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Grand sage
Grand sage

Nombre de messages : 1492
Date d'inscription : 24/09/2011

MessageSujet: VEGAN BABIES   Dim 1 Juil - 8:23

MAY 10 2012

Dr. Wilson Offers Advice About Vegan Babies

Dr. Holly Wilson, an Emergency Medicine physician in South Florida, answers your vegan health questions once a month right here in IDA eNews!

This month, "Plant-based Granny" asked: "I would like to learn about bringing up our new grandchild as a vegan from her/his first meal onwards." Click here to read Dr. Wilson's provocative response, and submit your own vegan health questions to

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Grand sage
Grand sage

Nombre de messages : 1492
Date d'inscription : 24/09/2011

MessageSujet: Re: VEGAN BABIES   Dim 1 Juil - 8:25


Ask Dr. Wilson- Your Vegan Health Questions Answered



Dr. Holly Wilson, a board certified Emergency Medicine physician in South Florida, is available to answer your vegan health questions right here in IDA eNews! Are you thinking about going vegan or new to veganism? Are you curious about a particular vitamin, nutrient, or food? Do you want to get the most nutrition from your plant-based diet? Long-time vegan Dr. Wilson can answer your questions.

Ask Dr. Wilson is a monthly feature in IDA's eNews, so submit your vegan health questions.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium



June 2012
Dear Dr. Wilson,

Since becoming a vegan, I constantly hear or read about the negative side effects of eating too much soy, and I have three questions if you could possibly answer:

1) Could you elaborate of what the possible side effects are for someone who eats too much soy?

2) Do you have a general idea of what "moderate soy consumption" would be?

3) Could you tell me the difference between genetically modified soy vs. non-genetically modified soy? Does non-genetically modified soy have more benefits or are there still negative side effects from eating too much of it?

Thank you so much for your time!

Soy Much To Learn!

Dear Soy Much To Learn,

You asked about the "negative side effects from eating too much soy". This question is difficult to answer, considering the various preparations of soy and its omnipresence in food. Soybean protein products require heat processing to achieve maximum nutritional value. Soybeans can be processed into flour, oil, milk, tofu, tempeh, dried, and the list continues. If the protein is not sufficiently denatured (heated), it has poor digestibility.

Most soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified, laden with pesticides and fed to farm animals. It is a large percentage of their diet, which becomes incorporated into their flesh and milk. It is entirely possible to be vegan without consuming soy, as some people have a true allergy or just don't care for it. However soy is a nutritious common staple in the vegan diet. As far as the negative side effects of soy, the data is conflicting and inconclusive. Soy is indeed healthy, and in fact it is anti-carcinogenic through its trypsin inhibitor. How much trypsin inhibitor is present is a reflection of how the soy is processed. What has been clearly demonstrated however, is the link between consuming animal fat and protein and a multitude of preventable disease states. Food animals are among the most forgotten and abused animals on Earth- so everybody wins when you make compassionate food choices.

Soybeans and their various preparations are great sources of protein, but there are many other varieties of beans, legumes and grains which have similar protein content. Furthermore, there are multiple options for non-dairy milk which are not soy-based. I make my own cashew milk, and it is divine! I soak 1/2 cup raw organic cashews for several hours (or even overnight left in the fridge) then blend with 2 cups of water (adjust to desired consistency), 1 capful of vanilla extract, and 3 or 4 large pitted medjool dates (or evaporated cane juice to taste). It is super easy to make and incredibly delicious. There is also almond, rice, hemp and coconut milk available at supermarkets and health food stores. But there is no reason to fear soy. There have been multiple publications in nutritional journals describing soy as very healthy and a good source of protein. I've reviewed these articles, and they are not biased by pharmaceutical interest or animal welfare concerns.

Commercially produced soy products frequently use genetically modified soybeans, and there have been no properly conducted studies to determine the long-term effects of consuming such food. Furthermore, the pesticide content is also a genuine concern. Monsanto is the largest distributor of genetically engineered seeds in the U.S., and they are slowly buying seed companies from around the world. Buying organic soy products assures that you are getting foods free of pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms.

Monsanto is also the largest producer of glyphosate herbicides. Conveniently, their seeds have been engineered to be resistant to such herbicides. These chemicals contaminate soil, water sources, and have mutagenic effects on marine life. In vitro studies on human liver cells have demonstrated DNA damage and cell death. Not only do I wish people would understand what they are placing into their bodies, but also about the companies which make our food. Do they have your best interests in mind? Are they environmentally ethical?

A packaged product might be appealing to the eye and palate, and conveniently priced- but the real price paid might be your health, the health of the environment and the very life of an animal. Read labels, ask questions, know what you are supporting.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


May 2012
Vegan Children
Dear Dr. Wilson,

I would like to learn about bringing up our new grandchild as a vegan from her/his first meal onwards.


Plant-Based Granny

Dear Plant-Based Granny,

This is wonderful news that you are interested in a vegan diet for your grandchild! Hopefully his or her parents will share this desire. It is common for people to be skeptical, even downright scared to raise their child vegan. What we believe to be proper nutrition for our children is usually an indoctrination based on our own upbringing. Sadly, I have even heard parents state that we are "imposing our beliefs" on children with our veganism. Aside from our moral philosophy to abstain from harming others in order to feed ourselves, a properly balanced vegan diet supplies everybody, even infants and children, with optimum nutrition. Therefore it is not an imposition of beliefs, but rather a commitment to our children's health.

Our children have never been more sick. Diseases which in the past usually only affected adults are now prevalent in the pediatric population. One in five children are obese in the U.S., and adult-onset (or Type 2) diabetes is now affecting them. In fact, one in three American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes. This is both devastating and alarming. The power is in our hands to prevent a lifetime of chronic illness, even cancer, directly through our food choices.

