Vegans are not from Vegas

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

In response to my recent post about whether we could feed more people if everyone were vegetarians (I say no), a poster named Marissa wrote a heartfelt paean  to Veganism.

Figure 1. Perhaps the world’s best-known adherent of a strict Vegan diet.

Vegans are a kind of fundamentalist sect of born-again vegetarians who eat exclusively vegetables, no eggs, no fish, no milk, no cheese, no insects. Merissa’s post starts off as follows:

Ok, I don’t think I have read one comment from a true vegan on this thread. Well I am Vegan and let me share with you the benefits that I have experienced …

Merissa follows with a list of the things s/he has gotten from following a Vegan diet. This stirred me to write again about why people eat meat.

Merissa, I think that it is great that you have found a way of eating that works for you. The problem is not that some people find that vegetarianism or Veganism works for them. That’s a good thing. I say more power to you. You should eat exactly what feels best for your life and your body. I ate vegetarian for three years myself.

Now perhaps it’s something in the vegetables that causes the problem, I don’t know. But all too often, recent initiates into the mysteries of some branch of Vegetableism then feel compelled to tell me how much better the world would be if every single person ate, not what works for them, but what works for the Vegetableist in question. And this is all too often accompanied by the claim that we could feed more people if humans only ate vegetables.

For the host of reasons I listed in the previous post, people around the planet have found it advantageous to domesticate and keep (and eat) animals. Perhaps some random Vegan knows more about how to scratch out a living in a hostile world than do all of the billions of poor farmers and householders around the planet, maybe they’re all wrong to keep chickens and pigs and such, maybe we might be able to feed more people if we were all vegetarians … but I doubt it very much. The farmers and the poor around the planet aren’t that stupid.

It has occasionally been my good fortune to work and spend time with very poor people, the dollar a day people, the people at the very opposite end of the economic spectrum from me, or you, or anyone rich enough to own a computer or a pair of nice shoes. There’s a lot to learn at that end of the economy, including about people’s diets. To understand the position of meat in the global diet, you need to remember that most people don’t eat the same as you and me and the folks who own computers and nice shoes. Most people on the planet are already vegetarians most of the time … only not by choice. For most people, meat is a delicacy. It is not on the menu very often.

Once when I was working in Liberia, in West Africa, they were burning a local sugar cane field. The whole village came out with clubs. They surrounded the fire in a long line. When the fire chased the cane rats out of the burning cane, they clubbed the rats and took them home and ate them. I found out that cane rat fried up in slightly over-the-hill orange colored oil palm oil (no refrigeration) tastes pretty good, although for a couple days afterwards I belched more rancid palm oil fumes than an out-of-tune biodiesel engine …

And of course cane rat is considered a good thing, meat for the family.

Here’s the reason why cane rat is a delicacy, why kids lined up to get some of the meat. The villagers that eat that meat are stronger and healthier and more resistant to disease and quicker to heal and faster growing than the villagers who don’t eat that meat. Simple as that. The chance to eat meat doesn’t come up often. When that chance comes up, those people that eat the meat improve their chances of living compared to those who don’t eat meat.

Our bodies know that and have known it since forever. You could see it in the kids’ eyes, they could smell it, they wanted it, their bodies responded without conscious thought. Meat makes you stronger, it provides a host of vitamins and minerals, it is powerful food. Which is why people eat meat, in Africa and around the planet. It increases their odds of survival in a harsh and unforgiving environment. So they ate cane rats.

Here’s another story from another time and place, with the same subject. One late afternoon, through a series of misunderstandings and coincidences, I found myself sitting in the welcome shade of some trees in a railroad yard in Mexico, waiting to hop a freight train. Two young boys came by, brothers the older one said, perhaps four and seven years old. Built on the usual blueprint of the poor, undersized and skinny. I struck up a conversation in Spanish with the seven year old. The younger boy never said a word. He just trailed a few feet behind his older brother, and watched everything with black shiny eyes.

The older boy had a slingshot made of a tree branch “Y” fork, with a dozen or more ordinary rubber bands of all sizes and colors attached to each fork of the “Y” and to the leather pouch.

I asked what they were doing. The boy said they came to the railroad lines because there were perfectly round stones for his slingshot in the railroad bed. He showed me how hard it was to pull his slingshot. Oh, I suppose you are the grán cazador, the mighty hunter, I jested.

Si, Señor, yo soy, he explained very soberly in Spanish, yes, Sir, I am.

My skepticism must have shown in my eyes. Mira, he said, watch.

He searched around, picked up and discarded a few stones, finally settling on exactly the right one. He put it in the pouch of the slingshot, and started walking around and gazing intently up into the tree branches above us. He stopped, pulled back and let fly.

There was a “poof” sound up in the tree, and a bird the size of a small robin, that I didn’t even know was in the tree, tumbled down at my feet. He and his tiny brother both jumped on it, and he twisted its neck in an economical, practised fashion.

With my mouth hanging open, I hastened to assure him that I was wrong to doubt his word. I said he was indeed a skilled hunter. I asked what he would do with the bird. Oh, para comer, señor, it’s for food, sir, he said. I said are you going to take it home to your mamá to cook it? Oh, no, Señor, somos siete, he said … oh no, Sir … there’s seven of us kids … I nodded my understanding.

He and his short confederate scurried off. They returned with some grass and twigs. He pulled out a tattered matchbook and lit a fire. In no time he had plucked that bird, gutted it, skewered it, and had it cooking over the fire. I watched in astonishment.

I walked to the corner where an old lady was frying tacos on a dished-top tin can stove. I bought a few potato tacos the size of silver dollars. She didn’t sell meat tacos, poor people don’t buy meat tacos. She made tacos with potatoes and tacos with beans. I brought them back, and gave most of them to the midget hunter and his mini-amigo. And God damn it, he wanted me to take half the bird, but I could see their eyes caressing it.

So I told them I could only eat a small bite on account of my liver. That being the common explanation there for any physical infirmity, the older boy nodded sagely. He agreed that a man has to take care of his liver, you can’t be too careful. He said his liver was fine, thanks, and they happily polished off that bird. I bought another round of potato tacos to celebrate, which had similarly short lifetimes.

And you know, as the two of them sat there content under the tree, sucking on the bird bones and watching the sun set, somehow I just didn’t have the heart to tell that small man and his smaller brother-in-arms just how much better off he and his little bitty buddy and the rest of the world would be if only they and everyone else became vegetarians …

My best to all,


[UPDATE] Twelve years after I wrote this, science is finally catching up with what every kid on a cattle ranch knows … see “Going Vegan Isn’t the Most Sustainable Option for Humanity“.

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Adam Gallon
October 20, 2010 12:36 am


Alan the Brit
October 20, 2010 12:53 am

Is it not that too few of us actually read our history? Why man is where he is today? I once contracted for an engineer who was part vegetarian & his partner wholly so about 12 years ago now. He would often scoff at my (occasional) fried bacon & egg sandwich with melted cheese topping lunch, usually indulged in as a Friday treat. He once asked me facetiously “you know too much meat is bad for you & why is it that human beings are the only animal to heat its food?” To which I replied “heat is energy, hot food provides better energy than cold food, & that’s how mankind has managed to survive half a dozen or so ice-ages & not get wiped from the face of the planet, so eating meat & the discovery of how to make fire was a good thing!” I also added as an after thought that eating heated meat may well stem back to the days when an instant kill was devoured almost at once with the meat being at body temperature! Perhaps that’s why I & many others like our steaks on the rare side? May be may be not.

October 20, 2010 1:02 am

Spot on, Willis. Thanks.

October 20, 2010 1:07 am

Thank you for the wisdom in this post.

October 20, 2010 1:09 am

Meat is how we convert indigestible vegetable protein into something we can eat. If you eat a cow, you are eating grass or grain.
If veganism is so good for the body, why was there not a single naturally evolved vegan culture? It is because veganism is not sustainable in a hardscrabble subsistence culture. In the bush you eat what you can find when you can find it. There are no freezers, refrigerators, ships from Chile loaded with fresh grapes or planes loaded with berries showing up. It takes a huge infrastructure to support a vegan. The amount of energy consumed just transporting their food and keeping it from spoiling is tremendous.
Ask a Californian and they will say “eat local”. That’s fine in a place where something grows practically year round but tell that to someone from Bemidji, Minnesota … in January. The only local thing you are going to eat is fish you might catch at Joe’s ice fishing shack out on the lake. Maybe if you are lucky and driving around Cumberland, Wisconsin you might come across a rutabaga, but in January the ground will be like solid rock frozen to foot or more deep.
Vegans love to talk about how “sustainable” their lifestyle is. I can buy a lamb in the spring and let it graze all summer. Then I can have it butchered in the winter (so I don’t have to feed it) and it can feed my family over the winter with the grass that it ate in the summer. No airplanes or ships (or lawnmowers) required.
I really don’t like the whole “fundamentalist” religious vegans who try to tell everyone else what they should be doing. It is almost as if they themselves are unsure and if they can convince someone else, then maybe they can convince themselves (someone else bought into it, I must not be all THAT crazy).
If you live in the bush you are NOT getting a varied diet. You are eating what is growing within walking distance of you that day when it is in season. If a rabbit runs by, catching that rabbit probably provides more nutrition than a week’s worth of digging roots and scavenging nuts and berries.

October 20, 2010 1:10 am

I have been a vegetarian for many years but it is not my place to tell anyone else how to eat. All I would ask is that meat eaters choose ethical sources for their food, where the welfare of the animal is properly considered. A great deal of meat is reared in factory type conditions and suffer considerable streas. Animals are not a commodity but living creatures who should be respected. So other than that caveat enjoy your steak.

John Marshall
October 20, 2010 1:11 am

If you choose veganism as a way of life it is up to you but do not try to convert others. Humans are omnivores and as such are at the top of the food chain. No vegetarian animal holds a similar position. Our eyes are at the front of our heads just right for hunting other animals. We have canine teeth and our back teeth are a combination of cutting and grinding teeth. All for an omnivorous diet. Just like grizzly bears. Though not polar bears since they have carnivores teeth proving that different environments can produce different dental development.
Human babies do not thrive on a vegan diet as my wife, a community midwife, was forced to tell one of her mothers who decided that a vegan diet was for her newborn.
My only experience of a vegan family was in our local village and they were always ill and always looked sick but perhaps that was just them.

October 20, 2010 1:15 am

I do exactly the same as them. Except I do it in Tesco with a basket. Chicken at half price !

October 20, 2010 1:16 am

I flirted with vegetarianism for several months in my early twenties. It was the smell of a particularly delicious Sunday roast that brought me back to my senses. Never regretted the regression.

James Bull
October 20, 2010 1:21 am

My wife and I have for a number of years supported a UK charity which was started by a group of Devon farmers who sent cows to Africa, where they were given to people to help them work themselves out of poverty. They can drink the milk, use the manure to improve the soil to grow more veg etc and they can sell the excess to raise money to send their children to school. This raises their self esteem and makes them useful to their whole community.
They now have a wide range of animals/birds, fruit trees/bushes and training (building simple tip taps, rain water reservoirs, special gardening methods or how to make a fuel saving stove) that they supply to those they help. The main emphasis of the work is that those who receive these things is that they pass on the first born to someone else to benefit them.
For more info see

October 20, 2010 1:23 am

Here in Wales we have a lot of upland areas which are more akin to tundra than the usual fertile British soil. They are no good for arable farming, but the hardy Welsh black sheep thrives if stocked at the correct levels and converts all that unusable land into the finest Lamb and Mutton to be found anywhere in the world.
Something that I do not think we should encourage in Europe though is the killing of wild birds except those bred for sport. Migrating birds crossing Spain and Malta have a terrible time with millions of song birds and raptors killed for sport as they overfly these and other countries. There is really no need in Europe to kill these birds for food or fun, I would rather see our young people eat a good piece of Welsh mutton, than see the last remaining Nightingales killed for sport.
While meat is tasty and can be good for the environment, remember a vegan day once or twice a week is also good for your health.

October 20, 2010 1:23 am

There is a reason all those “vegetarian by poverty” folk don’t live long or illness free lives – they can’t afford all the food supplements most vegans and true vegetarians need to swallow (and which their bodies process extremely poorly), which also produce huge amounts of toxic waste in the manufacturing process…
So much for Veganism being eco-friendly. Mind you, I suppose it could be argued that their “uncontaminated” bodies decompose more easily and feed the eco-system more readily…

M White
October 20, 2010 1:25 am

Cooked meat makes the protein easily digestable in the human stomach. Digesting raw meat takes a lot of energy.

October 20, 2010 1:26 am

I think that the proper vegan reply would be that because of science we now understand what sort of food we have to eat in order to avoid meat. It is possible to eat a healthy vegan diet and maintain body mass and muscle tone and all of those other important physiological factors.
My response to this, however, would be to say that I prefer to eat meat because it tastes good, to me, and I do not appreciate people telling me to eat somthing “because it is good for me, and the planet”. I don’t take well to preaching, of any sort.
Unfortunately, these vegans have an argument that resonates with the young, who are looking for something to save, or at least to help them feel good/better, and this is a simple way for them to do so. So, the vegans will continue to proliferate, and someday they will start to get legislation passed (I guess it has started, already, with foie gras), and then we will all have to move to France if we want to get somthing tasty to eat.

October 20, 2010 1:32 am

A great deal of meat is reared in factory type conditions and suffer considerable streas. Animals are not a commodity but living creatures who should be respected.

Your concern for the helpless is admirable. That said, lets put this in perspective. Imagine an existence where most of your children never live past age 5. 85% of people born do not live past the age of 35 years. A simple cut can be deadly. And I am not talking about thousands of years ago, I am talking up to about the middle to late 1800’s. President Coolidge’s son died from a blister on his heel suffered while playing tennis.
Imagine the stress and suffering that human beings are generally subjected to. The attitudes of many of the people are, I believe, rooted in the fact that their living is so good, they project their own standard of living onto everything else. It isn’t like it is here in the jungles of Brazil or Africa. In fact, we might return to those sort of conditions once bacteria evolve resistance to every known antibiotic. You will be darned lucky to simply be alive and if it is the animal or you, the animal loses because in that sort of condition, we can not afford a single human loss and human life, the struggle for very survival, means that the animal might suffer discomfort.
But one should never lose respect for the animal. Respect the animal, eat the bounty it has provided, and be thankful for it. To not eat it is to simply waste a life.

Malaga View
October 20, 2010 1:40 am

I think that it is great that you have found a way of eating that works for you.

Great post… Thank you… as they say: travel broadens the mind… how true… and indeed it would be a wonderful world if everyone had the luxury of choosing the food they wanted to eat… but unfortunately they don’t… which makes me very grateful every time I indulge myself with the luxury of choice… and I am especially grateful that I have not been eaten by another carnivore.

Mike McMillan
October 20, 2010 1:41 am

I’d bet, that if you went back 60 or 70 years into Bugs’ cartoon archives, that you’d find some hot dogs or other great American non-vegan items mentioned.
Cows are very good at converting things we can’t eat, like grass, into things we can eat, like hot dogs. Fish are likewise proficient. We’ve a lot of people to feed out there, and denying a source of food doesn’t help.
Protein has always been a problem for voluntary and involuntary mainly vegetarian diets. We were designed as omnivores, with omnivores’ teeth, so straying from design operation will have bad side effects.

Lawrie Ayres
October 20, 2010 1:48 am

There are many areas that are unsuitable for growing vegetables but are quite suitable for grazing animals. By eating the grazers we are utilising otherwise poor country. Check out the middle eastern cultures that gain most of their meat from goats grazed on what looks like bare rock and sand.

October 20, 2010 1:56 am

I for one am not Vegan – far from it – but hey – if it works for you great!!!
Being skeptical by nature, CAGW is not the only “science” I have researched and found wanting. Dietary advice from the “experts” and “scientists” are to me laughable, with more wheat & cereal lobbyists dictating Governmental advice than true health benefits.
I watched (and quitely chuckled to myself) when a US friend of mine went on to a very strict low-cholesterol, high-fibre diet 30 years ago. Lots of exercise (yes very good), but suffering many other health issues over the years.
My bacon and eggs breakfast each day, with toast simply oozing in butter continues 30 years on – and guess who has cholesterol problems?
I enjoy plenty of red meat – he following his Doctor’s advice can have virtually none
There is much alternative evidence regarding high-protien, high-dairy diets out there, but what are we being spoon-fed (pun intended?)
Oh and yes, there is a history of high-cholesterol with both my parents – I have very low cholesterol – go figure !
I just did my research, made my own mind up and followed what seemed perfectly natural – eat what feels and tastes good – if that’s Vegan for you then fab – for me well I choose otherwise

October 20, 2010 2:12 am

I used to think that eating mostly veg was good for me, because that’s what everyone was saying. Once in a while, every few months, I’d have a take-out dish that was pure meat. After a year I wondered why each time I happened to have the the meat dish, I felt better the next day (better mood, better wellbeing, even though the meat dish was “bad”).
I eventually went paleo and couldn’t believe how much better I felt. I thought I was being “healthy” on veg and legumes and carbs, until I discovered how it feels to eat meat without carbs.
Now that’s just me, so that’s not meant to convince anyone. My point is that until one has tried a variety of radically different diets, one doesn’t really know, not even about one’s self.
I think the first rule is, listen to your own body. Notice how it feels. Forget the intellectual dogma. Forget the noble causes. Just listen to how the body reacts. How does the stomach feel after eating a steak? How does it feel after eating a plate of pasta? How does it feel after eating a load of broccoli? How do you feel the day after as it moves through your digestive system?
At least figure out the body’s reactions, as problem or query number 1. Then we can worry about the other issues, like, can we produce enough carrots? Or can we rear enough cows?
I do agree, people who talk about the world ought to get out there and live there for a few years, not as tourists, or travellers, but live there as locals, and see for themselves what food shortages look like, what undernourished people look like, on their diet of heavy carbs, and what the living conditions really are in the world. And just wonder that if a person in Zambia chooses to seek meat as their preferred diet, just wonder that maybe that person knows what they are doing.
The Church also says that condoms are not good and we can’t just let people have sex for the sake of pleasure and not procreation. We have all sorts of dogmas in the world. Maybe vegetarianism is better…. maybe…. but let’s start by taking the dogma out of it. That means experimenting, trying things out, and really trying to discover the truth of something, and not just regurgitate dogmas.
I guess the environment is so complex that people are quickly left with nothing but dogmas to hold on to. Let’s just keep an open mind, let’s just start trying to look at the complexity of nature, and let’s allow ourselves the wonder of being surprised that what we believed wasn’t true.

