Why I’m Not Dismissing the Latest “Animal Protein is Bad” Study (But Not Losing Sleep Over It, Either)

9 03 2014

I keep doing this thing where I stand in the shower writing blog posts in my head, emerging from the suds giddy and prune-fingered, feeling strangely accomplished about the words I have not yet typed. And then I squeegee the fog off the bathroom mirror and tell myself you can do it Denise! and think about how awesome it will be to actually update my blog after so much horrible silence. And then I load WordPress and think I’m blogging, I’m blogging, I’m finally blogging, it’s really happening.

And then suddenly it’s three hours later and I’ve opened 800 new browser tabs in Firefox and have become distracted by something shiny, Facebooky, or delicious, at which point all hope is lost.

This madness must end. Today, we blog.

So now I stand before you here in Cyberland, up on my soapbox, rantin’ muscles ready to flex. In case you haven’t heard, the world just got slammed with a new “meat is bad” tsunami—and it’s a doozy. We’ve got the familiar swirl of headlines designed to strike fear in our hearts (“That chicken wing you’re eating could be as deadly as a cigarette!” – The Financial Express), and pretty much every mainstream outlet caught it on their radar (hello ABC, Fox, The Guardian, Scientific American, Washington Post, and any other big-hitters I left out). The actual study, which is decidedly less popular than the press releases heralding its existence, is available here: Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population. Go take a gander. The gist is that animal protein will (purportedly) shorten your life and increase your risk of chronic disease—at least if you’re eating a bunch of it before you turn 66. (Once you’re in your golden years, though, the study implies animal protein is a good thing. Tricky, eh?)

So what’s really going on here? Should we all go vegan until we retire?

Read the rest of this entry »





I Made a Book

17 12 2013

When I was little, I wanted to be a cat when I grew up. I used to meow in response to questions and decapitate Barbies so that I could bat around their heads with my paw-hands. When Cat stopped seeming like a viable career goal, I decided I wanted to be an author instead.* I could think of nothing more magical than making words happen. And if I was stuck with my opposable human thumbs, I might as well put them to use.

*This is actually kind of a lie. In preschool, I learned the words “author” and “pilot” around the same time. Neither one made much sense (does an author “auth”? Does a pilot “pile”? What kind of convoluted language is this?), and I spent a while confusing the two. The worst was when a local news channel came in to interview my preschool and ask all the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. I was going to say “cat,” but my mom told me she would give me all my Hanukkah presents early if I didn’t say “cat,” so I decided to say “pilot,” which I thought was the word for a person who writes books. People kept giving me toy airplanes after that, which I tried to flush down the toilet. I never got my early Hanukkah presents, and it was the last time my mother succeeded at gift-bribery (hi Mom I love you!).

Anyway, I thought I’d open with that anecdote to distract you from the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in seventeen months and I disappeared without warning and it was weird and horrible. I’m sorry. But let’s not think about it that way. The real issue here is that I was a really messed up kid, and there’s nothing to be done about it now.

That said, I have some news! The reason I dropped off the face of the earth was this:

dbfp_cover

This is a book. Some of you know about it; some of you don’t. I started writing it in March of 2011. I thought I’d be done by September of that year. To which my now-older-and-wiser self responds, Read the rest of this entry »





Are Low-Carb Diets Killing Sweden? (Also: New Interviews and Raw Vegan Immortality)

1 07 2012

I’m occasionally stricken by a wave of crippling, all-consuming terror. Sometimes it’s because I can’t find my wallet. Sometimes it’s because I hear the unmistakable sound of Smitty throwing up on my bed. Sometimes it’s because I take a few wrong turns on Youtube and accidentally learn what Piccinini animal-human hybrids are (what is seen cannot be unseen). But these days, it’s usually because I’ve looked at the calendar and realized that—along with being 25 and really old now—I haven’t posted anything on this blog in almost four months.

What madness!

As most of you probably know, I’ve been chugging away on an upcoming book called “Death By Food Pyramid,” which is the main reason Raw Food SOS has been hosting more tumbleweeds than blog entries lately. Thanks to finding some unexpected political shenanigans to investigate (which I’m really excited to tell you guys about), the release date for “Death By Food Pyramid” is now September 2013. More details to come.

