A piece written in response to vegan Facebook personalities who disseminate false information in order to fortify the views of the converted and turn the hearts of the carnivorous. Whether pernicious or ignorant, these people do a disservice to a creed which claims to stand on the moral high-ground. In this post I hoped to reestablish the meaningfulness and the efficacy of the truth, and to exhort vegans to take up this sword, not to cut corners, but to cleave undesirables from their rhetoric and behaviour.
Veg*ns are smarter than the average person. But most of them are still pretty dumb. Recently, some vegan Facebook personalities have posted opinion pieces about the connection between dairy and disease. (See Freelee Frugivore’s post, Don Robertson’s post, and the film ‘Got the Facts About Milk?‘). While the connection exists, it would be better this propaganda did not.
Yes. Propaganda. From one vegan to another, what you say is fallacious and poorly researched. The study from which these people draw their fire is an ecological (also called correlational) study, which, according to Jack Norris and Ginny Kisch Messina, authors of ‘Vegan for Life,’ a highly-lauded compendium of vegan dietary tips, is among the least reliable types of scientific study. Simply, it judges individuals by the group, an error of reasoning called the ‘ecological fallacy’. While those mentioned above claim that this oft-cited paper proves animal products reduce incidence of heart disease and increase the likelihood of osteoporosis and hip-fracture, this is not true: it merely calls for further research. Ecological studies are incomplete due to their reliance on rough estimates and their inability to account for various confounding variables. For example, the (false) conclusion that a high consumption of animal products leads to bad bone health can be confounded by noting that Africans have a predisposition to greater bone density; that Asians are well-balanced and less prone to falling than other ethnicities; that Asians, if they do fall, have a slightly advantageous adaptation of their hip geometry that prevents against fracture; that in some cultures, elders rarely leave the home without the aid of a younger person; and so on. The old adage, “correlation is not causation”, holds true for ecological studies.
However, this isn’t to say that a veg*an diet is insufficient. It’s not–at least, it needn’t be. And it’s not to say that animal products aren’t bad for you. In general, they are. For the environment, they definitely are. It’s just that, though meat proteins and dairy actually are among the foods that produce acid most abudantly; and though an acidic environment causes the body to flush out calcium, leading to bone loss; the curveball we’re neglecting to mention is that protein also enhances calcium absorption, and high-protein diets are associated with better bone health. So the rub of the matter remains that claiming that diets high in animal products will result in osteoporosis is a dud call. Don’t do it. Especially on the dubious foundation of one of the lesser types of study that are inconclusive, prone to fallacies, and which make eager readers susceptible to confirmation bias, reading whatever they’d like to hear into the anti-climax at the end.
Vegans–and those campaigning to mitigate the pathology that inflicts profound suffering on trillions of feeling beings every year–should be paragons of health, but also, in their role as peaceful warriors, paragons of honesty too.