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Welcome to my Forks Over Knives analysis, AKA the longest movie review youll ever attempt
to read. Thanks for stopping by! In case you arent yet convinced that Ive made it my lifes
mission to critique everything related to T. Colin Campbell, this should seal the deal.

As most of you probably know, a documentary called Forks Over Knives recently hit the
theaters after months of private screenings. Vegans everywhere are swooning, giddy that their
message is now animated, narrated, and on sale for $14.99. Proud meat-eaters are less
enthused,sometimes hilariously so. The films producers call it a movie that examines the
profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be
controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed
foods. Roger Ebert calls it a movie that could save your life. I call it a movie that deftly blends
fact and fiction, and has lots of pictures of vegetables.
Vilification of animal products aside, Forks Over Knives highlights something I strongly believe
inthe power of diet and lifestyle to trump illness. When I first heard about this movie, I
thought the title described a salad fork conquering a steak knife, but it turns out the imagery
actually refers to diet (fork) and medicine (knife, or scalpel). Forks over knives. Food over
medicine. Hey, I can get on board with that!

And along those lines, I have a weird confession. I kind of loved this movie. Not because of
its scientific accuracy (which was sketchy) or because of its riveting narrative (its no Brave Little
Toaster), but because Im a sap when it comes to seeing sick people get healthy. Forks Over
Knives had no shortage of personal stories from folks who, with a tearful glimmer in their eye,
recounted how they evaded death by ditching their pill-popping, fast-food-noshing, insulin-
injecting lifestyles. Toss in some animated graphs and gross surgery pictures, and Im in 96
minutes of nerd heaven.

But theres a reason Im a health blogger and not a film critic, and I realize not everyone likes to
see coronary arteries slashed open or a hear slew of personal stories intended to pluck at our
heartstrings. So this wont be your standard movie review. In fact, it isnt a review so much as
a chronological critique of the scientific claims made throughout the movie. My criticisms are
limited to the stuff presented as evidence rather than those weepy personal stories, the filming
quality, or other features Ive got no talent in reviewing.

Why am I doing this? Am I evil?

For the record, Im not dissecting this movie because I think everything in it is terrible. Quite
the opposite, in fact. I believe the plant-based diet doctors got a lot of things right, and a diet
of whole, unprocessed plant foods (i.e., Real Food) can bring tremendous health improvements
for people who were formerly eating a low-nutrient, high-crap diet. Especially short term. But I
also believe this type of diet achieves some of its success by accident, and that the perks of
eliminating processed junk are inaccurately attributed to eliminating all animal foods. So the
goal of this critique is to shed light on the areas where the plant-based science is a little, um,

Some other observations about the movie, both positive and negative, before we dive into
thereal critique:

Word choice. This film was very careful about avoiding the term vegan and using
plant-based diet insteadand frankly, it was a smart move. Even though the movie
made it clear that no animal foods are good for you ever, the phrase plant-based diet
sounds flexible, non-dogmatic, and limited to the realm of edible things. Vegan, on
the other hand, is loaded with ethical and political connotationsevoking images of
pamphlet-pushing PETA members, rubbery soy cheese, and Walter Bond.

Youre good men, Charlie Browns. Ive written (and spoken) about the plant-based diet
doctor squad in the pastour enthusiastic Team Asparagus comprised of Dean Ornish,
John McDougall, Neal Barnard, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Joel Fuhrman (although hes a bit
of a rebel, eschewing grains and allowing more fat than the rest). In this movie,
Esselstyn and McDougall get plenty of camera time, and Ive got to say, I really like
these guys. No joke. Theyre sincere, theyre well-intentioned, and theyre passionate
about what they do. The world needs more doctors who want their patients to
get off their medication, who prescribe food instead of drugs, and who have a sincere
interest in changing lives. Way to go, dudes.

Hey, fatty. A major component of Esselstyns heart-disease-reversal diet is the massive

reduction in fatnot just from animal sources, but also the elimination of nuts, seeds,
avocado, olives, olive oil, canola oil, coconut, and any other forms of concentrated plant
fat. Unless I dozed off for something important, this movie barely mentioned this part of
Esselstyns program, which I think is critical one. By keeping fat under 10% of total
calories (which we also see in the disease-fighting programs of McDougall, Ornish,
Pritikin, and Barnard), omega-6 intakeparticularly the problematic linoleic acidsinks
like a gondola shot with a machine gun. Although these plant-based-diet doctors have
a different view of fat than I do (Esselstyn, for instance, believes that any dietary fat
damages the endothelial cells and promotes heart disease), it still wouldve been useful
to hear about this in the movie, if only for the sake of full disclosure. I almost wonder if
the movies creators dodged the uber low fat message to avoid freaking out the
audience. What? We cant even put olive oil on that ten-pound salad?!

Go fish. As well see later in this critique, some of the anecdotes used to support a
plant-based diet (such as Norways war-time cuisine and the traditional Japanese diet)
actually point to marine foods being a great addition to your menu. For some reason, no
one in the movie says a gosh darn thing about fish. Are they lumping fish into the same
meat category as Oscar Mayer Weiners? Have they forgotten that fish exists in the food
supply? Are they ignoring the health benefits of marine foods that nearly everyone
even the folks who swear on their mommas grave that red meat will kill youagrees
on? Whats going on here? I sure dont know, but it seems awfully fishy. (You totally
saw that coming.)

Welcome to False Dichotomyvillepopulation: you. According to this movie, plant-

based diet and Standard American diet are the only two ways you can possibly eat,
and an egg is exactly the same as a bag of Cheetos. A recent pingback led me to
this review at (its not what you think), which nicely sums up the
movies flip-flopping description of Americas cuisine: the definition of the Western diet
changes suddenly, one second referring to cake and donuts and the next [to] animal
products. Animal foods, it seems, are synonymous with the Western diet, and meat
exists only in industrialized countries. Non-Westernized populations like the Masai,
traditional Inuit, Australian aborigines, and countless hunter-gatherers have
conveniently vanished for the duration of this movie. It must be awesome to selectively
choose reality like that!

Fast forward. For me, the most interesting part of this movie happened around the 30
minute mark. First, the film discusses a 1973 corn subsidy bill that encouraged a
massive increase in corn productionwhich pretty much explains why so many foods
these days are injected full of high-fructose corn syrup or other cheap, corn-based
ingredients. Its all about the money. Shortly after that, the movie gives some camera
time to evolutionary psychologist Dr. Doug Lisle, who tells us about a concept called the
Pleasure Trapa motivational triad of seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and conserving
energy that all our years of evolution have hardwired us for. Because our modern,
processed foods are so rich in calories and easy to access, they provide a high degree of
dietary reward with almost no effort. Our bodies freakin love this. So much, in fact, that
our brains say eat eat eat! in the presence of such foods and our natural hunger
signals get overridden. That worked well in the wild, when periods of food abundance
were interrupted with periods of famine. But these days, it just makes it easy to get fat.
And the Pleasure Trap applies to much more than just food. Indeed, were biologically
driven to seek the easy way out, to avoid pain, and to pursue things that make us feel

Critique time!

After a collage of soundbites about how awful and unhealthy Americans are (ya think?), the fun
begins around the 13-minute mark, when we get a brief biology lesson on the C-
word:cholesterol. Props to the scriptwriter for at least noting that cholesterol is a natural and
essential substance (per some descriptions, youd think the stuff was toxic sludge), but the
narration goes downhill from there. After outlining cholesterols important biological functions,
the movie states:

13:06But when we consume dietary cholesterol, which is only found in animal foods like
meat, eggs, and dairy products, it tends to stay in the bloodstream. This so-called plaque is
what collects on the inside of our blood vessels and is the major cause of coronary artery

Yikes! Did we slip and fall back into the 80s?

For starters, cholesterol from animal foods does not have some magical ability to set up
permanent camp in your bloodstream and turn into plaque, just by sheer virtue of its animal-
foodness. This was a common line of thought decades ago, but as research progressed, we
figured out that the body is actually pretty awesome at regulating cholesterol production in
response to what we ingest from food. As this paper from 2009 explains, the supposed link
between dietary and serum cholesterol stems from studies that had fundamental design flaws,
failed to separate the effects of cholesterol different types of fat intake, or were performed on
animals that are obligate herbivores (hey there, rabbits!). The doctors in Forks Over Knives, it
seems, are among the few stragglers who still believe dietary cholesterol is harmful.

Most people (about 70% of the population) are hypo-responders when it comes to cholesterol
intakemeaning the cholesterol they eat from food has a negligible effect on the total
cholesterol in their blood. A smaller slice of the population (hyper-responders) see a greater
rise in blood cholesterol after eating high-cholesterol foods, but the change is because both
LDL and HDL increase proportionally, preserving the cholesterol ratio and leaving heart disease
risk the same as what it was before. (As more evidence, a similar study (PDF) found no change
in LDL/HDL ratio in either they hypo-responders or hyper-responders, even when feeding folks
an extra 640 mg of cholesterol per day.)

Not only that, but some cholesterol-rich foods like eggs have actually been shown to make LDL
(the so-called bad cholesterol) less atherogenic by increasing its particle size. And in one
study of diabetics, a high-protein, high-cholesterol diet improved HDL more than a similar
high-protein diet with a low cholesterol content (though it was likely other components of the
foods involved, rather than the dietary cholesterol itself, that caused this). Its a weird, wobbly
stretch to paint animal foods as a death knell because they contain cholesterol.

Enter: T. Colin Campbell

Minute 17:01We learned that animal protein was really good in turning on cancer. Theres
an inappropriate joke buried somewhere in there.

Now were talkin! To anyone whos read (or is moderately familiar with) the book The China
Study, the next part of the movie is a trip down memory lane. We learn about Campbells work
in the Philippines, where he was trying to improve the lives of malnourished children by filling
their diets with more protein. It was here that the trajectory of his career made its first wild

Minute 15:42But then Dr. Campbell stumbled upon a piece of information that was extremely
important. The more affluent families in the Philippines were eating relatively high
amounts of animal-based foods. But at the same time, they were the ones who were most likely
to have children susceptible to getting liver cancer.

(Gasp! Shock! Horror! Let me insert the requisite correlation isnt causation warning before we

Minute 16:10Shortly afterward, Dr. Campbell came across a scientific paper published in a
little-known Indian medical journal. It detailed work that had been done on a population of
experimental rats that were first exposed to a carcinogen called aflatoxin, then fed a diet of
casein, the main protein found in milk. [Campbell:] They were testing the effect of protein on
the development of liver cancer. They used two different levels of protein: They used 20% of
total calories, and then they used a much lower level, 5%. Twenty percent turned on cancer; 5%
turned it off.

Although the above is true, its only one (misleading) part of the story. Well explore exactly
whats wrong with this summary later on, when Campbells own research comes to the fore in
the film. But for now, lets just look at one spot where the film lets a figurative cat (err, rat?) out
of the bag.

The paper from India that Campbell found is called The Effect of Dietary Protein on
Carcinogenesis of Aflatoxin, which appeared in the Archives of Pathology in 1968. Indeed, the
researchers discovered that rats fed 5% of their diet as casein were generally free from
cancerous growths, whereas the rats fed 20% casein were riddled with em. But at the 16:37-
minute mark, we get to see a snippet of this paper that shows us something equally important :
Dont get distracted by those red letters! What were interested in is the sentence near the
bottom, which the films producers apparently didnt notice: In all, 30 rats on the high-protein
diet and 12 on the low-protein diet survived for more than a year.

Let that sink in for a moment. Maybe itll hit a little harder if I told you that in the high protein
vs. low protein experiments discussed in this paper, 10 low-protein rats died prematurely
while all the high-protein rats stayed alive. In other words, the overall survival rate for the 20%
casein group was much better than for the 5% casein group, despite the fact they had liver
tumors. The low-protein rats were dying rapidlyjust not from liver cancer. And as well see
later, the reason the non-dead, low-protein rats didnt get tumors was partly because their
liver cells were committing mass suicide.

In his article The Curious Case of Campbells Rats: Does Protein Deficiency Prevent Cancer?,
Chris Masterjohn explores this oddity further by plowing through the Indian research Campbell
talked about. If you havent seen this article yet, you owe it yourself to read it now, because its
kind of mind-blowingboth for Chriss analysis of the Indian research and his takedown of
Campbells own rat studies. (And for anyone whos going to gripe about this article being
posted on the Weston A. Price Foundation site (I know you gripers are out there), I encourage
you to read it anyway, use your noggin, and check the references for yourself rather than
dismissing it sight unseen.)

Regarding that paper from India that sparked Campbells aha protein evil! moment, Chris
notes that Campbell never tells us that these Indian researchers actually published this
paper as part of a two-paper set, one showing that low-casein diets make aflatoxin much more
acutely toxic to rats. This second paper is called The Effect of Dietary Protein on Liver Injury in
Weanling Rats, and indeed, it shows that rats on low-protein diets experience much more
actual liver damage than rats on high-protein diets when theyre exposed to aflatoxin. They
dont get cancer, but theyre sicker overall because theyre less capable of detoxifying aflatxoin
leading to fun stuff like fatty liver, liver necrosis (cell death), proliferation of bile duct tissue,
and early death. As Chris puts it:

Somehow, I doubt many people would read this study and shout sign me up! for a low-
protein, plant-based diet if it is going to save them from cancer at the expense of killing them
in their youth.
Indeed! As well see later in this critique, Campbells own low-protein rats werent a rosy
picture of health, either. Even more exciting, well look at some more studies conducted in India
showing that low-casein dietsbut not high-casein dietspromote cancer when aflatoxin
dosage is at a lower, real-world-applicable level. Fun times ahead! (If youre impatient, you can
skip to that section right now by clicking here.)

Esselstyn: From operating table to kitchen table

Next up, we get a bigger peek into the life of one seriously cool cat: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn,
physician at the Cleveland Clinic. Although Esselstyn notedin an earlier segment of the movie
that he loved surgery for its ability to neatly remove a problem from the body, he faced some
disillusionment as his career progressed. In 1978, when Esselstyn was chairman of Breast
Cancer Task Force at Cleveland Clinic, he was unhappy that he was only treating people who
were already ill and doing diddly squat for the next unsuspecting victim. He wanted to focus
on prevention. So he put on his sleuth cap and set off to investigatefirst by shoveling through
global statistics for cancer.

Only YOU can prevent forest fires. And heart disease.

For the next few minutes, we get to hear about the alarming discoveries this investigation
uncovered. Dont want breast cancer? Then move to Kenya, where the rates are 82 times lower
than in the US (well, at least they were in 1978). Got prostate cancer? Japan doesnt: In 1958,
there were only 18 autopsy-proven deaths from prostate cancer in the whole country. Compare
that to the 14,000 in the US for the same year. Heart disease, too, was lower outside of

Minute 19:21Dr. Esselstyn also discovered that in the 1970s, the risk for heart disease in
rural China was 12 times lower than it was in the US. And in the highlands of Papau New
Guinea, heart disease was rarely encountered. The link he noticed between all the areas he
studied was simple. [Esselstyn:] Virtually the Western diet was nonexistant. They had no animal
products. No dairy, they had no meat.

And there it is. Again, we have the conflating of Western diet with animal products, as if
meat and dairy are the major dietary difference between Westernized and non-Westernized
populations. Oy! (By the way, heres a friendly reminder that in rural Chinaat least based on
the China Study dataheart disease mortality was actually inversely associated with meat
intake, meaning the folks eating the least meat actually died more frequently of heart disease. It
doesnt mean too much as a lowly correlation, but it does fly against the assumption that
animal foods are always linked with heart disease.)

Next is where it really gets interesting. About 20 minutes into the movie, we get a fascinating
historical tidbit about diet and heart disease in war-time Norway:

Minute 19:50In World War II, the Germans occupied Norway. Among the first things they did
was confiscate all the livestock and farm animals to provide supplies for their own troops. So
the Norwegians were forced to eat mainly plant-based foods.

In the movie, Esselstyn eagerly explains how cardiovascular disease went kerplunk when the
Germans invaded in 1939, only to zip back up as soon as the war was overperfectly
coinciding with their supposed near-vegan period. How obvious it is! The Norwegians went
veggie and healthied up; they returned to their lamb and gjetost and re-clogged their
arteries. As Esselstyn puts it: With the cessation of hostilities in 1945, back comes the meat,
back comes the dairy, back comes the strokes and heart attacks.

Heres the graph the movie walks us through. The Nazi flag marks the arrival of the Germans;
1945 is when they left. (Right below it is a similar graph from a 1951 issue of The Lancet
thats even more dramatic. After adjusting for an unequal age distribution (and unrealistically
low mortality in the 20s and 30s), we can see that death from cardiovascular disease
really didnosedive to a lower rate than Norway had seen in the past few decades.)

War! What is it good for? Reversing heart disease, apparently.

Oh, Norway; how close you were to cardiovascular salvation! Nice job screwing it up.

The intended point, of course, is that the dip in mortality was from giving up animal foods.
When the Germans swiped all sentient creatures from the food supply, Norwegian hearts
pumped with atherosclerosis-free easeproving that going plant based will save your ticker.
It sounds convincing enough, and the graph is compelling* but is there more to the story
than meets the eye?
*Note: If you look at the numbers on the right side of the graph, youll see mortality dropped
from 30 to 24 deaths per 10,000a difference of only six people per 10,000. Thats still
nothing to sneeze at (especially if one of the saved was your great-grandpa Bjrn who helped
you exist), but the graph gives an exaggerated view of the actual change in mortality.

Luckily, there are a few resources out there that track the war-time diet changes in more detail.
One is a paper discussing how nutrition affected Norwegian youngsters during the war, which
you can read as a PDF here (spoiler: the kids were shorties). But the part were interested in is
the table estimating how food intake changed during the war. The numbers represent how
much each food increased or decreased during the war (percentage wise) compared to the pre-
war values.

Did meat and milk intake go down? Fo sho (although clearly not to zero). But look what else
happened. Sugar consumption was chopped in half. Both butter and margarine intake
decreased significantly. Veggie intake shot up. And perhaps most significantly, fish
consumption increased by a whopping 200%, a bigger change than seen with any other single
food item. Need I mention the eighty gazillion studies showing the benefits of fish, DHA, and an
improved omega-3/omega-6 ratio for cardiovascular health?

The paper also notes that total calorie intake decreased by about 20% compared to pre-war
levels and weight loss was common. Did calorie restriction and sinking body mass play a role in
mortality changes? Definitely maybe.

Oh, but it gets better. Theres a section in a super old issue of Proceedings of the Nutrition
Society called Food Conditions in Norway During the War, 1939-45 with even juicier details. I
couldnt find any free copies to link to, so Ill type out the relevant bits. But first, take another
look at that circulatory disease graph from the movie and verify with your own eyes that the
first (and biggest) drop in mortality happened in 1941.

Now read this:

During the first year [starting in spring of 1940] the rationing included all imported foods,
bread, fats, sugar, coffee, cocoa, syrup, and coffee substitute. In the second year [starting in
late 1941] all kinds of meat and pork, eggs, milk and dairy products were rationed

See the problem?

Animal foods didnt really dwindle from Norwegian kitchens until the end of 1941. Even if we
ignore the fact that changes in mortality would naturally lag behind changes in diet, its hard to
blame the 1941 drop in cardiovascular disease on something that mostly happened in 1942!
Doh. Time-wise, theres a stronger link between the mortality tailspin and the previous year of
food rationing: imported foods, bread, fats, sugar, coffee, cocoa, syrup, and coffee substitute.
(Or maybe it was just the anticipation of ditching meat that made everyone healthier.)

Despite the dismal record keeping, a few studies were secretly performed in Oslo to track
changes in food intake during the war. Between 30 and 50 families were surveyed three times
annually from 1941 to 1945, giving us a nice little diet portrait encompassing not only rationed
food, but also the black market items people were eating. Although its hard to say how
accurately this represents the food intake of Norways whole population, its at least a place to
start. And unlike the last table, it breaks down food consumption year by year, rather
comparing only war-time and pre-war values. (Note that the top row is for the years 1936-7
and the next is for 1941it seems there isnt any data for the gap between.)

I pity da fool who doesnt enlarge this image.

From Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 1947. Volume 5, issue 4, page 264.

Numbers, numbers, everywhere! Lets distill the major stuff from that chart so you dont have
to squint at it forever:

Cod liver oil became a standard addition to war-time diets. (Interestingly, the paper
later notes a huge improvement in Norwegian dental health between 1940 and 1945: By
the end of the war, the average number of cavities was less than half of what it was
before the war. Vitamin A and D, anyone?)

As we saw earlier, fish intake increased massively. So did taters,

roots, andvegetables, particularly in 1942 and 1943.

Intake of whole milk was actually higher in 1941 compared to before the war, but then
gradually diminished.

Intake of skim milk was higher throughout the war than before it.
Cheese, cream, and condensed milk started dropping off the radar at the end of

Meat hit a major low in 1943 and 1944.

Added fats like margarine and butter declined, particularly in 1942 and 1943.

Flour, meal, groats, and bread intake went up slightly, mainly from black-market

Intake of sugar, coffee, and chocolate declined significantly.

Fruit also declined significantly, and as well see later, mainly came in the form of
locally picked berries.

Thats a lot of stuff all happening at once, eh? Since were mainly looking at the Forks Over
Knives claim that the mortality drop came from eliminating animal foods, lets take a gander at
dairy and meat. First up, heres a graph of daily dairy consumption (in grams) for each year, for
an typical Norwegian man. I averaged the three values given for each year to give annual data
points; that way we stay consistent with the mortality graph from the movie.

Theres no doubt about it: In 1941, when cardiovascular disease started plummeting,
Norwegians were eating more total dairy (light blue line) than they were before the war, when
the death rate was higher.

How about flesh foods? Again, this is in grams per day for your average Norwegian man:

For the families surveyed in Oslo, fish and meat consumption were almost exactly inverse: Fish
intake rose in perfect step with the decline of meat. And at its peak, the average man was
consuming almost three-quarters of a pound of fish a day! Thats a decent chunk o seafood.
Because meat and fish intake were so tightly correlated, its hardmaybe impossible, given the
sparse data availableto separate any mortality effects of meat reduction from the huge spike
in marine foods.
[Edit 8/22/2012: A reader recently pointed out two errors in the protein graph that once
lived in this spot. Im taking it down until I have a chance to fix it, and apologize for not
catching the inaccuracies sooner.]

One more thing before we emigrate from Norway. After poking around the interwebs, I found a
gem of a paper called Food rationing during World War two: a special case of sustainable
consumption? The whole things pretty interesting, but the best nuggets are the details about
actual foods eaten in Norway during the war (and the reiteration that sugar rations [were]
restricted to 3 kilos per household per year, which is less than 2% of what a four-person
Norwegian family consumes today.)

In a similar attempt to reduce the waste of food resources in Norway, the home economics
institutes focused on how to exploit the local resources from the sea and from wild plants in a
more efficient manner. This involved exploring the boundaries for what was commonly
perceived as food, by experimenting with uncommon ingredients such as wild sea birds
(including sea gull) and wild plants including moss.

Who needs Lean Cuisines when you can have seagulls and moss for dinner?

This paper also remarks that herring and potatoes represented the mainstay of the Norwegian
crisis diet, which certainly agrees with the graphs and tables we looked at earlier. But those
rascally Scandinavians took their herring consumption one step further. Fish eggs, or roe, also
became a staple:

For instance, the food labs tried to find new uses for the nutritious and plentiful fish roe. The
institutes created a number of recipes using fish roe as a substitute for flour. The most basic
recipe simply recommended using equal amounts of roe and flour, then mix with water and
some yeast to bake bread or rolls. But there was nothing wrong with using roe in finer foods
either; for instance in waffles mixed with milk, sugar, some regular flour and essence of vanilla
and cardamom.

Weve got to give those Norwegians props for being resourceful. Substituting fish eggs for
flour? Serving herring roe waffles? Who woulda thunk it? (This actually makes me wonder if,
despite bread consumption going up during the war, actual flour intake could have gone down
due to substitution with other ingredients. But maybe thats just my suspicious-of-wheat bias
creeping in.) Apparently, a popular dessert was also herring roe bread pudding, made mostly
from fish eggs and potatoes*:

350 g. herring roe; 1 tbs potato flour; 1 tbs bread flour; 5 tbs breadcrumbs; 4 boiled potatoes;
4 dl. milk; 1 tsp currants (made of dried blueberries); 2-3 tbs sugar; essence of almond; Served
with sweet red sauce (saftsaus).

*Hey ancestral-eating folks , this is totally tweakable to be paleo. The first person to modify
this recipe and actually eat it will earn my lifelong respect.

Lastly, some cool info on the fruits and vegetables Norwegians were eating. By the end of 1942,
most fruits and veggies were done near gone from the markets and tremendously hard to get
through rationing. So the government gave housewives throughout the country a list of
valuable wild plant supplements to use for vegetables, which included nettles, goutweed, and
dandelions as excellent sources of iron and vitamin C. Foraging for wild edibles became
common. And even before that, Norwegians earned their stripes as deft berry-pickers:

Already in August 1940, the public provisions office in Oslo [ Forsyningsutvalget] launched a
publicity campaign to get the city dwellers out in the forests surrounding the capital picking
berries. The simple slogan Pick berries! There is plenty in the forests! printed on a poster of a
girl carrying a big basket of berries was meant to tempt the city consumers to supplement their
own supplies of food. As the war progressed, berries became an increasingly treasured
resource. By 1943, the authorities had introduced a limit for when one was allowed to start
picking different sorts of berries, and there are accounts of masses of consumers spending the
night in the forests waiting for the official start date for when the berries were ripe.

How cute! Like rabid fans camping outside the theater for Harry Potter, Norwegians would line
up in the forest, waiting for berry season to commence.

But back to the point of this thing. In Forks Over Knives, Esselstyn cites Norways war
experience as a remarkable example of a plant-based diet leading to rapid improvements in
cardiovascular disease. But as we can see from the exhaustive (and probably excessive; sorry)
information above, the real Norwegian war-time diet was:

Based on marine foods, particularly omega-3-rich herring and its eggs (which
aresuper high in cholesterol just sayin)
Supplemented with a variety of foraged foods, including berries, moss, and wild greens
which tend to be much higher in antioxidants and nutrients than their commercial

Based on potatoes as the main source of starch

Remarkably low in sugar and added fats, including vegetable oils/margarine

Those are a lot of positive changesand as we saw earlier, the increase in fish intake more than
made up for the drop in meat and dairy, in terms of total animal product consumption. Plant
based? Only if fish is a vegetable.

And now that Ive stolen a big chunk of your day yapping about war-time Norway, Ill add a
warning that everything above may be moot. The apparent decline in cardiovascular disease
could easily be confounded by the major rise in infectious disease that happened during the
war, including a full doubling of pneumonia deaths. Just because cardiovascular
diseasemortality drops doesnt prove cardiovascular disease itself has truly declined.
Sometimes, it just means faster-acting diseases are snatching lives before heart attacks or
strokes have a chance to claim their victims.

Hat tip to Chris Masterjohn for passing along this snippet from Broda Barnes book, Solved:
The Riddle of Heart Attacks. Barnes reviewed 70,000 Austrian autopsy protocols from the years
1930 to 1970, and foundjust like in Norwaythat cardiovascular disease mortality dropped
significantly during World War II. But instead of ascribing the change to diet, Barnes had a
different hypothesis. He writes (emphasis mine):

At Graz, heart attacks dropped 75 percent between 1939 and 1945, and it is true that people
were not eating cholesterol foods during the war. A look at the arteries of the entire series of
2000 autopsies in 1945 revealed that the number of the individuals with damage to their
coronary arteries (arteries to the heart) was approximately doubled in 1945 compared to 1939,
and the degree of damage to each one affected was about twice as great. Adult patients,
dying from tuberculosis during the war, had a very severe degree of damage to the arteries of
their hearts. Two years later the conditions were reversed. The antibiotics against
tuberculosis had become available, and deaths from this disease fell like a lead pipe.
Immediately deaths from heart attacks started to rise. The autopsies gave us the answer: the
adult dying from a heart attack had healing tuberculosis in his lungs. (Pages 2 and 3)
In contrast to Esselstyns theory, Barnes found that actual arterial damage was about twice as
great by the end of the war as it was before the war, at least in Austria. But because infectious
diseases shot up during the war years, a persons official cause of death was more likely to be
tuberculosis, pneumonia, or another acute illness, even in folks who actually did have
cardiovascular disease. For Austria, the decline in cardiovascular disease mortality didnt reflect
the true state of Austrias heart health. (And its possible the infections themselves, with
accompanying inflammation, actually helped worsen cardiovascular disease.)

This doesnt mean that Norways war-time diet had no impact on mortality, of coursejust that
we ought to look at death statistics in the context of total mortality.

Whew! How was that for a long discussion of something that only took one minute and fifteen
seconds in the film? Lets move on.

MC Hammer Dougall time

Next up, Dr. John McDougall makes an appearance to remind us once more that animal foods
are terrible. We hear exactly how the McDougall of yore evolved into his current pro-plant, anti-
animal-foods position.

The story goes like this. In the 1970s, McDougall was working as a doctor on a sugar plantation
in Hawaii. He noticed that the older generations of Japanese (and other Asian) immigrants were
free from modern diseasesthey were slim, active into old age, didnt get heart disease or
arthritis or breast cancer or diabetes, and generally evaded the maladies plaguing most
Westerners. McDougall attributes this to the fact that the older generation learned a diet of rice
and vegetables in their native lands, and carried this diet with them when they set sail for the
US. Their kids and grandkids, on the other hand, were a different story: They started getting fat
and suffering from the same diseases other Americans doand according to McDougall, the
reason was simple:

Minute 21:56[McDougall:] Their kids, they started to give up the rice and replace it with the
animal foods, the dairy products, the meats and the results were obvious. They got fat and
sick. I knew, at that point, what causes most diseases.

It had nothing to do with the sugar cane they snuck on their lunch breaks.
As much as I love unreferenced anecdotes, itd be nice to see if this observation holds up to
reality. Were the Americanized Asians doing nothing but replacing rice with animal foods in the
70s? Can we ascribe their downward health spiral to the lack of a plant-based diet? Maybe this
little ditty, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1973, will offer some clues.
Indeed, the paper remarks that Dietary information reveals striking differences in dietary
patterns as the Japanese men have migrated to areas where American culture prevails.

Among other things, this paper records the differences in eating habits between native
Japanese and Japanese who moved to Hawaiiand provides us with my favorite thing ever:
graphs. Im posting copies of the relevant ones below. The black bars represent Japanese who
moved to Hawaii; the white bars represent Japanese who still lived in Japan when the data was
recorded (a few years before McDougall was working on the sugar plantation). The three sets of
bars for each graph show what percent of the population ate that particular food for the
specified frequency (in most cases: less than two times a week, two to four times a week, and
seven or more times per week). If thats a little confusing, dont worrywell discuss what these
graphs show in a moment.

(FYI: Each row of graphs is a separate image. I made them huge on account of the spotty,
barely-readable text, which was even spottier and more barely-readable when the pictures were
normal sized.)

Whats it all mean?!

For starters, look at the middle row with three graphs. See how the center and right-hand graph
have black and white bars that follow a similar distribution? That means the intake of those
foodswasnt massively different between the native Japanese and the Hawaii-dwelling Japanese.
Now look at the labels on those particular graphs: Meat and Ham, Bacon, Sausage. As you can
see, the majority of both native and Hawaii-dwelling Japanese were eating regular meat two to
four times per week, and ate processed meats less than twice per week. Out of all the foods
documented, the ones with the smallest difference of intake between native and
Hawaiian Japanese populations were flesh foods.

How bout that.

Now look at the bottom left graph that says Fish. The white bars, representing the native
Japanese, show that about 40% of Japans population ate fish at least seven times per week
compared to only about 8% of Japanese living in Hawaii, who were apparently unaware of their
islands marine bounty. In sharp contrast to their native diet, over half of the Hawaiian Japanese
ate fish a maximum of once per week.

The tally so far: the native Japanese on their traditional diets ate a lot more fish (which, cmon,
is totally an animal product) than Hawaiian Japanese, and ate slightly less meat, ham, bacon,
and sausage but the difference wasnt huge.

Now for the fun stuff. Check out that top row of graphs. The Hawaiian Japanese didnt swap out
rice for animal foodsthey swapped out rice for bread! Whereas the native Japanese almost all
ate rice two to three times per day (and most ate bread less than twice a week), the vast
majorityalmost 90%of Hawaiian Japanese ate bread more than seven times per week. As we
saw in an earlier blog post, wheat-based diets seem to have different effects than rice-based
diets in at least one other Asian country.

The other major change, along with a drop in traditional soy intake, was butter, cheese, and
margarine. Ill definitely agree with McDougall that Hawaiian Japanese seem to be eating more
dairy than their native counterparts, although throwing margarine into the mix makes it difficult
to determine just how much.

At least based on this data, the Americanization of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii didnt
involve a newfound guzzling of flesh foods: it involved picking up Americas wheat habit and
abandoning the native staples of fish and rice. If sugar had been included in the above graphs,
I have no doubt wed see major changes with that, too. The only animal food that did strongly
increase among the immigrants was dairy, although in this paper, it was pooled together with
margarine (which no one considered bad yet back in the groovy 70s).

Does this invalidate McDougalls observations? Not necessarily. Maybe the patients he treated
on the sugar plantation were skewering wild pigs and snacking on bacon all day.

Do you smell a rat? I do and it has hepatocyte necrosis

After the tale of sickly Hawaiians, Forks Over Knives segues back into the research Campbell
embarks on after his experience in the Philippines. In 75, Campbell was working at Cornell
University, conducting a battery of experiments on dietary protein and aflatoxin-induced liver
cancer in rats. Ill let the movie sum it up:

Minute 25:03Just like the Indian researchers, Campbell fed half the rats in his study a diet of
20% casein, the main protein in dairy products. The other half was fed only 5% casein. Over the
12 weeks of the study, the rats eating the higher protein diet had a greatly enhanced level of
early liver cancer tumor growth. On the other hand, all of the rats eating only 5% animal
protein* had no evidence of cancer whatsoever.

