Being “mostly vegan” is like being “a little pregnant.”

A large number of vegans and vegetarians, according to available data, occasionally cheat by eating various animal foods. I know a vegan who eats fish, which technically would make her pegan, but she is attached to identifying as vegan. The majority who try these “plant-based” diets, the data also shows, don’t maintain them beyond a short period of time. It’s a small minority that remain on such restrictive diets.

It’s yet to be demonstrated if veganism, strictly maintained with no instance of cheating, can even be maintained beyond a single generation. That infertility is so common among vegans (and also vegetarians) is an indicator that long-term survival is unlikely. That is similar to what Francis M. Pottenger Jr. discovered when cats were fed contrary to the diet they evolved eating. “By the third generation, they didn’t reach adulthood. There was no generation after that” (Health From Generation To Generation).

Another researcher from earlier last century, Weston A. Price studied healthy populations following traditional diets. In his search, he traveled to every continent and he specifically looked for those adhering to an entirely plant-based diet, but he could find no example anywhere in the world. He did find cannibals. Every healthy population ate large amounts of high quality animal foods, typically not long pig though.

* * *

Interpreting the Work of Dr. Weston A. Price
from Weston A. Price Foundation

One of the purposes of Price’s expedition to the South Seas was to find, if possible “plants or fruits which together, without the use of animal products, were capable of providing all of the requirements of the body for growth and for maintenance of good health and a high state of physical efficiency.” 12 What he found was a population that put great value on animal foods–wild pig and seafood–even groups living inland on some of the larger islands. Even the agricultural tribes in Africa consumed insects and small fish–and these groups were not as robust as the tribes that hunted, fished or kept herds.

“It is significant,” said Price, “that I have as yet found no group that was building and maintaining good bodies exclusively on plant foods. A number of groups are endeavoring to do so with marked evidence of failure.”13

12. Weston A. Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, PPNF, p 109.
13. Weston A. Price, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, PPNF, p 282.

Studies of Relationships Between Nutritional Deficiencies and (a) Facial and Dental Arch Deformities and (b) Loss of Immunity to Dental Caries Among South Sea Islanders and Florida Indians.
by Weston A. Price

The native foods in practically all the South Sea Islands consisted of a combination of two types; namely, plant foods and sea foods. The former included the roots and tops of several tubers and a variety of fruits. The sea foods consisted chiefly of small forms, both hard- and soft-shelled, and invertebrates, together with fish of various types.

One of the purposes of this trip was to find, if possible, native dietaries consisting entirely of plant foods which were competent for providing all the factors needed for complete and normal physical development without the use of any animal tissues or product.

A special effort was accordingly made to penetrate deeply into the interior of the two largest Islands where the inhabitants were living quite remote from the sea, with the hope that groups of individuals would be found living solely on a vegetarian diet. Not only were no individuals or groups found, even in the interior, who were not frequently receiving shell fish from the sea, but I was informed that they recognized that they could not live over three months in good health without getting something from the sea. A native interpreter informed me that this had been one of the principal causes of bitter warfare between the hill tribes and coast tribes of that and all of the Pacific Islands, since the hill people could not exist without some sea foods to supplement their abundant and rich vegetable diet of the mountain country.

He informed me also that even during the periods of bitter warfare the people from the mountain district would come down to the sea during the night and place in caches delicious plants which grew only at the higher altitudes. They would return the following night to obtain the sea foods that were placed in the same caches by the people from the sea. He stated that even during warfare these messengers would not be captured or disturbed.

This guide and many others explained to me that cannibalism had its origin in the recognition by the hill people that the livers and other organs of their enemies from the coast provided the much needed chemicals which were requisite to supplement the plant foods. Several highly informed sons of cannibals and a few who acknowledged that they had eaten “long pig” advised me that it was common knowledge that the people who had lived by the sea and who had been able to obtain lots of sea foods, particularly the fishermen, were especially sought for staying a famine. One native told me of having left an Island where he was engaged in fishing because of a tip that came to him that his life was in danger because of his occupation.

Weston Price Looked for Vegans But Found Only Cannibals
by Christopher Masterjohn

This experience is, in part, a testament to the extraordinary nutrition packed into shellfish.  Melissa McEwen recently wrote about this in her post “Being Shellfish,” where she noted that some shellfish are not only more nutritious than meat, but exhibit such a dearth of evidence for sentience and the capacity for suffering that some otherwise-vegans argue that eating shellfish is consistent with the basic ethics of veganism. […]

Ultimately, what this story makes especially clear is that there is an enormous difference between a small amount of animal products and no animal products.  Being “mostly vegan” is like being “a little pregnant.”  As I pointed out in my response to Dr. T. Colin Campbell and my review of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live, animal products that constitute two percent or ten percent of a person’s diet may make or break the healthfulness of the diet, especially if that small percentage is something incredibly nutrient-dense like clams or oysters.

If someone achieves vibrant health on a vegan diet, I will be happy for them.  We should face the facts, however, that humans with limited access to animal products have often gone to great lengths to include at least some animal products in their diet.  And they’ve done that for a reason.

Corporate Veganism

The main purpose here is to share resources on a traditional healthy diet, in contrast to industrial diets of big ag and processed foods (from SAD to vegan), as related to human evolution, agricultural practices, food systems, corporate capitalism, modern civilization, and environmental sustainability. Below are listed documentaries and books, along with the names of health advocates and public intellectuals who have shaped my thinking or simply come onto my radar, and a few select videos. These recommendations can be found at the end of this post, but first I wanted to share what motivated me to make this list. One thing that has received a lot of attention lately is the just released vegan documentary The Game Changers, a slick Hollywood production with big money and big names behind it, such as James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pamela Andersen, Jackie Chan, and many more, including sports stars and a celebrity chef — all producers or executive producers which means they contributed either money or influence for the film. (By the way, if you want a mainstream analysis of the science, check out Paul Kita’s review at Men’s Health: This New Documentary Says Meat Will Kill You. Here’s Why It’s Wrong.)

There is an obvious and direct conflict of interest, and more importantly there was no disclosure of this fact. Cameron, as the leading name among the executive directors, is the founder (along with his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron) and CEO of Verdient Foods, the largest pea protein processing plant in the world in which he owns a hundred and forty million dollars worth of investment, according to Shawn Baker (stated in video below). To a lesser degree of conflict, though also unstated, others involved in the documentary have vegan-related and “plant-based” products and services they sell: supplements, retreats, online programs, meal planning service, publishing, books, DVDs, etc (Meredith Root, The Game Changers – A Scientific Review With Full Citations; Layne Norton, The Game Changers Review – A Scientific Analysis (Updated)). That might explain why wealthy individuals would put so much money into a documentary that is guaranteed to lose money.

It’s an investment and advertisement, what Lance Ng said “felt like ‘covert marketing’ — the kind of secret sponsorship of product placement, blogging, or social media posts that brands do today to subtly influence consumers” (Is Game Changers Funded by Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat?). And Ng goes on to say that, “The documentary was also somewhat ironic. It lambasted the cigarette industry for using sports stars and doctors in the past to promote smoking and play down health concerns. It then accused the meat industry of doing the same to create the perception that ‘real men eat meat’, as well as funding research to dispel the link between cancer and meat diets. But throughout the whole documentary, it was interviewing athletes, scientists and doctors who endorsed plant-based diets. Wouldn’t that be a classic case of ‘pot calling the kettle black’?” I’ll note that something like pea protein is a product of big ag and big food, a key concern for me as I will explain. How would you perceive an expensive documentary produced by the Ford car company advocating that Americans should buy more cars and drive more often because it would make them happier, more attractive, improve their sex life, or whatever?

Industrially produced and processed supplements like pea protein are becoming big business, as it’s “a key ingredient in Beyond Meat, which is in short supply right now” (Lance Ng). “Financial publication MarketWatch explained that the recent moves will allow Ingredion to “capitalize on the growing taste for plant-based foods and diets.” Ingredion predicts that the global plant-based food market will reach $1.5 billion by 2022″ (Jemima Webber, James Cameron Participates in $140 Million Vegan Protein Investment). To put this in further context, Ingredion is “one of the leading global ingredient suppliers” (Anthony Gustin, Game Changers Movie Review: Fact vs. Fiction). These are no small players in corporate capitalism and neoliberal trade. And it extends beyond a single company, including a network of business interests. “I found at least one direct link between celebrity investment and The Game Changers. Remember Chris Paul, the executive producer and NBA star? He’s an investor in Beyond Meat. […] There’s another less direct but much more pertinent link. James Cameron and his wife are both producers of The Game Changers. Cameron and his wife met on the set of Titanic, which starred… Leonardo DiCaprio, another Beyond Meat investor” (Lance Ng). It’s not really about getting people, I’d argue, to become fully vegan but to spin industrial products as “plant-based” health foods.

I came across another example of vegetarianism and veganism getting promoted by corporate interests. Frédéric Leroy, in a recent talk about scapegoating meat, gave an analysis of how “this narrative gets propagated by mass media.” His focus was on ‘mainstream’ newspapers. The example given was amazing in how blatant it is as perception management and social engineering: “The Guardian has received a substantial amount of money to publish a series called animals farmed which goal is to depict animal agriculture as harmful to humans, the planet, animals, etc. Now this money is originating from the Open Philanthropy Project which is also an investor in Impossible Foods, by the way” (from the last video below). That is corporate-funded fake news being presented as actual news reporting. Anyone, even vegans, should find this disturbing. Could you imagine the public outrage if a major investor in a beef company paid for a series of articles depict industrial agriculture producing fruits and vegetables as “harmful to humans, the planet, animals, etc.” That would be considered unacceptable or else laughable. The reputation of the newspaper would have taken a major hit. So, why does this kind of corporate propaganda get published without any other major news source doing an investigative piece on it? Maybe because all of the corporate media receives similar money from various corporate interests.

