Eat Beef and Bacon!

“The evidence is just not there on red/processed meat. It’s also just not there on 2-3 portions of low-fat dairy, 30g fiber, 5-a-day, 14-21 alcohol units, 8 glasses of water… just numbers plucked out of the air.”
~ Dr. Zoe Harcombe, PhD (professor of public health nutrition)

We’ve always known that many healthy and long-lived societies ate a lot of meat. In fact, the single most longest living society, Hong Kong, eats the most meat in the world. It’s been well established in Eastern research that for Asians more meat correlates to better health outcomes.

In the West, the famous Roseto Pennsylvanians also were great consumers of red meat and saturated fat. Like traditional Mediterraneans, they ate more lard than olive oil (olive oil was too expensive for everyday cooking and too much in demand for other uses: fuel, salves, etc). Among long-lived societies, one of the few commonalities has been lard, as pigs are adaptable creatures that can be raised almost anywhere.

The past correlations in some Western research showing the opposite were probably spurious data based on confounding factors such as the healthy user effect. Tell people that meat is unhealthy and then everyone who is healthy will avoid meat, but that tells one nothing about causation. Healthy people in general are higher in conscientiousness and tend to do whatever they are told is healthy (and safe and good), not only in terms of diet but also regular exercise and medical checkups, not to mention being careful to avoid risky behavior such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs along with unprotected sex, reckless driving, and on and on.

We’ve also known for a while that Ancel Keys’ study showing a correlation to saturated fat was a weak link. When the data was re-analyzed, sugar showed a stronger correlation than saturated fat and some other factors showed a stronger correlation than both. It never really made sense to blame meat and animal fats, as these were not increasing in the diet as certain diseases were increasing. The only foods, besides fruits and vegetables, that increased during that period were refined starches, added sugar, and seed oils.

Red meat and saturated fat specifically had been on the decline in the American diet for decades when Ancel Keys began his research. There never was a logical reason for scapegoating these foods. Evidence-based healthcare isn’t always as evidence-based as the experts have led us to believe. And having got it wrong so severely, possibly having caused harm and shortened lives to hundreds of millions of people in the Western world, how are they going to save face and maintain their authority while admitting they gave bad advice for more than a half century? They can’t.

So, organizations like the AHA and ADA have been slowly and quietly backtracking their recommendations in moving them in the direction of what their critics have been saying for decades (Slow, Quiet, and Reluctant Changes to Official Dietary Guidelines; & American Diabetes Association Changes Its Tune). They’re hoping no one notices or calls them out on this covert admission of guilt. But with ever more research piling up in challenging their credibility, leading experts are feeling defensive and so have been lashing out.

Even the media has a hard time reporting fairly on the topic, as they spent so many decades contributing to the confusion. For instance, most mainstream ‘journalism’ keeps blaming cow farts for climate change which is a ludicrous and unscientific allegation (Carnivore Is Vegan). Why are so obsessed with animal foods when sugar is possibly the single greatest dietary threat we face? And why do we narrowly focus on diet while ignoring even more massive factors such as lead toxicity? It would be nice to finally have an informed and honest public debate about public health.

* * *

Where is the Beef? The 6 Papers That Turned the World Up-Side-Down
by Angela A. Stanton

The latest flip-flop on red meat uses best science in place of best guesses
by Nina Teicholz

The New Guidelines On Meat Are Exposing the Fault Lines In Nutrition Advice
by Dr. Anthony Pearson

Is eating beef healthy? The new fight raging in nutrition science, explained.
by Julia Belluz

Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice.
by Gina Kolata

Avoiding red or processed meat doesn’t seem to give health benefits
by Clare Wilson

18 thoughts on “Eat Beef and Bacon!

  1. most mainstream ‘journalism’ keeps blaming cow farts for climate change which is a ludicrous and unscientific allegation

    : ) Well….

    On this point, I gather its actually mainstream politicos but — more especially — the “vested interests” that fund their campaigns that are actually seizing on this misrepresentation of the contribution of methane and nitrous oxide emissions to climate breakdown in an effort to try and attract attention away from the very real threats posed by factory farming, including overgrazing.

    Needless to say, the entirety of the public “adopting a plant-based diet” is not going to accomplish what actually needs to be accomplished here.

    I’m personally paying more attention these days to outlets e.g. The Art of Annhilation when it comes to avoiding such “false hope” lures as “Just change your diet” (or your light bulbs) “and all will be well!”

