Tales told by meat eaters about vegetarianism

The source for writing this text was the article “A little about the myths of vegetarianism”, the author of which either purposefully or imperceptibly composed several fairy tales about vegetarianism, mixed everything together and in places simply slyly left out some facts. 


One could write a whole book about the myths that meat-eaters tell about vegetarians, but for now we will limit ourselves to the tales from the article “A Little About the Myths of Vegetarianism”. So let’s get started. Allow me to introduce? 


Fairy tale number 1! 


“In nature, there are very few species of mammals about which one could say that their representatives are vegans from birth. Even classical herbivores most often consume some small amount of animal food – for example, insects swallowed along with vegetation. Man, like other higher primates, is even more so not a “vegan from birth”: by biological nature, we are omnivores with a predominance of herbivory. This means that the human body is adapted to eating mixed food, although plants should make up the majority of the diet (about 75-90%).”


Before us is a very popular fairy tale among meat-eaters about “the destiny of mixed nutrition by nature for man.” In fact, the concept of “omnivore” in science does not have a clear definition, just as there are no clear boundaries between the so-called omnivores – on the one hand – and carnivores with herbivores – on the other. So the author of the article himself declares that even classical herbivores swallow insects. Naturally, classic carnivores sometimes do not disdain “grass”. In any case, it is not a secret for anyone that in extreme situations it is common for animals to eat food that is atypical for them. Such an extreme situation for monkeys thousands of years ago was a sharp global cooling. It turns out that many classic herbivores and carnivores are actually omnivores. Why then such a classification? How can it be used as an argument? This is as absurd as if the monkey argued its unwillingness to become a man by the alleged fact that nature did not provide for it upright posture!


Now let’s move on to more specific tales of vegetarianism. Story number 2. 


“I would like to mention one more detail. Often, supporters of the thesis about the harmfulness of meat refer to a survey conducted in the United States of Seventh-day Adventists who do not eat meat due to a religious prohibition. Studies have shown that Adventists have a very low incidence of cancer (especially breast cancer and colon cancer) and cardiovascular disease. For a long time, this fact was considered evidence of the harmfulness of meat. However, later a similar survey was conducted among Mormons, whose lifestyle is quite close to that of Adventists (in particular, both of these groups prohibit smoking, drinking alcohol; overeating is condemned; etc.) – but who, unlike Adventists, eat meat . The results of the study showed that omnivorous Mormons, as well as vegetarian Adventists, have reduced rates of both cardiovascular disease and cancer. Thus, the data obtained testify against the hypothesis of the harmfulness of meat as such. 


There are many other comparative studies of the health of vegetarians and meat eaters, which took into account bad habits, social status and a number of other factors. So, for example, according to the results of a 20-year study conducted by the University of Heidelberg, vegetarians were much healthier than meat-eaters and were much less likely to suffer from serious diseases of the internal organs, including various types of cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. 


Story number 3. 


“… in fact, the Association only recognizes that vegetarian and vegan nutrition is acceptable for a person (in particular, for a child) – but! subject to the additional intake of missing biologically active substances in the form of pharmacological preparations and / or so-called fortified products. Fortified foods are foods that are artificially supplemented with vitamins and microelements. In the US and Canada, fortification of some foods is mandatory; in European countries – not mandatory, but widespread. Dietitians also acknowledge that vegetarianism and veganism may have a preventive value in relation to some diseases – but do not at all argue that a plant-based diet is the only way to prevent these diseases. 


In fact, many nutritional associations around the world recognize that a well-designed vegetarian diet is suitable for people of all genders and ages, as well as pregnant and lactating women. In principle, any diet should be well thought out, not just vegetarian. Vegetarians do not need any supplements of vitamins and trace elements! Only vegans need vitamin B12 supplements, and even then only those of them who are unable to eat vegetables and fruits from their own garden and garden, but are forced to buy food in stores. It should also be noted here that animal meat in most cases contains a large amount of nutrients only because pets receive these very artificial supplements of vitamins (including vitamin B12!) And minerals. 


