The Instigator
vbaculum
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
31 Points

Vegan Diets are Healthier

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2011 Category: Health
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 13,044 times Debate No: 14384
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (23)
Votes (8)

 

vbaculum

Pro

Resolved: Well planned vegan diets are healthier than their meat-based counterparts.

Terms:
Well planned diet: A diet which can be designed by a layperson with a reasonable amount of research
Vegan (or plant-based) diet: A diet that excludes animal body parts, animal milk and eggs
Healthier: Greater longevity and freedom from disease
Meat-based (or animal-based) diet: A diet which regularly consists of animal products (body parts, animal milk and eggs)

In this debate, I will argue that plant-based diets are healthier than meat-based diets. I will highlight the virtues of vegan diets and the vices of meat-based diets. My opponent will do the opposite; pointing out the flaws of a vegan diet and arguing in favor of a meat based one.

This debate will be based on dietetic evidence obtained from modern, reputable scientific studies. Discussing what evolution "designed" us for or what our physiology "proves" we should eat can be interesting. However, I would encourage my opponent to base his or her arguments on modern dietetic science as I think this is more relevant to the resolution.

During the debate I will point out the role animal-based foods play in cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. I will respond to criticisms of well planned vegan diets as my opponent provides them.

In this round I will begin with cardiovascular disease:

World-wide, cardiovascular diseases such as ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease end more lives prematurely than anything else[1][2]. In North America, CVD accounts for 40% of all deaths[3]. The American Heart Association estimates that "79,400,000 American adults (one in three) have one or more types of cardiovascular disease"[4].

Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal foods[5] and is not necessary for humans to consume as it is naturally produced by the liver[6][7]. Scientist estimate that for every 1% increase in cholesterol levels, the risk of heart disease raises by 2-3%[3].

Saturated fats, transfatty acids and dietary cholesterol are the most significant causes of hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol levels)[3]. Of all dietary groups, vegans have the lowest levels of these substances in their blood[3]. Furthermore, the substances that mitigate hypercholesterolemia are soluble fiber, plant protein (especially soy protein), polyunsaturated fats and phytochemicals[3]. These substances are only found in plant foods and are, as a consequence, more abundant in vegans[3].

In summary, vegans have the lowest risk of developing cardiovascular disease; the leading cause of deaths.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org...
2 http://www.who.int...
3 http://books.google.com... (page 20)
4 http://www.americanheart.org...
5 http://findarticles.com...
6 http://heartdisease.about.com...
7 http://cholesterol.about.com...
RoyLatham

Con

1. Well-Planned Diets are to be Compared

The resolution is "Resolved: Well planned vegan diets are healthier than their meat-based counterparts." The counterpart to a well-planned vegan diet is a well planned meat-based diet. I take a "meat-based diet" to be any diet that includes meat on a regular basis. For example, if a vegan diet is used with some of the protein from beans replaced with protein from fish, then Pro must prove that the departure from strict vegetarianism results in poorer health. I contend that any diet, vegan or non-vegan. that provides all of the nutrients needed, and at the same time avoids excessive amount of unhealthy nutrients will produce the same nutrition-based health.

Pro's initial argument, I claim, amounts to saying that a well-planned vegan diet is less healthy than a poorly planned diet with meat. Vegans are extraordinarily health-conscious compared to the average. Why else would a person eschew a great variety of tasty foods in favor of a restricted diet? Okay, sometimes people are vegetarians for religious reasons, but they are nonetheless diet-conscious -- they are not casually consuming whatever tastes good. It should not be surprising that any person who is fanatical about diet or health will end up with better health than one who is not., all other things equal. Comparing the average vegan with the average non-vegan does not support the resolution, since the average non-vegan is not adhering to the "well-planned diet" requirement.

For example, the longest-lived population in the world are the residents of Okinawa. They do not eat a vegan diet, They eat a balanced diet that includes animal proteins in reasonable quantities along with vegetables. "Meat, poultry, and eggs account for just 3% of the diet, fish about 11%." http://www.wellnessletter.com... Okinawans are not typical non-vegans, but they are a good approximation having the "well-planned" non-vegan diet. Their health is better than most vegetarian societies.

2. Cholesterol is Fine in Moderation

Pro points to cholesterol as a critical dangerous component of meat. Cholesterol is one of those things necessary for health, but harmful in excess. In is something like vitamin D in that the body can manufacture it or it can be obtained from food. Too little Vitamin D causes a deficiency disease, but too much is extremely toxic.

A vegetarian can get too much cholesterol from diet. "... coconut oil may be cholesterol free, but is highly saturated and more dangerous than seafood, as it causes the liver to produce more harmful cholesterol. Saturated fat also raises triglyceride levels and thickens the blood. ... Seafood, on the other hand, contains cholesterol, but also the protective polyunsaturated fats that cause the liver to produce less harmful cholesterol and more protective HDL cholesterol. ... That's why, rather than worry about high cholesterol foods, you should pay attention to foods high in saturated fats." http://www.all-about-lowering-cholesterol.com...

A well-planned vegan diet will avoid that problem, but so will a well-planned non-vegan diet, both by avoiding saturated fats.

3. Obesity is From Calories, not Meat

Obesity causes health risks. However, it is certainly the case that some vegans are obese and many non-vegans are not obese. For example, a study showed "Roman gladiators were overweight vegetarians and not the muscle-bound men portrayed by actors" http://www.abc.net.au...

All that matters is how many calories the person consumes, not whether the calories are plant or animal. "Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive dietary calories, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, '" http://en.wikipedia.org... Again, it is reasonable that vegans are obese than average people, because vegans are diet conscious, vegetables have lower energy density than meat, and to many people meat tastes better. However, a well-planned non-vegan diet also has the proper amount of calories.

4. Statistics Show No Vegetarian Advantage

If there were, as Pro claims, some inherent health problem with non-vegan diets, than vegans should have a consistent health advantage. Even though vegans tend to be health conscious, the statistics show no advantage. A metastudy compiles the data from many studies into one. "The metastudy reported mortality ratios, where lower numbers indicated fewer deaths, for fish eaters to be 0.82, vegetarians to be 0.84, occasional meat eaters to be 0.84. Regular meat eaters and vegans shared the highest mortality ratio of 1.00. The study reported the numbers of deaths in each category, and expected error ranges for each ratio, and adjustments made to the data. However, the "lower mortality was due largely to the relatively low prevalence of smoking in these [vegetarian] cohorts." http://en.wikipedia.org...

Other studies of certain selected vegetarian populations show some marginal advantage in life expectancy, but it seems that non-diet factors are responsible, Other factors are not-smoking, higher income and lower stress levels. A National Geographic Study http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com... gives a sense of the factors. Those long-lived Okinawans have low stress and void smoking along with a fish-centric diet.

5. Science Favors a Balanced Diet

The National Institutes of Health recommends a balanced diet that includes meat, fish, and dairy. http://www.nlm.nih.gov...