October 20, 2010 2:14 am

It’s the old, old story – what YOU do is bad – you must do as I say (or in some instances, do), because it’s good.
Why is it some pious, holier than thou people are hell bent on taking away other people’s freedoms of choice? What utter hypocrisy.

October 20, 2010 2:17 am

“A great deal of meat is reared in factory type conditions and suffer
considerable stress.”
Whereas in the wild, zebra get followed around by lions…

John A
October 20, 2010 2:17 am

I had a gay English friend who was a vegan who lived with his partner in San Jose. We talked about food and his attitude to meat and dairy products in general.
He was (is) a skeptic about most things and as a result, refreshingly free of the normal NoCal BS. He admitted (no, proclaimed) that the reason he was a vegan was that he lived in the most prosperous food-laden country in the world, and that if that changed, he would be easting meat like everyone else who was hungry and desperate for nutrition.
I continue to have the greatest respect for someone as honest as that. His veganism was a choice that he could make when he can pick and choose what and when to eat.
Veganism is a product of the overabundance of food in some countries and guilt that so much food is available while others in poor countries struggle for food.
I guarantee you that given the choice between eating meat and starvation, there will be no vegans.

October 20, 2010 2:18 am

James Bull says: …
WOW! What a great idea!

October 20, 2010 2:20 am

Human history is full of cultures that ate little to no veggies. Eskimos for one. Laplanders for another. Neanderthal probably didn’t eat a lot of veggies either. Humans started eating meat when we discovered bone marrow. The lions and hyenas would finish, and after they had gnawed the last speck of meat from the bones, we would arrive, break the bones on (or with) a rock and eat the goodness that was inside.
The human brain began to expand at about the time we started catching and eating fish. If you want to return to a species with the mental capacity of what we had before we started eating meat, fine, but mark my words, in a few thousand years your clan will perish and be completely overpopulated by the meat eaters who will marry your daughters and convert them.

Golf Charley
October 20, 2010 2:24 am

Some years ago there were howls of protest and shock when the UK naturalist showed film of chimps hunting monkeys, ripping them to pieces and eating them.
Then the footage appeared of pandas scoffing on a deer carcase.
UK medics and social workers even have a term, “muesli belt malnutrition” to describe the sickly children, growing up (or not) in households where strict veggie/vegan rules are applied, and the kids are suffering from malnutrition as a result.
The contents of a single egg are sufficient to produce a new born chick, all its bones skin, brains etc, milk is the sole source of food for mammals in early development, yet the ecofascists choose to ignore these hints from nature

October 20, 2010 2:26 am

Vegetarianism is said to be rooted in a concern for the welfare of animals and a feeling that it is wrong to eat them. But if vegetarianism took hold in a big way it would mean the end of many, many types of animal. Who would keep pigs, cows, sheep etc as pets? And what would you feed your cats and dogs? Do vegetarians and vegans have cats and dogs?

October 20, 2010 2:31 am

i guess evolution put eyes in front of our skull so we could hunt carrots?
vegetarians/vegans are so because they can afford it. just another snobby, progressive fashion aimed at wiping out billions of people.
i recommend penn and teller view on the issue.

Larry Fields
October 20, 2010 2:34 am

M White says:
October 20, 2010 at 1:08 am
“Plants feel pain????”
That reminds me of the message that Paula McMasters, an old hiking friend from college, embroidered onto her hat:
“If you like plants, don’t eat them!”

Jimmy Haigh
October 20, 2010 2:43 am

I am not a herbivore.

Donald (S.Australia)
October 20, 2010 2:44 am

Wasn’t Hitler the world’s best known vegan? ( Or was he some some variant of the quackery?)

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
October 20, 2010 2:48 am

I’m a ‘proper’ vegetarian – have been for almost 30 years. Thing is, I don’t give a stuff what people eat, whether they are veggie or not. I do what I want to do, and don’t care if others do the same. But I have found very curious reactions to me being veggie. Some of them border on the very odd! Read some of the above posts and you’ll see what I mean – ignorance really is bliss.
Eating food is all about being a total hypocrite. I’m a hypocrite because despite being a veggie because I can’t bear to eat something that was alive, I nonetheless eat milk products (knowing full well the suffering cows go through in the dairy industry). Vegans are hypocrites because they cannot exclude all animal products (because it is impossible – there are animal products in manufactured goods). Meat eaters (like the majority reading this) are hypocrites because they’ll eat a chicken, but can’t bear to eat anything fluffy, cute or domesticated. So you see, we’re all hypocrites. Just enjoy your life and don’t criticise other’s beliefs.

October 20, 2010 2:50 am

Tonyb, thanks for your tolerance of others who think and act differently to you.
You demonstrate a tolerance that has all too often gone missing amongst those who practice a different life style and are utterly convinced that everybody should follow or be forced into following their particular choice of life style , usually prefaced by “for the good of the Earth” or some such “xxxxxxx” !
Perhaps one day into the far future, this age will be classed by the historians of the future as The Age of the Cults.
Global Warming, Environmental,[ now one of the most corrupted, overused and misused words in the global lexicon.] Animal liberation, Vegan, Organic, Anti-nuclear, Species extinction, Ocean acidity, Sea level rise and dozens of others.
As with cults of every stripe through out human history, the Select and Blessed Ones will attempt to convert everybody to their way of thinking and if they can’t achieve that by peaceful means then the cults attempt to apply their beliefs through overt coercion and then finally if they can achieve enough influence and power, the use of force for a “final solution”.
The extremists of the Environmental / Global Warming Cult are now at the overt coercion stage judging from the attempts to paint skeptics as psychiatric cases and the making of 10; 10 snuff video plus the girl on the ice block with the noose around her neck.
Minds that come up with those scenarios are almost beyond evil.
The older generation amongst us saw this same psychology where humans of a particular race, creed or color or belief were no longer regarded as humans but were classed as subhumans and were therefore ripe for extinction.
I see the same totally warped psychology already making it’s presence felt today in the extremists of the so called environmental / global warming movement.
If a scenario such as that of the 1930’s in Europe rose again and it will, then we can already see now the psychology’s already present today amongst the extreme elements of the environmental and global warming cults will become willing dupes of any movement run by a charismatic leader where any empathy for others of a different belief system no longer exists and any action needed to eliminate those who do not “believe” is rationalised as “the end justifies the means”
The last time, it cost an estimated 100 million human lives.

October 20, 2010 2:50 am

“Do vegetarians and vegans have cats and dogs?”
Do they even nurse their young?
I know some pretty radical vegans and it has NOTHING to do with animals for them. They have what seems like a self-loathing. They think eating human meat (no kidding) is the “most vegan” thing you can do. They are basically anti-human and are projecting their anti-humanism.
I am talking about some pretty hard core San Francisco vegans here. I had a friend who is in a dance troupe. She was asked to perform at a vegan cafe/restaurant with her troupe. They discovered that she ate meat and asked that she not perform. They didn’t even want her IN the place. I am dead serious, too, and this woman is one of the top in the world in her style of dance.

October 20, 2010 2:55 am

I haven’t seen it yet, but there will be certainly a vegan mentioning their “scientific” caution “The China Study” from T.Colin Campbell. Here a link to a blog where a sole girl has rechecked the numbers and brillantly demonstrated that Campbell is full of it.
She got than help from Chris Masterjohn a british researcher who has showed that Campbell misrepresented even his own research
The responses from Campbell himself and all his sycophants reminds me alot of the responses from the warmists, full of personal attack, not much science.
If there’s one field were the science is even worse than in climate science, it’s nutrition “science”. Check it out, it’s terrible.

October 20, 2010 2:57 am

I am a proud omnivore and I believe my teeth were designed for this diet . When I no longer need to be effective at structural steel design I might consider becoming a vegetarian…no, wait, I would eat my own limbs before giving up the food source that put foot prints on the moon!

October 20, 2010 3:01 am

“I am a proud omnivore and I believe my teeth were designed for this diet . ”
Given a few thousand generations your teeth will adjust to just about anything. Just think, humans in zero G for a few thousand generations would lose all their bones and look like a jelly ball with a head and will be able to type with all four hands.

October 20, 2010 3:04 am

gallier2 says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:55 am
I haven’t seen it yet, but there will be certainly a vegan mentioning their “scientific” caution “The China Study” from T.Colin Campbell. Here a link to a blog where a sole girl has rechecked the numbers…..

Sort of validates what I said in my post above

October 20, 2010 3:08 am

The thing I find laughable about one particular type of veggie/vegan etc. pihlosophy is the “ethical” one, where a vegetarian will hav a dim ethical view of omnivores.
But of course a vegan can and does look down on vegetarians from an “ethical” standpoint.
And of course “fruitarians” can and do look down upon vegans from an “ethical” standpoint.
I could hazard a guess that “Breatharians” (look it up) might look down upon fruitarians from an ethical standpoint.
And it is all done with a straight face.

October 20, 2010 3:11 am

The Ghost said:
…knowing full well the suffering cows go through in the dairy industry…
And my reaction was, “Huh? Whom are you kidding?” Maybe things are different on your part of the planet, but suffering cows aren’t very productive. I’ve never seen a dairy cow that didn’t lead a pampered life. Rather, it’s the dairymen who get the short end of the stick – and it used to be a lot worse than it is now.

October 20, 2010 3:13 am

@ The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
I must respond.
I am no hypocrite. I will eat anything, including the cute and fluffy (as long as it is legal of course). I might psychologically recoil from some things, but I will not refuse anything on principle, only on taste.

October 20, 2010 3:13 am

Animals spend up to 20 hours per day eating because it takes a lot of vegetation to make body mass.
In other words animals concentrate nutrition, therefore provides more nutrition, weight for weight than vegetation. This means meat eaters can eat less quantity and spend less time eating.
Not only this, a single type of meat can provide nearly all the nutritional requirements, whereas a much large variety and quantity of vegetation is required for the same benefit.
Meat eating is more efficient allowing more time for other things, requiring less land, less transportation, less storage and less preparation.
The vegetarian environmental argument falls down when considering that grazing animals will feed more people than would the vegetation they consume, because they are adapted to extract more nourishment than Humans from vegetation much of which would be unpalatable and indigestible for Humans anyway.

October 20, 2010 3:16 am

Also Ghost
You strike me as a typical know nothing urbanite. Go to a dairy farm one day and watch the cows willingly and automatically queue for their daily milking. It is repetitive and boring being a milker no doubt, but they are cows for crying out loud and grazing, wandering and some teat sucking once a day is bovine heaven.

October 20, 2010 3:16 am

I’ve eaten “Meat Only” for a few months (as a friend was on a protein only diet and wanted company…) It wasn’t too bad after the first week or so (when benign dietary ketosis sets in) but I like omnivore much better.
Now most of my family has been infected with the Vegetarian Meme, so we eat vegetarian for pretty much all meals (ovo lacto). Except me. About 3 times a week I find a chunk of meat.
As the months have gone by, I find the desire for / need for some meat increasing. And it’s not due to some failure to make a decent veggy meal. I’ve done the reading needed to keep things right (and protein is NOT the hard part. It’s the fatty acids, especially the Essential Fatty Acids, the vitamins, especially B complex and B12, the things we don’t normally think about…) Generally I’m at the point where a well balanced meal of legumes, grains, leaves, and roots leaves me quite happy.
But the overall effect is not that far different from the “all meat” diet. I can live on it fine and cope with the ‘issues’; but it IS coping.
Oh, and reading “Transition to Vegetarianism” gives a step by step guide to how to adapt as each food type is dropped out. The closer to Vegan you get, the harder it is to not accidentally kill or cripple yourself. We are not naturally vegans. We are only facultative vegetarians. That is made abundantly clear by the detailed food knowledge needed to be a vegetarian (and the fairly large supplements needed if you are not careful). All issues you can simply ignore if you eat some fried chicken…
OK, with all that said, I don’t care what someone chooses to eat. I’ve eaten anything that moved and most things that don’t 😉 and I’ve pretty much shown humans are very adaptable omnivores.
But the idea you are doing farm animals a favor by being a vegetarian is simply a lie. You are condemning them to extinction. Some thousands of years ago we struck a deal. We provide them a relatively cushy life (as compared to in the wild) with loads of easy food. In exchange, we eat them (often after a longer life than they would have had in the wild). By this time, the farm animals are no longer able to survive in the wild. We’ve become co-dependent. So if we ‘go vegan’, they ‘go extinct’, and I’m pretty sure they would not be keen on that. (And yes, I’ve been on a lot of farms and seen a lot of animals. Most of them were “ok” with the deal.)
Also the notion that a vegan life means more food for all is broken. As others have said, ruminants and chickens eat stuff we can’t. Maximum food production comes on a mixed meat / plants farm. For the incredibly rich west it means more, as we feed our animals grains. For most of the world it does not. We can’t eat the leaves and twigs that goats eat, for example.
Oh, and I’ve also noticed the pattern of extreme vegetarian types to be sickly and have ‘failure to thrive’… At present I’m ‘enjoying’ a weak case of that as I’m losing a few pounds of pudge. The problem will show up in about a year when I’ve run out of pudge…
Also, an interesting point: For a couple of years running I’ve been to a pot luck at a farmshare operation. Largely vegetarian. Each year they always run out of food before everyone is full. Not horridly out, but clearly some folks still looking for a bit of something interesting at highly picked over tables. For a similar couple of years we’ve had 4 th of July pot luck block parties with a BBQ. Always about 2 to 3 times the food needed with loads of leftovers.
What to make of it? Well, the vegetarians eat a much larger volume of lower food value food, for one thing. But they also bring lesser sized dishes to the party. I find that an odd thing…
At any rate, IMHO, westerners could do with a couple of vegetarian days a week and the rest of the world could do with a couple of Double Burgers a week… and everybody could do with not telling each other how to live… or eat.

Malaga View
October 20, 2010 3:20 am

John A says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:17 am
I guarantee you that given the choice between eating meat and starvation, there will be no vegans.

I suppose that adds a twist to the concept of a Vegan Diet 🙂 especially if you can get the Vegans to eat acorns

Roger Knights
October 20, 2010 3:21 am

“… the Vegetableist in question.”


Patrick Davis
October 20, 2010 3:31 am

Good article Willis as usual, but I think you’ll have a hard job convincing Hindus and Buhhdists out of eat veggies. Still each to their own, as has been said, humans are omnivoures.
One of my fondest friends is Hindu and at a BBQ many many years ago, she cooked chicken, which was wrapped in foil, on a BBQ she wearing rubber gloves and using metal tongs to handle the meat. LOL

Robert A
October 20, 2010 3:35 am

Some time ago I operated a training center that hosted athletes from all over the U.S. and the world. Not a few of them were vegetarians and among them a few vegans.
There was a constant debate about the suitability for athletics, but this was never resolved. I can say that the vegans were a regular pain in the butt for our food service folks though. The vegans were also the ones who chose to train early (up with the birds?) and regularly fired up their juice machines at 4:00 AM. It was like having a jet engine in your kitchen.
I admit I had lost all control, but I was at least able to establish one ground rule when new arrivals came: “Don’t eat the bushes close to the house.”

anna v
October 20, 2010 3:36 am

The forty day fast in the eastern orthodox church when followed strictly is the precursor of veganism: no meat, no fish, no milk, no eggs, and even utensils that have been used with the above have to be thoroughly cleaned in case some animal fats remain in the cooking. The last week also no olive oil. On the fortieth day the celebration of the resurrection, or the assumption of the virgin ( august 15) or Christmas ended with huge meat feasts, the fast broken with a soup from the lambs.
Veganism misses an objective, fasts were for the purification of the soul for the religious rituals, and is continuous. Monks and nuns fast continuously, sometimes having only bread and water, so in a sense vegans are modern monks without the vocation.

October 20, 2010 3:46 am

Vegans are a kind of fundamentalist sect of born-again vegetarians who eat exclusively vegetables, no eggs, no fish, no milk, no cheese, no insects.

Why are you starting with a pejorative and inflammatory description? “Fundamentalist” is a word with a clear definition that does not describe vegans. “Vegan” is simply a description of an eating habit. Leave it out and leave out “born again” and you’d have it about right.

Now perhaps it’s something in the vegetables that causes the problem, I don’t know. But all too often, recent initiates into the mysteries of some branch of Vegetableism then feel compelled to tell me how much better the world would be if every single person ate, not what works for them, but what works for the Vegetableist in question. And this is all too often accompanied by the claim that we could feed more people if humans only ate vegetables.

I think you’ll find that this perception of yours is point-of-view bias. My story: When I chose to become a vegetarian, I made the following resolution: (1) that although I believed meat eating to be morally wrong, it was each person’s choice and I would never, not ever, make comment on anyone else’s eating habits, but (2) equally, I would never help anyone else do anything I believed was wrong.
I have kept to that resolution faultlessly ever since, but I have had countless discussions about meat eating over dinner in the years since, because when I quietly sit down, unobtrusively refuse the meat, I get accosted. Yes, accosted, by some meat eater in the ensemble, talking rubbish. Maybe “You eat vegetables, don’t you think it’s wrong to murder vegetables?” “If people didn’t eat meat, cows would over-run the world.” “If you don’t think you should kill a cows, what right do you have to swat a fly?” And so on.
And on.
And on.
And on.
And on.
Year after year.
Lucky you! You only run into intolerant vegetarians once or twice a year. I run into stupid moronic intolerant meat eaters maybe every second time I eat in company.
People don’t like those who differ from themselves. It makes them uncomfortable. They behave stupidly in response. And your article here has contributed nothing to creating understanding, it has just brought a lot of intolerant nonsense (both in the article and in comments) onto a website that is normally opposed to stupidity and antisocial behaviour.

Alex the skeptic
October 20, 2010 3:49 am

Last time I heard, vegans have a high risk of going blind due to retinal deterioration. The report I had read in the medical section of our local paper ( i’m relying on my memory) was that eating eggs is good for our eyes, because it contains some goodies that sustain the retina. In fact, this report was based on a fact that occured in France, where a vegan went blind.

