May 21

Veganed to death


It’s bad enough when such nutritional idiots as Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda (and maybe the peg-legged soon to be ex also, for all I know) endeavored to put their cat (cats are pure carnivores) on a vegetarian diet, but when misinformed parents do it to their newborn babies it’s beyond the pale. A couple were recently found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment for starving their baby to death by feeding him a vegan diet. The baby, Crown Shakur, weighted a mere 3.5 pounds when he died at 6 weeks of age. He had subsisted since birth primarily on soy milk and apple juice.
I don’t know any of the testimony that took place at the trial, but in comments to reporters the parents seemed to believe they were doing a good thing by feeding their baby a vegan diet.

The couple were found guilty May 2 of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children. A jury deliberated about seven hours before returning the guilty verdicts.
Defense lawyers said the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby, who was born at home, was in danger until minutes before he died.

I’m not in a position to rule on the guilt or innocence of these poor people, but my hunch is that they did think they were doing right. It would have been just as easy to buy real milk – and probably less expensive – than the soy. And they were feeding the baby apple juice. Had they simply neglected the baby, why would they have fed it anything at all?
My problem lies with the idiots who espouse this kind of diet. Humans need protein, vitamin B-12, and other nutrients that come from meat, or at least eggs and dairy products. If someone who is a diet faddist takes up this kind of vegan lunacy, I don’t have an argument with it. After all, it’s that adult person’s life and health. But when vegan diets are held out by the likes of PETA and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) – a mis-named organization if there ever were one – to be the optimal diets for human health it makes my blood boil. In my view, the people running the propaganda arms of these organizations are almost as culpable as these poor parents who will spend many, many years behind bars.
There is medical debate over which is the best diet for long-term health, and proponents of the low-carb diet duke it out with proponents of the low-fat diet. Though strongly in the low-carb camp, I’ll admit to there being some legitimate controversy. But there is no controversy over the fact that an unsupplemented vegan diet is deadly in the long run, and especially deadly to a newborn baby.
A few years ago the jerks at the PCRM came up with what they purported to be a study showing that people following low-carb diets often complained of fatigue and even bad breathe. (This ‘study’ was an accumulation and categorization of complaints that people ostensibly on low-carb diets had submitted to the PCRM website.) At the time I wrote a scathing piece refuting their idiocy that was published on a now-defunct low-carb e-zine. (If anyone is interested, I can dig it up and republish here.) Taken at their worst, these complaints were fairly trivial, whereas the complaint about the PETA/PCRM diet is that it can cause death in it’s followers due to malnutrition.
Nina Planck, about whom I’ve written in these pages, had an excellent editorial piece in today’s New York Times about the starvation of this baby and the lack of nutrients in a vegan diet.

Indigenous cuisines offer clues about what humans, naturally omnivorous, need to survive, reproduce and grow: traditional vegetarian diets, as in India, invariably include dairy and eggs for complete protein, essential fats and vitamins. There are no vegan societies for a simple reason: a vegan diet is not adequate in the long run.
Protein deficiency is one danger of a vegan diet for babies. Nutritionists used to speak of proteins as “first class” (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and “second class” (from plants), but today this is considered denigrating to vegetarians.
The fact remains, though, that humans prefer animal proteins and fats to cereals and tubers, because they contain all the essential amino acids needed for life in the right ratio. This is not true of plant proteins, which are inferior in quantity and quality — even soy.
A vegan diet may lack vitamin B12, found only in animal foods; usable vitamins A and D, found in meat, fish, eggs and butter; and necessary minerals like calcium and zinc. When babies are deprived of all these nutrients, they will suffer from retarded growth, rickets and nerve damage.

Those vegans with children should feed their children a diet rich in all the nutrients needed for good health. Then, when the kids grow up and can make responsible decisions about their own health and diet, if they want to choose the vegan lifestyle, they can. They should understand that they can cause their children, whom I’m sure they love very much, irreparable harm by foisting off on them a diet lacking in many of the nutrients essential to proper growth and development.

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  1. I agree with all the points you made. However, I think it should be pointed out that if these people had breastfed their newborn, as nature intended, the newborn would have received everything he needed (as long as mom had it to give). If these people were so into “natural” as to deliver at home, on wonders why they were bottlefeeding to begin with?
    Hi Cora–
    Good point.  I should have made it myself.

