10 beefy reads for vegans + meat lovers

Posted on April 24th, 2013

How’s that for a blog post header, hey!? I could try to make it sexier, like 23 Ways to Make Your Bacon Taste Better. But I want to get to a point straight up today.

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 4.18.33 PM

Photo by Stephanie Gonot

I’ve been travelling around learning about meat production and reading more and more on the subject. A few weeks back I shared how I eat my meat, which prompted debate and more questions. I’ve read some more…and more…and figured y’all might like to do the same.

First up, before I get to the great meat reads, I’ll clear a few things up:

* My food philosophy is always about how to get the densest nutrition for my ethical buck. This means balancing things up, making the best decision with every food choice. This means there is no “one right answer”. I value local over organic. I appreciate for many, a mainstream supermarket is their only shopping option (the closest bourgeois farmer’s market might be a two hour drive away). And I value sustainability first and foremost (both of the planet and of our food systems), ahead of my own hedonistic needs (taste, texture, convenience and even health).

* I have an interest to declare. I am a spokesperson for the beef and lamb industry’s Target100 program which connects consumers and farmers to promote sustainable solutions to meat supply. This is a paid role, however the opinions in this blog post is my own.

* I’m not a scientist. I’m a journalist, a conduit. I take dense information and share it in a way that’s most appropriate to the readers here on this blog. And this is a personal blog where I make it very clear that these are my personal experiences and interpretations. As always, I keep reading and learning, with my eyes wide open. I encourage the same of everyone here.

So, to this end, some extra reading and ideas to digest:

1. The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability, by Lierre Keith

Lierre was a vegan for 20 years and switched to sustainable meat eating for ethical, environmental and health reasons. Indeed, this positioning makes her take very compelling. She has thoroughly explored every possible argument put forward for not eating meat (many of which are familiar to me from years of wrangling with the issue myself), and very much reluctantly comes to the conclusion, on every front, that a diet inclusive of meat is the only way we have a chance of saving the planet, and ourselves. It’s a complex book to wade through; the arguments are involved. And, to be honest, her circa-1991 feminist vernacular can be hard work and a little slanted. But compelling nonetheless.

All those arguments about meat production taking up more water, more land and causing more emissions? She pulls them apart and shows they only hold when unsustainable meat farming practices are cited. That is, when meat is fully grain fed (which is rarely the case in Australia).

But the more compelling food for thought comes when she pulls apart the unsustainability of a vegan/vegetarian/grain-based diet.

* She highlights the insanity of current agriculture which requires, on average, more than a calorie of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of food energy for humans. A vegetarian/vegan diet is, basically, a fossil fuel-burning diet. This is only one of many nails she bangs into the “Meat eating produces more CO2″ coffin.

* She explains why she wound up with irreversible and crippling (literally) health conditions, then makes the startling point:

vegetarians become anorexics and bulimics.

Up to 50 per cent of women seeking treatment for eating disorders are vegetarian. It’s not a loose correlation, nor one that feeds the other way. The lack of tryptophan, the precursor for serotonin, and zinc sets off a biological chain reaction that leads to the emotional state that triggers disordered eating. She cites various studies that show the nutritional deficiency causes the behaviour, not the other way around. The damage from this cycle is long-lasting. ”Even years into their recovery, all it takes is a few hours of tryptophan depletion to send some bulimics into relapse. That’s one, maybe two skipped or inadequate meals.”

Shit. And wow.

The book is brimful of such reflections. Get it. Read it. But be delicate before onpassing to your vegan loved one.

2. “49 Reasons to be a Vegetarian: a Rebuttal”, by Jenny at Nourished Kitchen

This is not an annotated read, but does give a good overview of nutritional points to think about, as well as environmental and ethical factors. It’s all about HOW you eat and buy your meat, summed up by rebuttal #5:

The claim: Tropical forests in Brazil and other tropic regions are destroyed daily, in part, to create more acreage to raise livestock.

Jenny’s rebuttal: No argument here: don’t buy your meat from Brazil, buy it locally.

3. “I’m not a Vegan Anymore”, a post by Alex Jamieson

Alex is girlfriend to Supersize Me‘s Morgan Spurlock and she recently shared why she switched to eating meat. I don’t mean to flag a bunch of unhappy vegans to make any particular point. But I thought it might be interesting for meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike to be aware of the tough issues a waivering vegan faces. I should highlight, she also realises she’d developed an eating disorder from being a vegan.

4. Meat: A Benign Extravagance, by Simon Fairlie

I’ve only just started reading this one. But this much I’ve gathered: Fairlie’s a British farmer and former editor of the Ecologist magazine and he convincingly tears apart the theory that being carnivorous is bad for the planet. He argues for moderation and being aware.

Again, Fairlie’s argument is about the HOW of farming and eating meat. For example, the global average conversion ratio of useful plant food to useful meat is not the 5:1 or 10:1 cited by almost everyone, but less than 2:1. If we stopped feeding edible grain to animals, we could still produce around half the current global meat supply with no loss to human nutrition. In fact it’s a significant net gain. It’s the second half – the stuffing of animals with grain to boost meat and milk consumption, mostly in the rich world – which reduces the total food supply. Cut this portion out and you would create an increase in available food which could support 1.3 billion people. Fairlie argues we could afford to use a small amount of grain for feeding livestock, allowing animals to mop up grain surpluses in good years and slaughtering them in lean ones.

Note once more with emphasis: In Australia, lamb is almost wholly pasture fed and most beef is too. Grain is used in times of drought etc. And in such cases only grain that’s not fit for human consumption is used.

He also combats the water argument (that it requires 100,000 litres of water to produce every kilogram of beef). He points out that this claim arose from the absurd assumption that every drop of water that falls on a pasture disappears into the animals that graze it, never to re-emerge.

Then there’s the “livestock are responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions” line. Fairlie shows that this claim – based on studies in the Amazon – attributes all deforestation that culminates in cattle ranching in the Amazon to cattle. In reality it is mostly driven by land speculation and logging.

But, as I say, I’ve only just started reading it…

5. “I Was Wrong About Veganism”, by George Monbiot

Fairlie’s Meat: A Benign Extravagance famously convinced Guardian journalist George Monbiot (my thinking woman’s crumpet) that he was wrong about veganism. Monbiot makes the invaluable point – which I cite often, myself – that:

“By keeping out of the debate over how livestock should be kept, those of us who have advocated veganism have allowed the champions of cruel, destructive, famine-inducing meat farming to prevail. It’s time we got stuck in.”

6. “The Importance of Animals“, by Anna Krien.

I think this is an important, reflective read, if you want to explore your thinking further.

7. “Its the Gut Not the Meat”, a post by Chris Kresser.

There was a report in the New York Times a few weeks back claiming red meat causes heart disease. As is so often the case, the study was problematic to the extent that, really, it made no point at all. That’s my take…you might like to form your own. Kresser’s rundown explains it all very neatly. Chris Masterjohn has also published a detailed analysis of the underlying – and flawed – data in the study. Chris has also pulled apart the “meat causes inflammation” argument.

8. Also from Chris Kresser: red meat – even grain-fed – is best.

I could bang on about all the nutritional reasons for eating red meat, debunking all the myths about it somehow correlating to various modern ills, but Chris Kresser does it better. It’s worth a read if you tend to avoid red meat because you’ve been worried about cancer and cholesterol etc.