Sadly, one has to assume that any news reporting in corporate media might be part of a larger corporate agenda, unless proven otherwise. Whether or not a particular news outlet is getting direct funding to lie to or otherwise manipulate the public, the whole bias and spin that has been manufactured seeps into all of the corporate media and beyond. Here is another example that makes me suspicious, even if I don’t know the exact corporate interests behind it. It’s from Carte Blanche, a South African news program that has done award-winning investigative journalism. In a show that just put out, Meat vs Planet (11/17/19), they portray themselves as investigating the issue without bias. It’s simply a matter, according to the narrative, of our choosing either meat or the planet. Framed like that, it really is a tough decision. I do like meat, but the planet also has its advantages. Too bad there wasn’t a way to have both meat and the planet. Jeez! That is so pathetic as supposed “investigative journalism” that everyone involved in that show should resign in shame. In a post on Facebook, Carte Blanche further framed it as “Meat vs Beans“. It’s so fucking idiotic. Basically, you must eat beans for the rest of your life, if you care about continued existence of the planet. Eating some meat is equivalent to planetary mass homicide. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with this topic knows it’s not this simplistic. This has stood out to me ever since I researched the EAT-Lancet report that advocated a “plant-based” diet to save humanity and all life on earth (Dietary Dictocrats of EAT-Lancet; also see the rest of the voluminous info at that piece):

“One might note that EAT-Lancet is specifically partnered with big biz, including big ag companies such as Monsanto that has poisoned the world’s population with Roundup (i.e., glyphosate), and understand that big ag is among the most powerful interests in the US considering our country’s wealth was built on agriculture (a great example being the wealth of the plutocratic and corporatist Koch brothers whose wealth in part came from manufacturing fertilizer). Other companies involved are those developing meat alternatives produced from the industrially-farmed crops of big ag. And big ag is dependent on big oil for production of farm chemicals. EAT Foundation president and founder, Gunhild Stordalen, has been noted as a significant figure in the oil industry (Lars Taraldsen, ONS 2014 conference program to feature oil industry heavy hitters). But don’t worry about how this carb-laden diet of processed foods will harm your health with the majority of the American population already some combination of insulin sensitive, pre-diabetic, and diabetic — they’ve got this covered: “The drug company Novo Nordisk supports Eat-Lancet. Smart. Insulin is 85% of their revenue” (P. D. Mangan). I’m beginning to see a pattern here in the vested interests behind this proposal: “Eat lancet sponsors. Chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies (mostly making diabetes meds), the world’s biggest pasta manufacturer, the world biggest seed oil supplier, the world’s biggest breakfast cereal supplier” (David Wyant); “Pesticides, fertilisers, #gm (Bayer/Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta);sugar+fake flavourings/colourings (PepsiCo, Nestle, Givaudin, Symrise);ultraprocessed grains/starches (Cargill, Kellogg’s);#palmoil (Olam); additives and enzymes (DSM)- companies backing #EatLancet diet. I wonder why?” (Joanna Blythman).

“Just to throw out a crazy idea, maybe transnational corporations are the problem, not the answer. “Just think about it. EAT Lancet is the processed food industry telling us that eating more processed food is good for our health & planet. That’s like oil industry stating burn more fossil fuel will save planet. Vested interests think we are that gullible?”, in the words of Gary Fettke, an outspoken surgeon who (like John Yudkin and Tim Noakes) was bullied and harassed when challenging the powers that be, for the crime of advising an evidence-based low-carb/sugar diet. “This Poison Cartel of companies,” writes Vandana Shiva in reference to the corporate alliance behind EAT-Lancet, “have together contributed up to 50% Green house gases leading to climate change, and the chronic disease epidemic related to chemicals in food, loss in diversity in the diet, industrially processed junk food, and fake food.” The Lancet Journal itself, from a new report, is now warning of us the exact same thing, in that many corporate sectors (including those backing EAT-Lancet) receive $5 trillion in government subsidies: “Big Food’s obstructive power is further enhanced by governance arrangements that legitimize industry participation in public policy development” (Swinburn et al, The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change).”

But the most damning part is that these corporate backers of EAT-Lancet were hidden on a page buried many layers deep on the EAT Foundation website. It’s strange that big biz wants to push a particular diet on the entire world population, as is the stated intention of the EAT-Lancet campaign. What specifically about “plant-based” diets is to the benefit and profit of big biz? And why were they hiding their involvement, as opposed to using it as a PR opportunity for greenwashing their corporate image? The EAT-Lancet report was supposedly about saving humanity and the earth. That sounds like a positive thing. Why the secrecy? It made no sense that these corporations wouldn’t want to be openly associated with it, if their intentions were truly good as argued in the report.

Then it occurred to me that these corporations want to shape the political narrative and manipulate the public debate but without it seeming like a special interest agenda. It was being spun as environmentalism and humanitarianism, but the thing about many environmentalists is that they’d be suspicious of such a corporate campaign openly being framed as a corporate agenda. Those attracted to environmentalism tend to be critical of big biz, and so to manipulate activists and the rest of the public it is necessary to make it seem like a neutral project to improve the world. So, instead of advertising the corporate-friendly nature of it, the EAT Foundation was joined by Lancet that would give it scientific credibility and public respectability. It was also spun as an issue of morality, as part of hyper-individualistic consumer-citizenry. Adopt the right dietary social identity and buy the right products. Then you are free of all sin and guilt. You are one of the good guys and so can feel morally righteous as part of the cause. Tapping into people’s need for self-worth and belonging is a powerful motivator. Yet, this kind of hyper-individualism always casts a shadow of authoritarianism, as seen in how vegans and vegetarians argue for laws that would force compliance (e.g., EAT-Lancet). There is the elect who choose righteousness and then there is the rest of fallen humanity who must be made to get into line.

Still, why is a “plant-based” diet used to enact such a vision and agenda? Vegans and vegetarians are always claiming that the world is ruled by corporations producing animal foods, the secret cabal of beef and dairy lobbyists. So, why are some of the most profitable and powerful big ag, big food, and other big biz companies choosing to push rhetoric that blames animal foods and scapegoats meat-eaters? During recent HHS and USDA hearings about the 2020 dietary guidelines, the beef industry lobbyist didn’t even advocate for a meat-based diet, much less an all-meat diet (2020 Dietary Guidelines: Fight Over Low-Carb). Instead, he weakly and defensively pointed that meat could be part of a healthy, balanced diet along with grains, fruits and vegetables, hardly a controversial or biased position to take. This is a standard argument from the beef industry — consider a similar point made in the Beef Magazine: “Because the heart of the matter isn’t if we eat meat or just plants. What truly is at stake here is our freedom of food choice and our freedom to farm. And beyond that, this advice is dangerous, elitist and irresponsible” (Amanda Radke, Why Schwarzenegger’s “Game Changers” documentary is dangerous). This is far from an extreme, biased position. Instead, it’s a plea for moderation and balance.

It’s not the animal foods companies and their lobbyists spinning plant vs meat rhetoric nor even telling people to eat an animal-based diet, much less an all-meat carnivore diet. This is in contrast to something like EAT-Lancet that very much has gone on the offense in making a hard sell for the plant-based diet, not moderation as part of a balanced diet but pushed to an unhealthy extreme. They aren’t simply making scientific-based recommendations for including fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds along with diet that also allows equal portions of meat, eggs, and dairy. Nor is it even a focus on vegetarianism that potentially allows large helpings of animal foods, as one could be vegetarian while eating eggs and dairy with every meal. Instead, based on moralistic dogma, this is advocacy for a plants-only diet, where “plant-based” or “plant-forward” is thinly veiled vegan propaganda. Isn’t that an intriguing distinction? The plant foods industry is attacking the animal foods industry in trying to get consumers to buy less animal foods, but there is no equivalent action in the other direction. I’ve never come across a beef, egg, or dairy representative or lobbyist arguing against plant foods, much less attacking vegetarians and vegans. So, why this one way hatred and judgment, dismissiveness and scapegoating?

This isn’t hard to understand once you realize the immense profit in industrial agriculture and processed foods. Meat is irrelevant, as far as big biz is concerned. Most processed foods are not made with animal foods but with shelf-stable ingredients such as wheat, soy, corn, corn syrup, seed oils, etc. The real issue here isn’t meat vs beans or meat vs planet or whatever other bullshit. It’s sustainability of regenerative farming vs externalized costs of industrial agriculture (Carnivore Is Vegan). Besides, these companies are hedging their bets. The parent companies operate businesses in multiple areas. The same company making hamburger patties, for example, likely is also under another brand name making veggie burgers. If the sales of one product goes down, the sales of the other product likely will go up. Their only concern is to ensure they control the system and dominate the market, whether producing animal-based processed foods or plant-based processed foods, although the latter does have a better profit margin. What is unimportant to profitability is that, in analysis, production of some of the veggie burgers causes far more environmental harm than the raising of cows in factor farms for hamburgers. What is being sold is an image of health for humanity and the earth. As for the inconvenient details, they can be smoothed over with nice-sounding rhetoric.

It’s worse than this. The fact of the matter is that all animal foods could be produced through regenerative farming, as only 5% of the land in the United States and 5-10% of the usable land in the world can be used for farming, what is called arable land, whereas 100% of it can be used for grazing (about two-thirds of all land could produce food for humans, i.e. usable land, not considering other lands available for hunting and trapping). To feed the world with plant foods on a few percentage of the usable land requires industrial agriculture with high-yield harvests from chemical-drenched monocrops. So, promoting a “plant-based” diet is a way of promoting industrial agriculture without having to state it that way. No one, vegan or otherwise, is going to become a political activist to defend big ag. It must be presented as something else and that must be given a compelling narrative, which is where emotion-laden environmentalism comes in. The greatest threat to industrial agriculture is not meat in general, definitely not factory-farmed meat, but specifically meat that is sustainably produced. Industrial agriculture is not sustainable and that is the public debate big biz hopes to avoid. And in avoiding that, they are avoiding the messy details of how closely linked is big ag to the entire network of big biz interests: big oil, big defense, big tech, etc (Is California a Canary in the Coal Mine?). Immense effort goes into avoiding that public debate.

It just so happens that “plant-based” diets are a perfect fit for the big biz profits and the power structure they represent. That is even more true for veganism, since veganism is literally impossible without industrialization of not only agriculture but transportation systems, fortified foods, and supplements. By the way, this is what potentially differentiates veganism from vegetarianism (Vegetarianism is an Animal-Based Diet); like omnivore and carnivore diets, vegetarianism theoretically could be done with regenerative farming, assuming the vegetarian would eat mostly eggs and dairy during the season (winter and spring) when locally-grown organic plant foods aren’t available; and so any of the animal-based diets, including vegetarianism, can avoid deficiencies of animal-sourced nutrients (fat-soluble vitamins, choline, carnitine, etc; even cholesterol that is required for brain function). The industrial diet, veganism most of all, is so nutrient-deficient that it requires nutrients to be added back into the diet (by the way, calling a supplement-dependent diet ‘healthy’ is a joke; one could survive, if not thrive, by literally eating shit as long as the shit was nutrient-fortified and one had plenty of supplements). That is the reason veganism did not exist prior to industrialization. Big biz doesn’t actually give a fuck about the environment or human health. It’s just convenient rhetoric to get animal-loving environmentalists on board as useful idiots. As long as they keep the attack on meat-eaters, the typically anti-corporatist environmentalists will never pause for a moment to look at the corporate interests that are directing their attention away from the corporations themselves. The average vegan or vegetarian watches an unscientific documentary like Cowspiracy or The Game Changers and they suddenly think they’re informed. They have no idea of the evil genius and Machiavellian powers that are manipulating them through carefully crafted rhetorical framing used in line with the propaganda model of media.

