Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Panda Paradox

Zoologists classify the panda as a carnivore.
The panda has gut structure, gut function, and gut enzymes like a carnivore.

The panda does not have multiple stomachs, nor an enlarged cecum, nor the gut microbes found in animals that eat diets composed largely of fiber, like cattle and sheep.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science states:  "The giant panda genome codes for all necessary enzymes associated with a carnivorous digestive system but lacks genes for enzymes needed to digest cellulose, the principal component of their bamboo diet."

Source:  Wikimedia

Yet wild giant pandas consume around 20-40 pounds of highly fibrous bamboo stalks and leaves every day.

The San Diego Zoo states that the small Red Panda's diet is 95 percent bamboo.

The Smithsonian National Zoo states that "A wild giant panda’s diet is almost exclusively (99 percent) bamboo."

At the Talk Origins site on human evolution, Douglas Theobald, professor of biochemistry at Brandeis University writes "... even though humans are herbivorous, the small human caecum does not house significant quantities of cellulase-excreting bacteria, and we cannot digest more than but a few grams of cellulose per day."  [Emphasis added]

Leaving aside for the moment the interesting fact that this staunch defender of evolutionary theory describes humans as herbivorous, the panda's ability to digest cellulose is similar to humans.   The gut microbes of pandas digest very little of the fiber the pandas consume; 92 percent of cellulose a panda ingests ends up eliminated in its feces.

If in pandas gut microbes convert only 8 percent of ingested cellulose into short chain fatty acids, this probably means that the panda gets most of its energy from the digestible carbohydrate and protein provided by bamboo leaves and stalks, not from fat.  Does the panda challenge the idea that "the natural diet of mammals is a high-fat diet"?

The pandas provide a striking example of a non-human mammal that has almost none of the genetic or physiological equipment associated with herbivory (only having some dental and grip adaptations), yet it spontaneously lives as an herbivore.

It is believed that the first giant panda ancestor to include some bamboo in it diet was Ailuropoda micrta which existed about 3million years ago.  This species appears to have descended from the primal panda, Ailuaractos Lufengensis, an arctoid with a carnivorous diet. The carnivorous arctoids appear first in the evolutionary record about 46 million years ago. 

The fact that a member of the Carnivora order has adapted spontaneously to a highly specialized and extremely fibrous, low fat, 99% herbivorous diet without apparent major physiological and genetic changes seems to raise some interesting questions for those who believe that modern humans are optimally adapted to some diet consumed by some paleolithic human ancestors.

The panda also seems to challenge another presupposition of paleolithic diet theory, which goes something like this:  Any species that at any time in its evolution adopts a meat-based diet is required thenceforth to always maintain a meat-based diet to sustain health. 

This is clearly not true for the panda; despite having physiological equipment that limits its ability to extract nourishment from plants, it has succeeded in its niche for at least a million years. 

The panda shows us that when individuals of a species encounter an environmental challenge, they do whatever they can do to succeed in the changing environment without any concern about what their ancestors did, or whether they have the optimal physiology for the new habit.  The new feeding strategy may not be optimal, and it doesn’t have to be; it only has to be good enough to allow individuals to survive long enough to reproduce.

Now, why does Professor Theobald say that humans are herbivorous?  Because we humans have descended from a very long line of herbivorous ancestors and have a body displaying more features in common with other herbivores than with carnivores, including plantigrade stance, relatively slow sprints (compared, for example, to canines or felines), color vision, nails (rather than claws), small mouth, fleshy lips, non-shearing teeth, carbohydrate taste receptors (rather than amino acid taste receptors found in cats), non-expandable esophagus, haustrated and long intestines, low potency bile, a vermiform appendix,  and a sense of fear (those at the top of the food chain are not stalked so do not need fear to enhance survival). 

During the last two to four million years, climate changes and migrations put human ancestors in environments where they had to adopt omnivorous diets to survive, despite not being fully adapted to the new foods (meat and animal fat), just as the first panda ancestor to eat bamboo was not fully (physiologically) suited to a bamboo diet.  Nevertheless, just as the bamboo diet was/is good enough for the panda lineage to survive, a meat-based diet was/is good enough for the human lineage to survive in plant-food depleted environment.

That does not mean it will produce the best health.  A diet does not have to protect individuals from heart disease or cancer, or support maximum longevity, to be good enough to support the continuation of the species.  These diseases typically kill people long after they have reached reproductive age. 

The discordance hypothesis favored by some Paleolithic diet advocates states that diseases arise as a consequence of an individual adopting a diet, lifestyle, or habitat sufficiently different from the diet, lifestyle, or habitat of its ancestors to create a discordance with the genetic heritage of its species.

The wild giant panda seems to have a diet substantially discordant with its genetic constitution.  Yet the panda doesn’t suffer from a host of diet-induced diseases.

Pandas in captivity eat a diet perhaps more discordant with the ancestral panda diet. According to this report of captive giant panda diets in five Chinese facilities:

“Each facility feeds a steamed grain mixture comprising 13–56% of the diet on an as-fed basis, animal products (milk, eggs, and/or meat; 8–25% of the diet), and bamboo (17–82% of the diet). Seasonally available fruits and/or vegetables are sometimes included (0–29% of the diet).”

This mixed and cooked diet deviates from the 100% raw, 99% bamboo diet of wild giant pandas, and includes foods never eaten by wild pandas during the past 3 million years (grains).  The San Diego Zoo  reports:

“At the San Diego Zoo, pandas are offered bamboo, carrots, yams, and special leaf eater biscuits made of grain and packed with all the vitamins and minerals pandas need.”

It seems the San Diego veterinarians have settled on a vegan diet for the panda.  The pandas apparently do quite well on this non-ancestral diet, at least in terms of longevity.  According to the SanDiego Zoo, wild pandas live only 14-20 years, but pandas in zoos live 30 years, 50 to 100 percent longer.  Apparently, a panda can live much longer when eating an evolutionarily novel diet including steamed grains than when eating only the raw foods eaten by its wild ancestors.  This experiment apparently trumps the discordance hypothesis.

Consider that the panda has been isolated to a bamboo forest, and eating a bamboo-based diet, for perhaps one million years, yet this sustained selective pressure to adapt to a bamboo diet has had relatively little impact on its basic anatomy and physiology. Today’s panda still does not have an herbivorous body form despite such a long period of evolution on the 99% bamboo diet, but the diet works good enough for the panda (perhaps as good as it gets in the current niche) to pass the bamboo habit to the next generation.

In contrast, the past two million years of human evolution occurred under much more varied ecological conditions. During human ancestral evolution, the variability of the ice age climate and human mobility led to wide variability of plant-animal ratios in ancestral diets, and this combined with intertribal marriages tended to minimize selective pressures for any specific physiological adaptations to meat-eating and supported retention of the basically herbivorous primate physiology. 

The panda seems to challenge the idea that our genes, or the diets of our remote ancestors, determine the optimal diet for present-day humans.  Apparently neither ancestral diets, nor genes, nor physiological equipment will necessarily make a meat-based diet a perpetual requirement, or the optimum choice, for any given species, let alone one (such as humans) with an extensively herbivorous ancestry and numerous adaptations to herbivory. 

I think the panda shows us quite clearly that if we want to know how to prevent degenerative diseases and maximize healthy longevity, we will want to gather knowledge from the experience and experiments (natural and controlled) of present day humans, rather than assume that we will get the best results by eating only the foods consumed by our remote ancestors.

Post Script

This post was inspired by similar, but less dramatic examples of non-human animals adapting to non-ancestral foods/diets in some Plant Positive videos, for example:

Primitive Nutrition 60:  Ketosis Is Natural. Natural Is Good. Part III

"Polar bears in captivity are not fed a diet like they would consume in the wild.  They are actually fed fruits and vegetables.  But this isn’t their natural diet!  Surely this is a form of animal abuse, right?"

"Actually, polar bears in captivity live considerably longer.  But shouldn't an evolutionarily novel diet destroy their health?  This is yet another example of how Paleologic is no substitute for experiment and observation."

From Polar Bears International:

"In the wild, polar bears live an average 15 to 18 years, although biologists have tagged a few bears in their early 30s. In captivity, they may live until their mid- to late 30s. Debby, a zoo bear in Canada, lived to be 42."

 Thus, an evolutionarily novel diet supports a doubling of lifespan in polar bears.

Thanks to Plant Positive for giving inspiration and sharing suggestions for this post.


James said...

Interesting, although...pandas are hardly thriving (they simply fail at reproducing).

I'd argue that though our family tree is herbivorous, and fat is not requisite, it is what has given us the advantage. While we don't show the tell-tale signs of apex-predators, animal protein and fat contribute to the support of our ovesized brains. Our physiology has made minimal while we don't look like meat eaters we can be...similarly the panda, though it does not look like a vegetarian, it can be.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Giant Pandas are fat, lethargic creatures who are on the verge of extinction due to having made a mistake many years ago that they cannot now correct - adopting a vegan diet.

Peter said...

Very interesting blog account Don. You and PlantPositive are at the front-row in bringing some sanity to the online dietary field which is dominated by cholesterol confusionist fittness coaches.

I also liked your great manners in terms of transparency. You addressed PlantPositive for having been an inspiration, this is very different from what we have seen lately in the blogosphere, no one mentioned, no one forgotten as the old Swedish proverb goes.

Peter said...

James, the meat and brain-size hypothesis is getting less and less support in the scientific community.

You watch this interview by anthropologist evolutionary biologist Nathaniel Dominy from Darthmouth university.

Would someone argue vegetarian polar bears are are leghartic?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Peter said...
"Would someone argue vegetarian polar bears are are leghartic?"
Apart from your appalling spelling of the word "lethargic", what point are you trying to make?

I watched a bit of the video you posted a link to. Anybody who uses the term "True Human Diet" is a retard, as there is no such thing as a "True Human Diet". Anyway...

See The Bear Essentials.

gallier2 said...

Pandas only digest about 20% of what they eat while cattle digest 60%. Therefore, pandas must eat a lot to get the nourishment they need. Pandas consume 15 to 30 kilograms (33 to 66 pounds) of food per day. They eat for 10 to 16 hours per day and cover over one kilometer a day while eating. When they are not eating, pandas often conserve energy by sleeping.

Pandas excrete up to 40 kilograms (88 pounds) per day. Because their feces eliminate more water than their food brings in, they usually drink at least once per day.

Proof that vegans are full of sh...

Peter said...


perhaps the problem was that you watched the video a " a bit" and not thoroughly. "The True Human Diet" was a tag put by John McDougall the one who did the interview, not by Nathaniel Dominy, the one who being interviewed.

