A few people tagged me and Robb in a post that was floating around the interwebs recently, about how Arnold Schwarzenegger is now promoting vegan. “Less meat, less heat, more life.” he says. Because I feel that I’m spending a lot of time crafting responses every time I hear that meat is “bad” for health and the planet, I decided to simplify things a bit…
Here is my response:
and worldwide, the most common deficiency is iron.
This is brilliant! I’m so tired of the vegan = better for the planet argument. Tring to explain to people that you NEED animals to properly resore the soil feels like banging my head against a wall. The arguments are so asinine, just like the whole vegan = healthier arguments. I wrote a piece about that aspect a few months ago because I got so tired of trying to explain to people that it’s a straw man argument – http://www.ingredientsfordinner.com/breakdowns/2016/2/4paleo-vs-vegan. Thanks for keeping it simple and still fighting to get the right info out there!
Diana Rodgers, RD says
Hi Caitlin – your post is awesome! Thanks for fighting the fight and I saw you’re in your DPD program – good for you!
Oh my god, how can you be so ignorant? You simplified it a bit for ignorant people. Now add 10x more space animal agriculture needs for the same amount of food, 90% of rainforests being cut down because of animal agriculture, the 20% of greenhouse gases animal agriculture is responsible for (methane which is like extremely toxic), the massive amount of fresh water being used AND polluted (fracking doesn’t even come close), the ocean dead zones and I could go on forever but alas, your feeble mind can not take the truth.
Mike Ritter says
Would you take into account the water run off, soil erosion, petroleum consumption, soil carbon depletion, soil biology and sunlight reflection that overtilled mono-cropped farmland causes?
I wrote specifically about your misperception here: http://robbwolf.com/2016/03/18/sustainability-part-2-the-game-changers-of-small-ag/
Perhaps a read through of that will help clear things up.
Is it that simple?
Jason Seib says
Joel W says
Absolute brilliance in its simplicity. Even a child could understand it, which is why I wouldn’t expect too many vegans to get it.
Nope. It’s not that simple. Seventy Eight per cent of cows are raised on factory farms, captive in overcrowded indoor feedlots and not happily grazing in the (free) grass, and enjoying the (free) sun as depicted in the cartoon. Sorry, no poop in the (free) grass to make that healthy soil. Someone watched too many California happy cow commercials and mistook a marketing gimmick for fact.
Diana Rodgers, RD says
Even cows that end up in feed lots don’t grow up on feed lots, did you know that? I’d like to know where you got your statistics and please dig in deeper into how long your perception of “captive in feedlots” is. Compared to CAFO pigs and chickens who spend their entire life indoors, cows have it much better. This is a fact. I agree feed lots are not as good as completely grass fed, which is ideal, but going vegan is not going to get more grass fed cows on the market. Demand for grass fed cows will get more grass fed cows on the market.
Mike Ritter says
In addition to what Diana mentioned, this is a read through of the type of life cycle she was referring to
Part 1: http://robbwolf.com/2016/03/11/where-have-all-the-cowboys-gone-part-1/
Part 2: http://robbwolf.com/2016/03/18/sustainability-part-2-the-game-changers-of-small-ag/
Part 3: http://robbwolf.com/2016/03/24/sustainability-part-3-the-real-cost-of-feeding-the-world/
Elizabeth Resnick says
Love this Diana, and Caitlin I read your blog post and loved it as well, especially the last sentence. The real problem is processed foods. I am completely cool with vegans…I used to be one. I feel better eating some pastured meat, but I’m cool if not everyone wants to. Just get frustrated with people who want to debate it, especially with faulty science.
Josue Rivas says
Thank you for your article. Here are my two cents:
Being Vegan represents to me a way to promote life and to bring awareness of the impact we have in our planet, you call us rebels or simply different but we all can eat whatever we choose to eat; I’m a former Chef and I have butcher all kinds of animals to cook for others, now I don’t see a reason why, especially when I can sustain and thrive eating a vegetarian/vegan diet and respect other living creatures.
If we have to kill another living creature it should be out of necessity not to please our palate.
Diana Rodgers, RD says
There are reasons why eating meat is optimal for humans: because we are designed to thrive with B12 and other things like iron and protein, which are best absorbed from meat and not plants. As for respect for living creatures, just because I kill another animal to consume it doesn’t mean I don’t respect life. Should I watch it die of old age or at the jaws of a coyote instead? Is that more respectful?
Is this more respectful than a bullet to the head and a quick slit of the throat? Which would you choose? https://youtu.be/XlZCQYRDCDs
Did you really studied in an University to design that idiot images empty of scientific sense?
Diana Rodgers, RD says
ha ha yes, I studied “In AN University to design that idiot IMAGES” fantastic grammar use!
Grazing herbivores didn’t have to pay for water, light or grass before we decided to domesticate them.
Bert Monaco says
Well, I’m a vegan, but I could care less about the environment, your health, and the sustainability of an idiotic society that I despise… I’m also a registered republican and somewhat of a figure in the guns rights scene, so I’m not your average run of the mill hippie…
No, I’m a vegan out of compassion and what they do to these animals at Tyson is NOT ok. So I vote with my dollars and I’m going to use these internets to speak my mind every now and then.
