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Dr. Mercola and vegetarianism

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Basically, the above site states that vegetarianism (specifically, veganism) is harmful to the body. It starts out with the story of a couple who had a miscarriage--apparently due to the fact that the woman is a vegetarian. He states:

[quote] Along with the saturated fat and cholesterol scares of the past several decades has come the notion that vegetarianism is a healthier dietary option for people. It seems as if every health expert and government health agency is urging people to eat fewer animal products and consume more vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes. Along with these exhortations have come assertions and studies supposedly proving that vegetarianism is healthier for people and that meat consumption causes sickness and death. Several medical authorities, however, have questioned these data, but their objections have been largely ignored. [unquote]

What do you think about this? It's not going to change my vegetarianism, but how much is true and how much is bunk? I'm feeling totally overwhelmed lately about what I should and shouldn't be eating. Does anyone here go along with what he says, and why?
post #2 of 15
I grew up as a vegetarian , went vegan at age ten and had problems conceiving a baby at age 22 until I started to eat some organic meat.
I raised my twin dd's as vegans the first three years of their lives but they seemed to be catching viruses, had fevers etc.. I changed their diet and
they've been fine ever since. My children eat organic pasture fed animal food and have excellent health.
None of my 4 children have ever been on antibiotics, or have even had a tylenol or drug of any kind. Their resistence is very high to colds and flu that go around school. Every other kid seems to get it but they don't.
This is due to many factors and I believe their diet which consists of mainly vegetables, tons of greens cooked and raw, whole grains, beans, sea vegetables, fish, pasture fed meat, a little bit of dairy, nuts, seeds, and some fruit. No soy or fruit juice , canola oil or trans fats.
I agree with Dr. Mercola, he's probably seen too many deficent long time vegans whose health has been declining.
My husband and I have been TCM practitioners for many years and we've seen the same thing. I think vegatarianism works fine for some people and can work fine for quite some time but then the body starts to break down and it's time for a change.
Most (every single one) of our friends had been vegan for many years and now they all eat meat. Thses were dedicated die hard vegans who preached the virtues of veganism and now after so many years of not eating meat/eggs/dairy/fish (in some cases up to 27 years without eating it) they all eat it. That says something to me.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
That's very interesting. I believe he also recommends no or very little grains, beans, and legumes. I want to read more on his site but have no time right now.

thanks for posting your experience.
post #4 of 15
I personally don't believe a word of it! Humans have been evolving for milions of years. I am certain there were times when humans didn't eat meat, or just didn't have acess to it. If a meatless diet can cause infertility than the human organism probably would not now exist. If you read books on the human organism, evolution, and anthropology I'm sure you'll realize how ridiculous this doctor's propaganda is. There are many people who live, procreate, and enjoy health on vegan diets. Counter balance some of this misinformation by reading about Dr. Fred Bisci. Look at the health statistics of different diets. Don't let this one man mislead or worry you.
Vegan Forever,
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you! I've decided to just ignore him and go on about my vegetarian, dairy-free way. I'm going to read about Bisci as soon as I get more than two minutes.
post #6 of 15
I do not believe in Dr Mercola either; I think his arguments are really lopsided, and not nutritionally sound at all.
I know many healthy vegans and veggies, and I am vegetarian myself. I feel healthy, had no problems conceiving and giving birth to a healthy baby. I think the thing is just that some people choose to go the veggie way, but neglect their nutrition, and end up being unhealthy rather than healthy.
post #7 of 15
I love the idea of being a vegan and was trying to go that way. I was a vegetarian for about five years - never liked the idea of eating meat since I was a little girl and found out where it came from.

However, I now eat meat - mostly organic/free range. We're lucky that we have easy access to organic meats, dairy products and eggs here.

I became very nutrient deficient and had terrible mood swings after having my daughter.

I went to a naturopath (who used to be vegan too) and he said that I needed to eat meat for my body type.

