Volatility

March 24, 2018

Fight the Right Target (Animal Activism Case)

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For those who truly want to liberate animals, humanity, and the Earth, THIS is the target, not small farms

 
 
According to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), animal rights activists launched an action against Long Shadow Farm in Colorado. I haven’t personally been to Long Shadow, but based on the tactics described in the article, the farm’s website and the imprimatur of the FTCLDF it looks like they’re the kind of small pastoral farm which must be the basis of all healthy, humane and ecological animal farming for the Food Sovereignty movement.
 
Therefore it’s an unfortunate clash where animal activists who ought to make their focus the abolition of CAFOs choose instead to target such a small, benevolent operation. Of course from the point of view of the more extreme form of animal welfare, any kind of husbandry automatically is bad. (Though I’ve never heard a coherent prescription from any of them; in my experience the vast majority of animal activists are grossly ignorant about food, agriculture*, economics, and probably ecology as well – for most it’s a typical boutique “cause”, like Prius-driving, luxury vacation-flying “climate activists”.) But even they, if they have any sane sense of magnitude, must agree that a CAFO is infinitely more cruel than a small pasturage. And they must also agree that CAFOs must be abolished, not only on the moral ground that they’re literally the equivalent of the Nazi death camps, but also on critical ecological, agronomic, socioeconomic, and public health grounds, all crises where small pasturages are, at the very least, doing no harm.
 
Therefore I have to question the sincerity and, probably, the physical courage of activists who would duck away from taking on the big corporate target in order to attack the much easier, shall we say softer small farm target. I also wonder another thing. Most animal welfare types display a great enthusiasm for commodity industrial agriculture. Specifically, they usually tout as their “solution” that corporate industrial grains should be used as “food for people” instead of as CAFO feed. This demonstrates a perfect ignorance of capitalism in general and agribusiness in particular, which depends upon CAFOs as the subsidized “demand” for the overproduced grain. This is innate to capitalism and to productionism as such. Conversely, the kind of system which maximizes industrial grain in the first place would never focus on food for people as its goal, since this goal does not serve to maximize power, profit, and destruction. I’ll also observe that such a prescription highlights the activists’ lack of concern for the plight of agricultural workers and the millions driven off their land by these plantations. But like I said, these mostly are white Western liberals who automatically despise unskilled workers, especially brown ones, and who effectively regard the totally dispossessed as not human at all.
 
Given this, I wonder how much of the special animus animal welfare types hold against small pastoral farms is driven, not just by a general belief that any kind of animal husbandry automatically is exploitative and cruel, but by the standard technocratic statist hatred of any activity outside the corporate system, hatred especially for the Community Food sector. In the same way that mainstream food NGOs have more in common with Monsanto than they do with small farmers (especially Southern brown farmers), indigenous peoples, and grassroots democracy activists, so the average Western liberal is likely to hold more in common with big corporate structures as such, including even the CAFO system, than with decentralized, uncorporatized economic systems. Again, it’s no accident that the same who deplore CAFOs tend to move smoothly to exalting the grain and vegetable equivalent of CAFOs, even though the corporate agriculture and food system is an integrated whole, every one of whose parts drives the all the pathologies of the whole. Of course an industrial soy field is an ecological disaster different only in degree from a pig CAFO. The underlying psychological and moral premise is the same.
 
As for the special animus I mentioned, I’ve seen lots of squabbles between small animal farmers and vegan types, including some on both sides of my personal acquaintance. And while grass farmers sometimes do bait animal welfare people, in my experience it’s far more common for animal people to single out small husbandry for special abuse, as if this kind of activity were especially loathesome to them. In that connection, I’ll add that the FTCLDF’s article on this incident was more fair in describing the motivations of anti-cruelty activists, and in giving them credit for their excellent exposures of CAFO horrors, than the depictions of small pastoral operations that I’ve seen in the animal welfare literature.
 
To close where I began, the abolition of CAFOs is a critical human and ecological need for the many reasons I briefly listed above. The community food movement, animal and vegetable farmers, all agree on this. Presumably most animal activists would agree also. That’s why the focus of their action ought to be on the main target and not on a key part of the rising Community Food sector, whose expansion and flourishing is the equal affirmative need corresponding with the great abolition need. Therefore it’s unfortunate where two such important groups conflict.
 
But it’s also unfortunate that many who oppose some notion of animal cruelty seem not to agree on the overall destructiveness and unsustainability of the corporate food system as such. Perhaps many of them usually support that system against any attempt to operate outside it. (We saw how all the food NGOs supported Big Ag’s “Food Safety Modernization Act”.) It seems these are the reasons that the conflict is so largely driven, not by the small farms but by the animal activists. Of course they’d reply that they regard these farms as cruel as well, and probably most of them believe that. But as I described here, only bad faith or a grotesque lapse of proportion could cause them to lose sight of the main goal, the abolition of CAFOs. Certainly if I were an animal activist I’d eat, drink, and sleep nothing but this goal.
 
In the end CAFOs, like the rest of industrial agriculture, are unsustainable and will cease to exist. We who fight to build Food Sovereignty will win in the end, with or without the assistance of the animal welfare movement. It’s up to them to decide whether they’re really part of opposing corporate power and industrial ravage, and whether they really want to help build a human, ecological future, or whether like the climate crocodiles they’re just another stupid self-indulgence amid Babylon.
 
*I used to think agroecology wasn’t sustainable without the supplement of animal manures. Invariably, any alternative I’ve seen touted by animal activists turned out to be based on more or less hidden fossil fuel supplements. The few times I discussed this with vegans or animal activists I told them I was willing to be convinced otherwise, and that researching this question would be a useful thing for them to do. None ever took me up on it.
 
Ironically, the more I’ve researched cover cropping the more convinced I’ve become that with maximal cover cropping and composting, a truly vegan agroecological horticulture probably could work. But I got no help from the vegans themselves in reaching this conclusion.
 
 
 
 
 
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26 Comments

  1. Good post overall. As a long term almost exclusively plant based eater, I have some critiques and perspectives.

    I’ve been caught in the middle of this debate many times, as a pro agroeco vegan. By far CAFOs are the biggest threat to humanity. Millions of people participating in a holocaust is much more troubling than a crazy dictator launching a nuke. I’d prefer the latter reality.

    By far the most ecologically friendly and ecologically conscious (practicing conscious direct action for change) are the vegans, in spite of any ecological drive. Even if we admit that 100% plants doesn’t work for everyone, it is undeniable that a maximally vegan human diet paradigm would do the most good, free up the most land for rewilding, save the most lives, and cool the planet the fastest. I think it’s unfair to lump vegans in with Prius drivers, as someone working within this movement that hasn’t been my experience at all. Usually it’s the vegan calling out the fake climate activists.

    On the activism note, I also think your criticism is too harsh. Vegans usually ARE the most concerned with confined animal husbandry. I know more than one high-salary lawyer type who spend their weekends breaking into CAFOs literally saving lives of animals. They risk their lives and careers for this. Also, they have exposed much fake, corporate animal welfare programs as being CAFOs in disguise – see Whole Foods.

    That’s a big reason why many vegans (though not necessarily me) draw the line even at small ranchers… not because they’re treating animals terribly, but because their husbandry creates a space for fake welfare to continue, and the holocaust to go on… unfair? Perhaps. Understandable? To me, absolutely.