  2. I agree that breastfeeding would have been best but if this isn’t possible there is formula that provides all the nutrients. There is also soy based formula for babies that have a problem with regular formula. My daughter had to use this for both my grandsons. I also believe they don’t recommend regular milk until the baby is a year old.
    You’re right on all counts.

  3. I can’t believe anyone would feed a baby soy anything! might as well boil up the packaging it probably has more nutrients & less harmful toxins in it than the soy! What a marketing win that was for a crop that used to be used to make cardboard boxes!

  4. I’m curious what you feel are the controversial points in the low-carb vs. low-fat debate.
    I suppose the above story puts the “low-protein” diet out of the game 🙂
    I don’t really feel there is anything controversial because I’m squarely in the low-carb camp.  Others might say that there is no evidence as to which diet – low-fat or low-carb – in its pure form will provide the greatest long-term benefit because there has never been such a study.  I would counter that we have a ton of Paleolithic material with which to make an extrapolation, but there hasn’t been, nor is there ever likely to be, a long-term (15-20 year) study on the effects of either diet.  So it will continue to provoke controversy.
    I think the numbers have been coming in fast and furiously from all the studies done on the two diets over the past few years that the low-arb diet is vastly superior to the low-fat in the short term.  I can’t think of any reason it wouldn’t be in the long term as well, but since those studies won’t be done, it gives the low-fatters something to hang on to.  ‘Oh, yeah, you’ll lose weight, lower your cholesterol, reduce your blood sugar and blood pressure in the short run, but who knows what’s going to happen to you down the road.’ 

  5. I love it!
    A guy still promoting a low carb diet lecturing anyone about nutrition.
    Happy Heart Attack!
    Hi Eddie– 
    Your comment proves that there are still some dry areas of ignorance that the flood of scientific literature hasn’t managed to seep into.  But that’s assuming you could understand it if it got there.

  6. They were bottlefeeding because milk is verboten to vegans.
    “But wait”, you say, “that is either because it’s the exploitation of some poor critter, or because ‘humans did not evolve to ingest lactose’, or at the very least because casein is an opiate, none of which apply to human breast milk”.
    Well, you’d be correct, if those dingbats were actually making rational decisions in the first place, or at least had the right fatty and amino acids left in their tiny brains to do so now that they’d embarked on their veganism.
    But while it’s (theoretically) possible for intelligent people to decide to be vegan, and even to remain intelligent while a vegan if they work really hard to get the right nutrients, a great many of the vegans are simply trend-scrabbling proles, as with any other movement, except with less brain food.
    So “we don’t drink milk” would, of course, include their child.
    In which case, “natural selection” springs to mind.

  7. PETA response:
    Our hearts ache for the baby who was denied proper nourishment by his apparently ignorant parents.
    Such ignorance about nutrition is exactly why PETA promotes breast-feeding and a nutritious, healthful, varied, plant-based diet. PETA members’ own strong, athletic children are living proof that a vegan diet provides all the nutrients necessary for optimal growth and development.
    While this baby’s story is tragic, many, many more children are harmed by diets filled with junk food and cholesterol-laden meats, fish and dairy products, which contribute to the epidemic of obesity and its related diseases among children. Clogged arteries and adult-onset diabetes, conditions that once plagued only men and women in middle or old age, now strike kids who haven’t even hit puberty yet.
    Please visit for information on healthy, balanced diets for kids.
    Were this line of BS true, I would still opt for obesity, ‘clogged arteries,’ and adult-onset diabetes much later in life than die of malnourishment at 6 weeks old.  Fortunately, it’s simply a line of BS.  The only rational thought in the whole statement is that PETA promotes breast feeding.  At least they appear to have a few functioning brain cells among the lot of them.  But wait, isn’t breast milk a cholesterol-laden dairy product?