There’s also this read about whether grass-fed meat is better for you than grain-fed. Grass-fed is. But two things: the difference is not too huge, especially if the PUFAs are your concern. The other is – yes, once again -  that Australian meat is predominantly grass-fed and so it’s not really a concern for us anyway. Our farmers are doing the right thing to start with! Again, Chris Kresser highlights a few factors, including the effect of CLA:

Conjugated linoleic acid CLA exhibits potent antioxidant activity, and research indicates that CLA might be protective against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Beef is one of the best dietary sources of CLA, and grass-fed beef contains an average of 2 to 3 times more CLA than grain-fed beef. This is because grain-based diets reduce the pH of the digestive system in ruminant animals, which inhibits the growth of the bacterium that produces CLA. It’s interesting to note that as a whole, Americans consume far less CLA than people from countries such as Australia, where grass-fed beef tends to be the rule rather than the exception.

9. My favourite read: The Australian perspective, by Professor Mike Archer

My close mate Rosie alerted me to this paper, which she consulted on. It outlines two really important factors.

1. The Australian perspective…with citations. “In Australia 70 per cent of the beef produced for human consumption comes from animals raised on grazing lands with very little or no grain supplements. At any time, only 2% of Australia’s national herd of cattle are eating grains in feed lots; the other 98% are raised on and feeding on grass.”

2. The fact more animals are killed to produce a vegetarian diet. At least 55 sentient animals die to produce 100kg of useable plant protein, two are killed to produce the same amount of useable meat protein.

25 times more animals are killed for a vegan diet 

10. Finally, The China Study: fact or fallacy, by Denise Minger

A lot of people who don’t eat meat cite The China Study, a book by T. Colin Campbell that makes links between meat eating and heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Denise has devoted her life to systematically pulling apart nutritional arguments like the one in this book and does it in the most balanced way. Few are able to fault her scientific precision and she pretty much debunks the whole “plant food diet only” line. She applies her scalpel to Forks Over Knives, too.

I hope this post has been fruitful. My aim is not to swing anyone one way or another, but simply to provide the best reads that have helped me come to my own (always shifting, always malleable) conclusions, and that have helped me garner full respect for all takes on the issue. Feel free to share your thoughts and reads below…with full respect, please!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • http://hailtothenihilist.wordpress.com Hail To The Nihilist

    Sorry, Sarah, but this piece has really proven you as a journalist. It shows that poor argument and loose evidence can form the basis of a story that will satisfy and reenforce the views of many. Perhaps there is a career with Today Tonight for you?

    1. Keith’s health concern and cause are asserted post hoc. The language through which she makes these assertions, ergh, don’t get me started:

    “I don’t know how to describe what happened next. […] I could feel every cell in my body—literally every cell—pulsing. And finally, finally being fed. Oh god, I thought: this is what it feels like to be alive.”

    It’s almost as bad as her philosophical attempt to defend plants and seeds. What, with their “want” and the plight of their “seed babies”.

    To everybody that is compelled to read “The Vegetarian Myth” on the back of this post, do it. However, do so critically and check the facts–something that Keith isn’t’ a deft hand at.

    2. Jamieson’s “I’m not vegan anymore”. I am really disappointed by the way many vegans attacked her. They’re not doing their cause any good and are reinforcing the views of Jamieson’s paleo-apologists.

    I bet, I bet, Jamieson will have a book on the shelves in the next year or so about this experience. And, she will be an airy-fairy spokesperson for the paleo diet.

    My problem with Jamieson’s position is that it is completely self-absorbed. It’s about her and her friends and fitting in. Rather than the animals and their exploitation and their suffering and the irrelevancy of aesthetics in moral judgements.

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    Yabby Reply:

    Ridiculous post. So frustrating. What bold, outrageous and unsubstantiated claims. Sadly, for the animals who will be bred only to die. But good on you for finding a way to feel 100% guilt free about eating meat, and you get paid for it! Bonus!
    Honestly, if you want to eat meat, fine, but why do you have to use your celebrity and status to convince others who may be happy (and healthy) not having animals die to feed their appetites?!? Oh yeah you get paid. For all the rubbish you bang on about not consuming too much I find your posts are so regularly advertisements. This is the most disappointing.
    And I grew up on a farm too so I don’t buy your whole ‘I know better than the average city person’ line.

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    GCake Reply:

    I don’t think these claims are outrageous- Sarah puts a caveat on a lot of them and is just providing different opinions. She isn’t telling us to go out and have a huge steak for lunch she’s just providing us with an alternative view on a subject where I know personally I have only ever been exposed to the benefits of vegan/vegetarianism. Sarah also clealy states that she is open and ‘malleable’ and says that she is not a scientist, without being completely self deprecating, I don’t think she could be more clear on her experience and knowledge.
    I do not see how this is an advertisement either, yes Sarah is a paid spokesperson for the Target100 programme but she’s not claiming that we should all eat more meat, she’s just giving another side of the story. Also, A few days ago, Sarah had a really good blog post on how to cook meat and use a lot of the animal to avoid as much wastage a possible. In fact a lot of Sarah’s blogs have given me great ideas with how to use leftovers (including the bag of chia seeds in my cupboard about to go off).

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    Raspberries and Peanuts Reply:

    Thankyou GCake!
    For remininding some readers that Sarah will highlight many times through any of her posts, that she isn’t pushing in a particular directions, the benifits of supporting local production, having dense nutrition, saving your dollar, sustainability and her experiences.

    Coming from my experience, I’ve suffered from a car accident leaving me in hospital and rehab and with naturopaths, yogis and my excersize physio’s help I’ve recovered to what feels like better than before. Here’s the catch, I was asked and recommended by the doc and naturopath to begin eating meat again (previously a very satisfied prescetarian). It was hard at first but now going back would be a questionable debate. But let me tell you the hardest part… My vegan and vegetarian friends opinions.

    Has anyone else found that because they eat meat (as local grown and raised meat is available I chose this option, but they don’t see that) will have a hard time from those who chose not to be meat eating? Is it just me or does anyone else find vegetarians and vegans bullies? (as I’ve said, my experience)
    I wouldn’t be surprised if due to a lack of proper nutrition, vegetarians and vegans are scientifically proven to be far more moody. Apologies if I’ve insulted anyone, maybe I’ve touched a soft spot. It’s usually bloggers who are veg or sorts who rise up or repost with an attempted rebuttal. There are the perks of beig veg, certainly. I know! But one thing meat eaters need to know is that you don’t need to eat meat more that 3-4 time A WEAK. It’s moderation that’s the concern here. And one thing I and others would appreciate veg’s to do, less pressure (and less dramatasism) please.

    Each to their own, be respectful of others and their opinions/lifestyles. It’s a good deed to voice concern for friends and family or those who ask about their health and your knowledge and experience. I hear all to often, ‘others can chose to eat meat, I’m ok with that’ in blogs and real life. But no one believes the over used and old condescending line.

    Natalie Reply:

    Hi Raspberries and Peanuts, I’m vegetarian and I have never questioned someone’s eating choices, yet without any provocation beyond voicing the fact I am vegetarian (almost always in reply to a question at the table as to why there’s no meat on my plate) I have received countless mocking, condescending and downright rude comments from those who do eat meat about my dietary choices. So it goes both ways. Also your comment on being moody because of lack of proper nutrition is not entirely fair – eating meat does not guarantee proper nutrition either, I’d say there are plenty of meat eaters lacking nutrients necessary for good emotional (and physical) health.

