Veganism

Discussion in 'Other Stuff' started by Laird, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. Laird

    Laird Member

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    That doesn't sound like a typical comp. sci. crowd...

    You are "crazy", but only relative to a consensus reality which itself is horribly skewed. Just like vegans are "extremists" only relative to a consensus reality in which it is "normal" and "acceptable" to take an innocent, peaceable animal, forcibly load it onto a truck, knowing or sensing its ultimate fate, then transport it a seemingly interminable distance with a butcher's knife hanging over its throat, to eventually be roughly manhandled off that same truck, prodded with electric batons into a place of ghastly, unimaginable horror, slipping on blood, to then have its throat slit, sometimes in full or partial consciousness due to the ineffectiveness of the stun gun, and to finally be cut apart with a knife, sometimes in full or partial consciousness.

    Yes, I changed the subject.

    Yes, it's a totally valid change of subject: the violation of the rights/sanctity of animals is the biggest moral problem in the world today, so anywhere is valid to bring up this subject. But if a moderator asks me to, I'll move these comments to a new thread.
     
  2. Neil

    Neil New

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    I don't think veganism is the answer. We do need to treat animals a LOT better. We are starting to see more consideration for this. I used to be able to buy a steer from a farmer I know and I can tell you their lives were better than wild animals. We can't get all our nutrition from vegan sources so we need to push towards significantly better treatment than is in factory farms. Animal products are the basis for healthy humans.
     
  3. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Firstly, that's a morally bankrupt justification for the unnecessary taking of life.

    Secondly, I don't believe the claim to be true in any case. How do you justify it?

    Your claim is outright contradicted by the national dietetic associations of Australia (from where I write) - "with good planning it is still possible to obtain all the nutrients required for good health on a vegan diet" - and of the USA (where I presume you live? But perhaps you're in the UK): "It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes".

    Note: I can no longer find that PDF on the Association's website itself, but they do not appear to have rescinded it; in fact in this article they write: "Many people make the switch to a vegetarian diet because of the potential health benefits. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, vegetarian eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes including lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Also, vegetarians tend to consume a lower proportion of calories from fat and fewer overall calories, and more fiber, potassium and vitamin C than non-vegetarians. These characteristics, plus lifestyle factors, may contribute to the health benefits among vegetarians" (and despite the uniform use of "vegetarian" in that quote, the article itself acknowledges vegan diets as a valid subset of vegetarian diets).

    But let's say that they're wrong: how then is it possible that there are so many not just healthy, but competitive at the highest sporting level vegans, many of whom credit improved performance to switching to a vegan diet?

    Demonstrably false.

    (Moderators: do you think this should be split out into a separate thread?)
     
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  4. Laird

    Laird Member

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    In which case, we can refer to the "Vegetarian Diets Food Fact Sheet" of the Association of UK Dietitians, which states: "Well planned vegetarian diets can be nutritious and healthy. They are associated with lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers and lower cholesterol levels. This could be because such diets are lower in saturated fat, contain fewer calories and more fibre and phytonutrients/phytochemicals (these can have protective properties) than non-vegetarian diets".
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
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  5. Neil

    Neil New

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    Laird, I am going to respond to this, but we have to promise upfront that there will be no hard feelings.

    The animals were well taken care of and protected on open pastures. They were provided as much water as necessary, shelter from the elements if they wanted it, given medication if they became ill, and even the cows were assisted if there were complications at birth. The calves were also well taken care of to make sure they thrived, and they were protected from predators. When the steers were killed it is quick, which is more than can be said for how most wild animals die. Have you ever seen a deer that was taken down by coyotes? With its guts torn out? The animal is hunted down an evicerated alive. Either that or the animals can die a slow and painful death from disease or injury. Nature is brutal. These animals were well taken care of and had a good life.

    To call me morally bankrupt for killing one of these animals for healthy food for myself and my family is uncalled for. How many animals are killed to make vegan foods? Have you ever worked at any food factories that allow animals to be ground up in the machinery? Or the animals that can get chopped up in combines in fields? How many animals were torn to pieces and just rotted to make vegan food? What a waste of lives. At least when I kill a steer it is one life that feeds a family for months and nothing goes to waste.


    I live in the US, California, more specifically. Laird, I hope you can approach the nutrition topic with the same level of skepticism that you do the other topics here. I can speak for the American nutritional organizations, but from what you described, it sounds as if the Aussie ones are probably the same. You can't trust their information. Their policies and recommendations are more about economic interests than health. You are probably skeptical of this claim, but I will expand on this a bit regarding this specific subject.

    Here are a list of nutrients that are not found in vegan diets: Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, EPA, DHA (unless a specific algae supplement is used, but this is not well studied or common), arachidonic acid, vitamin B12. Other nutrients that are difficult to obtain in sufficient quantities from a vegan diet include choline, carnitine, taurine, vitamin B6 (due to the form in plant products), vitamin K2 (specific vegan foods can contain K2, but in the form of MK7, not the MK4 found in animal products. Not enough is yet known regarding the possible differences), and zinc. Or even something like iron, which can be important for anemics, is difficult to utilize from plant sources due to the poor bioavailablity. Liver, on the other hand, has very bioavailable heme iron.

    As far as a typical vegan diet, the lack of vitamin B12 and DHA are already not good for pregnancy and lactation. DHA is vitally important for the development of the nervous system of the child. Luckily nature is smart and will basically rob the mother of DHA, which can cause detrimental effects in the mother including things like post-partum depression.

    The recommendations also do not take genetic factors into account. Certain backgrounds can alter nutrient requirements since some peoples have a genetic history that does not allow for the same kind of conversion of plant forms of nutrients into the required forms; they are almost obligatory carnivores. EPA, DHA, and arachidonic acid are all essential fats that are not found in a vegan diet, and certain populations, such as Inuits and many native Americans, for example, cannot convert the parent omega-3 and omega-6 fats found in plant products to these required forms because of differences in enzyme pathways. Genetic variance in beta-carotene to vitamin A is quite large, and many cannot maintain adequate vitamin A status on plant products alone.

    I can go into a huge amount of additional detail, but one should not trust government organizations for health and nutrition advice.

    These studies are extremely flawed for various reasons. One serious flaw is that generally speaking, a vegan diet is NOT compared to a healthy omnivorous diet; it is compared to the standard junk food diet that is then considered to be the omnivorous control. You can't begin to compare my diet of various nutritious meats, eggs, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables to someone eating fast food, but these studies are used then to recommend against what I eat. The conclusions are garbage.

    Who? They are a minority. My background is more in sports nutrition, and almost no one is vegan. There is a vocal minority that seems to do well, yet most likely they are more genetically suited to that type of diet or haven't been on it for a long time. You can't apply that to everyone; nutrition doesn't work that way. We used to have a name for a significant group of people, particularly women, which was "recovering vegans," that felt their health initially improved on a vegan diet (most likely because of some potential benefits of the diet, but more likely the exclusion of the normal junk they ate), but then their health slowly started to deteriorate. Some people do not genetically handle vegan diets as well, and cannot maintain certain nutrient stores the same, or may have higher genetic requirements for certain nutrients.

    There was a dentist back in the 1930s that wrote a book called "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration." He went around the world at a time when there were many indigenous peoples still isolated from modern life and eating their native diets. Without getting into too much detail, he went searching for what type of diets made people healthy. Basically he found no healthy vegan tribes, and all the groups that were healthy had a common factor of certain animal products rich in fat soluble nutrients. These came from different sources depending on the people, but they were usually some form of eggs, pastured dairy, organ meats, and sea food (particularly shellfish). His book thoroughly documents his findings.

    Today we are learning that these fat soluble nutrients, vitamin A, D3, K2, and vitamins E are very important for genetic expression, and are required in order to determine the fate of the minerals in the diet, among many other things. These, again, are generally found in animal products (especially vitamin A and D3), and the vitamin K2 particularly in fatty animal products such as eggs and dairy fat from pastured animals. Vitamin K2 is important to reduce soft tissue calcification and is important for reducing risk of heart disease, for example. A lack of these fat soluble nutrients from a typical vegan diet can lead to either insufficiencies or outright deficiencies.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  6. Neil

    Neil New

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    Laird, this is like consulting Bill Nye the Science guy about ESP.
     
