View Full Version : Concise refutation of vegetarianism

Greg Davis
11-09-2007, 07:30 AM
Hey guys not sure if anyone here has heard of the infamous podcast called "Skeptics Guide to the Universe" (http://www.theskepticsguide.org). They're usually really good at debunking things like homeopathy, 9-11 conspiracies, etc.

Anyway I was listening to the show a week or so back and they actually "debunked" the "myth" that vegetarian diets do not provide optimal nutrition. So I had to send them an email to say how dissapointed I was that they bought the party line on this one.

Can anyone help me out here with a concise answer to her request for studies to refute her arguments?

Here is the email I got back from her:

Hi Greg,

The reason why there was so much agreement over the fact that the vegetarian diet is healthful is because that has been the consensus of most scientists studying the health of vegetarians compared to that of people who eat meat. I've yet to see any compelling evidence to suggest that the vegetarian diet is anything but healthful so long as a person eats a diverse diet that includes whole grains and foods such as soy which provide more than enough protein for a body to thrive. Even a vegan (who eats no eggs or dairy) can get more than enough protein in the diet -- it just takes a lot more thought.

If you know of any studies that overturn this widely accepted view, I'd be more than happy to take a look. As an FYI, arguing that we should eat meat because our evolutionary ancestors ate meat is an example of an "appeal to nature" logical fallacy. More here:

Our ancestors may have enjoyed the occasional hunk of raw flesh, but that might have something to do with their lack of access to a good Boca burger.

Thanks for writing.


On 11/8/07, questions@theskepticsguide.org < questions@theskepticsguide.org> wrote:

Subject: peanut butter & jelly sandwiches
Sender Email: gdavis@logicalactivism.com
Sender Name: Greg Davis
Country/Location: Canada
Date/Time(Eastern Time): 11/8/2007 8:30:29 PM


Message: Hi I just listened to one of your latest podcasts which I quite enjoy but I was amazed to hear Rebecca's comment (with subsequent agreement) about vegetarian eating being "more than adequate" for protein intake. I agree that a veggie diet can keep you alive but as skeptics I expect a certain degree of acceptance of the scientific fact that our bodies evolved as big game meat eaters. That thing called EVOLUTION tells us that our bodies are best adapted to a diet of relatively high protein. Vegetarian diets have been proven to be deficient in protein and high in insulin spiking carbs, far from ideal in terms of preserving lean body mass and an optimal hormonal environment. It made me cringe to hear y
ou say "there is more than enough protein in a peanut butter sandwich". This is simply not true as this food lacks a complete amino acid profile.

Please restore my faith in the show's skepticism by at least presenting mentioning the correct view that evolution and science should influence our diet, and that it might be worth being skeptical of vegetarianism.

Greg from Toronto, Canada

Scott Kustes
11-09-2007, 08:14 AM
Give her some of the studies showing that meat-eating Mormons live longer than vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists.

Also ask her to consider that vegetarians are generally more concerned with health than the average meat-eater and are therefore less likely to smoke, drink to excess and more likely to exercise, eat more fruits and vegetables (which alone is associated with better health). Vegetarian studies typically compare to the lowest common denominator, the standard Western Diet. Well, eating nothing but peanut butter is probably a better diet than what your average American eats.

Also ask her to explain how a vegan can survive with certain vitamins that are available only in animal products and if she considers a diet that REQUIRES supplementation to be optimal.

Mention to her all of the problems inherent in soy, unless that soy is properly fermented as in (the only products traditional Asian cultures consumed) miso, tempeh, natto, and soy sauce/tamari.

She has no clue.

Garrett Smith
11-09-2007, 09:35 AM
Well, IMO, if they "debunked" homeopathy, they're off on the wrong foot already. That's a whole other topic.

It would seem strange to believe in hormesis and then try to throw homeopathy out the window.

I think they should be called cynics, rather than skeptics.