*Notice the sneaky interchange of casein with animal protein? Rest assured, folks, that
casein is an animal protein, but not all animal proteins are casein. This movie falls into the
same trap I mentioned in my China Study critique last year, and that many other people (Dr.
Harriet Hall, Chris Masterjohn, and Anthony Colpo, to name a few) have taken issue with as
well: extrapolating the effects of casein to all forms of animal protein. As I discussed in that
critique, casein seems to be the strongest cancer-promoter among the isolated proteins (with
whey, the other major protein in milk, being decidedly anti-cancer). Not only that, but the effect
of specific protein sources on tumor growth can vary dramatically depending on the types of fat
and carbohydrate also included in the lab diet. Both in the movie and in his book The China
Study, Campbell makes an unjustified leap from isolated casein in rat studies to any animal
protein in a real-world human diet. Shazam!

But those are small potatoes compared to whats coming next. First, take a look at something
Campbell himself noted in the movie (emphasis mine):

Minute 26:05[Campbell:] This was so provocative, this information. We could turn on and
turn off cancer growth, just by adjusting the level of intake of that protein. Going from 5% to
20% protein is within the range of American experience. The typical studies on chemical
carcinogens causing cancer are testing chemicals at levels maybe three or four orders of
magnitude higher than we experience.

Although Campbell is trying to explain why his rat studies have relevance for humans, this
statement actually highlights why they usually dont. In Campbells experimentsas well as the
Indian study that inspired him all those years agothe rats received very high doses of
aflatoxin to initiate cancer in the first place. Protein only appeared to work as a
cancer promoter in his studies, not an independent carcinogen. And even though the range of
protein was reasonable for a real-life situation, the amount of aflatoxin exposure would
be really hard to replicate unless you had a death wish and a bottomless
stomach. Quoting Chris Masterjohns Curious Casearticle again, to get the sort of aflatoxin
exposure that caused even a barely detectable response in Campbells rats, youd have to eat
about 1,125,000 contaminated peanut butter* sandwiches over the course of four days. I dont
know about you, but I doubt I could eat a lick over 900,000. More than that is just gluttony!

*Contaminated with aflatoxin at a level of 20 parts per billionthe maximum allowed by the
So what would happen if the animals were exposed to lower, more realistic levels of aflatoxin?
Would different levels of protein still have the same effect?

Luckily, we have an answer to that question. In the late 1980s, more researchers from India
were conducting experiments with casein and cancerbut this time used different doses of
aflatoxin, and studied rhesus monkeys instead of rats. In one intriguing paper titled Effect of
Low Protein Diet on Chronic Aflatoxin B1-induced Liver Injury in Rhesus Monkeys, the
researchers describe something that undermines the conclusions Campbell drew from his own

Ill let the paper speak for itself. Here are the first three paragraphs:

And a bit later:

Okay, Ill speak too. Lets decode the science jargon.

Basically, the researchers are talking about an experiment they conducted feeding monkeys
diets that had either 5% or 20% casein. These monkeys were given a hefty dose of aflatoxin
each day1 part per million. Just like in the rat studies, the monkeys in the low-protein group
suffered from massive cell death (but no cancer), while the monkeys in the high-protein group
got pre-cancerous growths called preneoplastic lesions. So far, this is consistent with
everything Campbell found.

But heres where it gets interesting.

The researchers reference an earlier study they did with the same setuprhesus monkeys,
aflatoxin exposure, and either 5% or 20% casein in each diet. But in that study, they used a
much more moderate dose of aflatoxin: 0.16 parts per million. And guess what happened? In
this situation, it was the low-protein group that grew tumors, while the high-protein group
was perfectly healthy and cancer-free! Oh, snap.

The results of this earlier experiment were published in a paper called Effect of Low Protein
Diet on Low Dose Chronic Aflatoxin B1 Induced Hepatic Injury in Rhesus Monkeys in 1989.
Indeed, the researchers werent pulling our legs: This study really did show that a low-protein
diet was both more cancer promoting and more deadly than a high-protein diet when the
dose of aflatoxin was lower. When the dose was 0.16 parts per million, the low-protein
monkeys were stricken with liver lesions while the high-protein monkeys were fine. When the
dose was raised to 0.5 parts per million, the low-protein rats didnt get tumorsmainly
because every single one of them died when they were less than one-and-a-half years old!
And I quote:

Monkeys on low protein diet [with 0.16 ppm aflatoxin] surviving for 90 weeks or more show
foci of preneoplastic lesions, whereas those on high protein diet reveal no such alterations at
the corresponding time interval.

(Translation: The low-protein monkeys on a low dose of aflatoxin had pre-cancerous growths
in their livers (at least, the ones that werent already dead did). The high-protein monkeys were

The hepatic injury again is more accentuated in the low protein group as compared with the
high protein group [with 0.5 ppm aflatoxin]. No preneoplastic lesions are observed, possibly
due to a poor survival (less than 70 weeks) in the low protein animals with this dose. The
animals in the high protein group surviving even beyond 90 weeks do not show
any preneoplastic/neoplastic lesions. It appears that in the simian model used by us, the liver
injury caused by AFB1 is accentuated by simultaneous restriction of dietary protein and in
animals on such combined regimen preneoplastic lesions appear around 90 weeks of

(Translation: When the aflatoxin dose was raised a bit, the low-protein monkeys still suffered
from a lot more liver injury than the high-protein monkeys. They all died too soon to develop
any precancerous tumorsin contrast to the high-protein monkeys, who had a better survival
rateand still didnt have any tumors growing at the 90-week mark.)

And heres the researchers (perhaps more digestible) discussion of it all; emphasis mine:

In contrast to innumerable studies on aflatoxin induced hepatotoxicity in rats, very few studies
have been done in monkeys and in most of these studies large doses of aflatoxin have been
used. The important feature of the present study is the low level of intoxication ingested as
contaminated meal, a situation more likely to be encountered in natural exposure to
human and animals.
(In other words, this studyat least in theoryhas more real-world relevance than Campbells
rat experiments.)

The study shows that small doses of aflatoxin (0.16 and 0.5 ppm) on chronic administration
induce injury in the liver. However at both the dose levels and at all time intervals the injury is
more severe in animals on low intake of proteins.

(Whether the aflatoxin dose is low or moderate, the low-protein monkeys are worse off than the
high-protein monkeys.)

Rhesus pieces: A picture of a cute monkey to make us feel bad about vivisection.

And finally:

These observations suggest a synergism between protein calorie malnutrition and aflatoxin
induced hepatocarcinogenesis and may explain the higher incidence of hepatocellular
carcinoma in certain areas of the world where contamination of foods with aflatoxin and
malnutrition are prevalent.

Remember when Campbell was talking about how, in the Philippines, it seemed to be the well-
nourished affluent folks who were getting liver cancer? This paper presents the opposite
perspective. Here, the researchers are noting that liver cancer tends to be higher where theres
aflatoxin contamination and malnutrition (most notably protein-calorie malnutrition), rather
than affluence and high animal food consumption like Campbell observed. According to the
researchers, their experiments suggest that malnutrition increases the liver damage and
cancerous growths associated with aflatoxin exposureexplaining why liver cancer, for
instance, is highest in areas where malnutrition runs rampant.

But enough of this monkey business. When we compare the above study to the ones using an
extremely high aflatoxin dose, its clear weve got a paradox. In this study, it was the low-
protein monkeys getting tumors. In the other studies, it was the high-protein monkeys (or rats)
getting tumors. So whats going on here? Why would a low-protein
diet protect against cancer at high doses of aflatoxin, but promote cancer at low doses
of aflatoxin?

The answer, it seems, lies in proteins effects on both growth and detoxification.
Although this isnt discussed in Forks Over Knives, Campbell spends a few pages of The
China Study talking about an enzyme responsible for metabolizing aflatoxina lil somethin
called mixed function oxidase. This enzyme is key for turning aflatoxin into metabolites that
can mess up DNA and initiate cancer. And as Campbell discovered through his research, a diet
of 5% casein can turn this enzyme down faster than you can say hepatocellular carcinoma.
Heres how he describes the process on page 52 of his book:

Decreasing protein intake like that done in the original research in India (20% to 5%) not only
greatly decreased enzyme activity, but did so very quickly. What does this mean? Decreasing
enzyme activity via low-protein diets implied that less aflatoxin was being transformed into the
dangerous aflatoxin metabolite that had the potential to bind and to mutate the DNA. We
now had impressive evidence that low protein intake could markedly decrease enzyme activity
and prevent dangerous carcinogen binding to DNA. These were very impressive findings, to be
sure. It might even be enough information to explain how consuming less protein leads to
less cancer.

This is a strangely happy portrait of something thats actually deadly.

Why does your body want to detoxify aflatoxin in the first place? How bout because
its well a toxin? Even though slashing enzyme activity does reduce cancer-causing
metabolites, it also leaves more aflatoxin in its original, toxic formwhich can damage organs
and start to promote cancer in another way, which is exactly what happened with the low-
protein monkeys. Heres how.

In aflatoxin studies, weve seen that low-protein diets cause some unfortunate problems for lab
animalsone being an increased toxicity of aflatoxin. Thats because the reduced enzyme
activity from low-protein diets prevents the body from properly detoxifying stuff. (Campbell
even acknowledges in some of his earlier papers that a low-protein diet makes rats more
susceptible to liver injury from aflatoxin, even when they dont get cancer from it.) So what
happens when aflatoxin toxicity goes up? Apparently, it makes liver cells start dying like crazy
in a process called necrosis. At low levels of aflatoxin, the necrosis only occurs in low-protein
animals, because the high-protein animals still have their detoxifying enzymes in working

Heres where the trouble starts for our low-protein friends. Because their liver cells are facing
mass genocide, their bodies rush to make new cells to help the liver regenerate. According to
the authors of the monkey studies, this rapid death/proliferation cycle is one of the very things
that encourages pre-cancerous lesions to formespecially when cells are proliferating at the
time of aflatoxin exposure (which is what would happen to a malnourished human eating
aflatoxin-contaminated food). At mild aflatoxin doses, the low-protein monkeys still had
enough dietary building blocks to regenerate their liver cells and feed early tumorshence why
they began developing lesions. (The authors also note that low-protein diets slow down the cell
cycle, causing more cells to hang out in the S phase where their replicating DNA is vulnerable
to attackanother potential pathway to cancer.)

Once the aflatoxin dose is raised, though, something new happens. Cell death increases even
further for the low-protein animals, so much that their poor bodies cant keep up with it
all. The result is that the liver starts facing major injurygettin fatty, exhibiting bile duct
proliferationbut avoids developing tumors because theres just not enough construction
material (protein) to build a bunch of new cells. Healthy cells are dying left and right, and pre-
cancerous ones dont even stand a chance. Its at this point that a lot of lab animalsboth in
Campbells studies and with the monkeyskeel over and die, despite having tumor-free

For the high-protein animals, not much happens until aflatoxin dosing is raised through the
roof. At lower doses, their bodies do a fine job of detoxifying the aflatoxin, cell death isnt
increased, and there apparently arent enough cancer-causing metabolites yet to do much
harm. Its only when aflatoxin exposure gets cranked way up that the high-protein animals
experience the sameliver necrosis that plagued their low-protein counterparts. Although the
extra protein improves the animals ability to detoxify aflatoxin and regenerate their livers, it
also provides more tissue building-blocksgiving both healthy cells and pre-cancerous lesions
the stuff they need to proliferate. The protein that prevents high-protein animals from dying
from necrosis overload is the same thing that lets them develop tumors. Quite the catch-22,

At least, thats the explanation suggested by the authors of the monkey papers over two
decades ago. I havent done an exhaustive search of the literature, so its possible theres more
current research explaining the paradox of low-protein diets increasing tumor growth at low
doses of a carcinogen, but preventing tumor growth at higher doses.

As much as Campbell condemns reductionismwhich refers to looking at a singular nutrient

or pathway instead of how various components work in harmonyCampbells interpretation of
his protein research falls into this very trap. By looking at only the positive effects low-protein
diets seem to have on cancer, he misses out on the many detrimental effects they have on other
aspects of health, including the fact that they seem to invite early death.
Important note: One important difference between Campbells rat studies and the monkey
studies above is the use of continuous versus acute dosing. In the monkey studies, the animals
got small, daily doses of aflatoxin throughout the experiment. Thats like what would happen if
you lived in a humid climate where some of the food supply was growing aflatoxin-containing
mold. By contrast, in Campbells studies, the rats got a giant dose of aflatoxin at the beginning
of the experiments. Thats like what would happen if you accidentally ate 80,000 jars of
aflatoxin-contaminated Jif in one sitting (oops!).

With all that said, lets return to Forks Over Knives and see what else Campbell has to say.

Minute 26:29Even more surprising, Dr. Campbell found that a diet of 20% plant proteins from
soybeans and wheat did not promote cancer.

The movie goes on to explain that animal protein has some mystical, inexplicable, yet very real
ability to promote diseasea property that plant protein lacks. Referencing Campbells rat
studies, were told that the results were consistent: Nutrients from animal foods promoted
cancer growth, while nutrients from plant foods decreased cancer growth. And yet

Minute 29:20Campbell hadnt identified a specific biological mechanism that caused the
effects he observed. It finally occurred to me that there was no such thing as the mechanism.
What we were looking at was a symphony of mechanisms, he said.

Out of all the moments in the movie, this might have been the biggest face-palmer for me.
It just so happens that Campbell did identify exactly why casein behaved differently than plant
proteins in his rat studies. Decades ago. In 1989. The discovery emerged from a study he
conducted on protein quality and liver tumor growth, which you can find here. Although
regular wheat protein didnt spur tumor growth like casein did,* wheat protein behaved exactly
like casein as soon as Campbell added lysine, the amino acid wheat is low in.
Basically, any complete set of amino acidswhether from the animal kingdom or plant kingdom
is going to have the same cancer-promoting effects. (At least when aflatoxin dosing is very
high. At lower aflatoxin dosing, that same complete protein will protect against oft-deadly liver
damage. In fact, in the paper cited above, Campbell notes that the unsupplemented gluten
groups and low-casein groupdespite getting fewer foci that mark the start of cancerhad
far worse liver injury than the high-casein group. He writes: All animals developed bile duct
proliferation, which characterizes the acutely toxic response to aflatoxin B1 (data not
presented). The most severe lesions occurred in the experimental groups with the lowest
response of foci [5% casein and 20% unsupplemented gluten].)

*Note: Campbell actually used casein diets that were supplemented with methionine (test diet
PDF here), an amino acid that casein is low in. This made the casein a more complete protein
and may have influenced the cancer-promoting abilities of the casein diets. If were going to
compare apples and apples, we could look at the casein-supplemented-with-methionine diet
right next to the gluten-supplemented-with-lysine diet. And when we do that, we find that
both are equally powerful at promoting tumor growth.

The reason this finding is so important is that it shows, fairly convincingly, that Campbells
findings only apply in a lab settingwhere rats are fed a single source of protein for their entire
lives. The rats that stayed cancer-free on an unsupplemented gluten diet were the equivalent of
a human eating nothing but wheat, every single day, from the moment theyre weaned off
Mommas teat until the day they die. A vegan eating a mixture of plant foods will naturally end
up consuming complementary amino acids, and their body will synthesize the complete
protein that Campbell says is cancer-promoting. For instance, in the common combination of
rice and beans, beans supply extra lysine that rice is low inthe same effect as supplementing
gluten with this amino acid.

Its not like Campbell forgot about his discovery, either. In his 2009 response to a critique by
Joseph Mercola, Campbell wrote:

The adverse effects of animal protein, as illustrated in our laboratory by the effects of casein,
are related to their amino acid composition. There have been many different kinds of studies
for well over a half century showing that the nutritional responses of different proteins are
attributed to their differing amino acid compositions. These differences in nutritional
response disappear when any limiting amino acids are restored.

Wheat protein, unlike casein for example, did not stimulate cancer development but when its
limiting amino acid, lysine, was restored, it acted just like casein. There have been literally
thousands of studies going back many decades showing a similar effect on body growth and
other events associated with body growthall resulting from differences in amino acid
composition of different proteins.

Enough said. Lets look at one more snippet from this segment before we move on:

Minute 29:00Over the next several years, Campbell initiated more extensive lab studies using
various animal and plant nutrients. The results were consistent. Nutrients from animal foods
promoted cancer growth, while nutrients from plant foods decreased cancer growth.

Beep! False. Campbell actually discovered that certain animal fats are superior to certain plant
fats in terms of cancer protection. In a study published in 1985, he found that fish oil tends to
inhibit cancer, and in a couple other studies, found that corn oil appears to promote it (such
as here).

Esselstyn: The study cogs start turnin

But enough about rats and vegetable protein. Next up, the movie returns to one of our movies
shining (human) stars, Caldwell Esselstyn. In the 1980s, with prevention! flashing relentlessly
in his minds eye, Esselstyn finally got the chance to do what his years of surgery never allowed:
Fix heart disease with food instead of scalpels.

Minute 44:11In the mid-1980s, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn was struggling to organize a study on
coronary artery disease. His plan was to put a group of patients on a diet of low-fat, plant-
based foods along with small quantities of low-fat dairy products and minimal amounts of
cholesterol-reducing drugs.

Indeed, thats the gist of it: a low-fat, plant-based diet with a scoop of statins for dessert. But
since the film doesnt dive into the finer details of the diet, lets look at how Esselstyn describes
his program in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. From pages 5, 6, and 72, we can
see that the diet eliminates:

Anything with a mother or a face, including meat, fish, and poultry

All dairy*

All nuts and avocados

All oils, such as soybean oil, olive oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, and anything
else with oil in the name

All solid fats like margarine and butter

All foodswhether pre-made or prepared at homethat contain even a drop of added


Any grains that arent cross-your-heart, swear-on-your-grandmommas-grave,

100% whole. According to Esselstyn, this includes eliminating items that have healthy-
sounding ingredients like multigrain, cracked wheat, seven-grain, stone-ground, 100
percent wheat, enriched flour, or degerminated cornmeal

*In both Forks Over Knives and his book, Esselstyn notes that his diet initially contained low-
fat milk and yogurt, much like Dean Ornishs program. It wasnt until years later, when he
learned about Campbells research, that he decided animal protein wasnt conducive to health
and yanked dairy off his patients menus.

On the flip side, the diet allows:

All vegetables, including leafy greens, root veggies, and other veggies encompassing all
the beautiful colors of the rainbow

Legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans

Whole grains ranging from the commonplace (whole wheat, corn, wild rice) to the exotic
(quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, kamut, spelt, rye)but only if they contain no added fat,
high-fructose corn syrup, or even a smidgen of refined grain

All fruit

And if you think this diet is flexible and allows some cheat-meal wiggle room, youre sadly
mistaken. Esselstyn is a self-admitted stickler, and insists that a fundamental rule of his
program is that it contains not a single item of any food known to cause or promote the
development of vascular disease. Which, to him, means a life permanently devoid of pot roast,
Nutty Buddies, or butter on your endless bowls of steamed kale.

Although his program doesnt specifically forbid processed foods, adhering to his rules pretty
much ensures everything you eat will be Real Food. For instance, his diet manages to eliminate
even the fat free replacement products weve all seen at the store:

If you see any of the following words or phrases on a labelglycerin, hydrogenated, partially
hydrogenated, mono or diglyceridesavoid the product. These are all sneaky forms of fat.
Snackwells devils food fat-free cookies* list 0 grams of fat on the nutritional chart required
on all packages. But if you read the ingredients, you notice that glycerin is listed fifth among
them. Similarly, Krafts zesty Italian fat-free dressing and Wishbones fat-free ranch both list
soybean oil and dairy products among their ingredients. But because the portion sizes are
small, these products can still be called fat-free, under the governments standard. Read the
ingredients. (Page 124)

*Forget glycerin! How bout avoiding this junk because the first four ingredients are sugar,
refined flour, high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup?

Indeed, Esselstyns diet categorically eliminates most fat-free Frankenfoodsmany of which

were wildly popular when he conducted his study in the 80s and 90s. Apparently, he nixes
them not because they contain ingredients so awful theyd make a billygoat puke, but because
their microscopic amount of fat is still too much. In a lipid-phobic era when dieters swapped fat
for refined carbs, Esselstyn accidentally rescued his patients from junk-filled replacement
foods, which we now know are often worse than the originals. He got it right for the wrong

And lastly, despite what it may seem, Esselstyns diet is not a whole-grain free-for-all. His
book describes the diet as decidedly vegetable-based, and notes that you may need to scale
down on the starches to avoid unwanted pounds:

If you are eating a plant-based, no-oil, whole-grain diet filled with leafy greens and all the
colorful vegetables, you dont need to worry about weight. However, if you let whole grains,
starchy vegetables, and desserts dominate, weight can begin to creep back. If that happens,
simply cut back on grains and starches, increase your consumption of leafy greens and colorful
vegetables, and cut out desserts. (Page 126)
As we can see, Esselstyns program entails a lot more than a simple shift to plant foods. Here
are the likely culprits behind his success:

By completely eliminating oils, Esselstyns diet causes a massive reduction in the

omega-6 fatsparticularly linoleic acidrunning wild in Western diets. (And more
broadly, it slashes intake of polyunsaturated fats, which are the type of fat most likely
to promote LDL oxidation because of their unstable chemical structure.) Boom! Down
goes polyunsaturated fat intake, down goes omega-6 intake, down goes inflammation,
down goes some major components of heart disease. Although Esselstyn achieves this
by giving the boot to all fats, the same thing could be achieved by just eliminating foods
and oils high in polyunsaturated fats, particularly industrial seed oils like soybean oil
and corn oil. (If youre thinking, But those are the types of oils the government tells us
are healthy, please read this.)

Due to its strict no-added-fat rule, Esselstyns program eliminates 99% of what youd
find in a gas-station convenience store, a vending machine, or a crinkly silver Frito-Lay
bag. In other words, this is a no-junk diet. Sure, animal foods are outbut so are the
even wider range of low-nutrient snacks, processed desserts, convenience foods, and
other manufactured items that usually fill American kitchens.

By allowing only 100% whole-grain foods with no added fat or sugars, Esselstyn makes
it pretty tough to eat processed wheat products like bread, pasta, cereal, bagels,
pastries, crackers, and other grainy goodies. In his book, Esselstyn acknowledges how
hard it is to find bread that fits into his diet plan, and endorses sprouted grain products
by companies like Ezekiel. As a result, the main starches in this diet are likely to be from
roots, starchy vegetables, legumes, squash, and grains that still look like they did when
they came off the plantlike corn or wild rice. The movie showed the following display
as an example of an Esselstyn-approved feast.

Behold: plants.

Now that we have a better idea of what Esselstyns diet entails, lets hop back into the movie.

Minute 44:32[Esselstyn:] Slowly, over the next 18 months, I got the patients that Id asked
for. But the ones they sent me were a little bit sicker than Id thought! These were patients who
had failed their first or second bypass operation, they had failed their first or second
angioplasty, and there were five who were told by their expert cardiologist that they would not
live out the year.

We then get to meet one of those so-called lost causes: Evelyn Oswick, whod been one of
Esselstyns most gravely ill patients. Not only had she already suffered from two heart attacks
by the age of 59, but her doctors thought her situation was so hopeless that they told her
quite literallyto go home, sit in a rocking chair, and wait to die. But as evidenced by the fact
she appeared in Forks Over Knives, shes not only alive, but quite the bright-eyed and bushy-
tailed survivor. Woohoo, Evelyn! Woohoo, Dr. Esselstyn! Woohoo, plant-based diet!

Although we dont have enough data to really analyze her success, Ive got to wonder if
ditching meator even the fatwas really the thing that helped. Heres how she describes her
previous diet:

Minute 45:00[Oswick:] I ate all the chocolate I could eat, I ate every doughnut I could get my
hands on oh, I just loved things like that. A lot of gravy.

It was that drop of glycerin in the candy that did me in.

Esselstyn then describes how his study was performed. For a full five years, he met with his
patients once every two weeks to draw blood, take their blood pressure, measure their weight,
and endure the nickname Dr. Sprouts. We know Mrs. Oswick is alive, but what happened to
the other 23 study subjects? Did they end up back on the operating table, wads of carrots
lodged in their veins? Did they miraculously heal? Well have to wait to find out, because now
its time to learn about

The China Study

Ill admit it: I was pretty excited to see what Forks Over Knives had to say about the China
Studya massive epidemiological project and namesake for Campbells bestselling
book. Would we get an elaborate, attempted indictment of animal foods by blaming all woes of
the human body on high cholesterol? Would the producers sacrifice accuracy for simplicity and
just say animal foods made bad things happen? Would Campbell warn the audience not to
Google around for critiques of his study, because theyre all written by shills for the meat
industry, orworseliberal arts majors?
Finally, we get to find out. After nearly 50 minutes of nail-biting anticipation for our China
Study segment, we see T. Colin Campbell and his colleague, Junshi Chen, thumbing through a
copy of Diet, Life-style, and Mortality in Chinathe 900-page tome showcasing the data they
spent so many years gathering. Oh, sweet reminiscence! This is the same book that sat on my
desk for three months last year, collecting blood, sweat, and sticky-notes.

Orange you glad I didnt say banana?

Campbell briefly explains how this study generated a whopping 8,000 to 9,000 statistically
significant correlations. This means that if 19 out of 20 are pointing in the same direction, its
highly significant, and likely to be true, he says. (Id add that true isnt the same as
meaningfulvariables can be strongly and legitimately correlated, but not actually have a
cause-and-effect relationship.) After learning a bit more about how the data was presented in
that giant book, we get to the good stuff. The summary of it all. The fruit of international labor.
The culmination of those 9,000 statistically significant correlations. Are you ready?

Minute 49:30[Chen:] I think the major message we got out of this correlation analysis is only
one message: The plant-food based dietmainly cereal grains, vegetables, and fruits, and very
little animal foodis always associated with lower mortality of certain cancers, stroke, and
coronary heart disease.

Thats a pretty simple message to get from such a big, complicated study! Too bad its baloney.

What Campbell and Chen imply in this movie clip is that all those correlations are,
serendipitously, singing the same tune: That plant foods offer protection against diseases,
while animal foods tend to promote them. Alas, the trends in this study are anything but
straightforwardand as Campbell himself has pointed out, the unadjusted correlations can be
quite misleading:

Use of these correlations should only be done with caution, that is, being careful not to infer
one-to-one causal associations. First, a variable may reflect the effects of other factors that
change along with the variable under study. Therefore, this requires adjustment for
confounding factors.
Agreed, good sir. But since weve just been told in Forks Over Knives that these correlations
generally point in the same direction (and reinforce the idea that animal foods cause
disease), lets put relevance aside and see if that claim is up to snuff.

Note for anyone needing a math catch-up: A correlation is basically a relationship between two
thingsmeaning they both go up at the same time (a positive correlation) or one goes up while
the other goes down (a negative or inverse correlation). For example, your age is positively
correlated with the number of wrinkles on your face, but your age is negatively
correlated with the amount of time you spend Googling Justin Bieber. Correlations are usually
expressed as numbers between 1 and -1, with zero indicating that theres absolutely no
relationship between the variables. The farther away the number is from zero, the stronger the
relationshipso a value of 0.54, for instance, would be stronger than a value of 0.12. In the
case of our China Study data, strong positive numbers indicate that a certain food is associated
with more of a certain disease, while strong negative numbers indicate the food is associated
with less of that disease.

Get it? Got it? Good!

In my China Study critique last year, I pulled a bunch of data directly from Diet, Life-style, and
Mortality in Chinathe same book Campbell and Chen are huddled around in that last picture
showing just how inconsistent the plant-based diet is healthier message really is. For
instance, weve got peculiar things like this:

Plant protein has a correlation of 0.21 with heart disease (positive)

Non-fish animal protein has a correlation of 0.01 with heart disease (neutral)

Fish protein has a correlation of -0.11 with heart disease (inverse)

Meat intake has a correlation of -0.28 with heart disease (strongly inverse)

Fish intake has a correlation of -0.15 with heart disease (inverse)

Egg intake has a correlation of -0.13 with heart disease (inverse)

Wheat has a correlation of 0.67 with heart disease (really flippin high!)which is not
only the strongest association between any food and heart disease, but remained sky-
high even when I tried adjusting for anything that might be confounding it.*
*Our grain-happy conventional wisdom might scoff at the idea of wheat being atherogenic,
but theres at least one cardiologist out there who has great success treating his patients heart
disease by eliminating wheat (and not going low-fat)and he recently published a fantastic
bookshowing why modern wheat is so problematic.

Why isnt that nasty meat congealing in Chinas collective aortas? Why does wheat seem like a
less-than-heart-healthy grain? Why are we told that a plant-based diet is always associated
with lower mortality of coronary heart disease in the China Study data, when its the folks
eating the most animal foods who get less heart disease? Its quite a mystery. (And in case
youre wondering, its not because the animal-eaters were croaking from strokes instead: Non-
fish animal protein correlates at only 0.05 with stroke mortality; fish protein correlates at -
0.11, and plant protein correlates at 0.12.)

Of course, in the vast sea of potential ways to die, cardiovascular disease is only one tiny,
plaque-bound droplet. Weve still got cancer to think about! And indeed, a cursory glance at the
China Study data makes the animal food-cancer relationship seem massively confusing: Meat
and dairy have zero statistically significant positive correlations with any form of cancer, eggs
are associated only with colorectal cancers, but fishwhich were usually told is healthy for us
is strongly associated with a number of major cancers, including leukemia and liver cancer.
What gives?

This, my friends, is why correlations can lead us astray.

A closer analysis of the fishy data shows us that the cancer clusters mostly occur in
prosperous coastal areas, where more people are eating refined starch and sugar, drinking
beer, eating refined vegetable oil, smoking manufactured cigarettes, working at indoor industry
jobs instead of doing manual farm labor, and experiencing other aspects of urbanization. In
fact, the variable percentage of employed population who are in industry is highly associated
with nearly every common cancer, including male lung cancer (0.62), female lung cancer
(0.47), leukemia (0.53), liver cancer (0.47), colon cancer (0.41), stomach cancer (0.25), breast
cancer (0.24), brain cancer (0.21), and death from all cancers (0.31). It just so happens that the
more industrialized counties are near bodies of water, where fish consumption is frequent.
(Incidentally, humid coastal regions also have a higher prevalence of both aflatoxin and the
hepatitis B virus, which are major risk factors for liver cancer.)

Unless theres something uniquely cancer-promoting about fish protein in comparison to other
meat protein, it seems likely that the fish/cancer links are confounded by other elements of
industrial lifestyles. Indeed, when we look at the variable non-fish animal protein intake, the
correlation with death from all cancers is a measly 0.03, which is even less than the
correlation with plant protein (0.12).

Feel free to peruse my full China Study critique for more details about the lack of
straightforward correlation between animal foods and disease (or plant foods and good health).
You can also check out some earlier posts on individual animal foods and their correlations in
the China Study:

Meat and disease

Fish and disease

Eggs and disease

Dairy and disease

That should cover it, right? Moving on

Just kidding. How could I be done with this section when I havent posted a single graph,
table, Bigfoot photo, or liberally-screen-shotted article excerpt? Were far from finished here,

Although Diet, Life-style, and Mortality in China is crazy-expensive and out of print (and I
returned my library copy long ago, so I cant scan pages), I still want to post some direct charts*
to prove Im not just making stuff up. Lucky for us, the results of China Study II are posted
online as a series of PDFs. The China Study II is basically a follow-up to the first China Study,
except the researchers plopped 20 more counties onto the list and recorded
even more variables than they did for the first round. Because China Study II includes regions
with a much greater degree of urbanization than the first China Study, some of the correlations
are a little different. Meat, for instance, is now more popular in industrialized coastal counties
instead of mainly pastoral areas, and as a result, has some of the same disease associations
that fish did in the first China Study. Even though the data between the two studies arent
identical, China Study II is still useful for a couple things Im going to show you.

*I realize I can overdo it with the graphs and tables. It isnt because I want to bore you or turn
your eyes into blurry, computer-screen-induced globes of pixelationbut rather, because I
suffer from Liberal Arts Complex.
liberal arts complex: n. Subconscious desire to compensate for poor choice of collegiate
studies by over-explaining, over-referencing, and over-graphing material in attempt to gain
credibility; form of mild neurosis.

So lets take a look at some pages straight out of the second China Study monographmore
specifically, the mortality section. (If youre worried the meat industry bribed me to Photoshop
the following images to make them look anti-vegan, by all means, download the full PDF
straight from Oxfords website by clicking here.)

First, lets look at how various foods correlate with death from all medical causes for adults
age 35 to 69. This variable is more interesting to me than all-cause mortality because it
excludes things like drowning, car accidents, getting mauled by a pack of rabid wolves, and
other modes of death that have nothing to do with diet (unless the wolves found you because
they smelled your nitrate-free liverwurst).

Correlations with death from all medical causes, ages 35 to 69.

All aboard the Abbreviation Train! Choo-choo. For reference, PLNT = plant, ANIM = animal,
PROT = protein, and CHOL = dietary cholesterol. The variables preceded by the letter M are
mortality statistics; the ones preceded by P are plasma measurements; the ones preceded by
U are urine measurements; the ones preceded by D are foods from the diet survey; and the
ones preceded by Q are from a questionnaire.

Ive highlighted the food variables specific to either the plant or animal kingdom, so lets take a
gander at how they correlate with all medical deaths. Total plant food, percent of diet as plant
protein, and wheat? All strongly positively associated with death from all medical
causes,meaning that as intake of these things goes up, so does the risk of keeling over from
something body-related. Total animal protein intake, percent of total calories as animal protein,
egg intake, meat intake, red meat intake, fish intake, and consumption of dietary
cholesterol? All strongly negatively associated with death from all medical
causes, meaning that as intake of these foods goes up, medical mortality rates decline. Again,
many of these associations may beand probably aretotally meaningless, but they describe
an important trend: For whatever reason, in China, the animal-food-eaters are living longer
than their more plant-based counterparts.
Which brings us to another problem. As we saw with heart disease in Norway, high rates of
infectious disease can sometimes obscure the true prevalence of chronic diseasebecause
folks are getting wiped out by short-term illness before they have a chance to die from things
like cancer, strokes, or heart attacks. Even if their arteries are plaqued up the wazoo or their
bodies riddled with tumors, itll be the tuberculosis, or the pneumonia, or the other infectious
disease that shows up on the death certificate (and, subsequently, in the data). In the China
Study, low animal food intake tends to be associated more with poor counties where
malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, less education, and acute diseases of poverty prevail. For
instance, here are some charts for three mortality variables associated with lower quality of
living: death from all respiratory disease, death from all digestive disease, and death from
pregnancy and childbirth complications. In each case, you can see the
strong inverse associations with animal foods (except milk), and strong positive associations
with a greater portion of the diet as plant foods. (For a complete key to all the variable
abbreviations, check here.)

