Harvard response: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2019/09/30/flaw...
- 3 of the 5 meta-analyses reviewed support the consensus on red meat's health dangers
- The other 2 are irrelevant and shouldn't have been considered at all
- The paper handwaves away the conclusions of the 3 by raising reliability issues that could be applied to any meta-analysis of nutrition, since it's impossible to perform nutritional research as rigorously as drug research
I think it was not so much to give advice as to answer the question.
Is that one thing that we are eating bad for us?
The sheer chutzpah of handwaving away the only paper that matters - the one meta-analyzing the randomized experiments - by counting a bunch of different confounded correlational approaches as each equal in value to it.
Here is the only sentence you need to read:
'Of 12 eligible trials, a single trial enrolling 48 835 women provided the most credible, though still low-certainty, evidence that diets lower in red meat may have little or no effect on all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 0.99 [95% CI, 0.95 to 1.03]'
Experiments introduce control at the expense of generalizability, and some types of experiments more so than others.
Observational studies aren't perfect but they do have advantages, and in nutrition I wouldnt trust experiments more (maybe not less either to be fair).
We have plenty of experiments in animals for example and those arent much more interpretable, at least in nutrition.
Nothing is simple.
What blinding do you need for all-cause mortality? Do you think people are lying on the form where the coroner says they are dead?
> How do you ensure they're following protocol? For how long? And who is adhering? How do you know you're manipulating what you think?
Every single problem here is far, far, far worse for all those observational studies you cite.
> Observational studies aren't perfect but they do have advantages
Their only advantages are that they make it cheap and easy to get the wrong answer precisely and churn out lots of papers and meta-analyses. Fortunately, here we have the more expensive, hard, but correct results. Guess what the second set of results say?
> We have plenty of experiments in animals for example and those arent much more interpretable, at least in nutrition.
Indeed. Because most nutrition research, especially the ones based on correlational results, are wrong. That's why the randomized experiments aren't 'interpretable': because the theories are wrong. You will indeed have trouble "interpreting" the results which keep showing all the theories are wrong. This is a feature, not a bug.
Harvard, unfortunately, has doubled-down on this style of science.
It's not helpful that the press supports these methods, without skeptical commentary.
For myself, until you can tell me by what means a particular food produces the claimed outcome, I dismiss your epidemiological nutrition study.
It wasn't that long ago that the role of microbiome was recognized, for example, and even now it's contentious. Conversely, scores of epidemiological findings have had nice physiological explanations that turned out to be much more complicated, like those involving saturated fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. DHA, omega fatty acids, etc. are similar. Physiology is complex enough that you can accommodate just about any finding.
To carry this a bit further, it can be problematic going in the other direction too, from physiology to populations. Some of the anti-sugar advocacy, for example, was rooted in lab studies that neglected the effect of fiber in digestion of fruit, so you had people advocating that whole fruit consumption be avoided based on incomplete understanding. It's hard to argue that unprocessed whole fruit is undesirable on the basis of observational nutrition studies. Someone looking at the wet lab data and advocating abandonment of whole fruits might have done well to look at those observational studies to see why different trends were occurring.
I'm not saying that tying one level to the other at some point isn't necessary. I just think one or the other level can't be dismissed out of hand just because things don't map onto each other initially. It's possible that one level provides clues that the other is missing; it's also possible to come up with plausible but wrong bridges between the two levels.
I think the depth of knowledge is very uneven. We're not sure how Tylenol works. (Disclaimer: I work in software, not bioscience)
At least, placebos don't harm the user. There's evidence paracetamol is harmful.
And dosages higher than 4g/day are known to destroy the liver. Paracetamol overdose is one of the most painful way to kill yourself.
Its abuse being freely sold over the counter makes it the number one cause of liver failure in the US and UK.
>Paracetamol’s toxicity is also the single biggest cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Cases have been rising for six years, according to a study published in December (Hepatology 2005;42:1364-72). By 2003, the drug accounted for just over half the cases of acute liver failure, and about half of these cases were the result of unintentional overdose.
It boggles the mind the substance has not been put under harsher control yet.
Sounds like someone is optimizing for the number of papers written per grant dollar, as opposed to generating quality science.
Why do expensive research when you can just print a few questionnaires, get a few underpaid grad students to administer them, then trawl the data for acceptable p-values for publication?
Perspective: Limiting Dependence on Nonrandomized Studies and Improving Randomized Trials in Human Nutrition Research: Why and How
Implausible results in human nutrition research
His most famous paper, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
Here's a talk on nutrition science methods, along with a specific audience moment with Walter Willet, former head of Harvard Nutrition dept, and advocate for his questionnaires.
He seems to be in favor of large randomized-controlled comprehensive diet protocols, for example, where many aspects of diets are manipulated simultaneously. He dismisses them too, though, for very good reasons. Given that there were additional reasons to be skeptical of such studies he didn't mention, I was left wondering if his pleas for study designs should be heeded very much (as opposed to his criticism of specific flaws). I love his work, but am wondering if it's best approached as worst-case criticism rather than an inspiration for what to do.
He's listed as an author in a number of nutritional and other studies. One might see those as leaning in his direction, if he's willing to be mentioned.
You might contact him if you have additional doubts.
It isn't wrong, but it seriously calls into question whether the aim of the recommendation against red meat purely accurate nutrition science or a broader agenda.