  8. Apparently a little knowledge was a fatal thing for the child victim and that is a tragedy. I don’t have an issue with your calling such people idiots because of the choices they make but I think you should draw the line at calling Paul McCartney’s soon-to-be ex as “peglegged.” That kind of name-calling should be beneath you. I don’t champion the celebrities and their excesses but Heather McCartney has lived 24 years with a prosthesis. Want to give that a try, Dr. Mike?
    Hi Barb–
    It’s not name calling, it’s descriptive.  There is a difference.  Had I written Paul and Pegleg, that would have been name calling, but to identify her as ‘his peglegged soon to be ex…’ is simply descriptive.  If I had written ‘Paul and his prosthetic-wearing soon to be ex…’ I assume that would have been okay?
    From all accounts I’ve read – and I hasten to add that I know neither of them personally – she is a gold-plated shrew, deserving of little delicacy in her description.  But her behavior could have been driven by the fact that she was fat deficient.

  9. I can’t get over this statement:
    Nutritionists used to speak of proteins as “first class” (from meat, fish, eggs and milk) and “second class” (from plants), but today this is considered denigrating to vegetarians.
    Really, has PC-ness gone that far that calling a protein second class is denigrating? The world is mad.
    Yup.  Wouldn’t want to have denigrating a vegetarian on my conscience, that’s for sure.


  10. Hi Mike–I agree that feeding an infant a vegan diet is child abuse, but there was evidence in this case that the parents simply starved the poor baby. (E.g. expert testimony that if he had been fed soy milk and apple juice he would at least be alive, albeit pitiful due to mental and physical delays.) The case occurred here it Atlanta and there was a lot of local media coverage.
    Hi Paul–
    Thanks for the update.  All I know is what I read in the national news sources.

  11. Doesn’t breast milk come under the heading of “animal products”? I’m surprised that PETA has deigned to endorse breast feeding.
    I was too. But maybe even they aren’t that radical.

  12. What about this one from 2005? They claim that the baby had no thymus gland. Would that cause her to starve to death?
    Another horrible story.
    Just imagine the hay PETA and the PCRM would make had these babies died while following a rigid low-carb diet.
    I don’t see how the lack of a thymus gland could cause a baby to starve to death.  A malfunctioning or non-functioning thymus gland leads to sever immunodeficiency, just as does severe malnutrition.  I would argue that the lack of a decent quantity of good fat and protein (the result of starvation from a vegan diet) would reduce the function of the thyroid, not the other way around.

  13. Barb is mistaken–Heather Mills lost part of her leg in 1993, which last time I checked was not twenty-four years ago. Either way, she must have jumped (as best as one can with 1.5 legs) with joy when she realized that she was going to get McCartney to marry her without a pre-nup. Yep, veganism obviously leads to intelligence. He’s lucky all he’s losing is $25 million.
    One of my co-workers is a vegan and is constantly lecturing me about “poison meat.” Meanwhile, she wears leather shoes and belts and has a very fancy leather handbag. I like to watch her sputter when I point this out.
    Hi Patricia–
    Yes, Heather has scored pretty well, I would say.
    I guess it’s okay for vegetarians to wear animals as long as they don’t eat them.


  14. how horrific.
    When walking today i was thinking what should be done with the folks and as ill informed as they were sending them to jail for life seems archaic unless they meant to kill the child which sounds kinda unlikely.
    I mean 1 they lose a child and 2 they know it was their total fault;that’d be a tough thing to bear..let alone your life is destroyed cos of the prison sentence (Does life in the US mean life..til they chance of parole)
    The road to hell can be indeed paved with good intentions.
    Very saddening.
    And to Mr Edwardo Thomas who made the sarcy comment about heart attack.Go live somewhere where food is really scarcely avail. ….parts of sub Saharan Africa…. and then tell the locals you’re a vegetarian..they’ll look at you as if you truly are mad..which from yr post you might well be; and ironcally by the time you realize this it might be too late ! And of course why do we know we’re right and you;re wrong.
    Biology sonny and evolution. And if you have any sense, which from yr post sounds unlikely, you’ll read about H-G cultures and what they ate and what are still the favoured foods.
    Read Cordain, Read Conner, read Boyd Eaton, Read Marvi Harris, read De Vore and RBLee and listen and remove thine head from yr arse, Brother.
    Hi Simon–
    Good to hear from you.  I think the attorney for this couple is trying to get a new trial, and from what I read there may be a chance.  In any case, life isn’t really life in this case, but at least 20 or so years, which ain’t a short amount of time any way you hack it.
    I fear that our friend Edwardo is probably ill fained to dig into your reading selections, although they would no doubt do him good.

