There was an article recently published in The New York Times titled Good Vegan, Bad Vegan by Jane E. Brody. I’m not usually one to waste time responding to articles I find ludicrous, but this one is completely misleading and deserves refutal. It is articles like these that confuse and mislead the public into believing that a plant based lifestyle is not beneficial, and are part of the cause of the everlasting debate regarding desirable dietary practices in the nutrition community.
The article also made me question how the New York Time’s views environmentalism and health. This piece seemed to be nothing more than a poorly composed, pedantic, unprofessional, opinionated, negative, melodramatic, deplorable excuse for yet another meat eater to render the vegan diet as bland and unhealthy. This is something I would expect to see in a pop culture magazine, not in the prestigious New York Times, especially when the environment and health of this nation are of pressing concern.
It has become common knowledge that we have an obesity epidemic on our hands. Two thirds of Americans are overweight, and most deaths in the U.S. are due to chronic disease such as heart disease, and cancer -two of which are linked to obesity, and are directly correlated to diet. Again, this fact has become common knowledge, yet here is the prestigious New York Times publishing a melodramatic article promoting an unhealthy diet and capricious lifestyle to millions of readers? I don’t understand why.
It seems that Brody’s intentions are to simply comfort meat eaters. However, in doing so she has also to rendered vegans as unhealthy, and ultimately confused those looking for a positive vicissitude in their health via diet. There were several of Brody’s points I found to be confusing, especially to those who are not well versed in scientific literature. I’m only going to highlight a few of her points, and leave it at that. If you choose to read the full article from The New York Times click here.
Paragraph 2: Brody says that she began watching the documentary ‘What the Health’, but couldn’t bare to finish it because of its ridiculous health claims. In the documentary, the narrator claims that “…a daily serving of processed meat raises the risk of diabetes 51 percent..” Brody say’s this is inaccurate yet neglects to add any evidence to support her claim. I have taken the liberty of finding the original article from which this information presented in ‘What the Health’ came from. The original article from the NCBI indeed proved the claim made in the film to be true in plain English. In fact, Micha et al seemed so concerned with their finding that they conclude their study with: “These findings suggest that clinical and public health guidance should prioritize reduction of processed meat consumption to reduce [coronary heart disease] and [type II diabetes] risk, as well as reduction of sodium and other preservative contents of processed meats.” This study was published in 2012. Because this was 5 years ago and some could argue that this information is dated, I’ve taken the liberty of including another study published in 2017 that confirmed the findings from the post in 2012. The data suggests that consuming red meat poses the highest risk of diabetes amongst other foods. Here is the link. The author concluded by claiming that “Selecting specific optimal intakes of the investigated food groups can lead to a considerable change in the risk of premature death.” So yeah, eating red meat is directly linked to promoting the development of diabetes.
Paragraph 3: Brody writes “Please understand: I do not endorse inhumane treatment of farm animals or wanton pollution of the environment with animal wastes and misused antibiotics and pesticides.” Need I even comment on this? If you eat meat, animal products, and do so much as promote the consumption of such products, you do endorse inhumane treatment of farm animals, and you do promote pollution. There isn’t much more to say about that. Simply placing a disclaimer like that in your article that is pro-meat consumption doesn’t do anything to change that.
Paragraph 4: “A vegan who consumes no animal products can be just as unhealthy living on inappropriately selected plant foods as an omnivore who dines heavily on burgers and chicken nuggets. A vegan diet laden with refined grains like white rice and bread; juices and sweetened drinks; cookies, chips and crackers; and dairy-free ice cream is hardly a healthful way to eat.” claims Brody. This is just embarrassing. Who in their right mind is advocating for an unhealthy vegan diet? Have you ever encountered any individual in the holistic medicine or plant based community that promotes a diet filled with cookies, chips, and crackers? Last time I checked, veganism was all about promoting the consumption of fibrous, nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes, and not dairy free ice cream. This is the biggest problem with this article. Instead of simply writing an article about how junk food is unhealthy, she is separating out vegan junk food and saying that this type of junk food is worse for you than eating meat, which ultimately leads the consumer to believe that being vegan is bad and eating meat is good. But guess what? Dairy free ice cream will always be healthier than frozen coagulated cow puss.
Paragraphs 7-11 Brody mentions a recently published study that ultimately suggests that eating a healthy plant based diet decreases risk of heart disease. However, instead of portraying this article for what it is, she uses the evidence to say that when you eat a less healthful plant based diet (one filled with sugary vegan junk foods), you have a greater risk of developing heart disease. Well duh! That’s basically like saying if you eat lettuce you have less risk of developing heart disease than if you drank soda all day. She also refers to another study published in 2016 and goes so far as to directly quote it by saying “The team, led by Ambika Satija of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, concluded that ‘not all plant foods are necessarily beneficial for health.‘” She forgot to mention however that the author of the article refers to unhealthy plant based foods as foods high in refined sugar such as cookies and soda. THESE FOODS WERE NEVER HEALTHY, and no vegan on planet earth would regard them as so. Most junk foods such as chips, crackers, cookies and soda are made from modified plants such as corn and soy. Can everyone do me a huge favor? Can we stop associating these foods with plants because when I think about a healthy plant based diet, I envision a bevy of colorful fruits and vegetables. I never think of soda, cookies, candy or other modified corn products.
By making ludicrous statements like “A vegan who consumes no animal products can be just as unhealthy living on inappropriately selected plant foods as an omnivore who dines heavily on burgers and chicken nuggets“, you’re simply misleading the public, promoting confusion, and disregarding scientific facts. A whole food plant based diet is, and will always be healthier than one comprised of animal protein, saturated fat, refined sugar, and modified corn. This sassy article is unnecessary. It is yet another representation of the lack of unity and understanding amongst the population. It promotes division, and animal cruelty. People need to chill out and accept the facts; the world is changing. It is time to jettison the outdated way, and accept and adopt a healthier lifestyle. The future of humanity and the wonderful planet we call home depends on it. Sorry us “proselytizers who distort science or the support for dietary advice” are actually presenting facts, and simply trying to make the world a better place.