they didn’t have many compared to those eating “modern foods”. They didn’t have anything LIKE what we have today.

    paleohuntress wrote on December 26th, 2012
  5. Ah ha ha ha hah! And I have this bridge in Brooklyn I’m looking to sell. Ahem.

    “Huntress, grain doesn’t give contribute [sic] to heart attacks. Try again.”

    I’m curious Ted, do you KNOW what forum you’re in?

    paleohuntress wrote on December 26th, 2012
  6. Hold me close, tiny dancer!

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on December 26th, 2012
  7. I do not like to be an avatar judge, but he looks like a fat asian.

    I grew up in a cross hispanic/white/asian community, and from what i have seen, fat first off the boat asians do not get fat unless they eat a SAD diet.

    If you are Samoan, I apologize. (See “Pulp Fiction” reference).

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on December 26th, 2012
  8. I should like to point out that there seems to be a strong connection between how close you live to the equator, and the state of your teeth. You know, lots of sun = high Vit D production = good calcium retention. I never cease to be amazed by the beauty of the immigrants’ teeth I see here! And, yes, they most certainly do eat grain. I see them buying their traditional foods in their grocery stores, where I shop, too. Giant bags of millet, wheat flour, teff, rice, etc. Not to mention legumes. Of course, some of them know to ferment these foods, but likely not all.

    Of course, after a generation or so here in the more northerly latitudes, unless they take vitamin D, these dark people’s teeth, bones and general health will of course decline. The dept. of health reminds them to do this from what I heard on the news.

    Re the Swiss and other European tribes, isn’t it obvious that over the generations they instinctively craved dairy products to balance out the acidity and anti-mineral factors in the grain. The Africans fermented their grains and the Europeans developed cow- or goat-milking. Ah, what a strange world…

    None of the above developed or happened over one or two years. It took aeons.

    While I’m here – would the no-cavities state of anyone’s teeth be the only indicator of very good health? There are white European people who have no cavities, never have (I know some such folks), but do have gum disease. It appears to be an either/or thing for the most part, but there are exceptions.

    I like these discussions, it’s all grist for the mill and sometimes one learns something.

    Wyandotte wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  9. Wyandotte,

    While I understand that their teeth appear healthy, I don’t believe they necessarily are. For example, Ecuador has one of the highest rates of dental disease/decay in the world, and you can’t get much closer to the equator. (

    Even Weston Price found that the cultures eating the most grains (the Swiss) had the highest levels of decay, even among those still eating their ancestral diets. I do actually believe that nutrient density is the key to healthy teeth, but the reason preparing grains ancestrally doesn’t make all that much difference to us today is because the remainder of our diets isn’t nearly as nutrient dense. Soil depletion and our farming methods (including what we feed our food animals) makes for less nutritious food- meaning we have to be more diligent about getting the maximum nutrition in for every calorie. We cannot afford to have those foods displaced by grains (which never have contained much nutrition).


    paleohuntress wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  10. Pardon the errors but spelling and grammar didn’t even exist a few hundred years age hahah.

    PogoJack wrote on May 10th, 2013
  11. Pardon the errors but spelling and grammar didn’t even exist a few hundred years ago hahahah. now starve.

    PogoJack wrote on May 10th, 2013
  12. An option for those wanting to eat grain or to follow a non-dense-nutrient diet would be mineral supplementation, I guess. No use forcing a diet on yourself that just doesn’t “speak to you”. We are all an admixture of psychology, history, culture and physiology (ie, genes). There’s more going on than we see on the surface of a person’s life and desires. I would never, ever encourage someone to eat in a way he or she finds difficult to follow for any emotional or cultural reason. Right or wrong, a drive to eat a certain way fulfills us.

    Also, about all those dental cavities in Ecuador; are they all in the same ethnic groups? I’ve a penpal living there. She tells me that – at least in the area she resides in – the population is 1/3 white north americans; 1/3 original european, and 1/3 native “Indian”. I’d like to see a breakdown; I’m not arguing with what you have to say.