October 20, 2010 3:57 am

Willis claims vegans eschew even insects. However, vegans would be shocked–SHOCKED I tell you, to find out how many insects or remains of insects are found in the vegetables they eat. They flat out should never use a microscope to examine their food up close–if they did, they’d never eat another item and they’d starve to death.
(I’ve got a wonderful Leica phase contrast microscope that can go to 10,000 magnification and I’ve looked at some veggies with it–believe me, folks, what I’ve seen sometimes would even turn my steel stomach.)

Cirrius Man
October 20, 2010 4:04 am

The obvious question to a Vegan used to be
“Is it because you love animals or is it that you just hate vegetables”
Looks like the question was all wrong. They just want a way of sustaining a bigger world population by removing all the animals !

October 20, 2010 4:06 am

There’s also the book of Lierre Keith which debunks some of the common myths about veganism. Don’t be rebutted by the bad rating on amazon, as she was heavily attacked by the vegan bunch (going as far as attacking her with pepper laced pies, so much for the peace loving of vegans).
As for the arguments she brings up, the ecological one is not forgotten. Here a link to the site of Dr.Eades where he make a recension of the book.

October 20, 2010 4:10 am

>…”Your concern for the helpless is admirable. That said, lets put this in perspective. Imagine an existence where most of your children never live past age 5. 85% of people born do not live past the age of 35 years. A simple cut can be deadly. And I am not talking about thousands of years ago, I am talking up to about the middle to late 1800′s…”
You’re talking about right now for a huge portion of the world’s population. Like Mr. Eschenbach, I’ve spent a lot of time in the “third world” including a year or so in the jungles of Colombia in the 1970’s getting to know what life was like for the Cuiba Indians. Those with fantasies about Mother Nature’s indigenous earth children living in Gaia’s natural environment should take a hard look at those figures, they reflect the realities of ‘natural’ life, and life for a huge portion of earth’s current population.
Among the Indians, infanticide was common. If a woman had a healthy child who was still nursing, and gave birth to another, the newborn was sometimes killed or abandoned to avoid diverting that resource away from the older child.
Meat is a very hard won commodity. Try feeding your family where there are no rocks and no metallic objects, and what you have to hunt with are sharpened sticks.
That thing on Discovery channel with the frog poison is very difficult to do. It works, but it is not an option most of the time, not if you want to eat every day. Fish can be seasonal since they’re caught by diverting them into traps during dry season when the river is low enough to do so. Insects are a large part of the diet.
Veganism as practiced in the developed world is a luxury. Where it is practiced in the rest of the world it is more of a harsh reality indicative of extreme poverty and lack of resources.
However, Vegans do have a point about the meat factories where animals might be raised in a less than healthy environment with who-knows-what bulk producing hormones added to their diet. This is why I get as much of my meat as possible by hunting and fishing. 🙂

October 20, 2010 4:28 am

As for sustainability there’s also the not that serious proposal of Tom Naughton
We should eat vegetarians…

October 20, 2010 4:29 am

@Ron House
OK, article is inflammatory. Can I ask, why do you believe that eating meat is morally wrong?
That’s like saying all the carnivores in Nature are evil. Is it because we have a choice? But when I consume a resource, that resource could have been consumed by another animal. Perhaps I shouldn’t be alive? But then we’re back to life&death dualities.
Is it because people don’t need to eat meat? But then that’s not an established fact. Nutrition is poorly understood. What is a need? Do we have a need to be healthy? Or is our needs and rights just the minimum to be alive? How does nutrition affect intelligence? Or longevity? Do we have any facts about this? So… what’s the morality?

Lonnie Schubert
October 20, 2010 4:37 am

Wow! Thanks, Willis.
If one considers single celled animals, is it possible to be vegan? And yes, plants react to damage similarly to animals. Life eats life. That is the way it is, the way it must be.
For those who would like a Bible reference, Deut 12:20, When the LORD your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, “I would like some meat,” then you may eat as much of it as you want.

October 20, 2010 4:37 am

@E.M. Smith “Well, the vegetarians eat a much larger volume of lower food value food, for one thing.”
Dr Eades highlighted a paper regarding the human rib cage, which tapers in at the waist, instead of out, like apes’ do. It is an interesting argument. Our bodies adapted to have narrow waists with small guts, and the saving in gut tissue (all tissue needs energy to exist) was taken up by the brain. All things being equal, compared to apes, humans have smaller guts and bigger brains. Everything else is similar, apparently. So the argument goes, we could only afford to have small guts if we are used to eating small amounts of high value food. And we could only afford big brains if our guts are smaller. Eating meat = more brain.
It is just an argument but it is interesting.

October 20, 2010 4:40 am

It is noted by Janzen in his biography of Hitler that Hitler had uncontrollable flatulence due to his vegan diet. The human gut is built someplace between the short gut of a carnivore and the very long gut of a vegan. Using it for a strict vegan diet produces lots of methane and we all know that will lead to the death of the planet through global farting warming.

October 20, 2010 4:40 am

@ The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:48 am
…………………………Meat eaters (like the majority reading this) are hypocrites because they’ll eat a chicken, but can’t bear to eat anything fluffy, cute or domesticated. So you see, we’re all hypocrites. Just enjoy your life and don’t criticise other’s beliefs.
Please don’t generalize. I will eat (and have eaten) many “fluffy, cute or domesticated” critters, as well as anything else that isn’t poisonous, or doesn’t eat me first. And quite often have killed and prepared it. Most of the time I enjoyed every bite. I’m one of those who knows where my food comes from, and I don’t get all emotional about it.

D Bonson
October 20, 2010 4:42 am

Like most humans, I am an omnivore. I require a range of foods to stay (somewhat) healthy.
Extreme diets such as veganism can only be practiced with the aid of supplements. Unfortunately for the world’s poorer population, these supplements are too expensive to purchase.

October 20, 2010 4:46 am

Agree completely with this post, and it reflect my own experience: Proteins are in short supply in many poor region of the world, and meat is a good source of protein. Milk (for those who can digest it) and eggs are too, but not up to the same level apparently, given how much effort people are ready to spend hunting even a small animal or fish.
I spent 1 week in india under a non-strict vegetarian diet (I ate eggs as much as I could, and I had some chicken on one occasion). Not because I choose too, because there was nothing else available in the company restaurants I visited. Not too bad from a taste point of view, I like spicy food and it was spicy enough, did not miss meat much for this…but for health benefits, what I observed was that I was really tired after 4 days of this diet, and feeled much better once I went back to my classic amount of meat.
Strict Vegan, who do not even eat eggs or milk products…pfew, I do not know how they manage, and the few I know do not look healthy at all to me…

Bill Marsh
October 20, 2010 4:50 am

I think one reason we keep and eat domesticated animals like pigs, sheep, cows, etc is that they are the only means we have to convert the abundant grasses and other plants that we can’t eat and digest into digestible form.
I do tire of the proselytization and ‘holier than thou’ that ‘vegans’ and other vegetarians frequently subject me to. If it works for you fine, consume food that way, it doesn’t work for me and I’m not interested in pursuing it. You don’t see me trying to convince all the vegetarians I meet that they should eat meat.

Chris Edwards
October 20, 2010 4:55 am

I read a study that found vegiterians who died had smaller than expected brains, it says a lot to me! also to eat a ballanced diet without meat is time consuming and expensive. I suspect any health benefits are down to all the bad stuff that is added to our shop bought meat, if we all ate lion caught zeba we would show health advantages over the veggie crowd.

October 20, 2010 5:03 am

I don’t think anyone’s mentioned it here yet, but I strongly recommend reading the book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. Not only does he show fairly convincingly that the Western, high-grain diet is a dumb idea, but he backs it up by providing dozens of references to scientific studies going back years.
Personally, I went paleo a few years back, and both my doctor and I are quite happy with the effects it’s had on both my blood sugars (I’m type-2 diabetic) and my cholesterol . So much for red meat being bad for your cholesterol!

October 20, 2010 5:03 am

We are lucky to have such quality food supplies in America, we all are spoiled. I have realized that there are a lot of countries in this world where I would be a strict vegetarian – like say, Korea. It’s not so much a moral issue, I guess I’m just squeamish.
I don’t want to have to choose between “chicken” and “real chicken” on the Chinese menu.

October 20, 2010 5:04 am

Vegetables are generally high in carbohydrates (sugar), and low in protein.
This is bad news for approx. 10% of the population who are susceptible to Insulin Resistance.
Insulin resistance is a nasty condition which is made worse by the fact it is not obvious what is causing your persistent health problems.
Someone I know, who maintained a vegetarian diet for much of her life, to try to reduce her health problems, broke with vegetarianism on advice from her doctor. Most of the health problems quickly disappeared. Within a year she had conceieved and carried a child to term, and delivered a healthy baby, after many years of babies dying around 12 weeks.
Excess insulin (a side effect of Insulin Resistance), along with all the other problems it causes, for a woman has a particularly nasty consequence – it drastically reduces the risk of conception, and increases the risk of death or injury to unborn babies, through a related condition Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
The only cure, for susceptible people, is to eat meat.
But it is difficult to tell if you have Insulin Resistance. There are no overt symptoms, just general tiredness, headaches, health problems – its a really difficult condition to pin down, without a hospital test and a really clued up doctor.
Safer just to include a generous helping of meat in your diet.

Sean Peake
October 20, 2010 5:06 am

So Willis, are you one of those rail riders? I know of a guy from Penn. Who does that.
Anyway, I am a firm believer in veganism. It is because when the end comes, I know where I can find a good source of organic, pesticide-free protien that is easy to catch–they have a good burst of speed but not much stamina 😉

October 20, 2010 5:14 am

The human appendix is unable to cope with a vegetarian diet.

October 20, 2010 5:19 am

I am not sure if wild animals have a perfect life, even without the problems of predators, drought, floods, snow and ice there are diseases and parasites. Most of which are dealt with adequately by farming.
Ticks for instance are the carriers of several diseases/parasites

October 20, 2010 5:20 am

Willis, have you written a book about your travels? Both of those tales are heartwarming and need to be shared with everyone in the world. And I expect you have more stories like these two in your memory banks.
Thanks for sharing them with us today!!!
PS. I wanted to scoop those two little boys up and give them a good home, so they didn’t have to scronge for the meat they needed to grow big and strong.

October 20, 2010 5:21 am

Are Vegans related to Pastafarians?

October 20, 2010 5:22 am

I don’t care what the vegetarians say, THEY ARE NOT HEALTHY! You can get every needed nutrient your body needs from plants, except one. Vitamin B12. You can only get vitamin B12 from meat. Synthetic multivitamins are not processed well by the body and most of it is removed in the urine. The only reliable way to get the needed nutrients is by food.
I sometimes believe vegans lack the ability to think properly because of their stupid, unhealthy decision to avoid meat.
I’ll give the vegetarians this: Animals raised for meat are far too often treated poorly. If I had my way, every farm animals (cow, chicken, pig, and so forth) would not be allowed to have growth hormones and would be required to raised in a clean environment with plenty of sun.
And we don’t eat fluffy or cute animals because we have had thousands of years to learn what taste good and what doesn’t.

October 20, 2010 5:24 am

There’s a Graham Greene story about a vegetarian from America visiting Haiti, where they are informed that they will be happy there, since most Haitians are vegetarian.

October 20, 2010 5:25 am

My brother-In-Law practiced Vegeterianism but gave it up when he developed arthritis in his fingers aged……………………………………22.

Dave from the "Hot" North East of Scotland
October 20, 2010 5:43 am

@ EM Smith~ Good on you! A helpful contribution
In my bombastic and insensitive days, I once caused a tad of offence by asking for a meat sauce at a vegetarian’s home. The previous month, we’d jumped through a few hoops to prepare suitable food in our own home for our host & hostess. My humour wasn’t appreciated.
St Paul had it about right though when [ concerning food and idol meats scarifices and social / spiritual conscience ] advised the following :-
1 Corinthians 10 verses 23 – 31
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
So do what you do, don’t impose on your views on others and be grateful you’ve got the means to do what you do.

October 20, 2010 5:44 am

Here in South Africa, any vegetarian or vegan would have an almost impossible task at “conversion” The Nguni people (collective name of indigenous peoples) have at their cultural epicenter and measure of wealth – cattle. In 1865 an event occurred that is termed “The National Suicide of the Xhosa” involving the slaughter of most of their cattle and grain stocks. The full article is from a Christian site , but is a good historical account, and not religious in content. I myself don’t eat red meat, not because of any “veggie” ideas, but I sometimes get a painful dose of gout from it.

October 20, 2010 5:47 am

I encourage lots of people to go veggie . . . less competition and more meat for me.
Sorry for being so selfish about my prime rib fetish.

October 20, 2010 5:47 am
Jack Maloney
October 20, 2010 5:48 am

In 1973, Dorothy Retallack published a study showing that plants grew better when exposed to classical music. sO…

October 20, 2010 5:53 am

@Ron House;
““Fundamentalist” is a word with a clear definition that does not describe vegans. ”
1a often capitalized : a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching b : the beliefs of this movement c : adherence to such beliefs
2: a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles
And a Fundamentalist is one who follows fundamentalism. Now how does veganism not fit the 2nd definition of fundamentalism?

Alexander K
October 20, 2010 5:53 am

I spent a large part of my boyhood listening to Maori storytellers well over half a century ago. They told polished and spellbinding yarns that had a purpose, sometimes moral, sometimes cautionary, sometimes just pure fun.
Willis, your story about the two small Mexican hunters was right up there with them, and with Steinbeck. Stop messing about, man, write a book!

October 20, 2010 5:54 am

Brilliant story telling. Thank you. The world needs more sanity like this.

October 20, 2010 5:59 am

Great story! Kids who know how to do something other than play video games and eat food out of a package.

October 20, 2010 6:00 am

I agree with TonyB – I think there is far too much unethical treatment of animals – and that’s often why people stop eating meat – not because they think that it’s better for the planet or somehow more sustainable. Look at the way chickens are sorted after hatching, for example – male chicks are not useful, so get thrown live into bins to suffocate or more often, straight into the grinder to become dogfood. Perhaps if we in the west viewed meat more like the examples in Willis story – as a relative luxury – we could the true cost to raise the standard of welfare of the animals. When you can buy a burger for 50c, you have to wonder what kinds of farming and slaughter practices enables that price..
And Wade – you think Vegans don’t know about vitamin B12..?

October 20, 2010 6:04 am

Denise Minger is the Steve McIntyre of nutrition science.

October 20, 2010 6:06 am

Not too long ago, 50 years maybe, people were told to eat liver for vitamin A and sauerkraut for vitamin C. I think this was especially important in the winter when no fresh fruits and vegetables were available. Get it? There would be no fresh fruits and vegetables available if it weren’t for jets and trains and trucks and refrigeration using fossil fuels to bring them here. What is natural? Meat.

October 20, 2010 6:07 am

Willis, you might be interested in reading about the effect of gliadins and lectins on the permeability of the intestines and connections with many modern-day chronic illnesses.
We used to eat what we thought was a very healthy diet – lots of whole grains and legumes with some meat. Some health problems cropped up and we started doing tests to find out why. At least part of the answer is in the gut. We have recently eliminated grains and legumes from our diet and are feeling much better. There may be a day when we eat them again occasionally but with different preparation methods including a lot of soaking and rinsing. Traditional cultures use fermentation and other means to reduce the level of these compounds in foods.

October 20, 2010 6:09 am

Those flabby white chickens that live in cramped conditions with air conditioning and no exercise and no sun? Most humans I know CHOOSE to live this way. You there sitting in front of your computer… yes I mean you!

October 20, 2010 6:15 am

Most kids I know don’t want to be vege-tarians. They hate vegetables. They really want to be dessert-atarians.

Pull My Finger
October 20, 2010 6:17 am

Little lambs are cute as a button, and by golly they taste great as a plate of mutton.
Eat what you want, just don’t preach to me ’cause you’re FOS. Veganism is about feeling superior to others, with, maybe, a small dash of sympathy for animals. I know many vegetarians and quite a few vegans, there is a huge difference between the level of smugness between the two. Luckily the vegans are so frail I can blow on them and they’ll fall over and stop talking. And they do breast feed, at least one I know, because she breast fed her daughter, in public, when the kid was five years old. She just ran up to the dispenser, flipped up the shirt and went to town. Now you’d never know she was five because she was the size of a normal three year old.
One question I have, as I once stumbled into a vegan cafe in Maine by mistake, is why don’t vegans drink caffeine? Or drink alcohol? Is there some tasty and intoxicating alcohol beastie out there I’m missing out on?
And as many have noted, to be a vegan and healthy requires a lot of expensive supplements that are secretly produced from the tears of baby seals that have clubbed to death.

Michael A.
October 20, 2010 6:18 am

As a “non-evangelical” vegetarian of thirty-one years, I appreciated the protein opportunism of the people you describe in your article. It would have been interesting to read if any of your travels among those at the opposite end of the economic scale had taken you to India where people would be vegetarian by poverty if they were not already vegetarian by religious choice. One wonders, “Would lentils grow in Africa or Mexico?”

Pamela Gray
October 20, 2010 6:19 am

Humans are so in tune with meat that not only do we have teeth specifically geared for biting and masticating meat off of bones, we have found ways to prepare every bit of an animal for dinner. There is nothing better than explaining to children how to harvest and prepare tripe.

October 20, 2010 6:23 am

Can’t resist:
[It’s the cover of a real PETA comic book.]
Kudos on another fine article, Willis.

October 20, 2010 6:40 am

@gallier2 says: October 20, 2010 at 4:06 am
You may want to go back to your Amazon link and re-read A. Perri’s review. Her discussion reads like WUWT discussions about AGW papers. After reading that, it would be interesting if she, A. Perri, were to post in this thread.
Personally, I don’t eat dogs, cats, live monkeys, or balut. After that, I am open to suggestions.

