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U.S. Bans Trans Fat (bloomberg.com)
259 points by adventured on June 16, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 324 comments

> The U.S. market size for palm oil is 2.6 billion pounds (1.2 billion kilograms) annually, he said. He expects that to increase by half a billion pounds a year once trans fats are eliminated.

This is really, really bad news.


The deforestation has to stop, I've traveled in Indonesia both personally and professionally and have seen the devastation that illegal (but government tolerated) deforestation causes.

At the same time abandoning palm oil is both extremely impractical and causes numerous other sustainability problems. Palm oil has incredibly high yields per hectare when compared with other oil crops, which is important to consider when discussing it's 'sustainability'. It's yeilds are something like 3-5 tons per hectare per year, while soy/sunflower/others are less than 1 ton/ha/yr. Not to mention the human impact, it's a cash crop for many small holders who's livelihood depends on it. For these reasons, even very vocal environmental organizations like GreenPeace stop short of calling for boycotts... the focus needs to be on producing it sustainably.

Consumers need to demand that the palm oil in their products is sustainably produced e.g. via the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) or otherwise. Unfortunately even knowing if palm oil is in your product or not has been difficult, and even brands who use sustainably produced palm oil are hesitant to draw attention to the the oil in their products.

I've worked closely with this program on technical projects, and while it certainly has a number of flaws, the accountably is much higher than for conventional palm oil. I'm really hopeful that research into other methods (Algae oil production) will be more economical/efficient/sustainable, but at the moment it's still theoretical. :(

Educating consumers seems like a pretty big hurdle. I think it would make a lot more sense to ban importing palm oil from Indonesia unless it can be proved to be sustainable.

It sounds like you are well-informed on this issue. I'd like to ask you more about it but I can't seem to find any kind of private messaging functionality on HN and you don't have an email address in your profile :O

Please ask him more here, so we can all benefit from the discussion.

I work for a global campaigning/petitioning organization and one of our focuses is climate change.

I'm wondering who the key players are, what is currently being done, whether there's opportunity for public pressure to influence any of the actors, etc.

I'd highly recommend you get in tough with GreenPeace as they're pretty active in this space, not only in pressuring organizations to use sustainable palm oil, but also pushing the RSPO to improve themselves and holding it accountable, too.

I'm sure they have a much better assessment than I could ever make of the worst performers, the biggest players, and the key organizations to target to bring change. Not to mention that if they have campaigns running/planned it would be nice to coordinate with what it sounds like your organization is doing. Annisa Rahmawati (@AnisaHijauDamai) was representing them at this years RSPO european roundtable two weeks ago.

The WWF is also very involved with the RSPO and Palm Oil. Good luck!

Thanks. Looking forward to reading the reply.

how did this become a topic of sustainability? it was banned due to health concerns.

Trans fat was banned. Palm oil is an alternative to trans fat products, but increased demand for palm oil will increase deforestation.

Many people are also concerned about sustainability.

To select just one of their arguments--that palm oil's production results in deforestation/climate change--one can make the same sort of argument about nearly any industry. E.g. if solar power companies of the future were to deforest mass swaths of land to make way for large solar farms, then one might argue that the solar industry contributes to climate change. It's a poor argument because the production of solar energy in no way necessitates deforestation; similarly palm oil production does not necessitate deforestation, animal cruelty, and non-sustainable production methods.

I'm not arguing for or against palm oil. I know virtually nothing about palm oil; I'm simply criticizing the source.

You're right that there other contributing factors with the production of any product. I feel like you still have to take them into consideration though.

Many are specifically worried about palm production because a lot of the areas that are being deforested are also peatlands. They burn the entire area which doesn't just burn the trees, but also a huge amount of peat. This releases a crazy amount of CO2.

You could argue that it isn't palm production's fault and that they shouldn't be burning those areas. As long as it is profitable it will continue though.

I agree that all factors should be taken into consideration. But to counter I ask, if great things can be done poorly, should they not be done at all?

Not to suggest that palm oil is a "great thing"; I'm generalizing my counter to the source's argumentative approach.

I think great things that can be done poorly should still be done for sure.

I guess I am not really arguing against you. I am just emphasizing that there could be severe future consequences for increasing palm oil demand specifically.

I don't think there are any easy answers here.

<But to counter I ask, if great things can be done poorly, should they not be done at all?

Yes, all kinds of things are illegal or banned because people will choose to do the wrong thing before the right thing.

I suppose a defeatist might not drink coffee because it can be grown unsustainably and farmed with slave labor, while a pragmatist recognizes the merits of fair-trade and lives a java-full life.

And the "pragmatist" looks away to ignore the fate of slaves suffering by the hand of his neighbors.

You might not be familiar with the precepts of fair trade: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade

Borneo used to be covered in forest that was home to one of richest habitats in the world. If you fly over Malaysian part of Borneo now (don't know about Indonesia since I wasn't there, but apparently it is following Malaysian lead), you will see palm plantations for miles and almost no old forest.

There is stil some forest left for orangutans and other endangered species, but it is under constant pressure from expanding plantations.

Currently the biggest pressure on demand for palm oil is for biofuels. The result has been a significant recent and planned expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. It doesn't help that many countries now have a mandatory biofuel component. I think the potential increase in demand for replacing trans fat is probably not that big compared to what comes as a result of demand for biodiesel.

I guess we should ramp up electric vehicle production to eliminate the need for those biofuels.

I haven't checked the chemistry but I do have a question.

Can the oils that we're currently hydrogenating be used for biofuel production?

Growing palm oil doesn't necessitate deforestation in the same way that growing vegetables doesn't require pesticides. But the commercial way of making them does require them. In the context of the industry of palm oil, not growing it at home, it is factually correct to say it involves deforestation, major damage to wildlife and in a small way some climate change.

Do you have any impartial sources on the subject? www.saynotopalmoil.com doesn't seem entirely objective in the matter.

A quick google search on the matter will reveal many sources. Though not the most professional news syndicate, VICE ran a great story a few months ago on the environmental impacts of palm oil in Indonesia.


Seconded this. VICE's episode is well worth watching.

Also, if you're cynical like me, then the palm oil industry might be a good place to start looking for why these regulations were created.

The difference being that this transfers the cost outside of the US economy.

Trans fat is really bad news. It is a preservative that is hugely detrimental to health. Palm oil is separate and deforestation is a separate problem from that.

Keeping something that hurts people legal because another country is destroying forests is not a workable plan. Indonesia needs to be dealt with separate from the issue of trans fats.


Phew! I thought that was going to say palm oil is unhealthy. All the stuff listed on that page is improvable.

Got any other sites on the sustainability of foods? (or a website of your company?)

Does anyone else remember when the Center for Science in The Public Interest pressured everyone to move away from saturated fats to trans fats?

The people leading the charge on this are the primary reason why we went to trans fats in the first place!

Yeah, that's how science works.

We start from a position of ignorance, and we incrementally gain new pieces of knowledge. Years ago, we learned about the health risks of saturated fats and moved away from them. More recently, we learned about the risks of trans fats and are now moving away from them. The people at the Center for whatever are updating their position based on the latest findings rather than sticking to outdated facts that have been disproven. I wish more policy-makers would do that.

Our knowledge and understanding of the totality of nutrition and health is still pretty small, in part because there are lots of interacting components and because many aspects of nutrition are correlated with ethnicity and lifestyle. Nonetheless, it has been demonstrated that trans fats are bad for your health, independent of other factors. We shouldn't keep consuming them just because science didn't manage to uncover this fact until recently.

> Yeah, that's how science works.

The problem is that various sciences have very different requirements for what constitutes a valid 'discovery'. e.g. In particle physics if you don't have a 5 sigma result you haven't really found something. You often see incredibly weak data accepted into journals in the soft sciences, see the recent 'chocolate makes you thin' faux study as an example.

I think there is a large problem in soft sciences in that they are very quick to declare knowledge with very limited data supporting it. The various dietary sciences are probably the worst offenders at the moment. As you've said we know very little about nutrition and health, so why are we so quick to make definitive statements about it? That sounds like the opposite of science to me.

I'm sure this will be controversial but I'd rather not classify such 'soft sciences' as science at all. I've seen several complete reversals in soft sciences in my life and think that this actually contributes to the general public's mis-understanding and mis-trust of science as a whole. e.g. "Those scientists can't even figure out what I'm supposed to eat so why would I believe this quantum physics non-sense!"

I agree with the dislike for these types of reversals, and I also agree that fields prone to these types of 'discoveries' might be better classified as something else. Although I think the reality is that (at least with dietary 'science') the reason we get these jumps to conclusions is that these fields affect peoples lives a lot more directly. This results in people wanting information on these fields sooner, the public can wait 20 years while we look for all the particles in the standard model, but they wanna know now if they're eating stuff that will kill them. Not to mention it's probably quite difficult to avoid with just about any public journal or magazine willing to profit off proudly trumpeting results that could drastically help their audience.

