When you hear a great idea told by very different people – it hits home even harder. Here Lierre Keith demolishes the Vegetarian myth – she was once a Vegan and adds power to Michael’s position.
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- A New Vision
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Have you read her book? it is superb
By my bed – my wife has just finished it – Paradoxically the vegetarians are more resistant than any other group – even when they are ill and depressed
I’ve just ordered The Vegetarian Myth from Amazon. I have been thinking like this for some time and have been following a diet loosely based on the hunter-gatherer’s diet for the last 6 weeks, with great results. I don’t want vegetarians to be singled out as villains or idiots. But it is important they understand that the main pro-vegetarian argument, that it’s better for the planet, is absolutely nonsense. So be kind in explaining it to vegetarians you know. Buy them the book.
I couldn’t watch this for more than a few minutes, it was so badly thought through.
eg. We grew big & strong & brainy on a Hunter-Gatherer diet, so it’s obvious that that’s the diet we need, how can plants supply what we need? [I paraphrase]. Simplistic, dumb logic.
Geo let me put it another way – about a million years ago – hominids made a huge shift. We lost 1/3 of our gut. We lost those big jaws. Our arms shortened. Our brains grew 3 times. We added 2 feet in mean height.
What could explain this? The brain is a hungry organ – the loss of the jaw and gut meant that we were no longer mainly eating plants. Chimps and other primates that mainly eat veggies have to have both. The increase in height is always related to protein. We see this in places such as Japan and China where kids today are at least a foot taller than their grandparents. The increase in brain size is also related to an increase in protein. We see this today where so many in combat suffer brain trauma – they are put on a high fat high meat diet.
Tied to this is the bet that we learned how to capture fire and so could eat all of an animal.
For you to dismiss LK you need to supply a better answer to this shift – please tell me what you think happened?
While a high protein die appears fundamental during early human development, you’ll find that the likes of Gorillas are much stronger than most humans could aspire to be, while eating a nearly vegan diet.
Most research indicates that an educated decrease in meat consumption that favours nutritious plant foods (and compliments them with eggs – not unknown to hunter gatherers) leads to increased longevity.
While there are many possible interpretations for these results, 2 hypotheses are that a) as we grow older and pass optimum fitness we lose the ability to digest meat properly (maybe because we cannot compete with younger hunters?) much like we lose the ability to digest lactose. And b) Adaptation to meat might be a case of antagonistic pleiotropy, where we are granted a large advantage at a young age but after a certain point in development it becomes disadvantageous.
I don’t think you have to be strictly vegan or vegetarian to rip the advantages that come from such diets, but I know countless people on these diets who enjoy above-average intelligence, above average height, and above average fitness.
And yes, cutting down meat consumption is much more sustainable (read eco-friendly) than alternative diets.
Also, regarding height, meat and all. Just looking at increased meat consumption does not tell the whole story. The Spaniards who arrived to the Americas consumed far more meat than the Aztecs or the Inca, and yet the members of both civilizations were taller and stronger than the Spanish.
The author says that as societies switch to agriculture people become shorter and their teeth fall off, but I really people went from a rich varied diet to a diet based on solely bread and water in many of these cases. People in the agricultural societies also lived longer and put up with lifestyles that were less compatible with human physiology – all of that adds up to the described effects – not to mention countless social factors like levels of poverty and lack of access to food that hunter-gatherer societies rarely had to face.
My father is feet taller than his father. I’m feet taller than him. My grandfather ate meat regularly, whereas my father and I barely consumed any meat, we just had access to a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables with each generation, and grew taller and stronger because of it.
Sorry about the series of comments, but as an evolutionary biologist myself I feel this blog, which I keep up with and really enjoy reading, was a good place to make these points. Thanks!
Interesting, I have not read the book. Still there are many people surviving on a vegetarian diet rather sustainably in countries such as India. It does work…
Surviving yes. But over the long term not as healthy and vegans absolutely not
Over the long term not as healthy? All studies I’ve read comparing vegetarians with meat consumers in the same region (whichever it might be) always shows vegetarians with either a higher life expectancy or on par with the rest of the population. I’ve read at least a dozen serious articles linking meat to cancer, and not a single one linking lack of meat to anything of the sorts.
I strongly believe that Michael Rose’s theory is correct and insightful, and I bring it up regularly and base many of my activities around it, but I’m inclined to believe that a high-protein diet during one’s development, followed by a mostly vegetarian (though not strictly) diet after, leads to optimum health.
Hi Nofi, as Michael mentioned it depends on your heritage. If you are Indian, Middle Eastern, or Asian your ancesters would have had about 10 000 years of adaptation to grains and agriculture. If you are African or European decent you will have a much harder time being healthy on this type of diet.