The question is what makes these otherwise critical left-wingers such willing dupes. My sense is it has to do with the religious nature of these dietary ideologies. Vegetarianism was introduced to the West from Hinduism and veganism emerged out of a divine vision of a late 19th century Seventh Day Adventist. These “plant-based” diets have maintained their religiosity and zealotry. It’s not only a diet but an entire social identity tied into a readymade social movement. There is a reason that a much more scientifically-supported diet like the Mediterranean diet with no origins in religion doesn’t attract such a loyal following or gain such extremes of media and political attention. Even the carnivore diet, the equivalent extreme opposite of veganism, never draws as much interest. Or take the keto diet that has been scientifically studied for a century or other low-carb diets that have been scientifically studied going back to the 19th century. None of these other diets have ever been turned into sociopolitical movements that make arguments about it being the End Times and so we must convert to their dietary promise of salvation.

This goes deep into our cultural inheritance. As I’ve noted before, social control as dietary control has a long history in Western civilization and is rooted in Christian authority as seen in Medieval food laws and in theology of the sins of gluttony and sloth (The Agricultural Mind & Diets and Systems), the latter is discussed by Gary Taubes. This Christian belief often expresses as an idealism and paternalism that, in the modern world, often expresses as techno-utopianism and technocracy (Hubris of Nutritionism) with the key example being EAT-Lancet. The vegan argument is that we can separate ourselves from the cycle of life and death. That is essentially a Christian argument for an idealized Heaven that transcends this fallen world. The reality, though, is that veganism is part of an industrial system that wreaks immense havoc. Vegans aren’t above it all. The only way they could attain their moral innocence and purity would be by living in isolated and self-contained bunkers that were disconnected from all ecosystems and where all food was industrially-produced or lab-grown, and so no life would be harmed because no life would be possible other than human life and the microbes that inhabit us. That is the ultimate conclusion of vegan idealism of harm-free diet and food system.

I doubt this utopianism is possible. It’s a death denial. It’s similar to many right-wing libertarians I’ve come across who are former fundamentalists, in how they go from hoping for eternity in Heaven to fantasizing about cryogenic immortality and space stations among the stars. It’s a desire to be free of the messy complications of earthly life. On the opposite side of this dualistic worldview are those like neocons, kleptocrats, corporatocrats, etc as death-mongers who, rather than denying it, want to rule over the world of misery and decay like gnostic demiurges. Between these demented extremes, there can be no genuine moderation and balance, no real world solution. The idea of sustainability through regenerative farming doesn’t fit into this entire ideological paradigm. Actual sustainability would be revolutionary. Interestingly, both sides of the mainstream debate are fighting back against this revolutionary possibility. In fact, both sides have a secret compact. Look at EAT-Lancet where idealistic vegans, if unknowingly (?), have formed an alliance with Machiavellian industrialists. Both sides, supposedly in opposition, are working together to ensure that health and sustainability never happens.

In an email, Fabrice DeClerck, science director of the EAT-Lancet Commission, admitted that, “the meat consumption limits proposed by the Commission were not set due to environmental considerations, but were solely in light of health recommendations.”(Frank M. Mitloehner, EAT-Lancet’s environmental claims are an epic fail. And the Commission knows it.). But if you closely read the EAT-Lancet report, they point to all the exceptions of people who wouldn’t be healthy on this diet and basically admit that the dietary recommendations don’t apply to most of the global population. Besides, the food industry contributes less to carbon emissions than does the healthcare industry. Mostly or entirely plant-based diets, in creating ill health and greater demand for healthcare, would increase carbon emissions; and that would be true even in ignoring the carbon emissions from industrial agriculture. So, what exactly is the effective agenda, as opposed to empty rhetoric, of something like EAT-Lancet and The Game Changers? We are forced to conclude that the branded identity of “plant-based” diets has become just another product to be sold by big biz. Health and sustainability is irrelevant.

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EAT-Lancet Supported by Massive Food/Pharma/Chemical Industries. A Look At the Interests Behind This Report.
by Nina Teicholz

The Corporate Interests Behind EAT-Lancet

EAT-Lancet was launched simultaneously in 40 cities with a massive PR budget. Who funded all this? All we know is that EAT has an extensive array of corporate partnerships.

Tim Rees of Nutritional Therapy Online created a table of all the EAT-Lancet corporate funders. These include;

—Seven Big Pharma companies, with drugs for many nutrition-related diseases

—About 20 Big Food companies, including Kellogg’s, Nestle, and PepsiCo.

Note that the companies selling highly processed foods, like Nestle and Kellogg’s are essentially vegan. The vast majority of packaged foods sold on the inner aisles of supermarkets—cookies, crackers, chips (crisps), candy, cereals—are made up of the same basic ingredients: soy, corn, grains, sugars, and salt. This is vegan. These companies would presumably like nothing more than to but a big green V on their packages to give them a reason to advertise their foods as healthy.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies profit from selling drugs, insulin, and devices that sick people need. Would these companies be backing EAT if this diet were to genuinely improve health, reduce disease, and thus, shrink their profits? It’s hard to imagine.

Moreover, also supporting the EAT-Lancet report are:

—14 chemical companies, including BASF, the “world’s largest chemical company.”

What is the interest of these companies in supporting a report targeting animal agriculture as the main driver of global warming if not—perhaps—to displace attention away from their own polluting activities? Or perhaps they make the pesticides that grow crops.

One cannot know the answer to all these questions, but the massive level of corporate backing clearly raises serious questions about the interests behind this report, especially when there is no rigorous evidence to support the idea that this diet promotes human health and quite a bit of evidence to show that it causes harm.

* * *

Videos:

From video directly above:

Frédéric Leroy talking about the business of “plant-based” fake foods that are industrially-produced, highly-processed, and additive-filled: egg-free eggs, milk-free milks, hamburger-free burgers, etc (from above video):

“You have to mimic something extremely complex and you need a lot of technology to do so. Now you could say this is the future food only to a minority. We don’t really have to mind it all that much. It’s just a couple of people. And you know, soon it will pass. And it’s just one of those things that food industry comes up with. But this narrative is starting to cross a certain line which I find quite concerning.

“Now I’ll present you here to a tweet from the official account of UN Environment. I’ll read it to you: “So warning no meat was used in the following video. Cutting back on meat is an essential part of preventing the degradation of our environment.” And then the most worrisome part: “Mainstreaming meatless burgers benefit businesses, consumers & our planet.” Now it has a little video that goes with this. And in the video you see that in 2018 UN Environment has declared Impossible Foods and Beyond Meats as champions of the earth.

“Now we’ve just seen Beyond Meat. It was the burger I just showed you before. Impossible Foods is a similar company and this company has also as a goal to eliminate the need for animals in the food chain by 2035. So let this sink in for a minute. We have an official account of the United Nations promoting ultra-processed foods and an extreme agenda.

“At this point I would like to introduce you to something that is called the pharmakon. I think it’s a useful concept to look at this problem. The pharmakon is a philosophical idea that has been used by Jacques Derrida in the previous century and goes all the way back to Plato. Now pharmakon is a substance that is both beneficial and harmful. So it’s something that is at the same time a cure and a poison. And you see that also in the concept of pharmacists, in the word pharmacy. The pharmacy sells medicine which is, at the same time, a bit of poison.

“See what it’s coming from. And I would say that meat is a perfect example of the pharmakon. And that is because one side of society would refer to meat as something nourishing. That’s a long-standing connotation, to offer you strength, vitality, and nutrients. And at the same time, another narrative would state that it causes cancer, it will kill you, and all sorts of things. Now, the pharmakon concept has been used in philosophy to expose Western thinking for being binary and reductionist. And you have this tension here at play and such attention always brings about another concept which is called pharmakos. Pharmakos is Greek for scapegoat. So one of these ideas has to go out. So you’re scapegoating something. Meat has become a scapegoat and we’ll come back to this.

“What I find particularly toxic is that this narrative gets propagated by mass media. You may know or not know that The Guardian has received a substantial amount of money to publish a series called animals farmed which goal is to depict animal agriculture as harmful to humans, the planet, animals, etc. Now this money is originating from the Open Philanthropy Project which is also an investor in Impossible Foods, by the way.

“Last year we published a study that looked into discourses in the Daily Mail. Now the Daily Mail is another major British newspaper and what we have done is analyzing every single article that was published dealing with meat and health during 15 years, so the first 15 years of the century. And we have quantified certain aspects. We also have done discourse analysis. And what we found is that it’s not all that much about science, but it is about post-truth being prone to cherry-picking invention effects.

“So it’s not about the facts that such is how you put them together and you create a storyline. And it is also about the attention economy and that has to do with the way those kind of mass media systems are financed. So they’re financed by advertisers and those advertisers want clickbait. That’s how how you generate income. So the more attractive you make your headlines the more money it brings in. So you’ll end up with these screaming headlines. This is an example. It’s also an example of a pharmakon. This is the British breakfast the British fry up. One article in The Daily Mail stated that is the healthiest breakfast of all and another one states that it may raise risk of bowel cancer by 60%. So how to confuse your public.

“And you can say, well this is the Daily Mail. It’s a sensationalist newspaper in the first place. But what we have seen is that it has not always been the case, at least not to the same extent. Now in the first years of the period, we notice that the headlines were quite moderate. We’ve seen an increase, as you can see in the graph over there. We’ve seen an increase in the length of the title’s over the years, especially starting after 2005-2006, and also more sensationalism within those headlines.

“One of the headlines, for instance, taken from 2006, “Red meat can raise cancer risk,” which I would say is a fair headline. You can discuss about those things, but as a headline it’s pretty much okay. The ones you get at the later stages, well you see a couple of examples on the right side. If you want to see the other ones, you can find them in my paper. But some of them are really interesting. Just to give an example: “Why feasting on steak makes it difficult for men to father a child (it makes their sperm slow),” “Vegetarians have a better sex life,” etc. etc.

