I'll be the fly in the ointment. This issue Sarah Taylor raises in her email reflects either her misunderstanding or misuse of the term vegan. One isn't a certain percentage vegan the way is a certain percentage raw foodist either by weight or calories. Being vegan is a discrete variable, not a continuous one. Being vegan is like being pregnant. Either you are or you aren't. If you use honey or eat an egg now and then, but otherwise eat a whole food plant based diet, you are probably doing a great deal of good for the planet, yourself, and animals everywhere. No question. But are you vegan? In my opinion, no. Absolutely not. Not hung up on labels. Then don't worry about it.
Donald Watson coined the term
"The word "veganism"denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."http://www.definevegan.com/
Let's dispense with the possible and practical part since that refers to clothing or products and talk about diet, the bolded portion above. The above definition is from the British Vegan Society which is the closest thing we have from the time Watson and Shrigley wrote. If someone eats 51 percent cupcakes, nachos and ding dongs and the rest meat and cheese is that person "51 percent vegan" and there gets to say I'm a vegan??? I agree that this is argument into absurduum http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum
My point is if you start talking about something that is either or in terms of percentages, then the original concept gets lost. And people who are trying to be trendy have their cake and eat it too.
If you want to be vegan, be vegan. Arms open. But don't water down the term to meet your dietary expectations. As far as I am concerned there is no such thing as vegan who takes in honey or an egg occasionally. You are or you aren't This fight will go on a long time. And I think you know what side I'm on. I won't fight with you about the good you've done for animals or the planet. Many omnivores have helped our planet far more because of number than we will ever do. Just be aware of how much better it can be and never ever lower your targets. If you eat animal products occasionally or once in a while, you are doing much better than most Americans. Why not make the commitment and go vegan! ;)
One more comment. Just comment from the late Donald Watson who coined the term "vegan". from an interview:
Q: Do you have any message for vegetarians?
A: Accept that vegetarianism is only a stepping stone between meat eating and veganism. There may be vegans who made the change all in one leap, but I'm sure that for most people vegetarianism is a necessary staging post. I'm still a member of the Vegetarian Society to keep in touch with the movement. I was delighted to learn that at the World Vegetarian Conference in Edinburgh the diet was a vegan diet and the delegates had no choice. This little seed that I planted 60 years ago is making its presence felt.
Whatever else we may disagree about the way the term originally was conceived had a higher target, not one that was 100 percent animal product exclusive but also one that from a dietary standpoint included animal products.
My plea, do good, do your best, don't assume any label you are not entitled to.
apologies, last post should have said from a dietary stand pint excluded animal products
Well done. The article is concise, complete and insightful. RDs are people too. And when you read articles by vegan RDs like Jack Norris, Ginny Messina, Jeff Novick, Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina as with all things people differ.
While I like much of the information in Vegan for Life and still use it as a primer, I won't recommend it to friends because it encourages oreos as vegan during transition if you can believe it.
Ginny's Becoming Vegan is still a great resource in my house. And I respect and use her suggestions daily. But I also read other vegan RDs and MDs and cannot agree with much of the Norris/Melina thread that some processed foods are ok. Note that some is not well limited. Ginny sited an Australian study showing that people who eat upto 49 percent of their starches as processed starches did just as well as those consuming a whole food plant based diet. I don't believe it. Neither did Joel Fuhrman when I cited the study to him on the board.
I still read and value Ginny Messina's perspective and Jack's also. What Jack has done with Vegan Outreach is truly remarkable. I hope Jack keeps his independent perspective as I think Ginny is a little more pro vegan junk food than Jack is.
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I don't know where you're getting these smoking statistics from. I'm not extremely familiar with studies about cigarette smoke, but even a quick search on pubmed shows a lot of studies of social smoking or occasional smoking. And they all show that even limited smoking or second hand (or third hand)smoking is dangerous.
But that aside, smoking and eating meat are two different activities. A dangerous dose for one can't be compared to a dangerous dose for another.
I don't have a horse in this fight, but I think arguments for or against should be accurate and based on scientific consensus, not on the work of individuals.
Well there's definitely more "evidence" than there was when I last had this debate. But still only a couple of epidemiological studies, so not the sort of evidence that would convince someone like Ginny "Just The Facts" Messina. But for argument's sake, what if we were to play it safe and go for 2 cigarretes a MONTH ?