My response: should we apply this to other topics as well? Pimp the efficiency of renewables compared with carbon-based? Up the effectivity of hydrogen-based energy distribution? Lift the results of a study promoting working from home?
Two words come to mind: Occam's razor.
It would make sense if another study would combine the nutritional long-term effects, the societal costs, the availability of alternative sources of amino acids and other factors. Nevertheless, the conclusion: "Red meat consumption is unhealthy for individuals" should (imho) not consider the environmental effects. Principle of least astonishment.
I'm looking forward to the next few years in this field, because it seems like scientists are slowly working out what's wrong with our diets, and it seems like it's not (solely) the meat and dairy we're eating.
Sorry, just needed to vent.
Tracking your calorie deficit/surplus isn't the easiest method, but unlike fad diets, it's guaranteed to work (provided, of course, that you stick with it and count accurately).
I'd argue that most people are more interested in sustainable weight loss (some exceptions, e.g. losing weight to fit into an outfit for a professionally photographed lifecycle event).
I am currently in the process of loosing weight and the only thing I've bothered with is calories. No foods are off limits. I allow my self to eat more in accordance to the amount of exercise I do (which naturally incentivises me to exercise, but doesn't depend on it).
I wrote up some formulas to estimate my weight loss before committing to the diet. It's been three months and so far it has been accurate to the pound (accounting for natural dailyvfluxuations in weight).
I'm sure there is some value in monitoring carbs, starch, fats, sugars, and other things, but I can confirm that the simple calorie diet works very well. If all you're interested in is weight loss, I strongly recommend it.
IANANutritionist, but here's some extra tips I've found very useful:
- !ntx searches nutritionix.com for nutrition data on Duck Duck Go.
- Drinking a lot of zero calorie beverages helps aleviate hunger (I like Propel, Sprite Zero, and Dr. Zevia).
- Don't frett over being super accurate with your counting. Just don't cheat yourself and it will even out over time.
- If you're like me, a big portion of your diet is covered by a relatively small selection of meals. If you figure out the calories in those, it becomes much easier to plan meals and alter plans on the fly.
- If you breakdown a meal, it's often possible to make a small modification that significantly reduces its calorie count.
- Don't focus on eating traditional diet foods (eg salads and "superfoods"). If you focus on having a perfect diet, you might burn yourself out.
If you only rarely go out to restaurants, just give the meal your best estimate and don't worry about it too much. If you eat out every day, it'll be hard to estimate. Fast food chains are often (ironically?) helpful here because many of them list the calories in their meals.
You don't really need to estimate your calorie expenditure. Just keep your activity level roughly even, count calorie intake, and track your weight. If your weight doesn't decrease after a couple weeks, subtract a couple hundred calories from your intake. Eventually, you'll get a deficit and your weight will decrease.
That's not to say weight loss is impossible. If you're overeating as a habit you may be keeping your weight above your set-point. Learning to "listen" to hunger cues may then bring your weight down. It happened to me 2 years ago and I managed to keep the weight down, and I'm not feeling hungry. There are other ways of lowering the set-point, but not very recommendable in general.
I think focusing on hunger cues and eating a balanced diet is good advice, together with exercise and avoiding drinking and smoking. These will (statistically) reduce morbidity risks to normal-weight levels.
Note that I am not a doctor, though, so take this information with the proper grain of salt.
In moderation though, too much sodium is bad for you
This is a well-understood process with much data to back it up and it will
take a lot more than one meta-analysis of 6k people to provide evidence
Note also a common mistake of studies that test correlations between a factor
such as salt and a health outcome like CVD or death: often, the people at most
high risk are already cutting down on the substance.
For example (I can't find the reference now, sorry) a study that reported that
moderate drinking had better health outcomes than not drinking at all included
in its study population individuals who had cut alcohol consumption completely
because of pre-existing (at the time of the study) disease. So obviously those
people had worse health outcomes than the ones that drank moderately.
This can skew results something bad. If you're testing whether cutting down on
salt correlates with a reduction to CVD and some of your study population have
cut down on salt because they already have CVD, the association between
cutting down on salt and good outcomes will appear reduced in your data. In
the first study reported in Scientific American in the link you provide it's
hard to know whether this is the case because they don't link to the study
(typical). The next study reported by SA, where the amount of sodium in urine was
measured, seems to have suffered from this error: it found that cutting down
on salt increased risk of dying from heart disease. Not benefitting from
reducing salt intake is one thing, but dying more of it? That takes hellalot
The point is that just because a study found one result doesn't mean
everything changes overnight.
It is important to understand that when there is a large body of evidence
supporting one hypothesis ("too much salt is not good for you") it takes an
equally large body of evidence to reject that hypothesis. A single study, even
a meta-analysis, doesn't cut it. It will take many years and a lot of work
before the evidence SA presents is credible enough to change our
understanding. And this is as it should be.
The meta-analysis results are very confusing: low salt intake is associated
with a relative risk of cardiac death, but moderate and high salt intake is
associated with a relative risk of stroke death. Now what?
Some of the studies analysed controlled for various groups, e.g. with high
BMI, or, indeed, with previous CVD. Some followed patients up for 10 or more
years, some had 10,000 or more subjects, some had more or less than 60% male
subjects- and all these factors seem to have afffected outcomes.
So perhaps a tentative conclusion should be that salt intake doesn't have a
significant effect on healthy individuals, but it does seem to affect those
with underlying conditions.