    Hail To The Nihilist Reply:

    I too can claim “not to be a scientist” and then espouse all sorts of nonsense.

    Hail To The Nihilist Reply:

    @ Raspberries and Peanuts – I wouldn’t consider myself a bully. Rather a vocal opponent of animal use. Organisations like MLA could too be referred to as bullies, what with their chunky marketing budget and persuasion tactics. They’re the ones that have the mass effect–a wee solo vegan may influence one or two people in their life.

    If I were your “vegan friend” that you advised you were told by a naturopath to eat meat, I’d question why you’re taking the advice of somebody with no relevant experience or training.

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    Hail To The Nihilist Reply:

    @ Natalie – “I’m vegetarian and I have never questioned someone’s eating choices, yet without any provocation beyond voicing the fact I am vegetarian (almost always in reply to a question at the table as to why there’s no meat on my plate) I have received countless mocking, condescending and downright rude comments from those who do eat meat about my dietary choices.”

    Hear, hear, sister. This, for the most part, is how it happens. You’re minding your own business. You’re asked. They start asking daft things like “How do you get your protein?” And the situation escalates. Weirdly, it’s the overweight people showing down on potato chips and steaks covered in a cream sauce, that tend to be the “nutrition experts” in these exchanges. My response is usually two-fold: (1) Ever met somebody with a protein deficiency? (2) How much protein do YOU eat? Probably too much.

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    Taylor Reply:

    Are you joking Sarah? I am a 36 year old mother I bet that I am fitter, faster, stronger as well as healthier than you on the inside where it counts. You say that you are a spokesperson for the meat industry. Well that discredits you immediately. Readers shouldn’t listen to a work of the rubbish you are spouting here. Instead they should look to actual qualified doctors and nutritionists who are unbiased and not funded by any industry. Instead they should do their own research and I would suggest starting with The China study http://www.tcolincampbell.org or check out the Physicians committee for responsible medicine http://pcrm.org who give actual medically based advice. The Harvard university recently released the healthy food plate which specifically advises to avoid all processed meat. Check it out for a unbiased educated view on what we should be eating for optimum health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/ Vegetarians are not a good example as they tend to eat a lot of dairy which inhibits iron absorption and actually draws calcium from the bones. Don’t believe me? Google it. I am in the best health of my life. Fitter, stronger and full of energy. Two years ago I was a exhausted mother who had digestive problems and difficulty going to the toilet. Trust me people don’t head to heart attack heaven by following this load of boloney.

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    gcake739 Reply:

    Taylor- you seem to have your back up for completely no reason. Sarah clearly states her intentions and says she is no ‘authority’ so there is clearly no hidden agenda. As readers we can proceed with caution and listen to some other views and opinions.

    Also, your claims about being fitter etc. than Sarah are unfounded- there is no way to quantify that. As Sarah has been vocal about her auto immune diseas I think it’s very low to attack her on her health and quite cruel to be honest. Sarah is living the way she thinks is best for her, is very open about her own interests and intentions and blogs about her life and has inspired thousands.

    You put words into Sarah’s mouth and then created an argument.

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    Stormageddon Reply:

    Wow, the China Study is still doing the rounds? I thought that thing was dead and buried!

    I love the irony of people accusing Sarah of dishonesty and then referring to the China Study. Dr Campbell wrote a fantastic piece of fiction, but that’s all it is.

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  • K

    Sorry if I come across as really cynical, but it seems like everything is debunked these days! There’s a debunking of ‘The Vegetarian Myth’ and a debunking of Denise Minger’s debunking of the China Study.

    I feel really bad for those who are still working out which foods are best for them and are trying to sort through all the debunkings and debunking of debunkings.

    Anyway…Personally I don’t eat beef (it just doesn’t work for me) but I do include other meats in my diet.

    And despite being a bit over the term ‘debunked’ I do enjoy these posts because the comments are always really interesting lol :-)

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  • Natalie

    I’m not sure veganism and vegetarianism cause eating disorders, or whether those who are perhaps predisposed to such illness are attracted to these ways of eating precisely because they restrict and cut out large food groups.

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    Kylie Reply:

    My thoughts exactly

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    K Reply:

    Good point Natalie. I’ve heard of people with eating disorders being attracted to meat-dominated low-carb diets for the same reasons.

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    Natalie Reply:

    It does say the nutritional deficiencies from such a diet cause the emotional problems that lead to eating disorders and to be fair, I can’t comment too in-depth on that particular assertion because I haven’t read the book. But I’m a little dubious as to whether causation can definitely be proven, or there’s just a strong correlation. It would be interesting to see if any other diets/ways of eating are also linked to eating disorders. For the record (and completely aware this is only anecdotal) I have been vegetarian for the vast majority of my life and haven’t experienced anything of the sort

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    Gemma Reply:

    I completely agree – I have had anorexia for the past 11 years and have been deeply involved in the recovery community for some of that time. Many people (myself included) used veganism as a cover for not eating when out (it’s the number one tip on ‘pro-ana’ sites). Yet as the paleo movement has become more common, equal numbers have been using paleo as a cover for their restricted eating.

    With regards to the tryptophan – vegetarians should have more of it than paleo eaters as it is carbohydrates that help create seretonin – you need both dairy AND high-starch foods to properly absorb the nutrients required to convert to serotonin.

    Just a thought – I don’t have sources, but it has been told to me by the Eating DIsorders Association, my Western doctor, my Ayurvedic practitioner and my naturopath – all have different agendas but all tried to get me onto raw milk & dates/toast/potato etc together before bed.

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    I would think it would have to do with the kind of eating disorder one had. Paleo is likely more popular in orthorexics, veganism with anorexics. At least that is my experience, anecdotal only.

    Jenna Reply:

    Yes many many psychological journal articles point to this

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  • Krista

    I personally, am in a place where various debunkings of debunkings don’t phase me anymore. I eat meat from a local organic/grass-fed/pastured butcher (though cheaper cuts and not too much, because it’s expensive) because it makes sense. I eat butter and lard because they’ve been around for a lot longer than canola oil.

    Sarah, I think this is an excellent introductory article for those wanting to know more.

    [Reply]

    K Reply:

    I’m glad you’re not phased by the de-bunkings – The more people who are comfortable with their food choices and have found what works for them, the better! :-)

    I’m simply saying that there are some people who do base their food choices on what other people (often with no qualifications) write on the internet.

    They may get confused by the continual debunking and ‘debunking of the debunking’ (I mentioned this because several of the books/articles Sarah has mentioned have been de-bunked)

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  • Sam

    This is such a ridiculous read. So, because me and some of my female friends care about animals we’ll wind up with an eating disorder? That is the dumbest thing I have ever read. And how on earth could vegetarians end up killing more animals.. I eat fresh fruit and vegetables, no ‘plant based proteins’ because I don’t need them.. I have more than enough iron and protein in my body from the plant based foods I eat. And one less person buying meat at the deli means less animals being killed for no reason other than to be on my fork. I totally love that this a paid role for you too, because they will feed you money because you’re a well known journalist, to make people believe that eating meat is not cruel and unethical. Not sorry to say that you’ve lost a reader.

