Meat, Global Warming and Markets.

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I’ve received a few emails that have a similar jist to them. Seemingly about the health plusses or minuses of a meat based diet, but this issue quickly slides to a totally different topic. I want to look at two recent news pieces and then look at a recent study validating the efficacy of the paleo diet in humans…and how the growing  body of evidence in an ancestral diet will be attacked in the future.

The first was forwarded to me from Matt Lalonde, a Phd. chemist from Harvard. It relates to an apparent “rethinking” of the role of omega 3 fats primarily obtained from fish. Here is that article

The second article was sent to me from B-Mack and relates to some recent studies that implicate red meat consumption in increased cancer rates

Finally, we have a research piece from Staffan Lindberg comparing a paleo diet to a mediteranian diet. 

I fear this is to be a long post, brew some espreso and dig in!

Let’s look at that paper citing increased cancer rates from red meat. It’s a study, it’s sciency…it’s very compelling. It takes a not insignificant scientific or statistical background to decifer IF that study is gold quality, or should line the bottoms of bird cages. Short of doing a statistical analysis, let’s consider if there are ANY examples of populations who consume significant amounts of red meat who DO NOT see deliterious health effects. That’s a pretty easy answer, the Inuit Diet. In the article it’s called the “Inuit Paradox” because it is assumed that meat is unhealthful. This is the same story as the French/Spanish paradoxes(i?) that culteres who eat loads of fat are neither as fat nor as sick as North Americans. The main point of the Inuit diet paper is that it is assumed the omega-3’s (n-3) found in the artic animals provide a “protective” effect from the meat. The counter point is interestingly absent: That grain feeding of animals, with the subsequent skewing of the n-/n-6  profile is the REASON for negative health outcomes associated with meat consumption. Again, a lack of an evolutionary orientation leaves people just scratching around in the dirt trying to piece things together with no way to interpert findings. For the sake of that red meat paper however, we just need ONE (1) example of a high red meat consuming society to nulify the notion that red meat is inherently harmful. There is a second piece to that paper that we need to get to, but not quite yet. Let’s look at that fish paper keeping in mind what we know from the inuit diet: proper n-3/n-6 balance is important for health. 

The Fish paper starts off with some dismissive language about the “over-hyped” benefits of fish oil…then changes tac completely and begins hand wringing about fish-stocks and sustainability. Oweee-kayyy. Tens of thousands of studies citing the benefits of n-3’s, synergy with what we know about our ancestral diet, the ONLY cited reason for the aparent health of the Inuit on their ancestral diet…and it’s all han-waved away, never explained…and the rest of the paper is focussed on the hot topic of global warming and sustainability! Keep this in mid as we look at a clinical intervention of the paleo diet in humans. 

In this paper a represnetitive paleolithic diet is compared to the the much vaunted mediteranian diet…in a sick population of folks WITH ischemic heart disease. It’s worth noting that the paleo-nay-sayers have whined for years: “there is no evidence! We need clinical studies!!” Well…here is a clinical trial showing compelling evidence for the superiority of a paleo diet over a medeteranian diet…and the main critiques of the paper focus on sustainability, not the validity of the science at hand. Here is a similar study with similar, non-science related critiques which focus instead on environmental issues and sustainability. 

Before I go on I want to come clean with what my political leanings are: Lover of free-markets, strongly identify with the Liberatarian party. This puts me squarely in a position to constantly piss-off and annoy left-leaning hippies and religious right-wingers alike. If you can piss nearly everyone off, you know you are onto something good. 

So, on the one hand I’me very happy to see the positive press these paleo clinical trials are getting. Right on the heels of that excitement and optimism is a sinking feeling when the discussion shifts to global warming, sustainability and the like. Why? Because it is shifting the argument just as the vegetarians are getting painted into a corner with no escape. The notion that our ancestral diet is the healthiest one, if right, will gain momentum and support. The only way to discredit this way of eating then is to throw up a boogey-man of fear and play on peoples guilt. We saw this before with the Fat Crusades, we will see this again and the consequences will be similarly shitty if nay-sayers have thier way. If you think I am being alarmist check out this video:

 

In the video we see Dr. Robert Olson make a plea for more data before sweeping recommendations are made to the American public and beyond. We also see Sen. George Mcgovern make the point that “…we need to do SOMETHING” about heart disease. We picked the wrong path and billions of dollars and millions of lives have subsequently been squandered. 