Greg Davis
11-09-2007, 10:18 AM
Thanks Scott thats along the lines of what I was thinking.. Thought maybe someone had a "canned" response for something like this with some specific studies.

The thing that bugs me the most is the reference to the "appeal to nature" logical falacy. As if anything modelled after evolutionary biology is a fallacy..

Garrett there may be some underlying validity to the theories behind homeopathy but by and large I doubt there are any credible practitioners out there, nor does there appear to be any scientific literature to support the professional practice. So thats not one I'd go to bat for.

Garrett Smith
11-09-2007, 03:08 PM
Good referenced article:

What if modern medicine itself started proving the "Law of Similars"?:

If one doesn't understand the significance of the second link in regards to homeopathy, then one should definitely not be discussing the "validity" of this modality in question.

Greg, frankly, I find your comments somewhat offensive (I use some homeopathy, I am a credible practitioner, there is scientific literature, and most of it is crap designed to disprove homeopathy up front, hardly "true science") and likely coming from a place of little actual education in homeopathy, or maybe you've only heard from the fervent non-believers. There, I stepped up to bat, and that is all I'll be discussing on this topic. This thread isn't about homeopathy, I just felt the need to put it out there.

Maybe you could stir up Yael and say that herbal medicine is a bunch of hooey too.

Yael Grauer
11-09-2007, 06:42 PM
I've been getting homeopathic (Heilkunst, not classical homeopathy) treatment since January and the results are pretty mind-blowing. We're talking decade-long issues that are just dissipating.

Aside from that, this article is pretty interesting:

JW Luckett
11-10-2007, 01:02 AM
She is either misunderstanding the "appeal to nature" fallacy or intentionally misapplying it. It is an emotional appeal to an ill-defined concept and doesn't really require a special term. Basing one's diet on evolutionary biology is hardly ill-defined or necessarily emotional. What she is doing is committing the wishful thinking fallacy and using it as a red herring.

Yael Grauer
11-10-2007, 05:57 AM
More on homeopathy (sorry, still on this tangent)... I found some research I did on this about five years ago...

The research on water having a memory was done by epidemiologist/homeopathist Dr. Jacque Benveniste. He said that water may have a memory and be able to store information about an active substance even when highly diluted. His research (which cost him his job) shows that an
antibody solution continued to evoke a biological response even when it was diluted in a 1:1030 ratio Of serum to water. This is far beyond the dilution limit when even a single molecule of the original substance would be present in the water. His theory is that the substance leaves some sort of energetic imprint on water molecules that has a continuing effect ---possibly supporting the homeopathic thesis of potency even in dilution.

This of course contradicts the law of chemistry stating that when substances are diluted a certain amount (Avogadro's law or something like that) the original substance is lost altogether.

I had heard about the Arndt-Shultz law of photobiological activation, which states that large doses kill,medium doses weaken, and small doses stimulate or enliven...but I haven't really researched it.

Just some thoughts. Not trying to convince anyone of anything, but if you've used homeopathic arnica and wonder why it works, here's some names to research.

Garrett Smith
11-10-2007, 06:22 PM
I deal with the Arndt-Shultz law every day with the low-intensity lasers I use.

Want research on a little bit of light helping all sorts of health issues? See http://healinglightseminars.com/library.html

I had a pararescue guy sprain his ankle badly on a parachute landing. He didn't really believe in homeopathy, but he was willing to follow my advice and get some Traumeel (a combination homeopathic remedy). Needless to say, his black box results, as witnessed by the folks taking the seminar he was presenting (one day limping badly, the next day no noticeable limp at all) was enough for him.

It's just too easy for people to call BS on things they don't understand or haven't experienced. That's my issue. Also, for such a completely and thoroughly debunked medical modality, why would the FDA feel the need to regulate homeopathics as drugs through the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States?

From http://www.hpus.com/overview2.php

What Is A Drug?