    • It’s not just factory farming or overgrazing. In fact, cattle ranching and more generally the return of ruminants is the only thing that will restore the soil and grassland ecosystems. There are no more ruminants in North America today than before Europeans settled here. Overgrazing only happens if cattle are not allowed to graze on open pasture or aren’t regularly moved from field to field.

      The oil-dependent industrial agriculture, from chemicals to monoculture, is the most harmful part of the modern food system. Consider that 90-95% of the world’s land can be used for grazing but not farming. The other 5-10% can be used for either purpose. Are we going to more intensively farm and hence further destroy that remaining usable 5-10% through more industrial practices (more chemicals, more GMOs, etc)?

      A lot of animal foods could be made on that 90-95% and it could be entirely done with out harming the environment. Quite the opposite, as it would improve the health of the soil and would draw down atmospheric carbon. It could even be done with open range ranching that allows wild species and native ecosystems to thrive. The same cannot be said for industrial agriculture that produces most of our plant foods today.

      Consider how the destruction of the Amazon gets blamed on cows. It’s actually not good for raising cattle, as the soil isn’t very deep and doesn’t grow grass well. The real motivation for destroying the Amazon are other sectors of the economy. It’s mostly motivated by mining that is highly profitable. They first sell off the hardwood lumber and then do the mining. Only after that might some cows be thrown on some of the land as an afterthought because is is useless for much else, although more of the land is used for making palm oil that is used a lot in processed foods, most of it being entirely vegan.

      Individual consumer choices aren’t going to save the world. But how we choose to design our economic and food system has immense impact. On the other hand, I don’t dismiss dietary choices matter for the environment. My disagreement is that the entire debate has been framed dishonestly and unscientifically. If we really do care, we should stop making such issues into symbolic beliefs. Let’s actually look at the facts. I take the vegan-style argument seriously. I don’t doubt their good intentions nor the kind of argument they’re making. In some ways, I take this kind of argument more seriously.

      Those promoting the false narrative of cow farts and such are diverse. But it does involve some powerful interests, such as seen with the transnational food and oil corporations backing EAT-Lancet by way of the EAT Foundation. EAT-Lancet is an agenda that is seeking to use technocracy to transform the global food system, using not only government dietary guidelines but also implementing meat taxes.

      The lack of transparency is most concerning. Consider the corporate backers. The EAT-Lancet report never admits to their existence. You have to go to the separate EAT Foundation. Then you have to find one particular project called FReSH that has a page hidden at the back of the website. If there is no ulterior motive, why hide this? And what else is hidden, yet to be discovered?

      On top of that, the individual authors are scientists who work for various institutions and many of them get corporate funding elsewhere, such as for doing their research, and in most cases it would be the exact same transnationals funding the various organizations, projects, and interests behind EAT-Lancet. Walter Willett, a lead researcher of the report, works for Harvard which is one of the most heavily corporate-funded colleges around, specifically the nutritional research done there. It’s a web of hidden influences and agendas.

      So are we supposed to trust their good intentions? And are we supposed to overlook the fact that the EAT-Lancet diet consists almost entirely of ingredients (grains, legumes, soy, & vegetable oils) that are the cheapest and most profitable for big ag to produce and big food to use in their products? Am I crazy for considering transparency and democracy to not be optional but as necessary requirements of good governance and a free society? With shady organizations like the EAT Foundation, how do we expect to solve complex and systemic problems that implicate the very people and organizations involved? We are supposed to assume that the system will reform itself from within, really?

      • We are supposed to assume that the system will reform itself from within, really?

        So the “vested interests” would have us believe. I’m of the mind, however, that it must be transformed — from the inside out. Otherwise, we’re just tweaking the “effectiveness” of the Megamachine itself.

        There’s much talk, of course, of “top-down” deformation (“dehiscence” and/or “fragmentation”) along with “bottom-up” reformation occurring in the political sphere, but all of this is just a by-product of the ingrained thought processes of hierarchical (or “pyramidic”) “consciousness structures” in general, imho, and not necessarily the “double-movement” of which Gebser speaks. Of course, there’s also much talk of “left” and “right” along with leftist and rightest extremisms, i.e. ideologies utterly detached from the “vital center,” which tells me that the vast majority of us are trained from birth and still thinking in purely spatial terms. (Witness the rise of the “Redneck Revolt” in reaction to the “redneck embrace” of nationalism and fascism.)

        God help us?