    Wyandotte wrote on May 22nd, 2013
  13. Any responses to my above post on (1) forcing healthy diets on oneself and (2) ethnic breakdown of all those dental cavities in the population of Ecuador? Tks.

    Wyandotte wrote on June 21st, 2013
  14. Wyandotte,

    I absolutely agree that it’s important to enjoy your diet. Years ago I read about an animal study that was confounded by the lab tech staying and playing with the mice after feeding them an “unhealthy” diet. Turns out that when we feel good about what we’re eating, it’s more likely to nourish us, even if it isn’t considered “healthy”. The Hawaiian study done on Japanese men found that maintaining their culture maintained their health even when they adopted American diets. The group that maintained their Japanese diets but adopted American CULTURE developed disease. Clearly, there is much more involved in good health than nutrition.

    As to the different ethnic groups in Equador, I do not know the breakdown- but I’m not clear on why that should make any difference if the point was that living near the equator appears to improve dental health. Would you mind clarifying?

    paleohuntress wrote on June 22nd, 2013
  15. Wyandotte, I would say be very careful about following the recommendations of the Weston Price Foundation…I have read Nutrition & Physical Degeneration cover-to-cover…there can be no doubt that Weston Price the man was a brilliant outside-the-box thinker…

    That said, I think it’s important to remember that he was studying some very isolated and small populations that lived on the fringes of civilization…In order to survive, these people had to eat whatever was abundant in their immediate environments…ie. Eskimos ate seafood, Aborigines ate whatever was around in the outback, which it’s important to remember is basically a gigantic desert…quite a dangerous environment unless you know what you’re doing, Swiss had rye and dairy but few fruits and little vegetables, Scots had oats and fish, but again few fresh fruits or vegetables, Masai had cattle and little else…you get the idea…the point I’m trying to make is that these tribes did not have grocery stores full of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, etc. year-round…but WE do!

    These indigenous people had few cavities according to Price…I’m inclined to believe that…However, to go from that premise to making the claim that one will get lots of cavities if one does not eat the foods that these people ate is a pretty big leap in my opinion…The WAPF implies that eating unfermented cereals/grains will cause cavities…this might be true if the only thing one ate were unleavened whole grain flat breads over long periods of time…But who among us would choose to do such a thing? When one eats a whole, unmilled grain, much of the phytic acid can be neutralized through a simple soaking, and there is much less surface area when it is unmilled…In addition, these grains are so packed with minerals, that you end up netting more minerals on balance…contrary to what huntress says about soil depletion, which is a bogus argument…even if the soil of one farm were “depleted” (I don’t even know what this means come to think of it, what do you define as being “depleted?”…If you can still grow crops organically in the soil, chances are its not devoid of much), consuming food from another part of the world would cancel out that effect…

    Mineral or vitamin supplements are a big no-no. They are harmful and have no benefits except for Vitamin B12…How could anything created in a factory be superior to an apple or a plate of spinach or carrots? It will never happen! If you want vitamin D in the middle of winter use a tanning bed…or better yet, just get outside during the summer and you’ll have plenty for the winter…

    Now, about your idea of “different strokes for different folks”…When it comes to diet, there is truth in this…but not to the extent that you and many other folks on this discussion board imply…human beings are not so different biologically that some of them are biological carnivores or fruitivores, while others are starchivores and fativores…it’s just not plausible, nor is it accurate…Anyone who says they tried a vegan diet and it effed them up is 100% guaranteed to have done it wrong and/or they were simply ill to begin with…Huntress thinks I’m being arrogant in saying this, but within the same species, all over the world there is very little variation in the basic diet….you don’t see some chimpanzees stuffing themselves with meat while others eat fruit and still others eat bark and leaves…People do not do enough research before starting a vegan diet and they don’t understand that well-cooked and prepared complex carbohydrates must form the bulk of the diet. Don’t boil your grains in a lot of water or you will not get enough calories…Some people may need a little more warming foods or cooling foods or strengthening or cleansing foods, but overall, the traditional Chinese diet has worked for billions of people over the ages, and China is the most populous country on earth…clearly they were doing something right…the Chinese diet is “cu cai, dan fan” literally: common vegetables and plain rice.