Dr. Benjamin Spock MD, author of one of the best selling books of all time, Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care has since revamped his take on feeding children animal derived sources of food from the book's first edition in 1946. Dr. Spock died in 1998 at the age of 94, and his legacy lives on. He made major revisions to his book when his own health began to fail and he suffered a stroke in 1988. He explained that "children can get plenty of protein and iron from vegetables, beans, and other plant foods that avoid the fat and cholesterol that are in animal products". He took a bold stand against giving babies any dairy products. He also promoted mother's milk as "nature's perfect food for babies". Cow milk induces early menarche, which increases a woman's lifelong exposure to estrogen. This puts her at greater risk for breast cancer. And contrary to the dairy industry's clever and deceptive marketing, milk does not make your bones strong! Milk protein is acidic and calcium is leached from the bones to neutralize the acid, leaving a deficiency of calcium. This is why the largest demographic of milk drinkers in the U.S. and Europe have the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fractures. Milk is a toxic brew, laden with pesticides and hormones. It is tragic and shameful that the dairy industry is omnipresent in our schools, and milk is considered the ‘healthy alternative’ to soda. What's more, consumption of animal fat and protein have been irrefutably correlated with a long list of autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes and cancer- all of which are affecting the pediatric population at ever increasing rates.

The body of literature in favor of a vegan diet for children from respected health experts and the medical community is ever-growing. Dr. Joel Fuhrman MD ( is a strong advocate for veganism, and has written a book Disease Proof Your Child.

Alexandra Jamieson, holistic health expert and author of Living Vegan for Dummies has a comprehensive section in her book about vegan nutrition for infants and children. Ms. Jamieson's recommendations are aligned with Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), as well as Dr. Joel Fuhrman MD. PCRM’s Cancer Project has targeted information on nutrition for cancer prevention in kids. (

Not only will you be supplying them with the best possible nutrition and preventative medicine with a vegan diet, but you will be living in harmony with the virtues you teach them. We encourage our children to respect animals and to be kind to others. Animals raised in food production deserve our mercy just the same as companion animals, and those found in the wild. These lessons will have a beautiful and profound impact on their health and emotional well-being. Going vegan and sharing these dietary practices with your children is truly the greatest gift you can give them.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


April 2012
Protein and Athletic Performance
Dear Dr. Wilson,

I would like to become a vegan, but my problem is a good source of protein. I go to the gym every day and I eat whey protein before and after my workout.

What can I eat to replace the whey protein?

Best Regard,

Don't Wanna be Wimpy

Dear Don't Wanna be Wimpy,

If you would like to become a vegan, then it is all there for the taking! No matter how often I discuss plant-based sources of protein in my column, the protein questions just keeps on coming. Sadly, we live in a culture that is bordering protein obsessed. Protein is an important constituent in our diet, yet does not need to come from a miserable, disease-stricken animal. As a vegan, if I were playing word association with 'cow', my initial response would not be 'protein' or 'beef', but instead 'herbivore'!

We have become indoctrinated into a system of misinformation regarding good sources of protein. We are raised on certain foods, derive comfort from them, and as we get older we continue the pattern without questioning it. And we usually go on to feed our children similar foods, with the belief that it will provide health and proper nutrition. When I became vegan, it was purely an ethical pathway I chose. I simply could not support the horrors behind my food production, and honestly was not even considering my own health. My body went through an adjustment. I was craving food that was not healthy, and I also had no support system. I didn't know any vegans, I knew of no online sources, and just had to figure everything out on my own. However the good news, is that today it truly has never been easier. Just over the past few years, we have made leaps and bounds in terms of choices in restaurants, supermarkets, books in the library, and online help. It is still a journey, and I am constantly learning. Yet the science is clear. Consuming a plant-based diet is the best thing you can do for yourself, the animals, and the planet.

Plant based sources of protein abound! There is protein at every turn! Even the American Dietetic Association has a webpage all about athletic performance and building muscle on a plant-based diet.

Here are some examples of vegan foods with high sources of plant protein:
Tofu and Tempeh, Beans/Legumes, Whole Grains like Quinoa, Nuts & Seeds

There are even competitive athletes and bodybuilders who are vegan, like Robert Cheeke, Kenneth Williams, Brendan Brazier and Mat Danzig.

When it comes to your whey protein, please consider exactly what you are consuming and what you are supporting. Whey protein is cow milk derived. Cow milk is acidic, and the countries which consume the most dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis. At the expense of the calcium in our bones, the acidity is neutralized. People who consume animal protein (all forms are acidic) have measurable levels of calcium excreted in their urine, in linear fashion. In other words, the more they consume, the more calcium they loose. And the answer is not to take calcium supplements, but to simply abstain from animal protein in the first place. Cows are mammals, and just like humans- produce milk for their babies. When you consume whey protein or any other type of cow milk product, a baby is denied the nutrients that were intended for him (or her). Cows are impregnated annually to keep the milk flowing, and the babies and mothers are sadly separated. When a cow's peak milk production years are over, she is all of 3 or 4 years of age- a teenager! They can live to be 20, but are sent to slaughter instead to become hamburger. These animals lead wretched lived- impregnated artificially, left standing in a dark concrete stall and are in a constant state of grief over their babies. They have strong bonds with their children, and mourn their losses- just like you and I. Mechanical milking can lead to open sores and trauma, thus accounting for the blood and pus consistently found in milk, permitted by the FDA. The dairy industry is truly one of man's cruelest inventions. Although it is not necessary to take a protein supplement to build muscle, there are numerous healthy, delicious alternatives to whey protein powder. Try Sun Warrior, Vega, Nutribiotic Rice Protein, or Nutiva Hemp Protein Powder.

You certainly will not miss it, and in fact will lead a much healthier and emotionally fulfilling life when you leave the cruelty behind!

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


March 2012
The Blood Type Diet
Dear Dr. Wilson,

Hi! I hope you can help me. I was vegetarian before and had a lot of bruises on my body. My iron at the time seemed normal. Then I had oral surgery and ended up in the hospital with an infection. After, the doctor informed me that if I wanted to get well I needed red meat because I am blood type O, and red meat contains a special iron. I decided to eat meat again, and the bruises stopped. I am now allergic and intolerant to gluten, soy, almonds, eggs, sesame and I don't feel well when I eat beans. I really want to go back to being vegan but don't know how with all the restrictions I have.

Thank you!

O So Restricted

Dear O So Restricted,

I am unclear as to why you were bruising easily. The 'coagulation cascade' in the blood is complex, and it entails multiple steps which actually do not occur singularly, but simultaneously (in cascade fashion). I recall this particular topic being difficult to grasp in medical school. Imagine multiple wash machines running at once, each one beginning at a different time. And at each step along the way, there are essential cofactors and vitamins which must be present for the body to effectively formulate a clot. Furthermore, easy bruising can actually be a reflection of impaired platelet function or a low platelet blood count. Lastly, there are inherited disorders of coagulation. It is a complex issue which is beyond the scope of this column, and persistent bruising requires a thorough evaluation by your primary care physician.