  7. Laird

    Laird Member

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    I'm more interested in deconstructing carnist apologism than in either of our feelings, but, if it eases your mind, I have debated meat-eaters plenty before without coming to blows.

    Here's the simple fact that none of that changes: in the end, it comes down to a choice to unnecessarily end a life. "But we took good care of our victims" is not a valid justification for murder. It wouldn't be in the case of murdering humans, and nor is it when the victims are animals.

    In any case, where is the choice for these animals? You might want to believe that given the choice, they would happily continue to shack up on this farm, but they don't have that choice, do they? And you don't know what they would do with that choice if they were given it, do you? And if you factor in a knowledge that hanging out on the farm will ultimately lead to an early death... what do you really think any sane animal is going to choose? Be honest.

    No, what's uncalled for is unnecessary killing.

    I've pre-written a response to arguments of this sort.

    The irony is that assuming you're right about economic interests, you're shooting yourself in the foot: the biggest economic forces in the food industry are associated not with vegan foods, but with the meat, dairy and fast food lobbies. Are you sure you still want to go there?

    Even assuming your list is accurate, it is wholly irrelevant, because, to the extent necessary/desired, vegan supplements are available for all of these "missing" nutrients. But regardless, even though in this sense it's a big waste of time, I'll humour you: let's see if there's anything new here.

    Right off the bat: yes. Never heard that claim before, not even a whisper of it. It sounds bizarre on its face, so I looked it up, and found this article which addresses it: The age of Information is also the age of misinformation – Claims regarding vegetarianism and vitamin A.

    I'm already aware of that one. I supplement with Vitashine D3 (vegan). If I get out in the sun a lot though I could probably avoid even this.

    I supplement with the algae-based Opti3 (also vegan). I'm not convinced it's necessary, see for example the conclusion of this journal article (emphasis added), Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vegetarian diets: "Although vegetarians consume minimal EPA and DHA, studies show plasma levels of n-3 PUFA are typically low but apparently stable. An adequate amount of ALA can be consumed from plant sources, and vegetarians can take steps to optimise conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA. The diet must be well supplied with dietary sources of ALA, and there is some evidence that a direct source of microalgae-derived DHA and EPA may be beneficial, particularly for those with increased needs or difficulty converting ALA. There is no convincing evidence that vegetarians or vegans experience adverse effects as a result of a low dietary intake of EPA and DHA. Finally, further research is required to understand if ALA and SDA can be substituted for marine EPA and DHA, or if direct sources of EPA and DHA are essential for optimal health".

    I hadn't heard that claim before either, however the previously linked article doesn't indicate any concerns with any putative insufficiency of the conversion mechanism from linoleic acid to arachidonic acid in vegans; on the contrary, it highlights instead the problems with excess arachidonic acid: "Eicosanoids from AA are very potent and overproduction is associated with increased risk of disease (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and immune and inflammatory disorders)" and "An excess of LA, common in Western diets, can suppress conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA and increase production of AA. This in turn can have significant adverse consequences for health. The balance of LA and ALA can be even more precarious in vegetarian diets". Other sources too confirm that there can be significant problems with excessive AA.

    Sure, every vegan knows this one. I supplement with (vegan) oral tablets. Again, I'm not convinced it's necessary, but better safe than sorry.

    Alright, let's see this list too then, with the same foreword as for the previous list: even if it is true that these nutrients are difficult to obtain on a vegan diet, it is also wholly irrelevant due to the possibility of supplementation.

    Aware of it already. However, as far as I'm aware, there have been very few studies done into the true daily requirement, and the guideline set is more or less a rough guess. Also, last I heard, there's evidence that excessive choline has health risks associated with it. For a while there, I was adding sunflower lecithin (a rich source of choline) to my smoothies, but I no longer bother.

    Vaguely aware of claims to this effect, there doesn't seem to be much to them. For example, the abstract of the study Carnitine status of lactoovovegetarians and strict vegetarian adults and children concludes: "Small differences between diet groups [those groups being strict vegetarian i.e. vegan, lactoovovegetarian, and mixed diet --Laird] in adults do not suggest a nutritionally significant difference in carnitine status". In any case, it's a non-essential amino acid, and the body can synthesise it. If necessary in outlier cases, supplements are available.

    Again, non-essential, and can be synthesised by the body, and again, if necessary, supplementation is possible.

    Haven't heard this claim before; I'm skeptical.

    Hadn't heard this one before; this far down the list I'm not motivated to do much digging.

    Have constructed meal plans for myself and haven't had that much of a problem meeting the daily requirements for zinc.

    Eliding some of your subsequent comments which - due to the possibility of vegan supplementation - even if true are irrelevant to the question of the nutritional completeness of a vegan diet...

    Well, studies that specifically compare against healthy omnivorous diets come to the same conclusions. Here's an example: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/vegetarians-versus-healthy-omnivores/. In any case, again, you still haven't said anything relevant. My position is not and has never been that "The vegan diet is the perfect diet, and offers unequivocal health benefits over all other diets". For all I know, that position is supportable, but I don't rely on it being true. This is all I claim: that a vegan diet ought to be adopted for ethical reasons, and that health is not a valid objection to adopting a vegan diet because such diets are at a minimum nutritionally complete (even if one might - but also if one does not - need to supplement), and are at a minimum sufficiently healthy to function adequately on.

    No kidding - what else would you expect when vegans are a minority in the general population?

    See above.

    Look, if it's possible for people to survive on a totally synthetic (vegan) meal replacement drink, then it's easily possible for anybody to survive on a vegan diet fullstop - where a wholefood-based, natural vegan diet is insufficient, one can supplement as/when required.

    It's a pity he's not alive now, to study the abundant population of modern "vegan tribes" who are healthy, then, isn't it?

    Again, this is all pretty much irrelevant due to the possibility of - if one thinks it desirable/necessary - supplementing on a vegan diet.

    Here's an observation: you can't supplement your way out of a health risk due to consumption of animal products; you can supplement your way out of any purported nutritional deficiency in a vegan diet (plus, you get to keep the reduced risks to health for free).

    Please, this is beneath you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
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  8. Neil

    Neil New

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    It sounds like going into this you are more interested in ideological positions than sorting out evidence. I'm not sure why you are starting this off by labeling me a carnist apologist.

    So what choice did the animals have that were killed in the process of making your vegan foods? The animals chopped up in combines or manufacturing equipment? They were not even eaten as food by you, but either just rotted or were picked apart by scavengers.

    Given the choice, would the steer want to hang out on the farm where they are provided ample food, water, and also shelter? Maybe, or maybe they would wander off to some other pasture, but there seems to be a good chance that they would hang out where there is ample food and water.

    How will a steer have "knowledge that hanging out on the farm will ultimately lead to an early death"? You are projecting human abilities on these steer. We know that even young human children do not have the concept of death, so why would you think that the steer would have the concept of death? Let alone the abstract ability to consider such a future situation and weigh the possible options? While I think the animals are conscious, feel pain, have emotions, etc., the steer do not have this cognitive ability.

    And indirect killing of animals to make your vegan foods is called for? I think killing one animal to feed a family for months is more justifiable than killing many small animals that are never consumed, rather often just rot, in order to make the foods you wish to eat.

    And the response is basically saying what I stated is true:

    A lot of the rest is about how to reduce indirect deaths in the production of vegan foods. So how can one be called morally bankrupt for killing a steer which feeds a family for months, yet encourage consumption of foods that indirectly kill and waste animal lives? So if you reduce the number of deaths, then that makes the killing okay?

    Sure. I am familiar with the history of the FDA and the corruption that occurred, and the change of power and the ideological changes that favored commercial interests over health concerns. With that history alone, not even considering the bad science, why would you trust government organizations?

    No, there aren't vegan supplements for all of them. What vegan source is there for retinol? Or vitamin D3?