    Tony wrote on June 21st, 2013
  16. “human beings are not so different biologically that some of them are biological carnivores or fruitivores”

    This is true- there are no human carnivores and no human fruitarians (frugivores). Humans are omnivores.

    Anyone who says they tried a vegan diet and it effed them up is 100% guaranteed to have done it wrong and/or they were simply ill to begin with…

    100% guaranteed? You haven’t been vegan yet even as long as I was vegan. lol The arrogance it takes to make such an unfalsifyable claim is astonishing.

    “Huntress thinks I’m being arrogant in saying this”

    No, Huntress thinks you are arrogant. Period.

    “People do not do enough research before starting a vegan diet”

    And this is coming again from a new vegan. LMAO You are like the new twenty-something Amway salesperson, with their freshly cut hair and cheap suit, promising folks they WILL get rich selling Amway… he “guarantees” it. ~rolls eyes~

    My dietitian was VEGAN herself. Do you understand that? Why does every vegan think they are the only expert? The 80/10/10 group says the McDougall group has it all wrong, the MsDougall camp says the fruitarians are stupid… and on and on. Every branch of the vegan religion is dogmatic and pious and all believe they’ve been imbued with the gift of mind-reading and foresight. My dietitian took the preparation of grains very seriously… she was quite spiritual about it… even going so far as to have me stir the cooking pot in the same direction a certain number of times. There is no lack of calories in grains… ever. They make people fat. People gorge on them… the reward is high… and no matter the type of grain, my blood sugar skyrocketed.

    Now you can continue to arrogantly claim that it’s not possible, but I’m the one who was looking at the numbers on the glucometer and you’re just the asshole telling me it was my imagination and that it would be different NOW. ~boggles~ I ate a whole-food, vegan det for two years… the types of food changed a few times during those two years, but it was a WHOLE FOOD, ORGANIC diet.

    As for the China Study- you have to love the book experts. They’re utterly convinced by the claims of their gurus but they rarely dig into their sources. For all of the vegans I’ve met who claim to have read The China Study (a book that no reputable science publisher would publish, sending Campbell to a publisher of fiction) not a single one looked into Campbell’s citations to see if they actually supported his claims.

    I recently saw a debate between Campbell and a low-carb doc. Campbell specifically states that his data showed that plant fat was associated with disease while animal fat was not. Campbell’s schtick is all about protein.

    This is the link to the debate–> ( He is discussing breast cancer and the link to diet. At the 50 minute mark he states,

    “It turns out that animal fat does NOT promote breast cancer, plant fat does a better job at that. So here we’ve got a dilemma, a really serious dilemma… So therefore… what is basically the answer? It turns out that the plant fat, you know, causing increased breast cancer risk when fed at higher levels, it increases oxidation for one thing. The animal fat doesn’t.”

    From the man’s own mouth.

    Campbell mentions a rat study in Forks Over Knives… rodents were given aflatoxin and fed 2 different diets. One with 20% protein (casein) and one with 5%. He found that they were more likely to get cancer if they ate high-casein diets and actually claimed that the ones fed low-protein diets were less likely to develop malignant tumors. Technically that was true. This was the defining study for him- THIS was the one he chose to share in a documentary.

    However, the low casein rats ALL DIED YOUNG. Every. Last. One. They got less cancer because they didn’t live long enough to develop tumors. And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the point of avoiding cancer to actually live LONGER?