October 20, 2010 6:42 am

“cute and cuddly” – that described the racoon that is in my gumbo (lunch), the squirrel in the freezer, the deer my family ate last week. The frog was a few weeks ago, not overcooked. (boil 5 minutes in water and lemon juice, deep fry no more than 4 minutes for thick legs)
Most all the game we eat is seasoned from herbs grown in the garden. Most of our vegetables come from the garden. The fertilizer is provided by the cattle, wood ashes, and a fishhead is placed about 4″ under each plant as it is planted to provide nitrogen as it decomposes.
That racoon stared at the spotlight, eyes glowing like two glittering yellow jewels. 30 minutes later it (and another) were quartered up and soaking in brine. They cost a total of about $0.07 to kill and an hour of my time. They provided about 10 pounds of high quality, and very tasty protein. My children learn that food does not have to come from a package. They learn how to provide for themselves. They learn proficiency with both firearms and “primitive” means of food acquisition. When you look at the world as food and energy, and don’t project anthropogenic qualities to anything but humans, then food takes on a different meaning. Vegans take Bambi, Thumper, Fox and Hound, etc. and project the anthropogenic into the real world. We are humans. Unless you are swimming in the ocean, then you are at the top of the food chain. Our ability to consume most anything (much like that racoon) edible, the use of fire to break down our food and increase its digestibility (unlike the racoon), and intelligence places us at the top of the food chain. Modern conveniences, however, removes many individual humans from that location. They depend on those of us willing to acquire food wherever available and whenever the opportunity presents itself.
My sister-in-law, an on-off vegetarian asked where I drew the line on eating “things” while looking at my families’ toy poodle and her little terrier. I told her “toxicity or inherent disease.” She gaped a bit and asked if I’d eat a dog. Sure, if it were served up by someone else who know’s how to prepare it, or if I was hungry enough to kill and cook it myself.
I think the only animal on this continent (N.A.), excluding certain insects, that should never be eaten is the box turtle. This is due to a diet high in toxic mushrooms. The British SAS has a nice handbook on how to evaluate somethings edibility.
Did I NEED to kill the game to feed my family? Heck no! I can afford to buy whatever I need to feed my family here in the USA! Food is cheap. Do I have a predators desire to hunt? Absolutely. It goes along with the agrarians desire to grow.

Gary Pearse
October 20, 2010 6:43 am

Gee, if you are a purist about this you wouldn’t wear leather shoes, wool sweaters (they have to kill off lambs and old stock for meat to make the wool business profitable, particularly ram lambs – you only need one ram for 30-40 ewes if you are keeping a flock). Forget about honey – because of foul brood infection, bees are now killed at the end of each season and replaced anew each spring. My late father-in-law used to trap possums in New Zealand the fur of which was in high demand for lining nylon and other artif fibers mfg machinery to prevent static elect. buildiup … You have to do more research than on just the nutritional aspects if critter life saving is the goal.

October 20, 2010 6:44 am

Just pay attention to your gut and eat a salad once in a while. I can’t believe Humans argue over what they should be eating. If there are alien species that have moved beyond their home planets, do you think they spend so much of their lives fretting over what they consume on their colonies?
So many people try to feel better about themselves by turning their perspective on life to a “Global” point of view they don’t see that the earth is not safe. Allow me to repeat this, we are not safe on planet Earth. There are any number of things that can and probably will someday wipe out large chunks of humanity if we don’t move beyond our birthplace. “Thinking Globally” seems all too often to be code for ASSUMING that humanity lives safe lives in apartments/homes with no threat to their future and can afford any alteration to their survival choices.
People should frankly start “Thinking Galactically” and realize that their years of trying to force other people to live their lifestyle could be wiped out by a single explosion light years away, to say nothing of tomorrow’s walk across the street.
In short, I’m sick of drowning in this horrific plague of human introspection.

R. de Haan
October 20, 2010 6:44 am

Thanks for the article Willis, you really have talent for packing your razor sharp anaysis, personal experience in an entertaining read. Love it.

Atomic Hairdryer
October 20, 2010 6:48 am

Most of us are lucky to be able to pick and choose our diets, so can follow dietary fads or fashions if we want. Others aren’t so fortunate and have to subsist on whatever they can find. I’m not fussed whether someone’s chosen to be vegan or vegetarian, providing they’re following a sensible balanced diet. Personally, I like a bit of meat, preferably meat I’ve caught myself. The Western modern hunter gatherer’s now evolved to prowl the aisle for food often processed and packaged for supermarket’s convenience rather than ours, and the only hazard is avoiding the occasional cougar. We’re spoilt, and much of the world doesn’t have the same luxury. Especially if it’s growing food for us to throw away or turn into biofuels. Converting everyone to vegetarian or vegan isn’t practical, sustainable or beneficial. Educating developing countries about more sustainable farming and irrigation is.
I also get the sense that Willis has lead a very interesting and varied life 🙂

Al Gore's Holy Hologram
October 20, 2010 6:51 am

If we had no use for cows or chickens they would have been hunted to extinction by predators hundreds of years ago. Human meat consumption, and animal domestication in general in a market economy, has allowed dozens of species a chance to keep existing.

October 20, 2010 6:55 am

“Meat eaters (like the majority reading this) are hypocrites because they’ll eat a chicken, but can’t bear to eat anything fluffy, cute or domesticated.”
Au contraire, the fluffy, cute, domesticated animals are the most tender. Lamb and veal are rather tasty, and I’ve tried dog in Asia. It’s the vegans here in California that would rather see a horse turned to glue than to have it eaten in a fine restaurant.

Jose Suro
October 20, 2010 6:57 am

Why is it that other people are always wanting to tell us what to do? What to eat, what to think…..
When the waiter comes to my table tonight and asks me what I’d like to have, I’ll tell him: I think I’ll have the Rib-eye, “walked slowly through a warm kitchen” :).

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 6:58 am

Your own anecdote has a lesson in it that you entirely missed. A lesson which falsifies your thesis of vegetarian diet not being more efficient. I refer to the the free market price of food: “She didn’t sell meat tacos, poor people don’t buy meat tacos.”
If everything else was equal in cost of production, storage, and distribution then poor people would eat as much meat in their diet as they wanted as there would be no cost difference between it and other foods. QED.
The reason all those ancient farmers kept a few livestock is because while the animal is still alive it represents food that is self-storing until time of need and in the meantime there are eggs and milk to be harvested which is why chickens, goats, and cows are popular. Moreover, while the animal is still alive it can move itself from one place to another for nomadic and semi-nomadic lifestyles so it’s self-transporting as well. You can’t very well pick up and move when need be if you’ve got a tons of grains, tubers, and legumes in storage.
I swear if there’s any question that people are not animals just try taking their meat away from them and they’ll fight for it like dogs. Few mammals are obligate carnivores and humans aren’t among those few. Meat is definitely a good source of nutrition as it contains all essential amino acids in one source but then again, when you say “Our bodies know that and have known it since forever” here’s something else our bodies have known since forever “our bodies have known, since forever, they only have about 35 years to mature and raise a child before they die”. That isn’t enough time for things like colon cancer to become much of a problem from a lack of roughage in the diet, or for coronary arteries to clog up from a diet rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, or for many other kinds of cancers to develop from a lack of anti-oxidants.
In other words, Willis, this isn’t the same world our cave-man ancestors were living in. In the developed world we have far longer lifespans, we don’t relocate often, we have huge agricultural industries which derive great benefit from division of labor and economy of scale, refrigerators, and all sorts of other technological game changers. The need for humans to consume meat in the modern world is, as near as I can determine, almost solely driven by hedonistic desire. I have no real problem with hedonism but I do have a problem with people who try to pretend eating meat is for reasons other than the pleasure given us by our ancient taste buds.

October 20, 2010 7:01 am

Dave from the “Hot” North East of Scotland says:
October 20, 2010 at 5:43 am
“1 Corinthians 10 verses 23 – 31
……………………………………….. do all to the glory of God.
So do what you do, don’t impose on your views on others and be grateful you’ve got the means to do what you do.”
Wonderfully appropriate text from the word! One doesn’t have to be a believer to see the wisdom of the word. And that they are indeed, words to live by!
When I’m dining with a person that turns down the meat offered, my response, and I believe an appropriate one, is a shrug and the words, “More for me.”

Mac the Knife
October 20, 2010 7:17 am

A heartfelt and cogent post, Willis. Thanks a bunch, from climax omnivore that had brushes with poverty as a child! The fundamental lessons many of us were taught as children hold true today. ‘All things in moderation’ is a truism honed by a million years of successful survival and evolution. Our ancestors survived and propagated because they used all of the resources they had available to enhance their health, master their environment, and pass these traits on to their progeny. Thank you, Honored Ancestors!
“There’s room for all God’s creatures… right next to the carrots and potatoes!”

October 20, 2010 7:18 am

It’s good to see vegetarians and vegans being wholeheartedly accepted with no attempt to give them lots of stick and convert them to omnivorous diets. As a health professional though I must point out that the only proven way of extending life is to eat a diet which verges on starvation and is low meat and dairy products. It’s not just that it seems longer, it does have measurable results in longevity and health. As an smallholder I also know that if I did not keep food animals I would have to buy in artificial fertilisers to ensure my veg crops grow well. If you want to live a self sufficient lifestyle, your food source has to reflect the whole of the environment, not just plants. I’ve also always liked Dr.Bellamy’s point that anyone who has studied botany and seen the wondrous complexity of plant life could could ever be a vegetarian. Lets not be speciesist in our food sources!

Tim McHenry
October 20, 2010 7:22 am

Several of your posts have hinted at “ethical” or religious reasons for vegetarianism. This does not account for all vegans, but certainly a sizeable percentage feel that an animal has just as much “rights” as we do, therefore don’t eat it.
I just wanted to add that from a Christian perspective, we seem to have started off vegetarian, but were given specific right to eat meat if we wanted to (Genesis 9). The point is that you won’t get anywhere with some vegans (who can eat whatever they want, it doesn’t matter to me) since these vegetarians believe our SOUL is no different or any more valuable than that of other animals. It is this difference in belief that lies at the root of the argument with PETA and other groups.
What I have always found so strange about those who are “evangelical” or “religious” vegans, is that most all of them are probably staunch Darwinists and therefore shouldn’t have a problem with one soulless hunk of more-evolved meat eating another soulless hunk of less-evolved meat. What is it to them? I survived, the cow didn’t, and I’m more fit for it!

October 20, 2010 7:23 am

A few years ago a local professional football player went vegan–in the summer off season. When practice started back up, he was unpleasantly surprised at how much he had lost in muscle and condition. He had to start eating meat again just to keep playing. Doctor’s orders.
Willis, great stories.

Chad Woodburn
October 20, 2010 7:25 am

My diet advice? Whatever WORKS for you. For some people a vegan diet might be best; for others something else might be best. Every “body” is different.
In my case, I have had severe congestive heart failure (with a 15% ejection rate). I followed very good dietary rules and kept my weight down (BMI < 22). But I continued to decline, and did not expect to finish out the year. My cardiologist said that it would be virtually impossible for me to improve and wanted me to get a heart transplant.
Then my wife got me to start taking certain nutrients that have worked for lots of other people (co-Q-10, D-ribose, L-arginine, magnesium, niacin, and lots of others–about 50-60 doses per day). The result? Almost immediate improvement. Now after 3 months my heart ejection rate increased to 40%. Now I only have moderate congestive heart failure, my energy level is good, and I am biking every day. Plus, so many other "unrelated" problems have suddenly disappeared. And now for the first time in my life my blood test (for total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides) came out excellent and ideal, rather than horrid. I expect that by next June I will have a normal ejection rate.
My point: the phenomenal results that I have achieved are not the result of a vegan diet, or an Adkins diet, or Pritikin diet. I'd call it a nutritional supplement diet. Some of the nutrients cannot be obtained from any foods (like D-ribose). If your body stops making enough of it, you either supplement with the synthesized form or you get sick and die. The issue is not, “Which diet fits your philosophy?” but, “Which diet gets the job done.” I challenge any diet or medical procedure to get the miraculous results that I have gotten. Drop the philosophy and paradigm commitment and just do what works. I wish all the heart doctors I have gone to would have done that. If they had, they would have recognized what a tiny minority of doctors have come to see: that in many cases congestive heart failure is caused by a nutritional deficiency, and in many such cases the damage can be reversed by supplements.

E Philipp
October 20, 2010 7:29 am

Very insightful—I live in Panama where many people live largely from rice and beans and yucca and plantains. The addition of just small amounts of animal protein and fat makes a huge difference in the health, particularly of indigenous people. For the rest of us, I think occasional periods of a vegan diet are not bad–many cultures have periods of abstinence from meat for religious reasons throughout the year–the eastern orthodox ‘fast’ with a vegan diet almost 25% of the year, if one totals all of the Wednesdays, Fridays, Lent and other fast days. The big anti meat lobby is strengthened by our western culture of excess. When meat is enjoyed as the old fashioned Sunday Roast, I think we are healthier and we can feed more people on the planet.

October 20, 2010 7:32 am

Willis great post thanks.
Donald (S.Australia) says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:44 am
Wasn’t Hitler the world’s best known vegan? ( Or was he some some variant of the quackery?)
Not only Hitler but also Ghandi. Go figure.

October 20, 2010 7:34 am

“Most people on the planet are already vegetarians most of the time … only not by choice. For most people, meat is a delicacy. It is not on the menu very often.”

From my experience living in a poor, third world tropical country I can attest to this. Most very poor will try and buy a cheap hightly bony fish instead of beef or chicken which they can’t afford every day. They also turn to oysters. Yes oysters, in the country I live in they are in abundance and are called the “poor man’s food.” As a result, many poor people living inland don’t have access to good levels of protein and suffer malnutrition.
Just my 2 cents worth!

Douglas Dc
October 20, 2010 7:36 am

My wife and I went high protein, low carb and it saved out lives. She was borderline
diabetic, as was I. I lost 65 lbs she 45 lbs. We are now NOT Diabetic. A1C normal,
colesterol-normal BP normal. Turns out, we both had Native American Grandmothers,both from the deep south, and did not talk about it. We eat like our native ancestors. BTW-if you’ve been told Granma or Granpa is “Black Irish”, or “Black Dutch”-that is a code word..
(Highland Scots diets weren’t a lot different-and that’s another story-so I got a double
dose of High Protein using genes,-I won’t go into the Viking part,either.)
My Point-genetics play a huge role in which way you can get away with a Vegan diet
or not. Wife tried a Vegan diet and it almost killed her. she was seeing this Naturopath
who was Chinese, and from Macao, originally. He could, due to the centuries of living
on beansprouts and tofu,could get away with it. But not my Wife or for that matter,I.
what was the clincher-was the various infections that she got, and couldn’t shake them. He immune system was compromised,she put on weight, and she contracted lyme. which sent her into a spiral. Now thanks to a modified Atkins/South Beach type
diet. We are healthy. Vegan diets are fine if you have a level of civilization, but,I won’t give up my Bison, Grass fed Beef,Elk or Venison for anything.
Good points, Willis.

October 20, 2010 7:37 am

Ron House says:
October 20, 2010 at 3:46 am
I think you’ll find that this perception of yours is point-of-view bias. My story: When I chose to become a vegetarian, I made the following resolution: (1) that although I believed meat eating to be morally wrong, it was each person’s choice and I would never, not ever, make comment on anyone else’s eating habits, but (2) equally, I would never help anyone else do anything I believed was wrong.
You have removed your own point of view bias by decree? Good job. Based on your rant, it’s not working too well for you. How could it? You have to live and eat among all those immoral meat eaters. That you find them judgmental and boorish is pretty predictable, after all they are making daily immoral choices.

October 20, 2010 7:39 am

Have not read the other comments, yet, but just wanted to express my thanks, Willis, for your sheer humanity and compassion, which are expressed in every shining word you write.

Grant Hillemeyer
October 20, 2010 7:39 am

Hey Willis, nicely written – you have it in your blood. Tell us another one…..

Kevin G
October 20, 2010 7:39 am

“A great deal of meat is reared in factory type conditions and suffer
considerable stress.”
Remember a few years ago, Wholefoods stopped selling live lobsters because of the “inhumane” practice of dropping them into a boiling pot of water.
But don’t worry, they sell “fresh” lobster tails…which I presume were grown in a laboratory.

October 20, 2010 7:47 am

gcb says: October 20, 2010 at 5:03 am
“I don’t think anyone’s mentioned it here yet, but I strongly recommend reading the book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes.”
I’d second this recommendation. As a long time veggie and re-evaluating my diet for health reasons (mild diabetes). This book makes so much sense and highlights that the long held consensus on a healthy diet is almost undoubtedly wrong. I’m not sure what the US has but the UK has this eat 80% starchy carbs food pyramid kind of view which is insane as the vast majority of your food then has very little nutrition that the body actually needs (protein/fats/minerals etc..).

David Jones
October 20, 2010 7:49 am

20 years ago or so my daughter became “vegetarian” as many 16ish year-old girls do. At the end of her first year at unversity she was knocked-down by a hit and run driver. In hospital the doctors reset her leg and when the Doc came round for his first post-op visit he said to my daughter. “Are you vegetarian?” “Yes” said daughter. “Well, you are very aneamic” said doctor “To recover from your injuries you need to be as strong as possible. Better start eating a proper diet today.” End of vegatarianism!

October 20, 2010 7:49 am

The case for humans being Omnivores:
Adapted from a talk by John McArdle, Ph.D.

S Bleve
October 20, 2010 7:50 am

Thank goodness for those animals that are able to convert rough forage – grass and herbaceous plants, into that high energy protein meat. Least some of us Northern Hemisphere aboriginals would not be here today. Vegans perhaps only apply to warmer than warm wet climates.
There is a state created museum in New Mexico that has a full auto/regulated dairy, that has one milk cow. Nice complex for one cow, but the intent and purpose (field trips) is today many children do not fully understand where and how milk comes from the cow. I asked the docent – retired Oklahoma cowboy, do the kids get to hand milk? Nope they say too dangerous’ was his answer. Electricity may have more to do with eating style-preference than another single factor.