Earlier this month, I recorded an interview that touches upon the USDA’s seamy, pyramid-shaped underbelly (mostly in the second half):

I’ll be writing more about the book soon (and resuming my previous rapid-blogging schedule of six posts a year instead of four), but in the meantime, here’s a new installment of Bad Science Du Jour!

Read the rest of this entry »





Interview, New Stuff, and Proof of Aliveness

6 03 2012

All has been quiet on the Raw Food SOS front lately, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t shenanigans-a-plenty brewing backstage. The recent silence here is mostly because I’m spending 22.5 hours a day finishing my upcoming book “Death by Food Pyramid,” which should be available towards the end of this year. More on that soon!

In the meantime, if only to drown out the incessant chirping of blog crickets, here are some things. Read the rest of this entry »





The Truth About Ancel Keys: We’ve All Got It Wrong

22 12 2011

(Note: This post was inspired by the “Ancel Keys” section in a recent series of paleo-challenging YouTube videos, which I may critique in the future. The anonymous videomaker “Plant Positive” highlighted some important misconceptions about Keys and his research that I’d like to broadcast to a larger audience, but didn’t address some equally important points tangled in the Keys saga, and likewise made some arguments I believe are incomplete or misleading. This blog post is an attempt to address those misconceptions in a more balanced and thorough way, and provide a broader context for how we view the infamous Mr. Keys.)

This is one of those “gotta bust me some myths no matter where they come from” blog posts. And by that, I mean I’m about to challenge a story that’s been so well-circulated among paleo, low carb, and real-food communities that most of us have filed it away in a little brain-folder called “Things We Never Have to Question Because They’re So Ridiculously True.”

I’m talking about the late, great Ancel Keys, and his equally late (but maybe not as great) role in the history of heart disease research. The oft-repeated tale goes something like this:

Once upon a time, a scientist named Ancel Keys did an awful thing. He published a study about different countries that made it look like heart disease was associated with fat intake. But the truth was that he started out with 22 countries and just tossed out the ones that didn’t fit his hypothesis! When other researchers analyzed his data using all the original countries, the link between fat and heart disease totally vanished. Keys was a fraud, and he’s the reason my mom made me eat skim milk and Corn Chex for breakfast instead of delicious bacon and eggs. LET HIS SOUL BURN. BURN! BUUUUUURN! Read the rest of this entry »





“Forks Over Knives”: Is the Science Legit? (A Review and Critique)

22 09 2011

Welcome to my “Forks Over Knives” analysis, AKA the longest movie review you’ll ever attempt to read. Thanks for stopping by! In case you aren’t yet convinced that I’ve made it my life’s mission to critique everything related to T. Colin Campbell, this should seal the deal.

As most of you probably know, a documentary called “Forks Over Knives” recently hit the theaters after months of private screenings. Vegans everywhere are swooning, giddy that their message is now animated, narrated, and on sale for $14.99. Proud meat-eaters are less enthused, sometimes hilariously so. The film’s producers call it a movie that “examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.” Roger Ebert calls it “a movie that could save your life.” I call it a movie that deftly blends fact and fiction, and has lots of pictures of vegetables. Read the rest of this entry »





Fat, Diabetes, and “Sinister Involvement in Wikipedia”

27 08 2011

Could it be true? Three blog entries in four weeks, instead of my typical month-long lulls of silence? Has this blog been hijacked by an evil but prolific employee of Minger, Inc.?

Don’t worry; I’ll vanish again soon. I’m mostly here to pass on the link to a guest post I wrote for Mark’s Daily Apple about the “fatty food gives you diabetes!” study that came out this month:

If you read the link above, you’ll notice that a major component of the “high fat” mouse diet was hydrogenated coconut oil. After the article went up on MDA, I got an email from Sally Fallon with some neat background on the role of this ingredient rodent studies:

Just a clarification on fully hydrogenated coconut oil.  This is used in experiments because it is the only fat that can be fully hydrogenated and still be soft enough to eat–because the fatty acids are short.  If you fully hdrogenate lard, it will be hard as a rock, even at room temperature.