Fast forward to today, we still have the hand-wringing Malthusiast’s who are convinced we are all on a collision course with disaster unless we bocome low-fat vegetarians and export this lifestyle to everyone else on the planet. Much todo is made that a more meat based diet is unsustainable…but then again, modern farming practices rely on non-renewable fossil fuels, and as such plant based diets are apparently unsustainable also! Somehow the study authors find that a lacto-ovo diet is superior to alternative approaches…I’d like to dig through that study and see what they are using for numbers, but it just does not sit well. Interestingly, no one looks at the picture when we are talking grassfeeding and a more paleo type diet.

Perhpas counter intuitively, a meat, fruit and vegetables diet appears to kill FEWER animals than a vegetarian, grain based diet…this throwing the least harm notion on it’s head. Also, small scale grassfed meat production appears to not only be sustainable, but also highly profitable. Most of the energy production of meat is tied up in grain production. Shift to grassfed meat and you remove this expensive and dirty process from the equation while also increasing the health of meat consumers. 

Can we feed everyone like this? Will global warming kill us all? The best way to control ALL these problems is some kind of population control and ironically, the best population control is prosperity. Rich nations have fewer children. The counter salvo from the Malthusiasts is that rich nations require a lot of energy…true, but we are only seeing the beginning of green, sustainable energy, and the main driving force here is an open market. India and China are bypassing decades of development the US went through and are comparitively much cleaner than we were. Speaking of sustainability…the US is headed for a serious problem with health/healthcare and the answer being bantied about is state funded healthcare…whcih has been a stunning failure everywhere else it’s been instituted, but we seem bent on this path…because in the words of Sen. Mcgovern “We must do something”. 

My main point here is that we need to tackle these issues ONE AT A TIME. When the vegetarians start shifting arguments mid-stream this is BS and it obscures the topic at hand. This is also the classic ploy of someone who is loosing an argument. My secondary point is that the “sustainability” issue is anything but clear and history has shown that markets and innovation trump doomsayers…no matter how badly they want the end-days to be at hand.

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  1. Greg
    March 24, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Nicely done Robb.. did you even need an espresso for that? Its interesting how opinions on seemingly unrelated topics tend to fold together if you take an evolutionary approach… well put ^

  2. joseph
    March 24, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    good post. still wondering about the second study you mention and the inuit paradox. What is this study showing in relation to meat consumption?

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 3:06 am

      Joseph-
      not sure what you are asking here…can you flesh out your question?

  3. Monica
    March 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Great article, Robb.

    Frankly, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has noticed an increased trend in the popular press toward mentioning a meat-heavy diet as “unsustainable.” I’m seeing this kind of pseudoscientific green crapola everywhere now. I don’t even think the concept of sustainability is an invalid one, which is why such news alarms me. I have a BS, master’s, and PhD in biology with a heavy slant on courses heavy in ecology, and so I think that’s why I can see through so much of this BS.

    I, too, recently felt compelled to write about the environmentalist meat myths here:

    http://www.fa-rm.org/blog/2009/03/cow-tax-and-petas-dishonesty.html

    and here:

    http://www.fa-rm.org/blog/2009/03/thoughts-on-environmental-effects-of.html

    I didn’t bother to do a search on CSA to find articles that supported my point since the basic arguments from the vegan side seem so illogical to begin with, but my arguments would have been more well-supported with such articles. Thanks for providing these links. I may have to do a heavier literature search at some point with better supporting documentation for the exact inputs of vegan/industrial, vegan/nonindustrial, meat heavy/industrial, and meat heavy/nonindustrial diets in the future.

    Neverthless, I can’t see getting worked up about cattle. It makes no sense. Grass-fed cows may produce half the methane but estimates are equal to twice as much bison biomass as our current national cattle herd. Why was there no “methane” problem prior to white settlement during the days of majestic bison herds? Honestly!

  4. Bill
    March 24, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Very, very important post, for me and my family, Robb. Thank you.

  5. Nick Hahn
    March 24, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Robb,

    Amazing post and nice find with the video. Sometimes the confluence of politics and health just has to happen. I can’t say I disagree with you, because I agree with you whole-heartedly–especially after reading Taubes’ account of the McGovern committee hearings. If reading about that atrocity of law making doesn’t make you a libertarian, I’m not sure any thing will.

