There is no one right way to eat for everyone.
We are all different and what works for one person may not work for the next.
I personally advocate consumption of both animals and plants and I think there is plenty of evidence that this is a reasonable way to eat.
However, I often get comments from vegans who think that people should eliminate all animal foods.
They frequently say that I'm giving out dangerous advice, that I must be corrupt and sponsored by the meat and dairy industry, or that I'm simply misinformed and need to read The China Study.
Really… I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians.
If you want to eat in this way for whatever reason and you are feeling good and improving your health, then great! Keep on doing what you're doing.
But I do have a serious problem when proponents of this diet are using lies and fear mongering to try and convince everyone else to eat in the same way.
I'm tired of having to constantly defend my position regarding animal foods, so I decided to summarize what I think are the key problems with vegan diets.
Here are 5 reasons why I think vegan (as in no animal foods at all) diets are a bad idea…
1. Vegans are deficient in many important nutrients.
Humans are omnivores. We function best eating both animals and plants.
There are some nutrients that can only be gotten from plants (like Vitamin C) and others that can only be gotten from animals.
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that is involved in the function of every cell in the body.
It is particularly important in the formation of blood and the function of the brain.
Because B12 is critical for life and isn't found in any amount in plants (except some types of algae), it is by far the most important nutrient that vegans must be concerned with.
In fact, B12 deficiency is very common in vegans, one study showing that a whopping 92% of vegans are deficient in this critical nutrient (1).
But B12 is just the tip of the iceberg… there are other lesser known nutrients that are only found in animal foods and are critical for optimal function of the body.
Here are a few examples:
- Animal protein contains all the essential amino acids in the right ratios. It is important for muscle mass and bone health, to name a few. Vegans don't get any animal protein, which can have negative effects on body composition (2, 3, 4, 5).
- Creatine helps form an energy reservoir in cells. Studies show that vegetarians are deficient in creatine, which has harmful effects on muscle and brain function (6, 7, 8).
- Carnosine is protective against various degenerative processes in the body and may protect against aging. It is found only in animal foods (9, 10, 11).
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is the most active form of Omega-3 fatty acids in the body and primarily found in animal foods. The plant form of Omega-3s, ALA, is inefficiently converted to DHA in the body (12, 13, 14).
Two other nutrients that have been demonized by vegan proponents are saturated fat and cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a crucial molecule in the body and is part of every cell membrane. It is also used to make steroid hormones like testosterone. Studies show that saturated fat intake correlates with increased testosterone levels (15).
Bottom line: Vegans are deficient in many important nutrients, including Vitamin B12 and Creatine. Studies show that vegans have much lower testosterone levels than their meat-eating counterparts.
2. There are no studies showing that they're better than other diets.
Despite what vegan proponents often claim, there are no controlled trials showing that these diets are any better than other diets.
They often claim that low-carb, high-fat diets (the opposite of vegan diets) are dangerous and that the evidence clearly shows vegan diets to be superior.
This has actually been studied in a high quality randomized controlled trial (the gold standard of science).
This study clearly shows that the Atkins diet causes greater improvements in pretty much all health markers, although not all of them were statistically significant:
- The Atkins group lost more weight, 10.4 lbs, while the Ornish group lost only 5.6 lbs.
- The Atkins group had greater decreases in blood pressure.
- The Atkins group had greater increases in HDL (the "good") cholesterol.
- The Atkins group had greater decreases in Triglycerides. They went down by 29.3 mg/dL on Atkins, only 14.9 mg/dL on Ornish.
- Then the Atkins dieters were about twice as likely to make it to the end of the study, indicating that the Atkins diet was easier to follow.
Put simply, the Atkins diet had several important advantages while the Ornish diet performed poorly for all health markers measured.
The problem with these studies is that they are so-called observational studies. These types of studies can only demonstrate correlation, not causation.
The vegetarians are probably healthier because they are more health conscious overall, eat more vegetables, are less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, etc. It has nothing to do with avoiding animal foods.
