334: Former 20-Year Vegan Lierre Keith Now Advocates Omnivorism


Hello and welcome back to The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show with Jimmy Moore!

Today’s fascinating interview has Jimmy speaking with the author of The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability named Lierre Keith. Keith spent 20 years living as a vegan and is now passionately spreading the word of how vegetarianism and veganism are not only unhealthy but how they fail miserably to meet the goals of improving the ecology, advancing personal health and avoiding ethical dilemmas as is often claimed by those who adhere to this particular lifestyle choice. She goes on to explain how an omnivorous diet does not need to be incompatible with valuing the earth, your body and your sense of moral justice.

Listen in as Lierre Keith and Jimmy Moore discuss topics ranging from modern agricultural practice, the great work of The Weston A. Price Foundation, the impact of Gary Taubes on combatting vegetarianism, the deleterious effects of consuming soy, and much, MUCH more! You won’t want to miss this one, folks!

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Lierre Keith curriculum vitae
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability book
Lierre Keith’s blog
Read the first 14 pages of The Vegetarian Myth

36 Responses to 334: Former 20-Year Vegan Lierre Keith Now Advocates Omnivorism
  1. Shareef
    February 13, 2010 | 12:14 pm

    THIS IS THE F’in BEST THING THAT HAS EVER BEEN ON THE SHOW!!! I wish I could give it more than 10 stars!! AAAaamen!!!!!

  2. sss
    February 13, 2010 | 2:42 pm

    mama, don’t let your daughters grow up to be vegans
    let them be strippers and hustlers and such
    that sort of thing won’t harm ’em so much

    but mama, don’t let your daughter grow up to be vegan
    a gold digging grifter to you may sound sad
    …compared to a vegan it isn’t so bad

    so find her a boy who likes to eat cow
    spare ribs and fat back and belly of sow

    rice, beans and potatoes will just make her big
    it’s ham hocks and chitlins or she’ll be the pig

    to corn pone and biscuits don’t let her stray
    it’s eggs done in butter and bacon each day

    so mama don’t let your daughter grow up to be vegan

  3. Jimmy Moore
    February 13, 2010 | 4:43 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it, Shareef! And sss, that’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a very long time. THANK YOU for the good hearty laugh today! 😀

  4. Ben Wheeler
    February 13, 2010 | 11:22 pm

    Great Interview Jimmy! Lierre is such a wonderful women with a very powerful message. I am glad you had the chance to get her on the show.

  5. Jimmy Moore
    February 14, 2010 | 6:04 am

    Me too, Ben! Hopefully her message can penetrate deep into the vegetarian/vegan community to show them what a bill of good they’ve been sold.

    • Christina Arasmo Beymer
      December 10, 2010 | 9:02 pm

      Some people do well on the Mediterranean diet, those would be the Mediterraneans. The Inuits do well on their traditional diet. If they add sugar and processed crap refined carbs, they get sick. The people of Burkina Faso, who eat millet grain, sorghum wheat, legumes and vegetables, very little meat, and a little termites, are really healthy on their diet. Lierre Keith was on what sounded like a low fat, macrobiotic-ish vegan diet. BOTH are the WORST lies ever sold. She was probably whole foods too and didn’t even use something simple like iodized salt or kelp, thus depleting her thyroid levels with soy and broccoli and other uncooked cabbages.

      There are plenty of long term healthy vegans. One of the key reasons: they eat fat. Coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil, avocados, nuts, etc., the other reason, they don’t let nutrition take care of itself. Like my personal trainer says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

      Lierre was duped and now she’s taking action. I don’t blame her.

      However, to make a blanket statement that the vegan diet is unhealthy for all people is incorrect. Some versions of it are completely wacked. But the same can be said about some omni diets consisting of junk. The only difference is the hype around the so-called healthfulness of the vegan diet. But one that is devoid of fat is amazingly unhealthy, especially for her genetic type. She needs fat desperately.