        I’m not much impressed in argu-mentation myself. Argumenataion accomplishes nothing. I am impressed with general societal trends toward health and well-being and away from dis-ease and well-having. The inherent danger, of course, is that those trends themselves can be, are and will be co-opted by “the Megamachine” as long as we’re not consciously aware of the mechanisms attempting (more at: flailing about in an effort) to “control” them.

        We master them or they master us.

        Now. I’m of the mind that such “trends” (aka “movements”) among human beings cannot, in fact, be controlled despite the best and worst efforts of the supposed best and worst among us. They can be co-opted; they can be herded; they can be “corralled” for a time, but — barring the extinction of our species — they cannot controlled for the simple reason that “we” (i.e. our “ego-selves”) do not control them or, in the words of Deborah Frieze, they “have no leaders,” but are spontaneous responses.

        • The game I play is about metaphors and metonyms, of narrative framing and mind viruses. I’m trying to throw off as many sparks as possible to see what catches on fire, even if only a momentary flare. It lets me know I’m onto something. I’m a child with a lighter who has no clue what he is doing. That sums up my writing.

        • I had to get the full context. I was a bit confused there for a moment. I found the transcript. And I see that, some years ago, you shared it on Scott Preston’s blog.

          “We see the same phenomena happening today in the shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy, from conventional architecture to green building, from Wall Street and global finance to main street and crowd-sourced capital. What each of these transformations have in common is that nobody planned them.

          “Sometimes, leaders like to take credit for them, and we, citizens, like to ascribe genius to our favorite innovators, but the truth is they are emergent phenomena. Emergence, which is at heart of this worldview, is nature’s way of creating change.

          “Emergence is tricky to see, and it’s hard to describe, but we know it’s present when local actions spring up simultaneously in many different areas get connected, and then, suddenly and surprisingly, emerge as a powerful system.

          “I’m a localist. I believe it is through small, local actions, alongside people who share our visions and dreams, that we create the conditions for change.”

        • The ‘mainstream’ debate is dominated and the narrative is controlled. On one side, there are plutocrats like the Koch brothers (one now dead) and the Mercer family while on the other side there is Gates with his foundation and Gunhild Stordalen with her foundation (behind the EAT-Lancet).

          It’s plutocrats vying for power — the ideological equivalent of Coke and Pepsi. They each have their agendas, schemes, and corporate alliances with immense money, mostly dark money, flowing from who knows where. No matter which side wins, the plutocrats win and everyone else loses. Sounds like a shitty deal to me.

          It’s not really about environmentalism, climate change, or whatever. And for damn sure it has nothing to do with genuine concern about diet and nutrition in terms of public health. It’s lust for power and it is irrelevant how the plutocrats rationalize it in their own minds. I’m sure they see themselves as good paternalistic overlords who know what is best for us.

          What about a third option, a little thing I like to call democracy? Maybe these technocratic visions aren’t the solution but the problem. That is the point you’re making about “all the local responses and movements”. If the plutocrats would get the fuck out of the way or if we the people made them get out of the way, I suspect we could come up with some awesome solutions that would vary greatly from place to place.

        • Here is a thought. Maybe we should seek a return to traditional food systems and foodways. This would be different according to culture, community, and local environment.

          Some places would raise more plant foods while other places more animal foods. The specific foods would also depend on what grows best in particular places.

          That is an important point. Some places don’t have good farmland and would have to eat mostly animal foods. Almost any place can have some kind of animal food.

          For example, pork and lard the most common features of all long-lived societies. That is because pigs are so adaptable to almost any environment, from swamps to grassland to mountainous forests.

          If we return to traditional diets, that means eating plant foods in smaller amounts. That is because traditional farming has smaller yields. And this would force us to only eat plant foods in season.

          This could mean all kinds of diets. What would be impossible, however, is veganism. There is no way to do veganism traditionally. But some places could do vegetarianism.

          • If the plutocrats would get the fuck out of the way or if we the people made them get out of the way, I suspect we could come up with some awesome solutions that would vary greatly from place to place.


            Of course, I’d just as soon they get in “the Way” as “out of the way,” but that rarely (if ever) happens, does it?

            I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work, though, as long as so many of “We, the People” remain distracted and fighting among ourselves rather than directing our energies away from other, at root, inviolable persons and toward “the powers that be.” You know?

            Probably needless to say, I see the “left vs. right,” “liberal vs conservative” dichotomy as the essential duality that has been preyed upon to date and, therefore, the essential duality to be overcome, whereas most everyone else sees only “the right” or “conservative” as “reactionary,” dualistic, hypocritical or…whatever. That’s one of the reasons I adored that post of yours I mentioned earlier and still have been unable to relocate. (I recall you said something similar in a comment on Scott’s blog about us all being “reactionaries in an age of reactionaries.”)

