Paleolithic Diet vs. Vegetarianism interviews
T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S F O R
The Psychology of Idealistic Diets and
Lessons Learned from The Natural Hygiene Many-to-Many
About Successes and Failures of Vegetarian Diets
- Preface and introductory remarks
- Problem: Finding unsanitized reports about the full spectrum of real-world results with vegetarian diets
- Background on the Natural Hygiene Many-to-Many as a pool of information about individuals on vegan and raw diets.
- Assessing the veracity and relevance of people's individual stories.
- Why the Many-to-Many was started: bypassing "official" vegetarian organizations with vested interests to get less filtered information.
- The attractions and pitfalls of purist black-and-white dietary philosophies
- PROBLEM #1: Confusion and contradiction in the marketplace of dietary ideas and research.
- PROBLEM #2: Feeling powerless over microbes, genetics, or out-of-control authoritarian health-care.
- PROBLEM #3: Thoughtful non-authoritarianism vs. mere reactionary rebellion.
- How Natural Hygiene and raw/vegan diets satisfy the above appeals--the attractions and the pitfalls.
- Other unconscious needs also met.
- Success/failure rates of vegan diets in Natural Hygiene
- Rough estimate of success/failure rate of vegan diets based on experiences of people in the N.H. M2M.
- Dropouts over time and "cheating" on the diet complicate the assessment.
- The problem of vested interests among "official" sources in getting straight answers.
- "Party line" views and ostracism of dissidents.
- Special measures that may make the diet work for more individuals argue against its naturalness.
- Gap between uncensored reports and officialdom rarely surfaces publicly in a way that gets widespread attention.
- Success/failure on all-raw vegan diets compared to more conventional vegan diets that include cooked starch sources.
- The distinction between short-term and long-term results is critical in evaluating "success."
- Are the rare all-raw success stories the "ideal," or simply "exceptions"?
- Symptoms of "failure to thrive" on raw and/or vegetarian diets
- A look at the most serious potential problems.
- Low-profile symptoms more commonly seen.
- How people get trapped by "pure" diets that don't maintain long-term health
- The "frog in slowly boiling water" syndrome.
- How can things end up bad when they started out so good?
- The lulling effect of imperceptibly slow declines in health.
- Emotional "certainty" shuts down one's ability to rationally assess symptoms.
- The willingness to make sober judgments of current symptoms is perpetually displaced into the future.
- Those who are successful are partners in reinforcing the tendency not to see failures as real failures.
- How obsessively striving for absolute dietary purity becomes a fruitless "grail quest"
- Significant parallels with religious behavior.
- The role of unseen and unverifiable "toxemia" as evidence of one's "sin."
- The "relativity" of absolute purification transforms it into an ever-receding goal and goad.
- Self-restriction becomes its own virtue as absolute purity recedes.
- Endgame: fundamentalist obsessive-compulsiveness.
- Successful vegetarian diets require more than simple dietary purity
- More attention to robust nutritional intake and other health factors.
- Stress and vegetarian diets.
- Stress creates less margin for error for nutrition's contribution to physiological maintenance.
- Successful Natural Hygiene diets are often less strict and more diverse than traditional/"official" recommendations.
- Special nutritional practices added by some individuals.
- Potential role of involuntary "lapses" in filling nutritional gaps.
- Lapses usually automatically interpreted as "addictions" instead by adherents.
- Rationalizing dietary failures with circular thinking and untestable excuses
- Pat answers and mantras.
- Unfalsifiable excuses impervious to testability.
- "You're too addicted."
- "You just haven't given it enough time yet."
- "Unnatural overstimulation."
- When symptoms are always seen as "detox."
- Other meaningless, unhelpful, or unfalsifiable excuses.
- 5 tips for staying alert to the traps of excessive dietary idealism
- Self-honesty instead of denial.
- Focus first on results rather than theoretical certainty.
- Utilize reasonable timeframes to gauge trends.
