For Vegans

I promise this page isn’t scary or mean!

Despite rumors to the contrary, I’m actually not on a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, steak-fueled mission to unveganize the world. My own diet is mostly plants, and I benefit in no way—financially or otherwise—if you decide to put an egg in your mouth instead of a lump of texturized vegetable protein. My sole goal with this blog is to squash out bad science and give folks access to accurate information about diet. What you decide to do with the stuff I say here is completely up to you.

As a former decade-long vegetarian (and vegan for the last few years of that), I understand and respect that food choices are sometimes based on more than our own health. Maybe you’re ethically opposed to killing animals for any reason, are concerned about the treatment of livestock on farms, or simply developed a crippling case of carnophobia after getting locked in a meat freezer when you were five (worst game of hide-and-seek ever). If this is you, I’m not here to talk you out of your choices or values—and even if we disagree on the specifics, I encourage you to live your life in whatever way you find most fulfilling.

Even though I don’t believe strict vegan diets are optimal from a health perspective, I do think there are ways to make the best out of a meatless, eggless, and dairyless situation. I’d like to offer some of those ideas on this page so that anybody personally committed to veganism can maximize their chance of staying healthy, and hopefully avoid the most common pitfalls us annoying ex-vegans blather on about. (Please note that this isn’t an endorsement for current omnivores to convert to veganism, and there’s no guarantee you’ll truly thrive even if you follow all the suggestions below—but I do think these guidelines will give vegans the best chance possible for warding off health problems.)

In no particular order of importance, here’s a summary of the list, followed by a more detailed version of each point:

  1. Eat real food—no fake meats, processed soy products, vegan junk food, etc.
  2. Avoid high omega-6 vegetable oils and take a vegan DHA supplement.
  3. Supplement with vitamin K2.
  4. Supplement with a vegan form of vitamin D3.
  5. Enhance your beta carotene absorption and conversion.
  6. Properly prepare any grains, legumes, or nuts you eat.
  7. Maximize iron absorption using vitamin-C-rich foods.
  8. Keep your thyroid in good shape.
  9. Take vitamin B12.
  10. Try going gluten-free.
  11. Eat some fermented foods.
  12. Supplement with taurine.
  13. Consider adding oysters or other non-sentient bivalves to your diet.

The long version:

1. Eat real foodI wholly believe the plant-based-diet doctors like Caldwell EsselstynJohn McDougall, and Joel Fuhrman are on the right track when they recommend eating things that actually still resemble food—leafy greens, fruit, tubers, squash, legumes, root vegetables, seaweeds, some nuts and seeds if they sit well with you, and so forth. Although I think many folks would do well with a higher fat intake than some of those doctors recommend (with some caveats we’ll talk about next), the concept of eating real food is a winner. This means ditching the fake soy meats, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, convenience snacks, TV dinners, and pretty much every single thing on this page. It may have been an exciting moment when you learned that Kellogg’s Unfrosted Pop-Tarts are vegan… but pop-tarts they remain. Occasionally indulging in something junkier won’t kill you, but don’t expect to stay healthy if everything on your plate was made by Morningstar Farms or Tofutti.

Just say no.

2. Avoid high-omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, or margarines made from these oils. Instead, use heat-stable fats like coconut oil or red palm oil for cooking, and use macadamia nut oil or olive oil for cold dishes like salads. (Depending on where your city falls on the boondocks-to-urbia scale, the linked oils may be easier to order online than track down locally, but you can sometimes find them at specialty markets or request them through Whole Foods.)

Note: slashing your intake of omega-6 fats will reduce your omega-3 requirements, but I also recommend taking an algae-based vegan DHA supplement (like DEVA’s) and getting some ALA from ground chia seeds, hemp seeds, or flax seeds (always raw and not heat-treated, because their fats are extremely unstable). This is particularly important if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.

"Soybean oil": writing it in Italian doesn't make the badness go away.

3. Secure a source of vitamin K2, pronto—especially if you want to stave off dental nightmares (like my own 14-cavity adventure). Woefully unknown to the public and mainstream health experts alike, vitamin K2 is critical for a healthy heart and skeletal system. Among other things, it helps shuttle calcium out of your arteries (where it contributes to plaque formation) and into your bones and teeth, where it rightfully belongs. There’s a new book out called “Vitamin K-2 and the Calcium Paradox” discussing this nutrient depth, but you can also find plenty of information on K2 online, like here and here.

Unlike vitamin K1, which is abundant in some vegan foods like dark leafy greens, vitamin K2 is only found in certain bacteria and animal products such as dairy, organ meats, and eggs. The chief vegan source is natto—a (not-so-appetizing) fermented soybean product that contains K2-producing bacteria. If you avoid soy, eat a raw food diet that disallows natto, or simply don’t want to shovel slimy ammonia-scented globs into your mouth, look for a vitamin K2 supplement containing menaquinone-4 or menaquinone-7 (usually abbreviated to MK-4 or MK-7). I personally use this brand for myself, both due to quality and cost, and can vouch for the incredible dental benefits it bestows.

4. Take enough vitamin D3 to get your blood level up to the 35 ng/ml markUnless you’re a Hawaiian lifeguard (or otherwise lucky enough to lounge outside all day in the sun), there’s a decent chance you’re deficient, especially if you live at a far northern latitude. Vitamin D is crucial for a wide variety of functions—everything from helping you absorb calcium to protecting against certain cancers—and it works in synergy with vitamins K and A to keep your teeth and bones strong. Unfortunately, since supplemental vitamin D3 is usually derived from wool, nearly all vegan versions contain vitamin D2, which is less potent and not always effective for preventing or fixing deficiency.

Source of Life Garden Vitamin D3 and Vitashine Vegan Vitamin D3 are currently the only vegan vitamin D3 supplements in existence. I highly recommend using either of those over the D2 versions more commonly available. I personally take about 5,000 IUs a day, but you may need to adjust your intake depending on your body size, how much sun you get, and whether you’re trying to aggressively treat a deficiency versus maintaining healthy vitamin D levels. (Also be aware that a small number of people react negatively to vitamin D supplementation, so be on the lookout for any adverse symptoms.)

5. Get the most out of your beta carotene. Vitamin A is crucial for healthy bone tissue, vision, proper hormone function, making fully-intact babies, and other things generally regarded as good. But plants don’t contain “true” vitamin A—only certain provitamins, particularly beta carotene, that your body converts into vitamin A. Unfortunately, the conversion process is wildly inefficient: most folks absorb only a tiny fraction of the beta carotene they consume, and only a fraction of that ever becomes vitamin A—leaving some vegans deficient even if they rival Bugs Bunny in carrot consumption. Although some people are just genetically doomed to be poor converters and will probably struggle as vegans no matter what they do, there are a few ways to maximize your absorption and conversion of vitamin A precursors:

  • Eat beta-carotene-rich foods along with some fat—such as oily dressing or avocado slices on a salad—to greatly increase the amount you absorb.
  • Identify and treat any food allergies, celiac disease, parasite infections, H. pylori infection, or low stomach acid, which can disturb your gut ecology and hinder absorption.
  • Make sure you’re getting sufficient iron and zinc from your diet, since these minerals are critical in converting beta carotene to vitamin A. If you’re deficient in them, your vitamin A status will probably be impaired.
  • Lightly cook some of your beta-carotene sources to break down fiber and improve absorption.

6. Properly prepare any grains, legumes, or nuts you eat. These foods contain phytates that block the absorption of minerals like calcium and iron, along with enzyme inhibitors and tannins that can cause digestive distress. If you choose to include grains, legumes, or nuts in your diet, you can neutralize some of the anti-nutrients and increase mineral availability by giving your food some tender lovin’ prep. For whole grains, do the following:

  1. Put the grains in a bowl filled with enough warm water to cover.
  2. Add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice at a ratio of 1 tablespoon for each cup of grain.
  3. Let it all soak for at least 7 hours at room temperature.
  4. Drain the soak water and cook the grains as you usually would.

For most legumes except dried lentils and split peas, follow the same steps as with grains—but soak larger beans for at least 24 hours (changing the soak water if they start to ferment) and double the amount of vinegar or lemon juice if you’re dealing with really small beans (2 tablespoons per cup of beans). Lentils and split peas should be soaked for 7 hours, but without any vinegar or lemon juice added. Raw nuts, too, should be soaked in warm water for 7 hours without an acidic medium, but you can sprinkle the soak water with sea salt (and then air-dry them once they’re done).

This may sound labor intensive, but it really doesn’t take all that much actual work—and your digestive system will thank you!

7. Eat high-vitamin-C foods along with iron-rich foods to enhance iron absorption, especially if you’re a pre-menopausal woman or otherwise struggle with anemia. Non-heme iron, the form found in plant foods, is less bioavailable than heme iron in animal products—but its absorption increases quite a bit in the presence of vitamin C. Try combining high-iron foods like chard, spinach, beet greens, lentils, beans, and quinoa with vitamin-C-rich foods like tomatoes, bell peppers, lemon juice, strawberries, oranges, papaya, kiwis, pineapple, grapefruit, or whatever else strikes your fancy. If you’re into green smoothies, those are prime opportunities to blend up something fruity and vitamin-C-packed with an iron-rich leafy green. Also avoid drinking tea or coffee with high-iron meals, since these beverages contain substances that reduce iron absorption.

8. Be kind to your thyroidHealth-conscious vegans may unintentionally wind up with two strikes against their thyroids: lack of iodine (either from cutting back on salt or switching from iodized salt to natural sea salt), and a menu packed with goitrogenic vegetables. Impaired thyroid function can result in fatigue, cold hands and feet, hair loss, poor concentration, trouble losing weight, and short-term memory rivaling your grandma’s—all of which you’ve probably heard a disgruntled soon-to-be-ex-vegan complain of at some time or another.

The best vegan source of iodine is seaweed, but some varieties contain much more than others. Here’s a table with the iodine content (among other nutrients) of several common sea vegetables.

Goitrogenic foods—which interfere with thyroid function—include cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, turnips, rutabaga, and cabbage, as well as soy products and millet. Strawberries, peaches, and spinach are also somewhat goitrogenic. You don’t have to give up these foods completely (crucifers in particular have some great anti-cancer compounds), but definitely scale back on them if they’re currently a large part of your diet, especially if you already have hypothyroid symptoms.

Not so innocent.

9. Take vitamin B12—about 10 mcgs a day, or 2000 mcgs once per weekI’d like to think this would be pretty obvious by now, but there are some lingering vegan authorities who seem to underplay the B-12 issue or even deny it altogether. Even “The China Study” makes B12 seem like small potatoes, when T. Colin Campbell writes: “If you do not eat any animal products for three years or more, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consider taking a small B12 supplement on occasion.” This is sort of scary, since virtually every study conducted on the subject shows that vegans experience much higher rates of B12 deficiency than omnivores or vegetarians and have elevated homocysteine as a result (which increases blood clotting and raises your risk of heart disease). In fact, low B12 and high homocysteine probably contributed to the early demise of prominent vegans like H. Jay Dinshah and T. C. Fry (PDF).

Especially if you’re avoiding processed vegan foods (which are often fortified with vitamin B12), you’ll need to find a supplement and take it consistently, since there are really no reliable dietary sources of B12 for vegans. (Algae like spirulina, often rumored to contain B12, only has B12 analogues that won’t actually improve your B12 status.)

10. Try going gluten-free at least as a 30-day experiment, especially if you have possible “gluten sensitivity” symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, joint pain, headaches, or migraines that aren’t improving from tweaking your diet in other ways.

11. Ferment some stuffRaw, unpasteurized fermented foods contain lovely bacteria that can help restore your gut flora, improve your digestion, and ultimately increase the nutrition you absorb from what you eat. It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds on Google to find recipes for sauerkraut, kimchi, “real” pickles, fermented salsa, and other delectable vegan-friendly fermented fare, and most health food stores carry some of these things pre-made. “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz is a great resource if you want to get your hands dirty in the lactobacillus-y goodness.

12. Consider supplementing with taurine, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, or extremely active. Taurine is an amino acid found only in animal foods, and it plays an important role in brain development, maintaining healthy blood pressure, controlling blood glucose, reducing oxidative stress, and preventing damage to your retinas. Although your body can synthesize taurine from a combination of other amino acids, many folks—including children and pregnant or breast-feeding women—can’t produce enough of it to satisfy their needs without a direct dietary source, and at least one study has shown that vegan men have much lower levels of plasma taurine than nonvegetarians. NOW makes a vegan taurine powder, and there may be other brands out there if you do some sleuthing.

13. Look into “bivalveganism,” a combination of plant foods and non-sentient shellfish. It’s unfortunate this one ended up as unlucky #13, because I honestly think it could be a solution for a lot of struggling vegans. Bivalves—such as oysters and clams and mussels—are incredibly rich in nutrients that are absent or hard to get from plant foods. Oysters in particular are a great source of iron, B12, zinc, selenium, copper, and vitamin D, and have a small amount of true vitamin A as well. Bivalves don’t have a central nervous system and are generally not considered sentient by traditional criteria, so vegans who avoid other animal products may be more ethically comfortable consuming a few oysters per week. (If you want to hear about the potential role of bivalves in vegan diets from someone else’s mouth, here’s a very relevant article by Christopher Cox.)

That’s it for the Big Important Things. But for the sake of making this page insufferably long, here’s another pile of odds ‘n ends:

Keep in mind that it’s not what you eat—it’s what you absorb (or convert). Some diet-scrupulous vegans use programs like Cron-o-Meter to track their nutrient intake and ensure they’re hitting the RDA for vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Unfortunately, these programs don’t distinguish between vitamin K1 or K2, don’t have RDAs set for nonessential amino acids like taurine, usually record beta carotene as “vitamin A” and don’t adjust for its abysmally low absorption rate (meaning that what looks like 100% of the RDA on paper might only be 1% of the RDA in your body), can’t tell you how much iron/zinc/magnesium/calcium you’re losing to phytates, can’t tell you how much non-heme iron you’re really absorbing—on and on. In other words, nutrient trackers can only show you what you’re putting in your mouth, not what your body can actually grab onto. (Worse yet, the USDA’s nutrient values may be wildly different than what’s on your own dinner plate, since the nutritional content of plant foods varies depending on growing conditions, soil quality, season, geography, and a host of other factors.)

Blood tests can’t tell you if you’re “deficient” in calcium. I don’t know if this belief is as common among regular vegans as it is among raw vegans, but some folks seem to think that a normal calcium value on their blood test is proof that they’re getting enough from their diet. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Calcium in your blood and calcium in your bones are two very different things, and in times of shortage, your body will happily yank calcium from your skeleton so you’ve got enough in your blood to stay alive. (Calcium is an electrolyte that helps keep your heart from spazzing out, and your body generally prioritizes “not dying” over losing bone density.)

When seeking health advice from pro-vegan resources, choose your sources wisely. This applies to pretty much any authority that dispenses advice about a diet they’re emotionally or financially invested in, and veganism is no exception. Steer clear of websites and forums that tend to “whitewash” bad experiences people have with veganism or that ban members who report health problems (not to name names). If someone says you can get all the B12 you need from licking your wrist, not washing your vegetables, or making sacrificial kale offerings to the Coenzyme Gods, run, far and fast. And as somebody who used to put full faith in everything I read on, I’d also recommend doing your own research before trusting what you read on vegan sites about human digestive anatomy, meat studies in the news, and the miraculousness of seitan.

That said, my absolute favorite vegan expert is Jack Norris. Norris is a vegan RD who’s astoundingly honest about the shortcomings of a vegan diet, offers science-based solutions to health problems, and—unlike some others in his position—doesn’t sweep veganism’s potential pitfalls under the rug. Among all the plant-based health authorities out there, he is hands-down the most likely to give you the truth. Peruse his blog to get a balanced perspective of vegan issues without having bacon shoved in your face.

And if you’re sincerely interested in seeing the “other side” of vegan topics:

  • Tom Billings’ BeyondVeg is a fantastic resource for any truth-seekers in the health world, covering a range of topics relevant to vegans and raw vegans (including comparative anatomy of primates and humans, evolutionary history as it relates to the human diet, common raw vegan myths, and much more).
  • Meat: A Benign Extravagance” by Simon Fairlie is a must-read if your reasons for going vegan are at least partially environmental. There’s no doubt that our modern factory-farming practices suck, but this book shows—in meticulous, fantastically-researched detail—that reality is a lot more nuanced than we’re led to believe. Many vegan foods like strawberries, coffee, wine, chocolate, and asparagus are even more environmentally destructive than factory-farmed meat, and Fairlie shows that some of the damning statistics we hear about animal agriculture are grossly inflated. Based on Fairlie’s research, the most sustainable system is not a vegan one, but involves putting livestock on land unsuitable for plant crops, using animals like chickens and pigs to utilize food waste, and returning to decentralized agriculture.
  • If you’re interested in understanding why former vegans have un-veganized and questioned the ethical basis of veganism, check out the ex-vegan interviews on Rhys Southan’s blog, Let Them Eat Meat. Also worth reading is this detailed personal account of high-profile, former-vegan Tasha’s return to omnivorism. I’ve provided some of my own thoughts in an interview with the National Animal Interest Alliance.
And last but not least…

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re doing everything “right” and still not feeling awesome. Just like all those great-grandmas out there who lived to be 96 smoking a pack a day and choosing Guinness as their main food group, there are some folks who really do survive without animal products for a very long time. I have my doubts about how it’ll play out across generations, but on an individual basis, thriving vegans do exist (such as the phenomenal 60-year-old Lou Corona who’s been a raw vegan for 39 years (and who’s huge on fermented foods—hint hint)). But unlike the resilient great-grandmas who are viewed as lucky anomalies, the resilient vegans tend to get held up as universal examples of “Hey, if this person can do it, so can everybody.”

If you take nothing else away from this page, at least listen to this: humans are much, much more genetically diverse than most of us realize, and one person’s success as a vegan doesn’t guarantee your own. You may be truly physically incapable of absorbing or converting certain nutrients in their plant form. Your health history, your gut ecology, your medical conditions, and even what your mom ate while you were gestating all influence your current nutritional needs. Veganism is a modern experiment—a dietary situation humans have never before faced—and its full repercussions are still unknown. Trouble thriving is not a personal failure. As much as veganism roots itself in compassion, please consider that you, as a living breathing human, also deserve your own kindness.



  1. My brain is melting, as I type. I thought I knew where to start now Im even more confused and stressed out about doing this “right” then I was before I started this jouney. The more I learn the less I know.