I think the problem is more to with science journalism than the scientists themselves. I've seen so many headlines that read something like "Is X affecting Y?!" but then the story is something like "scientists published an article saying that there may be a link between X and Y."

But they were 180-degrees wrong on trans fats. They were touted as a healthy replacement for saturated fat.

A fundamental tennent of all heath care/policy is "first, do no harm." If you change or do nothing, people are no worse off than they were to begin with. If you want to change something, you better be damn sure you aren't making matters worse.

Chicken and egg. Hard to tell if widespread use of X is not harmful in anyway until widespread use of X has been studied.

Should we be looking forward to the arsenic diet, then?

> is not harmful in anyway

Better off just eating as naturally as possible, rather than listening to some group that's pushing something that's not.

There are so many competing definitions of "eating naturally" that your sentence is more or less completely meaningless

It's a relative term. First step is to eat food that's had as little processing as you can afford (which is the opposite of trans fats).

Ideally: if it's meat then non-intensive because that means less chemicals injected into the animals; if fruit and vegetables then try to source from farms that put an emphasis on re-mineralising their soils - they are less likely to rely on chemicals combined with genetically engineered varieties.

Essentially, buy food that makes the food industry as little profit as possible. The sort of food that would never be advertised on TV. The sort of food that costs a lot to produce, doesn't last long and lacks fancy packaging.

>they are less likely to rely on chemicals combined with genetically engineered varieties.

I don't know how you could possibly resolve these issues - all our food is genetically engineered, and all of it contains chemicals.

lots of asian countries are doing it right then.

Partially hydrogenated oils do not exist in nature. If anyone finds that assertion confounding it'd be interesting to hear why.

There's some subjectivity as far as "processing" goes. Olive oil is processed mechanically, canola oil is processed chemically, so that's a pretty wide gap that people might fight over. But partial hydrogenation? Seriously?

    Partially hydrogenated oils do not exist in nature
"Partially hydrogenated" describes what we did to the oil, so of course you won't get that without human involvement. Partially saturated oils, however, even ones with trans bonds, do exist in nature. For example, raw canola oil is around 0.5% trans fat.

That aside, I'm still not sure your classification for "processed" or "natural" makes sense. The key step in partial hydrogenation is mixing hydrogen with the oil, [1] while a step in canola refining is mixing hexane with the oil. [2] How does your naturalness heuristic tell us one is ok and one not?

[1] Which makes it surprising that this would create trans double bonds, since the effect is to reduce the number of double bonds. The problem is that with all that hydrogen available some bonds flip from cis to trans.

[2] As you alluded to by saying "processed chemically".

I did not offer a classification, which sounds like a very boring thing to do. Indeed, I meant to cast doubt on hard and fast classifications with the olive oil versus canola oil example!

I just don't think any classification could categorize partially hydrogenated oils as "natural" without rendering the term entirely meaningless. Because of what we do to make them, because of their effect on the body, or because of how they differ chemically from more "natural" stuff: take your pick. The point being, eating "naturally" might be a slippery concept but a lot of what we're talking about here can be safely excluded by anyone shooting for that "natural" goal.

Food threads on HN are dumb enough that I'm going to leave it at that. The parent comment has already been downvoted multiple times for some reason...

Natural simply means 'existing in nature', which humans do. Human activity is, by extension, also natural. Ergo, partial hydrogenation is natural.

But implying that something that is natural (ie, not borne of human activity, per your usage) is by definition good is fallacy. Remember that Socrates (among other enemies of the Athenian state) died after drinking an infusion of hemlock.

> Natural simply means 'existing in nature'

It took me 15 seconds to find a dictionary entry with seven different definitions for the word. But thank you for your valuable contribution.

> But implying that something that is natural (ie, not borne of human activity, per your usage) is by definition good is fallacy.

But as a heuristic it's probably not terrible. The paleo diet people have some strange ideas but the diet itself is really not bad. Veganism as a heart healthy diet is playing out well for a lot of people. And so on.

The problem is acting like we do understand nutrition because a few new studies say something is bad. Especially when you start digging into the funding of said studies.

There is very little evidence to prove saturated fats are bad, but plenty to prove sugar is. Yet you don't see the policy makers telling us to eat less corn.

Also trans-fats (the ones that are bad) do not occur in nature which seems to be of the best predictors of whether something is net-good for you or not.

I don't quite understand the logic of "natural" being "good for you" and "not-natural" being "bad for you". For example, the glasses sitting on my nose are not natural, yet without them I wouldn't be able to see too well. And the sanitation and water supply systems are an improvement to what was there otherwise (i.e., people dumping their chamber pots into the street). And yet, if I stumble across a copperhead snake, I'm going to avoid it even though it is natural. And don't forget that tobacco is natural.

No, this has never been anything but non-scientists using science's name dishonorably. There has been and continues to be a large mismatch between what primary source studies say and what is reaching the public.

I don't look at these studies with the same eyes I did as a young man. I have been lied to just too many times. No, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water, but I am so much more skeptical than I was 15 years ago.

"Years ago, we learned about the health risks of saturated fats and moved away from them."

Yes, we "learned" about a lot of things over the years, and vilified the product to the point of absurdity. 'I can smell my neighbor's cigarette smoke--I will get cancer, or COPD?'. My cholesterol is high--I must take statins?.' 'I think I'm depressed--I must get a prescription of a hetero, or tri-cyclic antidepressant?' 'I'm a vegetarian; I must be healthy? Give me a wheel of that blue cheese, I hear it has penicillin in it, and I can eat it because I don't eat red meat!'

I don't know where the truth lies, and follow most recommendations, and trans fats are probally terrible; I just question these scientific, peer reviewed, doulble blind studies. I don't just call it Science anymore, and they know best. I look at all these studies with an air of skepticism that wasn't in me when I got out of college.

When a doctor, or nutritionist relays some information; I do my homework before accepting the advise as a universal truth.

> Years ago, we learned about the health risks of saturated fats and moved away from them.

Sadly, we did not as the health risks from saturated fats were incorrect, based on absolutely terrible science. The unprecedented public health initiative that resulted in everyone moving away from saturated fats (and the fat scare in general) did substantial harm to public health.

Until scientific literacy improves, we're going to keep running into this wall.

People and organizations are seen as more reliable if they don't waver in spite of facts. Is it hardware, or software? Can we learn to favor those who update their decisions based on validated facts, or is it hardwired in how our brains perceive confidence and reliability?

It's not about the public's perception of wavering, it's about the scientific outlets wanting to say "Yolk is bad!!" instead of "we now think egg yolk is bad because we found that the foo in the quux frobs the narl in a human's stomach lining". Not to mention the lack of apologies and retractions by those same outlets.

> it's about the scientific outlets wanting to say "Yolk is bad!!"

The outlets that want to say that aren't scientific outlets, they are popular media outlets and the marketing arms of entities selling diet fads and/or substituted products.

This is not just an issue in science - it's present in politics, business, really all of human society


>And for some reason, the new truth is usually the old position of ignorance.

I doubt it's 'usual'. It's just more obvious and widely publicised (often for political reasons from people who don't want any regulation at all). There are plenty of times when the initial position was right and doesn't get changed.

> Yeah, that's how science works.

> Our knowledge and understanding of the totality of nutrition and health is still pretty small...

Making policies based on ignorance without acknowledging that ignorance in the slightest is not science, it's politics. Instead of saying "we don't really know anything about this topic" they lobby the FDA to make policies -


The Center for Science in the Public Interest sounds more like a group of people using science as a flag of convenience to steer public policy.

As such I wouldn't say they are doing unadultered, capital S, Science. They are, after all, politicians by the sheer circumstance of their own name.

I actually think this is not just a sort of wild accusation... it's a really important point.

Why should I take the new rules seriously when the old rules were so, so very wrong?

I do not have an unmeetable standard... a clear, direct apology explicitly stating that the previous standard was the result of bad process, combined with clear statements of what is being done to improve the process and ensure this doesn't happen again would be fine.

In the meantime, though, I will not permit these people to just sort of tip-toe away from what they have (collectively) done to us, nor am I particularly impressed by efforts to change the consensus at a speed that to my eyes appears carefully calculated to ensure that nobody ever actually has to apologize, or even admit that they were wrong. In other words, at a speed that clearly indicates they're perfectly fine with millions more dying of preventable diseases rather than admit clearly that they were wrong.

Unsurprisingly, I'm not inclined to account that as "virtue", nor to pay very much attention to what they have to say now. If you care about your health, ignore the government standards and do the research to build your own consensus based on the latest science coming out, which is in ever-greater dissonance with the decades-old "official" consensus. Don't wait for our political leadership to calculate how they can move without ever having to admit fault!

