Food to Heal: the People, the Planet, and the Animals   
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Health & Anatomy: Food to Heal the People

3C: Carrots, Cabbage, & Collards! with pea shoot garnish & black sesame seeds

Creamy Delight Soup; cauliflower, beets, and potatoes; all steamed, then tossed in the blender to puree; top with green garnish and "cheezy" nutritional yeast

Broccoli Garden with cabbage, tomatoes, pintos, oil-free Thousand Island Dressing, shredded broccoli stalk garnish

Tofu Natanson; kale, golden beet, & black sesame seeds with homemade tofu from my neighbors, The Natansons!

Salsa Rice n Peppers; green & red peppers over rice with salsa

Greens n Rice

Beet Spaghetti with chard, cabbage, orange, peppers

Nuts Over Apples! My favorite "fast food" breakfast: diced apples, cinnamon, flax meal, walnuts, cranberries or goji berries, a few raisins

Orange Goji Berry Balls; energy snacks that double as healthy dessert!

The 6 guidelines below are the short answer; the References that follow provide the long answer. Note that I do not recommend a vegetarian or vegan diet, but rather a plant-based, whole foods diet. Oils, flours, and sugars, even agave, are not whole foods, and I suggest avoiding them. Although most vegan diets are healthier than animal-based diets, even these are often unhealthy due to the oils, flours, and sugars.

I became vegan in 1993 but quit oils, flours, and sugars in 2012 when my review of the research revealed the health damage they do. The only "science" supporting them as health foods is "pseudo science;" it's easy to learn how to spot these industry tricks yourself. Just learn the top two, the Ingredient Trick and the Comparison Trick, and you'll be able to instantly detect 99% of industry foolery.

Here are the current conclusions about diet from the real science. I am continuing to monitor food/nutrition/health science and will update the above short answer whenever new research emerges, but this should be solid for quite a while.

Six Evidence-Based Dietary Guidelines

(1) Whole Plant Foods. Eat only whole plant foods; whole means no oil, no flours, no sugar, agave, etc.

(2) Greens & Veggies. Aim to eat a dinner-sized plate of raw veggies/salad and a large portion of cooked veggies every day. Make a lot of these dark leafy greens and other cruciferous veggies, like collards, chard, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, radish, brussel sprouts.

(3) Fruit. Eat fruit, not fruit juice. Fruits also make great sweeteners.

(4) Beans. Eat about a cup cooked beans a day.

(5) Grains. Minimize grains, even whole grains, and eat them as brown rice, couscous, wheat berries, etc., not as pasta, bread, crackers, tortilla chips, or cold cereal/granola.

(6) Nuts & seeds, not oils. Replace oils with fats like an ounce or so of nuts or seeds (not bottled oils, the whole or pureed nuts/seeds); another good creamy base is pureed cooked beans, steamed cauliflower, or soaked raw cashews.

You can scroll through all references below or click directly on the following topics.
Overall Health
Cancer, Diabetes, and Heart Disease
Mediterranean Diet, Olive Oil, & Fish
Neuroscience, Food Preferences, Weight Loss Diet Folly
Healthy Eating: Tools to Get There
Anatomy: Herbivore/Omnivore, Paleo & Blood Type Diets
Sports, Strength, and the Animal Protein Myth

Overall Health, Disease, & Nutrition Resources

57 Health Benefits of Going Vegan (Webpage),

Appropriate Planned Vegetarian Diets Are Healthful, May Help in Disease Prevention and Treatment, Says American Dietetic Association (Webpage), American Dietetic Association Press Release, July 1, 2009.

Articles by Jeff Novick (website). A treasure trove of current and archived articles, all free online, written by the amazing Jeff Novick, MS, RDN.

Dr. Fuhrman: For Superior Health and Your Ideal Weight (Webpage). Great resource for nutritional information and disease treatment and prevention.

Eat For Health: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, Look Younger, Live Longer (2-Book set), by Joel Fuhrman. Gift of Health Press, April 1, 2008. 535 pp.

The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World (Book), by John Robbins. Conari Press, 2001.

Healthy Body, Healthy Planet (Podcast, 30-mins.), by National Public Radio (NPR).

Nutrition (Website), by Michael Greger, M.D.
    Dr. Greger provides scientific references with good analysis; his website has many health and diet topics, easily searchable by topic. Each topic has one or more free, online video clips that are usually 1 to 5 minutes long each.

NutritionMD website, hosted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Health and Nutrition section (Webpage) of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website.
     Has searchable index of diseases, foods, recipes.

Tired of Waiting to Poo (Song) (2:38), by Vegan Minstrel, April 29, 2012. Funny parody of the old Kinks’ song, Tired of Waiting

Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death (Video, 56 mins.), by Dr. Michael Greger,, July 26, 2012.
     Death in America is largely a foodborne illness. Focusing on studies published just over the last year in peer-reviewed scientific medical journals, Dr. Greger offers practical advice on how best to feed ourselves and our families to prevent, treat, and even reverse many of the top 15 killers in the United States.

U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health (Article), by Steven H. Woolf and Laudan Aron, Editors; Panel on Understanding Cross-National Health Differences Among High-Income Countries; Committee on Population; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; National Research Council; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Institute of Medicine. National Academies Press, 2013, 424 pp.

Vegan Health (Website). Handy quick-reference guide listing with links by subject (diseases, foods, topics, etc.).


Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease

See also next section, Mediterranean Diet, Olive Oil

The Cancer Project (Webpage) of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Change Your Attitutude, Change Your Life (Video, 27 mins.), by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Nutritional science has advanced to where we can prevent heart attacks, strokes, etc.