    I for one would love to live in a mostly plant based world where animals, even if used for human gain or pleasure, are treated fairly. However, I personally could never slit a cows throat, or take her baby away right after birth to get her dairy… or pay other people to do any of these things. So, I don’t.

    I find that the vegans most focused on nutrition and ecology are the sanest, and I try to be one of these. The ones that are more animal rights leaning, tend to be more corporate friendly and pro GMO etc… I can’t quite figure out why.

    Thanks!

    Comment by Bob — March 24, 2018 @ 9:59 pm

    • Thanks for your perspective Bob. I agree that if we had a real movement, it would be great if it were also dedicated to being as vegan as possible. My criticism in this post isn’t against any of the basic ideas, but against the typical stupidity and hypocrisy of anyone who thinks there’s any kind of solution within the bounds of regular productionism.

      I find that the vegans most focused on nutrition and ecology are the sanest

      By definition! Only anyone focused on nutrition and ecology can be sane. The pro-CAFO position is the most insane, but any kind of pro-industrial position is some degree of insane. Just like anyone who thinks the car can be redeemed. (That was my main thought in comparing this to the climate crocodiles; anyone who thinks the personal car is compatible with not destroying the Earth.)

      The ones that are more animal rights leaning, tend to be more corporate friendly and pro GMO etc… I can’t quite figure out why.

      I analyzed it here in terms of regular liberal statism. I guess it also has something to do with the whole ideology centered on bourgeois “rights”: When you start out believing in all these alleged “rights”, such as corporate personhood in the first place, let alone all subsequent corporate rights, all of which boil down to right = money, it becomes impossible to view anything other than in such Mammon theocratic terms. And then one’s thoughts and action become dictated by appeasementism and the general desire to seem “reasonable” according to the prevailing corporate-technocratic-Mammon framework.

      Having said all this, I’ll say again that I think if enough people wanted to do it, we probably could transform to vegan agroecology given the most intense level of cover cropping and composting (including humanure).

      Comment by Russ — March 25, 2018 @ 4:00 am

      • Another point, I think vegans feel a superiority in that they never compromise… it’s rare to meet a non-vegan who NEVER eats any CAFO products. More power to those that do avoid this trap!

        Any vegan who ignores corporate propaganda isn’t a full vegan, because corporate rule is anti-human and non-human life by definition!

        “Regular liberal statism” … this describes the neolib paradigm pretty well, including those that support it (careerist corporate workers). I saw a professor attempt to marginalize the neoliberal paradigm by claiming that little to no people call themselves neoliberal, therefore the whole thing is a myth. Of course, most people don’t declare their racism either, but it’s still quite real.

        I believe veganic agriculture is much more complete than is given credit, and is growing rapidly. I’ve been part of projects in the desert using only two organic cheap inputs and we were cranking out the food. Currently, there are veganic staple growing that is very high yield. Of course, if we are eating mostly plants, yield becomes a non-issue; calories will be the last of our concerns at that point!

        Of course, agroecology (veganic or not) should form the absolute baseline of all agriculture, from this moment forward. Only until we see the reversal of the damage done will we be able to take a breath and re-analyze our situation.

        Comment by Bob — March 27, 2018 @ 11:45 pm

      • I suppose it’s true vegans compromise less than meat-eaters who oppose CAFOs. Of course those who have a jaundiced view of vegans as such (as opposed to my specially targeted critique) often claim to know that many or most vegans actually sneak meat in the middle of the night. But I have no idea how common that is, nor do I see how that kind of critic would know. I know a few vegans personally and I’d be surprised if any of them did that.

        But I do say that the sense of superiority you describe is, in most cases, false because of the pro-corporate, anti-environmental, therefore anti-animal, position.

        That professor sounds pretty stupid if he thinks that semantic fallacy works. Like you say, there’s lots of things which lots of people are but few would admit. Another good example is the one Nietzsche pointed out, how the vast majority of modern people who claim to be religious are really functionally atheist. I.e. God and Christian teachings mean nothing in their day-to-day lives. That’s what he meant by “God is Dead”.

        I agree, and mentioned in the post, how veganic agroecology has far more potential than the most dogmatic of the manure-using types would insist. Agree completely, of course, on the need for a transformation to agroecology. I can only view anyone not on board with that as an enemy of humanity and the Earth, including the kind of vegan I’ve criticized.

        Comment by Russ — April 2, 2018 @ 11:52 am

    • Russ, your post resonates with me. My personal anecdotal experience with vegans is that many are absolutists in position, both from the ‘ethical’ and nutritional side of things. Obviously prescribing a one-size-fits-all diet is not a practical solution to what everyone choses (or needs) to eat. I’ve known a few friends who tried to go vegan and became dangerously health compromised. Many just don’t do well with arbitrarily eliminating certain macronutrients and fat soluble vitamins…

      As for the ethical side of things, I get the main point of the average vegan, but most do not adhere to any kind of comprehensive low impact lifestyle. If you ask them if they have the same feelings about the wild animals whose habitat is destroyed by clearing and tilling mass acreage of fields for veggie production, the transportation to get their avocados from California to the east coast, or the petro-packaging often involved, you’ll get a lot of deflection and denial. They are often not consciencous eaters or giving thought to how all the materials in their lives lead to environmental (and animal) impact. There is animal blood on all of our dinner plates, even if you’re a strict vegan. It isn’t like their all out foraging for vegetables in the woods and living off the grid. Humans (and civilization) cannot remove themselves completely from nature.

      As you’ve pointed out, I tend to drown out the noise of those with issues about food but cannot sort it out for themselves to target industrial commodity agriculture as a whole as the primary problem. If you don’t know how to properly source your food, or grow your own, step off the soap box. Small livestock husbandry and rotational grazing soil builders are not your problem.

      Comment by Pete — April 2, 2018 @ 7:13 pm

      • Although I haven’t researched it myself, it’s certainly plausible to me that some people are constitutionally suited to thrive on a vegan diet while others won’t do as well or even become ill. I’ve never tried full veganism myself, though I did do a stint with lacto-ovo-vegetarianism.

        I do find the ethical absolutism of vegans/animal cruelty activists who don’t otherwise strive for a low-impact, truly ecological life, to be odious. As I do all hypocrites, and especially anti-ecological ones. In fact I have much greater contempt for them than I do for upper-class organic foodie types, who are also hypocrites but aren’t so fraudulently strident about it. Indeed, the foodie types usually at least admit the problem with, say, almond milk, even if they don’t change their ways. But like you say vegan types are likely to refuse to hear anything other than “eating animals!” (I will say that the animal activist who I know best personally will listen to such things and does agree that the animal cruelty crisis is part of a much bigger crisis, although you often have to remind her of it.)

        In a way those who are pro-CAFO are aesthetically preferable to those who are anti-CAFO but otherwise pro-industrial, pro-biotech, etc. The latter, like all liberals, are a kind of sneaking fifth column, not a straight-up, full-frontal enemy.

        There is animal blood on all of our dinner plates, even if you’re a strict vegan. It isn’t like their all out foraging for vegetables in the woods and living off the grid. Humans (and civilization) cannot remove themselves completely from nature.

