Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Popularity Is the Opposite of Effectiveness

Nearly every vegan has heard the contention that you have to eat meat to get enough protein, and consume dairy to get enough calcium for your bones. To counter both these, some vegans contend (animal) protein is actually bad for bones -- a claim that lives on in some vegetarian literature, despite studies to the contrary.

Obviously, to be popular with these vegans is to promote this and their other fantasies, but that wouldn't be effective for the animals.

As discussed here, when Jack (right) leafleted across the country for two years, he heard "I was vegetarian / vegan for a while, but I felt unhealthy..." so often that he became a registered dietitian, so he would be able to evaluate nutrition research firsthand and provide sound recommendations. He knew the only way we could really help animals -- rather than promoting vegan mythologies -- was to honestly know and present all the research.

Jack's commitment to honesty is apparent in this recent blog post:

Meat Alternatives Associated with Lower Hip Fracture Risk in AHS-2

Of course, there will always be vegans who will claim protein "leeches" calcium from bones, you don't have to worry about protein / calcium, etc., regardless of what that facts are. But at least Jack is out there, providing current and thorough information.

Postscript: If you haven't read Jack's introduction to "Staying Healthy on Plant-Based Diets":

While many people thrive on a vegan diet, others have a hard time. When someone is committed to reducing animal suffering, there are often solutions to these dilemmas, and finding answers has been a major focus of my nutrition writing. I feel that it is important to bring attention to these issues. While doing so might not initially attract as many people as claiming that a vegan diet is a health panacea, getting people to stay vegan is the more important task....  

Nutritional myths have a way of going from one extreme to the other - either something is such an issue that people should not be vegan, or it is not important at all. The truth is often in the middle. Protein, calcium, and vitamin D are examples.  

People once believed that in order to rely on plant proteins, you had to combine particular foods at every meal. We now know this is not true, but in countering the myth, claims have gone from "You don't need to combine proteins," to "It's easy to get enough protein on a vegan diet," to the harmful "It's impossible not to get enough protein!" On average, vegans get enough protein, but vegans who avoid legumes and soyfoods might not be getting enough and could feel unhealthy....  

I would like to see vegan advocates promote the diet in such a way that we minimize the chances of someone having a bad experience. In so doing, future, long-term studies on vegans could show us to have better health than our meat-eating counterparts.