Correlations with death from all respiratory diseases, ages 35 to 69.

Correlations with death from all digestive diseases, ages 35 to 69.

Correlations with death from pregnancy and childbirth, women aged 34 and under.

Based on the above, wed actually expect to see areas with higher animal food consumption
also experience higher mortality from long-term diseases. Not because they actually have more
of those diseases, but because there are fewer diseases of poverty to kill them off
prematurely. Again, its all about what the death certificate says. And to quote a paper
Campbell himself co-authored: it is the largely vegetarian, inland communities who have the
greatest all-risk mortalities and morbidities and who have the lowest LDL cholesterols.

While were at it, here are some other relevant pages from the China Study II monographsome
diseases of affluence. If youre sick of these charts, just keep scrolling til its over. I wont be
offended! Once again, correlations really dont mean diddly squat here, but they do paint an
interesting picture of how diet and mortality patterns interact and again, its far from
damning of animal foods.

Correlations with death from all cancers. Strong inverse associations with animal fat
(ANIMFAT) and saturated fat (%SATFA); strong positive associations with millet and eggs:

Correlations with death from all cancers, ages 35 to 69.

Correlations with death from heart disease. Strong inverse associations with animal fat,
rice, legumes, and green vegetables; strong positive associations with wheat flour, light-
colored vegetables, fruit, and eggs:

Correlations with death from heart disease, ages 35 to 69.

Correlations with death from stroke. Strong inverse associations with percent of diet as
animal protein, rice, poultry, fish, dietary cholesterol, legumes, and green vegetables; strong
positive associations with wheat, percent of diet as plant protein, and percent of total calories
from plant food:

Correlations with death from stroke, ages 35 to 69.

Correlations with death from diabetes. Strong inverse associations with milk, meat, red
meat, and animal fat; strong positive associations with fruit and eggs:

Correlations with death from diabetes, ages 35 to 69.

And lastly (no, seriously, this is the last thing): Since we already know collections of plain-jane
correlations can be totally misleading, here are some of the findings from researchers who
analyzed the China Study data beyond the raw correlationsincluding adjustments for
confounders. I wrote about these studies in greater depth in my one-year China Study
Anniversary post, but heres the Readers Digest version.

From Erythrocyte fatty acids, plasma lipids, and cardiovascular disease in rural China (PDF):

Within China neither plasma total cholesterol nor LDL cholesterol was associated with
cardiovascular disease

There were no significant correlations between the various cholesterol fractions and the
three mortality rates [coronary heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and stroke]

The consumption of wheat flour and salt was positively correlated with all three
diseases [cardiovascular disease, hypertensive heart disease, and stroke]

Red blood cell total polyunsaturated fats, especially the n-6 fatty acids, were positively
correlated with coronary heart disease and hypertensive heart disease

From Association of dietary factors and selected plasma variables with sex hormone-binding
globulin in rural Chinese women (PDF):

Meat, fish, and green vegetables are associated with higher levels of sex hormone-
binding globulin, indicating greater insulin sensitivity/less insulin resistance

Wheat has the strongest positive association with insulin resistance out of any food

From Dietary calcium and bone density among middle-aged and elderly women in
China (PDF):

The results strongly indicated that dietary calcium, especially from dairy sources,
increased bone mass in middle-aged and elderly women by facilitating optimal peak
bone mass earlier in life

Comparison of results in Table 7 reveal that calcium from dairy sources was correlated
with bone variables to a higher degree than was calcium from the nondairy sources,
probably resulting from the higher bioavailability of dairy calcium

From Correlation of Cervical Cancer Mortality with Reproductive and Dietary Factors, and
Serum Markers in China:
Even after adjusting for other factors, animal foods are negatively associated with death
from cervical cancer

From Fish consumption, blood docosahexaenoic acid and chronic diseases in Chinese rural

Our finding that the highest blood cholesterol levels in the Chinese were associated
with the lowest risk [of heart disease] is also a contradiction of what might be

From Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer in Sixty-Five Chinese Counties (PDF):

Consumption of green vegetables, rice, meat, and fish was associated with reduced
mortality [from stomach cancer]

And finally, heres what famous researchers Walter Willet and Frank B. Hu had to say about the
China Study data:

A survey of 65 counties in rural China, however, did not find a clear association
between animal product consumption and risk of heart disease or major cancers.

Just because.

Esselstyn: Its a plant-based miracle!

Now that we have The One Message from the China Study neatly tucked into our brains, we turn
our attention back to Dr. Esselstyn and his revolutionary research.

Minute 52:00While Dr. Campbell was publishing his China Study, Dr. Esselstyn was getting
some powerful data from the research hed started in 1985. He began with 24 patients. But six
had dropped out in the first year, leaving him with a total of 18. [Esselstyn:] At the end of five
years, we had follow-up angiograms, and 11 of the group had halted their disease. There was
no progression. And there were four where we had rather exciting evidence of regression of
As the movie notes, this is pretty darn exciting. Even the most experienced, uber-credentialed
doctors often believe that heart disease progression can only be slowed downnot stopped,
and certainly not reversed. I salute you, O mighty broccoli!

But theres something majorly funky with the movies description of this study. Were told that
Esselstyn ultimately ended up with 18 patients, 11 of whom halted their disease. Four folks
regressed their disease, but we dont know if these people are included in the 11 who didnt get
worse. And at any rate, 11 plus 4 doesnt equal 18, so some folks have mysteriously vanished
from the head-count. Whats up with the weird math?

After poking around for more detailed results of Esselstyns study, I found thatquite
fortuitouslyhe posted the full text his papers right on his website. The five-year results are
discussed here: A Strategy to Arrest and Reverse Coronary Artery Disease: A 5-Year
Longitudinal Study of a Single Physicians Practice. (Note the line of links near the top of the
article for the full description of methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.)

In contrast to what were told in Forks Over Knives, Esselstyns paper says that he started
with22 patients, five dropped out, and six stayed on the diet but never came back for data
collectionleaving Esselstyn with only 11 people in the study. (Well talk about why this is a
problem in a moment.) Of those 11 folks, all had an overall stabilization of their heart disease,
although four people did have lesions that slightly progressed . Depending on the method
of analysis used (mean percent stenosis or minimal lumen diameter), either eight people or
five people had evidence of regression in some of their arterial lesions. Aye, numbers!

No disrespect to Dr. Esselstyn and his work, but right off the bat, we can see there are some big
problems with this study:

1. The drop-out rate was crazy high! Since the initial 22 patients got slashed down to 11,
we have to consider why the other half of the group slipped off the radar. Was it
because they were feeling bad on Esselstyns program? Did they experience
repercussions from a plant-based diet that they perceived were even worse than heart
disease? Were they sick of getting celery strings stuck between their teeth? When studies
have a significant drop-out rate, the folks who stick around tend to be the ones having
the most success, while the failures slink awaywhich ends up skewing the results to
make the intervention look more effective than it may have truly been.

2. It was an uncontrolled intervention trial. That means there was a no control group to
compare against the folks who got dietary and statin intervention, so we cant estimate
how many of their health changes were due to Esselstyns program and how many were
due to chance.

3. It was a non-randomized study. The patients volunteered rather than being randomly
assigned to treatment, creating a problem called selection bias. In this type of
research, we know that folks who elect themselves for study may have different
characteristics than the rest of the population, which is why many researchers use
randomization to choose study subjects instead of letting people choose themselves.

4. A whole bunch of variables changed. This wasnt a study that examined the effects of
one component of diet; it did a complete menu overhaul, changing total fat intake,
animal food intake, processed food intake, sugar intake, vegetable oil intake, and about
ninety gazillion other things. Combined with that lack of a control group, its impossible
to determine exactly which diet components had an effect on heart disease, and which
were neutral (or even negative).

In addition, some effects of Esselstyns diet are a little alarming. In the results section of his
paper, he displays the following table, which shows how his study subjects blood values
changed during the intervention.

Lets ignore the fact that those super-low total cholesterol levels are associated with higher
rates of cancer, mental illness, infection, and other fun stuff (yes, your cholesterol can be too
low) and focus instead on the other values. Holy triglycerides, Batman! Although Esselstyns diet
helped lower most of his patients triglycerides, a couple still have values in the major danger
zone (362?). Some of those HDL numbers are looking pretty sorry as well.

All in all, Esselstyns study shows that a whole-foods, plant-based diet is probably infinitely
better for cardiovascular health than the junky cuisine many folks eat. But its far from
conclusive evidence that this diet is the best we can do for reversing heart disease, or that it
would generally be effective in a population beyond his 11 self-selected subjects. A diet that
reduces triglycerides and increases HDL more than his did, for instance, might have an even
better outcome.

Thats all, folks

For sure, Forks Over Knives has some other areas I could nitpick, such as Campbells
statement that animal protein tends to create an acid-like condition in the body called
metabolic acidosis and leads to osteoporosis (minute 1:03:20)an unfounded belief that I
already debunked in the dairy section of this post. But I think this critique covers the meatiest
points. (Pun definitely intended.) And if you made it this far, hats off to you!

Now if youll excuse me, I have to go tend to my feedlot cows and cash my Meat Industry
checks. Oops, did I say that out loud?

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Posted in China Study and tagged Caldwell Esselstyn, Campbell, China Study, Esselstyn, Forks
Over Knives, McDougall, plant-based diet, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, T. Colin
Campbell,The China Study, vegan, vegetarian on September 22, 2011. 2,453 Comments

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1. Michael Brown (@Tsurugi_Oni)

September 22, 2011 at 10:42 pm


Amazing read.

1. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 6:46 pm

It WAS amazing and I enjoyed the documentary very much. EXCEPT I am a

scientist and can unequivocally state this was not information presented
scientifically. The problem is the number of doctors associated with it lends it
more credibility than it should. Doctors are NOT scientists. Drs can have gone to
school to be scientists but they are not the same things. A scientist works from a
hypothesis, develops theories and then runs experiments.during which there
must be some sort of control and some sorts of challenge and a scientist must
start at the most pure unassailable point, ideas in his premise.

That last point is the problem. We learn at the very beginning of the movie that
5% casein does not cause or promote cancer but 20% does. But we are what we
eat. It applies to animals and people. In India we can safely assume the milk
(casein is a milk protein) came from water buffaloe because cows are sacred and
no part of them is consumed. BEFORE we ever decide of a causative factor from
casein, we must look at the breakdown of the ingredients, minerals, trace
elements, chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, etc that might be in that milk. WHY?
Because whatever that cow ate will be in its milk and therefore in the protein.

If a cow eats mercury, lead, malthion (pesticide) benzene, ddt, salt grass, wheat,
derivatives, etcit ALL effects the meat AND the milk. Same thing with chickens
and ALL other animals.

This is why if you travel and come home and try to recreate a dish from abroad
even with a recipeit will NEVER test the same as it did overseas. It cantyour
food was not grown in the same soil, with the same kind of fertilizers and macro
nutrientsyour beef did not eat the same food, breathe the same air or eat the
same grasses or grains as it does stateside.

EVERYTHING matters. Things to know:

1. India (where the casein test was run) has a very high ratio of pesticide
pollutants due to a noncontrolled mfg environment. What trace chemicals could
be in the grass or water or in the air that could ultimately affect the buffalo and
then the meat and milk? Were those particular factors eliminated?

2. India has also been the site of numerous and vast chemical disasters such as
the Union Carbide disasterswhat is the proximity of the site to the tests? To the
grazing areas of cows?

3. Dietthe diet of both cows and domesticated herbivores in the US are very
poor and rife with chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, food additives, genetically
altered vegetable and meat products (yes cows in the US are often given
derivatives of meat including other cow products in their diet) were these
potential OUTLIERS eliminated before coming to conclusions?

4. Unless from organic cows, the repeated experiment later performed by

Esselman also would be suspect due to the diet of the cows, the treatment of
them with antibiotics, growth hormones and vaccines, and a diet high in
genetically modified grains and animal by products not to mention residiual
pesticides and herbicides and whatever is in our ground water.(in that
particular region where the cows grazed and drank and where the grain grew)
same type of OUTLIERStherefore the same skewed data.

FYIto be truly scientific, all potential outliers must be eliminated or nullified

through identification, efficacy tests, etcin other words we have to prove they
have no bearing on the results BEFORE proceeding with the experiment on
people. Scientists know this. Medical Doctors who usually are the beneficiaries of
science not normally the practitioners of science may or may not know this.

I could write tons more, but here is the most interesting, diets high in animal
protein (ketogenic diets) but LOW in carbohydrates also greatly reduce or
eliminate the need for diabetes meds, cholesterol and High blood pressure, etc
but yet those two diets are diametrically opposed and the numbers for
successful treatment ranges into the thousandshow can that be? If both are
right then something that is not being examined is the key.

There is a lot of passion in this movie but very little science. It is like an
infomercial for vegans.
And why is it not called vegetarianism any more? Whole food plant based diet?
Really? Plant based does not mean to the exclusion of animal productsbut since
this diet DOES intent to exclude all animal products, what is wrong with it being
called a vegans argument for not eating meat? Not PC? Been done and not

I enjoyed this movie for the same reason I enjoy most documentariesbecause
the passion of the director and producer finds a way to bring a rather dry and
esoteric subject to the forefront and into the homes of a generation raised on
video games and sound bites. I found some points intriguing but not revelatory
or even necessarily true/correct.

The danger (and there IS a danger) in this idea and doc is that it seeks to take
data and cherry pick what it wants to make its point ignoring too much elsethat
is not science it is propaganda. Consider thisan entire nation dying of some
disease and a new antibiotic being discovered. The antibiotic is made into a blue
pill and Esselstyn and Campbell see it being administered at their hospital and
clinic.then they both rush out and tell the world that pills that are blue will
cure the epidemic.

The clarion call goes out and soon, people are popping blue pills. But most pills
are not the antibiotic. Some are diet pills, some are saccharin pills or placebos,
some are benedryl or another drug some are just water pills or even pills for
PMS. Nowhow many people will get well? Under these circumstances, natural
mortality for that disease will kick inbut the public will not know or understand
thisthey will think that the ones who lived took the right blue pill, they will try
to ferret out which blue pill those who survived took, they will not look at natural
survival rates nor will they look too deeply at the assay or what is in the actual
pillthey wont because they are laymen. They understand a blue pill can save
them. What they do not understand is that it NEVER was a color that could save
anything or anyone it is the ingredients and they do not get that information.

Similarly, we all do not want to die from cancer, or heart disease or hbp or
diabetesthis sounds like a healthy plansome of us do not want animals eaten
though they fail to realize the animals we domesticate would be killed anyway
because they would be competing with humans for places to grow the
agricultural crops needed to feed billions. Predators would take care of the rest.
It never will be the panacea or utopia wished for by some and believed in by
others. NEVER. LIfe is not set up to be a place of harmonyit is a place of
competition, survival and lots and lots of maiming, killing, eating, and death.
Then again, with the world going towards less viable waterwhat happens or
would happen if all diets depended solely on veggies and we experienced the
predicted 75% of the world in drought scenario?

Most ideas like this are idealistic but also very, very short sighted. The point is
conversion and like any other kind of conversionreligious or otherwise, the
point is not to iron out the details of look or think to deeplysheer bodies on one
side or the other is the goalpreferably as mindless and automatic as the
disciples in charge can get them.


1. Wizzu

December 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Wow! Two great group posters in a raw, first (non-Smith) Lisa, now
thqueenbee. Thanks people. These fantastic posts totally couterbalance
the recent insane drift in the discussion.

Some people here have both the knowledge and the writing skills to run
their own blog. Id certainly visit them on a regular basis.

Welcome thqueenbee :-) Please please keep on posting!

@anna: Im still investigating the matter. Ill get back when Im done.
Unlike someone I know, in these matters I take the time to be sure that
Im not juding a book by its cover and I NEVER go by hearsay.


2. AJ

February 1, 2012 at 3:32 am

@thqueenbee. You are wrong about your assumption that in India only
buffalo milk is used. Both cow and buffalo is equally consumed. Go to
any Indian/ethnic store and ask for ghee (clarified butter) or paneer
(cottage cheese) and youll see cow written over it (mostly). I am from
India btw and I eat all kinds of meat. (goat, pork, chicken, beef, fish,
shrimp, lobster, etc).


3. blore2jax1

March 26, 2012 at 6:44 am

How is the conclusion drawn that there were EQUAL amounts of rats in
the experiment for High and Low Protein what if there were only 13 rats
in the second set


1. Juliet

July 4, 2012 at 2:28 am

why would a scientist use 30 rats in one set and 13 in another?

thats half the amount of animals. Usually, one tries to keep the
number of animals within treatment groups the same. They can
be off, by usually by one or two animals. Not half the group. I
suggest you read the original scientific article for yourself. It
should state how many animals were in each treatment group at
the beginning, and how many died during the study.


4. International Correspondent
May 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Several incredibly naive assumptions in your post, makes me question

your scientific universalism.

1. Indians dont eat any part of the cow actually not all Indians are
vegetarian and some do eat any and all parts of the cow.

2. Thereforethey dont eat cow dairy. Wrong! Cow dairy is widely

consumed in India by the majority of Indians including ghee, yogurt and
paneer cheese.

3. India has a high ratio of pesticide pollutants. Not in the 60s when this
study was taking place! India did not have open trade at that time and did
not use modern production methods. Their farms were largely organic,
more so than in todays standards of what organic means.

4. Chemical disasters such as Union Carbide may have contaminated the

milk production. No! This study was in the 60s and there were no Union
Carbides are any other foreign chemical factories at that time in India
(due to Gandhis ideas of isolation and using traditional methods
whenever possible).

If you can claim to know so much about India and get it wrong, what does
this say for your other opinions?


1. Penelope Truth Seeker

July 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Simply in the spirit of truly illuminating the truth, I appreciate

International Correspondents comment. I know that Denise is
inquisitive like that and would want to really get the information
right, so Im hoping that she has read this comment and can
respond to it fully.

5. Dr. Jackson Bean

July 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm

What a witty little critique! I thoroughly enjoyed that. I wish I lived my life
according to which ever direction the wind is blowing. Sometime you
should spend an afternoon on Medline and Pubmed. Do a search
regarding the correlation between dietary animal proteins and cancer and
see what you get. Bring your coffee because youre going to be a busy
girl. This movie wasnt made because three or four guys found some
interesting correlations. You crack me up!


1. Dr. Franklin Mason

July 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm

To call a woman a girl demeans her.


1. Dave Boothman

July 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I thought he intended to be demeaning. He was angered

by a different opinion, a sign of an insult to faith rather
than a disagreement over science. I find this useful, there
are so many worthwhile opinions to consider its nice to be
able to sieve out the worthless ones after the first line and
move on.

1. Martin

January 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Too easy. This wasnt necessarily meant to be

demeaning. And most importantly, a mysogenistic
person can know much more about nutrition than
someone who isnt. If youd stop reading the text
above at the first sign of error. I hope you stopped
very early. What I mean is that someone can be
wrong on somrthing and right on the other.


2. Mike

March 24, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Um Are you suggesting a woman is a man? Or maybe a girl

cant be a women? Please stay with the subject and stop
with your speech restricting political correctness.


3. claudia b wolfe

April 7, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Dear Dr. Mason not necessarily its really dependent on

the intention of the speaker/writer. As a 65 y.o. woman, I
use girl all the time when talking to peers. I love the
mantra: you go, girl, but it can be meant as demeaning I
suppose, like the use of boy, do this or that when
speaking to a man servant, etc.

Guess what Im saying here is that it is presumptuous to

assume that a writer mean the term to be demeaning. Lets
givem the benefit of the doubt and not present a reply
that can be confrontative.


4. Jocelyn Price

March 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Thank you for addressing this. Its an issue I had with

Campbells responses to Mingers original The China Study
critiques as well; its one thing to opine that a lack of a
diploma makes a persons reasoning less valid, even if I
disagree with that perspective, but its quite another to
mix gender denigration into the conversation. This is a
woman we are talking about; lets stop infantilizing
anybody who isnt a man. We all deserve respect even as
we disagree.


2. gager

July 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Do a search regarding the correlation between dietary animal

proteins and cancer and see what you get.

OK, done.
Conclusion: On the basis of the results of this quantitative
assessment, the available epidemiologic evidence does not appear
to support an independent association between animal fat intake
or animal protein intake and colorectal cancer.


1. cbb2c

July 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm

For the record, I dont yet have an informed opinion on

this topic, but its at least worth noting that the paper
to which you refer was funded by The National Cattlemens
Beef Association and the National Pork Board.


1. Derek

March 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm



2. Steve

May 29, 2013 at 2:48 am

From the study you cite: DDA, CAC, KAL, and BS received
partial funding from the Cattlemens Beef Board, through
the National Cattlemens Beef Association, and the
National Pork Board. MAR received no research funding for
this work.

You think that may have had some influence on its



1. Gary

September 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Ooh, a genetic fallacy. Good one.


6. R Kugel

September 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I think it a mistake to say that physicians are not scientists, as they most
certainly are. Unfortunately, as with far too many scientists, they dont
always practice good science!


1. gager

September 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Most doctors are not medical scientists, they are medical


1. David Boothman

September 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Being a clinician significantly limits the freedom to always

practice good science becuae a clinician must follow
protocls which were once based upon what might have
been good science at the time but may now be obsolete or
even contrary to current good sceince.


2. Brian J. MacLean

September 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm

To R Kugel: gager is right on this physicians are not scientists,

but more appropriately categorized as practitioners or
technicians. Technically, an MD is an undergraduate degree and
does not include training in research methodology.


7. Debra

November 4, 2012 at 2:30 am

I believe the doctors would have seen the same result from their patients
from just losing weight. Not just because if was plant based.


8. Adam Stark
May 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm

First, my credentials, such as they are. My mother opened a health food

when I was 15, and Ive worked there mostly ever since. I went to school
originally for journalism, but finished Bio/Pre-Med with a concentration
in Immunology. Ive written and lectured on a variety of health topics,
including frequently to grad students at the university level. And while I
use and celebrate a lot of traditional herbalism, Im most grounded in
research-driven, methodologically sound healthcare. Im a skeptic of all
things, so I make a habit of seeking out primary sources.

I write all this to establish my credentials mostly so the following

statement will carry as much weight as it can: good job! Great job!
Meticulous, great, great job. What youre doing shouldnt be necessary.
But, sadly, it is. Great job!!! Respectfully, with gratitude and admiration,
Adam Stark


9. brightyellowjello

September 10, 2013 at 5:45 am

Small note as I was skimming your response. There is a significant

difference between plant-based and vegan. Oreos are vegan. Tofurky is
vegan. Bread is vegan. Vegans try to avoid foods with any animal
products, but that still leaves for a ton of crap. Yes, being vegan comes
with its own set of stereotypes, but the distinction is on purpose. Plant-
based, whole food diets focus on eating as much of the original sources
of energy as possible, without eating the sun, of course. It is a diet less
based on animal rights and more on human health. Plant-based basically
cuts out a lot of the crap vegans still eat.


1. paleohuntress
September 10, 2013 at 2:08 pm


There is a significant difference between plant-based and

vegan. Oreos are vegan. Tofurky is vegan. Bread is vegan.
Vegans try to avoid foods with any animal products, but
that still leaves for a ton of crap.

No, not really. Veganism speaks to ethics, but a significant

number of vegans eat a whole food diet. There is no significant
difference. The difference lies between whole food and processed
food, and not even plant based is specifically defined as
processed-food free. The S.A.D is plant based, getting between
2/3 and 3/4 of its calories from plants. But its refreshing to meet
a wf/pb person who recognizes the significant impact that eating
whole foods makes over processed foods. I would hope this
distinction applies to diets that include animal foods as well. A
whole-food, omni diet is optimum for most people. The issues are
created with processing. When the wf/pb community can begin
looking at data that compares wf/pb diets to wf/omni diets (as
opposed to the SAD), and recognizing that pb doesnt improve on
it, the reality will dawn.

base: verb to make or form a base or foundation for. plan

tbased: adjthe arrogant label for the diets of a pious
community that refuses to acknowledge that most diets,
including the S.A.D., get the majority of their calories from
plants. criticisms and comparisons generally label all other
diets as meat based, or carnivorous even though these
diets are also generally based on plant foods as well. a
more accurate label would be whole-food vegetarian.


1. Mike scott

April 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

How much did the meat industry pay you ? Your an idiot !
That pretty much sums it up .


1. Finnegans Wake

April 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Your an idiot !

The unintended irony is delicious.


2. paleohuntress

April 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

lol, Finnegans Wake, cant you just see his red face
and little foot stomp too, as he typed that in?


3. anthony

February 10, 2015 at 1:15 pm

If you read carefully with an open mind. You will

see this is science and science is not an idiot.

10. veganglutenfreehealth

June 16, 2015 at 5:12 pm

As for the vegan thing, eating vegan, and eating a plant based diet is not
the same thing. The focuses are different. Plant-based diet is for health
purposes. Vegan is a complete lifestyle that leaves out all animal derived
products of any kind (clothing, food, not using things tested on animals,
etc.). Vegans dont necessarily do it for the health purposes and some
dont care about it, just like people that eat other diets dont care about
health, but they do care about the animals, so that is the difference. Plant
based is health focused, not animal rights focused.


1. jtendler

July 2, 2015 at 11:52 am

Thanks so much for your comment-I understand it a lot better

now. There is a middle way, however, which is to eat humanely-
raised and killed animals. From my own experience, a small
amount of animal protein is necessary in order to consume an
adequate amount of omega 3s over omega 6s, which are
inflammatory. The only way to get EPA and DHA in adequate
quantities is to eat animal products, especially fish, or to take
supplements. Every study has found low EPA and DHA in
vegetarians and vegans. Too many omega 6s leads to a host of
diseases, starting with food sensitivities, allergies and eczema, To
avoid this, every vegan needs to take supplements of EPA, DHA,
and gamma linolenic acid, and to avoid plant sources of omega
6s, which are soybeans, peanuts, nuts and seeds, as much as

1. Compassionate Health

September 8, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Since our body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA we
should not have a big problem with it as long as we (plant-
based eaters) are eating sources of Omega-3 that have a
low Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio (ie: Flax Seed and Chia Seeds,
which are packed with Omega- 3, green leafy veggies
which have lower omega-3 and virtually no omega-6), my
body works out the rest just find. Of course, like our chat
before, vegan, doesnt mean a healthy and balanced diet,
its important to take these things in to consideration and
eat as much of a variety as possible to get an array of


1. James Kling

September 11, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Since our body can convert ALA into EPA and


This statement alone is problematic, since the rate

of conversion is very low, ~3-6% conversion to EPA
and only ~2-4% for DHA. How much flax seed oil
do you plan on consuming?!


2. jtendler
September 12, 2015 at 11:19 am

Some people cant metabolize plant omega 3 and 6

fats, like many people with northern European or
Native American heritage, elderly, infants, and
much more. Im northern European and was a
vegetarian, then vegan, for 35 years. Without
arachidonic acid/prostacyclin and EPA/DHA from
animal products, I got all the debilitating symptoms
of adrenal fatigue, including negative thinking and
food intolerances. I finally got so weak I injured
myself, and I havent been able to work for 6 years.
Now I eat a lot of chicken soup (from humanely-
raised chickens), fish, and burgers from bison that
are harvested in the field, and Im finally starting to
feel normal. I guess its like this: as with all
problems that we see around us, we do what we
can to help.


2. John Rivard

April 12, 2012 at 5:26 am

Good Analysis.
After reading most of it, Im now coming back to each point a bit more in depth.
I only started with reviewing this work so Im down to only the first 2 things I
came back to:
1)First: Cholesterol (referring to the study you found showing ingesting diet
cholesterol reduce serum cholesterol). I came across that one (or a very similar
one) a long time ago. This kind of conclusion happens often with studies, thats
why life should be all about data (as in units, like grams and moles). I believe
these results are indeed accurate i.e. if you start with someone with relatively
high Total Cholesterol like 180 or 220 (yes both these figures are very high in
reality, the 180 also), consuming certain animal products an even straight pure
diet cholesterol in a glass may bring you serum cholesterol levels closer to where
you want them. If you try this with a more normal serum cholesterol level (like
mine for example: Total Cholesterol=104 you guessed right Im vegan) thats
not going to work. Consuming diet cholesterol will increase my Total Cholesterol
for example. It will likely upset my LDL/HDL as well. The problem with these
studies is they start with the paradigm that consuming animal product is normal
so they all start with high cholesterol subjects. Shifting paradigms and trying
these things on a normal low cholesterol subject (one that is not fed no
animal protein and no diet cholesterol at the beginning of the experiment so his
cholesterol level is really low to start with) and the results you describe no longer
apply. Refer to the ton of research conducted by guys like Kritchevsky (father of
cholesterol research) or Funch along with their research teams and then think
again. These guys converged away from cholesterol and ended up on animal
protein pretty early in the game (back in the 1960s I believe).
2)Second: Cancer and animal protein. Looking at your comments on more dead
animals with the 5% protein than with 20% I think Campbell will be the first one
to agree with you. Just go back to the China Study and youll see that he is the
first one to say that 10% protein is required for adequate growth/health. So
nothing unexpected or that could justify your indignation.

Ill try to get back to your work and look at the other items further. Maybe one
general comment on all this. You make a lot of negative comments about Collin
Campbell, almost every paragraph is pointing to the fact that hes basically lying
or confused. You have your hands on a fraction of his work, mostly the
conclusions with some data and what you see does not impress you. Campbell
was much closer to the work than you. I guess where Im going is that your
information is much more partial than his. I conduct a lot of scientific
experiments in my professional life and I deal with situations like this all the
time. How many times do we find that the data is confusing or reversed or seems
to prove the opposite of the principle at hand. Than we redo the experiments not
one more time but 10 times. We then develop a feel for that theory we started
with. After enough experimentation its pretty solid. The technicians can still
prove us wrong on a number of experiments but in reality, if they were to
conduct it enough time ($$), they would get to the same conclusion as us and
our math/science. You can only break yourself against principles. I hope you
look at all these with an open heart as much as an open mind. I hope one day
you join us (vegans) as John Lenon once said. Here is a true (pure) scientific
principle: Only herbivores (includes granivores and frugivores) get
atherosclerosis, it is not possible to produce it in omnivores or carnvivores
(unless you chemically destroy their thyroid). Since humans are subject to
atherosclerosis they have to be herbivores too (William Roberts, Baylor
University, Executive Director of the Cardiology Institute at Baylor, he wrote more
than 1300 articles on atherosclerosis).
All the best I love your approach and your work this world needs more people
like you ready to take the time and conduct real science (or at least analysis in
your case) !


1. demogirl06

October 5, 2012 at 1:43 am

William Roberts


1. demogirl06

October 5, 2012 at 5:58 am

and then see



1. Billy

January 31, 2013 at 11:14 am

Yeah read it carefully. That idiot contradicts himself. Hes

trying to disprove that humans are herbivores then makes
a statement that supports exactly what hes trying to
disprove. Its hilarious.


1. gager

January 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I failed to see contradictions. Cholesterol is

necessary for good health. And cholesterol does
not cause blockage in humans. Eating animal fat
does not cause blockage in humans. Some of my
vegan friends would probably agree with you if
they hadnt died of cancer.


1. Billy

January 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm

If you failed to see contradictions, maybe

you should go back and read it again. Or
maybe you dont see it because you dont
want to see it. Yes cholesterol is necessary,
but not in our diet. Our bodies produce all
the cholesterol we need. Yes I realize
dietary cholesterol doesnt necessarily
cause high cholesterol levels. And your last
sentence doesnt really prove anything.


1. gager
January 31, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Here is the conclusion. Dr Roberts

and other data simply do not
support an argument that only
herbivores get atherosclerosis; they
also do not support his assertion
that carnivores dont get
atherosclerosis; they do not support
the myth that raised cholesterol is
the sole cause of atherosclerosis;
and they do not support his
contention that humans must be
natural herbivores.
No where in is critique did he
contradict himself. You should not
use your ass as a hat. You read


2. gager

February 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I did see where the author agreed

with the doctor the carnivores do
not develop atherosclerosis except
when carnivores are fed grain


2. mdefields

June 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm

I live in Santa Cruz, CA tons of vegans out
here, and I dont know of single one who
has, had, or died of cancer or heart disease.


1. SC Native

January 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

They died of body odor.


2. Charlie

October 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

Find Out What The Scientific Evidence Actually Says About Healthy Diets


3. Janet

June 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Wow thats what you call a film review! Congratulations on such a well-written
and well-thought out piece. After watching Forks Over Knives I have changed to
a mainlyplant-based diet and I think the name is apt because there are people
like me who want to follow it and yet are uncomfortable with the image that goes
with vegan. Plus the fact I do not have to be too rigid about it, and I still use
leather shoes (although I do have concerns about the animal cruelty involved in
some countries with the leather trade) and if I am out for a family dinner I do not
sit there not being able to order anything and I might order fish. I do my best to
continue to advocate humane farming methods, as I think the factory farming is
not only inhumane but not doing much for the safety of our food supply.
However I am a realist and you cannot change things overnight and I am not
ready to chain myself to railings. To summarise I think some of the points in this
article are valid and I will look again at the movie, and I think the way to go for
most people would be far less meat, far less milk, no processed trash which has
hardly any food value. It is clear we are all addicted to fat and sugar, its just like
an addiction. I might point out that since changing to the mainly plant-based
diet I have never felt fitter or had more energy, it is like being on a permanent
high and people ask me why I am almost skipping down the corridor (in pants I
havent been able to get into for years!)


1. mdefields

June 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Yes, Ive been thinking a lot about the so-called French Paradox they
eat a lot of meat and dairy, but have relatively small numbers of heart
disease. I think its because they tend to eat whole-foods, very little
processed garbage.


1. claudia b wolfe

April 7, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Its interesting you bring up the French I find that EUs Walk A
Lot, tend to eat smaller portions (well, maybe not Italians) and
drink a lot of fine wines I dont know what that all means in
terms of overall health/disease but I LIKE the part about drinking
nice wines at lunch and dinner.
As Im reading this blogs comments, its fascinating to see how
many strong opinions there are around food. As a retired doc who
specialized in reproductive endocrinology and nutrition, Id like to
prescribe about 90% of these responders: drink more wine and
chill more with laughter.

