February 6

Vegetarian diets and obesity

11  comments

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From The PETA Files:

Forest Whitaker is on fire right now. The vegetarian actor, director, and producer has already bagged Golden Globe and SAG wins for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator and rumored cannibal (oh the irony!) Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, and he’s got my vote for the Oscar as well. And last night he absolutely rocked as a guest star on ER.

The picture above is proof that a vegetarian diet doesn’t prevent obesity. Some may say that Mr. Whitaker gained weight for his movie portrayal of Idi Amin; I say go to Google Images, put in Forest Whitaker, and see what you find. Virtually all the pictures show his obesity.
I’m a huge fan of his, and I can’t wait to see The Last King of Scotland, but I’m sure I’ll take some heat for making an issue of his obesity. So many people seem to think that a vegetarian diet is the panacea to all ills, including obesity; I’m just making the case that that is not necessarily so.


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  1. Vegetarian diets, especially vegan diets, tend to overemphasize grains and legumes, along with soy and all of its attendant problems. But as long as vegetarian diets are portrayed in the media as the panacea to all that ails us gluttonous meat-eaters, the public’s perception is going to be tainted. And of course the studies that they use to show the superiority of vegetarian/vegan diets always always always compare it to the Standard American Diet rather than a healthful omnivorous diet based on hunter-gatherer principles. They never distinguish between fresh meat/seafood and processed/fried stuff. They rarely distinguish between saturated and trans fats, nor breakdown the amount of polyunsaturated fat in the diet. And rarely do they take into consideration the high sugar intake of the control group. I will concede that a vegetarian (and possibly even a vegan diet) is better than what most Americans eat. But just because something is better than the worst possible choice doesn’t make it the best possible choice…my car is faster than a Honda Civic; that doesn’t mean it’s a Corvette.
    Hi Scott–
    Great points.  It’s an argument I always use.  You can’t compare any diet against the standard American diet and not have it come out looking good.  The goal is to determine which diet is best, not which one is an improvement over a coke, burger and fries.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  2. The movie was great. Highly recommended, although differs in a number of respects from the book.
    I agree that vegetarianism is no guarantee of health and healthy weight; was at both my lowest weights and highest weights during my eight years of eating no meat (at various points I was also vegan – no impact on my weight much to my disappointment). Becoming a vegetarian was based on ethical beliefs about animals, factory farming, and the environmental impact on the planet. At the time I also was tring to live with a “lower impact” and did not own a car, air dried my clothes, etc.
    My compromise these days between ethical/environmental beliefs and my concerns about my health is to focus on organic foods and locally grown products and to continue to look for ways to reduce my impact on the planet. My hat is off to the folks doing low-carb as vegetarians.
    Hi Jennifer–
    I’m eager to see the movie.
    Thanks for the commentary on your history as a vegetarian.  It pretty much tracks with what I’ve seen from others.
    Best–
    MRE 

  3. Me, again. I’m becoming addicted to your blog! 🙂 I hope I won’t become addicted to posting, just reading.
    Yet another person I love won’t wise up. He’s obese and has high blood pressure and his lovely wife feeds him a mostly vegetarian diet full of all those wonderful grains. Kind of macrobiotic. And I’m sure it’s not helping the inflammation/pain in his knees which require cortisone shots now. But at a recent fundraising dinner he commented how dangerous the prime rib was for all of us and it was hysterical to watch the beautiful, slim lady beside me eat hers practically raw! It was priceless!
    I would love a blog on getting kids off carbs too. Especially skinny teen boys with hollow legs! What do I feed them???
    Hi Sally–
    Feel free to comment any time; you’re always welcome.
    Yeah, it is remarkable that such a con job has been done on meat. I always find it funny but sad to see people who are in a bad way loading up on grains and other high-carb foods that do nothing but worsen their condition and feeling very noble. Like your friend, they look down their noses at those who eat ‘heart attack on a plate’ food, i.e. meat.
    As to what to feed teen aged boys with hollow legs, you might want to try our recipe for chicken wings. Whenever we cooked chicken wings this way and the word got out, all of our kid’s friends and their hollow legs materialized at our house, so the recipe is teen tested. Go to the website for our cooking show and do the recipe search for chicken, then look for Oven Barbecued Hot Wings on the list. They will be a hit, I guarantee. And they are cheap, cheap, cheap, so buy a lot.