(Yeah, I'm pissed about this. If the nutritional consensus forced on us for decades really is wrong and really is, as I rather suspect, the primary cause of the obesity epidemic, this is, fully literally, Nazi-scale evil unleashed on the world. Millions of lives cut short, millions upon millions more with their quality-of-life trashed. I can personally name names for both those categories; the latter category includes damned near my entire immediate family, and they're working pretty hard on getting moved into the first one, and I simply can't convince them of the real problems with the entire authority system for their entire lives telling them something else. It would put the US government right up there on the 20th century death toll list... and that is a hard list to get on to because the competition is quite stiff! Every day they dither around trying to figure out how not to have to admit fault is that much worse.)

To whom is an apology owed, by whom, and for what? The best science at the time indicated that saturated fats were killing people(which was true), and so public advocacy groups lead campaigns to lower the consumption of saturated fats. It turns out the replacement is also killing people, but it wasn't widely known for a few decades. The reality is that nutrition isn't a priority for most Americans, and our regulations and levels of research funding reflect that. The fact is that it was preferable for most people to continue to eat fatty foods made with substances of unknown safety than to stop eating fatty foods. There was no conspiracy.

The book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" has been read by virtually nobody. You can tell this, because it is widely believed the book is about a low-carb diet, or how bad carbs are. It's a misunderstanding that's understandable between the cover and the name, and heck, even the publisher-provided blurbs on Amazon, but what the book is actually about, by bulk of words, is the story of how the standard nutritional consensus got to be such garbage in the first place. It is primarily a history book, rather than a science work.

There is a very good case to be made that the science never supported what we were told, and that it was sourced in naked political power plays. When, of course, the consensus was still the Standard Consensus, that was not an argument that the body politic could hear, but as it becomes increasingly clear that the Standard Consensus was in fact wrong [1], it becomes an increasingly important book.

Nutrition is hard, and we'll be studying it for decades more. But it is not so hard that it was simply expect that we should be this fundamentally wrong, and more importantly, this wrong for this long. This took effort, and if we refuse to study what happened, we'll learn nothing from it. If indeed it the standard consensus is wrong, the signal telling us it was wrong was STAGGERINGLY ENORMOUS. We call it the "obesity epidemic". The only comparably sized epidemiological signal that comes to mind is the one that said "Lead is bad to put in the air." Those who ignored it are the ones who owe us apologies.

If you're even beginning to suspect that the standard consensus is wrong, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy and reading it. The science is a bit outdated now... the history, as is the nature of history, is not.

[1]: I phrase it that way because I'm still hedged a bit on my bets, though "The standard consensus was very wrong" is getting pretty high on my Bayes-O-Meter, even as I'm not really bought in to any of its replacements yet.

I suppose it's worth pointing out that in previous HN discussions on these sorts of topics I've always been a bit more circumspect; my Bayes-O-Meter was merely in the "highly suspicious" range. But with the announcement from the government that they are actively reversing something previously issues forth as "truth", I've finally tipped over in outright ideologue on the topic. For the record, this is actually a considered decision, not brute emotionality or fad-following. It is also, for what it's worth, the exact reaction that I'm accusing these people of trying to avoid. They are trying to avoid exactly the anger I'm expressing here from becoming widespread, but if I'm correct, the anger would be fully justified, and the only honorable thing for them to do is to go ahead and incur the anger instead of holding us back. As you can see, I'm still hedging a bit with conditional phrases, but at this point I'm having an increasingly difficult time imagining that we're suddenly going to get a spate of (honest) studies re-confirming the standard consensus.

And to be clear... I'm not asking for them to be right. That would be an unfairly large request. I'm asking for them to stop being so aggressively wrong.

I used to work in molecular epidemiology for a few years and while that never included nutrition, I did become close friends with some of the best minds on the topic. The scientific establishment was not wrong about the danger of high fat diets. This has been demonstrated over and over. What the establishment got wrong was that they didn't predict the extent to which people would replace fats with sugars in their diets. Another point I think it's really important to make is that a lot of the argument about low fat or low carb is academic and I think harmful. We've known for years that a low calorie, low fat diet that's high in fiber and consists of lots of fruits and vegetables is healthy and can contribute to losing excess weight. We've recently learned that some people find it easier to lose weight with a low-carb diet, but that doesn't mean that the establishment view is wrong. I think this debate over which is better is harmful because some people get the idea that science doesn't know what's healthy and what's not, so they say to themselves "why bother listening to anything they say?". This becomes especially problematic when people conflate the statements "high carb diets are unhealthy" with "any diet not high in carbohydrates is healthy", or similarly "high fat diets are unhealthy" with "any diet not high in fat is healthy".

The public advocacy groups should apologize to the public for pushing wrong advice that may have killed people.

Which groups? I'd be interested in someone substantiating these accusations.

EDIT: I appreciate the responses, but does anyone have a credible source? Amid criticism that what people have read has turned out untrue, let's be careful not to perpetuate the problem with more rumors.

CSPI is one example as others have mentioned: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Science_in_the_Publ...

They demonized saturated fat and pushed a switch to partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which had trans-fat. Now we say trans fat is so unhealthy that it should be banned. So a significant number of people got exposed to trans-fat due to their policy demands.

I'm not sure I understand:

* I don't put much faith in Wikipedia, but the linked article says CSPI has been consistent for 20 years: From the mid-1990s onward, however, CSPI identified trans fats as the greater public health danger. ... In response, three trade groups - the National Restaurant Association, the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers and the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils - "said the evidence [on trans fat] was contradictory and inconclusive, and accused [CSPI] of jumping to a premature conclusion"

* Saturated fat is bad for you, as far as I know.

Check out the comment by WorldWideWayne above: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9726875

The article linked to is very interesting and names CSPI (as pkaye linked to) as well as the National Heart Savers Association (NHSA).

I'm particularly impressed with the force of this announcement - scientists haven't reached a consensus that trans fats are safe. That's it? That justifies a ban? Sounds like they're hedging their words now, so when they're inevitably wrong again they can blame 'the scientists'.

"“I don’t know how many lives will be saved, but probably in the thousands per year when all the companies are in compliance,” Technically that could be 2000 which in turn would be out of 380,000 which in turn is at the order of magnitude of statistical blip.

That said I'm all for going back to good old fashioned, exists in nature and is yummy saturated fat. Bring back the beef tallow french fries McDonalds! in ten years the FDA will say it's good for us!

Bring back the beef tallow french fries McDonalds!

You and I and anyone else with tastebuds will appreciate it, but I pity the vegans. Fast food will be completely off-limits.

Vegans couldn't eat McDonald's french fries anyway. When they switched their fryer oil, they added natural beef flavoring to compensate. I know some vegetarians that were pissed about this when they found out, but McDonald's quite rightly pointed out that they have never, ever attempted to certify any of their menu items as vegetarian or vegan, not even the salads. They leave that up to third parties, and state that they do not strictly enforce efforts to prevent cross contamination from kitchen equipment also used for meat products.

It is likely that the only markets in which McDonald's would make more than a token effort to serve vegetarians would be India and select parts of California.

Aside from that, I wonder why a vegan would be considering fast food anyway. If you take more than a cursory glance at how such restaurants get their vegetable ingredients, you would see quite a lot of animal cruelty in the form of the institutional working environment for agricultural laborers. The 2001 Yum! Brands boycott, precipitated by tomato pickers in Florida, comes to mind.

I pity the vegans because they voluntarily choose a form of asceticism, and are not likely to get any compensatory benefit for doing so. They choose to make their own lives more difficult, just like people who play games with unofficial voluntary conduct challenges. I'm not going to fault them for doing it, but I'm also not going to change my personal opinion that they are at some level just spoiling their own fun just for a few extra millimeters of e-peen.

>a few extra millimeters of e-peen

can you tell me what that means? i honestly can't tell.

GP suspects that vegans are only vegan in order to impress others. I disagree, because there are many easier ways to do that.

E-peen isn't always about showing off to others. Sometimes you just want to figuratively admire it for a while in the mirror.

I think they're honestly trying to be better people. And in trying, they become happier with themselves.

But I also think that what they do does not actually make them objectively better, because I have different moral standards than they have.

As a result, the self-satisfaction vegans achieve by adhering to their standard of conduct sounds very much like someone telling me about how they caught all the Pokemon. They may be very proud of their accomplishment, but any interest I show is feigned, purely to spare the other person's feelings.

A fraction of vegans like to proselytize or otherwise promote their voluntary conduct challenge, and I can't stand those guys.

And I pity the cows.

i pity the hindus even though i can empathize with them. it just feels _wrong_ on some irrational, emotional level, to think of killing a cow, even though i feel nothing when i think of eating chicken.

