Vegan "nutritionist" sister is driving me nuts. Help!

by (30) Updated February 18, 2014 at 2:44 PM Created February 05, 2013 at 7:02 PM

My borderline vegan sister is about to head to grad school for nutrition and I am a newbie cavegirl. We always get into arguments about animal protein and grains.

Her most recent campaign: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/animal-protein/

I know to combat this line: "The presence of industrial carcinogens, xenoestrogens, arsenic,steroids and external hormones in animal fat and protein may be partially to blame." with the paleo matra of grass-fed beef, farm raised chicken, etc. but what about something like this: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/meat-fumes-dietary-secondhand-smoke/ It's a video about how the fumes of cooked meat cause growth issues and cancer.

Any arguments I can throw her way?

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26354 · February 05, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Amazing. The problem is that most of xenoestrogens that humans consume is from crops such as corn, sugarcane, soy, dwarf wheat and winter wheat. As well as insecticides used on numerous vegetables, fruits, cereal grains. And finally the plastic containers that foods are sold in. The primary animal fat xenoestrogen, Zeranol, has been banned from use in the US.....

So you tell me, which diet is going to be higher in xenoestrogens?

As for the studies:

The mutegen that they are identifying, Heterocyclic amines form when amino acids and creatine react at very high cooking temperatures.

So why should I be surprised that meat, which inherently has creatine, produces higher amounts of HCAs? When Soy and Tofu have virtually no creatine. Also the study does not specify the type of seed oil used to fry the foods -- rancid oil is one of the prime culprits of HCAs.

For the second study? They are talking about a .2 lbs difference and are calling it significant. It may be scientifically significant, but that does not make it significant in real life. (see subway 11" foot long debacle). But let's see what the authors thought:

"estimated effects were of borderline significance level"

"the reduced birth weight could not have been mediated by a shortened gestation period"

"the intake of barbecued meat did not affect the duration of pregnancy"

Also there is nothing to suggest that a lower birth weight (which btw, huge 95% CI) has anything to do with the health of the fetus.

My take? Bad science.

======================================================================= Edit:

The other thing that really bothers me about this "study" is that there is an assumption that any ingestion of HCA causes cancer. There have been studies that have definitively linked massive amounts of HCA to cancer. We should not assume that there is a linear relationship and that if TOO MUCH HCA is bad, than any amount of HCA is bad and/or that there is some cumulative effect.

If that logic is appropriate, than we really shouldn't drink any water. It has been shown that too much water leads to hyponatremia which can lead to death. So if TOO MUCH water is bad, than all water is bad. Or there is some cumulative effect so if you drink water every day at some point you will go over a threshold.

Now we all know that this is BS. We have processes to excrete water. So there is certainly no cumulative effect. We also know that we need water for survival. Some water = necessary for life; Too much water = death. There is a happy medium, and our bodies are particularly well designed to excrete toxins before they get to the dangerous threshold.

2797 · February 05, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Secretly take martial arts lessons then mercilessly physically dominate your sister at every opportunity all the while claiming it's solely the result of your superior diet.

11011 · February 05, 2013 at 7:11 PM

That video said that living near a Chinese restaurant will be detrimental to your health because they broil fish there. Seriously, that's batshit-cantthinkstraight-vegan-craziness argument... I can't even count the number of third variables that they couldn't/didn't control for. Tell your vegan sister to give you clinical research instead of this garbage.

40652 · February 05, 2013 at 8:00 PM

"Similarly, the best source of vitamin B12 is from supplements rather from animal sources."

Really? The best source of B12 is an artificial pill, not a whole food? How did we survive as a species up to now? Can you really take a site that says this seriously? I've seen 'articles' there before, they're all pretty miserable.

325 · February 05, 2013 at 8:03 PM

honestly, anyone NOT paleo will disagree with you about being Paleo. i don't even talk about it anymore and if people ask me about it, i just give a short and simple answer. my favorite was when an overweight friend of mine asked how i looked so great (been doing Paleo and CrossFit for a year now), and when i told her, she was all negative about Paleo. she said, "well, i eat a multi-grain bagel with cream cheese every morning and i'm just fine." really? well, you are a couch potato and fat.... don't ask me how i look so great if you are then going to bring me down. ignorant!!

20222 · February 05, 2013 at 7:24 PM

I suggest you spend some time reading Denise Minger's blog:

She's a smart, ex vegan, who crunches the numbers and looks at a lot of studies (tears them apart, more like).

That and maybe Lierre Keith's Vegetarian Myth is worth a read.

(Yes, I know Lierre plays loose with facts in that book and she seems to have gone batshit crazy lately, but I still like the book for the passion, the lyrical prose and thoughtful, compelling arguments. And anybody who takes a Tobasco cream pie to the face from angry vegans is a hero in my book.)

1981 · February 05, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Just bide your time. Often, people's beliefs about food have nothing to do with facts. When she baits you, look at her and say "yeah, maybe," and then carry on with your bad self.

109 · February 06, 2013 at 8:45 AM

I would suggest it might be worth considering why you feel the need to respond to your sister's arguments and 'win' the argument. Is it just part of sibling rivalry, do you want o convert your sister to paleo? Is it important for you that people around you think the same way? There could be all sorts of reasons, but one thing I've learned of years living in a family where I am very different and take an active interest in all sorts of things whereas my family don't, that I'm never going to get them to think the way I do, or for that matter just even try to understand something from my point of view.

What kind of relationship will you have with you sister if you end up continually arguing about nurtition? Is it worth it? Try influencing others by setting an example in terms of how you live your own life rather than getting into technical arguments. Often no matter what facts you have, you won't 'win' anyway.

12607 · February 05, 2013 at 10:58 PM

My issue with the way studies like that first one are used is that it relies on the idea that such compounds (HCA's in this case) are dose dependent carcinogens, i.e., any dose above zero increases cancer.

In reality, this idea is flimsy and many carcinogens likely have a threshold level. Basically, there are carcinogens everywhere, but thankfully for us, in doses well below what are problematic.

Should we really worry about cooking beef because some study found the produced fumes had 1/3 of a nanogram of carcinogens per gram of meat, whereas tempeh fumes had 1/6 a nanogram of these carcinogens?

Personally, I'm not convinced the extra 0.00000000017 grams of HCA's in the air, most of which I'm probably not even inhaling, are worth worrying about.

None of this is to say barbecuing and frying the crap out of your meat isn't a bad idea, I think it is. But this is not a required way of eating meat. You can easily cook meat in gentler ways and many such arguments against it become much weaker.

875 · February 06, 2013 at 7:09 AM

You should be grateful you have an sibling you can argue about nutrition with. It could help you both learn more and see different view points. No one in my family gives a damn about nutrition.

0 · February 18, 2014 at 1:29 PM

I compete unspokenly with my sister. She was a natural bodybuilder and gymnast, a doctor, and specializes in nutrition. I was introverted and an emotional carb wreck.

Now I have bounced informational texts....but to avoid conflict, I do my thing, do it well, and shine with my outstanding transformation.

Btw...not all is as seems. Someone who I thought walked her talk has secret candy stashed, processed food, and slams her ex for having kids on celiac diet. She pushed alcohol on me and gave me crap for my excess herbal tea consumption. No need to fear that poor of competition! I'm more fit than her with a healthier diet now, unbelievable!

665 · February 17, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Point her to the personal blog of Peter Attia, MD





Perhaps reading the work of a mechanical engineer trained as an MD at Stanford & Johns Hopkins who has turned his focus towards nutrition will have some impact on her thinking. Let Dr. A's work do the heavy lifting for you with respect to how most "nutritional research" is lacking good science. :(

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