- Exercise at some activity that gently challenges your limits, to hone sensitivity to changes in your capacities and health.
- Don't ignore feedback about how you are doing from people who know you well.
- Interview wrap-up
- The science will change somewhat but big picture is more important than disputes over details.
- Tolerance for our own mistakes, tolerance for others.
- Open-mindedness is an ongoing process, not something one achieves and then "has."
IMPORTANT: The additional observations linked to below provide more in-depth information that further explores the eating behavior patterns, and their health impact, as described in the original interview that was first published in 1997. Before attributing a specific view on a particular subject to the author, please make sure you read the updates first.
- Further observations about "failure to thrive" on vegan diets
- Case of rickets in vegan toddler.
- Family environment and parents' dietary beliefs/practices.
- Particulars of father's diet (reflected to some degree in toddler's diet).
- The son's diet was not much different, though perhaps heavier in fruit.
- Calcium deficiency rather than vitamin D deficiency as potential cause?
- Elimination of problem using supplements/animal foods demonstrates insufficiency of diet, regardless of exact cause.
- Tendency is to rationalize as to speculative possibilities while ignoring probability/plausibility.
- Special measures to make vegan diets work can be seen as compensations for lack of evolutionary congruence.
- That even informed advocates acknowledge vegan diets should be carefully planned suggests that less margin for error is a real issue.
- The yo-yo syndrome as potential indicator of failure to thrive on strict diets
- Viewing the yo-yo syndrome as valuable feedback to help pinpoint problems breaks the cycle of guilt over so-called "lapses."
- Unhooking from guilt frees attention to seriously consider and evaluate practical solutions one may have been blind to before.
- Experimental attitude requires new mental relationship with the question of "certainty."
- Why is being "hungry all the time" on a veg-raw-food diet such a problem for some individuals even in the short-term before any deficiencies could have arisen?
- Diet is lower in overall nutrient/energy-density than the one the human body evolved on.
- Human digestive system not optimized for maximum extraction of nutrition/energy from a diet of all high-fiber foods.
- Eating like a gorilla leads to a life centered around food like a gorilla.
- Becoming highly dependent on "mainstay" foods in a veg-raw diet
- The frequency of dependence on avocados and/or nuts is explained by human digestive system's design for denser foods.
- Raw-foodist eating patterns and difficulties are predictable/understandable given evolutionary design of human gut.
- Once all other, more energy-dense foods are eliminated, "fruitarianism" is the logical/inevitable outcome.
- The fallacy of fruitarianism: word games vs. the real world of practice and results
- Word games over what qualifies as "fruit" often expand the definition so far that the distinction means little.
- Were our evolutionary primate predecessors really true "fruitarians"?
- Simply put: Humans are not apes.
- People may do well at first, but this is because they are living off of past nutritional reserves.
- Advocates of "fruitarianism" frequently change their definition of it over time.
- Synopsis of 4-part 1970s-era "Fruit for Thought" article series, by the American Vegan Society's Jay Dinshah.
- Fruitarian gurus weren't actually practicing what they preached, but followers who did ran aground.
- Excuses, excuses.
- Failures the rule, no successes ever came to light.
- Little change in fruitarian movement between now and then.
- Notable Natural Hygiene practitioner at the time related specific problems seen in numerous fruitarian patients.
- Beyond the myth of fruitarianism is the empowerment that freedom from fantasy brings.
- When evaluating claims, look beyond the word games.
- A more "evolved" path, or only more extreme?
- Judge the diet, not yourself--by bottom-line results, not high-sounding philosophy.
RETURN TO BEGINNING OF INTERVIEWS
SEE TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR: PART 1 PART 2 PART 3
GO TO PART 1 - Setting the Record Straight on Humanity's Prehistoric Diet and Ape Diets
GO TO PART 2 - Fire and Cooking in Human Evolution
GO TO PART 3 - The Psychology of Idealistic Diets / Successes & Failures of Vegetarian Diets
Back to Frank Talk by Long-Time Insiders