Anyways, the point was the meat-brain size is just a story, and many people on the field do not take it seriously but instead attribute large brain to other things such as underground storage organs, starch that is. As Dominy put it, humans are not anatomically adapted to eat meat at all.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Title of video:- "Nathaniel Dominy PhD. and the True Human Diet."
Whoever wrote that is a retard.

"...humans are not anatomically adapted to eat meat at all."
Whoever said that is a retard.

See Man the Fat Hunter: The Demise of Homo erectus and the Emergence of a New Hominin Lineage in the Middle Pleistocene (ca. 400 kyr) Levant.

Nance said...

I've always wondered why zoos don't introduce some animal fats and proteins to the diets of some captive pandas to see if that would help their reproductive issues. Just think--every zoo could have some!

Sadly, as a frequent zoo visitor for decades I'd have to say the polar bears I saw were indeed lethargic.

My current opinion is that neither a plant-only or mostly-meat diet works well for my body. 75-80% plants plus high quality animal protein/fats is my best ticket, but I respect whatever works for an individual and I believe there is a significant variety of food mixes that can work fine.

Bog said...


the Tamahura indians just may disagree as rest of the 3/4 of the world that was still primarly on low-fat high starch based diets couple decades ago.

The Tamahura indians known for 200-miles runs are the epitome of thriving. Obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes is unknown to them as it to all people who have kept their cholesterol under 150mg/dl most of their lives.

You need to skip the pseudoscience and get serious.

"The major caloric sources of the Tarahumara diet were corn and beans. These foods contributed about 90% of the total calories. The remainder of the diet was almost completely derived from other vegetable sources. Meat was seldom eaten. The chief animal food product consumed with some regularity was eggs, averaging 2 per week".

The high-quality animal protein is your best ticket to the queue of high risk group for sudden cardiadic death.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Bog, why can't you grasp the fact that humans ate whatever they could get their hands on wherever they happened to live?

"The high-quality animal protein is your best ticket to the queue of high risk group for sudden cardiadic (sic) death."
Your evidence to support this somewhat misspelled statement is what, exactly?

Frank said...

Cooking of food is the most plausible explanation for the growth of our brain, not meat or any other specific food.


How many studies do you see reducing mortality risk in there?

And how many do you see increasing risk?

The idea that animal protein/fat increase mortality and disease risk is not even up to debate, unless you're gonna denial all the science out there saying it's crap.

Also, the Panda is not going extinct because they went vegan, they are going extinct because of human activity.

Any pseudo-reasonning is good to call shit on vegan right...

PS. You really sure seem to get upset at people mispelling.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

1) Correlation =/= Causation
2) Giant Pandas are going extinct despite human intervention.
3) "PS. You really sure seem to get upset at people mispelling."

You really sure seem to get upset at me pointing out people's (including your own) misspelling, har-har!

Are all vegans illiterate, or is it just the ones who leave comments here? ;-p

Frank said...

Nope, i'm a meat-eater, ancient paleo believer, just critical enough and respectful of the science enough to admit that my meat eating is not beneficial to my health.

That old correlation does not equal causation really is getting boring.

The precautionnary principle stipulate that

first, you do no harm. There are evidence of harm from meat eating (regarless of the quality of these evidences - and no evidences of benefits) and no evidence of harm from plant eating (and evidences of benefits), hence, when you do generalation recommandations to the population, you first off do no harm.

Second, you need less quantitative/qualitative evidence when you caution to avoid something that is suspected of being harmful than you need quantitative/qualitative evidence when you recommend the consumption of something that could be beneficial.

Do I really need an RCT to know that smoking is harmful? Am I gonna feel safe from smoking because the science is based mostly on epidemiological studies? This is non-sens. Why do you think epidemilogical studies are still being used today if it's completly useless? They are meant to find trend, and when the trend repeat itself over and over, we're probably onto something, don't you think?

The same could be said about meat.

We have enough direct evidences from RCT on surrogate markers of health (IS, fatty acid profile, inflammatory markers) from the effect of animal fat/protein consumption and enougn indirect evidence from animal studies/observationnal studies to know where the odds are.

Finally, the burden of proof is on the meat-eater to show that eating meat is safe and REDUCE mortality risk and prolonge lifespan, since this is what we are the most intrested in. So far, not so good, in this regard.

Where are your studies showing longer lifespan and less incidence of disease from meat eating, Nigel?

Again, I'm going with the odds. The odds are on plant-based nutrition, minimal animal food consumption.

What evidence do you have that panda are dying because they adopt a vegan lifestyle? The only thing that could be true in this regard is that they cannot have more than one babies because their food does not bring enough energy to supply more than that, but that does not mean that they would go instinct.

PS. Ever though that english is not the first language of everyone on this planet and we don't all master it perfectly? I'm good enough to be speaking 3 languages, I think, I can allow myself a few grammar or vocabulary mistakes.

AgingHippie said...


Will you now remove every post you did that essentially said that a paleo meat based diet was superior to a vegetarian/vegan diet?

Like this one for example

or this one

or this one

I mean if you now think that the traditional paleo diet is wrong why still have posts that say it's the right diet to follow??

AgingHippie said...


"Nope, i'm a meat-eater, ancient paleo believer, just critical enough and respectful of the science enough to admit that my meat eating is not beneficial to my health."

SO -if eating meat is not beneficial to your health WHY DO YOU EAT MEAT???

The Humane Hominid said...

Mr. Matesz,

I cry foul! I blogged about this over a year ago. Shame on you!

Just kidding, of course. But I am glad to see that the ambiguity of taxonomy is not lost on everyone in the "paleo" sphere.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

So Frank, you're a meat-eater who hates himself because of it. Oh, dear! Have you considered therapy?

Quality of life is far more important than quantity, so you can shove your longevity statistics where the sun don't synthesise Vitamin D3.

Burger consumption is also associated with bun & fries consumption. I wonder which of those causes disease? Don't think too hard, Frank. You might break something.

This blog attracts people who display the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Nut-swinging is, by definition, a vegan activity. Anyway, that's enough trolling from me for now. I'll let you "critical-thinkers" slug it out.

P.S. The above post was typed on a teensie-weensie Blackberry keyboard. Because you're worth it.

Frank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank said...


Where did I say that I hate myself?

I'm perfectly fine with eating meat, just like i'm fine with drinking Pepsi and eating cake. I simply enjoy doing these despite the fact that they are not healthy behavior.

What's the point?

Do you have evidence that vegan prolonge lifespan but reduce quality of life? Okinawans were known to be able to work well into their 90'. Does not look like a bad quality of life to me (they were high-carb, mostly vegetarian, eating meat occasionnaly).

Nigel, not all vegan or vegetarian have healthy diet. Some have very unbalanced, processed-foods rich diet. Still, they usually do better in epidemiology, probably because meat is the bigggest offender.

It is also unfair to consider that all meat eater have unhealthy lifestyle. Many people believe that meat is healthy and are physically active, have a quite good diet but are eating meat. Again, there are counfonding factors, but the trend is consistent, and given that we have

1) mechanical evidences from fundamental and animal researchs (we have a biological plausibility)

2) direct evidences in human from RCT on surrogates markers of health

3)indirect evidence in humans from observational researchs

4)we have a long, long (15+ millions) history of omnivorous plant-based diet and all of our closest species are eating omnivorious diet that is mostly coming from plants.

the trend seen in epi is most likely right.

Beside, I'm gonna repeat this point again :

Even a few crappy epidemiological studies are enough to tell someone to avoid something that is suspected to be harmful.

I don't need strong evidence at all when it comes to avoid something that could hurt me, and that its avoidance would not hurt me.

I'm still awaiting for evidence that protein/fat animal consumption reduce incidence risk or mortality.

You know what they say, extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidences. If you're going to go agaisnt the established science, you better have some god damn good evidences to do so.

Thanks for taking consideration and writting back to me on this atrocious blackberry keyboard ;)

Frank said...


I also find it quite funny that you would say I suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

I think i'm asking justified questions here. I don't think i'm coming off as trying to look more intelligent than I am.

I'm asking you a basic question, that you can't seem to be able to answer (and we both know why you can't) :

where are your evidence that eating meat is beneficial to human health in regard to quality and quantity of life, in a modern context that is?

Actually, paleo promoters are most likley suffering from this effect.

After all, i'm going with the mainstream, i'm not the one claiming to be more intelligent than top researchers in nutrition and cardiovascular, cancer, and other diseases research. Not the one claiming that the science is bogus.

So far you have not brought anything substantial in term of evidence in this debate, Nigel.

Jimmy Gee said...


What exactly is your point with the Panda Paradox?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

To be fair, I didn't say that all of the people attracted to this blog display the Dunning-Kruger Effect (otherwise I would be slagging myself off).

You are also arguing a false dichotomy. I agree that eating too much meat is bad. It has also been shown that eating too much rice is bad (increasing the RR for type 2 diabetes). This doesn't mean that eating zero meat is good. Need I mention Denise Minger? Eating a raw vegan diet knackered her health.

Women of reproductive age have better conversion of EPA -> DPA -> DHA than men. Is that why vegan women are so much smarter than vegan men? ;-p

There's also the issue of getting sufficient Vitamins B12 & K2.

Even Michael Greger MD (the vegan MD) recommends that vegans supplement with vegan DHA & B12.

Anyway, pardon me for teasing you.

Frank said...

No problem, Nigel, I'm glad you're still around.

I think we pretty much agree when we argue over nutrition that what we are looking for is the optimal diet for a given individual. So yes, we could ask how much meat is optimal then.

The only good thing to be found in meat are the carninutrients and b12.

So, how much meat should one eat to avoid the increase disease risk, but so that he don't need to supplement with anything? Now, we can't know, this is getting too precise. But again, vegan et vegetarian don't seem to suffer too much from the avoidance of animal products.

I'm not familiar too much with Denise background, else what I heard in the nutrition primitive series. Didn't she started raw good vegan at age 7, by herself, fucked up her health on vegan at the age of 15 or so? Wouldn't you agree that she probably had no idea what she was doing at that age? That she had not the proper information to create a sound vegan diet and this, her lack of ressources, is what is to be blame, and not vegan by itself?

There is also a lot of deficiencies the LC/paleo diet.

As Plant Positive said in the nutrition primitive series, i'd rather use a diet that gives me hundred of beneficial nutrients and lack 2-3, than a diet that lack a lot more and don't bring in much of good.

It still remains that, most of the arguments used in favor of paleo are bogus, and a healthy diet should be based on fruits, vegetables, starchy carbs and be minimal in animal foods and processed food.

So an omnivorous diet which, for the sake of it, could be like 80-90% plants 20-10% animal products.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

I would advise you to read Denise's blog before assuming anything.

As far as I am concerned, our optimum diet is veggies that grow and animals that live in our local area.

Frank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank said...