In another study of 10,000 individuals, where both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians were health conscious, there was no difference in mortality between groups (23).
One controlled trial showed that a vegan diet was more effective against diabetes than the official diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association (24).
Bottom line: Despite all the propaganda, there isn't any evidence that vegan diets are any better than other diets. Most of the studies are observational in nature.
3. Proponents of vegan diets use lies and fear mongering to promote their cause.
Some vegan proponents aren't very honest when they try to convince others of the virtues of the vegan diet.
They actively use lies and fear mongering to scare people away from fat and animal foods.
People who promote vegan diets should be more honest and not use scare tactics and lies to make people feel guilty about eating animal foods, which are perfectly healthy (if unprocessed and naturally fed).
I'd also like to briefly mention The China Study… which is the holy bible of veganism and apparently "proves" that vegan diets are the way to go.
This was an observational study performed by a scientist who was madly in love with his theories. He cherry picked the data from the study to support his conclusions and ignored the data that didn't fit.
The main findings of the China study have been thoroughly debunked.
I recommend you look at these two critiques:
- Denise Minger: The China Study – Fact or Fallacy
- Chris Masterjohn: What Dr. Campbell Won't Tell You About The China Study
Also… a new study from China came out very recently, directly contradicting the findings of the China study.
According to this study, men eating red meat had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and women eating red meat had a lower risk of cancer (26).
Bottom line: Vegan proponents often use fear mongering and scare tactics in order to convince people not to eat animal foods. They frequently cite The China Study as evidence, which has been thoroughly debunked.
4. Vegan diets may work in the short term, for other reasons.
If you look at vegan message boards, you will quickly find stories of people who have seen amazing health benefits on a vegan diet.
I've got no reason to believe that these people are lying.
But it's important to keep in mind that this is anecdotal evidence, which isn't science.
You will find the same kinds of success stories for pretty much any diet.
Then you'll also find tons of people saying they got terrible results on a vegan diet.
Personally, I think that vegan diets can have health benefits for a lot of people… at least in the short term, before the nutrient deficiencies kick in (which can be partly circumvented by supplementation).
However, I don't think this has anything to do with avoiding animal foods!
Vegan diets don't just recommend that people avoid animal foods. They also recommend that people avoid added sugars, refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils and trans fats.
Then they suggest that people stop smoking and start exercising. There are so many confounders here that can easily explain all the beneficial effects.
These are extremely unhealthy foods, that's something the vegans and I agree on. I personally think that avoiding these foods is what is causing the apparent benefits.
I am 100% certain that a plant-based diet that includes at least a little bit of animals (the occasional whole egg or fatty fish, for example) will be much healthier in the long-term than a diet that eliminates animal foods completely.
Bottom line: Vegan diets also recommend that people shun added sugar, refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils and trans fats. This is probably the reason for any health benefits, not the removal of unprocessed animal foods.
5. There is NO health reason to completely avoid animal foods.
Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands (or millions) of years.
We evolved this way.
Our bodies are perfectly capable of digesting, absorbing and making full use of the many beneficial nutrients found in animal foods.
It is true that processed meat causes harm and that it's disgusting the way "conventionally raised" animals are treated these days.
However, animals that are fed natural diets (like grass-fed cows) and given access to the outdoors are completely different.
Even though processed meat causes harm, which is supported by many studies, the same does NOT apply to natural, unprocessed meat.
Saturated fat has also never been proven to lead to heart disease. A study of almost 350 thousand individuals found literally no association between saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular disease (32, 33, 34).
The thing is that animal foods… meat, fish, eggs and dairy products for those who can tolerate them, are extremely nutritious.
They are loaded with high quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and various lesser known nutrients that have important effects on health.
There may be ethical or religious reasons not to eat animals… I get it. But there is no scientifically valid health reason to completely eliminate animal foods.
Take home message
At the end of the day, the optimal diet for any one person depends on a lot of things.
This includes age, gender, activity levels, current metabolic health, food culture and personal preference.
