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Sunday, 18 August 2019


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Oh Mike...after all this reading you still haven't learned that when it comes to diets, there's very little solid science and a lot of opinions motivated by book deals. Any half decent PhD is able to prove whatever they already believe is true. There's so much variation that you can easily find a combination that fits your criteria. Hell, I know more than a few PhDs who believe in astrology and the use of homeopathy as a cure for whatever... They're just human after all.

Agreed. But even people who think that it can be ethical to eat animal flesh/dairy/egg cannot make an argument that it is ethical to eat factory-farmed/fished animal products. And 99% of animal products today are factory-farmed/fished, even thoses with deceptive labels suggesting otherwise ("free range"; "humane"; "natural"; "organic"; "cage free"; etc. are all from factory farms).

Decades ago we switched from animal husbantry to torture factories for the innocent, defenseless. It is a moral catastrophe. We cannot pretend it is the same world that our grandparents' knew. Ethics and animal products are now mutually exclusive. That's just a fact of the new, modern world.

I’m so glad that you have the guts to inform us with your knowledge about food and nutrition, albeit some kind of people most probably will scream again “you are not a doctor, you are not an expert”,- but you are a smart guy with a lot of common sense and you do care about the wellbeing of your community.
And how much nonsense lots of doctors and “experts” told us during the last decades?
Thanks a lot for your attitude and generosity.

I don't take photography advice from nutritionists.

Adam and Eve were pure plant eaters. After the big flood, Noah and his family started eating meats.

So I fully agree with the idea of plenty of plants and a scatter of meats in our diet a few times a week.

Can you write something about alcohol in the diet? I don't drink but it would be interesting to know more about it.

An occasional digression from photography is a fresh breath of cool mountain air.

From Scientific American:

"​The majority of the food consumed by primates today — and every indication is for the last thirty million years — is vegetable, not animal. Plants are what our apey and even earlier ancestors ate; they were our paleo diet for most of the last thirty million years during which our bodies, and our guts in particular, were evolving. In other words, there is very little evidence that our guts are terribly special and the job of a generalist primate gut is primarily to eat pieces of plants.​ ...​

"If you want to return to your ancestral diet, the one our ancestors ate when most of the features of our guts were evolving, you might reasonably eat what our ancestors spent the most time eating during the largest periods of the evolution of our guts​:​ fruits, nuts, and vegetables — especially fungus-covered tropical leaves."


This is one of your nutrition posts that I can get behind, Mike. For the past two years I have DRASTICALLY cut back on my consumption of meat. I haven't gone completely vegetarian, but nearly so. I will typically consume meat a handful of times a month, primarily when making meals for my wife and I, since she still eats meat. My principal motivation to going nearly meatless has been environmental, since meat-based agriculture is so detrimental to the health of our planet. But I also acknowledge the great preponderance of medical studies that show that a plant-based diet is healthiest for humans. I admire your switch to a WFPB diet. More power to you.

OK, heard you out. And where in particular were you going, I wonder. Is the essence of these apologetics "that on a diet adequate in essential plant foods, you can also eat...well, meat."? And were you yourself thunderstruck when this revelation hit you? Because I'm not. Or are the vegans around you breathing down your neck so hard, you just needed to fight back just a teeny little bit for some meat-eating space? Puzzled.

Here we live on the edges of Dartmoor and hill country. The farmers here rear their beef and lamb on fields and uplands. It sustains a way of life that has been here for 500 years.

The grasslands protect the environment. Take away the sheep and the fields are ploughed and much damage is done. Grassland unlike tilled land sequesters carbon.

We eat our eggs, lamb and beef eaten in moderation ...all sourced locally. Our milk is sourced locally and delivered in glass bottles.
We eat locally sourced vegetables. The dangers of veganism as opposed to vegetarianism is that so much comes from abroad. Coconut oil, soya, and others are grown often with the cutting down of forests.

My thoughts are eat moderately, eat meat of high quality in moderation, plenty of locally sourced seasonal vegetables. It keeps local people in work, it tastes delicous, it makes sense.