    And in your link it supports what I just said:

    As I mentioned, the variance in conversion is wide, and can depend on genetic factors as well as health factors. It also doesn't take into account actual absorption rates of beta-carotene. You cannot just look at the nutrient content of foods and assume that is what you're getting (not taking into account in variance in nutrient levels due to other factors such as farming practices, etc). Eating raw carrots by themselves results in a very small percentage of the beta-carotene being absorbed. Cooking can increase the net availability, and to really absorb a lot of it, the meal must contain sufficient fat. Considering many vegans are also on a low-fat diet, this can really skew the claims made in the paper you linked. It is far more complex than she makes it out to be.

    It also doesn't address that certain populations and health issues can really hamper this conversion, such as young children, diabetes, low thyroid, pancreatic disease, and celiac disease, to name some. It doesn't make sense to rely on beta-carotene for these populations. Nor, does she address the difference between deficiency and sub-clinical insufficiency. This is a spectrum, not a switch. Once you're at the clinical deficiency level, you are subject to adverse pathogenic symptoms. Insufficiency occurs prior to this state, and insufficiency starts to have negative consequences without yet manifesting the overt pathogenic symptoms of outright deficiency.


    This is interesting, but it's difficult to know more about it from the website. It claims to source the D3 from lichens, but I would want independent confirmation since D3 is typically made from irradiating cholesterol, and plants, from my understanding, contain phytosterols, which is an analog of cholesterol without the same function (which is why its irradiated for D2 also does not have the same function as D3).

    So I am not going to be so quick to buy that this is legitimate without clinical testing. I already noticed a false claim on the website stating "Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol), which is a derivative of ergosterol and is not produced by land plants" since there are certain tubers and mushrooms that contain D2. Unless they want to get by on a technicality that a mushroom is a fungus and not a plant.

    Since you are taking it, you should note that tablets and sprays by themselves may not allow for proper absorption since D3 is fat soluble. Tablets should only be taken with meals containing fat, and same goes for the spray.

    And regarding sunshine, it just generally is not a reliable source for most people unless an effort is made. I live in sunny California and I have had many people tested that come back well under the range for deficiency. People in more northern climates cannot get vitamin D from the sun almost at all, and must rely on dietary or supplemental sources.

    From your link, it states:

    You're failing to distinguish between a clinical deficiency and insufficiency. I'm not interested in just avoiding pathogenic deficiency symptoms; I am interested in having a high degree of health.

    If you're familiar with the desaturase pathways involved in the conversion of LA and LNA, then you are probably aware of all the things that can adversely affect the function of these pathways, not to mention genetic differences that can result in certain populations being almost obligatory carnivores. Conversion from LNA to DHA, because of the many lossy steps, is generally abysmal even at the general population level.

    Perhaps you should consider what was stated in your link:

    So with a vegan diet, how can you be sure these populations making sufficient EPA, DHA, and AA? Do you have to now incorporate expensive testing on a regular basis in order to make sure they aren't deficient? What about insufficiencies? Is the answer to then make sure everyone takes your algae supplement? Why not just let them eat meat, fish, and eggs?

    If you want to make conclusions from research like this, you have to realize that you are looking at the averages. Individual responses can very wildly, and it is not correct that to assume if your average outcome is sufficient status of a particular nutrient that this means that this particular practice (such as vegan diet) can then allow every individual to have sufficient status. This would lead to some people doing fine and others suffering health consequences. You cannot generalize this way; it doesn't work in practice.

    Excess arachidonic acid is not generally the result of diet. Overproduction of inflammatory eicosanoids from AA is not a function of intake of AA or really LA directly. Other factors are what create the problems that result in an inflammatory response, leading to AA being used to create the inflammatory eicosanoids. Don't blame AA. It should be noted that AA is by far the most important essential fat and is vital for many functions, including tight gap juntions in the gut and a proper robust inflammatory response for proper immune function.

    I have seen different research including excess LA supplemented to the diet not resulting in significant cell membrane AA content (you actually end up with more LA in the cell membrane), and even supplementing with 1g/day of AA not resulting in increased inflammation. AA itself doesn't increase inflammation. The concerns are theoretical because they assume that simply supplying more LA will result in proportionally more AA, which then is assumed results in more inflammation. This is just wrong, both experimentally as mentioned and also even if you understand the enzyme pathways and the processes of inflammation.

    B12 stores can last a long time but eventually run out. Some last longer than others, but supplementation for vegans is required.

    Supplementing nutrients is not the same as eating foods containing the nutrients. For example, if you're anemic, you can supplement with an inorganic iron and it can work in varying degrees. However, if you eat liver, you not only get a more bioavailable form of heme iron, you also get additional nutrients needed in blood cell production such as retinol, copper, and B12. The complexity of food is enormous and we do not yet understand all the various non-vitamin nutrients found in food, let alone possible synergy of these nutrients. For example, vitamin K2 from foods can reduce disease risk in minute amounts while supplemental forms require large doses. Why? We don't know. We don't yet know enough about the complexities of food to equate supplementation of isolated nutrients with the consumption of the nutrient-dense food.

    There is no "true daily requirement" because it is not a vitamin, but that does not mean that insufficiencies can result in negative consequences. It was originally thought to be a member of the B complex, but did not obtain vitamin status because it can be produced by the body, but low choline intake is implicated in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. And to say that there are health risks associated with an excessive intake is something that occurs for ALL nutrients, so I don't see the relevance in the context of normal diet that supplies choline from meat and eggs. If you are referring to the study on the metabolites of choline from certain gut bacteria, this is more about healthy gut flora than choline.

    Again you are basically saying that if it is not essential then there can be no health effects due to insufficiencies.

    You have to get beyond the completely over-simplified and incorrect idea that if it is not essential that it does not have health consequences.


    B6 is found in the following forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal. Plants contain pyridoxine, while animal products contain a mix of pyridoxamine and pyridoxal, which are the forms used in the body. Pyridoxine requires conversion in the body before it can be used for reactions. This is another reason you can't just look at nutrient information and think it's all equivalent.


    You should. Do you supplement with K2? There is the common vegan form from nattokinase, a soy product. But then if you supplement with that, you are likely indirectly killing animals that died from the farming of soy.

    But that's MK7, not the MK4 found in animal products. MK7 has a longer half-life, and that is thought to be a good thing, but what if that means that it is not as bioavailable and therefore not taken up in tissues as well? We don't know enough, but we do know that minute amounts of vitamin K2 found in fatty animal products such as some liver, eggs, and grassfed dairy products is helpful in reducing disease risk, including heart disease.

    Do you test your levels? If you meet a daily intake, yet the absorption is low due to factors such as phytic acid content of the diet (found in nuts, seeds, beans, grains), then that doesn't guarantee you get enough. Also, for example, digestive efficiency of raw almonds is about 75%, and that is not considering efficiency of absorption of the zinc in them due to mechanical factors and phytic acid content.

    Are you going to attempt to take a pill for everything?

    That link doesn't take me to any studies. To which studies do you refer?

    It's not. You are trying to support the claim based on research using averages. assuming the research is even valid (which a great deal in nutrition science is not), you are claiming the average and saying screw you to the people that do not respond well to such a diet.

    And who wants to "function adequately"? I want to be healthy. You do not make the important distinction between insufficiencies and deficiencies. You seem to think that if there are no outright pathogenic deficiency symptoms on average that this then can be applied to everyone and that there are no negative consequences. This is a false conclusion.


    You said "there are so many" which is false.

    You made the claim that "there are so many" which is false.

    Who cares about surviving? I want to be healthy and I want health for my subsequent generations. What evidence do you have that humans can produce many healthy generations on such a synthetic meal replacement? There is none! That is an enormous assumption that is based on an over-simplified understanding of nutrition, and not considering different genetic populations and disease states.

    There is no way to comment here one way or another. He studied a wide variety of peoples from all corners of the globe and found no vegan cultures that met his standards of radiant health. Since I am not convinced of what you consider to be healthy, which seems to be a lack of pathogenic symptoms, I cannot really take it that there are healthy vegan cultures.