            Maybe we should seek a return to traditional food systems and foodways.

            Sounds good to me. (Just be sure not to use the words “return” or “traditional” in “integral” communities as they are apparently wordy-dirds there, the very same as “spiritual.” I couldn’t care less, of course, whether or not they’re considered by anyone to be wordy-dirds. I know precisely what you mean for the simple reason that I’m reading the words in context.)

            Too many of us are attempting to change “the global system,” as I see it, when it’s fairly obvious that a “global system” of any kind is not going accommodate communities of place and their unique attributes and requirements. A global network of interlinked systems? Perhaps. But it seems to me “the powers that be” already have a jump on co-opting such a “network.” (See: Jeremy Rifkin.)

            I’m not sure even democracy is up to the task myself. Democracy is, after all, supposed to reflect “the will of the majority,” not the whole. As you’ve also noted previously, the US (et al) may simply be too big for democracy. Democracy may be all fine and well for small, homogenous regions, but large and diverse ones?

            It seems we’ve definitely got some more imagining to do in every aspect of human endeavor. The more “sparks” the better. : )

          • Yeah, I’ve often said something along the lines of us all being “reactionaries in an age of reactionaries.” I’m not sure how that insight was driven home for me. But once I began seeing humanity through this lens, everything made a lot more sense.

            I realized there was an inadequacy in both Corey Robin’s and Mark Lilla’s views of the reactionary mind. But an earlier piece of info may have put my thoughts onto this trail, maybe even before I gave much thought to the reactionary mind as such. Liberalism is a hothouse flower that only rarely blooms under perfect conditions. “It is much easier to get a liberal to behave like a conservative than it is to get a conservative to behave like a liberal.”

            Click to access Political%20Ideology__Its%20structure,%20functions,%20and%20elective%20a.pdf

            It’s true that conservatives are reactionaries, not traditionalists. But in a deeper sense they are just another variety of liberal. That means, in a sense, there is nothing that is inherently liberal because everything is liberal — another insight that I got from reading Domenico Losurdo.

            This most clearly came together for me in my own theorizing about what I call symbolic conflation. It was the mixing of Lewis Hyde’s theory of metonymic embodiment with Julian Jayne’s theory of metaphoric mind, specifically in terms of the Trickster archetype and boundaries of the mind, that I was able to understand the secret link between liberalism and conservatism.

            “The issue of shame is a sore spot where conservatism and liberalism have, from their close proximity, rubbed each other raw. It is also a site of much symbolic conflation, the linchpin like a stake in the ground to which a couple of old warriors are tied in their ritual dance of combat and wounding, where both are so focused on one another that neither pays much attention to the stake that binds them together. In circling around, they wind themselves ever tighter and their tethers grow shorter.”

            I’m not sure exactly in what order my thoughts came together in finally concluding that a liberal age was a reactionary age. My mind had to slowly gather the clues in sensing a pattern that repeated, the weird way that liberalism related to conservatism. It made no sense from a purely political framework. Since I’ve been studying social science, specifically personality theory and research, for decades, it was natural for me to take a more ‘psychological’ approach to putting it all together. Conservatives are constantly showing themselves to be reactionaries and liberals are constantly showing themselves to be conservatives.

            This is all about the dual role of the Trickster.

            “Hermes of the Dark and Hermes of the Light. The latter might be thought of as the liberal mind in radical mode. The former would then be the liberal mind in reactionary mode, what is known more simply as conservatism, it likely being redundant calling a conservative reactionary.

            “Hermes isn’t one or the other. He is both the enchanter and the disenchanter.

            “This is how I see liberalism in this liberal age. I suspect that ultimately the radical and the reactionary are the two archetypal roles of the trickster, as they get expressed in post-Enlightenment modernity. Hermes the enchanter puts the linchpin in place and hides its location. Hermes the disenchanter is the liberating force that wiggles the linchpin or even pulls it out, but only to put it back in at another location. The trickster shifts, not destroys, the boundary.”

          • In my last comment, I pointed out that, “It is much easier to get a liberal to behave like a conservative than it is to get a conservative to behave like a liberal.” That was from a political science paper where Jost et al was quoting Skitka et al (Political Ideology: Its Structure, Functions, and Elective Affinities).