The China Study (Webpage), by Dr. T. Colin Campbell.
     This landmark report, a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine, details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The report also examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by powerful lobbies, government entities, and opportunistic scientists. The New York Times has recognized the study (“China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project”) as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” and the “most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.” The China Study cuts through the haze of misinformation and delivers an insightful message to anyone living with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and those concerned with the effects of aging.

Diabetes: Treat and Cure Diabetes (Video, 59 mins.) with Dr. Milton Mills, by the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii.

Diet and Cancer Research page (affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine).

Doctors Explain Healthy Way for Bill Clinton's Dramatic Weight Loss (Video, 9 mins.), with Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Sept. 24, 2010.

Does Coconut Oil Clog Arteries?" (Video, 5 mins.), by Michael Greger, M.D.,, Feb. 11, 2013.
     Coconut oil seems to offer some plusses over animal fats, but also some concerns. Those selling coconut oil say one needn't worry because coconut oil contains a saturated fat that doesn't raise cholesterol (stearic acid). But the beef industry sames the same thing: that unlike those evil saturated fats, palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids—that do increase blood cholesterol levels—stearic acid has been shown to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. That's true, and beef does have stearic acid, but beef has twice as much of the palmitic and myristic, which they just admitted does raise cholesterol. One study found that cholesterol levels were significantly lower during a coconut oil diet—but only when compared to a butter diet. In more recent trials, coconut oil did significantly worsen bad cholesterol, hence Walt Willett's recommendation from Harvard Medical School that, if you are going to use it, use it sparingly. IF your LDL cholesterol is under 60 or 70, Dr. Greger doesn't see coconut oil as a problem.

Eating: It's the Biggest Cause of Disease, Disabilities, and Death in the U.S. Today (Movie trailer, 8 mins.; full documentary, 88 mins.), produced by Michael Anderson,, Third Edition, 2002-2008.
     Featured documentary on PBS, Air America, and Pacifica Radio. "A compelling and often shocking look at the standard American diet. Asserts that following federal nutrition guidelines can kill you."—American Library Association.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (Movie trailer, 3 mins; full documentary free on Hulu, 1 hour, 37 mins.), by Joe Cross (main website).
     Australian Joe Cross's road trip across the U.S. while losing weight and reversing his disease on a plant-based, whole foods diet. Features Dr. Joel Fuhrman, creator of Whole Foods stores' "Nutritarian" approach and Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scores for foods.

Forks Over Knives (book and documentary film), 2011.
    Featuring Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Colin Campbell, this film examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.

From the Operating Table to the Dining Room Table (Video, 1 hour, 22 mins.), by Dr. Michael Klaper.
     Great section on digestion, bowel, IBD; arthritis, etc.; sugar; changes over his 40 years as MD, diseases he was taught were unstoppable, and more.

Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples [Book], by John Robbins. Ballantine Books, 2007.

How to Achieve Incredible Health (Video, 55 mins. total), by Joel Fuhrman: PBS Special 2012.
     He discusses the role of diet, especially micronutrient deficiency/poor nutrition, and disease and overweight. He also reviews high-nutrition foods and their role in health promotion. Part 1 (Video, 15 mins.) Part 2 (Video, 15 mins.) Part 3 (Video, 15 mins.) Part 4 (Video, 10 mins.)

Kickstart Your Health (Videos, 52 mins. total), by Dr. Neal Barnard. Part 1, Weight Loss (Video, 14 mins.): Part 2, Heart Disease (Video, 14 mins.); Dean Ornish; Diabetes; Sugar, Chocolate, Baby Magnet; Glycemic Index: Part 3, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Migraines (Video, 14 mins.) Part 4: Slow, Manageable Transition Steps (Video, 10 mins.)

"The Last Heart Attack" (Video, 41 mins.), by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Aug. 2011.
     Former President Bill Clinton tried the "healthy" fish/chicken/turkey with little beef diet after his quadruple bypass, but it only gave him two stent operations. So he finally worked with Dr. Dean Ornish, who put him on the plant-based, whole foods diet that completely reversed his heart disease. No more surgery, no drugs. He lost a ton of weight and says he feels great, has "more energy than ever." This diet is featured in the documentary, Forks over Knives.

Organic Meats Are Not Health Foods (Article), by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Jan. 23, 2009, 3 pp.

Salt: The Starch Solution and Why Salt is a Scapegoat (Video, 68 mins.), by Dr. John McDougall.
     Compares humans to chimps; one main difference is that humans have amylase enzymes for digesting grains. Shows that our brain evolved from grains, not fish/meat intake. Good science, archaeology. (Note: I disagree that amylase means we “should” eat grains; similarly, many Euro-Americans “evolved” digestive enzymes for dairy, but still suffer long-term diseases from dairy.)

Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death (Video, 56 mins.), by Dr. Michael Greger,, July 26, 2012.
     Death in America is largely a foodborne illness. Focusing on studies published just over the last year in peer-reviewed scientific medical journals, Dr. Greger offers practical advice on how best to feed ourselves and our families to prevent, treat, and even reverse many of the top 15 killers in the United States.

Vegucated (Movie trailer, 3 mins.; full movie is 77 mins.), by (Unitarian Universalist) Marisa Miller Wolfson, Get, 2010.
     Funny! Take a break to enjoy an entertaining documentary. Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated is an award-winning documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers from different backgrounds who, for six weeks, adopt a vegan diet and a whole new way of thinking about food. DVD includes Nutrition Q&A with Dr. Joel Fuhrman.


Mediterranean Diet, Olive Oil, & Fish

"Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population" (Research Article), by Antonia Trichopoulou, M.D., Tina Costacou, Ph.D., Christina Bamia, Ph.D., and Dimitrios Trichopoulos, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine, 2003; 348:2599-2608, June 26, 2003; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa025039.

"Are Oils and Salt Healthy?" (Video, 5 mins.), by Dr. Alan Goldhamer, Sept. 12, 2011. The Cool Vegetarian.