  15. I can’t help but wonder about the significance of the lack of response on my comment.
    I know you intended to start doing that, but I was the only one given the honor, this time.
    The possibilities:
    * It is so mean that you’re shunning it.
    * You agree, so ’nuff said
    * I’m so mean that you’re shunning me
    * You agree, but don’t wanna be blamed for the politically incorrect presentation
    * It was so boring that you didn’t bother
    * It was approved by elves
    * The world doesn’t revolve around me
    The reason the elves would not include a comment is the general lack of a Quenya font.
    Hi Kaz–
    Of the above choices I would have to go with: [I] agree, so ’nuff said.
    I’m trying – as a time saving maneuver – to post comments that are just that: comments, without a response.  Unless I totally disagree with them, in which case I’ll try to make my case.  Your comment was simply your commentary on the situation, which I pretty much agreed with.
    Looking at your picture on your website, you don’t look like the sensitive type.  I guess appearances can be deceiving.


  16. I’m suspicious of the parents. One of the things that vegans, or at least vegetarians claim is that their diets are the more natural, many claim that our ancestors were naturally vegetarian, anthropological evidence to the contrary. Breastfeeding is the most natural act, so why wasn’t the mama doing this? Neither soy milk nor apple juice is to be found in our ancient past, both being very recent inventions in terms of our time on this planet, so I don’t know what the parents could have been thinking.
    Hi LC–
    Maybe both of the parents simply weren’t thinking, which is a bad thing when one is responsible for another’s life.

  17. During a three month vegan stint last year, I learned two things:
    – Many vegans (about half of them) are hypocritical, stupid, and malicious.
    – Many omnivores (about half of them) are hypocritical, stupid, and malicious.
    The diet one chooses has little or nothing to do with that person’s intelligence. Many vegans (about half of them) are just trying live their lives in a way that they understand to be healthy and more compassionate. Because they are wrong about the health “benefits” does not make them malicious.
    Were these particular parents stupid? Absolutely. But any omnivore who uses a few isolated incidents to judge all (or even most) vegans is simply ignorant.
    To this day it pains me to hear people badmouth vegans, as if all vegans support PETA, preach to strangers, burn down animal testing facilities, and maliciously starve their children to death. I still consider myself to be “mostly vegetarian,” though I’d never admit it to anyone without the relative anonymity of the Internet. I can do without the sneers and judgment, thanks.
    I would hope that an M.D. like yourself could be a little less critical of the misinformed.
    Hi Ben–
    Point taken.  But, if you must know, I’m only hypercritical of the of the 50 percent of them who are “hypocritical, stupid, and malicious.”
    I have no problem with anyone’s being a vegetarian; what I have a problem with is their constant harping that the vegetarian lifestyle is the most healthful.  The evidence is there for anyone to see that it isn’t, so when they go on about, I feel compelled to point out that they are idiots.

  18. Jesus H — I never imagined that this could be such fun. I sure would like to pull up alongside a few of these folks and have a peek through the driver’s side window just to see what they look like.
    Me too. 

  19. I’m a vegan with a 5 week old son. I breastfeed him and he’s thriving. He was 7lbs 10 oz when he was born, and at his last checkup 2 weeks ago, weighed 8 lbs 9 oz. Since human milk is designed for human babies, that is all he will get until he starts solids and weans himself off the breast at his own leisure.
    The parents in the article were irresponsible and whether they were vegan or omni, that is what should be emphasized.
    Hi Karmyn–
    You didn’t ask for my advice, but I’ll give it to you anyway.  Keep him on the breast for at least a year.

