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Myths of Vegetarianism PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Byrnes, PhD, RNCP   
Tuesday, 31 December 2002 02:43

Myths & Truths About Vegetarianism

Originally published in the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, July 2000. Revised January 2002.

"An unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion."—Alfred North Whitehead

Bill and Tanya sat before me in my office in a somber mood: they had just lost their first baby in the second month of pregnancy. Tanya was particularly upset. "Why did this happen to me? Why did I miscarry my baby?" The young couple had come to see me mostly because of Tanya's recurrent respiratory infections, but also wanted some advice as to how they could avoid the heartache of another failed pregnancy.

Upon questioning Tanya about her diet, I quickly saw the cause of her infections, as well as her miscarriage: she had virtually no fat in her diet and was also mostly a vegetarian. Because of the plentiful media rhetoric about the supposed dangers of animal product consumption, as opposed to the alleged health benefits of the vegetarian lifestyle, Tanya had deliberately removed such things as cream, butter, meats and fish from her diet. Although she liked liver, she avoided it due to worries over "toxins."

Tanya and Bill left with a bottle of vitamin A, other supplements and a dietary prescription that included plentiful amounts of animal fats and meat. Just before leaving my office, Tanya looked at me and said ruefully: "I just don't know what to believe sometimes. Everywhere I look there is all this low-fat, vegetarian stuff recommended. I followed it, and look what happened." I assured her that if she and her husband changed their diets and allowed sufficient time for her weakened uterus to heal, they would be happy parents in due time. In November 2000, Bill and Tanya happily gave birth to their first child, a girl.

The Evolution of a Myth

Along with the unjustified and unscientific saturated fat and cholesterol scares of the past several decades has come the notion that vegetarianism is a healthier dietary option for people. It seems as if every health expert and government health agency is urging people to eat fewer animal products and consume more vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes. Along with these exhortations have come assertions and studies supposedly proving that vegetarianism is healthier for people and that meat consumption is associated with sickness and death. Several authorities, however, have questioned these data, but their objections have been largely ignored.

As we shall see, many of the vegetarian claims cannot be substantiated and some are simply false and dangerous. There are benefits to vegetarian diets for certain health conditions, and some people function better on less fat and protein, but, as a practitioner who has dealt with several former vegetarians and vegans (total vegetarians), I know full well the dangerous effects of a diet devoid of healthful animal products. It is my hope that all readers will more carefully evaluate their position on vegetarianism after reading this paper.

Myth #1: Meat consumption contributes to famine and depletes the Earth's natural resources.

Some vegetarians have claimed that livestock require pasturage that could be used to farm grains to feed starving people in Third World countries. It is also claimed that feeding animals contributes to world hunger because livestock are eating foods that could go to feed humans. The solution to world hunger, therefore, is for people to become vegetarians. These arguments are illogical and simplistic.

The first argument ignores the fact that about 2/3 of our Earth's dry land is unsuitable for farming. It is primarily the open range, desert and mountainous areas that provide food to grazing animals and that land is currently being put to good use (1).

The second argument is faulty as well because it ignores the vital contributions that livestock animals make to humanity's well-being. It is also misleading to think that the foods grown and given to feed livestock could be diverted to feed humans:

Agricultural animals have always made a major contribution to the welfare of human societies by providing food, shelter, fuel, fertilizer and other products and services. They are a renewable resource, and utilize another renewable resource, plants, to produce these products and services. In addition, the manure produced by the animals helps improve soil fertility and, thus, aids the plants. In some developing countries the manure cannot be utilized as a fertilizer but is dried as a source of fuel.

There are many who feel that because the world population is growing at a faster rate than is the food supply, we are becoming less and less able to afford animal foods because feeding plant products to animals is an inefficient use of potential human food. It is true that it is more efficient for humans to eat plant products directly rather than to allow animals to convert them to human food. At best, animals only produce one pound or less of human food for each three pounds of plants eaten. However, this inefficiency only applies to those plants and plant products that the human can utilize. The fact is that over two-thirds of the feed fed to animals consists of substances that are either undesirable or completely unsuited for human food. Thus, by their ability to convert inedible plant materials to human food, animals not only do not compete with the human rather they aid greatly in improving both the quantity and the quality of the diets of human societies. (2)

Furthermore, at the present time, there is more than enough food grown in the world to feed all people on the planet. The problem is widespread poverty making it impossible for the starving poor to afford it. In a comprehensive report, the Population Reference Bureau attributed the world hunger problem to poverty, not meat-eating (3). It also did not consider mass vegetarianism to be a solution for world hunger.

What would actually happen, however, if animal husbandry were abandoned in favor of mass agriculture, brought about by humanity turning towards vegetarianism?

If a large number of people switched to vegetarianism, the demand for meat in the United States and Europe would fall, the supply of grain would dramatically increase, but the buying power of poor [starving] people in Africa and Asia wouldn't change at all.

The result would be very predictable -- there would be a mass exodus from farming. Whereas today the total amount of grains produced could feed 10 billion people, the total amount of grain grown in this post-meat world would likely fall back to about 7 or 8 billion. The trend of farmers selling their land to developers and others would accelerate quickly. (4)

In other words, there would be less food available for the world to eat. Furthermore, the monoculture of grains and legumes, which is what would happen if animal husbandry were abandoned and the world relied exclusively on plant foods for its food, would rapidly deplete the soil and require the heavy use of artificial fertilizers, one ton of which requires ten tons of crude oil to produce (5).

As far as the impact to our environment, a closer look reveals the great damage that exclusive and mass farming would do. British organic dairy farmer and researcher Mark Purdey wisely points out that if "veganic agricultural systems were to gain a foothold on the soil, then agrochemical use, soil erosion, cash cropping, prairie-scapes and ill health would escalate." (6)

Neanderthin author Ray Audette concurs with this view:

Since ancient times, the most destructive factor in the degradation of the environment has been monoculture agriculture. The production of wheat in ancient Sumeria transformed once-fertile plains into salt flats that remain sterile 5,000 years later. As well as depleting both the soil and water sources, monoculture agriculture also produces environmental damage by altering the delicate balance of natural ecosystems. World rice production in 1993, for instance, caused 155 million cases of malaria by providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes in the paddies. Human contact with ducks in the same rice paddies resulted in 500 million cases of influenza during the same year.(7)

There is little doubt, though, that commercial farming methods, whether of plants or animals produce harm to the environment. With the heavy use of agrochemicals, pesticides, artificial fertilizers, hormones, steroids, and antibiotics common in modern agriculture, a better way of integrating animal husbandry with agriculture needs to be found. A possible solution might be a return to "mixed farming," described below.

The educated consumer and the enlightened farmer together can bring about a return of the mixed farm, where cultivation of fruits, vegetables and grains is combined with the raising of livestock and fowl in a manner that is efficient, economical and environmentally friendly. For example, chickens running free in garden areas eat insect pests, while providing high-quality eggs; sheep grazing in orchards obviate the need for herbicides; and cows grazing in woodlands and other marginal areas provide rich, pure milk, making these lands economically viable for the farmer. It is not animal cultivation that leads to hunger and famine, but unwise agricultural practices and monopolistic distribution systems. (8)

The "mixed farm" is also healthier for the soil, which will yield more crops if managed according to traditional guidelines. Mark Purdey has accurately pointed out that a crop field on a mixed farm will yield up to five harvests a year, while a "mono-cropped" one will only yield one or two (9). Which farm is producing more food for the world's peoples? Purdey well sums up the ecological horrors of "battery farming" and points to future solutions by saying:

Our agricultural establishments could do very well to outlaw the business-besotted farmers running intensive livestock units, battery systems and beef-burger bureaucracies; with all their wastages, deplorable cruelty, anti-ozone slurry systems; drug/chemical induced immunotoxicity resulting in B.S.E. [see myth # 13] and salmonella, rain forest eradication, etc. Our future direction must strike the happy, healthy medium of mixed farms, resurrecting the old traditional extensive system as a basic framework, then bolstering up productivity to present day demands by incorporating a more updated application of biological science into farming systems. (10)

It does not appear, then, that livestock farming, when properly practiced, damages the environment. Nor does it appear that world vegetarianism or exclusively relying on agriculture to supply the world with food are feasible or ecologically wise ideas.

Myth #2: Vitamin B12 can be obtained from plant sources.

Of all the myths, this is perhaps the most dangerous. While lacto and lacto-ovo vegetarians have sources of vitamin B12 in their diets (from dairy products and eggs), vegans (total vegetarians) do not. Vegans who do not supplement their diet with vitamin B12 will eventually get anemia (a fatal condition) as well as severe nervous and digestive system damage; most, if not all, vegans have impaired B12 metabolism and every study of vegan groups has demonstrated low vitamin B12 concentrations in the majority of individuals (11). Several studies have been done documenting B12 deficiencies in vegan children, often with dire consequences (12). Additionally, claims are made in vegan and vegetarian literature that B12 is present in certain algae, tempeh (a fermented soy product) and Brewer's yeast. All of them are false as vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods. Brewer's and nutritional yeasts do not contain B12 naturally; they are always fortified from an outside source.

There is not real B12 in plant sources but B12 analogues--they are similar to true B12, but not exactly the same and because of this they are not bioavailable (13). It should be noted here that these B12 analogues can impair absorption of true vitamin B12 in the body due to competitive absorption, placing vegans and vegetarians who consume lots of soy, algae, and yeast at a greater risk for a deficiency (14).

Some vegetarian authorities claim that B12 is produced by certain fermenting bacteria in the lower intestines. This may be true, but it is in a form unusable by the body. B12 requires intrinsic factor from the stomach for proper absorption in the ileum. Since the bacterial product does not have intrinsic factor bound to it, it cannot be absorbed (15).

It is true that Hindu vegans living in certain parts of India do not suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. This has led some to conclude that plant foods do provide this vitamin. This conclusion, however, is erroneous as many small insects, their feces, eggs, larvae and/or residue, are left on the plant foods these people consume, due to non-use of pesticides and inefficient cleaning methods. This is how these people obtain their vitamin B12. This contention is borne out by the fact that when vegan Indian Hindus later migrated to England, they came down with megaloblastic anaemia within a few years. In England, the food supply is cleaner, and insect residues are completely removed from plant foods (16).

The only reliable and absorbable sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, especially organ meats and eggs (17). Though present in lesser amounts than meat and eggs, dairy products do contain B12. Vegans, therefore, should consider adding dairy products into their diets. If dairy cannot be tolerated, eggs, preferably from free-run hens, are a virtual necessity.

That vitamin B12 can only be obtained from animal foods is one of the strongest arguments against veganism being a "natural" way of human eating. Today, vegans can avoid anemia by taking supplemental vitamins or fortified foods. If those same people had lived just a few decades ago, when these products were unavailable, they would have died.

Myth #3: Our needs for vitamin D can be met by sunlight.

Though not really a vegetarian myth per se, it is widely believed that one's vitamin D needs can be met simply by exposing one's skin to the sun's rays for 15-20 minutes a few times a week. Concerns about vitamin D deficiencies in vegetarians and vegans always exist as this nutrient, in its full-complex form, is only found in animal fats (18) which vegans do not consume and more moderate vegetarians only consume in limited quantities due to their meatless diets.

It is true that a limited number of plant foods such as alfalfa, sunflower seeds, and avocado, contain the plant form of vitamin D (ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2). Although D2 can be used to prevent and treat the vitamin D deficiency disease, rickets, in humans, it is questionable, though, whether this form is as effective as animal-derived vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Some studies have shown that D2 is not utilized as well as D3 in animals (19) and clinicians have reported disappointing results using vitamin D2 to treat vitamin D-related conditions (20).

