THE BIG FAT SURPRISE
Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. A Conversation with Nina Teicholz

The Big Fat Surprise

A conversation with investigative journalist, Nina Teicholz, author of THE BIG FAT SURPRISE: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.

I love this book for many reasons, the most important being, that in it, Nina reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fats is wrong. Combining scientific rigor with riveting storytelling, she argues that more, not less fat—including the saturated fats in meat, dairy and eggs—is what leads to better health and weight loss.

Dr L:  How did you come to write this book?

Nina:  I was a faithful follower of the low-fat, near-vegetarian diet, but when I started writing a restaurant review column, I found myself eating things that had hardly ever before passed my lips: rich meals of pâté, beef, cream sauces and foie gras. To my surprise, I lost the 10 pounds that I hadn’t been able to shake for years, and to boot, my cholesterol levels improved. To understand how this could be possible, I embarked upon what became a decade of research, reexamining nearly every single nutrition study and interviewing most of our top nutrition experts.  What I was shocked to find were egregious flaws in the science that has served as the foundation of our national nutrition policy, which for more than 50 years has all but forbidden these delicious and healthy foods.

Dr L:  You write, “Almost nothing we commonly believe today about fats generally and saturated fats in particular, appears, upon close examination, to be accurate.” How did we get here?

Nina:  Our distrust of saturated fat dates more than 50 years, and can be traced to just one man: a bullying, charismatic but revered pathologist named Ancel Keys, whose quest for fame caused him to run roughshod over basic scientific standards. His deeply flawed “Seven Countries” study was the “Big Bang” of all our nutrition recommendations today. In an effort to quickly address the terrifying heart-disease epidemic, Keys persuaded the American Heart Association and ultimately the U.S. government to subscribe to the notion that saturated fat was our chief dietary culprit. Fat generally — and saturated fat specifically — came to be blamed for causing heart disease, obesity and cancer. Eventually this unfounded belief became ingrained as our national dogma, and many of our most esteemed nutrition scientists today endorse this idea based on the same kind of soft science that originated with Keys.

Dr L:  What are the unintended consequences of the low-fat diet that resulted from this flawed thinking?

Nina:  Avoiding fats has led to eating more carbohydrates—25% more since adopting the low-fat diet—and this shift (not only to more sugar but also more whole grains and fruit) has led to today’s diabetes and obesity epidemics. Cutting back on saturated fat has also meant that we are now eating far more vegetable oils, like soybean, canola and corn. These oils didn’t even exist in 1900 and now are 7-8% of all calories we eat. They have always been associated with health problems, including cancer. When heated, they oxidize and cause inflammation and gastric damage. These oils are now being used much more commonly in restaurant fryers, ever since the big fast-food chains like McDonalds and Wendy’s announced their shift to trans-fat free oils.

Dr L:  A bigger story: How did bad science become the foundation our national dietary policy?

Nina:  This larger story is at the heart of the book.  It begins in the 1950s, when the desperate need to solve the heart-disease epidemic caused experts to jump the gun, launching dietary guidelines based on weak, incomplete science. As research dollars and institutions became invested in the idea, it became harder to reverse course, until, ultimately, the U.S. government’s adoption of the diet enshrined it in our federal bureaucracy. Biased science became a necessity.  A once-loud group of critics was silenced (one, in particular, has come to be considered the “Cassandra” of nutrition). Big Food has played a role too (though less than is commonly thought) by buying off our most esteemed authorities and the science itself.

Dr L:  Many readers might be surprised to learn that the low-fat diet is especially harmful to women, which is scary because women tend to diet more. Tell us why.

Nina:  Women have been especially hard hit by the low-fat diet recommendations, which they have followed more religiously than anyone else over the past few decades. It turns out that women’s “good” cholesterol (HDL) drops dramatically on this diet (it does for men, too, but less so), thereby increasing their risk of heart disease. Even in the 1980s, it was found that middle-aged women with high cholesterol lived longer than those with low cholesterol, but researchers ignored this result, because they were focused on middle-aged men. In fact, all of our diet and cholesterol recommendations for decades have been based exclusively on data from men.

Dr L:  Who else is at special risk?

Nina:  Children are another population who were never tested before the U.S. government recommended putting them on the low-fat diet. Plenty of pediatricians objected that this diet, designed for middle-aged men, was inappropriate for growing children, but their voices were ignored. Only a few small trials were ever conducted on children and low-fat regimens, and these studies show that the diet increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Children grow better on higher fat diets. Our current school lunch and WIC-program policies of feeding them skim milk rather than whole are therefore alarmingly bad for their health.

Dr L:  It seems the prevailing thinking on fat is that some fats, like olive oil, are the best for our health. You discovered in your research that the Mediterranean Diet is not what it’s cracked up to be. How did it come to pass that we all worship at the altar of olive oil?