    1. Sorry you feel that way, Amanda! I don’t usually believe in micromanaging our diets, but veganism is a situation where not everyone can automatically get what they need to stay healthy. There are no doubt many vegans who are doing okay without following all the tips on this page, but for long-term health and for people who are currently struggling on a vegan diet, I think the suggestions here are important.

      If it seems overwhelming, think of it this way:
      1) Eat a whole-foods diet with some fermented foods and seaweed, and consider including oysters or other bivalves
      2) Favor monounsaturated and saturated fats over popular vegetable oils
      3) Supplement with vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin K2, DHA, and possibly taurine

      I think those are the most important.

      1. Today, 9.21.2012, the WHO tweeted:

        “Choose unsaturated vegetable oils (olive, soy, sunflower, corn) rather than animal fats or oils high in saturated fats (coconut, palm)”

        Minger does not agree with the unanimous biomedical community including Atkins Foundation’s paid lipid researcher Ronald Krauss assesment on the dangers of SFA and red meat particularly, instead she harbours scientifically dubious claims over the alleged, overstated at best, adverse effects of refined grains consumption.

        Evaluation of the evidence between consumption of refined grains and health outcomes

        “A total of 135 relevant articles were identified from database searches of studies published between 2000 and 2010. The great majority found no associations between the intake of refined-grain foods and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight gain, or overall mortality. A few studies found that very high intakes might be associated with some types of cancers, but at moderate levels of consumption the risks were not significant. The totality of evidence shows that consumption of up to 50% of all grain foods as refined-grain foods (without high levels of added fat, sugar, or sodium) is not associated with any increased disease risk. Nonetheless, eating more whole-grain foods remains an important health recommendation, and most consumers will need to reduce their current consumption of refined grains to no more than one-third to one-half of all grains in order to meet the targets for whole-grain foods”.;jsessionid=825E3490E9E84E6907F58729A666EDAC.d04t01?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

        Meet your denialist, Denise Minger.

        1. Interesting review, although it appears as though it was commissioned by the Australian grain industry itself – ‘Go Grains Health & Nutrition Ltd’ and it reads like it was.

          This review seems to be looking at the ideal amount of refined grains as a percentage of total grains in the diet. In other words, it does not address the question of what percentage of the diet should be grains, only what percentage of included grains should be whole versus refined.

          It also excluded a large body of relevant literature – the review only included refined grains if they were low in fat, sugar, and salt – this is valid for addressing the narrow question of the review but is not representative of reality.

          So, first I’m confused as to why you have referenced this review when it has nothing to do with your preceding arguments about fat and oils. Second, if you are trying to find support for the high consumption of grains being healthy then I can suggest finding a review that was not commissioned by the grain industry, but rather one performed by an independent team of researchers.

          1. Mankind has made this situation of widespread sickness and obesity through the globalisation of refined processed food, hence the reason for a million so called food magicians who believe they can just wave their magic wand and we will all be restored to good health, dont you just love fairytales. When we wander from the path of nature we may very well take a dangerous and unknown journey. We have become sick in the western world since 1977 to present day when certain western governments decided to globalise refined sugar and introduce processed junk food on an unpresedented scale. We do not need food or diet Gurus or wise scientists promising us a one way ticket to the land of health and happiness. The animal kingdom do not have a health service, nor do they analyse or discuss food, they do not snack or eat processed food, wild animals never die of diabetese type 2 or suffer with obesity etc. All we need to do is this ( and i dont have a magic wand ). When we shop for our weekly / monthly groceries just simply buy very little or no processed foods, then buy a variety of what nature has provided such as, fruits, vegetables, nuts / seeds, and a little fish or poultry if desired ( optional ). Do not analsye or discuss food ever again, just simply eat clean and get on with life and enjoy your health. We do not need any special diets ever. peace…..Andrew.

            1. Very true, as I’ve found,… and I’ve been paying attention on all this matter, and living it, since 1984. I’m doing great,… after trial and error. Eliminating starches were the final revelation. Non filtered beers are adequate for my starch ‘lineage’. Very rarely will I eat starches, and minimally at that. Otherwise, starches tend to make me sick,… they cause gunning of the lymph,… which then can result in cold,… besides other issues if more gunking occurs, such as joint issues if one has joint which tweaked in past years, it becomes a ‘weak point’ where gunking can first accumulate most acutely.

          2. Natalie, I urge you to further research the claims presented by Dr. William Davis. This is not a dig at your intelligence, but rather an invitation to consider the inevitable pitfalls of Davis’ argument.

            You might start with this article from Cereal Foods World, funded by the Grain Foods Foundation. Though there is a potential conflict of interest, I believe the article still offers worthwhile discussion, and a healthy body of reference articles for even further reading, too. See what you think.

            1. George, have you considered that your cholesterol is too low? Too low cholesterol is significantly correlated with all-cause morbidity in older people. Cholesterol is NOT evil. It is the substrate for many hormones and critical for brain health, as our brains have large concentrations of cholesterol. For one, please see the recent revolutionary work of Dr. Dale Bredesen, a UCLA neurologist and pioneer in Alzheimer’s who believes low cholesterol is not good at all.

      2. I agree wholeheartedly that few can get what they need nutritionally being vegan. I’m a health and nutrition coach. I was vegan for a mere 6 months and developed anemia, Vit D deficiency, B12 deficiency, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid insufficiency. No thanks! I did the diet after reading The China Study thinking it was the only way to be healthy. All evidence to the contrary! The proof is in the pudding. I choose my health! Now that I’m eating meat, my health is recovering.

        1. Ms. Meyers,

          I am currently seeking out a healthy diet, and to be quite honest, I am unsure of what a healthy diet consists of. I have listened to proponents of a whole foods, plant based diet, as well as those who advocate incorporating meat into one’s diet; the evidence is conflicting. Both sides argue the benefits of their particular diets, while at the same time; they refute diet/nutrition claims contrary to their own.

          Ultimately, my goal is to draw my own conclusions, with regards to determining a truly healthy diet. At the current time, I have far too little information to go on, as my endeavor into finding what really works, pertaining to healthy diet, is limited by my knowledge on the subject matter.

          After reading your post, it is evident you advocate incorporating meat into one’s diet. Additionally, you have provided information regarding the adverse health consequences of a vegan diet, leading me to believe proponents of a whole foods, plant based diet, have negated to discuss the health benefits of eating meat. You claimed while on the plant based diet, you developed anemia, Vitamin D deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid insufficiency. So there are serious health risks, as you pointed out, by completely eliminating meat and dairy from one’s diet. Likewise, proponents of the vegan diet, make claims coronary disease and various types of cancers, are attributed to a meat and dairy based diet. My question is whether or not one can obtain the vitamins you were deficient of, from whole foods, plant based diet, or, can one derive those vitamins solely from meat and dairy products? Furthermore, is there any truth to claims that coronary disease and certain types of cancers are linked to meat and dairy products? Lastly, if coronary disease and certain types of cancers are not linked to meat and dairy products, what then are they attributed to; what can we do to combat these diseases?

          Thank you so much for your post.


          1. Meat, fish, eggs are part of a “whole foods diet” these are “whole foods”, even if you are only purchasing part of the beast from the grocery or farmer’s market.

            Humans are omnivores and there is plenty of science to back up that statement. As for your concern about coronary disease, I suggest the book “Track Your Plaque 2nd edition” by William Davis, MD (yes, it’s “that” Dr. Davis, of “Wheat belly” fame) where the actual cause of heart disease – atherosclerosis (plaque) – is exposed: the short answer is high-glycemic foods, mostly from processed grains and sugar, that increase small-pattern LDL particles (All LDL is not “bad” as in popular belief), and NOT from meat and dairy products.

            Anyway, the healthiest diets eliminate all highly-processed foods. Start there.

            1. I totally agree with you. As long as a person is eating a whole foods diet..whether it’s meat, eggs, dairy, plants, their health will be OK in the long-term. Health is not limited to strictly being on a plant-based diet but for those who decide to go vegan/raw vegan, they do it moreso for their beliefs in living a life more aligned with their values.

          2. Anyone who says, in English, that a diet needs to completely exclude meat in order to be based on plants has no idea what the word “based” means.

            Check out the Mediterranean diet, the Okinawan diet, etc. – those are based on plants and include some meat and they have proponents too… 🙂

            1. All these diets have their proponents and they all seem to find ‘science’ to support them. It seems that almost all experiments can be questioned as to their validity depending on all sorts of variables. In practice, it is difficult to complete eliminate confounding variables in the designs of studies. Given that, one has to go on one’s own experience. After having a heart attack I was persuaded by the lo-carb argument to go for that diet, including meat, fish and dairy. Within a short period of time I felt pretty terrible and by the end of the month I was experiencing chest pains and the like. At this stage I came across Dr. Esselstyn’s recommendations and was convinced by the effectiveness of his own work. Pretty soon I started to recover and my energy levels increased as my weight decreased. This is, of course, only personal testimony but in a world of confusing mis-information and interpretations one sometimes has to go with the choices that work pragmatically with oneself.

            2. True Mediterranean diet, based on those Cretians who had the best health benefits of the region (though many others did not) fasted about 1/2 of the year.

          3. In sciency, you should never make decisions or come to conclusions based on an N of 1. From my understanding she is also a nutrition coach and not a dietician. Not a dig, just reality. You should seek this information out via someone who has an in-depth understanding of diet (ie. dietician) and the vegan diet itself. Good luck.

        2. The body can actually store B12 in the liver, several years worth. So if you really did have B12 deficiency, it wasn’t from a vegan diet in just 6 months. Soy milk, Red bull, Cereals like cherios, cliff bars, fortified nutritional yeast, all have B12 at sufficient levels. If you had even a modicum of knowledge of nutrient distribution of foods, you’d be able to make sure you were getting these nutrients with hardly a thought.

          It’s pretty obvious your nutritional background is severely lacking. You might want to pick up some science based nutritional books before you coach more people.

          1. Why would anyone want to eat “Soy milk, Red bull, Cereals like cherios, cliff bars”. Those are not whole foods. They are processed.

            1. Well if you are claiming a B12 deficiency at 6 months, this would have prevented it. But I suspect the person self diagnosed without any clinical evidence.

              1. Or she could have just taken a b12 supplement like just about anyone knows is a good idea for people on plant based whole food diet. And vit D deficiency is from lack of sun, not diet. Crazy that this person calls herself a nutrition expert.

          2. Oddly enough, most long-term (not short-term) veg*ans have very high rates of B12 deficiencies. Vegans have the highest, in some studies over 90%.

          3. You’re telling people to learn something about nutrition and yet you’re recommending Red Bull and processed grains? LOL!

            1. When someone has a nutrient deficiency, that deficiency is treated with that nutrient. Nutrition works that way. Not bad advice.

              Prior to the discovery of vitamins, nutrient deficiency was one of the leading causes of death and deformity.

              Nowadays, these vitamin deficiencies have been engineered out of the diet by fortification. Bread is fortified with iron, riboflavin, thiamine, folate. Milk is fortified with Vit D and often A & Calcium, Oils with Vit E, salt with iodide. It is so normal now, most folks don’t think about it.

              In the developing countries Vitamin deficiencies are still widespread. Vit A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness.

        3. Hi Ms. Myers,

          Veganism is more than a diet–it is an Ethics System as part of an Animal Liberation movement. You were a plant-based eater, not a Vegan. And, from the looks of it, not a committed one. I’d love to see your credentials as a “health and nutrition coach”. Your anecdote does not speak to the diet itself. I haven’t developed any of the above, and neither have millions of happy and healthy Vegans.

          According to the American Dietetic Association:

          “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

          Also, feel free to look up the blood tests of many Vegans who eat enough whole, high percentage raw Vegans food daily and in enough variety.

        4. My dad was vegan for a mere 8 hours and he now has to take 20 different medications every day. (By the way, the 8 hours was just while he slept).

          Oh, and now my dad is still eating meat, he’s still on those tablets.

        5. You could try to eat cheese instead of meat and try to be vegetarian instead of vegan. It might work for you to be vegetarian instead of being vegan.

      3. I only have one comment in reply to your first sentence – being a meat eater doesn’t mean you automatically get what you need to stay healthy either (ie, not just vegans) so wouldn’t your advice be applicable to everyone?

        1. Bernie, Yes it would, but omnovores already eat from everywhere, but omnivores need a whole different. set of rules. It is called CONSUME WHOLE FOODS. Pizza is not a whole food, bread is not a whole food. Beef is, Whole raw milk is, Fruit and vegetables are, Fish is, and whole grains are. Water is. Most people already know what they should be eating, but the franken foods are too tempting, cakes are tempting icecream is tempting.It is far easier to eat a healthy diet without needing a guide if you are an omnivore. Vegan is a whole different story. For example someone says to me you need to eat some nuts, oh ok, you need to eat fruit and veg, oh ok, you need to eat some eggs, oh ok. Now the vegan, look have an egg or 2, that will cover the b12 thing, OH NO I CANT EAT AN EGG. NOW YOU MAY KNOW WHY OMNIVORES DON@T NEED THE SAME SORT OF INSTRUCTIONS.

      4. “1. Eat real food.”
        Please define “real” food. Are milled grains, processed by fermentation and high heat real food? How about spiced and macerated meat heated to high temperatures?

        2. Avoid high-omega-6 vegetable oils
        Good general advice.

        3. Secure a source of vitamin K2
        To my knowledge, there is no evidence that K1 is not sufficient.

        4. Take enough vitamin D3 to get your blood level up to the 35 ng/ml mark.
        To my knowledge, there is no evidence that D2 is not sufficient.

        5. Get the most out of your beta carotene.
        To my knowledge, there is no evidence that vegans are more likely to be deficient for retinoids.

        6. Properly prepare any grains, legumes, or nuts you eat.
        Can you provide peer-reviewed evidence that preparing grains, legumes, or nuts in the manner you propose is in any way beneficial.

        7. Eat high-vitamin-C foods along with iron-rich foods to enhance iron absorption.
        Good general advice.

        8. Be kind to your thyroid.
        Please provide a single study suggesting that consumption of broccoli, cauliflower, kale consumption *promote* hypothyroidism

        9. Take vitamin B12
        Good advice for vegans, vegetarians, the elderly and those with digestive problems.

        10. Try going gluten-free at least as a 30-day experiment
        Please provide a single study showing that “going gluten free” is beneficial for those who do not suffer from Celiacs or gluten allergies.

        12. Consider supplementing with taurine.
        Taurine is endogenously synthesized from cysteine in the pancreas. To my knowledge, there is no nutritional requirement for taurine.

        13. Look into “bivalveganism,” a combination of plant foods and non-sentient shellfish.
        Please explain why vegans should “look into” this.

        On DHA:
        DHA is endogenously synthesized from fats found in plants, grains and nuts. Billions of human beings live their entire lives without consumption of appreciable amounts of DHA. To my knowledge, there is no evidence that DHA “deficiency” is a medical phenomenon or that exogenous long-chain n-3 pufas are required for human health.

        1. Plain wrong statement. Read your biochemistry before you write such fallacies about DHA being endogenously synthesized by humans. I quote Biochemistry, 5th edition

          Jeremy M Berg, John L Tymoczko,

          1 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
          2 Carleton College
          3 Stanford University
          New York: W H Freeman; 2002.
          ISBN-10: 0-7167-3051-0

          Mammals lack the enzymes to introduce double bonds at carbon atoms beyond C-9 in the fatty acid chain. Hence, mammals cannot synthesize linoleate (18:2 cis-Δ9, Δ12) and linolenate (18:3 cis-Δ9, Δ12, Δ15). Linoleate and linolenate are the two essential fatty acids. The term essential means that they must be supplied in the diet because they are required by an organism and cannot be endogenously synthesized. Linoleate and linolenate furnished by the diet are the starting points for the synthesis of a variety of other unsaturated fatty acids.

          1. Stupid keyboard :)… Continue…in case you mention that The ALA –> EPA –> DHA pathway, this is so inefficient in humans that the amount of EPA and DHA that is actually produced by elongation and desaturation is negligible to the point of both w3 been labelled as essential for humans.

            1. The conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA in humans is dramatically higher in those who don’t eat fish (ie those who don’t receive DHA and EPA in their diet) to the point where just by looking at the blood levels of the 2 acids in a fish eater and a non-fish eater, you would be unaware to who’s blood you were actually looking at:

              I don’t deny the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA in fish-eaters is poor, because it doesn’t need to be good, but when you starve the body of useable sources your body will naturally start converting more efficiently.

              If a strict vegan receives 4g daily of ALA, which is very easy to achieve (14g of Flax Seeds gives you just over 3g of ALA), and have an omega 3:6 ratio of no greater than 1:2.5 (it doesn’t have to be 1:1, mine is 1:2) then you will not only have sufficient levels of EPA and DHA but also ALA- which is needed itself.

              How long it takes before you convert efficiently, I’m not sure, I would guess 3 months minimum, but I would be shocked if a strict vegan (who has been for at least 6 months) that receives 4g ALA daily is deficient in any of the 3 aforementioned o3 acids.

              Of all the dietary issues that can arise from going vegan in theory (that doesn’t also apply to meat and fish eaters- D3), only vitamin B12 actually exists in practice amongst the majority (this is largely due to a better understanding of nutrition amongst vegans) and vegans supplement so that is not even a problem.

              Certainly a better option than the ethical issues, chronic inflammation and dramatically increased risk of pretty much every disease which arise from eating animal products.

      5. But the vast majority of Americans CAN “automatically” get what they need to stay healthy on a diet of mostly McDonalds and boxed and canned foods? Why don’t you write to them, give them contradicting information. Let them panic about their health pressure them to do things they are ethically uncomfortable with. Leave us alone. Go fix the real problems.

    2. It comes down to 3 basic guidelines.

      1). Eat Whole foods (you can skip the oysters; non-vegans just like it when vegans eat questionably vegan foods. )

      2) Take a B12 supplement, Vit D since we live in boxes all day, but this applies to everyone, not just vegans.

      3) Exercise regularly. Exercise increases caloric requirements which will ultimately increase nutrient intake if you follow #1 & maintain your body weight. Exercise has a zillion other benefits from raising HDL, increasing bone density, regulating immune system function.

      While D2 may be (1:1 to 1:10) as effective as D3 5000IU/day seems to work for most folks. If in doubt get tested. DHA is recommended, but the science is less clear as to whether it is truly detrimental. As of now, it’s a “just in case” I take it for that reason. I recommend this brand since it has EPA/DHA

      Taurine, carnitine, creatine, carnosine is all speculative and has little to no scientific evidence vegans needs these. Yeah, creatine seems to enhance athletic performance, but being “fit” is different from being “healthy” Athletes, vegan or not, have specific needs that differ from normal folks. Caffeine is a better performance enhancing compound, but that doesn’t mean we need it.