  20. No vegan societies??? From 1976-1988 the National Institutes of Health funded a study of 34,000 California Seventh Day Adventists (who subscribe to a strict vegetarian diet). The study concluded that the average Adventist lived 4-10 years longer than the average Californian. If you don’t believe me read all about it in National Geographic (November 2005). Or you can just keep claiming that we “need” to meat to get protein without supporting it with any statistics. The fact is that the average vegan lives longer than the average omnivore, which leads you to the logical conclusion that a vegan diet is optimal for humans. To suggest that humans eat more like rats or raccoons (true omnivores) than gorillas (herbivores who share over 95% of our DNA) is patently absurd. As for the vegan parents who malnourished their baby to death…the baby didn’t die from veganism it died from a poor unbalanced diet selected by 2 idiot parents who happened to be vegan. How many omnivorous babies die every year in the USA? But I guess “Meat Eating Parents Kill Baby” isn’t such a sensational headline for the media. There is something that scientists call annecdotal evidence. For the scientifically illiterate out there that means trying to make a point using one case or story. In science it is totally worthless. For example, I could say I knew a guy who smoked 2 packs a day and lived to age 105, therefore smoking is probably not so bad for us. Such a statement is absurd because it refutes volumes of hard data to the contrary. Nina Planck’s editorial is guilty of making the same type of point with one annecdote about one pair of vegan parents….VERY UNSCIENTIFIC. You may be surprised to know that Dr. Benjamin Spock, the world’s foremost expert pediatrician who wrote Baby and Child Care (one of the best selling books of all time) recommended a vegan diet for children in his final edition. Another thing you can look up. But what we he know?? Probably not as much as Nina Planck (a food writer and self-professed “expert” on farmers’ markets who is promoting her new book). what a joke!
    What a bizarre comment. I’ll put it up as is so that anyone reading can observe the thought processes of a vegan in action.

  21. Notice that MRE did not respond to any point that I made in my comment! Instead he chooses to ridicule and ignore. What kind of forum is this? Not very intelllectual at all. Well i’ll let him off since he can not refute the NIH study I cited nor the professional experience of Dr. Benjamin Spock. Not to mention the conclusions of the China Health Study which I encourage all of you to look up.
    Hi ed–
    I could refute them all, but what’s the point? Is there anything I could possibly say that would change your mind? I seriously doubt it because your mind is already made up. So why should I spend time and effort refuting a bunch of easily refutable material when it won’t change your mind and would be otherwise pointless since the vast majority of the people reading this site haven’t bought into the vegetarian hogwash as you have? It’s simply a matter of best use of time.

    1. Dr. Eades,
      Your points were challenged, and some refuted. Your mind is already made up, so why should any readers spend time and effort refuting a bunch of easily refutable material when it won’t change your mind and would be otherwise pointless since the vast majority of the people reading this site have rejected the anti-vegetarian hogwash as you have?
      For someone so educated, you portray yourself to be an arrogant, close-minded, inflammatory, ass with a lack of critical and independent thinking. These so-called vegan parents killed their child not by feeding him a vegan diet, but by inappropriately replacing formula with soy milk. Soy formula does exist for all of the ignoramuses claiming that feeding babies soy or raising them as vegans is child abuse in and of itself. Do your research, people.

