Mercola Says a Vegan Diet Is Not for Everyone (Part I)
In a recent article called Angelina Jolie – The Mistake that Almost Killed Her, Dr. Joseph Mercola of mercola.com, a very well-known natural health website, uses actress Angelina Jolie’s comment that a vegan diet “nearly killed” her and that she was “not getting enough nutrition” to conclude that a vegetarian/vegan diet is not for everyone.
In fact, according to Mercola, it’s actually “dangerous to say that any one diet is right for everyone”. So let’s look at some of Mercola’s claims in his article and see if he’s right.
Everyone Needs Some Meat
It is my clinical belief that virtually everyone benefits from some animal protein. In some cultures this may be very little and might just be the insects consumed in grains as in India. It is clear that meat is not necessary for most carb types, but they would benefit from other animal proteins like raw organic dairy and eggs.
What is the basis for this opinion? Why exactly does everyone benefit from meat-eating and how do they benefit?
And just because someone benefits from including meat in his or her diet does not mean that meat is necessary for health. It could very likely mean that the previous diet plan was seriously flawed and adding meat provided more nutrition (read “more calories”) than what the person was getting before.
This is very common among short-term vegans who claim that they felt much better after adding meat back into their diet. Then you find out that they were eating little more than a few pieces of fruit and celery sticks here and there.
These individuals simply needed more calories. Animal flesh, with lots of calories-per-bite, provided that easily.
And besides, there is no nutrient in meat that is not found in fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds!
In fact, it is MEAT that is missing and/or lacking in key nutritional components, such as fiber and vitamin C, and it is MEAT that is high in cholesterol, saturated and trans fatty acids, and is strongly associated with atherosclerosis, heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, high blood pressure, and many other diseases and disorders.
But isn’t meat a great source of high-quality protein, you ask?
Not according to Dr. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, who conducted an experiment (referenced in the book) in which he gave one group of rats aflatoxin (a toxin in mold linked to liver cancer) and a 20% protein diet and another group the same amount of aflatoxin but only 5% protein.
After 100 weeks (pg. 61)…
All animals that were administered the same level of aflatoxin and fed the regular 20% levels of casein [a protein found in dairy] either were dead or near death from liver tumors…All animals administered the same level of aflatoxin but fed the low 5% protein diet were alive, active and thrifty, with sleek hair coats at 100 weeks.
For more information on the harmfulness of ingesting meat, as well as animal by-products including milk and cheese, be sure to check out The China Study.
If Dr. Mercola wants to show that meat is a healthy part of a human diet, he’s going to have to do a lot better than throw out authoritative statements like “everyone benefits from eating meat” without some substantial backing.
Eat Foods Based on Your Nutritional Type
Your nutritional type, which determines what ratio of fats, carbohydrates and protein your body needs to thrive.
I believe it’s safe to say we all need some of each of these three categories, but our bodies require different ratios of each. This means that some people will thrive on very large amounts of vegetables and very little animal protein. For others, this ratio would spell disaster for their health.
Ok, now I get it. Apparently we all should eat different types of foods based upon our “nutritional type”. Some of us should eat lots of carbs, some should eat lots of protein, and the rest should eat a mixture of both.
There’s no category for those who need lots of fat. Sorry, high fat raw foodists!
Again, what is the basis for this? There is absolutely NO scientific evidence out there that supports Nutritional Typing. As Dr. Colin Campbell writes in his response to Mercola’s critique of The China Study:
Mercola’s assertion that we are all biologically different individuals impresses people because it is so obviously true. But what does he really mean? In no way does this mean that each individual (or each likely disease event) responds to very different diets. It only means that we can respond in the same direction with the same dietary lifestyle but to different degrees, depending on our genetic and environmental circumstances.
In other words, all humans belong to the same species, with the same basic bodily structures and functions, and so we all thrive on the same types of food.
Cholesterol and Fat in Meat are Good for You
Dr. Mercola does not actually speak about cholesterol and fat in meat, but instead refers to another article The Cholesterol Myth that is Harming Your Health. Here he quotes the work of Ron Rosedale, M.D.:
“First and foremost,” Dr. Rosedale points out, “cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on Earth. In other words, there is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol.
That will automatically tell you that, in and of itself, it cannot be evil. In fact, it is one of our best friends.
We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one”s risk of dying. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol.“
The issue is not with cholesterol on its own, per say. The issue is with TOO MUCH cholesterol. Our livers make all the cholesterol we need so any additional cholesterol we get from our diet is likely to be too much (the cholesterol in plants is so small as to be negligible).
The bottom line is that excess cholesterol in the body, which is a result of consuming animal flesh and animal by-products, is unhealthy.
And even a little bit of meat, as Dr. Mercola suggests, is too much. Here’s a quote from Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. (pg. 71):
Scientific studies provide evidence that animal protein’s effect on blood cholesterol may be significant. This is one of the reasons those switching to a low-fat diet do not experience the cholesterol lowering they expect unless they also remove the low-fat animal products as well. Surprising to most people is that yes, even low-fat dairy and skinless white-meat chicken raise cholesterol.
I see this regularly in my practice. Many individuals do not see the dramatic drop in cholesterol levels unless they go all the way by cutting all animal products from their diet.
As far as fat goes, Mercola actually doesn’t comment on it. I’m assuming that’s because there is absolutely NO evidence supporting the idea that consuming excessive amounts of saturated and trans fats (both found in meat) is a healthy practice.
Here’s another quote from Eat to Live (pg. 135):
The most dangerous fats for both heart disease and cancer are saturated fats and trans fatty acids. You would be foolish not to carefully avoid these. Trans fats may raise breast cancer risk by as much as 40 percent.
That’s not to say fat in and of itself is bad. Like cholesterol, we all need a certain amount of body fat to live and we all consume a certain amount in our diets (even if you live on just fruits and vegetables). The issue arises when we consume too much fat, no matter what the source.
For more on the dangers of a high fat diet, check out my article here.
Part II Still to Come
This Friday, I’ll take a look at the second part of Dr. Mercola’s article and his claims about the fallacy of The China Study, grass-fed meat, the supposed “dangers” of vegetarian diets, and intuitive eating.
Don’t miss it!
NOTE: Click here to view Part II.
Go raw and be fit,