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A book review for the Vegetarian Myth

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Wolf BirdPosted: Sep 14, 2011 - 10:53

I shoot you dead.

Level: 9
CS Original
This is from the reviews section for the book 'The Vegetarian Myth', which has been alluded to a few times on this forum and is a book on my 'to read' list.


"If you've been mostly vegetarian or vegan for long enough, I'm sure you've stumbled into former vegans who are back on meat because they think it's part of the answer to their health problems. You may even meet many former veggie-heads who also, like the author of "Vegetarian Myth", think that the vegan diet made them sick and weak.

I've been around long enough in this movement, having bought and read with enthusiasm Diet for a New America (the "Bible" for many vegetarians) in 1995, when I was just 19.

Since then, I've seen all kinds of vegans and raw vegans not only fall off the wagon but go back to meat as if it's the answer to all of their health problems.

What most failing vegans have in common is that they are calorie-deprived.

When you're not consuming enough total calories, it also means you're not getting all the vitamins, minerals and even protein that your body requires.

Put an undereating vegan on a plan with some meat and they'll instantly feel better, because meat is a very rich food, full of protein, fat and calories, and even some critical vitamins and minerals.

It's also full in a lot of the stuff that will eventually make you sick, and I was smart enough to do more research before announcing to the world that I was now a meat eater.

But one question remains:

Why are so many vegans unhealthy?

The typical vegan is primarily motivated by the welfare of animals and obsessed with only one aspect of healthful living: not eating animal products.

Why are Vegans So Sick?

When I was reading "The Vegetarian Myth", I was surprised at how not convincing the book was at making a case against the vegan diet.

At best, you could consider that book to be a painful therapy session for a tortured author who thinks that the vegan diet destroyed her life. At worst it's the least convincing "meat" manifesto you'll ever read.

The author of the Vegetarian Myth thinks the vegan diet was the cause of her health problems, yet she also admits that she's still not healthy on her meat based diet.

"Six weeks into veganism I had my first experience of hypoglycemia, though I wouldn't know that's what it was called until eighteen years had gone by and it had become my life. Three months into it I stopped menstruating, which should have been a clue that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. The exhaustion began around then too, and it only got worse, along with the ever-present cold. My skin was so dry it flaked, and in the winter it itched so badly it kept me up at night. At twenty-four, I developed gastroparesis, which, again, wasn't diagnosed or treated until I was thirty-eight and found a doctor who worked with recovering vegans. That was fourteen years of constant nausea, and I still can't eat after 5 PM."

She goes on and on in the book with all the illnesses she had and blames it on the vegan diet, including depression and anxiety.

In spite of eating meat, she's still not healthy

"Between my spiritual practice and my nutrient-dense diet, I am now depressing-free, and I am thankful every day. But the cold and the exhaustion are permanent. Some days breathing takes more energy than I have".

Obviously, she was doing something wrong and is still doing something very wrong.

Success leaves clues, and so does failure. The alleged hypoglycemia she experienced when she first went vegan was a clear sign she was on the wrong diet.

But it's not the vegan diet that made her sick, but the type of vegan diet she was on.

I found it very strange that she wrote an entire book bashing the vegan diet, while never once describing what she ate. But I was able to gather enough clues, from her symptoms to her references to eating a lot of soy, to realize she was another unhealthy vegan biting the dust.

The Vegetarian Myth is a very poor argument against the vegan diet. Yet, it's written with a lot of zeal and anger, and unfortunately seems to be converting many vegan back to meat.

"I'm also writing this book as a cautionary tale. A vegetarian diet--especially a low-fat version, and most especially a vegan one--is not sufficient nutrition for the human body. To put it bluntly: it will damage you"

Now that's a quote that deserves to be demolished, especially considering the fact that she makes absolutely no real solid argument to support those claims.

In my experience, these are the following most common mistakes people make on a vegan diet that bring them to a low state of health and give such bad rap to the vegan diet.

1. Not enough calories.

A healthy vegan diet is easily explained: eat enough fruits, vegetables and starch-based foods to maintain your weight and energy, and minimize concentrated foods such as nuts and seeds or oils.

Vegan foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are very nutrient dense, but not calorie-dense. That means you need to eat a lot more of these foods to give you enough energy and maintain your weight and your health.

Many vegans are "weak" and scrawny simply because they don't eat enough. Not getting enough calories will also mean that you're not getting enough vitamins, minerals and protein.

If someone is not thriving on their diet and has little energy, the first thing to do is to increase the total amount of calories consumed. But there's a caveat: these calories must come from whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, and not from oil and fatty foods. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Not enough carbs.

It's funny because most ex-vegans specifically blame the carbs for their health problems, when it's actually one type of food they were under-eating.

Under-eating carbs means that you'll eat too much fat, too much protein and that you won't get enough energy to function.

That is why so many vegans feel tired all the time. It's important to get enough calories, but also to eat enough calories in the right proportion.

