Vegetarian Bashing Flourishes on the Internet
Frankly, we're tired of vegetarian bashing, especially on the internet where anyone can make ridiculous statements sound like serious science. We recently read a few articles that made us mad as hell and were curious about the people behind the articles.
One of those people who delights in bashing vegetarians and their lifestyle and ideas is Hank Campbell who says, "I don't mind going out to lunch with a vegetarian, we can order just one regular meal and I can eat the actual food and they can eat the leftover stuff on the plate that my food ate while it was living to grow into bigger food."
Campbell is the founder of Science 2.0, a website designed to spread "science research and information" not covered in peer-reviewed science journals.
In his essay "Meat Eaters Are More Tolerant Than Vegans," he charges that PETA 'kills about 90% of the animals it takes in.' Meat eaters support a vegan choice while vegetarians show contempt for anyone not following their path.
"The fellow next to me was eating the kind of breakfast humans evolved to eat, with bacon, eggs and whatnot and I asked him what he thought about vegans and he replied:
'I love vegans! I keep two in the freezer, for special occasions.'"
We're OK with a little teasing and can certainly enjoy a good laugh at clever comments like that. But we do take exception with false statements labeled as "science or scientific."
The Science 2.0 article that motivated us to write about the site's vegetarian bashing was labeled "Vegetarians Found To Have More Cancer, Allergies And Mental Health Disorders."
This study must have escaped from Austria by climbing a wall to contain quackery. This "research" divided 1320 people into four groups matched by sex, age, and socioeconomic status:
The researchers then examined survey interview responses of the people in the study.
Anyone with at least a third grade education might instantly question the design of this highly flawed study and ask for more specific grouping data instead of vague categories:
Obviously, those questions didn't bother the interviewers who sought the answers.
The study admits that 76.4% of all subjects were female. 40.0% of the individuals were younger than 30 years, 35.4% between 30 and 49 years, and 24.0% older than 50 years. 30.3% of the subjects had a low socioeconomic status, 48.8% were in the middle group, and 20.9% had a high socioeconomic status.
We don't have to be scientists to see through all of this intellectual flimflam. Why do a study where the participants were mostly women, unless the researchers figured they could find more anorexic vegetarian women than men? Where did all the men go? Why weren't more of them included? Who decides on the dividing line between different levels of socioeconomic status and how many of each level to include? Who decides what the word "rich" means? Where were the data?
The study authors concluded, "Our results revealed that a vegetarian diet is related to a lower BMI and less frequent alcohol consumption. Moreover, our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life. Therefore, public health programs are needed in order to reduce the health risk due to nutritional factors."
Did Campbell and company ever notice the body of scientific evidence that showed vegetarians and vegans are healthier and live longer than meat eaters in studies that have been replicated numerous times in reputable medical journals?
Campbell and his staff summarize their view of this study by writing, " But as America moves more toward public health care costs, we need to counsel people about diet fads like vegetarianism just like we will smoking and junk food."
By linking vegetarianism with smoking and junk food, Science 2.0 achieves the ultimate in vegetarian bashing.
Science 2.0's quest for more science continues with "Meat and Masculinity: Vegetarian Have an Uphill Perception."
Campbell's staff found this study in the Journal of Consumer Research showing the importance of meat to the American male.
"To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food," the authors write. "Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy."
"No loaded, emotional verbiage in that quote, right? Soy is also associated with harmful hormonal changes in men, so it may be that males simply understand that is a not a good thing," says the Campbell crew.
The staff links the reader to a Science 2.0 article "Eat Soy, Lose Fertility."
They report research published in the journal Human Reproduction stating that men who eat an average of half a serving of soy foods a day have lower concentrations of sperm than men who do not eat soy foods. The association was particularly marked in men who were overweight or obese. In analyzing their own study, the researchers concluded that further study is needed.
This sounds a lot like stuff emanating from the Weston Price people who present loads of anti-soy information and are lackeys of the meat and dairy industries. The Weston A Price Foundation has a web page they title "Confused About Soy?--Soy Dangers Summarized."
A web surfer could spend hours researching soy and would come up with articles trumpeting its value alongside other stories parroting the Weston Price view. The anti-soy folks have achieved their goal--a confused public that doesn't know whether soy is health promoting or dangerous.
A more reasoned approach to soy can be found in a brief article by registered dietitian Brenda Davis. Davis, who has co-authored books on vegan and vegetarian nutrition, has conducted extensive research on soy and responds to the question, "Is Soy Safe?"
Anyone looking at Science 2.0 will find other gems that make the reader wonder where fancy fiction ends and reality begins.
Here's a sampling of other stories:
As we searched for other information about Campbell and what makes him an authority on science, we found a book he co-authored in 2012, Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Science Left. The subtitle provides a clue to what's inside.
Campbell and co-author Alex B. Berezow deliver this message in the book's introduction: "The purpose of this book is instead to inform you about a disturbing trend among highly influential progressive activists who misinterpret, misrepresent, and abuse science to advance their ideological and political agendas. Though some progressives are pro-science, many within their ranks are not. They bogusly wave the banner of science while peddling pure mythology, and they are deaf and blind to all evidence to the contrary. It is our intention to call them out."
For those who accuse the right of being anti-science, Campbell and Berezow say, "The right is not more anti-science than the left; it just has terrible public relations."
Berezow, who has scientific credentials with a PhD in microbiology, is the brains behind Real Clear Science.Real Clear Science.
Found on Real Clear Science are studies that cover the same ground as articles in Science 2.0.
Another article says, "Vegetarians won't die if they sometimes eat food with poultry broth in it."
Other gems can be found at Real Clear Science:
We Progressives on the left recognize 2.0 is too high a grade point average for Campbell's web effort, and Biased Clear Science or Clearly Biased Science might be a more appropriate label for Berezow's creation. Those who worship at the temple of Fox News will scream with delight as they digest the writings on both websites. We'll still support traditional Science 1.0 with its peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals and leave the nonsense of 2.0 to the conservative science bashers who deny climate change, evolution, and the health value of vegetarianism.
To access scholarly articles on the positive attributes of a vegetarian diet, one need only go to Google Scholar and type in "vegetarians live longer.
Those who think the negative study coming out of Austria is a barrage of blather will find Google Scholar links to peer-reviewed Journal articles refuting that information by clicking on "positive effects of vegan diet."
Google Scholar examines the effects of cattle burping on global warming with a string of articles that affirm cows actually do contribute methane gas to the environment.
By doing a minimal amount of research, Readers of Science 2.0 and Real Clear Science can easily find scholarly articles that make mincemeat out of the articles Campbell and Berezow call "science."
Meanwhile, we vegetarians will continue to laugh at the feeble attempts of Campbell, Berezow, and others of their ilk who use pseudo-science to poke fun at people who follow a plant-strong diet. They're the ones on the path to chronic diseases, not us.