  22. >> No vegan societies??? From 1976-1988 the National Institutes of Health funded a study
    >> of 34,000 California Seventh Day Adventists (who subscribe to a strict vegetarian diet).
    >> The study concluded that the average Adventist lived 4-10 years longer than the
    >> average Californian. If you don’t believe me read all about it in
    >> National Geographic (November 2005).
    Ed, there are no vegan societies. He meant traditional societies on a national or subnational level, that’s why the only society that was cited as non-vegan was Indian. I don’t doubt that the California Seventh Day Adventists lived longer than the typical Californian, but one must also remember that in a large group, alternative diets are safer – people can tell you if you clearly have a deficiency. People in this church would certainly be able to help each other with it if they were all lifelong vegans. However, these two parents probably didn’t have their son around many other people at all – malnutrition to the point of starvation is NOT difficult to spot.
    Dietary aspects aside, people in a church like the Seventh Day Adventists (which appears pretty strict) are more likely to live longer simply because they’re missing out on all the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll that all the other Californians are getting in on 😉
    >> Or you can just keep claiming that we “need” to meat to get protein without supporting
    >> it with any statistics. The fact is that the average vegan lives longer than the average
    >> omnivore which leads you to the logical conclusion that a vegan diet is optimal for humans.
    He didn’t say you needed meat to survive, he just said you needed protein from animal sources – in fact, he didn’t even really say that, but it’s implied that it’s ideal. Here, I’ll quote him: “Humans need protein, vitamin B-12, and other nutrients that come from meat, or at least eggs and dairy products.” The NIH study you cited does not prove conclusively that the average vegan lives longer, it proves that the Seventh Day Adventists in California live longer than the average Californians.
    >> To suggest that humans eat more like rats or raccoons (true omnivores) than gorillas
    >> (herbivores who share over 95% of our DNA) is patently absurd.
    The closest evolutionary ancestor of ours is not the gorilla, but the chimpanzee. The diet of the chimp varies very widely and they have been known to kill many kinds of small animals to get meat. Some are nearly vegetarian, but the vegetarian chimps get protein through eating insects, so they’re not entirely without animal matter.
    >>You may be surprised to know that Dr. Benjamin Spock, the world’s foremost expert
    >>pediatrician who wrote Baby and Child Care (one of the best selling books of all time)
    >>recommended a vegan diet for children in his final edition. Another thing you can look up.
    >>But what we he know??
    What we he know? I dunno what we he know. I do know what I know, though. I put on weight when I flirted with veganism and I felt like crap. That’s anecdotal evidence, but it was what determined that I was on this side. I’m not concerned with the experience of Dr. Spock, because, although he was very accomplished in his field, his advice doesn’t change the fact that I feel better when I have a lot of fat and protein in my diet. Tell you what, if you stop telling people that eating meat is a toxic travesty, I’ll ignore you vegans withering away as I munch quietly on my T-bone steak.

  23. Any discussion having logical sufficiency needs to DEFINE frequently misused terms such as terms such as “low-fat” and “vegan” that take on a multitude variety of meanings. Using one case of ignorant “vegan” parents should not be applied to the majority of vegans who have SOME understanding of the merits of SCIENTIFIC optimal VEGAN diet. Similarly with all too many arguments about “low-fat” diets. Thirty per cent of calories from fat is NOT low fat. Duh. Ditto with badly misnamed “low-fat” milk. If the Dairy business was not in bed with the USDA, the badly outmoded scheme of referring to fat content by volume or weight would not exist.

  24. I get more entertainment from comments on this blog… (funny stuff, if not a tad sad)
    What a tragedy, though, that poor tiny baby withering away; makes me ill thinking about it. I’d know something was up if my baby was only 3 lbs., but I do get lots of fat to help me think.
    I guess that’s why soy milk cartons have a warning on the side now not to use in place of infant formula.

  25. Here’s the thing: most vegans and vegetarians don’t do it because they believe it to be healthier. A small minority do, and it’s disingenuous to portray them as the norm. The vast majority of non meat-eaters do it for ethical reasons, not because they believe it to be healthier.
    Furthermore, the vegan diet will not inherently make you unhealthy. If all you eat is soy and apple juice, then yes, it will, just as it will if all you eat is chicken and ribs. It is certainly more difficult to get all the proteins you need from a vegan diet, but it’s not impossible or even that difficult if you’re fairly intelligent. The Mayan diet was essentially vegan, with only occasional supplementation of meat products, and they didn’t die out.
    I am neither a vegan nor a vegetarian, but this article and many of the comments afterward irritate me. It seems putting forth a logical argument is out of style these days, and one has to mock, misrepresent, and oversimplify things instead to get an audience.
    For instance, you neglect to mention that some plant sources DO contain complete proteins (such as hemp), or that all it takes to get adequate protein intake is to eat protein from a variety of sources. It’s not hard to make some beans to go with your rice or put some nuts in your bread, now is it?
    But then, I guess when you’ve written a bunch of books on a subject you don’t like to admit the competition has any sort of validity. Highly unethical, yes, but then so is promoting low-carb lifestyles in place of healthy, balanced ones.
    If I had it my way, any doctor who promotes fad diets, cosmetic surgery, or other unnecessary/harmful treatments would be stripped of his license for violating the Hippocratic Oath.
    Actually, if all you eat is chicken and ribs, you’ll remain quite healthy. Many people remain on all-meat diets for the long term and do just fine.
    I’ve never said that one couldn’t get adequate protein on a vegetarian diet nor have I ever said such diets were disastrous. I’ve simply said that in my opinion they aren’t optimal. We should be searching for the optimal diet, not one that is simply adequate. And, BTW, there is nothing intrinsically healthful about a balanced diet. You need to brush up on your basic biochemistry and physiology before casting aspersions on others who have done their homework.
    What did happen to the great Mayan civilization if it didn’t die out? It was long gone before the European explorers ever got to it.