In spite of what is incorrectly claimed in many anti-vegetarian books, carbohydrates are the preferred food for the human body.

How do you know that? The actual research behind this point is very extensive, but you only need to look at one thing: top athletes.

Every single winning marathon runner or Tour de France athlete thrives on a high-carb diet. Why? Because it works, and carbs are the preferred foods for the human body. Top athletes don't eat a lot of carbs because they are philosophical vegans (most of them are not), but because that's what they need to eat to win.

For optimal health and energy, your diet should be composed of at least 70% carbohydrates by total calories. Which leaves less than 30% for protein and fat.
3. Too much fat.

Most vegans use unhealthy amounts of plant oils and fat. This is the primary reason why some vegans suffer from hypoglycemia and other blood sugar issues. It's well documented that a high-fat diet has a negative impact on insulin sensitivity.

For optimal health, ALL oils should be avoided. That includes all olive oil, hemp seed oils, and even so-called healthy oils such as flax seed oil.

Instead, you should get all of your fat from whole foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados in minimal quantities. For most people who are not very athletic, a very small handful of nuts OR half an avocado is about the maximum you should eat in one day.

This is the number one way to improve a vegan diet. Get rid of all the fat and learn to prepare foods without fat. At the same time, eat more of the "good" stuff such as fruits and vegetables. Remember that green vegetables have no calories, so as a vegan you will have to get your calories from the following foods:

Root vegetables (potatoes, yams, etc.)
Starches (whole grains, beans, etc.

If you follow a raw approach like I do most of the time, then the majority of your calories will come from fruit.

Getting a significant proportion of your calories from fatty foods such as oils is a big mistake and one that will quickly destroy your health. (A lot of people make large salads every day drenched in olive oil and believe this is part of a healthy diet.)

If you have any weight to lose, you should consider avoiding all fatty foods temporarily until you lose the desired weight.

Why? Fats are stored by the body very easily, requiring less than 3% of the calories consumed to store. On the other hand, carbohydrates need an average of 30% of calories consumed to be turned into body fat.

As author John McDougall likes to say, "The fat you eat is the fat you wear". So if you don't want to "wear" any more fat, avoid it.

It's fairly easy to get used to a low fat diet and it takes 30 to 60 days for your taste buds to fully adapt.

4. Too much soy.

Many vegans consume massive quantities of soy products, which is also a mistake.

First of all, there's one category of soy products that can be avoided completely for optimal health, and that's textured vegetable protein, which is often used to make fake-meat products such as veggie burgers, veggie lunch meats, sausages etc.
It's been found that this type of protein can create some of the same problems as meat in the human body, by being very acidic like meat. Consuming textured vegetable protein can also raise growth hormones in your body, which can accelerate aging, and can also cause cancer to grow.

Traditional soy products such as tempeh, tofu and soy milk are not as bad as they are reputed to be, but they should be viewed in the same category as nuts, seeds and avocados.

These soy products are rich foods (with tofu containing a significant amount of fat), so they should be used sparingly as a delicacy to flavor a recipe, if you're going to use them at all.

5. Too much junk food.

Many vegans also eat too much junk food, and you know what I'm talking about. French fries and potato chips may be vegan, but they are not healthy. Essentially if it comes from a restaurant or a factory, it should be seen as "fun" food and

not as healthy sustenance for the human body. So use your judgement and base your diet on fruits and vegetables, not on junk foods.

6. Too much wheat.

A lot of people in general, but especially vegans and vegetarians base their diet around wheat and bread products. Sandwiches, burgers, wraps, pizzas, pastas, muffins, cereals, are not necessary for health and are often highly processed with artificial vitamins added which can make it hard for the body to absorb real vitamins from whole fruits and vegetables.

Many people also have a wheat sensitivity or are allergic and can develop celiac disease. If you have frequent colds, breathing problems, stuffy nose, asthma, IBS, digestion issues etc., you could have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Cutting wheat out of your diet is fairly easy to do when you eat a diet of fruits and vegetables and non glutenous carbohydrates like potatoes and rice.

7. Too much of allergenic foods.

Other foods that are consumed by vegans that are highly allergenic are peanuts and by vegetarians various milk products. Both can cause serious problems when eaten in small quantities by those who have food allergies and are often eaten in significant quantities by those who have food sensitivities and intolerances.
Meat is NOT the Answer

It must be a strange fact of human nature that we tend to make the wrong associations based on what we perceive to be a direct cause-reaction relationship.

If you go vegan and your health declines, you'll naturally believe that the vegan diet was to blame. Because a vegan diet is a diet that excludes animal products, you might be led to believe that not eating them is what caused you to be sick in the first place.

But in reality, a vegan diet can be anything. It can be a diet of fake meat products and oil and french fries, or it can be a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables consumed in sufficient quantity to make you thrive.

The fact that many vegans get sick does NOT mean that animal products are the answer.

