Many of you may or may not be aware that on
a recent podcast episode of Waking Up with
Sam Harris, Sam discussed his ethical qualms
with eating animals and his serious desire
to go vegan. He called out to the vegan community
for assistance, and the members of the Vegan
Atheist forum have stepped up to provide excellent
advice and direction. While this video is
directed at Sam Harris, it very well may assist
other’s with their health concerns regarding
a switch to veganism.
Sam, thank you for your intellectual honesty,
and your willingness to learn and change.
First, please see Unnatural Vegan’s excellent
summary of basic vegan nutrition here:
This video will extend on that, and we won’t
repeat most of her excellent advice.
As to the idea that we don’t understand human
health and nutrition particularly well, this
is a common misconception.
No credible nutritionist or doctor disagrees
that the standard American diet is unhealthy,
or that properly planned vegan diets can be
nutritionally complete. It is non-controversial
that well planned vegan diets can be healthy.
It’s also non-controversial that a poorly
planned diet can be dangerous.
What seems like controversy from a layman’s
perspective isn’t really science; it’s the
swirling cesspool of fad diets and pseudo-science
that is fed to the public through television
and other media.
That’s the real embarrassment.
From a layman’s perspective of neuroscience,
the same controversy regarding the existence
of mind-body duality, ESP, or telekinesis
may seem to be embroiling our institutions.
As you know, that’s not the case no matter
what ill conceived television shows and documentaries
on so called science or discovery channels
It’s the same issue with nutrition; the trick
is to be informed enough to sort out the hokum
from the actual science. It’s no easy task
for a layman. Here are three key points to
look for, as a sort of litmus test of credibility:
1. Anybody who advises in any way against
B-12 supplementation for vegan diets should
not be regarded as credible, period.
2. Anybody who appeals to our “natural diet”,
or ancestral diet, or evolution as an argument
for a certain way of eating should be suspect;
we have a better grasp on nutrition than our
ancestors did, and access to higher quality
3. Anybody who claims to be skeptical of the
effect of cholesterol and saturated fat on
heart disease should really be laughed off
the stage today.
Plant Positive has an excellent breakdown
of just one of the unethical publications
that attempts to twist data in support of
its conclusions against the established science
of the lipid hypothesis:
The real debate in nutrition swirls around
what ideal nutrition is, and it also raises
the important question of what “ideal” nutrition
If we’re talking about longevity, attained
by minimizing risk of the largest killers
— cancer, heart attack, and stroke — then
minimizing or eliminating most animal products
— particularly from tetrapods — is important.
But not all plant products are blameless either
— tobacco for example. But also plant products
too high in methionine or choline, or high
in saturated fats like tropical oils, mycotoxins
in some fungi, peanuts, or improperly stored
grains… This could go on ad nauseam.
The notion of an ideal diet is always going
to be more speculative as we learn more.
Dr. Greger has an extensive series of videos
covering nutrition topics and exploring optimal
nutrition from a skeptical science based perspective.
You may enjoy his work at nutritionfacts.org
if you’re interested in what the latest research
has to say on the matter, which is always
changing — although not that drastically
— how we view the ideal diet.
PCRM is another great resource for evidence
based approach to human health, and mitigating
the leading preventable causes of heart disease
But obtaining a reasonably healthy diet, or
at least one not less healthy than the standard
American diet, is a much simpler matter which
Unnatural Vegan covered very well in her video.
To hedge your bets for a completely idiot
proof vegan diet, as she mentioned, rope grown
Oysters may be an option since they’re probably
not sentient, and are more environmentally
But aside from that, it’s very hard to ‘idiot
proof’ veganism since there’s no one single
source of all macro nutrients, vitamins, and
minerals. It’s important to mix and match
on a vegan diet.
There’s always a way to mess it up if you’re
determined. But you aren’t an idiot, and we
have every confidence in your ability to be
If in doubt, visit a registered dietitian,
not a general practitioner or family doctor,
since most doctors are not trained in nutrition.
You can also use online tools to track your
diet, and check macro and micro nutrients
against the RDI.
Cron-o-meter is a popular recommendation,
although requires a signup. It’s mainly weight
loss oriented, but has a database for tracking
nutrients which is useful to anybody trying
to balance a healthy diet.
And this goes for anybody out there, you are
also welcome to post about your diet on our
forums for practical science based feedback
and advice at:
A number of people have already, and we do
our best to give anybody feedback on good
or bad dietary habits, including recipe suggestions
based on their lifestyles and preferences
in terms of taste and convenience.
No doubt you’ve been inundated already, but
thank you for watching if you have, and again,
thank you for your intellectual honesty and
courage to ask for help.
You’re an inspiration to us all.
If you enjoyed this video, click the like
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Looking for a great place to communicate with
vegans, atheists, theists and non-vegans from
across the globe, consider joining TheVeganAtheist
forum. Our growing community is always looking
for new members with whom we can share our
experiences, debate issues, discuss and learn
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