Why I Don’t Recommend How Not To Die

I have not been silent about my criticism of Michael Greger, I wrote criticism of him on various sites, often to harsh criticism of me. Many people are unwilling to see Greger as anything but this all-knowing infallible fantastic vegan god, but he is about as much as an expert on nutrition as I am. Neither of us has a degree in Nutrition, for example. But people are still unwilling to accept that he is just a guy, and he cherry-picks more than anyone I have ever met, besides maybe Vani Hari.

Although I detest Authority Nutrition as a source, as it is a really biased source that seems to suck the toes of unqualified quacks like Weston Price and push supplements and diets for something our body naturally makes, like Vitamin K2, but this post was written just a couple of days ago actually does a really good job in pointing out all the cherries picked by the wannabe nutritionist. Now if only they’d notice the cherries they pick themselves…

Now not to say that Michael Greger is wrong on all counts, even the Authority Nutrition article admits that a fair but of what Greger says is true and useful. However, criticism is not a bad thing, and I personally refuse to trust him on the basis that he only picks studies that he deems beneficial for himself and his preconceived notions.

But aside from all the cherry-picking, there is one real big reason that I really dislike this book:

It pushes the fallacious idea that vegans are immune to disease and possibly won’t die. 

Now I know that sounds crazy, as he says at the end of his book that “everyone is
going to die eventually. It’s about how not to die prematurely.”

But at the beginning, he says:

“There may be no such thing as dying from old age. From a study of more than forty-two
thousand consecutive autopsies, centenarians—those who live past one hundred
—were found to have succumbed to diseases in 100 percent of the cases examined.
Though most were perceived, even by their physicians, to have been healthy just
prior to death, not one “died of old age.” Until recently, advanced age had been
considered to be a disease itself, but people don’t die as a consequence of maturing.
They die from disease, most commonly heart attacks.”

This is especially worrisome when you consider that many vegans consider veganism to be a metaphorical philosophers stone, and they will refuse to get a colon examination to check for colon cancer. They will refuse to get mammograms on the belief that vegans don’t drink milk, and won’t get breast cancer. They think that Gerson Therapy, a plant-based vegan quack juice diet, will cure you of advanced cancer. Also, there is a huge idea that any time that anyone has cancer, that it has to be due to the consumption of animal products, like in the case of Furious Pete. Many vegans even go as far as to say a plant-based diet can treat depression and anxiety as a replacement for pills… that’s total crap!

Now with all these vegans running under the false assumption that they cannot get cancer or other diseases, they are more likely to do other risky things, like not getting checkups. Pushing this idea that nobody dies of old age, that they die of disease, while immediately talking about how a vegan diet cuts your disease risk to very small numbers, meanwhile downplaying the role of genetics. This will put into the mind of many people that “Hey, a vegan diet lowers my risk of a heart attack by 90%, so an extra serving of coconut butter is practically healthy!” In fact, I have heard commonly that a junk food vegan diet is healthier than a whole food diet that contains some animal products, so this idea does not seem too out of the blue.

Spreading a message that a vegan may be able to cheat death if they just eat enough strawberries and curry powder does not seem to be helpful at all. Books like Ginny Messina’s (A real registered dietitian) Even Vegans Die is an excellent testiment to help vegans realize that they are not this bulletproof shield that can reverse, prevent, and eliminate diseases and cause us to live forever! Just realize that vegans are human. Vegans get sick. Vegans get diseases. Learning this sooner, rather than later, will help prevent a great deal of shock when their Icarus Complex fades and a random disease they believed they were immune to hits them like a set of bricks.

Greger did not make his title “How not to die prematurely” as he knew that would not sell as well. So he seems to have catered to the worries and woes of vegans, and of vegans struggling with so many fellow vegans urging them to drop their meds and follow a plant-based diet (I have severe acid reflux and was off and on vegan for over a year. The months and months that I was vegan, however, I still had severe acid reflux. It got better after I took medication. A vegan diet did jack squat to cure me). This can be potentially hazardous, as many people have gotten ill after refusing medication in favor of a vegan diet.

He cherry picks, he isn’t qualified to make any statements about nutrition as he does, and he promotes (or at least portrays) a very dangerous idea amongst vegans (He also promotes organic foods, which often puts animals through cruel and harsh testing to push an agenda), so is it of any surprise that I don’t support his book? He may be right on many things in the book, but his obvious bias and harmful ideas push me away.