    What he did demonstrate was a common thread of animal products rich in fat soluble nutrients that led to countless generations of healthy peoples, not just people that "survived."

    We do not know enough to say that the supplementation is equivalent. That is a major unfounded assumption on your part, and I think the evidence for vitamin K2 is very suggestive that they aren't equivalent. You are also basing this on an incorrect model that equates a lack of pathogenic deficiency symptoms with health.

    Health risks due to consumption of animal products? You cannot just cite epidemiological research to support this type of claim since conclusions cannot be made from this. There is not confirmatory research establishing causal increased risk of disease from healthy animal products. You cannot draw conclusions from epidemiological research logically, and not only that, the research is shakey due to the methods used (like food frequency questionnaires) and also problems with the statistical analysis.

    Why do you put so much faith in a government organization? You would be quick to question Bill Nye talking ESP, but why not question mainstream nutrition? Perhaps your stance on veganism is more ideological.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
  9. Laird

    Laird Member

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    The word "ideological" is too readily thrown about for "ideological" purposes. I am as critical of this in my own circles as in those of my opponents. For example, I am vehemently opposed to the conservative government that we currently have here in Australia, but when a sympathetic relative dismissed its views as "ideological", I pointed out that our principled opposition to those views is, in just the same sense, "ideological" in itself. All that it really means (if we are to be fair) to say that somebody is working from an "ideology" is that that person has, and bases his/her choices in, principles. Of course I have principles, and of course you, too, have principles. In this sense, neither of us is any more nor less "ideological" than the other.

    In other words, my basic ideological principle is that avoidable harm should be avoided. You seem to have a different ideological principle: that harm to animals need not be avoided if there is (what you perceive to be) a health advantage to humans.

    I am most concerned about countering your ideological principle as I have stated it, and with demonstrating that my own is far more justifiable.

    I am far less concerned with the evidential question of whether there is, in fact, a health advantage to humans in a non-vegan diet. Whilst I do not believe it to be true that there is such a health advantage, and that it is, in fact, the case that the opposite is true, I also acknowledge that, evidentially, these questions are very fraught with controversy, and with the problem of a field of study which is massively complex, and in which, whilst reductionism - e.g. looking at individual nutrients in isolation - is often employed, and is sometimes relevant, the far-too-infrequently-employed holistic approach is probably far more often both helpful and relevant.

    I have in this sense indulged you by allowing you to present your case - that there are (in what I would view as an unhelpfully reductionist sense) potential deficiencies with individual nutrients in a vegan diet, and that any putative health benefits to a vegan diet are a result of research based in comparisons with junk-food non-veganism rather than with healthy non-veganism - without presenting an opposing case. To be honest, whilst I know that a strong opposing case could be mounted, and whilst many (most?) other vegans in my position would eagerly mount it, I am simply not interested in even trying.

    For example, there are many vegans who would argue, based on what they would claim to be science, that early humans were essentially frugivores/vegans, and thus that the "natural" diet for humans is not, as carnists would like us to believe, omnivorous, but fruitarian/vegan. And maybe they are right. I sure hope so. But maybe they're not. I simply don't know, and thus, I am not willing to (merely) opine. (Perhaps you might be willing to acknowledge that, in this sense, I am not such an "ideologue" - in the sense of "one who promotes false evidence due to preconceptions" - after all? It would be nice if you were). Maybe you will react to that possible argument with a vehement counter-argument. Maybe not. I really don't care. None of this evidential stuff is simple, and I am certainly not going to trust that you have the definitive answers.

    For the most part, all this is only tangentially relevant to my basic position: namely, that a vegan (actually, I go further than veganism: I recommend, ethically, a variant of fruitarianism) diet is (1) ethically compelled and (2) sufficiently healthy.

    I strongly maintain that the fact that a vegan diet is at a minimum "sufficiently" healthy is well established by the available evidence, and I also strongly maintain that if you dispute that, then the burden of proof lies with you, and, furthermore, that you are far from having met it.

    At best, you have suggested with respect to several individual nutrients that vegans may not in principle obtain enough of them by some sort of normative standard. OK, so, here are the problems with that:

    1. You have failed to establish that such normative standards with respect to individual nutrients can be applied in isolation i.e. independent of the overall diet which a person consumes.
    2. You have failed to identify any actual, and widespread or typical negative health effects of any putative inadequate levels of consumption of individual nutrients in vegans as they actually exist. What do I mean by this? Let's say that for nutrient X you hypothesise an inadequate intake in vegans. Fine, but this is a normative statement which is of no actual relevance unless it results in actual health problems. It's all very well to say "Sir, you are deficient in nutrient X", but if that sir is, in fact, perfectly healthy and suffering no ill-effects despite a nominal "deficiency", then this is a meaningless statement. So, where is your evidence that the putative inadequate intakes that you cite are having actual, real, negative health effects in vegans? And moreover, that these negative health effects are widespread and typical, bearing in mind that your original claim was quite definitive: that "Animal products are the basis for healthy humans".
    3. You have failed to establish that, even if you can meet the above two points, it is impossible or inordinately difficult for any vegan deficient in any particular nutrients to overcome that deficiency through supplementation.
    4. You have failed to establish that omnivores, even on the most healthy of omnivorous diets, are not equally subject to deficiencies i.e. you are assuming some sort of - at least relative - "completeness" of an omnivorous diet. Again, whilst it would be possible to - and whilst many (most?) vegans in my situation would eagerly take up that option - mount the case that omnivorous diets are no less subject to "deficiencies" than vegan diets, I am not interested in even trying. But on the other hand, I repeat that you have not as yet provided any evidence that omnivorous diets are any less subject to deficiencies than vegan diets.

    In that case, I will explain, because I want you to be sure.

    "Carnism" is a term coined by social psychologist, Dr. Melanie Joy. On her website, it is defined as follows:

    dictionary.com defines an "apologist" as "a person who makes a defense in speech or writing of a belief, idea, etc".

    You have "made a defence in writing" of "the belief or idea" that is "the opposite of veganism", that we should "eat certain animals", that "eating animals [is] a given", or at least that eating animals is "a necessity for survival"; hence, you are, by definition, a carnist apologist.

    So, unless you think it is confusing to label a person accurately, I am not sure how you could any longer remain confused as to why I have so labelled you.

    (Incidentally, it's interesting in the light of your own choice of words to note Dr. Joy's choice of words (emphasis added): "Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology [...]")

    "So", what that response tells me is that you have no direct counter to what I wrote, from which I infer that you accept it as sound. To reiterate, what I wrote is that 'in the end, it comes down to a choice to unnecessarily end a life. "But we took good care of our victims" is not a valid justification for murder. It wouldn't be in the case of murdering humans, and nor is it when the victims are animals'. I take it then, since you do not offer any direct refutation of what is in fact that cut-and-dried, that you accept it, and that you thus feel forced to justify your immoral choices through a "But what about you, huh?" - a turning-of-the-tables, "but you're just as bad" type response.

    OK, so, we've established (pending any real defence) that you have no moral justification for your choices, but sure, let's then switch focus: what about me? Are my choices really no worse than yours?

    I directed you to my pre-written response to arguments as to animal deaths in agriculture, which you dismissed with this:

    This sort of dismissiveness does your case no favours. I take your suggestion that I am an "ideologue" to imply that I am a biased, black-and-white thinker who ignores reality, yet when I present a nuanced response to a complex question based on an acceptance of reality, you ignore the substantive points that I make in favour of a knee-jerk rejection based on the fact that my arguments indeed accept (current) reality.

    Veganism is a reaction to a problem: the problem of the institutionalised and normalised violation of the rights of non-human beings. Any real-world vegan is going to have to accept that the resolution of such entrenched problems is going to be complex, and beset with difficulties, and thus develop sensitive positions which acknowledge the complexities. You have ignored and summarily dismissed my attempt to do exactly that.

