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Splendor In The Wheat Grass

My boyfriend of eight months is a vegetarian, and believes all animals are created equal, and that we, as animals, don't have a right to eat other animals. I’m very much a carnivore, and feel my body needs the protein, although I agree with him that eating meat is morally wrong. When we first met, he said he didn’t care if I ate meat. Now, when we eat out, and I mention that my food smells wonderful, he launches into a tirade about how I’ve made an animal suffer a horrendous death because of my eating habits. Consequently, I’ve stopped ordering meat when we’re together, and I’ve also stopped enjoying going out to dinner. Still, he’s a gentle, thoughtful man, so maybe dietary sacrifices are worth it. It’s amazing that eating habits can be such a problem.

--Animal Killer

Like a conch shell, which supposedly sounds like the ocean, maybe if you listen closely to your burger you can hear echoes of the cow screaming when it was slaughtered. Thoughts like that must go through your head when you’re speeding away from your boyfriend’s house, reminding yourself that you, too, think it’s morally wrong to eat meat. And then…lemme guess…you make a hard right, pull up to an intercom, roll down your window, and mutter, “Bacon double cheeseburger, please.”

According to your boyfriend, people and cows are born equal. Then what happens? Notice how cows have yet to build an International Space Station, or even open one of those little key-making huts outside the mall. But, does this mean we have a right to eat them? I think so -- providing we give them a nice patch of grass, and kill them humanely. Still, your boyfriend’s entitled to his beliefs, and you’re entitled to yours…if you can remember where you stashed them.

It may help you to understand that there are good reasons to eat meat. “Meat is the single best source of virtually every vitamin but vitamin C,” said Gary Taubes, an investigative science journalist whose myth-busting book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, (Sept. 07) is sure to revolutionize the American diet, proving that meat is not the health demon it’s made out to be. Taubes pointed me toward nutritional anthropologist Marvin Harris’ book Good To Eat, in which Harris explains that the ratios of essential amino acids in plant foods (except soy) are not optimal for humans. (The scientific jury’s still out on whether scarfing large quantities of soy is healthy or safe.) People have to eat huge quantities of nuts or legumes to match the nutritional value of meat “since the least abundant essential amino acids in plants are precisely the ones most needed by the human body.”

If only your boyfriend could have his Tofurky without cramming it down your throat, too. Sorry, it isn’t “eating habits” that are the problem, but his habit of berating you about yours; probably to the point where you can’t even eye a happy-hour cocktail wiener without fearing he’ll burst into tears and scream, “Murderer!” (Are we having fun yet?) If Meatless Joe can’t deal with your dietary choices, he should break up with you, not try to guilt you into breaking up with glazed pork chops. But, the real responsibility is yours -- to stand up for who you are, and find a man who’s okay with it, even if the particulars aren’t okay for him. Come on, admit it: Wouldn’t you be happier as somebody’s free-range girlfriend -- free to prefer the actual steak to the feeling of moral superiority you’re supposed to get from not eating it?

Posted by aalkon at July 31, 2007 1:38 AM


There's a good discussion of the morality at http://www.skepdic.com/news/newsletter76.html#5.

But that doesn't address the question of your relationship. You enjoy eating meat, and he knew this. Initially, he said it did not matter, but now it does. The question is, how much does it matter? Are you willing to convert for him? (Yes, a religious term is appropriate here.) What if he becomes vegan? What if you have a child? What will you feed it? What will you do about your existing friends and relatives? Will you eat meat when he's not around? What if he smells it on your breath?

If you are willing to do all these things, is he equally willing? Would he rather have his morality intact than have you?

Making a relationship involves some loss of sovreignty, but it should be symmetrical to both parties. Otherwise it's not a union, it's a takeover, or union but only in the same sense that a lion forms a union with an antelope.

Posted by: Norman at August 1, 2007 3:32 AM

This is one of my favorite columns ever, Amy.

Posted by: CornerDemon at August 1, 2007 6:42 AM

I am vegetarian, and my husband is not. I have never had a problem with this because I believe people have the right to choose what diet is right for them. But if I had a problem with being in a relationship with someone who ate meat, I just wouldn't be with that person. My husband does eat meat in front of me, and I honestly don't care.

Vegetarians like the guy mentioned in the letter irritate me. What he's doing is as disrespectful to her as it would be if she were pressuring him to eat meat. If I'm asked why I'm vegetarian, I am willing to explain why this choice is right for me, but it's in the context of the choice being right for me.

Posted by: Beatrice at August 1, 2007 6:52 AM

In the immortal words of the great sage Elaine Benes of Seinfeld, "You might be more than just a few tweaks away from a healthy relationship here."
Also, LW should sit down with a good dictionary and ponder what the word "moral" means to her. Does she really believe eating meat is immoral, wrong at a fundamental level (but continues doing it anyway) or is she adjusting her value system to accommodate some dude? Either way seems like a guarantee for unhappiness.

Posted by: martin at August 1, 2007 6:58 AM

I am in a similar, but radically different situation. I am a vegetarian (actually pescatarian), and my boyfriend is not. He is not a ravenous carnivore who consumes a whole cow in one go, but likes a little chicken or beef periodically. I don't eat meat for ethical reasons, but when it comes to him - I let him do his thing. My quote - "It's not my mouth, stomach, or brain, so I can't control it.". I will go to dinner with him, and he eats whatever he wants. We each make our own choices because - guess what? -We're TWO people! (Radical concept). He doesn't try to force me to conform to his ideologies, and I don't try to force him to conform to mine. Call it respect, if you want. Similarly, I won't sanctimoniously hoist my tofu in his face and shriek about how his steak died in horrible horrible agony, and he won't slaver over a medium rare t-bone and tell me how good the blood tastes.

Posted by: Jessi at August 1, 2007 7:07 AM

From yesterday's drudge, on "vegansesuals":


Posted by: kishke at August 1, 2007 7:52 AM

I support vegetarianism, as I've stated before on this board, and I maintain that nature designed a herbivore when it designed the human being, but this statement has to be the greatest instance of conflated logic I have ever seen on this issue: "all animals are created equal, and that we, as animals, don't have a right to eat other animals."

Since we're animals, we don't have the right to eat other animals? If being an animal dispossessed you of the right to eat other animals, every species that feeds upon other species should be brought up on charges. "Lioness, you are charged with attacking, killing and eating a gazelle. How do you plead?"

Even cows eat other animals. They don't pick off the incidental bugs that might happen to be on that tasty clump of grass they just ripped out of the ground. Applying the standard of incidental devouring of tiny invertibrates that even herbiovores partake in, I can't think of a single species of animal that doesn't eat other animals.

Posted by: Patrick at August 1, 2007 9:55 AM

Honestly, boyfriend sounds like a prick. How can he be "thoughtul" and "gentle," but then turn into a ranting maniac when she expresses a belief that's different from his?

I say break up with him, honey. Then eat some steak, and enjoy it thoroughly.

Posted by: Anne at August 1, 2007 10:03 AM

By the way, there's another post with related info (including hate mail for this column) on my blog:


Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 10:20 AM

"Animal Killer" has a boyfriend who belittles her in a public place.
This is not an issue of "vegetarianism" or "meat-eating" - instead, it's an issue of "control". He is calling her "imperfect" and that she "needs to change" - scary indeed.
Run from him. Run as fast as you can.

