Category Archives: Diet

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Thought

Clifton  A fact you might find it worthwhile to ponder today: had all early Americans adopted a vegan lifestyle, human slavery would never have existed in this country.
Erika  Yeah, slaves are too gamy for me. Last I checked, cotton is still considered vegan safe.
Lori  Wait … we ate slaves?
Clifton  Well, these days, cotton is harvested by machines. No serious vegan or vegetarian would purchase cotton products where the cotton was harvested by slaves. (Incidentally, I highly recommend the Planet Money series on the origin of t-shirts for anyone really interested in exploring the human labor involved in modern clothing production.)

Veganism and vegetarianism aren’t just about what you eat, but more about not causing living things to suffer or die unnecessarily.

When might it be necessary for a living thing to suffer or die? Perhaps when we’re trying to find cures to devastating illnesses as were Banting/Best and Pasteur to name a few.

Clifton I’d like to add that I would support any variety of eating less meat, including this
Jon  Is the vegan included in the lifestyle of not causing living things to suffer? 😉
Clifton  Yeah, Jon, I imagine a lot of people find any talk of changing their behavior insufferable. Any direct mention of the possible merits of not eating meat could ultimately be a terrible PR move. I hope not, of course.

In my defense, I think it’s been quite a while since I posted some pro-vegan/vegetarian propaganda.

Also, as usual, I was hoping that someone would uncover the fault(s) in my reasoning. I do freely admit that I might have it all wrong. I believe my agnosticism is quite pathological at this point.

Rachel  Haha my agnosticism as well there are so many times where I say I believe this but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re all right, maybe we’re all wrong?
Clifton  Agnosticism: withholding certainty to grant that knowing all facts is probably impossible in some circumstances. I still do this with anthropogenic climate change. Ultimately, I feel I must acknowledge that I probably won’t live long enough to learn everything (regarding climate change or anything else) and must therefore rely on experts to some extent. The best survey of experts I know of found a 97-98% consensus among preeminent scientists actively publishing on climate science. So, that’s what I go with and act on.

Similarly, all large studies I know of conclude that eating little or no meat is healthier than eating greater quantities of meat: the Loma Linda studies, the Seven Countries Study, the Framingham Heart Study, the Cornell-Oxford-China Health Project, and the Lifestyle Heart Trial. I don’t think I’m cherry-picking here. These are the only major studies of human nutrition I know of and they all have similar things to say about meat: less (or none) is better.

And, this seems to me to nicely sum up the environmental impact of meat consumption:

Delicious Squid Spermatophores

We report a case of oral stings by spermatophores of the squid Todarodes pacificus. A 63-yr-old Korean woman experienced severe pain in her oral cavity immediately after eating a portion of parboiled squid along with its internal organs. She did not swallow the portion, but spat it out immediately. She complained of a pricking and foreign-body sensation in the oral cavity. Twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms stuck in the mucous membrane of the tongue, cheek, and gingiva were completely removed, along with the affected mucosa. On the basis of their morphology and the presence of the sperm bag, the foreign bodies were identified as squid spermatophores.


Dr. John Harvey Kellogg

Nonetheless, Dr. Kellogg engaged in questionable medical practices. The San offered hydropathy, electropathy, mechanotherapy and radium cures. For a time, Kellogg promoted “Fletcherizing” or chewing food until it slithered down the throat. He changed his mind about Fletcherizing when he decided that excessive chewing destroyed the fiber content of the food. Kellogg opposed sexual activity from masturbation to marital intercourse. A doctor, he never made love to his wife!


Against the Personal Preference Diet

If our going-in belief is, “Meat-eating is morally acceptable as it is a personal decision,” this belief equates acceptable morality with personal preference: “I like to eat beef; therefore, it is acceptable to kill and eat cows.” This easily permits the equivalent expression, “I like to eat Soylent Green; therefore, it is acceptable to kill and eat people.”

However, if we use unnecessary suffering as our benchmark, we can easily defeat both arguments. We first grant that unnecessary suffering is bad. We then grant that the more unnecessary suffering our actions cause, the worse those actions are.

We know that eating animals causes suffering in at least one direct way and one indirect way.

Factory farming is a direct way in which animals suffer. Conditions in many large-scale meat production operations cause animals to suffer cramped quarters, little or no outdoor grazing ability, and inhumane slaughter. Continue reading Against the Personal Preference Diet

Report: Number of Animals Killed In US Increases in 2010: “~10 billion land animals were raised and killed for food in the United States in 2010.”
Farm Animal Rights Movement
Do Chickens Suffer in Wire Cages?: “Dawkins explains that if hens kept all their lives on wire floors are suddenly given access to a floor of wood-shavings or peat, they have ‘an immediate and strong preference for these more natural floors over the wire ones, which is all they have known until then.’ “
United Poultry Concerns
The Human Cost of Animal Suffering: “The sheer volume, scale and rate of killing, the way the animals form a continuous stream rather than individual creatures, makes it clear the animals are seen as raw material.”
Timothy Pachirat

Livestock Farming and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In a 2006 report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that worldwide livestock farming generates 18% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions — by comparison, all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats account for a combined 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. Much of livestock’s contribution to global warming come from deforestation, as the growing demand for meat results in trees being cut down to make space for pasture or farmland to grow animal feed. Livestock takes up a lot of space — nearly one-third of the earth’s entire landmass. In Latin America, the FAO estimates that some 70% of former forest cover has been converted for grazing. Lost forest cover heats the planet, because trees absorb CO2 while they’re alive — and when they’re burned or cut down, the greenhouse gas is released back into the atmosphere.


Bad Salt?

Taylor tells the Health Blog that he doesn’t question the notion that salt consumption is linked to cardiovascular risk. But he says giving individuals dietary advice alone isn’t likely to cut it as a means of permanently lowering their salt intake, and therefore isn’t likely to have a long-term impact on health outcomes. “What’s not working is the advice,” he says.


On the other hand, many studies comparing how much salt people consume with their incidence of cardiovascular disease have come up with clearer links. A 2009 meta-analysis3 of 13 such studies, incorporating 177,000 patients, found that a high-salt diet increased the risk of stroke by 23%.