Nina:  The Mediterranean Diet originated from a survey of the eating habits of long-living Cretan peasants in the 1950s, who seemed to eat very little meat or dairy. However, they were surveyed shortly after WWII, when their economy was in ruins. Also, their diet was sampled during Lent, when animal foods were severely restricted. The data was therefore not any good and never grew any better. In fact, the reason that the Mediterranean Diet became celebrated and famous is that researchers fell in love with the sun-kissed, enchanting Mediterranean—and most of their studies and travel were funded by the olive-oil industry. It’s amazing how researchers, including some of the most respected people in the field today, thrived on the Mediterranean Diet conference junket. The actual science is far from impressive: it can only show that this diet is superior to the failed, low-fat diet (and what diet isn’t?). Tested against a higher fat diet, the Mediterranean regime looks far less impressive for weight loss or heart disease. Also, no one’s ever been able to pinpoint any special, disease-fighting powers of olive oil—which turns out not to be an ancient foodstuff after all but a relatively recent introduction to the Mediterranean diet.

Dr L:  What about tropical oils? Are they OK?

Nina:  Coconut and palm oil were condemned in the 1980s for being high in saturated fats. Yet the main campaign against them was really a trade war, organized by the American Soybean Association (ASA), to drive out the foreign competition. For years, there was a feud between the Malaysians, who are the world’s largest producers of palm oil, and the ASA. The ASA appeared to be winning, but when the Malaysians threatened to expose the trans-fat problem in hydrogenated soybean oils, the ASA decided to call a truce–and stopped its slander campaign against the tropical oil producers. These oils are good for health and are now enjoying a comeback.

Dr L:  What about cholesterol? Doesn’t saturated fat raise people’s cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease?

Nina: The evidence against saturated fat amounted to: 1. Very poorly controlled trials from the 1970s (whose flaws have since been revealed) and 2. The fact that saturated fats raise total cholesterol. In the late 1980s, it was discovered that total cholesterol is not, actually, a reliable predictor of heart disease, so the conversation shifted to LDL-cholesterol, which saturated fat also raises. However, over the past decade, many studies have shown that LDL-C has also failed to be a reliable predictor of risk. The new science shows that certain subfractions of LDL are more accurate—and saturated fat has a good effect on these. Plus, saturated fat is the only kind of food that is known to increase HDL, the “good” kind of cholesterol. In short, saturated fat was condemned when the science was still primitive. The science has evolved, but experts are stuck in old paradigms due to longtime biases and support from the statin industry.

Dr L:  Robert Atkins vs. Dean Ornish (or fast forward to Gary Taubes vs. Mark Bittman) — What’s the truth?

Nina:  Robert Atkins, who was an early proponent of a high-fat diet, and Dean Ornish, who espoused a plant-based diet, were the two most famous diet doctors of their day. Speaking out against the low-fat dogma that had already infiltrated the popular imagination, Atkins was seen as a quack. He was curmudgeonly and ornery—the worst possible advocate for the low-carb diet. Compared to him, Ornish came across as a scientific man of reason. But it turns out that the studies Ornish conducted were too small to be meaningful. And in fact, most of the scientific literature shows that very low-fat diets, vegan and near-vegetarian diets, such as the kind Ornish recommends, lead to obesity and greater heart-attack risk. Meanwhile, Atkins has been vindicated. When he was alive, there were few scientific studies to back up his ideas, but the last decade has seen an explosion of rigorous clinical trials on the high-fat, low-carb diet. These trials have been ignored by the low-fat obsessed mainstream, but they show, definitively, that a high-fat diet is the best for health.

Dr L: So what are the implications of your findings?  How should we eat differently and how should national policy change?

Nina: The most rigorous diet trials clearly show that a high-fat, low-carb diet is better for fighting obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The question is: what kind of fat should you eat?

If you want to get your fat from red meat, eggs, whole-fat dairy or coconut butter, there’s no data to show that’s not perfectly safe—and very likely healthier than vegetable oils. Our government should change its dietary recommendations to reflect the scientific evidence. Two immediate action items: It should let whole milk back into the WIC and school lunch programs. And it should not ban trans fats without first weighing the problems of toxic oxidation products from vegetable oils in restaurant fryers.

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  • Raven Dupres

    Actually, this book is filled with unadulterated bull shit. She did NO research, she just gives her opinion that this or that study that proved that saturated fat and animal fat is unhealthy is not a true study. But the very thing that debunks all of her writing is that ours is NOT a society that is shying away from animal fat, cheese, milk, butter. Ours is a society that has a pizza joint on every corner, has shelves and shelves of every kind of animal product you could possibly think of, eats dishes that are made of factory farmed animals with all the antibiotics and hormones in them and some that are made under conditions of unthinkable cruelty, like FOIE GRAS which is stuffed goose livers, created by force feeding geese until their livers explode, causing them unimaginable pain, then killing them. She is probably also a proponent of white veal and anything that you can kill and eat off an animal. I could go on and on. What I really wonder is who published this book and how much she was paid to write it, by what meat, poultry and dairy industry mogul.