  26. The Mayan civilization fell, much like the Roman, Aztec, Byzantine, and pretty much every other major civilization before today. A civilization falling is different than its members dying out, and there are many people today in central America who will attest to their Mayan heritage (or Aztec, or Toltec, etc.) and still live on a similar diet.
    You are wrong in both of your above assertions, however.
    One, subsisting on ribs and chicken is not healthy in any sense of the word. You would be deficient in many nutrients and in fairly short order you’d get scurvy, which would be followed by a host of other malnutrition-induced maladies (not to mention the lack of fiber, making the whole process rather unpleasant). If you were to eat the whole chicken–entrails and all–the deficiency would be somewhat mitigated, but not entirely. A lot of people point to the Eskimos an example of a society that ate only meat, but they also ate a very wide variety of land and sea animals, and they also supplemented their diet with seaweeds and various herbs.
    Second, the very definition of a “balanced diet” is what makes it intrinsically healthy. Eating a wide variety of foods from several different groups ensures that you get adequate nutrition without neglecting one nutrient or going overboard on another. Eating all plants may lead to a B12 deficiency, while eating all red meat may lead to an iron overload.
    Basically, there’s nothing “optimal” about a meat-oriented diet (in fact, the “optimal” diet would depend on an individual’s personal biochemistry–you wouldn’t recommend a 12 oz. sirloin steak for dinner every night to someone predisposed towards having high cholesterol). Ignoring the ethical implications, not only is meat incredibly inefficient to produce, but it’s also not good to deprive your body of nutrients that come from plants. These silly fad diets are meant to manipulate lazy people who don’t want to get off their ass and exercise into buying books and partaking in potentially harmful and invariably ineffectual eating behaviors, and I maintain that any doctor who advocates them should be stripped of his/her license for violating the Hippocratic Oath. It isn’t a coincidence that obesity and cardiovascular problems have skyrocketed since Americans began eating a high-meat diet, and it’s sure as hell not the bun on that burger that’s going to make you fat and unhealthy.
    I’m not wrong in either of my assertions. Read Vilhjalmur Stefansson then come back and talk to me about the problems with all-meat diets. Your comments about exercise reveal a abysmal ignorance of the workings of the energy-balance equation, and the rest of your comment belies any kind of knowledge of the most basic biochemistry (which, BTW, you won’t learn plodding through all the vegetarian pablum out there). If you instead read the real medical literature, you will learn that the notion that cholesterol is problematic is embodied in the lipid hypothesis, which is just that, a hypothesis, which more and more serious scientists are abandoning because there is no evidence that it’s valid. If you want to do something worthwhile with your time, instead of parroting all the idiocy you find on the vegetarian sites you spend so many hours perusing, try to find a single serious scientific study published in a reputable journal showing that elevated cholesterol has anything whatsoever to do with heart disease. I’m sure you’re convinced that it’s important, but just take the time to surf the scientific literature to see for yourself. Have fun.

  27. Hodge:
    You know, there is a whole lot of bad science done by a lot of mediocre and/or stupid/greedy/egotistical/political “scientists” out there, so I am a very skeptical cookie when looking at a lot of it. But I gotta say, do yourself a big favour and read “Good Calories, Bad Calories” (Gary Taubes) – he’s a very smart and hard-working fellow who has done a ton of the hard work for the rest of us, for which I will be forever grateful. The material referenced within is clear and convincing, and is a great starting point for further study. And it will answer (with evidence) most, if not all of your objections, thus sparing the good doctor Mike.
    THEN try to read “The China Study” – and good luck to you. I bogged down in the murk, and finally threw it out.

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