In response to your doctor's advice regarding your blood type and the “need' to consume red meat because of its "special iron" - this is entirely false and misleading. Iron is one of the elements in the periodic table, and can not be created nor destroyed. It is abundant in certain plant sources, and often the animals we consume for iron which have red meat are themselves herbivores. Animals do not spontaneously produce essential nutrients that we can not obtain from plant-based sources. I have stated this in previous columns, but it is worth mentioning again. Great sources of plant-based iron are: chard and other leafy greens, lima beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, quinoa and molasses.

Using one's blood type classification as a means to dictate dietary needs is also erroneous. It is archaic and arbitrary, and has no scientific validity. The blood type diet has never been validated scientifically via a controlled study by any medical institution or nutritional school. It is simply a fairy tale. ( This diet recommends that people with type O blood should eat a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrate, similar to the other fad diet debunked by the medical establishment as incredibly unhealthy, the Adkins Diet. The majority of medical and nutritional professionals can agree on one thing; vegetables, whole grains and fruits should be emphasis in everyone's diet.

I see that initially you described yourself as 'vegetarian', and then at the end stated that you wanted to go back to being 'vegan'. These two terms are not interchangeable. Vegetarians support the exploitation and slaughter of animals through the consumption of eggs and dairy. Hens, cows and goats produce eggs and milk (respectively) during their reproductive years, which is only a fraction of their natural lifespan. There are no retirement communities for them, and they ultimately end up at the slaughterhouse. Furthermore, consuming diary and eggs is unhealthy and completely unnecessary as a part of the human diet. The vegan diet avoids all animal products and is therefore the most compassionate and healthy diet.

The nutrients humans need for optimum health are best found in plant based sources. I see that you have multiple food allergies, however you can still effectively navigate your way around them while consuming a vegan diet. To start, I would suggest making a list of your favorite nutrient rich foods. And don't forget the whole wheat couscous and quinoa. These are ancient grains which area abundant in protein and contain iron as well. Then simply plug these ingredients into an internet search, with the words 'vegan recipes' included. You will quickly see that your options abound!

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


February 2012
Dear Dr. Wilson,

My husband and I are eating an essentially vegan diet with many vitamins and supplements to eliminate taking cholesterol medicine. Since doing this we both have been feeling much better with more energy although we haven't had our blood work done yet. Are we fooling ourselves or can a healthy diet of vegetables and fruits, fish, whole grains, legumes and limited red meats really help reduce cholesterol?


No Cholesterol Meds!

Dear No Cholesterol Meds,

I am glad to hear that you and your husband are on your way to becoming vegan. I am unsure what "essentially vegan" means. I would place this in the same category as "sort of pregnant!" Veganism is a commitment to yourself, the planet, and the animals. It is abstaining from harming our fellow Earthlings whenever possible. Vegans do not consume anything animal derived and compassionate food choices are just the beginning of what our lifestyle entails.

What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is essential for maintaining our cell membranes. Our bodies can synthesize it, and its constituents are stored and recycled. The human body has been eloquently designed to maximize its nutritional intake. Once our dietary intake exceeds our body's requirements, disaster occurs. High blood levels of cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis or plaque formation on our blood vessels. This leads to high blood pressure, calcification of vessels, which increases your risk for heart attack, congestive heart failure, kidney failure and stroke. These diseases are devastating - and for the most part, preventable!

Furthermore, the process of atherosclerosis is reversible. Cleveland Clinic physician Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. has done extensive clinical research regarding the standard American diet and its deleterious effects on the human body. He has also meticulously demonstrated how the disease process can actually be reversed through a plant-based diet.

Heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and type II diabetes are not genetic. However, how your body processes and stores animal fat and protein are under some genetic control. Physicians routinely ask patients about hereditary diseases, and I have seen patients lying in hospital beds looking scared and helpless while telling me about the diseases their relatives suffer from. I counsel them about the effects their choices have on them and encourage them to place their hands on the steering wheel of their health while I empower them with knowledge.

Medications commonly prescribed carry known side effects, which can not only be toxic, but deadly. "Limited red meats" is concerning. I have personally cared for patients who appear in good physical shape, yet suffer from high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Health can not be derived from the consumption of flesh and limiting the amount is engaging in Russian roulette. Eating animals and their by-products not only is entirely unnecessary, but extremely unhealthy.
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Grand sage
Grand sage

Nombre de messages : 1492
Date d'inscription : 24/09/2011

MessageSujet: Re: VEGAN BABIES   Dim 1 Juil - 8:26

Fish cause the same health problems as other meat being high in saturated fat and cholesterol. The number one cause of food-borne illness in the US is seafood derived. There are plenty of plant-based sources of omega fatty acids. Furthermore, the commercial and recreational fishing industries have devastated our oceans beyond repair. Entire populations of fish have either disappeared or have been pushed to near extinction. Fishing gear is non-discriminatory. Non-target species like dolphins, whales, sea turtles and juvenile fish are captured and killed in untold numbers. I encourage you to watch the documentary The End of the Line which clearly outlines what man's destructive hand is doing to our oceans. A diet which entails the consumption of sentient beings will never lead to optimum health. By choosing veganism, you will embark upon the greatest journey of your life, you will know no greater health, and it will be the best decision you have ever made.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


January 2012
Dear Dr. Wilson,

I was asked a question I could not find a clear answer to... "From where do Vegans get Lysine?"

Amino Acid Curious

Dear Amino Acid Curious,

I am often asked about the adequacy of plant-based sources of protein, and certain amino acids. As T. Colin Campbell PhD, author of 'The China Study' has so eloquently described, the best source of protein to support the growth of human muscle is human flesh! There are approximately eight amino acids (the building blocks of protein) which are considered 'essential'- meaning, the body can not synthesize them, making us dependent on dietary sources. Food sources of protein have the classification of 'high-quality' and 'low-quality', depending on how well they resemble the constituents of our own flesh. Animal-based sources have historically been labeled as 'high-quality', however this classification does not imply that such proteins are superior, or even healthy. This classification is myopic and misleading. "There is a mountain of compelling research showing that 'low-quality' plant protein, which allows for slow but steady synthesis of new proteins, is the healthiest type of protein. Slow but steady wins the race." - T. Colin Campbell PhD.