Vegan diets may be appropriate for some people, not others. Different strokes for different folks.
If you want to eat a vegan diet, then make sure to be prudent about your diet. Take the necessary supplements and read some of the books by the vegan docs, I'm sure they at least know how to safely apply a vegan diet.
If you're getting results, feeling good and are managing to stick to your healthy lifestyle, then that's great. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.
But don't use fear mongering and scare tactics to persuade people to join your cause and scare them away from perfectly healthy animal foods. That ain't cool.
This article was republished with permission from Authority Nutrition.
All this story had to say was "you cant eat meat!" done. Hey pop sci can I get paid for that?
Sweet, I wrote an article about how glaciers are causing the fruit flies in my back yard to grow extra limbs. Clearly PopSci's standards have now dropped low enough for me to submit it. Where do I send it and how much do you pay?
Wow. There is so much inaccurate info in this article that I don't know where to begin. I've been a vegan for more than two decades. I get all the nutrients I need--without the fat and cholesterol I don't--and I feel great overall and I eat great-tasting food.
Study after study has proven that vegan diets are healthy, so I'm not even going to bother to argue point for point-- although I could--but I would like to point out that there are other reasons for choosing vegan foods, too. Ethics and concern for the environment are two big ones. There is no excuse for causing suffering and polluting the planet, two things the meat, egg, and dairy industries do.
A vegan diet is healthful, humane, and environmentally-friendly.
Talk about agendas! Wow. Was that B12 study (the ONE you mentioned) from 1982? Is that how we go about proving our points these days, studies of 83 people from 1982. You are aware that meat-eaters suffer from b12 deficiencies as well. Do you know why? My b12 is fine by the way. Vegan for 7 years.
According to you, meat has so many important vitamins. I'm wondering why there are SO many vitamin franchises; why every supermarket has a vitamin isle? Why do protein shakes even exist if meat is so full of it? Do you think the market created all these vitamins for the very profitable Vegan clientele? Please.
And tell me how, exactly, if milk is so good for you (strong bones and all) and the American diet basically consists of dairy on everything, how does Osteoporosis even happen?
But since you are such an expert on the nutritional value of meat, could you tell me how much b12 is in a serving of humanely raised Golden Retriever? Yeah... I'm guessing you won't because that is disgusting. You value dogs over cows. I have news for you - other countries think dog is delicious.
I have no idea if you are being paid by the meat and dairy industry. What I do know is that you are on the wrong side of history and flamboyantly so.
I don't profit one cent from promoting compassion. My agenda is to make the world a better place. It starts by removing cruelty from your plate. Try reading the book "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows - An Introduction to Carnism" by Melanie Joy.
A few million years ago, man separated from his tree-dwelling ape ancestors and moved onto the savanna. He began walking upright, lost his fur, and developed sweat glands - all to make him more adept at hunting and killing animals for food.
Man evolved to eat meat. Yeah, it happens - things evolve. To say that most apes are not evolved to eat animals would be an accurate statement. To say that man did not evolve to eat meat is not only untrue, it is the opposite of the truth, and ignores some of the largest adaptations which separate us from other primates and which we consider to make us uniquely human.
Vegan message boards? That's where you did your research? Did your best friend's roommate's cousin also see something once on the Weston A. Price website? I expected better from Popular Science. I guess the focus is on "Popular" and not "Science", in this case.
People get impassioned over many things, and food issues these days are rightfully on the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. And it seems that anyone that wants to actively convince someone else that their point of view is true, more valid than someone else’s, always tugs at that person with emotional strings.
What is better is to present your opinion, using information that you’ve gathered from honest, unbiased sources, and then let others decide for themselves. Most everyone really only believes in something when they’ve come in to it on their own, as just about anyone who’s raised children can attest to, so why come on so strong?
It seems that Kris Gunnars might have wanted us all to have a passionate discussion about these issues just by using the title he did for his posting (Article? Blog?), as he sure has stirred up the pot telling many people their compassionate viewpoint “sucks,” because with most vegans is isn’t just about what they eat, but why they don’t eat what they don’t eat (and that isn’t just for health reasons). It doesn’t sound like a good way to win friends and influence frenemies.