Steve Fitzpatrick
October 20, 2010 7:52 am

Gut wrenching stories…. but sadly, all too true. I had much the same experience some years ago while visiting a relief project for very poor kids that I help sponsor in the Northeast of Brazil. The families there were not dollar a day poor, but most were not much better off than $4 per day. The project coordinator (a priest) insisted that my wife, my daughter (14 at the time) and I join them for a project sponsored lunch. They pulled out all the stops, and served us rice, beans, and the most scrawny, bony roasted chicken I have ever seen…. no doubt grabbed from among the chickens I saw foraging around the project. I felt terrible about this, since I knew the kids at the project needed that chicken a lot more than we did. And doubly terrible when it became clear that while the honored American guests were eating chicken, the desperately poor kids were eating the usual… rice and beans. When I tried to eat just a little piece of the chicken, the people from the project insisted: “Não, você tem que comer a galinha!” No, you have to eat the chicken! I was not sure if they took offense, if they thought I was just crazy, or maybe a bit of both. So I told then I was not feeling well (O meu estômago esta’ ruim hoje.) and they finally let it go.
People who are vegetarians often insist everyone should only eat only plants due to the immorality of eating animals. This point of view is absolute rubbish… and absurdly, grotesquely immoral.

David Jones
October 20, 2010 7:54 am

Sleepalot says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:17 am
“A great deal of meat is reared in factory type conditions and suffer
considerable stress.”
Whereas in the wild, zebra get followed around by lions…
Plenty of stress there, the lion has to run fast to get a meal. The zebra..he just has to run faster..for longer!

October 20, 2010 7:54 am

It’s simple-We eat cows because they are able to break down the cellulose in grass and we aren’t. It’s not, as some vegetarians seem to think, that perfectly edible vegetables get fed to livestock. These animals primarily are grazers and eat grass. And we don’t, because we wouldn’t be able to break down the cellulose for the most part, and it would just end up as “dietary fiber” not as calories our bodies can use for energy. Of course we could feed more people if people could eat grass. But we can’t, really. We aren’t ruminants.
We could also produce plenty of corn and wheat to feed the world here in America if we didn’t have subsidies for not growing crops that date back to the New Deal, and ethanol mandates. Of course, farmers will complain that this would make prices drop precipitously. Duh! How are you going to feed the world by charging people too much for food? At the very least it makes little sense for the New Deal subsidies meant to protect small farmers from flooding their market and bankrupting each other, to now go to big Agribusiness that surely doesn’t need protection from this by the government as they are hardly the “little guy”.

October 20, 2010 7:56 am

George says:
October 20, 2010 at 6:40 am
Something tells me, George, that you too have spent some time in Asia. I draw the line at balut, too.

John Day
October 20, 2010 8:00 am

I see great parallels between the AGW myth and the cholesterol myth, especially the one-sided, ‘alarmist’ views projected by our governments and the public media.
That is why so few of us know that cholesterol is no more of a villain than carbon dioxide. In fact it is an essential building block of our bodies.
Eating foods high in cholesterol is not dangerous, while forcing your blood cholesterol levels down with chemicals is dangerous, and will not prevent heart disease.
To become more informed read here:

Douglas Dc
October 20, 2010 8:01 am

Chad Woodburn- I second what you have said also. Nutrition is the key. I and my wife follow a similar program, too. We have a friend who is on the “Sinatra proticol” wich is identical to your program. She had dramatic improvement in her heart function.

October 20, 2010 8:03 am

“Live” interviews are DEADLY! (how does this connect? Bear with me…)…
In the 1980’s a “stringer” for National Public Radio was interviewing a woman living in Brazil, who was trying to teach the “locals” to raise Iguanas for a “meat stock”. (She was German, I recall. Collective intelligence here, can anyone identify her for me?)
The interviewer started to do the TYPICAL thing and proposed that if the Iquana could be used instead of cattle, she’d put the “rancheros” out of business, and “save the rainforest”.
To which the German lady (with a nice, rememberance of WWII in her accent..) said, “Oh, if you want to save the rain forest, just kill all the peasants…”
At this point there was a noticible “lag”, and the reporter…trying desperately to recover mumbled, “Ah….could you explain what you mean by that?” The German lady, being intellectually pretty smart, immediately said: “I don’t really mean that to happen, of course I’m working against that. But you must KNOW that the RANCHEROS do not cut down the rain forest. You see the soil down here is so poor, that the peasants engage in what is known as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture. That is, they cut down the boundary of the rainforest. When it has dried enough, they burn it. The “potash” enables the soil for, oh, maybe 10 years, and they farm that freshly burned area for that time. After they deplete that, they ‘slash and burn’ again. The Rancheros merely do the ONLY thing you can do with the soil that is left over. That would be to allow the cattle to graze on the grass that grows on the soil, which is about all it can grow!”
Now I hope it doesn’t take a ‘rocket scientist’ to realize that what this implies is CATTLE RANCHING CAN USE SOILS WHICH CANNOT BE USED FOR GROWING VIABLE PLANT CROPS!
That FACT is what blows the VEGAN/Soil Conservation/Energy efficiency STRAW MAN, right off the post.
Hope some folks had time to read this.
Max (Sometimes called MAD)

Michael Ozanne
October 20, 2010 8:04 am

“gianmarko says:
October 20, 2010 at 2:31 am
i guess evolution put eyes in front of our skull so we could hunt carrots?

Argument exists that evolution put them there so you could judge the distance to the next branch properly, even so vegan’s never happening until bacon and ribeye are reclassified as legumes….

View from the Solent
October 20, 2010 8:05 am

Wade says:
October 20, 2010 at 5:22 am
…. You can only get vitamin B12 from meat.
Not true. For those of us in UK, at least. We have a product called Marmite. Originally derived from the yeast waste from brewing beer, not sure if that’s still the case.
Delicious on buttered toast. Although there is a strange sect who claim to hate the stuff.
(Those in Oz have a similar, if inferior, product called Vegemite)

October 20, 2010 8:08 am

Why is it vegans must supplement their diet with B-vitamins? Because our bodies are designed to eat meat and obtain essential nutrients from it.
Veganism is anti-evolution. It is a denial of basic nutritional science. Go ahead and eat that way if YOU wish. Just don’t preach to me about it.

October 20, 2010 8:09 am

I eat a vegan diet mostly, especially between meals.

View from the Solent
October 20, 2010 8:10 am

Damn! Forgot to say that Marmite is rich in B12.

October 20, 2010 8:24 am

Just to note that cooking food adequately kills the little beasties that can otherwise do you great harm: E. Coli forms, Salmonella, Shigella, etc., Staph., Amoebas, Giardia, Trichina worm, etc. neutralizes botulinus toxin, other bacterial “exo” and “endo” toxins, etc.. I’m assuming that’s the main reason we cook food, “Pasteurize” it, irradiate it.

October 20, 2010 8:26 am

I’ve been a vegetarian for 30 years. I don’t tell others how they should eat, or live. Nor am I entertained by several pages of largely incoherent drivel (the intellect of the poor, who mostly can’t eat meat, proves we are meat-eaters by nature?) telling me how to eat or live.
You can rant about people choosing to eschew meat if you want. Mock me, the Hindus and the Jains, maybe even throw in a glib comment about silly Jews and Muslims missing out on their bacon sandwiches. But don’t act like you are writing an intelligent article from high moral ground. Just admit you are making fun of people who make different choices than you.

Geaff Alder
October 20, 2010 8:27 am

Interestingly, cane rats are not rats at all. While they are rodents, they are closer to porcupines on the spiky family tree. (And reputedly are very tasty, tasting like pork.) A professor I once knew, who died before her time in a car accident, was then conducting a study for facilitating domestic breeding of cane rats here in Africa, for the table.

Max More
October 20, 2010 8:33 am

Anyone who thinks eating meat is bad for you should really read Gary Taube’s excellent book, Good Calories, Bad Calories.

October 20, 2010 8:37 am

Vegans are the most evil of doctor doom people in their sport to starve the animals and insects to death by eating all their food supply.
That’s why always believed they all were from Vegas, what with the vegan behavior of gambling away all their resources on one lucky feel good idea of a number on everyone else’s expense.

October 20, 2010 8:42 am

Donald (S.Australia) says – October 20, 2010 at 2:44 am: Wasn’t Hitler the world’s best known vegan? ( Or was he some some variant of the quackery?)
redneck says – October 20, 2010 at 7:32 am: Not only Hitler but also Ghandi. Go figure.
Hitler wasn’t vegan or vegetarian, though, in reality. Go figure 😉

John F. Hultquist
October 20, 2010 8:53 am

Marissa ???

October 20, 2010 8:55 am

Nice Fig.1 illustration. “Watts up (with that), Doc?”

Malaga View
October 20, 2010 9:02 am

Stefan says:
October 20, 2010 at 4:29 am
@Ron House
OK, article is inflammatory.

As is your line of questioning…
My perspective is quite simple:
When I am willing to kill, skin, gut, cut and cook an animal then I will also be willing to eat it… until such time I prefer to remain vegetarian.

Alexander Harvey
October 20, 2010 9:10 am

I do not have much to say regarding the vegan-carnivore spectrum except I am suspicious of the wisdom of either extreme.
I would say with regard to eating well and economically it is a benefit to be able to cook wholesome, and importantly, tasty meals.
I think that there maybe a parallel between diet and climatic change in that they are both likely to get people excited, that there are entrenched belief systems at play, and the science is a bit of a mess. It is arguable that dietry science could be more important than climate science. Personally I think the science be a mess.
I have seen so many foodstuffs demonised, eggs, butter, milk fat, subcutaneous animal fat, intramuscular animal fat, and cheese to name some. Yet the scientific evidence seems contradictory.
I do think that we may have a industrialised food problem, in that it is technically possible to concoct many meals using ingredients that would not work in a home kitchen. By this I mean the ability to use various binders and gums, stabilisers, flavour enhancers, colourings, and treatment procedures to increase the amounts of fats, often hard vegetable fats, MRM, and connective tissue, beyond what would hold together or be palatable in normal cooking.
Also, as an observation, the industrialisation of meat processing seems to have led to an imbalalnce in what is openly consummed by the customer. Live stock produce an array of products of which a goodly proportion is offal, head meats, (brains, brawn, tongue), lungs (lights), kidney, liver, heart, and stomach, as well as cheap cuts like belly, that seem to have dropped of the radar, as has natural fat content, being either trimmed off or selected against in the case of marbling. A lot of very tasty options have been somehow dropped from the menu. I do realise that cooking is an inconvenience to many, sometimes from simply not knowing how to cook and not let it consume a lot of time and effort.
I do believe that there are vegetarians that cannot cook, which to me seems bizarre as there is no comparison between ready to eat vegetarian cuisine and freshly prepared vegetarian meals, I might also add that the standard of vegetarian menus in restaurants that do not specialise in vegetarian/vegan cuisine can be less than appetising.
So I guess my appeal, is to eat better, and for those that proclaim omnivorism to more broadly practise it and eat a wide range of both animal parts and vegetables, or at least seek them out and try them. For those that can, cook. For those that can’t, try to learn. Spending hours in the kitchen is neither necessry not beneficial, nor is it essential to use every pot and pan.
I have at sometime cooked and eaten all of the above and whereas we all have preferences none of it need be unwholesome, nor do I believe any of it was dangerous, bear in mind that brains are >10% cholesterol by dry matter and hence forbidden by the food police. Sadly I used dangerous with the past tense as a catasptrophic calamity in husbandry has led to a taint in animal products epitomised by the prion (BSE) affair.
So eat well, and for those that haven’t tried seek out the best in vegetarian cooking, it has a reputation for being boring and bland, yet the best ranks with the finest haut cuisine, and conversely for those omnivores that haven’t, seek out wild game or traditionally bred and husbanded livestock breeds.
Lastly, a personal gripe, why o why did we permit the homogenisation of milk to become the norm and sometimes the only option, I find it to be bland, chalky, with a poor mouth feel.
Best Wishes

George E. Smith
October 20, 2010 9:13 am

Well Merissa is evidently not aware that we all started out as vegans; and it didn’t work out too well for us.
Our ancestors spent every waking hour, either having sex, or clambering around in fig trees picking figs; totally kosher vegan food; and also free clean green renewable energy.
Unfortunately they were a bit on the large and heavy side to get out to the thinner branches where the best sun fed (solar energy) figs could be gathered; so all those hordes of little monkeys got all the good figs.
Then one of our ancestors got a bright idea; either by falling out of the tree, and hitting his head on a rock, or else having a branch spring back and hit him in the head. Ouch! that hurts ! and then there’s all those stars you see till you gather your senses again.
So our thinking ancestor got the idea that we should let the monkeys get all of the good figs, and then we should grab them and kill their little A**** by hitting them on the head with a stick, or bashing them on the tree trunk; and then we could eat them instead of risking getting out there to the good figs.
Then we noticed that there were a lot of really big critters down on the ground eating grass; so we figured that must be good since they got really big on the stuff. Well the grass tasted like; well you know what it tasted like. So we figured we could play the same trick on the zebras and gazelles that we used on the monkeys; we just needed some bigger sticks and some pointed ones.
We really hit pay dirt one day, when a lightning stirke set fire to some long grass, that some water buffalows or hippos were feeding in, and they got caughtup, in the fire and got cooked.
Man was that cooked striped meat ever good and tasty ! Almost as good as a Big Mac.
Well needless to say; having discovered fire and stored chemical energy which it released to cook our steaks, we now could effectively eat all that grass that tastes like; well you know what it tastes like.
So Merissa, vegan diet was not able to get us on the ground, so we could travel and search for even more resources and food options; and the sex must have got better too, because our numbers really started to grow.
But if you really want to be a true vegan Merissa; why don’t you eschew all the advanced living amenities that have been provide by us omnivores; who found more efficient ways for (us) to feed, giving us the time and resources to develop all those goodies that you still want to have along with your vegan way of life.
And don’t go taking any of our animals for clothing to warm your vegan body which can’t generate enough heat from figs to survive a harsh winter.

October 20, 2010 9:20 am

Good post, and good arguments, but let’s not forget that those of us in the 1st world, mostly Western countries, are guilty of eating TOO MUCH meat now. Heart disease, problems from TOO MUCH of EVERYTHING good we get from meat, yadda yadda yadda. At age 35 I was diagnosed with extremely high cholesterol, and of course since all that meat was salted to mighty tasty levels, my blood pressure was in stroke territory. I cut way back on the meat and salt, and am vastly healthier. For a short time when I was trying to get my cholesterol down, I tried to cut back entirely but was unsuccessful. Turns out caucasians don’t take well to a meatless diet. Go figure. So today, when I eat my beans, it will have pork in it. Sweet, sweet pork.
The reason my grandfather’s generation could get away with all that meat, eggs, and salt, was because they were pre-industrialized farmers. Most the folks you see waddling into your local Chinese restaurant are obviously not manual laborers of my grandfather’s calibre.
And of course, since we often speak disparagingly of government subsidies allowing for unsustainable practices, meat is extremely heavily subsidized in the west. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that meat should naturally be more expensive than plants: if it’s wild meat, it has to be hunted, which takes skill and time. If it’s on a farm, it has to be either pastured or held in a pen, and if it’s held in a pen it will naturally need to be fed some sort of food grown somewhere. As an example, let’s say the livestock is being fed corn that was likely grown in an irrigated field. That corn needed every bit as much labor, fertilization, and payment for pumping water as you would for a human crop. (And remember the “no food for fuel” debate? That corn being used to make ethanol is feed corn.) In addition, someone has to feed that corn to the animals and likely someone is paying to have more water, this time for the livestock (probably the same water thanks to the water cycle, but hey, it takes energy to pump that water) and of course that livestock will need to be slaughtered properly, packaged, and stored. A pork chop should naturally be more expensive than an equivalent slab of unappetizing tofu. And I haven’t even gotten into all the crap they inject the livestock with to grow it fast enough for our insatiable appetite for more and more meat!

David Jay
October 20, 2010 9:21 am

…eat exclusively vegetables, …, no insects.
So apparently they never ride a motorcycle without a helmet!

John F. Hultquist
October 20, 2010 9:21 am

I think my wife would exist on home-grown garden-fresh tomatoes if (a) that would keep her healthy, and (b) I could keep her supplied with them. Unfortunately, the window of ripeness here lasts – sometimes – all of five weeks. Bummer.
Harvesting, preparing, and grilling rattlesnake is a much more exhilarating experience than is working up a good mess of tripe. Not that there is anything wrong with tribe, or head cheese, but each to her/his own.

Alexander Vissers
October 20, 2010 9:22 am

Reminds me of Graham Green’s “The Commedians”, his novel set on Haïti featuring the US American vegetarian presidential candidate the ultimate cynicism on vegetarians.
Yes, we could feed a lot more people if we ate considerably less meat. But currently starvation und hunger are still more defined by political circumstances and less by economical and agricultural limitations, so there is not a strong incentive nor logical rationale to reduce the production of meat.
And the swampy grasslands in the Netherlands will not grow anthing but grass for cattle, spoiling us with milk cheese and steak, the same goes for the rocky mountain prairies in the Alps. What would you grow in Lapland? What in Alaska? Mongolia?
Animal ethics are never tenable when conflicting with human wellbeing and prosperity.

Douglas DC
October 20, 2010 9:31 am

Speaking of A.Hitler-a number of years ago there was a controversy in Flagstaff Az .
about a plaque with the engraving of FDR and his famous cigarette holder. There was an effort to have that sucker ground off , in the local paper, a fellow wrote in:
“I have the perfect replacement for FDR. ” “A contemporary, he was concerned about the environment, small animals and loved dogs and children.” ” He was particularly
concerned about population control…”
Take it away Mel:

David Bailey
October 20, 2010 9:35 am

I do hope you will not let your excellent blog degenerate into an a rant against all alternative viewpoints!
Meat production in the West has become so intensive that it clearly causes enormous suffering to the creatures involved. Visit an intensive chicken rearing facility, and look at the conditions in which these animals live, and compare it with the more traditional hens in a farmyard.
A rat clubbed as it tries to escape from a sugar cane field will have lead a far better life than many a creature locked up in a high tech food manufacturing plant.
The real problem is that most people eat far too much meat, and even end up wasting a fair proportion – so we have to produce a vast excess.
I am not vegan or even (quite) vegetarian, but I eat very little meat. I think the problems of feeding an ever-growing human population are very real and obvious – the exact opposite of global warming – and I am frustrated that the environmental organisations have been seduced into obsessing about a problem that barely exists, while real problems get ignored!

