Why Plant-based and not Meat-based diet for the promotion of health? – Dr. Evans

  1. The Paleo argument:  Our Simian ancestors date back 30 million years and up until 2 million years ago the preponderance of evidence suggests that we were omnivores eating berries and plants. We have 32 teeth, none of which are true canines (think lion), the enzyme in our saliva is amylase for the digestion of complex carbs (plants), and our small bowel is 22 feet long as opposed to 12 feet in carnivores because of the added work required to digest plant foods containing cellulose (fiber).  With the advent of the Stone Age, humans constructed weapons to forage leftover meats from lions or other larger carnivores who ran down their prey (which we could never do).  Our hands are constructed to pick berries (we have no claws for tearing flesh).  It has just been the last 20,000 years that we have developed tools to kill and as time went on these tools became more and more effective.  Yet, our DNA that controls our metabolism remains that of our simian ancestors from 30 million years ago.  Studies show that if omnivores are fed a diet high in animal meat and fats, they will develop atherosclerosis and diabetes, both of which are practically unheard of in carnivores. (For more information, refer to the YouTube video by Dr. Milton Mills MD a world authority in anthropology.)
  2. Where will I get my protein? Protein is composed of amino acids which are unique amongst the other 2 food groups (carbs and fats) in that they have a nitrogen atom.  Nitrogen is naturally found in our atmosphere and the only compound capable of extracting it from the atmosphere and putting it in our food chain is chlorophyll.  All the essential amino acids are found in plants.  In fact, if a person was on a 2000 calorie diet and all they ate was broccoli, they would be getting approximately 180 grams of protein a day.  It is no wonder why most omnivores are also the biggest, meanest beasts in the jungle (think gorillas, elephants and rhinoceros).  When a person eats meat, they are also consuming 25-50% saturated fats.  It takes a lot of energy (about 25% of that consumed) to convert plant food to fat.  While fats go straight to fat without any significant middle step. Moral:  You do not build muscle from eating meat.  Muscle comes from clean amino acids and hard work!
  3. Where will I get my calcium if I do not drink milk? First and foremost, cows do not make calcium.  Like most minerals, calcium is found in the earth.  A cow gets its calcium from the roots of the grasses it feeds on.  Calcium is found in high concentrations in all root vegetables and in this form (calcium hydroxyl-appetite), we absorb about 50% of the plants we eat, and it goes straight to our bones and muscles. We only absorb 30% of the calcium in cow’s milk, and the milk itself is from a cow that is pregnant with a lot of estrogen that has been linked strongly with prostate, breast and ovarian cancers.  Interestingly, we are the only species on the planet that never get weaned from milk.
  4. What about B12, I know that is only found in meat? Most B12 originates form bacteria in our drinking water and soil.  We do not want to drink this water any longer, so it is filtered and chlorinated to kill these bacteria.  Still, it is a good idea to take B12 supplements.  It is noteworthy that meat eaters have more micronutrient deficiencies than plant-based diets.
  5. So, what is the problem with a high fat diet? There are many problems with fats.  As a group, both animal and plant fats are very high in calories: 9 Kcal/gm) vs 4 Kcal/gm in carbohydrates and protein and all fats get converted to fats readily without using much energy.  Most of our energy consuming tissues such as brain and muscle burn sugar for fuel preferentially.  Fat gets stored in these tissues which sets the stage for Alzheimer’s disease and Insulin resistance respectively.  Also, animal fats especially are very acidic which leads to osteoporosis, kidney stones, gout and kidney disease.  Animal/saturated fats are also converted in our livers to cholesterol which then sets the stage for atherosclerosis.  Saturated fats are absorbed as fat into the bloodstream where it remains for 4-5 hours until it is eventually cleared by the liver.  If we eat 3-4 meals containing fat daily, then the fat never clears. Our blood becomes more viscous and prone to clots (strokes and heart attacks), our arteries get stiffer from the inflammation caused by the fats, and we become overweight or obese because all this excess energy must be stored, which then sets the stage for cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and fatty liver disease.
