My New Hero: 25-Year Vegetarian Christopher Gardner

Being a hero or gaining respect is easy: be honest. Bonus points for being honest when it’s the very last thing you desire to do. How you deliver honesty is irrelevant. That’s why I do it a bit rough, now and then.

Dr. Gardner did it gently, and he did it in spades and spades all over, top to bottom & wall to wall.


I’ve had this video cued up for I don’t know how long; other’s have blogged it, but I didn’t have time to watch. I did just now, Christmas day, and I figure: maybe you have some time on your hands over the next few days. If you do, I urge you: watch this video. Are you going to learn much? Depends. If you are new to paleo, this is essential. If you’re an old hand, this should give you comfort, and its fitting for the season. So give yourself a gift.

OK, here’s the suspense. You’ve got a 25 year vegetarian, with three children as vegetarians and one on the way. And yet, he is going to tell you — and he’s extremely likable as a lecturer — that the Atkins diet (as practiced by subjects educated in it) kicked ass against four other diets (including chubby-face Ornish) in every single marker measured; i.e., weight loss and disease risk factors. So, it’s fun too.

"It was a bitter pill to swallow," says he. And he also covers paleo by minute 50 or so, and even touches on fasting in the Q&A. All in all, an amazing presentation and my hat’s so off to him. He has everything he needs to connect dots. He even mentioned traditional healthful populations whose members became diseased when emigrating to "civilization." He didn’t mention Weston Price, but I will when I come up with his email. [Note: I have the email. Thanks all for sending it along.]


  1. Jimmy Moore on December 25, 2009 at 18:09

    Dr. Gardner’s embrace of low-carb living is amazing. You can reach him via email at []. I’m working on getting him on my podcast.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 25, 2009 at 20:24

      Thanks, Buddy.

      Your podcasts are arguably the very best value in low carb /paleo that exists. Just listened to the Chis Masterjohn entry on the way up to the cabin for Christmas. Easily the most technical interview you’ve done. You really shut your mouth on that one :) …cause it was gold and you knew it!

      A firestorm is brewing. It’s easy to see, especially when seeing what honest guys like Dr. Gardner.

      Thanks, Jimmy, for so much hard & valuable work you do. I’ll never forget it.

  2. Eric Vlemmix on December 26, 2009 at 05:04

    I did see this presentation some time ago, very good talk. Especially concerning his own personal diet preference.

    I also had a talk with my parent about my ‘diet’. I was weighing 83 kg before, currently my weight is 69 kg, and still gradually dropping. Feeling great, looking better, and got rid of some minor health related issues. They are still not fully sure all this meat and full fats are that healthy, and that bread, high carbohydrate stuff and such aren’t really proper foodstuffs.

    Then I reminded them: I know it might be an ‘easy way out’ to follow this diet if you are the typical meat eater, but what was always my preference of food? I *love* bread, still do! For every lunch, and even often as dinner, or I included it for dinner. Rice as the basis of a meal, mmmm. Meat? Minimal, never ate a whole lot of meat, and sometimes some fish.

    So why would I eating more meat now, and eating low amounts of sugar, grains and starches? Not because that is what I always preferred to eat, but mainly because of the available research and my own experience at this moment: feel good, no hunger, lose weight.

    I now only need to find out what kind of meats I really like, without spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen. And, I’m probably going to get my triclycerides and cholesterol checked in january, just to get the hard numbers, although I am a bit sorry that I didn’t get those checked before I started the lower-carb, higher-fat way of living.

    So, I’m not a vegetarian advocating to eat meat, but I too made, or am making, quite a shift from a preference of grains, rice and some potatoes and some meat to meat, and some grains, rice or potatoes.

    And yes, I do eat some bread, potatoes, chips, etc from time, and yes sometimes I drink cola and beer, but I don’t see a huge problem in eating and drinking ‘bad-stuff’ from time-to-time, after all: I’m still a social animal, so sometimes I’ll just have follow the herd for a time.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 26, 2009 at 08:08

      No need to sweat purity, Eric. 80-90% paleo compliance is going to be plenty for most people.

      • Alex on December 26, 2009 at 13:41

        It only took a partial shift to paleo to bring about my own 30 pound weight loss. My diet had been predominantly vegetarian and largely based on whole grains and beans. I stopped eating pasta, potatoes, sweets, and large midday meals of grains and beans, but I still ate an evening meal of two slices of sprouted grain toast with hummus. Several years later, I ditched the remaining grain in my diet and most of the dairy, and it didn’t make anywhere near the impact of the initial dietary shift away from heavy carb intake.

  3. Lewis on December 26, 2009 at 14:21

    Great stuff, Richard—I’ll watch it tonight. Thanks for the tip.

    Up the Revolution!

  4. Don Matesz on December 26, 2009 at 15:33

    I agree. I watched it a few weeks ago and recommend it to everyone, especially T. Colin Campbell!

  5. scott on December 27, 2009 at 10:41

    Great Post, thank you. Nice to see Dr. Gardner’s professionalism and objectivity in comparison to some out there. I’d be interesting to know if Dr. Gardner’s personal diet has changed. Towards the end you still see him hedging a great deal on saturated fat, high protein, and veg/animal protein sources.
    I also like the mention of Pollan and some other food books on food politics.

    Thank you for highlighting this lecture.

  6. Ted Hutchinson on December 27, 2009 at 11:30

    Jimmy’s previous exchange with Chris Gardener is interesting.

    While I enjoyed the lecture and recommend it frequently to others, I felt Gardner was somewhat clutching at straws to justify his reluctance to accept the underlying message of his findings.

    • Alex Thorn on December 27, 2009 at 12:18

      I’ve watched the lecture twice and I agree (both of) you – he seemed to hedge his conclusions toward the end!

  7. ChrisC on December 28, 2009 at 07:50

    Great lecture. Loved the fact that he mentions the paleo diet, but was amazed to hear the laughter from the audience when he did. Looks like there is still a long way to go. Wish he had just tied the paleo idea to his “volumetric and energy density” slides, as the benefits he identified are inherent to the paleo diet.

  8. Beth on December 28, 2009 at 11:00

    Agree with you this is a video well worth watching! One thing I found particularly interesting was the actual composition of the “Atkins” diet by one year: it was really neither a particularly high protein nor low carb diet (22% protein and 32% carb).

    The other really interesting aspect of his presentation (IMO) was the discussion on how different diets worked better or worse depending on the insulin sensitivity of the participant. Sometimes a higher carb diet worked better.

    Finally, hard-core geeks may appreciate this set of Gardner’s slides on the same study, but slightly different presentation:

  9. Julie on December 31, 2009 at 06:59

    Thanks for sharing the video! It’s interesting watching it, because I’ve been convinced of the “Atkins” way of eating for about 15 years now, so to hear the “oohs and ahhs” of the crowd upon hearing the results, I just had to shake my head a bit. I tend to agree with some of the other posters here that while Gardner was able to present the results, I still wasn’t convinced he was there 100%. He still seemed afraid of sat. fat, and he almost made fun of the “paleo” diet with its food group restrictions (grains and dairy), implying that everyone would become bored and sick of only eating one thing.

    In any case, it is a step in the right direction! He’s a good presenter and easy to listen to, and I hope his message continues to gain ground.

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