    Arch Pathol. 1968 Feb;85(2):133-7 | The effect of dietary protein on carcinogenesis of aflatoxin The paper specifically states that six months into the study they stopped feeding the daily aflatoxin because half of the low protein rats had died– and eventually the reminder before the two year mark. ALL of the high protein rats survived past 2 years.


    Then he did similar tests on monkeys and found that the LOW CASEIN group developed cancer but that the high casein group DIDN’T did not. You know, monkeys… actual PRIMATES.

    “Monkeys on low protein diet surviving for 90 weeks or more show foci of preneoplastic lesions, whereas those on high protein diet reveal no such alterations at the corresponding time interval…”

    And although he CLAIMS otherwise, according to Campbell’s OWN data, plant protein was MORE strongly correlated with cancer than animal protein.

    In his 1983 study (Cancer Res. 1983 May;43(5):2150-4 | Effect of high and low dietary protein on the dosing and postdosing periods of aflatoxin B1-induced hepatic preneoplastic lesion development in the rat)

    He finds:

    “Some degree of bile duct proliferation was observed in all animals dosed with AFB1. However, the groups fed the 5% casein diet during the dosing period had relatively severe bile duct proliferation and cholangiofibrosis [fibrosis of the bile duct]. In these groups, the architecture of the liver was often distorted by fibrous septa. Groups fed the 20% casein diet during the dosing period had mild bile duct proliferation and no cholangiofibrosis.


    In his OWN first study a few years later (J Nutr. 1972 Jan;102(1):53-60 | Effect of protein deprivation of male weanling rats on the kinetics of hepatic microsomal enzyme activity.)

    He writes-

    “The effect of protein deficiency in male weanling rats on the activity of the hepatic microsomal enzyme system was studied. A deficiency of dietary protein was shown to increase the toxicity of aflatoxin for rats.”

    He again looked at levels of 5 and 20% protein from casein, though there was a second 20% group where he restricted calories as well. Typically a healthy rat will double it’s body weight (50-100 grams) in 2 years (and the 20% group did), but the 5% protein group only reached 75 grams. The low protein group also developed fatty livers.

    He also writes:

    “the normal rate of cell proliferation would have been decreased during protein deprivation, which is similar to the retardation of brain cell growth of young malnourished animals.


    Campbell did another study in 1980 with aflatoxin (J Toxicol Environ Health. 1980 May;6(3):659-71 | Subcellular distribution and covalent binding of aflatoxins as functions of dietary manipulation.)

    In the 20% casein diet they added aflatoxin at five parts per million (5 ppm) aflatoxin, but the 5% casein diet with only half that– 2.5 ppm. the stated reason was,

    “5 ppm was found to be lethal for this dietary group.”

    In every study he’s done, he’s shown that the higher protein group does better in every area. It is bizarre that he claims otherwise.”


    Campbell also published a study in 1978 (Fed Proc. 1976 Nov;35(13):2470-4 | The effect of quantity and quality of dietary protein on drug metabolism)

    He writes:

    “The toxicities of several pesticides have been shown to be markedly increased, such as that of captan which is increased 2,100 times by protein deficiency.”

    In the summary of his findings he lists 3 toxins whose toxicity decreased on low-protein (5%) diets and 18 (6 times more) whose toxicity increased on low-protein diets.

    His concluding sentence reads:

    “This observation suggests that the low protein intake was not sufficient to allow for tissue recovery from the acute toxic effects.”

    So in 1978, he describes 5% as “protein deficiency” and later it becomes “ideal”?!


