With the presence of vegginism creeping into my social circles, I’m finding myself in these conversations more often. The response I usually get upon parting is the standard vegginist assumption of ignorance: that I should “look into the science”, make the time to “read-up on the more recent studies” and to “educate” myself on how the body works and what it needs.
I have, and the experience inspired this series…
Modern Medical training is part of the problem
Plant-only diet proponents trust their lives- and that of others- on their own understanding of nutritional science. They believe that science knows exactly how the body feeds, and they trust that their understanding of the science they quote is accurate- whether or not they researched it themselves.
Not surprising, western medical science is part of the problem. Medical doctors, who are legally responsible for our health and well-being, are not formally educated in nutrition. Only about 25% medical schools studied required nutritional education to graduate, but overall, students were graduating with less than 20 hrs in nutritional science.
To put this into perspective, I worked as a Home Health Aid taking care of the elderly and disabled, and I was required to go to school for 75 hrs to learn how to give someone a sponge bath and change their bed sheets.
Common sense says you can’t give what you don’t have, and “[w]ithout adequate nutrition education… doctors are not able to provide the highest quality care to patients”. Yet we find the same hubris in medical students as we do in doctors and in vegginist advocates: they are confident in their nutritional advice. And while just over 55% medical students studied “felt comfortable counseling patients on nutrition recommendations”, more than half (50.6%) scored below the school’s passing rate of 72.5% when tested, and only 11.9% actually knew current dietary intake guidelines.
This tells me that doctors are repeating propaganda instead of “looking to the science” themselves. To repeat the same memes and canned information the population is being fed by a social movement as opposed to their own scientific research is not only unprofessional, it’s unethical. Especially since science is always learning new details and any fool can make a meme.
Science says we are more than matter
As discussed before, the science of plant-based propaganda tends to remain superficial. According to vegginist beliefs, feeding comes down to just a handful of molecules we can get from plants or pills, instead of animal products. They believe everyone can live well on salads, nuts and shakes. They really believe we can all be healthy on supplements, powders and extra lettuce.
While all these beliefs have an element of truth, the conclusion based on these premises collectively is a lie that is accepted without question: that all humans can thrive solely on a plant-based diet.
Science doesn’t agree.
Fact is that the way our bodies feed is a complex topic, even today. It goes way beyond eating a leaf of lettuce. And the more we learn, the more questions come up. For example, just because there is a particular nutrient present in a plant, we cannot assume it’s available for us to use. It may be needing an additional enzyme or molecule to consume that nutrient. And even without dietary restrictions, and regardless of how much food is consumed, if the body finds the environment unsuitable, it won’t feed.
At it’s core, nutritional bio-availability and the processes the human body uses to feed, are multilayered reactions between energy, chemistry and matter interacting with it’s multiple systems, following natural guidelines based on the body’s assessment of it’s internal and external environment. We exist in multiple, interconnected dimensions. Feeding is about the interactions of molecules between different bodies, it’s about the transformation of the consumed matter into the physical building blocks of the one consuming.
Feeding comes down to one thing being absorbed by another totally different thing, and making that thing into itself.
This is the very basis of material existence, of organic chemistry and molecular biology. It’s physics. Because of this, biochemists are presently discussing quantum mechanics to explain the body’s functions at it’s most intimate levels. (Look up quantum biology. It’s an incredibly rich field of study.)
At it’s most basic scientific reality, the body works based on probability– not fixed formulas. We are constantly in flux, constantly moving, constantly changing. We have molecules in our bodies that flash in and out of existence and we have no clue where they go. This tells me we are processes, not machines. This means we can have all the elements present that the body requires to absorb or create a nutrient, and still not feed due to another random element disturbing the process, like stress, or the weather.
At the time of this writing, Western science is still wrapping its head around how multilayered physics interacts with itself at different levels of existence. Science does not yet agree on a “Theory of Everything” that explains how the fluctuating, inconsistent nature of vibrational chaos interacts/becomes the chemical/energetic/material existence we are, and experience.
And that’s what’s scary!
Modern western science can NOT explain the randomness of bodily feeding but the people in the plant-based movement, who are not scientists themselves, insist they can. Plant based proponents deliver their information with great confidence, as if they understood the science of human feeding better than scientists themselves. The strength of their convictions, their righteousness and the belief they have in their “truth”, makes them passionate and convincing. And like good sales reps, they sound like their product is the one-size-fits-all, simple solution, that will solve all life’s problems, even death!
This passionate support for vegginism, in the face of scientific contradiction and the lived reality of so many, tells me vegginism is more cult that science.
Vegginism, a cult?
“few nonscientists know the details about how various nutrients are digested and how the breakdown products traverse the cells lining the small intestine to reach the blood stream and to be used by the other cells of the body”.
This unwavering trust in the superiority of their own thinking, over and above the science they claim to stand on, is very similar to the unwavering belief in the religions westerners forced upon our Ancestors across Abya Yala. The Europeans KNEW the will of God, and it was to punish and enslave us. Our Ancestral survivors became christian slaves at gunpoint because it was the “truth of how life was supposed to be” according to the westerners who conquered us.
That same forceful, imposing violence is present in the plant-based movement today. It’s violence when people’s health and well-being is left up to the wisdom of social media memes and supermarket employees. It’s violence when non-believers are publicly attacked and humiliated for choosing a different belief system than vegginism. And we see the violence against their own people, when they turn on those of their community who cannot follow a plant-only diet: when people become sick, when they agonize and die from diseases their diets were supposed to protect them from, or when parents are incarcerated and lose their children for “neglect”, or worse, “murder”. There is not a lot of compassion in the vegginist community for those whose real-life experience refutes the holy church of vegginism.
When belief has no regard for facts, it’s not science, it’s called faith. But when the ideology matters more than the survival of the people that support it, that faith crosses the line into a lethal kind of dogma. We talk about the folks from Jonestown and Heaven’s Gate as if they were crazy, but suicide is suicide. Starvation can lead to death.
It’s interesting to note how the fist signs of starvation are cognitive, emotional and behavioral issues; especially in light to the interactions I’ve been discussing…
The many medical, emotional and legal issues that demonstrate the extremes to which vegginist intolerance will go to in support of their ideals are easily “googled”. However, it’s interesting to note that the more nutritional science uncovers regarding human feeding processes, the more the vegginist goals change from the “scientific truth of human herbivory”, to the religious ideal of “ahimsa” and spreading love and light in the world…
This tells me that the plant based movement is a social movement based on a moral ideal, on encouraging a kind of behavior, and not on health and scientific facts.
(c)A.Nanu Pagan, March 2018, April2021
Some references for your own search
NOTE: The original post was long, so it was divided. Besides the links included here please see to the references in Decolonizing Vegginism: looking to the science, Pt 1
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23418557 – “Individuals consuming a vegan diet had the highest serum concentrations of uric acid compared to meat eaters.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17470699 – “serum concentrations of uric acid are strongly associated with the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and several of its components.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31190054 – “people with low or no red meat intake generally had lower hemoglobin concentrations and were slightly more likely to be anemic.”