Furthermore, it is unnecessary to meticulously combine various plant-based sources of protein, the body combines them for you. Also, there is no need to obsess that you are not getting enough. Just be sure to eat good plant-sources of protein regularly. Legumes, cous cous, quinoa, brussel sprouts, raw white corn, raw broccoli- and the list continues!

Most of us have been indoctrinated into the belief system which holds the misconception that the best sources of protein are animal-derived. Although animal flesh, eggs and milk are sources of protein which we can utilize, they are inferior to plant-based ones. Animal-based sources also have a well-documented association with a myriad of preventable diseases. The list is long, and includes hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, and an array of auto-immune diseases.

Lysine falls into the category of essential amino acids- all of which can safely be derived from plant-based sources. On a weight based comparison, potatoes contain more lysine than human flesh, and have a comparable content to breast milk. Your best plant-based sources are rice, sorghum, soy beans and yams. Wheat, maize (corn) and cassava also contain lysine. The kindest, healthiest thing you can do is choose a plant-based diet. There is an overwhelming amount of literature to support its benefits, and you will enjoy inner peace knowing that you are not contributing to a life of confinement and misery to support your dietary needs. We at In Defense of Animals are committed to helping you get there!

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


December 2011
Vitamin D
Dear Dr. Wilson,

I know that we don't need Vitamin D from animal product such as milk and eggs but this classmate (who is majoring in nutrition or kinesthetic) was adamant about the need to consume those products. This was during his informative speech for our public speaking class and I did not have the facts on me to question him or wanted to be rude by starting a debate, but can you please go over vitamin D? I have classmates who are interested in a more healthy diet but with people who are misinformed like that making a presentation on facts supported by the meat and dairy industry (he used the old "got milk" line), it confuses the general population. I will send your links to my classmate once you post it.

Thank you very much,


Dear D-Bunk,

Thank you for your question. You are absolutely correct in stating that we do not need vitamin D from animal products.

What is vitamin D? Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced within our bodies, under the proper circumstances. All we need is 1-3 hours of ultraviolet (UV) radiation to the skin per week. Understandably, there is concern regarding the relationship between UV radiation and skin cancer, and some choose to avoid the sun or use sunblock. Furthermore, the greater we move from the equator, the less sun we are exposed to.

There is an increased reliance on dietary sources of vitamin D, and it is found in a wide variety of foods. Vitamin D from animal sources is in the form of D3, and from plant sources is D2. The two forms have identical biologic activity, and are activated equally well by our enzymes. Plant sources of vitamin D include leafy green vegetables, avocados, papaya, shiitake mushrooms and sweet potato, to name a few. Whether synthesized continuously (via UV light) or absorbed from our intestines, vitamin D enters circulation bound to a protein synthesized in the liver. Some remains stored in the liver, while the rest travels to the kidney for it's final enzymatic activation. The mature hormone- 1,25 D is then released into circulation. 1,25 D is considered the 'supercharged' vitamin D.

What is it's function? Again, vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. The human body has been eloquently designed to process and absorb critical nutrients and minerals at specific points along the intestinal tract. Vitamin D is a key player in the regulation of mineral ion homeostasis- most notably, calcium. Vitamin D deficiency is actually quite common in the US, and clinical manifestations are largely a consequence of decreased intestinal absorption of calcium. The symptoms that develop are dependent on age, among other factors. Children can develop a condition called rickets. There is bone growth retardation, and the bone's growth plates become enlarged which lends to the characteristic bowing appearance. In adults, the body responds to the low calcium levels at the expense of the calcium in the bones, and osteomalacia develops. On x-rays, the weakened bones look translucent.

Vitamin D also is a key player in a wide variety of other functions, and the VDR (Vitamin D receptor) is found throughout our bodies. If vitamin D (the 'supercharged' 1,25 D form) levels remain consistently low, the risk of developing certain diseases increases (e.g. multiple sclerosis and juvenile-onset diabetes). Animal fat and protein are acidic, and lead to decreased enzymatic activity in the kidney which converts the stored form of vitamin D to 1,25 D.

Furthermore, a quick means to buffer acid is by releasing calcium from our bones- and calcium also inhibits formation of 1,25 D. High levels of dietary calcium are also associated with low levels of 1,25 D. Cow's milk is both acidic and high in calcium- the two established factors which suppress 1,25 D. Interestingly, 1,25 D has an antiproliferative effect on breast and prostate cancer cells. In other words, it slows the growth of cancer cells. Breast cancer awareness month was October, and last month was dedicated to prostate cancer. There was a lot of fundraising, and many name brands from the dairy industry donated money while promoting their products. Sadly, these products are indeed associated with an increased risk for cancer. Wearing a pink ribbon or growing a mustache might increase awareness for these diseases- but abstaining from dairy consumption will actually reduce your chances of developing them in the first place.

The kindest, healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to adopt a plant-based diet. Our bodies repeatedly demonstrate through the manifestation of preventable disease that we are not well suited to consume animals and their by-products. It has never been easier to go vegan!

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


November 2011
Paleolithic Diet
Dear Dr. Wilson,

I am currently following a diet which excludes grain, dairy, and legumes. Four months prior I began a vegetarian diet, but recently included fish because I am worried about getting enough protein. What supplements should I be taking besides B12. I certainly feel tired through out the day, especially on days of intense work outs.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Feeling Prehistoric

Dear Feeling Prehistoric,

First, let's define the Paleolithic Diet.

The Paleolithic Era began approximately 2.5 million years ago and ended with the advent of modern agriculture, about 10,000 years ago. Food sources of the Paleolithic Age included animals and plants which were part of the local environment in which people lived. Domestication of animals and agriculture had not yet existed. We can not construct a modern-day 'food triangle' to represent their diet, as we do not know the ratio of meat to plant based food. And the diet would have varied considerably depending on region, weather conditions, etc. Since there is no recorded history of this extended period of time, there is much debate and speculation as to what actually occurred - and many questions will remain unanswered. What is known from this period is extrapolated from archeologists.

On the fossilized teeth of recently excavated 44,000 to 36,000-year-old Neanderthal skeletons, researchers found starch granules from a variety of plant life-wild grasses, roots, tuber foods, dates, barley and legumes. Furthermore, the barley had been cooked. Pre-historic man did not avoid grains and legumes, and they sometimes cooked their food.