Once I cut out most of the grains and high carb foods and added lots more protein to my diet my life turned around. I feel the best I ever have and the pregnancy weight and some extra from before that just melted off (with the help of BF). I now have to add some more grains back into my diet to put some weight on before getting pregnant again.

My husband does well on a vegetarian/vegan diet.

I think we are all different and have differing needs throughout our life. I wish I could be vegan but it just doesn't work for me.

I get Dr Mercola's newsletter and some of his stuff is great but he was pushing sleep training for infants in one of his newsletters - so did make me look at the rest of his stuff with a different view.
post #8 of 15
I posted the first time a little hastily, upon later reflection I realized that there may be some truth to what Dr. Mercola is saying. I just don't like the way he says it. I don't think vegetarianism is unhealthy if the diet is based on predominatly whole fruits and vegtables. Whole fruits and vegtables are loaded with GOOD stuff. The problem is, and I see it in my own household, is that many vegetarians base their diet on grains and soy. I am not a big fan of either one and think these products may be the culprits of ill health in vegetarians. I have a 19yr young dd who is vegetarian but eats no veggies and very rarely eats fruit. I worry about the consequences of her diet. She did eat good until the late teen years. She now lives on bagels, pasta, pizza, french fries, chips, cereals, etc. She has horrible painful menstruation. I blame her diet! but the difference is I don't think the answer is meat! She wouldn't eat it and if she did then her diet would consist of meat and junk and wouldn't help her any. I feel she needs to eat veggies and fruit plain and simple! I, her biological mom, barely notices when I am menstruating. I feel NO different and never get cramps. I also think Dairy is really unhealthy!!!!
My dh consumes a lot of dairy and I have often said I would feel better if he ate meat and gave up dairy completely. I am not a doctor or nutritionist, but being the mother of 4 I am always researching how best to feed my family. IN my opinion from best to worse this is what I think of the products we consume ( I say products because some are just not fit to be labeled Food!)

1. Fruit, Nature's all natural life giving gift!

2. Vegtables, Loaded with minerals

3. nuts and Seeds, healthy protein and fats

4. animal meat, high in saturated fat hard to digest and when cooked a known carcinogenic.

5. grains, cereals, legumes, by the time they are processed so that we can eat them their value as a food is equal to plastic

6. dairy, the worst, can be blamed for diabetes, lukemia, heart disease, pms, cancers, and probably many more human diseases!
If interested read; MILK The Deadly Poison, Cohen Robert.

So any way I wanted to apologize for not clearly explaining myself the first time. Yes vegetarian diets can be unhealthy as Dr. Mercola states,but as I have now explained my view point, meat is not the answer!
JOYous Independance Day,
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hmmm. Do you have sources for your claims about grain? I'd love to see some research on that. I thought that whole grains were supposed to be the backbone of a vegetarian diet, along with veggies, fruits, nuts, and fats. This is such an interesting thread!
post #10 of 15
If you go to www.beyondveg.com you can read some interesting info on why grains aren't healthy. I think it is at http://www.beyondveg.com/cordain-1/g...umes-1b.shtml. if this is wrong just search questions and answers and you should find it. It is on the scientific side but I think explains it well. Also the books Eating for Beauty, and Nature's First Law: The Raw-Food diet, both by David Wolfe get into the problems with grains. Paul Nison's book The Raw Life also get's into grains a bit. Also The Zone, The Suzane Somers Diet books, The Atkins Diet, I would not recomend any of these diets to anyone but they list some good studies on the problem with grains and I think that is the reason so many people do well on these diets. I don't think they do well because of the protein as stated by the authors but because they cut down on the amount of grains consumed. If you do a search on Gluten you will also find much information. I am sorry that I don't remember the exact locations I have come across myself. I am replying kind of fast right now because it is the 4th and my family is waiting for me to go camping. If I remember or come across anything else on grains I will pass it on. Basically whenever I have in my life gone through periods when I started eating lots of pasta and beans and breads I usually would start having many illnesses that I didn't understand such as irregular periods, heart palpitations, extreme hunger all the time! fatigue! and just an overall feeling of ill health. Everybody is different. Their is a study somewhere to prove everything healthy, and another to contradict it. The best study is to try it yourself and see how You feel. I also always just think about nature and evolution. If I lived out in the wild I wouldn't be eating grains so it probably just isn't meant to be eaten.