I've killed a variety of different species, but outside a self-defense situation (and I would hesitate even then) I could never shoot a bear, for much the same reason. I just can't look at bears and not think they're simply furry people.

I've known chickens. Don't worry about killing them. They don't even mind. They can last indefinitely without their head.

Please don't say things like that. I know chickens that care very much about their own lives and the chickens they live with. They do not want to be killed.

Oh for goodness sake. They run from shadows etc, but their is no possibility that they value or care for anything.

I'm not going to argue with you, but please stop talking about something you clearly know nothing about.

For anyone else that reads this thread, chickens are smart animals with complex social lives. See this excerpt from "Are Chickens Smarter Than Toddlers?":

In 1996, I discovered Dr. Lesley Rogers’s book The Development of Brain and Behaviour in the Chicken (1995) in the Beltsville, Maryland Agricultural Library outside Washington, DC. I sat on the floor of the stacks, reading it in tears, because Rogers was affirming that birds are intelligent beings, and that prejudice, not science, says otherwise. She said, “it is now clear that birds have cognitive capacities equivalent to those of mammals” (p. 17). She said, “With increased knowledge of the behaviour and cognitive abilities of the chicken has come the realization that the chicken is not an inferior species to be treated merely as a food source” (p. 213).

She explained that a chick “hatches with a well-developed brain, immediately able to make decisions and to form memories” (p. 118). Of battery cages for hens and all forms of industrial conditions for chickens, she said: “In no way can these living conditions meet the demands of a complex nervous system designed to form a multitude of memories and to make complex decisions” (p. 218). Citing recent demonstrations of complex cognition in birds including chickens and others once denigrated by mainstream scientists as “unquestionably low in the scale of avian evolution,” Rogers called for more research in the field of comparative cognition, given how recent studies had “thrown the fallacies of previous assumptions about the inferiority of avian cognition into sharp relief” (p. 218).

I was ecstatic. A bona fide avian scientist was saying what I already knew to be true about birds, and about chickens in particular, in forthright language that could be quoted without ellipses. She spoke of “the cognitive demands of the hitherto underestimated chicken brain” (p. 213).

The chicken’s brain is equipped to enable it to meet the complex demands of the natural world in which this brain took shape. There is a fit between the total mental system of the chicken and the tropical forest habitat in which chickens evolved. Chickens have thrived for tens of thousands of years within the complex ecology of their forest world – a world that is reflected in their genetic makeup. The neurophysiology of the chicken embodies a system of interactions between the genetic, hormonal and environmental factors that figure in the developing embryo and express themselves in the adult bird.


A cockroach can do those things too. In no way do they even approach the simplest mammals in smarts. The assertion that they are on a par is based on broad generalities - they have memory and respond to their environment. Like your Roomba; I guess that's on a par with mammals?

I lived with chickens for 18 years. I put my experience up against your fake book learning.

Killing cows is as wrong as killing any other sentient being that doesn't want to die. There's nothing irrational about it.

I believe that he means it's irrational that he's bothered by the idea of killing a cow but not by the idea of killing a chicken.

Everything vegans eat is already ready - can't get any faster than that.

It's entirely the other way around - the consensus that they are safe no longer holds, therefore approval for use in food is withdrawn.

Look up [GRAS] to resolve it confusion about science-policy vocabulary. In non-computer science (especially biology) we deal with levels of confidence, not binary absolutes.

It isn't difficult to examine the science reported to date, combine it with first principles, and have a pretty good idea if a scientific idea is correct or not. By the time regulators have overcome inertia and industry pressure and created a new regulation, the science has been there for a long time.

As for the previously held view (now considered incorrect) that saturated fats are harmful, a similar review of the scientific results at any time over the past 40 years would have shown that the view was based on the flimsiest of actual data, like one correlation combined with a second correlation.

That said, if you are relying on the government and other authorities as the final word on health advice, history suggests a bad outcome.

Exactly. I have really lost faith in the FDA.

Saturated fat bad. Trans fat good. Trans fat now VERY bad. Saturated fat actually OK.

Eggs bad. Eggs good.

Coffeee bad. Coffee good.

Sacharrine causes cancer. Sacharrine OK.

Meat bad (especially red meat). Meat good.

I now just eat what I want, and don't worry about it unless I start vomiting.

Don't forget salt and sodium. The gov't is still trying to work up sodium regulations, while the scientific evidence supporting it withers and dries up (kinda like a salted slug)

It's not so much that it's drying up, as that the illusion of there ever having been evidence is more and more widely disbelieved. These nutrition fads aren't actually coming from science; they're coming from the intermediaries that claim to be telling us what science has found, but which are actually just making stuff up.

Bread is simultaneously healthy and not healthy.

Schrödinger's bread.

Just open the bread box and we'll know for sure.

The bread is dead!

Bread's Zed, baby. Bread's Zed.


What do you expect them to do? Evidence at the time suggested food X was bad. Should they spend another fifty years running trials to make sure, discover it was indeed killing people, and yes we knew about this fifty years ago sorry we didn't say anything sooner?

It's a tough position and I sympathize with them. I suspect no matter how soon they do or don't pull the trigger, hordes of people will wind up incensed.

I expect them to tell people about it, continue studying the matter, and ultimately let people make their own decisions.

Or as an intermediate step: require warning labels or warning signs. If we let companies sell cigarettes with warnings, we should let companies sell donuts and movie popcorn with similar warnings.

The problem with going from no information to full ban is that sometimes (quite often) the health authorities are wrong. Let us make our own decisions about what tiny statistical risks we want to take in exchange for what marginal improvement in cost and/or tastiness some ingredient enables. If everybody agrees it's not worth the cost, the outcome will be the same as a ban. If only some people think it isn't, labels will let those people avoid that risk without inflicting their standards on the rest of us.

IIRC, Eggs went from bad to good due to changes in industry accepted feed. Not due to misapplied science (well maybe misapplied at the point of the high-cholesterol feed construction).

I don't think is is the best link, but it was quickly available: http://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_online-excl...

Really it points out the disconnect between industrial food production vs human health and, in this case, a nice story about how one disconnect was resolved.

Everything causes cancer. Somehow we are okay with this level of scientific knowledge.

Eating whole foods in moderation works pretty well.

Be safe and go low-fat whole plant vegan. Statistically, the healthiest option for you.

yet humans supposedly increased in brain size by eating meats, oh it reduced stomach sizes too.

I tend to low fat vegetarian, though dairy is kept, but even I won't forgo meat all year round. It is silly to do so. The key as with all foods is moderation


Yes, whole meat is a great choice when you live in Savannah and there is no produce besides grass. Not hamburgers and bacon.

For the rest of us, there are vegetables and grains.

Statistically, eh? Got a cite?

Most of which are terrible. Population studies are generally awful, especially when you're using the population of people on a restrictive diet vs. people eating whatever the hell they want to. Especially when you consider the number of vegans who are actually active vs. the rest of the population, which is quite substantial in my anecdotal experience. I think what you can see from these studies is that avoiding processed foods, being a healthy weight, and being active are good for you.

Also, what about the studies showing the children of vegan (it might even be vegetarian, can't recall) mothers have lower birth weights, IQs, and are shorter than the general population? What about the rates of B-Vitamin anemia?

I think that the benefits of being a vegan are the benefits of being concerned with your health. I'd be interested to see a comparison between an equally fastidious group of meat eaters.

Disagree. Humans have always been omnivores.

Only if you want to look emaciated.

Jokes on you. I know powerlifters who are deadlifting hundreds of lbs, and they only consume a vegan plant-based diet (google "vegan powerlifting").

Animal proteins are an inefficient method of consuming nutrients. You may like meat, but its not efficient, and data has shown that it can cause cancer in your GI tract given enough time.

EDIT: There's a reason Soylent is vegan; not to appease animal lovers, but because its healthier for you and more efficient.

[1] http://blog.soylent.com/post/102285900727/announcing-soylent...

> EDIT: There's a reason Soylent is vegan; not to appease animal lovers, but because its healthier for you.

More likely, it's because it's easier to utilize without spoilage.

Also, the cancers you refer to are not specific to meat, they're specific to cooked (moreso charred) food.

Milk and eggs provide a complete protein that's hard to find elsewhere without doing a lot of pairing.

That said, the "emaciated" point is probably moreso about the "low fat" part of the comment. Fat is critical for hormone production among other things, and it would be very hard to be a "powerlifter deadlifting hundreds of lbs" without adequate fat intake. More importantly, saturated fat (and specifically dietary cholesterol, the kind found only in meat and dairy) is particularly well utilized for hormone production.


Meat is always cooked and often charred. Non-meat is not so that way.

> Meat is always cooked

No, its not. Raw preparations of meat are a thing.