Story number 4. 


“The percentage of vegetarians among the local population is very high, and is about 30%; not only that, even non-vegetarians in India consume very little meat. […] By the way, a remarkable fact: in the course of a regular program to study the causes of such a catastrophic situation with cardiovascular diseases, researchers tried, among other things, to find a link between a non-vegetarian way of eating and a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases (Gupta). Not found. But the reverse pattern – higher blood pressure in vegetarians – was indeed found in Indians (Das et al). In a word, the complete opposite of the established opinion. 


Anemia is also very severe in India: more than 80% of pregnant women and approximately 90% of adolescent girls suffer from this disease (data from the Indian Medical Research Authority). Among men, things are somewhat better: as scientists at the Research Center at Memorial Hospital in Pune found, despite the fact that their hemoglobin levels are quite low, anemia as such is rare. Things are bad in children of both sexes (Verma et al): about 50% of them are anemic. Moreover, such results cannot be attributed only to the poverty of the population: among children from the upper strata of society, the frequency of anemia is not much lower, and is about 40%. When they compared the incidence of anemia in well-nourished vegetarian and non-vegetarian children, the former found it to be almost twice as high as the latter. The problem of anemia in India is so serious that the Indian government has been forced to adopt a special program to combat this disease. The low level of hemoglobin in Hindus is directly and not without reason associated with a low level of meat consumption, which leads to a decrease in the content of iron and vitamin B12 in the body (as mentioned above, even non-vegetarians in this country eat meat on average once a week).


In fact, non-vegetarian Hindus consume a sufficient amount of meat, and scientists associate cardiovascular diseases with the frequent consumption of large amounts of animal food, which vegetarians also consume (dairy products, eggs). The problem with anemia in India does not depend on vegetarianism as such, but is the result of the poverty of the population. A similar picture can be seen in any country where the majority of the population lives below the poverty line. Anemia is also not an extremely rare disease in developed countries. Especially women are prone to anemia, among pregnant women anemia is generally a standard phenomenon in the late stage of pregnancy. Specifically, in India, anemia is also associated with the fact that cows and cow’s milk are elevated to the rank of shrines, while dairy products have an extremely negative effect on iron absorption, and cow’s milk is very often the cause of anemia in infants, as even the World Health Organization reports. . In any case, there is no evidence that anemia is more common in vegetarians than in meat eaters. Against! According to the results of some studies, anemia is slightly more common in women who eat meat in developed countries than in vegetarian women. Those vegetarians who know that non-heme iron is much better absorbed by the body in combination with vitamin C do not suffer from anemia or iron deficiency because they consume iron-rich vegetables (beans, for example) in combination with vitamin C (for example, orange juice or sauerkraut). cabbage), and also less often drink drinks rich in tannin that prevents iron absorption (black, green, white tea, coffee, cocoa, pomegranate juice with pulp, etc.). In addition, it has long been known that a low iron content in the blood, but within the normal range, has a positive effect on human health, because. a high concentration of free iron in the blood is a favorable environment for various viruses, which, due to this, are faster and more efficiently transferred by the blood to the internal organs of a person. 


“The main cause of death among northern peoples — including the Eskimos — was not general diseases, but starvation, infections (especially tuberculosis), parasitic diseases, and accidents. […] Secundo, even if we turn to the more civilized Canadian and Greenland Eskimos, we will still not get any unequivocal confirmation of the “guilt” of the traditional Eskimo diet.” 


Very remarkable is the cunning with which the author of the article “A little about the myths of vegetarianism” is trying, on the one hand, to shift all the blame on the vegetarian diet in India, and on the other hand, he is trying with all his might to justify the meat-eating of the Eskimos! Although it is worth noting here that the diet of the Eskimos is very different from the diet of people living south of the Arctic Circle. In particular, the fat content of the flesh of wild animals differs significantly from the fat content of meat of domestic animals, but despite this, the level of cardiovascular diseases among the small peoples of the North is higher than in the country as a whole. In this matter, it is also necessary to consider in some respects more favorable environmental and climatic conditions for the living of the peoples of the Far North, as well as the evolution of their organism, which for many years took place with a diet characteristic of those latitudes and differs significantly from the evolution of other peoples. 