    So, please allow me, in this space, to summarise what I actually put forward, rather than to allow to stand your summary dismissal of it based on my acknowledgement that there are in fact real-world problems which require a thoughtful response:

    1. Firstly, I made the obvious point that even in principle, it is not possible to consume animal products without harm to animals, whereas it is in principle possible to consume fruit (by the botanical definition) products with neither harm to animals nor (which is also important to me) to plants.
    2. Secondly (and which is the entire basis on which you dismissed my position without further justification), I acknowledged that currently, what is possible in principle with respect to fruit food sources is not - at least through mainstream sources - possible in practice.
    3. Thirdly, I suggested that to conflate what is currently possible in practice with what is possible in principle would be a bad mistake, in that it would encourage us to mistakenly accept arguments that consumption of animal foods is in principle no less justified than consumption of fruit foods, and thus forestall the possibility of social and agricultural changes which align what is possible in practice with what is possible in principle.
    4. Finally, I suggested that given all of the above, we should do our best to not just reject animal products, but to lobby for or otherwise attempt to manifest changes to plant-based agriculture which adjust its practices from being incompatible with a vegan ethic to being (which is in principle possible) compatible.

    Now, if you would like to point out how my reasoning fails, then please do that. As you have indicated of your views on consciousness, I am open to critique. But reactive, unsubstantiated dismissals do nothing to help me to correct my views, nor to demonstrate the soundness of your own.

    In my opinion: no, not at all - not if it realises that the consequence of that is an early death at the hands of the farmer.

    Neil, please think about it. Does a wild animal simply lay down and allow a predator to kill it? Or does it buck desperately, running for its life, kicking at the predator and doing everything in its power to avoid succumbing? Of course animals are fully aware of death and what it means. When an animal approaches a slaughterhouse, does it meekly submit to the knife? Of course not. It knows full well what is in store for it, and it resists as powerfully as it can. You present an utterly impoverished view of the nature of awareness of animals. They are vastly more cognitively capable than you give them credit for.

    As for how a steer might have knowledge that hanging out on the farm would ultimately lead to an early death: this was a hypothetical i.e. an "if we could get a steer to know this, then what would it choose?" It was not a statement that steers actually possess such knowledge. But on the other hand, steers are far more intelligent than you appear to give them credit for, and it would - and I say this definitively and unequivocally - not surprise me were steers to work out for themselves what was going on, and what the risks were based on mere observation, and potentially even on psi, and to do their utmost to avoid them.

    Neil, please, let's be real. You don't kill steers because you think that it's less harmful to do so than to adopt a vegan diet - that is merely an ad-hoc argument that you adopt to use against me. You kill steers because you think that there's nothing wrong with killing selfishly in the first place. How do I know this? Because you have explicitly stated that you eat animals for what you perceive to be health benefits, not because of a concern to reduce harm. If you were genuinely concerned about harm reduction, then you would have adopted a vegan diet, because, as the links I provided in my pre-written response show, that is the best way to reduce harm to sentient beings even right now, despite any arguments for future harm reduction. So, please, don't come at me with these disingenuous defences. Your choices are morally bankrupt because, despite any entailments of my own vegan choices, your choices are based on the view that an animal's fundamental interest in its own life is subordinate to your own trivial dietary interests.

    Oh boy. Where to start.

    Perhaps in the obvious place: your claim that the national dietetic associations of the USA and of Australia are "government organisations".

    This just has no basis in fact. Both of these are (as "association" implies) independent, membership-based organisations. Neither, as best I can tell, is based on, or even accepts, government funding.

    The Dietitian's Association of Australia describes itself as "a non-profit member organisation". It "represent{s} more than 5,700 members, who are employed in a wide variety of areas including clinical dietetics, community nutrition, education, private sector, government, research and industry".

    The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), as the former American Dietetic Association is now known, describes itself as "the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1917, by a visionary group of women dedicated to helping the government conserve food and improve the public's health and nutrition during World War I".

    Wait? Was "government" mentioned in that description? Well, yes, it was. But let's put this in context: that initial partnership with government was necessarily evidence- rather than propaganda-based: after all, if you are trying to work out how to conserve food in a war which you must win, propaganda is not going to cut it, only evidence-based research and advice will - else you are going to fail, and sabotage your chances at winning the war.

    The description continues: "Today, the Academy has over 75,000 members — registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, registered, and other dietetics professionals holding undergraduate and advanced degrees in nutrition and dietetics, and students — and is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy".

    In other words, these organisations are both independent from government and membership-driven. And who are their members? Qualified dietitians! So, essentially, you are rejecting the conclusions of independent groups of the experts most qualified to come to those conclusions, on no other basis than the false claim that those organisations are instruments of government.

    But let's look into this independence from government a little more. Wikipedia claims the following of the AND:

    Do you see any mention of government funding there? Me neither.

    But let's look at the question of bias a little more critically - we are, after all, on a skeptical forum. What about bias due to corporate sponsorship? As far as the above quote goes: I would definitely not describe either Coca Cola nor PepsiCo as vegan sympathisers nor advocates; as for General Mills, that's a more involved question, but it certainly would appear to have no inherent investment in vegan advocacy or in the manipulation of science to a vegan agenda.

    And as far as the Dietitian's Association of Australia goes, is there a bias due to corporate sponsorship? Well, yes, very plausibly, but, if so, that bias favours the meat, dairy and junk-food sector, not the vegan community, just as I pointed out in my first response.

    So, from where is this supposed vegan bias of which you accuse these organisations coming? Or, could it be that you accuse them of bias out of your own bias?

    I'm going to avoid further discussion of specific points of nutrition, mostly because, as I said, this area is complex and fraught, and because even experts disagree, and I am not even an expert. What I will leave it at is this: that the conclusion of independent groups of experts, such as the national dietetic organisations of both of our countries, even when biased by corporate sponsorship to come to the opposite conclusion is that vegan diets are not just healthy, but beneficial. Getting into discussions based on "But what about the potentially inadequate intake of nutrient [X]" is not something in which I am going to indulge you any further. If any individual person - vegan, vegetarian, or carnist - discovers that s/he has a deficiency, then by all means, let that person investigate the cause and attempt to correct it. But to suggest that vegans necessarily and unavoidably, and more especially, uncorrectably, have any more problems in this respect than do the members of any other dietary group is just unjustified, and I thoroughly reject that suggestion.

    And I believe that to be possible on a vegan diet, I simply don't base my position on it, because, even if it's not, it doesn't justify murder.

    I last had a full blood test several years ago; I can't recall whether it was before or after I transitioned from lacto-ovo vegetarian to vegan-fruitarian, but probably it was before or at least not very long afterward. It came back totally normal except for a slight deficiency in vitamin D. I no longer voluntarily accept the entry of needles into my body, so that is more than likely going to be the last blood test I take.

    I was at that point taking no supplements whatsoever.

    Not true. In a large population, even a minority can be, and in this case, is, large.

    What evidence do I need? In the first case, I'm not suggesting that we all ought to survive off synthetic meal replacers anyway, but in the second, the ethical argument for veganism trumps the need for evidence other than prima facie, deferring conclusive proof to the outcome of experience.

    But as for the possibility of a vegan diet in general being sustainable over multiple generations, you might like to consider that according to this 2006 Hindu times article, 31% of Indians are vegetarian, by which it might mean "vegan", since it adds that another 9% of the population are "vegetarians who eat eggs". Is there any evidence that that 31% (plus the additional 9%) of the Indian population has been drastically dragging down the overall health of the Indian population over the course of India's history?

    Since you dismissed with little comment the link I shared with you to a site profiling many top-level competitive vegan athletes, that's not surprising. You accuse me of bias, yet your own bias shows blatantly - you are not even willing to consider the evidence for healthy vegans.

    Given that there are so many healthy vegan athletes at the top levels of competition, there are certain to be vastly more at less competitive levels, and many more who are neither competitive nor even interested in athletics - and in fact this is what observation tells us to be true: you can find enthusiastic, successful vegans all over the place, especially on social media. If this diet is necessarily such a nutritional failure, then how come there are so many of us doing so well on it; well enough to tout its benefits?

    If this diet is so unhealthy, then how is it that Dr. Dean Ornish was able to use it to reverse coronary heart disease?

