In an article featuring the surging popularity of vegan diets
As I began reading a 7-24-12 article by Angela Haupt in U.S. News & World Report, I found myself thinking that it might be the first “mainstream” article that I had ever seen that provided total clarity about what we should be eating for optimal health. Sadly, I was wrong. (See link below for full article.)
Just like every other mainstream publication or website, they end up favoring “confusion over clarity” every single time. Angela’s article about the surging popularity of vegan diets was no exception—even though she led off with my favorite vegan, Bill Clinton, and featured the likes of plant-promoting MDs Esselstyn, Ornish and Barnard.
When you start off by telling someone how to reverse heart disease or diabetes and then end up by telling them that the superior diet required for making that happen is “nutritionally incomplete,” what have you done besides confusing the reader? Her article began with this accounting of President Clinton’s adoption of a vegan diet:
Former President Bill Clinton had a legendary appetite: Hamburgers and steaks. Barbeque. Chicken enchiladas. But after having two stents inserted in 2010—on top of quadruple bypass surgery six years earlier—he radically changed his diet in the name of saving his health. Now a vegan, the strictest type of vegetarian, he has cut out meat, dairy, eggs, and most oils in favor of a super-low-fat diet that revolves around whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
It appears to be working: He has said he’s dropped more than 20 pounds and has never been healthier. In a televised interview with film producer Harvey Weinstein in June, Clinton explained that he’d decided he wanted to live to be a grandfather. “So I just went all the way. Getting rid of the dairy was great, getting rid of the meat was—I just don’t miss it.”
After devoting several paragraphs to similar success stories involving Dr. Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard. She clearly pointed out, “Today, patients at hospitals and clinics nationwide can follow Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which is covered by Medicare and private insurance companies.” She also quoted Dr. Neal Barnard with the kinds of results he typically sees in his patients, “We’ve seen people whose chest pain has gone away within weeks, while their weight melts off, blood pressure goes down, and cholesterol plummets.”
Then the confusion begins. She rounds out the article by presenting quotes from the opposing experts with big titles and impressive resumes.
First Marion Nestle of NYU. Despite all the advantages, vegan diets aren’t a no-brainer move. There are downsides, from potential health risks to the challenge of sticking to such a restrictive eating plan. “Vegan diets are difficult to manage, and they’re nutritionally incomplete,” says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University and coauthor of Why Calories Count. “So you have to compensate for that in some way.”
Then David Katz of Yale. Diehard meat- and fish-lovers who aren’t trying to clean out their arteries can aim instead for what David Katz, a clinical instructor of medicine at Yale University and founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, calls “an optimal omnivorous diet.” An eating plan on the Ornish spectrum is one good option. Another is the Mediterranean diet.
The Bottom Line. As we were reminded from the recent Meatless Monday episode with the USDA (See link below), we’re many years away from having our vast “system” tell us what we should be eating—with clarity and simplicity. I explained all of this in Chapter 8 of our book, the chapter entitled “Why did no one tell you this before.” In The China Study, Dr. Campbell devoted over 100 pages to answering a similar question.
When I first started studying this topic in 2002, I was drawn to people with legitimacy, authenticity, credibility and integrity. I found it with Dr. Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Ornish and the other medical doctors featured in our book. Bill Clinton did the same thing and we know how that worked out. I recommend that you do the same. For your convenience, provided here are links to the source article along with a few of my recent blogs on this subject.
- Source article. Me, Give Up Meat? Vegan Diets Surging in Popularity – US News
- Earlier blog. Meatless Monday, Mark Bittman and the USDA
- Earlier blog. Mainstream media is failing us when it comes to health.
- Earlier blog. Weight-loss pills. Miracle solution or just more confusion?
- Earlier blog. “Confusion over clarity” at schools of nutrition?
- Earlier blog. Focus on “risk factors”— is missing the whole point!
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