I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, don’t plan on changing my diet that much. But I do believe in “MOST things in moderation,” and do think we need to cut down on our meat consumption. Many people point out that we’ve been eating meat since before we took our first two-legged steps, and this is likely true. But I bet we weren’t eating the amount of meat we do now. Meat (and fish and fowl) were never as easy to come by as plant-based foods until modern times. And since we’ve tamed that beast we’ve done with it what humans do with so many things, what we do with almost everything; “if a little is good, then a lot is better! (and can make us more money).” And the fallacy of that paradigm is one thing I might try to cram down your throat, vegan, omnivore or carnivore.
Lighten up y’all, moderation is the real key. And I’m betting all of us reading this article and the subsequent postings all agree that America’s food system needs to be overhauled, retooled, made to fit our needs, not the corporations’ needs. Once that is done, we can all just sit down and break bread together (as long as it is organic, whole grain, gluten & sugar-free, and unleavened), yes?
How did popsci allow such dumb and ignorant people such as Kris Gunnars infect this website? Some of the info's references are highly questionable and outdated. And the article only brings up the health component of the vegan diet, it doesn't show the negative environmental consequences of a meat eating diet. There is nothing wrong with a vegan diet. Popsci needs to post an apology for letting this article be posted.
Amazing. I hope this was just an editorial screw up and not a path PopSci is on. Seriously, did PopSci get paid to post this? I have some respect for the writers of PopSci but in this case it's just a repost from some guy who claims (OK, so maybe he is) a medical student and personal trainer. His credentials seems to be he reads a lot. As a long time vegetarian that has also done a good deal of reading I'm amazed how uninformed this article is. I followed a few links and found the studies to be old, outdated and based on things like (very) small scale studies. The sci/sci-fi website iO9 published this same information a few weeks back and got slammed for it (interesting it's making the rounds, now I wonder about iO9...). I have no proof of course, but after looking at the guys website and after reading this article I feel like his site is underwritten by the meat industry or at a minimum, he is biased, no matter how he starts out the article. It just reads like there is an agenda hidden in what is suppose to look like a neutral view. All that said, I have my B12 checked with my annual physical (it's all good) and just had a ultrasound of my heart and carotid artery that showed I had a 'dusting' of plaque buildup. At 64, if that's the downside to a vegetarian/vegan diet I will take it. PopSci, give the money back, remove the article or at least say it has a lot of issues. Then go read all the stuff being printed these days about science publishing (ref: NatGeo's NERS blog).
Ace said: "All this story had to say was 'you cant eat meat!' "
Better read it again, Ace. The "story" actually said the opposite.
There is a lot of MISINFORMATION here. As a physician I have been keeping up with the most current medical and nutritional studies regarding plant diet. Every year the evidence in favor of a plant diet increases.
Research shows that vegan diet is the best for primary and secondary prevention for cardiovascular diseases. The findings are getting stronger for other vascular disease such as male impotence.
Diabetes is best controlled by vegan diet, as is cholesterol and obesity. High protein meat diets are shown to decrease weight but increase mortality from cancer and vascular disease. and high protein veg diets, in the same large study, shows decreased mortality from baseline.
Also, studies are coming out showing favor of plant diet for various cancers.
Larger and longer studies that look at educated vegans for longer periods are expected to show greater benefits.
As for B12, early humans and hominid communities and human predecessors were vegan. Great apes are vegan. B12 is ubiquitous in soil and in most natural water sources. We used to drink from ponds, rivers, and other unpurified waters. Soil and bacteria coating our food and mixed in our water supplied all of our B12 needs.
Lastly, plant foods take the least land and water to grow. Animal agriculture absorbs 50% of all crops that are grown, and the inefficient conversion of protein and calories mean less food is available for human consumption, despite using more land. These are UN stats.