    If this diet is so unhealthy, then how is it that Dr. Esselstyn was also able to use it to reverse coronary heart disease?

    If this diet is so unhealthy, then how is it that Dr. Neil Barnard as part of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was able to use it to improve diabetic outcomes relative to the standard diet recommended for diabetics, to improve menstrual symptoms, and to improve weight-loss outcomes in the absence of any caloric restrictions?

    Why do you make the false claim that these are government organisations? Why do you make the claim that the conclusions of membership-based associations of experts cannot be trusted even when they are biased by corporate sponsorship against those conclusions?

    Dude, I told you that this was beneath you, you would have been better to have left it there. It is beneath you because misleading analogies are beneath a person of your intelligence.

    It is ideological in the sense that it is based in principle. So, I would hope, is yours. It is not ideological in the sense that it is arbitrary, divorced from reality, and/or based in biased or black-and-white thinking. I would hope that you do not believe that yours suffers these flaws either.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2015
  10. Neil

    Neil New

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    Laird,

    Thank you for your response. I will do my best to respond to this as quickly as I can. Because of the depth of your response and the fact that I work today and am moving tomorrow, there may be a delay in my response.
     
  11. WhatIfthe2nd

    WhatIfthe2nd New

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    Hi guys -- @Neil and @Laird,

    I am not going to run to a moderator about this, but you two, or one of you, really need to create a new thread to discuss veganism, diet, etc. It is really annoying to read a thread about the question of free will and have to scroll through long theses about vegan vs omnivore.

    And Laird, I realize you are passionate about this issue and I sympathize with your position, but just saying it needs its own thread, which I might even participate in, having my own experience with vegetarianism and veganism.

    But, as an analogy, I am not going to show up in a thread about NDE's and start arguing about abortion, another controversial topic that will derail conversation.

    I know I am mostly a lurker and don't post much, but that is my 2 cents. :)
     
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  12. Neil

    Neil New

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    You are absolutely correct. Is there a way for a moderator to move our posts into a new thread in the "other stuff" forum?
     
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  13. WhatIfthe2nd

    WhatIfthe2nd New

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    Hi Neil, I am not sure how moderation works here, but using the "report post" button, including on your own posts, with reasons why you want posts deleted and/or moved, usually works.
     
  14. Laird

    Laird Member

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    I agree with Neil, you are absolutely correct, and I was careless in the way I opened up this topic. I'll also use the "report" function to try to get a new thread forked off.
     
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  15. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Thanks, Neil. No worries, and take your time. Best of success with the move.
     
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  16. Neil

    Neil New

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    I don't particularly wish to give this too much response just because I don't think it's terribly relevant to the main points, but the part about health advantages doesn't capture my point. It will be elaborated on in subsequent comments here.

    There are major problems in nutrition research, which is a big reason there is so much confusion. Humans are the only species that have forgotten how to eat. You can cite research to support your position and I could cite research for my position, and we could go back and forth trying to debate the merits or lack thereof of all the research, and likely end up nowhere. So because of this, I will attempt to make my position clear:

    1. Because of the problems in nutrition research, I think there is value in looking at the research done by the dentist I mentioned in the 1930s. It certainly has its limitations, but there are also some very interesting aspects to his research, such quite good controls (the compared groups lived in about the same area, were extremely similar genetically, didn't have all the confounding variables we o, and had very similar lifestyles) and there was evidence across generations. An important finding is that a very wide variety of diets could allow for radiant health, from the mostly fat and almost no plants of the Inuit to the more plant-heavy Polynesians. That in and of itself is very important, because it is in contrast to the testing of single dietary protocols in modern research that leads to confusion.

    2. The health effects I feel are important for several reasons. Perhaps I am more sensitive to this point because of my history, where I was quite overweight, dealt with depression, and also had other health problems for which doctors were no help. Change in diet had amazing changes for me (and I will say that I attempted vegan at one point but gave it up). So health concerns are more about just reducing risk of cancer or heart disease; it is about quality of life, being happier which is better for myself and those around me. I don't know if you have ever dealt with depression, but I can tell you that I doubt my interest in all these subjects and also spirituality would have come about if the depression remained. I think a level of radiant physical and mental health helps to encourage many other good qualities. Dr. Price convers this in good detail in his work, noting the high morality seen in the very health groups, and the degeneration in those consuming the processed foods of commerce. So to me, health isn't about just living longer or reducing my risk of heart disease; it is that, but also about improving my life, my emotional maturity, my spiritual development, and hopefully positively affecting those around me as well. Perhaps this give you an idea why I harp on the health effects the way I have.

    3. I do not associate with any type of diet. I think genetics and epigenetics vary wildly, so different things do in fact work for different people. In bodybuilding it is quite interesting, because everyone will tell you what they think the best diet is for losing fat or gaining muscle, and the recommendations are totally all over the place! Are they just mostly full of crap like a lot of nutrition science people might like to say? While some certainly are, a great deal of the skilled ones really just found what works for them for this particular goal. I think it is similar when it comes to everyday people with the goal of health. Some people gravitate towards more fat and animal products like myself, while others gravitate towards lighter fare, perhaps a more vegetarian diet. I think there are reasons for this, which is why I am not a proponent of a single diet (in more ways than just this).

    4. Ethics and morality to me extends beyond just the treatment and killing of animals. I believe animal treatment is horrible in the food industry and it needs to change. I also see there are ethical choices related to dietary practices that relate to my own health and the health of my subsequent generations. My dietary choices ultimately lead to the state of my health down the road. If I do not take care of myself, it creates suffering for those around me. If I am not careful to make the right dietary choices for myself, and if my wife does not do the same, that has an effect on our child. The effect on our child can have its own subsequent effects, and we know through epigenetics that these effects can be passed on for generations. My increased interest in spirituality has led to reduced anger issues and treating people better, which again comes back to dietary changes I made that affected my mental health, and this increasing the quality of life of those around me.

    I get it, and what I mentioned before is one reason, since it won't go anywhere. Let me just say this, then--it's not black and white like perhaps I have portrayed it. There are health benefits, but there are also risks, and some people react better or worse than the average. I personally would encourage someone to consume organic grass-fed dairy and pastured eggs to provide important nutrients, without directly killing any animals, rather than a vegan diet. I do not think eating meat is a requirement.

    I think between the paleoanthropological an physiological evidence, it is quite clear that our ancestors were not vegans.


    The burden of proof cannot be on me. You are recommending a diet that is foreign to our history and physiology. As I mentioned, the paleoathropologic and physiological data is unequivocal that we are not herbivores. To claim that this foreign diet is healthy for everyone and will provide health for many subsequent generations is a claim requires the proof.

    1. They can't. This is where the correct testing comes in. There is evidence from this type of testing that vegan diets can be problematic for many of these nutrients. Many of the nutrients lacking are easily met with animal products.

    2. I thought we didn't want to get into citing research? I have it. There is plenty out there. And to say that the studies don't also look at the diseases along with the nutrient deficiencies is not really a valid criticism. You can't generally do that in nutrition research for various reasons, but usually you look for these types of deficiencies in populations, and then separate studies look at disease risk and nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies. There are limitations to all this research, no doubt, but again you are making the recommendation of a diet that is foreign to humans, and considering that it does not supply all nutrients, and is prone to insufficient amounts of other nutrients, again the burden of proof is on your side to demonstrate the long term healthfulness of such a diet for all people. That last part will kill you, because everyone responds differently. You can't just look at averages. How ethical or moral would it be to have everyone follow a vegan diet, including those that do not respond well to it and would have deteriorating health?

    3. Again the burden of proof is on your position by claiming that a foreign diet that does not supply all necessary nutrients, nor many conditionally essential nutrients, whether at all or in sufficient quantities, is going to provide radiant overall health for all individuals and for subsequent generations.

