The Curious Popularity of “How To Win an Argument With a Meat-Eater”

Denise Minger started her presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium (titled “How to win an argument with a vegetarian”) with a comparison of number of Google hits:

“how to win an argument with a meat-eater”: 53,700 hits

“how to win an argument with a vegetarian”: 7 hits

Why all this concern with winning arguments? Sure, vegetarians are outnumbered, but shouldn’t the results speak for themselves?

Denise went on to make the excellent point that some of the most popular proponents of less meat and low-fat diets, such as Dean Ornish, base their claims on experiments with complex treatments. Group A (no meat, low fat) turns out to be more healthy than Group B (baseline) but the two groups differ in twenty other ways. Group A eats less sugar, gets more exercise, eats less processed food, and so on. But, as Denise said, it must be the vegetarianism.


9 Replies to “The Curious Popularity of “How To Win an Argument With a Meat-Eater””

  1. It’s a bit harsh to lump all vegetarians in the low-fat diet camp. A significant percentage of south-asians are vegetarians for cultural reasons rather than healthy reasons.

    Additionally, many vegetarians may chose the meat free life style for ethical reasons. The hits for “how to win an argument with a meat eater” may in fact be from people that need a list of strong arguments to support their moral choices.

    As a non vegetarian I enjoy pork belly, chicken liver, bone marrow and other “exotic” animal parts (many cooked in butter). However, I also use arguments from the “how to win an argument with a meat eater” when trying to raise awareness about current un-sustainable and often un-ethical meat producing practices.

    1. The particular diet gurus, such as Dean Ornish, that Denise discussed did in fact recommend low fat diets. Keep in mind that the Google hit comparison and the inference discussion (what can we learn from an outcome difference between Groups A and B) were separate parts of her talk.

  2. I understand that some vegetarians might avoid meat for purely ethical reasons. But if you look at their approach from a different angle, you can see that their cause is not that noble – they are just avoiding the responsibility of finding an “ethical” source of meat. That equals hypocrisy in my book.

  3. Actually, I googled “how to win an argument with a vegetarian” and got over 14,000 hits. But only 4 for “vegan”. I think the point still stands, though.

    To me, the question is this: How many people switched to paleo diets from vege- diets due to health problems, vs. the other way around? When she asked for a show of hands of recovering herbivores, it seemed like it must have been a fifth of the room! Is there even one person that got sick on the paleo diet and stopped eating all meat?

    1. Re 14,000 hits: Because of Denise’s talk. When she googled it, there were 3 hits. By the time I got around to googling it, there were 7 hits.

      Re the number who switch from vegetarian to paleo versus the other way. Yeah, except vegetarian is many thousand times more popular. Hard to correct for that.

  4. A couple of points: Seven years ago, I switched from an Atkins-type diet to a purely vegan diet. I did it entirely for ethical reasons, after I started working at at animal shelter that houses both domestic pets and farm animals. After spending time with different types of animals and learning about them, I came to the conclusion that all sentient beings have an interest in avoiding suffering and living out their lives. (Of course, this idea is hardly original and is — or ought to be — fairly obvious.)

    Another point: There is no morally relevant difference between eating flesh versus eating eggs or dairy products. It’s all the same, and it all involves suffering and death. In fact, there is probably more suffering in a glass of milk or an egg than there is in a steak. (A single cow produces a lot of meat, and hens and dairy cows typically live under quite horrible conditions.)

    After I switched from a low-carb diet to a vegan diet, I did gain weight — but I lost it again after doing Seth’s Shangri-La diet. Other than the weight gain, I have not noticed any change in my overall physical health or mental status.

    At some point, I need to do some research to figure out what aspects of the paleo diet might be both healthy and amenable to being veganized.

  5. @Tomas: Ethical meat is pretty expensive. It’s hard to imagine any but the most affluent buying grass finished beef. Ethical eggs are pretty cheap though.

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