    Cheers–
    MRE

  4. Sir Golf in the Kingdom was written by Murphy as i recall co Founder and owner of the property on which stands Esalen Institute in Big Sur. My pal was scholar in residence for a few years and when i lived on the Sur i’d frequent at least twice weekly. Its Vedantic Hinduism cloaked in a golf motif hence why you don’t understand it….its gibberish to any rationale mind simply as mysticism is ANY experience, any time any place and so if one gets this point one doesnt prattle on about it.
    If anyone wants true mysticism read E O Wilson….nobody in the perennial wisdom i read comes close to conveying the awe, majesty and jaw droppedness of Good Ed.
    Now the real reason i posted. I read an interview a few weeks back when in Blighty with Forrest Whitaker.. (who as you’ll kow is an ardent scientologist which imm. Makes him very dubious vis their totally ‘hatstand’ belief system..i mean the inceptor of their belief system wrote sci-fi for forks sake )I feel him to be a stella stella actor but he’s a phuqing idiot of the highest order. I wish i had it to hand but he basically said even though Amin did atrocious things he could understand him somewhat. Of course as a contrast there was a now grown fella whose entire family had been murdered by Amin who simply said he was a monster in the truest sense.
    So point of fact if a man can go a live in a country, portray its most horrific leader, follow a religion that is more mythic than Father Christmas..and not half as sweet..then little wonder he cant even fuel himself as his genome dictated.
    BTW The documentary The Last King of Scotland is chilling
    Hi Simon–
    When I tried to read GITK I found it to be kind of gibberish, but maybe that’s a commentary on me.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  5. Whitaker has your vote for the Oscar, but you’ve not seen the movie yet? That explains many of the wierd happenings on Oscar night!
    Best,
    Kevin
    Hi Kevin–
    Go back and read the post again.  The guy who is voting for him is the guy who wrote the PETA piece that I quoted from, not I.  I haven’t seen the movie.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  6. I wonder what would happen if he were to become diabetic? Would we ever know or would that information be kept private? I would guess we would not find out until it caught up with him and one of the side effects became apparent.
    By the way he was very good on The Shield on FX last year and I read he will reprise his role for at least a few episodes this year. I wonder if Vic will blame him for Lim’s death and he will have a very nasty “accident”.
    Hi Rob–
    I suspect that if he gets diabetes it will be treated (if it is mentioned at all) as if it were something that afflicted him (like the flu) instead of something self-inflicted.
    Best–
    MRE 

  7. In that picture, he actually looks trimmer that he used to.
    He’s always had a weight issue.
    Perhaps he became a vegetarian when already obese.
    Hi LC Dave–
    I haven’t a clue as to when he became a vegetarian.
    Best–
    MRE 

  8. I thought of this blog yesterday through a conversation I had with one of my private flute students. He is a budhist and just returned from Taiwan following the death of his grandfather. He told me that one thing that was customary of his religion was to avoid meat for 49 days. This is to show respect for the dead. So now he is eating like a vegetarian for the next month. He’s only been doing this for a week and already put on 3 lbs.
    Meat is on this planet for a reason.
    Mary
    Hi Mary–
    Keep me posted on how much he gains over the entire 49 days.  I’m curious.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  9. Dr. Mike,
    I will keep you posted. He’s a good kid and we talk about nutrition often. He reads everything that I bring to work with me, including Protein Power.
    For the record this kid is a little overweight to start with. I hope he comes out of this okay. I will post about him after each lesson. I look forward to the “research”.
    Mary
    Hi Mary–
    I’m eager to hear how he’s doing.
    Best–
    MRE 

  10. I gained about 50 pounds or more as a vegetarian, mostly when I was a junk-food vegetarian. I gained almost 15 more as an omnivore who still ate tons of junk. Low-carbing helped, but breastfeeding helped more.
    I would be willing to bet Forest already has diabetes.
    I suspect you’re right.

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