        That’s exactly right. The only way ethically to live is to work in whatever way you can to bring down this anti-human, anti-ecological civilization which is literally destroying both Gaia and humanity. Unfortunately all the “movements” – vegan/animal rights, environmentalism, anti-GMO, etc. – are still part of the overall psychopathy, religious believers in this rancid “civilization”, and therefore will never reach that consciousness. And thus it’s no surprise that almost all of them sell out in the end, including selling out what they claim is their core value. That sell-out is inherent to those movements’ overall ideology, their civilizationism, because in the end industrial agriculture (including CAFOs, GMOs, etc.), industrial logging, strip-mining, all fossil fuel extraction and transport, are inherent to this civilization (that’s why it’s called industrial civilization) and are necessary for this civilization to continue to exist.

        For anyone who considers the big picture, the ecological perspective, it becomes obvious that, like you say, small-level animal farming based on rotation grazing is not any significant part of the problem.

        Comment by Russ — April 3, 2018 @ 6:38 am

  2. (This is a note I thought I might use for a post, but I might as well stick it here since it fits in with this discussion.)

    There’s just no end to the technocratic interfere/control mindset, even among so-called conservationists. At least within the framework of this technocratic society, almost no one, and certainly no one organized along officially sanctioned lines, will ever understand or respect the first line of the Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm. This implies a default against action, unless one is certain of the effects.

    Of course, the main thing we’ve learned about ecology is how little we know, especially about the longer-run effects of active interventions. The sane view of human action is NOT to interfere, other than purely to prevent the destructive actions of destructive people.

    Therefore where it comes to an ecosystem like Isle Royale, leave it alone. The same is the healthy, sane view of all ecosystems. But like I said, a system-molded organization like the National Park Service is automatically dedicated to the opposite: Action for the sake of action, interference for the sake of interference, and most of all control for the sake of control. (And then there’s the usual venal motives – getting in the newspaper, getting the accolades of stupid “decent” opinion, justifying one’s budget and the increase of one’s budget. All those, too, are intrinsic to modern bureaucracy.)

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/03/23/isle-royale-manage-for-wilderness-not-wolves/

    Comment by Russ — April 3, 2018 @ 6:54 am

  3. As a reply to your comment(s) and the other fellow’s (thanks for the discussion!)

    Not trying to be “that” vegan here … indeed, I’m not a strict vegan myself, and am allergic to the overbearing animal rights angle of many activists…

    BUT

    “I’ll never try full veganism myself…”

    Russ, you often talk about “climate crocodiles”, a term that immediately resonated with me (probably because of my familiarity with the concept being a vegan in a non-vegan world!), and one that I’ve tried to introduce to all my ecological friends. I fear that, in your rejection of being a more plant-based eater, you flirt dangerously close with becoming what you despise … at least on this particular issue. I’m NOT calling you a hypocrite, you obviously walk your talk more than 99.9 percent of the crocodiles. However, what if it became abundantly clear that:

    1) we don’t have enough land for grazing animals for anything even remotely close to our current rate of animal consumption (implying we need to cut out the animals from our diet, or keep the animals and cut out 90% of the humans – some anti-vegans actually believe in a human culling so we can keep eating meat… by the way, who decides who lives and who dies? What will our ideal human-to-edible-animal ratio should we strive for on this planet? Even asking such a question begins to poke holes at the “we’ll just graze animals and keep eating them!” ideology)

    2) Even if we switched to grazing Allen Savory style (a guy who’s made multiple false claims without evidence by the way), it wouldn’t be even close to having a benign climate impact as we’ve been lead to believe. The (non-vegan-agenda) science is becoming more clear by the day: grazing animals require more land, emit MORE methane (strongest GHG by far, and also the weak link in the GHG attack on our planet – if we cut the methane, we cool the planet 400% faster than if we just cut the carbon), and absolutely, totally offset their “carbon sequestration” potential hailed as a benefit
    (which of course can be achieved in much more veganic, non-flesh-eating ways. Indeed, if we made veganism a priority, a baseline, we could probably afford to let all our other ecological actions slip, and STILL come out on top environmentally, and certainly from a GHG standpoint. Of course I advocate for a complete ecological overhaul.)
    Of course, CAFO style represents the most blatant offense to nature yet. BUT even in non-CAFO animal systems (in the global south for instance), animal agriculture is still leading the way for deforestation, food use (let’s feed the animals first, then the people! – half of all grain globally feeds animals, and half of all land that can be used for crops is grazed), habitat loss, etc… MOST cows are ALREADY grazed on American soil (until they go to CAFOs for the final cruelty blow), and grazing (“natural”, completely supported by otherwise ecological people) has already led to the almost extinction of wild horses, for one example. “Cows are a pest upon this land”, a well-quoted rancher once said.

    3) The “requirement” for certain animal products in our diet for “optimal nutrition” has been dramatically overstated to the point of being cliche. Again, vegans are annoying, but correct (so often the case). Vegans have the highest level of the fat-soluble nutrients in their tissues that the previous poster decries as being a weak link in the diet. Hmm, maybe it’s because they’re the group that consumes the healthiest foods? They also live the longest, have lowest instances of almost all cancers, have almost non-existent heart disease (if proper plant-based eating is adopted) … the list goes on. It baffles me those that ring the alarm bells over vegan inadequacy, without acknowledging that the longest-lived population ever discovered ate the animal-product equivalent of HALF an egg-yolk a WEEK. Oh, and they also subsided on almost exclusively carb-based foods (f*ck you low-carb paleo bros!)
    (Also, any ecologically-minded anti-capitalist should be completely dedicated to ending the sick-care of our “first-world” population, the human equivalent of CAFOs. To all non-vegans, good luck with the goal of ending heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases without cutting out the animals from your diet! Whole-food plant-based diet is, again, the ONLY diet ever shown to reverse arterial plaque and completely halt heart disease. I get in arguments all the time with my ecologically-minded animal eaters… they seem to think that if only all meat was “organic” and “grass-fed” heart disease would go away. These people are sadly, deluded)

    (I’m not marginalizing risks of changing diet. I’ve experienced deficiencies as a vegan and non vegan. Some of these deficiencies improved going vegan, some worsened. It’s not a cure all, it’s a lifestyle-skill that we’d be wise to adopt and put in the effort to learn how to do correctly. Also, I fully admit that we can have an agroecological society where everyone is eating backyard chickens and eggs, with virtually no negative impact to the climate. Cows, pigs, and all other large animals, though? Good luck trying to do that on a massive scale and still justify it)

    To the poster complaining about vegans and avocado hypocrisy, this is a classic red-herring. A few rapid-fire points: animal consumers contribute intrinsically more of all of the evils you mentioned than vegans “support”. Meat eaters eat more avocados than vegans do. GHG emissions from animals FAR outpaces any incidental shipping GHGs, and guess what! We have to ship meat (even HQ meat) everywhere too. This is an oil-based problem, not a vegan problem, and one that can be easily solved, unlike the intrinsic problem of cows emitting massive amounts of methane regardless of ranching style. Again, I stress: the typical vegan is FAR more conscious of the human rights angle and ecological impacts of growing food than the typical meat-eater, and even the non-typical grass-fed meat eater. To criticize them, while continuing to eat animal products, is rather hypocritical, and rather ironic, because in this case, it’s the non-vegans pulling the hypocrisy card.