  6. What about lean meats? Are they bad too?  All processed meats are loaded with salts which can cause water retention and hypertension.  Mixing meat proteins with sugar (marinades) when heated at high temperatures (charbroiled or barbecued) results in glycolic end products which are extremely toxic to arteries and promote atherosclerosis. Other “evils” unique to meat alone include: a) Neu 5Gc (a pro-inflammatory endotoxin).  b)  TMAO.  The Carnitine in meat and choline in eggs are broken down to a compound called Trimethylamine by bacteria found in the small intestine.  This compound is then readily absorbed and is converted to Trimethylamine oxide in the liver and set free into the blood stream where it is extremely caustic to arteries causing atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.  c)  All meats, when eaten, cause endotoxins from putrefaction in the colon which is pro-inflammatory. They also contain reactive oxygen species, which ignites free radicals that damages all the surrounding tissues like a sparkler on the Fourth of July.  d)  All commercial meats, milk products (including cheeses) and eggs contain carcinogenic hydrocarbons, pesticides, metals, hormones and antibiotics.  A point of fact is that over 80% of all the antibiotics used in the US is dedicated to the meat industry.  Over the years, this has contributed to antibiotic resistance and the production of “superbugs” e) Heme iron, unique to meat, is toxic to the liver, pancreas and heart.
  7. What about “Free Range” animal products? This can become a pretzel conversation very fast.  The presumption here is that if an animal lives a good life, it is somehow less cruel to kill and eat it.  Most people don’t think of killing an animal that feels emotions when they eat meat.  All meat on the dinner table comes from the same slaughterhouse, regardless of how free they lived their short lives, and personally I find it hard to comprehend how we can compassionately and humanely kill another animal.  “The lesser of two evils is still evil.”
  8. Why plant-based? First, as a physician, I took an oath to do no harm, and the evidence is very clear that even suggesting meat is okay to eat is goes against that oath (especially now that I am aware of the evidence).  Second, it is the ONLY diet shown in clinically controlled studies to reverse coronary heart disease.  It ranks as the number 1 healthy diet reviewed by the “US News and World Report”, while the paleo diet ranks 29 out of 30 with number 30 being the high fat, ketogenic diet.  On a more personal level, I rank the paleo diet as the “Diet of Death” because it is so unhealthy that it can cause chronic illness and literally kill us, the nutrients come from the often-inhumane slaughter of sentient beings (1 million chickens are consumed every hour in the US alone) and our planet is being destroyed in the process.
  9. What about artificial “meats” that are soy-based? These are good options for special occasions and weaning people off meat towards a plant-based diet in the same way we might advise which artificial sweeteners are healthy for sugar addicts. I am opposed to soy burgers and dogs on the same basis as processed foods; they contain preservatives, chemical dyes and a lot of salt.  None-the-less, these products are much safer that meat products (as far as we know now).
  10. How long does it take to transition to plant –based diet? Some people can do it readily but 50% of people experience “Meat Hunger.”  Eating animal flesh 3 times a day starts in infancy.  After decades of exposure (the average American eats around 200 pounds of meat and 35 pounds of cheese each year) our bodies have put into motion the necessary enzymes required to digest and assimilate the meat.  When a person suddenly stops meat and goes plant-based, they must turn down enzymes required to break down carnitine, myoglobin and the likes (called downregulation), and turn up the production of enzymes required to digest plants.  In some people who have eaten very little green all their lives, this can take up to 3 months to up-regulate the enzymes to digest plant products.  This can result in a net energy deficit known as “Meat Hunger”.  Meat substitutes or meat 2-4 times a week may help bridge this barrier.  Telling this to patients before they start their journey may help many patients to find the finish line.
  11. What are the risks and benefits of statins? a) for primary prevention (preventing the first heart attack) in a meta-analysis performed by the USPSTF in November 2016 and published in JAMA that month, it was determined that we must treat 244 patients for 5 years to prevent 1 event, yet somehow concluded it had impressive benefits in lowering one’s risk.  On the other hand, studies published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care in December 2017, showed that when given to patients with pre-diabetes the 10-year risk of statin induced diabetes was between 33% and 37%!  Similarly, the risks of dementia are 11% and myositis and resulting kidney failure around 5%.  Although there are plenty of studies propagated by this $50 billion-dollar industry to the contrary, the randomized controlled trials funded by NIH seem to paint a very different picture.  b)  for secondary prevention, the same risks apply, but the benefits (risk of second heart attack) according to the same USPSTF study show that we need to treat 80 people for 5 years to prevent 1 event.  Subsequent randomized, controlled trials have similarly demonstrated a 2.6% reduction in risk of second heart attack over 10 years.  Again, the statin industry and cardiologists alike boast that this as a major accomplishment.  Clearly, this is peanuts compared to the 80% decreased risk simply by changing what we put in our mouths.