    4. Omnivorous diets are also subject to deficiencies and insufficiencies, but they are not equally subject to these. So again, do you really want to get into citing a ton of research? It is known that vegan diets are lacking in many essential and conditionally essential nutrients. Why do I have to prove my point that a more natural diet that supplies these nutrients is better? It's obvious that animals products supply the nutrients lacking in vegan diets, and you are the one making the claim that a vegan diet can supply all necessary nutrients, or that the nutrients I brought up are not important.

    You are incorrectly labeling me, and it is not appreciated nor productive. The definition is already mired with vegan ideology with the statement "Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals." We eat according to our genes. We are historically omnivores and physiologically it is obvious we are omnivores. This conditioning is genetic and nutritional, not a "belief system."



    I see nothing morally or ethically wrong with killing an animal for food, so long as it was done out of respect, in a way to minimize suffering, and is not wasted.

    However, you wish to pass moral judgments upon those who eat a natural diet, in which case I am going to turn it right back on your because of the animals killed due to your practices. Your response clearly avoided my point about the animals indirectly killed and wasted in the production of vegan foods, and has nothing to do with "you're just as bad" since I see nothing morally wrong with killing an animal in the way just described.

    That isn't the argument. It is that vegan practices also kill animals, and they go to waste since they aren't even eaten for food. Is it morally okay if you just try to reduce the number of animals you kill? Does that justify the lives you did take?

    So if you reduce the number of deaths, that is a justification for the animals that you indirectly kill and let rot?

    Unless everyone is eating from their garden only, there are going to be indirect deaths of animals in the production of vegan food products and supplements. While I do think this should be reduced, I am not making moral judgments regarding the death of living organisms in the production of our food, whereas you are passing a moral judgment on people such as myself for killing ONE steer every few months. If you wish to pass judgment on the killing of one steer, that was well taken care of and was respected and nothing wasted, then I am going to turn it around on you and ask how moral your indirect wasteful killing is justified just because you weren't directly involved in the killing.

    First, I do not see any problem in killing animals for food given the right conditions I mentioned earlier. Second, in the real world, it is not possible to avoid harm to animals or plants. Sustaining life means harm or death to others. If you plant a giant orchard, even assuming you used no herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides, you still have an impact on the ecosystem. Grass or other plants are harmed by planting orchards, for example. Even walking through the fields will cause to death to insects under your feet. Are you going to become a Jain and wear a mask so you do not accidentally inhale bugs? And carry a brush to sweep away insects so you do not harm them?

    It's not possible in practice, which I just described above.

    It is not possible in practice. Animal rights can be improved even with the consumption of meat. The move for more locally produced pastured beef that I see here in California is at least a step in the right direction, since it encourages more humane treatment and also essentially boycotts factory farming practices.


    I think we should push to improve practices in all farming, with a focus on better treatment of animals, and better farming practices for both health and environmental considerations.


    You are equating a survival instinct with the ability to conceptualize death. They are clearly not the same thing. Young children do not even have the concept of death, and they are much more cognitively advanced than steer. Would a child resist if his life were threatened? Of course, because it is a survival instinct, not a conceptual understanding of death.

    So what was the point of the hypothetical question? I am not going to disagree that a steer can pick up on threats and react with survival instinct.


    That is not my reason. I eat meat because it tastes good and provides good nutrition. You are the one making moral judgments, which I turned back at you.

    I am interested in reducing harm to animals, but that doesn't mean I should adopt your version of a vegan diet. Really it is because I do not see anything morally or ethically wrong with killing an animal for food if they are treated well and with respect, they are killed as humanely as possible, and the food is not wasted. That doesn't mean you abuse the animals while they are alive, or you use practices that are damaging to not only health but also the environment. The biodynamic farming practices are quite beautiful, with a harmony of plants and animals, with the ruminants fertilizing for the plans, crop rotation, wonderfully healthy food products, and animals that are treated well and protected. That's my ideal.



    Honestly, I'm not up for addressing all this. I know people that get some of these educations, and it's a joke. If you wish to trust them, go for it. There is too much garbage in the entire dietician industry, along with the government organizations like the USDA, FDA, or any of the medical associations. This just requires too lengthy of a response and I shouldn't have invited your response to this. If I do respond, it will be in a separate post.

    Believing it is possible isn't exactly convincing. And sure it does justify murdering animals for food. There is nothing wrong with that if done correctly. I am just curious how you justify the indirect murder of animals that result from your practices.


    Standard blood tests don't test for many nutrients at all, including many of those that vegans are at a higher risk for deficiency. Nor is a standard blood test capable of determining this information anyway.

    But the point was, you were essentially claiming that you construct diets that meet dietary requirements, and my point is, that without testing, you should not be confident that this means that the body has sufficient stores of those nutrients. Since you do not test for this, you cannot justify that claim. Tests that do this often come up with common vegan deficiencies.


    Let's not get off track here. You said "how then is it possible that there are so many not just healthy, but competitive at the highest sporting level vegans?" There aren't. There are very few. Most athletes cannot maintain their training on a vegan diet.

    Since you are making the claim, you need all the evidence. Your point remains the same, which you were making with the statement "Look, if it's possible for people to survive on a totally synthetic (vegan) meal replacement drink, then it's easily possible for anybody to survive on a vegan diet fullstop." The ethical argument is fallacious, and the health risks are there for this foreign diet, so you are the one that is required to provide the evidence that this odd diet is going to be healthy for everyone, which you have not.

    But that's not vegan! Dairy is a very common food in India, which is likely why they had the category of "vegetarians who eat eggs."


    First off, they are a small minority. Second, you are taking a group of exemplars and then using it to say that a vegan diet is good for everyone. This is fallacious. I am not saying that there are not any healthy vegans, but to say that these examples apply to everyone is false.

    As I said earlier, there can be short-term health benefits to a vegan diet. And, a decrease in one disease does not necessarily mean a decrease in other negative health outcomes.

    Same reason.

    Again, the same reason. The standard diet recommendations for diabetics are a JOKE. Most other diets other than a junk food diet will cause improvement.

    Weight loss is not an indication of healthfulness. Weight loss can result from malnutrition as well, and it doesn't mention what the composition was of that weight loss. Low protein intakes can lead to muscle tissue loss and bone loss, which wouldn't be a good thing.



    Because their recommendations are poor. Over the last 13 or so years studying nutrition, the recommendations that demonstrate ignorance are countless. I know that doesn't really back up my claim, but I really don't feel like tracking down all the different garbage recommendations and instances of ignorance and refuting them.


    I just don't hold a single position and make a claim that it is good for everyone. Nutrition doesn't work that way. If you want to minimize animal suffering, go vegetarian and eat high quality eggs and dairy from sources that minimize mistreatment of the animals, or buy from local farmers that you can confirm for yourself. But this isn't to say that this type of diet is necessarily for everyone either. Within all nutrition research, responses vary widely, and when you look at the averages and then apply it to everyone, you can harm those that respond poorly (how ethical is that?). We are too varied genetically, epigenetically, and also based on environmental, lifestyles, and disease states to give a single type of diet, especially when that diet does not supply all nutrients. Our understanding of nutrition is too poor to understand all the implications and interactions, both for our individual health and for health of subsequent generations. I long ago dropped the idea of supplementation for most things, since the complexity of food and the forms that are found in foods makes it far superior. The nutrients, particularly the fat soluble ones, found in specific animal products does a great deal towards creating health.
     
  17. Laird

    Laird Member

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    [Apologies for continuing to post on this topic in this thread. I have used the "report" function but so far no moderator has taken action, and I do not want to start a new thread myself in case it complicates the process of splitting this one off]

    @Neil,

    Thank you for your response. I trust that your move was successful.

    You raise the issue of judgementalism. This is a common criticism, but one that is, I think, misplaced. Everybody necessarily makes moral judgements, or accepts that others need to make them on their behalf - it would be impossible for our society to function without this: if we were not to make moral judgements, and to express and enforce them, then we would have to do away with our legal system. Do you think that it would be a good idea to say "Do what you like, everybody - rape, steal and murder - nobody's going to judge you"? The problem then is neither in the making of moral judgements, nor in their enforcement: the real problem is that you believe that my judgement is not justified. You see nothing wrong with killing animals for food. But I bet that if you caught your neighbour killing another human for food, and not just that, but blithely asserting to the world, "There's nothing wrong with killing humans and eating them. In fact, human flesh is the basis of human health", you would be just as quick to judge that neighbour's choice and statements as immoral, and to express as much in no uncertain terms. So, please, can we drop the idea that there's something wrong with the strong expression of a moral judgement, and stick instead with the real question of whether that judgement is justified?