  • Plant Eater

    It is so disappointing to find this twaddle being promoted under the guise of a wellness advocate. How many times does this nonsense need to be refuted??? A LOW-FAT PLANT-BASED diet saves lives. Animal fat and protein are irrefutably linked to heart disease. Educate yourself Dr. Lipman. Look at this example of real research at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHZOzR0lYzbECKm8dhiDSMA

  • sabelmouse

    ” Animal fat and protein are irrefutably linked to heart disease.”
    not even remotely.

    as an ex vegan/vegetarian of 30 years i now feel much better eating eggs, meat and fish and lots of butter and cream.

  • sabelmouse

    actually western diets are high in refined carbs and vegetable fats. not the same thing at all.

    why would she be a proponent of white veal? methinks you are an animal rights vegan.

  • RedwingBlackbird

    Actually most of the stuff filling supermarket shelves is some form of extruded corn paste, not “shelves and shelves of every kind of animal product you could possibly think of.” The American diet is HEAVILY based on carbohydrates (just look at the “Food Pyramid” or “My Plate”), especially refined carbohydrates (including all forms of caloric sweeteners) and industrial seed oils. As for the pizza joints on every corner, have you not considered that the main component of those pizzas is the CRUST, which is not an “animal product”? Since the 1970’s, consumption of red meat has dropped by over 20% in the U.S. and the overall consumption of meat has risen only very slightly during that period. What increase there has been is attributable solely increased consumption of poultry, particularly chicken. Consumption of liquid milk and natural fats like butter and lard is also down over that period, as is the overall consumption of cheese. The only cheese category that increased was mozzarella – no doubt from all those pizzas Americans are eating. The increased consumption of refined carbohydrates, added caloric sweeteners, and industrial seed oils (like soy oil, canola oil, and the like) has exactly coincided with the increased rates of obesity and Type II diabetes and CVD.

    If you’re going to be a militant vegan/AR proselytizer (as you plainly are), you should at least make an effort to inform yourself, although that would probably strain your obviously tiny brain. If you can’t see the tremendous amount of research that went into this book — and what a ridiculous cheap shot to assume it was paid for by some “meat, poultry and dairy industry mogul”! — then you need to get your head out of your ***. In fact, it’s placement there probably explains all the ” bull shit” you’re seeing.

    (By the way, your notion of how foie gras is produced is utterly, laughably inaccurate. Geese are not force fed till their livers explode and the process does not cause them unimaginable pain. It fact, the process mimics the seasonal gorging geese do in the wild. Again, if you’re going to rant, at least try to do it on the basis of accurate information – unless your objective is to continue to look like a complete doofus in which case, carry on, because it’s amusing to see ranting m0r0ns expose themselves.)

  • RedwingBlackbird

    Animal fat and protein are NOT “irrefutably linked to heart disease.”
    Look at this very large meta-analysis by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health who did an EXTENSIVE review of the research on possible links between meat consumption and both cardiovascular disease and obesity/diabetes and found that all the research conducted for YEARS did not show any basis for concluding that there was even an ASSOCIATION between those conditions and consuming UNprocessed meat, even red meat, much less any causal connection. As for processed meat, the potential problem is what’s used as preservatives (e.g., salt, nitrates) not the meat itself. The meta-analysis was published in Circulation, the Journal of the American Heart Association.

    http://circ.ahajournals.org/content121/21/2771.full.pdf+html?sid=f2a23c9e-aae8-4bdf-9226-1104cafb008b

  • RedwingBlackbird

    http://cir­c.ahajourn­als.org/co­ntent/121/­21/2271.fu­ll.pdf+htm­l?sid=f2a2­3c9e-aae8-­4bdf-9226-­1104cafb00­8b

    For some reason, the link doesn’t work as a hyperlink at this site, even though the URL is correct.

  • RedwingBlackbird

    Gee, ya think? LOL!

  • Matty

    I tend to go by my own personal experience. I use coconut oil for all cooking and olive oil for salad dressings. Since having moved away from the vegetable oils, canola, corn etc. & all processed food, I find myself feeling sharper, more energetic, better memory and amazingly have been able to shed pounds. We have got to understand the importance of Cholesterol to our bodies before they start putting Statins in our water supply. I eat a reasonable amount of eggs, butter, meat and look for whole-fat rather than low fat items. Since making the above changes I have lost weight, my sugar consumption went down naturally and I do not have the old cravings. Because fat satisfies, I am not overeating. I no longer eat wheat of any kind, so may be considered gluten-free. At 65, my last medical, showed improvements in blood pressure, LDL, HDL and total cholesterol & a loss of 12 lbs. in past year. After double by-pass surgery in 2006, I started searching for better ways to eat and walk a great deal. Honestly, I feel better than at 40 when I ate the diet recommended by our government. I thank Dr. Lipman for bringing the above info to our attention, this is life saving and needs to become common knowledge, instead of being stuck in the “low-fat” fallacy, I say Fat is Back and that’s a good thing.