"Changes in Food Supply in Mediterranean Countries from 1961 to 2001, Public Health Nutrition, Vol. 9, Issue 01, Feb. 2006, pp. 53-60. DOI:, Published online: Jan. 2, 2007; by Reina Garcia-Closasa1, Antoni Berenguera1 and Carlos A Gonzáleza1, Department of Epidemiology, IDIBELL–Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), Av Gran Via s/n, km 2,7, ES-08907 L'Hospitalet, Barcelona, Spain.
     Objective: To describe geographical differences and time trends in the supply of the most important food components of the traditional Mediterranean diet. Conclusions: Dietary supplies in the Mediterranean area were quite heterogeneous in the 1960s and have experienced a process of Westernization, especially in European Mediterranean countries. Referred to by Jeff Novick in Olive Oil is NOT Health Food but Sick Food, about 7 minutes, 26 seconds into the 10-minute video.

"Diet, Serum Homocysteine Levels and Ischaemic Heart Disease in a Mediterranean Population" (Research Article), British Journal of Nutrition, 2004 June; 91(6):1013-9, by GE Vrentzos, JA Papadakis, N Malliaraki, EA Zacharis, E Mazokopakis, A Margioris, ES Ganotakis, A Kafatos. Source: Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Crete, Crete, Greece.
     Referred to by Jeff Novick in Olive Oil is NOT Health Food but Sick Food, about 4 minutes, 28 seconds into the 10-minute video.

Dispelling the Myths about Olive Oil (Article), by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D., L.D., L.N.,
     Great summary of the issues; also has additional references to original research articles as end references.

Do Vegetarians Eat Fish? Fish's Dark Side (Article), by Steve Hal, Toronto Vegetarian Association, Feb. 20, 1993.
     Fish. It’s usually the last meat people give up. Maybe it should be the first.

"Does the Mediterranean Diet Even Exist?" (Article), by Annia Ciezadlo, The New York Times Magazine, Published: April 1, 2011.

"Effect of a Single High-Fat Meal on Endothelial Function in Healthy Subjects" (Research Article), American Journal of Cardiology, 1997 Feb 1;79(3):350-4. RA Vogel, MC Corretti, GD Plotnick. Source: Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201-2595, USA.

Fish (Article, 3 pp.), by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Jan. 23, 2009.
     Reviews the health ramifications of eating fish.

Fish and Heart Disease: What's the Best Diet for Atrial Fibrillation? (Blog article), by Dr. Michael Greger,
     Also see his related 2-minute video, Red Fish, White Fish; Dark Fish, Atrial Fibrillation, showing that "The consumption of dark fish, such as salmon, swordfish, bluefish, mackerel, and sardines, may increase one’s risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart beat rhythm associated with stroke, dementia, heart failure, and a shortened lifespan."

Fish Oil Does Not Benefit Heart (Article), by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Sept. 12, 2012.
     Researchers analyzed 20 studies of 68,680 patients and concluded that fish oil does not lower the risk of cardiovascular disease or death, according to a new review in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Fish Oil Offers No Heart Benefit (Article), by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, April 1, 2009.

Fish Oil: Should I Take Fish Oil? (Website Q&A), by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
     Scroll down the page for his answer: "Fish oil is not essential. Fish get their omega 3 from plants. It is difficult to be deficient in Omega 3 if eating 1-2 tablespoons of flax seed meal and green leafy vegetables at several meals. There is also research that suggests that those on plant based nutrition become highly efficient in their own manufacture of omega 3. Patients on fish oil are also at increased risk for bleeding."

Fish Oil Supplements No Help to Heart or Brain (Article), by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, June 13, 2012.
     Two new studies found that omega-3 supplements, often sold in the form of fish oil, do not improve the health of the brain or heart.

Fish: Should We Eat Fish? (Article), by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
     Dr. Fuhrman's report concludes that "It is probably safest to avoid fish completely – healthy levels of omega-3 fats can be maintained by regularly consuming flaxseeds and walnuts and taking a clean, low-dose DHA supplement or a clean fish oil supplement." He notes that fish consumption, because of its mercury contamination, actually increases the risk of heart attack death. Nice overview of why you wouldn't want to eat fish for "health," even if it soft-peddles that we have no need for fish and that our bodies weren't designed to eat it. (See Anatomy section for more on that.)

Mediterranean Diet of Crete: Foods and Nutrient Content" (Research Article), Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2000 Dec;100(12):1487-93m by A Kafatos, H Verhagen, J Moschandreas, I Apostolaki, and JJ Van Westerop, Preventive Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, Department of Social Medicine, Medical School, University of Crete, Greece.
     Clarifies exactly what foods were being eaten.

Oil to Nuts: The Truth About Fats (Video, 6 mins.), by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D., L.D., L.N.
     This is a short excerpt from Jeff Novick's 90-minute talk on fats.

Olive Oil is NOT Health Food but Sick Food (Video, 10 mins.), by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D., L.D., L.N., Uploaded Sept. 14, 2009.
     So many are deceived into believing that olive oil and the Mediterranean Diet are "health promoting." Oh yeah? Actually, the Mediterranean diet, which contains a very small amount of olive oil (unlike how most people use olive oil), IS healthier than the standard American diet. But is it the healthiest diet out there? Novick clarifies the issues, including citations to several scientific studies.

"Overview: The Seven Countries Study in Brief" (Research Article; official report on Ancel Keys' original study), by Henry Blackburn, MD, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota.
     This is the 1950s study on the Isle of Crete that's used to supposedly prove that olive oil is healthy. Referred to by Jeff Novick in Olive Oil is NOT Health Food but Sick Food, about 4 minutes into the 10-minute video.


