example of this is a report in The New England Journal of Medicine
of a 33-year-old man who went blind due to a strict vegetarian diet.
Notwithstanding Dr. Edell's unfortunate attempt to smear
the vegan diet, the man in fact went blind because of an apparently
terrible diet, deficient in nearly every vitamin and mineral which
healthy vegan diets provide in abundance. The man's diet, while
"vegetarian"because he eliminated animal products, must
have also eliminated many other foods, such as fresh fruits and
This case involved a healthy man who began a vegan diet at age 20
no dairy, eggs, fish or other sources of animal proteins.
And again -- most likely no fresh fruits or vegetables --
the cornerstone of a healthy diet.
he showed up for treatment, he was diagnosed with severe bilateral
optic neuropathy due to the lack of vitamin B12. There was no evidence
of any toxic, infectious, inflammatory or hereditary cause of the
The body doesnt need much B12 and just a little animal protein
supplies a sufficient amount.
Or a cup of fortified soy or rice milk.
By the way, the reason you rarely see this deficiency in children
who are vegans is because they have sloppy sanitary habits. This
might sound a little disgusting, but its true. Kids get enough
fecal contamination containing vitamin B-12 on their hands to supply
their needs. This is because the vitamin isnt absorbed from
B12 is the one vitamin not provided easily in the vegan diet,
and Dr. Edell correctly cites that vegans should be aware and should
find supplemental sources for B12, such as through vitamin pills
or by consuming Grape Nuts, enriched soy or rice milk, or any of
many other B12-enriched foods currently available. The
reasons that B12 deficiency is very rare in vegan populations is
not clearly understood, despite Dr. Edell's apparent eagerness to
sell the "poor hand washing" theory as though it were
In the patient who went blind, further blood tests showed he also
had deficiencies of vitamins A, C, D, and E as well as zinc and
selenium. However, blood levels of iron, ferritin, nicotinamide
and B6 were normal.
In other words, the man was not eating a standard vegetarian
or vegan diet -- which is far higher in most of the vitamins and
nutrients cited above than the diet of most omnivores. What, precisely,
the man was eating was not reported in the letter published in the
NEJM. Perhaps it was only potato chips, beer and sorbet -- all of
which can be vegan.
The patient also had a thiamine deficiency, which is something you
rarely see in the modern world.
This should have been the tipoff that the man's problem had
less to do with veganism than with a diet deficient in most anything
If someone goes blind by just eating vegetables, isnt there
Which "vegetables" was the man eating, Dr. Edell?
The qualifications for being on a talkshow must not include scientific
integrity. Edell would have his readers believe he knows what the
man was eating, and yet he does not.
You have a choice about what you eat, but remember we are omnivores
- we are meant to eat everything.
Once again, Dr. Edell pontificates without providing any
evidence to back up his statement. For a scientific discussion of
what diet man is physiologically best suited to eat, see
products and meat, eaten in moderation, are good for us.
The same was said in the past about cigarettes by doctors
who -- like Edell -- derive income from the industries who benefit
from the spread of such myths.
ability to eat a variety of foods is what helps us survive as a
species. You know, in the Ice Age, there werent vegetarians
because eating meat was necessary for human survival.
Following Dr. Edell's troubling
logic, because man has the ability to be a cannibal when circumstances
require, we should all be including some human flesh in our diets.
Both cannibalism and omnivorism are adaptive behaviors permitting
humans to survive during catastrophic periods when few good foods
are available. Man can eat out of dumpsters when he's starving:
this does not mean that such a diet is "good" for him.
The point is that many humans want to strive for the optimal
diet, not simply the one which would allow them to survive to reach
age 30, like those in the Ice Age.
But if you do want to eat a vegan diet, that's one case where I'll
agree that vitamin and mineral supplements are probably necessary
for good health.
Judging from Dr. Edell's site, HealthCentral.com, vitamin
and mineral supplements are for everyone -- since they're for sale
on every single page.
Will Dr. Edell make a commentary about the massive evidence
implicating the modern omnivore diet in a host of serious diseases?
Not if he wants to keep his advertisers happy...