“In fact, one of the risk factors for osteoporosis is both excessively high and too low protein intake. Indeed, there are a number of studies confirming more favorable indicators of bone health in vegetarians; however, it should not be overlooked that a high content of animal proteins in the diet is not the only – and perhaps not even the main – factor contributing to the development of osteoporosis. And at this point I would like to remind you that vegetarians in developed countries, on the example of which, in fact, the data on the favorableness of a vegetarian lifestyle were obtained, are, in most cases, people who carefully monitor their health. For what reason, it is incorrect to compare their performance with the national average.” 


Yes Yes! Incorrect! And if the results of these studies, which in some cases revealed twice the loss of calcium from the bones of omnivorous women compared to vegetarians, were not in favor of vegetarians, then this would certainly become another argument against a vegetarian diet! 


“Two sources are usually cited as support for the thesis about the harmfulness of milk: a review of the literature made by several active members of the PCRM, as well as an article published in the Medical Tribune by Dr. W. Beck. However, upon closer examination, it turns out that the literary sources used by the “responsible doctors” do not give grounds for their conclusions; and Dr. Beck overlooks several important facts: in African countries, where the incidence of osteoporosis is low, the average life expectancy is also low, while osteoporosis is a disease of older age … “


In developed countries, people get osteoporosis even at the age of 30-40, and not only women! So, if the author wanted to transparently hint that a small amount of animal products in the diet of Africans could cause osteoporosis in them if their life expectancy increased, then he did not succeed. 


“As for veganism, it is not at all favorable for maintaining a normal calcium content in the bones. […] A fairly complete analysis of the literature on this issue was carried out at the University of Pennsylvania; based on the reviewed literature, it was concluded that vegans do experience a decrease in bone mineral density compared to conventionally fed people.” 


There is no scientific evidence to suggest that a vegan diet contributes to low bone density! In one large study of 304 vegetarian and omnivore women, in which only 11 vegans took part, it was found that, on average, vegan women had less bone thickness than vegetarians and omnivores. If the author of the article really tried to objectively approach the topic he touched on, then he would certainly mention that it is incorrect to draw conclusions about vegans based on a study of 11 of their representatives! Another 1989 study found that bone mineral content and forearm (radius) bone width in postmenopausal women—146 omnivores, 128 ovo-lacto-vegetarians, and 16 vegans—were similar across the board. all age groups. 


“To date, the hypothesis that the exclusion of animal products from the diet contributes to the preservation of mental health in old age is also not confirmed. According to research data from British scientists, a diet high in fish consumption is useful for maintaining mental health in older people – but vegetarianism did not have a positive effect on the studied patients. Veganism, on the other hand, is one of the risk factors at all – since with such a diet, vitamin B12 deficiency in the body is more common; and the consequences of a lack of this vitamin unfortunately include deterioration in mental health.” 


There is no scientific evidence that B12 deficiency is more common in vegans than in meat eaters! Vegans who eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 may even have higher blood levels of the vitamin than some meat eaters. Most often, problems with B12 are found just in meat eaters, and these problems are associated with bad habits, an unhealthy lifestyle, unhealthy diet and the resulting violations of B12 resorption, up to the complete cessation of the synthesis of the Castle factor, without which the assimilation of vitamin B12 is only possible. at very high concentrations! 


“During my search, two studies were found that, at first glance, confirm the positive effect of plant-based nutrition on brain function. However, upon closer inspection, it turns out that we were talking about children raised on a macrobiotic diet – and macrobiotics do not always involve vegetarianism; the applied research methods did not allow us to exclude the influence of the educational level of parents on the development of children. 


