It happens every now and then. Some veggie nutrition geek gets his or her first gig for a publication, and then maybe earns some healthy whole grains and hummus money.
If you Google Melody Cherny, it does appear that this is her first and only published article so far; an opinion piece in Food Safety News: Don't Eat Like a Caveman. Her bio reads:
Melody Cherny is a graduate of the University of Washington, where she studied psychology. She lives in Washington, D.C. and works at the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP). Melody has been a long-time advocate for public health and nutrition, and has volunteered with the National Eating Disorders Association and the Vegetarian Society of D.C.
I don't see a comment count, but it's a lot, perhaps around 150, and in scanning them and reading a good number, a rough guess would be that 90% are very pro-paleo, anti-Cherny. And of those, a large number are personal anecdotes and testimonies about what in most cases only weeks and months have done for these folks on a paleo lifestyle. While most do mention weight loss, what's really remarkable in a "Golden Helmet" sort of way is the number of people who have dramatically improved their health from the lowering of blood pressure, to getting off a pharmacist's shopping list of drugs, to better sleep, energy, sex, fertility and so on. Y'know, normal human animal shit.
So let's delve, shall we? It's going to be brutal, but I've decided to focus on the fats, logic and research...mostly. We'll save the gratuitous hit & run for another time.
Fad diets tend to promise a lot, but they really rely on one thing: short-term weight loss and health. The Paleo (Paleolithic) Diet is a very popular diet based on Dr. Loren Cordain's book, which asserts that the diet our ancestors may have followed more than two million years ago must also be the best diet for us today. The Paleo Diet consists of foods that can either be hunted (meats and seafood) or gathered (eggs, vegetables, fruit, roots and nuts). It excludes grains, legumes, dairy, salt, refined sugar, alcohol and processed oils.
I'm not going to hit this in excruciating detail because a few solid points are better than boring exhaustiveness.
- How can a "fad diet[s]" be something "our ancestors may have followed more than two million years...?"
- How long has vegetarianism been in vogue, much less that "great nutritional experiment," veganism, that excludes even the insects, grubs, worms and other primate meat our primate ancestors ate from 4 mil years ago to now? References for successful vegan cultures? None. Don't exist. To be clear, vegetarians such as Indians that make heavy use of dairy are using animal products, do thrive, and seem to have a good handle on population growth. Still, they seem to have more chronic disease and die earlier than in the meat eating regions of India (Malhotra).
On that second point, Dr. Ravnskov summed up Malhotra.
For six years Indian researcher Malhotra registered how many died from a heart attack among the more than one million employees of the Indian railways.
According to Malhotra's report employees who lived in Madras had the highest mortality. It was six to seven times higher than in Punjab, the district with the lowest mortality, and they died at a much younger age. But people in Punjab ate almost seventeen times more fat than people from Madras and most of it was animal fat. In addition they smoked much more.
Otherwise, how come reference only Loren Cordain's old book, published about 10 or so years ago? His newest book (The Paleo Answer) was published only weeks ago. While I don't know how many pages of references it has (I've not yet read it), I do seem to recall that the one she does mention has pages and pages of references to the scientific literature, quite a few by Cordain himself. This would compare to the, ahem...ZERO references in her article.
The Paleo Diet claims to be "the world's healthiest diet." This is a pretty fantastic claim -- if it was true and could be substantiated. As Food Safety News reported in June, the diet has not received particularly high marks for being backed by research.
Here's what Food Safety News reported in June.
U.S. News and World Report, a weekly news magazine with a penchant for ranking things, did not think much of the Paleo or "Caveman diet." It ranked the Paleo diet dead last.
But in the two weeks since U.S. News issued its "Best Diets" report, a funny thing has happened. More people --- far more people --- have gone online to say caveman-style eating worked better for them than any of the other diets they'd tried.
As of mid-day Monday, more than 3,000 people said they lost weight with the Caveman diet, versus just 74 who said they did not. Only the Weight Watchers diet, which won the commercial plan category, came even close with just over 1,800 people saying the diet worked for them. Another 775 said they've tried Weight Watchers, but it did not work for them.
The Dash diet, which won the overall category, had only 95 people saying it worked for them, versus 457 who claimed it did not work.
You remember that deal, back last summer. If you check that link today, you'll find most of the numbers for most of the diets little changed from when Food Safety News reported on it two weeks later. In that two weeks, lots of paleos went over to represent for the diet they had tried, hence the numbers. Then, being mentally compromised and thus way late to the party, the vegetarians and vegans held a virtual religious revival meeting, asked everyone to go lie—because they're zealots first and foremost—and this is the best illustration you're ever going to get.
On page 1—now, months later, and not at or before the first 2-week point, as reported by Food Safety News—the Vegetarian diet has about 18,000 "it worked for mees," compared to about 1,500 that it didn't. Click to page 2, Vegan diet. Surprise! 16,000 and 1,600. What a coincidence! Now, click to the dead last paleo diet on page 3: 6,000 "yes it worked," to a whopping 24,000 who said "no it didn't." Draw your own conclusions, but mine is that vegans and vegetarians are so brain dead-zealous they can't even deal honestly.