      I am very fond of Weston A. Price’s work, the person, but not the foundation in his name. His work is amazing. Many people, with the addition of fat at the time of consuming their cooked veggies, can convert the pro-vitamins into fat soluble vitamins. We can bypass the animal, in other words.

      One diet doesn’t fit all. We are not genetic clones of each other. But a diet is more grain (low in L-Lysine) — like the Macrobiotic diet — and/or has barely any added fat causes so many health problems, I can’t even begin. Not all plant based diets are the same The low fat, vegan diet and raw diets are very, very dangerous.

  6. criss ittermann
    February 14, 2010 | 6:46 am

    She’s absolutely correct that the modern diet involves death no matter what, but misses a very important core point about the level of death involved to feed life, period. Even before reading The Secret Life of Plants, I was convinced that plants have feelings too. They respond to people talking to them, they love music, and the studies mentioned in the book talk about them responding to the feelings of a plant in another room AND responding even to thoughts. Plants are alive. Plants have feelings too. Plants react to their own death and the death of other plants nearby.

    As the interviewee mentions, EVERYTHING ALIVE, even plants, demand animal products and the death of their predecessor plants — nitrogen-rich soil, nutrients, etc. — in order to live. Face it, to be alive, things die. You can live solely off the apple that falls voluntarily from a tree, the animal someone hit on the road — if you don’t personally want to be responsible for something dying — but now you’re robbing nutrients from the soil, or food from a local scavenger anyway, so maybe you’re responsible for the plants and animals who will NOT be getting to eat because of you.

    Face it, life feeds life, up and down the food chain.

  7. criss ittermann
    February 14, 2010 | 7:16 am

    Oops — sorry about the double-post, but she DOES mention that even plants have feelings and don’t want to die more towards the end. That’s what I get for commenting in the middle of listening to the show. :)

  8. Tamar Ann
    February 14, 2010 | 10:50 am

    This interview was fantastic!! Thank you Lierre! And, thank you, Jimmy, for making these interviews available!

  9. Jimmy Moore
    February 14, 2010 | 4:12 pm

    It’s my pleasure Tamar!

  10. Shareef
    February 14, 2010 | 6:21 pm

    Just reading Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s Fat of the Land when I came across this part of the text and laughed as I thought about this podcast!

    “What is said in Genesis, IV, 2-5, is considered more fully
    in a later chapter: that the Lord was not pleased with Cain
    when he brought an offering of garden produce but was pleased
    with Abel when he brought some fat mutton. This led to the
    tragedy in which Cain the gardener killed Abel the shepherd,
    foreshadowing that bitterness which the vegetarians still feel
    against those who persist in the eating of sirloins and chops.”

  11. Boudi
    February 15, 2010 | 5:31 am

    She doesn’t discuss how over population is really at the heart of our dilemma. Without agriculture we cannot “feed” the human population. Suboptimal nutrition, based on grains etc. will allow survival of the species, even if it is in turn suboptimal life/health. How do we convince humans to curtail animal/sexual urges?

  12. Boudi
    February 15, 2010 | 5:35 am

    Actually, I think our reduced fertility may be taking care of the dilemma. How much of our infertility is being linked to diet and toxic environment?

  13. vargas
    February 15, 2010 | 12:00 pm

    Great interview, Jimmy! I loved this one as much as i loved your two Sally Fallon interviews!

  14. ValerieH
    February 16, 2010 | 10:48 am

    I really enjoyed this interview. She has an amazing cautionary tale. I’ve got her book on my Amazon wish list.

    I also cringe when I look at people in the grocery store buying soy milk for their kids. It’s all I can do to keep my mouth shut. I just remind myself that I would not want a low-fat enthusiast lecturing me in the grocery store. Like Lierre said, food has become so polarizing because people have their identities wrapped up in what they eat. We have equated food choices with morality and judge others harshly. Like other kinds of evangelism, we want to save everybody from physical degeneration.

    On the subject of considering fruits and vegetables healthy, I just finished reading The Untold Story of Milk and Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. It so interesting that there are many robust peoples whose native diets never saw a piece of fruit. So many people in the U.S. consider apples, oranges and bananas to be staples but they are really a luxury.