Another blatant lie! According to a study report on vegetarian and vegan preschool children published in 1980, all children had an average IQ of 116, and even 119 for vegan children. Thus, the mental age of children is vegans were ahead of their chronological age by 16,5 months, and all the studied children in general – by 12,5 months. All children were completely healthy. This study was dedicated specifically to vegetarian children, among whom were vegan macrobiota! 


“I will add, however, that the problems of little vegans, unfortunately, are not always limited to infancy. It must be admitted that in older children they are, as a rule, much less dramatic; but still. So, according to a study by scientists from the Netherlands, in children aged 10-16 years old, grown up on a purely plant-based diet, mental abilities are more modest than in children whose parents adhere to traditional views on nutrition. 


It is a pity that the author did not provide a list of sources and literature he used at the end of his article, so one can only guess where he got such information from! It is also noteworthy that the author tried to make smart vegan macrobiotes meat-eaters and justify the high level of intelligence of these children by the education of their parents, but immediately shifted all the blame on the vegan nutrition of children from Holland. 


“Of course, there is a difference: animal protein simultaneously contains a sufficient amount of all 8 essential amino acids that are not synthesized by the human body and must be ingested with food. In most vegetable proteins, the content of certain essential amino acids is very low; therefore, to ensure a normal supply of amino acids to the body, plants with different amino acid composition should be combined. The significance of the contribution of the symbiotic intestinal microflora to providing the body with essential amino acids is not an indisputable fact, but only a subject of discussion.” 


Another lie or just outdated information thoughtlessly reprinted by the author! Even if you do not take into account the dairy products and eggs that vegetarians consume, you can still say that according to the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) – a more accurate method for calculating the biological value of proteins – soy protein has a higher biological value than meat. In the vegetable protein itself, there may be a lower concentration of certain amino acids, but the protein itself in plant products is usually higher than in meat, i.e. thus the lower biological value of some vegetable proteins is compensated by their higher concentration. In addition, it has long been known that there is no need for a combination of different proteins within the same meal. Even those vegans who consume an average of 30-40 grams of protein per day are getting twice as much of all essential amino acids from their diet as recommended by the World Health Organization.


“Of course, this is not a delusion, but a fact. The fact is that plants contain quite a lot of substances that prevent protein digestion: these are trypsin inhibitors, phytohemagglutinins, phytates, tannins, and so on … Thus, in the FAQ mentioned somewhere further in the text, the data comes from the 50s, testifying not even to the sufficiency, but to the excess of the protein content in the vegetarian diet, appropriate corrections for digestibility should be made.


See above! Vegetarians consume animal protein, but even vegans get enough of all the essential amino acids in their diet. 


“Cholesterol is actually produced by the human body; however, in many people, their own synthesis covers only 50-80% of the body’s need for this substance. The results of the German Vegan Study confirm that vegans have lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (colloquially referred to as “good” cholesterol) than they should.” 


OchereThis is the author’s trick, with which he is silent about the fact that the level of HDL-cholesterol in vegans (and not in vegetarians!) According to the results of some studies, was only slightly lower than in meat-eaters (fish-eaters), but still normal. Other studies show that cholesterol levels can be low in meat eaters as well. In addition, the author did not mention the fact that the level of “bad” LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol in meat eaters is usually higher than normal and significantly higher than in vegans and vegetarians, and sometimes borders on hypercholesterolemia, with which many scientists attribute heart disease. vascular disease!


“As for vitamin D, it is indeed produced by the human body – but only under the condition of abundant exposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation. However, the way of life of a modern person is by no means conducive to long-term irradiation of large areas of the skin; Abundant exposure to ultraviolet radiation increases the risk of malignant neoplasms, including such dangerous ones as melanoma.


Insufficiency of vitamin D in vegans, contrary to the statements of the authors of the FAQ, is not uncommon – even in developed countries. For example, experts from the University of Helsinki have shown that the level of this vitamin in vegans is reduced; the mineral density of their bones also turned out to be reduced, which may well be a consequence of hypovitaminosis D. 


There is an increased incidence of vitamin D deficiency in British vegans and vegetarians. In some cases, we are even talking about a violation of the normal structure of the bone in adults and children.”


