Saturday, May 1, 2021

The War on Meat

While it turns out that the widely reported story that the latest Biden "infrastructure" bill had provisions to limit beef consumption to a few ounces a month was a fake news story tracked to the UK Daily Mail, that's a minor distraction.  There really is an all out war on eating meat, especially beef, which is grounded in nothing but pseudoscience and propagated rumor.  It has been going on for years and if you're like most people, you've probably have heard some of the arguments so long you tend to think they're true. 

We've covered some of this sort of stuff here.  Junk science is a pet peeve of mine and you'll hardly find an area of science more filled with junk than diet recommendations.  I'll link to this piece because it carries a great table of spurious correlations of the kind that show up in what I've called "he-who" studies:  "he who eats (or does) X is more likely to get Y;" that sort of thing.  There's a great deal of desire on the part of many people to know what they should eat.  Simply saying, "eat what your grandparents ate, not industrial foods" which is honestly as a good a recommendation as anything, doesn't get accepted well.  The alternative, real, randomized controlled experiments that would last for decades, is prohibitively expensive, hard to do, and nobody wants to wait.  As we noted while going through my wife's cancer 24 years ago, it takes five years to get five year survival data; extrapolate that to it takes a lifetime to get life extension data. 

The rest of the world does appear to want to institute a carbon tax on meat because of grossly exaggerated figures on the amount of impact animal farming has on methane production.  First off, the methane from cows is 1.8% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US.  Second off, methane doesn't come from cattle farts, it comes from cattle burps.  I realize that might be a minor distinction, but the EPA, those high priests of junk science, jumped on the "regulate cattle farts" bandwagon under Obama.  The UN claims cattle create 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions - more than comes from transportation - but they're lumping in all livestock, not just cattle, to include poultry, lamb and all sources of meat.  They're also including the effects of animal feed production, feed harvesting, feeding the animals, the farm vehicles that tend to these animals and everything up to the emissions from the slaughterhouse.  A third of that 18% is blamed on deforestation specifically in Brazil.

Both of those summaries are dishonest.  First, it's not fair to blame methane production in chicken farming on cattle farming, and it's unfair to include everything that the goes into food production to just the tailpipe emissions of vehicles rather than the equivalent entire life cycle associated with transportation.  Second, the part about deforestation is dishonest for two reasons; the easiest being that there's no equivalent deforestation in the US, or in other parts of the world.  In the US the story is reforestation.  We have more trees today than a hundred years ago.  The other reason is that not all grassland could be forest and not all forest can convert to grasslands.  There is some relation between the two, but it's not simple subtraction.  Simply, much of the planet can't be dense forest and can only be grassland. 

Chances are, you've heard until you're subconsciously convinced that low fat foods are healthier.  That data was always suspect, but that cynical observation applies that says old science theories don't go away because the weight of evidence pushes them aside; they go away because old scientists who support them die off.  Since about 2000 there have been many good quality meta-analyses of all the studies that have been done before and concluded the evidence is just too weak to matter.  The diet-heart hypothesis that lifetimes of eating fatty foods and having elevated cholesterol levels led to heart attacks has had conflicting data, like that in older adults higher LDL is associated with longer life, long enough for studies to have essentially concluded the diet-heart hypothesis is dead. 

What about vegetarianism?  It's another belief that has far more faith behind it than evidence.  Seven years ago, I ran a review on a book I'd read by health writer Denise Minger, called "Death by Food Pyramid."  Denise was a 17 year old who had thought she should become a raw food vegan but was unaware of the constant effort required to not destroy her health.  Vitamin B12, for example, just doesn't come in plant matter, at least not to any level that eliminates the need for supplementation.  In Denise's case, she simply needed 17 teeth fixed.  At 17, she went to the dentist and after way too many disconcerting "hmm" sounds, heavy sighs, and pokes with pointy metal objects, found she needed to have 17 teeth worked on - coming from never having had dental problems before she became a vegetarian.  In the space of one year. 