And remember eating a healthy diet you don’t enjoy may just be like being married to an accountant ... you may or may not live longer ...but it will certainly feel like it!

Eating should be joyous, delicous, memorable, varied , local and seasonal.

We also can reflect that we are anyway living longer than ever before and none of us get out of here alive!

"Food by itself is not ideology." Really? If we accept your proposition that eating a bit of meat is fine for one's health, which I do, then what animates - sorry, motivates - vegetarians and vegans?

The vast majority of the people who abstain from meat do so out of religious compliance and/or ethical considerations, the latter informed by religious teachings and/or secular reasoning. If that is not ideology, I don't know what is.

The best excuse I can offer for eating meat is that in the natural world most living things eat other living things. But is that a good enough reason for me to kill and eat a living thing with a face?

If your ideology includes a creator who created this natural order, then I suppose we could ask: who are we to go against the "grain"? Never mind that this order is insanely cruel -- sadistic, even. Is there anything more terrifying than to be chased down and eaten? Or worse, to see your young chased down and eaten?

Question: what is the purpose of babies? Answer: (a) propagation of the species; (b) food for predators; (c) both. This "order" alone is more than enough to sell me on Darwin.

I love my dogs and my bird. I like most animals -- certainly cows, lamb, horses, ducks. So I refuse to eat them. Moral dilemma: my dog is allergic to grains. So I eat grains, but feed my dogs fresh meat.

Nature is not neutral. It's biased to the absurd.

Strange timing Mike. Here as I eat my bowl of homemade lentil chili while pondering the fact that I should eat less meat and more veggies. I could make it a quest actually. Food for thought.
(cheaper too)

"Never eat anything that cast a shadow". If you're a really militant vegan ;-)

I sometimes call myself a "chickatarian" because I eat almost nothing but plant based stuff, but I'll occasionally (once a month?) have a chicken sandwich. However, my parents both ate bacon and eggs, or pancakes and bacon with lots of butter on the former, for breakfast almost every day of their adult lives, with commercial supermarket cinnamon rolls with butter on Sundays, and lived into their nineties. I do the veggie thing for health, but also for ethical reasons; and the fact is, meat tastes good, at least for me. So, for people of some genetic composition, I don't think eating a good deal of meat hurts. The ethical thing is important, though, and what this PhD says about meat not being unhealthy is accurate only in the most immediate sense. In a wider sense, it's not only unhealthy for you, but for everybody else, as well.

By the way, I had a Burger King "Impossible Whopper" earlier this week, a plant-baed burger, and it was quite good. Just don't look at the health analysis. Health-wise, you probably be better off with the regular meat Whopper, even if the planet wouldn't be.

Stil trying to figure out why all these healthy foods are the ones that give me the most stomach upset. A salad for lunch and I suffer by the end of the afternoon. A sandwich, and I’m fine.

I like your approach here, on a philosophical level. Moderation is the pursuit of virtue is no vice. This bust through simplistic, binary thinking: "either a vegan, or a heathen." On the path, or off the wagon. Sin or redemption.

My liberal arts education exposed me to the Golden Mean and the Middle Way. Life's taught me that the best answer is seldom the most extreme choice. Now I hedge my bets and look at the overall outcomes. That's why I drive not an EV that gets 70 miles to a charge, but a plug-in hybrid that gets 70 miles per gallon.

Also, why I eat meat two or three times a week. I was a vegetarian for years, but I was also a picky eater who hated strong cheeses and bitter vegetables. I was probably undernourished then. Now, my principal protein source is beans, balanced with cheese and grains. That means plenty of Mexican dishes and low-oil pizzas. Seems right for me, cheap eats with plenty of flavor. Pour on the sauce!

I'm not rabid about this topic, but surely you know that this assertion:

>>> Most humans can survive and thrive indefinitely ingesting
>>> nothing but plants and water

... isn't true simply because of missing vitamin B12 which is only found in animal products and artificial supplements.

