For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a couple questions. The first one is a big one, one that multiple people have asked me across several different mediums: why don’t I do a full review of “Game Changers,” the vegan documentary on Netflix, or at least watch the film? I explain why I won’t watch it, why I don’t think it’s worth your time, and why I’ve already addressed it all before. Then, I answer why sugar is such a fixation for us and give some options for avoiding or mitigating it.
How come you dismissed the “Game Changers” documentary without watching it?
Because it’s not worth my time. The premise is simply preposterous.
Humans are omnivores. We have eaten meat for millions of years. And not just “eaten meat.”
We used animal femurs as bone marrow storage containers. We fought off massive African predators just to get at the meat and crack the bones for the goodness inside. We slurped brains. We smashed bones to bits and boiled them in animal skin bags to extract every last ounce of collagen and fat. We drove entire species to extinction in our lust for large portions of fatty animal meat.
Even after we were hunter-gatherers, the importance of animal products persisted. The biggest influx of humanity that provided a large portion of extant DNA across Europe and huge parts of Asia were livestock-driving nomadic herdsmen who ate cheese and yogurt (animal products—and not low-fat), drank blood, and hunted game. They farmed a little but relied so heavily on animal products for their calories that they had to borrow the agricultural words from the populations they displaced. To give you a taste of how important animal products were to them, their word for wealth was the same as the word for cattle.
What—that just goes away? Those millions of years of slurping and gnawing and atlatl-ing and spear throwing and stalking and weapons-craft and herding…don’t matter?
So, when a persuasive documentary comes out preaching about the evils of red meat (and let’s face it: it’s always about red meat) and the benefits of excising all meat from your diet in favor of plants, I laugh. I shrug. I smirk even.
Red meat consumption is down across the board. People listened to the “experts.” And guess what? Health got worse. Waists grew. Healthcare spending shot up. Diabetes spiked. Heart disease persisted (deaths decreased, thanks to better emergency care, but incidence is still there).
Does the documentary address all that? Does it mention the word “evolution”?
My time matters too much to me to waste it on the documentary. The arguments I’ve laid out in other responses to attacks on meat eating stand and, most likely, apply to the arguments in the documentary. Check these out for a few of my explorations of the “meat is bad” topic:
Read those, then get back to me. And I probably still won’t watch the documentary.
I’d rather spend my time:
Helping people who want the help.
Coming up with interesting new products that help people make better choices in the grocery store.
Playing Ultimate frisbee (and playing in general).
Writing about new topics or new developments of old topics.
I have yet to see a new argument from the plant-based crowd. I’ve heard the same things for years upon years. Nothing changes. “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
We have better things to do. Bigger fish to fry (in a gluten-free breading using low-PUFA oil kind of way).
How to conquer sugar addiction and is there a primal need to eat something sweet? Would Grok ever get the urge for something sweet?
Our relationship with sugar goes way back. In ancestral situations, sugar was rare. The urge to eat something sweet was so strong because it was so hard to get—a powerful urge was required to coerce the organism to do the work required to get the sugar. And in those situations, sugar was beneficial. An odd trove of honey represented a potent source of caloric energy, a way to replenish glycogen stores. Acute doses versus chronic overload. We have old cave paintings from 25000 years ago of honey hunters climbing trees to grab hives; that’s how much they prized it. Fruit, while not always plentiful or as oversized as today’s fruit, definitely existed—albeit to varying degrees depending on the climate and region. The farther you got from the equator, the scarcer sweet tastes became.
Even up to a few hundred years ago, when sugar was actually available, it remained a luxury item. It had to be imported, out of reach for most regular people.
Today, sugar is everywhere. We’re glutted with the stuff. We can’t escape it. And yet we still retain that ancestral mindset of sugar scarcity. Our bodies still crave it. Our physiological desires were molded in the context of low sugar availability. Introduce them to a sugar-replete environment and you get obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and tooth decay.
I’m not sure if there’s a physiological need today to consume sugar. But there’s certainly a physiological desire to consume it. And really, the only way past it is to erect artificial barriers to sugar consumption.
Don’t keep sugar in the house.
Don’t use artificial sweeteners or even natural ones like stevia or monk fruit if they trigger the craving for real sugar.
Just say no. Sheer willpower may not hold out forever, but in those instances where you’re faced with an intense dose of sugar and you don’t want to eat it, don’t give in. You can do this.
Chronic doses of sugar are the real killer: those little peanut butter cups at the co-worker’s desk you grab every time you walk by, those peanut M&Ms at the secretary’s desk, those half donuts in the break room—they add up. They always add up. Acute doses of sugar probably aren’t a big deal for most reasonably healthy people. High quality dessert after a great dinner out? Birthday party and the host is a legit whiz in the kitchen? Try it.
Avoid anything you’re intolerant of or allergic to, of course. Avoid gluten whenever possible.
Whatever you do, don’t waste your acute doses of sugar on garbage. Don’t eat a Hostess donut. Don’t eat a half gallon of low-fat frozen yogurt from those places that charge you by the ounce.
Eat real ice cream made with great ingredients—just a child’s scoop. Don’t get the weird “ice cream” shake from the fast food joint.
Don’t get the microwaved lava cake from the chain restaurant. Share a portion of real panna cotta from the fancy restaurant.
That’s it for today, folks. If you have any other suggestions or comments or questions, throw them in down below.
Take care, everyone.