A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
Nutrition Committee
states: "...consume a diet rich in vegetables and fruits; choose whole-grain, high-fiber foods; consume fish, especially oily fish, at least twice a week; limit intake of saturated fat to 7% of energy, trans fat to1% of energy,
and cholesterol to 300 mg/day by choosing lean meats and vegetable alternatives, fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1% fat) dairy products and minimize intake of partially hydrogenated fats; minimize intake of beverages and foods with added
sugars; choose and prepare foods with little or no salt;" http://circ.ahajournals.org...

It might be argued that vegan diets are healthier because it's easier for the average person to make a well-planned diet. It's easier in some ways, because it's likely that vegans will get more fiber and less saturated fat without much extra effort. However, the disadvantages are more than an offset.

Vitamin B12 is in virtually all meat, but " vegans will lack B12 unless they consume B12-containing dietary supplements or B12-fortified foods." http://en.wikipedia.org... Deficiency of B12 produces pernicious anemia, which s fatal if untreated.

"Vegetarians often have normal hemoglobin, but low iron stores (ferritin) in liver, muscles and bone marrow. Iron absorption is improved by including Vitamin C (75 mg per meal or about 6 oz orange juice) along with an iron supplement (as much as 50 mg per day) and high iron foods." http://www.dietitian.com... Those who eat little red meat can also have iron deficiency, but the body naturally cravings for red meat when iron is low, so the problem is more easily recognized.

"For the most part, vegetarians get adequate protein if they eat a balanced vegetarian diet. In fact a healthy vegetarian diet usually exceeds protein requirements. ... The best way to make sure you're getting enough nutrients, including protein, is to keep track of the foods you eat on a daily basis." http://vegetarian.lovetoknow.com...

In sum, vegan diets are no healthier than meat-based diets. Both must be "well-planned."




Debate Round No. 1
vbaculum

Pro

I want to thank Roy for responding with a well researched, well cited, and well written rebuttal.

I'll open by showing the evidence proving meat causes cancer. Then, I'll address mortality rates, B12, and some other issues Con raised. I will discuss obesity and iron in round 3.

Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the developing world[1] (the first being CVD[2]).

The most comprehensive document on diet and cancer to date is "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective"[3].

This report based its findings on 4,500 credible scientific studies and was conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)[4].

From this study, two things can be said with certainty[4]:
* Vegetable and fruit consumption is associated with lower risk of cancer at almost every cancer site[4].
* Meat and animal fats are detrimental[4].

According to the report, vegan dietary components (vegetables, fruits, carotenoids, vitamin c, fiber and whole grains) are the most consistently protective to cancer sites[5].

Meat, animal fat and saturated fats are the most consistently harmful dietary components to 5 cancer sites (stomach, breast, prostate, pancreas, lung) [5]. Fat, grilling/barbecuing and dairy products are the most consistently harmful dietary components to 4 cancer sites (prostate, colon, breast, stomach) [5].

The AICR and WCRF recommendations for cancer risk reduction include:
* Adopt a plant-based diet rich with "vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans."[6]
* Adopt a high-fiber diet containing whole-grain bread and pasta, oats and vegetables and fruits.[6]
* Maintain a low body weight[9]. The study's authors point out that plant-based foods have fewer calories and lend themselves well to this goal[6].
* Adopt a plant-based diet to reduce your consumption of energy-dense foods[7].
* Eat no more than 18 oz. (cooked weight) per week of red meats, like beef, pork and lamb, and avoid processed meat such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages[8].

It's clear from the evidence presented above that our very best science on the subject concludes that meat is a major cause of cancer. That same science also makes clear that plant-based foods are consistently protective to cancer sites.

Rebuttal

Protein
Con conceded that vegetarians (though not vegans) get adequate amounts of protein. Could I, the proponent of veganism, really have won the protein argument so quickly and with no effort. I encourage Con to take another shot at this unless he truly does concede that well planned vegans diets provide enough protein.

Vegan: Health Fanatics
Con claims, without citation, that vegans are health fanatics and he based several arguments on this. Though the vegan diet is the healthiest and most rational to adopt, most become vegan/vegetarian for ethical reasons[28]. Only 29% become vegans/vegetarian for health reasons[28]. Two-thirds of vegan/vegetarians claim to have never obtained information on vegan diets[28].

Many of Con's arguments are spoiled by this demographic evidence.

Cholesterol and Saturated Fats
Vegetarians can indeed get too much cholesterol though this is irrelevant as the resolution addresses vegans. A vegan consumes no dietary cholesterol and does not need to.

There are a hand full of plant sources that are high in saturated fat (coconut oil, cottonseed oil, etc...)[25]. These are rare and a well planned vegan diet would not make these foods routine.

Indeed saturated fats are to be minimized in the diet. Vegan diets are very low in saturated fats[26] however meat eaters have a hard time reducing their intake[27].

Mortality
The metastudy Con uses shows that vegans and meat-eaters share similar mortality rates while pesca-vegetarian and lacto-ovo vegetarians live the longest.

It's clear (and will become clearer) why meat eaters have high mortality rates. So why do vegetarians (pesca- and lacto-ovo-) live longer than vegans?

Much can be said against fish, eggs and milk (saturated fats, cholesterol, calories, toxicity[19][20][21]). However, they are good sources of omega-3s[24] and B12[21].

Since, on average, vegans are untutored in dietetics it may be assume that many vegans have not taken measures to obtain enough B12 and omega-3s.

Those deficient in B12 are at risk for early mortality, heart disease and stroke[23]. Those with low levels of omega-3s are at greater risk for cancer and CVD[22]. Well planned vegan diet contain adequate amounts of omega-3s and B12; the nutrients that likely cause vegetarians to live longer.

B12
Pro says B12 is "virtually all meat". However, the true source of B12 is not meat but rather bacteria[12]. Livestock animal are contaminated with B12-producing bacteria they obtain from the soil and manure in their feed[13]. However, B12 does not have to come from unhealthy animal sources.

B12 can be extracted directly from the B12-producing bacteria. This B12 is used to fortify breakfast cereals[11], non-dairy beverages[10] and protein bars[14]. One cup[15] of my favorite brand of soy milk contains 100% of an adult's daily requirement of B12[10].

So which is better: B12 from contaminated animals or B12 direct from the bacterial source?

When animals absorb B12 it becomes bound to the animal's protein molecules[16][12]. This makes it hard for many people to absorb B12[12][17]. These people develop B12 deficiencies and must consume the more easily absorbed B12 that vegans rely on[18]. The B12 found in fortified, plant-based foods is easily absorbed and is considered reliable[18].