Posted by: rick at August 1, 2007 10:46 AM

If vegans get roaches or mice, do they call the exterminator? I'll bet most do. So some animals are more worthy than others?

Posted by: kishke at August 1, 2007 10:52 AM

I support vegetarianism, as I've stated before on this board, and I maintain that nature designed a herbivore when it designed the human being,
Perhaps. Except for our teeth (canines). I maintain that nature designed human begins as omnivores. Which means we can eat meat and vegetables. And should.

Posted by: Flynne at August 1, 2007 10:53 AM

"I want my baby-back, baby-back, baby-back, baby-back... ribs."

It amazes the hell out of me the way humans can actually feel guilty about satisfying the very natural instinct to consume nourishment. Animals eat animals, that's the way it's SUPPOSED to work.

In the words of John Cleese: "If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat."

Posted by: Morbideus at August 1, 2007 11:23 AM

I'm at the top of the food chain and I will continue to enjoy it! Ever hear of a grizzly bear who felt remorse over taking down an elk?

Posted by: truman at August 1, 2007 1:01 PM

I won't get into the vegetarian-ethics argument; I'm not up for that today. I will, however, note that boyfriend initially said that LW's eating habits were OK with him. Now all of a sudden, she is the manifestation of evil for disagreeing with him. What else about LW is boyfriend now suddenly going to decide that he's "not OK" with? What's the statute of limitations on this?

Posted by: Cousin Dave [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2007 2:12 PM

Cousin Dave nailed it.

I was married to a guy who decided he was vegetarian four years into our abominable union.

He married me knowing that I am not merely a carnivore, but a bloodthirsty, rare-steak-and-even-rare-burger, tartare-lovin' meat FREAK. He began snubbing my mother's holiday cooking (and even demanding that the sweet woman cook him "something edible" if he was "truly welcome" at her table), making faces and exhibiting scorn whenever I brought "my" food into the house, and generally being an ass about his superior dietary choice. Oh, and his health went to hell in a handbasket, so he always felt crappy, which probably didn't help.

At the time, I was baffled. But I get it now. The man was just being difficult, and doing it on purpose. It was manipulative, snotty and mean of him to behave that way. If being a vegetarian was really a personal choice, one that actually made him feel better about everything, then why did it also make him such a total prick?

Animal Killer, your guy might sincerely love animals, but not NEARLY as much as he loves stirring the pot and being a pompous ass.

Posted by: Daisy Jones at August 1, 2007 4:42 PM

I think Animal killer never intended on making their choices of dinner her main point in her letter at all. The arguement of meat-eater versus vegetarian is about as fun as beating a dead horse--so with that said don't we all enjoy talking about another person's relationship much better? I know I do! I am curious to hear however, does said boyfriend give up anything for our Animal Killer? I am not saying eye-for-and-eye (in her case steak for a lawn burger) but a relationship needs a little give and take from both people. I think Animal Killer should repost centering her topic more on her relationship issues, and this time call herself "In need of a Partner".

Posted by: Jeff at August 1, 2007 6:09 PM

Uh, there's a difference between making a sacrifice for somebody or going out of your way for them and being berated and expected to change what you enjoy eating. The guy is a hostile asshole. If you are horrified by somebody's eating choices, you don't date them or you break up with them if you realize you can't deal...you don't make dinnertime lecture time.

My friend Lydia is married to a carnivore. She's a vegetarian. Here's why they're happy. A quote from her when I asked her about how they stay so happily married: "My husband wanted to be a vegetarian, but I know that's never going to happen so I have never tried to convert him. He just gets too much pleasure from eating meat, and because I love him, I wouldn't want to take that pleasure away from him. I do encourage him to cook very smelly meaty things like lamb when I know I'm not going to be home so I don't feel like I'm living in a grill pan. But he pretty much does what he wants."

Another friend said pretty much the same thing. She's a vegetarian and offers to make her husband meat dishes at home, but he's happy to eat vegetables and a little fish at home and eat steaks and hamburgers at lunch when he's at work.

Jeff, you're not, perchance, the Jeff who was posting here rather regularly in the past?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 1, 2007 6:29 PM

I just wanted to raise a different perspective- I'm to the point where I am a little skeptical about dating an omnivore AT ALL because of all the bad experiences I've had with this issue. I think if you're going to have a "mixed" marriage between a vegetarian and a carnivore, it's important for both sides to be fair and sensitive to the other's viewpoint. Yes, I think vegetarianism is a personal choice and we really shouldn't be judgmental and mean to the people in our lives who have come to different conclusions than us. But on the other hand, if you do eat meat, you should also keep in mind that vegetarianism is a minority viewpoint, and so most vegetarians are used to feeling really defensive and attacked all the time by people they are close to. I'm really not saying that it's right for this boyfriend to treat this girl like that, but it is probably true that everyone around him attacks his viewpoint and everywhere he goes, he has to struggle to find something that he can eat. His family probably laughed at him when he "came out" to them as a vegetarian, and his guy friends probably aren't keen on getting their potato skins sans bacon every time he goes to a bar! So he is taking it out on her (which is obviously wrong!) but it is kinda understandable why he feels so hostile about meat eating *in general* when he's used to being a minority and used to having to defend his morals all the time. Eating is such an important part of socializing, and even complete strangers feel perfectly justified in asking me why I don't eat meat and then telling me why I'm wrong. So yeah, I get defensive too, and can kind of understand that. I think the girlfriend should explain very clearly that, whatever her views about the morality of the issue, she is not going to convert for him and he has no right to ask her to, and that he needs to just agree to respect the decisions she made. But also she should do it in a way that isn't completely dismissive of the fact that he probably does feel pretty threatened by anyone who eats meat, since many of them probably do attack him about it. If this is where the hostility is coming from and the couple can acknowledge it, then I think it would be easier for him to not judge her, as long as he knows that she respects his choice too and that her eating meat isn't a testament to the fact that she thinks his vegetarianism is ridiculous. It's just a choice she's made that has nothing to do with him. If she does think it's ridiculous, well, I don't really think the relationship can work.

(Sorry this is so long. I have a LOT of experience with this!) Also, the relationships i've had where this issue wasn't a problem usually incorporated both sides making some concessions, just to symbolically demonstrate that you respect and love a person, even if you have made different choices about a moral issue. For instance, I dated a guy who had never touched a frying pan in his life and, over a long weekend, visited his mother and got her to give him a crash course in every vegetarian dish that she knew. I woke up the morning that he got back to a beautiful vegetarian breakfast prepared by him, when two days ago, he couldn't even cook. On the other side of things, I took one of my more staunch carnivore boyfriends to one of those brazilian meat orgies for his birthday, where the waiters come around endlessly with huge carcasses on sticks and plunk down huge slabs and animal on your plate. (in manhattan, this place was I believe on 47th btwn 8th and 9th). At first, my boyfriend felt bad for me, since there was literally nothing i could eat there, but I tried to load up on the little salad bar they had as much as I could, so he would feel like he could really gorge too. The important thing when you do that is to have a good attitude about it and make the person feel like, even if their choices arent for you, you want to be a part of this person's life, and if that means every so often not getting to eat meat/ having to go to a meat orgy, well, as long as both sides are putting in the effort, it could be a really great way to show how much you care about each other.

Posted by: hanna at August 1, 2007 8:52 PM

I've been in a relationship with an omnivore for 4 years now. I have no issue with it, he eats meat while I don't, I'll cook it for him. He simply has the respect not to feed it to me, and to brush his teeth between eating it and kissing me. I think that can work, as long as neither person dictates what the other may eat.