    As for “having to doing something,” the best means to combat the greatest killers of Americans–CHD, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimers, etc. would be to encourage a paleo diet. Of course, that would piss off grain growers and their supporters in the government.

    You must be on to something.

  6. M@
    March 24, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Right on Robb!
    I saw the red meat study this morning and contemplated sending it to you until I read it (I’ll send you a copy). First and foremost, the study relies on questionnaires, which have been shown to be highly prone to error and fairly inaccurate. Meat intake was estimated from a food frequency questionnaire and the covariates included in the models were age, education, marital status, family history of cancer (yes/no) (cancer mortality only), race, body mass index, 31-level smoking history, physical activity, energy intake, alcohol intake, vitamin supplement use, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, and menopausal hormone therapy among women. Notice that grain and refined carbohydrate consumption are absent. In fact, pizza and lasagna was counted in the red meat category as long as it contained some red meat!? Whatever.

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 3:04 am

      M@-
      This seems to be the pattern in these studies…somehow refined carbs are not separated as an independent variable…but carbs are not the problem…everyone knows that! Thanks for the references and analysis amigo!!

  7. V
    March 25, 2009 at 12:25 am

    “whcih has been a stunning failure everywhere else it’s been instituted, but we seem bent on this path” I would love some examples of it being a failure? Sounds like you may be choosing to skew the argument there as well, but I have no beef with that (pun intended) but would like examples of where it has been a failure in comparison to the US version of healthcare which one could argue based on the percentage of gdp spent and numbers served is a bit of a failure as well.

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 2:59 am

      Sure V-
      Veternary medicine. it reflects the REAL costs of treatment, people pay as they go, even in installments and their is not a sense that one should get treatment for free. What about the poor? I have never seen a vet that did not have some sliding fee scales or who did not do some percentage of free work for folks who actually are in significant need.

      V- This is almost comical. but you are wanting me to compare one fucked ups system (ours in the US) with another fucked up system (lets say the UK or Canada) this is the same path to endlessly chasing one’s tail as comparing the french diet with the american diet…one might be slightly better than the other, both are woefully sub-optimal.

  8. Brad Hirakawa
    March 25, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Ron Paul and Robb Wolff, 2012

    You guys have my vote.

    Brad

  9. Marshall
    March 25, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Why get worked up about cattle? Why was there no methane problem with the massive heards of bison?

    Let’s start with the paleo diet. Why do humans and more notably crossfit athletes thrive on the paleo diet? Quiet simply because it is what our bodies evolved to survive on over thousands of years. We need meat, vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts, seeds, little starch, no sugar and that’s what grok and the cavemen ate. They chased down bison and killed them. They didn’t grow corn and soy beans and wheat and french fries on a large scale until much later in the evolutionary process.

    Bison evolved to eat grass. The kind of grass that grows on the great plains. Their digestive system is specially evolved to process grass. That’s what other rumenids, animals with a rumen, like cows, are built for. They are not built for grains like corn and soy beans and feather meal and all the other stuff feedlot and CAFO animals are fed. We aren’t built for grains and Shamrock Shakes and when we eat them, we fall towards the sickness end of the curve. And when cattle eat that stuff, fart their asses off. So there’s the methane.

    They also get pumped full of meds and stuff to keep them from dying from the corn and soy and wallowing in their own filth with no activity.

    On the other hand, the rainforest in South America is getting cut down to make room for the grass fed beef you hear so much about. That’s not sustainable either. Or maybe it is sustainable since global warming is a myth and rainforests hate freedom.

    I get the vibe that the crossfit community thinks sustainability is for pussies and liberals and the environment is for hippies and communists. But I know the crossfit community places a high value on nutrition and what we put into our bodies. And I would have thought that for a community that places such a high priority on quality nutrition, they would also place a high value on protein from animals reared on a paleo diet.

    Robb, you kind of fell into the same trap as the other guys. the conservative red herrings (global warming, government health care, India and China’s pollution) kept you from making the point about grass fed. Yeah, it uses less fossil fuel and it’s profitable. But is it better for you that feedlot meat?

    I like to eat good meat when I’m in a spending mood. And I do eat the good stuff every once in a while. But the fact that the food system is pretty sketchy is not something that can be chalked up to liberal media spin. And having knowledge of where our meat comes from is neither liberal or conservative or, in Robb’s case, libertarian.

