Bourbon and potato chips are vegan!

My Web site and blog are about healthy food. I want peo­ple to know what sci­ence real­ly says about how diet affects human health. For exam­ple, we know that eat­ing ani­mal-based foods rais­es the risk of a whole host of dis­eases, includ­ing heart dis­ease, many can­cers, and autoim­mune dis­eases. The less ani­mal-based food you eat, the safer you can be from those dis­eases. So the health-opti­miz­ing diet for human beings would be free from ani­mal prod­ucts. It could there­fore be clas­si­fied as veg­an. Although all healthy foods are veg­an, not all veg­an foods are healthy. For exam­ple, no one would con­sid­er bour­bon and pota­to chips to be the basis for a healthy diet.

The first veg­e­tar­i­ans I met were veg­e­tar­i­an for reli­gious rea­sons. They includ­ed some Hin­du peo­ple who had been born in India and some Sev­enth-Day Adven­tists from the USA. I’ve also known obser­vant Jews who would eat in veg­e­tar­i­an restau­rants because every­thing that’s veg­e­tar­i­an is auto­mat­i­cal­ly Kosher. I also know a lot of peo­ple who refuse for moral rea­sons to eat any prod­ucts that come from ani­mals. All of the peo­ple I’ve just described can eat at my house with­out vio­lat­ing any of their dietary laws. Since I’m aller­gic to wheat, every­thing that I cook is even kosher for Passover. How­ev­er, not every­thing that pass­es muster in their dietary laws is good for them.

To be tru­ly health-opti­miz­ing for the aver­age per­son, a diet also has to be low in fat (<10% of calo­ries) and high in fiber. Some of the foods that con­tain no ani­mal prod­ucts are nev­er­the­less high in fat or low in fiber. A high-fat, low-fiber veg­an diet could pro­mote ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, even though it doesn’t con­tain any cho­les­terol. That’s why even veg­ans occa­sion­al­ly die of heart attacks.

When I was grow­ing up, I was taught in school that the meat group (which includes eggs and fish) and the dairy group (which includes all milk prod­ucts) are an essen­tial part of a bal­anced diet for human beings. How­ev­er, when I grew up and start­ed read­ing nutri­tion and med­ical text­books and sci­en­tif­ic jour­nals, I found strong evi­dence that those foods are dan­ger­ous and unnec­es­sary. So far, I haven’t found any evi­dence that any human beings would real­ly ben­e­fit from adding ani­mal-based foods to an oth­er­wise healthy plant-based diet. I found plen­ty of evi­dence that cats need cer­tain nutri­ents that occur only in ani­mals, and are not pro­duced by plants or bac­te­ria. How­ev­er, I’ve seen no such evi­dence for human nutri­tion. If I find it, I will report it. Then, the deci­sion of whether to eat those foods will be a moral deci­sion, not a health deci­sion.

2 thoughts on “Bourbon and potato chips are vegan!”

  1. I like your blog. This col­umn asked for some infor­ma­tion to review. I would con­tend it is empir­i­cal­ly proven that (excess) car­bo­hy­drate intake, trig­gers a bio­chem­i­cal process that makes humans store fat.. This usu­al­ly doesn’t change, with or with­out the intake of meat.. since it is a process exclu­sive of pro­teins or fats. Some will con­tend that grains and sug­ars are the large cat­a­lyst in this process, though all car­bo­hy­drates are sac­cha­rides. The hypoth­e­sis pre­sent­ed stands against a lot of orga­ni­za­tions guide­lines, pur­port­ing to be serv­ing pub­lic health.

    gary taubes, has made his career writ­ing about this.

    Also there is a film on net­flix, called fat head.. which talks about the CSPI and some inter­est­ing things about that.

    con­trary to pub­lic opin­ion, human beings have no phys­i­o­log­i­cal need for car­bo­hy­drates, and can live sole­ly on fats and pro­teins.. This may not be the opti­mum con­di­tion though..

    Thank you for all your great ideas.. keep research­ing.. and tell us what you find.


  2. Hi Jeff:
    Here’s a detailed dis­cus­sion about sug­ar, fat, calo­ries, and weight loss:

    Gary Taubes evi­dent­ly makes a lot of mon­ey as a writer, but that means noth­ing to me. Gen­uine sci­en­tif­ic texts sel­dom make much mon­ey, and lots of best­sellers are full of crap. Taubes has no real train­ing in any of the life sci­ences, and his jour­nal­ism has been harsh­ly crit­i­cized. Some of the nutri­tion and obe­si­ty researchers he has inter­viewed have com­plained that he gross­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ed what they said to him, mak­ing them sound as if they are sup­port­ing some­thing that they don’t actu­al­ly sup­port.

    Human beings can live on a car­bo­hy­drate-free diet for an extend­ed peri­od of time. Oth­er­wise, human beings would nev­er have been able to set­tle in the Arc­tic. But it’s not the opti­mum diet for human health. You are absolute­ly right about that!

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