1 http://books.google.com... (page 25)
2 http://www.who.int...
3 http://en.wikipedia.org...
4 http://books.google.com... (page 26)
5 http://books.google.com... (page 27)
6 http://www.aicr.org...
7 http://www.aicr.org...
8 http://www.aicr.org...
9 http://www.aicr.org...
10 http://www.silksoymilk.com...
11 http://vitamins.lovetoknow.com...
12 http://www.whfoods.com...
13 http://en.wikipedia.org...
14 http://lunabar.com... (click Nutrition Facts)
15 http://books.google.com... (page 127)
16 http://en.wikipedia.org...
17 http://en.wikipedia.org...
18 http://www.aafp.org...
19 http://www.dietaryfiberfood.com...
20 http://www.cdc.gov...
21 http://www.americanpregnancy.org...
22 http://en.wikipedia.org...
23 http://www.veganhealth.org...
24 http://www.whfoods.com...
25 http://www.heart.org...
26 http://care.diabetesjournals.org...
27 http://www.cdc.gov...
28 http://www.food.gov.uk... (section 2.2.6)
RoyLatham

Con

Interesting topic ...

The Latest Study Shows Meat Does Not Cause Cancer


The studies cited by Pro have been superseded by a more recent study:

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, however, has refuted that earlier research's claims. After conducting a thorough review of the WCRF's study, scientists Dr. Stewart Truswell, of the University of Sydney, and Dr. Dominik Alexander, of Exponent, concluded that "there is no conclusive evidence of a causal relationship" between eating meat and developing cancer".

In the WCRF's defense, Prof. Martin Wiseman, Project Director of the report, said, "We say explicitly that red meat has important nutritional benefits and do not recommend avoiding it altogether".http://topnews.us...

The recommendations of the AICR and WCRF cited by Pro were not for a vegan diet. Pro incorrectly concluded that if a high-vegetable diet was good, that an all-vegetable diet would be better. WCRF recommended a low-meat diet, but explicitly endorsed meat consumption, saying " red meat has important nutritional benefits and do not recommend avoiding it altogether." Whatever risks posed by meat are, according to the study Pro cited, outweighed by the benefits of meat eaten in modest quantities. That's consistent with the Okinawan diet, consumed by the world's longest-lived population. They eat meat in modest quantities and live the longest.

Too much is bad, but zero is also bad


Consider salt. Increasing amounts of salt produce worse health. However, having no salt is fatal. The same is true of fats, proteins, and, in the extreme, even water. For many things in the diet there is an amount that is optimum for health. That is true for meat. The optimum amount appears to be around that in the Okinawan diet. As I referenced them, that view is endorsed by the National Institute for Health, the American Heart Association, and Pro's cited authority, the World Cancer Research Fund. Pro has not provided a single authoritative source that claims that a vegan diet is better than a low-meat balanced diet.


Eating vegetables also causes cancer.


Researchers have linked increased use of nitrate fertilisers to an alarming rise in gullet cancer in Britain....'It appears that the mass production of vegetables in the Western world since the last world war may be the underlying factor that has led to such huge increases in this form of cancer,' he added. ... McColl said it was unlikely that organic food would be any healthier, because it also contained substantial levels of nitrate, some of which came from natural fertilisers such as manure
. http://www.guardian.co.uk...

More generally, the list of foods causing the highest risk of cancer comprises sugar; processed meats; doughnuts, french fries, and other fried starchy foods; and chips, crackers, and cookies. http://www.naturalnews.com... Other than processed meat, all the foods declared most risky are vegan.

Vegan planning is beyond the average person


I suggested that only health fanaticism would motivate a vegan diet, deducing this from the burdens of diet restrictions. It did not occur to me that refusal to drink milk or catch sardines was ethically motivated. However, Pro cites good evidence, and I accept his argument. It is an ethical belief akin to the religious prohibitions. It is explained as a quasi-religious practice.

This explains another troubling piece of data: in the comprehensive metastudy vegans had higher mortality rates than non-strict vegetarians, fish eaters, and occasional meat eaters. The vegans fared no better than those eating unconstrained meat diets. While it is theoretically possible to get enough protein, iron, B12, omega-3 fats, and other nutrients from vegetables, doing so essentially requires a spreadsheet. Recall the nutritionist advice I cited: "The best way to make sure you're getting enough nutrients, including protein, is to keep track of the foods you eat on a daily basis."

In other words, vegans can get enough protein and other essentials, but often-enough they don't. This is similar to saying that meat-eaters can avoid being overweight by restricting their calories, but they don't. The difference is that vegans fail by lack planning, while meat-eaters fail by lack of will. Pro defined "well-planned" as "A diet which can be designed by a layperson with a reasonable amount of research." To track protein, iron, B12, saturated-fat induced cholesterol, omega-3s, and all the other stuff on a daily basis requires more research and record keeping than the average layman can sustain, and the solid evidence is that vegans don't do it.

I conceded that vegans could get enough protein, and that's true. The problem is that they usually don't. Meat-eaters could restrict their intake of calories and cholesterol, they just usually don't. However, a well-planned balanced diet is within the ability of the average person. It's mainly calories and saturated fats. If the body needs iron, the practitioner of a balanced diet will crave it and is allowed to eat accordingly. Vegans need complex spreadsheets.

Vegetarians vs. Vegans

Pro asked why vegetarians had better health than vegans, and he conjectured that it was due to getting more B12 and omega-3s. Perhaps, but (see the original quote) the study said it was mostly because their vegetarian sample was dominated by non-smokers. Without the unrelated benefit of not smoking, the healthiest diets were those who ate modest amounts of meat or modest amounts of fish.

B12

B12 is produced by the bacteria in dirt, for sure, but its consumed naturally in meat. Pro suggests that the B12 prepared for supplements is less contaminated, but he offers no evidence that "less contaminated" B12 provides better health. The human digestive system harbors a menagerie of bacteria, and B12 bacteria are compatible. http://www.vegan-nutritionista.com... Moreover, there is evidence that too much cleanliness contributes to allergies, as the immune system looks for something to attack. http://www.everydayhealth.com...

Saturated-fat Vegetable Oils


Pro conceded there are unhealthy vegetable oils (coconut, cottonseed, palm, etc.) that induce high cholesterol, but said they are rare. In fact, these oils are common and their use is increasing: "Palm oil is a common cooking ingredient in the tropical belt of Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Brazil. Its increasing use in the commercial food industry in other parts of the world is buoyed by its lower cost] and the high oxidative stability (saturation) of the refined product when used for frying." http://en.wikipedia.org... In the US, they are often in imported products like instant noodles.

Pro says that vegans can avoid them. That is another item to be taken into account in the "well planned vegan diet." It must go on the spreadsheet for daily monitoring for traces of meat, fish, or dairy poducts; B12; iron; protein; omega-3s; sugar; doughnuts or french fries; and cookies, chips, or crackers. That's too much to tack for any layman who is not a health fanatic, and we have agreed that vegans are not health fanatics.

Summary

Studies show that people who consume modest amounts of meat or fish have better health than vegans. The National Institute of Health, American Heart Association, and World Cancer Research Fund all recommend a balanced diet that includes meat. The longest-lived populations consume meat. Pro persists in comparing unplanned diets having meat with a theoretically optimum vegan diet. The planning for the idealized vegan diet is beyond the average person.







Debate Round No. 2
vbaculum

Pro

Thanks again Con for your participation in this debate.