Although vitamin D can be created by our bodies by the action of sunlight on our skin, it is very difficult to obtain an optimal amount of vitamin D by a brief foray into the sun. There are three ultraviolet bands of radiation that come from sunlight named A, B, and C. Only the "B" form is capable of catalyzing the conversion of cholesterol to vitamin D in our bodies (21) and UV-B rays are only present at certain times of day, at certain latitudes, and at certain times of the year (22). Furthermore, depending on one's skin color, obtaining 200-400 IUs of vitamin D from the sun can take as long as two full hours of continual sunning (23). A dark-skinned vegan, therefore, will find it impossible to obtain optimal vitamin D intake by sunning himself for 20 minutes a few times a week, even if sunning occurs during those limited times of the day and year when UV-B rays are available.

The current RDA for vitamin D is 400 IUs, but Dr. Weston Price's seminal research into healthy native adult people's diets showed that their daily intake of vitamin D (from animal foods) was about 10 times that amount, or 4,000 IUs (24). Accordingly, Dr. Price placed a great emphasis on vitamin D in the diet. Without vitamin D, for example, it is impossible to utilize minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Recent research has confirmed Dr. Price's higher recommendations for vitamin D for adults (24).

Since rickets and/or low vitamin D levels has been well-documented in many vegetarians and vegans (26), since animal fats are either lacking or deficient in vegetarian diets (as well as those of the general Western public who routinely try to cut their animal fat intake), since sunlight is only a source of vitamin D at certain times and at certain latitudes, and since current dietary recommendations for vitamin D are too low, this emphasizes the need to have reliable and abundant sources of this nutrient in our daily diets. Good sources include cod liver oil, lard from pigs that were exposed to sunlight, shrimp, wild salmon, sardines, butter, full-fat dairy products, and eggs from properly fed chickens.

Myth #4: The body's needs for vitamin A can be entirely obtained from plant foods.

True vitamin A, or retinol and its associated esters, is only found in animal fats and organs like liver (27). Plants do contain beta-carotene, a substance that the body can convert into vitamin A if certain conditions are present (see below). Beta-carotene, however, is not vitamin A. It is typical for vegans and vegetarians (as well as most popular nutrition writers) to say that plant foods like carrots and spinach contain vitamin A and that beta-carotene is just as good as vitamin A. These things are not true even though beta-carotene is an important nutritional factor for humans.

The conversion from carotene to vitamin A in the intestines can only take place in the presence of bile salts. This means that fat must be eaten with the carotenes to stimulate bile secretion. Additionally, infants and people with hypothyroidism, gall bladder problems or diabetes (altogether, a significant portion of the population) either cannot make the conversion, or do so very poorly. Lastly, the body's conversion from carotene to vitamin A is not very efficient: it takes roughly 6 units of carotene to make one unit of vitamin A. What this means is that a sweet potato (containing about 25,000 units of beta-carotene) will only convert into about 4,000 units of vitamin A (assuming you ate it with fat, are not diabetic, are not an infant, and do not have a thyroid or gall bladder problem) [28].

Relying on plant sources for vitamin A, then, is not a very wise idea. This provides yet another reason to include animal foods and fats in our diets. Butter and full-fat dairy foods, especially from pastured cows, are good vitamin A sources, as is cod liver oil. Vitamin A is all-important in our diets, for it enables the body to use proteins and minerals, insures proper vision, enhances the immune system, enables reproduction, and fights infections (29). As with vitamin D, Dr. Price found that the diets of healthy primitive peoples supplied substantial amounts of vitamin A, again emphasizing the great need humans have for this nutrient in maintaining optimal health now and for future generations.

Myth #5: Meat-eating causes osteoporosis, kidney disease, heart disease, and cancer.

Oftentimes, vegans and vegetarians will try to scare people into avoiding animal foods and fats by claiming that vegetarian diets offer protection from certain chronic diseases like the ones listed above. Such claims, however, are hard to reconcile with historical and anthropological facts. All of the diseases mentioned are primarily 20th century occurrences, yet people have been eating meat and animal fat for many thousands of years. Further, as Dr. Price's research showed, there were/are several native peoples around the world (the Innuit, Maasai, Swiss, etc.) whose traditional diets were/are very rich in animal products, but who nevertheless did/do not suffer from the above-mentioned maladies (30). Dr. George Mann's independent studies of the Maasai done many years after Dr. Price, confirmed the fact that the Maasai, despite being almost exclusive meat eaters, nevertheless, had little to no incidence of heart disease, or other chronic ailments (31). This proves that other factors besides animal foods are at work in causing these diseases.

Several studies have supposedly shown that meat consumption is the cause of various illnesses, but such studies, honestly evaluated, show no such thing as the following discussion will show.


Dr. Herta Spencer's research on protein intake and bone loss clearly showed that protein consumption in the form of real meat has no impact on bone density. Studies that supposedly proved that excessive protein consumption equaled more bone loss were not done with real meat but with fractionated protein powders and isolated amino acids (32). Recent studies have also shown that increased animal protein intake contributes to stronger bone density in men and women (33). Some recent studies on vegan and vegetarian diets, however, have shown them to predispose women to osteoporosis (34).

Kidney Disease

Although protein-restricted diets are helpful for people with kidney disease, there is no proof that eating meat causes it (35). Vegetarians will also typically claim that animal protein causes overly acidic conditions in the blood, resulting in calcium leaching from the bones and, hence, a greater tendency to form kidney stones. This opinion is false, however. Theoretically, the sulphur and phosphorous in meat can form an acid when placed in water, but that does not mean that is what happens in the body. Actually, meat contains complete proteins and vitamin D (if the skin and fat are eaten), both of which help maintain pH balance in the bloodstream. Furthermore, if one eats a diet that includes enough magnesium and vitamin B6, and restricts refined sugars, one has little to fear from kidney stones, whether one eats meat or not (36). Animal foods like beef, pork, fish, and lamb are good sources of magnesium and B6 as any food/nutrient table will show.

Heart Disease

The belief that animal protein contributes to heart disease is a popular one that has no foundation in nutritional science. Outside of questionable studies, there is little data to support the idea that meat-eating leads to heart disease. For example, the French have one of the highest per capita consumption of meat, yet have low rates of heart disease. In Greece, meat consumption is higher than average but rates of heart disease are low there as well. Finally, in Spain, an increase in meat eating (in conjunction with a reduction in sugar and high carbohydrate intake) led to a decrease in heart disease (37).


The belief that meat, in particular red meat, contributes to cancer is, like heart disease, a popular idea that is not supported by the facts. Although it is true that some studies have shown a connection between meat eating and some types of cancer (38), its important to look at the studies carefully to determine what kind of meat is being discussed, as well as the preparation methods used. Since we only have one word for "meat" in English, it is often difficult to know which "meat" is under discussion in a study unless the authors of the study specifically say so.

The study which began the meat=cancer theory was done by Dr. Ernst Wynder in the 1970s. Wynder claimed that there was a direct, causal connection between animal fat intake and incidence of colon cancer (39). Actually, his data on "animal fats" were really on vegetable fats (40). In other words, the meat=cancer theory is based on a phony study.

If one looks closely at the research, however, one quickly sees that it is processed meats like cold cuts and sausages that are usually implicated in cancer causation (41) and not meat per se. Furthermore, cooking methods seem to play a part in whether or not a meat becomes carcinogenic (42). In other words, it is the added chemicals to the meat and the chosen cooking method that are at fault and not the meat itself.

In the end, although sometimes a connection between meat and cancer is found, the actual mechanism of how it happens has eluded scientists (43). This means that it is likely that other factors besides meat are playing roles in some cases of cancer. Remember: studies of meat-eating traditional peoples show that they have very little incidence of cancer. This demonstrates that other factors are at work when cancer appears in a modern meat-eating person. It is not scientifically fair to single out one dietary factor in placing blame, while ignoring other more likely candidates.

It should be noted here that Seventh Day Adventists are often studied in population analyses to prove that a vegetarian diet is healthier and is associated with a lower risk for cancer (but see a later paragraph in this section). While it is true that most members of this Christian denomination do not eat meat, they also do not smoke or drink alcohol, coffee or tea, all of which are likely factors in promoting cancer (44).

The Mormons are a religious group often overlooked in vegetarian studies. Although their Church urges moderation, Mormons do not abstain from meat. As with the Adventists, Mormons also avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. Despite being meat eaters, a study of Utah Mormons showed they had a 22% lower rate for cancer in general and a 34% lower mortality for colon cancer than the US average (45). A study of Puerto Ricans, who eat large amounts of fatty pork, nevertheless revealed very low rates of colon and breast cancer (46). Similar results can be adduced to demonstrate that meat and animal fat consumption do not correlate with cancer (47). Obviously, other factors are at work.

It is usually claimed that vegetarians have lower cancer rates than meat-eaters, but a 1994 study of vegetarian California Seventh Day Adventists showed that, while they did have lower rates for some cancers (e.g., breast and lung), they had higher rates for several others (Hodgkin's disease, malignant melanoma, brain, skin, uterine, prostate, endometrial, cervical and ovarian), some quite significantly. In that study the authors actually admitted that:

Meat consumption, however, was not associated with a higher [cancer] risk.

And that,

No significant association between breast cancer and a high consumption of animal fats or animal products in general was noted. (48)

Further, it is usually claimed that a diet rich in plant foods like whole grains and legumes will reduce one's risks for cancer, but research going back to the last century demonstrates that carbohydrate-based diets are the prime dietary instigators of cancer, not diets based on minimally processed animal foods (49).

The mainstream health and vegetarian media have done such an effective job of "beef bashing," that most people think there is nothing healthful about meat, especially red meat. In reality, however, animal flesh foods like beef and lamb are excellent sources of a variety of nutrients as any food/nutrient table will show. Nutrients like vitamins A, D, several of the B-complex, essential fatty acids (in small amounts), magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, iron, taurine, and selenium are abundant in beef, lamb, pork, fish and shellfish, and poultry. Nutritional factors like coenzyme Q10, carnitine, and alpha-lipoic acid are also present. Some of these nutrients are only found in animal foods--plants do not supply them.

Myth #6: Saturated fats and dietary cholesterol cause heart disease, atherosclerosis, and/or cancer, and low-fat, low-cholesterol diets are healthier for people.

This, too, is not a specific vegetarian myth. Nevertheless, people are often urged to take up a vegetarian or vegan diet because it is believed that such diets offer protection against heart disease and cancer since they are lower or lacking in animal foods and fats.

Although it is commonly believed that saturated fats and dietary cholesterol "clog arteries" and cause heart disease, such ideas have been shown to be false by such scientists as Linus Pauling, Russell Smith, George Mann, John Yudkin, Abram Hoffer, Mary Enig, Uffe Ravnskov and other prominent researchers (50). On the contrary, studies have shown that arterial plaque is primarily composed of unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated ones, and not the saturated fat of animals, palm or coconut (51).

Trans-fatty acids, as opposed to saturated fats, have been shown by researchers such as Enig, Mann and Fred Kummerow to be causative factors in accelerated atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, cancer and other ailments (52). Trans-fatty acids are found in such modern foods as margarine and vegetable shortening and foods made with them. Enig and her colleagues have also shown that excessive omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake from refined vegetable oils is also a major culprit behind cancer and heart disease, not animal fats.

A recent study of thousands of Swedish women supported Enig's conclusions and data, and showed no correlation between saturated fat consumption and increased risk for breast cancer. However, the study did show,as did Enig's work, a strong link between vegetable oil intake and higher breast cancer rates (53).