The question is- how do you know what underlying conditions you have, given
that our interest in the study is probably to decide how much we should cut
back on our salt consumption as individuals, according to dietary advice from
basically all major health bodies, etc.
Well, I have a single data point on this. A relative of mine recently found
out she has kidney disease. The news came out of the blue. She had a blood
test for something unrelated and there was a worying signal. She was referred
to a nephrologist, had an ultrasound to check the state of her kidney and
discovered that she's missing one kidney from birth. It turns out that people
with a single kidney from birth have an increased risk to develop kidney
disease, higher than people who lose a kidney later in life, who in turn have
a higher risk than the general population. It seems also that my relative's
liberal salt consumption (until now) has played a role in her developing
kidney disease, because the most likely course of events is that her blood
pressure was elevated, which damaged her kidney, which raised her blood
pressure, which further damaged her kidney, etc.
Like I say, this came out of the blue. Kidney disease is like that: it sneaks
up on you, when you don't expect it. My relative was lucky to find out before
she found herself on a hospital bed, strapped to a dialysis machine, but
others have not been so lucky.
This whole affair made me realise I have no idea what might be going on in my
body, that may affect me very suddendly a few years down the line. Perhaps I
have some underlying condition I don't know of, myself. Maybe I'll find, when
I'm older, that I have a high blood pressure and that I need to take
medication, and cut back on salt, to control it.
Current guidelines are to limit salt intake and those are based on numerous
studies carried out over many years, and, I think, clinical experience.
Perhaps there were confounding factors not controlled for, in those studies-
like high BMI, previous CVD, smoking (!) etc etc. But, if those confounding
factors caused a significant jump in the relative risk for things that can
easily kill anyone, then maybe the message is that there are many things that
can increase the risk from high salt intake- and that many people are affected
by those things. In which case the wise thing is to not assume that you can
eat as much salt as you want, and that you have to be a little bit careful
with it, now, so you that don't have to make huge, very difficult changes,
My relative has had to cut back entirely on the salt that she eats: no
cheese, no cured meats, no eating out unless she can be entirely sure the food
she eats is unsalted (which means steak and fries pretty much every time,
because there's nothing else that most restaurants can guarantee is
salt-free). That is a big pain in the ass, and she might have been able to
avoid it if she had been more careful earlier on.
For the record- I'm suggesting everyone should do as I say, not as I do. I
salt my food liberally, still. Incorrigible :)
Edit: On the other hand, you can always monitor your blood pressure. If you're eating "too much salt" that's how you'd find out. But, who monitors their blood pressure when without a good reason?
One of the key insights was that I was eating a lot of foods that were fattening but weren't filling. It turns out that the ratio of "how full does this make me feel" to "how many calories does this contain" is not a constant across foods. Sugar has probably the worst ratio. Protein and fiber probably have the best, at least in my experience. Fat is a little trickier, but probably also decent if consumed in moderation.
Anyway, as a result, I eat a LOT of vegetables and lean meat. For dinner (my large meal), I often have 1/2 to 3/4 pound (225-340g) of something like chicken breast and 3/4 to 1 pound (340-450g) of steamed veggies. Sometimes I feel like I can barely finish it all.
The other part of the equation was I really did have to change a lot of long-time habits. I was accustomed to just eating whatever and whenever I wanted. That had to end, and the adjustment was painful.
It probably also helps to stay physically active, but I was active before undertaking the weight loss, so I can't comment on the effect of changing that.
The closest thing to device that measures actual calories in is a scale (or measuring cup) and a nutrition label. Yes, this is limiting and tedious. Your favorite local restaurant probably doesn't have any nutrition info available at all. To some extent, you can get around this by looking up equivalents. When you're at your local burrito place, just look up the closest Chipotle menu item. If you only need to that occasionally (not every other meal), your overall totals will be pretty close.
I could go on and on, but Hardvard my plate is the definite guide for what you should be eating. This is the non lobbyist, highly educated PhD take on what current science says we should eat.
Replacing sugar with Erythritol and monk fruit has been more than sufficient replacement for things like coffee and small treats. It’s hard to find commercial products with Erythritol which is a shame but that seems to be slowly changing.
Sadly most “sugar free” products have Maltodextrin or Xylitol which is awful for me as I have colitis and I’ve read they aren’t keto friendly. If every product that contained those two switched to the former two my life shopping for groceries would be so much easier.
I also don’t go hard at restaurants (nothing worse than having to be picky at a restaurant) mostly for practicality reasons but that would be the 2nd area I'd focus on next if I started to care more.
Starting small and simple (ie just no bread) at the beginning is the best way. Abrupt changes usually have A
abrupt endings as you significantly increase the workload.
If you're worried about nutrition, take a dive on PubMed and you'll see that many research studies show, for some reason, less risk of cancer for people with nutrient deficiencies.
> Is fasting good, or will it put me in ‘starvation mode’?
Starvation mode is what you want if you're overweight. Many diets urge you to exercise or to eat often to keep a fast metabolism. But if you want to live longer, you WANT your metabolism to be slow, not fast. That will require you to keep a low-calorie intake for the rest of your life. Fortunately, your hunger pangs will go away after about 5-10 weeks and undereating will actually become a problem.
Also some would argue that keeping a food journal and measuring every calorie you eat is far more complicated than special diets like "don't eat carbs" which are successful for some people without measuring or recording anything.