I will open with the link between meat, obesity and diabetes. In my rebuttal, I will address Con's critique of the WCRF/AICR cancer study. I will also address Con's comments on iron and B12. In round 4 I will show that vegans can be healthy without spreadsheets. I will also provide authoritative source which advocate vegan diets, as Con requested, in round 4.

Diabetes and Obesity

The seventh leading causes of death in the United States is diabetes[1]. Diabetes is itself a contributing factor to heart disease and stroke[2].

People eating vegan diets have a one-half reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes[8].

There are several reasons this may be the case. Vegans have:
  • less obesity [2][4]
  • lower intake of saturated fat[2]
  • higher intake of fiber (especially soluble fiber)[2]
  • higher intake of magnesium[2]
  • higher intake of unrefined foods with low glycemic index[4]
Excessive body weight is the most important risk factor for Type 2 diabetes[2]. Vegans, on average, have lower body mass index when compared with meat eaters[4].

Almost a third of the adults in the United States are obese[3]. About 15% of American youths are overweight while another 15% are at risk of becoming overweight[5].

In addition to an increased risk of diabetes, obesity carries with it other problems such as:
  • Sleep apnea, pseudotumor cerebri, and Blount's disease[6]
  • Hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and abnormal glucose tolerance[6]
  • Obesity negatively affects adolescent socialization[6]
  • The medical costs of obesity are estimated to be about 70 billion dollars a year[7]
A reduced risk for diabetes and obesity powerfully supports the view that a vegan diet is healthier.

Rebuttal
Cancer Study

The "latest study" Con cites (I will refer to it as a "review") on the link between cancer and meat seems to be more controversy than science.

According to feedstuffsfoodlink.com, The National Cattlemen's Beef Assn (NCBA) commissioned Exponent Health Sciences (Dr. Dominik Alexander) to review the important findings of the WCRF and AICR cancer metastudy[14]. Predictably, Dr. Alexander's findings turned out to be favorable to the interests of the meat industry.

The WCRF and the AICR vehemently dispute Drs. Alexander's and Truswell's review. They claim that the meat industry (specifically the National Beef Association (NBA), the National Sheep Association (NSA) and the National Farmers) "[mislead] the public by making factually inaccurate and potentially defamatory comments"[15][16].

WCRF says of the review: "WCRF is not aware of any such review. It is aware of Dr Truswell publishing a letter in the AJCN, which was printed with an accompanying letter from WCRF responding to his points. Dr Alexander published a review of the evidence on whether animal fats and animal proteins affect cancer risk. But this is not the same as a review of the link between meat and cancer as much animal fat and protein is dairy. WCRF is aware he has conducted a review of the evidence on the link between meat and cancer, but because this has not been published it is not in the public domain and so cannot be commented on."[15]

I was not able to find a reputable news outlet that published any article on this review. I attribute this to the consideration that consumers of news are interested in actual health information; not in the inconsequential disputes between science and industry.

The citation Con gives for this was an article on a website called "topnews.us". I was not able to find any information regarding the authority of this site. The website has no Wikipedia page which is unheard of for a news outlet. This may imply that the Wikipedia editorship concluded that topnews.us does not meet with its guidelines for notability (http://en.wikipedia.org...).

The topnews.us article on this review did not mention the controversy. It might be thought that topnews.us were simply unaware of the controversy but this is not the case. In the article, they quote the WCRF press release to make it appear as if the WCRF were sympathetic to the review's findings:

"In the WCRF's defense, Prof. Martin Wiseman, Project Director of the report, said, 'We say explicitly that red meat has important nutritional benefits and do not recommend avoiding it altogether'".

The WCRF was actually responding to accusations the meat industry made against the WCRF which claimed they were on an "anti-meat crusade".

Consider what was left out of the quote:

"The implication that we are somehow a tool of the anti-meat lobby is ludicrous. We say explicitly that red meat has important nutritional benefits and we do not recommend avoiding it altogether."[15]

Con's source, for some reason, tried to conceal the controversy.

This topnews.us citation cannot be considered a reliable source. Furthermore, the review can't be said to have undermined the metastudy at all.

I encourage the reader to examine the sources I gave for this information as it provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how the meat lobby works toward controlling scientific knowledge and public opinion.

Iron

In round 1 Con claimed that vegetarians had low stores of ferritine iron in their body. The citation Con used made it clear that this is the case for *some* vegetarians - particularly those who simply do not consume enough iron in their diet. This criticism is not relevant to the resolution since it doesn't concern a well planned vegan diet.

As Con noted, vitamin C plays a key role in the absorption of iron[9]. Citric acids (found in citrus fruits) and fruit sugars (fructose) also enhance absorption[10][11]. Since vegan diets are high in these components it is easier for vegans to absorb iron.

The iron found in red meat (heme) has been shown to damage the lining of the colon[12].

The vegetable world is replete with non-heme iron. Rich sources of iron include: lentils, beans, leaf vegetables, tofu, chickpeas, and black-eyed peas[13].

B12

I need to clarify what I had said about B12 in round 2. Livestock animals are contaminated with B12 producing bacteria. This is to say that they are infested with bacteria that produce B12. This does not imply that the B12 is contaminated. I was not arguing that all bacteria are bad. Please reread my comments on B12 in round 2.

1 http://www.cdc.gov...
2 http://books.google.com... (page 32)
3 http://www.cdc.gov...
4 http://care.diabetesjournals.org... (Abstract)
5 http://www.biostat.mcg.edu...
6 http://pediatrics.aappublications.org...
7 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
8 http://care.diabetesjournals.org... (Conclusions)
9 http://ods.od.nih.gov...
10 http://www.parentingscience.com...
11 http://www.vegetariannutrition.net...
12 http://www.aicr.org...
13 http://en.wikipedia.org...
14 http://feedstuffsfoodlink.com...
15 http://www.wcrf.org...
16 http://www.aicr.org...
RoyLatham

Con

We are getting into the meat of this debate. Things are sizzling.

A Low-Meat Diet is Best for Health

My claims at the end of the last round have gone unrebutted.

Studies show that people who consume modest amounts of meat or fish have better health than vegans. The National Institute of Health, American Heart Association, and World Cancer Research Fund all recommend a balanced diet that includes meat. The longest-lived populations consume meat. Pro persists in comparing unplanned diets having meat with a theoretically optimum vegan diet. The planning for the idealized vegan diet is beyond the average person.

Also, comprehensive studies show that in practice vegans have no better health than indiscriminate meat-eaters, and that the best health is achieved by those with low-meat and low-fish diets. Vegetarians who consume dairy are somewhere in between in overall heath.

Pro responds that he will get to the planning issue in the next round, but indicated no intention to dispute the rest.

The Cancer Study Controversy

Pro's Case is Negated if the Study is Accurate.

Suppose the WCRF/AID study is 100% correct. Pro's case is still negated, because the Study did not recommend the vegan diet that Pro advocates. They recommended a low-meat diet.

The American Institute for Cancer Research summarizes, "Studies show we can eat up to 18 ounces a week of red meat without raising cancer risk. Research on processed meat [preserved by smoking, curing or salting] shows cancer risk starts to increase with any portion." http://www.aicr.org...