Neuroscience, Food Preferences, Weight Loss Diet Folly

How to Lose Weight. Really. Scientists now know that it's a MYTH that the way to lose weight long term is to eat less and exercise more. This advice works ONLY IF you're eating a plant-based, whole foods diet. Otherwise, if you drop below your body's needed caloric requirement, your body does not feel full, and you cannot keep up willpower to continually eat less than your body wants. You "cheat" on the diet because the diet has failed you; you also end up being undernourished. The short answer to the REAL reason so many Americans are overweight is that they're eating a diet Nature never intended for their bodies, and it's

(1) messing with their brain's dopamine/addiction centers;
(2) messing with their hormonal system, leading to premature puberty and abnormal girth and heights that used to be found only in circus "freak" shows; and
(3) generally causing a host of health problems.

These three points apply even to organic, pasture-raised, etc. animal parts and products. Yes, even organic, raw milks have tons of growth hormones designed for—and great for—baby calves, but bad for humans of any age.

The resources below will help you understand the science of this phenomenon. Just like wild animals, people with "fat genes" are usually only a little "overweight" IF they're eating the diet Nature designed for humans. Just like people, wild animals fed foods ouside their place on the food chain gain lots of weight. Childhood abuse and trauma victims don't become fat unless they eat the wrong foods. It's not you, or the quantity of food, it's the TYPE of food.

The solution? Focus on health, not weight loss. Eat the healthy, whole plant foods meant for you, and make sure you get optimal, full nutrition every day. Start with the resources below, then check out my page on the ways industries use "junk science" to trick you into believing that unhealthy, unnatural foods are good for you.

Chocolate, Cheese, Meat, and Sugar: Physically Addictive, by Neal Barnard, M.D. Uploaded Jan. 20, 2010.
     Dr. Barnard discusses the science behind food addictions. Willpower is not to blame: chocolate, cheese, meat, and sugar release opiate-like substances. Dr. Barnard also discusses how industry, aided by government, exploits these natural cravings, pushing us to eat more and more unhealthy foods. A plant-based diet is the solution to avoid many of these problems. Neal Barnard is the founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

"The Delay of Death: Losing Weight and Lowering Blood Pressure with Fasting and a Vegan Diet" (Video, 72 mins), by Alan Goldhamer, M.D., Uploaded Oct. 7, 2011.
     Talk at 2011 World Vegetarian Festival Weekend in San Francisco California sponsored by the San Francisco Vegetarian Society. He coauthored The Pleasure Trap with Dr. Douglas Lisle. MUST SEE! GREAT review of the following and more:
  • human evolution, including the role of language and other tools, human brain evolution;the appropriate diet for humans;
  • why obesity rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed;
  • why we prefer some foods over others and don't want to stop eating them;
  • how we're addicted to foods by the brain's "Pleasure Trap," its effect on disease, premature death, and weight loss and gain; and
  • his clinic's work with supervised fasting to break any food addiction and re-set taste buds to healthy, normal levels.
Eating: It's the Biggest Cause of Disease, Disabilities, and Death in the U.S. Today (Movie trailer, 8 mins.; full documentary, 88 mins.), produced by Michael Anderson,, Third Edition, 2002-2008.
     Featured documentary on PBS, Air America, and Pacifica Radio. "A compelling and often shocking look at the standard American diet. Asserts that following federal nutrition guidelines can kill you."—American Library Association.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food (Article),” by Michael Moss, The New York Times, Feb. 20, 2013.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (Movie trailer, 3 mins; full documentary free on Hulu, 1 hour, 37 mins.), by Joe Cross (main website).
     Australian Joe Cross's road trip across the U.S. while losing weight and reversing his disease on a plant-based, whole foods diet. Features Dr. Joel Fuhrman, creator of Whole Foods stores' "Nutritarian" approach and Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scores for foods.

The Flavorists.” (Video, 14 mins.) 60 Minutes. Tweaking tastes and creating cravings, November 27, 2011.
     Meet the scientists who create flavors that make foods and beverages so tasty that critics say they're addictive. Morley Safer reports. A team from Givaudan, headed by Jim Hassel, led Safer from a California citrus grove to Hong Kong restaurants to Givaudan’s labs. While Safer seemed duly impressed by the technology involved in turning a roasted chicken into a powder, he also noted, “strawberry and vanilla flavor can come from the gland in a beaver's backside.” Former FDA Chief David Kessler had a cameo, suggesting “flavors are so stimulating, they hijack our brain.” What I found interesting was that early in the film, the "alchemists" said, "You don't want flavors to linger because you want people to eat more." Later, the head of the company said, "No, we're not trying to get people to eat more (thus contributing to obesity). We just want the food to be memorable so consumers repeat-purchase.” (paraphrasing) Well isn't it both? Create these super-flavors that hit our dopamine "pleasure" receptors but only briefly, so that we want more? And then the flavors are so much more powerful than those in real food that we end up repeat-purchasing in order to get the same "hit?"

How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind (Video, 1 hour, 14 mins.),” by Douglas Lisle. Forks Over Knives Presents.
      MUST SEE (along with "The Delay of Death: Losing Weight and Lowering Blood Pressure ...) TO UNDERSTAND OVERWEIGHT! Dr. Lisle, who appeared in Forks Over Knives, is a psychologist, director of research at TrueNorth Health, and co-author of "The Pleasure Trap." Trying to lose weight by eating less food and exercising more only gives a ferocious hunger drive and sets you up for failure. This is not a natural problem. You aren’t destined to have weight problems; wild animals in nature don’t have weight problems and don’t overindulge. When surplus food is available and they don’t have to work that hard for it, they don’t eat more, they reproduce more. The only species that have weight problems are humans and their pets. Your psychological problems are also not causing you to be overweight, or everyone with psychological trauma would be overweight. None of the commonly expressed reasons for overweight are true. The cause is an external environment that promotes consumption of an unnatural, concentrated-calorie, high-fat diet that slips past the satiety gauge and triggers overstimulation and a dopamine response (the “pleasure trap”).
      The answer is to increase the amount of whole plant foods, which your body needs for health and has the appropriate calorie-density for us, and eliminate or decrease the concentrated calories (meats, poultry, fish, fats/oils, processed foods) until your body gets to the weight you want. Eat your meal in this order: first, salad; then veggies; and lastly, concentrated carbs (beans, potatoes, pasta). The “pleasure trap” makes it difficult to change your diet to an appropriate one, much like the moth seeking the porch light, but your taste buds will adjust in time.
      Covers “motivational triad” of pleasure-seeking, pain avoidance, and energy conservation (examples of the latter are that fish swim in schools, geese fly in v-formation; predators go after the weak). Also discusses fat receptors and more.