“A very interesting one — and it’s also the point where we stopped our analysis — was the one from 2015 at the bottom. Let me zoom into this one: “Bacon, burgers, and sausages are a cancer risk, say World Health Chiefs.” And then they compare processed meats to cigarettes and asbestos. Now this refers to the IRC/WHO report, World Health Organization. And this is of course not what the report is saying, but this is what the Daily Mail made out of it. And what you see here is very important, “World Health Chiefs,” because this shows you that authority is stepping in. So you will have appeal to authority, which is reinforced I would say from 2015 on. It’s very hard to argue about place of red meat and processed meats if you have to face authority because people will always refer, yes but WHO said, and that blocks a lot of the debate. Now what you can notice is that it’s a very strong authority.”

Documentaries/Shows:

(lists here & here)

The Perfect Human Diet

The Magic Pill
The Paleo Way
Love Paleo
My Big Fat Diet
Fed Up
Fat Head
Fat: A Documentary
Globesity
Cholesterol, The Great Bluff
Statin Nation
Carb Loaded
What’s With Wheat?
Is Sugar the New Fat?
Sugar Blues
That Sugar Film
The Big Fat Surprise (in production)

Books:

James Suzman – Affluence without Abundance
John Gowdy – Limited Wants, Unlimited Means
Marshall Sahlins – Stone Age Economics
Christopher Ryan – Civilized to Death
Murray Bookchin – The Ecology of Freedom; & Post-Scarcity Anarchism
George Monbiot – Feral; & How Did We Get Into This Mess?
Derrick Jensen – A Language Older Than Words; The Culture of Make Believe; Railroads and Clearcuts; & Strangely Like War
Abdullah Öcalan – Civilization: The Age of Masked Gods and Disguised Kings; & Capitalism: The Age of Unmasked Gods and Naked Kings
James Scott – Against the Grain; Seeing Like a State; & The Art of Not Being Governed
John Zerzan – A People’s History of Civilization; Why Hope?; Future Primitive; Future Primitive Revisited; Twilight of the Machines; & Running on Emptiness
Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel; Crisis; Upheaval; Collapse; & The World Until Yesterday
Joseph Tainter – The Collapse of Complex Societies
William Ophuls – Immoderate Greatness; & Plato’s Revenge
William Ruddiman – Earth Transformed; & Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum
William Catton – Overshoot
Andrew Rimas & Evan Fraser – Empires of Food
Marcel Mazoyer & Laurence Roudart – A History of World Agriculture
Richard Manning – Against the Grain; Grassland; Rewilding the West; & Go Wild
David Montgomery – Dirt; Growing a Revolution; & The Hidden Half of Nature
Wendell Berry – The Unsettling of America
Laura Lengnick – Resilient Agriculture
Gabe Brown – Dirt to Soil
Joel Salatin – Folks, This Ain’t Normal; & Salad Bar Beef
Judith Schwartz – Cows Save the Planet
Graham Harvey – Grass-Fed Nation; & The Killing Of The Countryside
Allan Savory – The Grazing Revolution; & Greening the Desert
Paul Shepard – Traces of an Omnivore; Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game; Coming Home to the Pleistocene; The Only World We Got; The Others; Thinking Animals; Man in the Landscape; & Nature and Madness
Tovar Cerulli – The Mindful Carnivore
Lierre Keith – The Vegetarian Myth
Mara Kahn – Vegan Betrayal
Natasha Campbell-McBride – Vegetarianism Explained
Michael Crawford & David Marsh – Nutrition and Evolution
John Nicholson – The Meat Fix
Harlan Walker – The Fat of the Land; & Disappearing Foods
Vilhjalmur Stefansson – The Fat of the Land
Shawn Baker – The Carnivore Diet
Susan Allport – The Queen of Fats; & The Primal Feast
Samuel Pepys – Fat is Our Friend
Gary Taubes – Good Calories, Bad Calories; The Case Against Sugar; & Why We Get Fat
Nina Teicholz – The Big Fat Surprise
Nicolas Rasmussen – Fat in the Fifties
Zoë Harcombe –The Obesity Epidemic
Carl Lavie –The Obesity Paradox
Tim Noakes – Lore of Nutrition; Real Food On Trial; Challenging Beliefs; & The Real Meal Revolution
Tim Noakes et al – Diabetes Unpacked
Richard Feinman – Nutrition in Crisis; & The World Turned Upside Down
April Merleaux – Sugar and Civilization
James Walvin – Sugar: The World Corrupted: From Slavery to Obesity
Elizabeth Abbott – Sugar: A Bittersweet History
Rebecca Earle – The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial Experience in Spanish America, 1492–1700
Michael LaCombe – Political Gastronomy: Food and Authority in the English Atlantic World
Henry Notaker – A History of Cookbooks
Sarah Walden – Tasteful Domesticity
John Coveney – Food, Morals and Meaning; & Food
Susan Friedland – Food and Morality; & Vegetables
Kathleen LeBesco & Peter Naccarato – Edible Ideologies
James McWilliams – A Revolution in Eating
Anne Wilbraham & J.C. Drummond – The Englishman’s Food
Sandra Oliver – Food in Colonial and Federal America
Ken Albala – Eating Right in the Renaissance; Food in Early Modern Europe; Food and Faith in Christian Culture; & Wild Food
Trudy Eden – Cooking in America, 1590-1840
Katherine Leonard Turner – How the Other Half Ate
Abigail Carroll – Three Squares
Bee Wilson – The Way We Eat Now
Harvey Levenstein – Fear of Food
Tristram Stuart – The Bloodless Revolution
Adam Shprintzen – The Vegetarian Crusade
Benjamin Zeller et al – Religion, Food, and Eating in North America
Ronald Numbers – Prophetess of Health
Howard Markel – The Kelloggs
Brian Wilson – Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living
Katharina Vestern – A Taste of Power
S. Margot Finn – Discriminating Taste
Helen Zoe Veitn – Modern Food, Moral Food
Julie Guthman – Weighing In
Louise Foxcroft – Calories and Corsets
E. Melanie DuPuis – Dangerous Digestion
Kyla Tompkins – Racial Indigestion
Lizzie Collingham – The Taste of Empire; & The Taste of War
Bryan McDonald – Food Power
Anastacia Marx de Salcedo – Combat-Ready Kitchen
Susan Levine – School Lunch Politics
Denise Minger – Death by Food Pyramid
Joanna Blythman – Swallow This
Krisin Lawless – Formerly Known as Food
Marion Nestle – Food Politics; & Unsavory Truth
Michael Carolan – Embodied Food Politics
Carl Cederström & Andre Spicer – The Wellness Syndrome
Charlotte Biltekoff – Eating Right in America
Gerardo Otero – The Neoliberal Diet
Alyshia Gálvez – Eating NAFTA
Andrew Fisher – Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups
Michele Payn – Food Bullying; Food Truths; & No More Food Fights!
Sarah Bowen, Joslyn Brenton, & Sinikka Elliott – Pressure Cooker
Anna Kirkland & Jonathan Metzl – Against Health
Verner Wheelock – Healthy Eating
Loren Cordain – The Paleo Diet; & The Paleo Answer
Robb Wolf – The Paleo Solution
Mark Sisson – The Primal Blueprint
John Durant – The Paleo Manifesto
Jack Wolfson – The Paleo Cardiologist
Fred Provenza – Nourishment
Nora T. Gedgaudas – Primal Body, Primal Mind
Sally Fallon Morell – Nourishing Diets
Catherine Shanahan – Food Rules; & Deep Nutrition
Sarah Ballantyne – The Paleo Approach; & Paleo Principles
Valerie Bracken – My Life without Bread; Uncle Wolfi’s Secret; & Dr Wolfgang Lutz and his Chickens
Konstantin Monastyrsky – Fiber Menace
Steven Gundry – The Plant Paradox
David Perlmutter – Grain Brain
William Davis – Wheat Belly; & Undoctored
Richard Harris – Rigor Mortis
Ken Berry – Lies My Doctor Told Me
Malcolm Kendrick – Doctoring Data; The Great Cholesterol Con; & Fat and Cholesterol Don’t Cause Heart Attacks and Statins Are Not The Solution
Uffe Ravnskov – The Cholesteol Myths; Fat and Cholesterol are GOOD for You; & Ignore the Awkward!
David Evans – Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Prevent Heart Disease; & Low Cholesterol Leads to an Early Death
Jack Kruse – Epi-paleo Rx
Daniel Lieberman – The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease
Christopher James Clark – Nutritional Grail
Stephen Simpson & David Raubenheimer – The Nature of Nutrition
Stephen Hussey – The Health Evolution
Barry Groves – Trick and Treat
Eric Westman & Jimmy Moore – Cholesterol Clarity; & Keto Clarity
Stephen Phinney & Jeff Volek – The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living
Eric Kossoff, John Freeman, Turner Zahava, & James Rubenstein – Ketogenic Diets
Susan Masino – Ketogenic Diet and Metabolic Therapies
Mackenzie Cervenka – The Ketogenic and Modified Atkins Diets
Thomas Seyfried – Cancer as a Metabolic Disease
Travis Christofferson – Tripping Over the Truth; & Curable
Miriam Kalamian – Keto for Cancer
Nasha Winters & Jess Higgins Kelley – The Metabolic Approach to Cancer
Siim Land – Metabolic Autophagy
Jason Fung – The Obesity Code; & The Diabetes Code
A. Simmonds – Principia Ketogenica
Jacob Wilson & Ryan Lowery – The Ketogenic Bible
Mary Newport – The Complete Book of Ketones; & The Coconut Oil and Low-Carb Solution for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Other Diseases
Amy Berger – The Alzheimer’s Antidote
Dale Bredesen – The End of Alzheimer’s
Terry Wahls – The Wahls Protocol
Carol Simontacchi – The Crazy Makers
John Yudkin – Pure, White and Deadly
Robert Lustig – Fat Chance; & The Hacking of the American Mind
E. M. Abrahamson – Body, Mind, & Sugar
David Courtwright – The Age of Addiction
Sally Fallon Morrell – Nourishing Fats; Nourishing Traditions; & Nourishing Diets
Weston A. Price – Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Francis Marion Pottenger Jr. – Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition
Kate Rheaume-Bleue – Vitamin K2 And The Calcium Paradox
Paul Greenberg – The Omega Principle
Gyorgy Scrinis – Nutritionism
Catherine Price – Vitamania
Lee McDowell – Vitamin History, the Early Years; & Mineral Nutrition History, The Early Years
Jessica Mudry – Measured Meals

Blogs/Websites:

(recommendations here)

Gary Taubes
Nina Teicholz
Tim Noakes
Richard David Feinman
Mary Newport
Robert Lustig
Gary Fettke
Jeff Volek
Stephen Phinney
Loren Cordain
Robb Wolf
Mark Sisson
Malcolm Kendrick
Ken Berry
Nora Gedgaudas
John Durant
Jimmy Moore
Pete Evans
Zoë Harcombe
Chris Kresser
Chris Masterjohn
Sarah Ballantyne
Catherine Shanahan
Shawn Baker
Lierre Keith
Terry Wahls
Will Cole
Siim Land
Josh Axe
Dave Asprey
Mark Hyman
Joseph Mercola
David Perlmutter
William Davis
Jimmy Moore
Natasha Campbell-McBride
Joanna Blythman
Kristin Lawless
Paleohacks
The Weston A. Price Foundation
Price-Pottenger
Ketopedia

Hubris of Nutritionism

There is a fundamental disagreement over diets. It is about one’s philosophical position on humanity and the world, about the kind of society one aspires to. Before getting to nutritionism, let me explain my present understanding that has developed from what I’ve learned. It’s all quite fascinating. There is a deeper reason why, for example, I see vegetarianism as potentially healthy but not veganism (see debate in comments section of my recent post A Fun Experiment), and that distinction will be central in my following argument. There have been some, not many, traditional societies that were vegetarian or rather semi-vegetarian for millennia (e.g., India; see specific comment in the above linked post), but veganism didn’t exist until the Seventh Day Adventists invented it in the late 19th century. Few people know this history. It’s not exactly something most vegan advocates, other than Adventists themselves, would want to mention.