A vegan diet also extrudes white meat, fish, and dairy not subject to the claimed risks.

The dispute is about whether there is proved causal relationship between meat consumption and cancer above the 18 ounce threshold.

It's About the Science, not the Authors


The review of the WCRF/AID study was done by Exponent. Exponent is an independent organization of 900 professionals. Their website http://www.exponent.com... notes "Our multidisciplinary organization of scientists, physicians, engineers, and regulatory consultants performs in-depth investigations in more than 90 technical disciplines. We analyze failures and accidents to determine their causes and to understand how to prevent them. We evaluate complex human health and environmental issues to find cost-effective solutions." Their reputation depends upon their integrity.

Pro objects that Exponent was paid by the Cattlemen's Association. Suppose you are accused of a crime, and you believe that you can be proved innocent by showing that someone else's DNA was at the crime scene. What you do is hire an independent forensic expert to investigate and report. That's what the Cattlemen did. It plays out in Court by each side presenting the evidence they uncovered. Arguing that the defendant paid for his defense does not dispose of the evidence, the evidence must be examined directly. If the hired expert finds nothing, the defense fails.

In Pro's ref R3.14, a professor summarizes the Exponent findings:
  • The report omitted a comparison of several groups of socially matched meat-eating consumers and vegetarians in which there was no difference in mortality from colorectal cancer between the two groups;
  • The WCRF/AICR report omitted 13 cohort studies involving 1.6 million people -- including a large study conducted by the American Cancer Society -- in which 11 of the studies found no significant association between eating red meat and cancer;
  • The report did not refer to follow-up work by certain of its research sources that drew different conclusions, and
  • The report did not refer to recent work by researchers that involved more subjects and reached different conclusions.
The full Exponent report is on the US Department of Agriculture web site. According to R3.14, the results of the exponent study were discussed non-confrontationally with WCRF/AID who agreed to make revisions.

Pro objected that the website I cited reporting the Exponent study was inadequately qualified. Pro's R3.14 has the same info, plus more detail. At some point, WCRF complained that they couldn't comment because the report had not been published and was not publish. However, WCRF was soon given a copy of the report and it was published on the USDA website. That makes who made the initial summary irrelevant.

WCRF/AID ultimately responded by making corrections to their report, posted at http://www.dietandcancerreport.org... While they admitted errors, they said that the errors did not substantially change their conclusions. Exponent did not back off. Keep in mind that the WCRF/AID study was a metastudy. Neither WCRF/AID or Exponent generated the underlying data, both are analyzing data collected by others.

In WCRF's fervent denial of having made significant errors (Pro's ref R3.16) they show bias, saying "Our 2009 Report on public policy implications of our recommendations also points out that current industrial methods for meat production are very wasteful of scarce energy and natural resources such as water and diverts grain needed for human consumption into animal feed." They are assuming that conserving resources is more important than meat production. That's an anti-meat public policy agenda. (In the US, 40% of the corn crop goes to making ethanol, a value system that places fuel over food.) WCRF's bias does not negate their report. As with Exponent, their work stands on it's own.

I think there is a good case that processed meat poses cancer risk. The risk for fresh meat above 18 ounces per week is in doubt, but since the most healthful diets are low-meat, it's not important for the present debate. A properly-planned diet with meat limits quantities and avoids processed meats, just as a properly-planned vegan diet avoids tropical oils, fried starches, and other things.

Obesity, etc.

Pro establishes that obesity is bad for health. We are comparing properly planned diets, and a properly-planned low-meat diet avoids overeating. I pointed this out in R1, and Pro has not responded. The planning for that is easy; the realization is more difficult because meat tastes good. Both the planning and the realization of a vegan diet are much more difficult.

Iron


Pro persists in comparing an unplanned meat diet with a perfectly-planned and executed vegan diet. The data shows that in practice vegans have no better health than indiscriminate meat eaters. It's important to understand why vegans fair so poorly, despite vegans having an easier time of reducing calories. The answer is that vegans have trouble maintaining the required intake of protein, iron, B12, and other nutrients. That relates to our debate because Pro must prove that the vegan diet can be correctly planned by an average person.

B12

Pro claims that the B12-producing bacteria in animals are contaminants. I claim that the B12 bacteria are compatible with the human digestive system, which is loaded with bacteria. Pro has presented no data showing harm from consuming B12-producing bacteria is harmful. I presented data that avoiding supposed contamination too rigorously may lead to allergies and asthma.

The resolution is negated.
Debate Round No. 3
vbaculum

Pro

So far I've given the evidence showing that animal-based foods cause CVD, cancer and diabetes. In this round I will highlight the virtues of plant-based foods. As usual my rebuttals will follow. I will provide the authoritative sources advocating vegan diets in round 5 instead of here due to space constraints. I will also address Con's claim, that a modest amounts of meat is better than no meat, in round 5.

Plant-based Foods

When animal-based foods are excluded from the diet, there is more room on the plate for plant-based foods.

Plant-based foods are high in fiber[1], contain no dietary cholesterol[2] and are low in saturated fats[3]. Fiber (which animal-based foods lack[1]) lowers cholesterol levels, improves blood sugar control, reduces the risk of gastrointestinal disorders, aids in weight loss, and normalizes bowel movements.[1]

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are substances found exclusively in plant foods which confer a protective influence on us[4]. A diet which derives more of its calories from plant-based foods will necessarily have more phytochemicals. Where animal-based diets cause cancer and cardiovascular disease, the phytochemicals in plants actually work to counter the risk of these diseases. The following will be a detailed look at phytochemicals in various types of vegetable and their antioxidant, anticancer, anti-CVD, antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) have[9]:
* Indoles and isothiocyanates (anti-cancer)

Umbelliferous vegetables such as celery, carrots and parsnips have[9]:
* Coumarins (anti-CVD)
* Flavones (antioxidant, anticancer, anti-CVD)
* Carotenoids (antioxidant, anticancer, immune-enhancing effects)
* Phthalides and polyacetylenes (anti-tumor)

Allium vegetables like garlic, onions, leeks, etc... have[9]:
* Allicin (anti-CVD, antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer)
* Ajoenes (anti-thrombotic)
* Vinyldithiins (antiasthmatic, antithrombotic)
* Allyl sulfides (anticancer, anti-CVD)

Citrus fruits have[9]:
* Flavonoids (anticancer, anti-CVD)
* D-limonene (anti-CVD, carotenoids)

Grapes and their juice have[9]:
* Flavonols (anticancer, anti-CVD)
* Anthocyanins (strong antioxidant)
* Resveratrol (antioxidant, anti-clotting, anticancer, anti-inflammatory)

Berries have[9]:
* Anthocyanins (strong antioxidant)
* Flavonols (anticancer, anti-CVD)
* Phenolic acid (antioxidant, anticancer)

Whole grains have[9]:
* Phenolic acid (antioxidant, anticancer)
* Lignans (a possible anticancer agent)
* Phytates and tocotrienols (antioxidant)

Legumes have[9]:
* Isoflavones (antiestrogenic, antioxidant)
* Lignans and phytates

Nuts and seeds have[9]:
* Flavononols, phenolic acid, lignans and phytic acids (anticancer) and tocotrienals

Rebuttal

Vegans Need Spreadsheets

Despite my pleas, I could not get Con to argue that vegans can't get enough protein in their diet. Con is wise in not pursuing this. Despite popular misconceptions, the plant kingdom is abundant in high quality sources of protein and vegans can, with ease, obtain all of the essential amino acids in adequate quantities[5]. This includes vegan athletes who often require 3-4 times the amount of protein recommended for non-athletes[5].