Again, there is no clear evidence that vitamin D deficiency is more common in vegans than in meat eaters! It all depends on the lifestyle and nutrition of a particular person. Avocados, mushrooms, and vegan margarines contain vitamin D, as do dairy products and eggs that vegetarians consume. According to the results of numerous studies in different European countries, the vast majority of meat-eaters did not receive the recommended amount of this vitamin with food, which means that all the above-mentioned by the author also applies to meat-eaters! In a couple of hours spent outdoors on a sunny summer day, the body can synthesize three times the amount of vitamin D that a person needs per day. Excesses accumulate well in the liver, so vegetarians and vegans who are often in the sun have no problems with this vitamin. It should also be noted here that the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are more common in northern regions or in countries where the body is traditionally required to be fully clothed, as in some parts of the Islamic world. Thus, the example of Finnish or British vegans is not typical, because osteoporosis is common among the population of the northern regions, regardless of whether these people are meat eaters or vegans. 


Fairy tale number… never mind! 


“In fact, vitamin B12 is actually produced by a number of microorganisms living in the human intestine. But this happens in the large intestine – that is, in a place where this vitamin can no longer be absorbed by our body. No wonder: bacteria synthesize all sorts of useful substances not at all for us, but for themselves. If we still manage to profit from them – our happiness; but in the case of B12, a person is not able to get much benefit from the vitamin synthesized by bacteria. 


Some people probably have B12-producing bacteria in their small intestines. One study published in 1980 took samples of bacteria from the jejunum (jejunum) and ileum (ileum) of healthy South Indian subjects, then continued to breed these bacteria in the laboratory and, using two microbiological analyzes and chromatography, examined for production of vitamin B12. A number of bacteria have synthesized significant amounts of B12-like substances in vitro. It is known that the Castle factor, necessary for the absorption of the vitamin, is located in the small intestine. If these bacteria also produce B12 inside the body, the vitamin could be absorbed into the bloodstream. Thus, it is incorrect for the author to state that people cannot receive vitamin B12 synthesized by bacteria! Of course, the most reliable source of this vitamin for vegans is B12-fortified foods, but when you consider the amount of these supplements produced and the percentage of vegans in the world population, it becomes clear that the vast majority of B12 supplements are not made for vegans. B12 is found in sufficient concentrations in dairy products and eggs. 


“If the B12 produced by the symbiotic bacteria of the human intestine could really meet the needs of the body, then among vegans and even vegetarians there would not be an increased frequency of deficiency of this vitamin. However, in fact, there are quite a lot of works confirming the widespread insufficiency of B12 among people who adhere to the principles of plant nutrition; the names of the authors of some of these works were given in the article “Scientists have proved …”, or “on the issue of references to authorities” (by the way, the issue of a vegan settlement in Siberia was also considered there). Note that such phenomena are observed even in countries where the use of artificial vitamin supplements is widespread. 


Again, a blatant lie! Vitamin B12 deficiency is more common among meat eaters and is associated with poor diet and bad habits. In the 50s, a researcher investigated the reasons why one group of Iranian vegans did not develop B12 deficiency. He found that they grew their vegetables using human dung and didn’t wash them as thoroughly, so they got this vitamin through bacterial “contamination.” Vegans using vitamin supplements do not suffer from B12 deficiency! 


“Now I will add one more name to the list of authors of works on B12 deficiency in vegetarians: K. Leitzmann. Professor Leitzmann has already been discussed a little higher: he is an ardent supporter of veganism, an honored worker of the European Vegetarian Society. But, nevertheless, this specialist, whom no one can reproach for a biased negative attitude towards vegetarian nutrition, also states the fact that among vegans and even vegetarians with a long experience, vitamin B12 deficiency is more common than among traditionally eating people. 


I would like to know where Klaus Leitzmann claimed this! Most likely, it was about raw foodists who do not use any vitamin supplements and do not eat unwashed vegetables and fruits from their own garden, but buy all the food in stores. In any case, vitamin B12 deficiency is less common among vegetarians than among meat eaters. 