Posted by: Edi at August 1, 2007 10:02 PM

"It amazes the hell out of me the way humans can actually feel guilty about satisfying the very natural instinct to consume nourishment."

I don't feel the least bit guilty about eating meat as a part of my diet, but this part of Amy's response is important to me: "providing we give them a nice patch of grass, and kill them humanely." Unfortunately this isn't always the case. THAT's the part that bothers me.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at August 2, 2007 8:51 AM

Sorry, I feel for vegman. I have been in a couple of situations where a behavior was something I had no problem with, because I honestly had no problem with it, had been around people who did it, and it was just as LW described--fine at first, and then sneaky snips here and there as I ascended to a moral and health concerned high ground I didn't know I had in me.

We can put up with stuff perfectly well with friends, coworkers and aquaintances that would drive us around a screaming bend when it comes to a significant other. I feel like I'm going to hurl when I am faced with a perfectly composed dead animal--chicken, pigs, etc--but the part of me that realizes I'd be friendless if made an issue kicks in so instantly I didn't even realize how much of a divide there really is between what I'll put up with and what actually appeals to me.

In short, I am someone who has had people ask is it okay if I order xyz and I'll insist, please go ahead and don't ever feel as if you need to ask, and then, this surprises even me, there is something about sex and intimacy and expectation that replays that scenario only instead I grip the guy's sleeve and hiss "if you eat that tiny octopus in front of me I will think of the Sesame Street organ music octopus film segment and I will start weeping."

Okay, go ahead and clobber me, but I do know what it is like and how hard it is to be okay with something and the icky behavior, not stepping up that can go on as one progressively realizes that what their beloved is doing is a dealbreaker.

Posted by: susan at August 2, 2007 10:11 AM

"I'm really not saying that it's right for this boyfriend to treat this girl like that, but it is probably true that everyone around him attacks his viewpoint and everywhere he goes,"

No, it's not right, he's an asshole. Why on Earth would everyone attack his viewpoint everywhere he goes, if he's not obnoxious about it? Who would even know? Granted, if you sit in a restaurant and exclaim, "WAITER! I can't eat anything on this menu, don't you have any vegetarian dishes?!?" expect to get crap for it. NOT for being a vegetarian, but for being a pain in the ass, even if "anti-vegetarianism" is the form the crap takes. And many vegetarians I have talked to (not all) are more than happy to jump on the "Moral Highground" as soon as their eating habits comes up.

When I go into a restaurant, sure, I look at the other food people are eating as I walk through. I don't give any thought whatsoever to whether or not a person is eating meat, or why they are eating what they are. It either looks tasty, or it doesn't. It's vegetarians who actually CARE whether or not someone else is eating meat. If they are going to be obnoxious about it, they deserve every piece of shit thrown at them.

"I don't feel the least bit guilty about eating meat as a part of my diet, but this part of Amy's response is important to me: "providing we give them a nice patch of grass, and kill them humanely." Unfortunately this isn't always the case. THAT's the part that bothers me."

I agree 100%! Cruelty is cruelty, and never acceptable.

Posted by: Morbideus at August 2, 2007 12:33 PM

The writer said “I agree with him that eating meat is morally wrong.” When someone admittedly cannot get their actions to match their morality, the best advice is for them to attempt to do so. I’m glad the Advice Goddess wasn’t around to tell people to ignore their ethic problems with slavery, child labor, etc. The common link between all social atrocities is the dangerous belief that those with power have the right to abuse those without; that might makes right. When will we come to see the folly of our ways? People who eat meat support the gratuitous abuse of animals who had no choice in the matter. Just like child abuse involves a child who had no choice, eating meat involves animals who had no choice.
There's just no reason to eat meat. It's unhealthy, it destroys the environment, it takes food out of the mouths of the poor (because we could feed plants to people instead of animals), and it tortures and kills animals. To learn more, visit www.goveg.com

Posted by: Stewart at August 2, 2007 2:47 PM

Stewart, just wondering, sent here by the Carolina animal rights list-serve?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 2, 2007 2:50 PM

Hannah said:

"I'm really not saying that it's right for this boyfriend to treat this girl like that, but it is probably true that everyone around him attacks his viewpoint and everywhere he goes, he has to struggle to find something that he can eat."

If that's true then this guy needs to get a sense of humor. If you're easy going few people will try to persecute you simply based your diet.

I'm vegan, my boyfriend is a meat eater. He and all of his friends make fun of me a lot. But it's good natured and I throw it back at them. We all have a good laugh.

Whether to eat meat or not is a philisophical issue, not something you can decide for anyone but yourself.

My question is: why would anyone care at all what someone else eats? Ridiculous.

Posted by: jaylyn at August 2, 2007 6:42 PM

Stewart - There's just no reason to eat meat. I can think of a few.

Posted by: Norman at August 2, 2007 11:53 PM


I am a regular reader and generally love your columns. You are hilarious! But this one was replete with nutritional falsehoods. That's common behavior of those unwilling to give up their desire for flesh. Look at the science, which clearly shows that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest of diets. Even the conservative American Dietetics Association states that vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; … lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer” and that vegetarians are less likely than meat-eaters to be obese. Check out http://goveg.com/healthConcerns.asp

It's science, not opinion. I'm afraid that you will go to such great lengths to justify eating meat that Lucy might be in danger! Please don't eat her, she's adorable and deserves to be more than a "protein source."

Posted by: stewart at August 3, 2007 6:50 AM

When I met my boyfriend he was a vegetarian for 22 years. No alcohol either in the name of good health. Big on pasta and salad dishes. When we met I told him I respected his choice, but I was a meat eater. I never expected him to change. On our first date, he cooked dinner for me and to my surprise it was a wonderful filet mignion dinner, he ate no meat. It was WONDERFUL and he did take a tiny piece of my steak. He said it smelled fantastic and he just wanted to 'remember' what it was like. Fast forward 2 years and he is an unbelievable grillmaster! His steaks and pork loins are to die for!! Sometimes he'll smile with his plate of meat and a glass of red wine and say to me,"Ahhhhhh...what the hell was I thinking for 22 years!!"

Posted by: Cathleen at August 3, 2007 8:44 AM

Furthermore, there have been no large, randomized, double-blind, studies as to whether it's safe to eat large quantities of soy, and if I were you, I'd think twice about the safety of a vegetarian or vegan diet until there's conclusive evidence for the health and safety of soy. -Amy

I'd also like to mention that in the interests of good health, several years ago I tried to kick dairy and switch to soy milk. After 4 months I began to experience excruciating pain. After a month of suffering with this, we discovered a large imbedded kidney stone that was not traveling but just sitting in my kidney, shredding it up. It required lithotripsy to break up. Upon analyzation, it was discovered that it was almost entirely soy based. Soy based stones are also very jagged and crystalized. The urologist told me that some peoples bodies react to soy this way and over the last few years he had seen an increase in vegan patients with soy based kidney stones. I dropped the soy, transitioned back to milk (I Needs My CoCo Puffs)and it has been 8 years with no recurrence.

Posted by: Cathleen at August 3, 2007 9:29 AM

STEWART writes: "But this one was replete with nutritional falsehoods."

I just love people like this. Replete with nutritional falsehoods? Really? Such as?