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    V Reply:

    I can’t read this blog anymore.

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  • Camille

    Whatever works…. there are countless arguments for an against. I have read all of them. I put each book down and declare to be paleo! lacto-ovo vegetarian! vegan! raw foodist!
    macrobiotic!
    At the end of the day, each person is different… whatever works for you. I have for years suffered with “regularity”…. only by adopting a vegan diet did I finally conquer this problem. I feel awesome…. however I am sure if I didn’t have this issue and ate meat I would also feel just as awesome…
    We are a people that seem to have lost the middle ground…. jumping from one fad to another…. listen to your body and do what works for you.. oh an if someone offers you the most amazing juicy hamburger.. eat it! And enjoy it, honor it, then go back to doing what works for you.

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    Emily Reply:

    totally agree! :)

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    Brooke Reply:

    Sometimes a big juicy hamburger is called for :)

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    Trevor Otto Reply:

    Camille, I agree 100%.

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    TDMJ Reply:

    Great response! The only thing I feel strongly about these days is that there’s really no room for judgement or self-righteousness, wherever on the dietary spectrum you sit.

    Someone will be able to tear holes (debunk!) your choices – however strict – if they really want to; someone else could have access to the exact same information you do, and still draw a completely different conclusion.

    So, you know what, let’s just focus on education, share information, be kind to each other and respect each other’s decisions! Which I think is Sarah’s message.

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  • http://bebalancedbewell.tumblr.com Kavisha

    I think we need to embrace the fact that we are all different. Meat works for some people, it doesn’t for others. We just have to make sure we are making the best possible choices when we can. Some people thrive off a meat based diet, others thrive off a plant based diet. How boring would the world be if we were all the same?

    Embrace diversity.

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    Kay Reply:

    Yes!

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    Jamie Reply:

    Well if boring meant an end to the animal suffering I’d be pretty happy with boring! My biggest concern is the welfare of animals and the the earth which is in fact suffering. It just so happens vegan ism agrees with my body 100% so that is a bonus!

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    avatar Reply:

    Jamie, several of the reads Sarah proposes are precisely about the impact of vegan food choices on the environment and the killing of animals. A vegan diet does not avoid the killing of animals, nor does it necessarily have less impact on the planet than a carnivorous diet. Food choices are some of the most environmentally important choices you will ever make in your life, but their impacts are less about whether the food is meat/non-meat than about exactly how it was produced. For example, if you eat industrially produced corn, rice and soybeans you are eating the product of perhaps the most energy-intensive (and by that I mean fossil-fuel burning) foodstuffs the world has ever seen, and ones that involve the killing of vast numbers of animals along their clearing, growing, harvest, and storage chains. The fossil fuel inputs are primarily in the form of the fertiliser required, as well as the machinery involved in tilling, harvesting etc. Except of course, if you eat the meat produced by feeding that grain to a cow in a feedlot – that is about ten times worse, and pretty much the worst thing you can do for the planet and other species (not to mention your health). If you eat cattle grazed following a progressive grazing system on uncleared native pastures in areas unsuitable for cropping you are eating perhaps one of the most low-input and most sustainable protein sources possible. If you eat organically grown grains, they will not have been fertilised by fossil fuels, which means they will have been fertilised either by animal/fish manures/wastes (in which case you too are part of the animal production system) or through the growing of nitrogen-fixing crops (like clover). If the latter, the land area required to grow these crops alongside the food crops expands by a factor of three or four, so the land-use advantage of a vegetarian diet will reduce or disappear. Food choices are complex. Vegan/vege diets are not necessarily better either for the environment or in terms of killing of animals – some of them are certainly miles better than some meat choices (particularly much of mainstream conventional production), some of them far worse.

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  • E

    I agree with some of the other comments. Sarah, i usually love your column but this one feels incredibly biased and 100% Pro Meat.
    however, i was still interested as usual by what you had to say and did a tiny bit of desktop research on Tryptophan. (as i am a vegetarian myself)
    Wiki says:
    Tryptophan is a routine constituent of most protein-based foods or dietary proteins – It is particularly plentiful in chocolate, oats, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, bananas, and peanuts – So many veggie options to choose from.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan
    appreciate this might not be the most robust source but then again many of the books you listed above have a vested interest too
    Agree about embracing diversity and doing what’s right for you.

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  • Mia

    The problem I found with vegetarianism, personally, is that I could stuff my face with greens all day long and still not be getting enough iron. In fact I tried this, and my blood results still came back depressingly anemic, with a side lecture from my doctor. Just because a food contains vitamins does not necessarily you will be able to absorb them all.

    I think if you have existing digestive issues (celiac with bouts of collitis, in my case) you need to be very careful before you cut out any food groups that are nutrient dense. Other people with more robust consitutions might thrive on a planty diet. I myself do not.

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    Gemma Reply:

    You can stuff yourself with meat & still not absorb the iron either – iron needs vitamin C to absorb and some people are naturally unable to properly absorb iron.

    In terms of digestive distress, meat & animal products are extremely difficult to digest and often are recommended to be avoided by people with digestive troubles.

    Also the coeliac disease is most likely to be the reason for your anemia, as coeliac disease often leads to malnutrition due to malabsorption.

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    Allison Reply:

    Why do you believe animal products are difficult to digest? Do you have any citations? The people that usually use this argument are vegetarians or vegans and there is no evidence to make this statement. So many people have digestive difficulties with grains, nuts and legumes. Vegetables even…fancy that!

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    Mia Reply:

    Beats me, I’ve never had any issues digesting proteins. The foods I cant handle are wheat, barley, oats and rye. All grains!

    Gemma’s comment mystified me as it had nothing whatsoever to do with my experience. My anemia was from severe menstruation, not celiac disease (I’ve been gluten free for almost a decade now, if anemia had occurred during my undiagnosed phase that might have made sense.) And eating more steak healed me, as evidenced by blood tests. Didn’t even need to stuff my face with it either.

    K Reply:

    I don’t have any issues digesting animal products :-)

    …but if you’re referring to the digestion of certain animal products such as dairy, for certain people (eg. lactose-intolerant people) I believe the issues are well-documented in peer reviewed journals.

    “The enzyme lactase that is located in the villus enterocytes of the small intestine is responsible for digestion of lactose in milk. Lactase activity is high and vital during infancy, but in most mammals, including most humans, lactase activity declines after the weaning phase.

    In other healthy humans, lactase activity persists at a high level throughout adult life, enabling them to digest lactose as adults. This dominantly inherited genetic trait is known as lactase persistence. The distribution of these different lactase phenotypes in human populations is highly variable and is controlled by a polymorphic element cis-acting to the lactase gene.”

    GENETICS OF LACTASE PERSISTENCE AND LACTOSE INTOLERANCE
    Annual Review of Genetics
    Vol. 37: 197-219 (Volume publication date December 2003)

    [Reply]

    Gemma Reply:

    Hi Mia,

    That was just my anecdotal evidence regarding the coeliac disease & anemia – my doctor has suggested that it has caused a number of issues with malnutrition for me which became apparent when taking supplements made no difference to my blood tests. It should obviously fix itself when remaining strictly gluten-free, although cross-contamination is a problem for me as I travel to countries where it is very difficult to avoid.