Meal Prep: Freezer Burritos

Nothing is as versatile and tasty as a homemade burrito! That is why the idea of this meal prep tip is so genius! I, however, am not the first, or last, person to think up this concept. I actually got this idea from Mind Over Munch, and it’s a fantastic way of getting in vegetables and nutrition on those days or times when you are just too lazy to do any full-on cooking.

So what I did was take some tortillas, and put them to the side. In a skillet, I add freshly peeled and diced potatoes and cook them until they start getting crispy on each side. I often cook them with canola oil and a myriad of seasonings.

After they are cooked I set them aside, and sautee some peppers and onions. After I set those aside I start to cook a rinsed can of black beans and some kale. Now put them all together in whatever way and quantity you desire (I like mine with a lot of potatoes and sauteed veggies), and wrap them up in plastic wrap. Any extra ingredients can be frozen as well, or combined to make a delicious burrito bowl!

Now wrap up the burrito, place it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and put it in the freezer. When you want to eat it, just take out the burrito, microwave it for a few minutes, and you have a cheap, tasty, healthy lunch!

Now you don’t have to have them vegan, you can eat them with cheese and protein of your choice, but I much prefer them to be vegan.

Now if you liked my writing, you can either support me by donating to my Patreon, or by commissioning me.

The Elephant In The Room: Is Vegetarianism Really Ethical?

As a vegetarian for a year, I struggled with this for a long time. Even just days ago I struggled with this idea. Is Vegetarianism really that ethical a choice? I have been thinking about this due to many vegans who want to shove it in the face of vegetarians in a “holier than thou” tone, as well as just a little bit ago when I ran across this article.

In terms of environmental impact and dietary health, it is of no debate that being a whole-food vegetarian is indeed better than eating meat, especially beef. Most vegetarian efforts seem to revolve around beef and pork production as the primary evil, and to be honest, it is. Beef and pork contribute to far more environmental destruction, greenhouse gas emissions, and health issues than any other form of animal product.

But what about animal ethics? That is more of a sketchy story. Espessially if you are referring to the Lacto- and Ovo- side of things.

For instance, the way milk is produced in the US and elsewhere is brutal. Cows are forcefully impregnated, pumped with all sorts of things, and then hooked up to machines where they spend the rest of their lives producing way more milk then they are naturally able to handle. Their kids are ripped from them, which causes emotional trauma, and often killed to make veal. This is far more brutal in objective terms than the cows raised for meat, which are still raised in bad conditions, but are then simply killed. In fact, cattle raised solely for beef has a shorter life span, filled with less agony, than a dairy cow, which is often overworked for 4-5 years before they are killed off.

eggsAnd eggs are not much better. Laying eggs takes a lot out of a chicken, kinda like a human woman giving birth. Usually, a chicken will lay anywhere from 10-15 eggs a year. But to keep up with strict demand for eggs, chickens are now bred and forced to lay up to 250-300 eggs a year. This puts a lot of strain on chickens, who in normal conditions are often locked in small cages at worse, and at best have about a square foot of room to move. Chickens are often debeaked, which involves a sharp hot blade slicing off the end of the chickens beak, and chickens often suffer from disease and anxiety, which causes it to peck it’s own body raw.

More than this can be said about both industries, but I will leave it simply at that.

In terms of eating cheese, eggs, or dairy, even cheese, eggs, and dairy that come from “humane” or “organic” farms, the practice appears to be far more unethical than simply eating the meat of the animal. There are, of course, exceptions to this.

Veggans

Veggans are a group of vegans who only eat eggs if they come from well-treated backyard hens. If you want to know how this plays into the definition of veganism, check my article about it here. Backyard hens are simply pet hens who lay eggs, instead of tossing the eggs, the owners usually either eat the eggs themselves, or sell the eggs to others. Since this practice is much nicer to the hen, it is far better than conventionally bought store eggs, and thus more ethical to eat these eggs than it would be to eat meat.

Imitation Cheese

There are cheese alternatives that still have small amounts of cheese byproducts in them, such as Casein, which promotes the meltiness of the cheese. These are more ethical in my opinion because since almost no dairy is present, it is much better than eating meat, or full dairy cheese. These can also be found in almost every supermarket, and contribute far less to the harmful dairy industry than typical dairy.