      I really would like to see the origins of the K2 recommendations , since K1 has been shown to increase bone mineralization, K2 is produced by gut microflora and shown to be absorbed by the body, human breast milk contains primarily K1, so there would’ve been some evolutionary pressure to weed it out if it wasn’t as effective as K2.

      Most of the studies on poly-unsaturated fats & thrombosis are for people who fall into the “therapeutic group” BMI >30, non-vegan, sedentary life-style, etc… There’s a number of confounding variables with these types of studies.

      I’m a vegan (10 awesome years), a professional chemist (food & pharma industry), & 40+ endurance athlete. Pick Up “Vegan for Life” – Jack Norris RD & Virginia Messina RD, and that’s pretty much give you the info you need.

      I don’t just do “OK” I thrive on a vegan diet with those 3 rules.

      1. Clearly, you have an education backing that I lack in chemistry, but, from my own experimentation with Omega 3 (particularly high doses of EPA), it seems extremely pertinent to mental health. I was on purpose searching for a solution to bipolar disorder that allowed me to wean from my psych meds which were damaging my liver. After finding several Omega 3 studies on bipolar disorder, I began using what seemed to be the median therapeutic dose, 1000 mg per day (actually 1200, as my supplement, Futurebiotics New Havest Vegetarian EPA is 600 mg per capsule). I also take Ovega Omega 3 for DHA (it also has some EPA). Both products’ manufacturers say they are completely vegan. This along with 250 mg of magnesium, a good B Complex, and some extra niacin have my mental health better than it has ever been. I have been completely off my psych meds for months now. Before the addition of the high dosage of EPA, my results were definitely sub-optimum. This is merely my experience, but there are documented studies supporting similar findings.

        My first Omega 3 supplementations were just in case too. I now wonder if it may have been the lack of it in my diet, ever, that caused a lifelong affliction.

        Anyway, I know you weren’t arguing against it in any way. I don’t really know what makes all these things work. I just know the EPA helps me not feel out of control all the time. Magnesium helps me be less angry. Niacin makes the hallucinations stop. For me. It’s not a whole study, but just random info. (The B Complex is just just for good measure because there’s just no way I get enough of those in my diet.)

        By the way, you’ve been doing this a little longer than I have, and I am only just now getting around to needing my vegan diet to be more healthy. So now, 7-8 years in, I’m just now ordering some books and things (I usually just search out what I want to know online). I’ve heard of Vegan for Life. I see you think it good. I just ordered Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, both registered dieticians, and The Vegan Sourcebook by Joanne Stepaniak M.S.Ed. Do you know these books? Do you have an opinion?

        1. How much fish one should eat every day to get “enough” DHA? because millions of quite normal people haven’t eaten fish every day (at most two days a week, maybe) int he context of a high fat diet with tons of o6 and few greens (so ver few short o3) and they are still alive and with mental lucidity.
          Humans doesn’t need DHA, if one is a bit healthy. Pretty much statitic is done.

        2. I take a 400mg/200mg vegan DHA/EPA supplement “just in case”, because the literature is ambiguous. That said, the human body more easily converts ALA (C18:3), the Ω3 that flax seeds are well known for, into EPA than DHA Most literature I’ve come across puts the conversion ALA-EPA at ~8-10%. I eat ~3tbsp ground flax seeds/day in the form of bread, smoothies, and even my own plant based keifer.

          There’s ~7000mg ALA, so @ a 10% conversion turns into ~700mg EPA. So in total that’s ~ 400mg/900mg EPA/DHA from plant sources.

          The human body just has a problem with DHA, and in vegans, the predominant C22 Ω3 chain is DPA (missing a double bond compared to DHA), but again there’s no real evidence humans need more DHA than we can produce.

          The nice thing about eating a good amount of ALA is that excess fats are stored unaltered. That is if you eat a lot of ALA it will end up in your adipose tissue.

          The body constantly pulls fat out of storage, circulates it and puts most of it back. Only ~25% of the fat circulating in the blood is used for energy.

          So eating flax seeds regularly will increase your Ω3 fatty acids in your blood all day long.

        3. Yes, I have those books. I find Vegan for Life, the most scientifically accurate and most general. I disagree with some points, like the lots of legumes bit, but I can see their point if they are trying to provide recommendations that fit most people’s eating habits.

          I eat all whole food ftmp and eat ~4000Cal/day, so protein is never a concern for me. I take in 100g-150g/day without mock meats or supplements. I do love mock meats, so I limit them to the weekends only.

          Jack Norris & Ginny Messina both have blogs and answer most questions on there. So if you have questions, post to their blogs.

          Vitamins are all involved in aiding biochemical reactions and often their products are allosteric (indirect) regulators of even more reactions. There are several genetic disorders that can affect the equilibrium of one reaction or another that megadoses of vitamins might help.

          One such disorder is homocystinuria and mega-doses of B6, B12, B9 (folate) along with methyl donors can help reduce the symptoms.

      2. There is a lot of evidence, actually. For example:

        Lack of carnosine causes glycation and you can’t get enough from a typical carnosine pill. Read the article I linked and check the sources.

        I’m glad you’re “thriving” but lifelong paleo dieters certainly seem to “thrive” more than lifelong vegetarians. I was a vegetarian for most of my life and, like most lifelong vegetarians, I started to develop serious health problems related to diet in my 30s. The difference is I actually swallowed my pride (and disgust) and started eating meat. All of my health problems disappeared within weeks. And, like you, I was a health nut about vegetarianism. I was not eating cookies and corn chips and bread and tofutti. I was eating a variety of whole foods, mostly vegetables and fruit, lots of raw and always as much variety as I could along with a bunch of supplements.

      3. Stevil Chemist, good for you, you are one of the 30% who can remain on a vegan diet, I am 70, and doing fine thanks no medications and an omnivore diet, nobody had to teach me what to eat, how to exercise, or live a fantastic life. This lady is giving some tips, for a vegan diet, as it is not natural and needs to be taught. and you, OH HOLIER THAN THOU come down on her. You have another 20 years to catch up with me good luck with that and the continuation of your vegan pilgrimage.

    3. Two excellent and informative blog accounts on the fraud Minger has pulled up. Minger has been known for riduculing the plant-based doctors with a messianic self-confidence.

      This 2-fold blog account reveals the fraud and takes a critical look whether the messianic self-confidence that has been constantly displayed by Dennis actually has any real substance. From mismanaging numbers in her alleged refutations to her cholesterol denialism/creationism.

      1) Forks Over Knives and Healthy Longevity: A Missed Opportunity for the Cholesterol Skeptics

      2) Forks Over Knives and Healthy Longevity: Perhaps the Science is Legit After All

        1. Richard, Thanks for providing links to those posts. The fact that Minger has not responded to that thorough shellacking (not vegan) is telling.

      1. Richard…. Pitiful, denial of a superb piece of work. No human can defend their case harder or more religiously than a self righteous vegan. Veganism is the new religion, No matter how many flaws Denise found in Campbel’ls China study, and forks over knives, Oh she is wrong. NO she is not wrong, Campbell cherry picks certain information, and stays away from anything that doesn’t support his philosophy, AKA religion.

        In the China Study, Meat consumption, was negatively related to heart disease, and cancers, especially Colorectal cancer. In part of the study, it looked like meat was the *bad guy*, but when they took out Chronic infection with schistosomiasis, suddenly, meat became *the protective guy* go here The China Study, looked good for the vegemites, until Denise Minger took a closer look, and found, yes you guessed it, the vegemite people had been cherry picking again. (everyone knows vegetarians are better cherry pickers).

    4. I will be straight up honest. I do not respect much of what any woman says. They are Highly Opinionated Idiots. They read one damn article about something and all of sudden they become the go to person on that subject and just repeat and repeat and repeat whatever that article says. To me, Denise Minger is a very beautiful idiot. Nothing More! If you want to convince a man of what you say, use only the words that convey facts, everything else is bullshit.

      1. Dear Dan. Seems your a perfect candidate to follow that guy from 30 Banana’s. All insults and prejudice , combined with distorted facts. Do a google search, you’d fit right in.

      2. I guess you don’t do so well with the ladies, maybe that’s why you’re a bitter sexist prick. By the way, I’m sure no one here has any respect for your ignorant opinions.

      3. Since I’m gay, her appearance is not of concern. However, it would appear to me that Denise Minger established “fame” by posting some blog that others, being unqualified to spot a bullshit, were impressed (maybe the beauty that you see also gives a ‘halo effect’). She’s just a no nobody who’s let ‘minor celebrity status’ go to her head and believes all the hype that her unqualified subjects destow upon her. To say she is a “minor celebrity” is giving far more credit than she’s due. You ask 1000 randomly chosen members of the public who she is and they wouldn’t have a clue. 4th rate minor reality TV show celebs have more fame than she does.

        “Decade long vegetarian and a few years vegan.” Oh, piss off, Denise. I’ve been vegan for 39 years so go talk to the infant school.

    5. If your confused after reading Denise Minger it’s because that’s what she,s trying to do. I would advise other sources. if you hope to clarify a little someday.

    6. Amanda, that last line of yours is exactly how I feel: the more I learn the less I know. I have for the past 6 months not really at any meat (beef, chicken, turkey,etc) and I’ve felt alright; but lately I’ve had some shrimp. I have a friend who for 30 years has been meat free and he said back before he was he had colon problems? This whole thing is truly complicated to a degree..everyone is different..UGGH! Somedays I cannot get my head around this whole thing! Even had a doctor who survived Cancer tell me that he eats very little if any meat? The longest living people I believe are closer to Vegetarians? Oh, help?!

    7. I was a vegan (crusader, even!) for 4.5 years, and a vegetarian for a year beyond that. The easiest way to handle veganism is to NOT BE A VEGAN. If animal welfare and the environment are your concern, save your money and give it to the charities of your choice. Really, I SERIOUSLY wouldn’t advise going down the vegan rabbithole. REALLY.

    8. I feel like this as well. My anxiety increases directly in proportion to the number of nutritional science blog posts I read. And I enjoy Denise’s content and I own her book! But still, there seems to be no unifying view on this front except for “don’t eat processed food”.

      As much as I agree with the paleo ish food perspective in theory, the fact remains that my body feels not-good on a higher fat intake. I feel less bloated and acne ridden the closer I get to a 10% fat intake (and obvs eliminating processed food and gluten and dairy etc), but I (mostly) believe the literature that says this isn’t good for my gut or blood sugar or candida bla bla bla yadda yadda.

      Which always leaves me in a very uncomfortable position, physically and mentally speaking.

  2. Im not personaly struggling with diet, I feel fantastic, but Im not a full blown vegan either. I just feel bombarded with so much contradictory information and meat bashing, veg bashing and vegan bashing literature it sometimes can be over whelming, I think thats what I struggle with. Aside from the bivalves and this fermented foods business I currently follow those tips. Just trying to keep an open mind, strive to stay informed and sticking to the middle ground. Thanks for the break down Neisy. Much appreciated.

    1. ya the bashing is annoying and confusing, but as you certainly realise some people really are incompetent and/or ill-intentioned so pointing those out wouldn’t be bashing as you will certainly agree. About the sources, I was vague to say the least. After reading Minger I’d highly recommend the plantpositive channel and reading the China Study for yourself if you haven’t already. For a more complete “non-bashing” or debate type of information, you can’t pass up on the channel. This one will certainly clear things up a little for you. I’m assume you are not familiar…

      Hope I’ve been helpful in someway and please point me in the direction of interesting info.


    2. Think about what human beings have been eating for the last 2.5 million years, and follow that as your guide. It’s really that simple. And it’s really NOT VEGAN. It’s PALEO. Your body is programmed to prefer what it has evolved to prefer–hunter-gatherer food.

  3. I would like also add a wonderful site for all health conscious vegans who thinks it’s a good idea to take advices in regards to veganism from Weston Price Protégés.

    Total 98 videos. All about the paleo-mind set from which the author of this site derives her logic on vegan diets. A video serie exposing the problematism of people who collect their fame (and lecture remunerations) by serving low-carb, paleo and “real food” communities

    Just a starter.

    1. The speaker’s ad hominem stance screams bias and lacks grace, though I don’t find his points relevant either.

      Regardless of whatever “body of nutritional science” Ms. Minger may or may not be aware of – if a researcher ignores large correlations without referencing that accepted “body of science” to explain the irrelevance of the correlations, it is either sloppy work or intentional propaganda. If we understand the properties of these grains as well as the speaker implies, why aren’t they treated as a control rather than a variable? Why bother collecting the data on them at all?

      Either way – Miss Minger wins the ethos slap fight: her writing/thoughts are much more qualified.

  4. “… choose your sources wisely. This applies to pretty much any authority that dispenses advice about a diet they’re emotionally or financially invested in”

    I very much agree with the above.

    Anyways, thanks for the tips Denise.

  5. “And as somebody who used to put full faith in everything I read on, I’d also recommend doing your own research before trusting what you read on vegan sites about human digestive anatomy, meat studies in the news, and the miraculousness of seitan”

    Denise this so cool. I actually did just that. First, I read vegsource’s stance on human anatomy then I proceeded and thought maybe the editor in chief of American Journal of Cardiology, William Clifford Roberts has also something to say about the issue. After all, he is an expert and published over 1300 scientific papers which all have been published in a scientific platform (I have an article called “the cause of atherosclerosis” particularly in my mind ). I still wasn’t convinced what Roberts was saying so I had to listen what the professor of evolutionary biology at the Dartmouth university, Nathaniel Dominy had to say about the issue of human anatomy and dead animal flesh. It turned out vegsource had it correct all the way.

    Anwyways, my honest and sincere critique. This was a horrible article. First you make veganism look an endevour, a big mess, not worth the risks. Judged by you one ought to be lucky if surviving a month on this “experiment”. Next you go against the last bastion, the moral and ethical arguments by citing stupid links by ex-vegans. Atleast you could have provided some upside followed by vegan diet in regards to environment, health and animal welfare. No. You didn’t do that. Your income is dependent on not doing that. Your income is dependent spewing ridiculous BS about Lierre Keiths book and factory farms being more sustainable than strawberries. I feel pity for you.

    Preparing the grains….LOL. Give me a break. Do I smell some pseudoscientific, appeal-to-tradition, paleo framework goin’ on here? I do.

    1. Humans have been eating grains for over 2.5 million years. Ha ha. Just kidding. But man, you sure seem smug. That’s typical of vegans. I should know–I was probably more of a hardcore crusader than you are.

  6. (The only difference between militant vegans and me is that they want to take my freedom to eat meat by any way possible, including preaching false dogma about health and science. But the true is that our very existence as a continuing species on this earth means we are utilizing resources that would otherwise be available for other creatures. That applies to every creature on earth as well.) Charlie

    That I see overwhelming evidence that vegans and I are entirely more similar than different. What is a vegan, then? What is veganism?
    Vegans eat a lot of vegetables. I eat a lot of vegetables.
    Vegans love animals. I love animals.
    Vegans want to spare animals. Spare animals what, exactly? Death?
    Vegans want to spare animals death. Impossible. Immortality is not an option for animals, not even the human animal. Suffering? Physical and mental suffering?
    Vegans want to spare animals physical and mental suffering. I want to spare animals physical and mental suffering.
    Vegans want to spare animals exposure to human brutality. I want to spare animals exposure to human brutality.
    Vegans want to spare animals from ever experiencing anything painful, whether physical or mental. To never experience any pain or suffering, or less than perfect circumstances would defy the laws of the universe and subsequent reality which we are living beings in. Not even birth, the opposite of death, can occur without pain. To experience love, the most wonderful thing on Earth, we must experience some pain and suffering. Think of a person you love with all your heart, and now think of a time when that person caused you pain. That person lied to you, let you down, maybe hit you or just accidently ran over your foot with the car when they were backing out of the driveway. No matter, there was pain and suffering in there somewhere.
    Vegans do not consume animal products of any kind. Impossible. Inside every vegetable is an animal and maybe another vegetable, and inside every animal is a vegetable, and maybe another animal. And on and on and on.

    1. Charlie, I appreciate your wanting to find common ground—instead of attempting to beat others into submission. You make a lot of good points. I worry that some people will not be willing to see your point of view because they are so deep in denial about how throughout human history we humans have depended upon consuming other animals and few of us would be here today if that were not the case. It may not be fair to the organism that ends up on someone’s plate, just like it won’t be fair if I get eaten by a mountain lion tomorrow. But that’s life on Earth.

        1. There are LOTS of things we don’t have to do to live. We don’t have to have a home to live. We don’t have to have a job to live. We don’t have to have an education to live. We don’t have to have clean clothes to live. We don’t have to even WEAR clothes to live. We don’t have to take a shower to live. We don’t have to wear glasses to live. We don’t have to have health insurance to live. We don’t have to have friends to live. So freaking what? The point is that certain behaviors enhance our QUALITY OF LIFE, which of course vegans see as less important than animals’ quality of life. You say animals first, always. I say humans first, usually, but not always. I was a vegan crusader. I lived the life. I know what it’s all about. Then I got a clue.

  7. Denise, please. Do you seriously think vegans have something to gain from Tom Billings BeyondVeg when we already have PrimitiveNutrition 🙂

    If primitivenutrion’s serie on paleo is the university, then BeyondVeg would not even qualify as a kindergarden. Do not underestimate your audience. It’s april 2012, you should be selling us the car of the season. Paleo is already debunked.

    1. Richard, these videos are a good example of a biased/unreliable source (selectively picked info that hinges largely on character attacks, uses abstracts instead of the full-text of many studies, often relies on secondary interpretations of research, and is made by someone with strong emotional investment in veganism). If he has any videos that specifically offer health advice for vegans, let me know and I’ll see if they’re solid enough to link to on this page.

      1. Neisy,

        1. It’s not a character attack to point out that you don’t have background in nutrition or any relevant field here. Your education is not your character, nor is your character your education.

        2. PrimitiveNutrition’s references allow one to find the full-text if one likes. You simply don’t know if he used the full-text of the studies he referenced or only the abstracts. Pretending that you do know such comes as misleading. Also on this point, the authors of the studies write the abstracts. So, using abstracts isn’t necessarily problematic in itself.

        3. Plenty of PrimitiveNutrition’s references come from primary research. Oftentimes he relies on firsthand interpretation of research.