    I completely agree with grains, legumes & cruciferous vegetable being difficult to digest & I avoid them, but, again anecdotally, I know a number of people who find meat difficult to digest, mostly due to more food combining and because it is one of the more difficult to foods to digest, simply because it is heavy, rather than ‘toxic’.

    This is also in line with the practice of Ayurveda which centers around building a healthy digestion. Ayruveda suggests avoiding meat, choosing white rice as the primary grain and by properly preparing and cooking grains, legumes and cruciferous vegetables.

    I guess my point was that meat, vegetable or other, if the food is unable to be digested properly, or the nutrients properly absorbed then it doesn’t really matter how nutrient dense the food is.

    By the way – I’m all for bone broth. Not for me, for my own reasons regarding veganism, but I feel like if you’re going to add in meat that is a sustainable, health-promoting way to do it.

    K – thanks for the link on lactose intolerance. I’ve never been able to tolerate dairy, but the more I hear the more I think most people should be staying away from it.

  • San

    First thing that attracted my attention on Target100 was the “Farmer Stories”.

    I strongly believe in the importance of connecting with these people, learning what they do, what they don’t do and how we can help them survive in this very competitive environment. We all know it’s about simplicity; it’s about connecting with our roots and slowing down.

    I grew up on a farm and maybe I’m biased but I love to know where my food comes from. However, in this busy life and city living in vertical communities I forgot – I forgot what my grandpa thought me about healthy life and healthy thinking. And I’m ashamed.

    San

    [Reply]

  • Kelly

    Thank you for the resources, Sarah. What resonated with me (from one of your previous posts, I think) was the argument that animals are part of everyone’s diet – whether they actually eat the meat or not. For that reason the aims of Target 100 should be celebrated. It’s great to see they post “completed” on initiatives and continue to add more.

    [Reply]

  • elle

    I went to the Virtual Farm thing for Target 100 in Martin Place earlier this year which was quite interesting. I’ve also been reading on the website about farming and the environment. I am especially interested in how Climate Change is affecting farming!

    I was a vegetarian for 10 years (from age 12) and have just last year started eating meat again. I am super careful with where my meat comes from and I started eating it again after much research and hoping to improve my health. I am going to stick with it for now!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hi Elle,
    We’d love to give you one of the TedX tickets – please email jo@sarahwilson.com.au to claim your ticket! x

    [Reply]

  • Kate Hensley

    The most important thing that Target 100 does is make information presentable and accesible,on a topic not readily clear or understandable to the average consume. An informed and educated Australia is surely a better outcome for all, human or animal.

    Well done Sarah for again making us think.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hi Kate,
    We’d love to give you one of the TedX tickets – please email jo@sarahwilson.com.au to claim your ticket! x

    [Reply]

  • Priscilla

    Thanks Sarah for opening up this conversation and giving us all a chance to explore these issues from a different perspective. Your courage for posting this (knowing full well how emotionally charged it is) should be admired and I appreciate it.

    I took a look at the Target 100 site for the first time today and am thoroughly impressed with their vision and strategy. Went ahead and gave them a like on facebook too. Listing out their initiatives and goals is great and I love the transparency. I would love to see a more developed section on “now, here’s what YOU can do,” for all parties that may be interested in spending some time on their site. Maybe some more infographics for the public? Get a lot of info communicated to us quickly, rather than having to read through several articles etc.

    Hope you keep working with them Sarah, I’m really interested in all the research you’re doing. Keep it up!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hi Priscilla,
    We’d love to give you one of the TedX tickets – please email jo@sarahwilson.com.au to claim your ticket! x

    [Reply]

  • Priscilla

    Importante question here Sarah ;-) So, since most aussie beef sustain themselves on greens vs. grains (yay!) are most of them also hormone free? I’m an expat, so when I head to the butcher and see all the labeling I often wonder is this relevant to the Australian industry? Is it just marketing? What’s the deal with added hormones here?

    [Reply]

  • Brooke

    I have been on the target 100 site multiple times looking at the farmers stories. My other half lives in a rural area and has introduced to the farm lifestyle (his house backs onto property with some black angus cows) and all I can say is how much I adore it. I thank him for introducing me to many of his mates that have property and one of the issues they face at the moment is the feral pigs and dog population and how much this harms their livestock and livelihood so I was really impressed with the target100 site and how the have multiple initiatives on how to tackle this problem humanely (I personally am not a fan of the “pig hunt” style of control but understand at times it is necessary).
    I have shown my other half this website as well as – he is very interested in everything farming and agriculture (he is even thinking of going back to study it) and is taken away by some of the initiatives being undertaken :)
    He would be blown away if he could attend TEDxSydney (he was one of the 10,000 but not one of the lucky 2,200 to be selected) – he was going to go down and see what was on show for the public but if he could go in and attend it would definitely make his year.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hey Brooke,
    We’d love to give you one of the TedX tickets – please email jo@sarahwilson.com.au to claim your ticket! x

    [Reply]

  • Melodey

    I can’t even finish reading your article because it has just dumbfounded me so much. I am offended that you link vegetarian lifestyle to a mental disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. I have fought anorexia and becoming vegetarian came after that battle and I eat MORE food now. A lifestyle choice is a completely different thing to a mental disorder. Eating healthy vegetarian has also helped me to manage my bipolar.
    Not to even begin to mention the cruelty involved in killing animals for eating…

    [Reply]

  • Lauren

    You have the right to comment and voice your opinion on the benefits of a meat-based diet, but that doesn’t mean you have to bash the crap out of the food choices vegans and vegetarians make. And to assume their food choices are based on anorexia and bulimia, when in fact most of us choose to eat plant-based because we are conscious of how our food choices impact our earth and our bodies- and we don’t believe in causing pain or killing other living beings. You are totally belittling the ethics and morals or vegans and vegetarians! Not a very balanced article either- the title is 10 beefy reads for vegans and meat lovers, yet all the opinions you mentioned are totally biased! I would ‘encourage you to read and learn’ about plant-based diets- oh hold on, you wouldn’t get paid for that would you??

    [Reply]

  • http://www.twovegangirls.com.au Kelly

    Clearly your brief from the meat industry is to do whatever you can to challenge the growing awareness that veganism is the best way for people to live for every reason – selfless and selfish. It’s alarmist and contrived. I rolled my eyes and went back to actual journalism and science. Give it a rest Sarah.

    [Reply]

    avatar Reply:

    Oh please! A little maturity! When you’ve finished rolling your eyes, I would be interested to hear your substantive arguments. I think Sarah is sharing her thoughts and what she has learnt – perhaps you could do the same?

    [Reply]

  • Verity

    I have a book called The Yoga of Eating, which I bought, quite literally, because it was written by a MEAT EATING YOGI. He makes the excellent point that our culture is chronically afraid of death and dying – but what is so bad about death? It comes to all of us, and we may as well accept it and look it respectfully in the eye, with thanks for the gifts our animals give us.

    [Reply]

    Kay Reply:

    I just googled that book – it looks really interesting :-)

    (a link to it if others are interested http://www.amazon.com/Yoga-Eating-Transcending-Nourish-Natural/dp/0967089727 )

    I’m not a vegetarian, but I think for some, it’s the treatment of the animals before death that is the concern. And you’re right – being respectful and showing gratitude for lives taken is important.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.slowingit.blogspot.com.au/ Michelle Ellis

    Thank you Sarah for putting yourself out there and stimulating dialogue on this important topic. It’s fantastic that so many people query the implication of what they eat, and make their choices in a mindful and considered way. I’d dearly love to see more people engaging with issues surrounding food production, and listening to alternatives with curious and open minds, regardless of their personal conclusions.