I can't say that I understand your point about comparing the risk of smoking to the risk of meat eating. The point I'm making is that there's a level of consumption below which the health consequences become negligible. At which point it becomes impossible to show the associated harm (in a RCT or even epidemiological setting). I'm sure you realise that such a level does exist even for smoking.
Regarding your point about opinions being based on scientific consensus and not on the work of individuals, I agree, but surely you don't think the above-mentioned doctors are just basing their opinions on the work of a few individuals.
Have you seen the number of references that Dr Campbell cites in his book The China Study ? That book includes Dr Campbell's review of hundreds of articles in the scientific literature as well as the China Project itself. I'm sure some people have been fooled by the seemingly persuasive and undeservedly well publicised criticisms of The China Study that are floating around. As well as criticisms from people like Jack and Ginny. Most if not all of which have fallen apart under closer scrutiny. And for the record, I don't think there's any scientific evidence on this planet that could withstand the scrutiny that that book has been subjected to. I'm sure that if you read it, you'll understand WHY it's been scrutinised so hard. Please also note that Dr Campbell has always been very clear about how far the evidence goes, as well as presenting a good case as to why people should go 100%.
As for olive oil, do you think these guys would recommend giving it up if they didn't think it was worth it ? Do you think they're just saying it because they think it'll make them more popular, or because they like destroying everyone's fun ? Do you think people such as Jeff Novick or Dr Barnard aren't reading all the same studies as Ginny Messina and Jack Norris ? I can guarantee you they are, and I can guarantee you that they're also evaluating the results of those articles carefully and seeing how that information fits in with what they've seen in their many years of clinical experience. And during those many years of clinical experience, I'm sure they've learned many things that aren't even IN the scientific literature (yet).
No doubt these docs sometimes resort to hyperbole-esque statements when trying to communicate their message to a brainwashed public, and maybe once in a while they might change their recommendations in line with new findings, and I know not all of them are ethical vegans, and some of them might say "plant-based" instead of vegan. But they still have a goldmine of information to offer you, and most of them risked their careers and professional circles to get that information to you. And not to have a dig, but I know a couple of ethical vegans who lament the use of the word "plant-based", and yet these same people haven't even plucked up the courage to tell their own mothers-in-law that they're vegan.
Vegan Outpreach and Ginny Messina drew a line in the sand many years ago when they said they don't think the health argument exists. And I think they made it quite clear that they wouldn't use it even if they thought it DID exist. And they don't want anyone else using it either. That indicates a strong bias in my view, and may well be clouding their judgement on these matters. And when you draw a line in the sand like that, it also means you're going to be less likely to admit you're wrong if/when that realisation comes.
You may be interested to know that Vegan Outpreach and Ginny Messina also think vegans should stop using the environmental argument:
They want this to be purely about the animals.
Although for some reason, they're happy to try and hook the public in with tasty fat-laidened food, which I find to be quite inconsistent with their values. Because that's really pandering to people's self-interest isn't it ? Just like the health argument. It's called the "taste argument". And there was me thinking it was supposed to be about the animals. And what are people going to do if they're stuck in some low-class hotel with no fancy vegan restaurant and no oven to make their vegan Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cakes ? Might they give up on veganism if the food they're faced with isn't up to the standard they've been promised by all those taste-promoting vegans ? It's just setting them up for failure if you ask me.
Anyways, in light of the possible biases mentioned above, I'd encourage you to contact the above doctors / RD's next time you hear Jack or Ginny or anyone else criticise their work, because there may well be something that Jack and Ginny are over-looking or not wanting to face up to. And it's only fair to give these docs a chance to defend themselves.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that they're very accessible.
All the best
P.S. - I realise that I've responded to a couple of points that you didn't actually make.
Ha ! True words, Jeff.
I think more and more people are getting sick of the non-stop health-bashing coming out of the Norris / Ball / Messina quarters.
At the end of the day, I think they're confused about what they stand for and derive most of their identity from the shots they take at others in the veg world. Others who are far too busy saving lives (human and animal) to retaliate.
I hope Norris / Ball / Messina find their true calling some day.
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