Our Fascination with Unhealthy Food: Why Do We Eat It? (Video, 13 mins.), by Richard Oppenlander, Uploaded Dec. 19, 2011.
     Oppenlander discusses the health implications of eating animal flesh and animal products. It would be just as truthful to say that it is scientifically proven to have the same clear, undeniable ill-effect-comparison on our bodies as smoking cigarettes has, if not significantly worse in terms of the diseases that result. Maybe one day consuming meat will be as uncool as smoking.

Pleasure Trap: Mastering The Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness (Video, 17 mins.); Why We Get 'Addicted' to Animal-based Diets and Why It's 'Hard' To Quit, by Douglas Lisle, TedxFremont Talk, Nov. 2012, Published Dec. 4, 2012.
     Why does the great male shrike kill bugs and poke them on thorns? Why is it so hard for humans to make the right choices? Psychologist Douglas Lisle shows us how the answers are related. One of psychology's most innovative and curious minds, Lisle is the Director of Research for True North Health Center and coauthor with Alan Goldhamer of The Pleasure Trap.
     Longer version (58 mins)of Pleasure Trap by Vegetarian Society of Hawaii.
     A hidden force has turned many smart, savvy people into unwitting saboteurs of their own wellbeing. When trying to make positive changes in diet and lifestyle, well-intentioned determination is, surprisingly, rarely enough. People who are chronically overweight, sick and ailing, or junk-food junkies are not that way because they are lazy, undisciplined, or stuck with bad genes. They are victims of a dilemma that harkens back to our prehistoric past...the Pleasure Trap.

"Rethinking Food" (Audio Podcast, 27 mins.), Milton Mills, MD, Feb. 22, 2012. Interviewed by Caryn Hartglass for Responsible Eating and Living.
      Transcript Among many points, he notes that addictions, destructiveness, and food that’s bad for you is equated with fun. That's insane.


Healthy Eating: Tools to Get There

First, understand the problem with the help of the above Food Preferences/Obesity section (even if "obesity" is not an issue for you); then, use the tips below for short- and long-term approaches to navigate change in any area of your life.

Short-Term Approaches for Specific, Small Goals
Synopsis: "Skillpower," not willpower: marshalling the internal and external resources you need to change, like rewards and cues or triggers.

Change Anything! Use Skillpower Over Willpower (Video, 19 mins.), Al Switzler at TEDxFremont. Pub. Dec. 4, 2012.
      How do you break down mental barriers and beat the willpower trap? Al Switzler, cofounder of VitalSmarts, researches methods for driving sustainable, measurable behavior change.

Forget Big Change, Start with a Tiny Habit (Video, 17 mins.), BJ Fogg at TEDxFremont. Nov. 10, 2012.
      What if someone told you to floss only one tooth every day? Or start the new year, not with grand resolutions, but with a simple challenge... like ONE pushup a day? BJ Fogg shows us that the key to lasting change does not lie in planning big, monumental changes, but in thinking really, really small. Chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of "10 New Gurus You Should Know", Fogg directs the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University; see his website.

The Secret to Kicking Procrastination—Reward Yourself (Video, 4 mins.), by Dan Ariely.
      Short version of Self-Control clip; the importance of rewards.

Switch: Dan Heath-Switch-Bookbits author interview (Video, 7 mins), by Craig Rintoul.
      Unrealistic expectations at the outset can make you quit early on; expect discomfort, awkwardness, and a learning-curve period. “Shrink the change,” break the goal into a smaller goal. Reward yourself immediately. Set up a schedule or routine or trigger for the goal so you don’t have to constantly re-think it or make it happen regularly enough to develop the habit. "Switch" is about how to effect change by appealing to the emotional part of our brains as well as the intellect.

We’re All Predictably Irrational (Video, 20 mins.), by Dan Ariely on ForaTv
      When an issue is complex and we don’t know what to do or would have to research to know, we go with the default option. We are affected by the number and type of options given us, even if one option is useless or irrelevant. Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, presents examples of cognitive illusions that help illustrate why humans make predictably irrational decisions. His research focuses on discovering and measuring how people make decisions.

Long-Term Approaches for Larger Changes & "Willpower"

Synopsis: This set of videos build on and complement short-term strategies with long-term, willpower-building skills that changed my life, like the following:
— having a daily, 15-minute breathing meditation practice;
— replacing guilt and shame with compassion and self-forgiveness;
— understanding short-term "sacrifice" for long-term reward and pleasure;
— techniques like Surfing the Urge, Distress Tolerance, and more.