I'm going to plug in a program that changed my life, even though I have never done that, and I don't really agree with their business model, but their methodology for training yourself to eat less is top-notch and incredibly simple. The program is called Naturally Slim, and many insurance companies cover it.
I think their $50/month fee for non-insured people is a bit outrageous because the principles are simple:
* Eat really slowly and stop eating when you're not hungry anymore (not full, just not hungry). Throw away the rest of the food or store it for later.
* Only eat when you're really hungry.
* Drink diluted orange juice at a 1:8 ratio throughout the day to maintain a steady glucose level and prevent hunger.
* Your meals should consist of about 1/3 vegetable or animal protein to keep hunger away.
* Instead of having breakfast, drink plenty of water or the diluted orange juice. Most people aren't really hungry in the morning.
The beauty is that as your body weight drops, your caloric requirements drop, and if you're following the first rule, you're eating less every week.
Probably that's how anorexia sufferers get to eat so little without feeling devastating hunger.
Whole foods are harder to get an accurate count for, but seem to leave me feeling full after consuming a more reasonable number of calories.
Doesn't mean I was eating it 3 meals a day, mind you; still mostly brown rice, broc, and chicken breasts. But I could plan around a lunch at Wendy's, while the local steak house was a crapshoot.
Really, the difference between say 2,500 calories a day and 1,800 is about the magnitude you want and not that hard to differentiate.
If you switch to getting your calories from whole grains, beans and legumes, potatoes, rice (ideally brown rice), fruit, etc, and don't add fat or oil when you cook, you can eat until you're full and still not gain weight. Nuts and seeds are the only whole plant food you may have to watch out for a bit -- the oil in them makes them relatively high-calorie.
The downside to this diet is that you'll probably have to do a lot of the cooking yourself at home, because virtually all the prepared food you can buy has had oil of some sort added to it. You can buy some things like pasta sauce, but you have to pay close attention to the nutrition label and try to get ones with minimal added oil. It takes a little while to get used to it, but it soon becomes pretty intuitive.
And of course, cutting out dairy and meat means that you'll want to supplement B12.
The upside is that this diet has health benefits (based on research, not just anecdotes) that go way beyond weight loss, though. Reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, reduced fatigue, less pain from inflammatory conditions, less anxiety, better digestion, etc.
Although, the anecdotes are generally impressive and fun to read, so if you want those: https://www.forksoverknives.com/success-stories/#gs.6onygn
By contrast, calorie counting requires only that you obey the laws of thermodynamics. At some level of reduced intake it will produce weight loss for literally anyone.
Having said that, if not eating carbs gets you there that's great-- I don't want to diminish anyone else's experience with weight loss. I just think more people should be up-front when talking about their new diet that any surprisingly easy way to lose weight is surprising because things don't normally work that way.
There are countless of people who instead of eating less move to higher protein diets and exercice more, while doing many many more small adjustments that make it work for them.
Some can eat dramatically less while keeping roughly the same level of everyday activity, while for other it will become hell on earth and put so much stress on them that they will rebound very hard after losing only a small amounts.
I personaly think any advice that is summed up in a sentence or two should be seen as some proverbial saying and be considered applicable only after reaching the same conclusion by ourself.
I know nearly a dozen people at work who've lost as much or more weight than me, eating like I did. In fact you're the first person I've ever heard of gaining weight on keto, on or off the internet.
When I go 100% raw unprocessed vegetarian for weeks at a time, I'm eating so much plain lettuce and fruits/vegetables by volume my jaw has to adapt.
It's very effective at controlling weight in my experience FWIW, while still eating huge volumes of food.
Everyone loves the taste of the food, I guess our fries ruin other chains for people.
Here's the recipe to fry your own.
We do our fries like McDonalds did in the fifties.
How does this hypothesis deal with the fact that vegans and vegetarians have lower levels of cardiovascular disease, lower blood cholesterol, and lower risk of diabetes (honest question, I'd assume that vegans and vegetarians generally eat much more carbs)?
That being said I do agree that there are huge differences in types of carbs consumed....but that only goes to say that the problem isn't simply 'carbs', it's processed sugars.
I have however met a lot of people who are Paleo or Carnivore who are in incredible shape.
I'm inclined to believe that at least some of this is cultural - Paleo/Carnivore folks tend to be more strict and disciplined about their fitness anyway, and do different workouts - and some of it is indeed due to diet.
I've only heard this idea from people who aren't in shape obsessing over all the details of the body except for the one that matters: having the discipline to exercise.
It's like debating whether you should have celery or its close cousin, rhubarb, while skipping your daily run.
 Nutrition in general, is at this point scientifically half-understood. Science has tons of things it still tries to understand and needs to explain on nutrition...
Only at the high level and first order effects.
The idea that this is OK as a diet, and the tradeoffs long term, is a not-well understood process with tons of pro and con papers, as is most of nutrition science.
On the other hand, eating a whole-food plant based diet can actually reverse type 2 diabetes. People stabilize their blood sugar even while eating things like whole wheat bread, potatoes, rice and fruit, and generally have to have their insulin reduced and then eliminated to avoid hypoglycemia.
There is a theory gaining traction that insulin resistance is caused by fat in our muscle cells that somehow blocks the activity of insulin. So eating a very low-fat diet allows this fat to clear out, allowing insulin to work again, so you can eat carbs without your blood sugar spiking.