Without question, ancient man's lifestyle was far more physically demanding than ours. The average lifespan is often referred to as 30, yet this is debated. Many scholars believe that adults commonly lived into their 60s or 70s. Presumably infant mortality was high, yet what ailments did adults suffer from, and what ultimately killed them? The Paleolithic Diet admirably aims to combat the health concerns which are directly linked to the Western Diet, which is laden with animal fat and protein, processed carbohydrates and minimal raw fruits and vegetables. However, it fails to recognize the nutrient rich benefits of whole grains and legumes.

Many versions of the Paleolithic Diet exist. What about eggs and raw milk? Animals weren't domesticated until the Neolithic Period- it is very unlikely that the Paleolithic human consumed eggs and milk regularly. The Paleolithic Diet advocates consumption of 'grass fed' animals and seafood. Irrespective of how they were raised, it has been scientifically demonstrated that animal fat and protein are associated with a myriad of health ailments. Consider also that most of the animals that were hunted and consumed by our ancestors are today extinct.

Today's 'grass fed' animals are domesticated, genetic manipulation is common, and natural habitats for wild horses and other animals are being destroyed to create pastures for grazing cattle. Furthermore, allocating land for animals to graze is not sustainable for the Earth's seven billion inhabitants. Fifty-five billion land animals are raised and slaughtered each year world wide occupy 80% of the Earth's total usable arable land. How much more can we spare to "free-range" animals? There simply is not enough to support the practices of prehistoric times.

Diet was determined by geographic region - so a tribe living inland, far from the ocean, did not consume seafood. Today, food borne illness linked to seafood is common, and seafood is the only food source which contains mercury, a toxin incredibly dangerous for children and pregnant women. Fish also contain levels of DDT, dioxin, heavy metals and other poisons. Our oceans are suffering immeasurably and irreparably from the commercial fishing industry. Even recreational fishing is taking its toll. It is time to shed the attitude that the ocean's treasures are inexhaustible. I recommend reading The End of the Line by Charles Clover for an eye opening account about the state of our oceans. It is also available as a documentary.

There seems to be a romantic association with following the suspected dietary patterns of our cave man brethren, however today it is a near impossibility. The basic premise of eating a 'natural' diet is a noble one, however, what is natural? The more we learn about the abundant benefits of not eating animal products, the less 'natural' they will seem. We are evolving- and our diet should follow suit.

You commented that you were consuming a 'vegetarian Paleo Diet' but have recently introduced fish, because of your concern of not 'getting enough protein'. I have covered the topic of protein before, and I have also recently written about B12. I would encourage you to scroll down to see those particular entries.

If you are consuming a proper, balanced vegan diet - you shouldn't feel tired. If you have symptoms of fatigue, I would recommend using a nutrient counter and see what nutrient you are low in and find a whole plant source of that nutrient. Don’t be afraid of whole grains and legumes- these are some of the most nutritious foods on earth! The data abounds in support of a plant based diet rich in legumes, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables for optimum health. Given today's population crisis and knowledge of our true nutritional needs, it is only appropriate to aim for the most sustainable and healthy diet for today and the next age to come.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


October 2011
Dear Dr. Wilson,

How are some ways to get all your essential vitamins, particularly iron, and what are some signs that you are not getting proper vitamins? I take sublingual b-complex, and worry if I am getting enough iron. What are your thoughts?

Iron It Out

Dear Iron It Out,

Nature is 'color coded', and when I shop, I am sure to include a wide variety of color from the produce section. The brilliant colors of fruits and vegetables lend to their vitamin and mineral content, as well as their cancer fighting anti-oxidant properties. They have been beautifully designed to be appealing to the eye (as well as the palate!).

Iron is essential for the formation of red blood cells (erythrocytes). Erythrocytes are formed in the bone marrow (the pulp-like center of bones) and after about 100 days of circulating, are broken down in the liver and their constituents are recycled. Erythrocytes have the vital function of delivering oxygen to all of our organs, as well as getting rid of carbon dioxide.

If someone is deficient in iron, they will develop 'microcytic anemia'. The name comes from the size of the erythrocyte under a microscope- they are smaller than healthy erythrocytes. Symptoms include fatigue and shortness of breath. Microcytic anemia can develop chronically from iron deficiency, as well as blood loss (gastrointestinal bleed, for example).

What is iron and where does it come from? Iron is one of the elements of the periodic table. "No matter can be created nor destroyed" was one of the first lessons I learned in chemistry class. Iron can be obtained from multiple plant sources, including spinach, Swiss chard, soy beans, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, potatoes, dried peaches, tomato paste, chick peas, raisins- and the list continues. Many of the animals we consume are actually herbivores themselves, and are obtaining their iron through their plant-based diet.

When you consume your iron directly through plant-based sources, you are cutting out 'the middle man'- which would be a tortured, sentient being. Raising animals for food and the essential nutrients we need as humans is wasteful, cruel and unnecessary. The water wasted is enormous. 2,500 gallons of water can produce 100 pounds of potatoes, or just one pound of meat.

Furthermore, plants are not natural reservoirs of E. coli bacteria, yet cows are. A cow's intestinal tract is lined with this bacteria, and when slaughtered and dismembered- it becomes rapidly incorporated into the meat. E. coli has caused deadly disease in humans. The water runoff from animal agriculture also has been associated with contaminating plant vegetation, as well as our drinkable water sources.

So the best way to obtain iron and all essential nutrients is from plants. See you in the produce section!

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


September 2011
Vitamin B12
Dear Dr. Wilson,

My husband and I found your article on the vegan diet/protein very confirming and interesting. I am a vegan and he is a vegetarian with an average of 3-4 free range eggs a week, sometimes not even that many, and has given up all dairy.

We eat a very healthy home cooked diet with a variety of vegetables, soy products, nuts, lentils and legumes, fruit and grain. Is it true that I as a vegan still need to take a supplement every day containing vitamin B12? And would this apply to my husband as well?

Curious Vegan

Dear Curious Vegan,

Thank you for your letter. Sounds like you have a very healthy and nutritionally complete diet. It is wonderful that your husband has given up all dairy, and hopefully soon he will let go of the eggs. Although I want to focus on the B12 issue, I would like to comment on store bought 'free range’ eggs as well.

