‘A crime against humanity’: Former raw foodist’s anti-vegan rant
Is veganism a “misguided ethical concern” or worse, “a crime”?
A former raw vegan argues that it is in a new podcast.
“I stuck it out about a decade as a raw food vegan,” says Daniel Vitalis, a ‘lifestyle pioneer’ whose popular podcast ReWild Yourself explores evolutionary biology. “I was that person who was associated so deeply with it that it was my ‘ism’. I was a full on Cool Aid drinker.”
Vitalis, from the US state of Maine, says he was duped by “pseudoscience” into believing “it was the most natural diet for our species”.
“I was not listening to my body’s cravings, I was not listening to the information my body was trying to communicate to me and I pushed through a lot of discomfort to carry on that ideology,” he says.
While it’s one thing for him to choose that ideology, Vitalis argues it’s quite another for parents to choose it for their children.
“Probably quite soon it will be illegal,” he says. “It’s kind of a crime against humanity to force a nutrient-deficient diet onto a child to conform them to a misguided ethical concern… that is a crime, in my mind.”
His comments come not long before a 14-month-old baby in Italy, raised on a vegan diet without supplementation, died earlier this month of malnutrition.
The case “forces us to reflect on uncommon feeding regimes,” Luca Bernardo, director of pediatrics at the hospital, told The Telegraph, London. “It is not a problem to choose different or unusual kinds of nutrition, and we certainly do not want to enter into a discussion of the merits of the decision. But since birth, the baby should have had support in this case with calcium and iron.”
Veganism has become somewhat of a buzz word.
Earlier this year, Australia topped Google’s worldwide searches for the word “vegan”.
In the last 10 years, there has been a 350 per cent rise in the number of people turning vegan in the UK.
The statistics in Australia for vegans and vegetarians are unclear, however they are also rising exponentially, going by the number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants – many of which are delicious – popping up in major cities. There is also a rise in vegan pet food.
According to Harvard, “vegetarians are likely to have lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index (BMI), all of which are associated with longevity and a reduced risk for many chronic diseases”.
Vegans tend to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fibre than vegetarians, according to one review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“However, eliminating all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies,” the paper says.
These deficiencies include iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and calcium which are essential for health. These are also deficiencies that “could accelerate or worsen pre-existing mental conditions”.
Separate research has suggested that veganism may lead to gene mutations and fertility problems, among other things.
While proponents believe that these deficiencies can be addressed, Vitalis argues that the evidence of long-term health benefits from being vegan (as opposed to being vegetarian or mostly vegetarian) is weak. As are claims that humans are not ‘designed’ to eat meat.
“Vegan proponents usually don’t tell you the full story,” adds Kris Gunnars, founder of Authority Nutrition.
“They make it seem like there is overwhelming evidence in favour of the vegan diet. But in reality, this evidence is weak and there is a large body of evidence that they are ignoring.”
Although Gunnars adds an update claiming he now believes a vegan diet can be healthy for some people if “properly planned”, Vitalis remains unconvinced.
“The idea that veganism can be sustained for a lifetime is complete conjecture,” says Vitalis, who changed his vegan tune after reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price.
“What I started to find was a degenerative process [in traditional or indigenous communities]… part of it had to do with moving away from traditional animal foods… we are omnivores and I started to see that stepping away from that there are health problems that emerge generationally.”
Vitalis’ message is confronting to many, whose decision to be vegetarian or vegan is a reaction to the shocking inhumanity and disregard for the environment and animals that has become all too common in the name of our diet.
These are the reasons I myself became vegetarian 22 years ago. But, many, Vitalis included, suggest that there is a way to respond to these issues without compromising our, or our children’s, long-term health.
“This idea that you’re cleansing and you’re healthier and that you’re participating in a greener world… all this rhetoric comes together and it’s very convincing,” Vitalis argues, suggesting a softer approach, or “conscious omnivory” where respect is shown for both the animal and the environment.
“Unfortunately, people don’t go ‘I’m going to stop participating in factory farming and I’m going to support local farming efforts’… we’re so extreme.”
I am still a vegetarian who tries, as much as possible, to eat organic, local produce but, in my experience, after the initial extreme swing in a new direction, two decades of doing anything softens your attitude and the more you learn and understand, the less dogmatic you become.
I am no longer convinced that being vegetarian, or vegan, is the only way to eat ethically.
We owe it to ourselves to do our research, remain open-minded and not be pig-headed at the expense of our health because perhaps we can have our meat and eat it too.
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