The major population studies that supposedly prove the theory that animal fats and cholesterol cause heart disease actually do not upon closer inspection. The Framingham Heart Study is often cited as proof that dietary cholesterol and saturated fat intake cause heart disease and ill health. Involving about 6,000 people, the study compared two groups over several years at five-year intervals. One group consumed little cholesterol and saturated fat, while the other consumed high amounts. Surprisingly, Dr William Castelli, the study's director, said:

In Framingham, Mass., the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person's serum cholesterol ... we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, [and] ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active. (54)

The Framingham data did show that subjects who had higher cholesterol levels and weighed more ran a slightly higher chance for coronary heart disease. But weight gain and serum cholesterol levels had an inverse correlation with dietary fat and cholesterol intake. In other words, there was no correlation at all (55).

In a similar vein, the US Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, sponsored by the National Heart and Lung Institute, compared mortality rates and eating habits of 12,000+ men. Those who ate less saturated fat and cholesterol showed a slightly reduced rate of heart disease, but had an overall mortality rate much higher than the other men in the study (56).

Low-fat/cholesterol diets, therefore, are not healthier for people. Studies have shown repeatedly that such diets are associated with depression, cancer, psychological problems, fatigue, violence and suicide (57). Women with lower serum cholesterol live shorter lives than women with higher levels (58). Similar things have been found in men (59).

Children on low-fat and/or vegan diets can suffer from growth problems, failure to thrive, and learning disabilities (60). Despite this, sources from Dr Benjamin Spock to the American Heart Association recommend low-fat diets for children! One can only lament the fate of those unfortunate youngsters who will be raised by unknowing parents taken in by such genocidal misinformation.

There are many health benefits to saturated fats, depending on the fat in question. Coconut oil, for example, is rich in lauric acid, a potent antifungal and antimicrobial substance. Coconut also contains appreciable amounts of caprylic acid, also an effective antifungal (61). Butter from free-range cows is rich in trace minerals, especially selenium, as well as all of the fat-soluble vitamins and beneficial fatty acids that protect against cancer and fungal infections (62).

In fact, the body needs saturated fats in order to properly utilize essential fatty acids (63). Saturated fats also lower the blood levels of the artery-damaging lipoprotein (a) (64); are needed for proper calcium utilization in the bones (65); stimulate the immune system (66); are the preferred food for the heart and other vital organs (67); and, along with cholesterol, add structural stability to the cell and intestinal wall (68). They are excellent for cooking, as they are chemically stable and do not break down under heat, unlike polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Omitting them from one's diet, then, is ill-advised.

With respect to atherosclerosis, it is always claimed that vegetarians have much lower rates of this condition than meat eaters. The International Atherosclerosis Project of 1968, however, which examined over 20,000 corpses from several countries, concluded that vegetarians had just as much atherosclerosis as meat eaters (69). Other population studies have revealed similar data. (70) This is because atherosclerosis is largely unrelated to diet; it is a consequence of aging. There are things which can accelerate the atherosclerotic process such as excessive free radical damage to the arteries from antioxidant depletion (caused by such things as smoking, poor diet, excess polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet, various nutritional deficiencies, drugs, etc), but this is to be distinguished from the fatty-streaking and hardening of arteries that occurs in all peoples over time.

It also does not appear that vegetarian diets protect against heart disease. A study on vegans in 1970 showed that female vegans had higher rates of death from heart disease than non-vegan females (71). A recent study showed that Indians, despite being vegetarians, have very high rates of coronary artery disease (72). High-carbohydrate/low-fat diets (which is what vegetarian diets are) can also place one at a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer due to their hyperinsulemic effects on the body (73). Recent studies have also shown that vegetarians have higher homocysteine levels in their blood (74). Homocysteine is a known cause of heart disease. Lastly, low-fat/cholesterol diets, generally favored to either prevent or treat heart disease, do neither and may actually increase certain risk factors for this condition (75).

Studies which conclude that vegetarians are at a lower risk for heart disease are typically based on the phony markers of lower saturated fat intake, lower serum cholesterol levels and HDL/LDL ratios. Since vegetarians tend to eat less saturated fat and usually have lower serum cholesterol levels, it is concluded that they are at less risk for heart disease. Once one realizes that these measurements are not accurate predictors of proneness to heart disease, however, the supposed protection of vegetarianism melts away (76).

It should always be remembered that a number of things factor into a person getting heart disease or cancer. Instead of focusing on the phony issues of saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and meat-eating, people should pay more attention to other more likely factors.

These would be trans-fatty acids, excessive polyunsaturated fat intake, excessive sugar intake, excessive carbohydrate intake, smoking, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and obesity. These things were all conspicuously absent in the healthy traditional peoples that Dr. Price studied.

Myth #7: Vegetarians live longer and have more energy and endurance than meat-eaters.

A vegetarian guidebook published in Great Britain made the following claim:

You and your children don't need to eat meat to stay healthy. In fact, vegetarians claim they are among the healthiest people around, and they can expect to live nine years longer than meat eaters (this is often because heart and circulatory diseases are rarer). These days almost half the population in Britain is trying to avoid meat, according to a survey by the Food Research Association in January 1990. (77)

In commenting on this claim of extended lifespan, author Craig Fitzroy astutely points out that:

The "nine-year advantage" is an oft-repeated but invariably unsourced piece of anecdotal evidence for vegetarianism. But anyone who believes that by snubbing mum's Sunday roast they will be adding a decade to their years on the planet is almost certainly indulging in a bit of wishful thinking. (78)

And that is what most of the claims for increased longevity in vegetarians are: anecdotal. There is no proof that a healthy vegetarian diet when compared to a healthy omnivorous diet will result in a longer life. Additionally, people who choose a vegetarian lifestyle typically also choose not to smoke, to exercise, in short, to live a healthier lifestyle. These things also factor into one's longevity.

In the scientific literature, there are surprisingly few studies done on vegetarian longevity. Russell Smith, PhD, in his massive review study on heart disease, showed that as animal product consumption increased among some study groups, death rates actually decreased! (79) Such results were not obtained among vegetarian subjects. For example, in a study published by Burr and Sweetnam in 1982, analysis of mortality data revealed that, although vegetarians had a slightly (.11%) lower rate of heart disease than non-vegetarians, the all-cause death rate was much higher for vegetarians (80).

Despite claims that studies have shown that meat consumption increased the risk for heart disease and shortened lives, the authors of those studies actually found the opposite. For example, in a 1984 analysis of a 1978 study of vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists, HA Kahn concluded,

Although our results add some substantial facts to the diet-disease question, we recognize how remote they are from establishing, for example, that men who frequently eat meat or women who rarely eat salad are thereby shortening their lives. (81)

A similar conclusion was reached by D.A. Snowden (82). Despite these startling admissions, the studies nevertheless concluded the exact opposite and urged people to reduce animal foods from their diets.

Further, both of these studies threw out certain dietary data that clearly showed no connection between eggs, cheese, whole milk, and fat attached to meat (all high fat and cholesterol foods) and heart disease. Dr. Smith commented,

In effect the Kahn [and Snowden] study is yet another example of negative results which are massaged and misinterpreted to support the politically correct assertions that vegetarians live longer lives. (83)

It is usually claimed that meat-eating peoples have a short life span, but the Aborigines of Australia, who traditionally eat a diet rich in animal products, are known for their longevity (at least before colonization by Europeans). Within Aboriginal society, there is a special caste of the elderly (84). Obviously, if no old people existed, no such group would have existed. In his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Price has numerous photographs of elderly native peoples from around the world. Explorers such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson reported great longevity among the Innuit (again, before colonization). [85]

Similarly, the Russians of the Caucasus mountains live to great ages on a diet of fatty pork and whole raw milk products. The Hunzas, also known for their robust health and longevity, eat substantial portions of goat's milk which has a higher saturated fat content than cow's milk (86). In contrast, the largely vegetarian Hindus of southern India have the shortest life-spans in the world, partly because of a lack of food, but also because of a distinct lack of animal protein in their diets (87). H. Leon Abrams' comments are instructive here:

Vegetarians often maintain that a diet of meat and animal fat leads to a pre-mature death. Anthropological data from primitive societies do not support such contentions. (88)

With regards to endurance and energy levels, Dr Price traveled around the world in the 1920s and 1930s, investigating native diets. Without exception, he found a strong correlation between diets rich in animal fats, robust health and athletic ability. Special foods for Swiss athletes, for example, included bowls of fresh, raw cream. In Africa, Dr Price discovered that groups whose diets were rich in fatty meats and fish, and organ meats like liver, consistently carried off the prizes in athletic contests, and that meat-eating tribes always dominated tribes whose diets were largely vegetarian. (89)

It is popular in sports nutrition to recommend "carb loading" for athletes to increase their endurance levels. But recent studies done in New York and South Africa show that the opposite is true: athletes who "carb loaded" had significantly less endurance than those who "fat loaded" before athletic events (90).

Myth #8: The "cave man" diet was low-fat and/or vegetarian. Humans evolved as vegetarians.

Our Paleolithic ancestors were hunter-gatherers, and three schools of thought have developed as to what their diet was like. One group argues for a high-fat and animal-based diet supplemented with seasonal fruits, berries, nuts, root vegetables and wild grasses. The second argues that primitive peoples consumed assorted lean meats and large amounts of plant foods. The third argues that our human ancestors evolved as vegetarians.

The "lean" Paleolithic diet approach has been argued for quite voraciously by Dr.'s Loren Cordain and Boyd Eaton in a number of popular and professional publications (91). Cordain and Eaton are believers in the Lipid Hypothesis of heart disease--the belief (debunked in myth number six, above) that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol contribute to heart disease. Because of this, and the fact that Paleolithic peoples or their modern equivalents did/do not suffer from heart disease, Cordain and Eaton espouse the theory that Paleolithic peoples consumed most of their fat calories from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources and not saturated fats. Believing that saturated fats are dangerous to our arteries, Cordain and Eaton stay in step with current establishment nutritional thought and encourage modern peoples to eat a diet like our ancestors. This diet, they believe, was rich in lean meats and a variety of vegetables, but was low in saturated fat. The evidence they produce to support this theory is, however, very selective and misleading. (92) Saturated fats do not cause heart disease as was shown above, and our Paleolithic ancestors ate quite a bit of saturated fat from a variety of plant and animal sources.

From authoritative sources, we learn that prehistoric humans of the North American continent ate such animals as mammoth, camel, sloth, bison, mountain sheep, pronghorn antelope, beaver, elk, mule deer, and llama (93). "Mammoth, sloth, mountain sheep, bison, and beaver are fatty animals in the modern sense in that they have a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, as do the many species of bear and wild pig whose remains have been found at Paleolithic sites throughout the world." (94) Analysis of many types of fat in game animals like antelope, bison, caribou, dog, elk, moose, seal, and mountain sheep shows that they are rich in saturates and monounsaturates, but relatively low in polyunstaurates. (95)

Further, while buffalo and game animals may have lean, non-marbled muscle meats, it is a mistake to assume that only these parts were eaten by hunter-gatherer groups like the Native Americans who often hunted animals selectively for their fat and fatty organs as the following section will show.

Anthropologists/explorers such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson reported that the Innuit and North American Indian tribes would worry when their catches of caribou were too lean: they knew sickness would follow if they did not consume enough fat (96). In other words, these primitive peoples did not like having to eat lean meat.

Northern Canadian Indians would also deliberately hunt older male caribou and elk, for these animals carried a 50-pound slab of back fat on them which the Indians would eat with relish. This "back fat" is highly saturated. Native Americans would also refrain from hunting bison in the springtime (when the animals' fat stores were low, due to scarce food supply during the winter), preferring to hunt, kill and consume them in the fall when they were fattened up (97).