    The China Study was a train-wreck… and you are happily along for the ride.

    paleohuntress wrote on June 22nd, 2013
  17. This is exactly why we have so much confusion about diet…you exemplify the fact that many Americans believe they can accurately understand isolated experimental results even when they have no formal training in nutrition or epidemiology, or simply do not understand the larger context…This is why Campbell was forced to write a rebuttal to Denise Minger’s article because so many people started to question the validity of the China Study after a professional blogger with an amateur interest in statistics decided to tackle the raw data…She had no idea what she was talking about…you think I’m arrogant, and yet you’re interpreting the science like you have a clue…This is why we have experts…They don’t always agree with each other, but at least they know what they’re talking about…

    As for Campbell saying that plant fats seem to cause breast cancer…you are again taking his words out of context, and framing them to fit your argument. Just because he mentioned plant fats, does not mean that whole plant foods that contain fat are carcinogenic. There are lots of refined, rancid vegetable oils out there, and I would not be surprised in the least if this is what he discovered…

    For all of these studies, you don’t have the larger context… and without that, you really cannot make any accurate assessments…One thing you don’t know is what else besides protein he was feeding those rats and monkeys…Why don’t you email Dr. Campbell your concerns and see what he replies? He might email you back, you never know…worth a try…

    On a serious note, why did you have a glucometer? The only people who tend to carry those are diabetics..Are you a type I diabetic? If so, you would still have to take insulin when going on a starch-based diet…If type II, you would be able to drop the insulin fairly quickly. I find it highly improbable that you really were eating a primarily cooked starch-based diet with little to no added fat and few animal products…It’s just not biologically possible for this kind of diet to cause diabetes unless there were something else going on in your diet or lifestyle either in the immediate past or at the same time that would cause some kind of digestive imbalance. The blood sugar going up on the glucometer is normal…I do not think you are being entirely forthcoming about what you actually ate…Don’t you think it’s remotely possible that it was the way you went about this diet and not the food groups themselves that was to blame? Even the Nurses Health Study which Campbell deplores shows that whole grains are correlated with significantly less diabetes, not more…and that’s studying a very unhealthy population of mostly carnivorous people…For whole grains to have such a noticeable effect despite the high animal food intake is a testament to just how powerful they are at normalizing blood sugar…

    Huntress I have offered you many possible scenarios for how a whole foods plant based vegan diet could cause digestive imbalances, and instead of logically going through each one and proving me wrong, you have not responded to any of them…All I’m getting from you are angry knee-jerk responses telling me that I’m arrogant, illiterate, and an asshole to boot…I understand what I said angers you, I wish it weren’t so, but my intention is not to piss you off contrary to what you might think…I really am curious as to why you had to start consuming added fats and animal foods when these have been proven throughout history to lead to disease and premature death…

    We all make mistakes…let me tell you my experience…

    When I first got interested in nutrition, I read all about the low-carb diets, paleo, primal, archevore, etc. I truly believed I had understood 1) The ancestral diet and 2) that this diet led to health. I consumed loads of saturated fats: butter, ghee, cream, red meat, fish, fish eggs, vegetables, fruit, and I eliminated grains. Within a month, I felt terrible…so I went to see a very old, very experienced Chinese acupuncturist who advised me to radically change this diet…I purchased books online about Chinese medicine and read all about their idea of nutrition. I started eating the same food I eat now, but I was paranoid about improper food combining, over eating, and I cooked my grains with too much water…Although I didn’t admit it to myself at the time, I had an eating disorder…The result? Since I wasn’t eating enough calories and wasn’t listening to my body’s hunger signals, I lost 20 lbs! I looked emaciated, pale, and I felt like crap. At this point, I decided that the problem must have been with eating whole grains and not enough fat, so I started weightlifting and eating tons of pasta and white rice…I gained the weight back, but after a while I started to feel very groggy after eating…I decided to give whole grains another shot to see if that would help, but this time I ate as much as I wanted and cooked them with less water and didn’t add fats and didn’t worry about food combining or anything else…I have been following this diet for several months now, and I’ve never felt better in my life, I have no eating disorder anymore, things are going great for me professionally and in my personal life…so as you can see, I made a lot of mistakes because no one, not my dietitian, (who knew less than I did about food), not my doctor or anybody else had a clue about what constituted the proper diet for humans…In the end, traditional Chinese medicine had it right all along, but because of my stubbornness, I didn’t implement its recommendations correctly and no one gave me any guidance…I think you too suffered from a lack of guidance while you were on this vegan diet, and that’s why you were miserable…the diet itself was not the problem, but the implementation was…Please don’t interpret this as arrogance…I just have a very strong hunch that this was the case for you…

    Tony wrote on June 23rd, 2013
  18. It’s not an interpretation, Tony… it IS arrogance. Three months and you know it all!