  • Raven Dupres

    Yes, I am a vegetarian and now a full vegan. So what’s the problem with that? I don’t like to eat animal corpses. Now, Ms. Teicholz’s book proposes that we are getting fat because we do not eat meat, chicken, cheese and butter. Let me say this: this book would be legitimate if the USA was mostly vegan in eating habits and everyone was still overweight and suffering from heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and other food-habit ills. But the USA is still a carnivore nation. So, everyone is squawking that we are getting nowhere and would be thinner and healthier on a meat based diet. Well, last statistic I saw only about 15% of the population had switched to full time vegetarian diet and most of them still include butter, eggs, cheese and milk. There are very few full time vegans although they now have more choices of what to eat sold in mainstream supermarkets. But I still can’t go into McDonald’s and order a veggie burger or go to The Colonel’s and order Chick’n patties made from soy protein. Most of you are on this wonderful carnivore diet and I’m glad those who are writing here are mostly faring well on it. The rest of the population can’t fit through a doorway unless they go in sideways and kids are not just 10 pounds overweight, they are 50 to 100 pounds overweight and growing – sideways instead of taller. A combination of carnivore and Coca Cola is destroying the United States. Ms. Teicholz’s stupid book, possibly funded by those who stand to gain money (not weight) from the sale of more beef, more fried chicken, more fried cheese sticks, more of everything that can clog arteries and cause diabetes are probably delighted. So hey Mom, it’s not the cheeseburgers, pork cracklings and ice cream that’s making the kid fat. It’s those carrot sticks that are putting the pounds on him. And everyone is dancing in the streets because this book is going to give them permission to continue their horribly dangerous eating habits. The physicians are going to giggle all the way to the bank as they get more and more patients shuffling into the office for bypasses and transplants. Not to mention Dr. Oz pushing is perfectly useless diet schemes all over TV and the internet. Wake up people! You are being taken for a very dangerous ride. Oh, good news! Here’s a book I’m going to write – Smoking Does Not Cause Heart Disease and Cancer. It’s sure to be a best seller. Maybe I can get a little funding from the tobacco industry. What say? You all have my permission to smoke three packs a day

  • RedwingBlackbird

    Feel free to be a vegan. I really don’t care what you do or do not eat. But if you think Americans are fat or have diabetes or heart disease in disturbingly high numbers because they eat meat and other animal products (and people who do that are omnivores, not carnivores, darling), then you are seriously deluded because it’s the high level of carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates like flour (even so-called “whole wheat” flour) and added sugars of all kinds that are the problem. And those things are all perfectly vegan, so going vegan is NOT the answer the the obesity/diabetes and CVD problem. The only reason you’re convinced it is is that you’re blinded by your vegangelical dogma. There’s far too much research that’s been done in recent years, and far too many empirical examples of people of people who have reduced their consumption of carbohydrates, particularly refined carbs including caloric sweeteners, and limited their carbs to those mainly from non-starchly vegetables while increasing the percentage of natural fats, mainly from animal sources in their diets and continuing to eat meat, and who have consequently lost weight and improved their markers for diabetes and CVD risk, for any rational and well-informed person to to be attacking and questioning the bona fides of Nina Teicholz the way you’re doing. You have a serious air of panic and desperation about you. So sorry your cherished but erroneous dogma is about to be flushed down the toilet.

  • sabelmouse

    to be fair; a lot of people have been indoctrinated by the ‘ bad animal fat” hypothesis.

  • DillweedHaversham

    First rule of vegan club: tell everyone about vegan club.

  • DillweedHaversham

    Did you actually read it? Or are you merely jerking your knee?

  • DillweedHaversham

    Wow, what an annoying voice…

  • Anonymous

    Just tangentially on the “shelves and shelves of every kind of animal product you could possibly think of” idea you quoted and (correctly) refuted: I WISH it were everything I could think of! That’s only true if one has an extremely limited imagination about animal products (I suspect this is the case considering the OP doesn’t eat them). Even when looking at the shelves that do contain all/mostly animal products, I typically see standard popular cuts from standard popular animals, with maybe a few less mainstream things on the edges. Things are improving in some places, with the revitalized “nose to tail” movement and people wanting to promote skilled butchers and farmers’ markets, but I still sometimes have to make special trips to out-of-the-way shops for certain products, and I’m in a city where greater variety is supposedly available. What’s clear from reading documents on food from the past is that a much wider variety of animal products was available previously compared to today.

  • RedwingBlackbird

    It’s hilarious,though, isn’t it, that the that what pops up when the link to that vegan bore’s YouTube page is posted is a picture of Dr. Peter Attia – low carber and definitely a meat-eater – looking smokin’ hot. So much for the popular vegan meme that all “carnivores” are fat and in lousy health.

  • RedwingBlackbird

    This individual probably hasn’t actually read ANYTHING but vegangelical websites in living memory.