So you, who do what for a living, know better than Gary Taubes, investigative science journalist, who exhaustively researched this for six years, read every study and spent over $50,000 on books? Gary Taubes has looked at what the "science" has been saying and has found it not to be science at all, but to be rubberstamping of a certain point of view.

Look at his Frontline interview and other pieces he's written. It's all there. Furthermore, Martin Harris is right, too, about protein ratios in meat, B12 deficiences in the idiots who eat vegan diets, and more.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 3, 2007 10:02 AM

As for the health of soy consumption, see Cathleen's comment above.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 3, 2007 10:04 AM

Boy, the lengths people will go to justify their desire to eat flesh! Like I said, I hope you don't turn on your dog and eat her!


Vegans live longer, and we live better. Read the China Study, the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted. See www.chinastudy.com. Conclusion: The less animal protein you eat, the healthier you will be. Visit www.heartattackproof.com and see why vegans rarely have heart attacks. Visit www.pcrm.org for more info. Look at the science instead of listening to your taste buds.

Posted by: stewart at August 3, 2007 10:59 AM

Stewart, read: www.yourfullofshit.com

Posted by: Morbideus at August 3, 2007 12:28 PM

Here is a review noting how data was "massaged" to support the pro-vegan agenda.

Posted by: That Julia at August 3, 2007 12:34 PM

Posted by: That Julia at August 3, 2007 12:35 PM

Stewart, I have to ask why keep replacing the word meat with flesh, and insist that amy's going to eat her dog. Desire for flesh makes it sound kind of sexual to me.

From what i've gathered, having been beaten to death nutrition courses in high school and college, and every other addled vegan/vegetarian or pot smokin' hippy, is that I can't gather a goddamn thing because everybody keeps putting out contradictory studies and throws around opinions and untried data like fact, and forget to factor in all the other causes of health. This is done so much to the point that people like myself just start to tune you out. I have so many doubts about both yours and Amy's positions because some people try too hard to push politics in an issue I frankly have only a small interest in.

I like every part of the foor pyramid, and in moderation. It seems to do me well. In fact, when I feel like it, I go and order a hunk of grease from wendy's or whitecastle or what have you, and I gobble it. But I don't do it often. My point being, is that I claim not to be an expert on precise dietary needs. In fact, sometimes what I consume is solely for pleasure. I like eat Mrs. Heifer. She had some awesome meat on her. But broccoli, if cooked eoughed, is also good. I don't eat too much of any, and I bet you anything im in way better shape than you. That mostly has to do with being Twenty and running 8 miles a day, not counting the sports I do in leisure.

"Vegans live longer, and they live better". This is kind of where I stop listening to you, because this, my friend, is absurd. Life expectancy is determined by a ridiculous amount of factors, on of which is luck ( like gettin' hit by a car). Sure, you could try and weed out all other variables to prove your point, but then you would actually be alive, because living is a combination of all the variables you took out. Live BETTER? you can quantify that? by how much a percentage? I man could be fat, from eating the greatest meat in the world, die jolly at 50 and have lived a "better life" than mr. super health who lived to 100, but had a bitter marriage cause, at the core of this thread, mr. super health kept berating his significant other with his moral superiority. And how does one compare lives? By their DIET? So, who lived better, Winston Churchill or Adolf Hitler? Maybe Adolf hitler did because he was more mindful of his diet.

Posted by: Scott at August 3, 2007 1:50 PM


Boy, eating meat sure makes you and some of the other folks nasty. Maybe it's because your system wasn't designed for meat, and you are constipated?

Vegans live better based on the fact that we suffer much fewer heart atacks, strokes, have less cancer, diabetes, impotence, obesity, etc. It's simply science.

Vegans live longer, too. That's just statistics.

According to acclaimed vegan pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock in his book Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, “Children who grow up getting their nutrition from plant foods rather than meats … are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.”

Posted by: stewart at August 3, 2007 4:59 PM

"Boy, eating meat sure makes you and some of the other folks nasty."

I've avoided saying similar things about vegetarians because it's immature and not a good argument. A pity you don't recognize the same.

Um, Dr. Spock isn't exactly the cutting edge of nutritional research

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 3, 2007 5:56 PM

Hard not to be scathing when you make statements based on ridiculuous premises.

"Vegans live better based on the fact that we suffer much fewer heart atacks, strokes, have less cancer, diabetes, impotence, obesity, etc. It's simply science."

Your definition of "better" is mind numingly narrow. You could say Vegans live Healthier, if any of what you claim is true. I can't say, in my personal experience, that what you claim is true. After all, I observe on a case by case basis in my life, that no vegetarian/vegan is as physically fit or healthy as I am. Mostly because they tend to be a little bit less physically robust. Even if you happen to be correct, I find your definition of better to be in contempt of court (the court of linguistics that I just came up with.) As in, no, they don't live better because people dying with cancer, believe it or not, could be living better than a man who is making millions investing in fortune 100 companies. "better" is far too broad and vague.

"Maybe it's because your system wasn't designed for meat, and you are constipated." I find this statement confusing. It's a new one on me. I've never heard even the hardcore vegans I know assert this. Please explain to me, since you're so well informed, the existence of canine teeth in my body, if not for tearing flesh?

My blood pressure is probably better than yours,and obesity is not a problem for me. I see no reason to change a good thing. My philosophy is to eat a variety of foods, and limit the amount of sugar laden treats. Don't get me wrong, most veggies are tasty. I eat legumes, along with fruits and grains and all that other stuff. Unlike you, I've accepted my ominivorous tastes, and I certainly have no moral qualms with it.

I'm sorry if you find my comments to be agrresive. I just find your positions to be ill-informed, your language to inarticulate, and your lack of scope to be detrimental to the thread. You're quite allowed your stance, and voice it all you want, but agression does not imply nastiness, it merely implies contention. Please, before making blanket statements such as "live better", be ready to hear a different perspective on what living better is.

Posted by: Scott at August 4, 2007 2:11 AM

stewart are you really going to cliam a 50yr old book written by a man who graduated in 1929 as an indisputable sorce of medical knowledge?

Did ou know children who fail to get proper nutrition dnot develop well physically or mentally? Maybe Dr. Spock failed to note the correlation between all the skinny people and the great depression, or the fact that those not strong enough or smart enough to keep up with meat eaters(as meat is the best sorce of many essential nutrients) earn less money and couldnt buy as much food?

A man who contributed to god knows how many SIDS deaths?

Great advice there, what else did that moron's advice fuck up??

Maybe the reason veggits arent as obese is because they are as lazy as everyone else but just arent getting the same calories.
Maybe the reason some meat eaters appear to have more cases of diebeates is because that particular INDIVDUAL is genetically predisposed with a bad pancreas, or maybe they eat too damn much cake.

Also have you ever stopped to consider how many anmals are killed in order to clear more land to grow new crops, or how many are killed by combines?

And so what if Amy did decide to eat her dog(I doubt she ever will), I know a familly around here that eats dog and rabit and emu and half a dozen other animals.

There are two ways to look at eating meat - spiritually, in which case I suggest you read any religious text, most will even tell you how to repare the meat

or scientifically, in which case I would point you the teeth in your own damn head and the thousands or reaserch papers on the eveolution of man

Posted by: lujlp [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2007 3:06 AM


I'm surprised that you never heard that people weren't designed to eat meat. I'm glad you are interested in learning more. Please check out Dr. Milton Mills' piece, the Comparative Anatomy of Eating, it's at

Your "canine teeth" may work well to tear apart an apple, but when's the last time you used them to tear apart raw flesh? Just look at a true carnivore and you'll see that they have canine teeth, you don't. My Husky mix, now he had canine teeth!