Freeganism

What if you dumpster dive for tons of perfectly good food, and you run across a perfectly edible pack of chocolate chip girl scout cookies that contains dairy and eggs? Since this food was destined for the trash, you are not engaging in the capitalism that encourages the dairy and egg industries, so this would be a far more ethical choice than eatig conventionally farmed dairy and eggs.

There are some loopholes that make vegetarianism more ethical than omnivorism, but they are not common practice with vegeterians, so the only way a vegetarian who consumes diary and/or eggs can be more ethical than a carnist is if they consume far less animal products in general than the average carnist. And to be honest, that is what we see.

Vegetarians tend to consume far less animal products than your average american. In fact, they seem to eat less dairy than your average american as well. So in these terms, vegetarianism IS more ethical than omnivorism, but it’s still contributing greatly to a bad and unethical system of cruelty.

In terms of vegetarianism, it is simply more ethical and logical to cut out the dairy and eggs than to try to claim that “at least you are better than…” Aside from the loopholes mentioned above, there are many vegan replacements for dairy and eggs that one can eat, including vegan cheeses, vegan yogurt, almond and soy milk, tofu, vegan mayonnaise, and actual vegan eggs. These, however, might be harder to find outside of a healthfood store, aside from the almond and soy milk, which can be find in many places, including Dollar Tree, Kroger, Walmart, and I even saw soymilk once at Dollar General.

Just realize that just because you are vegetarian does not mean you are ethical, or even more ethical than a meat eater, depending on how much in animal products you consume. It is best to reduce or eliminate animal products, even animal products that one might think is more ethical than others.

Vegan? But What If Grocery Stores Shut Down? The Survivalist Argument.

I often don’t talk about dumb arguments that I hear, but I have started to recently. And this has been one that I heard on a few occasions. This is a fallacy that I have seen that I dub The Survivalist Argument. It often goes like this:

“If all the grocery stores shut down, would you hunt for meat to survive?”

grocery stores

 

Or as otherwise worded like:

“If the Zombie Apocalypse occurred…”

“If a nuclear warhead hit and you were left with little to no plant life…”

“If you were stranded on a deserted island….”

You know, THAT argument. The one that has almost no chance of actually coming into fruition.

In reality, I think most vegans would try to remain vegan for awhile, stop when they realize they can’t without severe nutrient deficiencies, and then sadly start hunting and trapping. But many might go back vegan once they find a way to safely commit to agriculture and grow their beans and leafy greens.

The thing is, veganism is only able to be done “as far as possible and practicable.” If you cannot be vegan because you live in a situation where hunting is the only way to get food, which is extremely rare in the first world mind you, than it is understandable to most vegans that you eat meat.

However, you don’t live in those conditions, and won’t for a long time. Most people can’t trap or shoot an animal anyways due to lack of skill and experience, but hey, it’s great for many people to think they have so much experience about wilderness survival from The Zombie Survival Guide and from playing Tomb Raider and Minecraft and rarely ever going outside.

The conditions we live in right now, and for all of the foreseeable future so far, is that we have grocery stores and gas stations, and fast food places because we failed to learn how to even properly cook anymore, so we have instant noodles and 5 minute rice. So as of right now, in 2016, we have the ability to be vegan because animal products are not necessary for survival and we have a wide array of food choices.

So unless you are planning on living in a forest and shooting, skinning, cutting, preserving, and cooking your own squirrels and raccoons, I see no point of this argument instead of trying to bait vegans into being in a situation where they would eat animals. It serves no purpose. It is a complete non-argument. You don’t even have to answer it if it pops up. It’s that useless.

Dropping Vegan; A Personal Review Of Vegan Advocacy

Many companies are starting to not use the term Vegan due to the horrific stigma that comes from the word, and even animal rights organizations such as Mercy For Animals is using terms other than vegan for a lot of their rhetoric. And I think I am going to do the same.

Instead of just vegan, I will try to incorporate more terms such as Vegetarian and Plant-based into my discussions. Vegan will also be used, but not to the same extent as it has been.