Charred is incorrect preparation. Food should be prepared in such a way that all parasites and pathogens are killed. In foods where it is possible, some Maillard reaction products are desirable. But you should not ever be burning your food if you can help it.

You could get by with just Pasteurizing all your food (or cooking sous vide), but any meat or fish you will probably want to sear for about 3 minutes per side before eating, because it just tastes better that way. The mutagenic products of the Maillard reaction are far more dangerous to bacteria than to mammals.

I could quibble with aspects of this, but my point remains - it's not the meat that is associated with cancer, it's the preparation.

Red meat is and has been associated with cancer for decades, they've recently found the causative link and it has nothing to do with the preparation: blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2015/01/02/red-meat-cancer-immune/#.VYBs8mWCOnM

If you read that and concluded they've found the causative link between red meat and cancer I'd implore you to read more about it.

My original statement was inadvertently strong, they've found a causative link between red meat and cancer.. not necessarily the link that explains 100% of the association or anything of the sort, but a link that's universal across red meat, is dose dependent, and is readily repeatable.

It really is a landmark study: http://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2014-12-29-sugar-...

The fat intake you allude to is entirely possible on a vegan diet. Saturated fats are exactly the fats you should not be eating.

"Saturated fats are linked to increases in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is positively associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, saturated fats have been shown to block the expression of LDL receptors[3], which ultimately prevents this unhealthy type of cholesterol from being filtered out of the bloodstream."


> Saturated fats are exactly the fats you should not be eating.

Wide swath generalization at best, categorically untrue at worst. Keep in mind - if nothing else - there are a lot of very different and unique saturated fats.

A 2014 systematic review looking at observational studies of dietary intake of fatty acids, observational studies of measured fatty acid levels in the blood, and intervention studies of polyunsaturated fat supplementation concludes that the finding ″do not support cardiovascular guidelines that promote high consumption of long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 and polyunsaturated fatty acids and suggest reduced consumption of total saturated fatty acids.″"


Conclusion: Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.

I think that view of saturated fats is falling out of favour.

Efficient how? You could make an argument that eating meat is a less efficient use of resources such as land and water, but I doubt that eating a whole meat-protein full of the correct amino acids is less efficient than eating a combination of vegetable proteins to get the same effect.

And yes, you do get vegan powerlifters, but they are very much the minority and an outlier.

> but I doubt that eating a whole meat-protein full of the correct amino acids is less efficient than eating a combination of vegetable proteins to get the same effect.

It is entirely possible to have a complete diet, "correct amino acids" and all from a vegan plant-based nutritional plan.

Pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967195/

I'm not saying it's not possible, I'm saying it's more difficult.

Animal proteins are an inefficient method of consuming nutrients

Care to explain why exactly?

I've always been thaught - ok, doesn't mean it's correct, or related, which is why I'm asking - that one difference between meat and vegetable eaters is the length of the large/small intestines: shorter for 'pure' meat eaters like cats, longer for herbivores like cows. And somewhere in the middle for humans as they are considered omnivores. Reason for this would be that it takes longer to digest/break down plants, which I assume is done by the intestines to extract nutrients for it?

>I know powerlifters who are deadlifting hundreds of lbs, and they only consume a vegan plant-based diet (google "vegan powerlifting").

I am a powerlifter and deadlifting hundreds of pounds is vague. How many hundreds? A couple hundred? Not very impressive. Five hundred? More impressive. I also have an anecdote but it disproves what you said: I don't know a single powerlifter who can pull five plates who doesn't eat animal meat. Also anecdotes on the internet mean nothing.

>Animal proteins are an inefficient method of consuming nutrients.

It may be inefficient from an energy usage standpoint, but from a protein synthesis standpoint it's vastly superior. Plant protein doesn't have the amounts of amino acids animal protein does.

Even if what you say is true, quality of life must still be balanced with quantity of life. Your food is disgusting, full stop. I am not interested in living without food that tastes good.

Maybe you just never had a properly cooked vegan meal. Seriously, tastes may differ, but it's simply hard to believe there is no vegan food out there at all that you would not like. (for the record, I do eat meat)

Maybe you can make really good vegan dishes, but for myself there is no competition for animal fat for many existing types of cuisine, both in the preparation stage and in the flavor/mouthfeel of the final product.

I'd even say there's legitimate reasons to use MSG for certain preparations and flavors. Sparingly, mind you.

It's completely subjective. Some people like the taste.

If someone wants to go full vegan, good for them. Just don't try to force that choice on everyone.

> Just don't try to force that choice on everyone.

You're missing one of the primary tenets of being a vegan

Obviously no one short of a tyrant can actually force veganism on anyone, but vegans saying "eat like me or die" is close enough.

Oh, there are "ethical vegans" who would, if they could get a 51% majority, make the consumption of meat illegal. They're the "meat is murder!!!!" types.

I don't have a problem with the "I have made a personal choice to not eat animal products" type of people.

Margarine was the healthy alternative. The damage done to the American public's arteries must be immense.

Also drove the demise of the great whales. Most of their blubber was used to make margarine.

Source, as I can only assume downvotes because folks think this is bullshit:


I don't remember. Is there some evidence?

I ask because it's popular to claim that the results of scientific research are unreliable, but usually, IMHO, upon investigation those claims are wrong. Either they are conflating the results of one study with settled science, or conflating some popular unscientific rumor with real science.

Also, why focus on the Center for Science in The Public Interest? Who are they?

No. Nobody remembers a 25 year old lobbying campaign by a tiny nonprofit. I'm sure whatever propaganda outfit you got that info from paid researchers many hours to dig that one up.

I'm old enough to remember it. I saw the news reports. I heard about it on the radio.

No researchers were necessary to access my memory.

You scoring points against the Center??


Not too long ago Carl Sagan and others were on TV breathlessly begging people to worry about global cooling.



Obviously, research changes and consensus changes. Being wrong in the past doesn't mean you're wrong today. Or being right in the past doesn't mean you're right today.

>Not too long ago Carl Sagan and others were on TV breathlessly begging people to worry about global cooling.

No he wasn't: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2011/07/28/if-you-wish-to-make-...

There was never a widespread consensus about global cooling:

>A 2008 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society actually reviewed the climate research published in the 70s and concluded that "global cooling was never more than a minor aspect of the scientific climate change literature of the era, let alone the scientific consensus" and "emphasis on greenhouse warming dominated the scientific literature even then."

WUWT is a climate change denial site run by conspiracy theorists. It's not a good place to get facts about anything.

>> WUWT is a climate change denial site run by conspiracy theorists.

"I disagree with their position so I will slander them."

You will notice that I first presented hard evidence that they were wrong in the form of a scientific paper that actually reviewed the climate science published in the 70s.

I then provided additional commentary about the quality of the site.

Actually I believe the formal fallacy that makes climate skeptics sites unreliable is "Begging the question".

Which isn't to say that climate & environmental science isn't a bit sick. It suffers from group-think and a pretty hefty anti-human bias.

They in general did not begin from "I do not like the implication of the carbon emission -> global warming hypothesis to my business model so I will not consider explanations that force me(or my patrons) to stop making money from fossil fuels"

Again, an incorrect assertion of the motives of climate change sceptics. I may as well say that pro-Climate Change people are not convinced about the science but like the side-effects it may have on global inequality.

True enough. That is my principal reason for opposing virtually every "Climate Change Solution" I see that has strongly re-distributive effects. That and the frankly anti-human bias of virtually all environmental scientists of my acquaintance.

My point is that both are a valid critiques and should influence how you read the arguments made by both sides.

I was mostly annoyed that you were calling skepticism for those biases slander instead of pointing out that both sides are biased, and thus we(as humans) are likely to fall for the side that our confirmation bias leads us to.

Overall I'm convinced that warming is happening, and that human CO2 emissions are probably single largest cause of that. I'm also pretty well convinced that the impact of that warming is well below the alarmists views, and that we will move to renewables just as soon as it is efficient to do so.

I linked to WUWT for the video, clearly there were people politicizing science at the time and if you bothered to read my wikipedia link you can see how this stuff got into the press and public consciousness via the scientific community.

>There was never a widespread consensus about global cooling:

The problem is that its hard for the public to weigh these claims when experts go on TV. Again, my point is that consensus changes, politics change, etc. Scientific consensus is often more wrong than right and later replaced or refined by something else. Denying that is sophomoric. Scientists aren't immune from fads and hysteria, especially when that stuff results in grants and fame.

Yes, some people were worried about it. The one person you actually named in your post was not. Bad start. In my experience the main way it got into the public consciousness was through climate change deniers in subsequent decades. I've never seen anybody talk about it who wasn't a climate change denier. Most people today would have no memory at all of a couple of Time magazine articles in the 1970s that made wacky scientific predictions that turned out to be wrong. There must have been hundreds of articles like that on all sorts of topics.