Veganism was a modernization of ancient Greek Galenic theory of humors, having originally been incorporated into mainstream Christian thought during feudalism, especially within the monastic tradition of abstinence and self-denial but also applied to the population at large through food laws. A particular Galenic argument is that, by limiting red meat and increasing plant foods, there would be a suppression or weakening of libido/virility as hot-bloodedness that otherwise threatens to ‘burn’ up the individual. (The outline of this ideology remains within present dietary thought in the warning that too much animal protein will up-regulate mTOR and over-activate IGF-1 which, as it is asserted, will shorten lifespan. Many experts such as Dr. Steven Gundry in The Longevity Paradox, biological anthropologist Stephen Le in 100 Million Years of Food, etc have been parroting Galenic thought without any awareness of the origin of the ideas they espouse. See my posts High vs Low Protein and Low-Carb Diets On The Rise.) Also, it was believed this Galenic strategy would help control problematic behaviors like rowdiness, the reason in the Middle ages that red meat sometimes was banned prior to Carnival (about dietary systems as behavioral manipulation and social control, see Food and Faith in Christian Culture ed. by Ken Albala and Trudy Eden and some commentary about that book at my posts Western Individuality Before the Enlightenment Age and The Crisis of Identity; for similar discussion, also check out The Agricultural Mind, “Yes, tea banished the fairies.”, Autism and the Upper Crust, and Diets and Systems). For the purposes of Christian societies, this has been theologically reinterpreted and reframed. Consider the attempt to protect against the moral sin of masturbation as part of the Adventist moral reform, such that modern cereal was originally formulated specifically for an anti-masturbation campaign — the Breakfast of Champions!

High protein vs low protein is an old conflict, specifically in terms of animal meat and even more specifically as red meat. It’s more of a philosophical or theological disagreement than a scientific debate. The anti-meat argument would never hold such a central position in modern dietary thought if not for the influence of heavily Christianized American culture. It’s part of Christian theology in general. Gary Taubes discusses it in how dieting gets portrayed as the sins of gluttony and sloth: “Of all the dangerous ideas that health officials could have embraced while trying to understand why we get fat, they would have been hard-pressed to find one ultimately more damaging than calories-in/calories-out. That it reinforces what appears to be so obvious – obesity as the penalty for gluttony and sloth – is what makes it so alluring. But it’s misleading and misconceived on so many levels that it’s hard to imagine how it survived unscathed and virtually unchallenged for the last fifty years” (Why We Get Fat). Read mainstream dietary advice and you’ll quickly hear this morality-drenched worldview of fallen humanity and Adam’s sinful body. This goes along with the idea of “no pain, no gain” (an ideology I came to question in seeing how simple and easy are low-carb diets, specifically with how ketosis eliminates endless hunger and cravings while making fat melt away with little effort, not to mention how my decades of drug-resistant and suicidally-prone depression also disappeared, something many others have experienced; so it turns out that for many people great gain can be had with no pain at all). The belief has been that we must suffer and struggle to attain goodness (with physical goodness being an outward sign of moral goodness), such that the weak flesh of the mortal frame must be punished with bodily mortification (i.e., dieting and exercise) to rid it of its inborn sinful nature. Eating meat is a pleasurable temptation in nurturing the ‘fallen’ body and so it must be morally wrong. This Christian theology has become so buried in our collective psyche, even in science itself, that we no longer are able to recognize it for what it is. And because of historical amnesia, we are unaware of where these mind viruses come from.

It’s not only that veganism is a modern ideology in a temporal sense, as a product of post-Enlightenment fundamentalist theology and its secularization. More importantly, it is a broader expression of modern ways of thinking and perceiving, of being in and relating to the world, including but far from limited to how it modernizes and repurposes ancient philosophy (Galen wasn’t advocating veganism, religious or secularized, that is for sure). Besides the crappy Standard American Diet (SAD), veganism is the only other diet entirely dependent on industrialization by way of chemical-laden monoculture, high-tech food processing, and global trade networks — and hence enmeshed in the web of big ag, big food, big oil, and big gov (all of this, veganism and the industrialization that made it possible, surely was far beyond Galen’s imagination). To embrace veganism, no matter how well-intentioned, is to be fully complicit in modernity and all that goes with it — not that it makes individual vegans bad people, as to varying degrees all of us are complicit in this world we are born into. Still, veganism stands out for, within that ideological framework, there is no other choice outside of modern industrialization.

At the heart of veganism, is a techno-utopian vision and technocratic impulse. It’s part of the push for a plant-based diet that began with the Seventh Day Adventists, most infamously Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who formed the foundation of modern American nutritional research and dietary recommendations (see the research of Bellinda Fettke who made this connection: Ellen G White and Medical EvangelismThou Shalt not discuss Nutrition ‘Science’ without understanding its driving force, and Lifestyle Medicine … where did the meat go?). I don’t say this to be mean or dismissive of vegans. If one insists on being a vegan, there are better ways to do it. But it will never be an optimal diet, neither for the individual nor for the environment (and, yes, industrial agriculture does kill large numbers of animals, whether or not the vegan has to see it in the grocery store or on their plate; see my post Carnivore Is Vegan: if veganism is defined by harming and killing the fewest lives, if veganism is dependent on industrialization that harms and kills large numbers of lives, and if potentially carnivore is the least dependent on said industrialization, then we are forced to come the conclusion that, by definition, “carnivore is vegan”). Still, if vegans insist, they should be informed and honest in embracing industrialization as a strength, rather than hiding it as a weakness, in overtly arguing for techno-utopian and technocratic solutions in the Enlightenment fashion of Whiggish progressivism. Otherwise, this unacknowledged shadow side of veganism remains an Achille’s heel that eventually will take down veganism as a movement when the truth is finally revealed and becomes public knowledge. I don’t care if veganism continues in its influence, but if vegans care about advocating their moral vision they better do some soul-searching about what exactly they are advocating and for what reason and to what end.

Veganism is not limited to being unique as the only specific diet that is fully industrialized (SAD isn’t comparable because it isn’t a specific diet, since one could argue that veganism as an industrialized diet is one variety of SAD). More importantly, what makes veganism unique is its ethical impetus. That is how it originated within the righteously moralizing theology of Adventism (to understand the moral panic of that era, read my post The Crisis of Identity). The Adventist Ellen G. White’s divine visions from God preceded the health arguments. And even those later health arguments within Adventism were predicated upon a moralistic hypothesis of human nature and reality, that is to say theology. Veganism has maintained the essence of that theology of moral health, even though the dietary ideology was quickly sanitized and secularized. Adventists like Dr. Kellogg realized that this new kind of plant-based diet would not spread unless it was made to seem natural and scientific, a common strategy of fundamentalist apologetics such as pseudo-scientific Creationism (I consider this theologically-oriented rhetoric to be a false framing; for damn sure, veganism is not more natural since it is one of the least natural diets humanity was ever attempted). So, although the theology lost its emphasis, one can still sense this religious-like motivation and righteous zeal that remains at the heart of veganism, more than a mere diet but an entire social movement and political force.

Let’s return to the health angle and finally bring in nutritionism. The only way a vegan diet is possible at all is through the industrial agriculture that eliminated the traditional farming practices, including an entire lifestyle as part of farming communities, that was heavily dependent on animal husbandry and pasturage (similar to how fundamentalist religion such as Adventism is also a product of modernity, an argument made by Karen Armstrong; modern fundamentalism is opposed to traditional religion in the way that, as Corey Robin explains, reactionary conservatism is opposed to the ancien regime it attacked and replaced). This is the industrial agriculture that mass produces plant foods through monoculture and chemicals (that, by the way, destroys ecosystems and kills the soil). And on top of that, vegans would quickly die of malnutrition if not for the industrial production of supplements and fortified foods to compensate for the immense deficiencies of their diet. This is based on an ideology of nutritionism, that as clever apes we can outsmart nature, that humanity is separate from and above nature — this is the main point I’m making here, that veganism is unnatural to the human condition formed under millions of years of hominid evolution. This isn’t necessarily a criticism from a Christian perspective since it is believed that the human soul ultimately isn’t at home in this world, but it is problematic when this theology is secularized and turned into pseudo-scientific dogma. This further disconnects us from the natural world and from our own human nature. Hence, veganism is very much a product of modernity and all of its schisms and dissociations, very much seen in American society of the past century or so. Of course, the Adventists want the human soul to be disconnected from the natural world and saved from the fallen nature of Adam’s sin. As for the rest of us who aren’t Adventists, we might have a different view on the matter. This is definitely something atheist or pagan vegans should seriously consider and deeply contemplate. We should all think about how the plant-based and anti-meat argument has come to dominate mainstream thought. Will veganism and industrialization save us? Is that what we want to put our faith in? Is that faith scientifically justified?