        4. You have very little idea about the intensity of PrimitiveNutrition’s emotional investment in veganism and neither do I. You think you can mind read someone’s emotional state over the internet? Second, PrimitiveNutritiouses the term “whole food vegan” at one point in his videos. Someone who uses that term, I suspect, will usually *dislike* a vegan diet with a high amount of processed and refined foods *for most people* (he might make an exception for someone with gastroparesis, or someone with high caloric needs or strange food allergies). The class of diets which qualify as vegan include such highly processed food diets. So, there does exist an indication that PrimitiveNutrition might *strongly dislike* a part of veganism. If all that holds about him (which though speculative, seems highly likely), PrimitiveNutrition actually isn’t strongly emotionally invested in veganism, because if he were he would have to be strongly emotionally invested in highly processed vegan type diets. At best, he comes as strongly emotionally invested in a subclass of vegan diets.

        5. It comes as unreasonable to request that PrimitiveNutrition supply specific health advice for vegans, even if he has the relevant background to do this, because he has too large and varied of a potential audience. It seems highly likely that registered dietitians who would normally recommend a whole food plant-based diet to most people, will NOT recommend such a diet to someone with gastroparesis. Or, in my particular case, though I believe that an RD would would usually recommend peanuts as a plant source of fat, I doubt that such an RD would recommend the same thing with me since I’m allergic. You have to know your audience before you can make intelligent recommendations, and the less homogenous your intended audience the more difficult it becomes to make intelligent recommendations.

        I will add that PrimitiveNutrition does say this:

        “You might think I am here to say animal foods are not good for you. I am not. If you are going hungry, any source of calories and nutrients is good for you. But if you have a choice they are probably not optimal for you over the long term. And if you care about our modern challenges, they are not right for us, as a community.”

      2. LOL….priceless. “The lipid theory is bonked out” or how did you once put it? I love the comedy that follows when creationist/Sarah Palin crew try to pretend they a clue on the issues they impose their denialist beliefs upon.

        A data of million genotypes shows the people with inherited mutation in one of the 9 SNPs studied, which all have crucial role in cholesterol metabolism, are exposed to life-long reduction in LDL-levels and have 54% decreased risk in dying due to CHD per every 1mmol/l (39mg/dl) drop in the LDL-fraction. None of the studied individuals had any other inherited differences in any other biomarker. Each of the inherited mutations in the nine different polymorphism lowers LDL with a different mechanism, neverthelss the end result is identical. This offers compelling evidence that the benefits that accrue with low LDL are independent of the mechanism used. In turn, this proves that dietary pattern that maintain very low LDL levels should be sought after. Animal fats fits in very poorly in this picture.

        BTW one of the polymorphism studied was the HMG-CoA which is the one targeted by statins. Creationist/Cholesterol denialist/Masterjohn -crew maintain that the benefits of statins accrue due to pleitrophic effects instead of the lipid-lowering properties of statins. If so, one would have to explain why people with inherited mutation in HMG-CoA which causes life-long exposure to low LDL show 54% reduced risk in dying to cardiovascular causes per every 1mmol/l decrease in LDL-fraction.

        Minger welcome to year 2012.

  8. Jack Norris is a favorite among Boston Vegan Association members! I was wondering when he would come up on a paleo blog.

    With respect to vitamin D, I wonder if some vegans may not absorb all of it because of a relative lack of accompanying fat. According to a couple articles from last year…

    “After supplementation with vitamin D3, the increment in plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D was positively associated with monounsaturated fatty acids, and negatively associated with polyunsaturated fatty acids.”

    This may be particularly applicable to vegans. In my brief vegetarian days, I would sometimes have some yogurt for breakfast. But I’d imagine that some vegans have a breakfast largely devoid of saturated+monounsaturated fat, unless they get some peanut or almond butter. A few times, I’ve seen vegan breakfasts consisting almost solely on fruit, along with a multivitamin and vitamin D.

    1. Anecdotally, I’ve seen quite a few McDougall-style vegans have trouble bringing up their vitamin D levels even with consistent supplementation, so you may be on to something! Thanks for the links!

  9. As always, you’ve provide a nice little escape hatch from diet dogma by bringing it back to a discussion of what we need to thrive and where we’re likely to find it 🙂

  10. Not a vegan in the least but love the recommendations. Going to pass this on to my vegan friends who aren’t doing that well on it but are determined to stick with it. I may not be able to convince them to eat meat, but hopefully they can find a better vegan diet than what they’re on now(everything they eat seems to come in a box or be cooked in canola oil).

  11. I get a kick at how worked up people get over all this paleo, veg, vegan jive. Stress is about as good for your health as twinkies are! My husband is a professional athlete, we have been doing this meatless thing for a spell, and were going to keep doing it with little to no regard of the opinions of all those who seem obsessed with telling us its wrong, were going to keep doing it until we feel like shat, if that ever happens. Much like how I dont like lima beans, I dont like the taste of meat. I really find all this bashing so distasteful. At the end of the day we are all going to die of something if people believe its from eating meat. Let them believe it, if they believe little leperchans whisk them away to their demise, let them believe that too. Why does media seem to think the masses are so damned stupid we need to be told? Why are we so obsessed with whose right? Eat what ya like! it aint no skin off my ass. Im going to go make a green smoothie and smoke a Newport. Peace.

  12. Thanks Denise – this is a great article, I do sometimes have vegan clients, and this is a great go to article – you’ve outlined the issues and solutions really well.
    A vegan here in NZ found that adding raw cottage cheese and raw egg yolks made all the difference – without having to eat bivalves.

    When I did an analysis of Durianrider’s diet (on my blog) I found he got zero preformed vit A, and high beta carotene. In a blood test his vit A levels were excellent, he is one of the lucky good converters, yet doesn’t acknowledge others may not be.

    1. I read that article…very nice! It would be really cool if you did the same post, but for Lex Rooker’s all meat diet, and then compared the two. (like in clinical trials, how they compare extremes in order to generate hypotheses).

          1. You would have to guess at what the percetages of which organs are in the mix. Lex used to eat the Dog & Cat food from Slankers. Since many people started buying it for themselves they now offer a Primal mix for humans.

    2. I loved that blog post you wrote, Julianne (for anyone who hasn’t seen it: I’m really glad he’s transparent with his blood work, because at the very least he’s a fascinating case study!

      Someone recently sent me a video he did that shows both his 2009 blood test and his most recent one:

      He didn’t mention this in his video, but his LDL went up significantly. Between 2009 and his last test, his numbers changed from the following (I converted it from mmol/l to mg/dl, but you can see the original numbers in the video if you pause it):

      Triglycerides: from 53 to 62
      Total cholesterol: From 135 to 186 (officially above Esselstyn’s “heart attack proof” line at 150)
      HDL: from 50 to 58
      LDL: from 73 to 116
      Total cholesterol/HDL ratio: 2.7 to 3.2

      1. From wikipedia: “In humans, triglycerides are a mechanism for storing unused calories, and their high concentrations in blood correlates with the consumption of starchy and other high carbohydrate foods.”

        It’s impossible for a person on a low-fat(5-10% fat) diet to develop heart disease because the body is working in primary metabolism, aka Glucose metabolism, unless someone’s body is already clogged up with fat, they will have trouble processing all those carbs. Secondary metabolism is a survival metabolism, low-carb diet, aka Fat metabolism.

        HDL/LDL are transport proteins that transport fatty acids around plasma(blood), higher HDL/LDL just means a person is ingesting higher quantities of fat. In all reality, the flawed way of measuring blood cholesterol is limited to those that ingest oils, processed foods and cooked flesh. Skewing the truth to fit your view point doesn’t make you look intelligent.

        1. You may be correct but if eating a ton of fruit and starches (such as sweet potatoes) generates consistently high glucose and fructose levels in the blood this may be problematic as both convert to AGEs (advanced glycated end-products) which gum up vessels and, because glucose is toxic to the bloodstream, may contribute to vascular inflammation, a likely driver of cardiovascular disease.

          Anyway, I don’t honestly think man was meant to survive solely on fruits or meat alone as we are obviously omnivores and therefore most people likely need both animal products and plant products.

        2. This is wrong on so many levels…..low-fat diets often are the cause of a person developing CVD! Look into for real information with plenty of “success stories” from real people. So…”Skewing the truth to fit your view point doesn’t make you look intelligent” ….ahem….

          1. Well, we still need to understand why, when the germans confiscated all animal fats between 1940-44 in Europe, CVD went down, despite all the stress to which these populations were submitted to. I wish some of you wouldn’t be powered by wishful thinking and cognitive dissonance. Where the….did you read or learn that low fat diets are the cause for most people to develop CVD, please!

            1. I probably should have qualified what I said a bit further. Not all low-fat diets cause CVD, However, the idea that dietary fat causes CVD is wrong. Blood sugar spikes from high-carb, usually grain-based foods – which are quite common in most “low-fat diet” foods, are the starting point in the formation of small-particle-sized LDL patterns, which are linked with the formation of arterial plaque. Where did I learn this? Started with my cardiologist, his book “Track Your Plaque” by William Davis, MD, and I then followed the references and did plenty of reading.

            2. Sugar was also in short supply. People ate more vegetables and a lot more fish. Children’s growth was also stunted from rationing.

        3. That’s not entirely true. IF you over eat, whether it be from fats or carbs, you store the excess as fat. Guess what kind of fat glucose is converted to? It’s C16:0 Palimitic acid, a saturated fat and the one that increases LDL the most of all saturated fats. If you look at the Durian Rider, he has fairly high cholesterol. The video I saw had his total cholesterol at 185 and his LDL at 115, where the latter is above recommendations.

    3. There is no such thing as “lucky good converters”.

      Beta-carotene to Retinol(Vitamin A) conversion is strictly regulated by Thyroxine(T4). The conversion problem’s seem to happen to those with thyroid problems, probably because of the lack of Iodine and Vitamin D.

      The Thyroid is also involved in the conversion of Beta Carotene to Vitamin A. (Hypothyroidism shows high levels of Beta Carotene in the Blood, meaning it is not being converted):

      Vitamin D regulates the thyroid.

    4. There is no such thing as “lucky good converters”.

      Beta-carotene to Retinol(Vitamin A) conversion is strictly regulated by Thyroxine(T4). The conversion problem’s seem to happen to those with thyroid problems, probably because of the lack of Iodine and Vitamin D.

      The Thyroid is also involved in the conversion of Beta Carotene to Vitamin A. (Hypothyroidism shows high levels of Beta Carotene in the Blood, meaning it is not being converted):

      Vitamin D regulates the thyroid.

    5. A vegan who eats cottage cheese and egg yolks is vegetarian, not vegan. As Amanda says, eat what ya like….but that’s not vegan. 🙂

  13. “Richard, these videos are a good example of a biased/unreliable source (selectively picked info that hinges largely on character attacks, uses abstracts instead of the full-text of many studies, often relies on secondary interpretations of research, and is made by someone with strong emotional investment in veganism”

    Well what did you use as source when you told your readers Ancel Keys study is flawed and bogus? Are you referring to the segments in the primitivenutrition serie which analyzed the evolutionary interpretations of a shirtless supplement merchant, the one that is publishing your book. Or do you mean the clip where the paleo-accusations of “green-veggie” paradox is put under a critical scrutiny. I don’t see any personal attacks, you just might want to stop those childish accusations.

    Do you think there’s even a hint of sweet irony with your comments above and the fact that you guide us vegans to Tom Bilings and Tasha’s site? Do you think there’s some irony in the fact you aknowledge the virtue of transparency with Jack Norris but dismiss the comprehensive analysis of paleo-diet made by paleo-diet expert, plantpositive? We don’t really see the transparancy in the “real food” community and you certainly are not being helpfull on this matter either. Don’t you think you are making childish accusations against primitivenutrition serie, after all you totally “borrowed” his work in the Ancel Keys blog post of yours. Isn’t imitation and plagiarisation the ultimate form of admiration. Why don’t you promote primitivenutrition site? You certainly found them usefull. I know this blog post is about vegans, not paleo, but I am trying give the reader a picture whether you should be considered as balanced information source or not. I think I am being helpfulll to your readers looking for good advices. Perhaps you are just a bit too emotionally invested in your own crusade. Just sayin’.

    Now, speaking of Durianriders bloodwork. Compared to any paleo-eater with total serum cholesteol around 300, this digits looks fantastics. However, you don’t really have to look outside vegan sources to find out that Durianrider and Freelee are basically into an outdated concept. In fact what we see is Colin T Campbell, Esselstyn, McDougall speaking against the abuse of smoothies. I cannot why Durianrider has his cholesterol this high, I suspect it’s the 30 bananas smoothies and excess fructose that gets to reign freely when all the protective fiber is being destroyed. You certainly don’t see cholesterol figures like this among those consuming high starch diets. Do you think Durianriders dietary habits are a good proxy for vegans in general?

    Here’s Dr William Castelli from Framingham study spewing vegan propaganda.

    “You know, we know that if I can get your total cholesterol down around let’s say 100 to 130 or so, and I have maybe not quite a billion people on the earth like that, and those people cannot get atherosclerosis. You know in the China Study, for example, when Chou En-lai was dying of cancer he started a study in China just like the Framingham Study. The only difference was it was in 880,000,000 people so it was a little larger than the Framingham Study. But you know they found these villages in China where you couldn’t get a heart attack or you couldn’t get diabetes and the women couldn’t get breast cancer and you know their total cholesterol were 127, but the chances we could ever get Americans down that low with diet and exercise are not good”.

    1. Wow. I’m a little lost in all the names and things here. Are there really vegans with cholesterol levels over 100-130? Mine hasn’t been that high in years.

  14. “I read that article…very nice! It would be really cool if you did the same post, but for Lex Rooker’s all meat diet, and then compared the two. (like in clinical trials, how they compare extremes in order to generate hypotheses)”.

    There’s a tons of data of all meat diets. They get you in the very high risk group for sudden cardiadic death in weeks. This is why I think Denise would be more helpfull to society if paying more focus of the risk profiles of her blog readers. Kurt-Harris style diet makes total serum cholesterol skyrocket to 250-300 range for the 95% of the people in a matter of weeks. One Weston Price protégé was already killed by this most common cause in the west, sympton free heart-attack. He was 41 years of age.

    I recommend the inuit-clips from primitivenutriton’s serie. Videos 27 and 28

    Minger I wonder why you didn’t you include any seeds in your list. These foods are packed with minerals. Sesame seeds very rich in calcium. Also the recommended supplements you set forth are something I’ve never even heard before. There’s not a single vegan dieticians or doctors advocating K-2 and Taurin supplements. Jack Norris and Michael Greger f.ex recommends iodine supplementations in addition to vitamin D and b12 atleast for those who don’t do seaweeds. I think vegans would find MD Michael Gregers guidelines are more in synch with the science.

    Also these 5000IU D-vitamin doses are not optimal for human health. There’s loads of studies in regards to this, it’s seems 2000IU is much better. I don’t you have really even done your homework properly. High doses of vitamin D is associated with all kinds of nasty things.

    Vegeterians versus healthy omnivores (5.4.2012)

  15. I´d caution against the vegan vitamin D3-product you mentioned: From what I know it is just impossible to extract vitamin D3 from plant sources. The company that produces the product is, when asked about production methods, very reluctant to provide answers or doesn´t answer at all (this is second-hand information). I would like to ask one question about legume-preparation: How long should legumes generally be cooked? Sally Fallon`s (Weston Price organisation) recipes ask for 4-6 hours cooking time which I simply cannot do. Do you know if the DHA from algae is as easily absorbed as from fish?

    1. Extraction is not difficult, It’s just that plants do not produce D3, ftmp. The Vitashine D3 is the only vegan source extracted from Lichen, which have been shown to contain D3:

      I got my 25OH Vit D tested in Feb and despite the Chicago winter, my level was a nice solid 47ng/mL on 5000IU Vitashine D3.

      The other company basically feeds animal based D3 to bacteria and pretends it’s vegan. The bacteria is just packaging. I believe that’s probably the company you’re talking about.

  16. @Richard: Seeds are usually high in Omega-6 so I do not know if they are to be recommended in high doses (as the vegan diet is already high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3; forget about ALA, the conversation to DHA is extremely poor). The vitamin K2 is, from what I know, not only important for vegans as most individuals are deficient. Paul Jaminet has some good information on his website:

    1. dha conversion is so poor…so why fish smells so awful? why all my family for generations are alive and live long lives most of them?
      statitic on this issue is done yet.

      search on pubmed for k1 conversion into k2 studies, at omnovorous diets.

      Maybe it can be useful at a personal level for some, as b12, D, iodine

  17. Great article, Denise! Thank you so much for helping vegans so much more than many vegan “experts”!

    I’m a vegan myself, but I think it’s fundamental to have an open mind instead of just accepting as truth anything that would have positive implications on your chosen way of life. Research shows that a vegan diet has defficiencies, some of which can be quite serious, and as a vegan I think it’s my duty to not mislead people in a way that causes them to harm their bodies, while also being kind to animals.

    Also, about taurine: fellow vegans, please understand that Red Bull is NOT a taurine supplement!!!

    I would also like to add that if you are a vegan and you live in England (just London for the first link) you may want to take a look at these websites: (cow’s milk and ghee) (eggs and cow’s milk, and soon other dairy and goat’s milk)

    These companies are slaughter-free, meaning they don’t kill any of their animals in any stage of their lives. Personally, I think that’s kind of “ideologically vegan”, and I would definetely buy LOTS of eggs and dairy from them if I lived in England!

    1. 🙂 I like the Red Bull comment. The problem I thought existed in egg and dairy production is what do they do with the males born? If they sell them, so goes the whole vicious cycle some more.

      For the record, PETA already annoys me in that they forced this logic into my head and cost me cheese (I miss cheese), so I don’t need bashing comments.

  18. I love Denise Minger
    I love Denise Minger
    I love Denise Minger

    I would had just written EAT EGGS lol

  19. Heya Denise, nice page. When you say to supplement with taurine, I think you could also say to consider l-carnitine, carnosine, and especially creatine.

    Three super rad blog posts but super rad people featuring why vegans might consider these nutrients:



    Carnosine Beta alanine generates it.

    Someone should make a supplement with all of these nutrients, B12 and the others. If they have, I haven’t found it.