The fat in muscle cells is called "intramyocellular lipids". We know that it's associated with insulin resistance, the only debate is whether it's the cause or the effect, or if something else is causing both. Based on what I've read, I subscribe to the theory that it's the cause.
Being overweight usually is tied to overconsumption of calories. Most people don't consume too much fat or protein: it's just difficult to eat a jar of crisco or an entire ham. However, in western cultures, overconsumption of calories is largely associated with highly processed, sugary foods. Chips, soda, snacks, etc.
I will concede that's not the reason for everyone who is overweight, but for many, it is the case. It's predominantly too many carbohydrates.
From what I understand, there is evidence that the brain may function better deriving energy from ketones, and ketosis may be neuroprotective: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/the-fat...
But also, have you done it? It feels awful.
No one remotely agrees on the data found so far. A hundred different anecdotes all contradict one another about how to lose weight or eat healthy.
It's a pretty sad and frustrating state that nutrition research is in, honestly. Sugar is bad and then it's okay. Saturated fat is terrible but it's fine. All red meat is bad. No wait, just processed red meat. Too much sodium is dangerous, wait no it's fine for most people, even some with high BP. Counting calories always works, except when it doesn't. Low carb is magic except when it's not.
Kind of like how it's more fun to argue about min/max exercise equipment and routines than actually do the damn exercise.
Humans lost the enzyme that converts Neu5Ac to Neu5Gc. Other animals have Neu5Gc, which can be incorporated into your own tissues and potentially be recognized as foreign. So if you haven't been exposed to animal products and you suddenly are, that could trigger auto-immunity. Oh and of course, the gut microbiota has a role in regulating all of this. (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0564-9)
The human microbiome is very diverse and adaptable. It seems to be good at processing just about any evolutionarily available (eg, non ultra-processed) foods you give it: https://www.nature.com/articles/ismej2011212
Some of this benefit could be related to the chemicals in the foods but every time she eats any grains or grain products she gets stomach issues
I dont have any stomach issues except I gain weight when I eat carbs. No carbs and the weight goes off.
There is more to this issue than meat vs grains IMO
BTW... does anyone have a reference to a medical study showing why the US recommended diet is recommended ?
... so instead, you end with a bunch of observational studies (which cannot show causation), or studies of placeholders assuming it maps to something people actually care about (eg. "cholesterol levels in the blood stream after X hours" for "Y years of life lost to heart disease per hundred thousand"), or bench studies (some chemical component in broccoli can kill cancer cells in a petri dish becomes "broccoli fights cancer" ignoring the fact that eg. fire kills cancer cells in a petri dish... that doesn't mean you should eat it).
... which are subject to all the usual difficulties for associated with subjects that are hard to study: small samples, inadequate surveys, bad statistics, HARKing, p-hacking.
... the resulting papers are then reported on uncritically, often generalizing the claims well beyond what the underlying science would support... because people read articles about things they actually do (eat meat) and outcomes they care about (live longer/avoid heart disease)... not about bench results.
In this type of scenario, I would expect frequent changes in what is considered “true” and I would consider that a good sign assuming the proper procedures are resulting in iterative improvements to our field of knowledge.
The worst part is, that's not really "one" side. Many of those groups are actively fighting each other, particularly now that organic foods, supplements, and superfood-of-the-week are big business.
Animal rights groups tend to elevate my food to having similar rights as humans. I find this to be a minimum facetious at maximum a threat to my life.
It's certainly not facetious (not sure if you're looking for another word here?) and laughable that it's a threat to your life. AR activists look to people to grant non-humans rights based on their interests - the same as we do with humans, but not the same rights. And to be honest, almost every single person I've ever spoken to holds the exact same moral beliefs as any vegan, but are unwilling to consistently apply those beliefs to their actions.
>All higher life on this planet survives by eating another life form.
That's not relevant to this discussion unless you're talking to someone who thinks consuming any life is immoral. Sounds like you're arguing a straw man.
>That's not relevant to this discussion unless you're talking to someone who thinks consuming any life is immoral. Sounds like you're arguing a straw man.
But it is relevant. You would elevate animals above plants.
If you want to give rights to things with life give it to everything.
That's another straw man. I could reply in the exact same way to you wanting to give rights to humans. Your argument for granting rights to humans is not based on the fact that we're alive and neither is the Animal Rights argument. You understand that - right? There is literally no one arguing that we should grant rights to animals on the basis on them being alive.
Animals and plants do not have rights. You dont have the power to grant them rights.
Animals and plants are food.
Granny was right when she said people have it too good. Folks look around for things to do instead of just enjoying what they have.
You still haven't actually addressed anything I've said and declaring animals and plants are food is a descriptive statement, not a normative one.
And Granny was wrong.
Interesting how you assume you can dismiss thousands of years of human law / natural law in one sentence.
>You still haven't actually addressed anything I've said and declaring animals and plants are food is a descriptive statement, not a normative one.
Plants and animals are food for humans. This is a factual statement.
>And Granny was wrong.
The older I get the less I believe that. Would be an interesting experiment to put someone in an RV trailer with a cow, plenty of water and no food in an area they couldn't leave. Come back in a month and see what they thought about animal rights.
People are too separated from their food supplies aka have it too good.
Human law is relevant to the whether we grant humans rights, the idea that which you took issue with. "Natural law" isn't an argument for really anything. I'm not sure what you think I'm dismissing, but if you have an argument to make, make one. The pearl clutching really doesn't get us anywhere.