"Ponce de Leon wandered around looking for the Fountain of Youth and all the while his mare was grazing on it."
-Nature's First Law
post #11 of 15
Originally posted by petitemama
I don't think vegetarianism is unhealthy if the diet is based on predominatly whole fruits and vegtables. Whole fruits and vegtables are loaded with GOOD stuff. The problem is, and I see it in my own household, is that many vegetarians base their diet on grains and soy. I am not a big fan of either one and think these products may be the culprits of ill health in vegetarians.
Whole grains have fiber, vitamins and minerals as well as protein. I don't see a healthy vegetarian diet as one that eschews grains and other protein and fat containing plant foods.

I know some people have serious allergies to the proteins in grains and nuts, yet are not allergic to animal protein so some people definitely need to avoid grains and nuts.

I am not familiar with the Mercola site other than I've read some of the anti-vaccine stuff there. I didn't realize he dealt with nutritional issues as well. Dr. Byrnes is the one who wrote that article, and I agree that I don't really find it balanced. For example, this statement A far more serious threat to humanity (than the environmental impact of meat eating), and the Earth, is the monoculture of grains and legumes, advocated by some vegetarian groups, which depletes the soil and requires the heavy use of artificial fertilisers and dangerous pesticides; pesticides that must first be tested on animals for safety . I'm sorry, but this guy must work for the Beef and Dairy councils to say something like that. If anyone promotes a monoculture of grains, it is the farmers who grow it to feed it to livestock.

Honestly, I think you just have to go with what works for you, and perhaps find a source of information that you can trust. It is important to me to boycott factory farming methods and cruelty to animals by not eating most meat and dairy products, but I am not morally adverse to animals being used as food. I know there are some who believe that humans shouldn't eat animal protein at all, and that we eat too much protein and that causes problems. Then there are those who think we shouldn't eat the protein in grains and nuts, and that we should avoid eating most carbs. It just depends on who you believe, and so far I give the most credence to Dr. Andrew Weil, because he explains some of the biochemistry behind his thinking, and the terms are those I'm familiar with through biology and chemistry classes. Dr. Barry Sears is also interesting, but I had a harder time following his whole eicasanoid theory because I never learned much about the paracrine system in my biology classes (that I remember), not even the upper level classes. I know there is new thinking on this, and I think Dr. Weil also talks about this, although I haven't come across it in any of his books yet. The Sears book was interesting, but the eating of foods in blocks seemed very complicated to me at the time I was reading the book (about 7 years ago).

I do agree with Dr. Byrnes criticism of modern farming methods, so I guess my statement about him being in league with the Beef and Dairy councils was a bit harsh, especially since he feels the need to deny that in small print at the end of the article. I don't agree with some of what he says although I guess I do agree with some of it.

The studies about longevity and health and different ways of eating are always the hardest to interpret. There are studies that show vegetarians live longer and have fewer health problems. Apparently there are studies that show the same for meat eaters. There are studies that say that fat people don't die earlier than thin people, and that losing weight doesn't do any good, but then there are studies which contradict this. Yet the prevailing attitude seems to be that fat people are less healthy, and should even take drugs that have dangerous side effects because those side effects aren't worth the risk of being overweight. A friend of mine told me that he took Redux for awhile, and the doctor said even with the increased risk of heart problems, he was better off taking the Redux. I honestly do not buy this at all. I think that these dietary followings are like religion--you pick one that speaks to you and you stick to it.
post #12 of 15
Originally posted by petitemama
Everybody is different. Their is a study somewhere to prove everything healthy, and another to contradict it. The best study is to try it yourself and see how You feel. I also always just think about nature and evolution. If I lived out in the wild I wouldn't be eating grains so it probably just isn't meant to be eaten.
Yep, so true; I just realize you already made the same point I was trying to. Although some people don't believe in evolution. I think the types of animals we eat today (and plants, for that matter) are very different from the types we would have eaten during the human evolutionary phase. According to one site I read, anatomically modern humans started appearing as early as 200,000 years ago, although Homo Sapien Sapiens appeared around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. In any event, a lot of what we do now is different, so I can accept grain eating as a modern innovation that has positive as well as negative aspects. Dr. Weil talks about this briefly and says that cultures were able to flourish once they had the ability to grow and store cereal grains. In any event, eating the refined grains and sugars is a fairly recent thing on the modern human timeline.
post #13 of 15
Well, I ruined my eyesight reading the citations. Most are from a single institute that is not peer-reviewed. For me that throws doubt upon much of what is said. I also find that they draw comparisions based soley on diet without considering that these cultures also lead vastly different lifestyles well beyond diet. For example:

Price also found that those peoples who, out of necessity, consumed more grains and legumes, had higher rates of dental decay than those who consumed more animal products (51). Archaeological evidence supports this finding: skulls of prehistoric peoples who were largely vegetarian have teeth containing caries and abscesses and show evidence of tuberculosis (50, 51).
Diet is not the only factor affecting dental caries. Actually it is only a factor when taken with other factors, such as flouride in the environment. Also the move from gathering to agriculture saw a host of increased illnesses because of increased numbers of people and animals living in confined spaces. Though nutrition is important in susceptibility to tuberculosis due to impared immune function in malnourished individuals.

I did find some points that had merrit. The need for a source of B12 and 'naturally herbivore' are two with merrit. But I had never heard them from vegetarians or books on vegetarian nutritition after being a vegetarian for 8 years.

Also in the leaving out information catagory was that about carotene and vitmin A. Until recently, only beta-carotene was used to study conversion. You would be given a dose of beta-carotene and then they would look at how your serum vitamin A levels changed. There are actually a wide variety of carotenes, some of which have much greater bioavailability that beta-carotene. Also what level is a deficiency varied greatly among individuals.

I guess what I don't like about his article is that it started from a conclusion and then only included the information that supported that conclusion and left out that there is a multitude of factors affecting health. I get just as riled about vegetarian articles that imply that a bit a meat in your diet will cause immediate death just as annoying. : As far as I have been able to tell, there seems to be a wide variety of diets that humans thrive on.

BTW, petitemama, I think that you are equating grain with wheat. Wheat is a grain. But not all grains are wheat. Gluten, found only in large quanitied in wheat, is difficult for many people to digest in quanities. Other grains contain very little or no gluten. Hence, why I have such a difficult time making 100% rye bread. It's a brick!
post #14 of 15
Hi Twin Mom, I have been questioning our vegetarianism also.
There was an interesting article in the New York Times today that sort of relates to this.

Anyway, Dh and I have been vegetarians for 12 years, although we do eat eggs and cheese. Now that I have a 10 month old daughter I have been doing research and starting to question if raising her as a vegetarian is the healthiest thing to do for her. I also have been struggling with my weight ever since I became a vegetarian and have started to wonder if eating meat and less carbs would help me lose a few pounds. I can't really imagine what it would be like to change after all these years. I want to do what is healthiest but it is confusing! At the moment I am leaning towards trying to eat more greens and fruit then we do now, much less grains (our focus!) occaissional fish and possibly organic meat but I really am not sure yet.
Keep me posted if you find more interesting articles.
post #15 of 15
When I was vegetarian I gained a lot of weight too. When I went vegan I lost a lot of my excess weight.

I think that there is a healthy way to eat vegetarian and an unhealthy way. Eggs and cheese will put weight on you, as will cow's milk. Concentrate on whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and vegetables and your weight will stabilize.

As for articles and info... check out www.vegfamily.com for information about raising healthy vegan children. You may also want to check out this article called 101 Reasons NOT to feed your child Dairy Products by Dr. Linda Palmer at:

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