Animal agriculture takes up 1/3 of the non-frozen surface of the Earth, according to the UN. It is the largest cause of world deforestation, has resulted in 70% of the amazon destruction, and is one of the largest causes of species extinction. It is the second largest cause of climate gasses.
Finally, vertabrate brain physiology and psychology has been extesively studied. Animal are less intelligent than humans, but often smarter than we think. Pigs have the intelligence of the average 3 year old child, and the list goes of for very compelling intelligence of chickens and fish. Nduroanatomical studies show they have analogous brain, spinal, and peripheral nerve physiology that transmits and reacts to pain. Psychological studies show they feel pleasure and pain, and suffer the same diseases such as PTSD and depression.
Please see the reference list In the link i have provided below, and a presentation i did at a national nutritional conference in Mexico.
= Reference lists are provided in English and Spanish. Note that most of these massive and excellent studies are still ongoing, so showing stronger results as time goes on.
The China study is not included. It is an excellent population study but I have not reviewed it enough to include as one of the links here.
Enjoy, and i hope someone will do a post on this website that cites these current and powerful studies.
"Why Vegan Diets Suck
.... some text ....
Vegan diets don’t just recommend that people avoid animal foods. They also recommend that people avoid added sugars, refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils and trans fats.
Then they suggest that people stop smoking and start exercising. There are so many confounders here that can easily explain all the beneficial effects."
Can you think of a more efficient way to kill credibility?
I agree with some of the points of the article in isolation. As a vegetarian, I oppose the eating of meat mainly for ethical reasons (and contrary to what you may read above, CERTAINLY do not force my viewpoint on others), but I also believe that moderation is a powerful tool that is often forgone in extreme diets.
But the article is poorly written. It clearly is "choosing a team" and attempts to justify this position by stitching together hand-picked and disparate studies to form an overall composite of human health and behaviour that are themselves TIGHTLY interconnected systems. In addition, it makes extremely polarised assertions that cannot be taken seriously:
"There are no studies showing that they’re better than other diets." Really? What about fruitarian diets? What about mono-nutrient, or perhaps fast-food diets? And since when does lack-of-study equate to proof of conjecture?
"Vegans are deficient in many important nutrients." Suggesting that those adhering to vegan diets, as a basis for their suck-iness, are the only individuals deficient in specific nutrients is ridiculous. Nutrient deficiencies? How many people with meat or vegan diets would naturally get enough Vitamin D? What about Omega 3 fatty acids?
"Proponents of vegan diets use lies and fear mongering to promote their cause." I find it odd that it is suddenly acceptable to publicly classify a group of individuals under a prototypical behaviour common to _all_ members of the group. This is basically the same mechanism that stereotyping arises from, and I would /love/ to see the study that confirms this statement.
I appreciate the author's main goal: to argue that it is indeed possible to be a healthy person and still eat meat given that certain criteria are met (eg. moderation) -- despite a seemingly popular vegan argument to the opposite. I don't know of any reasonable person that would disagree with that sentiment. However, he lacks the skill to cogently articulate this idea, and resorts to us-versus-them thinking and red-herring arguments to get this across. Ironically he resorts to a slightly more sophisticated method of argument than the supposed group against which he argues.
Why bigoted people who write articles like this suck:
1. B12 is about as easy to get as B12 fortified soymilk, cereals, etc, not unlike the fortified food and drink products the author of this article couldn't avoid consuming.
2. A vegan diet can be as healthy or unhealthy as any other diet. Assorted vegetables, legumes, etc, make complete proteins. Less meat leads to longer life. Take for example, this study "Does low meat consumption increase life expectancy in humans?" (2003) which took me two seconds to find on Google scholar. There are hundreds more.
3. Not all vegans care what you eat or even know what the 'Chinese study' is. Which is why your claim that it is the vegans Bible makes you a bigot. If vegans belonged to a racial group, you would be called a racist. Lucky you.
4. Your vegan confounds 'probably explaining' the health benefits of vegans is a faith-based claim. The diet research says otherwise. Faith is good, sometimes. Faith-based nutrition suggestions, however, shouldn't make it onto a Popular Science blog.