And please, check out the China Study, at www.thechinastudy.com.

I still think you are hilarious and look forward to your future columns. Give my best to Lucy.

Posted by: stewart at August 4, 2007 7:02 AM

Stewart, I'm waiting for you to dispute what I put in the column. You said my column was "replete with nutritional falsehoods." Where?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 8:29 AM

It's no more wrong to eat dog than it is to eat cow. Lucy, however, doesn't really seem worth the trouble. And if a cow were a pet, I wouldn't want to kill it either because I'd miss it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 8:31 AM


Aha! So once you get to know an animal, then you wouldn't want to kill him or her. But it's okay for someone else to do the killing? Why pay someone to do something you wouldn't want to do yourself? Paul McCartney once said, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we'd all be vegetarians." I disagree, but I think there sure would be a lot more.

Regarding the nutritional falsehoods, I'm happy to address that. Since you don't think I have the credentials and threw out Gary Taubes as an expert, I previously referred to scientists who consider Taubes information included in your article to be nutritional falsehoods. Taubes is a writer, and a very controversial one at that. Many people join me in considering him to be totally off base. I think he is positioning himself to be the new Atkins and get rich off of it. Atkins, as you know, died from heart trouble, and he was morbidly obese at the time. The Washington Post pretty much debunked Taubes in a 2002 article By Sally Squires.

I can't send a link, it's too old and no longer on the web. It's too long for the blog, but I'll e-mail it to you.

One scientist who would consider your references to Taube as nutritional falsehoods is Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who I already mentioned, see www.thechinastudy.com. Also check out heartattackproof.com, which I also mentioned before. Dr. John McDougall (drmcdougall.com) is another good one. And then there's the position statement of the American Dietetics Association, which begins with "It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases." See http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/advocacy_933_ENU_HTML.htm for the entire statement.

Posted by: stewart at August 4, 2007 10:06 AM

There's no "ahah" there. Because something has value to me through my attachment to it, there isn't necessarily value in it to others.

You have yet to disprove a single thing I've stated in this column, which you contend is "replete with nutritional falsehoods."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 10:26 AM

Furthermore, the notion that Atkins was morbidly obese or died of heart disease is bullshit, and has been debunked on my blog. You search for the link. I'm not going to.

Regarding all these link you keep tossing out (Dr. Spock being the most laughable): This isn't homework time for Amy - I did my homework for this column. Furthermore, regarding attacks on Taubes, I can't remember what I thought of the Squires piece, but Ron Bailey has personally expressed regret and embarrassment to me for the articles Reason ran by Fumento supposedly debunking Taubes' work.

Taubes' book will be out at the end of September. Read it then if you want. Or not.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 10:30 AM

Take it from me Amy even if you were to raise a cow as a pet, the first few times it tried to trapmle and head butt you for violating its territory you'd lose all those fuzzy feelings.

Posted by: lujlp at August 4, 2007 11:27 AM

Perhaps surprisingly considering you are a vegetarian, you really are full of shit. But don't worry - if you stick around this blog, and don't get frightened off, we'll beat the crap out of you. It happens to us all at one time or another here.

The health issue of vegetarianism may be important to you, but it's not equally important to everyone. So as a basis for argument, it's useless. You might as well argue for the colour green. I prefer blue.

A similar criticism can be made for a moral argument - I can't remember if you have argued thus, but other veges have. But morals are relative; what's good for me isn't necessarily good for anyone else, especially if you happen to be a cow or a cauliflower.

Lastly you have argued on the basis that "once you get to know an animal, then you wouldn't want to kill him or her. But it's okay for someone else to do the killing? Why pay someone to do something you wouldn't want to do yourself?" That's the whole point of paying other people to do things: they're happy to do them, I'm happy to do the things they pay me for. Works a treat. I assume you're willing to pay the baker to get up at 4am every day to make bread, the steeplejack to fix the roof, the miner to dig coal and sell it to claustrophobes, etc.

The real issue, which the thread starts on, is the habit of some people to be pains in the backside by forcing their supposed superior choices on others in situations where it is not called for. How should you respond when the pain is your SO?

PS I was vegetarian for about 10 years. Then I moved to Germany where their idea of vegetarian was "just pick the bits of ham out if you don't want to eat them." They combined this with irresistible roast chicken and pig at the Oktober beer tent. The fiends.

Posted by: Norman at August 4, 2007 11:45 AM

Okay -- we all agree that the inhumane slaughter of animals is an abomination, and we agree that, unfortunately, some "edible" animals do not die humanely. We all wish they did, we all know they don't (yet) and we all acknowledge that carnivores aren't going to stop eating them either way.

...which brings me to my favorite reason for remaining a meat-eater. Hypothetically, let's say I gave up meat. Let's say we ALL did. What, exactly, is our plan for the hopelessly domesticated cows, chickens, pigs, etc. who have been bred -- for generations, centuries, hell, even for millenia -- to do exactly one thing: mill around inside a fence until it's their turn to die? Release them into the wild? "Run, little cow, be free"? "Flap, chickens! Flap! Flap HARDER! You can do it! FLY"? And don't even get me started on sheep. What kind of chance has a sheep got, left to its own devices? I give it less time than the chicken...

Like it or not, these animals' sole reason for being is to provide food and clothes for humans. There's no going back now. That's what they're FOR. And they taste good because they're SUPPOSED to. Nature engineered it that way on purpose; that way, our cave-dwelling ancestors knew to keep eating them. And thank God; climbing to the top of the food chain was critical to the whole operation.

Do I appreciate the sentiment espoused by many vegetarians? Yes. Do I think cows are super cute, especially the little baby ones? Yes. Do I intend to keep eating them anyway? YES. Rare. With garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, on the side. (See, I dig veggies too...).

Posted by: Daisy Jones at August 4, 2007 11:52 AM

"Take it from me Amy even if you were to raise a cow as a pet, the first few times it tried to trapmle and head butt you for violating its territory you'd lose all those fuzzy feelings."

Believe me, when Lucy walks on my head while I'm sleeping (from midnight to 4am) in the final throes of my deadline, I'm not feeling so fuzzy about her either. But, again, there's probably more meat on the average quail, and Lucy is rather adorable, entertaining, and well-behaved most of the time, plus she has the cutest little doggie smell, so, so far, she's managed to avoid ending up in my skillet.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 12:36 PM

We haven't considered these topics:

  • cannibalism, especially how to survive air crashes in the Andes

  • transubstantiation: can a vegetarian be a Catholic?

  • eating Mike in Stranger in a strange land

  • Fried Green Tomatoes - what was the secret in the sauce?

Posted by: Norman [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 5, 2007 2:32 AM


I guess it’s simply a matter of whom you choose to believe. The New York Times called the China Project "the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease." When the author, world-renowned scientist Dr. T Colin Campbell -- a former animal-protein researcher -- saw his studies indicate that animal foods are unhealthy, he took a giant step in redirecting his career. But this is what good scientists do, he said, noting, "I was just paying attention to what the scientific evidence was showing me." He concluded, "Quite simply, the more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be." He is now a vegan.