It’s not that I’m against plant-based diets in general. I’ve been vegetarian. And when I was doing a paleo diet, I ate more vegetables than I had ever done in my life, far more than most vegetarians. I’m not against plants themselves based on some strange principle. It’s specifically veganism that I’m concerned about. Unlike vegetarianism, there is no way to do veganism with traditional, sustainable, and restorative farming practices. Vegetarianism, omnivory, and carnivory are all fully compatible in the possibility of eliminating industrial agriculture, including factory farming. That is not the case with veganism, a diet that is unique in its place in the modern world. Not all plant-based diets are the same. Veganism is entirely different from plant-heavy diets such as vegetarianism and paleo that also allow animal foods (also, consider the fact that any diet other than carnivore is “plant-based”, a somewhat meaningless label). That is no small point since plant foods are limited in seasonality in all parts of the world, whereas most animal foods are not. If a vegetarian wanted, they could live fairly far north and avoid out-of-season plant foods shipped in from other countries simply by eating lots of eggs and dairy (maybe combined with very small amounts of what few locally-grown plant foods were traditionally and pre-industrially stored over winter: nuts, apples, fermented vegetables, etc; or maybe not even that since, technically, a ‘vegetarian’ diet could be ‘carnivore’ in only eating eggs and dairy). A vegetarian could be fully locavore. A vegan could not, at least not in any Western country, although a vegan near the equator might be able to pull off a locavore diet as long as they could rely upon local industrial agriculture, which at least would eliminate the harm from mass transportation, but it still would be an industrial-based diet with all the problems, including mass suffering and death, that entails.

Veganism in entirely excluding animal foods (and excluding insect foods such as honey) does not allow this option of a fully natural way of eating, both local and seasonal without any industrialization. Even in warmer climes amidst lush foliage, a vegan diet was never possible and never practiced prior to industrialization. Traditional communities, surrounded by plant foods or not, have always found it necessary to include animal and insect foods to survive and thrive. Hunter-gatherers living in the middle of dense jungles (e.g., Piraha) typically get most of their calories from animal foods, as long as they maintain access to their traditional hunting grounds and fishing waters, and as long as poaching and environmental destruction or else hunting laws haven’t disrupted their traditional foodways. The closest to a more fully plant-based diet among traditional people was found among Hindus in India, but even there they unintentionally (prior to chemical insecticides) included insects and insect eggs in their plant foods while intentionally allowing individuals during fertile phases of life to eat meat. So, even traditional (i.e., pre-industrial) Hindus weren’t entirely and strictly vegetarian, much less vegan (see my comment at my post A Fun Experiment), but still high quality eggs and dairy can go a long way toward nourishment, as many healthy traditional societies included such foods, especially dairy from pasture-raised animals (consider Weston A. Price’s early 20th century research of healthy traditional communities; see my post Health From Generation To Generation).

Anyway, one basic point is that plant-based diet is not necessarily and always identical to veganism, in that other plant-based diets exist with various forms of animal foods. This is a distinction many vegan advocates want to confound in muddying the water of public debate. In discussing the just released documentary The Game Changers, Paul Kita writes that it “repeatedly pits a vegan diet against a diet that includes meat. The film does this to such an extent that you slowly realize that “plant-based” is just a masquerade for “vegan.” Either you eat animal products and suffer the consequences or avoid animal products and thrive, the movie argues.” (This New Documentary Says Meat Will Kill You. Here’s Why It’s Wrong.). That is a false dichotomy, a forced choice driven by an ideological-driven agenda. Kita makes a simple point that challenges this entire frame: “Except that there’s another choice: Eat more vegetables” Or simply eat less industrial foods that have been industrially grown, industrially processed, and/or industrially transported — basically, don’t eat heavily processed crap, from either meat or plants (specifically refined starches, added sugar, and vegetable oils) but also don’t eat the unhealthy (toxic and nutrient-depleted) produce of industrial agriculture, that is to say make sure to eat locally and in season. But that advice also translates as: Don’t be vegan. That isn’t the message vegan advocates want you to hear.

Dietary ideologies embody social, political, and economic ideologies, sometimes as all-encompassing cultural worldviews. They can shape our sense of identity and reality, what we perceive as true, what we believe is desirable, and what we imagine is possible. It goes further than that, in fact. Diets can alter our neurocognitive development and so potentially alter the way we think and feel. This is one way mind viruses could quite literally parasitize our brains and come to dominate a society, which I’d argue is what has brought our own society to this point of mass self-harm through dietary dogma of pseudo-scientific “plant-based” claims of health (with possibly hundreds of millions of people who have been harmed and had their lives cut short). A diet is never merely a diet. And we are all prone to getting trapped in ideological systems. In my criticisms of veganism as a diet, that doesn’t make vegans as individuals bad people. And I don’t wish them any ill will, much less failure in their dietary health. But I entirely oppose the ideological worldview and social order that, with conscious intention or not, they are promoting. I have a strong suspicion that the world that vegans are helping to create is not a world I want to live in. It is not their beautiful liberal dream that I criticize and worry about. I’m just not so sure that the reality will turn out to be all that wonderful. So far, the plant-based agenda doesn’t seem to be working out all that well. Americans eat more whole grains and legumes, vegetables and fruits than ever before since data was kept and yet the health epidemic continues to worsen (see my post Malnourished Americans). It was never rational to blame public health concerns on meat and animal fat.

Maybe I’m wrong about veganism and the ultimate outcome of their helping to shape the modern world. Maybe technological innovation and progress will transform and revolutionize industrial agriculture and food processing, the neoliberal trade system and capitalist market in a beneficial way for all involved, for the health and healing of individuals and the whole world. Maybe… but I’m not feeling confident enough to bet the fate of future generations on what, to me, seems like a flimsy promise of vegan idealism borne out of divine visions and theological faith. More simply, veganism doesn’t seem all that healthy on the most basic of levels. No diet that doesn’t support health for the individual will support health for society, as society is built on the functioning of humans. That is the crux of the matter. To return to nutritionism, that is the foundation of veganism — the argument that, in spite of all of the deficiencies of veganism and other varieties of the modern industrial diet, we can simply supplement and fortify the needed nutrients and all will be well. To my mind, that seems like an immense leap of faith. Adding some nutrients back into a nutrient-depleted diet is better than nothing, but comes nowhere close to the nutrition of traditional whole foods. If we have to supplement the deficiencies of a diet, that diet remains deficient and we are merely covering up the worst aspects of it, what we are able to most obviously observe and measure. Still, even with those added vitamins, minerals, cofactors, etc, it doesn’t follow that the body is getting all that it needs for optimal health. In traditional whole foods, there are potentially hundreds or thousands of compounds, most of which have barely been researched or not researched at all. There are certain health conditions that require specific supplements. Sure, use them when necessary, as we are not living under optimal conditions of health in general. But when anyone and everyone on a particular diet is forced to supplement to avoid serious health decline as is the case with veganism, there is a serious problem with that diet.

It’s not exactly that I disagree with the possible solution vegans are offering to this problem, as I remain open to future innovative progress. I’m not a nostalgic reactionary and romantic revisionist seeking to turn back the clock to re-create a past that never existed. I’m not, as William F. Buckley jr. put it, “someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop”. Change is great — I have nothing against it. And I’m all for experimenting. That’s not where I diverge from the “plant-based” vision of humanity’s salvation. Generally speaking, vegans simply ignore the problem I’ve detailed or pretend it doesn’t exist. They believe that such limitations don’t apply to them. That is a very modern attitude coming from a radically modern diet and the end result would be revolutionary in remaking humanity, a complete overturning of what came before. It’s not to be obsessed with the past, to believe we are limited to evolutionary conditions and historical precedence. But ignoring the past is folly. Our collective amnesia about the traditional world keeps getting us into trouble. We’ve nearly lost all traces of what health once meant, the basic level of health that used to be the birthright of all humans.

My purpose here is to create a new narrative. It isn’t vegans and vegetarians against meat-eaters. The fact of the matter is most Americans eat more plant foods than animal foods, in following this part of dietary advice from the AHA, ADA, and USDA (specifically eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes than ever before measured since data has been kept). When snacking, it is plant foods (crackers, potato chips, cookies, donuts, etc) that we gorge on, not animal foods. Following Upton Sinclair’s writing of The Jungle, the average intake of red meat went on a decline. And since the 1930s, Americans have consumed more industrial seed oils than animal fat. “American eats only about 2oz of red meat per day,” tweets Dr. Shawn Baker, “and consumes more calories from soybean oil than beef!” Even total fat hasn’t increased but remained steady with the only change in the ratio of what kinds of fats, that is to say more industrial seed oils. It’s true that most Americans aren’t vegan, but what they share with vegans is an industrialized diet that is “plant-based”. To push the American diet further in this direction would hardly be a good thing. And it would require ever greater dependence on the approach of nutritionism, of further supplementation and fortification as Americans increasingly become malnourished. That is no real solution to the problem we face.

Instead of scapegoating meat and animal fat, we should return to the traditional American diet or else some other variant of the traditional human diet. The fact of the matter is historically Americans ate massive amounts of meat and, at the time, they were known as the healthiest population around. Meat-eating Americans in past centuries towered over meat-deprived Europeans. And those Americans, even the poor, were far healthier than their demographic counterparts elsewhere in the civilized and increasingly industrialized world. The United States, one of the last Western countries to be fully industrialized and urbanized, was one of the last countries to see the beginning of a health epidemic. The British noticed the first signs of physical decline in the late 1800s, whereas Americans didn’t clearly see this pattern until World War II. With this in mind, it would be more meaningful to speak of animal-based diets, including vegetarianism that allows dairy and eggs. This would be far more meaningful than grouping together supposed “plant-based” diets. Veganism is worlds apart from vegetarianism. Nutritionally speaking, vegetarianism has more in common with the paleo diet or even carnivore diet than with veganism, the latter being depleted of essential nutrients from animal foods (fat-soluble vitamins, EPA, DHA, DPA, choline, cholesterol, etc; yes, we sicken and die without abundant cholesterol in our diet, the reason dementia and other forms of neurocognitive decline are a common symptom of statins in lowering cholesterol levels). To entirely exclude all animal foods is a category unto itself, a category that didn’t exist and was unimaginable until recent history.

* * *

Nutritionism
by Gyorgy Scrinin

In Defense of Food
by Michael Pollan

Vegan Betrayal
by Mara Kahn

The Vegetarian Myth
by Lierre Keith

Mike Mutzel:

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the vegans argue that now we have the technologies like B12, synthetic b12, we can get DHA from algae. So it’s a beautiful time to be be vegan because we don’t need to rely upon animals for these compounds. What would you say to that argument?

Paul Saladino:

I would say that that’s a vast oversimplification of the sum total of human nutrition to think that, if we can get synthetic B12 and synthetic DHA, we’re getting everything in an animal. It’s almost like this reductionist perspective, in my opinion.