    I was vegan for several years and recently began eating meat again. That decision was fraught with angst and confusion – I strongly relate to Alex Jameison’s post, and I look forward to reading more of the texts you recommend.

    In the ‘meat vs vegearian/vegan’ debate many people naturally feel very strongly about their position and can feel attacked by others whose views differ. I hope the discussion remains respectful, but either way, I am thrilled that it is being had at all. Thanks again for putting it out there.

    [Reply]

  • Brooke

    I second that

    [Reply]

    Jo Reply:

    I ‘third’ that.

    [Reply]

  • C

    If someone can please explain how a vegan diet can kill more animals than a meat eating, That would be great. The only way I can fathom this idea if it’s me and all the cows in a field fighting for food. ;)

    [Reply]

    avatar Reply:

    Why no! It is because a vast number of animals has to be killed to grow grain. This is because of the wholesale clearing of land initially, followed by the massacres caused by the passage of the harvester, followed by (the major cause of mortality generally) the mass poisoning of rodents to keep grain stores free of pests. This issue is discussed by Michael Pollan in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” who concludes that eating (very large) cows is probably the most life-sparing way to eat, and in the Australian context numbers have been put to this argument and found to support it by Mike Archer in the article cited by Sarah above (http://theconversation.com/ordering-the-vegetarian-meal-theres-more-animal-blood-on-your-hands-4659).

    [Reply]

  • avatar

    Brave post Sarah – taking on the vegan mafia is not easy! And why do they always come across as so cranky and aggressive? Lacking a few emollient saturated fats perhaps?! A great set of reads here – I particularly recommend the Simon Fairlie book.

    [Reply]

    BrisVegasVego Reply:

    I think some of the vegans and vegetarians might sound cranky because they feel like they’ve been attacked.Which they kind of have, considering most come here to learn about sugar free living. I was going to buy the ebook, but won’t now.

    I appreciate that Sarah has disclosed her financial interests and used numerous studies, not all of which are rubbish, and that she by fighting for Target 100 she is supporting some better cattle and farming practices in Australia, but I think the suggestion that vegan/vegos are more likely to have eating disorders, or that the WILL develop eating disorders, is fighting dirty and the main cause of offence. We vegos are used to being challenged, but saying we’re developing eating disorders is uncalled for. No wonder the veg readers are “cranky and aggressive”.

    [Reply]

    Ms Jane Reply:

    Ha! That’s funny!

    [Reply]

    K Reply:

    Cranky? Like Sam Kekovich?

    [Reply]

    Hail To The Nihilist Reply:

    I wouldn’t consider any of my posts to come across as “cranky” or “aggressive”. Actually, perhaps the first paragraph of the one I posted above is, but hey, it’s valid nonetheless.

    I’m with BrisVegasVego in appreciating that Sarah disclosers her interests. However, the very fact that they exist ought to rise more caution in her audience. She is a paid mouthpiece for an industry. Whatever she says is likely to be consistent with the objectives of that industry. Therefore, never will you read any valid, critical analysis of it. Therefore, if you lap up everything she says you’re likely to be committing confirmation bias.

    [Reply]

  • http://don'thaveone LC

    It seems obvious– eat just a little meat and make sure it is local, ethically-sourced and organic! Otherwise, avoid it at all costs.

    On a completely different topic– I’d love to see a post on Yeast/Candida overgrowths in the intestines. I know the diet is similar to the low-sugar one you advocate and would love to hear more about it!

    [Reply]

  • Yabby

    Ridiculous post. So frustrating. What bold, outrageous and unsubstantiated claims. Sadly, for the animals who will be bred only to die. But good on you for finding a way to feel 100% guilt free about eating meat, and you get paid for it! Bonus!
    Honestly, if you want to eat meat, fine, but why do you have to use your celebrity and status to convince others who may be happy (and healthy) not having animals die to feed their appetites?!? Oh yeah you get paid. For all the rubbish you bang on about not consuming too much I find your posts are so regularly advertisements. This is the most disappointing.
    And I grew up on a farm too so I don’t buy your whole ‘I know better than the average city person’ line.

    [Reply]

  • Jess

    Sarah, there is one more valuable website to add to your list called,

    http://www.beyondveg.com

    The author Thomas Billings has over 30yrs documented his experiences with veganism, raw food, vegetarianism, etc. and has written some amazing articles on the dangers of those diets. The website is a little difficult to navigate and needs a makeover, but it’s worth picking through the articles, I promise you will find a few gems. The take away message I got from this website is that the failure to thrive on these experimental diets is not worth the risk to your health. Veganism is a noble cause and one I always aspired to, but after 7 yrs as a vegan I was left with serious health issues and deficiencies. Veganism is a social experiment that is less than 70yrs old, which pales in comparison to mans 7million year history of eating animals.

    [Reply]

  • http://nataliemather.com natalie

    first of all: this article – http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201211/youre-vegetarian-have-you-lost-your-mind – makes the altogether more detailed correlation that women are statistically far more likely to be vegetarian, and being female, they are also statistically at a much higher risk of depression, anxiety, etc. it’s also very difficult to alter blood tryptophan levels through diet alone – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1601-5215.2010.00508.x/abstract – so one missed meal would not likely spark a regression into disordered eating. i would also like to agree with the previous commenters who pointed out that vegetarianism is not necessarily causation for eating disorders, but rather, that women with disordered eating frequently use restrictive diets as covers for their disease in public.

    as a dietary vegan who strives to be ethically and environmentally responsible, i am always interested in reading what you have to offer, however biased. i admire your dedication to a waste-free food production cycle. i have noticed, however, that your treatises on food and food consumption preclude emotional accountability as a reason for being vegan – the desire to cause as little suffering as possible. being opposed to the use of animals as food – the view of animals as food. the fundamental point for many vegans being that animal use in human food is a kind of cultural bullying, an assertion of speciesist rank – a point which for many, chafes. I feel emotionally responsible for the animals that are killed in any food production process, and that dictates what I eat. these are strong words, I know, and are certainly not something i’d ever bring up under normal circumstances, but i feel like you sometimes neglect these key points when weighing up the pros and cons of these diets.

    [Reply]

    Kay Reply:

    Thanks for the link re tryptophan. I found this bit interesting:

    “…general media articles often recommend diets and foods to increase blood tryptophan levels and raise brain serotonin levels. Such recommendations are not supported by scientific studies.”

    [Reply]

    Grace Reply:

    Great points Natalie, well written. I too feel an emotional responsibility in regard to killing animals for food and often feel frustrated that Sarah chooses to only paddle in the shallows when discussing food choices.

    [Reply]

  • Sarah

    I love seeing all these comments flooding in – because it shows that Sarah’s strategy of writing inflammatory posts attracts attention, which get her more blog visitors, and up her book and blog advertising sales figures. Well done. I wouldn’t buy any of these books or read these articles, except for if there was one called “how to write inflammatory posts to make money”.