It was a minority position. There wasn't a huge amount of research published on the topic. As far as I know no government or corporate polices were ever changed based on the idea. So it isn't a valid comparison to the trans-fat issue at all. It's actually just a classic example of "small group of minority opinion scientists who got a disproportionate but still small level of media coverage were wrong". That happens all the time. The media loves a plucky outsider with a dramatic story to tell.

It's a strange topic for WUWT to bring up since that entire site is based on the idea that the majority of scientists are wrong and that a small group of people (mostly not even scientists) with disproportionately loud voices in the media are actually right. If you want to make an analogy then WUWT are the global coolists of today (but with even less scientific credibility since they publish basically no papers). Which is of course fitting since a lot of people on that site are still predicting an imminent ice age.

>Time magazine articles in the 1970s

We're talking network TV and the cover of the nation's most popular magazines and newspapers. A lot of people were exposed to these ideas, lets not deny that.

>It's a strange topic for WUWT

Let me guess, you're too young to know any of this stuff, but to the boomer generation they really went from "Guys new ice age coming" to "hey global warming" pretty quickly. I think you need to sympathize with them. Yes, obviously climate change/warming is happening, but dismissing how these things get into the media, climate cooling hysteria in the 70s, etc just makes you seem like some "SCIENCE CAN NEVER BE WRONG" type who disingenuously pisses on the experiences and realpolitik of the time.

The reality is that that cooling was in the popular consciousness and led by x amount of high profile scientists. It happened. The question in my mind is what stops this from happening again? Nothing as far as I can tell. Experts have a high levels of influence and combined with mass media can change or understanding of things pretty quickly. This is often a feature of our mass communication society, but it is just as likely to be a bug (wrong facts, conspiracy theories, propaganda, etc). The internet seems to make this worse.

tldr; science is as much political as it is technical

That's precisely why science needs to continue for its own sake and not as a tool to push political agendas.

Just think how bad things would be if someone had taken that 70s era belief in global cooling and used it as a justification to require us to dump more CO2 into the atmosphere to mitigate it.

The thing is, there is no guarantee that by doing nothing things will be better than by doing something. We no longer believe than nature is somehow an eternal system that humans disturb. We know there have been huge catastrophes before without any kind of human intervention.

The only good thing about doing nothing in principle is that when something bad happens there's nobody to blame. Of course it may be the case that we have good reasons to believe that doing nothing is always safer than doing something, but we need some data and some models to support that belief, it's not enough holding it a priori just because many people still believe in "Mother Earth", even though they consider that "Father God" is dead.

> “I don’t know how many lives will be saved, but probably in the thousands per year when all the companies are in compliance,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Ironic since CSPI is one of the major reasons that we are using trans-fats today.

One of them? From what I've read and documentaries watched, they are the major reason. Typically example of people going out of their way to order people how to live their lives for the "better" but ends up being worse. Plus it seems they are being revisionist about trying to act as if their pro trans-fat stance never happened.

They are the primary reason.

Thank goodness. This will finally put an end to companies including trans fat in their products but labeling 0 grams of trans fat due to serving size and other stupid tricks. I think consumers as a whole can get over pie crust not feeling the same for a little bit, as well as a slightly different texture for frosting.

This already happened several years ago. There was about a year where all snack foods were utterly disgusting - Cheetos were like fried glass, potato chips were limp and off tasting, Oreo cookies were brittle and the filling tasted like chemicals.

They slowly figured out replacements for the trans fats that improved the quality. We'll never know quite what they are because of trade secrets. But it's probably far less natural than hydrogenated oils.

Oreo cookies, by the way, never recovered. They are terrible.

I still go to stores and see products proudly labeled with 0 grams of trans fat that actually contain trans fat after consulting the ingredients list. This did not stop years ago.

The wholesale frying/baking of foods in vegetable shortening did in fact stop. There are still small amounts of trans fats in many foods per the FDAs allowance.

"Small amounts" is certainly a very relative term given that the serving size can be arbitrarily small to misrepresent the amount of trans fat actually present as 0 grams.

For example, say I'm selling a product with the ingredients list "Partially hydrogenated soybean oil". If I label the serving size as .49 grams I could label the amount of trans fat as 0 grams per serving. Now this is obviously an exaggerated example, but it's easy to see from this example that a product could contain a non-trivial amount of trans fat with a specifically chosen serving size to label the amount of that trans fat as 0 grams (trivial). Therein lies the issue.

I learned in Nutrition class that there are standard serving sizes for various types of food. I think it probable that the FDA requires companies to use those standard serving sizes, and forbids them from choosing arbitrarily small sizes like you fear.

For example, one serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. If a company sells a meat product the size of two decks of cards, the FDA probably requires that the product be labeled as containing two servings.

Hmm.. That is interesting and comforting to know actually. I always figured there was some lower bound that a company would get called out on somewhere along the process if it was too egregious, but it's nice that there's at least some semblance of a standard.

Leaf lard

This story is a great reminder that there's a lot of potential for studying Regulations.gov API and writing an interface (and heuristic) for surfacing interesting rules and regulations...the trans-fat rule has been up for comment for long while now:


Maybe I'm in the minority of people who hadn't heard that this transfat regulation was soon to be implemented (as a former New Yorker, it caught me by surprise)...but there are probably many upcoming rules that are worth knowing about before they get published.

Pros and cons to everything. Replacing trans fat with palm oil will likely increase the negative impact some of that industry has on the environment.


> “I don’t know how many lives will be saved, but probably in the thousands per year when all the companies are in compliance,”

I doubt it. People are going to continue to eat way to much of things they shouldn't, or too much of things that should be only eaten in moderation. It's not like Trans-Fats are the only thing people are eating too much of that is killing them.

Very few things in food are categorically bad for you. Even stuff like fat & sodium, which people generally think of as "not good for you" are required for your body. If you tried to make a list of foods that actively harm you or that cannot be made a part of a healthy diet then your list would be very small.

Transfats are one of the few things that the above does not apply to. They are actively bad for you and there are no known redeeming qualities.

It is quite disturbing how big the anti-fat (in food) sentiment got in the 1980s and 1990s. And even though it has been heavily debunked, people still look at fat quantity in food to decide what is "healthy." Ignoring the fact that fat (not transfats, regular dietary fat) is extremely good for you, and won't cause you to gain weight.

There are even still "low fat" foods on the shelf which intentionally remove dietary fat and replace it with complex carbohydrates (mostly sugars), which are bad for you.

Remember the whole "red meat will kill you!" thing? Yeah, utter nonsense. There's a small amount of cancer risk from the cooking process (and glazing/smoking) but broadly speaking raw meats are one of the healthiest non-vegetables you can eat. Much healthier than processed foods. The more fat the better.

When you order a burger, the bun is by far the most unhealthy part. Then the sugared sauce (e.g. ketchup, mayo, etc), then the american "cheese," and last of all the meat. But most modern burgers are just "sugar delivery devices" in the sense that the % of meat is tiny and % of sugar (from bun, cheese, and sauce) is getting higher and higher.

I feel like there's often an odd tendency for people to arrive at the ultimate logical conclusion when it comes to health. If too much saturated fat is bad for you, avoid all saturated fat. If high sodium diets are bad for you, minimize sodium as much as possible (as opposed to just consuming a moderate amount). Nonfat diets, no-carb diets, all to chase the ever-changing concept of perfect health.

This kinda gets back to the 'eight glasses of water a day' thing. Some study indicated that a human should consume eight cups [the measurement, 2.5 liters] of water a day (including the water in food). Years pass, news reports are released, and you end up with people trying to guzzle down eight pint glasses of water a day.

Sorry to comment without adding anything beyond my upvote, but I think this may be a typo :)

> broadly speaking raw meats are one of the healthiest non-vegetables you can eat.

I'm not sure I follow? I am trying to say (maybe unclearly) that vegetables are healthiest and then [unprocessed] meats. So meats are the healthiest non-vegetable.

Vegetables, raw meats, everything else.

Fruits are a tough category as some are extremely healthy (e.g. Blueberries) while others are barely better than candy (e.g. Figs, Grapes, etc).

To clarify here: You mean eating, for instance, bacon that is less processed (not injected with tenderizers, salt, msg, etc) is 'healthier' for you than bacon that is processed (all that stuff injected). You do NOT mean that eating less heated and cooked meat is 'healthier' than eating cooked meats. That the cooking process is independent (mostly) from the 'healthiness' of the meat.

Am I correct here?

Yeah. I feel like the above post is gibberish now. :)

I should have said "unprocessed meat" not "raw meat" since raw is often used to described uncooked meat.

Bacon gets a bad wrap because it is often cooked in unhealthy oils and smoked. Both of which are "bad." You stick un-smoked bacon on a george forman grill and you have a darn healthy piece of meat.