O BTW, I dont know of a single culture that has reproduced for

generations that are fat-free, fish-free, meat-free, dairy-free
vegans (or as the movie likes to callem plant based). Not One


1. Pam

June 25, 2014 at 1:26 am

Im reading as many of the strong opinions as I can, and I

very much appreciated a couple of Claudias points.

I have little exposure to continental Italians, but my Sicilian

grandmother served the largest portions of food Ive ever
seen and she never, ever let me walk away from the table
until my plate was empty.

At a local cafe, I stood in a serving line behind a man who

was utterly unable to make a food choice. His facial
expressions, speech and behavior were all increasingly
anxious/agitated as he attempted to identify something,
anything that was compatible with his diet. I was in no
hurry and, as a retired psychologist, was even a little
intrigued by the situation (i.e., not part of the chorus
shouting at him to make up his mind or move on). At one
point, he turned to me and asked me what I was going to
order. With a smile and the best cheerful tone I could
muster, I replied, three bottles of wine, one for me and
two for you. Too bad he didnt even crack a smile. Clearly,
this mans anxiety about food is going to kill him long
before his food choices will.

A larger issue. The clinical endpoints for most research

seem arbitrary and/or irrelevant. Im a 105-pound, 55-
year-old woman with a recent nonfasting total cholesterol
of 169, HDL 70 and triglycerides 47. I do not have
diabetes (HgA1c 6x normal and transaminases 3-4x
normal). This is despite myriad off-label medications (and
combinations thereof), currently including prednisone,
hydroxychloroquine and mycophenolate. I eat mostly
fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes with
occasional meat, dairy and added oil (olive, grandma, I
promise). And yet my food choices are pretty random
whatevers in season or on sale or happens to sound
good when Im in the store. I started reading up on
nutrition to see if I could help myself via improved
nutrition. So far, though, my takeaway is that there are a
lot of strong opinions that cant all be true and, with all
the focus on endpoints like cholesterol and blood sugar
(for which my values are consistently good), I have no idea
which direction to go. I have reviewed Dr. Weils
antiinflammatory diet and noted that some of his
recommendations are outdated (boo), so who knows?
Maybe my best choice is just to maintain the status quo


2. nicoleucberkeley

August 5, 2013 at 1:58 am

I eat a plant based diet and reversed arthritis, morbid obesity and pre-
diabetes. In all, I have lost over 150 pounds by doing Fuhrmans Eat to
Live and variations of it. I started out thinking I was a vegan but now
realize that veganism is a smokescreen. As Michael Pollan points out,
modern food production kills animals. There is no getting around to it. I
recently had to leave a couple of vegan groups on Facebook because their
worldview is that vegans are morally superior to vegetarians who eat their
own humanely produced dairy products.

I think much of the blow back against FOK is coming from people who
resent these authoritarian vegans and PETA types. I did not read Denises
critique as I do not believe she is qualified to accurately critique the
science and really, after debating with some of these vegan types on
other sites, it really comes down to which studies one wants to believe
and FOK is a MOVIE, folks!

In closing , I believe I owe my life and presumed (barring an accident)

longevity on folks like Caldwell, Ornish and Joel Fuhrman. Yes, I know a
sample size of one does not make a study but whole foods plant-based
works for me and is now working for thousands of people (just on
Facebook, look at the numbers of people who follow just Fuhrmans
program on FB, it is in, at least, the tens of thousands.)


1. Finnegans Wake

August 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I did not read Denises critique

And yet you feel compelled to comment on it. Interesting. You do

know what the definition of ignorance is, I presume? It sounds to
me as though you are a shill for the Fuhrman diet. BTW,
Fuhrmans an interesting case study. He selects 20 nutrients, and
omits some rather critical ones (D-3, K-2, all essential fatty acids,
etc.). And then he compounds this by multiplying the amount
found per calorie of food times twice the ORAC score.

Yes, the same ORAC that the USDA dropped because they felt it
was too unreliable and unscientific.
Its rather odd that fiber, which provides no nutrition to humans,
fits Fuhrmans criteria for inclusion, but vitamin D-3, essential to
so many biological functions, is excluded. Perhaps the good
doctor knew which way he wanted his results to skew a priori, and
devised the list of critical nutrients based on that?

But hey, if it worked for you, who cares if the underlying science is
shoddy, right?


1. Jessica

October 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm

why do you feel a need to be condescending to others on a
public forum. What happened to the respect? I have read
Dr. Fuhrmans Eat to Live, Super Immunity, and Disease-
proof Your Child. And I wont be labeled as a shill for the
Fuhrman diet, either. But I will say that he absolutely
addresses vitamin D-3 in Super Immunity, since it has
been one of the sources for boosting the bodys natural
defenses (vitamins and minerals act as important
coenzymes and cofactors in metabolism, which is
recognized). In Disease-proof your child, early on he
addresses the essential fatty acids and highlights the
importance of dietary DHA and EPA (which is the result of
conversion of alpha-linolenic acid). With all that said, I
commend Denise for her detailed work and getting into
some hardcore science material! Not an easy task without
a science background.


1. Finnegans Wake
October 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Why should I respect someone who did not even

bother to read the critique and (being disrespectful
herself) decides that Ms. Minger is not qualified to
make such a critique (again, without having read a
word of it). Sorry, I dont suffer fools lightly.

Its clear the poster was just promoting the plant-

based diet gurus, and I made an accurate critique
of Fuhrmans ANDI scoring system. But lets not
take my word for it, lets go to Fuhrmans own

Though micronutrient density is critically

important, it is not the only factor that determines
health. For example Vitamin D levels, B12, and
proper omega-3 intake are important for optimal
long-term health as well as avoidance of sodium
and other toxic excesses. These concerns are not
addressed in the H = N/C equation.

OK, so vitamin D3 and B12 and omega-3s are

important for optimal health but lets not make
that part of the food scoring system? How does
that even make sense? Oh wait, lets look at the
best food sources for these nutrients:

D3: Fish and fish liver oils, egg, beef liver.

B12: Beef, turkey, liver, oysters, clams, chicken
giblets, beef, eggs, yogurt, milk, chicken.
Omega-3s: Fish, oysters, eggs.
And of course Fuhrman omits vitamin K2, which
works synergistically with D3 and calcium to
promote bone strength and arterial health. Why?

K2: Liver, cheese, butter, eggs, chicken, goose,

beef, liver (and even bacon!).

Why, its almost as though if he included these

important nutrients in his scoring system, meat,
dairy, fish and eggs would be an important part of
the diet, and we cant have that, can we? Nooooo, it
doesnt fit Fuhrmans preconceived narrative!

But what about the antioxidant ability of the

majority of Fuhrmans list of foods? Its based on
those foods ORAC score, squared. But wait, isnt
ORAC discredited? Could it be? From Wiki:

A wide variety of foods has been tested using this

method, with certain spices, berries and legumes
rated highly in extensive tables once published byA
wide variety of foods has been tested using this
method, with certain spices, berries and legumes
rated highly in extensive tables once published by
the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA), but withdrawn in 2012 as biologically
invalid,[3] stating that no physiological proof in
vivo existed in support of the free-radical theory.
Consequently, the ORAC method, derived only in in
vitro experiments, is no longer considered relevant
to human diets or biology by the USDA.

Oh noes!

It looks like Fuhrman is peddling propaganda! He

has a preconceived bias towards some foods and
against others. How very scientific. But if you want
to eat foods that contain ALA, remember that only
8-20% of ALA is converted to EPA in humans, and
less than 10% converted to DHA. Did Fuhrman
mention that as well, I hope?

At least Fuhrman sounds science-y. And to be

honest, following his dietary recommendations
would remove some problem foods: refined foods,
fast foods, processed foods. Thats all well and
good, but he throws the baby out with the
bathwater, so to speak, by throwing aside scientific
rigor in favor of his biases.

I am all for respect. Seriously. But I am reminded of

the quote from Isaac Asimov:

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread

winding its way through our political and cultural
life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy
means that my ignorance is just as good as your


1. Eric

January 26, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Love your reply, loved the movie critique.

Im so happy to have finally found this blog!


2. Leo

March 31, 2014 at 6:42 am

Ive read a number of Denise Mingers
articles. Its a great pleasure to read such
thoughtful, well researched and delightfully
written discourse.

Went to the website posted above for Dr.


It says that Dr. Fuhrman has his own

system, ANDI not ORAC. I followed the link
for ANDI. The scoring is revised based on
what looks like significant additional
research. The links are on the page posted.

Both the food pyramid and food plate there

differ from the USDAs, but they do include
animal meat and products. He does
recommend limiting their consumption, and
eliminating those cooked in certain ways
and those rife with toxins.

BTW, veggies, fruits and grains can also

have toxins. Organics reduce but do not
eliminate all toxins. Waxing may make them
hard to wash off. Others are sucked into the
roots or through the skin or are GMOd in
every cell and cannot be washed off.

These toxic foods are also fed to animals,

who in turn concentrate them, as humans
do, for example, in a mothers milk.

I went and read more of his website. There

are many articles, all loaded with
references. Those I read were definitely
biased to his point of view, but also his
point of view seemed based on the
references, and those I followed were
excellent IMHO.


3. claudia b wolfe

April 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm

You ROCK FinneganWhen you replied to

Jessica: Why should I respect someone who
did not even bother to read the critique and
(being disrespectful herself) decides that
Ms. Minger is not qualified to make such a
critique (again, without having read a word
of it). Sorry, I dont suffer fools lightly. I
just cracked up you said it so much better
than I could have I, too was thinking WTF,
this woman wants to comment on Mingers
in depth review of CC in FOK docu but she
cant READ it! Yet she can sneak her agenda
to promote Fuhrman because it worked for

I mean there are a jillion ways to lose

weight in regardless of the method used
(unless its drugs of course) its likely to
result in lessening disease, pain, etc. at
least in the short term.

Thanks for taking the time to point out

some of the short-comings of Fuhrman.
ANY diet that eliminates sugar and
processed foods is going to show benefits
period. But I think what will sustain us in
the long run is a traditionally balanced diet
and of course, a nice glass or wine or ale.

2. Mike Ryan

June 9, 2014 at 3:30 am

I am trying to go to a plant based diet but its the rabid vegans
who keep turning me away. They keep saying that I must give up
things like my boots and that killing and eating pigs is the same
thing as killing and eating babies.

PETA are their own worst enemy.



4. Biff

April 29, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Why is the dropout rate surprising? Ive known people with emphysema who
continued to smoke and people with liver damage who continued to drink. Is it
that shocking that people who have been eating foods loaded with saturated fat
and cholesterol their whole lives would have difficulty giving them up?


1. Mike Ryan

June 9, 2014 at 3:31 am

People dont like changing. Its AMAZING what rationalizations people go

through so they dont change.

5. Mike Weiss

June 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Reading this article makes me actually laugh. I put it right up there with all the
healthy diet plans and lose weight supplements. Hey was Dr. Oz consulted??
You can be critical of Colin Campbells work or FOK but you cant attack the
proof of what has occurred in many of us on WFPB diets. I myself have lost 70 lbs
eating more than ever. My labs have gone from scary to NORMAL. I have more
energy than ever and all my aches and pains and other problems are GONE!. I eat
nothing with a mother or a face, no dairy etc. So why do people want to cast
negativity on a way of eating that would save so many lives? My answer.. because
they are closed minded morons who have nothing better to do with their lives
but be critical. If you want to be healthier than ever. Not die of heart disease,
diabetes, etc then go plant based. If you want to shorten your life and keep your
families memories of you with them limited then go ahead follow the advice of
people who know nothing. Keep eating meat, fish, dairy and fatten up you
arteries, destroy your pancreas, feed those cancer cells. Your choice


1. Tim

September 8, 2014 at 4:40 am

If you try to understood the scientific analysis which Ms. Minger has
clearly laid out, and the points being made, you might learn something
and be able to better understand why your diet changes helped you, and
what future considerations to be aware of as you follow the plant-based
diet. Unlike the creators of the movie, she has no dogmatic agenda,
except to help people do their own critical thinking.

2. Monte

September 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I cant believe I read the whole thing! >:D

Now if youll excuse me, Im going to go use both a fork and a knife (and some fish) to
better my health.

P.S. I dont know what youre on, but what would you consider bottling and selling it?
Im sure there is a market for pure awesome. ;)


1. Another Halocene Human

October 21, 2011 at 8:18 am

I know its not the Jif from the picture. Fun fact: it has hydrogenated fats in it.
Little enough to slip past the FDA, but defs enough for a friend of mine to have a
weird reaction to it. Took a few minutes reading the label, but yup, its in there.
Probably for enhanced shelf stability that stuff thats ground at the
supermarket separates. (My life is better without either one.)


1. samhuff96

September 3, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Quite, less than 0.5 grams per serving counts as none. However, the
manufacturer defines, within very broad limits, what a serving is. For
transfats produced by hydrogenation the safe limit is none, zero, nada.

2. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I AM noting that a diet in fish appears to be almost mandatory for complete

health BUT I am also noting that the decline in fish sources devoid of pollution,
toxins, or diet manipulation (fish farms which use the similar genetic modified
additives as we use in cattle, pigs, and chickens) may mean that this healthy
protein source will soon be just as unhealthy and prone to possibly contributing
to cancer and other diseases as red meat.

We need to remember we are what we eat. This means cows are what they eat
and so on. ergowe eat meat that has eaten products contaminated with
pollution, mercury, lead, toxins, growth hormones, vaccines,genetically altered
grains, antibiotics, etc and we actually are eating pollution, mercury, lead toxins,
growth hormones, etc too.

This is especially important when you consider what growth hormones dothey
cause cells to increase growth exponentially and in a shorter time span. A
chicken that may have weighed 2 lbs and taken 6 months to mature now takes 3
weeks and is twice the size.

It does not take a rocket science to ask the inconvenient question: what happens
to the growth hormones when humans eat them? Do they have a treaty to stop
working? Are they still contained residually in the cells of animals or plants? Well
the last few generations have increased exponentially in height and girth
following the adoption of these additives.

Now add to that mix fake smell, colors, flavors as well as the hormonesjust how
does that play out in the human body? consider that cancer is unmitigated
growth of cellsthat cocktail regularly supplied in our foods certainly can
cheerlead unmitigated growthand lest health nuts feel superiorthe run off from
farms and landscaping and yards that contributes to all this cocktail can
eventually get into the ground waterwhich means it becomes nutrients that can
even find their ways onto organic farms. Think about that. I Love fishbut
everytime I eat any of it no matter where I caught it or bought itI wonder..

1. Eric

January 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Your first point of this comment is the largest factor in why there is not
any animal protein in my diet. I feel my options to achieve ideal health
with a clear conscious are almost non-existent. I have been looking and
looking for answers, but it is so frustrating to search and come up with
little or no conclusions on how to construct a truly healthy diet, one that
is healthy for my body and the planet. I keep coming to the idea that
raising and growing my own food is the only way to achieve what I am
trying to do and until then I am stuck wondering what I am actually
eating and how it is affecting my body. Even then, as you mentioned, will
simply the environment that I am raising my food in be contaminated as

I apologize for the venting, but I think I recognized a similar frustration in

your remarks.

Thank you for being thorough and thoughtful with your comments.


1. Wizzu

January 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I share these concerns, Im very environmental conscious.

But personally after lots of research, I came to the conclusion that

eating animal products from local, natural farm practises
(organic or otherwise), pastured animals, minimal grains use etc
had little negative impact, if any, on the environment. Eating eggs
from free-range hens, for instance, is probably totally harmless.
Besides, plant products are not automatically environment-
friendly or health-friendly, far from it. Lots of plant products can
be unhealthy and/or can have a huge negative impact on the
environment. heavily processed, contaminated with pesticides
etc si its not a clear cut.

Eating mostly local products rather than imported ones, and

organic rather than standard, IMO has probably a much more
positive impact to the environment than simply avoiding some
categories of food.

BTW eating almost no grains makes the local food practise much
easier for me, since organic grains are almost always produced
very far from my home.



2. Grok

January 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm


1. Dave Boothman

January 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Good warning!
and this one:

1. Grok

January 4, 2012 at 9:19 am

Not sure about the thread Dave, but the fact that
you linked a gun forum won my heart ;)


2. Polarwinds

January 17, 2012 at 2:27 am

Theres a guy they make fun of in this video for claiming

that when you eat dead meat, youre eating an animals
fear. He advocates eating raw stuff, which I think is funny
because do you think an animal sitting on your dinner
plate is gonna be less scared? hehe But actually, I think the
guy is right in a way about one thing. There is a giant
adrenal hormone release right before death if the animal
sees it coming. Whether this is bad for you or not, who


1. loreli

October 18, 2012 at 12:24 am

There is a really horrid ritual in some Parts of the

Phillipines where a whole bunch of folks torture an
animal before killing it because they swear the
adrenalin and whatever else bestows healing and
cuilinary perfection. not my thing but there ya go

3. Dan Westford

February 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm

From the research data Ive seen, we are all being exposed to high
levels of contaminants. The good news is that eating a healthy,
low-fat, whole plant based diet can mitigate the risk.

Animal-based food like products tend to concentrate

contaminants. The original research from India, replicated by
Professor T. Colin Campbell, showed that caesin (cow milk
protein) strongly correlates with cancer deaths induced with

The diet recommended by Professor Campbell and many others

will help you live a longer and healthier life. If you can grow or
find organically grown produce, so much the better.


1. Ellen

February 23, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Another vegan drive-by.

Tip to vegan commenters: you might want to actually read

Denises articles before commenting on them, unless you
enjoy looking like trolls.


1. Bob
March 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Kill yourself.


1. Finnegans Wake

March 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm

You first, Bob ol boy, you first!


2. Tim

September 8, 2014 at 4:49 am

No, the good news is that if you actually care to educate

yourself, you know, by reading the article, you can stop
spreading the thoroughly debunked casein research you


2. Val

April 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Your take on the growth hormones secreted in so much of what we eat

and drink is a very telling point! Those hormones have got to go
somewhere and it is obvious that they are still active in our bodies
encouraging a far greater activity level in the proliferation of cells. Guess
the old problem of the inability to make money from natural products
restricts the enthusiasm to conduct real research on this as prevention
of cancers!

1. David Boothman

April 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Be cautious believing most scientific sounding information, most

of it is based upon badly designed studies and incompetent
statistics. Let me give an example in your area of concern. I eat
fish from many sources at least once a day, not small amounts,
sometimes like an Eskimo the only thing for lunch, Ive looked
into the data and found nothing to back up the warnings from the
professional warners but for me this is not enough, So a while ago
I decided to have a mercury test to determine actual mercury level
in the body. When the test came back, while the mercury levels
were one tenth of the concern level, the Doctors office was very
concerned regarding the very high arsenic level so got back with
the lab for a retest. The lab looked into it and determined they
should have done an unusual test for a seafood eater. There are
two types of tests, the second one rarely done. It took a long time
to find someone to do it. When it came back it showed inorganic
arsenic and organic arsenic both well within limits. There are two
types of arsenic, one very poisonous, the other not. The problem
is the standard heavy metals test will erroneously indicate a
dangerous arsenic level for a a sea food eater. I believe organic
arsenic is flushed out while inorganic accumulates so the data
depends on how recently seafood was eaten. Since we evolved
eating seafood its not a toxicity problem.
I got far more out of this test then Id hoped for. Not only was my
danger of poisoning, particularly mercury poisoning, from fish
eaten to excess non existent but its so non existent nobody
apparently suffers from it because if it were a problem the lab
surely would have performed the test on a sample from at least
one patient with the living memory of the staff. Labs apparently
are not doing tests on seafood eaters so if there is no testing
where is the disease?
Why not eat all the fish you want then have a test done for
reassurance. But warn the Doctor if he asks for the standard test
its going to look like someone is trying to poison you with


1. jamirah Woodside

January 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Get a stool mercury test and youll likely stop eating fish
from the level youll likely register with. Further, make sure
you test for pcbs and other dioxins as well.


1. Peter

September 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Wait, so the levels of mercury in his body arent a

concern, so you are telling him to get the levels of
mercury that havent been absorbed by his body
to indicate how unhealthy his body is?


2. Martin

January 30, 2013 at 3:45 pm

You certainly should not be reassured because your levels

are within limits. Those are so frequently very much too
high, and they vary greatly from country to country there
is no good reason for that except corporate influence.


3. mdefields

June 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm

The fork is about eating/diet, the knife is about surgery, not eating meat with a
knife. :)


3. Arild Eide

September 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I believe the statistics from Norway further underestimate the consumption of meat. The
statistics measured official consumption of rationed foods sold through stores. A lot of
food was obtained from other sources. I remember my parents and grandparents talking
about how they had pigs and chickens in their gardens. People didnt just go berry
picking in the woods. Animal hunting for personal consumtion was widespread as was
fishing. The stuff not easily obtainable was sugar, imported fruit and grains. Also,
remember the winter is long in Norway with a very short season for vegetables and fruit.
During WW2 the Norwegians in reality went back to a hunter-gatherer diet.


1. sharks having fun

December 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Arild Eide,
What a remarkable similarity between your assumptions and conclusions
Theres a quote from Denises article in regard to the data:

Between 30 and 50 families were surveyed three times annually from 1941 to
1945, giving us a nice little diet portrait encompassing not only rationed food,
but also the black market items people were eating.


1. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Given the country was occupied and failing to turn over meats and other
products to the occupiers could be punishable by deportation or death
jsut WHO do you believe actually told the truth about what they had and
or had eaten? People who would have been so stupid as to tell what they
ate off the black market in 1941 probably never lived to tell what they
would have eaten in 1942if you knew anything about how the Nazis
operated, then youd know only a collaborator (and those would be
known) could have bilked the German orders and gotten away with it.
Read up.


4. Grok

September 22, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Very nice Lil Miss Minger :)


5. Stabby
September 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Wow! What an enormous post, but it was a very pleasant read. I feel the same way about
your posts that you do about coronary artery bypass footage and 400 pound dudes
drinking carrot juice. Theyre avoiding their doom and you are avoiding a fate worse
than death: being known only for being an English major! Go, Denise! Youre also
somewhat prettier.

Some of us just require a higher standard of evidence than others. There are going to be
some people who have their hearts set on believing that a certain type of diet is best for
everyone, and they are going to watch the movie and espouse all of its arguments
without questioning them. But the way that you thoroughly evaluate the arguments and
their weak points, and tie it all together with a firm understanding of epistemology and
empirical data is admirable and the way it should be done. Many people simply dont
have the time to think for themselves, so they throw in with a paradigm, and it is blogs
like yours that give them an alternative view in an comprehensible way.

A lot of your posts dispute the notion that various animal products are necessarily
harmful, but I am wondering if you ever intend to do a pro-meat post. I know youre not
an evangelist, but so many people are under the impression that even if meat isnt death
it still isnt nutritionally valuable. But there are so many semi-essential compounds in
meat, especially grass-fed meat that improve health carnosine and beta-alanine,
creatine, carnitine, lots of alpha-lipoic acid, taurine, CLA, etc. Vegetarian studies arent
all sunshine and rainbows, and there is a good deal of clinical and epidemiological data
that suggests that some animal products do improve health. Anyway, just a thought for
the future.



1. sharks having fun

December 6, 2011 at 5:47 pm

semi-essential? Whats that? A semi-scientific term to evade the unforgiving


6. julianne

September 22, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Hmm. Walter Bond has Maori tattoos. Pre European Maori were cannibals and huge
meat-eaters. At least a dozen species of large birds became extinct in a few hundred
years of Maori occupation in New Zealand. Somewhat ironic.


1. xvx

November 6, 2011 at 10:15 am

walter bond and many other A.LF activists risk their lives and freedom to liberate
animals from torture and murder. And to throw a major wrench in the murder
industries machine.
your comment is not only retarded, and irrelevant, it is also racist.
you think white people havent caused animals to become extinct?

try getting off your arse and doing something rather than being an annoying


1. Seamus Ruah

November 9, 2011 at 2:22 am

Walter is an idiot, welcome to the ranks of Hezbollah.


2. rickmccj

November 12, 2011 at 3:31 am

Torture and murder? Murder industries machine? Are you sure your
comment is not retarded & irrelevant. Racist??


3. Jessica

November 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Oh my god, I have to stop laughing at this person calling someone else a

hippy, but it is so hard.


1. OptimAge

March 28, 2012 at 1:44 am


4. sharks having fun

December 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm

wheres the racism?
Do you really think a statement like x did y is racist when not
immediately followed by a but a, b, c, d, and e did too?

The problem with using such unfounded accusations of racism is that

real racists get the opportunity to get away with their acts saying O, you
know how these political correctness people are: they shout racism every
time somebody speaks up.

Youd be more effective promoting your cause if youd be a bit more

careful with your words.


1. Martin

January 31, 2013 at 5:21 pm

No but it is innapropriate to talk about the alledged reponsibility

for extinction of an aboriginal people, when western culture is
actually making approximatly 200 species disappear into oblivion
every single day. It would be like talking of the racism of the Jews
during World War II. It would be unfair and probably ill-


1. Margrethe

October 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Ehm Maori and aboriginal, not the same.


2. Bitter Truth

December 1, 2011 at 6:20 am

You are suffering from Racism in your brain.

You could call it an Unconscious bias a phrase used by racists to get away.


7. Jorge

September 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Denise you should be canonized


1. skyking1717

September 27, 2011 at 2:14 am

I sure hope not! She have to be dead first before she could be canonized.


1. Pope Benedict XVI

October 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Cardinal Cacciatore have brought this to my attention; he shall be Holy

Father after methe Pope George Ringo I. Ah yesto be canonized is long
process, there are many steps, but death must precede them all, and
before that, the miracle(s). Miss Minger, we pray, shall be not eligible (for
consideration) for many many years.

Still, in interim, steps can be taken in acknowledgement and gratitude.

While we continue to study the literatures of which she has authored, It
has been commented on the beauty of Miss Minger, and yes, we, having
reviewed the evidence, a determination has been made that Miss Minger
is Ea pulchrior Iesu infante est; how you say in English: Cuter than Baby
Jesus. Should she deign to visit the papal residence within Vatican City,
and indeed this would be most highly encouraged, she shall be
recognized as Puella formosa in urbe, or as you say the American states,
[a] Hot Child in the City. Indeed, this title applies to Miss Minger when
she resides in any setting of urbanity.


1. Monte

October 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm

lol.The Pope is hilarious.


8. Matt

September 23, 2011 at 12:08 am

Cmon all that and no mention of, uh, *clears throat*, the flag still rises?

Great work! Exactly why I started taking notes at the 30-second mark and stopped at
the 30-minute mark I just wasnt up to this task.

9. Brendan Coburn

September 23, 2011 at 12:20 am



10. Brendan Coburn

September 23, 2011 at 12:21 am

Im telling all my friends despite the fact that not one of them will read it.


1. honjk

October 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

hmm, i thought exactly the same thing, i sent it to all my friends WIVES,
including my own (ulterior motive there) but i doubt they will read it


11. Scott Miller

September 23, 2011 at 12:23 am

Another well-researched article, Denise. Truly wonderful. I know your major articles are
so much work. Thank you. Youre prose is quite enjoyable, too, like bacon. :)

12. Jeanne Miranda

September 23, 2011 at 12:28 am

Props to you for making an effort on writing this novel, I meant blog. I had the time to
read all of it but not the patience so hopefully someday you will have resources to turn
this blog into a documentary so maybe more people will be interested. I guess thats
always the case about documentaries being biased which makes me think, what would
be their agenda? Would these doctors make more money participating in this
documentary? Are these doctors also farmers thinking that if they reveal their studies to
the people, they would buy more vegetables and fruits from them? I dont think so.

But maybe Im the biased one. Im a healthcare professional who see patients with the
same diseases, morbidly obese patients who cant even wipe their own butt.And I always
ask them, what do you like to eat? They answer meat like burgers, hotdogs, chicken and
lots of sweets. especially the processed one. And Ive also been starting to notice that
theyre getting younger and younger. I have a 39 yo patient with full blown tumor in his
throat and guess what kind of diet he used to have? You know the answer to that.

I watched this documentary and guess what, it didnt make me want to be vegan or
vegetarian. It just made me want to eat less meat and eat more fruits and vegetables.
And it made me feel really good. I have more energy, i feel lighter and just healthier. I
really could care less about their studies. But between you and these doctors, I would
listen to the doctors. They made the real effort to help in terms of being healthy. All you
did was question their studies. But like I said, there is always an opposition to
everything good or bad. Hats off to you still.


1. Dana

September 23, 2011 at 5:33 am

Burgers come with buns. Hot dogs come with buns. Chicken is often breaded
and fried. Sweets dont usually come from meat in the United States.
All youre seeing is the meat? Really?

It is hard as heck to get a straight answer out of someone of what their typical
diet is. We dont remember after a day or so. We have to guesstimate. And thats
*before* measurement comes in. I do best with my weight loss when I track my
food but I HATE tracking food. You would too, if you had to weigh everything
before it went into your mouth. Its supposed to be a temporary thing but its
still a PITA. And most people filling out food-frequency questionnaires, or simply
asking their doctors or dieticians or nutritionists questions, wont have

You basically have no idea of what your obese patients are eating. You zeroed in
on a few foods because you have an axe to grind and you have about gotten
down to the handle now. Put the handle down and next time you see an obese
patient, ask them have they ever used SparkPeople. Im sure you can figure out
where to take it from there. I will be VERY surprised if you dont find that these
people get a good 500 grams of digestible carbohydrate from starch and sugar
per day. Thats from plants, by the way, just in case you forgot.


1. Dirk

September 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I would also add that when was the last time you ate a hamburger or
hotdog without fries or chips? And most likely soda as well.

You say youre going to McDonalds for a BURGER, when the macro
breakdown for the actual meal would have the processed carbs grossly
overshadow the meat.


2. Lisa
October 14, 2011 at 2:41 am

The movie was about meat AND processed foods. It is widely known that
the western diet has gotten out of control- the average meat intake has
increased, and it coincides with obesity and serious diseases. The
average processed food intake has increased, and so has obesity and
serious diseases. Isnt it just common sense to see that the western
diets lack of an abundance of whole, unprocessed, plant based foods-
and also the fact that meats and processed foods can be a source for
synthetic ingredients, harmful chemicals, and hormones- is causing
problems for a lot of people, and that eating healthier will help stop
those diseases from occurring. Maybe the doctors were only commenting
on the parts of their studies that related to the subject they were talking
about (hmmmm- no surprise) with the hopes of getting ignorant people
to pay attention. Maybe eating a diet with less meat and processed foods
would cause the same, healthy result that they portrayed in the movie
with the plant-based diet (they never said it wouldnt, they just said they
chose to promote a wholly plant-based diet), but it is indisputable that
the current western diet encourages consumption of way too much meat
and processed foods than what the average American should be
consuming. Its been proven, whether meat is healthy or not. Anything in
excess causes problems. You saw that part of the movie, right? about the
evolution of the food pyramid? and how it recommends an overdose of
animal proteins? I havent seen anyone say that they agree that eating
excessive amounts of animal protein and processed foods are GOOD for
you and PREVENT diseases. Is it really all just so that people dont feel
guilty eating their meaty and processed bun of a burger or processed
breaded and just dunked in unhealthy processed oil fried chicken? Maybe
thats worth doing a study on.


1. Wizzu

October 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

the average meat intake has increased, and it coincides with
obesity and serious diseases

Interesting. Care to provide some evidence to backup this blanket



Up to this point, your posts have been interesting. Even though I

mostly disagree with your points of view, I actually enjoyed
reading most of your posts. I think it would be a pity to enter a
different territory.

@ Selena:

it all boils down to BIO-INDIVIDUALITY.

You could just as well say, it all boils down to chance. Or personal
beliefs. You name it. When you start using relativism as the basis
to approach nutrition, you can state anything you like, even the
wildest claims (i.e. SOME people can eat only carrots for years,
and be healthy, you know..). I personaly think its a receipe for
baloney, and actually rather close to obscurantism.


1. Monte

October 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm


/me adds that to vocabulary.


2. Laki Bayag
January 31, 2012 at 1:08 am

You, another meat industry lackey or a pharma apologist?

Care to respond?


1. Wizzu

January 31, 2012 at 11:34 am

Respond to what? Your petty opinions? Your petty

accusations? I cant see any point in doing so. Bring
something remotely interesting to the debate first.
But I smell the Troll scent.


1. gager

January 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Scientific integrity and ethical business

practices are a foreign concept to idiots.
These are usually are the same people that
think all corporations and businesses are


1. Martin

January 31, 2013 at 5:31 pm

It is not about being evil as the devil.

However, corporations are
discouraged in every possible way of
behaving ethically and
compassionately. Add to that the
fact that a corporation isnt a living
being in which no one trully feels
responsible. And they better, caus if
they do, theyll lose their job. So you
get something that certainly looks
evil, while its simply people doing
what they are encouraged to do. It is
ludicrous to believe that the masses
will go against the grain.


1. gager

January 31, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Corporations are not entities

that can make decisions with
feelings. The decision
makers of corporations are
no more evil that the
population and your
statement that corporations
are discouraged from
behaving ethically or without
compassion is meaningless.
Corporations are conceptual
entities that share ownership
of a business. The first
corporation ever is the
Catholic Church. The talent
needed to successfully
operate a large corporation is
considerable and those
people are rewarded
generously. We all benefit
from corporations with
cheaper goods and services.
If a corporation has
suspicious business practices
it will not prosper. It is
popular to demonize
corporations and business
but where would we be
without them? You cant do


1. Martin

January 31, 2013 at

6:42 pm

We all benefit from

corporations with We
all benefit from
corporations with
cheaper goods and
services. If a
corporation has
suspicious business
practices it will not

LOL! We ALL benefit.