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 2:54 am

      Marshall-
      What I’d like to see is market based practices to drive conservation. Here’s an example: Fair trade products. The idea here is that people in developing countries will be paid a “fair” wage for their products. We get to feel good about buying these products and in theory the folks producing the products have a better standard of life. BUT! What this turns into is a subsidy that removes the producers from market forces. Even when the market goes cold on something like cotton or coffee (god forbid!) the folks keep producing the the cooperative keeps paying a “fair” price. I am ALL FOR teaching these folks sustainable farming (a mix of conventional and organics seems to BOTH optimize yields and minimize environmental footprint…the publication Newscientist had a great issue on this about a year ago) How to leverage collective buying/selling to optimize revenue…just how to be competitive in the market AND to work to be dynamic. IF things change…adapt!

      Be careful too! I never siad it was liberal hyperbole that got us to this current state of affairs. There are a host of conservative corn and soy bean growers that would like to have me be part of their fertilizer for what I think about their respective industries…but the market of information is slowly working to chang what people want for both health and environmental reasons…I’m just determined to be a voice that advocates something besides veganism as the only option for health and conservation.

  10. JF
    March 25, 2009 at 2:50 am

    Anyone hate the following paragraph from the meat-causes-cancer article?

    Over 10 years, eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men in the study a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That’s compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5 ounces per week.

    First, they give measurements in pounds per day to be compared to ounces per week, so it’s not immediately clear how the highest and lowest groups relate to each other. (The highest ate over five times as much as the lowest.) Second, the data only talk about the relative risk rather than the absolute risk, so I can’t say off-hand whether the increased risk would make a huge difference. For example, if my absolute risk of dying of cancer over a 10-yr period is 5%, then a 22% higher risk of developing cancer means my actual risk would be 6.1% (0.05*1.22=0.061), which frankly wouldn’t be enough for me to change my diet, but others may wish to.

    Larger values of absolute risk clearly lead to larger chances of dying from cancer over a 10-yr period. (20% becomes 24%, 30% becomes 36%, 40% becomes 48%) Unfortunately, I have no idea whether I should consider eating less meat or not because I don’t know the absolute risk. Plus, even my analysis ignores family history, which may increase or decrease one’s risk.

    The point is articles such as this can be found in the Health section of supposedly reputable sources (I’ve seen write-ups for this study in all major newspapers), and yet the actual information conveyed is worthless because there is no sense of scope. This is sensationalism masquerading as science.

  11. Marshall
    March 25, 2009 at 3:21 am

    Which is healthier, paleo-fed beef or corn/soy/WTF -fed beef? I know there are different levels of fats in each. I assume there are trade offs between leanness texture, and flavor. But if they were the same price at the grocery store, which one would you buy? Are there nutritional advantages for one or the other? What are the best cuts of beef for health and performance?

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 4:40 am

      Marshall-
      AHHH!! Sorry, I’m working with some assumptions here in much of my posting. Grass fed meat is stunningly more nutritious…proper omega-3/omega-6 ratio, alpha lipoic acid, conjugated linoleic acid…thousands of carotenoids associated with the fat due to the grass feeding. There is absolutely no comparison between the two. Check out the paleodiet website for more in-depth info or simply google “grass fed meat nutrition”.

  12. Jill
    March 25, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Interesting post I read that article last week in the G & M interestingly there was an article the day before the maybe fish is not so good for you:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v5/content/subscribe?user_URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2Fstory%2FRTGAM.20090316.wfish0316%2FBNStory%2FScience%2F&ord=9755736&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true

    Saying that the fish craze was depleting fish stocks but nothing to do with it not being good for you. The next day they throw out the maybe it isn’t so good for you. They are trying to trick us into not eating Fish so they can keep it for themselves. NO WAY :)

  13. Steve Shafley
    March 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Nice bit, Robb. Good stuff.

  14. Kevin
    March 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Interesting, I didn’t even know there was a growing group of people calling meat heavy diets “non-sustainable.”

    Robb – question for you, have there been any studies done where subjects of the study follow a paleo type diet with just fish and other seafood as their main source of protein? No poultry or beef. Seem unlikely just wanted to ask because I am curious if this type of eating would be considered healthy. I am a reformed vegetarian and I have fully reintroduced fish back into my life, but I am eating it three times a day along with eggs for all of my protein. Just wondering what your thoughts are. Thanks.