    @criss itterman – I think plants are in tune with other living beings in their surroundings. You can read about Cleve Backster’s experiments on plants using a lie detector in The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart.

  15. allisonk
    February 16, 2010 | 1:00 pm

    So – this is flawed in many ways. Macrobiotics is not Vegan – it can be – but it doesn’t have to be.

    being a radical and having a mental issue about “killing” is a bit more serious than wanting to eat balanced and omitting meat.

    Agree that soy has dangers but so does excess consumption of many things.

    balance makes for a healthy person – it is also a scale tempered with physical activity – this may be informative about her personal journey but should not be taken as a formula for everyone,

  16. Sue
    February 16, 2010 | 6:50 pm

    Allison, you need to read Lierre’s book.

  17. Louise
    February 17, 2010 | 1:34 am

    Hi Jimmy,

    I have recently discovered low carb diets and your podcasts have been an invaluable resource to me.

    I listened to this particular podcast with an open mind because I am a vegetarian but I can concede the possibility that vegetarian/vegan lifestyles might not be the healthiest for the body or the planet. That is, if there is conclusive evidence to suggest it, I might believe it. I certainly didn’t find it in this podcast.

    Firstly, she ate a very low fat high grain high soy vegan diet. She suffered from serious health problems. Therefore in her mind, vegan diets made her sick and meat was the medicine. This is like living off nothing but Big Macs, suffering health problems, and then deducing that meat is making you sick so you should become a vegan. She could have tried introducing fat, increasing protein and lowering grain consumption while remaining vegan or vegetarian, but she didn’t, so she has no way of knowing it was lack of meat that was making her sick.

    Secondly, she mentions ex-vegans writing to her that they were depressed before they started eating meat, which she attributes to their lack of protein. There are other sources of protein than meat. There are vegetarian/vegan athletes and body builders who get heaps of protein in their diets. Did those vegans try increasing their protein first? Of course, it’s their choice to eat meat, but these anecdotes certainly don’t prove that it was a lack of meat that caused their depression.

    Thirdly, her arguments about animal cruelty were unconvincing. I wouldn’t presume to tell meat eaters to stop, it’s up to each persons’ conscience. But she seemed to be saying that as you have to kill some insects while growing plants, you may as well kill as many animals as you want. Let’s take soy as an example. Most soy grown in the world is for the consumption of farm animals. So if I eat the animal, not only have I killed the animal, I’ve killed all the insects that died during the growth of the soy used to feed the animal. Therefore, I’ve caused more death than if I just ate the soy myself. So her argument doesn’t stand.

    I think she ate an unhealthy version of a vegan diet and now she won’t be happy until everyone is eating meat, regardless of how some people may thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Her fervor now is just as religious and fanatical as it was when she was a vegan.

    And finally Jimmy, I appreciate the opportunity to listen to your show and to post here, but I have a favor to ask. Could you please use a less derogatory tone when referring to vegetarians and vegans in your podcasts. I love animals and don’t want to kill them and that shouldn’t be cause for derision or judgement. There are unhealthy vegans/vegetarians and there are unhealthy meat eaters. Everyone here is just trying to find a healthier way to live and we should be supportive of one another.

    Thank you

  18. Sue
    February 17, 2010 | 4:37 am

    Did you read her book Louise?

  19. Jimmy Moore
    February 17, 2010 | 8:27 am

    Louise, thank you for sharing your thoughts. As you know from listening to my podcasts, I am very respectful when my guests are speaking and share from my own experiences. May I ask how I showed a “derogatory tone” during this interview? As I shared in my latest book 21 LIFE LESSONS FROM LIVIN’ LA VIDA LOW-CARB, I’ve had some run-ins with vegetarians at my sites who have been less than thrilled with my promotion of the healthy low-carb lifestyle…so there is some justification for even stronger criticism than is stated.