> Bacon gets a bad wrap

"rap", not "wrap"

> because it is often cooked in unhealthy oils and smoked.

No, it gets a bad rap because its usually cured with nitrates/nitrites (including must "nitrate free" bacon, which isn't, it just uses celery salt, which contains nitrates that do exactly what other nitrates/nitrites do, but because its considered a flavoring agent and not a preservative and isn't synthized nitrate/nitrite, doesn't have to be labeled as a nitrate/nitrite), which have some adverse health effects in certain circumstances (though the USDA has taken action to require steps to mitigate those effects the same way that, e.g., the naturally occurring sources of nitrates in green vegetables naturally do, though the bad rap was already established by then), and also because of the high quantity of animal fat, which itself has a bad rap.

Uncured bacon obviously exists and doesn't have nitrates/nitrites (even stealth ones), but it probably isn't meaningfully more healthy than cured bacon.

Cooking bacon in oil is silly; its often used as a source of fat instead of oil in cooking.

Yea, sorry for the dumb comment - I thought raw was an autocorrelation or something and was meant to read red meat. My mistake.

>Transfats are one of the few things that the above does not apply to. They are actively bad for you and there are no known redeeming qualities.

Yeah eggs, salt, fat in general - all of these used to be considered dangerous too. Why should I believe that trans-fats are dangerous?

Depends on what the substitute foods are.

If people start eating 100 percent less trans fat but 300% more sugar to compensate, then even though sugar has redeeming qualities, it will be a bad thing, right?

The argument that we could end artificial trans fat with tons of sugar is a straw man. The most sensible replacement which in most cases only affects the cost and shelf-life of food is either healthy or less-damaging fats.

Banning trans fat may be bad for orangutans but it's good for consumers' health.

What possible corporation out there would intentionally increase direct and indirect financial costs, lowering profits, merely to not increase sugar/hfcs use to lure people into buying their product?

Highly processed foods are now going to be much less greasy/oily and much more sugary to attract consumers. You need to do "something" get people to eat junk food, and if its not going to be the oily/greasy axis of evil it will be the HFCS/sugar axis of evil.

Maybe 1% of the market, the green/organic or at least greenwashing segment, will increase prices and switch to saturated fats and dramatically lower shelf life, but on a population wide scale that is a rounding error.

Higher carbs means more fat people and more diabetes and fat related illness including heart issues. So we're trading large number of heart disease related deaths for rather optimistically a slightly smaller number of obesity related deaths. Its probably a net win, but this is not the technological singularity where we'll all live forever...

Highly processed foods already switched over to using better packaging that keeps oxygen and moisture out (trans fats don't particularly taste better than other oils, they have better shelf life, improved packaging makes up for much of the difference).

Proof that I am not rambling incoherently:


So no worries there.

Margarine was developed as a replacement for butter. Just bring butter back (or any other saturated fat. coconut oil is also awesome)

Way to focus on that and not the much more real problem with people's diets, eating way too much. Yes, you need sodium in your diet to live, you do not need 3400 mg of it a day (twice recommended level).

Can you show that Trans-Fats would be killing people if they stuck to properly portioned meals?

Removing Trans-Fats is just going to be replaced with other fats, and probably some sugar for 'taste' that people will continue to eat far too much of. I expect the effect of removing Trans-Fats to be negligible to none because of that.

> Can you show that Trans-Fats would be killing people if they stuck to properly portioned meals?

People, no, I can't. If you wanted mice, monkeys, pigs, or any other mammal, I'm sure there's a study for you, but people not.

What do you think about the prohibition of adding arsenic to the food? If people eat it in moderated quantities, it won't kill them either.

Trans fats taste terrible. Butter, ghee and lard have all flavor.

Well, if it was categorically bad for you, it probably wouldn't be considered food.

Although trans fats are edible, consumption of trans fats has shown to increase the risk of coronary heart diseasein part by raising levels of the lipoprotein LDL (so-called "bad cholesterol"), lowering levels of the lipoprotein HDL ("good cholesterol"), increasing triglycerides in the bloodstream and promoting systemic inflammation.


I am not sure - years ago trans-fat were banned in Europe and now our chips are so greasy that I can't stand to eat them.

By these standards, how is alcohol still legal?

Alcohol-Related Deaths: Nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.


EDIT: I'm not advocating that alcohol be illegal. I couldn't care less to be honest.

I guess my comment was more of a question of how can you ban substance "A" because "Its bad for you"; but not ban substance "B" which kills 90k people in the U.S. annually? It just seems cherry picked is all. If the gov't is going to ban bad things, how does substance "B" get a pass?

Because substance A is taken willingly and knowingly and has no realistic substitute. Substance B is slipped to consumers unknowingly in many cases and there are plenty of cheap healthy substitutes.

Alcohol and Transfats are apples and oranges.

But the federal government has banned marijuana, which is arguably much safer than alcohol, and a potential substitute. In fact, they've banned to such a degree that for most purposes even scientific research on it is illegal.

It really does seem arbitrary, and once the arbitrary decision is made, all bridges are burned and we commit ourselves 100% to the capricious decision.

A lot of this is arbitrary and capricious, but banning marijuana is so blatantly stupid that there is actually some movement of late to reverse the ban.

Trans fat content is listed on EVERY nutrition label, by law.

I thought they can label things as 0g Trans fat or even not list it so long as there is less than .5 grams per serving.

Looks like my thoughts were somewhat correct, at least at some time (August 2003 until ???), scroll to #6:


EDIT: typos

Right, and you can read it on the wall of any fast food restaurant... but tell me when the last time you've seen someone read that. It's fair for regulators to take into account people's actual behavior.

GP claimed it was "slipped in unknowingly" which is false. Anyone who has paid any attention to the media the past few years knows that trans fat is now thought to be bad (never mind that in previous decades it was considered to be healthy, or at least "less bad" than saturated fat).

I actually do look at trans fat content on the labels quite often. The labels are very simple, it's not like a terms of service that's highly verbose and deliberatly obfuscatory.

If you want to avoid trans-fat, it's trivially easy.

The same thing can be said for alcohol. These facts aren't hidden.

Sure, but there are tons of products that list '0 trans fat' while also listing partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients. The FDA allows a certain amount of trans fat while letting the company claim 0 trans fat. Then the Bloomberg article says "The FDA said it hasn’t seen any data to prove that even low levels of partially hydrogenated oils are safe."

I don't think mobsters in America right now are gonna start a trans-fat ring to get people their trans-fat needs.

So you're saying we should open a trans-fat speakeasy.

Isn't that just called, McDonalds?

In the US, they finished moving away from trans fats in 2008 (When they stopped using it for french frying).

how progressive :)

Trans fat will still be legal to buy, it just won't be labeled as food or sold in food stores.

Sure, in the sense that people won't consciously seek out trans fats. If organized crime gets behind this, it will be in the form of, "Hey, the fries at Joe's in Little [ethnic enclave] are really good..."

This is a good point, but still shows how our laws and the reasoning is never transparent. I wonder what they really are up to? It obviously opens the door for other regulated products (as in more profitable) will now have a higher demand. The FDA is the mobsters in America by the way.

> The FDA is the mobsters in America by the way

The FDA might make mistakes, even mistakes that lead to deaths, but mobsters?


Not my favorite government institution. Off the top of my head, there's the constant flip-flopping on what's healthy and what isn't (often unrelated to scientific consensus), there's their handling of consumer gene sequencing, there's the downright dumb laws on medical devices (ask me about the fun and expense of getting a freakin' CPAP machine), their ignoring scientific consensus on cannabis..

"Mobsters" implies a level of malice for profit that doesn't exist.. but I'd settle for "criminally incompetent and neurotic". I honestly think the IRS is better staffed and more reasonable as an institution than the FDA, yet the former is almost universally (undeservedly so) reviled.

Een America, first you get da trans fats. Den you get de money. Den you get de power. Den you get de weemen.

Because people like drinking alcohol, but no one's going to protest over one type of oil being replaced with another in junk food.

Because alcohol is deeply socially ingrained with no direct substitute for most users, which makes banking it ineffective and likely to produce more harm than good. We kind of tried that already. Trans fats aren't like alcohol in that way.

> We kind of tried that already

Exactly. We don't want The Mob 2.0. Banning something with such a huge demand is begging to transfer wealth to criminal organizations. (Unless you were willing and able to enforce it. And of course it's not the only reason.)

Those standards are only one factor in the decision. Americans need/want alcohol badly enough that they wouldn't tolerate it being illegal. People can start consuming one type of oil vs. another without even knowing the difference.

You can never look at one similar aspect of two very different things and make any conclusion about inconsistency or hypocrisy. It's an incredibly oversimplified attitude.

