Meat or Vegan


• This study compares the effects of a poor diet to the effects of a very poor diet. To get what I’m saying about this, look at this quote from Craig B Thompson, President of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York:

“It matters what you eat, where your calories come from… we now have good evidence… if you overfeed somebody with fat, you don’t increase their cancer risk at all; if you overfeed them with carbohydrate you dramatically increase their cancer rate… protein is somewhere in between.” 

I’ve taken this from a lecture in 2011, now on YouTube, and there are a substantial number of doctors and researchers who would agree.

Now, whether this is correct or not, the Nurses’ Health Study wouldn’t be able to prove nor disprove it, as there were no nurses eating low-carb, nor even low-ish to moderate carb. It doesn’t matter how many papers have been published from the Nurses’ Study; they are founded on very limited data.

• The Nurses’ Health Study uses questionnaires to collect the data, requiring recall of what was eaten over the past year. Do you know how many servings per week you had of anything a year ago? Not only do people often not remember, but it’s well known among researchers that people tend to answer these questionnaires more along the lines of what they were supposed to have eaten, rather than what they actually did eat. Which explains why the reported calorie count per day would have meant they were all skin-and-bones – which they weren’t!

• Perhaps most important, any epidemiological study in the US involving the consumption of animal products inevitably includes animals that were raised and fed in ways that are not at all natural to them. An astonishing 97% of cattle in the US are ‘feedlot’, which means they eat grains and/or soy and/or corn. Cattle are supposed to eat grass. That’s green grass, growing, alive, in a field. There isn’t research I know of that compares consumption from grass-fed to feedlot animals, but some things are well known:

  1. Any product from grass-fed animals contains considerably more omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, metabolic syndrome, and to lower levels of inflammation. Even hay feeding can reduce the omega-3 content by as much as 60%.
  2. Feedlot animals are sick animals, which is why antibiotics are routinely added to their food. The antibiotics then get carried into their products and then into us when we eat them. Someone eating feedlot animal products every day will be consuming antibiotics every day, and this will have an effect on their own gut bacteria, an important factor in health. Not to mention the growth hormones!
  3. Meat from grass-fed animals is known to contain significantly more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium and selenium – to name a few.


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  1. Miriam

    Hi Gillian,

    I always feel I can trust you to be objective. I found this interesting and refreshing. You seem to be one of very few who is brave enough to voice your opinions based on devoted personal impartial research, and that is rare and valuable these days.

  2. Grainne

    I like the idea of not eating meat and I like a lot of the vegan meals that are around now. However, after reducing my intake dramatically for a while and then reintroducing meat (mostly chicken) more recently, I have to admit that I find chicken etc much more satiating than a diet without it. It seems to suit me better. I was never really full vegan anyway, since I always seemed to thrive with small amounts of dairy! Must be the Irish genes.

  3. Janet

    Fabulous analysis, as always – thank you Gillian.
    Wouldn’t it be great if the media were as zealous in their checking of the, so called ‘facts’ they publish.

  4. Sophie

    I too would be interested to see more research on grass fed meat compared to plant based diet. I think people can be healthy eating grass fed meats with the inclusion of lots of plant-based foods, but I think you can be healthy without eating any, and with the current state of animal abuse, there is no question for me, I will eat completely plant based. You did make some good points though, but I would like to comment on the ones I disagree with:

    – Yes there are some nutrients in meat that are higher compared to plants, but there is also some nutrients that are higher in plant foods compared to animal products, the question shouldn’t be, does the ideal diet have the most, but does it have enough.
    – Pepsin breaks down plant protein so it is used
    – There are fatty plant foods that raise good cholesterol too, also the body makes its own cholesterol, so its not required.

    • Good points, Sophie, and thank you. My understanding is that we need a very good supply of B12 and dietary cholesterol for brain health especially. I feel sure, though, that we all need to find our own way and choose what seems right for us.

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