Explorer Samuel Hearne, writing in 1768, described how the Native American tribes he came in contact with would selectively hunt caribou just for the fatty parts:

On the twenty-second of July, we met several strangers, whom we joined in pursuit of the caribou, which were at this time so plentiful that we got everyday a sufficient number for our support, and indeed too frequently killed several merely for the tongues, marrow, and fat. (98)

While Cordain and Eaton are certainly correct in saying that our ancestors ate meat, their contentions about fat intake, as well as the type of fat consumed, are simply incorrect.

While various vegetarian and vegan authorities like to think that we evolved as a species on a vegan or vegetarian diet, there exists little from the realm of nutritional anthropology to support these ideas.

To begin with, in his journeys, Dr Price never once found a totally vegetarian culture. It should be remembered that Dr. Price visited and investigated several population groups who were, for all intents and purposes, the 20th century equivalents of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Dr. Price was on the lookout for a vegetarian culture, but he came up empty. Price stated:

As yet I have not found a single group of primitive racial stock which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by living entirely on plant foods. (99)

Anthropological data support this: throughout the globe, all societies show a preference for animal foods and fats and our ancestors only turned to large scale farming when they had to due to increased population pressures (100). Abrams and other authorities have shown that prehistoric man's quest for more animal foods was what spurred his expansion over the Earth, and that he apparently hunted certain species to extinction. (101)

Price also found that those peoples who, out of necessity, consumed more grains and legumes, had higher rates of dental decay than those who consumed more animal products. In his papers on vegetarianism, Abrams presents archaeological evidence that supports this finding: skulls of ancient peoples who were largely vegetarian have teeth containing caries and abscesses and show evidence of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases (102). The appearance of farming and the increased dependence on plant foods for our subsistence was clearly harmful to our health.

Finally, it is simply not possible for our prehistoric ancestors to have been vegetarian because they would not have been able to get enough calories or nutrients to survive on the plant foods that were available. The reason for this is that humans did not know how to cook or control fire at that time and the great majority of plant foods, especially grains and legumes, must be cooked in order to render them edible to humans (103). Most people do not know that many of the plant foods we consume today are poisonous in their raw states (104).

Based on all of this evidence, it is certain that the diets of our ancestors, the progenitors of humanity, ate a very non-vegetarian diet that was rich in saturated fatty acids.

Myth #9: Meat and saturated fat consumption have increased in the 20th century, with a corresponding increase in heart disease and cancer.

Statistics do not bear out such fancies. Butter consumption has plummeted from 18 lb (8.165 kg) per person a year in 1900, to less than 5 lb (2.27 kg) per person a year today (105). Additionally, Westerners, urged on by government health agencies, have reduced their intake of eggs, cream, lard, and pork. Chicken consumption has risen in the past few decades, but chicken is lower in saturated fat than either beef or pork.

Furthermore, a survey of cookbooks published in America in the last century shows that people of earlier times ate plenty of animal foods and saturated fats. For example, in the Baptist Ladies Cook Book (Monmouth, Illinois, 1895), virtually every recipe calls for butter, cream or lard. Recipes for creamed vegetables are numerous as well. A scan of the Searchlight Recipe Book (Capper Publications, 1931) also has similar recipes: creamed liver, creamed cucumbers, hearts braised in buttermilk, etc. British Jews, as shown by the Jewish Housewives Cookbook (London, 1846), also had diets rich in cream, butter, eggs, and lamb and beef tallows. One recipe for German waffles, for example, calls for a dozen egg yolks and an entire pound of butter. A recipe for Oyster Pie from the Baptist cookbook calls for a quart of cream and a dozen eggs, and so forth and so on.

It does not appear, then, that people ate leaner diets in the last century. It is true that beef consumption has risen in the last few decades, but what has also risen precipitously, however, is consumption of margarine and other food products containing trans-fatty acids (106), lifeless, packaged "foods", processed vegetable oils (107), carbohydrates (108) and refined sugar (109). Since one does not see chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease in beef-eating native peoples like the Maasai and Samburu, it is not possible for beef to be the culprit behind these modern epidemics. This, of course, points the finger squarely at the other dietary factors as the most likely causes.

Myth #10: Soy products are adequate substitutes for meat and dairy products.

It is typical for vegans and vegetarians in the Western world to rely on various soy products for their protein needs. There is little doubt that the billion-dollar soy industry has profited immensely from the anti-cholesterol, anti-meat gospel of current nutritional thought. Whereas, not so long ago, soy was an Asian food primarily used as a condiment, now a variety of processed soy products proliferate in the North American market. While the traditionally fermented soy foods of miso, tamari, tempeh and natto are definitely healthful in measured amounts, the hyper-processed soy "foods" that most vegetarians consume are not.

Non-fermented soybeans and foods made with them are high in phytic acid (110), an anti-nutrient that binds to minerals in the digestive tract and carries them out of the body. Vegetarians are known for their tendencies to mineral deficiencies, especially of zinc (111) and it is the high phytate content of grain and legume based diets that is to blame (112). Though several traditional food preparation techniques such as soaking, sprouting, and fermenting can significantly reduce the phytate content of grains and legumes (113), such methods are not commonly known about or used by modern peoples, including vegetarians. This places them (and others who eat a diet rich in whole grains) at a greater risk for mineral deficiencies.

Processed soy foods are also rich in trypsin inhibitors, which hinder protein digestion. Textured vegetable protein (TVP), soy "milk" and soy protein powders, popular vegetarian meat and milk substitutes, are entirely fragmented foods made by treating soybeans with high heat and various alkaline washes to extract the beans' fat content or to neutralize their potent enzyme inhibitors (110). These practices completely denature the beans' protein content, rendering it very hard to digest. MSG, a neurotoxin, is routinely added to TVP to make it taste like the various foods it imitates (114).

On a purely nutritional level, soybeans, like all legumes, are deficient in cysteine and methionine, vital sulphur-containing amino acids, as well as tryptophan, another essential amino acid. Furthermore, soybeans contain no vitamins A or D, required by the body to assimilate and utilize the beans' proteins (115). It is probably for this reason that Asian cultures that do consume soybeans usually combine them with fish or fish broths (abundant in fat-soluble vitamins) or other fatty foods.

Parents who feed their children soy-based formula should be aware of its extremely high phytoestrogen content. Some scientists have estimated a child being fed soy formula is ingesting the hormonal equivalent of five birth control pills a day (116). Such a high intake could have disastrous results. Soy formula also contains no cholesterol, vital for brain and nervous system development.

Though research is still ongoing, some recent studies have indicated that soy's phytoestrogens could be causative factors in some forms of breast cancer (117), penile birth defects (118), and infantile leukemia (119). Regardless, soy's phytoestrogens, or isoflavones, have been definitely shown to depress thyroid function (120) and to cause infertility in every animal species studied so far (121). Clearly, modern soy products and isolated isoflavone supplements are not healthy foods for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone else, yet these are the very ones that are most consumed.

Myth #11: The human body is not designed for meat consumption.

Some vegetarian groups claim that since humans possess grinding teeth like herbivorous animals and longer intestines than carnivorous animals, this proves the human body is better suited for vegetarianism (122). This argument fails to note several human physiological features which clearly indicate a design for animal product consumption.

First and foremost is our stomach's production of hydrochloric acid, something not found in herbivores. HCL activates protein-splitting enzymes. Further, the human pancreas manufactures a full range of digestive enzymes to handle a wide variety of foods, both animal and vegetable. Further, Dr. Walter Voegtlin's in-depth comparison of the human digestive system with that of the dog, a carnivore, and a sheep, a herbivore, clearly shows that we are closer in anatomy to the carnivorous dog than the herbivorous sheep. (123)

While humans may have longer intestines than animal carnivores, they are not as long as herbivores; nor do we possess multiple stomachs like many herbivores, nor do we chew cud. Our physiology definitely indicates a mixed feeder, or an omnivore, much the same as our relatives, the mountain gorilla and chimpanzee who all have been observed eating small animals and, in some cases, other primates (124).

Myth #12: Eating animal flesh causes violent, aggressive behavior in humans.

Some authorities on vegetarian diet, such as Dr Rudolph Ballantine (125), claim that the fear and terror (if any, see myth #15) an animal experiences at death is somehow "transferred" into its flesh and organs and "becomes" a part of the person who eats it.

In addition to the fact that no scientific studies exist to support such a theory, these thinkers would do well to remember the fact that a tendency to irrational anger is a symptom of low vitamin B12 levels which, as we have seen, are common in vegans and vegetarians. Furthermore, in his travels, Dr Price always noted the extreme happiness and ingratiating natures of the peoples he encountered, all of whom were meat-eaters.

Myth #13: Animal products contain numerous, harmful toxins.

A recent vegetarian newsletter claimed the following:

Most people don't realize that meat products are loaded with poisons and toxins! Meat, fish and eggs all decompose and putrefy extremely rapidly. As soon as an animal is killed, self-destruct enzymes are released, causing the formation of denatured substances called ptyloamines, which cause cancer. (126)

This article then went on to mention "mad cow disease" (BSE), parasites, salmonella, hormones, nitrates and pesticides as toxins in animal products.

If meat, fish and eggs do indeed generate cancerous "ptyloamines," it is very strange that people have not been dying in droves from cancer for the past million years. Such sensationalistic and nonsensical claims cannot be supported by historical facts.

Hormones, nitrates and pesticides are present in commercially raised animal products (as well as commercially raised fruits, grains and vegetables) and are definitely things to be concerned about. However, one can avoid these chemicals by taking care to consume range-fed, organic meats, eggs and dairy products which do not contain harmful, man-made toxins.

Parasites are easily avoided by taking normal precautions in food preparations. Pickling or fermenting meats, as is custom in traditional societies, always protects against parasites. In his travels, Dr Price always found healthy, disease-free and parasite-free peoples eating raw meat and dairy products as part of their diets.

Similarly, Dr Francis Pottenger, in his experiments with cats, demonstrated that the healthiest, happiest cats were the ones on the all-raw-food diet. The cats eating cooked meats and pasteurized milk sickened and died and had numerous parasites (127). Salmonella can be transmitted by plant products as well as animal.

It is often claimed by vegetarians that meat is harmful to our bodies because ammonia is released from the breakdown of its proteins. Although it is true that ammonia production does result from meat digestion, our bodies quickly convert this substance into harmless urea. The alleged toxicity of meat is greatly exaggerated by vegetarians.

"Mad Cow Disease," or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), is most likely not caused by cows eating animal parts with their food, a feeding practice that has been done for over 100 years. British organic farmer Mark Purdey has argued convincingly that cows that get Mad Cow Disease are the very ones that have had a particular organophosphate insecticide applied to their backs or have grazed on soils that lack magnesium but contain high levels of aluminum (128). Small outbreaks of "mad cow disease" have also occurred among people who reside near cement and chemical factories and in certain areas with volcanic soils (129).

Purdey theorizes that the organophosphate pesticides got into the cows' fat through a spraying program, and then were ingested by the cows again with the animal part feeding. Seen this way, it is the insecticides, via the parts feeding (and not the parts themselves or their associated "prions"), that has caused this outbreak. As noted before, cows have been eating ground up animal parts in their feeds for over 100 years. It was never a problem before the introduction of these particular insecticides.

Recently, Purdey has gained support from Dr. Donald Brown, a British biochemist who has also argued for a non-infectious cause of BSE. Brown attributes BSE to environmental toxins, specifically manganese overload (130).

Myth #14: Eating meat or animal products is less "spiritual" than eating only plant foods.

It is often claimed that those who eat meat or animal products are somehow less "spiritually evolved" than those who do not. Though this is not a nutritional or academic issue, those who do include animal products in their diet are often made to feel inferior in some way. This issue, therefore, is worth addressing.