  • Raven Dupres

    As I said before, leaving out compassion for animals entirely, most cardiologists recommend eating less meat and certainly not eating cheese and cream and butter. I tend not to approve of anything that has carbs added, except natural fruit with its natural carbs, bananas, oranges, etc.. But look at that bottle of ketchup and there are carbs. Look at the mayo that you put on your salad and it has carbs. Soda of course has nothing but carbs. And that’s mostly the secret of fat Americans. Soda and more soda, all day long. But not eating meat will not kill you and it will not kill an animal. In addition, raising animals to eat is a waste of resources. First you have to breed the animals so their sires and mothers have to eat feed which has to be grown on land that could be used for growing more practical things, including food. Then you have to raise the cattle or sheep or pigs, mostly factory farmed at great cost to the environment including holding ponds for pig crap and cattle crap and sheep crap and water pollution from run off and gallons of antibiotics and hormones. Then they have to be transported on trains to the slaughter house. Not enough inspectors so lots of sick animals enter the food chain. Then they are slaughtered, packaged and shipped to the supermarket where they are labeled, wash hands after handling. And yes, we are not true carnivores, you are right because if we were we would bring home the kill and eat it raw and it would not give us salmonella. Witness your family cat or dog, or lions, tigers and wolves. So you have already used water and land to process your cow whereas you could have used water and land to process soy or other beans, wheat, leafy vegetables which contain calcium, beets, tomatoes, all those good veggies that you also eat. So why eat a cow? It’s just protein, and a rather unhealthy form of protein. Just as good to eat beans, nuts, fruit, tofu for your meal. It’s about eating. You see it for a few minutes then it’s slog and mush in your stomach. It’s not a work of art. It’s fuel. And you use more fuel (land and water) to make less fuel – the cow you are about to have for dinner. That doesn’t make much sense. Try to see it from a rational and practical point of view instead of what the cattlemen and meat industry wants you to see.

  • Casa Rosa Farm

    praise the Lard!

  • James Kling

    ” What I really wonder is who published this book…”

    No need to wonder. Had you read the book, you would be able to determine that Simon & Schuster published this. Now, I’m sure you find publishers like BenBella books more an established publishing house, but apparently that was the best Ms. Teicholz could do.

    “Actually, this book is filled with unadulterated bull shit. She did NO research, she just gives her opinion that this or that study that proved that saturated fat and animal fat is unhealthy is not a true study.”

    And you were able to determine this without reading the book. Your intellectual prowess is stunning! To merely wave your hand over a tome and to be able to offer such an insightful critique! It’s interesting that one of the blurbs at Amazon is this:

    “As an epidemiologist, I am awestruck. Nina Teicholz has critically reviewed virtually the entire literature, a prodigiously difficult task, and she has interviewed most of the leading protagonists. The result is outstanding: readable and informative, with forthright text written in plain English that can easily be understood by the general reader.” (Samuel Shapiro, retired, formerly at the Boston University School of Medicine)

    So, Teicholz suckered in an epidemiologist from the Boston University School of Medicine, but she couldn’t fool you, with your magical abilities. Amazing!

    “But the very thing that debunks all of her writing is that ours is NOT a society that is shying away from animal fat, cheese, milk, butter.”

    Actually, over the past 100 years, industrial seed oils (corn, soybean, cottonseed, and the like) have displaced animal cooking fats and butter. One could chart their introduction and increased use as directly correlating with the rise in CVD, T2D, various cancers, et al. While cheese consumption has increased over the past 25 years, it is primarily as part of processed foods, which almost always include refined grains and the aforementioned industrial oils. And while meat consumption has increased somewhat over the past 100 years, it is worth noting that the method of production has shifted from pasture-based farms to CAFOs and grain-feeding. Now, the distinction that that implies is undoubtedly too nuanced for you to appreciate, but the biggest takeaway from the meat consumption stats is that beef has remained fairly steady, while lamb consumption has dropped; the biggest gain in any type of meat has been in poultry, which conventional wisdom would tell us is healthier than red meat. But once again, the vast majority of chicken is not being prepared by home cooks, but as part of the processed food and fast food industries. So are you able to draw any inferences beyond the usual “meat… bad!” sort of inanity?

    “What I really wonder is … how much she was paid to write it, by what meat, poultry and dairy industry mogul.”
    I suppose that answers that question. Any science that might clash with the unicorn-and-rainbows vegangelical fantasy surely must be subsidized by Big Beef and their ilk. Which you know without reading the book. And offering observations that are so narrow and myopic as to be laughable. Bravo. Yet another anecdotal confirmation that vegans diets do cause neurological damage via B12 deficiency.

  • Raven Dupres

    I don’t know why everyone here thinks that we need to fry all our food in vegetable oil. We can bake, grill, steam, boil. We really don’t need fried food and especially fast food conglomerate fried food using the oil over and over again. I agree with the premises that fried, reused oil is not good for anyone. Neither are added salt and carbohydrates like high fructose corn syrup so we possibly can all agree on that point. Sugar – NO. Fried fats – NO. Adding salt to everything causes people with salt sensitivity or high blood pressure or a problem with water retention become bloated and possibly become ill with high blood pressure.

