Just Read: Defending Beef – Unlearning and Relearning the Sustainable Diet

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Why?

  • It covers a topic I know very little about, how our food is produced. I’d argue the overwhelming majority of my physician colleagues don’t know much about this either. Some pretend to know about it, which is more harmful than not knowing.
  • It’s a reality that many people are successfully using meat and beef in regimens to reverse their diabetes and prediabetes.
  • Climate change is a threat to human and planetary health; if there’s a way to mitigate it, I want to know about it. Diabetes is also a threat to human and planetary health, same desire.
  • I have found over my career that the dogma that’s been handed down to us falls down when we investigate the science ourselves. Name the issue, so many…

“Defending Beef,” Not “Defensive About Beef”

Author Nicolette Hahn Niman (@DefendingBeef) writes from a unique perspective. She’s a trained biologist, an environmental attorney, a vegetarian, and a cattle rancher. The book is well referenced and includes many of the studies I’ve read and known as important in the space.

Maybe the only thing that may be out of date on the health connection since the book was published in 2015 is the topic of heterocylic amines, cited as a cause of cancer. Here again, the science is far from clear/valid/high quality. If anyone can find a good human RCT on this topic, send my way, I have been unable to…

The basics about how cows are raised for beef, dairy, and by extension the differences and similarities to other livestock agriculture are barely understandable to me; the writing made these things much more understandable.

The responsibility to be a good meat consumer, rather than a non-consumer

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD 1002-732
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD 1002-732 (View on Flickr.com)

Animal agriculture is not going anywhere anytime soon. Nor is consumption of meat, including beef. This leaves us in a place where we’re far better as informed professionals.

For a person with insatiable curiosity, the book dives instantly into the concerns about beef production and consumption, including environment, health, and morality.

The book also includes high quality critiques of the beef production industry and the idea that seems to permeate all of food production, a race to the bottom of cost/quality, because of perceived consumer demand.

I wonder myself whether the dogma around beef in our society unfortunately feeds this problem, by forcing people who eat meat into the culinary closet. For those who do follow the dogma and replace beef in their diet, the evidence so far has been that they do so with highly-processed, less stable foods, with this well characterized result.

2018.05.30 Washington, DC Low Carbohydrate Meetup, Washington, DC USA 01-458
What Happened? – 2018.05.30 Washington, DC Low Carbohydrate Meetup, Washington, DC USA 01-458 (View on Flickr.com)

Sadly, we know how well this turned out in many other medical profession quests for what became moral self-license – 100% failure, with the devastation of many humans and the people who love them. See the photographs at the bottom of this post (Just Read: On Eating Meat, by Matthew Evans) for visual examples of the history of a medical profession unable to be introspective or curious about the world around it.

The Sustainable Diet, Good Definition, Bad Interpretation?

Based on this and much other reading, I have questions about what’s called the “Sustainble Diet.” The official definition makes sense, the interpretation, assumptions and studies (mostly modeling, epidemiological) I’ve seen do not. It would be great to reinterpret and do scholarly work on sustainable diets that are sustainable, for people and the planet.

The cognitive dissonance I see in every day life is difficult to observe:

2019.06.27 Low Carb and Low Carbon, Washington DC USA 1780005
2019.06.27 Low Carb and Low Carbon, Washington DC USA 1780005 (View on Flickr.com)
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD 1001 755
2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon – Ted Eytan MD 1001 755 (View on Flickr.com)

At the same time, the mainstream (some would say “20th Century”) media (@ConsumerReports) is now reporting a greater understanding:

I’ll post on this topic specifically soon.

A desire to know, not a desire to be right

Because my generation of physicians was so let down by the generation who trained us, we have never let our guard down or our curiosity wane. I feel better able to engage on the the topic of food now thanks to the number of experts entering the field with multidisciplinary backrounds.

I can’t dialogue about agriculture without also thanking Peter Ballerstedt, PhD (@GrassBased). Peter’s a trained forage agronomist who has attended many of our scientific meetings and tirelessly attended to our education in this space. It is said that adult learning requires repetition. He’s been pleasinigly repetitive. I am now able to process much more of his teaching as a result.

We went to medical school with the determination to people take control of their health and life destiny in ways that were denied by society and sometimes the profession itself.

How cool is it in this century that whole classes of para-health professionals, from architects to forage agronomists are attending to our skill-building so we can be there for the people we serve?

Very 🙂 .

My disclaimers and disclosures

…. are on this page on this blog (I have none). I am working to update the page to reflect my current nutritional environment, a real food, low carbohydrate, healthy fat diet. Not Plant-Based or Plant-Free, Disease-Free.

In the meantime, my experience there can be followed on the series I’ve written about wearing a continuous glucose monitor. Insatiable curiosity….

Ted Eytan, MD