Actually, the anecdocte of Denise are behind the point.

There's, on the other side, a lot of vegans doing perfectly fine on their respective diet. (and it is still written on her site that she decide to go vegetarian at the age of 7, the way it's written gives the impression that she did it on her own - going vegan or vegetarian asks one to really know what he is doing if he don't want to get into trouble - something I doubt at the age of 7 she knew)

So, if I understand correctly, you say that we should get the bulk of our calories from animal food?

Then i'm gonna ask based on what science?

Because, again, and this is what we are debating since the beggining, the evidences are in favor of the bulk of the calories coming from starch (grains, potatoes, legumes) which have evidence of diseases risk reduction, and not meat, which have evidences of diseases risk increasement.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Are you implying that Denise Minger is stupid?

"So, if I understand correctly, you say that we should get the bulk of our calories from animal food?"
You understand incorrectly.

I wrote:- "As far as I am concerned, our optimum diet is veggies that grow and animals that live in our local area."

This means that the diets of people living in the Amazonian rainforest (for example) are completely different from the diets of people living in the Arctic Circle. Both lots of diets are optimum. Got it?

See also Red Meat and Even Pork is Good for You!? Reduced Weight Gain, Improved Insulin Sensitivity and No Adverse Side Effects from "Red Meat Supplementation" Even in Rodents!

P.S. Watching PlantPositive videos is really bad for the brain. For the sake of your mental faculties, don't do it!

P.P.S. I'm still teasing you.

Frank said...


Not that she is stupid (well, she might be if she really stole Plant Positive material to write her post on Ancel's Key) but that at the age of 7, when you,re still learning basic reading and reasonning still, she probably could not have a proper vegetarian diet that was not hazardeous to her health.


a study in obese rats looking at the effect of an high protein diet on glucose metabolism? Is that really the best evidence you've got?

Do I really need to point out that we are concern about meat consumption in, hopefully, non-obese human regarding the risk of diseases, notably CHD and cancer?

i'm hoping that was some kind of a joke, to tease me.

Yes indeed Nigel, I don't think you should watch the primitive nutrition series,I don't think your brain could handle so much science contradicting your non-science based beliefs.

An appeal to nature, Nigel? Eskimot were eating a diet from their Native place, and they had atrocious health. I don't think this is what should guide our nutritional choice. Modern science should.

Well, you can stop teasin if you want now. I don't think you have very strong evidences to support your stance.

The Humane Hominid said...

"As far as I am concerned, our optimum diet is veggies that grow and animals that live in our local area."

That's a pretty self-contradictory thing to say, really. Given the wide range of habitats humans have successfully exploited, there would have to be no specialized diet... that is, no optimal diet. At all. Ever.

Having local plants and animals be the optimal diet would mean a high degree of trophic specialization, which in turn would restrict the animal's range and potential to exploit new habitats. A localized "optimal" diet would prevent the spread of the species into new niches... unless they evolved out of their local optimal diet.

If everything is optimal, then nothing is.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

You completely missed my point, which is:-

Given the wide range of habitats humans have successfully exploited, there would have to be no specialized diet... that is, no optimal diet. At all. Ever.

Irony never works well in text.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Frank said...
Not that she is stupid (well, she might be if she really stole Plant Positive material to write her post on Ancel's Key) but that at the age of 7, when you,re still learning basic reading and reasonning still, she probably could not have a proper vegetarian diet that was not hazardeous to her health."
Oh, boy. Where do I start? From Denise's blog:-
"Elementary school: Was accepted into the “Highly Capable Program” (HiCap) north of Seattle, which is where my childhood effectively ended.
(On the bright side, I think I learned more critical-thinking skills here than at any other point in my education.)"
You implying that Denise Minger doesn't know what she's doing has a certain irony about it.

"Nigel, a study in obese rats looking at the effect of an high protein diet on glucose metabolism? Is that really the best evidence you've got?"
Your reading comprehension is severely lacking. Is that the best you can do?

"Do I really need to point out that we are concern about meat consumption in, hopefully, non-obese human regarding the risk of diseases, notably CHD and cancer?"
I've already pointed out the association between burger, bun & fries consumption on the SAD. Sadly, you continue to conflate the Paleo diet with the SAD. What was I saying about reading comprehension?

"i'm hoping that was some kind of a joke, to tease me."
Maybe, maybe not. I may be teasing you to find out what you know. I'm sneaky that way!

"Yes indeed Nigel, I don't think you should watch the primitive nutrition series, I don't think your brain could handle so much science contradicting your non-science based beliefs."
If you think that a gazillion boring YouTube videos packed with studies cherry-picked by someone with a glaringly obvious cognitive bias constitutes "science", then God help you (and I'm not even religious).

"An appeal to nature, Nigel? Eskimot were eating a diet from their Native place, and they had atrocious health. I don't think this is what should guide our nutritional choice. Modern science should."
What do you mean by "atrocious health"? Nowadays or traditionally? I *do* hope you're not going to play the longevity card. I'd like to see how long *you* would survive living in the Arctic Circle. You also forget that there are people other than Eskimos living there, e.g the Lapps & the Sami.

"Well, you can stop teasin if you want now. I don't think you have very strong evidences to support your stance."
I'm a nerd. I don't stop. Not now. Not ever. Never!

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Well, not until Don bans me from posting here! ;-D

Nigel Kinbrum said...

P.P.S. When you see blue text, try clicking on it. You may be surprised!

gallier2 said...

Hi Nigel, just FYI the Lapps and the Sami are one and the same. Lapp is the swedish name. They call themselves Sami. You could also have listed Siberian natives that live in similar climates, like the Nenets or the Inkutsch (sp?).
This doesn't change anything on the rightness of everything else you said in your post.

Bog said...


"Nowadays or traditionally?"

Inuits have always had horrible health status. National Geography reported (1987/June) over Inuit fossils found in Fairbanks Alaska. Fossils were about two thousand years old, they showed extensive signs of atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. The fossilized Inuits had died in the their 20's.

I recommend primitivenutrition -serie as well. It provides a free second opinion to all those whackjobs out there who think Dennis Minger is source worth mentioning.

Frank said...


What did I misread in the post that you link too?

Here's the study he's refering to in his post

Long-term high animal protein diet reduces body weight gain and insulin secretion in diet-induced obese rats.

What did I misread? He's using an high-protein diet in obese rat on glucose metabolism study to defend red meat consumption.

From the own blog post you posted

''Still, aside from the lack of blood lipid profiles, blood calcium and phosphorus levels, which as the scientists concede would have been "important [to judge the] safety of the high-protein diet"''

Yes indeed, and I would add that having mortality rate of those rats would have been even more enlighting.

There is evidence of atherosclerosis, and severe osteoporosis in the Eskimos from far back.

C'mon Nigel. Do yourself a favor and open your mind. Leave your ego at the door and just consider the fact that you might be wrong. Then listen to the series objectively, really considering his points. Listen to it as if you were a vegan, or someone that does not have any side on this debate.

Follow his logic and listen to his questions.

Why do you insist so much about Denise story? Who cares? It's behind the point. We're arguing about meat consumption. She does not even eat meat as far as I know, or very rarely. She does not even endorse the diet that you do.
She's much closer to what I recommend that what you are.

Why do you just dismiss Plant Positive work without even listening to his videos, calling him a cherry pickers? That's pretty childish. You don't have any objectivity left in you? You can't even listen to someone who say otherwise and admit that he has some good points?

Here's an interesting study, Nigel.

They corrected for many, many confounder, and they even compare health omnivors (individuals eating a lot of vegetables, not smoking, doing physical activity, but eating meat) to vegetarian, and vegetarian still did better. So much for your SAD confounding factors.

ICG said...

I think this love fest with PlantPositive/primitive nutrition needs to stop. They make some valid points, but are a case study in logical fallacies and propaganda techniques. It starts in the first video, with a pictures of older, fit paleos like Mark Sisson and Kurt Harris and then bodybuilding vegans who are HALF THE AGE of Sisson/Harris. That's just one example. The defense of soy products on another video was downright painful to watch. I'll take Doug Graham or Durianrider over Mr Anonymous Vegbot at "primitive" any day of the week.

Frank said...


and Paleo are free of logical fallacies and propaganda, right?

Why don't you apply the same standard to paleo that you do to the primitive nutrition series?

Good Calories, Bad Calories has to be the book with the most cherry-picked science, mis-interpretation of the science ever written. Yet, people will call him out on the CH hypothesis, but they will readily accept his part of the lipid hypothesis because they have confirmation bias toward meat and animal products consumption.

What about the fact that everyone's in the Paleo world got the Ancel's Key story completly wrong? Don't that speaks volume in regard to their credibility?

Have you even watched the whole series?

There is so many DATA-based evidences agaisnt plaeo and so many logical errors in their reasonning, leaving aside all the science and history they got wrong, it's hard not to think paleo is actually a joke when you're done listening to the video.

I think this guy deserve this attention. His work is huge and it's pretty high quality work. At least this guy is not selling book or/and supplements. He does not even seem to want to be known publicy. He did it for the science.

I've got no side on this story. I'm just trying to make sure to get the best nutrition to avoid dying at a too-early age of nasty diseases. If that mean giving up meat, i'll do it. If I ever realize that meat is good, i'll keep it. But i'm using modern science to make this choice and so far modern science tells me to cut out meat.

Paleo has really became religious.

It is really based on shaky science.

squidey said...


The initial video demonstrates how pointless picture comparisons are when judging a diet. The vegan bodybuilders weren't shown in contradiction to that idea. You missed the point entirely.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"She does not even endorse the diet that you do."
The fact that you cannot grasp this, means that this conversation can serve no purpose any more. Goodbye.

P.S. If you think that I (or anybody else, for that matter) is going to spend hours of my/their life/lives watching 71 videos of biased vegan propaganda, you really *have* completely lost all of your marbles.

P.P.S. Thank you, gallier2. I learn something new every day.

Frank said...
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Frank said...

That conversation never served any purpose since you never brought anything substansial to it.

I kept asking for evidence of benefits from meat consumption since the beggining and the only thing you could find was that rat study.

Your only argument is that epidemiological studies are crap.

And you seem to think the best diet is the one that one can find in his local area. The Eskimos are a living proof that this is false.

You ignored most of the facts that I have presented so far, because, as anyone with superior intelligence will tell you, correlation does not equal causation, so all of the evidence agaisnt meat are innacurate.

Yes, keep finding good reason for ignoring embarrassing facts. 9 hours is so much time in one's life. I work 35h a week, work full time on my master degree, and I still had enough time to listen to the 71 video in 1 week and a half. I really must have lose my mind to be able to do so.

Any reason is good to keep your head in the sand.

I understand, tho, it's never easy to be shown wrong, and especially to admit it.