    As Lierre shares in her book so brilliantly, vegetariasm/veganism is not what we’ve been led to believe and I do highly encourage you to read the book and let me know what you think about the ideas she presents. This book is not threatening to anyone…it just lays out all the facts and lets the reader come to their own conclusion.

  20. Louise
    February 18, 2010 | 3:38 pm

    Sue, no I haven’t read her book, but isn’t this a feedback area about the podcast, rather than a book review? Some podcasts have led me to want to read the author’s books, but this one certainly didn’t.

    Jimmy, thanks for your response. I didn’t find her ideas threatening, I just felt she stated things as fact, based on her own personal experience, without considering that it could have been the lack of fat or protein in her diet that caused the problems. And I found her arguments justifying meat eating from an ethical perspective to be really weak. I’m not saying a sound ethical argument justifying meat eating couldn’t exist, just that she didn’t have one.

    Jimmy, I wasn’t referring to your tone in this interview, more that in other podcasts when you refer to vegetarians and vegans, it’s obvious that you don’t like them. It’s the same tone you use when you talk about certain health organisations (though I agree with you on those!)

    I’m sorry if that stems from dealing with unpleasant vegetarians on your site however please don’t let that colour your views on vegetarians in general. I’ve had unpleasant discussions with meat eaters but I don’t let that colour my view of all meat eaters (in fact I’m married to one!).

    People are vegetarian for a variety of ethical or religious reasons. I have several low-carb vegetarian cookbooks on my shelf so I believe there is a market and interest out there for people who want to take on board the low-carb message, remove grains from their diet and increase their fat and protein intake, without necessarily adding meat. I don’t think it has to be about ‘us’ and ‘them’. That’s all that I wanted to convey.


  21. vargas
    February 18, 2010 | 9:04 pm

    Regardless of how you feel about the podcast please don’t criticize what Lierre is saying until you have actually read her book. Otherwise you really have no idea where she is coming from and where she is getting her information from.

  22. Kevin Gianni
    February 19, 2010 | 10:09 pm

    I applaud Lierre for breaking out of her dogma. Her health will be better just because of this fact – regardless of what she eats. Meat or not.

    From this interview, it seems like her own neurosis and soy and gluten were the major issues that contributed to her ill health, not necessarily a vegan issue.

    Soy is implicated in many hormone ailments, but aside from that… Not having a period for 20 years and not doing something about it, is a sign of a serious emotional illness (neurosis, denial, etc.).

    Stress on top of soy can create a hormone soup that nobody would want to stew in.

    For those of you not familiar with the vegan health world…

    There are two types of vegan diets:

    Junk food vegan – filled with soy, fried stuff, gluten and more.


    Healthy vegan – filled with highly nutritious foods for all different sources that have essential fatty acids, phytonutrients, amino acids and more. Void of soy, gluten and other allergens.

    But regardless of my opinion, each person has the responsibility to take control of their own health and get regular blood testing to see if their diet is working for them.

    So if you’re vegan, get blood testing. If you’re not, get blood testing. From the results you can adjust accordingly – this may mean getting nutrients from foods outside of your dogma. It doesn’t necessarily mean to write a book lashing out at plant based diets. :-)

    I’m concerned that Lierre’s situation and experience lacks the due diligence to warrant writing a book like this.

    I think the intentions are good, just misdirected.

    Even if someone doesn’t want to take part in a vegan diet, goat’s kefir and raw eggs can provide many of the same fats that these meats do without having to destroy animal life.

    Live Awesome!


    PS. Please when sourcing Weston Price’s work, use the Price-Pottenger organization. This is a much more credible interpretation of his work.

  23. Mark
    February 20, 2010 | 8:22 am

    Great interview Jimmy. I loved listening to Lierrie’s awakening. Her comments about the addictive nature of wheat obviously make a lot of sense. The “back breaking labor for piss poor nutrition comment” was priceless. Have you heard of this latest theory of why agriculture started, recently proposed by archaeologist Patrick McGovern: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/features/did-a-thirst-for-beer-spark-civilization-1869187.html. It fits that beer and spirits is so much easier to make than bread products and may have been the first addiction to wheat that sparked agriculture.