B12, or cobalamin is essential for the formation of red blood cells, DNA & fatty acid synthesis, and brain & nervous system function. B12 is water soluble, and excess amounts are excreted in the urine. B12 deficiency due to lack of dietary intake is actually rare, considering how low the daily requirements are, and that the body 'recycles' its supply through the gastrointestinal tract and liver. The body can store it for one year or even longer!

The parietal cells of the stomach secrete a glycoprotein called 'intrinsic factor' which is essential for the absorption of B12. If there is a disturbance in intrinsic factor levels- the B12 consumed will not be absorbed, and 'pernicious anemia' will result. Pernicious anemia can be the result of autoimmunity, or direct insult to the parietal cells (eg gastric ulcers, excessive alcohol intake). Lastly, if there is damage to, or removal of, the area of small intestine which was designed to absorb B12, deficiency can occur. Again, true deficiency due to lack of dietary intake is rare- but can lead to 'megaloblastic anemia'. Megaloblastic anemia is usually a reflection of B12 as well as folic acid deficiency. Both are cofactors for DNA synthesis. Anemia is usually experienced as fatigue, tingling sensation of the arms and/or legs, and disturbances of thought and mood can also occur. These symptoms are vague, and do not necessarily reflect B12 deficiency. If any of the above symptoms are experienced- it is best to seek the counsel of your primary care physician to find the root cause.

The only organism capable of B12 synthesis is bacteria. Animal flesh and byproduct only contain B12 because of the bacteria they have ingested, or because of supplementation in their feed. Once again I have the opportunity to demonstrate that animals do not spontaneously produce nutrients essential for our health that can not be obtained through a plant based diet. In the case of B12, vegan options through food include nutritional yeast or fortified products (fortified soy milk, cereal, etc.). Always check the labels for B12 content. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough fortified foods, you can take a B12 supplement. Because the potential consequences of B12 deficiency can be serious, it's best to err on the side of caution and follow the recommendations laid out by Vegan Outreach and endorsed by fellow vegan health professionals here. You can learn more about B12 at

To get my B12, I enjoy nutritional yeast as a batter for tofu cutlets. I add unflavored soy or rice milk to the yeast until the consistency is thick (like egg)- then I batter, bread and lightly fry the tofu. It is delicious!

I would also like to offer some insight about free-range eggs. 'Free range' is a marketing ploy to allow the consumer to have his cake and eat it too, and animal welfare standards on such farms leave much to be desired. Ultimately these farms exist to turn a profit and the animals are regarded as commodities. The hens have their beaks sliced off to prevent pecking at each other, which is normal behavior when living space is limited. Although the birds are not in cages, they still live in dark, confined spaces with little or no access to the outside.

All egg-laying chickens, free-range or not, are born in hatcheries where they kill hundreds of thousands of baby male chicks that are a by-product of the industry. The male chicks are killed by grinding them up or throwing them away alive in plastic bags where they suffocate on their brothers. There is no retirement community for 'spent' free-range hens, and they are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan when peak egg production ceases. In addition to supporting an inherently cruel industry, eggs are not a healthy source of B12. They contain cholesterol and potentially salmonella and other pathogens. There is absolutely no need for eggs in the diet and we are more likely to live a healthy life without them.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


August 2011
More on Protein
Dr. Wilson,

My family and friends are concerned that since I'm vegan, I'm not getting enough protein. I am 56, weigh 162 but trying to lose weight. I have osteoporosis. How much protein do I really need?


Plenty of Protein?

Dear Plenty of Protein,

I receive frequent inquiries about protein. Most of us have been grossly misguided into believing that only animal flesh and by-product can provide our protein requirements. Many of the animals we eat for protein are herbivores- therefore, they are actually able to build protein and muscle mass from their plant based diet! People are quick to defend the evolution of our flesh eating dietary patterns. There was a time when choices were limited and little was known about nutrition. However, the catastrophic ailments which are commonplace in developed nations are actually preventable. This includes heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Today, the evidence abounds in favor of a plant based diet for optimum health.

How much protein does a person need? This was addressed by a joint panel of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations University. Findings were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in an article titled 'Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition' co-authored by Vernon R. Young and Peter L. Pellett. They carefully examined requirements at various stages in life, as well as plant verses animal sources of the essential amino acids. Adults- both male and female require 0.75 gram per kilogram of body weight per day. There are 2.2 pounds per kg, so a person weighing 130 pounds weighs approximately 60 kg. This would mean that they would need to consume approximately 45 grams of protein per day. An example of a typical vegan menu (divide into separate meals) which would meet this requirement: One cup of oatmeal (6 grams), One cup baked beans (12 grams), 5 ounces tofu (11 grams), One cup broccoli (4 grams), One cup cooked brown rice (5 grams), 4 Tablespoons Almonds (7 grams).

You also mentioned that you have osteoporosis. Was the onset of development before or after becoming vegan? It is unusual for a vegan consuming a balanced diet with lots of whole foods to suffer from osteoporosis. This disease process is usually associated with the intake of animal protein (including dairy), which is acidic. Calcium makes a great buffer, and is readily released from our bones then excreted in our urine. We have been duped into believing that cow milk lends to healthy bones, when in reality- it makes them weaker.

Essential amino acids are the building blocks of protein which we can not synthesize on our own and must be supplied through our food. Soy protein has been demonstrated to be equivalent to milk and egg protein. Even children suffering from severe malnutrition were able to recover and thrive on a plant based diet. Young and Pellett debunked several widely held myths in their article, and have successfully demonstrated that plant proteins contain all of the essential and non-essential amino acids for proper human nutrition. They question the justification of raising animals for food, if indeed our needs can be met on a plant based diet. Furthermore, plant based nutrition offers the added benefit of lower incidence of food-borne illness, lack of hormones and antibiotics, and sustainability for generations to come.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


July 2011
Is meat part of a natural diet?
Dear Dr. Wilson,

I am considering becoming vegetarian, and am also into natural/alternative medicine. Some of the natural health practitioners that I talk to are members of the Weston J. Price Foundation, which advocates a natural foods diet which includes meat. They insist that the protein and quality nutrients the body needs cannot be obtained from a vegetarian diet, and that vegetarians are subject to weakened immune systems and disease. How true is this?


Natural Diet?

Dear Natural Diet,

Congratulations on your consideration of moving towards a plant-based diet and exploring alternative medicine. I was personally unfamiliar with the Weston A. Price foundation, and used this opportunity to conduct my own research.