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 3:06 pm

      Kevin-
      No studies to my knowledge, although loads of cultures like the Kitavan’s who receive the bulk of their protein from fish. Try to rotate types, incorporate shell fish…I think you are fine on your current plan.

  15. Jules
    March 25, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Robb,
    Great post.

    A few things about the study: it does not delineate what kinds of red/processed meat were being consumed (fat content, sodium content in the processed foods, etc.). Also, my bet is that the majority were consuming grain-fed meats, with very very few grass-fed in there. Sure would be fascinating to look at those who consume grass-fed meats only compared with those consuming grain-fed. Just saying…

    Funny how they say that what red-meat included (in the study), among the categories being “meat in pizza.”

    So many other variables worth considering.

    However, there is comfort in the editorial piece accompanying the study:
    “An accompanying editorial in the Archives of Internal Medicine argues that people should not shun meat altogether because there are some nutritional benefits and its consumption has played an important role in the evolution of our species.”

    Well I’ll be damned…someone almost muttering those Paleo words…

    Thanks for all the info on here!

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 2:58 pm

      Jules! Nice find…I’d planned on a follow-up looking at details of the study but between you and M@ I think that’s unnecessary!

  16. Keenan
    March 25, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Robb:

    Great post. I would add, too, that had we never adopted agriculture as we know it, the population never would have reached the level it is now. The planet was kept in balance with a tribal system of hunter gatherers eating a primal diet, but was thrown completely out of whack with the advent of agriculture.

    A global shift to a paleo diet more than likely *would* greatly reduce the population of the planet, but it would do so over time and reduce the amount of people that starve in the meantime due to crop failure and famine. Mass starvation was the hallmark of the agricultural revolution because – for the first time in history – the earth had more people than it had available food and nutrients. Returning to a primal diet would likely shift the equilibrium back downward.

    Daniel Quinn and Jared Diamond have written volumes on this very topic, if you’re interested.

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm

      Keenan-
      I don’t want to overly romanticize paleo living! Tribal warfare, infection, injuries…there were some nasty ways to die in pre industrial societies.

      Keep in mind also, the POTENTIAL shift in population would NOT be because everyone unites and proclaims “we want a paleo diet!” it will come from higher standards of living, more education, delayed child rearing…all the hallmarks of thriving market based economies. THEN hopefully we find ways of not killing ourselves from all that affluence!

      I like Quinn’s work for the most part, but it can take on this wacky socialist bent that makes the good stuff harder to process.

  17. saulj
    March 25, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Robb,
    I saw the lots-of-red-meat-causes-cancer study and considered posting something about it on my website but after reading the actual study was so dismayed at the methodology that I didn’t want to take the time. However, you did a great job with this and the other articles. I don’t think the connection between meat and the environment/sustainability is something new. I remember reading about the connection in books in the early 80s. maybe in Diet For a Small planet. The corporate farming that we do now is probably not sustainable, I agree, whether small ranches can be sustainable with our population would be more so, but that is my intuition.

    I think it would be interesting to see the total cost of corporate raised beef and small ranch, grass-fed beef. Have you ever seen something like that or am I going to have to go back to grad school after I become a millionaire. :-)

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 4:29 pm

      Saul-
      What I have seen, from talking to folk raising GF cattle, both for meat and for dairy, is GF is much higher profit margins, healthier for the animals and better on the environment. Some of the challenges GF producers face is a variability in supply. Most areas are not as agreeable as northern california for year round production…even here you have peaks and troughs in production. Freezing meat is a good solution, this obviously affects taste and quality. These issues however are logistical and can be overcome. The economics are however as good or better than conventional grain fed meat.

  18. Keenan
    March 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Robb:

    I do love the paleo lifestyle in the modern context. I’m certainly no advocate of going back to a purely tribal existence and getting rid of technology, civilization, and such. The population shift you described is exactly what I was thinking: a gradual shift brought about by awareness and desire rather than billions of people dying en masse. No one (at least I hope) advocates or desires that.