  24. Jimmy Moore
    February 20, 2010 | 6:00 pm

    Actually, Louise, I have no problem with vegetarians who choose to live their lifestyle without standing in judgment of mine. What I have a problem with are those radical vegetarians and vegans who demean my healthy low-carb lifestyle and attempt to claim they are somehow morally superior to me because I choose to eat meat. They are abhorrent which is why I dedicated an entire chapter of my book to them. Whether anyone admits it or not, there is a concerted effort to squash any positive thought of meat-eating by this extreme group of vegetarians/vegans. But I personally don’t have an issue with anyone who chooses to eat that way. Why should I care?

  25. Pagan Hayes
    February 22, 2010 | 4:08 am

    I’ll state from the start that i haven’t yet read the book in question, though I fully intend to. However these are comments on the podcast so…

    Some very interesting points raised and many I fully agree with as a 15 year full vegetarian, then 10 year piscavorian (fish eater) and now fully fledged carnivore :-)


    Was it 2 teaspoons or 2 tablespoons of soy Ms Keith said was eaten by Asians – usually heavily fermented and with a fish broth? As someone who lived in Japan for several years i can say that either is flat out wrong, at least in Japan. Soy is eaten as miso – yes, fermented, tofu – not, the beans – lightly boiled as a bar snack with beer, over SO much as soy sauce. Soy is consumed on a daily basis in reasonable quantities – with no huge health problems. In fact there are many studies out there showing positive health effects from the reasonable consumption of soy and soy products. – I avoid them simply because they are legumes and therefore a no-no for me.

    My second nagging problem was with the idea of agriculture as addiction – wheat is addictive and this is the reason that agriculture arose? Uhh… simply, no. Such a huge change in the way society operated would not occur without significant positive advantages ( at least in the short term ). Many people believe that agriculture allowed for specialization – that in the hunter-gatherer way of life it was energy expensive to provide food for another so specialization became difficult to justify – but agriculture allowed for the artist, the poet, the writer and yes, sadly, the soldier… It is likely that agriculture developed from the accidental germination of plants on a midden heap – therefore it was plants that were already consumed through the gathering part of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle- simply found convenient to their living/camping location.

    Does this mean Ms Keith’s message is wrong? Heck no – this sounds like a valuable, necessary book – one I will be buying. But details matter. If the details are wrong in places we have an obligation to look at them- and the other information presented, with skeptical, but not cynical, eyes.

  26. Morgan
    February 25, 2010 | 11:46 am

    Lierre Keith’s book, “The Vegetarian Myth” is an important one and its message ought to be even more influential than Gary Taube’s “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the case.

    Keith does a brilliant job of deconstructing the moral and health claims of vegetarians, without sidestepping the moral issues related to being carnivorous. She is particularly effective at summarizing those who paved the way, the Eades, Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, Sally Fallon, and others. Kieth’s book is a fast way to gain a lot of information and refocus your thinking.

    The way she reframes the paradigm of life is especailly important. Instead of seeing the world as a hierarchal pyramid in which humans stand at the top and oppress everything below, she reminds us that is a fiction. She shows us, what any person who spends time with nature comes to know. We are, whether we like it or not, a part of a cycle of life and death. All life eats and will be eaten. We can not escape from this cycle. Vegetarians seem to think they can.

    I do regret however, that Keith tends to launch into tangential Jeremiads about feminism, patriarchy, violence, and environmentalism. Keith’s story is one of a long and painful capture and escape from a dogmatic ideology. Her sharing is a wonderful lesson for all of us. She speaks with authority about this. However, she seems unaware of her tendency to continue to embrace or be captured by ideologies.

    She sweeps a broad brush of criticism about topics she doesn’t seem to understand with much depth. She has a tendency to uncritically use bad science or cherry pick data, to support what she wants to believe. This is a long held habit. She confesses that she did this to justify her previous veganism. Greater caution and objectivity would have improved her argument.