    There are probably going to be some people who can forgo this stuff more than others. We synthesize them all endogenously but our synthesis is by no means optimal, we have evolved to benefit from eating meat. This goes against the “meat has NO fiber and is nutritionally useless” meme but it’s the truth. I tried a vegan diet for a few months because I thought that factory-farmed meat and dairy was unhealthy (and it still might be, but I don’t know that) but soon discovered pastured bison. The first time eating meat in months was like a surge of energy, I was whole again within hours. I was supplementing with B12 already so I attribute this to the functional molecules contained in the muscles of animals.

    The problem with this is that people write this off as superfluous, because after all in a population of people who suffer from disease en masse vegans have somewhat of a lower relative heart disease risk! Yeah okay I know you disagree with these arguments too :P. Well it’s not superfluous for me, that’s for sure. I like to feel my absolute best, within reason.

    Cheers. Can’t wait for your book.

  20. Do you recommend a coenzyme B-compex and if so what brand? I cannot seem to find a decent brand with folate that’s not terribly pricey.

    Thank you in advance, I enjoy reading your blog and find your critiques refreshing.

  21. Denise this is a great post.

    I bought that k2 book you recommended straight away and I am not disappointed. Very interesting indeed. If you created a “must reads” section for book recommendations I would buy them all I think. Thanks for the read!

  22. I recommend these supplements below because they are EU regulated and also because they ship worldwide at a very economical prices.

    Vegan EPA/DHA:
    Vegan Vitamin D3:

    Vitamin B12 sublinguals should be taken once a day for a week to build up storage in the liver, twice a week for a month for security and then once a week after that.

    Vitamin B12:
    Vitamin B12:

    Folic Acid(B9): Leafy greens contain the highest sources and this doesn’t only apply to Vegans. 3+ ripe juicy tomatos mixed with a salad is a delicious option.

    Folic Acid supplement:

    Vitamin K2 should only be taken by those that popped antibiotics like candy. Like yourself Denise. Healthy gut bacteria in the colon convert K1 to K2.

    I agree with you on the notion that gluten foods, oils and any other extremely processed food needs to be eliminated.

    Oysters and mussels have organs, a heart; they are animals. They can never be considered “Vegan”.

    1. Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin that needs bile to be absorbed. Bile gets reabsorbed before it reaches the colon. The colon doesn’t allow for easy absorbsion of anything besides salt and water anyway. It doesn’t make sense that you recommend a B-12 supplement but not K2.

      1. Wikipedia: “Bacteria can produce a range of vitamin K2 forms, including the conversion of K1 to K2 (MK-7) by bacteria in the small intestines.”

        My mistake about where the conversion happens, I should of written gastrointestinal tract. Anyways, the problem is that most of the population doesn’t intake many if any leafy greens on a daily basis, hence less K1 intake, less K1 to K2 conversion, less K2 absorption. Add years of Vitamin K deficiency and a person needs to catch up.

        For those healthy individuals that want to catch up with Vitamin K, very high sources of K1 are found in Dandelion greens, Chicory greens, radicchio, lettuce and any other somewhat dark leafy greens.

        A lot of Vitamins, Minerals and short-chain fatty acids are produced and absorbed in the colon, how many of these nutrients get absorbed is based on the health of the person’s individual colon. For example, Biotin is produced and absorbed in the colon. Those that have been taking antibiotics like candy and slaughtering their colon’s with greasy foods will most likely also need to supplement Biotin and repair their gastrointestinal tracts with natural antioxidants from leafy greens or better yet, fresh carrot juice. Again, this is all based on the health of the individual.

        Healthy individuals like myself that have only taken antibiotics as a child and never eaten beef in my life, don’t have trouble with gut flora. My flora converts K1 to K2 efficiently since my health is evident. My teeth are white and nails are very pink/smooth by simply ingesting leafy greens on a daily basis and getting enough Vitamin D through sunshine.

        Have a read:

        I can’t recommend a Vitamin K2 supplement because I’ve never taken one since I’ve never needed one. I only recommend what I have taken. Try searching google with “vegan vitamin K2”, see what is available and be attentive at the ingredients. Especially for “titanium dioxide”, unless you want leukemia.

  23. Great stuff as always, Denise. I have a lot of people who ask me questions about diet and I often feel unqualified to give solid answers. I’ve read Lierre Keith, but would never refer a vegetarian, vegan, or male person to her work without first feeling the need to apologize in advance because of her abrasive tone. It’s wonderful to have a resource I won’t be shy about directing other people toward!

  24. Hi Denise! I’m wondering how many animal products you eat in a a day.I’m fruitarian but my health is the most important thing in my life and I don’t want to end up with deficiencies or malnutrition although I feel great I’ve noticed that my hair starts to fallen out in a big quantities (I drink daily green juices,eat enough calories from organic fruits)

    Thank you in advance,

  25. I have three sister-in-laws who have been practicing vegetarians for decades. All share one commonality in particular…their teeth. Constant and severe dental work has cost them a fortune and caused great pain. I’ve sent them this post…but, those who want to improve the human design beyond what nature has wrought should always consider that they are just one member of a multi-million year specie development and changing it all in one lifetime is unlikely. Eat what we are. Thanks Ms Minger.

  26. Could you help me work out what I should be giving my 5 year old son. Although I have recently started eating animal products, my son doesn’t wish to – doesn’t like texture so would like to make sure he is supplemented with b12 and k2. I am not sure what type of b12 supplement he should have or k2. They don’t have to be vegan supplements either. Thanks for your help.

    1. Thanks, I was looking for official guidelines and they were doing my head in – they weren’t really telling me what specifically I need to know for my child.

  27. No problem. Here’s Michael Greger’s nutrition guidelines for vegan nutrition. He updates them every year as he reads every single nutrition research article published in english-language journals.

    For example, Greger used to recommend 5000IU vitamin D doses (as do Minger) but since compelling new studies on all-cause mortality and vitamin D showed up, the recommendation changed.

    Optimum Nutrition Recommendations (by Greger MD)

  28. Sotimes simple observations can be powerfull:

    1) William Clifford Roberts, American Journal of Cardiology, editor in chief:

    “Because humans get atherosclerosis, and atherosclerosis is a disease only of herbivores, humans also must be herbivores”

    2) National cholesterol education program, third expert panel :

    “Only populations that maintain very low levels of serum cholesterol, eg. total cholesterol below 150mg/dl throughout the life do we see a near-absence of clinical CHD”.

    3) William Castelli, Framingham study, principal scholar:

    “You know, we know that if I can get your total cholesterol down around let’s say 100 to 130 or so, and I have maybe not quite a billion people on the earth like that, and those people cannot get atherosclerosis. You know in the China Study, for example, when Chou En-lai was dying of cancer he started a study in China just like the Framingham Study. The only difference was it was in 880,000,000 people so it was a little larger than the Framingham Study. But you know they found these villages in China where you couldn’t get a heart attack or you couldn’t get diabetes and the women couldn’t get breast cancer and you know their total cholesterol were 127, but the chances we could ever get Americans down that low with diet and exercise are not good”.

    “KIRK HAMILTON: But what would the diet be if you didn’t have drugs and you could get everybody to do exactly what you wanted diet-wise in the United States? How would you reverse the heart disease?”

    “DR. WILLIAM CASTELLI: Well you’d have them on a pure vegetarian diet and not getting fat on the vegetarian diet.”

  29. This one came out today (Lancet, 2012)

    The effects of lowering LDL cholesterol with statin therapy in people at low risk of vascular disease: meta-analysis of individual data from 27 randomised trials

    “…..This benefit greatly exceeds any known hazards of statin therapy. Under present guidelines, such individuals would not typically be regarded as suitable for LDL-lowering statin therapy. The present report suggests, therefore, that these guidelines might need to be reconsidered”.

    At this point, it’s clear that the number one supplement in every paleo-omnivore adherents toolbox should statin.

    “…Only pure vegetarians for practical purposes do not need statins, most of the rest of us do”

    William Roberts, Evaluating lipid-lowering trials in the twenty-first century.

    Minger babe,

    Maybe you could illustrate the hazards of “carefully designed” omnivore diets in a seperate section

    “I don’t think any person on the planet needs to have any of their lipoproteins or cholesterol tested ever. I think it’s all worse than useless because, what happens is – and I get these emails all the time – you know, eating Paleo, feeling great, blood pressure decreased, no longer on medication, no longer have diabetes… bench press 250, and then they say, but, but, my total cholesterol is now 290 or 300 …

    My answer to that is, well, you were doing fine until you got your cholesterol measured.”

    –Kurt Harris, MD

    1. Richard, I find you a positive presence in the comment section. Thank you for your input and pointing out information from useful sources!

        1. Hi Richard dude,

          i find your presence obnoxious, overbearing, mis-guided and most of all – disrespectful and demeaning to Denise and i would be happy if you would go away. since i respect Denise and her blog, i will not list the other things i think of you and your input. (thanks for listening, “Richard-babe”….)

  30. Richard, you are a horribly negative presence in the comment section. your ruthless rebuttals left a bad taste in my mouth. I wonder what your own agenda is? Mabye you should start your own blog with your own views instead of vindicating others observations. The above article is great for people who are struggling with finding out pathways to better health. I am Paleo and for the first time in my life, feel healthy. My sister, who is bordering on veganism is really struggling with a multitude of health issues that doctors cant seem to find the cause of. She has had blood tests done, seen specialists, had x rays and scans, all to no avail. From watching her eating patterns over her whole life, (Sotimes simple observations can be powerfull) the times she has been healthiest (both in looks and mood, her skin is clear and she is not depressed or easily run down and stressed out by life’s bumps in the road) is when she has consumed a varied diet including meats. I am not a scientist nor do I profess to know a lot about it but I have done a bit of my own research over the years and have even considered vegetarianism/veganism at one time. All I know is that I know less than when I started looking. Its not a competition about who is the most correct, nor is it a fight which will ever be resolved with a decisive winner. Soon there will be 11 billion of us on this planet. Chances are, some people will thrive with veganism genetically whilst others wont. I am more concerned with how we use our resources and I think that our lifestyle at present is unsustainable. The whole world will never be Vegan or Veggo. It is better to find best practices in ALL industries (after all, vegans on a grain based monocrop diet do just as much damage to the environment and sentient beings as do meat eaters, (Sotimes simple observations can be powerfull) the grainfields of the nations do not hold much diversity of life that I have seen. I think it is better to be mindful of all things you eat. For meat eaters, eat only grassfed, free range and organic, for vegans and meateaters alike, avoid monocrop frankenfoods and eat only local, homegrown, in season produce. I hope you find the validation you are craving. Peace to you.

    1. i’ve tried that Yasmin – he won’t go away. like those really horrid horse-flies that bite and draw blood. he has a chip on his shoulders as big as new jersey but not nearly as attractive (not…)

      i would be **very** happy if he would start a blog and create his own 30 jackfruits a day following and leave denise’s blog to those who are sincerely pleased and interested in contributing in a positive manner. denise is too goody to cut off his sorry spammin ass, so what to do…

      and i don’t think there are many chances that some people will “thrive” on a vegan diet – those that claim to do so have not had enough time for the subtle and not so subtle deficiencies to totally drain this or that essential nutrient from their systems (and get cancer at not-so-old ages perhaps….) Just look at denise’s advice – one would have to spend all day every day in intense compensatory nutritional planning to thrive on a vegan diet.

      but take heart – the more vegans there are, the more low-fertility females there will be, and although it breaks my heart as a father, the more children that are fed vegan diets, the fewer of them will make it to reproduce successfully especially if times on the planet will get tough.

      if successful veganism is not possible without the extraordinary dietary planning and supplementation only available in a complex, consumerist society – does it really qualify as a valid, human-appropriate nutritional choice?


      1. wow, I am asking why my wife and my daughter, and myself are alive now. Maybe we are genetic freaks (it would be ver y good, but I fraid it isn’t the case)
        But, of course, we are living in the tropics. who knows the reason

  31. “13. Look into “bivalveganism,” a combination of plant foods and non-sentient shellfish. It’s unfortunate this one ended up as unlucky #13, because I honestly think it could be a solution for a lot of struggling vegans. Bivalves—such as oysters and clams and mussels—are incredibly rich in nutrients that are absent or hard to get from plant foods. Oysters in particular are a great source of iron, B12, zinc, selenium, copper, and vitamin D, and have a small amount of true vitamin A as well. Bivalves don’t have a central nervous system and are generally not considered sentient by traditional criteria, so vegans who avoid other animal products may be more ethically comfortable consuming a few oysters per week. (If you want to hear about the potential role of bivalves in vegan diets from someone else’s mouth, here’s a very relevant article by Christopher Cox.)”

    1. Iron is NOT hard to find on a vegan-type of diet. See Vegan for Life by Norris and Messina, or here:

    2. Zinc isn’t all that hard either, especially if you eat grains, legumes, and seeds. Here’s just one source I found online:

    3. Selenium isn’t hard either:

    4. Copper isn’t hard either (the RDA is 2 mg)

    5. Cox’s piece doesn’t indicate anything of substance about the potential role of bivalves in vegan-type diets. What do *the bivalves* that Christopher Cox eats do *for him*? Well, first I’ll remark that his *consumption* of them does make it seem like he understands his ethical position, and thinks that consuming bivalves doesn’t lead to their suffering since it doesn’t cause them pain. But, this does not tell us what role the bivalves as food have in a vegan-type of diet, since the consumption of a food is not even close to the totality of how the food acts with respect to your body.

    The role of bivalves in a “bivalveganic” diet comes as simple in one respect. They will provide a source of dietary cholesterol. So, if one has health concerns about consuming and digesting cholesterol for any reason, bivalves are not appropriate to eat.

    I find it irresponsible to give advice *for vegans* to consider eating bivalves, while NOT pointing out that bivalves do contain cholesterol.

  32. Very good points, Dough. Besides, why would someone who is well-informed even eat stuff that carries high risk for food poisoning. This stuff contains loads of human-pathogens even after well-done cleaning.

    Scientists unlock mechanism behind food poisoning from bivalves

    And dietary cholesterol, no thanks. Jenkins review article.

    Dietary cholesterol increases the susceptibility of LDL-C to oxidation, vascular inflammation, oxidative stress, and postprandial hyperlipemia and potentiates the harmful effects of saturated fat, impairs endothelial function, and increases cardiovascular events.


    in order to avoid your sister becoming a muppet for Weston Price Foundation, why don’t you give her a link to Ginny Messina’s website? Contains plenty of nutritional non-nonsense information.

    Tasha’s story

    Do Ex-Vegans’ Stories Make the Case Against Vegan Diets?

    1. “George Lundberg MD was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and its Archives publications for 17 years. Today he admits he has gone vegan after reading Dr. McDougall’s new book, “The Starch Solution,” and he calls it “the diet book to end all diet books.” It is the definitive book out there and culmination of years of research and successful treatment of thousands of patients”.

      Vegsource, 5.23.2012

  33. Hi Denise,

    Your work continues to amaze me and reaching out to the vegans was a beautiful thing. Thank you so much for being a great resource of truthful health information we can trust.
    I think this article is good for everyone regardless of eating style. I will be using it and sharing it with family. I love the vegan ideals but feel the need for animal protein and I am trying to be responsible and buy the best I can find.
    Thanks again for your hard work helping a tremendous number of people of all persuasions and for your very entertaining and fun style.
    Hopefully we will all learn that nutrition and health can and should be fun and not a source of anxiety. There is good food out there, we just have to find it, or grow some of it.
    I think I will go to the store and look for oysters!


  34. Minger,

    sorry this is slightly off-topic, but one question. You write that “lipid-hypothesis is a bonk”. Are part of these Southern religious sects that deny the connection of human to other mammals or the so-called “paleo”-movement which harbours similar line of though and, inter alia, blindly refuse to accept any animal models as valid for humans. Do you support intelligent desing hypothesis? Is human above the Darwinian evolutionary model that dictates our current biomedical research paradigm

    This is what I think

    Cholesterol denialism = creationism / intelligent desing hypothesis.

    Atherosclerosis can be induced in a great variety of animal species including vegetarian and carnivore species (e.g. insects, birds, cats, dogs, non-human primates etc.) by raising serum cholesterol high enough and maintaining it long enough. Atherosclerosis can also be reversed by lowering TC enough and maintaining it long enough. The lipid deposits and foam cells disappeared but some fibrous tissue remained. Some species, such as the dog and rat, do not get elevated TC from a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol. But when a way was found to elevate their TC they also developed atherosclerosis. This is so consistent no matter which species is tested that it appears to be a scientific law that elevated LDL can cause atherosclerosis. This can’t be explained away by stress, inflammation or some infectious agent

    Malinow MR. Atherosclerosis. Regression in nonhuman primates. Circ Res. 1980 Mar;46(3):311-20.

    1. So by what you’re saying, humans need to find a diet that lowers their total cholesterol to reduce risk of aethersclerosis. Also acknowledged is that while some animals experience higher TC on some diets, while others experience higher TC on others.

      So well-studied groups of humans consuming high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat and experiencing low TC levels follow your advice perfectly. Let’s give a big hand to african herdsmen and traditional northern cultures like the inuit and sami. Let’s hear another round for chinese peasants and isolated mexican indian tribes, also experiencing low total cholesterol but on a diet high in cereals and starches.

      Oh dear, it appears we have a conflict here. Let’s backtrack.

      Herbivorous mammals experience high TC when fed a diet inappropriate to their digestive system, high in saturated fat and etc. Carnivorous mammals do not have high TC on such diets, nor do omnivores like rats. What probably WOULD raise their TC, aside from chemical intervention in a research setting (you never told us just how they went about raising those cholesterol levels), might include beer, poor air quality, chronic stress, working in a chair all day, eating frankenfoods stuffed with preservatives, getting their gut bacteria destroyed by antibiotics, showering in hot chlorinated water every day, or any number of other things that have shown a strong correlation with blood cholesterol levels.

      Given that humans can experience low TC on diets high OR low in saturated fat, certain populations have happily consumed grains for millenia, or dairy, or fish, or whatever, I think it reasonable to infer that 1) humans are omnivores with a digestive system adapted to a variety of food materials, and 2) different populations may do better on different foods (what’s best for a rural chinese woman may not be best for me, a suburban scandinavian male) thanks to generations of different diets.

      I know, I know. You want for their to be a “right” diet, and the internet gives you more tools than ever to cherry-pick the experts with all the technical talk you could ever dream of to support your Chosen One. But if expert one studies the chinese, and expert two studies the masai, and they both say the exact opposite about how dietary components affect the human, might it be, perhaps, that they are both right? After all, while they are saying different things, they are also talking about different people.

      1. “So well-studied groups of humans consuming high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat and experiencing low TC levels follow your advice perfectly.”