Alan the Brit
October 20, 2010 9:37 am

The issue I personally have with many (but not all) vegetarians is that they have this irresistable urge to lecture others on the ethics about eating meat, the “holyer than thou syndrome” I call it. I feel I am always being judged by them, having said that they may well fell likewise. I am sure I have never in the past, now, or in the future, lectured anyone on what they should eat, whether they’re omniverous, vegetarian, or vegan (or as one great British comedy show tagged, when asked if a character of dubious intellectual capacity was asked if they knew what a vegan was they replied, “of course I do, I never missed an episode of Star Trek!”.) To paraphrase some American Colonial dude, “I may not agree with what this man eats, but I defend to the death his right to eat it!”

October 20, 2010 9:38 am

I’m a “carni-vegetarian”.
I only eat animals, that eat vegetables. 😉

October 20, 2010 9:44 am

Be nice to the vegetablearians please, we need more of them!
More meat for me 🙂

October 20, 2010 9:44 am

I too am impressed by anecdotal evidence.
Just a gentle reminder that anecdotal evidence may have numerous problems so we should not depend too greatly upon it without more solid empirical investigation into the underpinnings.

October 20, 2010 9:45 am
October 20, 2010 9:45 am

“A great deal of meat is reared in factory type conditions and suffer
considerable stress.”
“Whereas in the wild, zebra get followed around by lions…”
“Plenty of stress there, the lion has to run fast to get a meal. The zebra..he just has to run faster..for longer!”
My little granddaughter was asked what she would do, if she and a friend went into the woods and saw a bear. She said she and her friend would run away. I said that a bear could probably run faster than her. She thought for a moment, then said that she just needed to run faster than her friend. So, for the above story, a zebra doesn’t have to run faster than the lion, just faster than another zebra.
We are not herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. We are factorvores. We manufacture our food. Even a vegan eating a raw carrot has, probably, washed it off. The roots of our factorvorism go so far back as to be lost in time. Nobody knows how or why we started taking inedible foods and manufacturing them into edible foods. Acorns and olives are toxic to humans in their natural state, and must go through some very unnatural processes to become food.
Small birds killed by small boys are cleaned, and then roasted over a fire, because they understand that food must be processed. Most ethnic cultures have some food item which is considered a delicacy only to them: Haggis and Lutefisk are the first to come to mind. Who in their right mind would preserve a codfish in lye, which then requires about three days of boiling to remove the lye? I don’t want to even discuss Haggis. Some of the Indian tribes of North America would separate lean meats and fats, drying the meats and rendering the fats, and then combine them back together into something called pemmican, which has a shelf life of decades. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage mixture. Cooking food releases certain nutrients, just a fermentation does.
And alcohol is not just putting grains or fruits into a vat, and allowing it to ferment. The sugars in grains and fruits cannot be used by yeast directly, and the yeast would starve before they could produce alcohol. An enzyme must be introduced, which helps to convert the fructose to glucose, which can then be consumed by the yeast. It appears that barley, when allowed to sprout, produces that enzyme (malted barley). Sake is produced from rice that has had a mold grown on it, which does the same thing as an enzyme. We have no record of why or when people came up with this incredible breakthrough in organic chemistry, which now allows us to calmly purchase a six-pack to drink while watching the Sunday game.
I have some severe problems with many “normal” foods, which limits my diet to an extreme degree. It has been my own research into the chemistry of foods, and their constituent parts, which has led me to realize how much we owe to these unknowns of milleniums past, who obviously conducted deliberate scientific effort into creating the modern foods that we take for granted. Let us rejoice in our manufactured foods, and our anciently genetically modified livestock, grains, vegetables, and fruits. Let us each eat what goes well with our bodies.

October 20, 2010 9:50 am

““Fundamentalist” is a word with a clear definition that does not describe vegans. ”
ANYONE can be a fundamentalist on practically any subject. The basic definition is “a belief in a strict adherence to a set of basic principles”.
When one’s faith in whatever belief they hold becomes stronger than any argument of logic, and when any attempt to question that believe is greeted with a response what tends to isolate, suppress, banish or otherwise make the questioner “shut up” then I would say they are fundamentalists.
For example, Real Climate is a fundamentalist site, in my opinion. They will block, ridicule, bully, whatever it takes to shut an opposition view up.
Believe me, I have seen it with the more radical vegans, too. With my apologies to “Batfink”, when it comes to fundies all sorts, it becomes “Your logic cannot harm me, my faith is like a shield of steel.”.

October 20, 2010 10:00 am

While I drink a lot of milk (and prefer whole milk – oreos are just not the same with reduced fat milk), there does exist abuse of the cow (and other animals) that might lead some to stop drinking milk and eating meat. The following link came up with a quick search on the matter.
I’d prefer to get milk from my own cow and fresh meat from my own livestock, but that’s too much work, my garden isn’t large enough and the neighbours would complain. So I do the next best thing and order a non-veggie Curry and have milk and cookies afterwards (I’m a culturally confused American in London :- )

Honest ABE
October 20, 2010 10:00 am

Excellent story Willis.
Also, another reason we cook meat is to make it much easier to rip, chew and swallow.

October 20, 2010 10:01 am

Thanks for the article. But I must say the subject matter is low hanging fruit (pun slightly intended). There is bigger game a foot (pun slightly intended) to be hunted, raise your sights man! Seriously.
Actually, as a carnivorous leaning omnivore, I find that I do have, surprisingly, a lot of vegetarian friends. They span the whole range of vegetarian variants. They are not motivated about saving the planet. Their motivation is more a statement about their psychological wellbeing or about elevating their level of consciousness related to some spirituality they maintain. They are nice people even if I differ with them fundamentally on the spirituality thing. They are not against what I eat and I am not against what they eat. They respect my personal choices and I respect theirs. We are friends.
I actually haven’t met anyone in person who said they were an environmentally motivated vegetarian . . . yet. I am aware of them and their social causes. I am aware they advocate limiting my personal freedom, therefore they are my intellectual adversaries . . . and consequently likely my political adversaries as well. Constant vigilance!

October 20, 2010 10:05 am

Talking of B12 and other meat nutrients, I read a story about a Vegan Indian (because some do eat meat and beef there) that was in good health while living in India. He then moved to England but kept his vegan diet. After some time he started to develop deficiencies and had to be take supplements. What was found is that back in India those vitamins and minerals that are usually provided from animal foods were coming from all those little insects that he was eating along with his vegetables. In England those insects were not present in his foods because they were very clean and treated (100% vegetarian).

October 20, 2010 10:11 am

I’m confused. I thought Vegans were those people with pointy ears, like Mr. Spock.

R. Craigen
October 20, 2010 10:15 am

The comment above about our canine teeth led me to chuckle about what I once heard from a vegan concerning drinking milk: When you drink milk, your stomach says: “what are you doing putting that down here? I’m not a baby cow, I’m a human stomach, I’m not designed to digest cow’s milk!!” Yeah, right, and when you put rice and oats into your mouth your canines complain that they aren’t cow’s teeth so how can you expect them to eat ruminant-food — they are canines, designed for ripping and tearing meat!
Arguments “from nature” are silly, because we aren’t slaves to our animal nature (that’s practically a definition of what it means to be “human”). But if ecology nuts and vegetarians are going to make such arguments they should also have to answer them.

October 20, 2010 10:17 am

Dave says: “Hitler wasn’t vegan or vegetarian, though, in reality. Go figure ;)”

October 20, 2010 10:18 am

My favorite quote remains that “if God didn’t want us to eat animals he wouldn’t have made them taste so good.”

October 20, 2010 10:23 am

Vegan couple sentenced to life over baby’s death
ATLANTA — “A vegan couple were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for the death of their malnourished 6-week-old baby boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.
“Superior Court Judge L.A. McConnell imposed the mandatory sentences on Jade Sanders, 27, and Lamont Thomas, 31. Their son, Crown Shakur, weighed just 3 1/2 pounds when he died of starvation on April 25, 2004.
“The couple were found guilty May 2 of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children. A jury deliberated about seven hours before returning the guilty verdicts.
“Defense lawyers said the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby, who was born at home, was in danger until minutes before he died.”
There is a wealth of pro-Vegan literature showing that the Vegan diet is nutritious and healthy. Unfortunately, as in climate science, the pro-Vegan literature is largely pseudoscience.

October 20, 2010 10:24 am

Thank you Willis, this was one of the best articles (and discussions) that I’ve read here (quite a departure from some of the more,….combative discussions).
Like PRD, I’ve probably eaten about any meat animal that could be eaten. Growing up in rural Midwest, I learned to hunt with my father, grandfather, uncles, and cousins when I was very young. I remember some Thanksgiving dinners (about 50 of us) featuring deer, raccoon, rabbit, squirrel, and duck in addition to the standard “storebought” items. Additionally there’d be corn, squash, green beans, etc form our own gardens. The thing that always struck me about these items was that they always seemed to have more “taste” than anything that was storebought (that went for meat AND vegetables). I don’t do a lot of hunting these days and my “garden” this year consisted of just 2 tomato plants, but I do recall fondly those days from my childhood, and the great tastes associated with them.

October 20, 2010 10:28 am

In pure nutrition terms, the key question is balance between the immediate principles that make any person or animal a living organism. To meet your requirements for maintenance or growth, you need to consume the right amount of protein, energy, fibre, minerals and vitamins. The ways you go to get them is a personal choice, but keep in mind that man, although being omnivorous by evolution, has a clear bias to meat. Man’s intestine is not designed to digest high-fibre foodstuffs, nor its enzymatic equipment is able to decompose efficiently the complex carbohydrates found in beans, soya or other vegetable sources, while cows or beef cattle (ruminating animals) do.
Another problem is the nutrient density of foodstuffs eaten and this has to do with the different stages a person goes through during his life. An active young would require more that 3,000 calories a day to keep going, with the proper amount of digestible protein to replace the protein which is lost daily. And limiting nutrient density or quality though a diet does not looks like a good advice. It is rather complicated getting a high density diet with the proper nutrient balance for all stages of life from purely vegetable sources without any input from animal derivatives like milk or cheese, and marginal nutrient deficiency may take a long time to show but it happens quite frequently.
Summarising, it is not important the kind of dietary regime a person follows, he/she has to make sure it is balanced for his/her activity level and age. However, it is not difficult to justify from nutrition and metabolism that animal protein has a superior biological value for man than vegetable protein does, especially if it is sourced from raw feedstuffs.

October 20, 2010 10:39 am

Don’t think aloud!…..What if some ideologists out there reads these lines and is suddenly illuminated with the idea of ENFORCED vegetarianism!
No crée? …..They just began by obliging kids with their parents to forcefully eat vegs at California……Didn’t you know that eating meat is carcinogenic?….only Kool Aid cures Cancer!

October 20, 2010 10:46 am

The ethics of diet are an issue for many people, whether from personal choice or religious stricture. As a member of the human race, which has evolved over many years to eat a wide and varied omnivorous diet, I have no ethical issues about killing and eating animals.
Everyone has the right to eat whatever they want and I think it is completely wrong to try and impose ones own illusion of reality on another. Freedom to choose and tolerance of other peoples views are the important issues.

October 20, 2010 10:49 am

Are you repulsed by the thought of fermented foods? Think about chocolate for a minute. It comes in such nice neat little geometric shapes. It seems so artificial and modern and far removed from any animal or vegetable…
Chocolate is really the fermented bacterial mush that grows on cocoa beans. Think of that next time you dip your pretzel into the melted brown goo! Yum!

Shub Niggurath
October 20, 2010 10:54 am

I’ll eat anything that moves – it has to taste good though, and you can avoid telling me what I am eating if you think I might freak out.
All this quite unlike some of the morons who belong to the religion I was born into.

October 20, 2010 10:55 am

Dear Willis Eschenbach: Your post it is a valid issue here in WUWT, because it relates to one of the hundreds weird and fanatic ideas believed by leftist ideologists: From Climate Change to defend the human rights of child molesters, from the “free choice” abortion of babies to the convenience of gay marriage up to the “human” rights of Polar Bears, etc.,etc.
We should need a psychiatrist to analyze this very strange behavior, as it is BEHIND THE CLIMATE SCENE.
The quoted case of Hitler it is the same case: Extreme and fanatical passions provoke wars.

October 20, 2010 10:58 am

Hear is what the Native Americans ate: Guts and grease…

Alexander Harvey
October 20, 2010 10:58 am

Re TerrySkinner:
“And what would you feed your cats and dogs?”
I would just like to say that, whereas cats seem to be mostly carnivorous by nature dogs are definitely omnivores.
We have dogs that will ransack a vegetable garden given a chance, and it is not just the greediest one.
They will eat almost all vegetables, but seem to favour fruits, melons, tomatoes, etc. but will dig for potatoes, which we discourage. One might be surprised at the delicacy with which one of them has learned to pick blackberries, he is also the only true hunter of the pack and specialises in birds. Vegetables tend to be a lot easier to hunt as are ants. They will eat neither toads nor frogs and are wary of snakes even when dead. They are good scenters and might throw back their heads and rush off to catch a juicy supply of windfall apples. They will also raid a fisherman’s catch and eat most carrion except fox.
All our dogs are definitely omniverous and if let wild would possibly survive largely, by bulk, on fruits and vegetables as they are easy prey. Strangely they definitely seek out certain grasses, I know not why, but they are particular in their quest and all agree on what constitutes the best grass.
As to what else that is fresh one might feed a cat on, I have no idea, but I think many a cat food is mostly neither fish nor meat, and some barely more than the whiff. Yet I believe that a cat must eat some meat/fish/egg lest it die.

October 20, 2010 11:01 am

I have some very good friends who are strict(ish) vegans, of the weave-your-own-bread school of hippiedom. Unusually, they are able to justify everything they do, and have consistency in their beliefs and actions – no leather shoes, no wool, no animal byproducts. They don’t eat meat because they don’t want to directly harm any living creature without its consent – which is a belief that I may not share, but can respect. They would be happy to eat an intelligent creature that consented to them doing so, although they don’t support my attempts to crossbreed parrots and chickens. They also don’t advocate that everyone should share their lifestyle: they simply don’t like the idea of killing animals for themselves.
The key to their lifestyle is an overwhelming focus on eating. They put a hell of a lot of effort into eating a very widely varied diet in order to get all the nutrients they need. Lots and lots of different pulses, beans, grains, nuts etc. They are very well aware that it’s extremely hard to replace everything they miss through not eating animal protein.

October 20, 2010 11:05 am

If we really wanted to make the world’s food-producing capacity more available to more people, I think we could start with eating less and wasting less. Part of that is probably eating less meat. Someone who eats modest portions of meat could well be a more moral person (as well as a healthier person) than someone who pigs out on 72-ounce steaks.
In addition, while a “holier than thou” attitude is annoying, it is nevertheless true that choices each of us make effect others in the world. It is worthwhile to develop a social conscience, and I do not think it is useful to mock those who are at least trying to develop one.
That said, I am not personally interested in spending my time converting anyone to my point of view. Everyone can decide for themselves what is moral, and what portion of the world’s food capacity they wish to consume. Their spiritual development is not a priority for me.

October 20, 2010 11:09 am

R. Craigen-Well most people certainly couldn’t survive on milk as adults, just as the couldn’t survive on grass, so the “arguments from nature” have validity in so far as they tell you what is adequate nutrition. They do not tell you that you shouldn’t eat what is not providing you with adequate nutrition. Far be it from me to stop people from eating grass if they want the fiber. But if they think they will get adequate carbs from grass, they are dead wrong. And it will cost them their health. The fact that many people have difficulty in digesting lactose as adults is not an argument against drinking milk. It IS an argument against SURVIVING on milk. Something which people opposed to drinking of milk are probably confused about.

October 20, 2010 11:14 am

When there is famine, there is no such thing as a vegan.

Peter Miller
October 20, 2010 11:21 am

About 15 years ago I was involved in a mineral exploration project in central Cuba.
At that time, one of the more serious problems in this part of Fidel Castro’s People’s Paradise was chronic protein deficiency. I saw it myself several times – two raw eggs beaten with some milk in a glass and within 30 minutes the transformation from total misery back to health was truly miraculous. At that time, the penalty – for the average Cuban – for having beef in your fridge was a very long prison sentence.
Moral of the Story: People only voluntarily choose to become vegetarians in the world’s richest countries. I have no problem with that, as long as they don’t try and preach to me about the supposed benefits of a meat free diet.

October 20, 2010 11:23 am

Re: Alexander Harvey
The cat is a strictly carnivore species. So carnivore in fact that it has no receptors for sweet taste in its tongue; the receptor for sweet taste is tuned for carbohydrate (sugars and starch – sources of energy) sensing in most animals and the cat does not naturally eat starchy feeds. Cats obtain energy from fat and glycogen from their preys. Glycogen is a complex carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver of animals.
Additionally, most of cat food is meat, fish and vegetable protein, and fat or oils. Cat food contains very little starch.
On the other hand, an average dog food contains up to 50% carbohydrates, mostly from grains, with protein from soya and meat. And them eating grass or other vegetables, provide several benefits, too many for a discussion in this post. 😉

October 20, 2010 11:28 am

John Marshall says:
October 20, 2010 at 1:11 am
If you choose veganism as a way of life it is up to you but do not try to convert others.

Even more worrisome to make kids go vegan. They do need meat or at least dairy products for healthy development.
There’s this Hungarian guy (38) who felt, as an incarnation of Saint Andrew, also inspired by Sathya Sai Baba, he could not eat anything derived from animals and he managed to convert his wife (+34) as well. They were also anxious to keep their baby daughter (2) as pure as possible so she weighted 13 pounds and could not move when she was found. The last stage came when they quit eating altogether, fancied being nourished by light alone, getting to a higher spiritual level this way. The child survived only because the mother kept breastfeeding her with milk derived from light, but there might have been not too much left, as she was unknowingly pregnant, aborted soon because of starvation and bled to death without her husband taking notice for three days, as he himself was too weak to move.

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 11:30 am

crosspatch says:
October 20, 2010 at 1:09 am

If you live in the bush you are NOT getting a varied diet.
True. You also have about a 66% chance of seeing your 15th birthday and a 33% chance of celebrating your 30th birthday. Our bodies didn’t evolve for average lifespans of anywhere near 70+ years. A hunter/gatherer lifespan is about 35 years from cradle to grave if you’re lucky.