Tell that to the
Chinese manufacture
workers, or others in
Mexico, Eastern
Europe or elsewhere.
Tell that to non-
human animals. And
your right, a cheap
toaster from Wal-
Mart makes me so
happy. Maybe you
should try
questioning things
rather than faking it
to look smart and
reassure yourself
while not making
significant changes in
the way you see the
world and/or act in it.
I know what a
business is. For
example my father is
a veterinarian. The
city brings him stray
dogs for euthnasia. At
some point he
decided this was
unacceptable and
tried having those
pets adopted. He now
loses money because
they use space, cages
that paying clients
could be using, they
require medical
treatments, they need
to be fed, employee
time, plus time
setting the adoptions
up. There is no doubt
he would make more
money otherwise
(their are only costs,
no revenues) and/or
could probably lower
prices. That is the
reality which every
entrepreneur must
face. And the
problem is much
exacerbated in a big

2. gager

February 26, 2013 at

6:32 pm

At first I was not

going to respond to
such a ridiculous post
but I thought I should
to challenge your
understanding of how
business takes people
out of the retched
living conditions that
exist in most of the
world. When a
corporation opens in
the poor areas they
are inundated with
people looking for
jobs to help take
them away from the
bare agrarian
You should ask these
people how they feel
about the opportunity
to get their fill of
food everyday.
Here is how it was
before the industrial

2. Dana

September 23, 2011 at 5:37 am

Oh and by the way? I told my doctor last year that I was trying to follow a grain-
free diet. She was a good sport about it, but she looked at me like Id grown a
third eye on my forehead, and said she hadnt heard of anyone doing such a
thing. A doctor. An MD. In 2010.

Just because someones a doctor doesnt mean they know better. They get, what,
one unit of nutritional training? Possibly not even a term in college? Maybe a
couple weeks?

I told her I have trouble converting beta carotene (as far as I can tell; the signs
certainly point that way). Shed never heard of that either. Almost half the
population does now, at least out of the healthy folks. If you count the diabetics,
the folks with metabolic syndrome and the folks with slow thyroids then the
numbers probably much larger. I fit into at least one of those categories. My
labs were only as good as they were last year because Id already cut so much
(carby) crap out of my diet. There was still room for improvement. Nope, no use
for beta carotene here. Its fish liver oil for me.


1. Dave Boothman

September 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm

If you want to be cruel, next time ask her to look up your year over year
triglyceride and HDL numbers and read them out to you. My Doctor put
his head in his hands saying you always have a hole for me to fall into..


1. ferlonda

September 27, 2011 at 1:36 am

Or maybe go to a better, more open minded, doctor


3. Angelyne

September 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Meaning no disrespect Jeanne, but youve decided to alter your eating patterns
based on a biased documentary, but you dont have the patience for slogging
through a (albeit long) post that debunks the science its basing itself on. Dont
you think you owe it to yourself ? This sounds like a case of Dont confuse me
with the facts.

Some of the doctors might be well meaning but they have a raging case of
confirmation bias. Like, well you. You see what you want to see, and anything
that doesnt fit becomes invisible. A human trait, but one that needs to be
guarded against, not embraced.


1. Wizzu

October 15, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I missed that one!

This sounds like a case of Dont confuse me with the facts.

Some of the doctors might be well meaning but they have a raging case
of confirmation bias. Like, well you. You see what you want to see, and
anything that doesnt fit becomes invisible. A human trait, but one that
needs to be guarded against, not embraced.

Beautiful, Angelyne, beautiful. :-)



2. sharks having fun

December 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Meaning no disrespect Jeanne but youre uninformed, impatient,
irresponsible, ignorant, biased, and lax?

Meaning no disrespect Angelyne, but merely putting that phrase in front

of a row of insults doesnt take the respectlessness out of them.

1. Jen

August 25, 2013 at 1:59 am

Theres a way to word things in a more respectful way, which is

exactly what Angelyne did. Meaning no disrespect, but youre just
being a douche.

(Just to be clear, yes, I know that saying youre being a douche

isnt very respectful).


3. KayDee

July 23, 2012 at 2:33 am

Some of the doctors might be well meaning but they have a raging case
of confirmation bias.

How, exactly, is this article not doing the exact same thing? It leads with
a statement saying the author has set out to disprove all works of Dr
Campbell. Its not possible to give this article any sort of credibility when
it starts out saying its intentionally biased.


1. Denise B

August 3, 2012 at 8:12 am

It leads with a statement saying the author has set out to

disprove all works of Dr. Campbell?

Where exactly was that?


1. Brian J. MacLean

August 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm

The bias referred to is in the first paragraph of Denises

paper: In case you arent yet convinced that Ive made it
my lifes mission to critique everything related to T. Colin
Campbell, this should seal the deal.


1. gager

August 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

A critique may be positive or negative and is not a



1. Mike Brooks

August 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm

You can read those words quite literally and

believe the critique could be positive, but
the sentiment expressed there is clearly
non-supportiveand anyone who thinks
otherwise has serious delusions. Those
words are reserved for finding fault.

2. Brian J. MacLean

August 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Technically speaking, a critique may indeed

be positive or negative. However, a simple
reading of Denises paper reveals that the
critique is negative. Also, when someone
makes it a lifes mission to critique the life
work of another, this suggests a bias.


1. Peter

September 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm

That OR they find the individuals

work to be interesting/worthy of
critique regardless of positive or
negative outcome.


2. FW

September 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Not all biases are bad.

I find I am rather biased against

climate change deniers, Miley Cyrus
twerking, Jerry Bruckheimer movies,
Given the lengths T. Colin has gone
to in advancing an agenda, rather
than having his conclusions follow
the data, Ms. Mingers bias seems


1. Brian J. MacLean

September 20, 2013 at 11:04


How did T.C. Campbells

conclusions violate the data?


2. Finnegans Wake

August 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

The thing that Kay and Brian are missing WRT the
statement of Denises lifes mission is that Denise
is again flashing her sense of humor. Perhaps you
didnt pick up on that, but she was being cheeky. It
seems to me that when offering as thorough (and
therefore prolix) analysis of FOK as Denise has, a
little humor is a welcome leaven.

As to the notion of criiques and criticism, a critique

should be per se objective; its conclusions may be
positive, or negative, or contain both positive and
negative elements. I find nothing in the analysis
and methodology Denise utilizes to indicate bias,
and to say that this piece is somehow biased seems
to indicate that the reader simply didnt care for
Ms. Mingers conclusions.


1. Brian J. MacLean

August 3, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Perhaps in jest, but then again, many a true

word is spoken in jest. As for not caring for
Denises conclusions, this is true, but not
because of vegan beliefs or practices on my
part. In fact Denise is closer to vegan eating
than I have ever ventured. I have a problem
with her conclusions, simply because they
are wrong.


1. Finnegans Wake

August 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm

You don;t make a convincing

argument just stating that Denise is
wrong. Opinions are like *, as the
saying goes.


1. WakeUp

August 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Opinions like * If it looks
like, smells like, tastes like a
turd, you need a convincing
argument?? There were 4
blind guys feeling an
elephant, one feels a leg and


1. Finnegans


August 6, 2012 at
2:21 pm

The only thing that

smells like a turd are
the posts like yours,
criticizing this post in
the most infantile
ways without offering
anything even
remotely resembling
a cogent counter-

You need an olfactory

because your sense of
smell is obviously
very bad.

2. WakeUp
August 6, 2012 at
2:29 pm

Stll LMAOJust like

Denises; its just my
sense of humor
please dont misjudge
me for it. Whats
sauce for the goose is
sauce for the gander.

2. Brian J. MacLean

August 7, 2012 at 4:24 am

I am inclined to think that

either a) you didnt actually
READ T.C. Campbells
research findings or his
rejoinder to Denises
amateurish attempt to play
science critic, or b) you
didnt understand them. So
for the edification of you and
the vast majority of
scientifically uncredentialed
people who write on sites
like this, you may benefit


1. Jen
August 25, 2013 at
2:04 am

Ah yes, insult people.

That makes me want
to click right on that
link (not).

4. Martin

January 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm

You pretend it has been debunked. This critique certainly is interesting

and is worth investigating further but it has not, right off the bat,
debunked anything. Just as the documentary did not seal the deal. I
suggest most people here read the response of TC Campbell to Denises
China Study critique, to which Ms. Minger graciously posted the link on
this website. Their are serious scientific flaws to this critique which I
think are unfair to Dr. Campbell. Furthermore, it is ridicule to tell
someone they are hiding from the facts because they dont read
everything everyone has to say on a particuliar subject. We all have
something, many other things to do, so while getting as much info as we
can, we are obliged to rely on intuition in a general sense. And more
practically, we might believe someone who has dedicated most of his life
to nutritional research before a young blogger. This is not meant to be
mean by the way.


1. Nicole Anderson

August 5, 2013 at 1:36 am

Many years ago, Time Magazine ran an ad campaign asking

people to consider the course. I think of this ad slogan every
time I run across yet another frustrated English Major (not even a
journalism degree) setting herself up as a nutrition expert.
Nicole Anderson, Cal-Berkeley


1. stampoparole

September 4, 2013 at 2:57 am

If all the Knivers were laid end to end, they still would not
come to a conclusion. Forkers win hands down!


2. paleohuntress

September 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm


Denise doesnt give any advice and she doesnt set herself
up as an expert in anything. In fact, she says, heres the
data, take a look at it yourself. You dont have to be an
expert to see that it doesnt match what the so-called
experts claim. Its the same data that has been published
for you to look at. Are YOU too ignorant to add a few
numbers or calculate a percentage? Are doctors still
thought of as Gods? They get about 25 hours of nutrition
education in med school. It was generous of you to take
the time to leave a comment that adds nothing to the
discussion but snide derision. That far better resembles
the mark of a frustrated English major, and its probably
time for a little introspection on your motives.


4. Lisa

December 10, 2011 at 12:19 am

Hi Jeanne! Im an NP with a practice specializing in womens health. I work with

obese women a lot. All of my clients keep a diet log for 2 weeks prior to their
first appt and they are asked to eat normally, to not make any dietary changes
before their 1st appt. I have not yet reviewed a diet log of an obese client that
was not filled with sugars/grains. Processed food intake is high for most. I
recommend you also have your clients maintain a preappt. diet log. I guarantee
that when you see the consistent carbohydrate abuse or high carb intake on their
food logs your conclusion will change!


5. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

This brings up a question I hadbased on the remarks of both Esselstyn and

Campbell, Id expect that very few lifetime vegans have ever been diagnosed with
Type II, diabetes, hbp, high cholesterol, heart disease or cancer. Even less would
have died as a result of any of those illnesses. After all, they claimed that it
appeared animal based protein was the impetus or appeared to be implicated in
cancer . Anyone got the stats for the mortality rate of vegans for these diseases?
It would be wonderful to have a followup documentary with the numbers then
question these two doctors on what each vegan had done wrong. Or maybe it
was genetic. :)


1. Ryan
January 30, 2012 at 3:43 am

There cannot be life long vegans, veganism is an insane experiment on

diet. If infants from birth ate a vegan diet, they would fail to thrive,
contrary to there belief, animal fat and protein are essential to our health
and well being, If someone ate a Vegan diet without supplements for 30+
years they would have severe nutritional deficiencies.contrast that to an
Inuit eating a diet completely based on animal fat and protein that will
require no supplements over that same 30 year period and be in good
health.veganism is a dead end.if children fail to thrive on this diet,
why should adults be eating it


1. John Sammut

January 30, 2012 at 9:02 am

Hi Ryan,

I read your comment about Forks & Knives, but i disagree with
you that we need a diet full of animal protein and fats for infants
or adults for growth and to survive.

I have watched many health food videos and not just only forks &
knives. Watch food Matters and read One Answer to Cancer
and you will realized that many healthy persons live on a very
good nutritious plant based diet, and also and more importantly,
where their overall health problems also mostly disappear or can
stabilize to normal.

Babies or infants the best source of food comes from mother milk,
which has only around 5% protein and I do not see any babies not
growing unhealthy, so they do not need to drink abnormal,
processed cows milk.
Yes! I do agree with you that on a plant based diet you do need to
eat more vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, but thats the
problem, as where people need to understand this.

The best way to do this is to Juice your vegetables, which is the

best source of getting into your body all the essential vitamins,
minerals and the small amounts of protein you need for your body
to function accordantly.

I also take Super foods. Read David Wolff his book named Super
Chorella, Spirullina, Maca and Raw chocolate with honey and flex
seed oil can do wonders to your body.

John from Malta


2. Laki Bayag

January 31, 2012 at 1:24 am

Did your momma not breastfeed you? Tsk-tsk.


6. Polarwinds

January 17, 2012 at 2:57 am

Jeanne, you should never criticize someone for questioning someones study. Im
sure the doctors in these studies have very pure motives, but they are not
necessarily unbiased. They are promoting an animal free diet because they
believe it is healthier, and it would certainly be better for the planet and animal
welfare if more people adopted the diet. Its important to listen to what everyone
has to say, though, and even better if you can get a counter argument from the
doctors in response. You cant take anything for granted, especially since the
views in the documentary are not widely accepted in the scientific community. I
guess if you dont have any science background at all, it can be tough to discern
fact from fiction. This should make you extra skeptical of everything. Always
think, how might they be trying to trick me, and why would they? In this case,
what motive would the doctors have? I dont see any really harmful ones. Maybe
they love animals and the planet. They seem like good people to me. After
watching to FOK documentary, and reading this blog, I will replace more of my
meat with fish, and cut down on wheat. I already eat my veggies. Im cutting
down on sugar, too, and added fats.


1. Wizzu

January 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Here is a post I really like. I dont come to the same conclusions as yours
(and thus I dont follow the same diet), but I share your overall points of
view and attitude towards information.

Minds are like parachutes they only function when theyre open.


7. HJ

November 2, 2012 at 2:40 am



13. garyjohnston
September 23, 2011 at 12:34 am

Denise, great research with exceptional validity. I think I have fallen in love with your
mind :) Its time academia got a good boot up the bum for poor thinking processes and
making huge assumptions that are not supported by data.. PLEASE keep up the fantastic


1. Alyssa

September 24, 2011 at 4:51 am

Nice generalization.


2. Polarwinds

January 17, 2012 at 3:00 am

I totally agree!! This was an awesome read. I want to be just like Denise when I
grow up.


14. Celia

September 23, 2011 at 12:37 am

I was hoping youd write a review of the movie. (Now I dont have to watch it Ha! I
probably will anyway.) Excellent post.


15. Pingback: Going Vegan/Organic - Page 2

16. Bethany

September 23, 2011 at 12:52 am

Thanks for this. I just made my husband watch the movie because I want to lower our
meat intake and up our vegan meal intake. We rely too much on meat for our meals and
it lowers the amount of vegetables, beans, and stuff that we eat.

A lot of alarm bells went off while I watched the movie (and read all the books
Fuhrmans, etc.), but I am trying to get a feel for all the different conclusions
researchers have come to.
For the movie, I figure they know most people wont want in depth explanations, so I
forgave their shallow explanations. I definitely had a real problem with both the Norway
info and the casein diet extrapolations.

Right now, I think a heavily plant based diet, while limiting table sugar and anything else
processed and sticking to whole grains like rice is probably the healthiest. Meat should
come from free range animals and I should try to find some safe fish. My gut feeling,
though, is that meat should be a few high quality ounces a day only and not be eaten all
day long. Balance is key. Im not sure what to do about oil, though. I need to stir fry my
veggies and use a bit of oil in the oven and I am completely baffled as to which sort to
use. I have some pig fat in my freezer from a free range pig and I was going to make
lard. ha ha ha. I remember reading somewhere that it holds up better for frying. I dont
know how true that is.

And also, you dont need to apologize for all the graphs, etc. Ive had doctors tease me
because I get so excited by all the data, data, data and always want to analyze my own
blood tests and such. I definitely like to see what you used to come to your conclusions.
Dont apologize for the people who get annoyed by data I doubt theyd be reading
your blog if they didnt <3 data.

One thing, though. Where do the Chinese get their meat from for these studies? And
how much meat are they eating? Are they eating factory farm meat or meat from cows in
fields? Are they eating very small portions of meat when they do eat it?

And the issues with wheat Is it actually wheat, or is it the stuff we always combine with
wheat before eating it? Everything we tend to eat with wheat in our house has sugar /
milk / eggs / star trek ingredients in it. It is all pretty highly processed. I am going to go
read your post on wheat next, though

Anyway, great job and thanks for posting this.


1. Rachel

September 24, 2011 at 3:11 am

Pastured lard is a great fat to use and very stable. So is coconut oil. Coconut oil
is used by some for weight loss, you can google to find out more about it of


2. Al

September 25, 2011 at 2:24 am

>>> I need to stir fry my veggies

No, you dont.


3. Angelyne

September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm

@Bethany. I think you are spot on. Your diet sounds very close to a primal/paleo
diet. You should investigate that. Youll find a community of really smart people
that blogs about the paleo/primal lifestyle.
The fact that you saw this documentary and heard alarm bells, puts you in that
rare category of critical thinkers. We need more people like that :)

Talking about critical thinking skills, saturated fat has been unfairly vilified for
decades for absolutely no reason. Despite decades of trying, scientists have
never been able to show saturated fat to harmful.

So thats what you can use to fry. Lard, suet, duck/goose fat, bacon grease,
coconut oil, butter/ghee. Plenty of choice to suit any type of dish you want to


4. Angelyne

September 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Forgot to add. Its the wheat itself. Read Wheat Belly to see what I mean. And
yeah, the sugar, and processed oil that more often than not accompanies wheat,
just makes it all the worse. A perfect storm


5. Liz

September 28, 2011 at 4:08 am

Check out He recommends doing a healthy saute for veggies

with veggie broth. It works for most of my needs. Lard & coconut oil are other
options & stable at high temps.

For me, who has never had a major health issue or weight problem, I think
everyone should FIRST aim for a REAL FOOD diet. From there you can tweak to
your needs. From Paleo to Vegan I think we can all agree that preservatives,
trans-fat, & HFC syrup are all bad, and eliminating Frankin-foods is the first step
to health.

17. Amber

September 23, 2011 at 1:22 am

I was totally with you until that last bit. Sounds like youre dismissing plant based
nutrition on the basis of the blood lipid profiles of 11 advanced heart-disease patients
(Id be happy to share my own blood lipid profile for contrast). Otherwise, fantastic post.
Popular documentaries bug the crap outta me. Theres no wisdom in dumbed-down for
the masses sound bites.


1. bigjeff

October 4, 2011 at 12:04 am

She was dismissing the particular study, and for very good reasons as outlined,
not plant based diets in general. She has already destroyed Campbells book in
previous posts (she gives the super short version of that in this post), and the
remaining evidence presented in the movie didnt say what they said it did. Thus
dismissal of the movies conclusions, but not necessarily plant based diets in
general. In other words, she didnt say all plant based diet research is flawed,
just these bits of research presented in the movie. Basic logic dictates that you
cant automatically jump to the conclusion that all plant based diets are wrong
just because the studies presented in this movie were highly flawed.

It would be pretty ironic if Denise argued that a plant based was bad, considering
that according to her About Me page she eats an almost entirely plant based
diet herself. Notice the title of the blog? Its there because shes a raw foodist,
which necessarily cuts out almost all animal products except milk (according to
some definitions) and raw fish. In an older post or a comment somewhere here I
believe she described her diet as something like 90-95% raw plant based, and
the remainder raw fish.

1. Grok

October 4, 2011 at 7:56 am

Somebody who gets it :)


2. Trane Francks

October 14, 2011 at 7:49 am

I wouldnt say that a raw diet by definition precludes most animal

products. If you work with pastured-fed, organically raised animals,
theres little reason to avoid eating the meat raw. Same goes for eggs.
Raw foods, meats and eggs included, have vastly improved enzyme
make-ups. Enzymes are destroyed and proteins denatured through


1. Another Halocene Human

October 21, 2011 at 8:24 am

And tapeworm for weight loss (for the wimmins) and better Fe
control (for the menz).


2. TB
December 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Enzymes are proteins. Besides by heat (cooking), enzymes are

also denatured/destroyed by acidic environmentslike the one in
your stomach (pH anywhere from 1-5 depending on when and
what you last ate). Whether consumed raw or cooked, the
enzymes in the foods you consume are denatured and hydrolyzed
before you absorb them into your blood stream.


18. Kelly

September 23, 2011 at 2:36 am

Very thorough! Love it. Theres a supposed doctor in the movie named Pam Poppershe
happens to live in the same city as I do and owns a hot yoga studio (was called Bikram
yoga, but she got in trouble for using the name Bikram). I attended her class once and
she was a supreme B**** to her clients. She yelled about how dairy is a carcinogen and
she should know because shes a doctor. After about an hour of her miserable 108
degree yoga class with all the talking down to us, I left the studio, but I made sure to
check her credentials on my way out. She had degrees from online universities that I had
never heard of. If you look her up online, you will find no listing of the universities that
she attended. And this is one of the very radical heroes of modern vegans. I know one
vegan who chooses to be vegan because of her love for animals. The rest are radical,
agenda-pushing wanna-bes. They are no better than the radical tea party movement.


1. Sam (@justaguy11)

September 26, 2011 at 3:52 am

Ya..those crazy tea party people that actually want our government to follow
the constitution that the country was founded onwhat a bunch of radicals!!

1. ChristopherD

September 29, 2011 at 1:03 am

Yeah..wanting the government to stop giving subsidy payments to

industrial corn and soy producers (or at least the ones I know). Darn them
radicals. :)


2. Kathleen Ahearn (@KathleenAhearn)

September 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Ya, those Tea Partiers who are backed by their corporate sponsors like
the Koch brothers. They are not a grassroots movement but an attempt
by radical libertarians-not traditional conservatives-to dismantle the New
Deal, safety regulations, corporate regulations, and any financial
regulations, and we know how that turned out in 2008. Where were they
when the Constitution was being crapped on for 8 years? They only
decided to get vocal when a black guy was elected.

BTW I am paleo, dont eat wheat or any processed food, and I hunt. The
lobbies for the wheat and soy growers are two examples of powerful
influences on government to the point where their lobbyists are part of
the agencies that are supposed to regulate these industries, and are
often the ones deciding what is healthy for Americans. The problem
isnt big government, but the collusion of government and big business.
This is known as corporatism.


1. Daniel Kirsner
October 7, 2011 at 5:48 am

1) I am, by your definition, a radical (is there some other kind?)

libertarian. Who is more supportive than not of the TP.
2) The TP originated via Ron Pauls 2008 campaign, which was
as grassroots as any movement in modern political history.
3) Suggesting contributions from the Koch Bros created this
movement, or that this movement was lead by the Kochs is as
disingenuous, or naive, as claiming McDonalds made Americans
like meat and cheese.
4) The demographics of the TP are interesting, and inherently
part-libertart with @2/5 being good, noble libertarians (or fellow
travelers) like myself who want to dismantle the New Deal, safety
regulations, corporate regulations (and bring back slavery, witch
trials and thatched huts) and the remaining 3/5 being those
traditional conservatives you mention, such as your hero Rick
Perry, seen here:


1. Another Halocene Human

October 21, 2011 at 8:32 am

So, do you get a medal for being the first tea partier? Oh
yeah, I was there during the embryonic stage, too, when a
dozen people picked Wall Street unsuccessfully during the
winter of 08/09.

Lets face it, Dick Armey and Glenn Beck coopted the
movement within three months of Santellis cri de coeur on
live TV. I havent forgotten the day the scale tipped away.
It was early in the spring of 2008 at a Florida Tea Party
rally where a young speaker started talking about George
Bushs role in the 2008 bailout and the geriatric, anti-
Obama crowd booed.
Run the numbers: fiscally conservative libertarians with
brains are handily outnumbered by the neo-Bircher crowd.



November 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Tea Party Radicals are not racist and could care less what color Obama
is. Look at how many of them support Cain! Last I checked, he was black
too! I am sick of people throwing in their hatred for our countrys past
and the right side whenever they get the chance. Notice no one is talking
about the organizers who are being arrested left and right? Whatever.
And the big difference between the years of Bush vs Obama is that Bush
was supportive of our country, our military and at least tried to stand up
to other countries. Obama is bending over to them and look at China,
Iran and Russia. They are developing nuclear weapons. Who holds all our
debt? China. Who doesnt like us? Iran. Wake up people.


1. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Actually, quite a few tea party people are extraordinarily racist.

Im an independent and often get courted by people from the tea
party movement. They do not seem to be able to reference Obama
except in racist or ethnographic terms (hes Kenyan or he does
not take care of blacks, or he is not a citizen, or he is not really
black or) that is part and parcel to the dialog. Cain was only
acceptable because he was a counterbalance to Obama and
therefore a good ni.. because he belonged to the GOP. It was
about race, and it will always have a racial component. That may
not be the only component, but I have been talked to and feted by
tea partiers in Indiana , MO and KSand they ALL bring up race
over and over again. That is one of the focus and like many said,
their concerns about the budget (which I share) and government
(which I share) fall flat when they speak of it in terms of basically
getting their own way yet using the same government to control
everyone not on board with their agenda. racist, sexist, genderist,
myopic and selfish party if ever there was one.


4. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 7:42 pm

There is more to the tea party movement than thatwe know this
because of who is in the movement and what they proclaim. The
movement is simply a holding cell for some conservatives, some radical
right and some radical left, a lot of racists and then some people who
cannot find a job and blame their local/state employment crisis on the
federal government instead of their state/local governmentbut we
digress. This is about vegans and a vegan dvd that was presented as
pseudo science in much the same spirit as those commercials for the
latest diet gimmick are on tv after 12 am . Dangerous only because so
many in America dont think and what ever is in the spoon they
gratefully swill.


19. Ann

September 23, 2011 at 2:44 am

Why the concern over those who disparage the Weston A. Price stand on traditional
The science presented by Weston A. Price Foundation proponents makes sense from the
same standpoint. People, meat eaters or otherwise, were healthier before ANY of our
main dietary staples were so unrecognizably processed by modern preparation and
packaging. Wheres the dispute? I cannot understand why it isnt obvious that no matter
what we choose to eat, the processing is only doing us harm. I truly believe that heat
processed oils, feedlot meats, and vegetables, grains, and beans sprayed with pesticides
and genetically modified, are foods that are unrecognizable to our bodies as nutritional
sustenance. Hence the development of disease, and the increasing proliferation of
obesity and malnutrition. The body reacts to these foods by treating them as poisons, or
storing them as fat.

Where the Weston A. Price approach makes sense is in consideration of traditional foods
being healthier, no matter where we come from on the globe. Comparing diets from one
culture to another is fine, but somewhat moot, in my opinion. A negligible few of us are
ever going to find it attractive or even practical to adopt the traditional diets of another
culture. We would all be healthier, current diets or not, if the foods we ate were from
meats fed the diets they evolved to eat, fats cold pressed or rendered in their whole
state, and vegetables and grains grown organically and eaten in season. Period.

With regard to over-eating and gluttony, we have found in our home that a traditional
diet is more satisfying and we eat less overall. I believe this is because traditional meats
and fats, and organically grown veggies, grains, and legumes are more nutritious and
satisfying. They are foods our bodies recognize, and can process and utilize as the fuel
they are meant to be.

When considering a plant-based diet in comparison to a balanced diet inclusive of

healthy proteins, Nina Planck, in her astounding book Real Food, What to Eat and Why
makes a fascinating and obvious point when she says-

The simple truth is this: there are no traditional vegan societies. People everywhere
search high and low for animal fat and protein because they are nutritionally


Cooks know that gelatin-rich broth extends the poor or scant protein in plants. Even
vegetarian societies prize either dairy or eggs.

The vegan diet is unnatural and rare because its risky, especially for babies, children,
and pregnant and nursing women.

And, lastly,

Protein needs are unforgiving: when the diet lacks amino acids, the body ransacks its
own tissue to find them.

I believe the Weston A. Price group has one thing right, and that is to stop eating
processed foods, and we will all be healthier.

Ann Griffin
Not a professional, just an eater that does my homework!


1. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm

We could further explore and perhaps should explore the satiation factor. People
simply have no idea now when to stop eating or when they are full . There is a
diet out that I thought was amazingly irresponsible and ridiculous (fatloss4
idots) and has more negative reviews than positives online. I tried it on a lark.
(why oh why?) and lost 16 lbs the first 2 weeks then 16 more the other. I got off
because I did not need to lose any more weight AND I could not fathom the
nutrient quality of the diet. working or notit did not seem nutritionally sound to
me. There was plenty of fresh fruit and meat but a meal consisting of merely
scrambled eggs and boiled eggs?

The lynchpin was to eat until you felt fullno minimums or maximums just eat
less than full satiation. A lot of people cant do that and so the diet failed them. I
loved the graphics in the movie which showed what calorie dense food did and
how it was perceived in the stomach. It made a lot of sense and was in a form
people could understand. All in all, my takeaway from the movie was no to
processed foods (totally agree with your post on that point) no to refined foods
or minimize it and KNOW your body. I eat out a lot due to one of my jobs and so
find I usually have a doggie bag with 2/3 of my dinner in it. I can eat on it for
usually 2 meals. On the other hand, my dining companions usually are finished
with plates pretty clean by the time I am ready to call for the check.


20. mhanch

September 23, 2011 at 3:14 am

A great post as usual!


21. Jay Wortman

September 23, 2011 at 4:01 am

Nicely done. I really enjoy reading your stuff and look forward to meeting you in person
some day.

Jay Wortman MD


22. R Dunn

September 23, 2011 at 4:14 am

You have an amazing brain. Someday, I might want to borrow it.

23. Jessica Kelts

September 23, 2011 at 4:31 am

I love your post. All I could think the entire time I was watching the movie was this is
such BAD science or in some cases this is such bad INTERPRETATION of science. I
followed watching this with a viewing of FatHead which was a comedy but had much
better scientific interpretation!


24. Tess McEnulty

September 23, 2011 at 4:41 am

Awesome timing on this post Denise. I happened to watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix
today after my husband came across it in the new movies section and said it looked like
something I would like from its description:

Focusing on the research of two food scientists, this earnest documentary reveals that
despite broad advances in medical technology, the popularity of modern processed
foods has led to epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases.

I spent the movie taking mental notes of things that I disagreed with, and it was
awesome to see them all written out here. Thanks!


25. Dana

September 23, 2011 at 4:58 am

Cod liver oil and fish roe in Norway? No wonder their teeth got better and their heart
disease decreased. CLO = vitamins A and D, as you accurately pointed out, and fish roe
= vitamin K2. What youve got here is the holy trifecta of fat-soluble vitamin
supplementation. The fact that so much of their milk was skim would have increased
their mineral intake, tooand while under ordinary circumstances they couldnt have
absorbed much of it due to a decreased fat intake, perhaps the CLO and the fish eggs

The more I learn about whats in meat, the less impressed I am with the cultures (ours)
insistence that a plant-based diet will save us all. We keep speaking of meat as though
it is only useful for obtaining protein and fat in the diet. But animal foods have the best
forms of A and D (you cant find D in high amounts in many foods, but for D3 all the
food sources are animal) and K2, theyre the best sources of several (if not all) of the B
vitamins, theyre the best source of sulfur which may turn out to be quite important in
carbohydrate metabolism along with all its other functions, they provide a more
bioavailable form of all the bone minerals, etc.

And get this? Animal proteins come with their own buffering agent. Its called glutamine.
That is, l-glutamine, and not to be confused with glutamic acid or the glutamates (which
are also important in the body, and NOT the same as MSG, which is a protein salt, but
still not the same as glutamine). It assists in the process of turning excess hydrogen and
nitrogen into ammonia in the kidneys. Now, your body must do this for ALL proteins you
eat. Plant proteins are not exempt. But plant proteins are for the most part noticeably
deficient in glutamine. Two exceptions Ive heard of are wheat and spinachand nobody
in their right mind would rely on either of those foods for their main protein source.
Lectins and phytates and oxalates! Yum yum! I can feel my bones dissolving already!

I am *so* unsurprised that Lierre Keith and other ex-vegans tell stories of bone loss
suffered during their vegan years. Were already seeing too many women getting
osteoporosis on an *omnivorous* diet who didnt have to, and I suspect this heavy
emphasis on a plant-based diet is to blame. Women have already historically gotten
the short end of the drumstick when it came to meat rations in far too many cultures
throughout human history and now, the weight loss and dietary health industries seem
determined to drive that final nail in. Yall, if you want to still have all your teeth and
bones into your elder years and you want to have grandchildren to spoil, stop listening
to the wannabe herbivores. Please.


1. Erin
September 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Dont forget l-caritine and carnosine! Very important nutrients that are minimal
or not found in plant foods.


26. Jari

September 23, 2011 at 8:13 am

it slashes intake of polyunsaturated fats, which are the type of fat most likely to
promote LDL oxidation

Any sources for this?


1. neisy

September 24, 2011 at 1:04 am

Hi Jari,

I dont have any studies bookmarked on this computer, but Stephan Guyenet and
Chris Masterjohn have written some great stuff about the PUFA/oxidized LDL


27. sbnaturally
September 23, 2011 at 8:24 am sure do great research! In your honor, I would say the word minger should
mean to deftly skewer folks by analyzing and explosing their blatantly distorted or
incorrect facts.


1. Angelyne

September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Love this. Forks over Knifes just got mingered. POW!


28. Manfred

September 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

Super informative and unbelievably funny. Laughed myself to tears! THIS is what science
teaching at schools should be like.


29. ravi

September 23, 2011 at 10:27 am

it must be AWESOME to selectively choose reality like that!

gawd you are uber-wonderful Denise ;-)

30. Richard

September 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

The cause of atherosclerosis, by William Roberts, the chief editor of American Journal
of Cardiology, its all well 2000s.

All about cholesterol

atherosclerosis is one of the easiest diseases to produce experimentally, but the

experimental animal must be an herbivore. It is not possible to produce atherosclerosis
in a carnivore but with one exception, and that is in carnivores that have hypothyroidism
due to thyroidectomy

Jenkins, the inventor GI-concept, all about cholesterol and the flawed science and dairy
sponsored research behind the cholesterol is not bad-frenzy

Dietary cholesterol and egg yolks: not for patients at risk of vascular disease.
Can J Cardiol. 2010 Nov;26(9):e336-9.


1. neisy

September 24, 2011 at 2:01 am

Hi Richard,

I dont think anyones arguing that humans are carnivores, so Im not sure how
your first quote is relevant. Scientists have induced atherosclerosis not only in
herbivores, but in omnivores as well (like dogs, pigs, and chimps).
As for your second link: Did you read the full-text? The authors try to use
observational studies to prove eggs increase heart disease risk, and cite studies
that have the very flaws I mentioned in this blog post particularly failure to
separate the effects of increased saturated fat intake from increased cholesterol
intake. They also try to claim dietary cholesterol increases LDL oxidation by
citing in vitro experiments, which often fail to reflect what actually happens in
the human body.