I don't think you know what propaganda is. Hint: not the same as debunking, that's for sure.

Good luck on your anti-science crusade, Nigel!

ICG said...

Squid: No, I didn't miss the point. I understood the whole quid pro quo thing they were trying to show. It was the PP guy who screwed it up.

squidey said...


How could he screw up a nonexistent comparison? His point is that exercise can create a healthy physique on a variety of diets. As such,'photos of healthy looking people can only take us so far'. Why would he try to bolster veganism with photos of younger subjects in light of this. To do so would undermine his point.

Frank said...


You're completly missing the point

Here's the verbatim from Plant Positive website

"I feel the same about the broscience-inspired promotion of the diet. Some Paleo diet leaders are not shy about showing their bodies. It's doesn’t make sense to base your choice of diet on these good photos alone, though, because people have developed great physiques with contrasting approaches to diet.

For example, here is economist and modern meat-loving caveman Arthur DeVany looking great at around 74 years of age.

But here is Jim Morris at the age of 71. Mr Morris looks phenomenal. However, he is a vegan.

Supplement creator and Primal Blueprint author Mark Sisson and radiologist and Paleo blogger Kurt Harris can both show off the benefits of their good exercise.

But so can Derek Tresize and Marcella Torres. Like Jim Morris, they are committed vegans.

Visit their website and you can see for yourself how far they stray from the imagined Paleolithic diet. Nevertheless, they seem to be doing pretty well.

There are more than a few vegans showing good results eating Paleo's forbidden foods while totally rejecting all the meat the Paleo dieters think is so important. To find the truth about diet, photos of healthy-looking people can only take us so far."

He used these photos only to say that basing your dietary choice based on how the one pushing it look is useless. He's not comparing anything. He just says that there are both healthy looking individual on both diet.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

When nutrition becomes like religion, you know it's time to pack up and move on.

There are over 20,000,000 studies on PubMed. Anybody can "prove" their point by cherry-picking supportive studies from 20,000,000.

Dr Michael Greger (the vegan MD) provided evidence from PubMed that vegans have no overall health benefits compared to vegetarians & omnivores and that, despite having a lower RR for CHD, vegans have twice the RR for degenerative brain diseases (due to a lack of DHA & B12). A lack of K2 is also bad for the brain.

The bolded text says it all. Good luck with your new religion, Frank. You're going to need it.

Frank said...
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Frank said...

I'm well aware of the evidence, I created a thread 2 years ago on imminst about it

You can clearly see that it's been a long time that I'm trying to see if vegan is superior or not to omnivorous diet - using available data.

Funny how you say it's my new religion when I said from the beggining that i'm still and will still be eating meat. What I do and what I know I should do are two different things. It seems i've got enough maturity to separate the two, and don't look for anything that confirm my habits.

Nigel i'm hoping you are not serious and are saying this out of desesperation when you say that

''There are over 20,000,000 studies on PubMed. Anybody can "prove" their point by cherry-picking supportive studies from 20,000,000.''

Science is never defenitive. It's always in grey area. But there are SHADES of grey. There are quantity and quality of evidences. When you look at the evidence as a whole, there is always a trend in one way or another that you can see. Are you implying Nigel that all the modern sciences that are based upon quantitative science methods are useless? You can cherry-pick to prove a point only if you leave aside a big chunk of the evidences on the same subject. You can't do this if you look at everything that is published about it. The trend on the subject at hands is rather obvious. You only chose to ignore the facts.

This is exactly the kind of arguments that pseudo-scientist use to push their BS. Science is never good enough, unless, of course, you need science to make your point. Then science is good enough.

You come off as an irrationnal conspirationist when you make such claims. It's taking any credibility you could have away.

No scientist will ever take someone who makes such claims seriously.

I don't know what you base you're choices on Nigel, but we don't have the same standard it seems when it comes to taking a decision, so we're gonna have to agree that we disagree here.

Sorry If I have ever been rude here. Thanks for the discussion.

ICG said...


"You come off as an irrationnal conspirationist when you make such claims. It's taking any credibility you could have away."

"Conspirationist" isn't a word. There's not even a root word it could be based on. I think you're looking for "conspiracist" or ""conspiratorialist."

I could point out the irony of using that word and "credibility" in the same sentence, but I'll be nice. ;-)

Frank said...
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Frank said...

Yes, keep pointing at my english error to avoid the fact that you have absolutly nothing else to say.

What does my english writting skills have to do with the arguments and the evidences I put forth?

I called out Nigel on his bad arguments. He's losing credibility because his arguments are illogical, at least from a science-based discussion point of view.

You're calling me out on my grammar? Why don't you adress my arguments instead? You know.... shoot at the message, not the messenger...?

Peter said...


have watched primitivenutrition's new response serie. Amazing stuff.

Somehow I feel this video has a high relevance to the discussion at hand.

"Vegan Propaganda"

Henrik said...

My first time on this blog, and I'm usually more of a silent reader, but I feel the need to address some things in this post.
FIrst, to agree with some others here, I would say that even though pandas obviously are able to survive on their diet, the time and energy they're forced to expend on getting the calories they need for survival would hardly put them in the category of 'thriving'. I'm going to attempt some wild evolutionary guessing here, and hypothesize that the ancestral, more carnivorous 'proto-pandas' at some point experienced either a sudden decline in the population of their natural prey, or an increase in competition for said prey by more agile and competent predators. Likely, at that point, being omnivores (like most bears) they had already acquired a taste for bamboo, as just a small component of their diet. With this new situation, not many options were available, but to increase the intake of bamboo to make up for the caloric deficit of prey shortfall. (I picture this happening over the course of a few generations). Once adapted to a diet requiring spending most of their waking time chewing bamboo to get enough calories to survive, it's unlikely that they would have been able to get back into more carnivorous habits, something of an evolutionary dead end. But the lack of natural enemies in their habitat, their relative size, and their tree climbing and swimming abilities enabled them to survive, despite eating a diet that's anything but optimal.

With regards to drawing any conclusions from the panda facts in the article and trying to apply them to humans, it can first be said that it's likely that there would have been a darwinian weeding out of pandas who really did not fare well on the new all-bamboo diet. Leaving only pandas that could live long enough to procreate to do so.
The point of the paleo diet concept is trying to find a diet that is optimal for human health. Obviously we can all get by until far beyond puberty on chips and soft drinks, the health crisis is not one of humans not being able to procreate, we're in fact just a bit too good at that bit (unlike some other animals I can think of) The problem is that we are dying earlier than we need to, because of what we are eating.

When talking about life expectancies in captivity and in the wild, it is never clear whether things like accidents, predation, infections or any number of other things that are more likely to befall an animal in the wild, are to blame for the shorter average life-span of wild animals. It's just like CW proponents citing short hunter-gatherer average life-spans, when all the early child mortality is baked into the cake. Like comparing apples and liver.

I am open however, to the idea of different human populations having evolved to thrive on different macronutrient ratios. Extreme climactic shifts, and changes of habitat would have been evolutionary bottlenecks, effectively weeding out those individuals who could not thrive on the available food sources. If we all start feeding exclusively on soft drinks, chips and fruit jellies now, and stick with it, natural selection will weed out those people who are incapable of subsisting on such a diet within x number of generations. Leaving a more resilient population with excellent glucose metabolism. Can we then rightfully say that the optimal diet of these people is soft drinks, chips and fruit jellies?
Nope... But they'll get by.

ICG said...


I tried to be nice. No need to act like a sulky. Poor grammar is very telling, especially making up words on the spot. I don't want to get into a debate over logic, as I've studied the subject quite a bit and think it would be a mismatch.

I'm not a paleo/primal type, and have no dog in the vegan-paleo fight. However, I know logical fallacies and sophistry techniques when I see them. The small sampling I've seen of Primitive Nutrition had plenty of both. I may take the time to go video through video at some point, but
I'm in no hurry. The vegan camp has better apologists.

Have a nice weekend.

ICG said...

Oops, I forgot to add the noun after sulky. I'll be nice again and skip it.

Frank said...


Yes, perfect video for Nigel & al, but hey, watching a 16 mins video is too damn long, especially from a vegan that disagree with me.


Very telling? How many language do you speak, ICG? I've mastered my French pretty well, being my first language. You would not catch me up doing basic mistake in my own language. My English and Spanish are just fine, althought not perfect, but why would they be since I mostly never use them, other than reading and sometime communicating over the internet?

Please tell me, how does it invalidates my arguments and the studies I cited to have used a word that does not exist in a language that I barely ever use?

I hope you're good enough in logical fallacies to know it would be one to call me out on my logic on the basis of my grammar on a secondary language of mine.

I'd like you to point out the logical fallacies in the primitive nutrition serie, and please, don't make up stuff that is not even true, as you did in regard to the photo that he used. It's easy to find a logical fallacy when you misrepresent someone work.

Well, since no one has nothing of interest to bring to the table in term of evidence in regard of meat consumption and health, i'm done with this.


Frank said...

Btw, really, you don't need to be nice to me. Speak your mind as you wish.

Don said...


Why is a defense of soy products painful for you to watch? Could it be because you have certain beliefs about soy products that are not supported by science?


What makes you say that the wild giant panda diet is not optimal?

I'm not saying it is, or is not, optimal, I just wonder what makes you claim it is not optimal?

Since they have good health on the diet, and in the wild, before having their lifestyle disrupted by human encroachment, they survived for a couple of million years on the diet, it seems good enough to me.

The idea that the bamboo diet is driving pandas to extinction seems peculiar to me, because if the ancient pandas had not adopted a bamboo diet, the pandas probably would have gone extinct long ago. The bamboo diet has kept the pandas from extinction about 3 million years now.

No matter what causes the shorter lifespans of wild animals compared to their captive counterparts, the fact remains that the animals fed the evolutionarily novel diet live longer lives. The point is that the evolutionarily novel diet doesn't shorten lifespan.

I can think of no a priori reason to believe that the ancient ancestral diet of any species would promote greater longevity than an evolutionarily novel diet.

Since as you point out, animals in the wild have lifespans curtailed by a large number of non-dietary factors, and, in the case of humans, reproductive lifespan is shorter than potential lifespan, it seems unlikely that there would have been much opportunity for diet to affect average lifespan in the wild.

It is entirely possible that an evolutionarily novel diet would produce a greater and healthier lifespan than an ancestral diet, just an an evolutionarily novel environment (a zoo, medical care, human interaction, reduced microbial and parasitic populations, etc.) supports a greater and healthier lifespan than an ancestral environment (e.g. the wild forests of China).

Don said...


Nice try.

Don said...

Aging Hippie,

That's a thought.

Henrik said...