The main issue I personally have with using the term Plant-based, is that Plant-Based is not synonymous with Vegan. For one, vegan’s do not add to the use and exploitation of animals for clothing, food, etc, as Plant-based ONLY refers to one’s dietary choice. Another is that plant-based does not even mean a diet devoid of animal products. According to the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives:

“A whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.” 

Excludes or minimizes… which means that you can have a diet that is mostly vegan, but also contains some cheese, and a small piece of chicken once a week and still be plant-based. You can also have a diet completely devoid of these products and still be plant based. Some people claim that in order to be plant-based, you MUST eat vegan, but this is honestly not true. A non-whole food but still plant based diet can contain processed foods and oil, but reducing them is pretty beneficial. I still eat veggie burgers though.

Starting tomorrow I will be Vegan again. I don’t wear wool, or leather, or silk, or eat gelatin, or anything of the like. I will be as vegan as I can be. But I am not sure I am going to call myself vegan… I am going to call myself plant-based, and vegetarian. I might consider myself vegan from time to time, but I really don’t want to be associated with all of that drama and crap that has been going on in the vegan community. I do not want to connect myself with these overly dramatic hateful pseudo-scientific people that make up the most popular of the vegan community right now.

I am going to eat far more vegetables and fruit than before, and a lot more beans, which I am going to buy dry to save on some money. Mostly frozen vegetables, fresh and canned fruit, and the like. So wish me luck again!

But personally, I think steering away from veganism and focusing more on reducing meat consumption and stepping away from the elitist a-holes is better in the long run for both MY sanity, as well as for animal welfare and advocacy. Just remember, the animals come first.

Really Low-Income Vegan Meal Ideas

I live in poverty and have lived in poverty for most of my life. Although right now I am vegetarian, I know how to cook many vegans foods from the short time where I was vegan. Living in poverty isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard to be both vegan and poor, or at least vegetarian and poor.

With this list, I am not going to require any ingredients that cannot be found at a local dollar store or convenience store, and will not require the use of anything other than a pot or a pan, a spatula, and some eating utensils. So no need for rice cookers and blenders, and no need to worry about finding TVP, Tofu, Seitan, or Tempeh.

  • Oatmeal with Fruit

Oats cost very little per pound. You can actually get them at the dollar store for a dollar a pound. Other places might have them as high as 1.50 a pound. Each pound of oats has about 10 1-cup servings of oatmeal. I like to buy canned peaches to cut up and put inside, which can be bought for anywhere from a dollar to a dollar and fifty cents. Sugar doesn’t cost a lot, and if you are struggling you can get it for free at most fast food places.

So a bowl of oatmeal with fruit should not cost you more than about 8o cents to a dollar per bowl. Oatmeal itself would have about 10 grams of protein, and about 8 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving.

  • Bean Soup

One thing I really love to make is soup. I can make a very delicious and nutritious black bean soup by using black beans, mixed vegetables, and a ton of spices, including Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Onions, Salt, and Pepper. It tastes a lot like canned versions, and it can feed alot.

I got a 2 pound bag of frozen vegetables for 2 dollars, but you can use canned as well, which you can get for about 60 cents a can. The beans should be about a dollar to 1.50, and you can use whatever spices you desire, but I will add on about 20 cents for that. A huge pot of black bean soup, which includes about 3-4 bowl servings, should only cost you at most 3.00 to make the whole pot, so about 75 cents a bowl. This too will be high in protein and really good!

  • Rice with a Navy Bean sauce

You can get a pound of rice for about a dollar, and navy beans are about 1.50 a pound dry, or about a dollar per can. Mix either canned or cooked from dry navy beans with about half a pound of those frozen mixed vegetables, add some Canola oil, and some chili powder, salt, and Tumeric, and you got some nice filling rice and beans.

If you have a food processor or blender, which many of us in poverty don’t, blend the navy beans into a thick sauce with some canola oil (or not if you dislike oil or are avoiding fats) and the spices to add with the veggies an put on top of the rice. That way you can have a high fiber, high protein sauce to add to rice, and possibly noodles as well. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, simply mashing up the beans and adding some water can work as well.

Altogether, a big pot of rice with navy bean sauce, which should be at LEAST 4-5 servings, should not cost more than a dollar per bowl.