The studys authors arent exactly unbiased, either. As mentioned in the conflict
of interest section of that article, two of em have vested interest in making
cholesterol look bad:

Dr Spence and Dr Davignon have received honoraria and speakers fees from
several pharmaceutical companies manufacturing lipid-lowering drugs, and Dr
Davignon has received support from Pfizer Canada for an annual atherosclerosis
symposium; his research has been funded in part by Pfizer Canada, AstraZeneca
Canada Inc and Merck Frosst Canada Ltd.


1. Richard

September 26, 2011 at 8:17 am

Dont worry, William Roberts just uses bit of an unclear vocabulary.

Essentially what he means that since atherosclerosis is only a disease of
herbivores, then humans must be herbivores. Atherosclerosis cannot be
experimentally initiated to animals who biologically flesh-eaters. He
elaborates that biologically the optimal diet for humans is that of plant-
based, vegetables, fruits and cereals. Theres no talk of humans being
omnivores, period!

Your meat-eating Masai tribe, even the young blokes have arteries of an
old middle-aged, Western men, plagued by atherosclerosis, although
they seem to get away with with their 30km daily walks.
Atherosclerosis in the Masai

The inuits are well known for their poor cardiovascular health, (along with
women who at the age of 19 look like 45)

Low incidence of cardiovascular disease among the Inuitwhat is the


The evidence for a low mortality from IHD among the Inuit is fragile and
rests on unreliable mortality statistics. Mortality from stroke, however, is
higher among the Inuit than among other western populations

So, no the doctors of Forks Over Knives are long from the only ones
believing animal products, let alone cholesterol, are harmful.


1. Richard

September 26, 2011 at 8:23 am

Denise Minger wrote:

Scientists have induced atherosclerosis not only in herbivores,

but in omnivores as well (like dogs, pigs, and chimps).

Yes, we have the exception, you are right!

These studies initially were done by some Russian physiologists

beginning in 1908. And atherosclerosis was not produced in a
minority of rats fed these diets, it was produced in 100% of the
animals! Indeed, atherosclerosis is one of the easiest diseases to
produce experimentally, but the experimental animal must be an
herbivore. It is not possible to produce atherosclerosis in a
carnivore but with one exception, and that is in carnivores that
have hypothyroidism due to thyroidectomy

William Roberts, 2008


1. Richard

September 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Sorry, not meaning to hijack your blog, however I missed


so Im not sure how your first quote is relevant

Its relevant because Williams is saying that cholesterol is

the sole cause of atherosclerosis! He said this in 2008, so
the Fork Over Knives crew is long from being unique.


1. Chris Masterjohn (@ChrisMasterjohn)

September 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Hi again Richard,

Based on what youve written, Im disinclined to

read Roberts, so forgive me if Im
misunderstanding anything by relying on your
summaries. But the statement cholesterol is the
sole cause of atherosclerosis has to be false
because injecting cholesterol into rabbits does not
produce atherosclerosis, as Nikolai Anitchkov had


1. Richard

October 1, 2011 at 7:35 am

Hey, Chris.

Rabbits are herbivores, and indeed get

atherosclerosis incase fed animal products.
Aint working with dogs, cats and
omnivores such as bears. I suggest you
actually read what Robers says, after all
together with Jenkins he is one of the most
leading authorities in cardiovascular issues.


2. neisy

September 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

Hi Richard,

I dont see where William Roberts has addressed the

occurrence of atherosclerosis in omnivores. He seems to
only be speaking of carnivores vs. herbivores, which is a
false dichotomy. In at least one omnivore (pigs),
researchers are able to induce atherosclerosis without the
presence of hypothyroidism, which indicates that
atherosclerosis isnt exclusive to species classified as

1. Richard

September 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm

^Put me a source. And well discuss about it.


2. PaleoMallin

December 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Just catching up now. I want to also just throw in

that dogs arent omnivores theyre carnivores
who are commonly fed an omnivore diet. So it
strikes me that if induced in dogs that it is more
of a reflection on diet and less on species. The
same experiment should be run again on dogs fed
a carnivore diet.


1. Jared

January 6, 2012 at 3:35 am

Dogs are not carnivores. Cats are

carnivores. Dogs are omnivores.


1. Dave Boothman

January 6, 2012 at 3:49 am

Interesting, please can you provide a
taxonomic reference.


1. Jared

January 6, 2012 at 4:15 am

I misspoke.

I was trying to draw a

distinction between dogs and

I should say that dogs are

carnivores but cats are
obligate carnivores.

I apologize.


2. Fredrick Hahn

September 27, 2011 at 1:19 am

But Richard, vegans and vegetarians suffer from heart disease and
suffer from atherosclerosis.

1. Richard

September 27, 2011 at 7:03 am

Hey Fredric,

I have no suspicions over that in regards to dairy-eating

vegetarians, out of whom most of in the Western world
just compensate the meat with dairy, however do you any
evidence of dairy-free vegetarians, vegans having
atherosclerosis or poor heart?


3. neisy

September 27, 2011 at 9:45 am

Hi Richard,

This post explains the emergence of atherosclerosis in the Masai.

Their arteries are actually the healthiest during the Muran period,
when theyre eating mostly milk, meat, and blood; their
atherosclerotic lesions skyrocket after age 40 or so once they
have more dietary freedom and start eating sugar, flour, and
vegetable oils:

The problem with the Inuit is that they havent been eating their
true traditional diet for over a century, and any mortality statistics
from the 1900s onward reflect the inclusion of Western foods. If
you look at their diet in the 80s, for example, some of the most
commonly consumed foods are sugar, white bread, rolls, crackers,
Kool-aid, soft drinks, and

Even so, Id say even their pre-Westernized traditional diets (as

well as living conditions) are far from ideal for those seeking
optimum health. What they ate before the influx of Western foods
was out of geographical necessity, not a quest for longevity.


1. Richard

September 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Are you serious?

The fact that young Masai guys have arteries that of old
American men is very illustrating, dont tell me that
American males are oil-free vegans, and never consume
sugars and vegetable oils. If the wild theory of Stephan
was to have some credibility, the least he could is to show
that Masai eat more vegetable oils and other crap as
opposed to West. I doubt that very, very much. Stephens
theory makes as much of sense as a claim that Atkins
secretly consumed vegetable oils and sugary cakes as
much as typical American or even more since he had
progressed coronary heart disease already in his 60s.

It takes a lot to get your arteries in worse condition than

that of typical Americans have them. So, if anything you
ought to be writing a lot about importance of physical,
endurance exercise.

The inuit source I wired you was from Greenland were the
amount of American junk food is not the pronounced as in
Alaska. Also, pay attention that the Inuits in Greenland
suffer more strokes than Western populations, and the
Westerners eat plenty of crap. So looks like the typical
Inuit diet still looms in the background explaining the

So Basically your great meat-eating native populations are

all in much worse situation than even typical Westerners, if
these studies would match with Westerners with similar
exercise habits the difference would be staggering.

Denise, it looks like you cannot even master the art of

cherry picking.


1. Sue

September 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Id like to see you write a masterpiece like Denise
has done instead of being so accusatoryfirst youll
need to learn how to use correct spelling and


2. Chris Masterjohn (@ChrisMasterjohn)

September 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Hi Richard,

Stephan was just making the same point that

George Mann made in the paper; its not Stephans
theory. Mann made the point that serum
cholesterol and atherosclerosis declined in the
moran even compared to children, which is proof
of nothing but certainly quite interesting. The age
comparison is seriously confounded by the fact
that the moran consume copious amounts of
stimulant herbs, engage in ritual lion hunts, and
otherwise live completely different lifestyles than
the rest of the Maasai. Its the among the poorer
points that Mann made, but Mann did not make a
big deal out of it.

I do think, however, that you missed the central

point of Manns work. He investigated hundreds of
living Maasai for ECG evidence of previous MI and
did not find any. Based on the age structure of the
population he studied, his sample size, and the
incidence of ECG evidence for MI among
Americans, he should have observed a number of
cases with evidence for MI if Maasai had similar
age-adjusted risk of heart disease as Americans
and he did not.

The central theme of his autopsy paper is the

striking absence of complex lesions, healthy
luminal diameter, and again, complete absence of
evidence for MI.

I think you are generating a lot of confusion by

suggesting they had lots of atherosclerosis, or as
much as Americans, judging this by total thickness
of plaque burden. Especially in this day and age, we
know full well that the mean size of a plaque has
nothing to do with predicting heart disease risk,
but rather its composition is predictive. Lipid-rich,
collagen-poor plaques are likely to rupture, which
is the primary cause of ischemia. Less commonly,
protruding plaques that themselves block a
coronary artery are a cause, and likewise calcified
or eroding plaques. The Maasai were essentially
free this kind of plaque development.

The point here is not that the Maasai had perfect

heart health, but they did have strikingly better
heart health than typical Americans. For a
population with a high burden of infectious
diseases and exposure to copious amounts of
smoke, this is impressive. If you are going to argue
that their heart health was poor, I think you at least
need to show that there are whole populations of
vegetarians or vegans who do not have the degree
of atherosclerosis that the Maasai had at similar



3. Jared

January 6, 2012 at 3:43 am

Of course the inuit and masai have worse health on

a western diet! They have had even less time to
adapt to these foods than westerners. Why is it that
american indians, pacific islanders, etc. all have
much higher rights of diabesity than white

Also, Atkins heart disease was caused by a viral

infection. Who said he secretly consumed vegetable
oils and cakes?

1. Martin

January 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Careful with adaptation. What many people

fail to understand is that for natural
selection to operate their must be
significant difference in the reproductive
success of those would be better suited to a
certain diet in this particular case. This
hasnt really been the case for a very long
time. People dont presumably make less
children because they have atherosclerosis.
Even if they die of a stroke at 50, a very vast
majority has already had children and
couldnt have had more. Erectile
dysfunction does not prevent someone from
procreating, particularly since Viagra exists.

Lol viral infection! No his heart attack was

not because he ate a lot of meat and fat. lol


1. Martin

January 31, 2013 at 8:32 pm

*wouldnt have had more.


4. Franklin

September 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I reversed my heart disease and got off insulin by cutting out
most plant matter from my diet. My HDL has gone up, my LDL
changed from pattern B to pattern A. This on a mostly carnivorous
diet. That is the best evidence I could ever have. No one will ever
convince me that we are supposed to be vegetarians.


5. Chris Masterjohn (@ChrisMasterjohn)

September 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm


Atherosclerosis has been induced using diet in normal domestic


Ive met PETA members who feed their cats tuna because they
know that cats are obligate carnivores, so Im sure you recognize
that fact.

This line of reasoning is, of course, quite silly. If in fact it were

true (and its not) that only herbivores develop atherosclerosis by
means other than thyroid inhibition, then the fact that humans
develop atherosclerosis could as easily be used to show that this
generalization is false, because humans are not herbivores, as it
could be used to show that because the generalization is true,
humans must be herbivores. Thus it cannot serve as proof in
either case.

Even in the rabbit, there are resistant strains, and the difference
largely amounts to thyroid status. By your logic, then, the
resistant strains must be carnivores.

Note also that another interpretation here would be that humans

are a carnivore whose thyroid status has been disrupted. One
could support this, for example, with research showing that
thyroid supplementation prevents atherosclerosis in
humans: http://blog.cholesterol-and-

Given these multiple interpretations of the same evidence, it

seems to me that this evidence is not very useful in supporting
any of these arguments.



6. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm

In other words.if you see a patient getting cured from a disease

and the drug used is bluethen the extrapolation that blue pills
cure disease makes sense to you. The association is not
conclusive, and what neisy states is correct, once omnivores are
included in the analysis, the same ALS also is readily produced in
omnivores. Understand where we fall on the eating chain
scientifically is based on what our bodies can get nutrients from
NOT based on what we decide to eat. Most ruminants or
herbivores cannot readily digest meatso they are called
herbivores because their bodies cannot readily derive nutrients
from animal protein. Carnivores are called carnivores because
their systems cannot readily derive nutrients from grass or
vegetables sources. Omnivores have evolved with the ability to eat
AND transform both animal and plant sourced products into
nutrients. Nothing suggests humans should only be herbivores.
NOTHING. An omnivorous animal is actually more optimal
because evolutionary-wise it is adaptable to what ever is available
in the environment. Sensibly speaking, omnivores are the next
evolutionary step in natural selection because that ability
increases adaptability. The only way your argument and
extrapolation makes sense is if science finds out there is a
vestigial ruminant apparatus in humans.

Let us know when you find that.


1. jmy

May 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

you mean the appendix?


2. Martin

January 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm

First SOMETHINGS do point to the fact that we are

herbivores (Im not saying we are I do not know, and I
dont think anyone does). Second, it is truly ridicule to say
that an omnivorous animal is more optimal, the omnivore,
or herbivore, or carnivore, is simply adapted, albeit
imperfectly, to his particular ecological niche. You need to
realise that being an omnivore comes with a certain
tradeoff, presumably in digestion efficiency of a particular
foodstuff. To talk about the next evolutionary step is
even more ridicule; thats just not the nature nature works.
If a species exists it his adapted, and so none is better
from an evolutionary perspective. From a selfish gene
point of vue, maybe you could say the most populous
species could be considered the most successful. Those
are obviously necessarily herbivores, thats the way a
foodweb works, must work. The energy transfer being
quite innefficient (in absolute terms), their will necessarily
be much less individuals as you go up the foodweb. Lets
remember also that an omnivore is not simply an animal
who can eat either animal products or plant products; to
be healthy this particular animal must eat a particular
combination of foods which happens to come from each of
those 2 broad categories.

Lastly, an herbivore is not necessarily a ruminant, quite the

contrary. And to respond to some earlier posts, chimps
and dogs are not omnivores, they are respectively
herbivores and carnivores. It is not because an animal eats
something exceptionnally that he is an omnivore, or
almost all animals would be omnivores. Thats just not
what those categories mean.


1. gaia.sailboat

February 1, 2013 at 12:40 am

Plant based diet works. Actual living humans

many have tried it with wonderful success. Why
all the chatter? To avoid losing your meat?

Just try it for 6 months. Check your blood numbers,

blood pressure, how you feel, and make a decision.
It wont kill you.

Enough of the chatter. Discover the true silver

bullet of good health and get on with your life.

31. Richard

September 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The doctors in Forks Over Knives it seems, are among the few stragglers who still
believe dietary cholesterol is harmful

Dream on Minger


1. b-nasty

September 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm

That video uses a junk meta-analysis study

( that links some of the old
LDL research addressed elsewhere. Its only 4 pages, have you actually read it, or
do you like your information to come from 3 iterations of whisper down the lane?


2. neisy

September 24, 2011 at 2:06 am

This is just a video about the paper you linked in your other comment, where
two of the three authors are funded by statin manufacturers. No anti-cholesterol
bias there, right? ;)

1. Richard

September 26, 2011 at 8:03 am


pot calling the kettle black.

Dr Jenkins, the inventor of GI-concept has been very keen on promoting

dietary intervention to tackle disease. No, tell me, how would an advice to
stay away from cholesterol rich animal foods contribute to statin sales?

I find it ridiculous how you dare to refer your blog as health-blog, your
blog is nothing but a sales pitch for animal-products with the ever
present youll be screwed for staying on plant-based diet on the long-


1. Grok

September 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

LMFAO! Thanks for that one ;)

Vs. Campbells and the Vegan docs argument that youll be

screwed for including any animal products-pitch.


1. Richard

September 26, 2011 at 11:42 am

^ Well, thats the message the Western medical literature

has been repeating for about 70 years, and looking at
Loren Cordain fat belly, I think the youll be screwed for
including any animal products -pitch is spot onokay
jokes aside, the point was that theres no chance in a
million year that blog is something what would be referred
as health blog, this is more like some kind of a Lierre
Keith-style, anti-vegan blog which tries to be scientific.

Check this out, about dozen latest articles

screencapturednarrated by Michael Greger MD, Denise &
Atkins/Paleo folks aint telling you this stuffmeat is
sickness-inducing toxicI tell you that

Another claim which caught my attention was the claim

that cholesterol can be too low.phewI am too lazy
these days, so youll get narrated screencaptures.

Can cholesterol be too low


1. Richard

September 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

.Only pure vegetarians for practical purposes do

not need statins, most of the rest of us do

William C Roberts, 2009, the chief editor of

American Journal of Cardiology

Evaluating lipid-lowering trials in the twenty-first


2. Grok

September 26, 2011 at 6:54 pm

*Yawns* Please Richard. I believe you to be an

intelligent guy. Surely you can put together more
dots than that. Theyve been telling us to load up
on wheat and vegetable oils during that time too.

Id advise you to hold your tongue a little bit and

keep an open mind. Doesnt mean you have to
start eating animal products or quit promoting
plants. However, some day you may have problems
(like Denise did ie..the whole reason for starting
this blog) and have to sit down to dine on a plate of


1. Richard

September 27, 2011 at 7:26 am

Grok, nice blog you have, just checked it


I dont see any evidence of long-term

vegans supplied with b-12 having any
health problems. I think its utmost
ridiculous to start preaching something like
that in the face of an ecologic catastrophy
created by the meat-eating society. 65% of
all grains cultivated in the world goes into
feeding animals (98% of the annual 225
million soy production). Animal husbandry
takes about 2/3 of worlds land-surface.
99% of the American poultry comes from

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-

free diet

So, if something the shift should be in

emphasizing the health and ecologic
problems of meat for the sake collective
well-being. If you like your ridiculously
expensive organic, ethical wild-game then
go ahead and eat it but make sure you shut
your mouth up. Propagating for animal-
products is outward irresponsible.. Okay,
enough with the vegan propaganda, I am
sure I made my point.

I love objective information. Since we dont

have any evidence of long-term vegans
having health issues, in fact the opposite is
true compared to omnivores, this should
tell us that it might be good to take advice
from long-term vegans instead of short-
term vegans. We never get to hear objective
information of Mingers vegan fare,
therefore I give my two cents over the issue.
Most likely it went like this: her raw-food
diet consisted about 1000 kalories per day,
out of which heavy abuse of nuts and olive
oils made the intake of fat around 60-70%.
In fact when you do this, screw up, you start
a blog and maybe write a book about the
dangers of veganism. Thats the usual story
with short-term fad diet vegans. So, no,
vegan per se, does not equal health. Fatty
foods and low-calory regime does the trick.

Keep up the good work of bringing

enlightment to the paleo-crew.


1. Grok

September 27, 2011 at 7:52 am

Richard, if you want to piss, please

move it over to my blog. Ill respond
as time permits. Theres a whole lot
wrong with the second 1/2 of your

That said I will :)


1. Richard

September 27, 2011 at 8:57



just a quick note. I love this

new study which destroyes
Mingers grand idea of vegans
getting good grade in
epimologic studies
conducted in the Western
sphere for the sake of being
just more health conscious
than the overall animal-
eating population. Well, now
we have data from the third-
world where assumptions
being associated to veganism
in the West do not bear
similar merit.

Yang SY, Zhang HJ, Sun SY, et

al. Relationship of carotid
intima-media thickness and
duration of vegetarian diet in
Chinese male vegetarians.
Nutr Metab. 2011;8:63.


2. Travers Moran

February 16, 2012 at 8:29


whats the deal with the hate
on eggwhites
Esselstyn says that,But when
we consume dietary
cholesterol, which is only
found in animal foods like
meat, eggs, and dairy
products, it tends to stay in
the bloodstream. This so-
called plaque is what collects
on the inside of our blood
vessels and is the major
cause of coronary artery
disease. but EGGWWHITES
CHOLESTROLso whats the


1. Louis


February 26, 2015 at

7:45 pm



2. Wayne Gage

March 3, 2015 at
12:29 pm

Esselstyn is wrong
and his claim has
been thoroughly

2. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 8:24 pm

RichardIm not a veganor a

foodist. But I do care about my
health. when you get snarky or need
to rebut everything that is saidits a
turn off. If you are so unsure of your
own diet that you need to justify it
by rebutting anything/everything
you seethen have at it but
understand most will either ignore
you or put you in a certain box. If
you are wishing to convertthen the
tactics you are taking will fail. Total
turnoff, You dont need to rebut
everything, I doubt few posters here
are going to rush to read anything
you give a link to because you do
not appear entirely lucid..and people
tend to not seek out brainwashing
sources. lest your behavior and
mindset be catching. Just saying ;)


1. Marie

August 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If you are so unsure of your

own diet that you need to
justify it by rebutting
anything/everything you see
then have at it but
understand most will either
ignore you or put you in a
certain box Hahahhahahah!!
Wow, because this WHOLE
article & website isnt
someone questioning
EVERYTHING about the vegan
diet? I agree there are holes
in the science of FOK, but
this article (with its shoddy
resources to back up its
claims) & its commenters
just proves how backward
minded 99% of the
population is. Its so pathetic
how defensive MEAT EATERS
are to a whole food plant
based diet.


1. Brian J.


August 12, 2012 at

10:20 pm

No Kidding!

2. Jen

August 25, 2013 at

3:16 am

^ Yet another
example of
somebodys attitude
about diet being a
total turnoff.

3. Trent Black

May 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I think Minger was on 80/10/10 in
the end. Had you done your
research, her video is easy to find.
You may want to see what happened
to the RawBrahs, who are also in the
video. They had a lot of issues.

Minger is not here because she just

decided to trash all the vegans,
fruities, and all the mixes in
between. She is here because she
did their diet and had health issues.

The vegans and raw foodies are a

CULT. No matter how bad things get
for them, they never blame the diet.

I am on a ketogenics diet. I am the

one that abuses fats and oils. :)))) I
dont eat meat, because I dont like
it. I take amino acids. That and
because in the USA

And the problems with Cults is that

their solution is the end all and be
all of health. Go look at 30 Bananas
A Day. They are claiming that
Bananas will get rid of
Candida/Yeast. There is no yeast
/candida elimination book on the
planet that says that. What they all
say is that you can have 1 or 2 fruits
a day. What they are experiencing at
30BAD is the difference between
soluble and un-soluble fiber and
maybe colitis.
In the end, Minger CLEARLY points
out that the Raw/Green world makes
endless Correlation is Causation
claims to justify their diet. She also
CLEARLY points out that anybody
getting off CANE SUGAR and other
junk is going to feel better, and get

LAST. You may what to go and look

at the BANANA crop. It is the most
TOXIC crop on the planet. The
bananas panama disease is back, a
fungus that lives in the soil and is
killing whole banana plantations in a
matter of years. Since the fungus
lives in the soil, it is VERY HARD to
kill. So they have to make new
banana plantations in a new area,
clearing more jungle. Bananas are a
big crop. So they are having to clear
more and more jungle to plant
more, plants. Most banana
plantations spray the crops, by
airplanes, 3 times a MONTH, with
pesticides and fungicides. That is a
It gets in the water supply, and the
villages nearby have endless health
problems. Not to mention what it is
doing to the wild life.

What I find this that most of the

raws, vegans, veggies, and fruities
are so busy defending their diet,
they dont even look at other


3. Matt

September 27, 2011 at 2:28 am

Your first video only highlights the anti-meat

findings of those studies. The very first study
referenced clearly states that chicken with skin, hot
dogs, and hamburgers all had no association with
bladder cancer. But I guess your veggie/vegan folks
aint telling you that stuff.


4. James

November 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Thats one of the more amusing things about the

Paleo diet, how bad most of its proponents look.
Mark Sisson and our beautiful hostess excluded.


1. Alex

November 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm

If you think they look bad now, you should

have seen them *before* they went paleo!

2. neisy

September 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

Hi Richard,

Dr. Jenkins was only one of three authors for that article. Do you
think its irrelevant that the other two were heavily funded and
supported by statins manufacturers?

Im sorry you feel that way about this blog. If you read through
some of my other entries, youd see that I actually eat mostly
plant foods myself and am careful to never recommend a
particular eating style to anyone. I write a lot about animal
products because I feel theyre unfairly vilified, although I
sometimes try to redeem some plant foods as well (ie, see my
fruit post a few entries back). Like you, I used to believe anything
animal-derived would promote disease, which is part of why I was
vegetarian and vegan for a decade. When I started reading
research outside of what the vegan community was regurgitating,
I had to revise my long-standing perspective on animal foods
because the science just didnt support it.


1. Richard

September 27, 2011 at 11:20 am

Dr. Jenkins was only one of three authors for that article.
Do you think its irrelevant that the other two were heavily
funded and supported by statins manufacturers?

No, not at all. As I tried to hint already, despite majoring in

economics, I cannot see the connection between the advice
to avoid cholesterol-rich animal foods and increased statin
sales, in fact, I see the contrary, plummeting statin sales
following from advices such as that.

The fact the Jenkins, one of the biggest authorities in

cardiovascular diseases, has his name on the paper
definitely legitimizes it in my eyes. The biggest authorities
in cardiovascular business, Jenkins, Williams and many
others make an advice against cholesterol, so its not an a
thingy of the 80s, I am sure we can both agree to that.

Anyways, I love your manipulative skills, your above post

certainly comes out very polite and almost convincing. But
not exactly! Had you have a sincere interest in health youd
be 100% dedicated to encouraging people to avoid factory
farm animals and since 99% of US poultry comes from the
factories and over 90% of the pork and other meats, it
would mean that youd courage people who have no
contact to wild game (the overwhelming majority) to follow
mostly vegan diet pattern. Its also very cute from you to
try us make believe youd be doing sincere research, beg
me to laugh. Now you try to give the bullshit that we
should not be vegans because your fad, raw diet failed.
Unfortunately your advices makes you as part of problem,
not the solution.

We are all much better when keeping the animal products

in minimium, exactly as UN has been touting for a decade,
whether they should limited 100% or not, is another issue,
but thats not your concern as long as people are filled by
animals you are careful to never recommend a particular
eating style to anyone, when this is not the case a hell
brakes loose as we all can witness.

because the science just didnt support it


Whether Campbells study is flawed or not is completely

irrevelant, the same message has been echoed the Western
medical literature for centuries, we have literally hundreds
of meat/dairy/fish = sickness papers. In fact, the notion of
animal foods making us sick was was already observed by
Plato two thousands years ago.

anyway, thumbs up for you having the courage to keep the

conversation rollin.


1. James

September 27, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I would like to see the literally hundreds of

meat/dairy/fish = sickness papers that is
scientific, randomized, double blind etc. and peer
reviewed.. And Plato is now a nutritionist too?
. plummeting statin sales following from advices
such as that. How come you cannot stick to the
known science . The intake of cholesterol has next
to no relation to serum cholesterol, the liver just
produces the levels needed. High inflammation-
high LDL. And as we all know among the high
inflammatory foods wheat products star as the
absolute numero uno.. Please Denise dont waste
too much time on the fanatics who keep screaming
dont confuse with the facts, because I know what I
have decided to know.

2. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Im thinking of the projection that within the next

20 years the most deficient resource and most
expensive on the planet will be WATER. I am
wondering with such constraints and theoretically a
diet heavily dependent solely on producewhat the
actual famine situation would then be like? Any
comments, besides suggesting we can a lot in
preparation? :)


1. gager

December 13, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The thing about water is, it will never be

anything but water even when
contaminated, unless it goes through some
kind of nuclear reaction which is very
unlikely here on earth. The production and
harvest of food will always be dependent on
water through climate. This is largely out of
our control but as the population increases
it will grow to a state of non sustainability
because of land or water requirements.


3. Rod

December 28, 2012 at 12:57 am

I came across this blog today and find it fascinating
in the extent of the dialogue pro and con for
various diets. I am not a medical doctor, though I
did study biochemistry and molecular biology, and
grew up on a dairy farm where we raised most of
the food fed to our cows, and a few pigs and
chickens. My question to the community as a whole
is are there studies that can definitively prove
beyond doubt that a diet low or devoid of animal
protein/fat is superior to one that includes animal
proteins and fat? Or, are most studies not large
enough in sample size to be meaningful statiscally
if applied to the human population and disese as a
whole? My general sense is that many studies,
papers, diets or books espoused here are small in
nature, and / or anecdotal in nature. One has to be
careful to draw conclusions from small samples as
meaningful to human life span and health in
general. For instance, I grew up drinking raw cow
milk and cream, eating plenty of animal protein
and lots of vegetables. My parents even more so
and both are 87yr old, my mother has Alzheimers
and hbp, my father has joints worn out from labor,
otherwise healthy. My grandmothers both born on
farms eating similar dairy and meat laden diets
lived into their 90s, my grandfathers died of one
by tentanus, the other bacterial infection of an
abcessed tooth. The point being, maybe genetics
plays a large role that is only beginning to be
understood within the context of diets. A
population living on a subsistance diet my die of
disease other than heart related, while another
living on a heavy meat and dairy dies of other
disease. The point being, does any one group
statistically live longer than any other group? In the
end I agree we are what we eat but i know from
current research that we all have slight mutations
in our DNA that enable/ or not for us to metabolize
some compounds/foods but not others. In the end
we all die, and seemlying at around a similar age if
given access to adequate amounts of a variety of
food types.

One last note to a comment about growth

hormones in animal foodstuffs, for those eating
animals that may have been given recombinant
growth hormones, once you ingest that food (milk,
meat, whatever,) any growth hormone present,
being an enzyme thus a protein, will be broken
down in the digestion process to constituent amino
acids as any other protein, it will not be biologically


32. Tom Welsh

September 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

You certainly are a strong argument for giving scientists a liberal arts education! While
extremely rigorous, you have a superb gift for explaining potentially complex matters in
a way that makes them seem almost obvious.

Then again, maybe youre just very, very intelligent.


33. ravi

September 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm

and again laughing, snickering and being wowed all the way through! i can only
thank you for your diligence but then again you are clearly doing what you are
passionate about and exceptionally (yes awesomely) good at.

upon moving to switzerland 2 months ago, my ancestral-noshing partner and child and
i are getting serious about a website and perhaps workshops for all these poor affluent
swiss/german/european people that look at us like we have grown 2 eyes in our
foreheads (nod to Dana) not to mention the brain oozing out of our ears.

I thought the US was bad but EU is horrid in just as many diet-fail ways just to see
the stream of addicts at 7 am pouring out of the bakeries with their (admittedly great
smelling) crescent-shaped space-cakes of pure wheat (even space cakes just have a bit
of hemp)! and you try it say stop eating bread to a swiss person and they quietly
slide away smiling that WTF was that? kinda smile, happy they got away from you alive
and unscathed.

i think well start David-ing the Goliath here and see what happens (deportation

thanks lots Denise youll be at the top of our references for those who can do the
english (maybe we even translate you to deutsch!)


34. Richard

September 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Ouh yes,

fresh new date from China (2011) Check it out, lady.

Vegetarian, not even vegan, at significantly lower risk for heart disease in China

Yang SY, Zhang HJ, Sun SY, et al. Relationship of carotid intima-media thickness and
duration of vegetarian diet in Chinese male vegetarians. Nutr Metab. 2011;8:63.

35. Patrick

September 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Wonderful post Denise. I wish Id had it, or something like it, to hand out to folks who
came to see this film at the theater where I work. We were showing it the same week as
AHS, so I was pretty much constantly biting my tongue to keep from having
discussions with my customers.


36. Jane

September 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

It really is puzzling how Esselstyn still believes that stuff about wartime Norway. It looks
like the improvement in dental health, at least, was due to reduced consumption of
refined carbohydrate. Dental caries in Norwegian children during and after the last
World War says:

The cause of the decrease in caries frequency during the war and the cause of the
increase after the war is discussed. Based on the rationing of the various food articles
our tentative conclusion is that the decrease may be attributed to the lowering in
consumption of refined carbohydrate and the increase in consumption of more natural
foods .


37. Pingback: Denise Minger, health, forks over knives, vegan, meat,

38. Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE

September 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I laughed out loud several times. It was as gripping as an
Academy-award-winning courtroom drama.

Considering that you are writing about dry scientific papers and data, youve got a real
knack for making the information accessible, engaging, and extremely entertaining. This
is incredibly rare; I hope you know what a gift you are to the planet. Ill continue to read
your blog with pleasure and Id be thrilled to read any book you write (hopefully one

Im now obsessed with the idea of testing this recipe for herring roe bread pudding. Ill
use almond flour and/or coconut flour and coconut milk. Ive already found a recipe for
the saft saus.

Ill let you know how it turns out!

Ann Marie


1. Renae Maslonkowski

September 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Ann Marie,

When you test out that herring roe bread pudding, please make sure to put it in
your blog!



2. Primal Toad

September 30, 2011 at 8:28 am

I have not read the post yet but will asap.

About a book as far as I know, Mark Sisson is working with Denise on a book! I
think it will be published in 2012. It will teach us all how to disect any study
just never as good as Denise!


39. Janelle Hoxie

September 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm

This was an amazing review, I love it how much of the boring graph reading and
combing through studies you do so we dont have to! Thank you so much! I gave up
wheat a few months ago and after reading this I am so glad I did!


40. Laura timbrook

September 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Absolutely amazing, I hate how I love scientific data so much. I believe plant base diets
do have their time and place and definitely not for everyone. I really enjoyed how you
pointed out all the pieces that were conveniently missed in the movie.


41. Pingback: Slakt av veganpropagandafilm Paleofriend

1. Kim yhus

September 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

[] mostly. However, I got stuck on a super long article by Denise Minger on Raw
Food SOS: Forks Over Knives: Is the Science Legit? (A Review and Critique). She
is too good for a cursory glance. The article is about a new movie: Forks over
Knives, and []


42. Ben

September 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Well done Denise. I find your style of writing to be light and refreshingly lacking in
dogma. Combined with your gift for disseminating research and breaking it down, you
pack quite a punch. The world could use a few more of you.


43. Pingback: Denise Minger reviews "Forks Over Knives" | Mark's Daily Apple Health and
Fitness Forum page

44. Bonny

September 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Denise, you are amazing! I recently watched Forks Over Knives and left feeling so
frustrated. You are a brilliant researcher and a wonderful writer. I just shared this on
Facebook. Thank you!!!