  • Controlling our Willpower : The Brain’s Big Lie (Video, 25 mins.), Kelly McGonigal, Stanford Health Psychologist.
          She explains why desired changes that require willpower boomerang if you make them a moral issue or frame the issue as “good” versus “bad” behavior. When a vending machine or fast food chain offers “healthy choice” options, sales of the least healthy option increase! It makes us feel good, puts a halo effect on the whole menu, and gives us a “license to sin,” permission to order something not healthy. We think we like what we want, but we don’t. The promise of a reward is more potent than the reward itself. You cannot satisfy a craving by giving into it. Paying attention without giving into a craving (mindful awareness) is the most powerful way to overcome addictions. Desire is itself a form of stress, so learning how to manage the physiology of stress is useful. Warning labels on cigarettes often backfire for smokers (20 mins. 35 secs. in).

  • Willpower Skills (Video, 55 mins.) by Kelly McGonigal, Authors at Google.
          Many great, simple exercises and information to develop amazing willpower.
          — Defensive Failure Planning, 42:37 mins. in to 43:37;
          — 2-Minuted Delayed Gratification Muscle Building (Distress Tolerance), 43:37 mins. in to 47:05;
          — Surfing the Urge Training, 47:05 mins. in. to 53:05

  • The Science of Willpower (Video, 16 mins.), psychologist Kelly McGonigal at TEDxBayArea, Published May 18, 2012.
          Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal describes the biggest myths of willpower and how rethinking self-control can help you reach your goals and make difficult changes.

  • I highly recommend anything by psychologist Kelly McGonigal; search "you tube Kelly McGonigal" and enjoy! She is a psychology lecturer at Stanford University and the author of several books, including The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It and The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Guide to Personal Transformation. She is also a program developer for the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and industry consultant.

Could Your Language Affect Your Ability to Save Money? (Video, 12 mins.), by Keith Chen, June 2012.
      Speakers of “futureless languages”(such as German and Chinese) speak in verb tenses that don’t distinguish between past, present, and future. This language framing causes them to think about the future in more immediate ways and thus more likely to take actions that will help them in the future, even if it causes them to sacrifice now. Chen labels this tendency as “savings behavior” —one that tolerates current pain for future pleasure. They are 30% more likely to have saved money in any given year, have saved 25% more money at retirement, 20-24% less likely to smoke, 13-17% less likely to be obese at retirement.

Draw Your Future (Video, 11 mins.), Patti Dobrowolski TED Talk.

Self-Control—The Problem and How to Get Over It, by Dan Ariely at TEDxNCSU (Video, 21 mins.)
      Controlling our behaviors requires two powerful forces: immediate self-reward (reward substitution) and the self-control contract, which gives us an effective plan to deal with temptation when it arises. Ariely gives a funny, uplifting presentation! Most human deaths today are the direct result of bad decisionmaking, far more than in the past. Global warming problem is perfect for apathy: long-term, would happen to others first; we don’t see it progressing, we don’t see anyone suffering, and anything we can do is a drop in the bucket. Technical terms are temporal choice and present-bias focus. Prius is effective because it broadcasts to others “See what a good person I am, what a good environmentalist.” Example of Ulysses and the temptation of the ocean sirens. Ariely is a Duke University Professor of Behavioral Economics.

Understanding Behavioral Change: BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model (website). Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab.


Anatomy: Herbivore/Omnivore, Paleo & Blood Type Diets

#1 BEST RESOURCE ON OMNIVORE-HERBIVORE DEBATE: Debate: Are Humans Omnivores? (blog article), Interview With a Vegan Paleontologist: Robert, “The Humane Hominid”, by,, June 22, 2011.
     Great, surprising “food for thought” from a vegan paleontologist about the scientific limitations inherent in both pro-herbivore and pro-omnivore arguments. Wins my award for “best representation of actual science”!

#2 BEST RESOURCE for Most Complete Data in One Place: Humans are Naturally Plant-Eaters According to the Best Evidence: Our Bodies, Michael Bluejay. June 2002; Updated December 2012. Extensive, science-based review that includes and expands upon Dr. Milton Mills’ groundbreaking work on the topic, cited below. Our bodies have not "evolved" to require animal consumption nor even to bypass the long-term damage from it.

Blood Type Diet Debunked (6 mins.), Michael Greger, MD,, Apr. 2, 2014, Vol. 18.
     A systematic review finds no evidence to support the notion that people should choose diets based on their blood type.

Are Humans Designed to Eat Meat? (Video, 59 mins.), by Dr. Milton Mills.
     Impressive, extensive, scientific look at human anatomy, biology, and evolution, including the difference between animals whose large intestines are designed for fermentation as opposed to carnivore-style putrefaction.

The Comparative Anatomy of Eating (article), Milton R. Mills, M.D. Nov. 21, 2009. Dr. Mills’ analysis compares carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, and humans on facial muscles, jaw type, jaw joint location, jaw motion, major jaw muscles, mouth opening vs. head size, teeth (incisors, canines, and molars), chewing style, saliva enzymes, stomach type, stomach acidity, stomach capacity, small intestine length, colon, liver, kidney, and nails.

Debunking the Paleo Diet (Video, 22 mins.), Christina Warinner at TEDxOU, on Feb 12, 2013.
     TED Fellow Christina Warinner is an expert on ancient diets. So how much of the diet fad the "Paleo Diet" is based on an actual Paleolithic diet? The answer is not really any of it. Dr. Christina Warinner has excavated around the world, from the Maya jungles of Belize to the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, and she is pioneering the biomolecular investigation of archaeological dental calculus (tartar) to study long-term trends in human health and diet. She obtained her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010, specializing in ancient DNA analysis and paleodietary reconstruction.

"Dental Detectives Reveal Diet of Ancient Human Ancestors" (article), Sean Markey, for National Geographic News, Nov. 9, 2006.
     Analysis of the chemical makeup of 1.8-million-year-old fossil teeth from four P. robustus individuals unearthed in the Swartkrans cave site in South Africa revealed that their seasonally adapted diet may have included fruits, seeds, roots, tubers, and even insects, not just “low-quality plants.”