    “If you ask them if they have the same feelings about the wild animals whose habitat is destroyed by clearing and tilling mass acreage of fields for veggie production…” This is exactly the idiotic comment that triggers vegans. Not calling the commenter an idiot (they make some good points), but adoption of this argument sure is stupid. First of all, the number one coming threat to habitat-destruction (if that REALLY is your main concern) is the fantasy that we can switch to all grass-fed animal agriculture. It’s not soy for tofu and tempeh that’s killing the Amazon rainforest, LOL! It’s not giant fields of heirloom corn that are pushing the wild horses off their land – it’s cows! It’s not the giant broccoli plantation that’s ending our future. As much as I hate chemical agriculture, I’m convinced that we could grow the most hideous, over-fertilized, sprayed non-organic vegan produce, and it would STILL have less of an impact, ecologically, than if we just cut out the elephant in the room. Of course, I’m all organic all the way and would never support such a system except as a thought exercise in comparison.

    Again, I think y’all are underestimating the incredible ecological benefits of veganism (or even 90% veganism), overestimating the average consumerist vegan’s climate impact (as compared to a non-vegan luddite who still loads up on the meat), and generally using half-truths to critique the diet and lifestyle. I find it extremely interesting that, as an avid meat-eater in my earlier days, I have absolutely ZERO desire to ever eat meat again. And dairy products, when I do consume them, are extremely rich and over-the-top, and could never be a habitual food. Anything that I can let go of in my personal life, and feel better after, with zero remorse? I call that an addiction, but that’s just me. We are indeed animal-addicts, and the “need” argument is quickly losing steam.

    Y’all need more Cowspiracy and less Allan Savory dribble! Not a perfect documentary by any means, but more on the mark than the vast majority of climate activists. Again, thanks for the discussion and all the amazing writing that you contribute to this field! I’m ALWAYS down to debate this stuff… I wouldn’t even know who you are today if it were not for my life-changing decision to embrace the plant-based lifestyle, for me, the very first stage of going down the rabbit hole.

    Comment by Bob — April 3, 2018 @ 12:41 pm

    • also, rereading my comment after posting… apologies in advance for the horrible prose, grammar, and spelling mistakes LOL.

      Comment by Bob — April 3, 2018 @ 12:43 pm

    • The best refutation of this is the fact that tribesmen sustainably engaged in pastoralism for thousands of years. Of course I’m not here trying to reform industrial civilization, but to insist that either it must die or humanity and the Earth must die. So while many of your criticisms may be valid against someone who claims that grass farming can help render civilization ecologically sustainable, none of them are valid against me.

      Having said that, I’ll give a longer reply, though it mostly boils down to this opening point.

      First off, I never said that quote, I merely said that I haven’t tried it. It’s peculiar that you choose to lead off by misquoting me.

      Having said that, it’s probably true that I won’t try it, at least not unless I find myself in a very different environment.

      I also didn’t cite Allan Savory as an authority. In fact he does seem to engage in some scams, in particular his implication that the grass farming paradigm can work just “anywhere”, when in fact it’s suitable and ecologically sustainable in certain habitats only, while it wouldn’t work in others and is as disastrous as any other grazing in marginal habitats.

      To respond to your particular points:

      (1) Has no relevance to me at all since I regard the whole civilization as soon to collapse, on account of civilization-driven ecological collapse and the unsustainability of industrial agriculture (also the limits of fossil fuels and all other resources it depends on) . As I’ve said in hundreds of posts by now, humanity is going to insist on doing things the very, very hard way. Yes, vast numbers will die. It’ll have been the leaders and supporters of industrial civilization who “decide who dies”, not an ecological prophet like me. So with all due respect I reject that canard coming from you in exactly the same way I reject it when it comes from the pro-corporate types. That’s who usually issues that canard, as you know. The best possible result for “who will live or die” is, those who prepare for collapse by building sustainable, mutually reliant groups, will have the best chance of living, while those who cling like Hitler in the bunker to the cities, the globalized supply chains, and all the worthless consumer junk will have the best chance of dying. Cf my “Malthusian” post for more on who is and isn’t the real problem.

      (2) Given your reference to South American corporate grazing, it seems like you’re not talking about the small operations I was talking about. Again, I think only in terms of the end of corporate agriculture and the restoration of food production and distribution to its naturally local/regional basis. Obviously ANY large-scale cattle operation, CAFO or grazing, is highly anti-ecological. If Savory claims industrial grazing helps with sequestration, then that’s another falsehood. But again, I never claimed Savory as a guru. Not sure I’ve even even mentioned him before, though I am moderately familiar with him. I will say that even large-scale grazing is a big improvement over CAFOs in many ways. But it’s still not anything I’ve ever touted.

      (3) I can’t speak for others but I said nothing about an alleged dietary need for meat. I said the opposite – that some people may thrive on veganism, some may not.

      “If you ask them if they have the same feelings about the wild animals whose habitat is destroyed by clearing and tilling mass acreage of fields for veggie production…” This is exactly the idiotic comment that triggers vegans. Not calling the commenter an idiot

      Well, I agree 100% with what you call this “idiotic comment”. It goes far beyond the industrial grain practices most vegans support, though of course this industrial agriculture is indeed grossly destructive of wildlife all over the Earth, both directly through habitat destruction and poisonism and indirectly through the climate change of which industrial ag is the #1 driver. (Vegans may shed some tears for the monarchs but aren’t likely to care about doing more than planting some random milkweeds here and there. Um, it’ll take a hell of alot more than that to save the monarch. That’s just to name one charismatic piece of wildlife.) But my counterattack goes far beyond this, to the whole apparatus of the genocidal/ecocidal civilization almost all vegans support with all their hearts. If one supports this civilization, they want nothing less than the extermination of all wildlife. It’s obvious to anyone who pays attention that that’s the only possible end goal unless the civilization destroys itself first. You certainly know that there will be no “reforms”. Most vegans are civilizationists, so ipso facto they want this extermination. For me this goes way, way beyond agriculture by now.

      I will say that it’s false that most deforestation is driven by ranching rather than industrial soy and such. Just because the ranching is the vanguard of the corporate assault doesn’t mean industrial plantations aren’t the main driver. (The vanguard concept is not counting logging, of course, and not counting where plantation growers directly cut down the forest. These of course are not ranchers but growers.) I’d argue about it further but I see no need to go beyond my usual condemnation of corporate agriculture as such. Which of course includes such ranching, and which therefore, like I said, I’ve never supported.

      I don’t think I disagreed anywhere with the proposition that veganism coupled with a general rejection of all the evils of civilization, and making one’s footprint as small as possible in every way, would be best. I said that almost no vegans engage in any kind of general rejection and footprint-minimizing, and that to live the usual high-maintenance high-footprint extreme-energy lifestyle, but as a vegan, is not much of an improvement. Especially if one’s not really a CAFO abolitionist and spends at least as much time attacking small farms, in which case it’s no improvement at all, and probably harmful.

      Certainly, almost everyone’s an animal-addict. Just as almost everyone, including almost all vegans, are pesticide addicts, GMO addicts, oil addicts, forest destruction addicts, gadget addicts, MSM addicts, war addicts, police addicts, government addicts, etc. etc. etc. I wrote here against the large majority of vegans who, even if they have broken their animal addictions, remain gleefully addicted to all those other things. So I really don’t know who you’re arguing with here. Pete also is a small farmer who agrees with most or all of this. It seems like you thought we were shading over into disdain for the very idea of veganism. I certainly wasn’t trying to do that, and although Pete can speak for himself I don’t think he was either. But it’s true that my tolerance for anyone willingly implicated in the infinite horror and destructiveness of this civilization is pretty much spent, and my tone often becomes more severe.