    Kieth’s writing is never dry. It is often witty and usually persuasive. She can be sensational and sometimes makes claims that may be overstated, unsupported or simply wrong. Yet, her passionate discourse makes her work compelling. I could hardly put her book down.

    I agree the book was quite compelling and that not everything in it jives with my particular world view outside of nutrition either. But I’m glad she had the guts to write it. THANKS for your comments, Morgan!


  27. exveg
    March 18, 2010 | 7:04 pm

    I loved the podcast. I would love it if you could do another one with her touching on and elaborating on some of the points brought up in these comments. I have read the book and it did change my life. Even though I had been a chicketarian for a few months (after being veggie for over 25 years) when I read it, I felt utterly rudderless at the time. It’s only been a few months but I feel that I’m beginning to get my health back.

    I’d be curious to know how the assault she suffered on 3/13 has impacted or changed her perspectives, if it has.

    To the people who argue that LK could’ve just added more protein to her diet without resorting to omnivorism, I’d like to say that I tried that at some point because didn’t want to continue eating as much tofu as I was, so I gave myself a very nice nut allergy instead. I also couldn’t eat coconut for the longest time for the same reason. I’m happy to report both of these have abated and there are other signs of improvement as well.

    These days I’m very curious about a “veg*n” sense of moral superiority and karmic imperative that I keep noticing. I like to think I was never really like that but I think there’s a(n at least) tacit understanding when you’re veggie that you’re onto something, that you’re doing the right thing. Almost like a religiosity concerning the concepts of “sin” and being”saved” that I find very disturbing. That might be outside of the scope of this website so I would understand if it weren’t addressed. Thank you very much.

    Listen to my follow-up interview with Lierre Keith from March 18, 2010 in Episode 341. THANKS!


  28. Chris Aylmer
    March 21, 2010 | 9:52 am

    Interesting to listen to the podcast. I enjoyed the discussion. I haven’t eaten meat since the early 90s, but do now eat some fish, eggs and milk products. The aversion to meat is in large part due to: 1.Initial health warnings re saturated fats and cancer. 2. The Mad Cow Disease, 3. Hormonal injections to cattle, factory farming etc. 4. Keeping animals in captivity. At one time in 1997 I did give up fish as well, but after about a year did suffer health problems. I developed heart arrythmias on exercise and eventually also at rest(recurrent extrasystoles which were very uncomfortable.) I spent some time getting tested out. The doctors couldn’t find any specific cause. I then read about omega-3 fats and their possible cardiac health benefits so decided to introduce oily fish to my diet. The resting arrythmias gradually disappeared, though I still was unable to take vigorous exercise without problems. Supplementation with Cod Liver Oil and CoEnzyme Q10 seems to have cured that last year and I can now at last go jogging again after many years off the road! Hopefully I can get enough nutrients from fish, eggs and dairy produce without resorting to meat. I also eat a lot of ground up seeds and nuts with no allergy problems, roasting my own peanuts with no salt etc.

    I agree with a point made earlier about sustainable animal farming. The population of the USA and the world in general is just too large now to feed everybody with grass fed meat. Only people in rich countries could afford to buy it every day anyway. Can you imagine feeding the billion people in China or India with hand-reared grass fed animal protein? There isn’t the space to keep all the animals or the rain to grow the grass. A whole bag of rice or flour can last you all week in terms of calories. If we want to go back to small tribal ways of sustainable living then we will have to reduce the population somehow.

    I also agree that Lierre Keith appears rather extremist in her views. Meat seems to have replaced veganism as her religion. In fact food seems to be the new religion. Jesus was obviously not in the know when he fed the loaves to the five thousand! The Bible was wrong when it said give us this day our daily bread?