The Evolution of Human Nutrition (Video, 59 mins.), Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, Published Jan. 24, 2013 [Show ID: 23436]
     Tracing the evolution of the human diet from our earliest ancestors can lead to a better understanding of human adaptation in the past. It may also offer clues to the origin of many health problems we currently face, such as obesity and chronic disease. This fascinating series of talks focuses on the changing diets of our ancestors and what role these dietary transitions played in the evolution of humans. Here Steven Leigh (Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) discusses Diets and Microbes in Primates, followed by Peter Ungar (Univ of Arkansas) on Australopith Diets, and Alison S. Brooks (George Washington Univ) and Margaret J. Schoeninger (UC San Diego) on Neanderthal Diets. Note: CARTA began as a collaboration between faculty at UC San Diego and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, along with interested scientists at other institutions. CARTA became a UC San Diego recognized Organized Research Unit (ORU) in January 2008.

"Evolving to Eat Mush: How Meat Changed Our Bodies" (article), Hillary Mayell, for National Geographic News, Feb. 18, 2005.
     “We have an improved ability to process cholesterol and fat…. Compared to the great apes, we can handle a diet that's high in fat and cholesterol, and the great apes cannot…. Even though we have all these problems in terms of heart disease as we get older, if you give a gorilla a diet that a meat-loving man might eat in Western society, that gorilla will die when it's in its twenties; a normal life span might be 50. They just can't handle that kind of diet." [My note: neither we can … for very long. 2.5 million years of eating meat, and it still makes us sick and kills us, it just takes longer to do so!]

Grains: The Starch Solution and Why Salt is a Scapegoat (Video, 68 mins.), by Dr. John McDougall. Compares humans to chimps; one main difference is that humans have amylase enzymes for digesting grains. Shows that our brain evolved from grains, not fish/meat intake. Good science, archaeology. (Note: I disagree that amylase means we “should” eat grains; similarly, many Euro-Americans “evolved” digestive enzymes for dairy, but still suffer long-term diseases from dairy.)

"How to Eat Like a Chimpanzee" (article), by Rob Dunn, Scientific American, Aug. 2, 2012.
     Maximum chimp consumption of meat is 3% of diet, a few bites eaten on about 9 days per year; some chimps eat none at all.

Human Ancestors were Nearly All Vegetarians (Article), by Rob Dunn, Scientific American, July 23, 2012.

Meat Eating and the Biology of Disgust (Video, 1 hour, 21 mins.), by Dr. Milton Mills.

"Native Americans and Vegetarianism" (article), by By Rita Laws, Ph.D., History of Vegetarianism. This article first appeared in the Vegetarian Journal, September 1994, published by The Vegetarian Resource Group.
     Many people cite the American Indian hunting lifestyle as proof that meat-eating must be natural. Dr. Laws corrects some stereotypes about American Indians. She reports that most, like her own Choctaw people, were farmers and primarily vegetarian. Hunting was a hobby among most Indians, not a vocation, with meats eaten only rarely. She asserts that dietary changes were from the introduction of European meat-eating customs, the introduction of the horse and the gun, and the proliferation of alcoholic beverages and white traders. Meat was not the food of choice, and its consumption was not revered, as in modern times when Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving as if it were a religious duty. Dr. Laws calls on American Indians to move away from the European influences that did away with a healthier style of living and "return to the corn".

"Neanderthal Medics? Evidence for Food, Cooking, and Medicinal Plants Entrapped in Dental Calculus," (article) by Karen Hardy, Stephen Buckley, et al. Naturwissenschaften, August 2012, Vol. 99, Issue 8, pp 617-626.
     Neanderthals disappeared between 30,000 and 24,000 years ago. Until recently, Neanderthals were understood to have been predominantly meat-eaters; however, a growing body of evidence suggests their diet also included plants. We present the results of a study, in which sequential thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) and pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) were combined with morphological analysis of plant microfossils, to identify material entrapped in dental calculus from five Neanderthal individuals from the north Spanish site of El Sidrón. Our results provide the first molecular evidence for inhalation of wood-fire smoke and bitumen or oil shale and ingestion of a range of cooked plant foods. We also offer the first evidence for the use of medicinal plants by a Neanderthal individual. Note: The Neandertal line died out; these are not our ancestors.

“Neandertals Ate Their Veggies, Tooth Study Shows” (article), Sara Goudarzi, for National Geographic News, April 28, 2008.
     Plant matter found in recently unearthed 35,000-year-old Neanderthal teeth confirms that our human ancestors ate their veggies … and grains! The new hard evidence is microfossils of plant material that investigators found in the dental plaque of 35,000-year-old Neanderthal teeth, said lead study author Amanda Henry, a graduate student in hominid paleobiology at The George Washington University. "The finding suggests that characterizing Neanderthals as obligate meat-eaters may be wrong, but there is still a lot more work to be done on this issue." "So we can say with confidence that this individual Neanderthal ate plants … including grains," she added. Note: The Neandertal line died out; these are not our ancestors.

The Real Paleo Diet, by Dr. Michael Greger, Feb. 21, 2013.

Relating Chimpanzee Diets to Potential Australopithecus Diets (Article), Nancy Lou Conklin-Brittain, Richard W. Wrangham, and Catherine C. Smith, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138.
     Conclusions: Humans are likely best suited for a low-fat diet. (1.) Differences in dietary fat content was not significant among the primates; (2.) the seasonality in fat intake coincided with an increased ripe fruit availability, and (3.) the amounts of dietary fat were very low, even at peak consumption; peak was only about 8.5% lipid, and the average annual intake was only about 2.5%. As a point of reference, humans do not need more than 3-5% fat on a dry matter basis in their diet, enough to provide the one essential fatty acid and the fat soluble vitamins. Modern, westernized humans consume 15-25% fat on a dry matter basis (usually referred to as 30-45% of calories consumed), far in excess of need or recommendation.