I try not to talk about things I’m not an expert on so I’m not going to rant about health or global warming. There’s enough doctors and scientists already doing that. When I look into an animals eyes, I see it as an innocent, just like a newborn child. And yes, I’m probably oversensitive. I trap roaches and rodents and rehome them in parks AND FEEL GUILTY ABOUT kicking them out of my house!
And I totally understand that you guys are some kind of pro-meat diet advocates with documents to prove your case, but I have PERSONALLY found a way to eat tasty food and live healthy without killing my friends. Now I’m not saying that vegan is for everybody, I’m not a doctor. Maybe human evolution or whatever has caused certain individuals to require meat as part of their diet. My beef (no pun intended) is with the abusive practices within the animal agriculture industry. I have infinite more respect for men that hunt and fish as a means to survive because they take only what they need and they don’t torture their prey and make their lives a living nightmare.
And I’ve caused a lot of controversy in the vegan circles and have actually been BANNED from a couple facebook groups for my pro-Second Amendment views. I’ve been called a “moderate vegan” because I feed my dogs chicken. My vegan peers like to feed their dogs grains and broccoli but I don’t believe a plant-based diet is the best choice for canines. Again, I’m not a scientist so I could be wrong. I just don’t want to take that chance with mans best friend.
So like all vegans who came before me, I’m a hypocrite to some degree. My very existence probably indirectly kills animals, but on a spiritual level, what being a vegan means to me is DOING MY BEST to reduce the casualties and when I become aware that my actions may be causing unnecessary harm, I then have a moral obligation to try and fix it if it’s within my reach. But I despise Tyson Foods and shop at farmer’s markets and local businesses as much as I can.
Now maybe a plant-based diet is not within your reach, but can’t we do not agree that if one is to eat animals, they should respect them? I realize that meat is a big part of your lifestyle, so maybe my words are falling on to deaf ears. I wasn’t always this way. When Hurricane Katrina came through New Orleans, I evacuated to a farm in Mississippi. And in my 2 week stay, I bonded with the cows and learned to communicate with them. I saw that they were scared, unhappy, aware of their fate and depressed that their children keep getting taken away. So from then on, it because personal.
So I went vegetarian and that was a complete disaster. The soybean industry duped me into thinking tofu and soymilk were some kind of superfoods. They box even said it has everything you need. But I ended up going back to fish and my health improved dramatically. I did that for a year until I realized that adding fish to my diet didn’t help me, it was cutting out the soy crap. Now, my vegan peers hate when I tell them what’s in their veggie burgers, because to them, processed fake-meat products are nothing short of a revolutionary miracle… Right up there with french fries.
So if you can see where this is going, I armed myself with information and ended up going raw. And ever since then, I’ve been supercharged. Sorry for the rant but I just wanted to get it out. See for me, it’s always been about animals- the positive health implications that come with it- are a bonus (or as we say in Louisiana, “lagniappe”). I can understand why people don’t want to even try vegan, because it’s not easy. You have to charge your lifestyle and as soon as the V-word, everyone wants to argue with you, rather than hear you out and take it or leave it.
Personally, I love free information and when it comes to nutrition, there’s a major shortage of it. I want to know everything and if an atkins or a paleo person wants to take time out of their day to share information with me, I try to listen with an open-mind. You guys seem to echo some of the same concerns that us vegans have in regards to what the health authorities and the government say we should eat and it’s a shame we’re always at each other’s throats about who is right and wrong. I would like to think that there’s more information out there… I wonder where we would be if doctors were required to study nutrition before getting a degree.
Diana Rodgers, RD says
We’re in agreement that the animal should be respected. I do not advocate factory farms and animal abuse. I live on a working farm, so unlike you, I didn’t one day look into a cow’s eye and bond – I bond every day with the animals we raise here. They provide us with important materials, and yes, they’re cute too. But at the end of the day, cows aren’t humans. I do think it’s possible to raise an animal for meat AND do this respectfully. Unfortunately, most people who are not connected with how our food is produced see a farm animal and it hits them all of the sudden that they eat these creatures – and they feel conflicted. I don’t feel conflict at all about it. Humans are animals. Coyotes, bees, cows, sheep, fish, etc – we are all animals. We all have specific diet requirements and humans are designed to thrive with meat and vegetables, not raw vegan. As a nutritionist, I can tell you that your health will fail quickly with the raw vegan diet and we’re here for you when that happens.
I’m so lucky I don’t agree with you at all about respect and animal abuse and anything you talk about.
I can’t believe all the ignorance. You can’t have everyone living on organic farms like you now do you.. Bert Monaco you said it all brother. Much love.
Diana Rodgers, RD says
Is this a haiku?
Years ago and far away, I was vegan. I was also a pretty good local runner, posting a best via a sub 15:01 5k. Pretty good for a tall — 6’3″ — guy. And I paid the price…injured, sick…even my parents said I looked like was on a starvation diet. I could never fully recover from runs nor really shake a cold. And then the stomach issues started from all of the various grains and heavy vegetable load.