45. Chris Heppner

September 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Denise, another wonderful blogyou really are an amazing one person show. However, a
couple of comments, focused more on Esselstyn than on Campbell. You point out quite
correctly that there was a rather high drop out rate, but then assume it might have been
due to poor results. I suspect it might well have been due to either difficulty keeping to
the diet, or such good results that they felt able to quit the discipline of those frequent
visits and blood lettings.
Also you comment that though the results were good, maybe even better ones are
available with a somewhat different approach. Maybe yes, but remember his patients
were an extreme bunchmuch damage had already been done. Recall Ornishs
Spectrum, which offers a spectrum of degrees depending on the point from which you
start. Would you not approve of that? (and not incidentally, he offers evidence for
regression of prostate cancer toonot bad?). And you refer us to William Davis as an
example of a better way. I go to his website and find lots of ads for expensive
supplements, but no links to published or other hard data on results; am I missing
something, or can you direct me to such data? Both Ornish and Esselstyn had the
courage to submit their results to the public.
So I am still thinking over the rich content of your blog, and feel profoundly grateful for
all the intelligent hard work that went into it (and the light hearted tone too!) but am
still impressed by the real world results achieved by this vegan stuff.
Please keep going, and I look forward to that book next year.
Thanks and best wishes, Chris


1. Andrs

September 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

May I?

Best regards.

46. Jan

September 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Denise, where do you keep your internal organs? You are just chock-full of win.


47. Mike N

September 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Great post. I look forward to all your posts.


48. Kyra Xavia

September 24, 2011 at 12:21 am

Thank you!


49. Vesna

September 24, 2011 at 12:35 am

Thank you, Denise!


50. Pingback: Debunking Myths About An Animal Based Diet | EUPHORY

51. James

September 24, 2011 at 2:59 am

Youre a riot!


52. Alex

September 24, 2011 at 3:26 am

Excellent, Denise!


53. Mary Saunders

September 24, 2011 at 4:35 am

The Esselstyn family and Neal Barnard are pretty good walking advertisements for what
they do. They have controlled weight and maintained health in themselves as models,
and that is going to sell some program.

Neal Barnard says everybody should supplement with B12, no matter what their diet. He
also looks healthy and dynamic.

The Weston A. Price photos are persuasive and data are impressive.

In China, meat-eating has been associated with wealth, which could mean meat-eaters
endured less stress and less job-related risk.

The take-away for me as an individual is that one size does not fit all, and personalized
medicine ought to already be here.

1. Daniel Kirsner

September 25, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Neal Barnardhealthy and dynamic?????

Try cadaverous:

And needless to say, his writings and ideas are laughable:


1. Richard

September 26, 2011 at 8:31 am

Neal Barnard is 58, pushing for 60s. You can surely find unrepresentable
pictures out of everyone.

Let say that compared to the chubby out-of-shape and obese low-carb
crew, Cordain, Sears, Taubes, Jimmy Moore, Kendrich, etc, the vegan MDs
come out looking like elite athletes.


1. Daniel Kirsner

September 27, 2011 at 5:40 am

Tom Naughton, at AHS, did a nice job of shredding the gist of

your argumentnamely that many people on low-carb diets are
overweight, therefore, low-carb diets caused their obesity.
Toms talk:
Incidentally, there are virtually no elite athletes in any highly
competitive (read: where millions of dollars are at stake) sport
who do not consume mass quantities of animal protein in some
form. Oddly enough, the people who most resemble elite athletes
ARE elite athletes.


1. Richard

September 27, 2011 at 7:32 am

Incidentally, there are virtually no elite athletes in any

highly competitive (read: where millions of dollars are at
stake) sport who do not consume mass quantities of
animal protein in some form. Oddly enough, the people
who most resemble elite athletes ARE elite athletes this what you call logic? Theres no society where

rape and murders are not persistent, should this little
notion tell us that rape and murders are clever acts?

Besides, even in factual terms your remark is bull shit. And

dont worry I know all about the Taubes-style If it wasnt
for the low-carb/high fat, Id be much more fattier-logic.

Vegetarian Crowned Germanys Strongest Man (2011)


1. Daniel Kirsner

September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I see youve failed to address my point.

Let me remind you: vegetarian vegan. In fact, the
highest quality proteins in terms of their
anticatabolic/anabolic effects (Read: the best for
gaining muscle/losing fat) are apparently various
blends of proteins derived from milk and eggs.


1. Richard

September 28, 2011 at 6:05 am

Following your logic the best protein in

your terms would be human protein, do we
need that high-quality, high-growth
facilitating human protein, no. Id rather to
choose the protein which is kindest to my
kidneys and liver, although drinking some
isolated nutrients is nut cup of tea to begin


1. Daniel Kirsner

October 2, 2011 at 2:02 am

Muscle meat proteins have lower

biologic value than milk protein
blends; even if nutritionally
desirable human milk proteins are
obviously not likely to become
widely available for mass
consumption by adults any time
soonAlthough this is
store And there is no evidence to
support avoiding high-quality
proteins per se for kidney/organ
health; if protein (or calories) needs
to be limited for some reason, the
emphasis on quality oughta go up,
not down.


2. bigjeff

October 4, 2011 at 12:59 am

Patrick Baboumian relied extremely heavily on

quark (a type of cheese) and whey for his protein
(which if you dont know how weight lifting works,
comprised the major component of his diet).

He is apparently going vegan as of this month,

however, so it will be extremely interesting to see
how well he performs with all-plant sources of


2. thqueenbee

December 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Then again, low carb has taken many people from high
cholesterol to low, from obesity to lower weight, from
heart disease to some reversal and removed some people
from the type II diabetes roster go figure. The problem
with pseudo science be it conducted by doctors or snake
oil salesman or your latest magazine ragit seldom is
scientific except in the claims and throwing around a few
studies or comparisons. That is all well and good but a
true scientist will usually know the challenges (a
component of any study that tries to be the devils
advocate) as well as the criteria that must be considered
before any position is either taken or bolstered. We are
seeing a lot of studies which either do not share the data
they should (such as the results of their challenges and a
control grouplike maybe one fed casein but NOT using
aflatoxin as a carcinogen/mutagen) without studies like
this running side by side with the actual desired study or
clinical trialsyou have nada. Butkiss. Nothing. What is
amazing is that this is passed off as science. But I also
consider the venue. This is in a documentary , NOT
because it defies the status quo, but because tthat in the
vetting process for scientific study, this type of data does
NOT pass muster because it fails to challenge or compare
itself to the medical/scientific data of sources which may
refute or contradict its own premise.


3. Elenor

December 24, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Please, allow me to send people here instead for Toms

excellent video Science for Smart People:

The AHS video, alas, does NOT show the slides, and so a
big chunk of Toms talk seems nonsensical.

1. gager

December 27, 2011 at 10:24 am

Thanks Elenor, enjoyed the video, the laughing

irritated but otherwise good information.


2. Lisa

December 10, 2011 at 12:43 am

Richard, your responses are defensive. This defensiveness

indicates that you have an emotional attachment to your chosen
dietary style and feel attacked when exposed to new and differing
information. Your responses indicate a desire to argue, not
reasonably discuss. Nutrition is not religion and should not be
based upon belief but understanding. In order to gain
understanding you will need to be able to receive new
information. Your overly-emotional defensive stance will disallow
for receipt of new ideas.



January 10, 2012 at 1:56 am

The epitome of a felicitous comment. Thanks for that.


2. Charlie
September 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm

They look cadaverous because their diet does not provide the amino-
acids, fats and nutrients their body need. They are living of the meat and
fat from their own body, what it can cannibalize. The body is looking for
what the supposed plant based diet cant provide.


54. Txomin

September 24, 2011 at 11:50 am

Documentaries have long served as vehicles for propaganda (no surprises here). This
one seems to be particularly flawed.

This documentary contributes nothing regarding the value of a meat-free working

hypothesis for optimal nutrition as it contributes nothing regarding the value of any
other working hypotheses. It is inconsequential.

And that is the reason why I appreciate this post, Denise. It is great that something as
worthless as Forks Over Knives has prompted you to work out something as
interesting as your post regardless of its ultimate validity. You have made a
contribution and this is always worth praise. Thank you.


55. Jack Kruse

September 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

DMmight i suggest you write a book called the Broken China study? You method and
mind are perfectly suited to this. There will always be vegans because of dogma. But as
a doc i am sick of reciting patients who are slowly killing themselves with this dogma. Id
love to just write the a Rx for your book. Im patiently awaiting your assistance. Great
blog as usual. Dr. K

56. Neonomide

September 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Thanks, esp the part on Norway was awesome!

Wartime disease rate drops are always very suspicable, as diminishing of available
calories, the believability of statistics and wartime stress are as well major possibly
confounding factors. Wartime stress might add to the injury as those autopsy studies
you referred seem to show. THINCS guys like Kendrick and esp Colpo have built an
excellent case for chronic stress and dysfunction of HPA-axis as major contributors on
metabolic dysfuntions in heart disease. Post-wartime Finland has been used as an
primary example consuption of animal products went down faster in control areas
where there was no intervention. Perhaps radical interventions ie North Carelia project
added to post-war stress by rapid cease of smoking and subsequent demise of small
farming in Carelia bc of health fascism?

So far, the big picture on wartime coronary disease rates remains full of controversies
and variables and seem next to useless other than wild hypotheses generating.


57. wernerfmeyer

September 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm

WOW! The best, most in-depth review Ive read, about anything ever! You have a new
subscriber in me.


58. Sue
September 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm

It took me 3 days to get through it, but this is the most in depth analysis Ive ever read.
Your humor and witty writing style amazes me! You put all of these scientists to shame
and just proved that everyone should get their liberal arts degree before pursuing the
Thank you for this!


59. Jeff

September 24, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Wow. Denise, youre just awesome. Great job again. You never fail to make me randomly
chuckle throughout, too.


60. labrat

September 24, 2011 at 10:44 pm

My favorite line:

Would Campbell warn the audience not to Google around for critiques of his study,
because theyre all written by shills for the meat industry, orworseliberal arts

Keep writing Neisy we all eagerly await to hear from you!


61. Doug Scarbs

September 25, 2011 at 1:23 am

Awesome, thats just all I can say.


62. Casa Rosa Farms

September 25, 2011 at 4:05 am

Thank you so much for this! So when does the best selling book come out?


63. MDcandidate

September 25, 2011 at 11:14 am

I can not thank you enough for writing this critique. I just finished watching the
documentary. It tries to back up its argument by citing scientific information, but what
they present is as unscientific as it can be. You have done a wonderful job of cataloging
it all. I am going to share your critique with the people who recommended me the


64. elboworld

September 25, 2011 at 2:19 pm

great read, denise, with some real lol moments :o)

perhaps you should create an iphone app called can i cite this ?, so people can use it to
find out whether the study/book/author that they are about to cite still has any integrity

i do have some proper points/questions to save for when i have a little more time

65. Pingback: Forks Over KnivesIs the science legit? by Denise Minger | Barbarism

66. Scott

September 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I just wanted to commend you for such an outstanding review. The level of detail you
provide is simply brilliant! I recently watched the film and then for some reason
remembered your blog. No surprise to see that you provided such an in-depth,
comprehensive analysis here.
Its great that you provide the supporting science and help to fill some of the gaps
omitted from the data that was provided in this movie.
Again, absolutely brilliant review and thanks for so much for your sharing your
knowledge and insight on this.
Best Regards, Scott


67. Pingback: The future of our health - Page 25 - Christian Forums

68. Lore

September 26, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I shocked myself by reading most of this. I am a scanner more than a reader but I
actually found myself reading and rereading the details that you gave. I think and
process globally but there are times when details matter and your discection of the
details were very telling. When I heard about the movie my first thought was Did they
eat organic, pastured animals/eggs, et al? I was never more weak and undernourished
than when I was on a macro-biotic dietMy mother is from Germany and we had
healthy, hot delicious food every day, growing up in Michigan. Despite our possible
good genes (though 3 of the 7 of us died from cancer and one survived skin cancer) we
ate a lot of meat and butter but my mom was very concious of health and good nutrition
read Adele Davis books from early on. She made her own bread from the best
ingredients she could find (and she bought rye bread from Canada that we ate with
butter and honey while we played Euchre) I credit this diet with my health today since
unfortunately in my early 20s I got caught up in bulemia and anorexia because my then
husband wanted me bone thin and put me on a low-fat diet. I got terribly malnourished
and nearly died several times. Long story short, in the past 5 years or so Ive seriously
worked on my health. In the last year is when I went on the high fat/protien along with
(more recently) bone broth and coconut oil with kefired raw milk and Cod LIver Oil and
liquid Co-Q10 and Im losing fat like crazy and I feel my back, shoulders and psosas
unfreezing and my short term memory is coming back. I will be 50 next year and
people think I am in my late 30s even with all of the damage that my body sustained in
the past. I credit it with the diet my mom gave us, lots of fat, meat and vegetables. We
ate very little sugar, no soda and our treats were apples and sometimes pretzels (in
moderation) and we could sometimes have a 7-up since it had no caffene, if we really
begged. My poor mom, when McDoanlds came to town we begged her relentlessly for it
and we maybe had it once a week after our Christian meeting on Sundays but not that
often. My life course shows that the research for Forks over Knives is bunk. Ive done
every diet known to man and they all fail in comparison to what I am doing now. The
Chronic fatigue, (though I had the virus killed by an electro-something or other machine
and that was a huge help) fibro-myalgia, depression etc. that I once had are all gone
and my ex-husband possess them all instead. He continues his low-fat diet, knowing
that his arthirits came from too much weight lifting when I was young bullhe is a
sugar/bread/donut hound, duh! Thank you for the lovely information and the time it
took you to make it available to other souls. I dont have to thank you for your passion
because I know you cant help that! Best.


69. Josh Frey

September 26, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Wow. Even if you only post every couple of weeks, you put out more quality information
than almost anyone. I really dont know how you do it!

You should write a book or somethingafter all, 2 or 3 of these monster posts would
probably fill one up :)

1. Angelyne

September 27, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Denise IS writing a book. It was announced on Marks Daily Apple


70. Pingback: Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane, Fishing for Our Good Friend Glutathione in
the Waters of the Memory Hole: How T. Colin Campbell Helped Prove That Protein
Protects Us | Mother Nature Obeyed - Weston A Price Foundation

71. Pingback: Forks Over Knives | Thinking of a Life Beyond Meat

72. Pingback: Forks over knives? - Page 2

73. Kate E Fiedler

September 27, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane, Fishing for Our Good Friend Glutathione in the Waters
of the Memory Hole: How T. Colin Campbell Helped Prove That Protein Protects Us |
Mother Nature Obeyed Weston A Price Foundation
I wish this link would have worked!!!


1. neisy

September 27, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I dont know why the pingback link got goofed up! Try this one instead
(DEFINITELY worth the read!):


74. Pingback: Things That Interested Me This Week: 9-27-11 Bare 5

75. anna

September 27, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Poor men
This brain, this style, these eyes
Bravo, Denise.


76. David I

September 28, 2011 at 3:28 am

Richard, are you trying to be funny, or are you serious?


77. Paul Tubbs

September 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

Hi Denise, What a tour de force that was, well done! I dont know how you have the time
or energy to do such thorough analysis and demolition on something like this! I could
understand where you came from on the China Study and am only grateful that you took
the time and applied the same rigour to this. I think most folk will take the film at face
value much easier that way which is why were where we are now with the whole
grain (pun intended) debate. Tanks again.


78. Jan Krouwer

September 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Even if all of the Esselstyn patients fared well, a study shortcoming is that it is a highly
selective sample and there is no evidence that these results are applicable to the general


1. Jan Krouwer

September 29, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Also, regarding the Esselstyn study, your 4 numbered points except for point 1
are not very convincing. Points 2 and 3 relate to the study not being a
randomized clinical trial. But randomized clinical trials are often biased as well.
Case controlled retrospective studies (I realize this isnt one) are underused. And
point 4, that many variables were changed does not detract from the study. The
purpose of the study was not to pinpoint a specific dietary factor.


1. Matt

September 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm

The purpose of the study was not to pinpoint a specific dietary factor.
Then why is it being used to promote a specific dietary intervention in the


2. Michael Klein

June 26, 2013 at 12:07 am

Im a 3 year old male stepping back from the precipice of metabolic syndrome. I
have been on a very low fat vegan diet for a year Ive lost 40 lbs, my bp is down
to a high normal Ive been able to get off 2 meds, my cholesterol is 75, and I
eat a lot of food everyday. Inflamation of my joints is no more. The forks over
knives diet has been a lifesaver for me. So you can do your double blind science
studies, but if youre in the same boat as I was I suggest you try the diet for two
months and see if it doesnt have a tremendous benefit for your health!!! Im
never going back


1. Michael Klein

June 26, 2013 at 12:09 am

53 year old


2. Finnegans Wake

June 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Good for you to take charge of your health. I would not presume to
suggest you ought to change your diet or that there are potential pitfalls
associated with it (you can operate Google, presumably).
What I would note is that this sort of diet removes many potential causes
of metabolic syndrome so was it the fat? The red meat? The processed
foods? The sweets? And it is entirely possible to remove both good and
bad from ones diet and achieve positive results, but not optimal results.
In other words, some might suggest that youve thrown the baby out with
the bathwater.


79. Rees

September 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Long and GREAT!!

Glad I read it


80. Ann

September 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm

What seems obvious here, and concurrent with my comment of earlier, is that what
works for one isnt necessarily going to work for all. Having said that, I agree with an
earlier commenter who said that its the processing of the foods that renders it poison
to our systems, causing disease.

Richard, I believe that you believe what you believe pretty strongly, and I respect that,
however it cannot be denied we evolved as omnivorous creatures, and thus our bodies
need that mix of foods, including animal protein. Yes, I understand and realize that we
do not live the same lifestyles as our predecessors, and that we are not living our lives
in the same set of drive to survive parameters as they. However, an argument might be
made that a different set of stresses is present in our lives today, causing a type of
stress our ancestors didnt face. I dont think anyone can make the argument that we
have evolved beyond the need for animal protein just yet.
To my understanding, no vegetable, legume, or grain, or any combination thereof, can
give us the complete amino acid profile that our bodies need, and that can be found in
animal protein. It seems that I also read somewhere that even soy protein, as in tofu,
tvp, etc, has an incomplete amino acid profile.

It seems theres no adequate substitution for animal protein when it comes to fueling
the human body!

To promote the idea that mankind needs to adopt an unnatural vegan diet for the sake
of the planet is irresponsible, at best.


1. bigjeff

October 4, 2011 at 2:01 am

Not to disparage you over much, but gluten (wheat protein) is only missing lysine
in order to be a complete protein. Lysine is commonly found in legumes, so
wheat + beans provides a complete amino acid profile.

There are other combinations that provide complete proteins as well, but you
have to know what plant proteins are missing what amino acids, and what other
plant proteins fill the gap.

This is actually in DMs blog post in the section about Campbells casein studies,
its just not laid out that way.

The trouble vegans tend to have is its very hard to do the protein thing properly
and consistently (seriously, wheat and beans at every meal?), even though it is
entirely possible. My roommate, an ethical vegetarian, had to move away from
pure veganism because he was unable to manage this, and hes a pretty smart
guy. Its a whole lot easier to just eat meat, which always provides a complete

1. Another Halocene Human

October 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

Never mind what wheat and beans will do in the small intestines of a
susceptible person such as myself.

And I was one who found this way of eating tasty. Just not sustainable.


2. Chris

August 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Im replying to this post, but I would like to comment on this entire

Its great that weve debunked everything from the china study to forks
over knives.
That doesnt help me eat better.
You wonder why people just throw in the towel.
Feels like food tribes arguing.while the average American still goes to
McDonalds, eats turkey legs at Disney and is fat, sloppy and out of
We need simple advice, not Im smarter than everyone else commentary.
This is why everyone is confused.
If my my cholesterol is 250+ and and Im contemplating going on Lipitor,
I dont give a shit about the rat study in India.


1. paleohuntress

August 31, 2013 at 4:15 pm


Your passive-aggression isnt welcome here. I empathize with

your situation as Ive been in a similar one myself, but you dont
go into a forum about the color green and complain that youre
not learning about the color red. You are probably correct that
you need to find another forum that gives actual dietary advice.
Denises forum is designed to provide nutrition information and
let people make up their own minds. Perhaps when you are
further along on your journey, you will find youre able to make
use of the information she provides. In the meantime, lets not
criticize something for being what it is, instead of what you want
it to be.

Best of luck to you.



1. regularvegan

August 31, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Maybe youre mistaking my restraint with passive

aggressiveness. Im going to phrase this as a question:
whats the point of your article?

Maybe FOK is right, maybe its wrong. You also seem to be

all for eating well. We are both in total agreement on both

However, it seems as though youve cracked the code all

by yourself and seem solely focused on making your point
that many folks whove spent careers researching this
topic are either lying or arent competent. They almost
pulled the wool over our eyes, didnt they? A more
balanced approach would have been helpful.

My point is that I was disappointed to read a review that

was an actual attack.

Hope that was direct enough.

Good luck to you as well and thanks for taking the time to

On Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 12:15 PM, Raw Food SOS


1. paleohuntress

September 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Hi Chris,

This isnt my article, this is Denise Mingers article.

(She usually comments as neisy but seeing as the
entry in two years old, she doesnt comment often
any longer.) I wont pretend to speak for her, so Ill
say this instead, this is an extensive blog, and if
you read over a few of the other entries, youll see
that Denise provides the DATA and the discussion
of it, but not dietary advice. If you need to be
hand-held through a nutrition plan, this isnt the
place to get it. That approach is much more
McDougall and Campbells styles, the Just take my
word for it. style. What Denise has demonstrated is
that their word cant be trusted. As a former wf-
vegan with sky-high cholesterol, I really do
empathize I was angry with all of nutrition science
for a while. But when I took responsibility for
reviewing the research myself and making up my
own mind, it was very empowering (and I dropped
150 cholesterol points too in less than 10 months.)

You dont have to like Denises tone to see that

youve been lied to. And she certainly isnt the only
thinking person to have looked more closely at the
data the plant-based gurus claim supports their
advice, only to realize it doesnt. And its pretty
normal to hate the messenger that brings this stark
reality to you, when its your own dream youre
being woken from. It brings disillusionment and
resentment along with it too.

Yes, many folks whove spent careers researching

this topic are either lying or arent competent. They
HAVE almost pulled the wool over our eyes. There
is a good book out called, Mistakes Were Made (But
Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad
Decisions, and Hurtful Acts It isnt specifically
about diet policy but its incredibly enlightening
about why we stick to bad choices and giving
advice we now know is wrong. The three main
tenets it discusses are- 1.) Once weve taken a
position publicly, its really hard to admit we were
wrong. 2.) Emotionally, we need to believe were
both good people and good decision-makers 3.)
Our biases make us more than capable of fooling
ourselves, even if that means ignoring evidence to
the contrary.

Its OK to be disappointed that your expectations

werent met, but criticizing the author for that is
unwarranted. It isnt her job to meet your
expectations, and considering the title reads, A
Review andCritique , its hard to understand why
your expectations of a critique were not that it
would be critical of the films content. Im sure
shed welcome any debate of the science.





81. anna

September 29, 2011 at 12:37 am

I am tired of fighting on a certain health forum countless variations of vegan/raw food

diets. After I pour all my sarcasm (innate and quite impressive) on some promoter of a
cold grass soup on a cold winter night, a defender of a warm hay (hay and hay only)
stew shows up. I run to the mirror to check my look no, I am still not a cow.


1. Anonymous

September 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I respect your sarcasm but no wonder you are tired.

If you think there are only grass eaters and omnivores, and carnivores, you are
rudely mistaken.

Have you ever been outside of your home? Nature is not a farm. There is more
than just grass in this world, than cows and pigs and dogs. There are billions of
different kinds of plants in many different places with many different parts(roots,
tubers, leaves, stems) and fruits and seeds. There are many different animals,
many different creatures.
There is sprouted, grinding, soaking, culturing, cooking.

Grass is not the only herb, furthermore there are many different species on this
planet with specific ways of eating, including eating earth and mineral licks,
parrots eat clay, elephants for example consume clay.

The diet recommended in this film is a starch based diet, not a cow diet.


1. anna

October 1, 2011 at 2:47 am

The diet recommended in this film is a starch based diet, not a cow diet
Thank you, but thank you I am pretty sure that starch isnt good for
I think Ill have a roasted cow for dinner tonight. If it kills half of the
worlds vegan/raw food population, Ill send my condolences.


1. Anonymous

October 1, 2011 at 3:47 am

Not funny.

I never said anything about starch being good (or not) for you.


82. Risto Uuk

September 29, 2011 at 6:55 am

Wow! I seriously would like to know where you get the concentration, focus, and critical
mindset from, Denise.

For other folks who read that: Could you seriously remain concentrated and critical of
Denises article all the way through? I think I lost my concentration on the half way and
just busyread until the end.

The main thing I learned from this post is this: Everything that involves analyzing what
people did in the past is speculation. Data collection is definitely not 100% accurate and
neither is the thought-process of someone analyzing the data. Its all, in my opinion,
very subjective.


1. Sue

September 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I found it helpful to read Denises post over 3 days time. Therere so many
interesting findings, you really dont want to miss out by rushing through it.


2. Denise B

July 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Subjective is not the right word. Analyzing data should involve rigorous critical
thinking. Unfortunately for all of us, neither the researchers themselves nor
those who report on and spread the conclusions of the research always think
critically enough.

Shrugging our shoulders and calling it all subjective is too lazy. Its hard work to
do what Denise has done, and its hard work for us to read it. But its what needs
to be done if knowledge is ever to advance.

83. mary

September 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Dear Ms. Minger,

I cant believe you have waged war against anyone who switches to a plant based diet to
improve their overall health in this review.

Forks Over Knives has a simple message: avoid dairy and meat products and over time,
one can reverse/prevent heart disease, diabetes and in some cases cancer.

You attack EVERYTHING in this film, it sounds like you really hate anyone who sticks to a
vegan diet.

I am extremely disappointed with your review. I have been able to lose nearly 10 pounds
over the past 2 months since I switched to a plantbased diet, and I feel much better for.
This is my simple truth, are you going to spend another 10 pages and attack that too?


1. gager

September 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Forks Over Knives has a simple message: avoid dairy and meat products and
over time, one can reverse/prevent heart disease, diabetes and in some cases
Except doesnt do as described. Every vegan I know has cancer and they had it
after going vegan.
Are you reading Denise wearing blinders?


1. Karl Young
December 5, 2011 at 2:22 am

Gee you really should try to get out and meet some vegans.


2. ChristopherD

September 30, 2011 at 2:56 am

Mary- in switching to a plant based diet, what else did you eliminate? Were you
already eating clean and healthy with minimal processed foods, and clean meats
(game, fish, or pastured/grass fed animal products)? Did you feel better after
adjusting your protein from animal products to only plant products? If so- then
thats something to discuss, as it provides a direct comparison/contrast to the
criticisms of the film.

However, if you werent eating clean, if you were eating lots of pizza, burgers,
fries, processed flours (mind you, I love all these foods myself, although I stick
to whole grains now, and love me some wheat, so Im not knocking you here)-
was your diet extremely high in carbs but not dense in nutrients? Lots of sugar?
Im thinking average US consumer here. If you switch from eating average to
eating clean, you are going to feel better, but you cant say it was directly the
elimination of all animal products, since you eliminated so much at once. Thats
what this review, and a lot of Ms. Mingers writing is about- you cant, as a
scientist, say we threw out all the animal products in the diet, as well as all the
sugar, carbs, processed foods and inflammatory fats- and the people got
healthy! It must mean meat is bad! There are too many variables to make that
kind of a statement.

Now- going back to the top of this- if the scientists had a good controlled study
of healthy individuals who already ate clean (as defined above, or find your
favorite paleo/primal site), and removed the meat, and they ended up even
healthier, then youre on to something. So far, the studies havent done that, or
been designed around that. So we have a lot of badly created/correlated studies
and statistics being bandied about to say ALL meat and animal products are bad.
And in case you missed it- no one here is slamming or hating on a veg centered
diet- look at most paleo sites, and youll find lots of discussion about veggies
and how to cook them. Probably as many ways to make a tasty salad or use an
avacado as youll find on any vegan site.

Youll also see a lot of meat eating paleos/primals/WAPs slamming industrial

feed lots and grain fed cows and poorly fed animals who arent healthy
themselves so arent really healthy for you either- which is vastly different from
healthy, properly fed animals or wild game, which are healthy for you- and if you
take the time to read further, youll find lots of discussion about the whys and
hows, and what to look for in animals products, should you choose to include
them in your diet again.

Ive yet to come across a paleo diet blog saying anything at all about veggies
being bad- lots of discussion about grains, but not veggies. Now, there might
not be friendly terms with most vegans, but thats something other than hating
vegetables. Ive yet to read any discussion that says meat good, veggies bad.
Again, look around, and read, and take the time to read the whole post- there
are several lines talking about agreement with a veg-centered diet. The whole
gist of the critique though, is that the evidence to say animal products are bad or
damaging to you is not currently based on strong science from well developed

And if you pay careful attention, youll see it stated multiple times by Ms. Minger
in multiple posts and comments- if you found a diet that makes you healthy and
happy- good for you! Keep it up, and keep learning so that you can improve it
more with time. Instead of getting upset, share what you have done- what are
the actual changes you have made? Whats working for you, and what problems
are you still having? That kind of thing.


3. mike

November 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

10 pounds in 2 months?? If you went on a ketogenic diet you would lose 10 lbs
in ten days!! After giving up all grains and legumes I lost 25 lbs in 2 months.
amy GERD went away in 2 days and my Arthritis went away in ten days.


84. James

September 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm

.avoid dairy and meat products and over time, one can reverse/prevent heart disease,
diabetes and in some cases cancer.
Just wondering where you have found that, I would be really interested. As an
independent scientific researcher I would certainly take any reference you can give
under consideration.


1. mary

September 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm


If you watched the film Forks Over Knives, this is the message.

Wow, OMG!

I cant believe how hated, despised folks who advocate a plant based diet from
this blog.

Its like if you eliminate dairy and meat, youre a commie or something. it is

Look all I care about is losing weight, and helping myself to reverse the damage
done from decades of dairy and meat consumption.
OK? is that a sin or something? Denise and company and most of the bloggers
seem to eguate veganism with evil.


1. Angelyne

September 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Yeah Mary, did you actually read the review? Sure doesnt look like it. Do
you always over react like this when someone disagrees with you?

Random boss Mary, I dont think those figures you quoted in your report
are accurate

Mary, OMG, Did you just accuse me of being incompetent and EVIL ???


2. gager

September 29, 2011 at 7:18 pm

It wasnt the meat and dairy that made you a cow. It was what you ate
with the meat and dairy. There is only one thing that makes people
insulin resistant and that is carbohydrates. Try giving up bread and
potatoes and rice and anything white. It is a painless way to lose weight.


1. Anonymous

September 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

There are millions of people currently living in rural South

America, Central America, Asia, and Africa on diets of potatoes,
corn, rice, millet, cassava, and other starch vegetables with
complete freedom from IR.


1. PaleoPeriodical

October 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Yeah, and theyre rapidly catching up with us Westerners

due to the influx of cheaper, processed food options.


2. Another Halocene Human

October 21, 2011 at 9:08 am

Citations, please.

Millet is a goitrogen. Bitter cassava is implicated in causing

paralysis in rural Africa. Corn-based diets caused pellagra
in the American South and Northern Italy 100 years ago.
Potatoes contain varying amounts of solenine, a potent
toxin which can cause death. (In the United States, wheat
products are fortified to prevent pellagra and were heavily
promoted by the government. Solenine levels in potatoes
are regulated and for this reasons some varieties may not
legally be sold. Therefore in the US the worst reaction seen
is stomach upset and vomiting. It is unclear what level of
millet consumption is safe, but in the US it is minimal.
Most cassava available in the US is processed, sweet
cassava, and much of the corn consumed is nixtamalized.)

Its weirdyou could have picked better banners, such as

sweet potato, taro root, plantain, and, for northern climes,
buckwheat and turnip. Of your list, only rice is fairly
innocuous (and Id be surprised if rice isnt implicated in
dental caries).


85. Ann

September 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

My perception was not that anyone was attacked, nor was war waged on anything. I
believe the intent of this review was simply to call into question the faulty science
behind the low-fat and vegan/vegetarian diets being pushed as the only true answer to
good health.

You state yourself that your switch to a plant-based diet was only recent. Do you really
want to weigh in on the long-term benefits of such a diet after being on it such a short
time? Is that really your final answer??


1. Sue

September 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I agree with you Ann. I didnt see where Denise was attacking anyone. I know
Denise and she eats mainly a raw food plant based diet. She had been raw food
vegan for 7 of her 24 years. She loves animals and detests the inhumane
treatment of factory farmed animals. I found this analysis completely subjective
and written with good humor. She was merely stating where the movie lacked in
scientific evidence. Thats all.


1. Sue
September 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I meant objectivenot subjective.


86. James

September 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm

The movie doesnt give a lot of scientific information, most is anecdotal. Limiting your
intake of meat and dairy certainly is not a wrong approach, however if you do it to limit
or reduce your weight, youre going to be disappointed. Most of you weight is carb
related and in particular wheat related. We are in still in the process of discovering how
unbelievably unhealthy wheat in any shape or form is.
You will come across William Davis MD, cardiologist in many news releases in the next
little while because of his book Wheat Belly.
The link gives the first part of an interview Tom Naughton had with dr. Davis:
The second is about the dark side of wheat:


1. Anonymous

October 1, 2011 at 12:24 am

FatHead is another propaganda film.


1. Daniel Kirsner
October 1, 2011 at 1:53 am

Oh, I can think of a better one than that. How bout Its all rhetoric! Or
Keynes: In the long run, we are all dead. You might also think of
responding to Neisys posts with a simple So you claim.
HereYour hero: Youre either for him, or you hate Jesus and want the
terrorists to win.


1. Anonymous

October 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Are you responding to me?

Daniel Kirsner said: Oh, I can think of a better one than that.

A better what?

Daniel Kirsner said: You might also think of responding to

Neisys posts with a simple So you claim..

I wasnt responding to Denises post, I was responding to James



1. Daniel Kirsner

October 7, 2011 at 3:29 am

So you claim.

1. James

October 7, 2011 at 9:54 am

Not worth it Daniel. They have either done some

research or they havent. In the latter case its all


2. William P

December 9, 2012 at 4:47 am

It is troubling most of this diet discussion takes place in an absence of talk about
exercise. Exercise and diet are the Ying and Yang of all health. Talking about one
by itself is like explaining planet earth without mentioning its part of a solar
system and a universe. Things work together and youve got to understand that
togetherness to come to truth.