I’ve heard some people say that it doesn’t matter what you eat. It’s all about calories in and calories out, and then you can just take a multivitamin for your minerals and vitamins. And I always bristle at that I think that is so reductionist. You really think you’ve got it all figured out that you can just take one multivitamin and your calories and that is the same as real food?

That to me is just a travesty of an intellectual hypothesis or intellectual position to take because that’s clearly not the case. We know that animal foods are much more than the reductionist vitamins and minerals that are in them. And they are the structure or they are the matrix they are the amino acids… they are the amino acid availability… they are the cofactors. And to imagine that you can substitute animal foods with B12 and DHA is just a very scary position for me.

I think this is an intellectual error that we make over and over as humans in our society and this is a broader context… I think that we are smart and because we have had some small victories in medicine and nutrition and health. We’ve made scanning electron microscopes and we’ve understood quarks. I think that we’ve gotten a little too prideful and we imagine that as humans we can outsmart natural the natural world, that we can outsmart nature. And that may sound woo-woo, but I think it’s pretty damn difficult to outsmart 3 million years of natural history and evolution. And any time we try to do that I get worried.

Whether it’s peptides, whether it’s the latest greatest drug, whether it’s the latest greatest hormone or hormone combination, I think you are messing with three million years of the natural world’s wisdom. You really think you’re smarter than that? Just wait just wait, just wait, you’ll see. And to reduce animal foods to B12 and DHA, that’s a really really bad idea.

And as we’ve been talking about all those plant foods that you’re eating on a vegan diet are gonna come with tons of plants toxins. So yes, I think that we are at a time in human history when you can actually eat all plants and not get nutritional deficiencies in the first year or two because you can supplement the heck out of it, right? You can get… but, but… I mean, the list goes on.

Where’s your zinc? Where’s your carnitine? Where’s your carnosine? Where’s your choline? It’s a huge list of things. How much protein are you getting? Are you actually a net positive nitrogen balance? Let’s check your labs. Are you getting enough iodine? Where are you getting iodine from on a vegan diet?

It doesn’t make sense. You have to supplement with probably 27 different things. You have to think about the availability of your protein, the net nitrogen uses of your protein.

And you know people may not know this about me. I was a vegan, I was a raw vegan for about 7 months about 14 years ago. And my problem — and one thing I’ve heard from a lot of other people, in fact my clients, are the same thing today — is that, even if you’re able to eat the foods and perfectly construct micronutrients, you’re going to have so much gas that nobody’s going to want to be around you in the first place.

And I don’t believe that, in any way, shape or form, a synthetic diet is the same as a real foods diet. You can eat plants and take 25 supplements. But then you think what’s in your supplements? And are they bioavailable in the same way? And do they have the cofactors like they do in the food? And to imagine — we’ve done so much in human nutrition — but to imagine that we really understand fully the way that humans eat and digest their food I think is just that’s just pride and that’s just a folly.

Mike Mutzel:

Well, I agree I mean I think there’s a lot more to food than we recognize: micro RNA, transfer RNA, like other molecules that are not quote-unquote macronutrients. Yeah, now I think that’s what you’re getting from plants and animals in a good or bad way that a lot of people don’t think about. For example, you know there’s animal studies that show stress on animals; for example, like pre-slaughter stress affects the transcription patches and various genes in the animal product.

So, I love how you’re bringing to this whole carnivore movement — like the grass-fed movement, eating more organic free-range, things like that — because one of the qualms that I had seeing this thing take off is a lot of people going to fast food were taking the bun off the burger saying that there’s really no difference between grass-fed or a grain-fed. Like meat’s meat, just get what you can afford. I understand that some people… I’ve been in that place financially before in my life where grass-fed was a luxury.

But the other constituents that could potentially be in lower quality foods, both plant and animal. And the other thing about that you, just to hit on one more thing… The supplements —  been in the supplement space since ’06 — they’re not free of iatrogenesis, right. So there is heavy metals, arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium in supplements; even vegan proteins, for example.

Paul Saladino:

Yeah, highly contaminated. Yeah, people don’t think about the metals in their supplements. And I see a lot of clients with high heavy metals and we think where are you getting this from. I saw a guy the other day with a really high tin and I think it’s in his supplements. And so anyway, that’s a whole other story

Carnivore Is Vegan

“I’ve watched enough harvests to know that cutting a wheat field amounts to more decapitated bunnies under the combine than you would believe.”
~ Barbara Kingsolver

“As I was thinking about the vegan conclusion, I remembered my childhood on the farm and where our food comes from and how it is produced. Specifically, I remembered riding on farm equipment and seeing mice, gophers, and pheasants in the field that were injured or killed every time we worked the fields. Therefore, I realized that animals of the field are killed in large numbers annually to produce food for humans.”
~ Stephen L. Davis

“When I inquired about the lives lost on a mechanized farm, I realized what costs we pay at the supermarket. One Oregon farmer told me that half of the cottontail rabbits went into his combine when he cut a wheat field, that virtually all of the small mammals, ground birds, and reptiles were killed when he harvested his crops. Because most of these animals have been seen as expendable, or not seen at all, few scientific studies have been done measuring agriculture’s effects on their populations.”
~ Ted Kerasote

What diet causes the most harm? If veganism means the avoidance of death, suffering and exploitation of animals, then carnivore is the most vegan diet around. Pastoralism as a food system and way of life kills the fewest animals, fewer than agriculture by far. For every life taken by a carnivore (e.g., a single pasture-raised chicken or cow), a vegan might kill hundreds or thousands (coyotes, deer, rodents, insects, etc). In both cases, the death count is known and so intentional. There is no avoidance of moral culpability. This isn’t about being clever but about what is genuinely least harmful and hence most environmentally sustainable. Rather than a pose of moral righteousness, our concern should be with what brings the greater overall good.

I did do a carnivore diet for a couple of months as an experiment, although I wasn’t strict about it. For a while now, I’ve been back on a diet that is ketogenic, paleo, and traditional foods. My food sourcing is important to me with an emphasis on locally produced, seasonally available, organic, and pasture-raised. This means I regularly shop at the nearby farmers market. So, despite not being carnivore at present, I am heavily biased toward animal foods with plenty of meat and eggs, along with some dairy. The plant foods I eat are also almost entirely from the farmers market, in particular the fermented veggies I enjoy. That translates as eating a greater proportion of plant foods when available in the warm time of the year and more animal foods in winter. Not only is this diet extremely healthy but also highly ethical and environmentally sustainable.

Raising animals on pasture avoids all of the problems associated with industrial agriculture and factory farming. It is actually a net gain for local ecosystems, the biosphere, and the human species. The health of the soil actually improves with pasture and atmospheric carbon is captured. Run-off, erosion, and pollution are eliminated. On top of that, pasture provides habitat for wildlife, as opposed to mass farming and monoculture that destroys habitat and displaces wildlife, not to mention poisons, starves and slaughters immense numbers of wildlife. If you’re pro-life in the broadest sense, the last thing in the world you’d want to be is vegan, as it is dependent on industrial agriculture and mass transportation.

Vegan arguments against harm to animals don’t apply to a pasture-raised or wild-hunted carnivore diet or any local meat-based diet combined with locally and seasonally available plant foods. (By the way, today was the beginning of wild mulberry season — delicious! I was knocked right out of ketosis and was glad for it. That is the reason plants evolved the highly addictive drug called sugar, so that we would eat their fruit and spread their seeds, not so that one day agriculture would make possible industrially-produced and health-destroying high fructose corn syrup.)

Veganism creates a similar disconnect as seen with right-wing “pro-lifers” who oppose abortion. As I’ve pointed out, countries that ban abortions don’t decrease the rate of abortions and sometimes increase them. The main change is whether abortions are legal and safe or illegal and unsafe. But anti-abortionists refuse to accept responsibility for the consequences of the policies they support. Similarly, vegans also refuse to accept responsibility for the deaths that their diet incurs. Whether one intentionally or unintentionally cause harm, the harm is equally real. This is how symbolic ideology that makes people feel good trumps practical concerns about what actually makes the world a better place.

“What do plants eat? They eat dead animals; that’s the problem. For me that was a horrifying realization. You want to be an organic gardener, of course, so you keep reading ‘Feed the soil, feed the soil, feed the soil…’

“All right. Well, what does the soil want to eat? Well, it wants manure, and it wants urine, and it wants blood meal and bone meal. And I…could not face that. I wanted my garden to be pure and death-free. It didn’t matter what I wanted: plants wanted those things; they needed those things to grow.”
~ Lierre Keith

“There is no place left for the buffalo to roam. There’s only corn, wheat, and soy. About the only animals that escaped the biotic cleansing of the agriculturalists are small animals like mice and rabbits, and billions of them are killed by the harvesting equipment every year. Unless you’re out there with a scythe, don’t forget to add them to the death toll of your vegetarian meal. They count, and they died for your dinner, along with all the animals that have dwindled past the point of genetic feasibility.”
~ Lierre Keith

There is no reason the world’s population couldn’t live according to the meat-based diet I and many others follow. Very little of the land available can be used for farming. But most of it can be used for grazing. Also, grazing animals for food can be done alongside keeping grazing land open for wild animals as well. Keep in mind that, in North America, there once were more buffalo roaming the continent than there are now cows and the vast herds of buffalo were what kept the prairies healthy. Even in countries that don’t have good farmland, animals can always be raised locally. There is no country in the world that lacks land for grazing. If not cows, then pigs, goats, camels, or whatever else.

Let me put this in perspective, 90% of land in North America can only be used for wildlife and livestock, not farming. In other places (Africa, India, Australia, etc), it’s even higher at 95% of land. So, are we going to try to feed the global population with just 5-10% of the arable land and ignore the rest? In ever more intensively farming, we are destroying what is left of the arable land. That is insanity! Industrial agriculture and factory farming makes no sense, except from a capitalist model of private profit and externalized/socialized costs. A local animal-based diet is the only way to feed the world’s population, maintain optimal health, avoid the greatest harm to animals, and ensure environmental sustainability.

Veganism didn’t exist prior to modern agriculture. Grazing animals, on the other hand, has been the mainstay of the human diet for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no traditional diet that wasn’t centered on animal foods, the source of the most energy-dense and nutrient-dense foods. And when done low-carb as was typical of traditional societies, ketosis allows people to eat less food and go for longer periods of time without eating. Many people on animal-based diets do regular fasting, intermittent and/or extended. In ketosis, I easily skip meals or go several days without food and it doesn’t bother me. Since ketosis allows for smaller intake of food, that is an additional decreased impact on the environment.

