Top 7 Nutrition Myths: Number 7

Myth: A Plant-Based Diet is Healthiest

Myth 7: A Plant-Based Diet is Healthiest
Myth 6: Counting Calories
Myth 5: Government and Nutrition Organizations Provide Healthy Advice
Myth 4: Eating carbohydrates, especially complex carbs, is vital for health
Myth 3: Grains are Good for You
Myth 2: Exercise is Integral to Health
Myth 1: Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease

More and more today we hear talk about the healthiness of plant-based diets, with more and more people insisting that it is the key to health. Many point to studies that show meat causes cancer…but there’s a big difference between the meat used in these studies and traditionally-raised cattle….

The usual evidence against plant-based diets is the lack of vitamin B-12, and for good reason: it can only be absorbed from animal and supplemental sources. B-12 from plant sources is actually B-12 analogue, which is similar to B-12 but actually prevents absorption of true B-12. While a plant-based (emphasis on the word based) diet can certainly be healthy, it should be noted that 92% of people who eat exclusively from the plant kingdom (vegans) have been shown to be deficient in B-12. Here is an extremely well-sourced essay written by a biochemist with more info. And here are three very-well referenced vegan sources that corroborate this and go into details: source 1 source 2 source 3.

The not-so-usual evidence is a historical anecdote, and has to do with a bit with optimal foraging theory in the context of the tribal human. Though it is much more complex than this, a quick summary of the optimal foraging theory would be that organisms try to consume the most calories in the least amount of time. While pondering that, consider this: plant foods are not always readily available in nature, especially in colder environments or in grasslands. In the context of a tribe, in many cases it would be extremely difficult to procure enough plant foods to feed the entire tribe.; what’s more, in nature there’s not nearly the variety of foods to which we’re accustomed thanks to grocery stores, and the availability is greatly affected by the season, especially in colder climates. What there is, though, are animals. One large deer can feed a small tribe for a few days. That tribal cultures exist to this day and live disease free on meat-based diets should stand to show that plant-based diets do not deserve any sort of superlative.

Even Okinawans, who have the longest lifespan in the world, consume a lot of pork, and in Asia Okinawa is known as the Island of Pork.

Photo Credits: Socially Responsible Agricultural Project and robfromamersfoort

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2 thoughts on “Top 7 Nutrition Myths: Number 7

  1. Is the vitamin b-12 mainly found in red meat? And what are your thoughts on diets that include only certain types of meats (i.e. pescatarians or non-red meat eaters)?

    • It’s found in all sorts of meat.

      And well the Eskimo and Sioux survived on a low variety of meats (mainly fish and buffalo, respectively), but they also ate all parts of the animal.

      But for those who are avoiding red meat because they think it’s unhealthy…tsk tsk. Grass-fed red meat is one of the most nutrient dense (and delicious) things on earth!

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