My hope is anyone reading this is starting well in 2015. This is a year of new opportunities and goals. I never imagined the great honor of writing for the Ethical Omnivore Movement being one of them for me. With every new year comes a new push and the question then becomes whether it’s a push we desire or not.
This year, as with many past years, it seems the anti-fat advocates will continue to make a strong push for low fat even with the resounding stack of evidence to the contrary. These advocates include a considerable number of vegans, health professionals and the medical establishment. Being active, eating healthy foods and losing weight are typical new year goals, but isn’t an easy path to follow given the amount of confusing information out there, like the following:
> Get ready for Veganuary, as if Meatless Mondays aren’t enough! Co-founded by Matthew Glover and Jane Land and launched a few years ago, Veganuary, is a campaign made to provide support and push people to go vegan this January. More information can be found through this link. There’s a lot of information to cover and there’s supposedly everything for everyone. Given we’ve passed the first week of 2015, there isn’t a lot of other news related to the campaign; there is however news about an omnivore committing to veganuary. Good luck to him. Aside from the commitment, I wouldn’t consider “demolishing” a Hannah Banana Bakery tofu vegan snickers cake normal; it sounds somewhat repulsive, in fact. Personally, if part of going vegan is indulging in cakes devoid of butter, milk or eggs, then count me out.
> There was an animal study recently published on the relationship between meat and cancer through a molecule called Neu5gc. Studies observing the link have been published and reported in the news and all over the web. The problem with the study is the progression of inflammation and cancer in humans and those of mice are inconsistent. We’ve yet to see an experimental study on the cancer progression of humans who consume foods high in Neu5Gc. If scientists can’t perform such a study because of ethical considerations, what’s the reasoning in recommending an unproven association? These unproven association reports are commonplace in the nutrition world but this study does little to clarify any meat and cancer relationship or inform further study or us as consumers.
> There is news reporting on two prospective studies, looking at data of tens of thousands of people from Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurse’s Health Study to see a relationship between whole grains and mortality. The limitations and drawbacks to these studies are another story. What’s paramount to understand with these studies is the same experts seem to be constantly pushing the same recommendations regardless of any controversy surrounding the topic or there is mounting evidence to the contrary. If that isn’t enough, the Atkins diet received fire recently given the unproven associations of the whole grain study. It’s probable the issue the medical establishment has concerning Atkins is the recommendation of animal products in place of whole grains. They still adopt the low-fat recommendations where whole grains are heart healthy and animal products aren’t, despite the notion being pretty proven otherwise.
> Continuing with Atkins, animal products, and whole grains, the U.S. News Diet Rankings of 2015 were released showing Atkins and Paleo ranked dead bottom. BUT it doesn’t stop there. It seems, health professionals and organizations love giving Loren Cordain a difficult time. Regarding the Atkins diet, it seems for a diet ranked dead bottom on the US News Overall Best Diet Rankings list at least three years in a row, is persistent for becoming the most popular diet of all time. In 2003, a few million people in the UK tried the diet; in the US, one in eleven reported to have tried it. Whether or not the Paleo and Atkins diet are both healthy will be touched later.
> Finally, the USDA is starting to revise its food and nutritional recommendations and suggested people eat less meat rather than lean meat. Washingtonpost wrote of how the meat industry’s worse nightmare will come to reality. This recommendation, part of a series of future health recommendations, will be made based on the environmental health concerns of livestock production. What isn’t being considered in this case or understood by most people are various food production methods. Not all meats are the same when considering environmental impact and, in fact, it would be quite fair to say CAFO animals and pastured animals are quite opposite in terms of impact to environmental health. Personally, I believe the meat industry ought to be penalized for both its lack of consideration for the environment and animal welfare issues. The USDA food recommendations shouldn’t hinder people, however, from securing meat from other food production sources, such as local farms with pastureland.
Five of these observations all directly/indirectly point to meat as the culprit for the environmental and nutritional health woes of this world. This, however, shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since the 1980 Dietary Recommendations, the United States has become fatphobic and will continue to be in 2015, it appears. That much hasn’t changed despite no clear upswing in the overall health of the population after 30+ years under those recommendations. Despite these observations, there is still good news.
Kurtis Hiatt, on behalf of the US News made several claims on the Atkins diet, such as there’s no considerable evidence for effective long-term weight loss and diabetes control. Upon investigation, you’ll discover he carries no credentials or qualifications related to the subject. He has no business providing baseless recommendations to the public. There is evidence to support the Atkins diet’s effectiveness in long-term weight loss and diabetes control. People who attempt to disabuse others of trying Atkins are usually uninformed, which is why conducting good research is paramount.
The same can be said about Paleo, which was ranked lowest on the US News Overall Diet Rankings. One important thing to consider: even if mimicking diet consumed by paleolithic ancestors is impossible for modern-era humans to accomplish, does this mean the Paleo diet is the worse fad? Not exactly because part of being on this diet is consuming nutrient-dense foods, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables. There was a study published last year, documenting the effects of the Paleo diet in a long-term, clinical setting for the very first time. Finally, a unique, high-quality study is released for people to examine and discuss in some length and depth; this is exactly what Paleo and Atkins are in need of to be fully recognized for both their health and environmental benefits.
To dispel the myths, lies and deceptions of these dietary recommendations, let there be more evidence-based science on the table for review and discussion. In addition, let’s share and base our decisions on objective and viable tested information. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Despite the push, rough or not, I desire 2015 to be another year of fat redemption.