In all of these struggles over diet, we have the same conflicts of interest of special interests that we've had with the Covid fiasco.  Everyone pushes to get their favorite industries pushed by the USDA Dietary Guidelines.  The vegetarian movement is largely pushed by the Seventh Day Adventist church, and some influential doctors they've won over to their side, like Dean Ornish, a diet book author and M.D., and Walter Willet, the very influential head of Harvard's School of Public Health.  The lowfat crowd is pushed by the grain and cereal industry.  The push to get people to eat less meat and saturated fat is pushed by the vegetable seed oil industry, which may well be the absolutely worst things in our processed foods. 

Someone who has spent the last several years fighting to get the USDA Dietary Guidelines fixed is Nina Teicholz, who went from being a low-fat, vegetarian food writer to an omnivore heading the Nutrition Coalition, an organization trying to get the dietary guidelines to more honestly assess science that has been pouring in within the last 20 years.  This an hour long, but very worthwhile talk on many of these topics. 

At the risk of overstating the obvious, If a Government Committee Recommends Something, Do The Opposite, as I said here.  If they tell you to limit red meat, maybe you should eat more of it.


  1. Has nothing to do with science or facts. It's about the ONLY thing those in power care about....POWER. Making us wear masks when mask wearing is next to useless....power. Making guns illegal when doing so will in no way diminish crime....power. Making us eat what they want us to eat.....AGAIN!'s about POWER. Power does not corrupt....but it DOES draw those who are easily and quickly corrupted. And once they attain power these people lust for more and more. Power is the most addictive thing on the planet.

  2. What Dan said. Power and Control. And the die-off of huge portions of the human population. That's what THEY are pushing.

    As to non-meat, well, I've got a problem with that. Like, I have an actual physical problem with that. I can eat all the beans and other vegetable proteins and my body treats all of that as filler, roughage, mass and not as real food. I can only process proteins as found in meat, lovely murder meat, tasty murder death meat.. mmmmmm..... baaaconnnnnn.... Sorry, got sidetracked.

    And I am not the only one. It's actually a reasonably common occurrence that some people can't process non-meat proteins.

    To top it off, my cholesterol dropped when I started using bacon grease and lard for doing a lot of cooking, rather than olive oil or rape-seed oil or Crisco. Funny that, see meat-protein thingy above.

    The 'food pyramid' was, is and will be a scam, foisted off on the public for many of the same reasons for daylight savings time. Translation: Fake facts to push control on the public.

    I used to make fun of people who didn't believe the government... until I became one.

    As to land use... If you drive north of Alachua towards Lake City on I-75, or from LC towards ALA, you will pass by a once very productive beef ranch and farm that is now highly productive land covered by... solar panels. Okay, I'll allow you to play with your solar fetish if and only if you don't cover land so productive you barely have to do anything to it in order to grow or raise livestock on it. Quit destroying our world in the name of 'Gaia' or 'Earth Religion' or whatever.

    (seriously, solar panels? put them on buildings or over parking lots, now that would be a useful thing, shaded parking spaces that are shaded by solar panels but, no... have to use perfectly good farm land or ranch land... I mean, could you imagine a roof over much of the interstate system covered by solar panels? Now that would be nice, shed water, little to no rain, makes more sense than using perfectly good farm land doesn't it?)

    1. And I am not the only one. It's actually a reasonably common occurrence that some people can't process non-meat proteins.

      Personally, I don't seem to have that problem, but because I follow a ketogenic diet and stay on top of current ideas, I know of the carnivore movement and people who have cured persistent health problems they've had for most of their lives by giving up plants. Some of these are working scientists and M.D.s. Dr. Georgia Ede, Amber O'Hearn, Dr. Paul Saladino, Dr. Shawn Baker, Jordan Peterson... I could go on, but just say there are many more.

      Most of them say to consider it an elimination diet for relatively short terms to find what was making you sick, but others eat nothing but meat and animal products. I have days like that, but not weeks or more.

      The response of HDL going up is probably due to the lard. Pigs and chickens are lacking a "superpower" that cattle have; they can't convert Polyunsaturated fats to saturated. Pigs and chickens are fed those crappy seed oils (soy oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, and others) because of the guidelines of reducing saturated fat in our diets. That makes us get those omega-6 fats from the pork and chicken. Saturated fat raises HDL. If HDL is truly "good cholesterol" and protective, why should raising it be bad?

  3. Time to get cattle.

    For me. Mmmmm, steaks.