Dave Wendt
October 20, 2010 11:34 am

Back in the day at about the time that the notion of life extension was getting off the ground, probably at least 40 years ago, there were several studies done by folks who sought out various human populations that supposedly had much greater longevity than was present in the world in general. The minute details of the lives of these longer living populations were noted and collated to try to isolate the particular factors that led to increased longevity. There were almost no across the board commonalities of diet or other lifestyle choices between the studied groups, but there was one aspect that was found to be almost universal. The longest living groups all tended to live lives that were free from worry. It wasn’t that their lives were free from difficulty, far from it, but that through either inclination or culture they wasted no energy and accumulated no stress by engaging in anticipatory anxiety. Que sera sera was the rule.
I have always felt that those who approach every meal as though they were about to have dinner with the Borgias, probably do more to shorten their lives by the collective stress they accumulate over a lifetime of focusing on trying to eliminate what is “not good for them”, than any gain of longevity they could garner from successfully doing so. Even in the unlikely event that that was possible.
There are many parallels between dietary science and climate science. In both the quality of the work done is almost universally abysmal. Largely unsupported prognostications of doom are the order of the day. The tyrannical impulse to exert control over the lives of others is a more dominant driver of those involved than any quest to expand human understanding. And most importantly the shared revulsion to the idea that, somewhere, someone else might be having a good time.
These mostly unscientific sciences have been as successful as they have, because almost all of us at some point are susceptible to the idea that we ought to be doing what is good for ourselves, for others, for animals, for the environment, for the planet, etc.. What is usually ignored, probably because it is more than a bit counterintuitive, is that the greatest good for all those things is achieved by granting the most freedom to decide what is good to individuals. There are probably many who would argue that point, but since my comments here tend to be mostly ignored, I won’t waste any more space trying to anticipate them.

October 20, 2010 11:34 am

Figaro says:
October 20, 2010 at 11:23 am
Cats do love milk…
My cat loved BBQ chips. Was it the spices or the fried potatoes?

October 20, 2010 11:35 am

Like they say “You are what you eat!”
I AM NOT AN ANIMAL! but I do love juicy meat.
I am certainly not a vegetable!

October 20, 2010 11:43 am

Lastly, a personal gripe, why o why did we permit the homogenisation of milk to become the norm and sometimes the only option, I find it to be bland, chalky, with a poor mouth feel.
Because we got sick of having our milk spoil before we could drink it all, or getting sick from tainted milk products, and occasionally dieing as a result.
Pay your money and take your choice, full flavor and risk of death and need to consume it very quickly, or a slight change in flavor and not having to worry about killing your children when they eat some home made icecream.

October 20, 2010 11:48 am

“Enneagram says:
October 20, 2010 at 10:39 am
Don’t think aloud!…..What if some ideologists out there reads these lines and is suddenly illuminated with the idea of ENFORCED vegetarianism!
No crée? …..They just began by obliging kids with their parents to forcefully eat vegs at California……Didn’t you know that eating meat is carcinogenic?….only Kool Aid cures Cancer!”
They are alreadying pretty much doing that in Norway. Now they are working on taxing the hell out of “unhealthy” food to force norwegians into eating more “healthy” by making food too expensive for the average joe.

October 20, 2010 11:50 am

Peter Miller, there is an old saying that an egg a day keeps the doctor away. I believe it is Italian in origin and I believe it refers to just exactly what you do, that starving people get much gain from just an egg a day.

October 20, 2010 11:50 am

Hmmmmm. Invertebrates, yummy!
Forget honey. Just de-sting those bees and fry them up with a side of slaw.

October 20, 2010 11:52 am

And really, it’s the dentist that an apple a day keeps away.

Alexander Harvey
October 20, 2010 11:52 am

“Acorns and olives are toxic to humans in their natural state, and must go through some very unnatural processes to become food.”
Not universally, some acorns are neither seriously toxic nor bitter, it is not common to see someone snacking on acorns but some do, but in general if it tastes bitter spit it out, I think that the deciduous oak’s acorns may all be bitter.
Olives vary enormously, most are bitter and benefit from a proportionate degree of steeping but they are eaten without undergoing “very unnatural processes”. One might spot one that has been steeping olives by their blackened fingers. I think you may be confusing what is done, in industrial preparation using caustics, with what is necessary. As it happens we don’t like steeped olives but it is what other people with trees do and they seem happy enough.
As for toxicity, both may well be toxic to some extent, (and some varieties much more than others), but so is rhubarb. In general do as the locals do. Some olives are really only good for oil. I am no expert, but I do know people who eat both acorns and steeped olives and all I can say is that some of them have lived to a ripe old age.

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 11:54 am

re; cat food
A quick glance at the ingredients in Purina One cat food formula however reveals that meat is only the first of many ingredients with rice providing many of the calories. Cats are often pointed to as the prime example of obligate carnivorous mammals but that’s provably wrong by the formulation of cat foods and the longevity of the cats that eat it all their lives.

October 20, 2010 12:00 pm

Some people don’t eat meat all week and then “pig out” on a steak at a restaurant once a week where you see them.
You think fat Americans are fat because of too much steak? Ha! Maybe it is too much corn syrup, too much soda, too many cookies, too much hydrogenated vegetable oil, too many easy packaged snacks made of non spoiling sugar and starch. Starch and sugar, sugar and starch. In that case, a diet of vegetables instead of sugar and starch would be an improvement.
It is better that the children eat the bird than sugar and starch. I’m glad we have chickens otherwise all the wild birds would be gone.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
October 20, 2010 12:04 pm

In the long time that I’ve been reading this website (being a AGW sceptic) I don’t think I’ve read such utter drivel. As I pointed out above, I’m a veggie – and I admit I do love it when I write something, then find that all that I wrote is being proved correct by people trying to prove it’s incorrect! Oh, deep joy. Thing is though, they quite evidently don’t have the intelligence to see that! Some classic examples exist above of open-headed stupidity of extraordinary magnitude. However, I must say that the ONLY post I read that makes any sense eat all is “Greg says: October 20, 2010 at 8:26 am”. Greg has it right on the button, and although he very strongly echoes my post, he actually does it better.
Still amazed at some of the posts on here – thought there was more intelligence on this site than the appalling nonsense and factually-incorrect statements made. Sad, really.

October 20, 2010 12:07 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 20, 2010 at 11:50 am

George says:
October 20, 2010 at 6:40 am
Personally, I don’t eat dogs, cats, live monkeys, or balut. After that, I am open to suggestions.

My suggestion would be to try the balut, other than the crunch it’s quite tasty …

Willis and George,
In my travels in Asia i’ve done the fresh snakes blood (extracted from live snake in front of your eyes to prove freshness), monkey, dog, cat, balut, uni, etc. Generally no problem.
Hey, I got used the fresh raw (sushi) sea-cucumber intestines that are not purged of their contents of undigested material and feces.
But there were two things that I just couldn’t handle. Shudder. Chinese Cho dofu and Japanese natto. In the former it is the god awful decomposing body smell I couldn’t handle. In the latter it is the lumpy texture of snot that induces a little nausea that I couldn’t handle.
: )

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 12:07 pm

re; making a joke calling vegans fundamentalist and born-again.
Then I suppose you should take it in good humor if someone calls you a blood thirsty savage removed from cannabilism only by virtue of cultural taboo. But hey, at least in your culture you draw the line at primates which is modestly more enlightened than some human cultures. Ha ha. Don’t forget to laugh. It’s just a joke.

October 20, 2010 12:08 pm

Just my 2 pennyworth. I have been a vegan for 2 years after having surgery for a bowel disorder where it was suggested I cut down on meat and dairy products. As I didn’t eat very much anyway, it was a nobrainer. In those 2 years, I have got to know a number of other vegans and without exception (other than me) they all think the rest of the world should be (vegans) and all believe in catastrophic AGW. I dunno why the these things go hand in hand, but for my part it is just a diet that suits my system and not a complete way of life. So we’re not all of the radical hair-shirt brigade but I wish I could find others who aren’t!! And yes I do have to take 1 supplement a day to make sure I get enough iodine, and also to make sure I don’t look as pasty and unwell as the rest of them! Incidently, I have never felt fitter and I am 51, so it aint doing me too much harm!

C.W. Schoneveld
October 20, 2010 12:08 pm

“All flesh is grass, is not onely metaphorically, but literally true, for all those creatures we behold, are but the herbs of the field, digested into flesh in them, or more remotely carnified in our selves. Nay further, we are what we all abhor, Antropophagi and Cannibals, devourers not onely of men, but of our selves; and that not in an allegory, but a positive truth; for all this mass of flesh which we behold, came in at our mouths: this frame we look upon, has been upon our trenches; In brief, we have devoured our selves.”
Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1643), I, 37.

October 20, 2010 12:12 pm

I think I can shed some insight onto this subject. Firstly, try living in the bush doing hard graft all day and then eat only vegies for diner, or living in an extremely cold environment and eating only veggies – it doesnt work. Meat packs a punch that veggies dont supply. If your doing physical work in a harsh environment like most of the third world, meat is essential. Being vegan is a luxury we can only afford in the developed world, as we have warm houses, warm clothes, and we dont have physically demanding lifestyles. Veganism is fine in the developed world as a life style choice, but dont try and force it onto the lives of others who live in environments where it would endanger their lives. If you were an eskimo, how would you even grow veges? Heated greenhouses??? (think of the co2 emissions!) – They eat meat out of neccesity!
I grow my own veggies, and I can tell you they need a whole lot more care and time than the chickens do!
Rabbits are easy to grow as well as they dont need much land. When I used to live in the alps, they were essential durting the coldest months of winter (kept in cages in a shed during winter), as was salami, pickled veggies from summer / autumn, berry preverves and of course Kirsch! They were easier to grow than veggies in my view. Some days the only thing that would keep me going in the cold of winter was the thought of the rabbit pipe waiting at home! A plate of cous cous didnt cut it
Essentially what I am saying is that not all meat needs huge resources, just a patch of grass or some bugs in the ground to feed off. Sometimes meat can be easier to grow than veggies and use no more land, and some times you have no choice – meat is essential for survival in some cases. If you can live without it, feel gratefull that you can afford the luxury, as many can not.

October 20, 2010 12:14 pm

jorgekafkazar says – October 20, 2010 at 10:17 am: “Source?”
Hard to prove a negative – it’s one of those well-known myths that still get endlessly repeated.
Robert Payne: The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler (1973):
“Hitler’s asceticism played an important part in the image he projected over Germany. According to the widely believed legend he neither smoked nor drank, nor did he eat meat or have anything to do with women. Only the first was true. He drank beer and diluted wine frequently, had a special fondness for Bavarian sausages and kept a mistress….His asceticism was a fiction invented by Goebbels to emphasize his total dedication, his self control, the distance that separated him from other men….In fact, he was remarkably self indulgent and possessed none of the instincts of the ascetic. His cook, an enormously fat man named Willy Kannenberg, produced exquisite meals and acted as court jester. Although Hitler had no fondness for meat except in the form of sausages and never ate fish, he enjoyed caviar….” (p. 346)

October 20, 2010 12:24 pm

Hey, if I only eat herbivores doesn’t that make me a vegetarian?
Yup . . . .

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 12:25 pm

Figaro says:
October 20, 2010 at 10:28 am

Man’s intestine is not designed to digest high-fibre foodstuffs, nor its enzymatic equipment is able to decompose efficiently the complex carbohydrates found in beans, soya or other vegetable sources, while cows or beef cattle (ruminating animals) do.

Neither was his colon and heart designed to operate for more than the 30 years it takes to reach sexual maturity and raise a few children to that point. After that the job your body was designed to do is done.

Joel Upchurch
October 20, 2010 12:29 pm

You might also want to read Andy Revkin’s column today. ” New Weapon Against Invading Fish: The Pan”,
This is about people who are dealing with the invasions of Lionfish and Asian Carp by coming up with recipes to eat them.

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 12:53 pm

B12 only from meat is a fallacy
B12, unless you have some underlying disorder that prevents normal uptake, is required in such small quantity that sufficient dietary amount is supplied by healthy gut biota. NO plants or animals produce B12. Bacteria are the ONLY synthesizers of B12. Of course in the antibiotic age, particularly in developed countries where they are frequently prescribed for no more than prophylactic reasons, and people are afraid to get dirt on their hands to say nothing of eating food that has any soil clinging to it, gut biota are not usually what could be termed healthy.

Alexander Harvey
October 20, 2010 1:08 pm

What I wrote was observational, and hardly contentious.
I said that dogs were omnivorous and cats natural carnivores (at least mostly), some will eat other things spontaneously, I do not know if this is common.
FWIW there are definitely cat foods that contain little animal produce. Search for vegetarian and vegan(!) cat foods, they do exist!
A reputable brand may be something like “chicken and rice” and have chicken and rice as the primary ingredients so I guess starch may be involved. Another reputable brand lists the carbohydrates used in its cat foods as maize, sorghum, rice and wheat so carbohydrates are definitely involved.
Best Wishes

Dave Springer
October 20, 2010 1:21 pm

“How does the stomach feel after eating a steak?”
Ready for a nap along with the rest of me. Try eating a 72 ounce steak in a single meal and see if you care to repeat what it feels like to be a lion gorging on a fresh kill. I did, one time, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise by telling you why I only did it once. I’m much more energetic on an empty stomach which seems evolutionarily reasonable. Hunger drives the hunt for food and satiation ends it.

Alexander Harvey
October 20, 2010 1:41 pm

Re: C.W. Schoneveld
One could wait many a year for a quotation from Religio Medici, then two come along together.
“A plant or vegetable consumed to ashes, to a contemplative and schoole Philosopher seemes utterly destroyed, and the forme to have taken his leave for ever: But to a sensible Artist the formes are not perished, but withdrawne into their incombustible part, where they lie secure from the action of that devouring element. This is made good by experience, which can from the ashes of a plant revive the plant, and from its cinders recall it into its stalk and leaves againe.”
Have you read it all? I have barely read more than half, but hopefully I will correct this before I die.

Dave F
October 20, 2010 1:57 pm

It is certainly one thing if vegans are eating what they do, and what they don’t, out of reasons of conscience. I have had many experiences with vegans, and I find that at the end of many of the disagreements (to be charitable to their manner of discussion) you could say, ‘These are the sayings of Lee’.

Dr A Burns
October 20, 2010 2:07 pm

There’s no real logic in veganism … its simply the modern form of self flagellation.

Tim Clark
October 20, 2010 2:12 pm

Alexander Harvey says:
October 20, 2010 at 11:52 am
As for toxicity, both may well be toxic to some extent, (and some varieties much more than others), but so is rhubarb.

Only the leaves, which contain oxalic acid.

October 20, 2010 2:38 pm

The real problem with meat it’s that it do not make enough money !
If you can sale soy industrially processed at 6$/kg wou nee just a fully automatised factory and you make a maximum of profit!
Of couse the share older of the factory will eat meat in the french restaurants !

October 20, 2010 2:42 pm

As far as humans being the only animals to cook their food (meat), many scavengers and even a few predators eat corpses that have been “cooking” out in the hot sun, more like beef jerky than tender roast brisket mind you, but still. The net result is your average wild pig/dog/vulture out on the serengeti will wind up eating a lot of cooked meat.

A Crooks of Adelaide
October 20, 2010 2:45 pm

I see a strong link between Christian fundamentalism and vegetarianism which feeds through into the whole green scene. Pre-religion, man was simply another animal eating whatever he could find to survive. In Christiano-Judeo-Islamo religions, man elevated himself to a self-important, separate creation from animals and becomes God’s representative on earth. Darwin came along and shot that down in fire and man lost his pre-eminent place. Being just another boring animal is intolerable to a sentient self-important animal so they have to invent themselves an important role. Belief in God has drifted but now we take on the sacred duty of carers of the planet, savers of species from extinction, preventers of climate change, (and perhaps we should stop continental drift while we are at it.) As carers of the animals, it is unthinkable that we should eat them. As not-animals we should be able to rise above that. The source of all this is the Garden of Eden myth. The myth of the perfect garden pre-human intervention, the guilt of the Expulsion and destruction of the garden, and the attempt to re-create the perfection of the garden. It’s the quest for personal redemption and to create a purpose to life in a post-God world.

October 20, 2010 2:59 pm

One of my favourite poems is about meat:
The War-Song of Dinas Vawr
Thomas Love Peacock (1785–1866)
The mountain sheep are sweeter,
But the valley sheep are fatter;
We therefore deem’d it meeter
To carry off the latter.
We made an expedition; 5
We met an host and quell’d it;
We forced a strong position
And kill’d the men who held it.
On Dyfed’s richest valley,
Where herds of kine were browsing, 10
We made a mighty sally,
To furnish our carousing.
Fierce warriors rush’d to meet us;
We met them, and o’erthrew them:
They struggled hard to beat us, 15
But we conquer’d them, and slew them.
As we drove our prize at leisure,
The king march’d forth to catch us:
His rage surpass’d all measure,
But his people could not match us. 20
He fled to his hall-pillars;
And, ere our force we led off,
Some sack’d his house and cellars,
While others cut his head off.
We there, in strife bewildering, 25
Spilt blood enough to swim in:
We orphan’d many children
And widow’d many women.
The eagles and the ravens
We glutted with our foemen: 30
The heroes and the cravens,
The spearmen and the bowmen.
We brought away from battle,
And much their land bemoan’d them,
Two thousand head of cattle 35
And the head of him who own’d them:
Ednyfed, King of Dyfed,
His head was borne before us;
His wine and beasts supplied our feasts,
And his overthrow, our chorus. 40

October 20, 2010 3:02 pm

The vegans are falsely telling our children that it is safe and healthy to eat a vegan diet. They are also using “holier than thou” peer-pressure to achieve conformity particularly aimed at teen-aged girls. Meanwhile, after a prolonged period on a vegan diet our daughters become anemic, have poor muscle tone, fatigue, rashes, allergies, anorexia and other dietary deficiencies so much so that it may become impossible for them to have a healthy pregnancy, a time when the nutritional demands on the body sky rocket. Infants and toddlers that are growing rapidly also require excellent nutrition for maximum brain growth. Worse vegans say that it is OK to give soy formula to infant boys. The high amount of estrogen in soy distorts their male anatomy and they won’t likely have children either. What does the increase in estrogen do to girls? We don’t know. The western world already has a low birth rate. It seems that the vegan agenda is genocide.