      I say all this to you in a friendly spirit, like you were saying to me. I’m not accusing you of these positions. But it seems that in feeling the need to defend veganism as such you’re coming close to solidarity with the frauds. I know the truth and what’s necessary, and I’ll no longer waste a day temporizing on concept or tone. The necessary project is total abolitionism along with preparing for the inevitable collapse. Anything short of this is not just wrong but a willful lie. That’s what drives everything I write.

      Comment by Russ — April 4, 2018 @ 12:23 am

      • Weill said, Russ. I had a hard time reading Bob’s twisting of my argument and trying to wrench it until it fits back into the “meat vs. veggie” dichotomy box. As if I was saying only vegans eat avocados…no sir. It’s that many are willing to look away at other aspects of their ecological and wildlife impact, and simply reduce their rage into the sole aspect of livestock operations, often conflating those practicing symbiotic permaculture techniques on a small scale for local community markets with corporate mass production factories. I don’t have the time to run down point by point on Bob’s argument but suffice to say many of them are not fact based assertions. I also resent the marketing terminology claimed by the vegan community of a “plant based diet”. My diet is plant based too. I also eat some meat. I grow my own plants and raise my own meats so I am intimately involved with the producer and his practices. I’m starting to doubt Bob’s concern for an inhabitable planet, but sense in his tone that it would just make him feel better if everyone ate the exact same way he did. Cowspiracy, another documentary beloved by the vegan community, is also heavily flawed in many of its assertions.

        Once again we have a false binary in “meat vs. veggie” that is clouding the real struggle that Russ has been deconstructing for years. And I believe that falls somewhere in the dichotomy of “Industrial corporate technocratic production of food-like commodities vs. just about everything else on the planet trying to exist”.

        I’ve always found in many of these debates that food is a very personal issue. People never like to be told what to eat. If you want to educate them, you cannot take an absolutist position about exactly what you want them to (not) eat when presenting information. If I were in the vegan tribe, I’d try to get the movement to go after corporate junk foods as passionately as they do animal food. It might lend some more credibility to march in front of Nabisco and Kellogs. Small community farmers are most certainly not the enemy you are seeking.

        Comment by Pete — April 4, 2018 @ 7:42 am

      • Thanks Pete. I know Bob pretty well (online) and I know he has a comprehensive, anti-corporate, pro-agroecological view. He organized anti-GMO action in the lion’s den at Cornell and is currently making an anti-GMO movie. Here I think he’s perhaps mistaken our position for an attack on the very idea of veganism. Like you say, food is very personal. Just look at what deranged fanatics the pro-GMO activists are. The doctrinaire vegans make the same mistake of trying to force their dietary preference down everyone’s throat, and that’s why it’s no surprise that most of them are willing to join hands with the corporate grain system: They’re (pesticide-laden) peas in a pod. My point in writing this post in the first place was as usual to counterattack the fake frames which enable corporate-death power to capture every “movement” and re-frame the conflicts along the real axis of corporate domination vs. all life on Earth.

        Comment by Russ — April 4, 2018 @ 8:11 am

  4. To sum up the original point: Anyone trying to relocalize food production and build the Community Food sector, whether growing plants or meat, is heading in the right direction. Anyone who wants to hold onto any aspect of the corporate industrial system, including on a vegan basis, and most of all anyone who assaults the Community Food sector, is an enemy of humanity, all animals, and the Earth.

    Comment by Russ — April 4, 2018 @ 8:31 am

  5. Gentleman! Thank you for this discussion, and of course no hard feelings, this is def what Russ (and I) do best 😉

    Oh my god Russ, intense apologies for misquoting you. I read the very first word wrong. I feel foolish, I was rushing this reply as evidenced by my terrible grammar. Was absolutely not my intention.

    I guess my main question for pastoral enthusiasts is … how much? How much can we effectively eat well-managed animals (and I’m not disputing that animals can be well-managed)? Can all 7 billion of us shift to a ranching economy? Do we have enough land? Will methane be a problem? Just based on the basic math, it appears as if we could only support our current meat habits with a much smaller population.

    This begs the question which has been posed before: if grass-fed meat is indeed more land/GHG resource intensive than vegan foods, who among us shall be privileged enough to eat it? The rich western populations who put us in this climate crisis to begin with?

    For the record, I largely agree with both your and Pete’s replies. In fact, I cherish these discussions, as my work and activism put me directly at odds with many in this movement. People have refused to support me only because I support Colin Campbell’s work on plant-based nutrition.

    To clear up the terminology, a “whole-foods plant-based diet” has become known to mean a diet exclusively subsisting of whole plant foods — no animal products, NO processed industrial vegan foods (including veggie oils). I agree that it’s a misnomer. However, this is the diet that reverses heart disease and absolutely destroys corporate food systems (to say nothing of cancer, diabetes, etc).

    IF we all ate this way (of course we won’t), we would have NO meaningful issues in the agricultural sector AT ALL. This is indisputable.

    Pete, I agree wholeheartedly that us vegans should go after processed food with equal fervor. I’ve found that most of us do. The “meme” of a junk food vegan who contributes to KRAFT, Nabisco, Monsanto etc. is actually exceedingly rare in real life. Most of us eat extremely low impact foods like veganic brown rice and green veggies. I’m sure you do the same.

    Russ, I agree that on the microcosm, no one should criticize small farmers for shifting to better meat production. Of course, I commend you both for being leaders in this movement.

    What I’m driving at is that some commendable behaviors on the microcosm quickly become perverse and destructive when EVERYONE practices it. This is my open question to the grass-fed community. With our idealized version of future animal-farming, could we make it work? (with particular concern to the methane and land issues)

    I never, ever judge ANYone for eating meat, even eating CAFO meat. However, I will absolutely attack an institutionalized system (say, CAFOs), which when tallied up are destroying us. This is because I understand the difference between vertical and horizontal social behaviors, and am acutely aware of why people keep the food habits that they do.

    In spite of my responses above which were in the spirit of debate, y’all might be surprised to learn that I actually take your side of this issue when discussing it with vegan friends. However, it’s hard to deny that vegans have some degree of high ground on this issue. Even the junk food vegan who flies on planes is net-better when it comes to GHGs against a similar type who eats all organic meats/cheeses.

    For the record, when I’m *not* vegan, I’m not eating eggs/butter/fish or anything like that. I choose to invest my animal consumption in foods that won’t benefit my tastebuds, but will fortify my physical health: I consume polyrachis ant extract, deer antler, deer placenta extract… you know, super weird stuff. Check it out, you won’t regret taking ant extracts if you can get over the mental factor!

    Thanks guys

    Comment by Bob — April 4, 2018 @ 11:12 am

    • Hey Bob, thanks for the thoughtful response. Apologies if I made any assumptions about you based on your comments….as we know, tone can get lost in writing, and I’ve been through enough of these knife (no pun intended) fights with certain talking points pout forth by dietary absolutists to have my own bark hardened.