I contend that vegans are at no disadvantage with regard to protein though I concede that poorly planned vegan diets may be low in B12 or omega-3. So far, I think it is fair to say that Con and I are in agreement. Con wants to argue, though, that a well planned vegan diet is beyond the average person because spreadsheets would be required to keep track of B12, iron, protein and omega-3 intake.

Research shows that there is no significant difference in the intake of iron between vegans and meat-eaters[6]. Also, on average, vegans meet dietary recommendations for protein[10][11]. So this leave us with the question: How can a vegan get enough B12 and omega-3s? As I stated earlier, a cup a fortified soy milk provide a daily allowance of B12. Daily consumption of fortified soy milk, modest amounts of flax seed and walnuts will meet recommendations for omega-3[7][8]. As you can see, it is extremely easy for vegans to obtain what they need on a diet that has been well planned.

Is it so easy for meat eaters though? The meat eater has to always be on guard against exceeding the 18oz. (cooked weight) weekly limit of red meat or else they will be at a greater risk for cancer? How can meat eaters know for sure how much cholesterol and saturated fats they've consumed on any given day (substances which lead to greater risk of CVD and that are virtually absent in a vegan diet)? Is it not hard for meat eaters to calculate the fiber they are consuming to ensure adequate intake? Could it not be argued that a spreadsheet would be required for all of this?

WCRF Cancer Study Controversy

Con wasn't able to prove the review to be anything more than a controversy between science and industry.

B12

I didn't say the B12 producing bacteria are contaminated. I said livestock animals are contaminated/infested with B12 producing bacteria.

My argument was that B12, when bound to animal protein, is harder to absorb than B12 extracted directly from the bacterial source. (Protein bonds are difficult to break). B12, extracted directly from bacteria, is used to fortify foods and is better than protein bound B12 because it is easier to absorb.

1 http://www.mayoclinic.com...
2 http://findarticles.com...
3 http://www.livestrong.com...
4 http://www.phytochemicals.info...
5 http://www.adajournal.org...
6 http://www.ajcn.org...
7 http://silksoymilk.com...
8 http://www.vrg.org...
9 http://books.google.com... (147-150)
10 http://books.google.com... (45)
11 http://www.ajcn.org...

RoyLatham

Con

It Doesn't Matter Whether Essential Nutrients are Plant or Animal

Discovery Magazine published The Inuit Paradox: How can people who gorge on fat and rarely see a vegetable be healthier than we are? http://discovermagazine.com...= Inuits are the Eskimos of northern Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, whose diets include very few vegetables. They nonetheless have half the rates of heart disease of typical Canadians and Americans.

“What the diet of the Far North illustrates, says Harold Draper, a biochemist and expert in Eskimo nutrition, is that there are no essential foods—only essential nutrients. And humans can get those nutrients from diverse and eye-opening sources.”

The Inuits get vitamins, notably vitamin C, from organ meats. The fat from wild animals is largely unsaturated, and the large quantities of omega-3s in their diet helps offset the fats. Raw fish and raw meat have important amino acids that are otherwise obtained from plants. So if your diet is mostly seal blubber and caribou, be sure to balance it with liver and raw fish.

The point is that people need certain nutrients, and it doesn't matter whether the nutrients come from plants or animals, or, such as the B12 Pro advocates, from chemical synthesis. A perfectly-planned vegan diet will therefore be no better and no worse than a perfectly-planned diet that contains meat. Both will have all the essential nutrients, and neither will have too much of anything that poses a health risk. I think that Pro wasted a great deal of space in this debate providing lists of nutrients that are found in plants and claiming that nutrients are nutritious. It's true that all those plant nutrients are in plants and that humans need them. All the plant nutrients are available to people who eat both plants and meat, so that is not an advantage of a vegan diet.

There is No Inherent Health Risk in Meat

Pro offered the possibility that meat posed an inherent cancer risk, so that a diet with meat would be less healthy. However, dairy, eggs, fish, and chicken have no such risk, and red meat poses no such risk if less 18 ounces per week is consumed. Vegans face cancer risks from sugars, fried starches, and refined flour, so their planning problem is not solved by just avoiding meat.

The Well-Planned Diet

If “well-planned” means “perfectly-planned,” i.e., having all essential nutrients and not too much of anything, and if the average person can accomplish the planning required, then the resolution still fails. The resolution claims that the vegan diet is healthier, and it is no healthier.

In the last round of the debate, Pro considered vegan diet planning for protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3s. I have indeed agreed that vegans can get enough protein, and I additionally agree that vegans can get enough B12 and omega-3s. The question is not whether it is possible, but whether the planning is reasonable for the average person. In addition, vegans must plan to ensure they get enough iron, zinc, and additional nutrients.

An Australian study showed that using tables of nutrient requirements deign for meat eater is insufficient for vegans:

"Meat, poultry and fish-based meals provide good quantities of vitamin B-12, omega-3 fats, iron and zinc. Legumes, nuts and seeds, on the other hand, do not contain vitamin B-12, important for the normal functioning of the brain, or long-chain omega-3 fats, required for the brain and maintaining a healthy heart. What’s more, the iron and zinc content of a plant-based meal is not as easily absorbed by the body as a meat-based one. ... Professor Katrine Baghurst, key author of the study comments: 'People need to be aware that they should not simply substitute a portion of a plant-based food for a portion of meat and expect to receive the same nutritional benefits.'" http://www.girl.com.au...

Vegans must also plan n order to get enough vitamin D, calcium, and iodine. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au... Vitamin D is generated in the body upon exposure to sunlight, but that's insufficient in northern climates. The usual source is fortified milk, which most people get ordinarily. Vegans must seek fortified soy milk or some other fortified product. Vitamin D is toxic in large doses, so concentrated supplements are not sold.

The advice from a nutritionist to vegetarians is "The best way to make sure you're getting enough nutrients, including protein, is to keep track of the foods you eat on a daily basis."

How Difficult is Vegan Diet Planning?


Vegan has to plan under the constraint that they do not include meat or animal-derived products In the fabled "land of milk and honey" both milk and honey are disallowed to vegans. Pork chops are obvious, but there are dozens of so-called "hidden" meat products. http://www.cyberparent.com... The list of items to be avoided begins Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing, pizza topping, Greek salads, packaged cookies and crackers, refried beans, flour tortillas, ready-made pie crusts, bottled juices, colored pasta, some candies, frozen pops, garlic salt, vanilla, meat tenderizers, salad-dressing mixes, ice cream, candy, baked goods, chewing gum, liquor, wine, vinegar, beer, fruit juice, soft drinks, mmarshmallows, yogurt, frosted cereals, gelatin-containing desserts, molded salads ... and continues at length.