Surviving for millions of years on a diet consisting of one of the fastest growing plants in the world, found in abundance in the habitat, combined with the lack of any serious outside threats from other big mammals, doesn't sound like it would be all that much trouble. Pandas don't live in an environment where they have been forced to eat an optimal diet, or die. Many human populations on the other hand, have lived in very unforgiving environments, with plenty of predators and deadly temperatures. It implies a greater selection pressure to truly thrive on the available diets (the more unforgiving the environment, the stronger the selection pressure)

Regarding the evolutionarily novel diet pandas are fed in zoos, there's not a huge difference in terms of the actual nutrients they acquire, except, importantly, that the diet they get in the zoos is more nutritionally dense, allowing them the same, or better, nourishment, without the strain of running 30 kilograms of mostly indigestible matter through the digestive system every day. Sounds to me like that would take a few years off anyone's life (who doesn't have the multiple stomachs and intestinal flora of, for example, ruminants).

That the early bamboo-munching proto-pandas were able survive at least until they were able to procreate, also means that not much evolutionary pressure was put on them to adapt fully to herbivorism, by developing a more advanced gut system and acquiring the gut flora to break down cellulose.
I get the point you want to make about the dubiousness of using words like "ancestral diet", and basing your diet solely on what was purportedly eaten by your ancient ancestors. Perhaps then, "optimal health diet" or (like the Jaminet's) "perfect health diet" are better terms than paleo or primal, in that they allow more flexibility in discovering what sort of diet a human being is most likely to thrive (not just survive) on. Like pandas in captivity, we may be better off with more of some foods than we would have been able to acquire only in small quantities as hunter gatherers in various parts of the world. Finding these foods, and identifying those foods that are NOT optimal for our health is what I consider the most logical aim in developing a good diet/lifestyle.
However, as the success rate of the paleo/primal diet has shown clearly, starting out with looking at what our ancestors would have eaten can be an excellent starting point in identifying the foods we should look into better. But if we let ourselves be limited by the paleo mindset, not to allow foods that could potentially allow us to thrive even more, just because they weren't readily utilized by our early ancestors, we may miss out on some excellent foods. For those of us who have no issues with lactose , I think dairy products likely fall into this category.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Um, de dum, de dum.
The Podcast About What to Do When a Vegan Diet Stops Working…

And stop working it will, given enough time. Sadly, by then, most vegans will have lost the cognitive ability to realise it.

P.S. About those studies "proving" that meat is bad for us:- How many of them were done on people eating a Paleo-style diet i.e. one not containing Neolithic Agents of Disease?

Um, de dum, de dum.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Frank, on more than one occasion, I've shown that you're incapable of having a logical discussion. You keep using the straw man logical fallacy (look it up).

So, if you think that you called me out on bad arguments, dream on. 'Cos you're the one who's living in fantasy-land.

Jon said...

You know, I've heard that meat triggers aggression in certain individuals. Looking at Nigel's posts I would not be surprised if there was indeed a strong physiological effect thereof. ;) I'm just kidding. But on a serious note, when did Don's blog become a place to bully people around like in a playground? This isn't the first grade. So what if Frank's English isn't perfect. Why don't you try writing a comment in French Nigel? I think you will quickly find that expressing yourself adequately in a second language can be quite hard. Why not stick to the point and discuss the science, rather than fill this page up with ad hominem attacks. Surely you are old enough to have a bit of common decency. It is clear that you are not a professional in the scientific community as most scientific authors are out of necessity humble in their presentation of findings and careful to generalize. And certainly do not call others names. I believe Don's post provides just as many questions as answers. He certainly does not make premature statements. He is merely making the point that it is fair to assume that as humans we are more likely to survive and thrive on a primarily plant-based diet than are the pandas who are not well-adapted to eating high-cellulose matter, yet have survived for millions of years.

Jon said...

By the way Nigel, what is your criteria for an ideal existence? Does being the fastest creature make one's respective diet ideal? Humans are certainly not the fastest creatures. Strongest? We are nowhere near as strong as some other creatures. Try wrestling with a gorilla and see how you fair at their game. Is it not possible that these "lethargic" animals are superior to humans in some respect despite their "lethargic" nature? If this were true, how would you judge their lifestyle?

Henrik said...

I agree with you about Nigel's ad hominem attacks and aggressive rhetoric being needless and pointless.
Your arguments are not made any stronger by pointing out grammar and spelling mistakes of your opponent. I'm anal about spelling too, but I try to contain that side of myself when it detracts from the subject at hand.
Jon again:
Gorillas have adapted to a diet of cellulose, by housing bacteria that convert the cellulose to fatty acids. I wouldn't want to wrestle with a gorilla.
If pandas fare better on a diet composed of *ilk* grains, some meat, eggs and fruits, than they do on their regular bamboo feasts, this implies that they have the potential to function better on another diet than the one they are currently living on in the wild. Just the point Don makes. However, to say that they have EVOLVED to eat bamboo is an overstatement. They have just got stuck eating the stuff, because it's the most readily available food, and it can't run away from them. As humans, caring not about the ability of our descendants, far, far down the line to thrive on grains and seed oils, but about our one life on this planet being as enjoyable and disease-free as humanly possible, we might not want to pursue the bamboo path of the pandas, but rather find out what 'zoo diet' makes us live the longest, strongest and healthiest.

Frank said...

Jon, Henrik, Don, Thanks.

Nigel, you're really on another planet.

I perfectly know what a strawman is, hence I know that I have not been doing any of it. Can you show me one, please?

Since the beggining, i've either directly adresse your claims or been asking for evidence of your claims.

A strawman is mis-representing what you are saying, giving the impression that you are arguing about something that you are not, debunking you on this false arguments, and feeling like i've own you. I just can't see where I did this in this conversation.

But, since you're incapable of adressing the point that i've raised since the beggining, and incapable of bringing evidence to the table, I'll leave you with the last word since arguing with you is a total waste of my time.

You're too clever for me Nigel! I'm bowing to your superior intelligence of biased free meat eater, top-notch critical thinker.

Frank said...

Me : We have evidences from mutiple lines of researchs showing that meat is probably bad.

Nigel : Epidemiology is bullshit. Have you seen Denise Minger? You're english sucks. You're stupid for considering what a vegan has to say.

Me : Here are evidences for my stance Nigel. Where are yours?

Nigel : here, a blog post on a rat study.

Me : that's your best evidence, Nigel?

Nigel : Click on the link when you see one!!! btw your enligsh suck!!

Me : lemme repeat, where are your evidence? I've provided plenty and given my rationnal for considering these evidences.

Nigel : You're a biased vegan, you do straw man fallacy, you can't think critically, I win.

Me : ... oh well.

Henrik said...

As far as I know, there is scant evidence from epidemiology which shows a weak link between meat consumption and some diseases. Epidemiology doesn't prove squat. I've yet to see any studies detailing how meat would do us harm on a biological level. Conversely, there is an abundance of evidence showing the dangers of grains, seed oils and other (to use Kurt Harris's phrase) neolithic agents of disease.
When I'm shown a plausible theory of how exactly meat consumption, by itself, causes cancer or heart disease, I'll be all eyes and ears. But as long as all I see is epidemiological correlations, I'll happily keep nourishing my inner predator.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Jon, I don't have the patience I used to. Frank is incapable of holding a logical discussion and incapable of clicking on more than one link in a blog post etc. He exhibits religious zeal where it comes to plantpositive's videos. He can't even see his own blatantly obvious logical fallacies. Sorry for coming across as aggressive.

I think that Don has shot himself in the foot with this blog post. Holding up Giant Pandas as a success story for veganism is ridiculous, hence my first post.

There is no "ideal existence". Humans have always lived where they could and eaten whatever they could get their hands on.

Unfortunately, modern humans mostly get their hands on Crap-In-A-Bag.

Frank said...


Heme iron and it's oxidative damage, advanced glycation end product, the effect of animal protein on IGF-1, arachidonic acids, heterocyclic amine, the effect of cholesterol, saturated fat and some others...

There's plenty of reasons to suspect that the trend seen in epidemiology is valid.

Frank said...

Just want to add : all of which that neagtive effects in regard of diseases are pretty well documented in animal and/or humans.

Peter said...

"When I'm shown a plausible theory of how exactly meat consumption, by itself, causes cancer or heart disease, I'll be all eyes and ears"


this may just be your lucky day:

How eating red meat can spur cancer progression

“Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, led by Ajit Varki, M.D., have shown a new mechanism for how human consumption of red meat and milk products could contribute to the increased risk of cancerous tumors. Their findings, which suggest that inflammation resulting from a molecule introduced through consumption of these foods could promote tumor growth, are published online this week in advance of print publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)”.

Interestingly, vegan men seem to have significantly higher free testosterone circulation as opposed to meat eaters. In addition vegans have significantly lower IGF-1 levels as opposed to meat eaters:

"The significant 9% lower IGF-I concentration among vegan men compared to meat-eaters has not been reported before".

"Chan et al (1998) found that men who subsequently developed prostate cancer had 8% higher serum IGF-I concentrations than men who remained healthy, suggesting that the 9% difference we observed is large enough to significantly alter prostate cancer risk".

"The results did not support the hypothesis that meat-eaters have higher levels of bioavailable androgens than non meat-eaters".

Do these differences simply occur due to better lifestyle, more physical excersise? Hardly. The biggest US study on vegans so far conducted showed that out of all dietary groups vegans have least rates for physical activity. Still, even when weight is controlled, vegans have lower risk for diabetes.

healthy-longevity said...

There are a number of comments from uninformed individuals suggesting that there is no evidence from randomized control trials demonstrating biological plausible mechanisms for an association between meat and nutrients from meat and an increased risk of cancer and heart disease. These individuals have obviously failed to read the epidemiological studies that they attempt to discredit, as these often reference such trials that do demonstrate plausible evidence. It also appears that they do not even have the understanding that the relationship between meat and diseases depends on what food is meat is substituted for, and that the suggestions of an ‘independent effect’ of meat are flawed.
Below is a sample of evidence from randomized control trials that I previously posted on Don’s Harvard Meat Study post.

Heme Iron

Numerous tightly controlled metabolic ward studies with human participants have confirmed that heme iron from meat significantly increases the production of cancerous N-nitroso compounds (NOC) in the digestive tract.

A tightly controlled metabolic ward study with human participants found NOC arising from heme iron in meat forms DNA adducts in the colon, a risk factor for cancer.

Serum Cholesterol

A meta-analysis of 108 randomized controlled trials of various lipid modifying interventions found that lowering LDL cholesterol significantly decreased the risk of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality, whereas modifying HDL provided no benefit after controlling for LDL cholesterol.