    When you learn to read, I’ll be happy to debate you. But we’re on straw-man number five and I simply don’t have the energy to deal with illiteracy in the midst of a discussion on nutrition.

    My suggestion is to wait until the vegan hard-on has softened and you can read again. (Assuming you were able to read before.)

    paleohuntress wrote on June 24th, 2013
  19. I respect your decision to not divulge details of your previous diet to me…that is of course your prerogative, and I will not pursue the matter further…

    In the future though, I think you should keep your tone respectful…The internet is a giant anonymous forum, yes, but I don’t insult you or call you names or tell you that you’re illiterate and arrogant. No matter how angry and annoyed you might be, it just doesn’t reflect well on you as a person, and I doubt that you would have the courage to say these things to my face if we were in the same room…

    Tony wrote on June 24th, 2013
  20. I’m VERY frank and have no problem telling it like it is in person. I can just see you sitting across from someone in a conversation in mixed company and explaining that the diet they follow that brought them optimal health is going to kill them early and that they’re lying about the diet they used to follow– that as a 3 month vegan, YOU would know.

    Sit with that idea for a moment…

    Now tell me who’s being rude.

    The night doesn’t get insulted when you call it dark. Chocolate doesn’t get insulted when you call it bitter. We hold these things as self-evident… just as is your arrogance and lack of reading comprehension- (A/K/A illiteracy). If you don’t like being called arrogant and illiterate, then learn to be openminded when you read so that you can comprehend what’s being shared with you– and then try a little humbleness.

    Your questions to me have all already been answered. You’re just so busy formulating your next argument that you missed that.

    Feel free to go back over the thread, or check your email- I assume you get notifications since you respond to messages that aren’t even directed at you. Sort them by my user ID and peruse them again- you’ll be surprised by what you missed… that is, if you’re any more able to read them now than you were then.

    In the meantime, you are of course free to comment all you wish- but I’ll not engage you in any more dietary discussion until I can see that you’ve read what was written rather than the straw men you’ve produced. I love a good meaty debate, so I do hope you become able to engage in one at some point.



    paleohuntress wrote on June 25th, 2013
  21. I never said you were lying…I said you were not being entirely forthcoming, meaning you left out certain details…

    “I went vegan to avoid the heart disease and diabetes that runs in my family… and a few months in, I felt good and had lost over 20 pounds and was sure that I had. But then I started to feel crappy… and gain weight again. I saw a vegan dietician every other week- we worked closely together with my doctor getting lab work done. We 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.

    So here’s the thing- as a vegan I was ill. Removing grains and legumes and adding animal food made me healthy. Now I suppose one could suggest that I must have been a junk food vegan, and trust me, many a militant vegan have, but then, that would also suggest that paleo imparts magical willpower that allows me to eat whole foods NOW when I was simply “too tempted” as a vegan then. ~shrugs~ Whatever. Bottom line- vegan diet (including the high starch phase) raised my inflammation, my cholesterol, my weight, my fasting glucose– it caused acid reflux, seasonal depression, PCOS and even fibromyalgia. Ending the high starch, vegan diet? Health. In fact, there was no sign of the diabetes in less than 3 months. Now, you can argue that my current diet isn’t healthy all you want, but frankly, that would suggest that your idea of healthy if different than most. My cholesterol came down over4 100 points, as did my weight. My inflammation markers are at the low side of normal. My energy is the best it’s ever been. The GERD is gone, I haven’t had a bout of depression in 6 years, my skin is clear and I’m pain-free.”