The HPUS is declared a legal source of information on drug products (along with the USP/NF) in the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 301. Section 201(g)(1) of the Act. 21 U.S.C. 321 defines the term "drug" as "articles recognized in the official United States Pharmacopoeia, official Homœopathic Pharmacopœia of the United States, or official National Formulary or any supplement to any of them.

Official Compendium

Section 201(j) of the Act (21 U.S.C. 321) defines the term "official compendium" as the "official United States Pharmacopoeia, official Homœopathic Pharmoacopœia of the United States, official National Formulary or any supplement to them." The Homœopathic Pharmacopœia of the United States is included in 42 U.S.C. 801 the Medicare-Medicaid statute and 21 U.S.C. 801 the Controlled Substances Act. The FDA Compliance Policy Guide 7132.15 treats the subject of "Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May Be Marketed."

Gosh, the FDA hasn't figured it out since 1897...I'm really stopping now.

Yael Grauer
11-10-2007, 10:44 PM
One time I took homeopathic rhus tox and later broke out in rashes. I had no idea that rhus tox was poison ivy. If it was simply placebo, how would my body have known what plant it was?

Most of the good herbalists I know practice drop dosing to learn the energetic effects of the plant... It is sometimes more effective than taking dropperfulls.

But the thing that tripped me out the most was when I was at the gym and dropped this 30# db on my finger. It was smashed and bruised and hurt like hell, but I had to get out of the gym asap to get to my massage appointment and of course did not have my handy homeopathic remedy kit on me. I had heard writing the name of the remedy would work on an energetic level, so I took out my pen, wrote "arnica" on my finger and drove to my appointment. As I was letting my massage guy know not to press on my finger that was hurt, he asked me which finger. I had to look down to remember which side it was on because the pain was gone. Upon looking, I noticed all the swelling was too. I still had a teeny bruise, but pretty miniscule compared to what it should have been. I also used fairly mild heat on a burn once and boy did it work. Weird stuff. My logical mind still doesn't believe even though I experienced all of it.

Greg Davis
11-11-2007, 12:29 PM
To be honest I know next to nothing about homeopathy other than some really harsh criticisms so I shouldn't really go there. I was just throwing it out there as an example of something that is known to be not credible.. perhaps a bad example.

I don't think self-proclaimed "skeptics" are necessarily cynics, they are just genuinely trying to look at the scientific evidence on issues to form an opinion. In some cases the available scientific studies is completely out of whack.. hopefully in the long term things will work themselves out. (will low-carb diets eventually emerge as the scientific consensus?) They tend to start with the common belief that theism is wrong.. (i agree). But this particular podcast is pretty weak i'm realizing.

Garrett- please dont take offense. if you say you use it then i would take your word over almost anyone else as i wouldnt question your credibility from everything ive seen you post. my initial thought would be that if homeopathy does have some truth to it than im sure you know what that is but that there might be many other practitioners out there giving it a bad name- as is likely the case with naturopaths in general. but again i dont really have much experience here so im not trying to imply otherwise.

Yael- if that finger incident isn't a placebo story than I don't know what is..

Yael Grauer
11-11-2007, 02:17 PM
I know, cool huh?

Garrett Smith
11-12-2007, 08:05 AM
Thank you for that post. I personally think homeopathy is often overused by those who really love it, when the root problem is diet and nutritional deficiencies. Homeopathy won't help that. Many people also hope & pray that homeopathy will be their "magic bullet", so that they won't have to change their crappy lifestyle habits (sound like pharmaceutical-think?). I don't tend to use homeopathy & other "energetic" remedies until I believe that folks have their base/physical foundation (diet, exercise, stress reduction) in order--as most, if not all, problems arise from that.

All I have to add is that there are plenty of allopathic physicians out there giving drugs and surgery a bad name too. Whatever medicine one chooses, it's always of utmost importance to find a good practitioner.

Yael Grauer
11-12-2007, 08:24 AM
Heilkunst uses a three-tiered approach: therapeutic regimen, your way of life (including food, sleep, water, etc.), therapeutic education, which is how you're thinking and therapeutic medicine, the remedies.