    Low carb has also gone extreme with some people…like nearly all carbs must be eradicated from the diet. Even milk is looked on as dangerous with its lactose sugar and fresh fruits are potential diabetes agents. People are dying from lack of bread in the world around us and yet we are totally preoccupied by how many carbs we eat per day. Maybe something a little sad somewhere. I agree that cutting out added sugar and all processed pre-prepared food is a good thing, but I don’t believe a balanced diet of different types of whole food is deleterious to health.

    Thank you for the interesting points of view.

    I appreciate your comments, Chris, although your views about low-carb are not even close to reality.


  29. Chris Aylmer
    March 27, 2010 | 5:27 am

    Hi Jimmy,
    Thanks for reading my comments.
    I’d just like to comment further on Lierre Keith’s mindset against grains. Grains, nuts, legumes and seeds do have phytates which can reduce absorption of minerals but there is debate over whether this is bad or good or somewhere in-between. Apparently, they also seem to act against certain cancers and can boost the immune system and get rid of heavy metals by chelation. Yeast fermentation is reported to destroy phytates, so baked risen bread should be fairly low since heat also reduces the phytates. Of course, eating a lot of bread or other carbs would not be a good idea if you are diabetic, but I think the case against grains is way overstated by Keith in the podcast. Things are not black and white in life or diet. Ultra low carb or ultra low fat may be equally unbalanced. Nearly all foods can be dangerous in excess and all have pros and cons….even water can kill if you drink too much too quickly. Exclusive protein/fat diets have very little fiber which most people believe is an essential part of a healthy digestive system. Of course, phytates occur mainly in foods with a lot of fiber and are bound up within it, which may cause some low carbers to dismiss fiber as an anti-nutrient. I think this idea is misplaced. A diet consisting of a variety of foods makes more sense to me, while certainly cutting out anything with added sugars, salt, processed foods and all empty calories.

    The article I was reading:
    Phytates are phosphorus compounds found primarily in cereal grains, legumes, and nuts. They bind with minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc and interfere with their absorption in the body.

    Phytates/phytic acid are the storage form of phosphorus bound to inositol in the fiber of raw whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Although these foods have a high phosphorus content, the phosphates in phytates are not released through the digestive process. Phytates, particularly in such raw foods as bran, are a concern because they can bind a portion of the iron, zinc, and calcium in foods, making the minerals unavailable for absorption.

    Phytic acid occurs in unsprouted grains, seeds, and legumes, and is particularly rich in the bran. Although these foods have a high phosphate content, the phosphate in phytates is not released by digestion. When bread is leavened by yeast, enzymes degrade phytic acid and phytates pose no problem. Phytic acid is also destroyed during baking and food processing.

    Enzymes, called phytases, destroy phytates during certain food processes such as: the yeast-raising of dough, the sprouting of seeds, grains, legumes, the roasting of nuts, presoaking beans, cooking, fermentation as in tempeh, miso, and natto, combining acidic foods with zinc-rich foods, etc.

    Not everyone believes that phytates are a bad thing. Although phytates do bind with minerals, they may actually be preventing the formation of free radicals, thereby keeping the minerals at safe levels in the body. Phytates also have a role to play in cell growth and can move excess minerals out of the body. Stephen Holt, MD, a gastroenterologist and author of The Soy Revolution: The Food of the Next Millennium (M. Evans and Company, 1998), says phytates shield us from dangerously high levels of minerals such as iron. Some animal studies have suggested that phytates stop the growth of cancerous tumors. In Earl Mindell’s Soy Miracle, he writes that phytates can bind with minerals that may feed tumors.

    Phytates are generally found in foods high in fiber. Since fiber-rich foods protect against colon and breast cancers, it is now thought that they are the protective agent in the fiber. It appears that, by binding minerals in the intestines, phytates inhibit the cancer process, especially when it comes to iron. Iron generates free radicals, and phytates may be keeping the mineral balance at a safe level within the body. Phytates act as an antioxidant. Scientists are beginning to express concern over excess iron in the body for this reason. Excessive iron is also known to increase the risk of heart disease. Even a small amount of phytates in food can reduce iron absorption by half, but the effect is less marked if a meal is supplemented with ascorbic acid, which can also help the absorption of zinc and calcium.