    [Reply]

  • Amy Lou

    I’d just like to say I am surprised by the aggressive nature of a lot of the comments above. It’s one thing to disagree and voice your opinion, but by simply getting angry & defensive and attacking someone else you do little to further your own credibility.

    Aside from this, why shouldn’t Sarah make money from promoting something she believes in? I see no issue at all with this, particularly when she is always quite transparent about it.

    There are certainly points raised on this blog which I have not initially agreed with, but which have caused me to be thoughtful about the issues raised. Surely we can all benefit from hearing a different point of view, even if we eventually conclude that we disagree?

    I, for one, welcome all future thought-provoking posts! :)

    [Reply]

    Jo Reply:

    here here

    [Reply]

  • Dominic

    The comment “that Australian meat is predominantly grass-fed and so it’s not really a concern for us anyway. Our farmers are doing the right thing to start with” Is true but its not the majority of beef that ends up on our dinner plates.
    The vast majority of beef on Australian dinner plates unfortunately is Grain fed. This is not good

    [Reply]

    K Reply:

    I believe up until 30 years ago, all Australian cattle was grass fed, but now grain-fed is becoming more common in Australia. This report from SBS states:

    “…in total in Australia only about one-third – 2.7 million head – are grain fed.
    Now the big supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths are driving the demand for grain fed meat for its consistent quality, size and because it is cheaper than grass fed.”

    http://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/3806/demystifying_beef

    [Reply]

    K Reply:

    This article from CHOICE is interesting too:

    “Dougal Gordon, CEO of the Australian Lot Feeders’Association, the peak national body for the feedlot industry, says that in addition to this, consumer demand for grain-fed beef has encouraged feedlot “finishing” of cattle. Grain-fed beef has a softer texture and richer flavour than pasture-fed beef. In order to market beef as “grain fed” in Australia, cows must spend between 60 and 70 days in a feedlot on a high-protein grain diet. For export, this requirement increases to 100 days”

    “Australia currently has about 600 accredited feedlots and according to Gornon, between 70-80% of all cattle produced for our two major supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, spend 60 – 70 days in a feedlot before being taken to the abattoir”

    http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/food-and-health/food-and-drink/groceries/beef-from-paddock-to-plate.aspx

    [Reply]

    Hail To The Nihilist Reply:

    Not to mention that chicken, which Australians are eating more of, is mostly all grain-fed.

    [Reply]

    Jenna Reply:

    I happened by the Target 100 event in Martin Place and one of their ‘sustainable farmers’ even said that she ‘finishes’ the cattle by feeding them grain as well. Oh yes, that would be the grain that kills mice in fields etc that apparently only vegans eat?

    [Reply]

  • Sarah Wilson

    Hi Bess,
    We’d love to give you one of the TedX tickets – please email jo@sarahwilson.com.au to claim your ticket! x

    [Reply]

  • Megan

    I am a meat eater who hates sloppy science. Your heading “vegetarians become anorexics and bulimics” is totally misleading. Basic statistics tells us that correlation does not equal causation. After all, 90% of women admitted to maternity hospitals have a baby, does this means going to a maternity hospital causes you to have a baby?

    There are many possible reasons who there is a high rate of vegetarianism in people with ED’s. For one, they are more likely to be conscious of what they eat and want to avoid calorie-dense food. Does this mean that being a vegetarian CAUSED them to get an ED.

    RE: tryphon, you can buy supplements (it is often given to norty horses).

    [Reply]

  • Allison

    I applaud Sarah’s bravery in writing this, because no doubt she is going to get a LOT of anger and criticism coming her way.

    Where she has gone wrong though is where she writes that “vegetarians become anorexics and bulimics”. I think she could have more correctly written that “there is a higher correlation between vegetarianism and eating disorders than omnivorism and eating disorders”.

    The GPs that I see specialise in treating zinc and copper imbalances and a vegetarian diet is one risk factor for ending up with a low zinc:copper ratio. Enlightened medical professionals are well aware of how important zinc is in maintaining emotional and behavioural balance. I am not vegetarian myself, but I have a low zinc:copper problem – so, eating meat definitely does not protect everyone from this problem (in my case, it’s due to a genetic defect so I excrete way too much zinc) but a vegetarian diet is a risk factor for developing this imbalance.

    Unfortunately, Sarah hasn’t really explained the rationale behind this so I can absolutely understand why so many people are upset.

    [Reply]

    j.l.s Reply:

    I am always interested in peoples view on the consumption of meat. I think it is clear that we all need to be very sensitive to each others views on self nourishment. I would love if Sarah could be more mindful in the future of the history and emotion surrounding this particular topic. I subscribed to these emails in the hope that it would contain inspiration on my quest for wellbeing. Sarahs post was a great disappointment, the posts to follow however have been thought provoking and spirited!

    Allison, I have been recently diagnosed with the metabolic disorder you described. I am just learning about the importance of zinc. I have not eaten meat in over 10 years and have struggled with my mental health (struggles that predate my vegetarianism, for the record) if you know of any resources about zinc or metabolic disorders, I’d love it if you could share them! You sound well read and I’d be interested in any info you have. Thanks to all who have contributed, very interesting reading!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.nadiashealtholution.com Nadia

    Sarah, as a journalist and health nut myself, I’d challenge you to add Jonathon Safran Foer’s ‘Eating Animals’ to your list of investigative readings on this topic and see how you feel about the disgustingly inhumane, barbaric cruelty that is an absolute ingrained part of the animal production process today, including – intetestingly – ‘organic’ meats. Like you, I like to research all sides of an issue as thoroughly as possible, and for me, it was a real eye opener, and I could not in good conscious continue eating something that I couldn’t one hundred per cent of the time be one hundred per cent certain had not undergone immense torture to make its way to my plate.

    [Reply]

  • Jo

    For all the criticisms of Sarah and her reporting, perhaps you could go back and read the article again. Sarah herself has not stated that “vegetarians become bulimics and anorexics” but that Lierre Keith did, and that she was shocked by the statement. It’s just an opinion, not a criticism of anyone’s eating habits, which the entire world is entitled to.

    [Reply]

    Gemma Reply:

    I think promoting that idea full stop is insensitive. It is not possible to just “fall into” anorexia or bulimia. Many people have disordered eating, but those people who experience full-blown eating disorders are triggered by something within themselves or their circumstances, not food. There is a significant different between a pre-occupation with food and a mental illness.

    Rates of anorexia have remained steady across hundreds of years and occur in all countries, including those with limited access to food/no western pre-occupation with food. In these instances the cover for anorexia becomes spiritual fasting/purity/cleansing/being clean rather than being healthy/vegan/paleo/being thin. Obviously no one would suggest that Buddhist monks who spiritually fast become anoretics and bulimics, so why suggests that vegetarians do?

    Also, to be picky, the correct spelling is “anoretics” not “anorexics”.

    [Reply]

    Allison Reply:

    You’re right – I do think she could have exercised some more critical thinking though and pointed out that Keith’s point is correlation not necessarily causation, as someone else has pointed out above. I personally would love to see some well-designed studies done in to this problem as I know from experience (and those in a support group) that low zinc states wreak havoc on emotional and mental health. My best friend has been vegetarian for a long time and developed bulimia in the last two years – I am sure she has many nutritional deficiencies contributing to the bulimia but she is so stubborn there is no way I can get her to see my doctor. It is so incredibly hard to watch her suffer.