    I will repeat and a statement like , “Studies show that there is no harm from eating mean and animal fat” is NOT a study. Studies show almost anything. Controlled studies show something very different. If you look around at the statistics however, most people who get heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and other lifestyle related illnesses are NOT vegans or vegetarians. The fact is simple. Most people living in the USA and following the American lifestyle are NOT vegetarians or vegans. But tossing in the fact that carbs are not healthy is not going to make animal fat healthy for us. In addition, it’s a waste of resources to raise animals for food when we could raise perfectly good plant protein for food. Most meat animals are imprisoned in the factory farming industry and fed antibiotics and hormones and treated with other chemicals to fatten them up for slaughter. You can’t just plant a seed and get a cow or a chicken.

    The fact remains that in every country that had a nearly 100% plant based diet with just a bit of fish thrown in, there was no weight problem, no hot flashes during menopause, very little cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Enter McDonald’s and the populations of these nations began to suffer from all the things that Americans suffer from – heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. That’s an undisputed fact.

  • RedwingBlackbird

    You said, “I don’t know why everyone here thinks we need to fry all our food in vegetable oil.” I haven’t seen a single person in this discussion say we need to fry all our food in vegetable oil, much less ALL of them. You appear to be having hallucinations.

    Also, the reason why “most people who get heart attacks, high blood pressure, diabetes and other lifestyle related illnesses are NOT vegans or vegetarians” is that MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT VEGANS OR VEGETARIANS IN THE FIRST PLACE. It stands to reason that if vegans and vegetarians make up only about 5% of the population, even if ALL of them suffered heart attacks, etc., they still wouldn’t constitute the majority of people who suffer from the conditions you listed. The fact is, vegans and vegetarians DO suffer from all the conditions you listed, and when other confounding factors are accounted for (e.g., the fact that many vegans and vegetarians tend to be “health nuts” in general and exercise more and do not smoke, etc.) and diet alone is considered, there’s no evidence that avoiding meat or other animal foods improves health. In fact, there’s evidence of the opposite, largely as the result of deficiencies in B12 and other vitamins and minerals among vegans in particular, but even to some extent among vegetarians. Studies of all-cause mortality in vegetarian and vegan groups compared with all-cause mortality in “omnivorous” groups show that there there is no statistically significant difference between them. Even one the the country’s leading vegan dieticians, Ginny Massina, has said there really are no HEALTH reasons for being a vegan, because one can be just as healthy eating a diet that includes meat and other animal foods, and that the only real rationale for being a vegan is “ethical,” i.e., believing that eating animals or any animal foods is morally wrong. As for vegetarians, India, which has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world (mainly lacto-vegetarians, but many “pure veg” as well) is also the world capital for diabetes and is approaching that status for cardiovascular disease as well. This is anecdotal, but the most unhealthy of my friends is a long-time (decades) vegetarian who became a vegan about three years ago. She has high cholesterol and high blood pressure and has had several bouts with cancer. I’m certainly not saying these were caused by her diet, but her diet did not PREVENT these conditions, either. She’s certainly not obese, but on the other hand, she is not healthfully fit and muscular, either. In fact, she borders on scrawny. I have traveled with her and she has no stamina and could barely carry her own not-very-heavy bag, which was a total pain in the *** to say the least. She’s also the same age I am but looks 15 years older. Not much of an ad for Team Veg, I’m afraid.

    And what country or countries (by saying “in every country” you imply more than one) are you referring to when you say “every country that had a nearly 100% plant based diet with just a bit of fish thrown in” there was no weight problem, etc.? I can’t think of a single country that fits that description. Japan may come closest, but they eat WAY more than “a bit” of fish – on average their per capita sea food consumption exceeds per capita meat consumption in the U.S. – and their diet includes other non-“plant based” foods as well.

    Methinks you are engaging in wishful “health” thinking to justify your diet.

  • RedwingBlackbird

    As for your statement “Enter McDonald’s …” etc., has it not occurred to you that “McDonald’s” and the entire fast food industry for which “McDonald’s” is a synecdoche does not mean “meat and other animal products”? What makes up the bulk of a typical American fast food meal? It ain’t the scrawny (low quality) meat patty or the slice of cheese.

  • sabelmouse

    why eat a cow? because eating one cow kills fewer animals than eating plants.

  • sabelmouse

    regarding cardiologists.

  • James Kling

    Even the Dalai Lama says it’s more ethical to eat one larger animal (like a yak) than many smaller animals. I suppose that would also apply to the many smaller animals sacrificed for the industrial agriculture produce vegans lust for.

  • Walter Bushell

    *AMEN*

  • Walter Bushell

    Fry, or saute in some saturated fat yes, but certainly not in industrially toxic solvent extracted “vegetable” actually seed oils, which not only have too much omega 6 fatty acids and much to omega 3 for a healthy ratio, but oxidize easily.

    And of course not everything.

  • sabelmouse

    exactly.

  • Walkslikeaduck

    Wow. I really thought this must be a “Onion” article, but I see it is for real. Wishful thinking? Need to feel better about oneself and spin “science” in your own favor ? Need to justify partaking in a diet so harmful to our planet and so ethically repugant (Fois gras, really? ). I’d say most likely the need to make money $$$ and with that title and that photo..lots of folks will want to be let off the hook for centering their diet around animal products. Profit indeed.