        How do you define low TC here?

        “Oh dear, it appears we have a conflict here.”

        Nope, no conflict. The different groups live under different environmental conditions.

        “Given that humans can experience low TC on diets high OR low in saturated fat…”

        They aren’t the same humans. Given that human group 1 can experience low TC on diets high in saturated fat, and given that human group 2 can experience… except you haven’t written that. You wrote as if they consisted of the same group. I don’t know why you wrote there in such a misleading way.

        “1) humans are omnivores with a digestive system adapted to a variety of food materials”

        Not necessarily, because even some herbivores get recognized to consume animal flesh. Additionally, the classification here doesn’t mean much at all, since it applies to the species. It doesn’t say anything about the potential of individuals.

        “2) different populations may do better on different foods (what’s best for a rural chinese woman may not be best for me, a suburban scandinavian male) thanks to generations of different diets.”

        I don’t think anyone denies that, but you also have to factor in environmental conditions (including the microbrial environment). You have to consider what works best for humans in a highly sanitized, modern, industrial environment when talking about this stuff usually. Talking about traditional cultures such as the Masai or rural people in Mexico almost surely isn’t all that relevant, because your intended audience simply is NOT living under those sorts of conditions (environment) with that sort of line of descent.

        “But if expert one studies the chinese, and expert two studies the masai, and they both say the exact opposite about how dietary components affect the human, might it be, perhaps, that they are both right?”

        They can both come as right, technically, yes. However, one group, no doubt, lives under conditions more similar to ours than another, at least in certain respects. One can easily argue, I suspect, that the conditions of Chinese, even rural Chinese, more similar to ours than that of the Masai or Eskimos. So, the information given by the Masai study would NOT be as relevant to us as the information given by the Chinese study. In other words the Chinese study would work out as “better” (for us in terms of learning what to do in terms of diet), even though, yes, they both “are right” (see how the notion of “right” can mislead you here?).

      2. What you say makes sense, however it seems to me that almost all low-fat vegan eaters see their TC fall to very low levels, and almost all paleo and low carb eaters within the West see theirs rise or at least not diminish, not to the 100-150 level which is the desirable one. Therefore, almost all Westerners would do better to eat a low fat vegan diet. Am I wrong?

    2. Interesting. this is what i think
      Lipid Theory / Sutured Fat is bad for you = Flat earth Society / Everything Resolves around the Sun.
      But let me keep quiet, before you send the Inquisition after me 🙂

    1. Same thing as anyone. What they can find. Keep dreaming if you believe humans can catch animals without guns and enslaving them.

      1. hahhahaha ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present the most ridiculous comment on Denise’s entire blog. Co, thank you.

      2. Denise, I know you are busy but maybe you could write your next post on the prevailing ridiculous notion that we could catch animals without the use of guns and enslaving them. Well I mean, aside from all those bugs we humans eat and all that fishing we do. And, well, aside from our rich history of hunting animals before guns existed. Please awake us from our dogmatic slumber.

        1. the Lapp people of norway – a semi-nomadic tribe has been herding and milking WILD reindeer for eons without the use of guns. Goats have, for time immemorial, accompanied humans of nomadic/pastoral tradition – no guns necessary – goats actually seem to like the company of humans. Vegan claims denying co-evolution of humans and animals, often in very symbiotic relationships – are inane.

      3. It’s pretty damned easy to catch animals without guns and without enslaving them – we’ve been doing it for some 5 million years. Chimpanzees do it regularly and shamelessly. There are nets, snares, pits, corrals, blowpipes, buffalo jumps, birdlime, spears, bows and arrows, fishtraps, directed fires. Birdsnesting will provide tasty fledglings. Tidepooling will provide crabs, shrimps, sea urchins, and more. Poisonous roots, pounded up and dropped into river pools, will stun or kill fish. And that’s the short version!

      4. By the way, it’s pretty darned easy as well to tame animals without “enslaving” them. Food will do it. Every time. Bambi will always renounce the proud free life of the forest if there’s a good source of salt and fodder…that’s why national parks forbid the feeding of animals…

  35. I truly want to thank you for all your hard work. I am a vegan myself and have been following Dr Campbell. I have been struggleing because ever since becoming vegan I have been experiencing hunger all the time. I never felt this way on vegetarian diet so I know something is up. No one has been able to give me an answer and I recently have up gluten with the hopes that would help. My first thought has been I need more fat. Do you know anyone else who has experienced this ? Also what supplements besides b12 do you feel are essential. Okay one more question 🙂 most of the veggies I eat are kale and cabbage. What kind of veggies should I be eating if those you mentioned can have long term affects.

    I want to thank you again

    1. visit some paleo blogs like Marks Daily Apple for example, NOT for the meat eating in your case, but for the oh so remarkably more accurate information about the problems and some solutions for many vegetables, nuts and roots.

      the ignorance, misinformation or totally muddled information you get from most idiotic vegan blogs will lead you to a miserable health. for all the aggressive ranting that denise puts up with (vegans are more aggressive due to the lack of many fat-soluble nutrients not making it to their brains…) it is unforgivable in the light of her sincere efforts to dispense what is very good solid information.

      even if you still cling to your veganism, you should get some really solid information about how the central elements of your diet should be balanced and treated. your biggest problem is that you will now have to depend on either high sugar fruit or non-human grains if you won’t eat what you are biologically/genetically predisposed for – animal products.

    2. Davene, you probably just need more CALORIES – it’s that simple. If you used to eat calorie rich dairy products on your vegetarian diet, the moment you give up those products you need to increase your consumption of other calorie rich foods, otherwise you’ll feel HUNGRY all the time. It’s actually a typical phenomenon which newcomers to the plant based diet experience all the time. You may believe that you’re getting enough food because your food looks bulky, but ultimately it’s the calories that feed you and give you energy, not the bulk. And the best and way to get calories is to rely on well cooked whole grains. Eat more of those. Way more. Believe me, a normal consumption of grains in a low fat diet is somewhere between one and two pounds a day – often it’s around one and half pounds – and if you aren’t eating like that, then you are in danger of feeling starved and tired and depressed – so don’t be afraid of volume! Also you might consider lowering a bit your consumption of certain foods (fruit, potatoes, sometimes legumes due to the protein content – remember grains should be the basis, not beans) that give you an excessive sense of satiation thus making it harder to get the grains you need. Have a good carb binge!

  36. I was wondering if anyone has experienced yellowing on 811 diet. I have yellow undertones to my skin naturally but this is not normal. On the 811 diet I got yellowing particularly prominent around my mouth. I think I have had it from around a year or so in…although that’s when I noticed it…can’t be sure if I had it sooner or not. I have followed that diet for 4 years or so now. Besides the yellowing around my mouth, my skin tone did even out on the diet. I do have a better colour to me overall – before eating this way I was very pale. However I have this blotching.
    Now I know that you can get colouring from eating so much fruit/veg but the yellowing round my mouth its like a big blotch and does not look healthy at all..and I don’t think its to do with the fruit/yellow colouring me..but something awful lying underneath like something is wrong with my liver. Of course I have no clue..but I don’t think its want to rectify it. I am hoping my dietary changes over the course of the next few months help. I still intend to eat lots of fruits/vegetables but I don’t think I should be eating the 811 way.


  37. People,

    remember to take lessons from China:

    “In 1940, I confirmed De Langen’s results . . . by the observation that in North China, coronary disease, cholesterol [gall]stones and thrombosis were practically nonexistent among the poorer classes. They lived on a cereal-vegetable diet consisting of bread baked from yellow corn, millet, soybean flour and vegetables sautéed in peanut and sesame oil. Since cholesterol is present only in animal food, their serum cholesterol content was often in the range of 100 mg. per cent. These findings paralleled the observation of De Langen that coronary artery disease was frequent among Chinese who had emigrated to the Dutch East Indies and followed the high fat diet of the European colonists (Snapper 1963, 284)”.

    Cornelis de Langen: Diet-Heart Theory, 1916

    1. Yes, and those colonists were also eating lots of white flour and sugar!!

      Association is not causation. Obvious, but needs to be repeated often.

      And I’m not saying that it was fat, or flour, or sugar that was the culprit. The point is, it’s *impossible to know* from this kind of observational study.

    2. There was endemic pellagra on that diet, perhaps they died earlier for that reason and that level of cholesterol is not healthy there is a minimum death rate around 200-240. At 100 one would expect death by infection and violence.

  38. Results speak for themselves. Due to various chronic health problems i became a vegan. My health deteriorated to a ridiculous level as a supplementing vegan for six years despite careful dietary planning and pro-vegan nutritional research. My health stabilised and slightly improved on a health-food oriented Western diet with lots of supplements over many years. My health improved noticeably (without supplements) in three months on a paleo diet. My health improved RADICALLY in only a month on the GAPS diet (a paleo-like diet that minimises complex carbs) and without supplements. At three months it continues to improve radically. I’m 35 and my doctor recently told me my blood work was now better than most 18 year-olds and one of the healthiest he had ever seen!

    I know various GAPS dieters and all of them are experiencing obvious noticeable gains in their heath, and they’re coming from serious chronic health problem backgrounds including autism, ADHD, IBS and CFS. I know various vegans who started quite healthy and all are going downhill.

    I know what diet i’ll be following thanks!

    1. I tried the GAPS diet and it destroyed my health. It made me look like a concentration camp inmate. I’m doing quite well on the low fat vegan diet.

    2. Ditto on GAPS. I went vegan for 2 years because I fell in love and then I, a year later, I started feeling badly, and a year after that, became extremely ill. I did not to any research or supplement for all the nutritional deficiencies one develops if not eating meat. I think that one’s ability to tolerate a vegan diet probably varies greatly between individuals, but as an individual who has an extremely sensitive/fragile brain & central nervous system, it was catastrophic.

      After two long years of declining health, I am now no longer bed-bound or wheelchair dependent. What did it? Five months of eating a low-complex carb, low sugar (and by that I mean not overdoing the fruit–I haven’t eaten processed sugar or flour in years), paleo diet.

      We all have our own personal stories, and I think it’s incredibly important to keep and open mind and most of all, listen to our bodies. What might work for one person may not work for everyone. I cannot infer from my own sample of one, personal story to anyone else.

      That said, personally, the more I read about the possible deficiencies created by a vegan diet, the more I am convinced that we evolved eating meat and cannot live (healthfully) without it. Even if you can supplement all of the vitamins, amino acids, and other compounds you cannot get in sufficient quantities from a vegan diet, what about all the compounds that have yet to be discovered or understood?

      Nature has its secrets but it is complete. Science is the man groping for his keys under the lightbulb.

  39. Hi, Denise–another great blog–I really want to see that book, so don’t waste too much time here! But a couple of things: John McDougall’s latest newsletter has some good stuff, including links to some recent anthropological papers that push back our consuming grasses and other things a long long way before that 10,000 year mark so often quoted as the beginning of the agricultural revolution and its alleged destruction of our health. I am going to discount the a. sediba paper because it is not yet clear enough just where this new species fits. But the evidence for grasses, I think legumes, and also cooking seems pretty strong.

    Also in his recent book, “The Starch Solution,” which on the whole I found thin and disappointing–and if I buy one more book on food issues that is half filled with recipes I shall never use, I shall ask for half my money back–there is yet one thing that caught my eye–the attack on methionine, now classed as an “enemy” along with cholesterol (I think he just slipped up there, but never mind). I chases up the refs he gives, and it looks like a very important story. We all know that CR, caloric restriction combined with a nutritious choice of food, is the best sure way to extend life, reduce oxidation, etc . Turns out that researchers have first zeroed in on lowering of protein as the primary agent of this effect, and then in turn on lowering of methionine as the responsible agent.
    Methionine levels are much higher in most animal protein than in veg protein. But–and I think you have already noted this–they are lower in shellfish than in fish or most animals. You may have written about this somewhere already, but it is interesting, and I now do eat–and enjoy –scallops. Will experiment with oysters too, but shucking is a chore, and distrust the packaged ones.

    Behind this I strongly suspect an evolutionary program deeply distributed among our genes that runs something like this: when food abundant (including lots of juicy animal food), rev up the metabolism, rev up sex hormones, reproduce fast, the hell with longevity; when food scarce (digging for roots, eating grass and bark) slow down the metabolism, slow reproduction, engage long-life gear, and wait it out till food is abundant again and then start reproducing again. There are obviously programs like this widely distributed among the animal kingdom–and we are animals.

    So to repeat a point I made long ago on your main blog, there may not be a “one suits all and all desires” way to eat. I can imagine following the first route for the first 35-40 years of life and getting maximun bangs out of life, and then switching gears to the second slower program to enjoy those more mature years. I am too old to follow that, but …
    Anyway, just thoughts of an old brain in a dry season–and keep up the great work of threading an intelligent path between / among the paleo/ vegan propaganda machines.
    One of your faithful admirers, Chris

  40. I find it quite interesting that so many people are willing to put their opinions out there, yet are afraid to use their real name. (First and last) Who are you all hiding from?

  41. “John McDougall’s latest newsletter has some good stuff, including links to some recent anthropological papers that push back our consuming grasses and other things a long long way before that 10,000 year mark so often quoted as the beginning of the agricultural revolution and its alleged destruction of our health”.

    Interesting thoughts, from the latest piece in NY Times:

    Benjamin H. Passey, a geochemist at Johns Hopkins University:

    “One thing people probably don’t realize is that humans are basically grass eaters,” Dr. Passey said in a statement. “We eat grass in the form of the grains we use to make breads, noodles, cereals and beers, and we eat animals that eat grass. So when did our addiction to grass begin? At what point in our evolutionary history did we start making use of grasses? We are simply trying to find out where in the human chain that begins.”

  42. Hi, Richard–I omited the Sediba paper from my comments because it deals with a newly discovered species classified as an australopithecine, 2 million years old, and apparently adapted to a forest environment–rather distant from our species, generally thought to have arisen around 200,000 years ago and adapted to a more open landscape offering different food sources. It is also unclear whether they belong in the line leading to sapiens–they may represent a side branch that disappeared.

    But it does seem clear from the other evidence that the 10,000 BC year date put on sapiens use of grains and legumes for food is way too late, and other evidence seems to point to a more rapid evolution in handling new food sources than the Paleo people assume. I am trusting Denise to thread a path through the evidence from both history and biological science to make sense out of this dietary thing for us all.

  43. Dennis/Cavewoman,

    perhaps a warning page for paleo-dieters should be in place. The host of Safe & Effective Crohn’s Disease Treatment -blog, a fervent paleo-dieter died last week as the result of sudden cardiadic death at the age 53.

    another completely unnecessary death. A person who ought to have been on a strict statin-supplemented Esselstyn diet was lost to pseudoscience. Paleo diet is based on appeal-to-nature fallacy & design fallacy thus it’s by default pseudoscience. These unnecessary deaths occur when simple people think it is a good idea to bring some imaginary meat-based HG diet to their own parasite-free eco-niche (all hunter-gatherers are inflicted by high parasitic burden which is very efficient in lowering serum cholesterol, parasites have even reversed cardiovascular disease in animal models).

    1. Firstly Richard, let me just say, that after reading hundreds of your comments on here, i’ve come to the only conclusion possible….that you’re a tosser!!

      Wow, that feels better.

      Now, regarding the very sad passing of Crohns Dad. What makes you think that he was even following a paleo diet himself? And if he was, how could you possibly know how long he had been on the diet? Maybe he was a vegan until the age of 50, who knows. But one thing i will say as a crohns sufferer myself, that the work this great man did, a medical professional remember, was born out of the love for his daughter who was also suffering with the disease, and the extensive research he did has improved the health of hundreds of people.

      Can you say you’ve done the same?

  44. I know this article is REALLY old but it’s really good. I was wondering if you have any more info/reading material on incubation as a determining factor in health. Like how you said what your mom ate while you were in the womb is really important.. I’d like to know more about that!

  45. Fabulous last line:

    As much as veganism roots itself in compassion, please consider that you, as a living breathing human, also deserve your own kindness.

    This is it in a nutshell for me, a former vegetarian for 10 years although never completely vegan.

  46. A very wise friend once wrote a song that included the lyrics “after all the arguments, everybody’s wrong.” Having said that, we should all eat less processed foods and do what works best for our own bodies, regularly reevaluating what that best dietary practice is. Isn’t it that simple? Of course, deciphering what that means for a specific individual is not always so simple. Anyway, I’m pretty certain surprising and tragic deaths occur across all diet types and should not be used as evidence to discredit any one food lifestyle in particular. Mortality is the great equalizer.

    1. The studies in this video by Michael Greger are really unconvincing. The high-fat meal in the first study is an egg or sausage mcmuffin – the Egg McMuffin for example contains 12g of fat and 30g of carbs. The ingredients are: Egg McMuffin®: English Muffin, Egg, Pasteurized Process American Cheese, Canadian Style Bacon, Liquid Margarine
      Sausage McMuffin®:
      English Muffin, Sausage Patty, Pasteurized Process American Cheese, Liquid Margarine.” Liquid margarine – yum.

      In the article looking at the effects of cream, the cream they used had the following ingredients: Heavy Cream, Sugar, Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Nonfat Milk, Artificial Flavor, Sorbitan Monostearate, Carrageenan, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E) to protect flavor, Propellant: Nitrous Oxide. “Animal fat” was hardly the only thing ingested and is really not the only possible cause of the increase in LPS concentration and TLR-4 expression.

      The ‘high-fat meal’ in the last study by Erridge is the best. ”The high-fat meal, which provided ≈900 kcal, consisted of a cup of tea and 3 slices of toast spread with a total of 50 g butter.’ The controls were no meal or cigarettes. Wow, I don’t really know what to say. The endotoxemia was clearly caused by the animal fat, unless it was caused by the toast or tea.

      Any monkey can do research. It’s really important to critically evaluate the quality before citing conclusions as evidence. People should definitely not ‘stay away from saturated fat’ based solely on this shoddily researched video.

  47. I just want to say that vitamin K2 can be found in sauerkraut and other fermented foods like already mentioned natto, tempeh, miso etc. And who said natto has to be gooey and hard to swallow. Some people do find it to be quite tasty. Tempeh is my favorite, a soft bite of tempeh makes my mouth water so much my cheeks start to hurt, lol! Appetizing food btw is good for the digestion.

    Good tips overall on vegan nutrition, especially the bean soaking method, I also – like you – own the book “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Katz, it really is a great addition to anyone who is interested in fermentation.