You can check the 40,000 comments on my blog, but comments along the lines of "I have problems," "this doesn't work for me," or whatever, are a few dozen at very most, contrasted to thousands upon thousands saying it does. Same at Sisson's place, and he has hundreds of thousands of comments, if not millions. Neither of us moderate comments. And, and, where are the ones in the comments on Melody's own opinion piece testifying about how paleo "didn't work for them?"
Uh, it's only the opposite and that's easy and fresh to verify.
So very many vegetarians and vegans, so far as I can tell, are fucking liars. F.u.c.k.i.n.g. liars. I'm not going to bother, but I'll bet an enterprising reader can easily turn up the veg*n campaign somewhere on the Internet to rally the liars for that piece...to click click click.
I'm sure there are honest vegans and vegetarians out there; and I know so because some are confident enough in their own experience that they're actually readers, even commenters here. They put up with me and my totally asshole demeanor and we usually get along fine. I'm guessing a few of them are going to shake their heads at this shit.
Onward. ...But first, let's make something clear. Folks often say we should be more allied with the Real Food vegans and vegetarians. Well, based on the above, that's making it kinda hard for me. The rally against paleo is only intensifying, even to the point where a monotone, boring retard will put together 71 videos and spam every comment section he can, and then even lie about their nature (notice a trend?) in order to get people to click in.
Though consuming more vegetables, fruit, roots and nuts, and cutting down on sugar, salt, processed oil, dairy and alcohol is always a good idea, I do not agree that people should exclude whole grains and legumes from their diet. Nor do I agree that people will become healthier by consuming large amounts of meats, seafood and eggs.
Oh my, Melody Cherny doesn't agree. Cool.
In the meantime—beyond the thrashing she's already received in comments—what she's finally going to learn is that excluding grains and legumes leaves a caloric deficit that must be filled with something, presumably food. Here's a clue, Melody: paleos propose to replace those calories with food that's far more nutritionally dense. Stop! Read that again, because that's the very essence of what we're dealing with here.
I'll leave you in suspense for now, dear. The hanging thread is, of course, that if I'm right, it makes you look, well...stupid; that people will become healthier eating the same basic amount of calories but in a far less nutritionally dense package.
To say that we should eat like cavemen is short-sighted considering that we are much different today, as is our environment. Ancient man most certainly exercised more, had less chronic stress, drank and inhaled fewer pollutants, was exposed to fewer toxic chemicals and had a different genetic makeup (just to name a few).
We're "much different?" Ever head of anthropology? How about genetics? Check into 'em. Really. And if you write checks to pay when you shop your groceries, check into debit cards. Really. Save us all some time.
...So now let me get this straight: taking you at face value, that we 'exercised more and took in less of a toxic load,' we should, therefore, eat less nutrition? You see, I'm setting you up to look awfully stupid. Sorry about that, but enjoy the healthy whole grains and hummus money anyway.
The Paleo Diet promulgates the diatribe against carbohydrates. To set the record straight: whole grains (i.e. complex carbohydrates) do not make people fat or sick -- assuming you stick to whole grains. Refined grains on the other hand are stripped of nutrients and fiber and are often enriched with a mere fraction of the nutrients they once possessed. Whole grains are an important part of a long-term, healthy diet. They provide ample doses of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
If Ms. Cherny thinks the "Paleo Diet promulgates the diatribe against carbohydrates," then it signals well that she's not well informed. We know of native cultures in tropical regions who consume huge loads of carbohydrates—as much as 90%+ of energy. Conversely, we know of cultures in arctic regions who consume huge loads of animal fat—as much as 90%+ of energy.
Both are "Paleo." All enjoy the general health one would expect of animals in the wild, where environment is sufficient to meet nutritional and energy needs.
Now, add the other variable: elevation: sea level to over 10,000 feet where humans settle.
It's certain this sort of sloppiness goes to her ignorant and apparent unwillingness to inform herself of the latest literature, books (Sisson's Primal Blueprint, Wolf's The Paleo Solution, De Vany's The New Evolution Diet—as well as the glut of cookbooks being published to market), and blogs—such as right here and many others.
Her nutrition stuff regarding grains is such tired nonsense that I just hate to go over it again. For one, stripping grains of the bran and germ actually lowers the anti-nutrient profile (at a cost of some of the nutrients and hence, the fortification). But it just doesn't matter.
It's a fucking red herring, and here's why: pulling up part of this from the archives:
The important thing to glean from the above is the relativity. By that, I mean, look at the numbers at the tops of all of the bars that are off the scale. Compare those numbers: beef liver and salmon to the nutritional bankruptcy of "healthy whole grains." You're supposed to—according to the "authorities" and Cherny—reduce consumption of the two latter and increase consumption of the one former.
Look smart? Not unless you're a fucking moron it doesn't.
Or, how about a mere 4 ounces of beef liver? Don't like liver? Fine. Chow down on 5 whole pounds of mixed fruit to approach equivalent nutrition, plus the sugar load.
(At this point, it's becoming very difficult to not go overboard, making Melody look ignorant and moronic, and going full-on rant.)