It is my impression that the foundation promotes foods based on farming practices from yesteryear. They advocate 'raw milk' and 'grass fed' meat consumption. Their website has firm statements regarding the benefits of these products, yet the scientific data is lacking.

Furthermore, it is unrealistic to believe that such farm practices are indeed sustainable for the Earth's ever growing population and their increasing demand for meat. Animal agriculture is incredibly wasteful, in terms of land, energy, fossil fuel, and water resources and will not be able to sustainably feed the 9 billion people expected by 2050.

Consumption of animal fat and protein is irrefutably linked to hypertension, high cholesterol and cancer. The principles of the Weston J. Price diet are founded on belief and entitlement, not scientific proof. They also hold the belief that soy is linked to a weakened immune system, which is incorrect. Again, where is the proof?

They are outraged that prisoners are being fed soy-based protein, calling it 'cruel and unusual punishment', and are claiming the prisoners are suffering health ailments as a result. They do not mention what ailments they are suffering from, and how this connection was determined.

If sweeping statements are to be made and funding collected to defend their dietary guidelines, the scientific proof from an unbiased agency needs to support them.

Most of what I treat in the Emergency Department is diet related. We have eaten ourselves into a state of sickness, and it is fueled by misinformation. At work, I carry my copy of The China Study by T. Colin Campbell PhD and show it to my patients. The China Study is the largest study ever conducted on human nutrition. Dr. Campbell entered this field of study with great trepidation. He hails from a family of farmers, who consumed milk and meat. And the food they were consuming was prior to the age of factory farming- the diet that the Weston A. Price foundation advocates.

The genetic variability is minimal in China, as there is not a lot of immigration. Dr. Campbell was able to remove genetics from the equation of health ailments (there is a widely held belief that the diseases we suffer from is genetically determined) and focus on diet. His findings are nothing short of alarming. The book also specifically addresses the issue of 'quality protein'. Plant protein has been proven to be superior to animal protein. A plant based diet provides humans with all of the nutrients they will ever need to lead a healthy life, with a statistically lower likelihood of developing a host of ailments, including cancer. This book will empower you and enlighten you.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -Hippocrates

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


June 2011
Dear Dr. Wilson,

I watched a recent Dr. Oz show, and the guy he had on claimed that only the Omega-3's from fish were utilized by the body properly, and not those from plant-based sources. I grind flax and chia seeds and eat them on a daily basis, as I don't eat any animal products. Is it all for naught?



Dear Oh-Mega,

The basic principle that animals do not spontaneously produce nutrients that we need for survival also holds true for aquatic creatures. There is a widely held incorrect belief that seafood is the only source for Omega fatty acids. Essential fatty acids can not be synthesized by the human body, however they are necessary for a variety of functions. Plants are capable of producing Omega fatty acids, and in turn our own enzymes convert them to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaeonic acid). EPA and DHA are among the building blocks of our brain, nervous system and help maintain the integrity of our cell membranes. Essential fatty acids begin with Omega 3 & 6, and then we have the ability to convert them to long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Fish consume algae, which contain essential fatty acids. We can cut out the middle man and directly consume the fatty acids. Canola oil, English walnuts, flax seed, hemp seed/milk, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, spirulina and other algae are rich with essential fatty acids that the body fully recognizes and utilizes. Seafood is the number one cause of food-borne illness in the U.S. and also contains dioxins, mercury, and other heavy metals - toxic substances that we were never meant to be ingested. Farmed fish is not the answer either. Because of the unnatural conditions in aquaculture, farmed fish aren't able to convert the nutrients they are given into Omega fatty acids, they are loaded with antibiotics, and are basically swimming in a cesspool of their own excrement.

I find it worthy to briefly express my concerns about the state of our oceans. Leading scientists have predicted that at the rate we are going, most all seafood people ingest will be gone by 2048. We are overfishing the oceans, causing irreparable damage. And not only 'target fish' are being depleted, but we are killing and harming many other species in our destructive path. In fact, 7.3 million tons of marine life each year is killed and never sold or eaten. The first thing I "gave up" was seafood, when I learned that sea turtles drown in fishing gear.

I am proud to report that I will be serving as Medical Director for the Sea Shepherd's Operation Blue Rage II during the month of June. This campaign focuses on the bluefin tuna who are nearing extinction if intervention is not swift. I will also be helping the chefs prepare vegan food for the crew! Please wish me, the crew, and the bluefin tuna good luck!

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


May 2011
Question: Since I am allergic to soy, I have found it difficult to make the full transition to veganism while getting an adequate level of protein. Other than Quorn veg-patties that are soy-free there are few products out there for people like me. Any suggestions?


Oy, Soy!

Dr. Wilson:

Dear Oy Soy:

Before making recommendations about food choices, I would like to first address the issue of protein in general. What is protein? The name is of Greek origin, 'proteios', which means 'of prime importance'. Amino acids are organic compounds that form proteins by being linked together. There are 20 in total, of which 8 (or 10, considering the classification system you are using) are considered 'essential'. An essential amino acid is one which the human body can not synthesize on its own, and must be consumed from diet. The functional units of muscle tissue are protein fibers, and enzymes are also considered proteins.

The scientific literature shows that it's better to get our protein from plant sources. T. Colin Campbell PhD, author of "The China Study," said: '"There is a mountain of compelling research showing that plant protein allows for slow but steady synthesis of new proteins, and is the healthiest type of protein." There are many famous vegan athletes, which demonstrate that we can not only survive, but thrive on a plant-based diet and get plenty of protein. Robert Cheeke (body builder), Carl Lewis (marathon runner), Martina Navratilova (champion tennis player), Brendan Brazier (triathlon athlete) and Mike Tyson, to name a few.

There is protein in beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables - enough to navigate your way around any allergy. People commonly eat more animal protein than they can process, and there is a huge misconception, even bordering hysteria, that vegans do not get enough protein. Actually, most people are getting too much protein, even vegetarians. Too much protein can cause a buildup of toxic ketones that can thrust your kidneys into overdrive in order to flush them from your body. This can cause you to lose a significant amount of water, muscle mass, and bone calcium. The dehydration also strains your kidneys and puts stress on your heart.