A Mendelian randomized control trial with over one million participants found that inheriting polymorphisms that are associated with life-long reduced LDL cholesterol, but not with other known risk factors, predicted a three-fold greater decrease in coronary heart disease per mmol/L lower LDL cholesterol than statins do in mid and late life.

Ornish et al. demonstrated in an intervention trial that lowering LDL was associated with increased telomerase activity, which in turn is associated with longevity.

Dietary Cholesterol

Studies have shown that feeding dietary cholesterol to non-human primates can induce severe atherosclerosis, even when fed in small amounts.

Dietary cholesterol increases the susceptibility of LDL-C to oxidation, vascular inflammation, oxidative stress, and postprandial hyperlipemia and potentiates the harmful effects of saturated fat, impairs endothelial function, and increases cardiovascular events.

gunther gatherer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gunther gatherer said...

Hi Don.

I've been reading ever since you "left" paleo. It was right about the time I was leaving low carb, which resulted in me finally reaching my weight loss goal (and then some).

First, I wanted to say my hat's off to you for your courage to publicly change your mind at the risk of being hated, ridiculed and written off. That takes balls.

But I also wanted to say that, for as much as PrimitiveNutrition wants to claim he is neutral in all this, anyone who creates 70 clips for YouTube trying to debunk paleo or low carb or anything else must have some kind of bias or agenda or he wouldn't be spending so much time and energy trying to change people's minds.

I don't see anywhere that PN is trying to learn or discover or continue his knowledge. There is no discourse or discovery. He just seems to "know". Always a bad sign.

Not that I think paleo folks are without their faults. They are certainly jumping on paleo as a marketing ploy to sell us stuff. And low carb, well, they are simply hawksters to me.

I appreciate PN as someone who I can get a different viewpoint from, but I really doubt he's doing this out of the goodness of his heart. Call me cynical, but has anyone else felt this whole project of his reeks of some agenda to you?

Frank said...

Hi gunther

I don't think no one can be purely neutral. At some point you have to take a stance, and PP is taken the vegan one. Now, does that mean that he is uncapable of making good points and should not be listen to?

I think if we go that way we can be skeptical of anyone then and say that everyone have agenda. Anyone having a blog is actually promoting a stance and should be viewed with skepticism.

Why is making 71 video more compelling than writting over 100+ blog posts on a blog? Why would that make him more likely biased than anyone else? I don't understand this. At least this guy is not selling anything, he does not even want to me known publicy.

When you say that he acts like he ''knows'' everything, well he's coming off like this because all of what he says on his video is always based on some evidence, so yeah, he certainly can make claims since they are backed up. And again, ate some point, you must make specific point if you want your stance to be understood.

What agenda would he have? He has stated numerous time that he is vegan for ethical reason and that is job is not to tell people how they should eat. He just wants to show that Paleo is another fad diet with no evidence behind it, just like all the other low-carb diet.

He just wanted to show how the Paleo philosophy is deeply flawed. It's based on the idea that we still have the same genome that the hunter-gatherer and that we should eat according to this. If you listen to his 5-6 first video, he explain why this is completly irrevelant. Then he just goes one to explain the science on animal protein/fat, cholesterol, different hunter gatherer populations, and why cholesterol is still the most important factor in CHD.

I don't see what agenda that guy would have by just showing us why mainstream nutrition science is most likely right in it's conclusion.

Congrats for leaving LC diet. I really think you should give his videos a shot with an open mind, and listen carrefully to his reasonning. You won't go back.

gunther gatherer said...

Hi Frank.

I would very much like to like PP's reasoning, but this agenda thing really gets in the way for me.

What does it mean to be vegan "for ethical reasons"? Because he doesn't eat animals? Agriculture kills everything it touches: you have to chop down all the trees and destroy animal habitats every time you build a farm. Then you have to sterilize the ground and kill most of the insects and even the bacteria. Vegetables and fruit grown by a farmer are just as drenched in blood as a steak from a slaughterhouse.

And this is just for starters. Agriculture also reroutes water supplies, dries up rivers and lakes, changes entire ecologies and destroys the atmosphere's carbon sink and exposes the topsoil to the sun, which turns it to dust which gets eroded. Then you need to ship in petroleum based chemicals as pesticides and then artifical fertilizers from China, which consume all kinds of fuel just to get there, both of which contribute to greenhouse gases.

All this is enormously destructive for the biosphere. Why is that option more ethical for animals or the environment? Seems to me if you left the trees there and just let the animals live in their homes, you could eat the fruits of the trees and the animals too without disturbing the natural order as we do now with farming.

In short, eating from an agriculturally-based diet is just as murderous and destructive as eating meat.

I want to state clearly that I'm totally against the meat industry and I abhore their treatment of animals. But I don't see just turning to vegetarianism as some kind of easy solution to health or environmental issues.

These videos don't tell the whole story. It's very pat and smug argument I hear from city-raised vegetarians all the time. Drawing the line between what's ethical and unethical at simply animal flesh is pretty ridiculous when you see what goes into making a tomato.

This doesn't mean I'm not interested in PP's argument on health issues. But now there are so many conflicting studies, you can just pick one of many to support your particular bias. That leaves us just as confused as before.

Frank said...

Hi Gunther

What agenda do you feel he is pushing? Again, he said many time he is not there to tell you how so should eat, vegan or not, and his videos are not really pushing a vegan diet.

Again, I think everyone has at some point to take a stance, but that those not mean he is driving an agenda. I think you should listen to this video

''vegan propaganda''

You're right, and I personnaly don't know enough about the subject in regard to if eating grass fed meat is really bad for the environment and if it bad for the animal itself.

Would I ever chose to go vegan or vegetarian, I would not be for environmental concern personnaly, simply health concern.

Now I just want to make clear that i'm not giving up on meat, and actually just found out that there exist a term that describe exactly my eating philosophy of the moment : flexitarian, a plant-based diet with occasionnal meat consumption.

I don't think he repeats the same arguments that you're use to hear from vegan. He's the first one to bring up the fact that everyone has got it wrong in regard to Ancel Key, something that most likely was stolen by Denise Minger for her post on Ancel Key.

His reasonning as for why cholesterol, saturated fat and animal protein should be reduce if not avoid is based upon a critical examination of the evidences and, as for you statement that

''But now there are so many conflicting studies, you can just pick one of many to support your particular bias. That leaves us just as confused as before.''

I'm gonna leave you with one quote from Plant Positive that says

(i'm gonna paraphrase because I can't find it back on his website)

If you're confused, you're exactly where the confutionist want you to be. The thing is that, there is not confution in the nutritional word. All the expert agree on the recommandations, and the evidence are pretty consistent.

And it's damn right. If you really look at it, Gunther, you'll have to admit that meat is usually doing poorly in studies, and plant food usually doing much better. There always will be outlier studies coming to different conclusion. That's how science is. Does not mean that we cannot see a bigger trend going on.

I still thinks he makes a damn good case agaisn't the Paleo ideology, and he had me consider the evidences on regard to saturted fat and cholesterol another way. I can only thanks him for that.

gunther gatherer said...

Hi Frank.

About PP's agenda: I don't know, that was my original question and I was just wondering why anyone would go through all this trouble just to prove something he already thinks is right anyway.

Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

I actually would be happy to ditch my pastured meat if I could find a sustainable and eco-friendly way to eat that gives me all the nutrients I need without having to resort to supplements. I would truly love to eat confidently and with peace of mind, knowing that I'm helping and not hurting the ecosystem with my choices, and all while helping my health.

But my fear is that we're not being mature about what life really is. Maybe we just need to face facts and see that killing animals for food is just as natural as eating plants for food, and it doesn't make you "unethical" to eat meat.

If you watch a plant in time-lapse camera, you see that it moves its leaves and branches along with the sun, sends its roots out searching for moisture, reacts chemically to aggressors and hormones in the air, prepares defenses, sends messages and signals to other plants and, generally, does the same things that animals do. It has purpose and intention.

If we're talking about ethics, then what is a "sentient being" and what is not? Why draw the line at animals, is all I'm saying.

I'd really like PP to focus more on the environmental and ethical arguments. Because if, as he says, humans can survive on anything, then I'd be happy to eat anything and just eat "for the planet", so to speak, as long as my health was maintained on that diet.

Peter said...

Gatherer Gunther,

Last week I bumped to a German study which concluded that if all Germans would eat like German women, less meat, more veggies that is, Germany could free farmland the size of the state Schleswig Holstein to another purposed. This was not about vegan or even vegeterian women, it was about average German women. About 80% of the grains produced in the world is fed directly to animals. Not really sustainable. Less meat, much less grains produced. Simple.

Frank & Gunther,

if you read carefully what Health-longevity said, you'd know that grass fed or factory bred it's all the same in regards to heme iron. We see meat cancer link in places such as Australia where all lifestock is grassfed and Bolivia where the same applies. In Bolivia even antibiotics are banned.

gunther gatherer said...

Hi Peter.

That certainly sounds great, but I'm gonna need a bit more to go on than what a German lady you bumped into said.

As for grass fed vs. factory fed, my choice isn't a health-based one (though it's nice to avoid hormones and antibiotics), but a sustainability/ecological one. Pasturing is a renewable process that preserves the planet's topsoil and returns valuable nutrients and bacteria to the earth, also preserving the grass and shrubery as a carbon sink for greenhouse gases.

It also supports local food producers that don't have to ship their products to me from thousands of miles away, thereby saving more on carbon emissions and petroleum (I live in Normandy).

Last but not least, it's a helluva lot nicer to the animal.

The Humane Hominid said...

Darn right, Plant Positive has an agenda, but it isn't veganism. It's to demonstrate that there really isn't much confusion at all among expert cholesterol researchers. The Paleo/Primal/Low-Carb claim otherwise -- that, as gunther put it, there are so many conflicting studies that someone could just pick the ones that support their bias -- is objectively false. There are actually very few conflicting studies, and most of them have serious experimental design problems. The preponderance of the data supports exactly what PP says it does: that excessive animal fat and protein promotes degenerative disease. For PP to say this is not bias, merely observation.

The whole affair is a little bit like arguing with creationists, IME. Like Paleos, they use confusionist tactics and always retreat to the "no one knows for sure, there are conflicting studies" position when cornered by the facts.

A lot of paleos, like creationists, pretend that scientific consensus is all a matter of ass-kissing, grant-mongering, peer pressure and political influence. That it's arbitrary and opinion-based. But it's not. Preponderance of evidence is what counts in the end, and in the long game, no amount of bias trumps it.

When PP demonstrates that there's no confusion among professional cholesterol researchers, that they all pretty much agree and that their consensus is evidence- rather than opinion-based, he's not making a biased statement. He's making simply stating a fact.

The Humane Hominid said...

As for panda evolution, there's some genetic evidence that their adoption of a bamboo diet results from a mutation that may affect their ability to taste meat. If so, their limited range and small population would likely have amplified this through genetic drift.