  • Sammy Pepys

    Very positive review at the Economist magazine this week – highly unusual for a food story!

    http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21602984-why-everything-you-heard-about-fat-wrong-case-eating-steak-and-cream

  • Sammy Pepys

    Very positive review at the Economist magazine this week – highly unusual for a food story!

    http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21602984-why-everything-you-heard-about-fat-wrong-case-eating-steak-and-cream

  • Marc Antony

    Do you not think there is a billion dollar industry backing the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle? You are incredibly mistaken. They have lobbyists earning millions to promote the cause on top of the millions more in research that supports the lifestyle. If you question the omnivores’ diet and research, you must question the vegan/vegetarian diet as well for the same reasons. Otherwise, you risk deluding yourself into promoting snake oil.

  • Doctor Vedic

    And what do the larger animals eat to get so large? The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population.

  • Doctor Vedic

    Great that you feel better! Would urge you to investigate role of animal protein consumption a bit more closely however, especially as it relates to cancer. As a proponent of Ayurveda, I agree that higher saturated fat intake isn’t a necessarily bad thing (ie ghee, coconut oil) in terms of heart disease, but also keep in mind that an Ayurvedic diet is largely free of animal proteins.

  • Pinkmidas

    The
    fact that saturated fat is good not bad is starting to get through at
    last. I was delighted to find in “The
    Times Magazine” of 24th May, 2014, a rare bit of good nutritional
    wisdom in mainstream media. Giles
    Coren wrote, “In America, on the other hand, most people think they are on a
    diet. This is the land which (in the Fifties) first established the bogus link
    between the consumption of animal fat and unhealthy human body weight, and the
    idea still persists in 2014, with the result that almost all processed food
    (which combined with food consumed in restaurant and fast-food joints,
    comprises 90 per cent of the American diet) advertises itself as containing ‘0
    per cent fat’, while listing under its ingredients many obesifying sugars that
    have been used as compensatory flavour enhancers. So the ‘healthier’ you eat,
    the fatter you get.” The bogus
    link relates, of course, to the cholesterol myth. Cholesterol is vital to our health and it is processed food,
    trans fats and sweeteners, which cause it to oxidize in the walls of the
    arteries. Take a look at the value of Nobel
    Prize winning L-arginine in protecting you against this.

  • James Kling

    There is absolutely no reason why cows need to be fed grain. The same goes for bison and lamb. Some livestock such as poultry and pigs can be supplemented with grain, but there are farmers who use little to no grain supplementation.
    So, to answer your question, grass. Cows and bison can eat grass and become so large. Pastured farms also have positive environmental effects, and help to enrich topsoil rather than deplete it.

    So I’m not sure what your point was with that comment, but the optimal agricultural model is a biodiverse farm that raises its livestock on pasture, and recycles produce waste for scavengers like chickens and pigs. It would not utilize monocropping, and harsh chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides. It would feed more people with less animal death than the sorts of monoculture crops that are the cornerstone of vegan dietary foods, such as soy, corn, and wheat. It would minimize runoff to waterways and estuaries, and would help counter the flooding phenomena exacerbated by rampant over-development.

    A family of 4 can easily live off the meat of one cow for a year or more; one life. A vegan eating his or her soybean products to replace or mimic beef is killing and displacing hundreds of animals.

  • James Kling
  • sabelmouse

    thanks for the advise. ben there, done that, though i agree that sat fats might be even more needed than good quality protein. relatively speaking.

    i do need a fir bit of both these days or else i get heart palpitations and the shakes.

  • ziggy

    So the fact that thousands of people have lost weight and avoided diabetes and increased good cholesterol all by following essentially an Atkins based diet means what exactly? You simply can not argue the results. It is a curious thing when an entrenched myth is so ingrained that seemingly intelligent people simply pretend the evidence does not exist. It reminds one of the old Eddie Murphy bit where his wife catches him walking out the front door of his mistresses house and says ..” I caught you”… his response …”It wasn’t me!”…

    You it seems simply refuse to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence.

  • cavenewt

    Peter Attia is a low-carb high-fat advocate and partnered with Gary Taubes in NuSci. Your inclusion of him in your LOW-FAT PLANT-BASED-advocating post is puzzling.

  • Stephanie

    I can agree that a high carb diet is harmful and eating fat is not as detrimental as once thought… but I think if you are eating a great deal of butter, cheese and meat that is not organic you are ingesting alot of hormones and antibiotics and that is just as bad. Also, when land is used to raise animals instead of crops, precious water and soil are lost, trees are cut down to make land for grazing or
    factory-farm sheds, and untreated animal waste pollutes rivers and
    streams. In fact, it has such a devastating effect on all aspects of our
    environment that the Union of Concerned Scientists lists meat-eating as
    the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth. (Number one
    is fossil-fuel vehicles.) And according to a report published by the
    Worldwatch Institute, a staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. So encouraging people to eat more meat as the Atkins diet prescribes, is just plain ridiculous.