I have no doubt that Gary Taubes’ book will be a best seller and he’ll attain the fortune he seeks. That’s because people are dying (literally!) to be told what they want to hear. He’s not the only one who will profit; it will be a boon for surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, etc., who follow his advice and line up for surgery, chemotherapy, etc.

Regarding your original comment in the article that it’s okay to kill animals if we treat them humanely, we don’t treat animals we eat humanely. Take a look at www.meat.org. And check out the article Humane Meat? A Contradiction of Terms currently on the homepage of Common Dreams see http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/08/04/2977/

Regarding your comment “Because something has value to me through my attachment to it, there isn't necessarily value in it to others.” That’s indeed true. But using it as a justification to slaughter animals is problematic. Someone else’s children may not have value to me, but that doesn’t give me the right to eat them. Animals have an intrinsic value of their own. As Alice Walker said, "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men."

Posted by: stewart at August 5, 2007 4:40 AM

Again, Stewart, you say my column is "replete with nutritional falsehoods." Where are they?

Regarding Taubes, you think it's out of the question that after six or maybe seven years research, that he would have found something out of value? Do you really think people go into investigative journalism to make lots of money?

Children and animals are different. Humans have more value than animals. If you value animals, don't eat them. You have yet to give me a reason to change my mind. All you've shown me is that you make statements you can't back up, which makes me not respect you.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 5, 2007 7:54 AM

stwert, ever consider the problems with modern meat prodution might stem from all the drugs and hormones pumped into them so that companies dont have to wait for an animals natural life span to reach adulthood before they are killed?

The eggs from my chickens taste a hundered time better than store bought eggs, even eggs labeled free range, ordinry eggs now tatse like paper to me. Also the difference in flavor and even the color of the meat I get off my cows are easilly noticable, I used to think meat from the market was red, after seeing the meat from my cows the crap from the store looks pink.

I like to cook my meat rare, lightly browned on the outside, just warm enough to be no longer raw, the sensation of the melted fat and blood flowing over my tounge and down my throat is trancendent - you really aught to try it

Posted by: lujlp at August 5, 2007 11:36 AM

What time's dinner?!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 5, 2007 11:40 AM

With two 6 foot freezers in my kitchen full of cow, whenever I feel like it!

It relly is amazing how much space a whole cow fills

Posted by: lujlp at August 5, 2007 1:15 PM

Gee, I hate to break this to you stewart (not really), but for all of your bluster, you haven't provided any kind of definitive evidence, either that vegetarianism is superior, or that Amy is presenting flawed data.

First off, the China project (that you cling to like a drowning man clings to a piece of driftwood), is, at best, an incomplete study, and at worst, is severely flawed in both methodology and conclusion.

First off, the data set is extremely small (approximately 65 data points), and the core raw data merely present the possible characteristics of a diet that is high in vegetation and low in meat (do note the fact that meat is still involved in this equation). The sole argument that the small data set supports veganism / vegetarianism comes from a conclusion from Campbell, where he states that given a sufficient variety of plant material, a vegetarian diet is feasible (and could meet nutritional requirements). The problem is that the study doesn't have the data set size that allows *anyone* to make definitive statements about the results (as a matter of fact, some of the disease indicators described in the study have a *negative* correlation with eating meat, meaning that the instances of those diseases were *reduced* in meat eaters).

You can find some additional discussion of this study here

Simply put, all of human history, and the majority of nutritional studies, indicate that a diet that consists of both meat and vegetables is, by far, the best diet for humans.

Posted by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 5, 2007 10:35 PM

Link in post above should be this

Posted by: Rod at August 5, 2007 10:39 PM


There is no difference in decay between eating cows from the three cow factories that own nearly all of the cow meat in the US, and driving an SUV; really, go do the research, because, like you said "I'm not going to". You are Hippocratic.

And... what about those monkeys in South America? Should we just turn a blind eye and let them go extinct because people have an inherent right to eat meat?... indeed, go do some worthwhile research and earn your keep.

One more thing: If humans are inherently 'more valuable' than animals, then why is there a horse running around in circles on a track, deemed to be worth millions, whilst a forsaken child withers to skin and bone slowly until death? Because you are mistaken.

Posted by: Ghost at August 6, 2007 1:21 AM

When exactly did you become a doctor Amy?

And Ghost if three companies own all the cows please explain why there are 10 privetly owned slaughterhouses within a 45 minute drive of my house and more than a dozen dairies?

And how does eating cows eqate to people needlessly driving gas guzzelers when they dont need to.

And lastly if you do not belive humans are more valuble why do you care if one dies while a horse lives the high life?

Incidentally I doubt that you can pimp out a child, starving to death or not, for millions of dollars to produce a racing horse.
Why you ask?
1. Prostitution is illegal
2. Child prostitution is illegal
3. Sex in general with children is illegal
4. Sex with animls is illegal
5. While I know of no particular law, I am pretty sure that charging a thrid party money for a child to have sex with the third parties hose is illegal
6. Regardless of the law no female animal will ever be ipregnated thru sexual intercourse with a human

Any other questions? I also exceot stupid comments if you have any more of those.

Posted by: lujlp at August 6, 2007 2:38 AM

Any one know a good way to clean a laptops keybord, with out causeing any dammage, so the keys stop sticking???

Posted by: lujlp at August 6, 2007 2:41 AM

"When exactly did you become a doctor Amy?"

What's that in reference to?

And here, from the NY Times, by James E. McWilliams, a bit on myths about eating local, etc., and why the grass-fed beef I get from New Zealand is a pretty good idea:


Most notably, they found that lamb raised on New Zealand’s clover-choked pastures and shipped 11,000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1,520 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per ton while British lamb produced 6,280 pounds of carbon dioxide per ton, in part because poorer British pastures force farmers to use feed. In other words, it is four times more energy-efficient for Londoners to buy lamb imported from the other side of the world than to buy it from a producer in their backyard. Similar figures were found for dairy products and fruit.

Had some excellent grass-fed NZ lambchops last night, thanks. Deeeelicious!

Because SUVs and cars pollute...have you stopped driving? Do you drive the car that's the least polluting, most energy efficient vehicle you can get commercially? I do - a Honda Insight hybrid. As you're chastising me, do tell what your wheels are?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 6, 2007 9:02 AM

One more thing: If humans are inherently 'more valuable' than animals, then why is there a horse running around in circles on a track, deemed to be worth millions, whilst a forsaken child withers to skin and bone slowly until death? Because you are mistaken. >

That's your opinion. Meanwhile, do you notice that people who slaughter animals for a living are not brought up on murder charges?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 6, 2007 9:04 AM

>>When exactly did you become a doctor Amy?"
>What's that in reference to?

Ghost called you Hippocratic; I think he/she meant hypocritical.

Stewart annoys me because he is a typical internet arguer: makes claims about someones post, then never bothers to substantiate his claims, just keeps moving along to a new attack.

Hanna's justification for this guy's behavior is also annoying and ridiculous.

Here's my point of view, as someone who was a vegetarian chef for a while (and who loves their meat, though red meat is very infrequent now):


Trying to change a partner's dietary habits is like trying to change their addictive behavior or their abusive behavior. It doesn't work.

If this guy started dating a "heavy" woman, then 8 months into the relationship started calling her a cow and a whale after promising he loved her as she was, would that be okay?

Posted by: Jay at August 6, 2007 10:31 AM

"Ghost called you Hippocratic; I think he/she meant hypocritical."