      I appreciate anyone out on the front lines of the food fight. I had my own personal health issues manifested from a compromised gut flora (and likely heavy metal poisoning from amalgam fillings in my mouth), and reversed them by cleaning up my diet and switching to higher quality animal products within a new comprehensive approach to nutrition. I learned much from institutions such as Weston Price or people like Chris Kresser who I’m sure you are familiar with. There is plenty of scientific evidence that it was the explosion of sugar and refined grains intake, and industrialized food in general that were primary causes of the health crises you have mentioned- heart problems at the forefront. Cholesterol and fat became the false demon of the moment in order for the industry to maintain those profit centers in an increasingly unhealthy population. The ridiculous FDA food pyramid was a prime example of this engineering. There is plenty of historical evidence of cultures thriving on diverse diets that included animal nutrients outside of or pre-industrial food systems. They certainly weren’t hogging up land and natural resources to maintain their diets. Industrial Ag and the artificial scarcity of a debt-based monetary system were and still are the champions of that. I gather that a return to more local and regional food systems would create a more natural balance to what might be available to eaters and how they make their dietary choices.

      Cheers ~ Pete

      Comment by Pete — April 4, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

      • Thanks Pete! I fully understand the sentiment expressed, no apologies necessary! I learned the hard way how difficult online communication is, ironically thru GMOs!

        I am very familiar with Kresser, WAP, and other groups. As you might expect from me, I’d be cautious with their advice and approach to wellness, at least when it comes to long-term health and chronic disease. As far as I’m concerned, the healthy-vegan community of scientists and doctors have gone to great lengths to dispel a lot of the myths propagated by them. A few points:

        -We can reverse heart disease. Literally. The only diet shown to do this is a whole plant diet, heavy in complex carbs and relatively low in protein and fat. No meat-based diet has ever been shown to effectively reverse heart disease.

        -If cholesterol isn’t a problem as WAP and others claim, why do people get better (cure their heart disease and diabetes) when they reduce their cholesterol intake to 0?

        -If “dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect blood cholesterol”, why does cholesterol plummet down when people remove it from their diets, and get better and reverse their disease?

        -Why do the traditional Okinawans have non-existent heart disease thriving on carbs and extremely low levels of animal products, but even Eskimo mummies (well before industrial ag) show clear signs of heart disease? Same goes for the Massai and other “healthy” groups of animal eaters. Healthier than industrialized sick populations? Sure. Healthier than a whole plant diet? I doubt it, based on the massive amount of evidence from multiple angles.

        -On that note, we know the mechanism for how arteries get damaged very well. Yes, sugar is a culprit, and yes, the sugar industry is evil, but is it a *causative* factor in heart disease? Well, Walter Kempner of Duke was reversing heart disease and diabetes with a diet of white sugar and white rice decades ago… look it up! Meanwhile, no one has reversed heart disease eating strictly butter (as is the current fad).

        So to sum up, we have direct and replicated evidence that we’ve found the dietary drug-free cure for heart disease. We have massive amounts of epidemiological evidence verifying this. And we have direct causal mechanisms that animal protein, fat, and cholesterol all contribute to this disease.

        My dad died from heart disease last year, suddenly. We used to argue ALL the time about diet and disease (he was a natural debater). He was convinced that he could play enough raquetball to offset any dietary harm.

        He passed merely a month after Colin Campbell gave his lecture for our independent lecture series at Cornell, where he describes the modern scientific miracle of reversing heart disease through lifestyle change. By the way, Cornell censored him teaching this to his own students by removing his course from the catalogue. This, to me, is criminal, and evil. People are dying because Cornell’s scared of losing meat and dairy cash.

        You can see, based on what I’ve learned in conjunction with what I’ve experienced, that I’m very passionate about cutting through the BS with regards to diet and disease.

        All I want is for my human brothers and sisters to be as healthy as possible. I’m very happy you’ve regained your health, and won’t deny that you did in any way.

        If I were you (and of course I’m not), I would honor where your current path has led you, nutritionally speaking, and seek to attain even greater levels of health and disease-prevention…. perhaps by beginning to explore a more fully plant-based approach. I gain no personal pleasure in saying that the whole-food-vegans absolutely win when it comes to heart disease prevention and reversal, and the WAP disciples have yet to prove their bold claims in vivo.

        Of course, I’d much rather have a lively chat with someone like you than some brain-dead zombie vegan who can’t think for themselves. You obviously can!

        Cheers

        Comment by Bob — April 4, 2018 @ 2:17 pm

    • Thank you too Bob. No hard feelings here! And don’t worry about the misquote, no big deal.

      I certainly don’t think pastoralism can support 7 billion people. I always say that the evidence is that agroecology in general could ecologically support 7 billion and more. Of course that would require that the vast majority participate in food production, although it would be on something like a horticultural basis and wouldn’t have anything in common with the horrid conditions of industrial ag workers today. I’d say pastoralism would fit in well where the climate and soil conditions make it a better use of the land than growing crops, as well as being part of integrated small farms like used to be common. We could still do that (pending soil repair in the many places where the soil’s been destroyed, paved over, etc.) and better since we could do it now informed by the science of agroecology, something those previous farmers didn’t have. (I’d say this science, and the science of ecology in general, are certainly the most valuable achievements of modern civilization, and among the few which are valuable at all.)

      Of course I know that any notion of humanity undertaking this transformation on a grand scale is utopian: The chances humanity will do it are close to zero. I think they’ll cling to industrial ag until it collapses, and then most people will have to scrabble in the hardest way in order to survive at all. But for whatever good it can do I write about what’s possible anyway. I have no choice in the matter.

      To the extent grass farming (or veganism itself, of course) is done on a capitalist basis, its fruits mostly will be monopolized by the same who drive the climate crisis. While lots of small direct retail farmers would like to make their food affordable to the poor, that would make it hard for them to afford farming. That’ll be mostly true for as long as the system endures. But there’s plenty we can do to make it more egalitarian. Farmers offer workshares (I did one at a small organic farm in 2013), WOOFing, etc. More and more farmers’ markets are equipped to take food stamps (ours got a machine three years ago, and some of the vendors were set up on their own prior to that). That’s a few examples.

      BTW I wanted to refresh my memory on methane sources. According to Sam Carana at Arctic News (certainly not holding any agricultural agenda), the category “ruminants, rice, landfills, and waste” (which includes all ruminants, CAFOs as well) is the #2 category at 25.9% of annual emissions. So that would indicate that all ruminants put together comprise just a minor fraction of emissions, and grazed ruminants would be just a portion of that.

      http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/methane.html

      I don’t disagree that over large spans of habitat it would probably be best if everyone went vegan. On the other hand there are large areas – grasslands – where as you know it leads to disaster to tear up the sod in order to plant crops. Most grassland is best left to grazing, and while it would be best to let natural herds of bison and such to reclaim much of it, there would still be plenty of room for cattle grazing. That doesn’t obviate any concern about exploitation, I’m just speaking to what’s ecologically best.

      So that’s my answer to your open question. Of course I never thought or said that grass farms should predominate, just that they can be a constructive part of the whole package, and that for some environments they would be the best form of food production, if those areas are to be put into production at all.

      I admit I haven’t heard of those extracts, though I know that insects could be a useful part of the diet if like you say people could get over the mental factor. I’ll check out the extracts.

      Thank you too Bob.

      Comment by Russ — April 4, 2018 @ 1:25 pm

      • To add to the methane stats: I think “ruminants” includes all wild ruminants as well.

        Comment by Russ — April 4, 2018 @ 1:28 pm

      • What I like about veganism is that it can be implemented right now, by anyone who chooses to. Electric cars and the like are hard to attain for most, and of course are a false solution anyways. But when people start to go vegan, even in the context of what you and I hate, an agricultural system of commodification and environmental exploitation, IMMEDIATELY they begin reducing their impact on the planet. Of course, health begets health, and even the junk food vegan usually gravitates toward organic/whole/eco food eventually, in my experience.