    Phytates are also known to help prevent cancer by enhancing the immune system. Phytates may increase the activity of natural killer cells which attack and destroy cancer cells and tumors. By working directly to control cell growth, phytates may be an ideal protective agent against a wide range of cancers, carrying excess minerals out of the body, thereby protecting it from a potential overload. Fiber, along with its associated phytates, also provides benefits by regulating the absorption of glucose from starch.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  30. Jayden Scott
    May 9, 2010 | 4:21 am

    I am also a vegetarian and my body has never been in a very good shape. Being a vegan can really make you much heathier.`;:

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  31. Martin
    September 8, 2010 | 11:25 pm

    I need to ask, what exactly are Ms Keith’s credentials? Here’s a link to her Curriculum Vitae:


    I see nothing on there that lends her any credibility on the subject of health or nutrition or vegetarianism, much less ecological and environmental issues.

    Considering that Ms. Keith relies on the notoriously anti-vegetarian anti-soy Weston A. Price Foundation, which she describes as “hands down, the best nutrition site on the web (!!),” as her primary (and only?) resource, I don’t find any of her opinions trustworthy.

    From what I understand, Ms. Keith ate an unbalanced very low fat high grain high soy vegan diet, and so suffered from health problems, and now believes that meat and animals products were what was lacking in her diet and led to her ill health, based solely on her own personal experience. Of course that’s in complete contrast to the position of the American Dietetic Association (the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals) that holds vastly more credibility on the subject of nutrition than does the Weston A. Price foundation (which holds little if any). The ADA’s position on vegetarian diets, published in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, is as follows:

    ‘It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.’

    ‘Vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids and other phytochemicals. These nutritional differences may explain some of the health advantages of those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet.’

    Her arguments about animal agriculture and animal welfare are similarly unconvincing and downright illogical.

    As a matter of fact, I found much of her reasoning in this interview to be absurd and her facts totally lacking.

    • Jimmy Moore
      September 9, 2010 | 1:41 pm

      So if you think she’s bogus, Martin, move on. Most of my listeners find her story compelling and convincing whether you like it or not.

  32. Kristen
    November 4, 2010 | 11:44 pm

    As a vegan, its seems like an interesting book to read the arguments against it. However, I’ve read many criticism of misinformation she states by registered nutritionists and others studying the subject for years too. They even have a website up to refute her points. It made me re-think if its worth it to get her book? I mean I get her point that maybe the vegan diet is not for everyone. But what makes her so credible to state that veganism is a destructive diet just based on her an individual experience? I rarely eat soy. But I might check out what she has to say.

  33. Christina Arasmo Beymer
    December 9, 2010 | 2:09 am

    When you don’t eat your vegetables with fat you cannot absorb the nutrients as nearly as well. Long term adherence to a low fat vegan diet starves the body of every essential nutrient. When you have a low fat diet, you also have low cholesterol. We can make our own from different fats. Diets low in fat/cholesterol have higher rates of depression. In additional, when you don’t use fat, you tear up your intestines. What are you? A rabbit. Low fat vegan diets have the highest failure rates (along with raw). Freaking crazy people. All the healthy vegans I know, and I’m one of them, do not shy away from fat. I dig my coconut milk and olive oil. And cooked food increases bioavailability. So we get more out of carrots when they’re cooked and with some fat. Avacado! Nice!



    Low-fat diets are known to alter serotonin function. They might decrease the fats in nerve-cell membranes, impairing serotonin receptors.

    I’ve been studying vegan diet failure and the difference is fat because without it you get malabsorption and then you can’t make make your own fat soluble vitamins, taurine, and you get depressed. It’s horrible. Your teeth may also decay.

    So I use a 3-4 tablespoons when I saute my kale, garlic, and onions. The satisfaction is amazing.

  34. Christina Arasmo Beymer
    December 9, 2010 | 2:10 am

    I cannot spell well in the middle of the night, sorry. 😉

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