Henrik -- I wonder if you've ever considered the possibility that there's no such thing as an optimal diet?

Frank said...

Hi Gunther

I think a plant-based (vegetable, fruits, grains, legume and starchy food - everything paleo say is bad but majority of science say is good) with occasionnal animal products consumption would give every nutrients one need while minimizing the risk of meat consumption and whithout having to supplement. I think it's the best bet. Otherwise if someone really want to minimize all risk related to meat then he should supplements a few thing, obviously b-12 and maybe a bit of DHA

I think drawing the line is complicated and this is not something i've devoted much time of my time to understand. I'll spend some time on this issue soon.

He still brings some point about environment in his video, but it's not the main focus.

Hi Peter

I don't think grass-fed is better health-wise - maybe a bit, but not fundamentally, it will still have the same problems that meat in itself has (AGEs, heme iron, amines, etc etc) I was only saying that it might be better for the environment that factory farms.

The Humane Hominid said...

''The preponderance of the data supports exactly what PP says it does: that excessive animal fat and protein promotes degenerative disease. For PP to say this is not bias, merely observation.''


Henrik said...

Peter and Health-Longevity:
Thanks for your links. I've had a look at a couple of them and will read through the others when there's time.

Anand Srivastava said...

Don: I remember that you had done one article showing that although humans in older times had a low average life expectancy that didn't mean that the actually life expectancy at puberity was less.

Aren't the examples here about Pandas in captivity giving better life expectancy the same. Obviously in captivity vets would be making sure they survive, while in the wild they will die of a lot of things.

Is it really due to the diet or is it just due to medicines?

I am not sure why you have forgotten everything that you said before your conversion. Why do you have to prove your new found belief instead of actually critically examining the evidence from neutral stand point.

I loved your potato and other articles, because they were thought provoking. But these are just making me sad.

You will earn more respect if you can analyze things neutrally. I haven't removed my subscription because I still hope to see something good and thought provoking from you.

Don said...


I didn't say that the captive pandas live longer only because of the novel diet, I said that the novel diet is clearly capable of supporting a longer, healthier life.

The paleo claim is that an evolutionarily novel diet will create diseases and shorten life (e.g. via heart disease). But these pandas live longer and healthier. This evidence argues against the claims 1) that an evolutionarily novel diet is suspect simply because it is novel, and 2) that an 'ancestral' diet is best for health and longevity.

I haven't forgotten what I said before I saw that so much of what I said was simply erroneous. I simply reject what I now know to be error.

Please show me where I am not neutral or critically examining the evidence.

I have done just that in regard to the pandas. I listed a bunch of facts about pandas, including the fact that they live longer, healthier lives in captivity, eating an evolutionarily novel diet and in an evolutionarily novel environment.

The pandas show that an evolutionarily novel diet can work, and perhaps work better, than the 'ancestral' diet.

Please note that with the pandas we are NOT talking about average life expectancy. The numbers I cited are observed life spans. Simply, no wild panda ever lives as long as a captive panda. The evolutionarily novel environment in captivity, which includes evolutionarily novel medicines, human interaction, protection, diet, and more, allows almost every panda in captivity to live longer than the longest lived pandas in the wild.

Similarly, when I defended the life spans of hunter-gatherers, I left out a very important point: We have no evidence of any pre-agricultural humans having healthy life spans equal to those seen in Okinawa (and a few other places). Simply, no stone age or hunter-gatherer people live(d) in health for more than a century.

Thus, we have strong evidence that humans can and do exhibit longer absolute life spans eating evolutionarily novel diets that eating (supposed) ancestral diets.

This simply shows that it is not ncessary, or even desirable, to use 'ancestral' stone age diets as guides to healthful longevity, any more than we should assume that it is healthier to live in a cave (because that's what our genes are 'adapted' to) than in a modern, non-toxic home.

All of this shows that an evolutionarily novel environment, which includes an evolutionarily novel diet, has the potential to produce a longer, healthier lifespan.

Which brings up an interesting observation. Diet is simply part of environment. Paleo thinkers readily admit that many changes in the human environment have improved health, e.g. reduced parasite loads, improved shelter, better medical care, etc.

The positive effects of all these evolutionarily novel changes should show us that there was nothing 'optimum' about stone age lifestyle. Only experiment with modern people can show us what produces the healthiest and longest lives.

Don said...

Why don't we all be 'neutral' about the shape of the earth?

After all, walk out your door, or look out your window, and try to find some evidence in your direct experience that the earth is a sphere. Get out your carpenter's level and see if you can detect the curvature of the earth.

I don't want to be biased towards the view that the earth is a sphere. There's plenty of evidence in favor of a flat earth. If you read the papers of Galileo, he even admitted that, at that time, the bulk of immediate evidence argued against the idea of a spherical earth.

Maybe all those photos of the earth were created by a cabal of scientists who just want to pull the fleece over our eyes. I shouldn't try to prove that the earth is spherical, since that will be evidence that I am biased in favor of the view that the earth is spherical. Instead, to maintain my neutrality, I should say that the evidence for a flat earth is just as convincing as that for a spherical earth.


gunther gatherer said...

Hi Don,

This is about personal health and the future of the planet's resources and all life on it. Those are issues important enough to warrant my skepticism about claims from some guy putting clips on the internet. Mind you, the same treatment applies for LC/paleo gurus on the internet.

It cannot be compared to Galileo proving whether the earth is flat or not. Any bias on that subject does not result in your death from diabetes or the irreversible warming of the planet.

Yes, eventually you have to choose a side on every issue, regardless of how much data may still be pending approval or discovery.

But it's always good to ask "Qui bono?" when you take advice from someone. That's all I'm doing here.

Anand Srivastava said...


I understand that Panda's are a very curious creatures as they subsist on something that does not seem to be their primary diet. I would think that something happened to their diet and they were not able to adapt. It does feel against the principles of evolution.

Still the Wiki page says that in wild they live typically 20 years while in captivity live to 30 years. The numbers do not seem very far apart, when considering that most pandas in the wild will die of diseases and being hunted.

What about the health of Pandas in captivity? I didn't see anything regarding that. The curiosity of their digestive system may mean that their diet in the wild is not optimal, and the zoo diet is better.

Still the same thing does not apply to humans, because humans have a very adaptable diet. I don't understand why you say that Okinawans have a evolutionarily novel diet. I would think it is a perfectly healthy evolutionarily appropriate diet. I don't believe in Cordain's version of Paleo diet, but think that Rice is perfectly good food.

Also Kitavans are known to live upto 100 years, without medicines. So Okinawans with access to technology and a healthy diet should do better.

healthy-longevity said...


It was estimated that the Kitavan's actually consume 95% of energy from plant foods. If this culture is truly healthy as is claimed, this provides evidence of the benefits of a plant-based diet, not the typical meat rich ancestral diet that many fad authors promote. Although it has been observed that some Kitavan's may live to 100, the ratio of centenarians is significantly lower than in Okinawans. Also, traditionally the Okinawan primary staple was the sweet potato, not rice.

The Humane Hominid said...

Those are issues important enough to warrant my skepticism about claims from some guy putting clips on the internet.

Yet, all that "guy putting clips on the Internet" has done in those clips is (to borrow an analogy) explained to you what Galileo did and did not prove. Again, his health claims are not controversial, and his observation that there actually aren't hundreds of conflicting studies and that this isn't a bit mystery is simply that: an observation.

The Humane Hominid said...

Anand wrote: I understand that Panda's are a very curious creatures as they subsist on something that does not seem to be their primary diet. I would think that something happened to their diet and they were not able to adapt. It does feel against the principles of evolution.

On the contrary. If they hadn't adapted, they'd have gone extinct. The only thing at odds with "the principles of evolution" is the belief that there is any such thing as an "optimal" diet.

Blindweb said...

"Apparently, a panda can live much longer when eating an evolutionarily novel diet including steamed grains than when eating only the raw foods eaten by its wild ancestors."

Well, duh. Forage my food for me burning massive fossil-fuel-calories, break it down to an easy to digest form using heat, protect me from all predators....I would thrive on any garbage you gave me.

Give me a calorie expendature count for the food in the zoo compared to the amount expended by pandas in the wild. Without that, this whole conversation has wasted my time. The first time poster, like myself, Henrik seems to be the only one on the right track.

On a similar note; Inuits live in the artic. I'm not sure how anyone can draw any conclusions from their life expentancy

Blindweb said...

It also perplexes me how people can think consuming crops that grow on marginal land, like soy and corn, should make up any substantial part of your calorie intake.

The Humane Hominid said...

Well, duh. Forage my food for me burning massive fossil-fuel-calories, break it down to an easy to digest form using heat, protect me from all predators....I would thrive on any garbage you gave me.

Hence, there was no selection pressure for a specific diet, even before all that.

Mario Vachon said...

Go to's site for a lot of a rebuttal on much of the nonsense Plant Positive puts out as "science". Anthony is extremely abrasive but he knows his stuff one heckuva lot better than PlantPositive. So do Denise Minger, Chris Masterjohn, Kurt Harris....

el66k said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
el66k said...

"vegetable, fruits, grains, legume and starchy food - everything paleo say is bad but majority of science say is good"

Everything paleo says is bad? Some authors say that, but not all. Legumes may be often considered "sub-optimal", and also many grains, but I think there has been a big movement to accept (and celebrate) starches. Many have done so from long ago.

That paleo says that vegetables are bad? You are talking as if there was one big "PALEO®" and everyone affiliated had the exact same thoughts. That is far from the truth. Also, in fact, I believe most respected paleo authors consider vegetables very important or necessary to health. Some (in the fringe) advocate very low or zero carb diets, but then there are vegan "authorities" who do just the opposite (30 bananas a day). Don't make such generalizations without evidence and without having an idea of what really is going on in the "paleo movement", please.

I think many important figures in the movement would think a diet close to yours (very high in plant foods with a few, but nutritious, animal foods) is perfectly fine. I'm talking about people like Stephan Guyenet, Kurt Harris, Staffan Lindeberg, etc.

The Humane Hominid said...

Go to's site for a lot of a rebuttal on much of the nonsense Plant Positive puts out as "science". Anthony is extremely abrasive but he knows his stuff one heckuva lot better than PlantPositive. So do Denise Minger, Chris Masterjohn, Kurt Harris....

And when you're done with that, check out Plant Positive's rebuttal videos, and see that Colpo hasn't the foggiest notion what he's talking about. And the jury is still out on whether Minger is being deliberately deceitful or simply doesn't know any better...

Mario Vachon said...

And when you're done with that, check out Plant Positive's rebuttal videos, and see that Colpo hasn't the foggiest notion what he's talking about. And the jury is still out on whether Minger is being deliberately deceitful or simply doesn't know any better...