What a marvelous time to bring up Eric Hoffer. A nonpolitical political statement (if oblique) in an avowedly nonpolitical blog.

Mike, you can go to hell for lying as well as stealing 8-) How many time have wrote that you won't write about nutrition, ever again?

[I said that once, and then I reversed course, quoting Cicero: "Change of mind is not inconsistency." Keep up, Chuck! --Mike]

I love meat, but I don't eat it because I don't have to.

" All things in moderation" Dr. Christian Barnard the first heart transplant surgeon

I'm pretty much with you on this one, Mike. However, though I am not a nutritionist, I believe certain nutrients [e.g. vitamin B12,iodine] are difficult or impossible to obtain from a fully plant-based diet. So my stance is mainly plant food, meat and fish occasionally, dairy never. But whichever way you look at it we all ought to be eating less meat, for the sake of the planet as well as our health.

The thing about your ‘nutrition’ posts is that they all about diets and never about flavour, pleasure, conviviality etc. There are all sorts of weird statements one can make about food that are true but unhelpful. Very little meat is toxic but all plants are, otherwise they’d be eaten to the ground by insects, herbivores etc.
I do think we should eat more vegetable and less, but high quality, meat but I eat vegetables because I like eating them and often they are improved by cooking with a little bacon or cheese for example.
Dr. Tom Bell (earlier comment) has it about right for me.

You worry too much about what you eat, that is the problem.

Cook food like your mother or grandmother did. Cook enough for three meals, eat one third the day you cook it, put one third in the fridge for the next day and the rest in the deep freeze for later.

Eat whatever you like but no processed food. Do not drink high calorie beverages.

Do not eat between meals. Four meals a day.

Mike, knowing you’ve said follow through is not really your forte, I’ve got an idea for you that might please a few readers who follow TOP for photography related posts.

Write these three words on a Post-it Note and put it on your monitor.


Let’s take this with a grain of salt.

“Our teeth and intestines are formed so we can eat plants.”
And meat! One of the biology lessons from high school I remember very well was when the teacher showed us three different sets of teeth. One from a herbivore, one from an omnivore and one from a carnivore. It proved that without doubt we humans are, like pigs, typical omnivores. Also our intestines are not long enough to digest most plants. Cooking helps a lot. But deep in the jungle we will probably die from starvation because there is nothing we can eat.

“Our nearest animal relatives eat almost nothing but plants.”
Have you been watching Daktari a lot lately?

“Most humans can survive and thrive indefinitely ingesting nothing but plants and water–a statement that can be made for no other category of food or ‘foodlike substance’.”
The traditional diet of the Inuit, mainly fish and some seal and reindeer, kept them much healthier than the Western food they eat now.

When it comes to eating animals you can eat almost all of them. To quote a Chinese friend: “Anything with legs except tables and chairs and anything with wings except airplanes.” That cannot be said about plants. Most are indigestible and poisonous.

The problem is of course that we eat far too much of it. In the USA the average meat consumption is 120 kilograms a year. If the rest of the world would do the same we probably wouldn't survive.
Hundred grams of protein a day is already enough. And that does not have to be meat only. My Indonesian family in law eats meat only once a month. Poor as they are, they eat tastier food with more variety and balance in their diet than we in the Western world.

Your only food related posts I have the slightest interest in are the Baker's Dozens.

There are far too many books speaking generally about nutrition. One day I hear about the benefits of eating only raw foods, I guess a more naturalistic way, but shortly after hear a talk on how cooking foods helps us get more nutrition from them during our digestion.

We are not Apes, nor are we Monkeys. We are not cows, pigs or any other mammal for comparison, we do not look at the grizzly bear and expect him to eat like a panda, nor a chicken to eat like an eagle, why then do we expect ourselves to eat like an Ape? We are Humans, unique on our own planet for our ability to do things no other creature in our knowledge or Solar system can do.