    Yes, we vegans can be a little hard on ourselves. You are right that some little amount of animal foods is not the end of the world, if one feels that something is missing in ones vegan diet. But it’s important to keep the movement going, do our research, keep strong and healthy and do what we can to help the environment. Peace out!

  48. A great assesment of the paleo pseudoscience nonsense by a biologist, published by Scientific American.

    Human ancestors were nearly all vegeterians

    “Paleolithic diets have become all the rage, but are they getting our ancestral diet all wrong?”

    A good one from McDougall as well:

    The Paleo Diet Is Uncivilized (And Unhealthy and Untrue)


  49. Richard, thanks for the link to that Sci Am article–a nice piece, though it does leave things rather up in the air–which is perhaps where they belong for the time being. Maybe Denise will make all things clear!
    Best, Chris

    1. Chris,

      Denise making thing clear is rather wishfull thinking. After all, Denny is cholesterol denialist and climate change skeptic. She is in the same basket with creationists and 9/11 conspiracy theorists and other people who are opposing questions where great scientific consensus is established. Doubt & confusion is what these folk are good at. Denise is the merchant of doubt & denial!

      I feel pety for those people who actually think that an untrained denialist, pushing appeal-to-nature fallacy, paleo dietary bogus has something constructive to say about the data sorted out by Sir Richard Peto, Oxford professor, the inventor of meta-analysis concept and member royal society. I am referring to the China Study.

  50. Denise-

    You clearly do a lot of research and everything… but what I think you might be overlooking is that if you did a critical review on yourself.. it could be just as compelling as anything for Dr. Campbell’s book or the Forks over Knives Movie.

    I don’t find you citing your sources much and you pretty much state things based on your own logic (and for people to believe you.. just because). You definitely aren’t able to be attacked as easily because you don’t name your sources and how you fully come to your conclusions.

    Do you have anything to say for this?

  51. Hi, Richard; I did not know that Denise is a cholesterol sceptic–but so are a good many researchers–that is in my mind an ongoing legit debate, to which I am not competent to contribute. But she is also a climate change denier? That would be disturbing indeed, but on what evidence do you make that charge? Please share… Chris

  52. There’s not a single scholar who is expert in atherosclerosis/lipid research and opposing lipid-theory, why? Because distancing from the lipid-theory equals creationism. It’s a statement for saying that the Darwinian foundation of out biodemical research is invalid. According to many atherosclerosis/lipid expert the cholesterol theory is the only theory in medicine which is bullet-proof. Every single expert in the branch all over the world including every every public-health organization embraces it. Cholesterol theory has similar consensus behind it as many widely recognized ideas such as evolution, climate change, the theory of gravity, etc.

    Confusionist are good at confusing regular joe’s and giving the impression that things are unclear when they are not. The cigarette industry always maintained that people need to hear equal, balanced view. Equal view is a good basis for bi-partsan politics, but not for science where opinion’s do not matter, what matter is the evidence, and evidence from multiple directions. The evidence for lipid-theory not only comes from epidemiology and clinical interventions but from bile-acid research, surgical studies, animal models, statin trials, genetic studies, etc.

    Read this book and see if you place Denny in a proper context: learn f.ex about the greatest “expert” and physicians who were opposing cigaret-cancer link, obviously no of them had any background in cancer research. Also, learn what being expert equals in science.

    1. I would use this book to make the opposite argument… I would compare the physicians opposing the cigarette-cancer link to the physicians who promoted the lipid hypothesis while on the Puritan Oil payroll back in the 50’s! You say not a single scholar/expert in lipid research denies the lipid hypothesis… you’re absolutely wrong. Mary Enig, PhD, lipid researcher is one of the biggest opponents of the lipid hypothesis. She has been smeared for years by the big industries profiting from heart disease, cholesterol meds, obesity, etc. Before you make ANY replies, I would ask that you read “The Oiling of America” She worked at the University of Maryland and they are largely responsible for getting public awareness of trans fats to where it is and labeling of such on products.

      The BEST expert that I will listen to over everyone is: MY BODY. You can try to dismiss anecdotal evidence, but that is truly foolish. I dislocated my knee as a teenager and had two surgeries (1977 & 1980) back when it was more like medieval butchery. I was told by orthopedic surgeons in the 1980’s that I had little cartilage and would develop arthritis. I was told I would need a knee replacement, but that I should wait as long as possible. Two years ago, I was afraid the time had come. I was having a lot of knee problems and other joint problems. I’m going to skip the longer story of joint supplements and my withdrawal, but I did go through a very painful detoxification from joint supplements. However, I knew that my knees would get worse without the supplements. I was right. Last spring I wasn’t sure how long I could hold out on knee replacement.

      Coincidentally, I started taking coconut oil eight months ago. I took it because of some claims about cholesterol. An amazing thing happened… within days, I not only had more energy, but my knees felt “lubricated”! I was truly amazed. When I went down the back porch steps using both knees instead of one at a time, I knew something amazing had happened.
      I started reading more about coconut oil. I also started reading about the harmful affects of polyunsaturated seed oils… which are pushed on everybody, by doctors, as the “healthy” choice. Even before I started reading this, I was starting to notice a correlation between meals with a lot of sunflower oil and my joint pain. So, after a month of adding coconut oil, I became obsessed with removing seed oils from my diet. I also looked up PUFA contents of nuts and limited myself to nuts with lower amounts (cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios). Actually, I found avoiding nuts altogether for the first 3 or 4 months worked best. I’ve lost 43 pounds in these past 8 months. I have NO joint pain. EVER. My husband and I both began using only coconut oil or some EVOO or organic pasture fed butter. Mostly coconut oil. It is amazing.

      Richard, you can tell me all about scientific proof. I challenge you to read the article mentioned and look at the 66 references cited. I have seen more recent references in other places, too. There are thousands of scientific (and contradictory) studies… some good, some bad. The quality is usually NOT what determines whether they languish in university basements or are spread through medical schools and media to become irrefutable “fact” that people believe without question. Money and power determine these things. Now, however, this wonderful internet has allowed communication from sources other than mainstream media. They can’t “control” the dialog any more. You can bash Dr. Enig all you want. The proof is in the pudding… And I won’t buy a seed oil for the rest of my life. You can say my life will be shorter. I disagree. I have jumped out of the hamster wheel of the medical/pharma/agricultural industries… I actually believe if I keep doing what I’m doing, I may never need a knee replacement. Feeling good, energetic, no joint pain for 8 months straight, is all the proof I need.

  53. Look for primitivenutrion-serie on youtube (including the new response serie) and browse through sub-segments called “The futility of cholesterol denialism”, “Anything but LDL”, “The infamous Ancel Keys” and “Playing games with your health”. There’s no on-going debate, the lipid theory is nailed, those opposing it are basically intellectual dwarfs and denialists cranks who are not to be taken seriously on scientific platform. The same goes with the paleo-dietary movement which is nearly 100% pseudoscience based on appeal-to-nature fallacy and grotesque misunderstanding of evolution.

  54. Look for scientific consensus chances are much higher that they got it right over Stephen “dietarary cholesterol does not raise your cholesterol, and my TC cholesterol of 250 is healthy” Guynet.

    I discussed with one of these cholesterol confusionists whackjobs under the pseudoname “Bog” and “Peter”, the mind of a confusionist is a funny indeed: it’s just that you need to be much beyond talanted elementary school kid to refuse this cholesterol denialism nonsense:

    Many of these cranks have a formal education in a given branch which happens to be the only branch where they do not harbour pseudoscientific non-sense ideas, but for the idea’s they are willing to discuss outside their own expertise the same cannot be said.

  55. It’s just that you do NOT have to much more talented than a talanted elementary school kid to refute this cholesterol denialism nonsense.

  56. This is certainly all overwhelming for me. I started eating [mostly] vegan after watching Forks Over Knives and reading Crazy Sexy Diet (great book despite its name), and I’m tempted to initially say: girl – how do you find yourself on the same playing field as people who’ve been doing research on this for decades longer than you’ve been alive? but also i know research is often skewed and we can’t possibly know everything (good and bad) about a field of study. So again, i’m overwhelmed! I used to do a lot of reading about nutrition b/c it’s a big interest for me, but after all this back-and-forth and fierce debate to the point of disrespecting each other, I’ve almost decided to follow the nutrition theory of my own body. Still hard to tell what will happen to me long term (which makes me want to turn to research studies done over long periods of time) but there are just too many that totally contradict others. And it’s not like people are somewhat agreeing with each other. It’s DIRECT disagreements and contradictions. Like the research on soy: some say it causes cancer, others say it cures it. What am I supposed to do with that?!?! ah!

  57. Richard, You would benefit greatly from watching Mathieu Lalonde’s Science of Nutrition seminar. If you want accurate science from an academic source then it’s definitely worth watching.

    @Denise, this a great page with some really good advice. It’s a shame that a few vegans have to come on here and insult you even though you are trying to help them

  58. Wow. People on this site are MEAN.

    As a vegan, I really appreciate that you took the time to post this, Denise. Thanks for the suggestions.

  59. Denise-

    You clearly do a lot of research and everything… but what I think you might be overlooking is that if you did a critical review on yourself.. it could be just as compelling as anything for Dr. Campbell’s book or the Forks over Knives Movie.

    I don’t find you citing your sources much and you pretty much state things based on your own logic (and for people to believe you.. just because). You definitely aren’t able to be attacked as easily because you don’t name your sources and how you fully come to your conclusions.

    Is there a reason you don’t cite many of your sources? It seems of utmost importance when you review others statements?

    I know I sound a bit harsh but I really am curious too..

  60. Tom,

    Denise Minger denies the lipid-theory, she is a religious anti-darwinist, a creationist, that is. I don’t take dietary advices from anti-science -crowd. Dennis recommends the diet of Kurt Harris: you can look here the lipid-responses people following her diet advices receive in their clean, parasitic-free eco-niche:

    Denial of the “lipid hypothesis” is an implicit denial of evolution. If it applies to other mammals, why shouldn’t we expect it to be true of ourselves? Based on homology, evolutionary theory would predict a similar effect in humans, and the burden of proof lies with those claim the contrary.

    Would Denise Minger blog about this study, f.ex I might take her seriously some day:

    The plasma lipids, lipoproteins, and diet of the Tarahumara indians of Mexico

    “Since in the experimental dietary cholesterol is sine qua non for the development for the experimental atherosclerosis, especially among the sub-human primates, the finding of linear association of dietary cholesterol intake and plasma cholesterol concentrations in man further undergirds the evidence relating dietary factors to hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerotic coronary heart disease”.

    1. Richard, you’re free to post here with valid criticisms, but I am in no way a creationist (many of my posts talk about evolution!), nor am I a “religious anti-Darwinist” (I don’t adhere to a specific religion), nor do I deny that cholesterol plays some role in heart disease (though I think it needs to be viewed through the lens of oxidation, thyroid status, etc. instead of the usual “high cholesterol causes heart disease”). Where are you getting this stuff?

      1. Denise failed veganism because she thought a soy candybar was a bean, and popcorn was a lentil.

        99.9% of mostly plant based diet cultures eat beans and lentils almost daily.

        Septuagenarian vegan body builder Jim Morris puts it in laymens terms

  61. Ok.. please let her decide on the evolution debate without- ipso facto conclusions.

    Denise: Are you a creationist or believe in evolution? It’s a pretty important question.

    If she has talked about this before- I’d be curious of what she had to say.

  62. SOME role in heart disease? Heart surgeons talk about opening a heart and valves and seeing the them lined with cholesterol. I am still having a hard time taking information from you when you don’t have formal education or research training.

  63. Most serum cholesterol is formed from endogenous cholesterol made by the liver in response to a low-cholesterol diet. The more cholesterol you eat, the less you have in your blood usually (if refined, acellular carbs are low).

    This is why low-fat, high carb diets (cholesterol trends with fat) are so good at generating plaques and heart disease.

    1. I absolutely need to see multiple studies and reports saying the more cholesterol you eat, the less you have in your blood aka in your heart thus less risk for heart disease. Heart Disease is the #1 killer in this country, and we happen to eat more cholesterol than most other countries. Not that correlation always means causation, but there is a DIRECT relationship between the cholesterol you eat, and your risk of heart disease because of plaque buildup. Any case against that sounds like the unfounded reports coming out of the Weston Price Foundation.

  64. >>”I am still having a hard time taking information from you when you don’t have formal education or research training.” <<

    then don't

    this whole nutrition thing is an open game with everything to play for

    only the most foolish of your 'educated' scientists would claim that it was all known

    many folk have found that denise presents more than a compelling angle on some of this, but that doesn't mean you have to…there are many thousands of blogs, some of which will likely support your bias

    1. “educated” scientists? since when are we downplaying the role of education? there is a huge difference between engaging in a discussion about nutrition and the role it plays in our lives and the effects we feel of certain foods, and trying to play in the same field as people with decades of experience and education and knowledge in the field. i’m not saying you need to be part of the ivory tower to engage in a discussion, but the people up there spend their lives up there studying and researching and reviewing. we live in a society that affirms truth through research and studies and education and experience. Just because Denise spends hours a day reading, that means she’s qualified? I just think it’s insulting to try to match up to someone like T. Colin Campbell who actually grew up on a dairy farm believing milk was the perfect food, then through research found contrasting facts about the affects of certain nutrition on your body. His research spans decades. Shouldn’t we respect that and stop putting quotations around words like scientist and expert? this is just extremely frustrating. humans by nature want to be in control and display “know it all” attitudes about things, the innate desire to be someone and matter. That’s great, and we all have that, but if you’re serious, go to school and be a real part of the field.

      1. i’m not downplaying seemed to be making the point that denise has nothing valuable to offer (or at least giving you a hard time), because she lacks qualifications

        and campbell ?? you couldn’t have given a better example of someone who seemed to allow an agenda to make him act in a very un-scientist-like manner, despite his qualifications….

        it doesn’t matter that he grew up on a dairy farm, nor does it matter how qualified, nor how many years of research…the only thing that matters is he’s being ‘straight’ with his findings

        >>”Shouldn’t we respect that and stop putting quotations around words like scientist and expert?<<"

        respect is earned, not assumed…so, no, not all scientists are 'scientists'…not all experts are 'experts' , but in campbell's case the quotations are valid…if i knew internet code those quotations would have been in bold, italics and covered in glitter

        my point is that it's not the qualification that's the important part

        do you think that being qualified would make denise any more determined, any more focused, any more intelligent or any less dedicated to finding the truth in all of this ??…and denise, "know it all" ?? where'd she say that

        i agree, though, that her getting qualified would at least get her more attention from those that think that's important

        i doubt this is the first time you've read her blog, nor have you just discovered she is not traditionally qualified to do this, so it's a bit late to be pulling the 'yeah, but you aint qualified' card

        you either find something of worth here or you don't…if you have queries or doubts, that's cool, but argue your case without the campbell-esque cheap shots

        1. campbell-esque cheap shots? he’s not a scientist? isn’t THAT a cheap shot? ok i again sense a strong disrespect for the academic community from you. qualifications and years of research dont matter? more education doesn’t make you more intelligent or qualified?

          i’m not finding these discussions to be respectful or useful because this is clearly not a place where the science is a priority. its abrasive and again, disrespectful. try telling someone to his/her face, who’s worked for years in a field, that he/she is not a scientist b/c you disagree with methodology. try saying that to your doctor. or anyone.

          has anyone heard of the straw man argument? that’s what campbell is being used as here – easy target. i dont praise him, but if i were to look to either him (or any actual scientist who has lab experience and peer-to-peer discussions and someone mentored by professors) or denise, obviously it wouldnt be denise. i’m disappointed by the dialogue here and i wont be returning.

          1. >>”i wont be returning.”<>”i again sense a strong disrespect for the academic community from you”<>”qualifications and years of research dont matter?”<>”more education doesn’t make you more intelligent or qualified?<<"

            seriously ??

            well, i reckon more education would lead to more qualifications, but intelligence is something that can be defined and exist on many different levels, even outside the realms of formal education


            it was just very convenient that you mentioned campbell, as he is someone who i think does science a disservice, not only by his methodology but also his real world interactions that are full of puffed-up, self importance and arrogance buoyed on the very same sentiment and automatic respect that you bestow upon him

            it is not valid to be attacking others who question your findings because they are not qualified…in a world where everyone with an interest can get hold of the data, i bet it boils his blood that someone without his qualifications can question him

            any scientist truly interested in making progress towards finding truth would welcome fresh insight, even challenges without the "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM !! " histrionics

            so yeah, i don't really think too much of campbell

            i'm out

            1. for some reason the top came out real funky…

              i know you won;t be returning, so wont actually read it, but…….

              >>”i wont be returning”

              yeah you will 🙂

              i think i made it quite clear that qualifications are moot to me….

              that doesn’t mean that i give automatic respect or disrespect to someone who is or isn’t qualified

              >>”i again sense a strong disrespect for the academic community from you”

              not at all…you didn’t really read my answer did you….

              i find clever people with that aptitude and determination inspiring…but here’s the thing, i include denise under the academic umbrella

              >>”qualifications and years of research dont matter?”

              they matter if you want to be able to say you have a lot of qualifications and have completed years of research

              neither qualifications nor years of study mean anything on their own

              >>”more education doesn’t make you more intelligent or qualified?”

              seriously ??

              well, i reckon more education would lead to more qualifications, but intelligence is something that can be defined and exist on many different levels, even outside the realms of formal education

  65. “many folk have found that denise presents more than a compelling angle on some of this”

    I am sorry but I am unsure what everyone sees as so compelling from this blog. It seems like she has become known mainly through her critiques of others… which is fine. But I have the feeling this has given her undeserved credit or an honorary ‘strong background/scientific knowledge’ if you will.

    I have commented several times that I have not found compelling resources and citations that back ‘Denise’s’ claims and she holds others to a much higher standard than her own it seems (through her reviews).

    I have commented that if she was to do a review of herself, she would blow herself apart too… with her quips and fact checking.

    Does anyone else disagree with this…? and does Denise have a moment to comment on the seeming lack of adequate citations (references) and background to back up her claims (that doesn’t have references)?

    Am I missing something?

    1. Could you give some examples of claims that are missing citations? I try to link abundantly to outside studies and articles (which appear as underlined text in my blog posts) for any claim that may be controversial — if there’s anything I’ve written that seems unsubstantiated, feel free to point it out so I can reference it.