            This has been studied in social science. All that needs to be done is cause stress or other cognitive overload, even just getting someone drunk (maybe why American politicians used to give out free alcohol). Almost anyone and everyone can be turned into a conservative, and push someone far enough to their breaking point and the reactionary and authoritarian can begin to show. This is so easy to do and the ruling elite understand it. They’ve perfected this trick for social control. This information has been stuck on my mind going back at least a decade. I remember how perplexing it all seemed when I first came across it. It forced me to rethink what ideology means, especially as a worldview (Althusser).

            Most Americans are ‘liberals’ according to operational ideology but ‘conservatives’ according to symbolic ideology — closely related to my own theory of symbolic conflation. Republicans realized they could use this to win elections, even when the public disagreed with most of their policies (Wirthlin effect). Humans are easily manipulated without realizing they are manipulated. Frame criminal activity as a forced choice between punishment or letting criminals go free or frame immigration as stopping dangerous, criminal illegal aliens invading the country and stealing American jobs or an open border free-for-all of chaos, anarchy, and violence. Most Americans will give the expected response that is being elicited by the blunt manipulation. But give Americans many options, rehabilitation vs punishment, immigration bans vs treating refugees with compassion, and Americans suddenly expressed views so liberal-minded that they are practically left-wing by ‘mainstream’ standards.

            Yet ‘liberalism’ as a label has become so stigmatized that there is a large number of Americans holding strongly and sometimes consistently liberal and leftist views who strangely identify as ‘conservative’ (based on data from Pew’s Beyond Red Vs Blue, the single best source of political demographics and survey of public opinion). There is no equivalent phenomenon of the socially and politically conservative identifying as ‘conservative’. Most Americans, when fully informed and given multiple meaningful choices, hold positions far to the left of the Democratic Party. But the two-party system controls the framing and nearly all public debate.

            This is how the plutocrats play their game of Coke vs Pepsi (Gates vs Mercer, Stordalen vs Kochs, Clinton vs Trump) where no matter which side wins the plutocracy wins because, in the end, the plutocrats are on the same side. This was brought back to mind when I came back across a post from a couple of years ago. While Clinton and Trump attacked each other publicly (spectacle as entertainment, distraction, and misdirection), behind the scenes Clinton’s direct man Podesta was working directly with Trump’s man Manafort in covert and unofficial neocon foreign policy maneverings and manipulations in Ukraine. Bascally, Clinton and Trump, decades-old political cronies, were still operating jointly through a clandestine deep state of transational plutocracy and nepotism that exists outside of government itself. After briefly seeing this dark secret come to light, it disappeared from all corporate news reporting, as if it wasn’t one of the most damning revelations in my lifetime. It was passed over as if it meant nothing because it was so scary that no one dared touch it. Now Ukraine is back in the news because of the Biden family, of course close friends and associates of both the Clinton family and Trump family.

            Poll Answers, Stated Beliefs, Ideological Labels

            “Across the entire population, there is more than enough ideological confusion and inconsistency to go around. This largely has to do with how labels are used, or rather misused and abused. Liberals label their positions moderate, the very positions that the political and media elite think of as liberal. Either liberals really are more moderate or the elite aren’t as liberal as they think, although I suspect both are true. That leaves conservatives holding positions that these same elites consider liberal, while conservatives don’t see them as liberal, which questions the very concept of conservatism. There are more conflicted conservatives than consistent conservatives, something not found among liberals. To the degree that liberals are conflicted, it is because they mis-label their views right-ward.

            “Anyway, the average person probably doesn’t give much thought to how they answer polls and vote in elections. Most people have busy lives. Besides, it’s not as if the education system and news media does a great job of informing the public and explaining the issues. And that is on top of the low quality of options typically given. We also can’t forget the constant bullshit, spin, propaganda, psyops, etc. Framing alone sometimes will completely reverse what people state as supporting. When a combative frame is used, most Americans support harsh punishment of criminals. But when a public health frame is used, most Americans support rehabilitation. So, which is the real majority? Well, both are or neither is.

            “Here is a major point to be understood and emphasized. As data shows, most people who hold liberal positions don’t identify as liberal. And most people who identify as liberal don’t identify many of their own positions as liberal, instead identifying them as moderate. Also interesting is the fact that self-identified conservatives, many being conflicted conservatives holding liberal positions, tend to identify their liberal and moderate positions as conservative. So, every demographic labels their views to the right of where their views actually are on the spectrum, at least for most major issues. This is partly because of the political and media elite who claim to be moderate and centrist while in many ways being to the right of the general public. The narrative of public opinion and the political spectrum is being defined by a disconnected elite that is heavily biased to the right.”

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