In this way science can be as dogmatic as religion, ignoring the bleeding obvious for a viewpoint.

Eat what makes you feel well, do not eat things that make you feel unwell. It is quite simple, do not eat what others tell you to eat, your body has enough cues for you to navigate your nutrition.

Fun read Mike, thought I would chime in my opinion.

Hominy (produced from dried corn that has been treated with an alkali) and Lima beans contain what is needed for a healthy diet. Nothing Mediterranean about these two—they both originated in the New World.

Hogue Hospital (Newport Beach, California) serves Salmon, for lunch and dinner, every day. How good is that.

Here's a breakfast photo I shot, that is on Google Photos. I've given it a CC CY 4.0 licenses, so feel free to right-click and use any way you want, as long as c.d.embrey is attributed. https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipPyhh9px10xT0yC6G_KKH8-FfutPZwcdYxQyY3c. Ribeye steak medium rare, scrambled eggs, home fries, sour dough toast with real butter.

BTW Abobe PS/LR can be used to read IPTC info, which contains the CC BY 4.0 copyright.

Hmmm ...

Consider Michael Pollan's "Cooked." You can pick up a used copy for five bucks on Amazon. Check out the bottom paragraph on page 6 of the "Look Inside"

Then there is this, in Scientific American:

"All known human societies eat cooked foods, and biologists generally agree cooking could have had major effects on how the human body evolved. For example, cooked foods tend to be softer than raw ones, so humans can eat them with smaller teeth and weaker jaws. Cooking also increases the energy they can get from the food they eat. Starchy potatoes and other tubers, eaten by people across the world, are barely digestible when raw. Moreover, when humans try to eat more like chimpanzees and other primates, we cannot extract enough calories to live healthily. Up to 50 percent of women who exclusively eat raw foods develop amenorrhea, or lack of menstruation, a sign the body does not have enough energy to support a pregnancy—a big problem from an evolutionary perspective."

This is not a pro-meat argument. (I seldom eat any sort of land animal.) Rather, it argues that humans have evolved away from what works for other apes. IOW, we no longer have the capacity to extract sufficient nutrition from the foods that the apes eat.

Oh, and by the way, I look forward to seeing you join our closest relatives, chimpanzees, hunting monkeys through the tree tops and eating them alive ;-) .

I eat as much meat as I want because it’s tasty and it sticks with me and because every single number derived from twice yearly, physician-ordered blood panels for over twenty two years tells me that I remain completely healthy. I eat veggies like they’re going out of style, but I’ve eliminated most of the products that contain highly processed and intensified sugars. Used to love Poptarts. Not much packaged food is any better than Poptarts. I drink Martinis more often than beer or wine, but when a good sample of either crosses me at a table, I will partake. During the few times I have deviated from this life style, my numbers (indicators, in Dr speak) have reduced my health score. Every single time I corrected, my indicators improved. Disclaimer: I still eat too much bacon and sausage.

I like your OT's, including food.

Mike, If it was your intent to generate polarized comments, you did that. I just don't know why you would want to do that on a blog that has always been sort of the opposite of that.
I come here because of your deep expertise in Photography, your work has enriched my enjoyment and understanding of Photography, and I am grateful for that.
The world is polarized enough, I've always thought of this place you've so artfully created as a refuge from that.

...Which is a notion that is not very popular among vegans and people who eat WFPB diets.

That reminds me of a joke:
Q: How do you find the vegan in the room?
A: Don't worry, they'll tell you.

(I'll let myself out)

I have no doubt that your point is correct, that I would live a healthier, longer life if ate a plant-based diet. But what’s the point?

I know that foie gras isn’t good for me. I dare say that everyone who eats it knows the same. But a little bit smeared on a crusty baguette, perhaps a little Bordeaux to wash it down, makes my life so much happier, richer, fuller.

A Camry is much better for you and the globe than a Ferrari. The Camry is: Safer, more comfortable, gets better mileage, carries more passengers, is cheaper to maintain, the list goes on and on. But in the unlikely occasion that I’m ever asked to make that choice, a heartbeat is an eternity compared to the amount of time that it would take to have that Testarossa in my driveway. Face it, my friend, you’re selling the Camry of diets.