Several world religions place no restrictions on animal consumption; and nor did their founders. The Jews eat lamb at their most holy festival, the Passover. Muslims also celebrate Ramadan with lamb before entering into their fast. Jesus Christ, like other Jews, partook of meat at the Last Supper (according to the canonical Gospels). It is true that some forms of Buddhism do place strictures on meat consumption, but dairy products are always allowed. Similar tenets are found in Hinduism. As part of the Samhain celebration, Celtic pagans would slaughter the weaker animals of the herds and cure their meat for the oncoming winter. It is not true, therefore, that eating animal foods is always connected with "spiritual inferiority".

Nevertheless, it is often claimed that, since eating meat involves the taking of a life, it is somehow tantamount to murder. Leaving aside the religious philosophies that often permeate this issue, what appears to be at hand is a misunderstanding of the life force and how it works. Modern peoples (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) have lost touch with what it takes to survive in our world--something native peoples never lose sight of. We do not necessarily hunt or clean our meats: we purchase steaks and chops at the supermarket. We do not necessarily toil in rice paddies: we buy bags of brown rice; and so forth, and so on.

When Native Americans killed a game animal for food, they would routinely offer a prayer of thanks to the animal's spirit for giving its life so that they could live. In our world, life feeds off life. Destruction is always balanced with generation. This is a good thing: unchecked, the life force becomes cancerous. If animal food consumption is viewed in this manner, it is hardly murder, but sacrifice. Modern peoples would do well to remember this.

Myth #15: Eating animal foods is inhumane.

Without question, some commercially raised livestock live in deplorable conditions where sickness and suffering are common. In countries like Korea, food animals such as dogs are sometimes killed in horrific ways, e.g., beaten to death with a club. Our recommendations for animal foods consumption most definitely do not endorse such practices.

As noted in our discussion of myth #1, commercial farming of livestock results in an unhealthy food product, whether that product be meat, milk, butter, cream or eggs. Our ancestors did not consume such substandard foodstuffs, and neither should we.

It is possible to raise animals humanely. This is why organic, preferably Biodynamic, farming is to be encouraged: it is cleaner and more efficient, and produces healthier animals and foodstuffs from those animals. Each person should make every effort, then, to purchase organically raised livestock (and plant foods). Not only does this better support our bodies, as organic foods are more nutrient-dense (131) and are free from hormone and pesticide residues, but this also supports smaller farms and is therefore better for the economy (132).

Nevertheless, many people have philosophical problems with eating animal flesh, and these sentiments must be respected. Dairy products and eggs, though, are not the result of an animal's death and are fine alternatives for these people.

It should also not be forgotten that agriculture, which involves both the clearance of land to plant crops and the protection and maintenance of those crops, results in many animal deaths (133). The belief, therefore, that "becoming vegetarians" will somehow spare animals from dying is one with no foundation in fact.

The Value of Vegetarianism

As a cleansing diet, vegetarianism is sometimes a good choice. Several health conditions (e.g., gout) can often be ameliorated by a temporary reduction in animal products with an increase of plant foods. But such measures must not be continuous throughout life: there are vital nutrients found only in animal foods that we must ingest for optimal health. Furthermore, there is no one diet that will work for every person. Some vegetarians and vegans, in their zeal to get converts, are blind to this biochemical fact.

"Biochemical individuality" is a subject worth clarifying. Coined by nutritional biochemist Roger Williams, PhD, the term refers to the fact that different people require different nutrients based on their unique genetic make-up. Ethnic and racial background figure in this concept as well. A diet that works for one may not work as well for someone else. As a practitioner, I've seen several clients following a vegetarian diet with severe health problems: obesity, candidiasis, hypothyroidism, cancer, diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, anemia and chronic fatigue. Because of the widespread rhetoric that a vegetarian diet is "always healthier" than a diet that includes meat or animal products, these people saw no reason to change their diet, even though that was the cause of their problems. What these people actually needed for optimal health was more animal foods and fats and fewer carbohydrates.

Further, due to peculiarities in genetics and individual biochemistry, some people simply cannot do a vegetarian diet because of such things as lectin intolerance and desaturating enzyme deficiencies. Lectins present in legumes, a prominent feature of vegetarian diets, are not tolerated by many people. Others have grain sensitivities, especially to gluten, or to grain proteins in general. Again, since grains are a major feature of vegetarian diets, such people cannot thrive on them. (134)

Desaturase enzyme deficiencies are usually present in those people of Innuit, Scandinavian, Northern European, and sea coast ancestry. They lack the ability to convert alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids intimately involved in the function of the immune and nervous systems. The reason for this is because these people's ancestors got an abundance of EPA and DHA from the large amounts of cold-water fish they ate. Over time, because of non-use, they lost the ability to manufacture the necessary enzymes to create EPA and DHA in their bodies. For these people, vegetarianism is simply not possible. They MUST get their EPA and DHA from food and EPA is only found in animal foods. DHA is present in some algae, but the amounts are much lower than in fish oils. (135)

It is also apparent that vegan diets are not suitable for all people due to inadequate cholesterol production in the liver and cholesterol is only found in animal foods. It is often said that the body makes enough cholesterol to get by and that there is no reason to consume foods that contain it (animal foods). Recent research, however, has shown otherwise. Singer's work at the University of California, Berkeley, has shown that the cholesterol in eggs improves memory in older people (136). In other words, these elderly people's own cholesterol was insufficient to improve their memory, but added dietary cholesterol from eggs was.

Though it appears that some people do well on little or no meat and remain healthy as lacto-vegetarians or lacto-ovo-vegetarians, the reason for this is because these diets are healthier for those people, not because they're healthier in general. However, a total absence of animal products, whether meat, fish, insects, eggs, butter or dairy, is to be avoided. Though it may take years, problems will eventually ensue under such dietary regimes and they will certainly show in future generations. Dr. Price's seminal research unequivocally demonstrated this. The reason for this is simple evolution: humanity evolved eating animal foods and fats as part of its diet, and our bodies are suited and accustomed to them. One cannot change evolution in a few years.

Dr. Abrams said it well when he wrote:

Humans have always been meat-eaters. The fact that no human society is entirely vegetarian, and those that are almost entirely vegetarian suffer from debilitated conditions of health, seems unequivocally to prove that a plant diet must be supplemented with at least a minimum amount of animal protein to sustain health. Humans are meat-eaters and always have been. Humans are also vegetable eaters and always have been, but plant foods must be supplemented by an ample amount of animal protein to maintain optimal health.(137)

Author's Notes:

The author would like to thank Sally Fallon, MA; Lee Clifford, MS, CCN; and Dr. H. Leon Abrams, Jr., for their gracious assistance in preparing and reviewing this paper.

This paper was not sponsored or paid for by the meat or dairy industries.

Recommended Further Reading:


1. (a) S Fallon and M Enig. Nourishing Traditions, (New Trends Publishing; Washington, D.C.), 2000, 5; (b) Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University, Department of Animal Science.

2. Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University, Department of Animal Science.

3. W Bender and M Smith. Population, Food, and Nutrition. Population Reference Bureau;1997.

4. B Carnell. Could vegetarianism prevent world hunger?. Accessed on January 3, 2002.

5. M Purdey. The Vegan Ecological Wasteland. Journal of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation [hereafter referred to as Jnl of PPNF], Winter 1998.

6. Ibid.

7. R Audette with T Gilchrist. Neanderthin. (St. Martins; NY), 1999, 200-2.

8. S Fallon and M Enig, Nourishing Traditions, 6.

9. M Purdey, op cit.

10. Ibid.

11. (a) L Dunne. The Nutrition Almanac, 3rd ed. (McGraw Hill; New York), 32-33; (b) AL Rauma and others. Vitamin B-12 status of long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet ("living food diet") is compromised. J Nutr, 1995, 125:2511-5; c) MG Crane and others. Vitamin B12 studies in total vegetarians (vegans). J Nutr Med, 1994, 4:419-30; (d) I Chanarin and others. Megaloblastic anaemia in a vegetarian Hindu community. Lancet, 1985, Nov 2:1168-72 ; (e) M Donaldson. Vitamin B12 and the Hallelujah Diet.(f) MS Donaldson. Metabolic vitamin B12 status on a mostly raw vegan diet with follow-up using tablets, nutritional yeast, or probiotic supplements. Ann Nutr Metab, 2000, 44(5-6):229-234

12. (a) S Ashkenazi and others. Vitamin B12 deficiency due to a strictly vegetarian diet in adolescence. Clin Pediatr, 1987, 26:662-3; (b) G Cheron and others. [Severe megaloblastic anemia in 6-month old girl breast-fed by a vegetarian mother.] Arch Fr Pediatr, 1989, 46:205-7; c) T Kuhne and others. Maternal vegan diet causing a serious infantile neurological disorder due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Eur J Pediatr, 1991, 150:205-8; (d) MC Wighton and others. Brain damage in infancy and dietary vitamin B12 deficiency. Med J Aust, 1979, 2:1-3.

13. (a) PC Dagnelie and others. Vitamin B12 from algae appears not to be bioavailable. Amer J Clin Nutr, 1991, 53:695-7; (b) L Lazarides. The Nutritional Health Bible. (Thorsons Publishing; CA), 1997, 22-23; c) V Herbert. Vitamin B12: plant sources, requirements, and assay. Amer J Clin Nutr, 1988, 48:852-8.

14. (a) IE Baille. The first international congress on vegetarian nutrition. J Appl Nutr, 1987, 39:97-105; (b) A Smith. Soybeans: Chemistry & Technology, vol 1 (Avi Publishing Co; CT), 1972, 184-188.

15. L Dunne. Nutrition Almanac, 22-23.

16. (a) HL Abrams. Vegetarianism: An Anthropological/Nutritional Evaluation, J Appl Nutr, 1980, 32:2:53-87; (b) M Rose. Serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels in Australian adolescent vegetarians. Lancet, 1976, 2:87.

17. (a) L Dunne. Nutrition Almanac, 31; (b) J Groff and S Gropper. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, Third Edition. (Wadsworth/Thomson Learning; CA.), 1999, 298.

18. WA Price. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. (Keats Publishing; CT.), 1989, 256-281. On page 279, Price stated that, "It will be noted that vitamin D, which the human does not readily synthesize in adequate amounts, must be provided by foods of animal tissues or animal products. As yet I have not found a single group of primitive racial stock which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by living entirely on plant foods."

19. RL Horst and others. Discrimination in the metabolism of orally dosed ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol by the pig, rat, and chick. Biochem J, 1982, Apr 20:4:185-9.

20. Krispin Sullivan, CN, personal communication on January 3, 2002.

21. (a) H Glerup and others. Commonly recommended daily intake of vitamin D is not sufficient if sunlight exposure is limited. J Int Med, 2000, 247:260-8; (b) BL Diffey. Solar ultraviolet radiation effects on biological systems. Phys Med Biol, 1991, 36:299-328.

22. (a) K Sullivan. The Miracle of Vitamin D. Wise Traditions, 2000, 3:11-20; (b) RM Sayre and others. Vitamin D production by natural and artificial sources. Photo Medical Society Meeting, 1998, March 1--Conference Proceeding.

23. (a) Sullivan, op cit.; (b) LY Matsuoka and others. In vivo threshold for cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D3 in skin. Nutr Rev, 1989, 47:252-3.