> Plants and animals are food for humans. This is a factual statement.
It is. I said exactly that. Humans are also food for humans. That's another factual statement. But you can't conflate descriptive and normative statements, which you seem bent on doing.
> Would be an interesting experiment to put someone in an RV trailer with a cow, plenty of water and no food in an area they couldn't leave. Come back in a month and see what they thought about animal rights.
You could perform the same experiment with two humans - or we could look at instances like the Donner party. What people do in extreme situations to prevent their deaths is interesting, but it's not an argument for what you should do on a daily basis outside of such a situation.
Natural law is where humans get rights (they are born with them), also the foundation of modern civilization.
> What people do in extreme situations to prevent their deaths is interesting, but it's not an argument for what you should do on a daily basis outside of such a situation.
What people do to survive is eat. What they eat is the entire subject you are arguing.
Glad to see we agree humans eat everything. Now can you quit pretending animals have some right to not be eaten ?
Does it? What about vegetarian and vegans animals? (including some humans)
> Animal rights groups tend to elevate my food to having similar rights as humans.
It's more accurate to say that animal rights groups believe that the lives of animals are more important than your taste buds.
>It's more accurate to say that animal rights groups believe that the lives of animals are more important than your taste buds.
My belief is I am healthier eating animals. Burden is on you to prove me wrong.
Every major dietician association says the same thing about veg diets, that they are healthy for all stages of life, including pregnancy, infancy (excepting breastmilk of course), and early childhood.
There's no burden on me to change your behavior, you can do whatever you want.
Seems to be a ... rather glaring exception.
Survival instinct is not allowed since you wont allow humans survival instinct to eat everything and anything to be part of the situation.
And stop kidding yourself about this being about some sort of primal "survival instinct". We live in a modern and comfortable society where a Canadian can buy cheap tropical fruits in January.
A good way to ensure that we never survive if this changes is to insist that animals are required to give "consent", whatever that means.
As a note :
A large solar storm taking out the grid would show you how close we are to losing the comfortable society, or one of many other similar events. There isnt a city in this country that would be able to handle the loss of electricity for a week let alone a month.
What food doesn't require electricity to keep? Oats, wheat, beans, lentils, potatoes, rice, apples, pears, onions, etc. Notice a trend? It's all vegan food. Good luck :)
So tell me again how exactly eating meat is preparing you for survival in the (SUPER LIKELY) event of a mass power-outage and food shortage?
This is all a moot point anyways, because veganism is about not using animals "as far as is possible and practicable", so eating animals if your survival depends on it is actually fully acceptable in the definition on veganism (see https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism)
Being in a city dooms most of the population in an event like this anyway. Combine the fact most city dwellers have never harvested food or cleaned an animal let alone takens its life.
When all that vegan food runs out where do you think you are going to grow more ? Rabbits eat grass and other vegetation that grows in cities. Not to mention they populate fast enough you would likely not even starve to death before production ramped up :)
Now...all that aside.
Can we just agree to not tell each other what to eat ?
Yep, I said from the start that I don't have any burden to change what you do. I never made any argument against meat-eating, why are you so obsessed with trying to prove vegans wrong?
I will add that the food chain should remain natural. When I die I would get eaten except humans today pump their old body full of toxins and put it inside a coffin inside a concrete box.... This breaks the natural cycle.
Eat or be eaten ;)
Case in point, did the meat industry have any weight in this study? Generally I feel through certain lobbying efforts theses types of industries will produce a counter study that gets enough backing to be read on the nightly news and now people go back to the way things were or are confused.
Having read the China Study, I have all the convincing I need about the role of meat in our diets and I’m fine with that.
Non-expert perspective on this: I find it very difficult to believe that there is such a thing as too much meat (and easy to believe that too much bad quality meat is the root of the problem as commonly discussed), given that most preagricultural environments lacked sufficient carbohydrate density to support anything other than a ketogenic diet for most people most of the time.
It appears we've been eating meat for about 2.5 million years. 12,000 years seems like the blink of an eye, relatively. Epigenetic research has definitely changed my notion of how rapidly we can adapt, but idk enough to have an opinion on how much we've changed in 12,000 years, or how much vegetarian momentum we managed to conserve over the 2.5 million years of carnivory.
I wonder what the macro-nutrient ratios would be in societies relying on traditional agriculture.
Evolution takes a long time and most of the ancestors in human history were near vegetarian with a very low percentage of calories coming from non-vegetarian sources.
An extremely disingenuous statement not backed in any manner in the article outside of paragraphs like these
>But the truth is, for most of the last twenty million years of the evolution of our bodies, through most of the big changes, we were eating fruit, nuts, leaves and the occasional bit of insect, frog, bird or mouse.
That goes beyond "human history" because monkeys/apes relatives are not humans. Last twenty million years? there was nothing recognizably human then. The australopithecus genus appeared 4 million years ago and even that isn't quite human in shape. Then mentions a diet of "fruit, nuts, leaves". Leaves? Humans can't process leaves efficiently enough to get more nutrition than energy expanded. Unless by leaves they mean leafy vegetables like lettuce which will fill up your stomach while not providing enough calories to get by.
An average fit, physically active human needs 2500 calories intake a day. 100 grams of lettuce is 15 calories. 100 grams of fruits like Apples is 52 calories. Of the three mentioned food sources, the only reasonable way of providing enough energy to a human body is nuts. Most nuts can get you where you need to be without having to eat yourself to an enlarged stomach.