John Baltutis
October 20, 2010 3:16 pm

regeya says, October 20, 2010 at 9:20 am:

Good post, and good arguments, but let’s not forget that those of us in the 1st world, mostly Western countries, are guilty of eating TOO MUCH meat now. Heart disease, problems from TOO MUCH of EVERYTHING good we get from meat, yadda yadda yadda.

That comment is belied by the life expectancy numbers of 1st-world countries.

October 20, 2010 3:23 pm

I had an incident while traveling in a remote part of the Bolivian Altiplano with an Indian driver. We saw a flock of flamingos, and he shot one. I asked him if you can eat it. He answered: “Pues, todo lo que vuela va a la olla” – Anything that flies goes into the pot. The people we met that evening were quite happy with this addition to their meager dinner.

October 20, 2010 3:28 pm

You think fat Americans are fat because of too much steak? Ha! Maybe it is too much corn syrup, too much soda, too many cookies, too much hydrogenated vegetable oil, too many easy packaged snacks made of non spoiling sugar and starch. Starch and sugar, sugar and starch. In that case, a diet of vegetables instead of sugar and starch would be an improvement.

Actually, if you remove the microwave oven, the TV remote control, the cordless phone, and downsize the refrigerator by about half, most people would lose considerable weight.

Common Sense
October 20, 2010 3:39 pm

“Each year they always run out of food before everyone is full.”
I noticed this while dining with my in-laws, many of whom are vegetarian. We started eating a light meal before dining with them so that we didn’t go hungry, there just isn’t enough food.
My niece also had difficulties with her first child because she didn’t get enough nutrition through her vegetarian diet to produce nutrient-rich breast milk and her baby was under nourished as a result.
Only the wealthy can afford to be vegetarian/vegan and get the correct balance of nutrients.

October 20, 2010 3:48 pm

My mother’s advice? Eat a little of everything. Don’t eat a lot of any one thing.
Good advice.

October 20, 2010 4:16 pm

“My mother’s advice? Eat a little of everything. Don’t eat a lot of any one thing.
Good advice.”
I agree. It’s not so much whether people eat meat. It’s how much they eat.
Gout was once known as “the disease of kings”. Now it’s a disease of the middle class. over-consumption of meat is a contributing factor.
Just because we live longer here than in the third world doesn’t mean we have an optimal diet. I can’t believe anyone would even put forward such an idea. Our life span is largely because we aren’t going hungry and we have good medical care. And because our diet is better than some. Certainly the world’s poor often do not get a balanced diet. That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean it’s beneficial to gorge oneself on meat. In addition, excessive sugar and processed foods consumption can’t be considered healthful, our comparative longevity notwithstanding.

October 20, 2010 4:24 pm

Mmmmm…. Food animals cannot take part to this discussion for obvious reasons, though being involuntarily fully involved. For those who’d like to have an idea about how the modern food chain looks like from an animal perspective (especially the initial phase of the burger/steak preparation), a good place to start is here:
You may find the chapter about farms/slaughterhouses quite appetizing.
A couple of personal considerations:
Veganism, today and in our opulent society, is a viable and for many aspects a preferable option, some of you willing/believing or not. Some take the red pill, while some others take the blue one: In rich Countries it’s simply a matter of choice.
But it hasn’t been always so.
When I started my path towards veganism, some 15 years ago, vegetarianism was the extreme stuff, veganism was out of discussion. Scientifically, culturally, socially. Nowadays, the American Dietary Association states 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. (”. Are they part of a conspiring lobby? or simply crazy? Unlikely… today there is plenty of easily accessible information on veganism by many sources, generally pointing to the benefits of a balanced vegan diet rather than to associated problems. For instance, side issues such as the B12 or the omega3 are today easily managed. All required nutrients can be easily prepared in deliciously balanced meals. A vegan usually knows how to make plant-based Fe more bio-available and certified supplementary products are anyway there on the market for any need. If you want to go vegan, you just need to keep informed!
Things are today quite different from 15 years ago. What was then defined dangerous is today defined appropriate and healthy. Is it so unexpected that scientific fields other than climatology deny the “settled science” paradigm (in this case the need of meat or animal products)?
Still, some “evidence” popped up here about disastrous effects inherent the vegan diet (did you read any book or consult any serious dietitian before going vegan? of course eating carrots alone or pasta alone won’t bring you far…), about veganism being a sort of a denial of our origin as omnivores (the canine teethes! oh please….). Well, there are very likely far more pathologies or general diseases linked to an unbalanced “omnivore” diet than the sum of the individual episodes of an unsuccessful vegan diet reported here.
Not to mention that to my experience the vast majority of the vegans/vegetarians are deeply conscious of the motivations beneath their choice to be vegan/vegetarian, well informed, extremely careful in balancing their diet as they are in many other aspects concerning their health and living habits. Carnivores/omnivores are generally much less conscious of what’s behind the meal they’re consuming, reluctant to get informed, resilient towards managing a balanced diet as their nutrition mostly consists of whatever fits the desire from their rumbling stomach (as widely exemplified above).
Whether a vegan world would be feasible or maybe even more sustainable than the one we live on today is of course a different matter of discussion. Which remains widely open. Especially since both parties (pro-vegan and pro-meat) have been providing us with analysis and graphs, plenty of data and estimates, and especially bites of convincing evidence. So easy it really sounds like the pro-AGW vs skeptics debate!
It’s strange anyway that in this case the climate skeptics sing the mainstream song and stay promptly shielded against alternative visions (as a matter of fact veggie is the alternative, meat is the mainstream). So, when some of you refer to vegans as to a clan of ideological self-flagellating fanatics or puppets mastered by wheat & cereal lobbies, well you may be right, of course, but let me say it sounds somehow odd 🙂
Sorry for the intrusion.

October 20, 2010 5:23 pm

@ stumpy re: rabbits & chickens
Ah, the good old days. During the summer of my youth when school was not in session, my sister and I would spend our days at my grandparents farm (both parents worked). Now they had a small “truck” garden, about 50-75 chickens (depending on how many chicks hatched that spring), and 15-20 rabbits. Generally, my sister and I got to spend our summers doing fun chores such as weeding the garden, gathering eggs, and shoveling rabbit droppings.
These leads to a major point about those “donate an animal” charities. They’ve come under some fire lately (past couple years) for the “devastation” that animals cause to the “environment/Gaia/Mother Earth”. Goats in particular have been singled out in some cases, as goats are EXTREMELY adaptable, going so far as actually climbing trees to get to fresh foilage. But for converting vegetable matter to protein (and milk and wool/leather), a goat is also extremely EFFICIENT. Cows on the other hand aren’t as quite as efficient. The big advantage of a cow/bison/ox is if you also use it for brute force horsepower for plowing or other tasks. I support Oxfam and these other charities because they do offer more than just a food handout, they actually offer a way for people in Africa and Asia to take control of their own lives.
So I support Oxfam, Sendacow, and other charities which offer others the opportunity to take control of their own situation.

Dave F
October 20, 2010 5:26 pm

I eat vegans.

October 20, 2010 5:42 pm

Dave says: jorgekafkazar says – October 20, 2010 at 10:17 am: “Source?”
“Hard to prove a negative – it’s one of those well-known myths that still get endlessly repeated: . Robert Payne: The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler (1973):”
Acceptable. The accounts vary, though. It was a criminal offense to discuss Hitler’s private life, so the stories must be taken cum gran salis. Hitler was not a big meat eater, but he apparently indulged in an occasional slice of ham or a bit of sausage, according to some. If so, he wasn’t very different from many ordinary ‘vegetarians.’ in that respect. But he considered himself a vegetarian. forbade meat on the table, and endorsed meat-free diets in his writings. [Wankapedia]'s_vegetarianism
Hitler said that eggs were all right, though. He may have defined his diet according to what was expedient as well as what would minimize harm to animals. I guess you could say he was a vegetaryan.
Kannenberg was an interesting character. IIRC, he played the accordion, too. [Speer.] According to Kberg, Hitler wouldn’t eat much of anything that hadn’t been personally prepared by the cook and his wife. This would rule out some of the anecdotes about Hitler eating meat.

Harry the Hacker
October 20, 2010 6:13 pm

I was taught a long time ago that there are a few amino acids that the human body needs, and which can only come from meat or animal products. So for example, eggs, cheese, etc. Or meat.
But cutting out ALL of those is actually not very good for your health. Tofu and soybeans and all that don’t make a suitable replacement. Maybe by use of modern supplements the problems can be avoided.
Me, I’ll eat as nature intended, thanks.

Ted Annonson
October 20, 2010 6:40 pm

One thing that I learned, when working in those primative back countries is — when a plate or bowl of food is given to you, don’t ask what’s in it. Just eat, and if something in it looks like it’s wiggling, jsut shut your eyes and eat. Most of it was pretty good tasting. The one thing they were never able to get me to eat was a live rice beetle.

October 20, 2010 6:52 pm

Willis: One winter I read all Hemingway’s short stories and novelettes. Your little tale about the hunters in Mexico might have been one of them. Kudos on a wonderful sad gut-wrenching but truthful story.
The comments, unfortunately, are egotism run rampant.
Thanks for your efforts.

October 20, 2010 7:27 pm

Wonderful post. As usual, there is more than one layer to what you are saying.
As a kid I had a wrist rocket for fun, so I bought my son one. We enjoy flinging rocks at high speed toward inanimate targets. I have mixed feelings about looking at what to me is simple fun and comparing that to what you witnessed as a need for survival.

Hank Hancock
October 20, 2010 7:28 pm

I am a vegan. My wife and children are omnivores who understand my avoidance of meat and dairy. I do confess that maybe two or three times a year, I pig out on seafood (no farm raised fish or shrimp). Some might say that makes me a hypocrite. I disagree. My pig-outs are more cheating.
I didn’t become a vegan because I have any qualms about eating tasty animals, which I genuinely enjoyed back in the day. I became a vegan after being diagnosed with cancer. The growth hormones and other additives in meat and dairy products provide a source of hormones the cancer needs to grow, working against the hormone deprivation drugs I take. On my vegan diet and hormone deprivation therapy, the cancer has been suspended and kicked to the corner (not cured) and I can expect another 20-30 years which will put me well into old age.
It’s really amusing when I get into conversations with other vegans or vegetarians when they start with their self righteous political and social views and realize I’m politically conservative, a gun owner, a research scientist, a believer in capitalism and free market enterprise, an entrepreneur, and I don’t paint cute pandas or polar bears on my gas guzzling Land Rover which I use mainly for my remote research office. I also get interesting remarks when non-vegitarians find out I’m a vegan – most of them snide but I understand. Contrary to misunderstandings found in some of the previous comments, I feel great, have plenty of energy, rarely get sick, and I don’t take supplements to augment any dietary deficiencies.
Oh, and I live in Vegas!

Jim Clarke
October 20, 2010 7:43 pm

You are a very good writer. Not only do you make excellent points…you make them excellently! A rare talent!

October 20, 2010 7:51 pm

Willis, this is one of the most beautiful articles on any topic I have ever read.
Thank you for your humanity, your ability to describe the wonderful people you met, and your logic and reason in understanding the importance of meat to the human diet.
Great writing.

Daryl M
October 20, 2010 8:52 pm

Vegetables are what food eats.

anna v
October 20, 2010 10:11 pm

Hank Hancock :
October 20, 2010 at 7:28 pm
A sobering story, to keep in mind when judgmental.
Some years ago I read a case study about a little girl in Italy who only ate pasta, nevertheless was not malnourished at al. I could not find a link searching on the internet. This at the time led me to conclude that the human body is a factory that can produce what is needed if triggered. ( That would explain st. Teresa who lived on the etheric energy supposedly 🙂 ). Evidently your desire to live a healthy life is triggering the necessary orders so that you can state :
Contrary to misunderstandings found in some of the previous comments, I feel great, have plenty of energy, rarely get sick, and I don’t take supplements to augment any dietary deficiencies. .
I do not know if comparative health studies have been done among vegetarians, vegans and omnivores as far as physical condition goes. All we get is anecdotal stories, as is the pasta girl story. Maybe the majority of adults and children are healthy. I do know that up to my generation in Greece where animal protein was scarce and fasting common people were stunted in growth. Our children, grown on plenty of milk and other protein, are a head taller than we are.
It is possible that the problems are psychological: people who deny the body become vegan, and use concern for animals as an excuse, as monks do for religious reasons.

October 20, 2010 11:44 pm

All cookies contain eggs. Therefore, I could never be a vegan.

Smoking Frog
October 20, 2010 11:58 pm

Mr. Eschenbach:
I’m no vegetarian, but if your argument is supposed to show that there’s something wrong with vegetarianism in a technologically advanced society, it fails. For all the reader knows, people in backward societies need meat only because their production of non-meat foods is inadequate. I don’t believe that, but your argument does not exclude it or even weigh against it.

October 21, 2010 12:01 am

Stefan says:
OK, article is inflammatory. Can I ask, why do you believe that eating meat is morally wrong?
That’s like saying all the carnivores in Nature are evil. Is it because we have a choice? But when I consume a resource, that resource could have been consumed by another animal. Perhaps I shouldn’t be alive? But then we’re back to life&death dualities.

Hi Stefan, Some years ago I discovered that almost every ‘great’ human being, meaning the great teachers to whom millions look up for inspiration, salvation, wisdom, you name it, taught or clearly believed a moral principle that is in contradiction to the ‘common’ ethics of “the greater good” – otherwise known as utilitarianism. I summarised this common teaching and called it the Principle of Goodness. You’ll find it described at and at
In brief: Don’t intentionally harm an innocent, and always attempt to benefit everyone.
This is a principle of conscious intention, not one of practical outcome. This means that what counts is my intention. If I eat meat, I intended the death of the innocent animal. Therefore it is wrong. Someone else who sees things differently might not have that intention, so it might not be wrong for them to do it, but it would for me because in my mind I make those linkages. I would not kill an animal even if it meant starving to death, but that’s just me. To each his own.
OTOH, if an animal attacked me, I would unhesitatingly defend myself to the extent necessary, because this moral principle is not altruistic – I don’t have to suffer attacks from others in a case where I myself am an innocent. Also failure is an option – the principle merely states that I must attempt, not that I must succeed. This is the key reason utilitarianism fails as a moral principle. It says I must succeed in maximising happiness. Logically then, under utilitarianism, I might have to consider committing suicide as you imply. That is why utilitarianism is a great ethic for people who are not involved. The Greens who condemned 40 million Africans to a malarial death because of the greater benefit of not having DDT in the environment could only do so because they themselves were not amongst the 40 million. Put them there and see how fast they would change their tune!

That’s like saying all the carnivores in Nature are evil. Is it because we have a choice? But when I consume a resource, that resource could have been consumed by another animal. Perhaps I shouldn’t be alive? But then we’re back to life&death dualities.

Yes, but since carnivores are following their instincts, they haven’t formed the intention to harm (in a moral sense), and so they are not evil. My best animal friends are carnivores – see And although we humans like to think we above instincts, they still control us to a marked extent. So I don’t see any problem with others eating meat. If you suspect I think I am superior to them for ‘seeing through’ my instincts, not so, because for all I know, others may have seen through things that I am still misled by, as the human brain is a remarkable, variable, and flexible organ. (In fact it would be highly surprising if that were not so.) So I (think I) understand one truth, but I know others understand other truths of which I am unaware. So all we can do is try to help each other and not be judgmental. We can strive to live the best life as we understand it, and have strong moral views, and not see anything amiss in others living in accord with a different understanding.

October 21, 2010 12:16 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
Take a deep breath, my friend. What I have done is called “making a joke”.

I’ve heard of “jokes” somewhere – don’t they involve blowing up children?
– Just joking, just joking!

I was comparing the general humorlessness and intellectual rigidity of some hard-core vegivores to that of some fundamentalist religious folks.
And your response clearly proves my point …

And since all I was doing was telling a similar anecdote to yours, “Back at ya!” 😉

Smoking Frog
October 21, 2010 1:35 am

Ron House:
Utilitarianism doesn’t say that you “must succeed in maximizing happiness.” You’re confusing the good with efforts to bring about the good.
Of your own moral philosophy, you say, “This is a principle of conscious intention, not one of practical outcome.” That ignores the question of what constitutes benefit or harm to others. Your intention does not determine what constitutes them, nor does it constitute them. It is an intention to bring about what you consider to be benefit to others, and to avoid bringing about what you consider to be harm to others.

October 21, 2010 4:12 am

Smoking Frog says:
Utilitarianism doesn’t say that you “must succeed in maximizing happiness.” You’re confusing the good with efforts to bring about the good.

Hi Smoking,
It says you must bring about the maximum possible happiness. “Possible” includes taking account of your knowledge, skills, and whatever. In other words, according to utilitarianism, if there are two outcomes that you can bring about, you should bring about the one with the best outcome (as far as you know). It is outcome-oriented.
If you look back at the comments above, you’ll see this is how ethics is almost universally understood. The fact that a vegetarian must eat something else and that something could have been the food for another animal was used as a criticism of vegetarianism. That is because (it assumes) the vegetarian can see the possible outcomes and is not choosing the optimum one by choosing to eat to stay alive. The outcome is the standard by which the action is judged. Yes, if one isn’t aware of relevant facts etc., and the outcome goes bust, your ignorance will excuse the mistake, but it is considered a mistake.

Of your own moral philosophy, you say, “This is a principle of conscious intention, not one of practical outcome.” That ignores the question of what constitutes benefit or harm to others. Your intention does not determine what constitutes them, nor does it constitute them.

It doesn’t ignore it. Sometimes you will decide that the other person’s own opinion should determine your judgment of benefit for them, sometimes not. For example, if an adult wants to play a dangerous sport, and I think the sport is crazy but I have the means of giving that person what they want, I might defer to their judgement of what benefits them. But if a child is ill and needs an injection but doesn’t want it because it hurts, I might still decide the child should get the injection (putting my judgement of benefit ahead of the child’s).

It is an intention to bring about what you consider to be benefit to others, and to avoid bri