Anthony just posted his rebuttal of Plant Positive's video in a very long post two days ago. He tore your boy a new one big time. As far as Denise is concerned, her work on the China study was absolutely terrific, and the no one, including T. Colin Campbell and your boy have been able to poke any holes in it. Nothing more than appeal to authority and ad hominen attacks. No one has been able to refute what she has pulled out of the data.

el66k said...

"And the jury is still out on whether Minger is being deliberately deceitful or simply doesn't know any better..."

That's quite the statement when PP wasn't even able to critique her analysis of the China study...

“I don’t have the expertise nor the interest to properly fact-check her analysis of it “(minute 2:10 on video 62).

Bog said...


PP did about 11 videos of Colpo. Colpo responded to one of the videos. Yet he ciritized PP for not covering every single sentence he put up in his first post. He cannot really use time and effort as a scapegoat since 3/4 of his post was plain garbage, violent exuding rant.

About Minger. Incase her analysis was anything more than sillyness, it would have published in scientific journal. Hey, even Colpo managed to find a journal which was willing publish his piece of garbage. I know a Swedish blogger who concluded that Minger could barely pass elementary school maths. He did an analysis of his own of the data and came to the same result than Campbell. Blogger against a blogger.

Bog said...

Perhaps Minger could "debunk" these as well. Campbell has never shown anything unique in his studies. It's just plain mainstream.

Comparative epidemiology of cancers of the colon, rectum, prostate and breast in Shanghai, China versus the United States.

“Environmental factors such as dietary fat apparently had a more gradual effect in promoting cancers of the breast and prostate relative to their influence on neoplasms of the lower intestinal tract”

A prospective study of dietary patterns and mortality in Chinese women.

“In general, a fruit-rich diet was related to lower mortality, whereas a meat-rich diet appeared to increase the probability of death”.

Dietary animal-derived iron and fat intake and breast cancer risk in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study.

“A high intake of animal-derived (heme) iron may be associated with an increased risk of primary breast cancer in Chinese women, and saturated and mono-unsaturated fats that are also derived from animal sources may augment this effect. Combined reductions in animal-derived iron and fat consumption have the potential to reduce breast cancer risk”

Relationship of carotid intima-media thickness and duration of vegetarian diet in Chinese male vegetarians.

“A decrease in multiple cardiovascular risk factors such as BMI, blood pressure and lipid profile was associated with vegetarian diet. Moreover, taking a low-calorie, low-protein, or vegetarian diet might have great beneficial effects on IMT through improved lipid profile, and the beneficial effects appeared to be correlated with the duration of vegetarian diet”.

Animal food intake and cooking methods in relation to endometrial cancer risk in Shanghai

"Our study suggests that animal food consumption may play an important role in the aetiology of endometrial cancer, but cooking methods have minimal influence on risk among Chinese women"

Mario Vachon said...


Did you read the entirety of Colpo's post re PP. If you did, I think you can more than understand that what he posted is more than enough. Just that one took up about a dozen pages and absolutely shredded PP alive. I think anymore would have been superfluous.

As far as Minger is concerned, why don't you go read her entire critique. Its beautifully done. Trust me, if you or any other vegan could debunk it, it would have been done by now. Campbell could do no better than appeal to authority which is pretty damn lame. Same thing that you are doing, which is equally lame.

All you are doing is repeating platitudes that don't hold water. It gets boring real fast.

Don said...

Mario Vachon,

Colpo did not 'shred' Plant Positive. He ranted and raved and name-called and made a bunch of mistakes in interpretation of the science he cited.

You might want to watch Primitve Nutrition's response to Colpo.

It starts with this:

Nor did Minger discredit Campbell's work.

Like others, you have an incorrect understanding of the fallacy of appeal to authority. Actually, it is often called appeal to false authority.

If you read that you might find out who is using the fallacy of appeal to authority. Hint: It isn't Campbell.

Campbell is a scientist with more than 50 years of experience in his field. He has published dozens of peer-reviewed reports of his research. Peer-review means that people who are experts in his field reviewed his work and found it sound.

So here is what you are saying: All of those highly trained experts in nutrition and epidemiology who reviewed Campbell's work and approved it for publication in scientific journals were unable to detect the errors in Campbell's work, but someone with no formal training in epidemiology, statistical analysis, or advanced research in nutrition was able to completely discredit his work.

Do you really believe that?

Further, Campbell did not only appeal to authority in his response to Minger. As politely as possible, he actually pointed out that she simply does not know how to properly analyze the data.

You seem not to know that the China Study was a joint effort of Cornell (Campbell), China, and Oxford University. The primary contributor from Oxford was Sir Richard Peto, PhD, Professor of Medical Statistics & Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, who "was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London (for the introduction of meta-analyses) in 1989, and was knighted (for services to epidemiology and to cancer prevention) in 1999."

Peto oversaw the statistical analysis of the China study data, not Campbell, then it was peer-reviewed for publication. So far, as Bog noted, the data is consistent with the bulk of data coming out of China.

Don said...

Here's a link to a bio of Peto:

Ask yourself: If Minger is so skilled in statistical analysis of medical epidemiological data, why is she teaching English at a secondary school and not a professor of medical statistics or epidemiology at a university?

She can achieve that without formal education by producing something that passes peer-review by experts in medical statistics or epidemiology. Until such happens, I will consider her less authoritative than people like Peto, Hu, or Willet.

Don said...

I wrote: "Further, Campbell did not only appeal to authority in his response to Minger. As politely as possible, he actually pointed out that she simply does not know how to properly analyze the data."

To clarify, Campbell didn't make any fallacious appeal to authority at all.

The Humane Hominid said...

Hilarious. If that's the best Colpo can do, then Plant Positive has nothing to worry about.

Thanks for the laugh, though.

Mario Vachon said...

Don.... That's a big pile of dung. Don't tell me she's young and without a plethora of letters behind her name. That's lazy and lame. Read her analysis of the study and enlighten us all on where she erred. Similarly, tell me where Chris Masterjohn erred in his debunking of other parts of the China Study. You can't. I have more letters than you can shake at behind my name (BA,LlB,MBA) from prestigious universities and "credentials" on their own never impresses me. Sound arguments impress me. I've looked at Denise's arguments, Campbells very poor attempt at a rebuttal and PP's equally poor attempt at criticizing Denise's work. The arguments support her analysis and Masterjohn's analysis.

Colo is loud and aggressive but he's also right. It's too bad you are too blind to see it.

Anyways, this is probably it for me on this topic. I can tell I'm wasting my breath trying to convince you that you are wrong and I'm also sure based on what i've read here that there is no way you are capable of making an argument that will convince me that I am wrong.

The ironic part to me is that healthy omnivores and vegans have more in common than most realize and that the real enemy is the standard American diet which is comprised of a bunch of manufactured crap and very little real food.

Personally, I almost never eat anything but "real food". I eat some meat, vegetables, eggs, fruits, nuts, berries, some aged cheeses... As an exercise fiend, I rely on tubers for a large amount of calories since I don't eat flour or sugar. I'm 53 and in incredible condition for my age. I am absolutely certain that the animal products I consume aid my health - not detract from it.

We have a common enemy in the food companies that produce processed crappie and big pharma which paddles billions in pills we wouldn't need if people didn't eat crappie to begin with.

Real food is what the vast majority of people lack.

Bog said...

"The ironic part to me is that healthy omnivores and vegans have more in common than most realize and that...."

We don't have anything in common. You'll end up taking statins whereas I do not. Big pharma is your best friend.

“….Only pure vegetarians for practical purposes do not need statins, most of the rest of us do”

“Evaluating lipid-lowering trials in the twenty-first century”.

Mario Vachon said...

Bog.. You're right. We have little in common. You're a moron and I'm not. 53 and healthier than a horse. No meds and can still race a half marathon in under 1:50 AND bench 225 for 5-6 reps. Absolutely zero medical issues as is so often the case with people who stick to eating real food. You just have your head stuck so far up your butt you don't realize the culprit is processed crap that passes as food because Nabisco, Kraft, or Nestlé say it's food.

Anonymous said...


Nobody needs statins. Even those that think they do....don't.

Eva said...

You can't use live span as an indicator of health of food intake unless you control for other factors. Pandas in the zoo have medical treatment, are protected from predators, never run short of food, never freeze to death, etc. Besides, if you argue that pandas in the wild are actually STILL not really well designed for bamboo eating, even after all these years, then it explains why they do well on other foods. Most animals that are well adapted to their niche do better on their native foods. Pandas are an exception in many ways, but are also a creature that does not breed well and could easily go extinct without human help. They are not really well adapted to any niche other than as a cute zoo animal.

Also, like cats, humans do too have a protein amino acid taste bud. It's called umami. We can taste amino acids and we like them a lot too! CHeck out the wiki:

Also, other carnivores do too have a fear response. Lions can be scared by approaching humans and so can other carnivores. There are no carnivores that never feel fear, only dumb ones that are soon weeded out of the gene pool, because even big bad carnivores can still get killed, sometimes by other big bad carnivores. And some carnivores are small, like ferrets.

There are a lot of holes in a lot of the arguments on that post. I don't have time to list them all.

However, I do agree that the argument by some paleo eaters that there has been NO evolution since the paleo is likely totally wrong and in fact, many paleo eaters are backing of such extreme claims already. Clearly, some evolution always happens all the time. But human diet change has gone faster than evolution can keep up with in many cases and much of our current diet lack nutrients other than those sprayed on by manufacturers.

Anonymous said...

The back and forth between Colpo, Paleo, Primal, and everything in between is ridiculous.

In the end, in TODAY'S world, we see people thriving on all sorts of diets. Health can not be comprised of nutrition alone. Lifestyle and sociological health concerns are also a BIG part of the picture.

At some point, people need to leave the comfort zone of their chosen nutrition camp and open their minds, whether you're a vegan, raw food, paleo, primal, or whatever camp you hang out in.

No matter what you think of Don, at least he is offering a counter view point. Without it, it's a zombie land.

Johan Lindén said...

Interesting blog and post!

However... :)

Where the age of the wild pandas that were compared a mean?

A lot of wild animals day young for other reasons than food, so one should use the mode instead of the mean to compare ages.

Also, let us say that the panda didn't have to adopt during the last million years for their new bamboo food. I mean the food of pandas hasn't changed so much after that. With humans it's a whole different thing. Our food today is so much different compared to 40 years ago. Not to speak of 200 years ago when there were little refined products.

So I'm not sure of humans are as lucky as pandas to adopt for this totally new food for mostly eating.

Another fact is that most people that are on paleo seem to feel much better. That might just be depending on survivorship bias, but maybe not.

Keep up this good blog!