        I’m in 100% agreement that pastoral stuff should, can, and eventually will take over all places where it’s suited over traditional crops. I also believe this will play a huge role in supporting local communities, especially developing ones. What gets me is when the average city dweller pays lip service to some grass-fed ideology, only actually practices it half of the time (the other half eating CAFO products and conveniently ignoring this), and thinks they are actually helping. This to me is much more troublesome than a crotchety vegan who at least is internally consistent where it counts. I feel you’d agree.

        The methane thing is a contentious debate between Cowspiracy vegans and rancher-enthusiasts… I must admit, I have no idea who is more correct, and I’m extremely excited to see what is revealed over the next few decades.

        What I do know is that the maximum buffalo population in America pre-civilization was around 30-60 million… quite a bit less than our current cow epidemic. We’ve only added ruminants. And to get ruminants back to pre-civ levels but still eat them, I wonder how much meat that would translate to on our plate. Even Michael Pollen, a meat-eater, admits that it would be a vanishingly small amount per person (2-4 oz per week). I also know that methane is the real unsung GHG, in that it’s dramatically stronger, yet actually has a smaller half life in the atmosphere. This means that if we focused on reducing meat over reducing carbon emissions, we would technically begin to reverse the climate crisis faster, indeed in the fastest way possible! This is what the scientists tried to get the Al Gore types to understand, but they ignored them and set us all back a good 20-30 years. Classic liberal climate fakery.

        Grasslands are certainly enhanced by grazing, when done 100% properly with great care (which is tricky to get right, and very easy to mess up). But I’d claim that veganic grain (grass) growing, with minimal inputs, is incredibly healing to the planet, high-yielding, soil-building, and relatively methane-free. Further, the need for land feeding a carb-based population on grains, beans, fruits, and veggies, would be incredibly low compared to ANY style of animal ag. I’d also add that we can, in theory, utilize animals in restoration without, you know, eating them explicitly 😉

        Of course, you and Pete are examples to live by, and if we all lived like you, regardless of animal consumption, we’d be set. Thanks so much for this chat! I’m always down for it haha!

        Comment by Bob — April 4, 2018 @ 2:37 pm

      • True that veganism can be done right away, and that’s what I’ve always said about community food in general, it’s real action people can start doing right now, unlike most other kinds of activism and advocacy where the actual results are bound to be sketchy at best for a very long time. Not that I’m putting down bona fide anti-system activists of any sort, rare as those are. But I’ve long suspected that one of the reasons “the left” and internet advocacy types in general aren’t interested in the food movement is precisely that here’s a place where there’s no excuse not to start doing real work right away. Almost no one wants to do any actual WORK, which is why voting remains fairly popular as a kind of “action” while all my years of calling for movement-building have yielded nothing but crickets.

        I suppose one of my main “beefs” where it comes to the GHG argument is that it’s industrial agriculture as a whole which is the great driver of GHG emissions. Besides ruminants, major sources of methane include industrial rice paddies, biomass burning (massively driven, both through forest destruction and deliberate agrofuel burning), and wetland destruction. Nitrous oxide, produced from the massive overuse of synthetic fertilizers as well as soil destruction and the concomitant denitirfication, is a far more potent GHG per unit than methane. And then soil destruction and the destruction of grassland and forest release massive amounts of CO2 as well. So whenever I see the animal focus I tend to see it as a kind of splitting where we should all agree on the main goal. I get that a targeted anti-meat campaign may seem a more doable goal than the abolition of industrial agriculture as such, and if it actually were designed to be a first step that would be one thing. But that brings us back to the original point, that I keep seeing the same people turn around and support the rest of the industrial apparatus: “Let’s take all that [corporate industrial GM] grain and feed it to people instead!” That tells me those people really are frauds about climate change and the wholesale destruction of the global ecology including all animals. So that’s why I’ve never seen a reason to go along with the meat focus, but have always stuck with the overall abolition need.

        As for what will be revealed about methane, I suspect that over the next few decades (or sooner) permafrost and hydrate melting will be the great rising stars of emission, and what we’re debating here will become academic anyway. I think there’s zero chance civilization will do anything but the worst, and Gaia will have to shut the machine down by force. I’m sure humanity won’t transform to agroecology, and doubt that even your more modest vision will be done. After all, supposedly the great rising markets for CAFO meat will be among the new Asian middle classes allegedly coming along. While I’m sure this is a pipe dream since the fossil fuels to support all this don’t exist, nevertheless for as long as the Asian development is able to keep itself going, I doubt that any actual rising middle class is going to deny itself a new luxury because jaded Westerners tell them “been there done that and it’s a bad idea”. Sort of like trying to tell a new nation-state that electoralism doesn’t work and isn’t worth it.

        I agree that’s no reason not to keep telling fellow Westerners to change their ways, just that from a historical big picture perspective I think in the end we’re all talking just about trying to salvage something among our own communities, to weather the rising storm which inexorably is coming.

        Yesterday I was thinking more about what I said about the bison. Since we’re being such visionaries I might as well go all the way and say that the ultimate goal, once the grasslands have reclaimed their natural range (which will be quite different assuming the likely climate change projections) and the bison restored themselves, would be to ditch the cattle completely and go back to nomadically hunting the bison. That’s the only thing that worked on the grassland.

        Comment by Russ — April 5, 2018 @ 1:57 am

  6. Bob, I’m proud of my cholesterol levels… give it to me. It was in my mother’s milk as mother nature intended and I welcome it from nutritious sources. You seem well read on the subject. I wish I had the time to run down your list point by point. Have you read Denise Minger’s (former vegan) critique of Campbell’s China Study? https://deniseminger.com/the-china-study/

    I’ve known a few people personally who simply did not do well on vegan diets, if not deteriorated. What do you say to them? You just did it wrong? The ‘science’ says you’re not responding properly?

    Comment by Pete — April 4, 2018 @ 6:36 pm

    • Hey!

      Cholesterol levels can be deceiving, and it certainly isn’t an all or nothing thing. There are healthy vegans with high cholesterol, who probably won’t get heart attacks. There are plenty of non-vegans who won’t get heart attacks either.

      However, there appears to be a level of cholesterol, below which we can virtually become “heart-attack-proof”, in the words of Esselstyn, who has reversed more heart disease than anyone alive. Keep in mind it’s our number one killer!

      Denise Minger, more recently, actually recanted on her original critique of Colin, after talking w/ him and learning more about statistics (she’s not a trained stats person). She also follows an almost exclusively plant-based diet now. I wish the WAP would stop citing her as a valid critique of the plant-based diet.

      As for vegans who don’t do well, I have tremendous compassion. I’ve been one myself. I would say that yes, in most cases, people are going about it “wrong”. It’s a hard skill to learn, completely transforming your diet! It takes time to master, The key is to look at all the successful vegans and emulate them. For example, Rich Roll, perhaps the most athletic person on earth today. Or Kendrick Farris, the only American power-lifter to be invited to the Rio Olympics, where he won Gold and set a WORLD RECORD in the clean, one of the hardest athletic feats in the world… all as a vegan.

      So when we have populations that live longest on the most plant-based diets, and have elite athletes thriving and setting records, I’m skeptical that any of us have a deep “need” for any significant quantities of animals in our diet. That being said, as I mentioned before, it’s a personal choice and I see nothing wrong with eating backyard chicken eggs etc.