5. There are vast quantities of research indicating that limiting meat intake promotes longevity and general health. The evolution argument was recently debunked in several places (here's one):
But that's practically beside the point. The argument that human males were built for killing, are pre-disposed to rape, and that humans should consume fat to avoid food scarce periods are also based on evolution. Now I ask you, should we also promote these because we are apparently adapted for them?
There is also vast quantities of research indicating that if you say something 'sucks' in a public forum, it helps people who would rather do the opposite continue to do it. I think if you want people to eat healthier, attacking the vegan minority is probably a waste of your time, since those I know have done more research than you have on this topic.
Nice comments above, but do not be too upset.
Again- see the research - some of the best articles i have summarized here:
Agree with another poster that this article started with a premise and then searched for support rather than starting with a question. I am vegan and have never felt better.
I saw the video Farm to Fridge about a year ago and I stopped eating meat that day. I would never pay people to torture animals and that is exactly what you are doing when you buy meat. I am not technically opposed to killing and eating animals (although that is a violent and horrific business) but I am opposed to torturing animals in the name of cheaper food. I would eat Certified Humane meat if I could find it although I have lost my taste for meat.
At any rate, within two weeks I noticed that I had more energy and slept better. Two outcomes that I was not expecting. I can only imagine that it might have to do with all the hormones and antibiotics, etc that are put into our food supply. Or toxins stored in their fat?
In any case, I am not a health nut and I am seemingly reaping some nice health benefits from my diet change and I pretty much eat what I want without gaining weight. I eat any sugar that I want as I am not opposed to eating sugar. And, I take Vit B12 supplements which is hardly a big deal.
Most vegans that I know are vegans for animal cruelty reasons and not health reasons and I would bet good money that we are still healthier than our meat eating friends.
I challenge anyone to spend a day in a slaughterhouse and then still feel okay about eating meat. Or a day on a dairy farm and then not feel like switching to almond, cashew or soy milk (why are we drinking another animal's milk anyway? many cultures have survived quite nicely without these items in their food supply) and Earth Balance or coconut spread instead of butter. What if YOU were kept pregnant, given hormones to make your boobs abnormally huge, and then had a machine hooked up to your sore boobs every day? A cow feels the same discomfort you would. She is living a hell on earth. Like I said, I will not pay someone to torture an animal for me.
A very nicely done, thought provoking video: Earthlings (on YouTube)
This article is full mistaken information.
The official position of the American Dietetic Association states that :
"appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases."
Full report: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864
The author agree that "processed meat causes harm and that it’s disgusting the way “conventionally raised” animals are treated these days".
Factory farming produce the majority of the meat, eggs and dairy sold in North America. There is NO justification for buying these products.
By 2050, meat consumption is expected to double. There is no way your grass-fed fantasy would feed all the world population.
(To say nothing about the fact that these animals still end up being slaughter will there are still babies). Here is the chart: www.compassionatecook.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/An-Unnatural-Life-Span_edited.jpg
Promoting meat and dairy is ecologically unsustainable and socially irresponsible in the light of the fact that we could easily feed all the world population if we reduce our meat consumption.
Moving towards a vegan diet is the responsible and compassionate choice.
My boyfriend is a vegan, but I'm a happy omnivore. Over the years, I've done plenty of reading about the pros and cons of a vegan diet, and trust me, there are costs and there are benefits. What bothers me most about this article is it does not weigh those benefits and costs fairly. It is misleading, and occasionally deliberately deceptive. Clearly the author wants to eat meat, and has only absorbed the arguments that supports that choice.
If you want to eat meat (I do), fine, but don't trick yourself into believing saturated fat and cholesterol are good for you. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in this country, and it would do a lot of people a lot of good to eat fewer burgers and steaks. And if you don't want to eat meat, fine. You'll have to be careful about the nutrients you're missing, but that's not too hard these days, with fortified foods such as soymilk and tofu.