    This, as I wrote in my last post, is what most interests me - far more than evidential questions about dietary health.

    So, let's start from first principles. I shared with you in an earlier post my defence of the harm avoidance principle. I honestly believe that this is an unobjectionable principle. Every fundamentally immoral act comes down to the deliberate choice to perpetrate an avoidable harm upon another - murder, rape, theft, fraud, kidnapping, etc - and, conversely, every deliberate choice to perpetrate an avoidable harm upon another is - to a greater or lesser extent - an immoral act. Too, the harm avoidance principle is essentially a reformulation/repackaging of the Golden Rule in its negative sense - that we ought not to do to others that which we would not like done to ourselves (i.e. to be harmed when that harm was avoidable) - and the Golden Rule is almost universally accepted by sane humans, and can be found in (almost?) all religions.

    The question then becomes: is killing animals for food - and/or stealing the emissions of their bodies - harmful, and, if so, is it avoidable? I don't think there is any reasonable doubt that it's harmful, so: is it avoidable? This, it seems to me, is your only possible wriggle room. Your only strong justification would be something like "Without consuming animal products, I would die - thus, consuming animal products, even with the harm that that entails, is unavoidable" (on the basis that harms committed in a creature's survival interests are "unavoidable" in the sense just described - a questionable premise but one which I tentatively accept). I don't think that you would even attempt to mount that case though, because you don't believe it to be anywhere near true.

    So, now you might see why the evidential question is not so important to me. Even if we were to grant that there are health benefits to a non-vegan diet, to suggest that the "harm" of a less healthy diet is in any way comparable to the harm of the loss of another being's life, and to argue on that basis that taking that other being's life was "unavoidable", would be just absurd. If you don't see why, then substitute people for animals: let's say you had a very, very good friend whom you loved very much, and your friend said to you, "It has been revealed to me that my health would be improved if - at regular intervals - other human beings gave up their lives for me. Will you please be the first person to give up your life for me so that I might improve my health? I know that you love me very much".

    What would your response be? Would you give up your life? Somehow, I doubt it. Not even a very good friend is going to give up his life for the mere temporary improvement in another's health. How less justified, then, for it to be violently forced upon another species?

    Now, you tell me that all this is (mere) "ideology", and that you, in contrast, are simply doing what is natural, normal and necessary. But this is exactly the point that Dr. Joy makes: that carnism is in itself an ideology exactly because it is based in the (unexamined) belief that consuming animal products is 'natural, normal and necessary'. Just as mainstream reductionist materialists fail to recognise that they are as much in the grip of an ideology as the "woo-meisters" they mock, instead believing that, as part of the scientific mainstream, their views are simply true by default, so, too, carnists fail to recognise that just because their views are mainstream doesn't make them any less ideological - nor, indeed, justifiable.

    So, there you have it. That's why, in my view, veganism as an ethic is morally compelled even if it's not as healthy, and why your breezily-expressed idea that there's nothing wrong with killing animals for food if they are otherwise treated well is utterly unjustified. That said, I do very much commend your interest in at least avoiding the harm of factory farming and the grosser mistreatments of animals.

    OK, moving on to clarifications and follow-ups:

    Firstly, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I think that plants deserve ethical consideration too, so the actual ethic which I think is compelling is an extension of veganism: a form of ethical fruitarianism.

    Secondly, you refuse to let up on the issue of animal deaths in plant agriculture, even though I have explained my position on that already in great detail. So, I will respond more directly: I justify the consumption of vegan-fruitarian foods which indirectly cause animal deaths in plant agriculture in that at present that harm is unavoidable. I have not yet worked out how to survive without eating, I am not in a position to grow myself all the food I need without harm, and the alternative of consuming animal products both causes vastly more harm, and is unjustified not just in practice but in principle too. That said, we should advocate and aim for a world in which there are no avoidable animal deaths in plant agriculture, and choosing to consume animal products will not achieve this aim.

    You go on to argue that even in the best case scenario, "Grass or other plants are harmed by planting orchards, for example. Even walking through the fields will cause to death to insects under your feet Are you going to become a Jain and wear a mask so you do not accidentally inhale bugs? And carry a brush to sweep away insects so you do not harm them?" Again, the first is an unavoidable harm: our population is too large to survive any longer on gathering, so we have no choice but to plant orchards. At least the harm to the displaced plants is a one-time harm. In any case, this is certainly no worse than farming free-range cattle, which involves an ongoing harm (being grazed upon) to grass and other plants. I am very sympathetic towards the Jain ethic. It is possible that sometime I might make the decision to do what needs to be done to be sure that I don't crush insects in my path, but for the moment I don't. If you are going to accuse me of hypocrisy in this sense, then I would understand, but, most importantly: the possibility of accidentally treading on insects does not justify the deliberate killing of domesticated animals.

    You argue that animals have no concept of death, and that their resistance to being killed is merely "instinct". Neil, this is very outdated thinking. You really should look into the ongoing research into the cognitive, emotional and social skills and traits of animals. I highly recommend Amy Hatkoff's delightful and heart-warming book, The Inner World of Farm Animals, which skillfully combines scientific research with illuminating anecdotes. Animals not only have a concept of death, but they mourn and grieve the deaths of their friends. There was a thread on this very topic not long ago here on Skeptiko: We share our grief with animals.

    Finally, to the question that in my view is least relevant: the evidence for any health benefit in a non-vegan diet. You are correct, we could go back and forth arguing over individual nutrients, and get nowhere. For example, I could point you to the article by registered dietitian, Ginny Kisch Messina, Fat Soluble Vitamins: Do They Stand Between Vegans and Health? which concludes that, no, fat-soluble vitamins are not a problem for vegans. I could also point out to you that in stark contrast to your claim that there are "very few" vegan athletes competitive at the top level, in fact I count just in the "strength" category of the website to which I directed you alone: five world champions, five national champions, and one powerlifter highly competitive at a national level. Given that vegans make up only a few percentage points of the population, just how many vegan world strength champions would you expect to find?! But really, you have conceded all that needs to be conceded with this: "it's not black and white like perhaps I have portrayed it. There are health benefits, but there are also risks, and some people react better or worse than the average".
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
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  18. Neil

    Neil New

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    Laird,

    Thank you for your response. I have to say that this is the most pleasant exchange of this sort that I have ever had with a vegan.

    My move went well, thank you, but I don't have my internet set up yet so there will be a delay in my response.
     
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  19. Laird

    Laird Member

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    To the extent that that is a personal compliment: thank you, I appreciate it. I also appreciate that for your part, you have been, as Arouet put it in another thread, "unfailingly polite", and friendly to boot.

    To the extent that it is a commentary on the behaviour of other vegans: yes, this is a problem in our community. Whilst the passion vegans feel is, I think, understandable given that for most of us it is based in (I think) reasoning very much like that of my last post, which most of us find to be impossible to refute, the problem is that expressing anger and hatred is very probably antithetical to our cause. It is very probably not the best way to encourage people to change their ethical views and practices. This message needs to get out a bit more in the vegan community. There are, though, many other "pleasant" vegans out there, as well as many other vegans thinking about this issue. I really appreciate Swayze's thoughts on this on her Unnatural Vegan channel in her video Why I’m So Nice to Meat Eaters (thoughts on effective vegan advocacy). I don't always entirely agree with her, but I do always find her very thoughtful.
     
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  20. Reece

    Reece Member

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    I was a vegetarian till I found Weston Price. I simply cannot overstate how profoundly his work and those teeth pictures affected me. It spilled over into things other than nutrition and food and prompted me for the first time in my life to become much more sympathetic to traditional ways and mindsets that had before appeared ignorant and backwards.
     
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