My Science Rant

I love science. I BELIEVE in science. I think GOOD science is they key to our not ending up like the movie Idiocracy.

Do I believe that the science supporting a plant based diet is 100% accurate and conclusive? No.

Do I believe the science supporting ANY diet is 100% accurate and conclusive? No.

A little history: When I was a junior in high school I thought I wanted to be a nutritionist. I got a job at a health food store, read everything I could, and was accepted into the best undergrad nutrition program in the country, all before I even started my senior year of high school.

A few weeks into my first college nutrition course I ran screaming for another major!

It was glaringly apparent that to be a nutritionist I was going to spend my career arguing. I hate arguing. And if I’m going to do it for a living, I’m going to be a lawyer and make an obscene amount of money. But I hate arguing, so I chose a different path. And 15 years later, I’m SOOOOO thankful I did!

Why did I see so much arguing in my future? The science. The science is just too young! I won’t go into the details, but nutrition is REALLY hard to study, especially using the hard core scientific methods used for most well accepted, peer reviewed science. It’s also a grossly underfunded science for many reasons, but mostly because you can’t patent a carrot.

Regarding the media’s science coverage, I like this viewpoint from Jeff Novick. Read it.

I’ve done a lot of reading about the pros and cons of this diet, educated myself on both sides of the issue, and I do agree with some of the plant based diet skeptics out there. Sometimes they raise good points about flaws in the science (and no, I’m not going to go into the details). But I think it’s an inevitable outcome of nutrition science that there WILL be flaws in most of the science for a long time to come. I think it will eventually be done right, but it’s going to take a lot of time and money.

So if I think some of the science is flawed, WHY am I doing it?!?
– Because I think it’s the best we’ve got right now.
– Because by the time most nutrition science has matured to a non-flawed level, I’ll be worm nutrition.
– Because I think the latest research (warts and all) is very compelling, better than most, and much more trustworthy than science funded by big agri-business.
– Because a lot of people smarter than me, whose lives are literally on the line, also chose this diet. (And sometimes being smart, means trusting those who are smarter than you, especially when they have more at stake than you.)
– Because I trust my gut more than anything. My well-informed gut.

I suspect as more research is dedicated to this diet it will become less extreme. We’ll learn more about marine animal products, what acceptable levels of fat intake are for certain groups of people, and just how much you can and can’t “cheat.” I also think genetic research will shed a lot of light on this (meaning, some people can cheat a lot more than others, and some people just do better on different diets depending on their genetic makeup) but I digress, that is a rant for another time and place.

I’m writing this to address some of the questions I’m regularly asked. I’m not trying to be a spokesperson for this diet. I’m way too critical; I would be a terrible spokesperson!

Right now, I choose to follow this diet 90% of the time (all but two meals a week). It has worked for me and you can’t argue with results. And unless I have a major health problem, I probably won’t ever do it 100% of the time. As a general rule in my life, I try to avoid extremism in any form.

But if I have a cardiac event, or develop cardiovascular disease, you better believe I’ll be joining the 100% club… in a heartbeat (ha! you saw that coming didn’t you ;))

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