If you don't want to read pro-vegan fear mongering, get off the vegan forums. And if you don't want to read pro-meateater fear mongering, don't believe anything you just read in this stupid, deceptive article.
6) It's really freaken annoying to have to factor in when choosing a restaurant with your vegan friends. It's like planning to go to Disney Land but having to end up at the local travelling circus because it has the 10 meter high rusty Ferris Wheel ride Disney Land doesn't...
7) The arbitrary moral hypocrisy of it all. Good for you if you don't want animals harmed: personally I hate chickens and want them to die. But if you're going to draw an arbitrary moral line in the sand for yourself, is there not thousands of positive HUMAN centric steps to take before you start with the non-human?
Why not draw the line at sweatshops producing your clothes? Or low wages and poor conditions for the folks building your electronics? $10 a month to some families in the world would be heaven: how much do you spend on expensive organic vegetables? Why not sponsor as many poor families as you can?
Veganism obviously does not exclude those things, but point is we all draw our arbitrary moral line in the sand somewhere: why oh why would you want to draw it to exclude meat and dairy? Delicious delicious restaurant centric meat. This does not make you righteous: it makes you annoying!
outdated popular "science." This had to be written by someone under 20 y/o who has no idea about nutrition. The comments about complete protein are not even mentioned nowadays because it's generally a bogus claim from the 70s.
1) any decent diet should in premise be able to provide everything you need. The fact that a strict vegan diet is deficient in an obviously critical nutrient indicates, to me at least, that it's a poor diet for a human being. Because if we put you somewhere without supplements, you develop a frank nutritional deficiency. One that can ONLY be prevented by eating animal products.
2) To anyone who mentions the China Study, any unbiased critique would mirror any critique of any other piece of epidemiology: it cannot establish cause-and-effect. It can merely provide hypotheses testable through RCTs. Epidemiology is confounded by a lack of control of extraneous variables.
Although the articles tone was a little more than needed, bottom line is research is not backing up veganism too well.
I'd like to point out that people don't have less testosterone because they are vegans. They're vegans because they have less testosterone. Pansies.
I don't want to be rude, but veganism is just another fad built on pseudoscience that will go away sooner or later; just like homeopathy, faith healing or podal reflexology. Many people fall into pseudosciences because of their easy appeal: they offer colourful, easy explanations of complicated stuff and play into universal psychological traits like confirmation bias and the placebo effect. Just think how many people still pray to improve their outcomes. After thousand of years of praying we should expect to see a marked bias on every statistic out there: religious people would be better off, have longer and healthier lives and score bigger prizes more often than atheists. That bias doesn't exist. Same happens with veganism. There is no real proof of its benefits. Its shortcomings are well known. The faithful are still sticking to it. Rationally it makes no sense. In brief:
1. Vegans claim animal-based food is unhealthy. It's simply not true. It is known that diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol are linked to heart disease. But that doesn't mean that any amount of meat is unhealthy. Anything, even harmless substances like water can cause health issues when consumed in excess. Drinking too much water can lead to hyponatremia, which can cause permanent brain damage or even be fatal. Chocolate is poisonous in high doses. Even potatoes are naturally poisonous, but we eat them anyway because the amount of toxic solanine found in the edible parts is not high enough to cause symptoms. Banning meat from our diet because excess is unhealthy is as rational as refraining from water from fear of hyponatremia.
There are good examples of anti-vegan diets. Inuit (Eskimo) diet is almost entirely based on animal protein and fat. They have little access to plants. Contrary to what vegans think, they live healthy and happy lives. Japanese diet is based on rice, noodles and fish. They have the highest life expectancy in the world. And look no further than ourselves. As infants our only nutrient is breast milk: a mixture of animal fat, protein and lactose. Somehow vegans support breast feeding while rejecting all other foods coming from animals.