  • Sue

    You appear not to understand what studying ”nutrition” means. Sure, physicians are not trained in dietetics (ie prescribing diets) – they refer to the dietary profession for that. But they ARE trained in nutrition – from salivary amylase to rectal mucus glands. From pancreatic endocrine and exocrine function to gastric goblet cells. Yes, this takes years. Literally.

  • sabelmouse

    they do learn mechanics, and how to treat those with drugs.
    the pic was supposed to be with the first comment, btw. regarding cardiologists.

  • martha

    I’m not anti-fat. In fact, I dislike low fat food. Nina Teicholz states in her youtube video, “you can’t just ignore your observations . . .you have to make sense out of what you are seeing around you . . . what is wrong with our hypothesis . . .” as she debunked the AMA low fat diet recommendations. Unfortunately, Ms. Teicholz, hasn’t convinced me that she has questioned her hypothesis enough. Did she look beyond heart disease at the other possible consequences of a high protein/high fat diet. A high protein diet stresses the kidneys. No one wants kidney disease.

    A truly healthy diet also has to be sustainable for the planet. I agree that the low fat/high carb diet was a myth. But Ms. Teicholz is replacing one harmful myth with yet another myth that is potentially much more harmful. A large increase in meat consumption and the resulting increase in factory farms would be an environmental disaster.

  • Anonymous

    What mayo are you eating that has carbs ? Mayo is from oil eggs and vinegar, all of which are carb free. “Bravo. Yet another anecdotal confirmation that vegans diets do cause neurological damage via B12 deficiency.”

    Awsome

    https://www.google.com/search?q=carbs+in+mayo&oq=carbs+in+mayo

  • catherine maneker

    It feels so refreshing to have some common sense about diet and health. All my family, a huge family, lived long healthy lives eating eggs, butter, cream and meat. And little vegetables or fruit. Take a look at past cookbooks……..no vegan, low fat and other silly stuff.

    For the food religious. Keep getting fatter and sicker on wheat, sugar and vegetabel oils better left for candles and machinery.

  • Paul

    The book is about FAT not meat you VEGAN!!. I have followed a low fat diet, I got Fat. I followed a VEGAN diet I stayed Fat… I followed a vegetarian diet I got fatter. I followed fruitarian I got light heated and stayed fat. I have been on the government recommended pyramid scam and got fat. It was when I stopped all carbs, added FAT back into my diet I lost weight like you just hosed it off me. So I follow a diet rich in fat, ie cheese, bacon, meat, vegetables, eggs, sour cream and I am skinny. Look to your ancestors, if you truly believe that they survived on plant matter alone while running away from the dinosaurs than go ahead and stick to that diet. I am aware of the suffering the animals go through in factory farms, they didn’t even have a life but I need to eat I try to get the best I can and I am THANKFUL and humble at what I eat. I am careful of what I buy at the store because it seems that high fractious corn syrup is in everything. So I stick to the basics

  • Paul

    The book is about FAT not meat you VEGAN!!. I have followed a low fat diet, I got Fat. I followed a VEGAN diet I stayed Fat… I followed a vegetarian diet I got fatter. I followed fruitarian I got light heated and stayed fat. I have been on the government recommended pyramid scam and got fat. It was when I stopped all carbs, added FAT back into my diet I lost weight like you just hosed it off me. So I follow a diet rich in fat, ie cheese, bacon, meat, vegetables, eggs, sour cream and I am skinny. Look to your ancestors, if you truly believe that they survived on plant matter alone while running away from the dinosaurs than go ahead and stick to that diet. I am aware of the suffering the animals go through in factory farms, they didn’t even have a life but I need to eat I try to get the best I can and I am THANKFUL and humble at what I eat. I am careful of what I buy at the store because it seems that high fractious corn syrup is in everything. So I stick to the basics

  • I just listened to n interview with her. Her interview was disappointing. She attempts to say trans fats are more okay than oxidized vegetable oil but no research. She bashes scientists but when asked about other reporters who wrote about this she bashes them saying they are not well educated in nutrition… But she is? She fails to explain the consequences of saturated fat on a high carb diet which is what most people have now. A high fat and high carb diet. Her health claims are for high fat low carb but acts like going to McDonald’s can now be healthy with more fat? She also blatantly ignored the research of the benefits of an ultra high carb, ultra low fat diet. The same health benefits she found for high fat low carb are found in high carb low fat. There are equally testimonials for both protocols. Her interview left me with such a bad taste in my mouth, I really can’t even bring myself to fund this woman by buying her book. She is a journalist. It is her job to brig about sensation. And I can’t stand her big ego for it.

  • Susan

    Okay, that is about the fourth time you’ve used your favourite new word “vegangelical.” We get how clever it is. You could try a different phrase now.

  • RedwingBlackbird

    One can never use an appropriate term too often.
    You really must be desperate if you’re looking for ten-month-old posts to comment on and reply to. You should try to get out more.