    [Reply]

    Lea Reply:

    I’m not entirely satisfied by that, Jo. It’s obvious the statement isn’t from Sarah herself but she doesn’t do much to question it.

    “* She explains why she wound up with irreversible and crippling (literally) health conditions, then makes the startling point:

    vegetarians become anorexics and bulimics.

    Up to 50 per cent of women seeking treatment for eating disorders are vegetarian. It’s not a loose correlation, nor one that feeds the other way.”

    … “It’s not a loose correlation, nor one that feeds the other way”.

    Irresponsible and offensive.

    [Reply]

  • Heidi

    this post is a paid advertisement for the meat industry, nothing more. The sources cited are individuals personal opinions, blog posts and books. This is not sufficient evidence to justify the (unnecessary) eating of animal products. For example, the “debunking” of the China Study is a blog post by a student objecting to the largest nutritional study ever written by Cornell University. yeah right!

    Get your nutritional information from reputable and scientifically sound sources, not paid advertisements like this blog.

    Start with http://www.nutritionfacts.org

    [Reply]

  • Jamie

    Having just recently decided to go on a path to becoming vegetarian and soon vegan this is a hard pill to swallow.

    I have lecturers/scientists that I admire who agree that the consumption of meat is a great stress on our environment.

    The problem is that it is one in a vast number of farms that raise there animals in a sustainable way. Not to mention the scale of these farms. The capacity to which they stock these paddocks etc. I used to think that sustainable was enough but I no longer believe this.

    It is is changing the eating habit of society that we will start our road to recovering the environment, changing the habit of what and how much we eat.

    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1754/20122845.full

    [Reply]

    Taylor Reply:

    Good luck Jamie :)

    [Reply]

  • http://hailtothenihilist.wordpress.com Hail To The Nihilist

    How many paleos here?

    [Reply]

    avatar Reply:

    I’m a wannabe paleo but can’t resist sourdough!

    [Reply]

  • Jess

    By ancient times, you mean Greek and Roman? well that was only a few thousand years ago and again I stress that is nothing to compared to millions of years of man eating animals. Are there any records from these “ancient times” that confirm veganism was active? and what was the health like of these people? Do you think they were conscious non-animal eaters or just couldn’t afford to keep and eat animals? Any records/research you can provide would be helpful.

    [Reply]

  • avatar

    Everything I have read on the topic indicates that there is not a single traditional society practising a vegan diet. There are a small number of cultures following a vegetarian diet, with high levels of dairy (e.g. everything cooked in ghee). When Weston Price travelled the world early 20th C documenting traditional diets he searched particularly for vegan ones in order to examine the effect on dentition – he found none.

    [Reply]

  • avatar

    Yes, people do need to be aware that farming systems in Australia are currently a world away from practices in the US, where a lot of the (very well-founded) criticism of the animal production system stems from. Let’s hope it stays that way, or better, outlaws the elements of intensive feeding and production we so far have…

    [Reply]

  • avatar

    Allan Savory is a master.

    [Reply]

  • avatar

    I haven’t read this and would like more information on it. I would be keen to know whether any of them are actually vego, particularly children and childrearing women?

    [Reply]

  • Jenna

    The livestock facilities in the US and Australia are the same (designed by a woman called Temple Grandin) and if the last instances of abuse uncovered lately by Animal Lib are anything to go by the violent treatment of the animals is the same too.

    [Reply]

  • http://suchdifferentskies.com Tara – Such Different Skies

    Too right!

    Eat (consciously!) whatever you think makes you feel alive and strong.

    Enough said.

    [Reply]

  • Lea

    I find this post irresponsible to the point of being offensive. As somebody who is purportedly so interested and concerned with making ethical eating choices, I’m disappointed you would write off vegetarianism/veganism this way.

    I am ovo-lacto vegetarian. My reasons for eating this way are I believe it is completely unnecessary for farmed animals to suffer as they do. Enough has been said about that, I don’t need to explain it further. But because of my decision to include dairy and egg products in my diet, I am careful to educate myself on the practices dairy and egg farms use. I choose local produce first and foremost, and if it’s not available, I go without. I’m smart, it’s not difficult to find the nutrients your body needs.

    I also live with a meat eating partner. It’s his decision to eat meat and I won’t try to change his mind. But I can help make choices on which produce to buy and where from. We live perfectly happily together, and this balance is what you should be trying to illustrate, Sarah. It is fantastic that you go to such lengths to educate people on the most sustainable and ethic meat eating choices. As a vegetarian, I wholeheartedly applaud that about you. This is where I agree with George Monbiot – we should be part of the debate, and we can be.

    THIS statement is where you lost me: vegetarians become anorexics and bulimics. No ‘some’ vegetarians, no ‘can’ become, no nothing. I completely agree with another commenter’s query regarding the restrictive eating habits of someone prone to an eating disorder choosing vegetarianism or veganism as a shield. I know this happens. I know somebody who does it. How dare you make such a strenuous link and not attempt to question it.

    Please continue on your search for the most environmentally sustainable and ethical, cruelty free ways to source your animal products. But you cannot continue to rule out vegetarianism as a way of justifying your eating decisions. It simply isn’t fair.

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  • Alex

    Even if meat is local or organic, sustainable, what cave people ate, most healthful etc. some people – myself included believe it is fundamentally wrong to kill/use animals for food and so we don’t. (the argument about millions of sentient beings – field mice being killed by combine harvestors is nonsense, sure if I buy some imported GMO frankenfood made with soybeans from a cleared amazonian rainforest, but you can use the same argument you use for cattle eating grain in the US, its about whats available in Australia and it’s about the choices the individual consumer makes) What I don’t understand is why people feel the need to “enlighten” me as to why my beliefs are wrong. I certainly don’t go around telling people to stop eating corpses, raping cows, stealing their babies and their milk, as much as I would like to, I don’t because its not up to me to tell you how to live your life, nor is it anybody elses to tell me how to live mine. That information is out there for people to find themselves and I would say the vast majority of people who choose to be vegetarian or vegan, do so after careful research and planning so they can live their life in a way they feel ethically comfortable with. So again, why do I need to be converted or convinced that my decision not to consume animal products is wrong?!

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  • Taylor

    Are you joking Sarah? I am a 36 year old mother and I bet that I am fitter, faster, stronger and a whole lot healthier on the inside where it counts than you are. You say that you are a spokesperson for the meat industry. Well that discredits you immediately. Readers shouldn’t listen to a word of the rubbish you are spouting here. Instead they should look to actual qualified doctors and nutritionists who are unbiased and not funded by any industry. Instead they should do their own research and I would suggest starting with The China study http://www.tcolincampbell.org or check out the Physicians committee for responsible medicine http://pcrm.org who give actual medically based advice. The Harvard university recently released the healthy food plate which specifically advises to avoid all processed meat. Check it out for an unbiased educated view on what we should be eating for optimum health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/ Vegetarians are not a good example as they tend to eat a lot of dairy which inhibits iron absorption and actually draws calcium from the bones. Don’t believe me? Google it. I am in the best health of my life. Fitter, stronger and full of energy. Two years ago I was a exhausted mother who had digestive problems and difficulty going to the toilet. Trust me people don’t head to heart attack heaven by following this load of boloney.

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  • Leah

    Sarah, You have no ethics.

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