Animal products are inherently bad for the human body, for very specific reasons:

1- They are very acidic and will drain your calcium reserves as the body uses calcium in your bones to balance the pH of the food in your digestive tract.

2- They contain too much protein. All excess protein has to be eliminated by the body which will wear down your kidneys and liver over time and accelerate the aging process. A diet rich in animal protein is also the number one dietary factor for cancer (see The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell).

3- Most animal products are high in fat. Excess fat is stored as body fat and results in surpluses in the body, leading to insulin-related products and everything related to overweight.

4- Animal products are rich in cholesterol, which accumulates in the body and contributes to vascular diseases.

5- Animal products are a concentrated source of toxins. Being high on the food chain, animals accumulate much more toxins, hormones and pesticides in their tissues. This is not mentioning the possible bacteria-related issues with factory produced animal products and cross contamination in the facilities.

Are some vegans unhealthy? Yes! But animal products are not the answer."


Original source:

My favorite is the contradiction about carbs being the preferred food for the human body, but a reason some vegans feel bad is eating much wheat!...which is of course, a source of carbs for that much needed energy. He also trots out the China Study, mentions McDougall and Campbell, and even brings in the BS about acidic food (meat with amino acids, but I imagine citrus fruit with lots of citric acid is fine) making your body pull calcium from your bones to neutralize it. He also mentions generic 'toxins', and draws a false dichotomy between 'artificial' vitamins and 'real' vitamins. lolwut? A vitamin is a vitamin, if it occurs naturally fine, if it's added to the food by people, fine, doesn't change the chemical composition and how it affects your body!
#1 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]
The Burger KingPosted: Sep 14, 2011 - 11:36

I can't stop posting pictures of poop, what the fuck is wrong with me?

Level: 5
CS Original
If animal products are not the answer, then how can I get my juicy bloody steak fix?
#2 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]
The Real RoxettePosted: Sep 14, 2011 - 14:02

There ARE more sluts in public schools. Shut up and let me explain.

Level: 8
CS Original
The author of the review ignores:
1) The science behind why veganism is bad.
2) History.
3) The main point of the book, being that the vegan diet isn't sustainable at all, in fact destroys the environment and it's unnatural for humans.
4) The fact carbs make people feel like shit when they have a lot, so how could consuming even more carbs make someone feel better? Vegans and vegetarians already consume a lot of carbohydrates as it is.

The author of the review is clearly an ideologue, it doesn't matter any science or logic that opposes their beliefs, you just have to sacrifice good food and feeling good in order to be vegan, because it's the right thing to do.

I honestly don't think he read past the preface in the book.

He goes on to promote the China Study, a thoroughly debunked bag of shit which claims protein causes cancer, when most cancers feed on glucose, not protein; guess what grains are high in?

He claims that fat is bad and animal fat is stored as body fat, when in fact this is absolutely not true.

He claims that animal products, being rich in cholesterol, is bad because it contributes to cardiovascular disease, again not true at all, there's no clinical peer reviewed study which connects saturated fat to cardiovascular diseases. You can find plenty of bullshit observational studies, but that's why these are called things like the "lipid hypothesis."

Even more vegan pseudoscience is apparent when he goes on about acidic blood, I guess this is a problem if you're a vegan and don't drink milk or eat cheese; even though it's imaginary.

I can't even get into the utter stupidity of talking about "toxins," not to mention the fact that this idiot doesn't seem to understand that animal hormones are just metabolized by the human body and don't affect it.

God damn, how many things can one person get wrong in a book review?
Are some vegans unhealthy? Yes! But animal products are not the answer.
Actually, animal products are the answer, the answer isn't to increase your animal feed in take.
#3 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]
CyborgJesusPosted: Sep 14, 2011 - 14:22

Level: 6
CS Original
"For optimal health, ALL oils should be avoided. That includes all olive oil, hemp seed oils, and even so-called healthy oils such as flax seed oil. "

Lolwut. This is absolute nonsense.
#4 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]
The Real RoxettePosted: Sep 14, 2011 - 14:25

There ARE more sluts in public schools. Shut up and let me explain.

Level: 8
CS Original
Actually olive oil is fine, I'd also suggest coconut oil as well. I definitely would stay away from stuff like soybean oil and flax seed oil, there's some evidence to suggest, though not definitively, that the partially hydrogenated oils can cause inflammation of your cardiovascular system.
#5 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]
KeppPosted: Sep 14, 2011 - 15:52

Level: 5
CS Original
Pork is so dam good.
#6 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]
Wolf BirdPosted: Sep 15, 2011 - 00:28

I shoot you dead.

Level: 9
CS Original
^Yes, it is. One of my favorite meats, probably only next to chicken.
#7 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]
PathfinderPosted: Sep 19, 2011 - 21:36

This apple is your CT. Princess Luna represents logic.

Level: 1
CS Original
Mmm, chicken. Hate pork though, outside of sausage.
#8 [ Top | Reply to Topic ]