      Comment by Bob — April 6, 2018 @ 12:22 pm

      • Thanks, Bob. Here is Denise’s conclusion in response (2010) to back and forth from Campbell on the CS critique. Sounds reasonable doesn’t it? Yes, I dig on my nutrient dense pastured egg yolks daily after ‘intermittent’ fasting.

        “If both whole-food vegan diets and non-Westernized omnivorous diets yield similar health benefits, this is a strong indication that the results achieved by McDougall, Esselstyn, Ornish, et al are not due to the avoidance of animal products but to the elimination of other health-harming items. Western diets involve far more than increased consumption of animal products, and for some groups—such as Alaskan Natives—a switch from a traditional diet to a Westernized one entails reduced animal food consumption, with the caloric void replaced by refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils, grains, sugar, and convenience foods. The fact that a dietary shift towards Western fare inevitably leads to proliferation of “diseases of affluence”—regardless of changes in animal food consumption—suggests that another factor, or lattice of factors, instigates this decline in health.

        The success of the Chinese on plant-based diets does not invalidate the experiences of other populations who evade disease while consuming animal products. Nor does individual success on a vegan program nullify the disease reversal seen by those adhering to specific omnivorous diets. Rather than studying the dissimilarities between healthy populations, perhaps we should examine their areas of convergence—the shared lack of refined carbohydrates, the absence of refined sweeteners and hydrogenated oils, the emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods close to their natural state, and the consumption of nutritionally dense fare rather than empty calories or ingredients concocted in a lab setting. Modern foods, and the diseases they herald, have usurped the dietary seats once occupied by more wholesome fare. It is this commonality—the thread bonding healthy populations—that may offer the most meaningful insight into human health.

        A theory as purportedly universal as Campbell’s should, by definition, unite the various health and disease patterns of global cultures without generating frequent anomalies. By naming animal products as the source of Western afflictions, Campbell has created a hypothesis valid only under hand-picked circumstances—one that cannot account for other epidemiological trends or even recent case-controlled studies. This is a symptom of a deficient theory, embodying only partial truths about broader diet-disease mechanisms.

        I propose that the China Study remains a largely untapped resource for revealing potential diet-health patterns, expanded awareness of the source of disease, and inlets for future nutritional research—possibilities Campbell has not fully explored in his quest to validate a predetermined hypothesis. I invite Campbell, if he has the time and the interest, to present a more detailed account of his methodology, such as the unpublished book chapter he cited in his first response to my critique.[129] It is only through ongoing discussion and clarification that the field of nutrition can continue to evolve, progressing towards an increasingly unified understanding of health.

        Lastly, I suggest that the “symphony” Campbell has heard thus far is only a partial opus. To cease listening now would be—at best—a missed opportunity for heightened health awareness, and at worst a perpetuation of the misinformation already degrading public and scientific understanding of diet and disease. I thank Dr. Campbell for both the harmonies and the dissonance his work has supplied to the field of nutrition, but implore him to continue listening. The final note has not yet sounded.”

        https://deniseminger.com/2010/08/06/final-china-study-response-html/#con

        Comment by Pete — April 6, 2018 @ 2:16 pm

      • Since this post, she has more fully embraced a plant-based diet and Colin’s (groundbreaking) work). I’ve followed this closely over the years, and have discussed this directly with Colin himself, who has become a friend (he gave a lecture for our course at Cornell about the dairy industry censoring him).

        As someone that would like to see the complete and utter cessation of the heart disease and diabetes epidemic, I have to follow the evidence, even if it leads me away from my tastebuds and my habits, and the culture I grew up in.

        There have been zero studies showing the reversal of heart disease with a diet containing ANY amount of animal products, or for that matter vegan junk food. The WAP community and Paleo crowd could easily put this to rest, and lord knows the animal ag industry would fund such research in a heartbeat with their massive financial influence.

        The reason these studies don’t exist is because these foods cause the problem!

        -We have isolated multiple mechanisms in which animal products cause disease (independent of quality of animal product)
        -We have the best epidemiological evidence confirming this
        -We can reverse diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes) by eliminating these foods

        All I’m saying… be willing to let the meat and dairy go, if you want the ultimate in disease-preventing nutrition. Every year the evidence gets stronger for this position.

        Comment by Bob — April 6, 2018 @ 8:24 pm

  7. Bob, the best way to address chronic health issues is by prevention, not prescriptive dietary afterthought- no need to reverse something you needn’t get in the first place. Through my years of reading the voluminous scientific literature on nutrition, I’ve come to a conclusion. So much of it is bullshit and contradictory- who to believe.?? 90% of “peer-reviewed” literature is proven bias and flawed, often worked backwards from a pre-determined outcome. The anecdotal is deemed worthless in the epidemiological pyramid gold standard of ‘evidence based medicine”. This is just my humble ‘non-professional” opinion based on my own conclusions… most chronic health issues manifest from inflammation, in other words gut health. Gut flora is primarily compromised by industrial foods.. aka sugar, refined industrial grains, and processed/hydrogenated oils, meats, and corporate snack foods. Anyone sourcing real/whole foods will be well ahead of the bear attacking the slowest campers. In addition, there seems to be so many variables to what causes disease outside of diet alone. This includes but is not limited to our lifestyles- including stress, sleep, exercise, ‘types’/sources of meat or veggies, environmental poisons, etc… Trying to pin it down to a specific food type seems somewhat futile. Societies have flourished relatively disease-free on various forms of pre-industrial diets… mostly on what was readily available to them. One thing is clear to me. If anyone says there’s one way to eat for everyone, they’re full of shit. And they’re usually selling something.

    I’m currently thriving based on taking control of my own health through connection to the food I grow and raise myself. Based on the results, I have no reason to second guess it. Maybe I just look and feel good and I’m fooling myself… who knows. My health and agriculture (two sides of the same coin) causes tend to naturally fall in line with Russ’s theses… it’s against corporate rubbish and the subsequent poisons prominent in the current food paradigm, no matter meat, vegetable or grain.

    Comment by Pete — April 7, 2018 @ 7:11 pm

    • Agree with so much of this! We’re much more in common than otherwise, especially when it comes to ag.

      Meat is inflammatory. Grass-fed is slightly less inflammatory. But it is still pro-inflammation. Therefore, it leads to chronic disease.

      These are the things basic science is good for. I’m in 100% agreement with you that so much of “science” is bullshit, in fact that’s my main thing. But to throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to nutritional science is a mistake.

      Since we’re in the age of the switch to grass-fed, I guess we’ll see in real time whether this type of diet really is preventative for heart disease. I’m skeptical, and choose to eat the diet which leads to by far, the least amount of heart attacks (and diabetes, and strokes, and cancer) in REAL people all over the world.

      My grandfather died of heart disease. My grandmother had a stroke and spent her final years paralyzed. And just last year, my father died suddenly from a massive heart attack at age 64. I am NOT letting that shit happen to me! I am absolutely blessed to live on the same planet as the courageous doctors and scientists who are actually healing people and extending people’s natural lifespans, right here, right now.

      If you ever want to see absolutely fascinating nutritional science that might give you more of a challenge to your perspective than I’m able to, check out nutritionfacts.org and Greger’s YouTube channel

      Comment by Bob — April 8, 2018 @ 3:52 am


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