As far as recommending products, the best soy-free products can be found in the produce section: veggies and fruits, and the bulk section of the natural foods store: beans, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains. It is not necessary or particularly healthy to have processed meat substitutes in the vegan diet. But many people feel the need for transition foods so for soy-free meat analogs, I would not recommend Quorn veg patties as they contain egg, and are therefore not vegan. Sunshine Burgers are soy-free, have an impressive ingredient list and are extremely tasty! Amy's offers two burger patties that are soy-free: the California Burger and the new Sonoma Daiya cheeseBurger. Field Roast offers a variety of products from roasts to sausages to slices for sandwiches that are all soy-free.

It is a knee-jerk for people to jump right to the 'nutritional information' section - I recommend that you start with the ingredients. If the list contains items you can't pronounce, artificial colors & flavors, and is lengthy, it likely is not going to be good for you. My philosophy is simple: if the list contains items I wouldn't keep in my kitchen, I won't put it in my body.

Most people don't turn vegan overnight. A step-by-step approach works best. There are many soy-free foods that can bridge you over, that mimic meat's flavor and texture. Daiya Cheese is soy-free, and is also a great transition food, in moderation of course! Even within my veganism, I am still evolving. I am craving the 'mock meat' products less, and reaching for the raw foods more. Everyone has their own journey, and we at In Defense of Animals are committed to helping you get there.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


April 2011
Dear Dr. Wilson:

The other evening I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant with an acupuncturist and a nutritionist, both of whom eat meat. I ordered a tofu dish and during the course of the evening, both these people told me that soy products are unnatural and that they cause cancer.

What is your opinion?

Thank you,

Soy Confused

Dear Soy Confused:

People are afraid of the unfamiliar. I can still clearly recall the first block of tofu I bought - and how it sat in my fridge for weeks before I was mentally prepared to cook it!

So, what is tofu, anyway? Tofu is coagulated soy milk. It is low in calories & fat, high in protein, and has almost no flavor of its own. It is best to purchase the non-genetically modified, organic variety. I don't understand the concerns regarding tofu being 'unnatural'. When people choose flesh, eggs and dairy, they are consuming products from genetically-manipulated animals which are laden with hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Cows are usually fed grain instead of grass - which is not their natural diet.

All farm animals are fed a diet far from what they would eat in nature, full of additives and fillers. These animals' miserable lives in intensive agribusiness are far from 'natural'. The term 'natural' is becoming increasingly popular in regards to describing food, and it is being used completely inappropriately.

According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), April is National Soy Foods Month! The ADA says, "Compared with other beans, soybeans are a rich source of plant-based protein that contain as much complete protein as meat. That's why soy products make good protein alternatives in meatless meals. Soybeans are a good source of B vitamins and essential fatty acids, including some omega-3s. Many soy foods contain isoflavones that may help lower risks for some diseases."

Furthermore, it is the consumption of animal fat and protein that is directly associated with increasing your risk for cancer, not soy. T. Colin Campbell PhD, author of The China Study has methodically delineated the relationship between animal products and cancer. We are exposed to carcinogens on a regular basis, and indeed it is our diet that determines their potential to induce disease.

Tofu is so easy and versatile to cook. It can be marinated, grilled, sautéed, breaded & fried, baked, or even crumbled raw in a salad. Tofu goes great in everything: soups, stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, Mexican and Asian dishes. Tempeh is another fermented soy product that is fun to cook with as well. And the best part when you replace meat with tofu is that you are reducing animal suffering. When you make compassionate food choices, everybody wins!

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium


March 2011
QUESTION: How do people reaching middle age get enough calcium? Don't we need to consume dairy for calcium and healthy bones?

Dr. Wilson: This is actually an extremely common question I receive from my patients. There is a widely held belief that the only reliable sources of calcium are either from cow milk or vitamin supplements. Calcium is one of the elements of the periodic table, and essential for bone development and maintenance, muscle function and a host of cellular functions. Over 99% of the calcium stored in our bodies is stored in the skeleton. Although bone is the densest, most durable tissue in our body, it is undergoing constant reconstruction. In simplest terms, the rate of formation exceeds degradation in our youth and plateaus in early adulthood. As we age, the trend reverses and degradation exceeds formation. Bone has a rich blood supply from which nutrients are derived. Cows and all other mammals do not possess the ability to spontaneously create calcium. The calcium found in milk (from any animal) is derived from their diet.

There are many options for plant-derived calcium. Almonds, broccoli, figs, leafy green vegetables, edamame, and oranges - to name a few.

T. Colin Campbell PhD of Cornell, and author of 'The China Study' advocates reducing or eliminating meat and dairy to reduce your risk of osteoporosis over taking calcium supplements. Animal-derived protein is acidic, and the human body has a very narrow pH (concentration of hydrogen) range at which it is comfortable, thus allowing our enzymes to function properly. There are several mechanisms in our bodies that can correct disruptions in our acid/base balance. Acid can be neutralized at the expense of the calcium in our bones - which then becomes excreted in urine. There have been numerous studies in leading research journals demonstrating a virtual disappearance of bone fractures in diets with a high ratio of vegetable to animal protein.

It has been deeply ingrained in our culture, beginning at an early age that cow milk is good for growing bones. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published multiple articles describing the superiority of human milk over cow. Benjamin Spock MD, author of the best-selling "Baby and Child Care" revised his original dietary guidelines, becoming an advocate for a plant-based diet. Milk is species specific - meaning it's constituents have been optimized for the baby animal that is intended to drink it. Cow milk has been designed to make a 200 pound calf grow into a 2,000 pound animal. There is simply no physiological requirement for humans of any age to consume milk from any other species.

Soy | Vegan Children | Protein and Athletic Performance | The Blood Type Diet | Cholesterol | Lysine | Vitamin D | Paleolithic Diet | Iron | Vitamin B12 | More on Protein | Is meat part of a natural diet? | Omega-3 | Protein | Soy | Calcium

It is the policy of In Defense of Animals to no longer use language that accepts the current concept of animals as property, commodities and/or things. Rather than refer to ourselves or others as "owners" of animals we share our lives with, we now refer to ourselves and others as "guardians" of our animal friends and to animals as "he" or "she" rather than "it."

"Animals have been regarded as property for way too long. It's high time we took on a more loving and responsible relationship with our kindred beings in the web of life on this beautiful planet. I always think and act as a guardian towards my kindred beings, never as their owner."

Jim Mason, author, An Unnatural Order In Defense of Animals is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today! All donations to IDA are tax-deductible.

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