When you account for seasons, primitive lifestyle that has no way of preserving food and lack of mobility because men relied on their own two legs for their own transportations (reducing the variety of foods available) you really have to brainwash yourself to believe that such a diet could be possible at all.
It's easy to be a vegetarian in a world with agriculture. Not so much before.
We have human cultures that lived in harsh environments like Alaska for millenias and they didn't live on a diet of good vegan sentiments.
Eat lots of vegetables and emulate blue zone diets and life style. It’s the best we got for a blue print of healthy living.
“ The investigators reported no conflicts of interest and did the studies without outside funding.”
Not too long ago I saw this insane article about some author's daughter who had severe lifelong immune diseases and after years of experimentation, found that eating absolutely nothing but steaks, water, and vodka, cured all her problems. There was also commentary by nutritionists and scientists saying she was wrong and her diet would ensure certain doom.
Anyhoo, I bought a nice grill and started eating steaks every day. Red meat. Rare, barely cooked, just singed a bit. Drinking, licking up that delicious red blood left over.
All my medical problems went away. Like almost instantly. It was crazy. Absolutely crazy. I would never have believed it.
My total diet's still a bit more varied than meat and vodka though. I do a lot of vegetables as I always have still.
Perhaps I am too cynical, but much research and many studies are generated from that model.
Clearly, common food types are not going to be extremely harmful, so the magnitude of impact from dietary advice is never going to be extreme. Red Meat is still showing up as harmful in these studies, which is why it’s advice and not say a ban etc.
At best this reads like spin from the cattle industry. Unless I am missing something?
"Dr. Allison has received research funding from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a lobbying group for meat producers."
I suspect a basic risk assessment in the context of other food advice would a good place to start. However, it also says the data is not that great to make such assertions.
But ultimately what we should all agree on is: eat less processed foods, less sugar, don't overeat, fasting is cool, exercise often.
So no, grass-fed beef is not particularly good for the environment.
A better way to think about this is to consider how many acres of land and how much fuel input is required to grow 2000 calories of food with an appropriate mix of macronutrients. I don't have a complete picture of what this would look like for a traditional American diet with the huge amount of meat we consume here, so I can't make an argument from that.
I do know that if we focus on acres of land and fuel inputs needed to grow protein from various sources, that plant-based proteins are much more space and fuel efficient than taking those same proteins and growing cows or chickens from them. Arguments for not eating soybeans, for example, center around how much land is being cleared to grow soybeans. But those same arguments ignore how much of those soybeans are being fed to cattle.
The best solutions in my mind are to significantly reduce our intake from meat sources regardless of how those sources were raised. Eating meat at the level we are used to is not a tenable situation.
Land use management in Brazil sounds like an incredibly nuanced topic that I know next to nothing about. I'm much more familiar with American agriculture. And we make most of our own food here, including our own beef.
Most red meat is factory-raised and fed tons of those artificially fertilized/pest-controlled grains, belching massive amounts of methane before getting trucked around the country - toxic for the environment.
Environmentally friendly meat does exist, by some definitions, but those locally-raised antibiotic-free grass-fed pasture-raised free-range sustainable meats are expensive.
If American beef production went to 100% grass-fed beef, no feedlots, how much beef could be produced domestically? Do you have any sources handy?
Where I live, grass-fed beef is significantly more expensive than generic beef that presumably encountered a feedlot at some point in its lifecycle. If that is generally true, urging the public to consume grass-fed beef is also effectively urging the public to consume less beef. A universal switch to grass-fed beef would increase beef prices without increasing consumer buying power.
But it's possible that a pound of grass-fed beef is really no more costly to produce than average beef and it's just the niche status/labeling that commands higher prices. I haven't found an analysis addressing this question.
It's really not.
A recently commissioned LCA study done by Quantis showed that for White Oak Pastures, estimated carbon footprint was -3.5kg CO2e/kg (vs 30+ for conventional beef): http://blog.whiteoakpastures.com/blog/carbon-negative-grassf...
This seems to jibe well with the research coming out of the Rodale Institute and peer review (I've written previously about this so instead of rewriting, I'll just link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20652657).
WOP sells 1 lb of their ground beef for $10/lb (either a 90/10 or 80/20 blend), so it's about twice as expensive as conventional beef: https://www.bls.gov/regions/mid-atlantic/data/averageretailf... (you could probably match the price if you are able to buy and store in bulk from a local regenerative-practice farm), but I think for most people reading this comment, the price difference is still de minimis compared to their overall daily cost/expenditure.
Another thing to keep in mind is the latest and most detailed FAO put full LCA (this includes supply chain, etc) of CO2e of global livestock production at 14.5%: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/
IMO the anti-beef climate story seems to be very overblown/disproportionate compared to its relative GHG impact (lets not distracted, switching off of fossil fuels is by far the priority).
Sorry, can't watch video at work.
Here's a resource for anyone who is curious but doesn't want to sit through a YouTube video.
It's something that most people can look at immediately. You eat every day so what you eat does have a relatively large impact on your personal carbon footprint. It's also something people can do that doesn't have to cost them a cent.
It’s not about saving the rain forest, endangered species, pigs and cows. It’s about power and survival. That other stuff is just feel good moral values that won’t matter if we go extinct.