Thanks for clearing that up.

And wise words, Jay.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 6, 2007 10:48 AM

To the Ghost of Stewart:

You remind A-holes like me, (I have no delusions about myself) why we enjoy being what we are. For that, I thank you. :P

And speaking of delusions... you already said that Vegans are healthier, more moral, have better lives and better standards of living. Why not take the plunge and claim they're smarter and better lookin' too? It's not like your credibility could suffer further...

Posted by: Morbideus at August 6, 2007 5:58 PM

Ok. I have been veg. for years, mainly cuz I just don't like to eat meat. BUT... I would never ever tell someone else what to eat!! I figure as adults, we should be allowed to make that choice for ourselves. My youngest started out veg. as it was just easier while she was young to feed same as me.. but always checking to make sure nutrition was good. Youngest is not vege. anymore as she likes to eat all kinds of stuff and even tho she is not adult, I do let her choose to eat what she wants (she eats well, not junk). I will make whatever the people I love want to eat. I don't preach.. we are all individuals and deserve to be so. Oh, I have started to eat some fish lately.. craving my YUMMY tuna salad. LoL
anyway,,, I don't enjoy the preachers on either side of this issue. Again... we are all individuals....
ok, my 2 cents. for what it's worth.

Posted by: Melody at August 7, 2007 3:03 PM

You're not compatible. Your lifestyle choices and morals are too different.

This isn't a question of who is right or wrong... we can go on forever about vegs who try to covert carns, carns who try to convert vegs, and there are a host of studies on both sides of the issue. All irrelevant to your problem. This is a question of just not being compatible. You're a good person, he's a good person... not for each other.

Posted by: Nicole at August 7, 2007 9:56 PM

Nicole did you read the artice at all? Eheguy launched tirades in pulic resturants

Tirade is definded as a long angry or violent speech, usually of a censorious or denunciatory nature.

What kind of "good guy" shouts at his girlfreind in public.

Quite frankly this guy is luck to have a relationship whit such a calm woman, in many states shouting at someone is now considered domestic abuse.

Posted by: lujlp at August 7, 2007 11:50 PM

Someone asked how to clean a keyboard to stop it from sticking. Depends on why it sticks. If it got a gallon of cool-aid on it, no.

If it is accumulated dust, find someone with an air compressor in their garage, and blow all the dust out of it. I have to do this a couple times a year. In my case, a key sticks, and that kills the whole keyboard.

Posted by: Bruce at August 12, 2007 10:18 AM

You can also pull a piece of scotch tape through the spaces between the lines of keys. I think this was on Lifehacker.com.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 12, 2007 11:09 AM

Amy, I did like your column (usually) but now I realize that you are one of those meat-eaters that says things like "Wow, this meat is good. Don't you want some." to a vegetarian. Are you just insecure? You are trying to belittle Stewart (and all vegans/vegetarians in your column) in exactly the same way as the vegetarian that harps on his girlfriend. That must make you feel good, huh?

What if the girlfriend was a smoker instead of a carnivore? Would you have answered the same way?

Wow, I'm sorry that I missed this debate.

Posted by: Vegan for 12 years at September 1, 2007 6:21 PM

Vegan, you don't seem to understand that there's a difference -- these people are in a relationship together. This is a discussion forum, and debate sometimes gets heated. Stewart said my column was "replete with nutritional falsehoods." It is not. I asked him to point out even one. He was unable to. You don't get to call me a liar and/or sloppy and get away with not backing it up.

What if the girlfriend was a smoker instead of a carnivore? If you don't like smoking, don't get involved with a smoker -- don't pretend smoking's okay then berate the smoker at every turn as a way of working out your hostilities.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2007 10:29 PM

I agree that there is a difference between a relationship and a debate. In this debate, though, there are a wide array of opinions (on both sides, though more vehement on the meat-eaters), and a debate should be based on facts.

Unfortunately, I agree with Stewart. Perhaps the words of your article are not false, but the insinuation (which you defend) is that meat is healthier. While, like any science, there is debate among scientists, the evidence overwhelmingly comes down on the side of vegetarianism as healthier (remember, there was debate over global warming for the last 20 years)

As a biologist, I know how difficult it is to wade through opinions and propaganda (such as that of the meat/dairy industry - 'Got milk' 'Beef. It's what's for dinner' and various sources: newspapers, books- such as your sources-, etc). I try to go straight to the source, the articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals that I have access to. It is much more
Here is a few abstracts I found searching for one word: vegetarianism. There were 439 total and from looking at the most recent 50, of those that were applicable to the debate, they were similar to these, all coming down on the side of vegetarianism benefitting BMI (body-mass index) and preventative for some diseases. There were caveats of course (see second article below for some) and vegetarianism was not found to benefit all diseases, but the conclusions are straightforward.

1. Title: Vegetarian nutrition: Preventive potential and possible risks Part 1: Plant foods
Author(s): Strohle A (Stroehle, Alexander), Waldmann A (Waldmann, Annika), Wolters M (Wolters, Maike), Hahn A (Hahn, Andreas)
Source: WIENER KLINISCHE WOCHENSCHRIFT 118 (19-20): 580-593 OCT 31 2006
Document Type: Review
Language: German
Cited References: 173 Times Cited: 1 Find Related Records Information
Abstract: Today vegetarian nutrition is more accepted and widespread in Europe than in former years. For a long time scientific research on vegetarian diets has focused mostly on malnutrition, whereas nowadays research centers increasingly on the preventive potential of plant-based diets.

We followed a nutritive and a metabolic-epidemiological approach to obtain dietary recommendations. A MEDLINE research was performed for all plant food groups relevant for a vegetarian diet (key words: all relevant food groups, "vegetarian diet", "chronic disease", "cancer", "cardiovascular disease", "diabetes mellitus", "osteoporosis"). All relevant food groups were characterized regarding their nutrient content and rated with respect to the available metabolic-epidemiological evidence.

Based on the evidence criteria of the WHO/FAO, cancer risk reduction by a high intake of vegetables and fruits is assessed as probable or possible, while a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease is convincing and a lowered risk of osteoporosis is probable. The evidence of a risk reducing effect of whole grain relating to colorectal cancer is assessed as possible, whereas it is probable relating to cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type 2. There is an insufficient risk-reducing effect of legumes like soja relating to epithelial tumours and cardiovascular disease. The evidence of a risk-reducing effect of nuts to cardiovascular disease is assessed as probable, and in relation to cholelithiasis and diabetes mellitus type 2 as possible and insufficient, respectively.

In conclusion, high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts can lower the risk for several chronic diseases.

2. Title: How does the health and well-being of young Australian vegetarian and semi-vegetarian women compare with non-vegetarions?
Author(s): Baines S (Baines, Surinder), Powers J (Powers, Jennifer), Brown WJ (Brown, Wendy J.)
Source: PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITION 10 (5): 436-442 MAY 2007
Document Type: Article
Language: English
Cited References: 36 Times Cited: 1 Find Related Records Information
Abstract: Objective: To compare the sociodemographic characteristics, health status and health service use of vegetarians, semi-vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

Design: In cross-sectional data analyses of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health in 2000, 9113 women (aged 22-27 years) were defined as non-vegetarians if they reported including red meat in their diet., as semi-vegetarians if they excluded red meat and as vegetarians if they excluded meat, poultry and fish from their diet.