Don't get me started. people seem to always look at me strangely when I tell them I don't drink. People like it and it is important to them so anything said against alcohol is RADICAL. People love being emotionally numbed and I guess people have a right to depress their emotions with drinking or whatever legal/prescribed drugs they want. There is very little said in terms of the emotional/relationship cost of their use.

1 in 10 US Deaths are directly related to Alcohol Use [http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/alcohol-responsible-1-10...]

World Wide: In the age group 20 – 39 years approximately 25 % of the total deaths are alcohol-attributable. [http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs349/en/]

How much of that is due directly to the alcohol and how much is due to good old-fashioned human stupidity, slightly enhanced?

The issue with this stat is that someone hurts/kills themselves or someone else, they had alcohol in their system, ergo it's an "alcohol-related incident". The problem with this line of reasoning should be obvious.

Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for young people. Why not ban cars while we are at it.

I find alcohol is good way to explain to people outside of the US how it is unlikely to get a ban on guns in the USA, even though it's obvious that would prevent death by a madman going on a shooting spree at a school. It would be like suggesting we ban beer in Germany or wine in France because of all the known alcohol related deaths.

A madman would steal a gun or otherwise obtain a gun illegally. Just like people obtained alcohol illegally during prohibition.

I'm not really disagreeing with your main point, just the "it's obvious that would prevent death by a madman going on a shooting spree".

Hell, if the US banned guns I would still own one I would just hide it better.

> Hell, if the US banned guns I would still own one I would just hide it better.

You probably wouldn't, because the risk of ending up in jail or prison would be unacceptable.

Over someone who illegally has obtained a gun breaking into my house and shooting me? I'll take the jail.

The gun is not a shield, it doesn't prevent you from getting shot. It can only help you if you shoot first at any sign of home invasion. Most of the time it's just a family member or intimate acquaintance: http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199310073291506

The study sounds correct for what it studies. People who keep a gun in their home are more likely to accidentally kill someone else that they already know. That makes sense, since people without one aren't likely to grab a knife and run at a perceived threat. Even if they did, it gives more time for the other person to react and announce that they are a friend.

However, as an anecdote, most people I know of who actually know what they are doing (as in people who are gun enthusiasts, not people who bought a gun "for protection" and shot it enough to take a class then put it in a drawer) announce themselves before shooting as the goal is to get the intruder to leave.

Quite often this alerts the intruder to your location and, in the case that they are an actual threat, they will charge at you (this is counter intuitive for me, but most stories I've read of home invasion with an armed resident seem to end this way). I only typically hear about these stories from survivors, but the cases I know of the resident killed or wounded their attackers and were safe.

Basically, that long-winded group of anecdotes is to say that it is not the case that a gun can only help you if you shoot first at any sign of home invasion. Anyone who actually knows something about guns knows that you only point a gun at a target you have identified and are prepared to destroy. For the most part, that means you won't shoot first at any sign of home invasion.

Sounds like a law abiding way to go!

There is a slight difference in that with alcohol you are most likely to kill yourself, whereas a gun you are more likely to kill someone else.

I was unaware that banning things rendered them impossible.

You just don't have the proper faith in the legal system.


How about drinking 4oz of wine to complement a good meal? Not drinking to get drunk??? Shocking, I know, but many adults do this.

I think that's strange.

Beyond disagreeing with the taste of wine, I personally don't drink any liquid in 4oz portions.

I sit down with 32oz of water at dinner time, and typically finish it.

I'm sure you get harsh reactions to your opinion, but seems like your attitude towards drinkers is a little harsh as well.

> People love being emotionally numbed

> I guess people have a right to depress their emotions with drinking

Blanket statements like this are unfair. I'd wager most drinkers do so moderately, and are not doing so to numb their emotions.

It's possible one might be better off drinking slightly more than recommended..


>People love being emotionally numbed

That's not what alcohol does. If anything, it's an emotion amplifier. It does usually put me on the happy end of the spectrum, but I don't consider that to be "numbing".

For me, it does numb me, for the most part. I suddenly don't care about a lot of things. Winning/losing, responsibilities, what my peers might thing, etc.

I'm also a happy drunk.

I and most people here drink occasionally, but this doesn't change the fact that you're right.

People paint illusions around what they like.

Too widely used with too specific qualities that aren't closely enough replaceable. There are replacements for transfat that don't dramatically alter the taste or texture, but you can't drink a soda and get drunk.

It's politically a more difficult maneuver; we know because we tried it in the 20s

There are certain dishes, which require shortening, that there is no effective replacement such as Apple Pie or Southern style biscuits. Shortening creates a flakiness and funny enough in floured baked goods, creates a flavor more buttery than butter alone, it has a magnifying property. Anyways the loss of (trans-fat) shortening will / has certainly drastically alter certain types of quick bread baking.

Shortening's like Crisco have been reducing the amount of trans-fats and the results can be seen in the loss of flakiness and butteriness of quick bread baking so much so that there is already a market for the older stuff.


Couldn't you just use lard?

I find lard and butter together are often best. It's amusing that GP complained about shortening becoming less buttery. Hmmm, I wonder how one could fix that?

The gov just cherry picks/jumps on the bandwagon for certain things and calls that progress, while at the same time subsidizing industries promoting bad health and the obesity epidemic. Real change won't come from authoritarian bans but from a cultural shift and people caring more about their health.

And when people don't do that, the government has a reason to get bigger... And that's what we have, a complacent populace.

Because we have different levels of risk and standards for what we consider recreation substances vs food? I don't know why that's so far to understand. These things have almost nothing in common from a public policy perspective. Even if we got rid of alcohol then it would be tobacco then guns, neither of which are food also.

Because the NFL would go broke. Everyone knows it takes at least a 6 pack before one can understand why a 1 hour game has less than 15 minutes of actual play. Without alcohol to dull the senses, people would simply stop watching it.

Commercials. And American football isn't like futbol, you can't run around for 90 minutes straight knocking each other out. Breaks are good. Plus the whole thing is entertainment, you don't have to optimize for time - that's the antithesis of entertainment.

Check out rugby union. 80 minutes, but close enough.

> And American football isn't like futbol

But it is like rugby. Watch a Six Nations Championship game when you have the chance.

You're probably not a fan, (which is fine - different sports aren't for everyone. I actually find association football, basketball, and baseball to be excruciatingly boring, but love watching track and field) but there's more going on than the actual "play." When the ball is downed, there are 40 seconds for the following to happen:

1. Substitution of players. Doing this dramatically changes the face of the offense. For example, in a short yardage play, they might sub out 1-2 receivers and sub in linemen. This gives the offense more power in the run. Alternatively, they can sub out the tight end and bring in a fifth receiver for the opposite - less blocking, more options for the quarterback to throw to.

2. Planning the next play, which has to be communicated to the players. This is, of course, affected by the substitution. Misdirection is a key part of game planning; for example, they might sub in two more linemen and still pass the ball, as the defense is expecting a running play.

3. The defense sees the formation and reacts to it. They've also substituted their players to be in line with the offense's players, (for example, if the offense has extra linemen, the defense will sub in extra linebackers) and will craft a defense on the fly to react to how the offense is arranged.

4. The quarterback sees the defense's alignment and makes adjustments on the fly. The middle linebacker does the same thing on defense.

5. The quarterback signals for the center to snap the ball, beginning the play.

All of this is intricate and happens pretty quickly, and if you're smart and experienced, you can predict what's going to happen and follow the action. I find it to be exciting, especially when you see a mismatch and the losing team scrambling to figure out a way to adjust. There's suspense that gets created as the offense drives down the field. Can they keep it up? Will the defense adjust? What new things are they trying in order to succeed where their previous efforts have failed? All of this is dynamic and happens very quickly. You'll literally watch a small change in blocking scheme wreck havoc on the defense's run defense. You'll watch a single linebacker's edge rushing butcher an offense's passing game and the offense scrambling to figure out anything to slow him down.

Unfortunately, watching the game has gotten worse over the years because of more commercials and terminally banal commentary, but football itself is great. I'll watch a shitty D3 college game and enjoy it as long as it's relatively competitive.

What really pisses me off is when this fast-paced, intricate game of chess is being played on the field and they're looking at goddamn people in the stands or cheerleaders or coaches or whatever. There's stuff going on, and we're missing literally half of the action because they want to show some shirtless drunk jackasses in the nosebleed seats.

On the bright side, the Chinese stream of the NFL is fantastic. No commercials.

Haha...I treat the NFL like I do futball. I have it on the background until I hear the announcer raise his voice in excitement and then pay attention. Say what you want about the NFL, but there is a lot of 'play' going on during dead balls.

One should never attempt to apply logic to government actions, for government is devoid of all logic.

or sugar?

Can you imagine how many deaths there would be if alcohol was banned?

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