The Role of Meat in the Human Diet (Video, 56 mins.), by Dr. John McDougall, 2004. Covers anatomy, taste buds, stomach acids, and more; discusses from both evolution and creationism approaches. Great for those whose spiritual beliefs are creationist.

"Twenty Questions on Atherosclerosis" (article), by William C. Roberts, MD, Baylor University Medical Proceedings, April 2000. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2000 April; 13(2): 139–143. PMCID: PMC1312295.
     Atherosclerosis affects only herbivores. Dogs, cats, tigers, and lions can be saturated with fat and cholesterol, and atherosclerotic plaques do not develop. The only way to produce atherosclerosis in a carnivore is to take out the thyroid gland; then, for some reason, saturated fat and cholesterol have the same effect as in herbivores. Although most of us conduct our lives as omnivores, in that we eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, human beings have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores. See also (1.) Collens WS. "Atherosclerotic Disease: An Anthropologic Theory." Medical Counterpoint. 1969;1:53–57. (2.) Roberts, WC. We think we are one [an omnivore], we act as if we are one, but we are not one. Am J Cardiol. 1990;66:896. [PubMed] Also addresses the “cholesterol myth,” the “high fat is good for you” myth, and drug questions.

What’s Wrong with the Paleo Diet? (Video, 50 mins.), by Dr. Milton Mills, Oct. 7, 2011.


Sports, Strength, & the Animal Protein Myth

Selected list of some famous vegan (strict vegetarian, no dairy/eggs) athletes: Track and field Olympian Carl Lewis; bodybuilders Robert Cheeke (in photo), Amanda Riester, Kenneth Williams, Mike Mahler; Martial artists Luke Cummo, Mac Danzig; professional wrestler Bryan Danielson; WWE Diva Tiffany (Taryn Terrell); weightlifter Jane Black; Ironman triathletes Brendon Brazier and Mary Stabinsky; personal trainer Bob Harper; runner Scott Jurek; cyclists Adam Myerson and David Zabriskie; professional Major League baseball player Pat Neshek; professional NBA players John Salley and Salim Stoudamire; professional skateboarder Ed Templeton; boxers Mike Tyson (announced vegan March 2011) and Keith Holmes; tennis player Venus Williams; hockey player Georges Laraque.

Remember...some of the strongest animals on this planet—gorillas, elephants, horses, and buffalo—are herbivores with no meat in their natural diets. The science is clear that a plant-based diet provides all the protein any human needs, despite the billion-dollar marketing campaigns and corporate-government interests telling us otherwise. The only cases of protein deficiency are in those diets deficient in calories, period.

Day in the Life, by Registered Dietitian Matt Ruscigno.
     Contains 5- to 15-minute free online documentary videos of individual vegan athletes cooking, eating, training or racing that show how veganism works for them.

Gladiators Were Vegan (Video, 7 mins.), by John McDougall, M.D.

Increasing Muscle Strength with Fenugreek (Video, 2 mins.), by Michael Greger, M.D.,, Apr. 23, 2013.
     The spice fenugreek appears to significantly improve muscle strength and weight lifting power output while possessing anti-cancer properties in vitro.

Protein Madness and Special Interests, aka the #1 Thing I Learned in Plant-based Nutrition School (Webpage), by Lani Muelrath, Aug. 3, 2011.
     The amount of protein we need is 5%–6% of our total calories. To assure that the larger population with its varying need for proteins will get enough, statistical adjustments are made and we arrive at the RDA, the recommended daily allowance. 8% to 10% is considered adequate protein intake, statistically speaking, for 98% of a larger population. This means that at 10%, most people are already getting enough protein. As it turns out, 10% to 11% calories from protein is about the minimum one gets on a whole-food, plant-based diet.

The Protein Myth: Setting the Record Straight (Webpage), Vegetarian Guide...According to What the Science Actually Says, June 2012.
     Detailed, with citations from mainstream scientific and dietary authorities. Includes section on how "Vegan Diets Supply Plenty of Protein for Building Muscle" (scroll down about 12 screens to the section of that name).

The Protein Myth (Webpage), by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
     For a long time it was thought that athletes needed much more protein than other people. We now know that athletes, even those who strength-train, need only slightly more protein, which is easily obtained in the larger servings athletes require for their higher caloric intake. Americans tend to take in twice the amount of protein they need already, far more than athletes need. Vegetarian diets are great for athletes.

Thrive: Professional Ironman Triathlete Brendan Brazier, Books and Videos.
     Brendan Brazier is the creator and host of the Thrive Forward web series, based on his bestselling Thrive book trilogy (Thrive, Thrive Fitness, and Thrive Foods). Brendan is a former professional Ironman triathlete, and the creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional productscalled Vega. He is also a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion. Top 10 Vegan Athletes (Video, 3 mins.)

Harsha Bhogle’s Lean, Mean Veggie-Machine Sports Quiz. Just for you sports fans out there … a fun online quiz game!

Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance (blog page with several short videos), by Michael Greger M.D.,, Mar. 22, 2012.
     Dr. Greger discusses the plus side of asparagus, beets, beet juice, and more as well as the downside of antiseptic mouthwashes and other tips.

A Vegan Body-Building Experiment (Video, 5 mins.) Joshua Knox, TEDxFremont, published Dec. 5, 2012.
     Bodybuilder Joshua Knox took a friend's challenge to go vegan for a week. One week turned into a 1.5 year lifestyle experiment with bodybuilding and diet.

   • Wake up from the advertisers’ disinformation campaigns!
   • Liberate yourself from dietary habits that harm your health!
   • Align your dietary habits with your environmental and animal-loving values.

© 2012, Mary Rooker  *   Please obtain permission before reproducing anything from this website. Thanks!
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