    The main thing I got out of Quinn’s work was a shift in the main economic unit from the individual to the family/tribe. I imagine it as a *voluntary* shift that some people could choose to make, but no one would be forced to. My political beliefs are “as close to anarchy as we can possibly get, without actually getting there” which puts me well into the Libertarian camp. I agree that Quinn’s ideas can be seen to parallel socialism in some ways, but at no point does he talk about *forcing* anyone to adopt his tribal mentality, which stands in stark contrast to the idea of socialism. In “Beyond Civilization” he discusses the idea of approaching work and interactions with close friends and family in a more tribal fashion, but never suggests that it be made law or that wealth be redistributed forcefully.

    I can certainly see the psychological benefit to living with/near friends and family in a sort of “tribe” and acting as one economic unit. I am all for it, as long as it’s *voluntary*.

    • robbwolf
      March 25, 2009 at 5:39 pm

      Keenan-
      Totally…I think we see a lean towards this type of living in businesses like gortex: small, decentralized sub-entities that rely on a culture of productivity and cooperation instead of a structured, top-down approach. It certainly has appeal.

  19. Jay
    March 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Great post Robb. It is truly amazing how people can use uncontrolled retrospective survey reports to make “definitive” conclusions. What’s worse is that there are few Americans with enough sense to interpret and critique the validity of these reports. Thank you for you efforts to educate the “folks”. I’ll never give up red meat, my family cosumes loads of venison and grass-fed cattle from a local farmer.
    Also, as far as the “healthcare crisis”, who does “V” think started this whole mess, if we’d let capitalism roll healthcare would work for everyone, but that’s a whole other “can of worms”.

  20. Nic
    March 25, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Your commentary would be a lot stronger if you would stick to the science and not just make raving claims about some vegetarian conspiracy.

    The study was reported on in a manner in order to get people to read it. JF has already pointed out inconsistencies in the reporting. The health journalists are to blame on this one. You cannot predict risk from the paper that was published because of the methodology that was used. That in itself can be enough to say it’s nothing to make a big deal out of.

    • robbwolf
      March 26, 2009 at 5:16 pm

      Nic-
      Why don’t YOU re-write my piece in a non-raving manner, make it real sciency (as in improve upon the information I already provided), and we can see which one folks prefer. If you can make something better I’ll pay you $100 for the submission. Deal?

  21. bmack
    March 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Touche Wolfoleti! Touche! In the article I sent over (which actually came from my brother) I was not surprised to see that not only was the omega issue not brought up, but what about the rest of the diet in this remarkably sedentary group of individuals. I believe for the most part everyone here has learned that chronically elevated levels of insulin and eating saturated fat can lead to smaller LDL particle size, which would be the reason behind plaque build up in the arteries if I am not mistaken. Yet, we see none of this in our friends to the great north, or in CrossFit??? I will lift heavy, run hard, and eat meat! And I love pissing everyone off.

  22. Jules
    March 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Holy cow – after actually looking at the survey filled out by those in the NIH survey, my head hurts! What’s funny is to think about filling this out for those living a Paleo-life. My oh my.

    http://riskfactor.cancer.gov/DHQ/forms/files/shared/dhq1.2002.sample.pdf

  23. bmack
    March 26, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Nic, Science is based on theory, and theory is not quite reality yet. This may be your problem. Although I believe that enough Science has been provided and needs to be… What has been provided though, is fact from first hand research done by one Mr. Wolf. Unfortunately I see that this probably isn’t sitting well with you as it doesn’t fall in line with your ideals. Ideals that are probably brought about by feelings… Basing decisions off of feelings is insane. Fact has been provided regardless if one of us were a vegetarian or not. Which one of us was, and now is not. Do your own research dude, then explain what happened!

  24. Kevin
    March 26, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Hi Rob

    With a degree in economics under my belt ive had not a few hours of lectures describing to me the miracles of the free market.

    The biggest problem with a free market approach especially regrads global warming is whats called the problem of externalities. These are costs that are not built into the market because no one person has ownership of them. In this case it might be the air.

    Take for example the lowly apple. An apple is flown all the way from New Zealand polluting and warming as it goes so i can enjoy it all the way in Ireland all for the low price of 50c. Of course the market here has not in any sense reflected the total cost of that apple. It has not included the cost to some third world farmer whose crop has failed because of global warming for the sake of my Golden Delicious.

    Seeing as were gettin down with politics here ill go and put the Marxist alternative forward and say what we need is a global plan of production run from the bottom up by working people.