". isn't true simply because of missing vitamin B12 which is only found in animal products and artificial supplements."

Yes and no. You can find it in yeast extract spreads like the wondrous Marmite or the Aussie version, Vegemite.

Interesting post, Mike. Keep up the great work.

I have been vegetarian (though ovolacto) for several years now. I am not 100% strict/religious about it - I have meat maybe 2-3 times per year. My one exception is oysters, though I rarely have them since getting them fresh here is nearly impossible. I just really like them, and as my daughter says, "They have no central nervous system" so the cruelty reasoning doesn't apply.

I agree that cheese is mildly addictive and not all that healthy for someone with my level of physical activity. I don't eat a lot of it, but when I do it's almost exclusively really, really good cheese. Could I give it up? Mmmm, maybe. Will I? Probably not.

That leaves eggs which, I grant, are normally the product of chickens raised inhumanely. I would have to convince my better half to buy "ethical" eggs, assuming we could be assured they are truly organic and ethical. Eggs are an easy source of protein for me, and honestly, I enjoy making a "proper" omelette, á la Jacques Pepin. Sometimes I'm good at it.

My reasons for being a vegetarian encompass ethics, the environment and health. At my last cardiology check up, my ECG showed my function was nearly back to normal after a heart attack in 2002. Combined with my age, I'm thinking that's pretty damn good and to some extent a tribute to my diet. Mind you, I don't tell my cardiologist how many eggs I eat ...

Hi Mike,
Thanks for this well mannered post. However, we have not just evolved ot eat plants, we are omnivores.
I am a forced vegan that every now and then needs to eat cheese and eggs. The reason for that are calcium and hemo B type vitamins. Hemo B12 type vitamins are essential to our bodies and we can not produce [they are produced by bacteria, no plants, fungi nor animal can produce them by themselves].
You can suplement B12 and B6 through pills. But the "lack of energy" of long run vegans [I´ve been one for the last 10 years] comes from B group vitamin deficit, and B12 specifically.

I´m not saying that we should go now bite cows on the street, but beware of the B group we so need to live.

Wherever I look these days someone is telling me what I should eat. Today food A is good, B is bad and C is deadly. Yesterday it was the other way round, tomorrow who knows? Obviously writing books about the food we should eat/not eat is a highly lucrative pursuit - and every new book needs a new story. “I tried the eating only food harvested on a Tuesday diet and meat only from the left rear legs of young camels and I now sleep so much better and can leap tall buildings at a single bound” - yeah of course you do, very scientific.

I thought I’d be safe from all of this stuff reading a photography blog but, alas, no.

[You're correct—in fact the result that correlates most strongly with "buying a diet book" is "buying another diet book." Nothing else correlates nearly as well.

Plus, there is indeed a lot of bad advice out there, and there are good reasons for that--one is that powerful industries are spreading propaganda; another is that people wish to eat badly and seek out "diets" that enable them to rationalize their bad choices. Plus--a legitimate reason--people are different and respond to certain different interventions. For example, people with Celiac disease will need to eat differently than people with lactose intolerance.

However, there *is* good information out there, despite the fact that it is underfunded and fighting an uphill battle, if you take the trouble to really sort it out. I am not a trained expert, but I'm a good reporter with a well-honed bullshit detector (that is, good at evaluating competing claims, a necessary skill for a traditional journalist), and I've read extensively on this subject (well over 100 books) and experimented on myself repeatedly (for more than five years).

Despite this, nothing I say is authoritative (because our ignorance on this subject is profound) and you're free to disregard any post here you like. However, I will say what I believe. And, most of my readers enjoy and tolerate my off-topic posts. If you don't like them, they're usually labeled "OT" for your convenience in skipping them. --Mike]


Eating meat rarely may not hurt you but what does it do to others.

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