24. Price, op cit, 256-281.

25. R Vieth. Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety. Am J Clin Nutr, 1999, 69:842-56.

26. (a) M. Hellebostad and others. Vitamin D deficiency rickets and vitamin B12 deficiency in vegetarian children. Acta Paediatr Scand, 1985, 74:191-5; (b) E. Zmora and others. Multiple nutritional deficiencies in infants from a strict vegetarian community. Am J Dis Child. 1979, 133(2):141-4; c) ED Shinwell, R. Gorodischer. Totally vegetarian diets and infant nutrition. Pediatrics, 1982, 70(4):582-6; (d) P Millett and others. Nutrient intake and vitamin status of healthy French vegetarians and nonvegetarians. Am J Clin Nutr, 1989, Oct 50:718-27; (e) C Lamberg-Allardt and others. Low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and secondary hyperparathyroidism in middle-aged white strict vegetarians. Am J Clin Nutr, 1993, Nov 58:684-9; (e) T Outila and others. Dietary intake of vitamin D in premenopausal, healthy vegans was insufficient to maintain concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and intact parathyroid hormone within normal ranges during the winter in Finland. J Am Diet Assoc, 2000, 100:434-41.

27. J Groff and S Gropper, op cit, 317.

28. (a) Dunne, op cit., 14; (b) S Fallon. Vitamin A Vagary. Jnl of PPNF, Summer 1995. (See also updated article, Vitamin A Saga); c) I Jennings. Vitamins in Endocrine Metabolism. (Charles Thomas; London), 1970, 39-57.

29. (a) I Jennings, op cit., 39-57; (b) J Groff and S Gropper, op cit, 323-6.

30. WA Price, op cit.

31. (a) G Mann. Atherosclerosis and the Masai. Amer J Epidem, 1972, 95:6-37; (b) Diet and disease among the milk and meat eating Masai warriors of Tanganyika. Food Nutr, 1963, 24:104.

32. (a) H Spencer and L Kramer. Factors contributing to osteoporosis. J Nutr, 1986, 116:316-319; (b) Further studies of the effect of a high protein diet as meat on calcium metabolism. Amer J Clin Nutr, 1983, 924-929; c) Do protein and phosphorus cause calcium loss? J Nutr, 1988, 118(6):657-60.

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113. S Fallon and MG Enig. Tragedy and Hype: The Third International Soy Symposium. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, 2000, July and August.

114. Ibid.

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Comments (44)Add Comment
written by Anna, Feb 10 2014
I just wanted to add my personal note: I was born and raised as a pescavegetarian, meaning I occasionally eat seafood but do not consume other meat sources. Another note I would like to add is that in vegetarianism, one can eat eggs, milk, dairy, etc. I am a spiritual, holistic person as well. I am working on my way towards becoming a real foodie based on the WAPF principles, but I will not be adding meat into my diet for a variety of reasons that are personal to me and that I will not be discussing here. My biggest thing is this: not every diet works for every individual. Individual people have individual needs and beliefs, and I do not think it is right to put down somebody's choice. Another note is that veganism and vegetarianism are two different things, something this article did not seem to understand when he called vegans "true vegetarians". Just wanted to put that out there.
Clarification about Dr. Byrnes's death
written by SamJ, Jan 06 2014
Concerning the death of Dr. Byrnes, I found the following on another Web site. The poor doctor had AIDS. He was also a former vegetarian. There is little if any reason at all to believe that his stroke was caused by his newfound diet, which included animal foods. Apparently rupture strokes are common among those with AIDS.

"The fatal stroke that poor Dr. Byrnes suffered was undoubtedly the 'rupture' type rather than the 'clogging/clotting' type which is attributed to animal fat and cholesterol by the morons of mediocre medicine. Clogging/clotting strokes are extremely rare in the young. Even if animal fats could be attributed to clogging/clotting strokes (which they simply haven’t been), they certainly are not attributed to rupture strokes, which are much more common amongst the sushi-loving Japanese. The cause of the stroke had nothing to do with the meat and dairy Byrnes advocated eating.

"It had entirely to do with the fact that the poor guy had AIDS. Rupture strokes are very common causes of death in AIDS sufferers. Byrnes knew he had AIDS, and he was busy trying to save his own life, and the lives of fellow sufferers. Medical drugs destroyed his health and made him feel worse, so he opted for naturopathy as a way to make himself better. Sadly, things didn’t work out for him."
written by Fitzy, Oct 25 2013
@Matt. What does the author's death have to do with the article. Look up the facts of his death (and the disturbing gloating by vegans and vegetarians at the death of another human).

@ c.....Since you apparently know so much more about this please pen your own complete rebuttal of what has been stated in this article. Please refute every claim (which includes numerous citations). It's sad when I see someone call someone else to take down their article citing statistics, but apparently thinking all the articles and statistics supporting the article are bogus.

My father ate meat all his life (fried his eggs, potatoes and other items such as steak and pork chops in bacon grease virtually his entire adult life) drank heavily (quitting briefly shortly before his death), smoked for over 40 years and lived until he was 79 (died in his sleep). Not bad I'd say.

Basically it's all about genetics. I know few vegans and a few vegetarians and most go with the lifestyle because they're against the killing of animals. Most of these people, as someone noted, don't believe in religion or God but are "troubled" by the killing of animals for food. If that troubles them, then why doesn't killing plants for food trouble them? According to some news items I've seen plants apparently have feeling toosmilies/smiley.gif
written by Kai, Oct 19 2013
It was a very delightful read and I do enjoy other opinions and facts to support their view, however, this will not change my mind one bit. I am proud to be a lacto-ovo vegetarian that does not eat fish, pork, chicken, nor any sort of animal.

More meat for everyone else, right?

Astonishing Incompetence for a Doctor, Low-rated comment [Show]
Straw Man?
written by Mitchell, Jul 10 2013
In Myth #1, there is an informative great start about land use and poverty, but then in the last part, it confuses vegetarianism/veganism with being anti-animal-husbandry. While some vegetarians and vegans might be against animal-husbandry, vegetarianism and veganism are only, by definition, against the eating of animals, not raising them or using them for our own purposes. There could be vegans for animal husbandry; it's not a contradiction. I realize that the topic of this section is against the myth of "animals use too many resources" but I don't think vegetarianism/veganism is necessarily synonymous with that argument, so it's not actually an argument against vegetarianism/veganism, but instead is against those who think animals use too many resources (or those who don't want to use animals to help with farm health).

In addition, I am not sure why the author decided to launch into the dangers of monoculture and agrochemical use, etc., as he did, because again, these are not what vegetarianism nor veganism is about and so don't constitute an argument against it. I'm sure there are plenty of vegetarians for intercropping or crop rotation, and natural pesticides, etc. There may be vegetarians for current agrochemical practices, and even for GMOs! There are all kinds of people. But throwing these topics under the myth of "animals use too many resources" section is irrelevant and puts words in the mouth of vegetarians and vegans. That's not a fair argument tactic. Because the only thing that vegetarians and vegans share, by definition, is an admonishment to not eat meat. Other than that, beliefs are varied. However, the first part of this section is pretty strong.
written by heidi davidson, Mar 21 2013
People who say the theory of evolution is just a theory, do not understand what the scientific use of the word theory means. The real hogwash is in believing someone in the sky made men from dust and women from rib.
This author died of a stroke.
written by Matt, Mar 21 2013
In case you don't know, the "About the author" section used to say "Stephen Byrnes... enjoys robust health on a diet that includes butter, cream, eggs, meat, whole milk, dairy products and offal." It used to say that before he (most unfortunately) died of a stroke. Not kidding. He suffered a stroke on June
10th, 2004 and passed away on June 17th in Hawaii. Yet that information is nowhere to be found here.
written by tjboyd, Mar 20 2013
You don't have to guess unless you don't like facing facts. You can see all about our funding at
written by eddie1247, Mar 20 2013
Let me take a wild guess as to who funds this site.
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Vegan Hindus
written by neha, Dec 09 2012
There are really no Vegan Hindus in India. I feel sorry that this group of people are being targeted for not eating animal flesh. This story is misleading and therefore, I feel that your website is not reliable in stating facts. Many sects in India have been vegetarian not vegan and more over there are many other Hindus who are not vegetarian at all. Another aspect is the assumption that their food is not as clean as people from England. This seems terribly wrong assumption. There is a great chance that people living in certain region in India did not need to Animal flesh because they had other varieties of food as well as economic factors. Most Hindus definitely eat animal products such as clarified butter, cheese and milk. I would kindly ask you to make this group the sole group responsible for Vegan diets, which Hindus do not propagate.
Read the Article and Use Your Judgment
written by Joe, Nov 03 2012
I see many "arguments" and things on here that are just ridiculous. The article is lengthy, but if you read it fully, it'll answer many of these issues. Without naming names, here are some general rebuttals:

As far as eggs and dairy still being murder...Quite a few comments on here are about this, and they are missing the point. Current farming practices are terrible, wasteful, and inhumane. But, there are so many farmers out there trying to keep doing what they do while addressing so many concerns. A small scale farmer with only so many chickens isn't just going to throw the male chicks into a thresher; they can't afford to, and certainly their heart wouldn't allow it. The point being made in the article (which is very clear, and I don't know how so many people missed it) is that eggs and milk do not kill the animal they come from. If a chicken died every time it laid an egg, or a cow right after it was milked, we'd have a problem. Really, it's not hard to source out "clean" eggs anymore, and keeping chickens is cheap and fun, and they are great for community garden projects too. Regardless, eggs and dairy don't kill the animal they come from.

As far as Jack LaLanne and other vegetarian/vegan athletes...There's plenty wrong here. It's easy enough to cite one or two people as proof of how great a diet is, but it works both ways. There are countless athletes and figures who don't eat that way that are just as impressive, if not moreso. Look up Usain Bolt's diet: pork, rice, yams, fish, hashbrowns, chicken filets, apple juice, and even McDonald's. He also eats six times a day. You will find diets all across the board. As far as Jack LaLanne, he also had egg whites at every meal; all two of them! He also ate fish. He also took 40-50 supplements:

I think it'd be much easier to just eat your dang food to me. Regardless, I think that this argument of different athlete's diets is useless because it disregards the amount of training and dedication they put into what they do. If you're determined enough and have a diet good enough to support it, you will succeed. These people train all the time, so they'll be in better condition than the average American regardless of anything else.

As far as B12...Honest, look it up, you can only get it from animal products. Check Wikipedia, check on here. There really is a "pseudo-B12" that many vegans think their getting. Bacteria need to be involved. Animals provide it because they eat lots of dirty, bacteria-laden things. (Ruminants also have bacteria in their stomachs.) Or, they eat their own waste. If you're not eating an animal or "thing" (like Spirulina ) that is high enough on the food chain to be eating bacteria-laden things, you're simply not going to get it. Easiest solution? Mentioned elsewhere on this site, but clams are an INCREDIBLE source of B12 and you can basically get a month's worth of B12 from one, just one, of those cans of clams. (Check NutritionData; it's for real.) Just have some clams once in a while then be done with it. It's not like all native people are eating animal products all the time. The thing here is nutrient density and getting enough of, however they can.

Finally, as far as farmland...Again, factory farming is the issue here. Other than the bright young girl who lives on a farm, do you all know how much "product" is in/on just one animal? We're a very wasteful creature, modern man. We ought to be using all parts of the animal and eat it if we're going to be killing it. In addition, the issue here is one of animal fats as well. High-protein diets aren't a solution either. A bunch of lean meats does no favors and can cause many problems. You need the fat such as in milk, egg yolk, lard, etc. If you can hit the fat/cholesterol requirements your body needs from animal sources, you can get buy with only a little "meat," like a steak. A diet where 90% of your animal products are eggs/dairy and once a week you had liver and a steak would be much preferred to 90% of meat and once a week you have a whole egg and a glass of milk. Then, the killing requirements for animals is drastically reduced, so there is no need to even worry about land. In the end, though, if we got back to using animals in their entirety (making their death worthwhile) while favoring local, more ethically minded animal husbandry, the world would be far healthier and with better resource utilization. I think it is far more wasteful and a much larger problem having huge fields of monocultured vegetables with all the poisons that come with it, much less the land degradation and the encouragement of very, very sickening corporations (Monsanto, slave-owned operations, etc.).
where does this guy get his info from?
written by sam stephenson, Oct 01 2012
I started to read the article and looked at the bit entitled;

"Myth #11: The human body is not designed for meat consumption."