87. Chris Heppner

September 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Opposition is True FriendshipWilliam Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Denise, I love your blogs, and have immense respect for your precocious erudition and
skill in handling statistics, but am going to question some of what you say in this
review, while taking the liberty of bringing Dean Ornish into the discussion though he
was not included in the film, since I think he belongs in the overall argument being
I will focus on Esselstyn, and the evidence for the success of his program, and largely
stay out of your war against Campbell ( I agree that you really got him on the wheat
issueyou definitely won that round on my score card.) However, though Esselstyn
began his work without knowing about Campbell, he made some modifications in it
after learning about Campbell, and the two are now working from the same page, so
that I think we can read Esselstyns results as confirmation of the basic soundness of
Campbells work. So I think you have a problem; you find many faults with the science
behind the program, but are faced with evidence that seems to show that it worksand
indeed, that it works spectacularly well. So you dismiss much of what it shows (weepy
personal stories), and focus on things like Esselstyns now rather old published paper.

You begin by giving them all a pretty good markI believe the plant-based doctors got
a lot of things right, and a diet of whole unprocessed plant foodscan bring
tremendous health improvements for people who were formerly eating a low-nutrient,
high-crap diet. But then the qualifiers: Especially short term. ( Short term? we see
people who have had over 20 years of happy, healthy life after having been given up as
virtually deadshort term??) And you believe that the perks of eliminating processed
junk are inaccurately attributed to eliminating all animal foods. You are right that the
movie focuses on the plants and not on low-fat or junky carbs, but you cant get
everything into one shortish moviethis aint a 300 page book. And you are right it does
not mention fishbut McDougall has a DVD that talks about fish, and in fact much of the
good news about fish can be reinterpreted as not as bad as meat rather than as
positively good, and much of the research on even those omega-3s shows that
benefits peak on rather small doses, and some of that benefit may diminish as you bring
down the omega-6s, since the ratio seems as important as the absolute amounts.

But on to your critique of Esselstyns paperwhich is not central to the movie, but I can
see why you want to deal with it. In my previous reply I commented on your
asssumption that when studies have a significant drop-out rate, the folks who stick
around tend to be the ones having the most success, while the failures slink awayand
suggested that this might well not be true of this group, for a whole variety of reasons,
one of which is hinted at by the woman who joined recently, lost weight, cured her
diabetes, and comments that you have to follow pretty rigorously or you leave the
program. There was no control grouppartly because there was no money ( that raises
costs quite a bit) and on the other hand, in a sense there was a huge control groupthe
general American public. It was a non-randomized study. Quite true; Esselstyn is not a
cardiologist, and could only get either volunteers or referrals from cardiologists who
saw their patients as virtually dead, and gave them this last chance to grasp at some
more life. And as you say, it changed a whole bunch of variablesit was a complete
dietary overhauland that was central to the aims of the study.

You then go on to look with alarm at the published results. You acknowledge super-low
total cholesterol levels, but associate them with higher rates of cancer, mental illness,
infection, and other fun stuff; but these patients, and the docs (Ph.D. and M.D.)
themselves seem remarkably free of such things, though many are well advanced in
years. Then a few of the triglycerides are still high, and some of the HDL numbers are
looking pretty sorry as well. Well, maybe, but Dean Ornish, after considerable
experience of this sort of program, says this: Vegetarians have low levels of total
cholesterol, very low LDL levels, and very low rates of coronary heart disease, even
though their HDL levels tend to be low and their triglyceride levels tend to be high. ( Dr.
Dean Ornishs Program for Reversing Heart Disease, 1996 p/b, p. 261). So these figures
may not be as dire as you suggest; it is the end result that counts, not the surrogate

Your critique ends with a pat on the back, a B+ for effort in effect, useful work, but
could do better if he really tried: All in all, Essesstyns study shows that a whole-foods,
plant-based diet is probably (why the qualifier?) infinitely better for cardiovascular
health than the junky cuisine many people eat. But its far from conclusive evidence that
this diet is the best we can do for reversing heart disease, or that it would be generally
effective in a population beyond his 11 self-selected subjects. A diet that reduces
triglycerides and increases HDL more than his did, for instance, might have an even
better outcome. Well, one extra subject did turn upthe maker of the movie, who had
no intention originally of being involved in this way, but saw a doctor who applies the
C/E program, got tested, was alarmed, began the program, and very quickly improved
his vital statistics substantially. And a good many patients have now followed this kind
of program with success; Esselstyn mentions that he has now had 250+ patients in his
program, and more doctors are getting involved, like Joel Fuhrman and those in the
movie, and, of course, Ornish, whose program is now followed in several centers, and
accepted by several insurance companies because it produces results and saves them
money. No, more than 11 subjects, please; you are ducking plain facts.

Perhaps a diet that reduces TG and increases HDL more would produce an even better
outcomeand I look forward to your book to supply some specifics, and some real life
evidence, that this is indeed so. But while waiting for that, I am going to take a quick
look at the paper that William Davis published, since he is a doctor of whose work you
seem to approve, and the paper addresses these desiderata. Unfortunately I can access
only the abstract, and we both know that there can be many a slip between an abstract
and the full text of a paper. But here goes anyway.
Davis gathered a group of 45 male and female subjects with coronary calcium
calcification scores of greater than 50, without symptoms of heart disease, and treated
them with statin therapy, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to achieve
LDL and TG or=60, and Vit D supplementation to achieve serum levels of > or =50, in
addition to diet advice. After a mean of 18 months (meaning?) 20 experienced
decrease in CCS of 12% average; 22 experienced no change or slow progression, and 3
experienced progression exceeding 29%. I do not find these statistics very compelling;
his group was in no way comparable to the groups that either Ornish or Esselstyn
worked withthis group was symptom free, and only beginning the long trek towards
serious heart disease; even with this level of intervention, only 44% were improved,
though for many progression was stopped or helped. Let us compare that with figures
given by Ornstein, using no anti-cholesterol drugs: After only one year, the majority
(82%) demonstrated some measurable average reversal of their coronary artery
blockages. (Program for Reversing Heart Disease, p. 17). Not bad after one year?

And about these statistics; one of the things that Ornish learned during many years of
applying his program was that the correlation between lipid statistics and actual
progress was much looser than he expected. He had assumed that total cholesterol
would have to be below 150 for reversal to happen, but found that it was not so (pp.
19-21). What count are results and the cost of achieving them.

You worry about the low total cholesterol in Esselstyns group (would that not apply also
to Daviss group?), and about high TGL and low HDL; I worry about high statin doses
and their combination with niacin in Daviss group (I am going to assume that getting
LDL below 60 involved fairly high dosage; please correct me if I am wrong). Some years
ago there was a good deal of discussion about the dangers of combining the twoit
seemed that this considerably raised the % of significant muscle damage. Now that there
is an FDA approved drug that combines the two, it must of course be safe but is it? We
are learning that muscle damage is much more prevalent with statin use than used to be
thought, even when patients make no complaints of pain or weakness or fatigue. Such
damage involves the mitochondria, those tiny energy producing organelles within nearly
all the cells of the body, and particularly dense in heart musclethe heart has in fact
been called one giant mitochondrion. Some years ago P. Langsjoen published several
papers linking statin use to diastolic dysfunction or heart failure, showing that the latter
improved with discontinuation of statins. There has been a good deal of work since
then, including a paper by Owan in 2005 (PMID: 16003647) that used data from the
Mayo Clinic to show that the ratio of diastolic to systolic heart failure had climbed
rapidly since the early 1980s, and was now over 50% of hospital admissions for heart
failure, a fact that many doctors have not yet taken on board. Diastolic heart failure is a
problem for cardiologists, because they do not know how to handle it; Langsjoens
suggestion that it is due to statins is clearly not welcome, butchimes perfectly with the
spreading use of statins, and may very well be true. Stephanie Seneff in a series of blogs
details how it might work (see a series of papers with full refs at http://stephanie-on- ). There is also a recent article by B.A. Golomb, Statin adverse
effects: a review of the literature and evidence for a mitochondrial mechanism, PMID:
19159124, with a very full bibliography.

In view of this, I consider that any therapy that involves substantial long term statin
doses to achieve some degree of improvement of the state of the cardiac arteries may in
the long term be sacrificing the heart muscle itself to achieve that end. In addition, there
is a good deal of evidence that statins increase rates of both cancer and diabetes. Diet
based therapies are safer than drug based therapies, and even if Daviss program does
lead to long term improvement of those arteries, I would choose Ornish and Esselstyn,
since they have demonstrated that also. And not just in those 11 patients: as many here
have pointed out, the proponents make a very good case for the long term benefits of
their program simply by the state in which they now are, though in their late 70s.

Another point. You mentioned cancer as a possible consequence of too low cholesterol
while critiquing Esselstyn. One of the weepy stories we hear in the movie is that of a
woman who cured metastisized breast cancer by following Dr. McDougalls advice.
Ornstein in Spectrum gives some details of a study (with controls) on prostate cancer
that shows slowing and even partial reversal of that cancer with his program, and
expresses confidence that it could achieve the same results with breast cancer, though
ethical issues prevent him from pursuing such a trial. Granted that Ornsteins program
involves more than diet alone, but diet is a or the major part of it; more evidence for the
basic validity of the C/E approach?

You suggest that there is possibly an even better path, and that may be true; even
Ornish somewhere suggests that adding fish to his program may be compatible with
reversal, though it has not been tested. As far as I know it still has not been tested; if
there is ever good evidence for it, I shall rejoice; I love seafood, and live in coastal BC
where local wild salmon, halibut, and prawns can all be freely obtained. I think that you,
Denise, are as likely as anyone I know of to find a path that combines successfully much
of the Campbell/ Esselstyn vegan approach with carefully chosen bits from the paleo
doctrine, and I do look forwards very much to that book. But in the meantime, in
between-time, I shall stay with what seems to me still the best and best tested regime.

I have one final question: from your website I gather that you had been a vegetarian or
vegan for some 10 years before embarking on this very intense and personal quest for
the perfect diet. But you yourself seem a pefect product of that dietslim and healthy of
body, wonderfully active and playfully creative of mind. If being vegan can produce both
you and the Campbells and Esselstyns of this world, what more can we hope for? Why
seek to leave paradise?

And one final word: Ornstein distinguishes between what he calls a prevention diet
and a reversal diet. Someone like you with already a long (at 24!) immersion in vegan
and vegetarian diets may do just fine on his prevention diet, which does include some
fish and so on. But most of us have not been so lucky, wise, or happy, and do need
some version of his reversal diet. For most of us, damage has been done, and hard
work will be needed to stop or partially reverse it. Whether that will include some animal
protein remains for me a question, but for the time being I shall avoid it.

All in all, Denise, I think you have seriously underestimated and undervalued the good
news conveyed in this movie. But I continue to have faith in your good will and high
intelligence; now, how about a review of Fat, Sick, and nearly Dead, behind which Dr.
Joel Fuhrman stands as supporting figure? I have already bought a juicer.
With best wishes, Chris Heppner


1. neisy

September 29, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Hi Chris,

I really appreciate your comments. This is the kind of thing that moves our
collective health dialogue forward a calm, rational exchange of ideas focused
on the science instead of personal attacks. Addressing some of your points:
However, though Esselstyn began his work without knowing about
Campbell, he made some modifications in it after learning about
Campbell, and the two are now working from the same page, so that I
think we can read Esselstyns results as confirmation of the basic
soundness of Campbells work.

Not necessarily. Esselstyn was achieving success with heart disease reversal
when his patients were still eating animal protein (dairy), and as I understand it,
the modifications he made based on Campbells work were more theoretical
not done because they visibly improved his patients health, but because he was
persuaded by Campbells work that animal protein is harmful. Esselstyns
program involves a lot more than what Campbell was espousing based on his
research (particularly the dramatic reduction in not only animal fat but also plant
fat), and the huge drop in omega 6 fats/linoleic acid is probably a large
component of his programs success.

So I think you have a problem; you find many faults with the science
behind the program, but are faced with evidence that seems to show that
it worksand indeed, that it works spectacularly well. So you dismiss much
of what it shows (weepy personal stories), and focus on things like
Esselstyns now rather old published paper.

Ive offered explanations of why I think Esselstyns program works, and have
never said his program is ineffective. Rather, I believe its effective for reasons
other than the ones he gives. Esselstyn believes all fat causes endothelial cell
damage, that dietary cholesterol is bad, and that reducing blood cholesterol to
very low leves via diet and statins is necessary for preventing or reversing heart
disease. I believe its only specific fats in excess levels that are pro-inflammatory
and predispose LDL to oxidizing, and that his diet systematically reduces them
by keeping all fat intake under 10% of total calories. That, combined with the
elimination of processed food, should be enough to give nearly any program
some success with treating heart disease. My concern is that animal foods are
removed as part of a long list of dietary changes and their effect has never been
isolated in the context of Esselstyns work. What if eating a whole-foods, low-
PUFA/linoleic acid diet with no processed junk or refined grains is enough to
achieve his results, without needing to go vegan? This is my concern, and given
the fact that populations have remained heart-disease-free eating large amounts
of saturated fat (but low PUFA) and animal products suggest that the elimination
of these things might not be central in his programs success.

You begin by giving them all a pretty good markI believe the plant-
based doctors got a lot of things right, and a diet of whole unprocessed
plant foodscan bring tremendous health improvements for people who
were formerly eating a low-nutrient, high-crap diet. But then the
qualifiers: Especially short term. ( Short term? we see people who have
had over 20 years of happy, healthy life after having been given up as
virtually deadshort term??)

Esselstyn has clinically documented the success of only 11 people.

Im thrilledthose people had their lives changed and saved by Esselstyns
program, and as I mentioned in this critique, found the personal stories quite
touching. But 11 people, particularly 11 people who were self-selected and
began the diet later in life while desperately ill, cant be used to gauge the
effects of the diet on the population at large. Perhaps I view this less
optimistically because I routinely get emails from people on the McDougall
program and other low-fat, plant-based diets who are facing health problems.
The vegan failure to thrive phenomenon is very real, and the success of a
handful of people in a unique situation isnt enough to prove the diet will bring
continued health for everyone who adheres to it.

In my previous reply I commented on your asssumption that when studies

have a significant drop-out rate, the folks who stick around tend to be the
ones having the most success, while the failures slink awayand
suggested that this might well not be true of this group, for a whole
variety of reasons, one of which is hinted at by the woman who joined
recently, lost weight, cured her diabetes, and comments that you have to
follow pretty rigorously or you leave the program.

It may or may not be true for this group, youre right. Theres no way to know,
and I have no doubt that the difficulty in adhering to Esselstyns program played
a role in why some people left. But if even one or two of the folks who dropped
out/didnt complete the follow up did so because their health problems were
worsening, it would change the picture of Esselstyns results. Any way you look
at it, the 11 folks who stuck with the program were likely to be the ones having
the best success on the diet and are not representative of the general public.
Then a few of the triglycerides are still high, and some of the HDL
numbers are looking pretty sorry as well. Well, maybe, but Dean Ornish,
after considerable experience of this sort of program, says this:
Vegetarians have low levels of total cholesterol, very low LDL levels, and
very low rates of coronary heart disease, even though their HDL levels tend
to be low and their triglyceride levels tend to be high.

Seeing as a few of the patients did have lesions that worsened during the study,
and some of the patients have lipid profiles that are almost definitely the
atherosclerosis-producing Pattern B (high trigs, low HDL, small, dense LDL), my
first thought is that the diet could benefit from further tweaking particularly
for those folks with sky-high triglycerides to be fully effective and actually
reverse (not just arrest) heart disease in all the patients.

Perhaps a diet that reduces TG and increases HDL more would produce an
even better outcomeand I look forward to your book to supply some
specifics, and some real life evidence, that this is indeed so.

The science behind this has to do with the etiology of heart disease and is
already being written about in many places. Google LDL pattern A and B,
oxidized LDL, etc. The goal is to prevent LDL oxidation by making LDL particles
big/fluffy instead of small and dense, reduce endothelial injury, and reduce the
formation of foam cells (lipid-loaded macrophages that have gobbled up
oxidized LDL and contribute to plaque formation). Coupled with a diet and
lifestyle that lowers inflammation, shifting the lipid profile to one with low trigs,
high HDL, and large, fluffy LDL removes many of the steps involved in heart
disease without needing to keep total cholesterol under 150 like in Esselstyns

RE: William Davis I was unfamiliar with the study he published, but if you read
his blog or his recently released book, the theme of his work is in treating heart
disease by reducing small LDL via diet (particularly eliminating wheat and refined
sugar). He frequently writes about the individual cases of his patients and their
success. I guess you could write the unpublished results off as anecdotal, but if
thats the case, the 250+ patients Esselstyn mentioned would also have to be
canned as evidence.
And about these statistics; one of the things that Ornish learned during
many years of applying his program was that the correlation between lipid
statistics and actual progress was much looser than he expected. He had
assumed that total cholesterol would have to be below 150 for reversal to
happen, but found that it was not so (pp. 19-21). What count are results
and the cost of achieving them.

I agree. I also believe its possible to achieve those results on a non-vegan diet
that preserves the other elements of Ornish and Esselstyns programs (linoleic
acid/omega 6 reduction, elimination of processed food, etc.).

In view of this, I consider that any therapy that involves substantial long
term statin doses to achieve some degree of improvement of the state of
the cardiac arteries may in the long term be sacrificing the heart muscle
itself to achieve that end. In addition, there is a good deal of evidence that
statins increase rates of both cancer and diabetes. Diet based therapies
are safer than drug based therapies, and even if Daviss program does
lead to long term improvement of those arteries, I would choose Ornish
and Esselstyn, since they have demonstrated that also. And not just in
those 11 patients: as many here have pointed out, the proponents make a
very good case for the long term benefits of their program simply by the
state in which they now are, though in their late 70s.

Esselstyns program specifically used statins, and Davis is actually staunchly

opposed to them except in rare cases (for instance, read his blog post
helpful.html). I agree that statin use is generally a trade-off for worse problems.

Another point. You mentioned cancer as a possible consequence of too

low cholesterol while critiquing Esselstyn. One of the weepy stories we
hear in the movie is that of a woman who cured metastisized breast cancer
by following Dr. McDougalls advice. Ornstein in Spectrum gives some
details of a study (with controls) on prostate cancer that shows slowing
and even partial reversal of that cancer with his program, and expresses
confidence that it could achieve the same results with breast cancer,
though ethical issues prevent him from pursuing such a trial. Granted that
Ornsteins program involves more than diet alone, but diet is a or the
major part of it; more evidence for the basic validity of the C/E approach?
I wrote that low cholesterol is associated with higher rates of some cancers, not
that low cholesterol necessarily leads to cancer (the whole correlation isnt
causation thing) sorry if that wasnt clear! The point was to illustrate that low
cholesterol levels are associated with their own set of problems and we shouldnt
assume lower is always better. There is a much more direct and causative
connection between low cholesterol and mental illness, depression, hormonal
problems, etc. since cholesterol plays a role in neuron signaling and is a
precursor for hormone production.

But in the meantime, in between-time, I shall stay with what seems to me

still the best and best tested regime.

Chris, the most I ever hope for is that folks find a way to be healthy and happy. If
youve found something thats bringing you the results you want, by all means,
run with it and rejoice. :)

I have one final question: from your website I gather that you had been a
vegetarian or vegan for some 10 years before embarking on this very
intense and personal quest for the perfect diet. But you yourself seem a
pefect product of that dietslim and healthy of body, wonderfully active
and playfully creative of mind. If being vegan can produce both you and
the Campbells and Esselstyns of this world, what more can we hope for?
Why seek to leave paradise?

I developed a large set of health problems as a vegan (mostly dental and

cognitive) and was super unhealthy as a vegetarian (catching colds 2 3 times
per month for basically my entire childhood, after going veggie at age 7 tons
of ear infections, bronchitis, fatigue, etc.). Although my diet is still plant
strong, it wasnt until I added back some animal foods that my health truly

And one final word: Ornstein distinguishes between what he calls a

prevention diet and a reversal diet. Someone like you with already a long
(at 24!) immersion in vegan and vegetarian diets may do just fine on his
prevention diet, which does include some fish and so on. But most of us
have not been so lucky, wise, or happy, and do need some version of his
reversal diet. For most of us, damage has been done, and hard work will
be needed to stop or partially reverse it. Whether that will include some
animal protein remains for me a question, but for the time being I shall
avoid it.

This is a very good point sometimes more aggressive measures are needed to
reverse existing damage. I hope one day well have more studies to shed light on
the role of each specific change in programs like Esselstyns and Ornishs.

Chris, thanks again for your detailed and thoughtful comments. I appreciate your
readership. :)


1. James Wilks

November 22, 2011 at 1:06 am

On the point about extremely high aflatoxin to promote cancer, is it not a

greater testament to the plant based diet that it was able to stop the
cancer growth?


88. Chris Masterjohn (@ChrisMasterjohn)

September 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I just wrote a shorter, much less details and much less comprehensive review of my
favorite and least favorite screenshots from Forks Over Knives:

Naturally, this one is cited.


89. Pingback: Forks Over Knives: Is the Science Legit? A Review and Critique Raw Food
SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet Ancestralize Me!

90. Grok

September 29, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Plenty of Vegans hitting this post with blinders on. To those, I suggest re-reading it
about 12 more times and you may see the actual message.


91. Steel Monkey

September 30, 2011 at 12:46 am

Id like to see a study where Dr. Esselstyn is given 100 people with advanced heart
disease and Dr. Animal Fat (name your favorite doctor who thinks top sirloin doesnt
harm the human cardiovascular system) is given 100 people with advanced heart

One group follow Dr. Essys diet. The other group follows the diet high in dietary
cholesterol and saturated fat (mostly from animal based foods).

Then we all get to kick back and watch for the next year, the next 5 years and the next
12 years.

I havent been to Las Vegas in quite some time. But I know where I would place my bet
on a diet competition like that.


1. ChristopherD

September 30, 2011 at 2:26 am

Id love to see more vegans/vegetarians present argument like the gentleman
Chris did above (and the lovely people that commented in the AHS wrapup post).
That was thought provoking and welcome to me, and I greatly enjoyed the
discussion between him and Ms. Minger.

Comments like yours and Richards basically give me a headache and make me
want to write you and your opinions off, which is unfortunate if you are actually a
thoughtful person with good reasoning skills. Id also love for commentors like
yourself to argue daily dietary practice theories separately from the treatment of
acute disease and avoid creating strawman arguments. And while hes kind of
not thought about these days, before he went commercial, didnt Atkins actually
successfully use a ketosis diet high on animal protein and fat to treat acute heart
disease (its been a long while, so I could be mistaken about the severity of those
he treated)?


Does anyone know if there are any actual studies being conducted or planned to
compare from a common baseline, such as healthy populations of primal/paleo
to vegans or vegetarians? Thatd be the interesting one to me.


1. Steel Monkey

September 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm

ChristopherD: Id also love for commentors like yourself to argue daily

dietary practice theories separately from the treatment of acute disease
and avoid creating strawman arguments.

Is it really a straw man argument to suggest that some think the Esselstyn
diet could be improved by adding animal based foods, even full fat (not
skim or non-fat) animal based foods?

Theres a guy named Uffe Ravnskov who wrote a book titled, Fat and
Cholesterol Are Good For You. Dr. Ravnskovs previous book, The
Cholesterol Myths was mentioned (in a positive way) in the DvD

So, lets have an Esselstyn versus Ravnsov match up. Then we can find
out if heart disease patients do as well with a diet high in (full fat) animal
based foods as they did under Esselstyns program.


1. bigjeff

October 4, 2011 at 2:47 am

A study like that (without the competition aspect an actual

controlled scientific study) would be spectacular.

The vast majority of high carb vs low carb studies (I dont know
of any animal vs plant studies) tend to be not particularly low carb
on the low carb side, or dont control for potential confounding
elements like PUFAs. This means almost all of these studies must
be taken with heavy caveats, and so they dont leave you with a
clear direction for what is healthy and what isnt.

Epidemiological studies, like The China Study, tend to have such

complex and misleading raw figures that the ecology fallacy runs
rampant, and you are again left wondering just how reliable and
complete a given scientists conclusions are. Case in point,
Denises destruction of Campbells arguments based on the study.

A well-run study that specifically targeted the vegan health issue

would be wonderful. As far as I know, it has never been done (else
one side or the other of the debate would be quoting the snot out
of it). In the mean time there is tons of anecdotal evidence that a
pure vegan diet is, if nothing else, extremely difficult to maintain
in a healthy manner.

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93. Jackie

September 30, 2011 at 7:30 am


I just want to say that it has been a very interesting read, and I am not entirely sure what
to make of all the information yet. But I do have one comment on protein quality. I will
declare now that I am not an expert on any of this stuff, I am just going by the
information you put in here, some basic high school biology, and a little help from

Your statement below:

The rats that stayed cancer-free on an unsupplemented gluten diet were the equivalent
of a human eating nothing but wheat, every single day, from the moment theyre
weaned off Mommas teat until the day they die. A vegan eating a mixture of plant foods
will naturally end up consuming complementary amino acids, and their body will
synthesize the complete protein that Campbell says is cancer-promoting. For instance,
in the common combination of rice and beans, beans supply extra lysine that rice is low
inthe same effect as supplementing gluten with this amino acid.

This on first glance seems to make sense, but I am nagged by that last statement
regarding mixture of plant foods and implying that it is the same as supplementing
gluten with an extra amino acid. Now, I have no idea how they supplemented the amino
acids, but it seems to me the two could mean very different things.

It may be true that in any given vegan meal, two food groups could provide incomplete
proteins that strictly speaking, could added up to complete proteins if you only talk
about numbers of amino acids and percentages. But such foods are not made of
proteins alone correct? it is bound up together with all sorts of other stuff, like minerals,
fiber, sugarsetc. The body may digest actual foods very differently than say
supplemented amino acids.

This is from Wiki on complete proteins:

Absorption of the amino acids and their derivatives into which dietary protein is
degraded is done by the gastrointestinal tract. The absorption rates of individual amino
acids are highly dependent on the protein source; for example, the digestibilities of
many amino acids in humans, the difference between soy and milk proteins[9] and
between individual milk proteins, beta-lactoglobulin and casein.[10] For milk proteins,
about 50% of the ingested protein is absorbed between the stomach and the jejunum
and 90% is absorbed by the time the digested food reaches the ileum.[11] Biological
value (BV) is a measure of the proportion of absorbed protein from a food which
becomes incorporated into the proteins of the organisms body.

This sounds very complicated to me, but it looks to me like there is a possibility that
two incomplete proteins from different food sources (which in amino acid counts and
percentage may in theory add up to complete proteins) may not actually be broken
down the same way by the body as an actual complete protein, or even the same time
and therefore may have very different effect on cancer.

Furthermore, even assume that what you say is true, that in a given vegan meal, two
incomplete proteins adds to a complete protein. How likely is it I wonder? That two food
sources and their incomplete proteins extracted at the same time, the same place, to
give full amino acids in just the right percentage as a complete protein, what are the
chances? It seems to me very difficult to say. Yet, if you eat animal proteins, which I
understand to mean complete proteins almost always, you are guaranteed to have all
the amino acids available which are more likely to promote cancer growth correct? This
may sound just being over technical, but many people eat meat every single meal, and
over a lifetime, doesnt that risk really add up? I cant even think of how to calculate that
riskperhaps you can, you seem really good at the math stuff.

Thanks, I really enjoyed this piece, will continue to think more on the topic.


1. bigjeff

October 4, 2011 at 3:18 am

The key is that all of the amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream the
where is a bit of a red-herring. It all gets into the blood no matter which part of
the intestine absorbs it (that is, in fact, why we have different parts of the
intestine to facilitate the digestion of different nutrients), and that is the
important part.

The way the body digests protein is to break it down into its constituent amino
acids before absorption. So what you actually digest are the individual amino
acids themselves, not the whole protein. Amino acids are also not used
immediately, but stored until needed. There is no need to eat a complete protein
at each meal to meet your amino acid requirements, so long as you are are
averaging a complete protein.

Therefore, there is no reason to think that supplementing wheat with beans, for
example, would not result in the absorption of the entire amino acid profile.
Something in the food would have to actively block the absorption of the amino
acids for that to occur. Vegans who eat a varied mix of plant proteins probably
dont have a protein deficiency.

With regards to protein, animal foods are simply easier. If you eat an animal, you
get all of your amino acids. No planning necessary. Animal foods are also jam
packed with key vitamins and minerals and fats that are either non existent or
not very available from plant sources. In my opinion, the problems with cutting
meat from your diet are likely more to do with vitamins and fats than protein


94. Kelleigh

September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am

For a liberal arts major your grasp of epidemiology and statistics is pretty darn good!

I agree about the difficulty with interpretation of correlational data. Dont tell me the
China study threw those those 9,000 variables into one gargantuan multivariate analysis
to reach their vege verdict? Surely not.
My favorite line
Do you smell a rat? I do and it has hepatocyte necrosis :)

Your post was awesome. Ill be spreading the word.


95. Jane

September 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Denise, could I ask please, when you were vegetarian and had all those health problems,
were you eating any white flour, white rice, white sugar, or low-fat dairy?

I realise this could be a difficult question since you were only 7 when you went veggie.
Can you remember?


1. neisy

September 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Hi Jane,

My diet shifted a lot between the time I was 7 and the time I was 17, when I
reintroduced animal foods. From ages 7 to 11, I ate a semi-healthy vegetarian
diet (my parents didnt buy stuff like soda or sugary cereals), but I was still
eating wheat, dairy, and sugar in desserts. When I was 11, I was diagnosed with a
wheat allergy and stopped eating all wheat, both refined and whole. A couple
years later, I stopped eating dairy and soy because I was sensitive to those foods
as well. From 14 to 16 my diet was wheat-free, dairy-free, nearly sugar-free,
and soy-free. I was still getting sick all the time. When I was 16, I became a raw
vegan, and this was the first time in my life I actually had energy and a
functioning immune system. By the end of one year as a raw vegan, though, I
had over a dozen cavities, receding gums, hyperactivity mixed with lethargy,
constant brain fog, sleeping problems, muscle loss, and a sharp decline in short-
term memory (although on the bright side, I still wasnt getting sick!).

Hope that helps!


1. Jane

October 1, 2011 at 9:26 am

Denise, thanks, that does indeed help a great deal. It sounds very much
like Chris Masterjohns experience. No animal foods, terrible dental
health. I suppose its the fat-soluble vitamins.


96. Jane

September 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm

James, is it really true that wheat is so unhealthy? I mean, whole wheat as opposed to
white wheat flour? There is a whole industry devoted to wheat-bashing whose
arguments are pretty suspect. Yes, doctors remove wheat from their patients diets and
they get better. We dont know what would have happened if theyd replaced all the
white flour with wholemeal flour.


1. Ellen

October 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Is whole wheat so unhealthy? Yes, it certainly is for some of us. I ate whole wheat
breads, cereals, and other products (taboule, pilafs, pasta) heavily for most of my
life (ages four to forty-four); my diet was centered around it. My consumption of
white flour, in the occasional serving of noodles or dessert, was minimal.

I gave up wheat entirely nearly two years ago, and suddenly a host of chronic
health problems cleared up: depression, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome,
eczema, asthma. So apparently all that healthy whole wheat wasnt, for me. But
Im not alone I hear the same thing from dozens of other people whove gone
Primal or Paleo.

So yes, the gluten, lectins, and phytates in whole wheat can cause real problems.
For quick summaries, see
unhealthy/or .


97. Chris Heppner

September 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Denise, many thanks for your (swift!) and helpful reply. You are of course right that
Davis says critical things about statins on his blogwhich makes it all the more curious
that he seems to give them such a central place in his published study. Maybe someone
who has access to the full text could throw some light on just what his protocol was?

And thanks for those notes on your early yearsI am sorry they were so full of trouble. I,
in contrast, despite all kinds of turmoil and difficulties in early and middle years, and
varying dietary habits, remained in the best of active health until I was 70and then got
hit hard. So we do come at these questions from very different starting points! I will get
back to you on some other points later.
Best wishes, Chris H.


98. mark

September 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm


Do you have a boy friend? you need to get one girl.


99. mark

September 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Denise says: Ive offered explanations of why I think Esselstyns program works, and
have never said his program is ineffective. Rather, I believe its effective for reasons
other than the ones he gives.

Bingo!!! Then follow Esselstyns program if you want to be hear attack proof. period. If
his program is so powerful that it works and can reverse the heart disease, then let him
explain why it works rather than your version of why it is effective.

Common sense: If Esselstyns program works and your program is diagonally opposite
to his program then do you want me to draw conclusions for you?


1. Matt

September 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

No, its not common sense. Its wrong because now people are following a
program and focusing on unnecessarily strict behaviors like completely avoiding
meat for the next 70 years of their life, when they could be enjoying a larger
variety of foods and getting the same results.

Ive got a program for making sure your car will start when you turn the key:
keep your tires clean, change the oil regularly, follow the recommended
maintenance schedule, and dont ever, EVER listen to the radio while driving. The
radio is the most important part; if you listen to it your car will slowly die. My
program works, so let me explain why it works.

100. mark

September 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Denise says: that his diet systematically reduces them by keeping all fat intake under
10% of total calories. That, combined with the elimination of processed food, should be
enough to give nearly any program some success with treating heart disease.

Sounds like you just need a cookie for splitting hair and nitpicking!!! You have criticized
Campbell, Dr hammer MCDougall, Dr Esselstyn, Dr Ornish. Now you are on to,
Esselstyns program is bound to work because on this program you dont eat anything,
so how you are going to get food born illness?

You have made lot of twists and turns since your first Campbell hammering. Now the
evidence is so compelling that you are forced to accept Esselstyn works with some ego.

Esselstyn, McDougall, Ornish, Cambell they all send pretty much the same message as
opposed to yours. If you now accept one, doesnt make any sense why would you
lambaste others?

If you think it is non refined/ unprocessed component of their diet which is the kicker,
then it is these luminaries who preached that whole foods concept first which now you
want to piggyback on. If it wasnt for these men then we will still be doing high fat, high
protein along with potato chips and french fries.

You can write as many dessertations as you like, you have NO CASE in my opinion.


1. Nick

September 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm

So in other words, since they thought of it first we should just follow along and
not make any improvements to their diet recommendations just because they
happen to be better than the standard American diet, gotcha.


2. Grok

September 30, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Mark, do yourself a favor and quit commenting.


1. Another Halocene Human

October 21, 2011 at 9:15 am



3. ChristopherD

October 1, 2011 at 1:17 am

Dessertation? Does that somehow involve chocolate? :)




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