  • Black Bean Burgers

Most black bean burger recipes call for an egg. You don’t need an egg. You can replace the egg with barbeque sauce and you’ll be fine. black beans are about a dollar a pound dry, or about 80 cents a can. You can also buy a loaf of bread, which is about 7 cents a slice, and crumple up a few slices to add into the burger as bread crumbs with some spices. Or you can just buy store brand bread crumbs, up to you.

Mash the black beans and other stuff together, it tastes better with some minced or sauteed onions if you can find them, but they are not required. Brown rice mixed in is also good. I really like this recipe here, but you will have to alter some ingredients if you cannot find them at a convenience store.

Just blend them all together, make them into patty shapes, grease up a pan, and cook them on low/medium-low heat, and place them either on buns,or between two slices of bread with come condiments. Each burger should not cost any more than a dollar.

There are plenty of very low cost yet very great tasting and filling vegan options that you can get at the local convenience or dollar stores. So for vegans who are struggling with buying food, this is a good way to eat delicious vegan options for cheap.

Responding To Bad Anti-Vegan Arguments I Heard The Other Day

So I had a discussion with a coworker yesterday, and needless to say a lot of pseudoscientific hogswash was spewed. I hate to say this, but I am not surprised that a person who believes Evolution is false and that Global Warming is a governmental lie used to make money, also has awfully ignorant ideas about health and nutrition.

“Soy is Man Made”

Both him and another coworker tried to tell me that soy is man made. Sure, Tofu is man made, Soymilk is man made, but Soybeans have existed since the 11th century BCE. Tofu itself is simply Edamame (soy) curdles and was created in 179 BCE in China, not that anything being man-made makes things bad or good, and not as if I want to hear that argument from a guy who eats cheese, but OK.

There are many people talking about the supposed “dangers” of soy, but none really exist. Soy is good for you, an unlike dairy, which contains literal estrogen that our body can absorb, soy won’t give you a higher risk of prostate or ovarian cancer like dairy does.

“Mercury is a Necessary Nutrient, like Iron and Calcium”

No, honey… no, Mercury is NOT a necessary nutrient. There is a reason the FDA only recommends 8-12 ounces of fish a WEEK, or about 3 servings a fish AT MOST a week, for safe level consumption. I personally would recommend NO mercury in one’s diet.

But isn’t their gold in your body? Yeah, there are trace amounts of many nutrients in your body, doesn’t mean we should consume more gold powder, or Mercury. There are numerous case studies of people who consume lots of fish and get mercury poisoning. It’s not a necessary nutrient.

“Farm Raised Beef Is A Health Food”

Cooked beef is a possible carcinogen, regardless of whether or not the cow ate corn or grass. Beef also contain high levels of both saturated fats, and trans-fats, both of which cause inflammation in the body. Also, heme-iron, the iron found exclusively in meat, is possibly linked to colon cancer and higher rates of type 2 diabetes. So take this “health food” with a grain of salt.

You can get plenty of non-heme iron from plant foods, and while vegetarians and vegans have lower stores of iron, they are not more likely than  meat eaters to get Anemia.

“But you can’t get protein from plants, do you know how much beans you have to eat to meet protein requirements?”

As a vegetarian and former vegan, and possibly vegan again soon, I know full well how much beans you need to consume to get enough protein… if beans were all I ate for my protein. Other foods that contain protein include:

  • Wheat Bread – 2 grams a slice
  • 2 oz of pasta – 7 grams
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter – 7 grams
  • Half Cup Green Peas – 4 grams
  • 1 Cup Oatmeal – 6 grams
  • 1 Cup Rice – 4 grams

Your body only needs 0.38 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Meaning that I as a 165 pound woman only needs 62 grams of protein a day. You can easily get that when eating 2000 calories a day, even without consuming any beans. If you did consume beans, it is far easier. That said, if you want more protein in your diet, Boca and Gardein make awesome meat replacements full of protein, or you can just buy TVP, which is dried soybeans.

There are no benefits of a high protein diet, and in fact there may be plenty of negative effects associated with that. So unless you are an athlete, don’t worry about protein. Your chances of getting protein deficiency as a vegan who eats whole foods is extremely low.

Only one of these arguments is new, and that’s the one talking about how beneficial Mercury is for you somehow magically. I have talked about the “man made” argument before in an article about artificial sweeteners. The protein from plants argument, and the argument that beef is good for you, have both been highly overdone, and debunked so often it barely should garner a reply.