2. Vegans are against animal suffering. So am I. I won't waste time with pointless arguments about animal rights and ethics. This is clearly a smoke screen. Many sources of animal food involve no special cruelty, but they are banned anyway from the vegan diet. Being an "animal lover" as most vegans claim to be is something akin to religion and as such, wholly irrational. Contradictions are glossed over, as with any religious belief. It's OK if a predator kills another animal, even if the predator doesn't feed from it afterwards (like many house cats do). It's somehow not OK if we humans do it, even if we do it in the quickest, less painful way.
3. Vegans claim to protect the environment by not feeding on animals. That's plainly false. Extensive farming (needed to feed the world's current population) wouldn't exist without fertilizers. The only natural fertilizers available are livestock droppings. Without livestock there's simply no farming. At all. Artificial fertilizers are made mostly from dead animals, mostly fish. A vegan world would be a very harsh one indeed, at least for humans. With no fertilizers and no pest control (would you kill those rats which are mammals like you?) there would be simply not enough food to feed everybody.
To sum it up: being vegan is a very personal choice. Like being Buddhist or Christian. It's irrational, but so are many other beliefs commonly held. It can be harmful, but only to the vegan itself as long as he or she refrains from having others to "convert". It can be harmful to vegan's kids, and that poses an ethical dilemma. Other than that, whatever floats your boat.
I do not believe I will read in any media today or any day for that matter, " Man died from eating to many green beans, corn, tomatoes and spinach!". Nope, I just do not see that coming, lol.
A lot of love of meat comes from religious acceptance (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). These religions originated in nomadic to semi nomadic societies where meat is a key source of food. Hence the terms kosher and halal meats. Religion needs adherents, and those that are extreme for the area get snuffed out soon. Eastern societies have always been agrarian, and are more likely to be vegetarian.
TheResearcher: I don't see your point. Anyway human societies eat whatever is available. Inuit eat fish and seal. Mongols ate yogurt made from mare's milk. If you look at the Middle East you'll see a lot of land unsuitable for farming, so people there got their food off their herds, mostly goats. Estabilished religion usually sanctions whatever traditions may already exist. But that goes nowhere. Our love of meat comes from our genes. We're predisposed towards highly caloric food. It takes an effort (and much education) to steer away from fats and sugars: that's what we crave. That's our "natural" behaviour. To eat as much calories as we can. Quite simply, food has been always scarce throughout human history. Actually this conversation would have been moot not many years ago: hunger makes every kind of food desirable.
While this article's title should have been different if it actually wanted to change opinions instead of making people mad. Its premise is sound and most of the counter points in the comments are attacking the inhumanity of animal treatment instead of the health effects of different diets, which is what the argument addresses. Someone even tried to say that early humans primarily ate plants which wasn't true until we developed agriculture, plants aren't as easy to harvest as you might think. Many of the counter points cite "mounting evidence" as to the superiority of vegan diets. Most of these studies compare vegan diets to the average diet of populace of which just about any form controlled eating will beat. Most of the animal products that these vegan diets are being compared to are as animal as wonder bread is a plant. Also, please stop using "wrong side of history arguments" they work great for civil rights, but when talking about diets they lose a bit of gravitas.
The amount of butthurt vegans in the comments was predictable, yet is profoundly amusing.
Why are vegans constantly frustrated and angry at the rest of the world? Is it because they're always hungry or because they can't enjoy their raw and tasteless "food"?
I agree with @mooninnorfolk that this post isn't worthy of PopSci... I'd prefer more posts that lean towards the science side of the name, not pseudoscience agenda pieces.
Omnivore commenting against this article: I'm sorely disappointed by this article. PopSci should not be reprinting other sources for one thing. Another is that it is way out of date and misleading (yet accuses vegans of being misleading itself!). Heck, it references the ATKINS diet as a healthy solution, which has been known (and by popsci staff) for years to be unhealthy as a long term diet.
Dr. Tushar Mehta " Great apes are vegan."
I'm pretty sure thats wrong.
Thats from National Geographic.
Also Jane Goodall documented chimps catching an eating small vertebrates ( mice rats and the like). Being as chimps are great apes as well this is clearly wrong.
I'm not arguing your whole post just pointing out that that part is wrong.