Results: The estimated prevalence was 3% and 10% for vegetarian and semi-vegetarian young women. Compared with non-vegetarians, vegetarians and semi-vegetarians were more likely to live in urban areas and to not be married. Vegetarians and semi-vegetarians had lower body mass index (mean (95% confidence interval): 22.2 (21.7-22.7) and 23.0 (22.7-23.3) kg m(-2)) than non-vegetarians (23.7 (23.6-23.8) kg m(-2)) and tended to exercise more. Semi-vegetarians and vegetarians had poorer mental health, with 21-22% reporting depression compared with 15% of non-vegetarians (P

Conclusion: The levels of physical activity and body mass indices of the vegetarian and semi-vegetarian women suggest they are healthier than non-vegetarians. However, the greater reports of menstrual problems and the poorer mental health of these young women may be of clinical significance.

3. Title: Vegetarian diets; effect on health
Author(s): Roman DDL (de Luis Roman, D.), Aller R (Aller, R.), Castano O (Castano, O.)
Source: REVISTA CLINICA ESPANOLA 207 (3): 141-143 MAR 2007
Document Type: Article
Cited References: 18 Times Cited: 0 Find Related Records Information
Abstract: Vegetarian diets are those diets mainly based on the consumption of vegetable product, but that also permit consumption of eggs and milk. The American Dietetic Association made a declaration on these vegetarian diets in which they stated that "a well-planned vegetarian diet is healthy, nutritionally adequate and provides health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases". Some studies have shown beneficial results in obesity, cancer, Parkinson disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus and urinary stones, compared with the omnivorous. The possible theoretical benefits in some diseases has been seen in the medical practice (diabetes mellitus, obesity, cardiovascular risk). However more studies are needed in the case of Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Posted by: Vegan for 12 years at September 2, 2007 10:37 AM

BTW. These are directly copied from Web of Science, the online journal database

Posted by: Vegan for 12 years at September 2, 2007 3:15 PM

Pasting in abstracts is lazy and doesn't contribute to the discussion.

Furthermore, just what you posted suggests perhaps sad girls would do better to eat a nice piece of steak?

Semi-vegetarians and vegetarians had poorer mental health, with 21-22% reporting depression compared with 15% of non-vegetarians

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2007 4:03 PM

Sorry if facts annoy you. Perhaps they are sad because they eat too much meat and that made them overweight :(

Posted by: Vegan for 12 years at September 2, 2007 6:01 PM

Abstracts are not "facts." They are summaries of studies. You pulled three at random. This is by no means a substantive vetting of the issue. It's anything but. And it seems you just pasted in the abstracts without reading them. The quote above says VEGETARIANS had poorer mental health. Meaning, people who don't eat meat.

"I know how difficult it is to wade through opinions and propaganda"

Again, you don't read well, or you only read Stuart's comments. This is not my work I reference in this column but investigative science journalist Gary Taubes six or seven years of intense research into a vast variety of studies. He didn't just pull a couple of abstracts and paste them into somebody's blog. He READ the actual studies and talked at length with the people who did them, when applicable.

I work very, very hard to put out a column that is based in facts. I just met with a friend who teaches stats to doctors because the thing didn't include a significance test and I wanted to be sure I was putting out a correct representation of their findings. I go every year to conferences where anthropologists, psychologists, and evolutionary psychologists present their data, and I read the same journals they do, or ask them for PDFs of their studies.

Facts don't annoy me. I'm annoyed that you seem to think throwing up three random abstracts represents "The Facts."

Here's a question for you: Should young children eat soy? Another question: Do Americans eat more soy than is healthy and safe? How do you explain the almost total lack of cancer and diabetes in Inuit society when they ate a diet that was almost all meat?

The truth is, I don't have time to get into a debate right now -- this column was posted a while ago, and I answered questions then, and I have new fish to fry right now.

But, do read Taubes' book.

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 2, 2007 8:23 PM

Clue: Don't date vegetarian wussies and expect to find happiness.

Posted by: Smarty at October 9, 2007 1:08 PM

I'm so disturbed by this debate, which is old now I know, but I can't resist adding at the end of the chain.

Amy, every person who has offered ANY support for vegan/vegetarian lifestyles has been shot down by you. You asked for data, were given data, made excuses about not reading the data (much easier to argue without pesky things like "statistics"--especially ones you don't like).

You've used faulty logic--leaping on the one negative point included, poorer mental health in 1 study, ignoring the stronger evidence for vegetarian lifestyle. And you've ignored numerous good arguments from respectful opponents, in order to pick out easy phrases. Bad form.

It seems that your pride--how dare someone question you and your expert blog--is what drives you. Your tone is cornered and out of control. I can see that now, backed in a corner, you have to keep lashing out. It's too bad--some of the evidence is interesting, and the argument could have been enlightening for both sides. But your intractible tone makes me cringe. Your opponents continue to send information. You continue to throw mud.

By crossing your arms and saying "I'm not reading those links" and "I'm not reading those abstracts," you're admitting that winning is more important than thinking.

The fact is that meat and dairy are linked to cancers, diabetes, obesity, and other illnesses. Vegeterians who just "eat side-dishes" may be deficient, but lentils, hemp-seed, chickpeas, spinach, flax, soy, rice, and many more wholesome foods like those can provide balanced nutrition for people who care.

For all I know, those vegetarians with "poor mental health" might have been more sensitive to life's injustices and violence--hence their anxiety and reluctance to eat things that bleed.

No, humans and animals aren't equal. We humans have moral awareness and responsibility for our actions.

Yes, cows cause environmental damage. A large patch of land is necessary to hay each cow. The methane released by cows equals that of auto-emissions. If we didn't eat animals, would they be extinct? Well no, not if we have preserves and petting zoos. Mom n Pop dairy farms, even. But look at the inside of an industrial dairy farm, and you can't consider that a valid way of protecting animals from extinction.

Leo Tolstoy said that until we abolish the slaughterhouse, we will always have war. Maybe the idea that killing is acceptable when something is "not us" leads to us claiming rights that shouldn't be ours. We aren't living in the jungle searching for our next meals. We have other choices. But realistically, I understand the power of convenience and pleasure. I know people will continue to enjoy their meat. My arguments against that come from my heart, but I take exception not with your right to have and voice your opinion, but the disrespectful way in which you do it.

Yes, I know he said it was "replete with nutritional falsehoods." I'm sure people will think twice about criticising you again. I hope you feel secure now.

I guess I'm disappointed because your earlier responses seemed enlightened. But no, I see you're only clever--and not wise.

Posted by: umyeah at January 15, 2008 1:16 AM

Here's the guy with the data, dear. He spent seven years putting it together.

Good Calories, Bad Calories

Posted by: Amy Alkon [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2008 6:06 AM

I am a vegan and my boyfriend is a total carnivore. How do we approach this? With HUMOR, people, jesus. I make fun of myself constantly, on road trips calling out the window to the cows, "I'm saving you, one Boca burger at a time!!" And when I'm cooking for him - whether chicken fried steak (not Boca!) or grilled chicken or whatever - he walks up to me and does something silly like covering my eyes to "protect" me from the "murder." We're deliriously happy.

Self-righteous vegetarians with no sense of humor make the rest of us look like shit. This is why my charitable donations go the ASPCA rather than that disgusting, hypocritical, irrational organization they call PETA.

Posted by: Jessica at January 29, 2008 10:20 AM

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