Life is possible without any of these things (excepting maybe beer, but I assume there is vegan beer made without the animal-derived clarifying agent) but the list of things to be avoided limits where the desired nutrients are allowably obtained by vegans. Since vegans dismiss red meat as too high a cancer risk, they must similarly dismiss tropical oils and fried starches.

Pro emphasizes that a vegan diet is naturally lower in cholesterol and calories than an unplanned meat-consuming diet, but the bottom line is that vegans have no better overall health than unconstrained meat-eaters. That tells us that the planning difficulties in areas other than cholesterol and calories are so great as to completely offset those advantages. The healthiest diet actually observed is the low-meat diet.

Pro claimed that the planning to keep red meat consumption below 18 ounces. Fast-food franchises, being extremely health conscious, convenient sell red meat in increments called "quarter-pounders." This makes tracking trivial. Also, a number of the low-meat diets exclude red meat entirely while consuming some combination of white meat, fish, and dairy.

The Resolution is Negated

Well-planned vegan or non-vegan diets will be equally nutritious, so the resolution fails. However, it's doubtful that the average person can plan a vegan diet considering all the nutrients that must be given care and the constraints of obtaining them without animal sources. The resolution therefore also fails on the grounds that a non-fanatical layman cannot accomplish the planning to level required.

I remind Pro that debate etiquette does not allow adding new arguments in the final round, which is for summarizing and for analyzing the flow of the debate. The reason is that new arguments or data introduced so late cannot be properly debated. A five round debate provides plenty of space to preset everything before the last round.



Debate Round No. 4
vbaculum

Pro

Con, being a much more experienced debater than I, has pointed out that the final round of a debate is properly used for summary and analysis. Though I was eager to debate further, and had promised to respond to a couple of things Con had pressed me on, I must decline out of respect for etiquette. I apologize for not structuring my arguments to fit within the first 4 rounds.
Summary

Beyond the Average Person

Con argued that vegan and meat-based diets can both be equally healthy though vegan diets are beyond the average person.

I gave scientific evidence proving that vegans (educated and not educated in nutrition) get enough protein and iron. In round 4, Con didn't respond to this evidence. He simply reiterates that average people can't reasonably be expected to plan a vegan diet to meet these needs.

I also gave specific example showing B12 and omega-3s were easy to obtain on a vegan diet. His response to this was that vegans must seek out fortified foods (like soymilk) though he doesn't explain why this is any harder than non-vegans seeking animal milk fortified with omega-3s and/or vitamin D.

Con quotes a source that said legumes, nuts and seeds don't contain B12 and omega-3s. However, I never said these were sources of B12. Also, this doesn't negate the fact that walnuts and flax seeds are recommended sources of omega-3[1][2]. It just says, in general that legume, nuts and seeds don't contain omega-3s (which is, for the most part, true).

Con says that well planned vegan diets are beyond the capacity of average people. By not engaging my arguments on these nutrients adequately, Con shows that he cannot maintain this position under criticism.

Furthermore, Con points to foods that have "hidden" animal products in them. He doesn't explain, however, why it would be beyond the average person to read nutrition labels and to eventually become cognizant of what foods have animal products.

(Note: I was well prepared to argue against Con's points on vitamin D, calcium, zinc and iodine. However, these points weren't raised until round 4 where I was asked to not make any new arguments.)

Longevity

We've seen that the evidence suggests that vegans and meat eaters, on average, share similar mortality rates. Con points out that vegans tend to not smoke which skews the mortality findings in his favor. I pointed out that vegans, being on average untutored in dietary matters, likely do not obtain enough B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. This observation skews the results of the mortality study in my favor since a well planned vegan diet would ensure adequate amounts of these nutrients. The data collected so far on vegan mortality, though voluminous, is still considered inconclusive[3]. I think as far as mortality goes, Pro and Con will have to agree that all we can say for certain is that, on average, vegans and meat eaters share similar mortality rate.

In round 1 I defined health in terms of both longevity and freedom from disease. We seem to be at a draw in terms of longevity, but what about freedom from disease.

Disease

I've used the very best science available to show that the consumption of meat, eggs and dairy is definitively linked to higher rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Likewise, I have shown that plant-based foods both actively and passively work to lower the risks of these diseases. Cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death (CVD ranks number 1). Given all this, can it be doubted that the vegan diet, as long as it is well planned, will be instrumental in reducing the rates of cancer, diabetes, and CVD. To agree with this is to affirm the resolution.

1 http://www.omega-3-for-your-health.com...
2 http://www.whfoods.com...
3 http://www.veganhealth.org... (conclusion)
RoyLatham

Con

This debate is about a vegan diet. Vegans are distinct from vegetarians in not eating any fish, dairy, eggs, or animal byproducts, whereas various types of vegetarianism permit some of these things. The resolution is that a vegan diets well-planned by a lay person are healthier than the corresponding non-vegan well-planned diets. A lay person is a person without specialized training or fanatical zeal.

There are No Examples of Vegan Populations with Better Health


If a vegan diet is healthier than surely Pro would lead off by pointing to some group of vegans somewhere who have better health than the average non-planning meat eater who survives on the typical dietary disasters overloaded with fat, cholesterol, and surplus calories. However, Pro did lead with such data, no where in the debate did he ever point to a single group of vegans with better health than people who eat meat promiscuously. I fully expected that there would be some vegan monks who live forever on soybeans. But no, Pro presented no data on vegans than put them ahead of hamburger gobblers, let alone careful balanced eaters.

Broad studies show that the best health is enjoyed by people who have low-meat diets or fish diets. Vegans and those undisciplined meat eaters have the worse health. Vegetarians consuming dairy are somewhere in between in health. Pro made a small error in the saying that vegan data was skewed by having lots on non-smokers in the study group; actually it was the vegetarians who benefited from being non-smokers.

Small groups of people adopt particular diets based upon tradition or religious beliefs. With these groups we expect to get closer to "well-planned" goals. Again, the big winners were groups having low-meat diets. Okinawans have the longest life expectancy in the world; there diet has fish and small amounts of meat. Vegetarians of the lax varieties do well; vegans are no to be seen in the most healthy populations.

Theoretical Nutrition

Because Pro has no data showing vegan populations having health better than meat-eaters, he must construct a theoretical argument based upon nutrients that would be in the hypothetical well-planned vegan. Pro points to all vitamins, fiber, and unsaturated fats available to vegans. He shows that there are vegan foods with enough protein and iron to avoid deficiencies. I agree. there are many healthful nutrients in vegetables. Pro points out that supplements are available to augment the Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D shortfalls characteristics of vegan diets. I again agree. It is possible to obtain a healthy diet within the bounds of vegan eating.