The standard American diet (SAD) that is plant-based is neither healthy for the individual nor healthy for the environment. Keep in mind that almost all junk foods are vegan: potato chips, crackers, cookies, candy, pop, etc. This vegan junk food is mass farmed, mass produced, and mass shipped, not to mention mass subsidized. Even most healthier plant-based foods, including whole foods, that vegans rely upon are shipped from distant regions and countries with very little regulation for the health of environment and workers. Veganism contributes to pollution and the need for heavily-subsidized infrastructure.

What is ethical about this? Good intentions are not good enough. We can’t separate ourselves from the world we live in. It’s a fantasy that we can live apart from the natural cycle of life and death. Trying to force that fantasy upon the world, some might call that a nightmare. A diet is part of an ecosystem, all contained within a living biosphere. In pretending to be separate, we cause even more death and suffering. Mass extinction was always inherent to agriculture. “The end,” as Lierre Keith said, “was written into the beginning.” There is no avoiding this, as long as we continue down this path of exploitative civilization. We can embrace that ending, though, and seek a new beginning.

“Agriculture is the biggest mistake in human history,” as put by George Armelagos. And on the same note, Jared Diamond wrote that, “Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.” So, are we doomed? Only if we choose to be. Agriculture as we know it can’t continue. Can it be done differently? Others have offered more optimistic answers.

If we hope to find another way before it’s too late, we must look for inspiration in the traditional food systems that still survive. And there most definitely is hope. We already know of ways to reverse the damage and rehabilitate the land. No doubt further understandings will be gained over time that will allow even greater results. But the key is that more animals, wild and domestic, will be needed to make possible this course of action. That is to say, in place of ecological deserts of monocultural farming, we need to return to the environmental norm of biodiversity.

“The persistence of human life on this planet depends on soil ecosystems. Ultimately, I don’t care what diet you eat as long as it leads to the enrichment of organic matter in the earth and mycorrhizal networks. Show me the plant-based diet that does this. Without ruminants ecosystems will collapse. Tilling of the soil for mono-crop agriculture is the enemy (and releases massive amounts of carbon) not cows, Bison and other animals.”
~Dr. Paul Saladino

“If we took 75% of the world’s trashed rangeland, we could restore it from agriculture back to functioning prairies — with their animal cohorts — in under fifteen years. We could further sequester all of the carbon that has been released since the beginning of the industrial age. So I find that a hopeful thing because, frankly, we just have to get out of the way. Nature will do the work for us. This planet wants to be grassland and forest. It does not want to be an agricultural mono-crop.”
~ Lierre Keith

“Viewing this global scene, as I have been doing for many years, I will stake my life on it that humanity’s best hope lies in one simple idea that no scientist can sensibly argue against – that management in this 21st century should be holistic and no longer reductionist. And Holistic Management of course includes recognizing that only livestock with Holistic Planned Grazing (or better process when developed) can address global desertification, annual burning of billions of hectares of grasslands and savannas, and regenerate the world’s dying soils and soil life essential to addressing climate change. […]

“Reductionist management, without using livestock managed on the land in a way that addresses global desertification and climate change, will inevitably lead to the doomsday predictions of Wallace-Wells. Billions of people dead and hundreds of cities destroyed and worse in the relatively near future no matter how many hopeful measures we might take.”
~ Allan Savory

* * *

Here is another argument comes up, but usually only shows up in brief comments. The following is a good response in explaining why the argument makes no sense: “No, the majority of this agriculture is for human consumption, not to feed livestock” (from the comments section of Karen Lindquist’s The Least-Harm Fallacy of Veganism). I’ll first share the comment to which the second comment is a response.

Ira
September 27, 2019 at 1:40 am

“Yeah, I agree. Agriculture is very destructive, and we should localize. However:

“Is not the majority of this agriculture to feed livestock? And how could we feed pigs and chickens without it? They aren’t ruminants.

“Think about what would happen if we kept our meat consumption the same, but released the 70.4% of cows, 98.3% of pigs, and 99.9% of chickens in the US that live on factory farms to open grasslands? How could we possibly do this without bulldozing every last tree?”

Karin Lindquist
October 8, 2019 at 2:15 pm

“No, the majority of this agriculture is for human consumption, not to feed livestock. Livestock get the left-overs, the crop failures, and the stuff that didn’t grade to top-quality grade for use in every part of the term “human consumption” from being made into biofuel to vegetable oil to clothing. Animals also get the by-products that come from the conversion of these crops to various products for humans because the landfills would be overflowing if animals couldn’t take them, making that an environmental disaster in and of itself (as if landfills aren’t already an environmental disaster already), and because those animals turn those waste products into nutritional edible food. More here: https://www.ethicalomnivore.org/are-farm-animals-starving-the-planet-of-food-humans-cant-even-eat/

“Why would anyone be dumb enough to release a large number of animals that aren’t even adapted to live in such an environment? They’d die out very quickly, either from starvation because they don’t know how to forage on their own for food or they just can’t live in such an environment, or by predation. (It seems that you’ve never been on open grasslands before; trees on open grasslands are very rare. You only find trees in forests or savannahs.) The better solution to that problem you propose is via gradual phasing out of such systems and moving towards regenerative, well-managed pastured-based systems that produce and maintain the breeds and types of animals that are adapted to such a system. No “bulldozing every last tree” required. If you want a good example of what that kind of system looks like, look at operations like Polyface Farms and Brown Ranch in North Dakota. Great examples of stacked enterprises with a pasture-based system that is most certainly replicable, and FAR more efficient than any degenerative, monoculture CAFO operation.

“Think outside the box!!!! All isn’t as it appears.”

* * *

Carnivore Is Vegan:
Bad Vegan Logic: Accidental Deaths vs Intentional Deaths – Carnivore is Vegan
A Carnivore Diet is More Vegan than a Vegan Diet – Carnivore is Vegan
Vegans Use Slave Cows to Make Fertilizer
Dairy is 2000 X’s More Ethical Than Almond Milk
Stir-Fry Genocide: Mushrooms Are Not Vegan

Field Deaths in Plant Agriculture
by Bob Fischer and Andy Lamey

There’s no such thing as vegan food
by Claire Taylor

Millennial veganism
by Joanna Blythman

But are you truly vegan?
by Matthew Evans

Australia’s vegan lie revealed: How plant-based diets still result in hundreds of thousands of animal deaths a year
by Lauren Ferri

Ordering the vegetarian meal? There’s more animal blood on your hands
by Mike Archer

The Least Harm Principle May Require that Humans Consume a Diet Containing Large Herbivores, Not a Vegan Diet
by Stephen L. Davis

The Least-Harm Fallacy of Veganism
by Karin Lindquist

Are Farm Animals Starving the Planet of Food… Humans Can’t Even Eat?
by Karin Lindquist

Want an ethical diet? It’s not as simple as going vegan, says farmer Matthew Evans
from ABC News

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability
Chapter 1: Why This Book?
by Lierre Keith

The Hidden Cost of Veganism – Lierre Keith #143
from ReWild Yourself

Lierre Keith & The Agripocalypse
by Lawrence Rosenberg

Any ‘planetary diet’ must also work for the poorest and most vulnerable
by Andrew Salter

Eating Local Meat is Actually More Sustainable than Veganism
from Heartland Fresh Family Farm

Why vegetarianism will not save the world
by Ian MacKenzie

If you care about the planet, eat more beef
by Danielle Smith

Ruminants are more important to the world than you might have thought!
by Troy Downing

Report: Cut red-meat eating by 80 percent to save the planet?
by Anne Mullens and Bret Scher

Can vegetarians save the planet? Why campaigns to ban meat send the wrong message on climate change
by Erin Biba

EAT-Lancet report’s recommendations are at odds with sustainable food production
by Sustainable Food Trust

Report urging less meat in global diet ‘lacks agricultural understanding’
from FarmingUK

War on burgers continues with false environmental impact claims
by Amanda Radke

Testimony before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry U.S. Senate
by Frank Mitloehner

Sorry, But Giving Up on Meat Is Not Going to Save The Planet
by Frank M. Mitloehner

Don’t Blame Cows For Climate Change
by Sylvia Wright

Cattle and methane: More complicated than first meets the (rib) eye
by Stephan Lewandowsky and Asa Wahlquist

Beef’s ‘Sustainability’ Involves More Than Greenhouse Gases
by Jesse Bussard

Is Agriculture Feeding the World or Destroying It? Dr. Frank Mitloehner Discusses Ag, Climate Change
from Farms.com

Environmental Hoofprint Matters — Frank Mitloehner, UC Davis
from Farm To Table Talk

Sustainable Dish Episode 83: The Truth About Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Livestock Production with Frank Mitloehner
with Diana Rodgers

UN admits flaw in report on meat and climate change
by Alastair Jamieson

Can Dietary Changes Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
by Wyatt Bechtel

Scientist: Don’t blame cows for climate change
by Paul Armstrong

Climate change policy must distinguish (long-lived) carbon dioxide from (short-lived) methane–Oxford study
by Susan MacMillan

Alan Savory @ PV1 – The role of livestock in a new agriculture that can save city-based civilization
by Julia Winter

Effective Livestock Grazing And A Regenerative Future
by Allan Savory

Climate Change – Cause and Remedy
by Allan Savory

Climate Change Best Addressed Planting Trees, Or Regenerating Grasslands?
by Allan Savory

Fate Of City-Based Civilization In The Hands Of Farmers
by Allan Savory

How We Can Offer Hope For Our Grandchildren In A Floundering, Leaderless World
by Allan Savory

Hope For The Future – First Real Hope In Centuries.
by Allan Savory

Response To “Goodbye – And Good Riddance – To Livestock Farming”
by Daniela Ibarra-Howell

Why Homo Sapiens Are A Keystone Predator In Rewilding Projects
by Caroline Grindrod

Red meat bounds down the carbon neutral path
by Shan GoodwinShan Goodwin

Can cows cause more climate change than cars?
by Frédéric Leroy

Climate, Food, Facts
from Animal Agriculture Alliance

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race
by Jared Diamond

Was agriculture the greatest blunder in human history?
by Darren Curnoe

Could Veganism Cause Extinctions?
by Patrice Ayme

It takes 21 litres of water to produce a small chocolate bar. How water-wise is your diet?
by Brad Ridoutt

Dietary Dictocrats of EAT-Lancet
Like water fasts, meat fasts are good for health.
Fasting, Calorie Restriction, and Ketosis
Ketogenic Diet and Neurocognitive Health
The Agricultural Mind