Full hydrogenation just produces saturated fatty acids–partial hydrogenation produces trans fats.  So technically fully hydrogenated fats are not such a bad thing, they are just saturated fatty acids (usually esterified with unsaturated fatty acids).  But of course, there will be lots of impurities and chemicals from the processing, so this begs the question of why not just eat regular saturated fats.

Fully hydrogenated coconut oil was developed so researchers could test fatty acid deficiency. . . . not the effects of saturated fats.  If the only fat given to rats or mice is fully hydrogenated coconut oil, researchers can bring on EFA deficiency.  Today most researchers don’t have a clue about what the product was developed for, and fully hydrogenated coconut oil is sold and used in all sorts of experiments that have nothing to do with fatty acid deficiency.

How interesting! Hydrogenated coconut oil is incredibly common in lab diets for rodents, but its original purpose was to induce EFA deficiency—not to represent the effects of saturated fat in the diet. (In the context of this particular study, Chris Masterjohn noted that EFA deficiency probably wasn’t a factor because the mouse diet was supplemented with soybean oil. But it’s good info for future reference, nonetheless.)

Ancestral Health Symposium videos are up!

In case you haven’t seen ‘em yet, the presentations from the Ancestral Health Symposium are now viewable on Vimeo. Check ‘em out here, and see the accompanying PowerPoint slides here. (My “How to win an argument with a vegetarian” speech is here. In retrospect, especially after reading the comments on an article that summarized my talk, a more appropriate title might’ve been “How to win an argument with a vegetarian who thinks they’re healthier than you because they don’t eat meat, but not with vegetarians who only avoid meat for ethical reasons and think you’re scum no matter what you tell them about health.” Alas.)

As I understand it, the current videos will be edited sometime in the future to incorporate the PowerPoint slides.

AHS, meet WFF.

To balance out the paleo-ness that rocked the West Coast this month, New York just hosted the week-long Woodstock Fruit Festival—essentially the low-fat, raw vegan counterpart of the Ancestral Health Symposium, featuring less beef jerky and a whole lot more durian. Dietary disagreements aside, there seems to be a shared paleo/fruity emphasis on fitness—and after perusing some photos of the event, I noticed at least one person wearing Vibram FiveFingers. Will minimalist footwear be the bridge that unites these rival communities? Only time (and forefoot strikes) will tell.

Sinister Involvement in Wikipedia!

Despite what it may seem, I honestly don’t spend all day refreshing the China Study Wikipedia page, hungrily waiting for drama to emerge. But I do snoop around there whenever I see blog traffic coming from Wikipedia.com, since it usually means someone added my critique and the vegan moderators haven’t yanked it out yet.

Indeed, a wave of Wiki traffic last night led me to a new “Criticism” section with this interesting blurb (that link will probably stop being valid very quickly):

There is some criticism for the book, as well. Dinise Minger has written several times, including her Formal Analysis and Response, about her interpretation of the data presented in the book, and makes the claim that many of the conclusions drawn by Campbell are ill-founded.

I don’t know who Dinise is, but apparently she’s trying to pass this blog off as her own. But that’s not the exciting part. I also checked out the China Study “talk” page and found a paragraph full of impeccable insight and wisdom. I don’t trust things to not magically disappear from Wikipedia, so I took a screen to preserve this epic moment:

If you don’t feel like adding an extra mouse click to your day, here’s the relevant bit; emphasis mine:

Sinister involvement in Wikipedia

I think there is something seriously wrong going on with regard to this article. It has been put up for deletion and has also been marked as relatively unimportant. This is quite surprising, since the book talks about the most important epidemiological study ever undertaken. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but there is a deeper issue her [sic] of sinister interests manipulating Wikipedia articles. In particular, in the case of this article, Wikipedia is highly vulnerable to sophisticated manipulation by the pharmaceutical industry and the meat industry. Such anti-vegetarian economic interests may be subtly suppressing this article. –Westwind273 (talk) 21:52, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Now it all makes sense. The nomination for deletion, the removal of all China-Study-related criticism, the seemingly biased patrolling of vegan moderators… it’s all been carefully orchestrated by the meat industry! Such an elaborate scheme must be financially draining, though. I wonder if that’s why Farmer Bob stopped sending me my checks?








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