Fast forward and within four – six weeks of slowly re-adding animal proteins, things changed. My coloring starting looking good. I was able to shake my sniffles. After backing off the grains my stomach started feeling better almost immediately.
I’ve worked on a ranch, handled catlle and I know those animals have a soul and heart. Just watch a cow around her calf…you’ll know. So I do have compassion for these anmials. But I also agree with Diana and her points from health to how these animals pass. I’ve rried vegan and if you can make it work, my respect goes out to you. But for people like me who are in sheer pain after a bowl of steel cut oats or simply can’t handle an athletic lifestyle on a vegan diet without getting sick, sorry, my health is the most important thing in the end.
Diana Rodgers, RD says
Thank you for sharing. I’d love to learn more about how you reintroduced meat – which varieties you were more interested in starting with, how you felt about it, how it made you feel, etc – if you’d like to share, please msg me info (at) sustainabledish.com
I’m an idiot then, cause I don’t “get” the simplified version of the flow chart explanation for why meat isn’t bad for you.
First drawing: Grass which feeds the cow is free and grows from sun (also free), rain (free) and soil.
Cows pooping etc keep the cycle going and sequester carbon.
Second drawing: We are iron deficient….(implied, and meat provides Fe, B 12, etc.)
Third drawing: It is a myth we are at the top of the food pyramid? Or, it is a myth that there is a hierarchy?
Fourth drawing: Everything is inter-connected? and we’re not better than the animals we eat?
Sorry, really don’t understand in a “grokked it” sense.
In the first drawing, yes, that’s what it’s showing. Basically that cows aren’t bad for the environment, they can actually be good for it and symbiotic. The cow eats the grass, which grows from the sun, rain, and is fertilized by the healthy soil, microbes, and cow manure. The soil can sequester carbon, and also host a lot of life. The sun, rain, and grass are free and don’t cost us energy or necessarily require input from us.
Yes, you got the second drawing. Beef can be a good source of iron, B12, and B6.
The third and fourth drawings show that we shouldn’t think of people as the top of the food chain, but that in reality all of the plants, animals, weather, nature, and ourselves as humans, are interconnected and rely on each other.
Tim Woodier says
This is all fine as log as you expect that there is not enough land for organic animals to provide meat for the worlds population most would not survive.
Diana Rodgers, RD says
When everyone blames cows for taking up much land, they’re forgetting that they’re simply not comparing apples to apples. Pasture land can not be used for anything but pasture. You can’t plant lettuce everywhere. Cows and other ruminants do a great job at surviving in brittle environments where not much else can be done with the land. This recent study examined food consumption and land use, and found that a plant-based diet is actually not as environmentally sustainable as everyone assumes. This is because crops and grains take up a lot of valuable land and actually require a lot of water.
Currently, 11% (1.5 billion ha) of the Earth’s land surface is used for crop production (annual crops and “permanent” agriculture like tree fruit). The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) suggests that this is about 1/3 of the potential land mass (2.7 billion ha) suitable for crop production. That leaves a large amount of the land that is only suitable for grazing animals. In fact, most of the surface land on Earth is only suitable to grazing animals and not for crop production, due to topography, humidity, and other issues. What’s also not taken into account are the other potential uses this cropland may have for humans (such as housing, industrial uses, etc), so the total amount of usable land for cropping is likely much less than that number. Also, about 45% of potentially arable land is currently in forest.
Read the full FAO report: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y4252e/y4252e06.htm
and more in this post (less technical than the FAO report)
Nice anti-vegan blog.
Vegan Life says
You forgot to mention the way the animals are mistreated, how breast milk of another animal isn’t meant for human consumption and is in many cases, the leading causes to many forms of cancers, or how flesh isn’t required or needed, especially not for a one and only source of protein, as so many ignorant people state and definitely not required as a B12 replacement (cows get injected with B12), skip the murder and flesh and just take a supplement like the cows do. I also hear a lot of discussion on how soy in replacement of dairy is bad because of estrogen, which is ignorant because breast milk of another female animal has at least double the estrogen in it than an organic soy plant.
Being vegan isn’t only about saving the planet, its also about informing people that they have better options than following the herds (uninformed humans) of the past. We understand that animals are required for soiling the land and nature but murder, flesh eating, consumption of puss filled breast milk from bacteria and infection from cows isn’t required.
Donna Wild says
Simplified perspective but not fact. Firstly the billions of animals that are killed for us to eat each day mostly (as in billions of them) don’t ever experience the feeling and nourishment that sunshine can provide nor do they experience clean rain water. A few years from now you’ll be enjoying how many views you get and the even greater support you get for simplifying the inaccuracy of your image here. I am a Nutritionist and your info on Nutrition is way out of context. I am 15 years vegan and 24 years meat free. I am not deficient in anything you have listed above. I suggest you watch Dominion, Earthlings, What The Health, Forks Over Knives and read The China Study before you continue to make such grave (pun intended) points of view on something that has already been debunked.