I read it and couldn't believe what I was hearing. I have read numerous articles and spoken to various people who are vegans, vegetarians or curious meat-eaters. I tend to find a similiar thing, that I explain as a imbalance of PH. Garry Youofsky says that meat or animal fat is hard for the body to break down and so the body reacts by taking calcium out of the bones and using the phosphate locked inside to break down the toxins in the meat. These toxins are the result of acid PH rush when the animal dies. If you look at lions you'll always find their eat the guts of the animal 1st as this has the lowest PH of the animal, the vultures and other such scavenger animals have beeter tolerances in their body for acidic PH animal fat. Whenever an animal dies under stress there is acid PH rush over most of the body.
Our bodies are best at 6.5-7.5PH
written by Melvin, Apr 01 2012
I am mostly in agreement with what this argument has stated, and I do maintain a lacto-ovo pescetarian lifestyle. The term vegetarian may only accurately be utilized in the loosest of ways, as there are multiple varying interpretations of it. However, I believe that we, as individuals with differing predispositions and lifestyles, should find the diet that best suit our own nutritional needs. Specifically in my case, I simply find it easier to digest plant-based foods and feel much more energized during the day. However, it is rather difficult for me to intake all of the necessary proteins and vitamins/minerals, which is the sole purpose of my consumption of fish and egg whites, both of which are especially high in protein and don't leave that horrible bloated/ greasy feeling I often receive after the ingestion of other meats. I think it is important to view articles, such as this, as a source of information rather than an attempt to convert the human race to one particular way of life, and I'm in complete agreement with the arguments given in opposition to the nonfactual, illogical justifications vegetarians often give for their nutrition plans. People really shouldn't make any drastic changes to their diets without first obtaining the pros and cons to vegetarianism and acknowledging the facts about its inconveniences.
written by Sean G Carroll, Feb 14 2012
Hello everyone! I am here to help and offer my opinion. I have no formal education in nutrition or chemistry but am an avid reader. I do my best to help my family and friends with information about health and nutrition.

That being said, I know in my heart eating meat is good for you! What we all need to remember is eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries is also good for you! Balance!

We also should be careful about coming to conclusions about people who had positive outcomes from eating meat. The fact is a lot of meat out there has been processed to death and isn't good for you! Steroids, hormones, anti-biotics, what they feed the animal etc all play a role. I am very careful where I buy my meat. I would never buy meat from a fast food chain or from a large corporation.

I am quite convinced based upon personal observation and from my readings, anyone who cuts all meat out of their diet will suffer some form of adverse affects eventually.

May we all live long happy healthy lives and God bless!
written by Laurie, Feb 02 2012
"The first argument ignores the fact that about 2/3 of our Earth's dry land is unsuitable for farming"

What does "farming" mean in this context?
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my impressions:
written by Will Phillips, Jun 25 2011
Most of this resonates on an intuitive/logical level and I've read most of the comments and noted plenty of good points as well. There's clearly a large grey area/subjectivity/spiritual persuasion that keeps popping up and its merit is another subject worthy of another thread. People can only speak from personal experience and I'm one who doesn't touch 'morality' when it comes to my own health and I'm almost baffled by people that have the audacity to link the two. There is nothing in this universe that indicates vegetarianism has any permanent effect of any amount of 'suffering' going on and a note on cognitive dissonance to the spiritually 'enlightened' out there: What percentage of you who condemn the treatment of animals have signed off on federal taxes this year-80% of which went to building ecological nightmare machines of death complete with uranium-tipped missiles? How can one even begin to touch the morality of eating meat and ethical treatment of sentient being when you endorse the mass-murder of each other every April? That being said, vegetarianism may have certain peripheral health benefits. It might not. I don't believe humans are currently, spiritually, a species in balance with their planet (tho it's hard to quantify what balance that is-while 25 or so species have been going extinct per day before and after industrialisation and plenty of species routinely outgrow their habitats) Tough call. I simply fail to see any evidence that abstaining from animal products corrects this imbalance-and should't 'balance' and harmony be the overall moral goal if any? Who are humans to assume what suffering means to any animal or anyone else but ourselves? To me the Westin Price foundation is about achieving the natural human balance. I know vegetarians that have lived long healthy lives. The same for meat eaters. (I can't say the same for vegans-most of my friends who have attempted have struggled with anxiety/depression and a host of other health issues) Age and average health of these two groups aren't very comparable due to an almost infinite array of other factors. Where you grew up. How many fillings you have. How much you smoked as a kid. How happy you are. What kind of education/support system you received. Etc etc. thoughts. Awesome site. Awesome comments and best of luck to everyone on their journey!!!
written by Don, Jun 14 2011
Rachel and CM did you even read this article?
Ethics Are The Worst Arugument for Veganism
written by TruthandJustice, Mar 29 2011
I find it interesting that so many vegans/vegetarians say the best reason to not eat meat is for the animals/ethical reasons. If you think about carefully, ethics are the worst reason to go vegan/vegetarian.

Universal ethics/morality can only exist if God exists. If God created the universe then it is his to decide what he wants to do with it. If he wants to decide that animals are to be food for humans, and according to virtually every religion he has, then there is nothing unethical about eating animals.

If you don't believe in God then where does this concept of universal morality come from? How did you come to the conclusion that animals have rights? Your own personal preferences? What makes you think your personal preferences should apply to other people as fact? I guess you could try and make them not eat meat by force, but if you deny the existence of God then you can't claim some higher moral purpose for not eating meat.

So in either case the vegan/vegetarian loses the ethical argument for eating meat. Either they are telling us that we should listen to them instead of God, or, if they don't believe in God, they are telling us that their opinions should somehow be considered as facts by the rest of us. Both ideas are extremely arrogant and extremely illogical.
written by Rachel, Mar 18 2011
I didn't get around to reading the whole article but I did read #15 and noticed something off. The author stated, "Dairy products and eggs, though, are not the result of an animal's death and are fine alternatives for these people." Please check your facts. Once the animal is 'spent' (cannot produce eggs or milk anymore), almost all of these animals are either killed by it's owner or more often sold to a factory farm for it's meat. This means that lacto-ovo vegetarians are contribuiting to murder unless they buy from a no kill farm, which are very scarce in the U.S. This fact is probably trivial, but I cannot resist a false statement in an article. smilies/smiley.gif
Grass Pastures Could Be Used To Feed More Humans
written by Chaya Gilburt, Jan 13 2011
As long as cow meat is being fed to humans, I agree that the meat should be as high in quality as possible, which means using grass pastures and not using growth hormones. I disagree, however, with the idea that because cows eat grasses that humans cannot digest, then no food shortage is being created due to the proliferation of grass pastures. We are still dedicating huge tracts of land to plant food for animals and not for humans. Land that goes for pasture to animals could be planting food for humans. You have not eliminated the competition between food for animals and food for humans by saying that animals eat foods that humans cannot, because the fact remains that those same tracts of land could be used to plant food for human consumption.
Vegetarian Diet Doesn't Mean Low-Fat Diet
written by Chaya Gilburt, Jan 13 2011
While I whole-heartedly approve of your emphasis on grass-fed herds, I was surprised that you qualify a vegetarian diet as a low-fat diet. Cutting down on fat is merely part of the whole modern diet ethos and is not "vegetarian" at all. The vegetarian diet proper should include olive oil, coconut oil, as well as nuts. There is nothing "low fat" about that.
Poor arguments made.
written by CM, Jan 10 2011
This article neglects to address many of the major reasons why people choose to become vegetarians or at least some of the reasons why I became one. I have stuck to being a vegetarian because I choose not to support the way "farms" breed animals and treat them. Along with that, it just is not healthy because animals are not raised organically or properly and this adds to the destruction of the environment.

I am not for the killing of an animal for food, but I don't disagree with it, IF done correctly (but that is rarely the case). The author argues that organic raised animals are acceptable, but that is false. There are almost no family owned farms in existence, the meat industry being predominately run by factory farms. Now a days, organic means nothing. Almost every chicken raised is done inhumanely with chickens being cooped up in small areas with virtually no light or none at all. Many die during the process of being bred due to such harsh environments they are forced into. Chickens will be raised to have larger breasts for that is what the people demand and this often leads to the chicken not being able to even walk without toppling over.

This is only one example. I could continue on, but rather not I suggest that for all those who believe in what this author had to say go read the book, Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffran Foer or watch the movie Food Inc. Both address the major issues and disadvantages of eating animal byproducts.

I agree that being a vegetarian is a choice and an opinion and I do not wish to force my beliefs onto others, but I do believe that people should be better informed about the food that they eat and then make a choice. It would be great if farms could be run the right way, but that seems to impossible in today's society, so I will continue to be a vegetarian.
Uncientific scaremongering regarding B12
written by Ant., Jan 07 2011
The second point regarding b12 focuses more on the consequences of a deficiency (i.e. scaremongering) than on explaining the origins of the vitamin itself. B12 is produced by soil micro-organisms, animals have them because herbivores eat some soil with their plants - i.e. they don't wash their vegetables.

The biggest mammals on earth are herbivores and are perfectly healthy by eating merely plants. Learn more about B12 here:
You Argue, But Not Well, Low-rated comment [Show]
The Importance of Language & and additional point
written by Will Q, Jul 31 2010
Hello all smilies/smiley.gif

Many people have made points in respect to vegetarianism, both pro's and con's. My point, however is not on the the practice of the ideology itself but rather on the usage of the word. Sometimes people may be in agreement without realising it.

I have recently met a number of people who defined themselves as "vegetarian" and upon questioning their dietary regime it was revealed that they ate fish. This is important because the word vegetarian is now becoming more widely used and in a greater context than it has been previously.

I would not consider someone who adheres to a "vegetarian style" diet but who eats fish as the main source of protein to be a vegetarian. Furthermore, I think it is important to delineate between different types of vegetarians. There is a patent difference between someone who eats a strict vegan diet and someone who is vegetarian but whom drinks copious amounts of raw milk and eats copious amounts of raw cheese, and pasture-raised chicken eggs.

If the "vegetarian" chiropractor has attained longevity, then it would be more prudent to examine his diet than to say that he is vegetarian and thus vegetarianism is healthy. First of all, he eats the flesh of animal: fish. We would need to know how often and in what quantity. If he eats fish then does he also consume cod liver oil? Does he also consume milk, and eat cheese, and does he eat eggs. All of these are very important factors.

Lastly, a point about the ethics of eating animals. When grains are grown, an area of land is stripped of all its local flora, fuana and animals. All the planets, bug, rabbits, mice and other beasts are either killed or made homeless. If any trees had to be cut down for this planting then birds, squirrels and other tree-nesting creatures will be displaced.

Furthermore, new studies are arising that attest to the fact that trees and plants have methods of communication, basic though it may *seem* to our human perception. However, these communications are measurable and can be pin-pointed in studies whereby threats are exhibited. Everything feels alive feels pain and wants to (quite naturally) protect itself. It's called having a genome. Why else do plants evolve toxins to protect themselves, or colours to attract insects, birds and other animals (as means of seed distribution and genetic proliferation)? Because it has some drive to thrive (I do not want to say will because it would only anthropomorphosise plants, which I have no intention of doing). Thus, the ethic degrades to something like, "the further from a humanoid animal that a living organism seems to appear, the more justified are we in ending its existence." When the whole of life is treated as sacred then we can kill with honour and only when absolutely necessary. Of course, that would vastly change humanity's role on the planet.