...So, time to have a meal of grassfed beef, maybe a glass of wine or a scotch—yea, more likely—and settle down...
Legumes are also an important part of a long-term healthy diet, and include foods like beans, peas, lentils, soy and peanuts. Legumes are a nutritional powerhouse packed with fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, folate, magnesium and potassium. Whole grains and legumes like quinoa, beans, steel-cut oats and edamame will not make you fat -- as long as you don't over do it. Any diet that advises against consuming whole grains and legumes is focused less on your health and more on selling books.
Alright: Paleo isn't perfect. I just had a very satisfying meal of grassfed ground beef; oven cooked at 200 for an hour, finished in ghee to sear the outside. Pink from edge to edge. I deglazed with a bit of beef stock and then reduced quality balsamic vinegar for a sauce and still, this just pisses me off.
"Legumes are a nutritional powerhouse packed with fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, folate, magnesium and potassium."
Anyone...let me repeat: anyone exposes themselves as a fucking moron when they say stupid shit like that...unless, of course, they're talking about the Ice Cream Truck Diet. Yea, in that case, go for the quinoa. But you'll do better with lentils, the most nutritionally dense legume.
Another problem with the Paleo Diet is that it's not environmentally sustainable if adopted on a mass scale -- not to mention expensive (grass-fed, pasture-raised meats that the Paleo Diet encourages are more expensive and less available than conventional meats). Ninety-nine percent of farmed animals bred, raised and slaughtered for human consumption in the U.S. don't roam on grassy fields, but are confined in factory farms - -a far cry from the animals that our ancient ancestors hunted and consumed. Animal agriculture is also considered the greatest contributor to global warming -- producing more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined.
Just more ignorance. I'll just assume that Ms. Cherny just loves her authorities, who so well regurgitated the regurgitate she passes onto you.
According to our very own EPA, fully 200 million acres in the US alone are used for corn, wheat and soybeans. That's one hell of a lot of land to return to its natural habitat of prairie and forrest, for flora and fauna of all sorts to thrive and be consumed by ruminants and predators—that in turn, fertilize that same soil...versus mono crops, the top-soil and environment killing mainstay of most veg*ns.
"Sustainable?" Who the hell knows? What we're doing isn't, so going back to a natural paradigm is a rational way to re-start—with past error in mind—and figure out the problem better going forward.
A final problem with the Paleo Diet is that it promotes a high protein, low carbohydrate intake ratio, which puts stress on the body. High protein, low carbohydrate diets have been linked to high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer and kidney damage.
Ignorance. Reference previous statements regarding the diversity of the human migratory experience from equator to arctic, and sea level to in excess of 10,000 feet elevation, and everything in between.
...And everything in between. Where do you fit in? Where did you come from? Is your skin black, brown, light or lilly white? Are you an ectomorph, mesomorph or a fire-plug Eskimo? Or a hybrid? What mix of real foods works for you? I don't know. And neither does Melody Cherny, in spite of her pretentious pretending to the contrary. And you may not know either. But you can find out—and you find out through trial and error. She won't tell you but I will: you're on your own. You don't need me, and you damn sure don't need her. But you do need a sense of independence, a functioning mind, and some information. I provide information for you to use. I don't give diktats. I'm no authority, and unlike Cherny, don't pretend to be one.
Based on the evidence available today, it's smart to stand by a plant-based diet. Consuming more whole, plant-based foods benefits everyone's health. The phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are abundantly present in plants are essential components of a long-term healthy diet. A whole foods, plant-based diet includes liberal quantities of vegetables, fruit and legumes, hearty amounts of whole grains, nuts and seeds, and sparing amounts of dairy, eggs, seafood, meat and refined sugar.
Way to take a stand! Bla. Bla. Bla. Is there someplace on the internet where this paragraph is readily available to copy/past at any moment's notice?
I'll go out on a limb: Ms. Cherny doesn't know the meaning or import of "phytochemicals." Let's hint her. It simply means "plant compounds." Know of any plants with "phytochemicals" that will kill your ass? Any clue as to how plants—other than fruit, which is designed to attract—defend themselves? Uh, phytochemicals, maybe? So while some are nutrients, some are anti-nutrients, some are toxins and some are poisons. Plants don't generally have claws, teeth, or legs to run fast. Phytochemicals are their defense.
See, I just hate regurgitative dumbshits, and I loath the fact that it's so very hard, if not impossible, to fix stupid.
I wish everyone who is jumping on the Paleo Diet bandwagon the very best of health, but hope that in the end the "cavemen" will go for a more balanced approach and add legumes and whole grains back into their diet.
She wishes that "in the end," you'll give up the nutritional desity you're enjoying in terms of preference, flavor, appetite...and replace it with bankrupt [food]stuffs that come in boxes and bags.
So if she does actually wish you the best of health, really, then it only goes to prove her abject ignorance in these matters.
I found two other blog posts about this topic and I encourage you to check them out (if there are others, let me know and I'll add to the list):
So I guess I'll publish this and give dear Melody a ring in email. I'm sure she'll be happy to hear from me.