  66. i said “many”, not “everyone”…i also used the word ‘angle’ to denote an alternative viewpoint

    no one is suggesting that the fat lady has sung (nor even yet reached the theatre), so why is everyone setting themselves up as some kinda david to her goliath

    it is worth making the distinction between others bestowing praise and merit where some might feel it undeserved, and her blowing sunshine up her own arse

    just ask her for more info without the warpaint and battle-cry

  67. Richard,

    No-one is denying that cholesterol plays a role in heart disease.It’s just not as simple as you want it to be.

    Mat Lalonde explains it well

    “Cholesterol is not whats going to determine whether or not you get heart disease. What you want to look at is whether or not the lipoprotein molecules are oxidized. So you want to look at oxidized LDL, LDL particle size, triglycerides, markers of inflammation etc. All of which are going to be better predictors of heart disease than total cholesterol”

    “Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is like going into a bank where theres a heist and arresting all the customers becuase they are there in greater numbers”

    The whole notion that saturated fat causes disease is quickly being abandoned by the top researchers. Even Walter Willet and Frank Hu are no longer anti-saturated fat.

    I suggest you read Stephan Guyent’s blog posts about cholestrol and heart disease

    He writes in an academic manner and comes to the same conclusons as Denise.

  68. Oh and Richard,

    Ronald Krauss is possibly the leading lipid researcher in the world. He was anti fat for many many years but now his research shows that the problem isn’t saturated fat and it isn’t as simple as “more cholesterol, more heart disease”

  69. Denise, as I stated you are a creationist and bogus artist.

    This “cholesterol plays some role in heart disease” is grotesque understatement and nothing but a pseudoscientific half-truth. Lunatic stuff you only you only see in online blogs that are tied to the new neo-carnivore movement.

    Atherosclerosis can be induced in a great variety of animal species including vegetarian and carnivore species (e.g. insects, birds, cats, dogs, non-human primates etc.) by raising serum cholesterol high enough and maintaining it long enough. Atherosclerosis can also be reversed by lowering TC enough and maintaining it long enough. The lipid deposits and foam cells disappeared but some fibrous tissue remained. Some species, such as the dog and rat, do not get elevated TC from a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol. But when a way was found to elevate their TC they also developed atherosclerosis. This is so consistent no matter which species is tested that it appears to be a scientific law that elevated LDL can cause atherosclerosis.This can’t be explained away by stress, inflammation or some infectious agent.

    We have extremely well-done animal models to show that cholesterol is all that is required for heart disease. These models can show us direct cause-and effect relationships. We can induce heart disease in a mouse by feeding it an athrogenic diet and transplant the damaged arteries to low-cholesterol environment where the damaged arteries simply heals. We can also simply turn-of and turn-on athrosclerosis in a mouse by simply altering its cholesterol feedback mechanism through the genes that dictates it efficiency. Nothing else is needed. We some exceptionally good primate models as well.

    Creationists hate animal models and think we humans are biblical creatures, beyond other animals. Judged by your comments you oppose darwinism and think something else beyond cholesterol is needed to induce heart disease on humans (thyroid function, etc).

    In addition, we see increased heart disease risk in people who have genetic defect in their cholesterol feedback mechanism. These people die in heart disease irrespective of what other biomarkers (or thyroid function) would suggest. Elevated cholesterol is all what is needed. It works the other way around too, people who have inherited extremely effecient cholesterol cleaning mechanis and have the rare genetic defect the other way around live about 9-12 years longer than their lifestyle would suggest. It’s all comes down to cholesterol.

    We also have extremely good epidemiologic data as well. Currently only 5-6 people have died in heart-disease out of those who kept their TC cholesterol under 150mg/dl in a 40-year time frame. I’m talking about the Framingham study. Cardiovascular disease has traditionally been non-existent in Central-Africa. Rural Africans have their serum cholesterol around 116-135mg/dl. The China Project included a cohort from Guizhui county, 250 000 people and zero death through fatal stroke during the 3-year follow-up, mean serum cholesterol were 127mg/dl.

    The epidemiology of coronary heart disease in South Africa

    Drug-trials are a great tool as well

    A meta-analysis of 108 randomized controlled trials of various lipid modifying interventions found that lowering LDL cholesterol significantly decreased the risk of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality, whereas modifying HDL provided no benefit after controlling for LDL cholesterol.

    You should introduce yourself to primitivenutrition video-serie, he has a good additional serie as well, and more is about to come.

    The Futility of Cholesterol Denialism, Part 1: How Much LDL?

  70. Ronald Krauss warned low-carbers about the dangers of SFA in his recent article. People citing Krauss in the SFA issue are a bit behind their times.

    Cholesterol denialism made some sense in the 1930’s. Not anymore.

  71. In a nutshell, the we can prove the lipid theory through the context of animal models, diet intervention, bile-acid research, surgical trials, yeah we only need to need to bypass operate the ileal which results in lower LDL and thus reduces atherosclerosis progression (POSCH trial), genetic data, drug trials, epidemiology, research on parasites, etc.

    Who you are going to believe, un-trained amateur pushing diets based on appeal-to-nature/primitivism fallacy (Denise Minger) or the people who actually know the science and the big picture?

    The Masai make a great example in favour of lipid-theory as well. In contrast to the popular online idea that Masai eat lot of fat, they don’t eat lot of fat, they eat very little anything and due to their genetic peculiarity and their chronic low-calory context their serum cholesterol are very low which follows that atleast Masai women are quite well-off in terms of cardiovascular disease protection. An average Masai women does not consume even a single egg worth of dietary cholesterol per day. Diseases like rheaumatoid arthrisis and cancers are ofcourse pretty popular among Masai, unlike among their Central-African tribes that comsume low-fat, plant-based, quasi-vegan diets. Check out PrimitiveNutrition:

    1) The Masai of East Africa: some unique biological characteristics

    2) “In contrast to white-americans who have a limited maximal absorption capacity of 300mg of cholesterol, the Masai could absord more than 650mg cholesterol. Compared with the 25% suppression of synthesis found in white Americans, the Masai could suppress 50% of their endogenous cholesterol synthesis”.

    Cardiovascular disease in the tropics. IV. Coronary heart disease

    3) Lipid intakes of Maasai women and children

    “Cholesterol intakes were below 220 mg/day. Energy intakes were inadequate and were between 65% and 80% of the recommended daily intakes based on body weight, or 50% and 60% of the RDI based on age/physiological status. It is suggested that this is the reason why serum lipid levels are not high”.

    Everything you’ve learnt about diet online is flawed. Saving good science from pseudoscience,



  72. “Who you are going to believe, un-trained amateur pushing diets based on appeal-to-nature/primitivism fallacy (Denise Minger) or the people who actually know the science and the big picture? ”

    I think guys like Lalonde, Guyenet, Kresser, Masterjohn and minger etc do see the big picture.

  73. I hate to break it to you, but these people do not know the big picture. Just like Denise Minger, they are not too good with the co-founders (I am referring to Mingers “Green veggie paradox”). These people are religious and blinded in their appeal-to-nature fallacy. You’ll get a good second opinion on these people through PrimitiveNutrition -serie on youtube. It’s free, use your freedom of choice.

    A research on parasites add to the nearly never ending cascade of lines of evidence suggesting that cholesterol theory is one of few theories that is bullet-proof in medicine.

    Denny Minger suggests people to follow Kurt Harris -style paleo/primal diet, a similar diet his book publisher recommends. As a second opinion, I would suggest that anyone who follows such a diet in their own clean, parasite-free eco-niche take a potent daily statin (atorvastatin, or preferably rosuvastatin, judged bythe lipid responses many paleo-dieter get you need a good share of lipid lowering, a daily apple won’t cut the deal anymore). How do the real primal/paleo people still living in their stone-age manages it? This comes to an important co-founder the appeal-to-primitivism -crew don’t talk about. Parasites! The primitive tribes all have them, and they have them a lot. What do they do, they eat up the LDL in your intima. Statins have less side-effects.

    1) Role of cholesterol in parasitic infections

    2) An anti-atherogenic effect of Schistosoma mansoni infections in mice associated with a parasite-induced lowering of blood total cholesterol.

    “Observations on S. mansoni-infected conventional laboratory mice indicate that patent schistosome infections could be counteracting the effects of an atherogenic diet by modulating host lipid metabolism and inducing a reduction in blood total cholesterol concentrations”.

    Email these papers to Chris Masterjohn and ask for him to explain these finding that contradict his grand idea of the allaged additional “beyond LDL” properties of statins.

    1) A meta-analysis of 19 studies (81,859 participants in all) that lowered LDL and measured clinical disease or death, including 5 diet trials, 3 bile sequestrant trials, 1 surgery trial and 10 statin trials concluded that: “The pleiotropic effects [effects apparently unrelated to lowering LDL] of statins do not seem to contribute an additional cardiovascular risk reduction benefit beyond that expected from the degree of LDL-C lowering observed in other trials that primarily lowered LDL-C.”

    Robinson JG, Smith B, Maheshwari N, Schrott H. Pleiotropic effects of statins: benefit beyond cholesterol reduction? A meta-regression analysis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005 Nov 15;46(10):1855-62.

    .2) It looks like Masterjohn is just pushing you corporate propaganda

    Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol reduction and prevention of cardiovascular disease

    “There was little question after the first major statin trials that the reduction in CVD was related to lipid lowering and was totally consistent and supportive of the lipid hypothesis. However, stimulated by funding from the pharmaceutical industry, in which competition was fierce for market share and was driven mainly by the efficacy of lowering LDL-C levels, manufacturers of less-effective agents for lowering LDL-C levels helped propagate “beyond LDL-C” theories; these theories were that statins reduced CVD events by means other than lipid reduction, often termed pleotropic effects, usually shown in in vitro laboratory studies or small, poorly standardized surrogate marker trials. This belief culminated in an RCT by a pharmaceutical company that was designed to show that more LDL-C reduction with a competitor’s statin achieved no greater benefit. However, the results of that study clearly and convincingly showed otherwise, with additional reduction in CVD events with the drug that lowered LDL-C levels more. Even with this evidence, and perhaps with an even more powerful statin about to be approved, the investigators suggested that the reduced events were due to pleotropic effects of the more efficacious statin. However, the trial was soon followed up with results from another head-to-head RCT, with the same drug at different LDL-C lowering doses, which eliminated the pleotropic potential and rein-forced that lower is better”

    You can also ask why Masterjohn does not advocate a vegan diet since he is so fond with the oxidation of LDL -story:

    1) Gluten-free vegan diet induces decreased LDL and oxidized LDL levels and raised atheroprotective natural antibodies against phosphorylcholine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized study

    2) Dietary cholesterol increases the susceptibility of low density lipoprotein to oxidative modification

    3) Dietary cholesterol increases the susceptibility of LDL-C to oxidation, vascular inflammation, oxidative stress, and postprandial hyperlipemia and potentiates the harmful effects of saturated fat, impairs endothelial function, and increases cardiovascular events.

    and when you are at it, you might also ask Masterjohn about the relevance of particle size to people who do not have metabolic syndrome in the light of the new panel report of lipid/atherosclerosis specialists:

    Clinical utility of inflammatory markers and advanced lipoprotein testing: Advice from an expert panel of lipid specialists (2011)

    “All lipoprotein particles in the LDL fraction are atherogenic, independent of size”

    Minger & Co are behind their times and after the new follow-up of primitivenutrition -serie that will be lauched during the upcoming september these people won’t be looking too good. To me, these people remind me of the attacks Darwin received from the behalf of the creationist. The Minger -crew is hoplessly uneducated about the biological mechanisms/pathophysiology of atherosclerosis along with the multiple of lines of evidence supporting the lipid-theory. What they have left with are their imaginary weaknesses in epidemiologic data and diet-interventions. These people are good in confusing people. With primitivenutriion -serie, we try to act a bit like whistle blowers. The good times of Minger -crew are soon to be done. Be prepared for the new era.

    Ornish et al. demonstrated in an intervention trial that lowering LDL was associated with increased telomerase activity, which in turn is associated with longevity.

    Everything you’ve learnt about diet online is flawed. Rescuing good science from pseudoscience,


  74. So richard, you think if LDL is increased, risk for heart disease increases no matter what happens to other biomarkers ?

    I think this is interesting from stephan guyenet

    Now let’s swim over to the island of Tokelau, where the traditional diet includes nearly 50% of calories from saturated fat from coconut. This is the highest saturated fat intake of any population I’m aware of. How’s their cholesterol? Men in the age group 20-24 had a concentration of 168 mg/dL in 1976, which was lower than Americans in the same age group despite a four-fold higher saturated fat intake. Tokelauans who migrated to New Zealand, eating half the saturated fat of their island relatives, had a total cholesterol of 191 mg/dL in the same age group and time period, and substantially higher LDL (J. Chron. Dis. 34:45. 1981). Sucrose consumption was 2% on Tokelau and 13% in New Zealand. Saturated fat seems to take a backseat to some other diet/lifestyle factor(s). Body fatness and excess calorie intake are good candidates, since they influence circulating lipoproteins.

    Btw, you should email them papers to chris masterjohn

  75. @Tom

    not quite, so. You miss the context. LDL alone is sufficient to orchestrate the opera as we can see very well thanks to genetic data. People with defect in their cholesterol feedback mechanism develope atherosclerosis even despite other biomarkers (and thyroid) would be perfectly ok. In population consuming atherogenic diets, such as the WHI-trial intervention group who took 3/4 of their protein from animal sources and put only 16gram fiber intake, other biomarkers matter. When your LDL is really low, like it is among Central-Africans, rural Chinese or many HG-population, none of the biomarkes matter. With LDL under 70mg/dl you ain’t getting atherosclerosis even if you tried.

    All this Tokelaun, pukapukan nonsense is already refuted long time ago, as said, the creationists are a bit behind their times, find this primitivenutrition video:

    RaCCG5: The Tokelauans, and more on the Masai

    Interesting blog-posts:

    Forks Over Knives and Healthy Longevity: Perhaps the Science is Legit After All

    Forks Over Knives and Healthy Longevity: A Missed Opportunity for the Cholesterol Skeptics

  76. Heres what Krauss says on the saturated fat matter

    “Yeah. I like to think the world has come around but obviously that’s not true. We looked carefully at the saturated fat effects. With more saturated fat in the diet, we did see a signal for an increase in the overall amount of cholesterol in their blood. But when we looked more carefully, that slightly increased amount of total cholesterol was not being carried by more of the dangerous, small particle LDLs. It seemed to be carried more by larger particles. Actually, in the people eating more fat, and fewer carbs, the total particle concentration, which most people in our field think is a stronger signal of risk that total cholesterol, the total number of particles did not go up.”

    “In our 2006 Study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, we included one branch of the study that involved eating a really high saturated fat diet, with lots of dairy fat, which is the main dietary source of saturated fat for most people. Beef also contains some saturated fat, but in dairy, it’s much higher. That higher amount of saturated fat seemed to cause no adverse increases in LDL particle numbers, compared to feeding people higher monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil. And in our 2006 study, the blood work was better when feeding people higher fat diets, than when feeding them lower fat and more carbohydrates. But keep in mind, this was in the setting of lower carb and a mixed protein diet, proteins from various sources from white meat and dark meat and chicken and fish and beef.”

    From a personal experience, when i increased my cholesterol and saturated fat consumption, my total cholesterol actually dropped slightly, my HDL went a little up and my LDL dropped. My markers of inflammation didn’t go up and haemoglobin A1C decreased slightly. I know it’s just an n=1 experiment and maybe my biomarkers will change in the long term but at the moment i am not seeing devastating outcomes from eating a reasonably high amount of saturated fat and cholesterol.

    I also think that it’s interesting that observational studies, time and time again show no link between saturated fat consumption and heart disease and that populations such as the kitavans and the french eat a diet high in saturated fat and have low rates of heart disease. It’s only observational but there has got to be much more important factors at play (refined carbohydrates ? vegetable oils ? grains ?)

    1. Tom Veganism is the new religion, founded on pseudo science, and cherry picked data. 84 % of vegetarians and 70 % of vegans will eventually return to eating meat. The only ones left will be the true believers. They quote studies done by this place or that place, in the USA of course. All the obesity and franken foods, high fructose corn syrup, sugar and vegetable fat laden foods, are flourishing in the USA. The science base vegans turn to are the same ones that defend these money hungry companies to flourish. Vegans are sure consumption of meat is the root of all disease, but don’t have the same unfaltering belief in the studies that show over consumption of sugar to be a major cause in the obesity epidemic. It beggars belief. From my 70 years on this planet, it looks like an emotional outburst, the the finding or manufacturing of evidence to blame the whole thing on MEAT.

  77. @Tom

    I am not even bothering to go to the nonsense by Krauss, find out his fresh article in the leading magazine for diabetics in US. You are behind your times.

    Krauss is against SFA. Plain and simple. Krauss own paper: very interesting thoughts from a lipid specialist paid by the Egg board, Atkins-foundation, Cattlemen’s beef association, Pork board, etc.

    ”Plasma total, LDL, and non-HDL cholesterol as well as apoB concentrations were lower after the low-carbohydrate, low-saturated fat diet period than after the low-carbohydrate, high-saturated fat diet period. Given our previous observations with mixed protein diets, the present findings raise the possibility that dietary protein source may modify the effects of saturated fat on atherogenic lipoproteins”

    Observational studies are just part of the puzzle. Read Jeremiah Stamlers views of the paper by Siri-Tarino, Stamler was in the first congress where meta-analysis concept was ever used, he knew the game and had a thing and two to say about the meta-regressioncurve used in Siri-Tarino paper. Stamler pointed about 14 methodological flaws in the paper paid by Dairy Counsil. BTW meta-analysis conceot was developed by Sir Richard Peto, the same guy who sorted the data for China Study, and BTW here’s what the co-author of the Siri-Tarino paper, Frank Hu had to say about SFA in february 2012:

    ”Why is red meat harmful? “Saturated fat, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, is really just the beginning of the story,” explains Hu”

    “The ability to detect an association between a dietary variable and disease require adequate interindividual variation in that dietary factor. This implies that the likelihood of detecting a risk associated with specific food or nutrient among homogenous population who are characterized by little variation in food or nutrient studied will be low”

    Nutrition In Pediatrics, 4 (Textbook

    Don’t miss the blog posts refuting Mingers nonsense about Fork over Knives.

    Everything you’ve learnt about diet online is flawed. Rescuing good science from pseudoscience,


    1. It makes you wonder how an ancient food (meat), suddenly turns on us and causes so much unhealthiness, while sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and high omega 6 seed oils, which have never been high in our food chain until the last 50-70 years are not mentioned. Not to mention 90% of the supermarket ailses filled with flour,sugar and vegetable oil “TREATS”.

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