But being theoretically able to have good health on a vegan diet does not suggest that a vegan diet is healthier than a non-vegan All the vegetables are available to those who also consume meat. At best the vegan diet can be equally healthy. The resolution requires Pro to prove that a vegan diet is not just equal, but superior.

In fact, a diet containing almost entirely meat and fish can provide required nutrients. “What the diet of the Far North illustrates, says Harold Draper, a biochemist and expert in Eskimo nutrition, is that there are no essential foods—only essential nutrients. And humans can get those nutrients from diverse and eye-opening sources.”

Health Hazards


Pro correctly points out that unplanned meat diets tend to have too many calories an too much saturated fat. Well-planned diets with meat do not have too much. Vegan diets tend to have too little protein, vitamin B12, iron, omega-3s, Vitamin D, calcium, and iodine. Careful planning can avoid those shortfalls, but vegans typically do not do the needed planning, so vegan health is typically no better than unplanned meat eating.

Since a balanced diet of meat and vegetables has all of the vegetable nutrients, the only way a meat diet can be less healthy is if there is something inherently bad in meat. Cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories are not inherently bad. Planning solves the potential hazards of getting too much. Vegans can get too much saturated fats from oils (coconut, palm, cottonseed), Saturated fats induce the liver to make cholesterol, so there is a cholesterol hazard. Vegans can certainly get too many calories (sugar, french fries, donuts, etc.). That too can be avoided by planning.

The only potential inherent harms in meat are cancer risk from processed meats (like ham) or from more than 18 ounces of red meat per week. That's avoided by not eating processed meats, and eating less than 18 ounces of red meat. There is no identified risk from white meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. Hence there is no unavoidable risk in a diet that includes meat.

A study by the WCRF claimed a correlation between red meat and cancer above the 18 ounce point. The study was examined by a scientific consulting company, Exponent, and found to be flawed. Pro claimed that Exponent could not be trusted for the sole reason that their results defended the meat industry. If that logic were true, then we should discount forensic evidence for the defense in a criminal trial on the sole grounds the expert is for the defendant.

Pro claimed that I had presented nothing that indicated that it was a scientific controversy. What I presented were the very specific scientific objections raised by Exponent. Moreover, WCRF revised their report by publishing an errata in response to the objections. Clearly the objections were scientific. While admitting scientific errors, WCRF refused to modify their conclusions. In the process, they betrayed an anti-meat-industry bias. The burden of proof is upon Pro, and Pro did not respond to the specific scientific objections made.

Vegan Diet Planning

Making a well-planned balanced diet is not altogether trivial. Meat eaters must avoid too much red meat, too much saturated fat, and must avoid process meats. they must not consume too many calories.

Vegans have a much more difficult task. They must make sure they do not consume too many calories or too much saturated-fat vegetable oil. The must also be sure they get enough protein, vitamin B12, iron, omega-3s, Vitamin D, calcium, and iodine. A profession nutritionist recommended that vegetarians track nutrients daily.

The planning is greatly complicated by the vegan ground rule of no meat by-products. Pro said that all vegans need do is read the labels on food packages. That is insufficient because labels do not say what is animal based and what is plant based. The reference I gave tells that lecithin and gelatin are animal products. That's not common knowledge. Some vitamin supplements are animal-derived, others are plant-derived and that information is not disclosed. Minor or trace ingredients, like animal-based clarifiers in beer, are not disclosed. Restaurants do not have ingredient labeling. Even with labeled foods, reading every label and researching what is animal-derived is not an everyday task.

We know that vegans don't do the needed planning because their health is no better than unplanned meat-eaters. Low-meat balanced diets have little or no problem with planning.

A balanced diet is healthiest

The American Heart Association, American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Institute for Health, and the World Cancer Research Fund all recommend a low-meat balanced diet for the best health. None recommend a vegan diet and Pro presented no authoritative recommendation for a vegan diet.

Pro ignored many of my arguments. He never disputed that the source of nutrients doesn't matter. He didn't dispute that only calories cause obesity.

Vegan diet is in practice less healthy, and at best it can only equal a low-meat balanced diet. The resolution is negated.

-----

Thanks to Pro for a good topic and a fine debate. I learned much from researching this debate. For one thing, be sure to eat seal brains along with the blubber for good health.
Debate Round No. 5
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Noradrenergic 4 years ago
Noradrenergic
Happy to continue the debate with anybody interested, but I would like to go at least 4 rounds if the first round is for acceptance.
Posted by Noradrenergic 4 years ago
Noradrenergic
This is quite strange to me as a biochemistry student. The WCRF summarized over 7000 studies on the topic, and concluded that the links between red meat consumption and certain types of cancer are 'convincing'. There evidence isn't just correlational, they also summarized experimental research and mechanistic research that supports their corresponding recommendations. So why people would claim that the only evidence showing this link is correlational is beyond me, clearly they haven't reviewed the research literature as is so often the case in this area of debate.

Anybody can pick out one or two studies that deviate from the norm, but the majority of studies together demonstrate that vegetarians are indeed healthier than their meat consuming counterparts. This may not stand true for vegans, but not eating meat doesn't = vegan, so this is irrelevant.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
Freeman, Yes, I would debate the morality of eating meat.

The difference between vegans and vegetarians was important for the debate. The National Geographic documentary I referenced features the Adventists. The low stress of life in their community is another positive factor.

Hawaiians have the best health of any state, and also the highest Spam consumption. I'm inclined to think lack of stress is more important than the Spam.
Posted by vbaculum 6 years ago
vbaculum
Thanks PARADIGM_L0ST, I put a lot a work into it and Roy was no slouch either.
Posted by PARADIGM_L0ST 6 years ago
PARADIGM_L0ST
I would love to sit down and read this, but it's a 5-rounder and I have to get some sleep. Looks like an excellent debate on both sides from what I perused. Can't wait to read it and render a verdict.
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
I didn't say they were vegans. I said they were vegetarians.

I'm not sure how you feel about eating meat, but I'm against it morally (and for other pragmatic reasons). Does that at all sound interesting to you in a debate?
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
The Adventists are vegetarians, not vegans. They say about their diet, "It can also include low fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheeses and eggs." http://www.sdada.org... The debate is about strict vegan, as distinct from vegetarian, diets.
Posted by Freeman 6 years ago
Freeman
The people with some of the longest lifespans (and overall best health) in the States are 7th day adventists. They are vegetarians....
Posted by vbaculum 6 years ago
vbaculum
Also, Zazzman, you're new so I want to welcome you to DDO.
Posted by vbaculum 6 years ago
vbaculum
Zazzman, I never said humans should consume dirt. I said that the B12 which is chemically extracted from bacteria and used to fortify various foods (like cereal, protein bars and various beverages) is better than the B12 from animal sources (like meat) because in is easier to absorb.
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Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
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Vote Placed by mongoose 6 years ago
mongoose
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Vote Placed by mongeese 6 years ago
mongeese
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Vote Placed by SuperRobotWars 6 years ago
SuperRobotWars
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