And the last story. 


“In fact, vegetable oils contain only one of the three omega-3 fatty acids important for humans, namely alpha-linolenic (ALA). The other two – eicosapentenoic and docosahexaenoic (EPA and DHA, respectively) – are present in foods exclusively of animal origin; mostly in fish. There are, of course, supplements containing DHA isolated from non-edible microscopic algae; however, these fatty acids are not found in food plants. The exception is some edible algae, which may contain trace amounts of EPA. The biological role of EPA and DHA is very significant: they are necessary for the normal construction and functioning of the nervous system, as well as for maintaining hormonal balance.”


In fact, the performance of the enzymatic systems that synthesize EPA and DHA from alpha-linolenic acid in the body is not low, but is limited by a number of factors: a high concentration of trans fats, sugar, stress, alcohol, the aging process, as well as various medications, such like aspirin for example. Among other things, the high content of linoleic acid (omega-6) in a vegetarian / vegan diet also inhibits the synthesis of EPA and DHA. What does this mean? And this means that vegetarians and vegans just need to get more alpha-linolenic acid and less linoleic acid from food. How to do it? Use rapeseed or soybean oil in the kitchen, instead of sunflower oil, which is also useful, but not in the quantities that it is usually consumed. In addition, it is advisable to eat a couple of times a week 2-3 tablespoons of linseed, hemp or perilla oil, because these oils have a high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid. These vegetable oils should not be heated too much; they are not suitable for frying! There are also specialty vegan uncured fat margarines with added DHA algae oil, as well as vegan (etari) algae EPA and DHA capsules, similar to omega-3 fish oil capsules. Trans fats are virtually non-existent in the vegan diet, unless of course the vegan eats something fried almost every day and uses regular hardened fat margarine. But the typical meat-eating diet is just chock-full of trans fats compared to the typical vegan diet, and the same can be said for sugar (not fructose, etc.). But fish is not such a good source of EPA and DHA! Only in tuna, the proportion of EPA to DHA is favorable for the human body – approximately 1: 3, while it is necessary to eat fish at least 2 times a week, which few people do at all. There are also special oils based on fish oil, but I am sure that only a few meat eaters use them, especially since they are usually made from salmon, in which the ratio of EPA to DHA is very inappropriate. With strong heating, canning and long-term storage, the structure of these acids is partially destroyed, and they lose their biological value, so most meat-eaters also rely mainly on the synthesis of EPA and DHA in the body itself. The only problem with vegetarian and vegan diets is that they are too high in linoleic acid. However, scientists believe that modern (even omnivorous) nutrition contains alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids in an unfavorable proportion of 1:6 and even 1:45 (in the mother’s milk of some omnivores), i.e. even a meat-eating diet is oversaturated with omega-6s. By the way, there is no data on the possible negative consequences of lower levels of EPA and DHA in the blood and fatty tissues of vegetarians and vegans, if such effects have ever been observed! Summing up all of the above, we can say that a vegetarian diet is in no way inferior to a “mixed” diet, which means that there is no justification for breeding, exploiting and killing animals.  




 Dr. Gill Langley «Vegan Nutrition» (1999) 


Alexandra Schek «Nutritional Science Compact» (2009) 


Hans-Konrad Biesalski, Peter Grimm «Pocket Atlas Nutrition» (2007) 


dr Charles T. Krebs “Nutrients for a high-performing brain: everything you need to know” (2004) 


Thomas Klein «Vitamin B12 deficiency: False theories and real causes. A guide to self-help, healing and prevention» (2008) 


Iris Berger “Vitamin B12 deficiency in vegan diets: Myths and realities illustrated by an empirical study” (2009) 


Carola Strassner «Are raw foodists eating healthier? The Giessen Raw Food Study» (1998) 


Uffe Ravnskov «The Cholesterol Myth: The Biggest Mistakes (2008) 


 Roman Berger «Use the power of the body’s own hormones» (2006)

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