A technological innovation is the only way to get us out of this mess. Whoever figures it first and establishes control over the method is going to have a significant amount of global power. If you can control the worlds climate you’d basically be the most powerful person in the world. Everyone is at least a little intrigued by the quest for power.
I just am sick of how bad people are at selling the fight against global warming. We need everyone working on it and don’t have the luxury to divide ourselves into good and bad groups.
If you can't help spending all you make, maybe you could start by getting a new job that pays much less than your old one...
That won't save the planet, but it is the way to do your part.
One incorrect purchase or vacation by a vegan washes away a life time of good choices. It's not enough to matter and you'll never get the entire world on board without an inquisition force.
I don't disagree with any of that except that encouraging diets amounts to "Dividing ourselves into good and bad group". It's also not an actual counterargument. I also happen to think economics and technology will be the drivers that push plant-based diets to the majority.
> One incorrect purchase or vacation by a vegan washes away a life time of good choices.
You're either minimizing the impact of diet or vacation like a Captain Planet villain.
Sure but it could also make meat intensive diets have less of a carbon footprint. Once you start preaching that certain lifestyles are better at stopping climate change than others, I feel you're effectively judging which life styles are good or bad for the world. You're right it's jumping to a conclusion that people are making moral judgments on others... but I don't think it's that big a stretch.
I really don't think it makes sense to address climate change at an individual level. Most people have little to no control over how they live their lives. Even if they did, it'd be an enormous ask to have everyone understand their carbon footprint due to supply chain complexity.
Certain lifestyles are better than others. You can argue that it's not effective to discuss individual contributions, but you can't pretend this isn't the case.
>I really don't think it makes sense to address climate change at an individual level. Most people have little to no control over how they live their lives. Even if they did, it'd be an enormous ask to have everyone understand their carbon footprint due to supply chain complexity.
This is _such_ a strange attitude that people apply selectively to issues. Poverty requires systematic solutions, but that doesn't mean we don't have a responsibility to help those in our communities. Diseases require systemic solutions, but that doesn't resolve us from doing what we can individually to prevent the spread of diseases. Violence, crime, education, pollution. Most big problems require big solutions, but that doesn't mean we should ignore individual contributions.
Even this seemingly simple advice can change depending on metabolism and exercise habits. As someone with a fast metabolism who exercises a lot, it's difficult to impossible for me to each too much whole/non-processed food. The more I eat (including meat/proteins, vegetables/fruit, carbs, fat, and non-junk food calories in general), the better and stronger I feel, both physically and mentally. My challenge is the opposite: if I'm not fairly disciplined about eating nutritionally dense foods every few hours during the day, I won't be at my best.
So for me it's more like "Eat food, as much as you can, with as much nutritional density and variety as possible".
Yes, the food pyramid is dead, and there are other changes that come and go through the years. The issue is that "eat your veggies" is so boring it won't make any news.
> A healthy eating pattern includes:
> A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
> Fruits, especially whole fruits
> Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
> Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
> A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
> A healthy eating pattern limits:
> Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium
Dark Green is "Spinach / Kale", red/orange is carrots and tomatoes, starchy is corn or potatoes. There are also survey results in how well the US Population overall is doing. USA doesn't eat enough veggies, and eats too much refined grains (white bread). The typical American needs to reduce refined grains, increase whole-grains, increase veggies, and increase fruits in their diet.
EDIT: Can someone explain why I've gotten a lot of downvotes? I'm genuinely curious. I don't think I've said anything close to controversial here.
Few things bring out such zealotry as food choices. In a world that is largely out of control, it is something that people can take control of, and they often twine that choice around their very identity.
Going fully vegetarian is just too joyless.
I find it highly questionable to derive happiness from killing animals, and I think most people do once they find the courage to look reality straight in the eyes.
If we can't even talk about it, how are we ever going make progress?
It's vastly easier to have a balanced diet if you don't restrict yourself from high-quality sources of nutrition.
If anything, they're higher quality since they're closer to the source; whatever you get out of meat has already been used once. Which is also why raising animals to eat meat is so wasteful.
Besides, bread and sugar are made from plants and they'll make you fat. A lot of people would lose weight eating more animal products including eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and meat.
This is just meat industry damage control. The Harvard rebuttal lays out the issues pretty well. Just like big tobacco and big oil, they just need to sow enough confusion around the facts to make people give up and stop paying attention.
I think it's fair to say that "This is just meat industry damage control" breaks the HN guideline: "Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something."
As others have said, the Harvard rebuttal itself gets into the details. I'll link it again here:
Come on man: citations needed. From where I am sitting, the "meat industry" is about as threatened by vegetarians as the brussel sprouts industry is by mcdonalds. Keto diets are presently quite popular and don't seem to do people much harm at least.
The typical keto diet is an improvement over the standard American diet loaded with junk but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other dietary options with better long term results and much smaller environmental impact.
I don't care about factory farming or the "personal dignity" of cows; I just want to know why you think there is a "meat industry" engaged in disinformation programs. From the looks of this link, you may be projecting.
FWIIW I barely eat red meat when I'm in America; mostly game meats. No horse in this race, but if you know something I don't about nefarious meat conspiracies, you should link people to it.
Also the statement that you don’t care about factory farming is a pretty appalling disregard for the suffering of intelligent animals.
Feel free to be appalled; most normal people don't care about the "suffering of cows" either.
 Marta Zaraska, author of Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat.
It's sad but true - our species has a lot of evolving to do still.