Biochemical Arguments Against Veganism By Mrs Vera West
This is a surprising piece which goes against a lot of what I thought was established, namely that the carnivore diet of only meat was defective. Humans need anti-oxidants and other nutrients not found in meat, so the all meat diet is as flawed as the all-vegetable diet. But, consider the book by Paul Saladino, The Carnivore Code (2020):
“In his book, Saladino states he’s going to bust nutritional dogma, which he does in spades. Saladino, who struggled with asthma and eczema, was actually a vegetarian and then a vegan for a time. It didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse. His health problems didn’t resolve until he went on an exclusive carnivore diet, and he recounts the various twists and turns in his personal journey at the beginning of the interview. After hearing Jordan Peterson talk about the carnivore diet and how it improved his daughter's autoimmune symptoms, Saladino was intrigued enough to look into it. The rest, as they say, is history. “The more I thought about it and dug into it, I started to realize, maybe there's something to this,” he says. “I'm at least going to try it. And so, the first time I tried it, within a few days, my mood changed, and my outlook on life got to be significantly better and more positive. I thought, ‘There's something to this.’ A few weeks later, the eczema had completely resolved and hasn't come back since. I've been eating a carnivore diet for the last year and a half. But there really was this sort of personal quest throughout to find out what the triggering food was, and it was just so striking for me to see the eczema go away when I cut out all plants — and then the added benefit. The mental clarity, the psychological benefits were surprising. That kind of hooked me, and I thought, ‘OK. I need to just pour myself into this and understand this because this is going to help a lot of people, or it potentially could.’"
According to Saladino, there’s a clear ancestral history of eating an animal-based diet, which he details in the interview. In a nutshell, the evidence suggests we are descendants of omnivores, and that the increase in brain volume coincides with a transition to hunting for animal game and eating large amounts of animal foods. Some vegetarian advocates have argued that it was tubers that caused our brains to grow. Saladino disagrees, noting that the levels of nitrogen and carbon in fossilized remains from 60,000 years ago are actually greater than those in hyenas, which suggests our ancestors were eating more animal protein than known carnivores. He also points out genetic evidence suggesting Homo sapiens were not eating significant amounts of starch, as they developed a salivary amylase mutation. “What we see now is that all living people on Earth have a salivary amylase duplication because we're all descended from a Homo sapiens group that left Africa 80,000 years ago that appears to have had an amylase duplication,” Saladino says. “So, they were eating more tubers 80,000 years ago. But up until that point, there's no evidence for an amylase duplication, arguing strongly against the notion that we've been using tubers for any significant amount of nutrition.”
In the interview, Saladino also goes into the findings of Dr. Weston A. Price, a pioneering dentist who traveled the world to document the diets and health status of indigenous cultures. A big take-home point was that Price never found a culture that was thriving on plant foods alone. “The other point I highlight in the book is that there were some instances where he could directly compare African tribes that were more plant heavy and tribes that were more animal heavy, and the tribes that ate more animals were stronger, taller and had better health than the tribes that ate more plants. So, he had a direct comparison looking at the overall health, strength, virility of people in Africa in the 1930s and 1940s, and he saw that people who favored animal foods were doing much better than the people that favored plant foods,” Saladino says.
The Problem With Phytonutrients
One of the most controversial issues relates to the health benefits and hazards of phytonutrients, i.e., plant-based nutrients. I was under the belief that phytonutrients were largely responsible for activating profoundly powerful pathways for longevity. Saladino’s work caused me to seriously reevaluate my views on phytonutrient supplementation. As Saladino explains, phytoalexins are plant defense compounds that may be causing more harm than good. A corollary to this is the issue of xenohormesis, which Saladino covered in a November 5, 2019, podcast interview with David Sinclair, Ph.D. “I don't think anyone debates that plants make defense chemicals,” Saladino says. “I just think we're not familiar with how pervasive they are, and how many of the plants we eat contain thousands of them … You could get really sick from the oxalates in rhubarb, for example. We're aware that some plants are so toxic that they're frankly poisonous. We could die [if we eat them]. Basically, every plant in nature is part of a delicate balance, a delicate exchange system with other animals. And [plants have] had to develop plant defense chemicals — phytoalexins. I think the part of this that is so radical and challenges so many of our long-held beliefs … is that so many of the chemicals that we imagine to be phytonutrients or to be hormetics in plants are actually phytoalexins. They're plant defense chemicals … If I'm going to suggest a carnivore diet … one of the things that people often question is: What about all the nutrients in plants that I'm missing? And there's a chapter in the book where I talk about the actual vitamins and minerals [found in animal foods] … In terms of vitamins and minerals, you can get everything from animals. Animals are a better source of all the vitamins and minerals than plants. But then people say, ‘What about all the polyphenols and these phytonutrients?’ … And this is where we get into the realm of phytoalexins, the plant defense chemicals … So many of these chemicals that people think of as beneficial are plant defense chemicals. The majority of polyphenols are plant defense chemicals … Resveratrol, for example … is a defense molecule. It’s produced in response to the botrytis fungus … Resveratrol is an oxidative stressor to the fungus organism and does other things negatively for the fungus … Resveratrol … definitely does activate SIRT1, which appears to be a good thing, but it has other negative effects in the human body. Specifically, there's a good amount of research on resveratrol suggesting that it affects hormonal metabolism negatively.
It decreases androgen precursor, specifically DHEA, leading to lower levels of DHEA and testosterone and other androgens. Many polyphenols do this in the flavonoid class of molecules … Curcumin is another one. And I'll clarify this briefly just so people understand my position. It's not that I'm saying these molecules have no value in humans. It's my urging, my suggestion when we're thinking about these molecules, that we think about them like pharmaceuticals, because they really are. Pharmaceuticals are really powerful and can be lifesaving molecules. But if I'm going to prescribe or recommend ibuprofen or metoprolol or a psychiatric drug to a patient, I'm always going to have a conversation about the potential side effects. What we've forgotten about with these plant molecules is that they too … have side effects. Those side effects are what I'm calling attention to in ‘The Carnivore Diet.’ I think that for some people, plant molecules can have a medicinal value. But when we're using them as food, every day, my concern is that we can be getting too much of a medicine and the side effects start to outweigh the benefits. That is where I think the elimination of them becomes valuable for people, and the cutting out of all the plants can be a game changer in terms of inflammation and autoimmunity.”
This flies in the face of all that I have previously read about nutrition, and certainly it destroys veganism in one swift king hit. I do not know whether the case made here is over-blown, but like everything, there is sure to be merit to it at least in part. As with all health decisions, in the end it is up to the individual to make up his/her own mind.