If one wants a deeper insight into the nature of vegetarianism then I suggest purchasing a copy of Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarian Myth." It is the most comprehensive material on the subject that I have read.
written by Anony, Jul 17 2010
I just don't see how someone in arctic and northern climes would be able to naturally exist as a vegetarian. Only resources being spent and international shipping of produce would allow access to all the foods needed for a balanced meat free diet. A most unnatural way to acquire food and one that is not environment friendly.
Balance & quality
written by spouse sees, May 05 2010
My husband is a vegetarian. Has been for all 50 years of his life. His parents are too - have been for all their lives ....... They all have extremely high cholesterol. Yes, that can be bought down ..... as it can while eating non-vegetarian foods.

Eat in quality (not that easy unfortunately) and balance.
written by allan, Apr 19 2010
got my cholestrol results back after just one month on a plant based diet
(cut out meat and all dairy products)
my cholestrol was 5.6 and after just one month had dropped to 4.6..I will continue as a vegetarian..we have a guy at church (I am seventh day adventist)who also is a benchmark for vegetarianisn..he is 92 and a picture of health still drives his own car and up untill a year ago was climbing up on roofs installing satellite dishes..his assistant was 75 years old
Blessings to you all!
it is not a myth, Low-rated comment [Show]
written by Emily, Apr 14 2010
Okay the lady should know that you cannot have 0 fats in your diet when you are trying to grow a baby inside of you.
Jack Lalanne
written by Mark Mancini, Apr 11 2010
who is 96, still exercises 2 hours a day and is known world wide as the opitome of health? Jack Lalanne....vegetarian and chiropractor who does eat some fish but is the poster boy for vegetarians who do it right. I will listed to this man who has proved the test of time of anyone else!
Personal choice
written by Caroline, Apr 04 2010
I think whether or not you want to be vegetarian has to be a personal choice. There are arguments to support both sides, but campaigns to try to persuade people to be one or the other are just wrong (I feel the same way about religious beliefs too).
Are we smarter than the grand design?
written by Faye, Mar 30 2010
Hi all,

Are we not fighting the wrong battle? Should we not pressurize farmers into right farming practices rather than deprive ourselves of a beneficial food group?

We would not presume to tell a carnivorous lion to stop killing and eating meat. It stands to reason not to tell omnivorous humans to eat only vegetables!

It is only because we are so detached from the reality of survival in our artificially sustained environments that we have the luxury of this argument at all!

There is so much confusing information out there, not all of it true, despite the phd's or media exposure behind it. These are difficult times for those wanting to do the right thing! Because of this, I am now using "nature" as my bench mark- if it does not fit with the natural design then it should be questioned. In the laboritory of our planet, the results are conclusive: if it does not work it will not be sustained.

It seems underestimate the wisdom of millenia of survival and the wonder and complexity of the biosphere of our planet.
written by Faye, Mar 30 2010
It's amazing how we as people disregard millenia of what is tried and tested. We think all "new" always equals progress. We like to feel we are superior to our ancestors and have 'evolved' into a more caring and intelligent species. Our desire to be in harmony with the planet has become misguided as we lose touch with the basic principles of sustaining life. It seems that as we take two steps forward, we take two steps back.

We are entering a time when no one will know what to believe as we see a lot of psuedo science letting us down, things are presented by the Media and even at School or Universities as truth are not what they seem. While we are grateful for some of the amazing contributions by these bodies bare in mind: Most Science, medicine and media are NOT unbiased, they are sponsered, they have ego's, their bottom line is money. It is a difficult time for those who want to do the right thing.

I personally have started to stop trying to be "smart" and "have the inside track", and am now using nature as my benchmark. If it rings true for nature then it is good enough for me. I then know it has be tried and tested in the laboritory of our planet. If it did not work, it died out. The things I think twice about now are the ones that mankind has modified or fiddle with, and are not mirrored by natural design.

Let us gain perspective and fight the right battles! Pressurize farmers into good farming practices rather than stop eating a beneficial food group! As we would not presume to tell a carnivorous lion not to kill & eat meat it stands to reason that we should not presume to tell and omnivorous human to eat only vegetables.
VEGETARIAN OR NOT?, Low-rated comment [Show]
Well said... And I'm a vegetarian...
written by Styx, Mar 16 2010
This is very well written. Although, I disagree with some of the things found here, I also disagree with many things that some veg(an)etarians say. Both have failed to mention jey aspects as well as the gray areas.
However, it's all personal belief and opinion.
Food For Thought
written by Jessica Oelschlagel, Mar 08 2010
I do belive that many of you have never worked in a field in which animals are actually killed. Not one of you have actually taken a life of an animal which is to be consumed. I do i may be a 17 year old girl; however, my family slaughters beef, pork and many other varietys of meat for a living. It is family business and has been since my grandfather. You people are saying that it is not right to eat meat; never the less, what will be the result if we do not?? Many animals will become over populated like we are as a species ourselves! Which will depleate the earth much farther to an extent then what it is now.Further more, not all slaughter of animals is bad. My family uses everything that the animals give us from bones to hide, organs to fat. These animals are alive only to be consumed that is why they are even alive in the first place. Also, I think that yes some producers are carless with their stock; never the less, it is your job as a consumer to research and know what you are buying and if it was created to a standard which is right. My family uses no growth horomones, no unrightful acts of slaughter and provide a food for our community! How is that seen as wrong? We slaughter our own kind in war and let others starve as we eat in plenty but still we fight for the animals in which many farming communities (which i am from) raise with their own hard work and money. The people sit at desks in cities and say its wrong! if you did one lick of work that actually created that steak for consumers to eat you would know that it is not wrong. You will buy a banana that took miles to get to your store before you buy local meat products so what is really the better choice?? I feel consumption of meat is natural. We are predator thay are prey whether you like that idea or not its life. Meat eaters eat meat as plant eaters eat plants. we are given kanine teeth by god and the ability to digest and consume meat. Then we slap him in the face and say i don't want it? That is a shame for we are taking the land that god gave us to make food and building malls and housing on it. The irony of this situation is clear we want the land for so many things that we must keep animals in tight compartments. If we don't people wanting to make infastructure will have a fit!! We have done this to ourselves, we have done this to the animals. You can do no more than blame yourself. My family and farmers try hard to meet the expectations of government and consumers. Picking up every little thing that us as the food makers are doing wrong. they sit at desks and read never killing an animal to be consumed in their life and they think they can put restrictions on people who have been killing animals theor whole life. A few are as follows; plastic broom handles not wood, no laces on shoes only boots,and anything related to any illness must be thrown away good or not. You as the consumer are scared you will get sick, so we take away good food and throw it away because it caused mad cow in a few cows out of the millions being raised. You guys may think me heartless or not caring - I don't care.I love animals i have two horses, a dog , a guniea pig and a fish animals are my life. Yes, I feel bad for the animals who muct die, but that is their meaning in life and they have gone to a better place. they fed a family and that was their duty. You can keep eating plants if you like, but I am going to eat a big juicy T-Bone steak tonight and know that animal is now where it is meant to be - it had done what it was created for- becasue it had done its duty in the food chain like a rabbit to a fox. It may sounds wrong, but animal consumption is right!
Not that I'm christian
written by Meat Hater, Feb 27 2010
but doesn't the bible say love one another say you would love yourself? This should apply to animals as well. Just because meat eating has been widely accepted for thousands of years doesn't mean it's not wrong, which it is.

Moderator response: Is this the same bible that says in Genesis 3:21 that God replaced Adam & Eves fig leaves with coats of skins and Genesis 9:3 - Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you?
Yes, animals are brutally killed to produce eggs
written by Lindsay Levin, Jan 31 2010
This article's response to "Myth #15: Eating animal foods is inhumane," states that eating eggs isn't cruel because animals aren't harmed. I used to think the same thing until I read about the infanticide of male chicks in hatcheries. Here is one of many articles on the topic:

"This new footage from an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals shows workers at an Iowa hatchery killing 150,000 newborn male chicks every single day.

"Chicks born at hatcheries are sent off to slaughter the very day they take their first breath. The only lives these babies know is one in which they are sorted and handled like pieces of garbage. Workers grab them by their wings, toss them onto conveyor belts, and throw them down a chute to spend their final moments in a grinding machine—in which they are ground up while they are still alive.

"All this is standard procedure, widely accepted at commercial hatcheries and within the bounds of animal welfare laws. The egg industry considers male chicks to be useless because they don't lay eggs and can't be raised profitably for meat. Their sisters are not exactly lucky to remain alive.

"For anyone who thinks that eating eggs doesn't kill animals, millions of male chicks each year are born in hatcheries and promptly thrown into the blades of giant garbage disposals."


For additional sources, including photos and videos, please google "hatcheries male chicks" or refer to page 48 of "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer.

We need to continue to have meaningful discussions about how to eat in ways that are both healthy and humane. In order to do so, it's important to correct each other when we're off-base on the facts. I appreciate this discussion.
Very balanced and fairly argued treatise!
written by Truthseeker, Jan 30 2010
I disagree, I find it interesting how people can find ways to support their worldview, when the history of the world speaks for itself (and the way man has always and continues to eat - omnivorously).
Watch FOOD INC., (especially organic) farming can and is sustainable and provides more crop consistency and continuous crop yields, "there would be less food available for the world to eat. Furthermore, the monoculture of grains and legumes, which is what would happen if animal husbandry were abandoned and the world relied exclusively on plant foods for its food, would rapidly deplete the soil and require the heavy use of artificial fertilizers, one ton of which requires ten tons of crude oil to produce (5)." Not to mention the *fact* that B12, iron and other nutrients are hard to come by as vegetarians as there are no exclusive such cultures and those "seemingly" eat insects/eggs/larvae as indicated. We are not rabbits or cows whom can synthesize such nutrients because it is not in our design (again, we possess HCL for a reason)!
Our closest primate ancestors do indeed eat meat as well. I have a Trials of Life documentary clearly showing a band of chimpanzee's hunting down a smaller monkey primate and viciously tearing it apart! Even our factory farms do not allow for the slow torturous deaths experienced in the wild! I see no political, economic or spiritual reason for not eating meat though I agree with the inhumane way factory farms operate "as per living conditions" and these must be addressed as those do have political/economic/spiritual ramifications (as stated in the article - which prevents a very sound, balanced and logically argued point).
The article even states vegetarianism is a great detox (which I agree with as well) and just as with any treatment goes, you would not stay on it for life but only for as long as required.
Lastly, the most compelling point is the indigenous cultures of various locals whom only consume meat and/or a large portion (native indians) have a very spiritual and balanced relationship with their environment. If a belief system is truly valid it should be universally applicable and obviously imposed vegetarianism would certainly be akin to imposing a death sentence upon these people. Whereas, if we adopted the diets of such indigenous cultures "to the T" I would assume our health would be as tremendous and free of illness as are theirs!
written by Treaclemine, Dec 23 2009
"It does not appear, then, that livestock farming, when properly practiced, damages the environment."

We artificially increase certain animal numbers so that we can exploit them as 'farmed animals'. These animals require resources, at least of half of which get used up for the life processes of the animals. If nothing else, the methane and nitrous oxides produced by farmed ruminants add to climate change.

"Nor does it appear that world vegetarianism or exclusively relying on agriculture to supply the world with food are feasible or ecologically wise ideas."

Stock-free farming is proving commercially feasible and ecologically wise even as I write. A starting point for your research:

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 January 2011 20:51