    Its funny though as i posted on Mike Eades blog about our social evolution. I, like him, and i presume your good self, believe that we are best served by a hunter gatherer society as well as their diet. Of course what that is is wide open to interpretation. Anyway ill finish by repeating that if your game for a classic on how human society evolved (and with it state, class, and property) Frederick Engels “Origin” is quality.

    Cheers mate!

  25. me
    March 27, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    rob, state funding healthcare has NOT been a failure everywhere.
    not sure if you have ever been/lived in scandinavia but their system works like clockwork (or as much clockwork as healthcare can get).
    not saying we can implement it like that in the u.s. but at the same time making those types of arguments when they can be easily refuted helps noone.
    cheers, great blog

    • robbwolf
      March 31, 2009 at 9:07 pm

      Me-
      You are right the Scandinavian system has worked well THUS FAR. It is in a homogenized society that ALSO has a strong social accountability ethic. People get HAMMERED for abusing the system. Nothing like this exists in the US where people routinely lie, cheat and steal against the system. yeesh. The Scandinavian systems are however in a precarious situation. An aging populace is less productive and more costly. Start having more babies?! Oh, wait…we can’t feed everyone (supposedly)…

  26. Steven Low
    March 29, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Yo Robb,

    Michael Eades also did an analysis of the recent studies on red meat too.

    http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/fast-food/meat-and-mortality/

    Good stuff as always!

  27. Greg G.
    March 31, 2009 at 1:18 am

    I ate 99% vegetarian for around 8 years based largely on the sustainability argument before the S word was popular. I talked about it in terms of “environmental footprint” with my love of animals following behind. Throughout most of that time I believed two things even if they were not reflected in my actions: 1. carbohydrates and sugar were bad and 2. farmers, purveyors and consumers of naturally raised meats were doing far more for sustainability (and animal rights) than I was by eating pasta with veggies and wheat gluten. The first belief just made sense to my brain and the second began after I viewed an interview with the founder of Fleisher’s Grass Fed Meat (http://grassfedmeat.net/ – wfs), a vegan who came to believe in the health importance of natural meat and came to open a butcher shop to sell it to the public.

    Maybe there’s a sustainability issue with us sucking down McDonald’s like it’s water. But we still have a lot of land to move cows from pasture to pasture (more land would be available if we’d convert some HFCS producing cornfields to anything else). Sun grows grass, cows eat grass, we eat cows. Seems sustainable to me.

  28. Ryan C.
    April 14, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I apologize in advance if I get a little overly philosophical here…

    I think one of the most effective devices in combating the upcoming dietary culture wars that we will inevitably be on the front lines of is to point out that studies like the ones cited greatly suffer from Ludic Fallacies.
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludic_fallacy)
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the term along with Platonicity “to show the idea that reality is not compelled to be what theories want it to be. Reality is complex, changing and is not always amenable to narrowly focused technical models.”
    Subsequently the conclusions from these studies often suffer from post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies- especially when they ignore an existing body of evidence that states an alternate conclusion (i.e. refined carbs, not red meat, increase cancer rates).

    cum hoc ergo propter hoc dammit!!

  29. JennieT
    June 5, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    I am new to the Palio diet…I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and ate fish for the fist time just a few days ago. I concerned about the health of our Earth as well as my own personal health. I have been one of those “vegetarians” using the sustanibility argument for years. THEN I started to really pay attention to what the grocery cart of vegetarian vs. a Palio looks like. Unless you are a Raw Vegan your cart most likely is full of veggies yes but also a lot of processed “meat” substutites! Tons of boxs, cans, bottles etc. A Palio grocery cart is just veggies and meat…hardly any boxes, no cans etc. When I realized that every meal I consume could actually be more of a political statement by choosing clean compassionate grassfeed local meat and grow my own veggies…what in the world could be more natural. (never mind I am already stronger during my crossfit wod!)

    • robbwolf
      June 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm

      Jennie-
      Keep us posted on how you are doing. the sustainability issue is legit, but veganism is not the only solution to this topic!

  30. Jennie T
    June 6, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks Robb,

    1 week into into eating meat I have gone Palio. Reading some of your thoughts on the Politics of diet has helped me come to peace with my lifestyle change. I just enjoyed a lovely hunk of grass fed beef:) Thanks Robb!

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