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Veganism: Why Doctors Don't Recommend It

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From the video "Why Doctors Don't Recommend Veganism #1"( by Dr. Michael Greger, I took notes about some of the salient points of that video too. Dr. Greger said that processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, sausage, turkey slices) cause cancer. Regarding the low-carb diet movement, Dr. Greger said people love hearing good news about their bad habits. Dr. Atkins, an advocate of the low-carb diet, tried unsuccessfully to sue Dr. Michael Greger for telling the truth about the low-carb diet. Junk food makes a lot of money--broccoli doesn't. A plant-based diet is the only diet that reverses heart disease in the majority of patients. If the government is going to subsidize food, it should subsidize healthy food. Nathan Pritikin was Dr. Greger's hero; Pritikin got his information from Denis Burkitt, the doctor described above by Dr. McDougall. Greger, like McDougall, also pointed out that the missionary hospitals set up in sub-Saharan Africa discovered that chronic killer diseases such as colon-rectal cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc., were not the inevitable consequences of aging. These are lifestyle diseases.

In the video "Why Doctors Don't Recommend Veganism #2" (, Dr. Neal Barnard was interviewed. Dr. Barnard said that perhaps the most important thing is that the scientific basis [for the plant-based diet] has matured. We now know very, very clearly that a plant-based diet really does help with weight loss; cholesterol gets better, blood pressure gets better, diabetes gets better. We have a scientific basis for all of these things that we did not have a few decades ago. People on a low-fat vegan diet lose weight.

The U.S. government now holds that a vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest ways to go. Back in the year 2000, we looked at the dietary guidelines of the advisory committee that makes the recommendations about what every American should eat, which also has ripples for the rest of the world. We found that there were 11 people on the committee, of whom 6 were industry funded, especially the dairy industry, but also eggs and meat. We filed a lawsuit at that time saying you cannot let industry dictate what people should eat, and we won the lawsuit very quickly, and things haven't been perfect since then but we're getting better. Industry is fighting very hard to influence these guidelines, but the government is getting better at rebuffing them.

Industry isn't the biggest barrier to change--it is our culture. Addiction to certain foods (like cheese and meat) is another barrier. A vegan diet is not harder than a diet in which one is always counting calories. We're seeing athletes (tennis and football players) become vegan. Dr. Barnard's heroes include Dean Ornish, Colin Campbell, and John McDougall.

In the video "Why Doctors Don't Recommend Veganism #4" (, Dr. Alan Goldhamer was interviewed. Dr. Alan Goldhamer said veganism describes no animal foods (meat, fish, fowl, or dairy foods), but that alone is not inclusive of a healthy diet. Just being vegan is not enough: coca cola and French fries, for example, are vegan foods that are not healthy. You have to adopt a healthy priority diet. You also have to address the chemicals, oils, sugar, flour, and processed foods.

Dr. Goldhamer said there is not a conspiracy of restaurants not wanting to serve vegan meals. Restaurants serve what people ask for. They don't care. They just want your money. Why is Walmart selling organic produce? Because people said they want to give them money if they would carry these products. The same goes with Costco. Goldhamer said the low-carb doctors are well-intentioned, but misguided. They're just telling people what they want to hear. They don't have the time to investigate what the truth of the matter is. Goldhamer recommends fasting, and he said that after fasting, good foods starts tasting good again to people. The dietary behaviors that help you are the behaviors that help the environment.

In none of the above videos is there any mention of capitalism, but it seems that here is one more reason why production based on the profit motive is causing the deterioration of our health and the destruction of our planet.

Roger Copple is a retired general elementary teacher; he also taught special education at the high school level. He is a vegetarian, still aspiring to be a vegan.

(Article changed on March 13, 2017 at 12:44)

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