    This is the extent of your response to the points that I made…You’ve asked me to be open-minded and read your responses carefully…I have, and you haven’t answered any of my questions…I will repeat what I said before: It is physiologically impossible for a low-fat diet of cooked whole grains to cause diabetes…This has never happened in history…This type of diet has been shown to reverse diabetes…Asians eat white rice and diabetes has been much less common than in the west…How do you explain this Huntress? They are eating your nemesis: refined carbs, and yet they have much less chronic disease than we do…Don’t tell me that this kind of diet works for billions of people around the world but not for you…This is so illogical…You can understand why I keep harping on this issue…The only way to get diabetes eating whole grains is to also eat lots of fats, sugars, spicy foods, alcohol, and possibly an eating disorder where the person just never reaches satiety (rare)…If you truly had diabetes, one or more of the above must have been a contributing factor, and I would like to know which one so I can know what to watch out for…There is zero cholesterol in whole grains…they cannot cause cholesterol to increase on their own! You were eating other foods and these increased your cholesterol!

    The reason I take issue with many of your statements is because you went from this bad experience, in which you clearly were eating improperly to condemning all whole grains and refusing to admit that eating the amounts of animal foods advocated by paleo is clearly doing massive harm to people’s health…

    That said…I can understand your claims that veganism caused a deficiency for you…This is plausible…You may have felt tired and depressed because you were deficient in certain nutrients and meat filled the gap…But diabetes and heart disease? No. Not possible….I am not so militant that I am unable to recognize that animal foods can have benefits and may be necessary in the long run…The jury is still out on this one…

    And I said meat…Notice Gandhi only mentions milk, not meat…he was a life-long vegetarian, and you again fail to take into account the context…In India at that time, many poor people were eating white rice, had few vegetables, they apparently had shortages of legumes, no soy products like in China, (which really helped the Chinese get better nutrition), little fruit, no nuts, and meat was a rarity…If these were the only foods available to me, I too would be consuming dairy products…heart disease be damned! I need to survive and do manual labor! Gandhi was one of the first to introduce soybeans and soy milk to India…He thought milk-drinking was a necessary evil and spent his entire life looking for alternatives…

    Tony wrote on June 25th, 2013
  22. Tony, I’m very impressed. You are without a doubt the most meticulous scientist who uses logic, studies, and ideas on proving a theory that you have already decided is true. But there is one problem with that. Deciding your theory is true before proving it, and collecting evidence to support it, is not good science. Good science entails drawing a theory from evidence first, and then proving the theory. You skipped step one.
    Bad scientists fall in love with their theory, just like Ancel Keys did, then try to prove it.
    All of your evidence is refutable.

    Dan Tanna wrote on August 29th, 2013
  23. Hi Tony!

    “eating the amounts of animal foods advocated by paleo is clearly doing massive harm to people’s health…”

    Could you point me to some of the sources for this statement, I don’t really know where to start and am very curious in obtaining more info.


    Cody wrote on January 5th, 2014
  24. Hi Tony!

    “eating the amounts of animal foods advocated by paleo is clearly doing massive harm to people’s health…”

    Could you point me to some of the sources for this statement, I don’t really know where to start and am very curious in obtaining more info.


    Cody wrote on January 5th, 2014
  25. Tony,

    “And I said meat…Notice Gandhi only mentions milk, not meat…he was a life-long vegetarian, and you again fail to take into account the context…”

    Please read this part of that quote from Ghandi again.

    “…..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

    Have you learned to read yet, Tony?

    Paleo Huntress wrote on February 1st, 2014
  26. Cody,

    First he’d have point us to some sources for the “amount of animal foods advocated by paleo”, since there are even paleo vegetarians. There is no set amount of animal food, no set amount of protein, carbohydrate or fat. Paleo is a whole food diet that eschews grains, legumes and dairy. However you mix that up within that template is up to you.

    Paleo Huntress wrote on February 1st, 2014

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