Regarding the quality of the survey/article that Vegan Outreach used to try to show the health argument isn't good (i.e., the survey reported in Psychology Today), note that I wrote in my article: "Thus, we might conclude, if the surveys Herzog writes about are correct, that 3 out of 4 people who go veg for ethical reasons – will go back to meat-eating."
I didn't see any such qualifier in the Vegan Outreach article which was trying to present it to defend their position. But the survey may well be true, and is certainly one piece of evidence, not to be completely dismissed, as you would like to do since it doesn't fit your preconceptions, but also not to be completely relied on.
If the largest percentage group – 35% – stopped being vegetarian due to “declining health,” then they clearly were not eating a healthy vegan diet.
Too often people switch from the Standard American Diet to a vegan diet with a lot of junk foods in it. They substitute unhealthy alternative products for the unhealthy meat and dairy products, and end up concluding that the vegan diet isn't all that healthy. But of course in reality, they were simply eating the same SAD diet using unhealthy vegan foods instead.
Herzog notes that the majority of the respondents in his survey were women, and the average age was 28. They were moved to become vegetarian by reasons around animal suffering. Perhaps they read a book, heard a talk or saw a video, or were handed a leaflet showing animal cruelty. They understandably were repulsed and decided they should go vegan so as to not be part of the barbaric and cruel farming system.
Herzog cites a 2005 CBS News survey that found 3 out of 4 people who go vegetarian end up going back to meat-eating. That means a very high failure rate in terms of converting people to the idea of veganism, if that is your objective – as it is for Vegan Outreach and Messina.
Herzog reports in the article that, “In fact, most of the former vegetarians were still concerned with animal protection and the ethical issues associated with eating animals.”
Thus, we might conclude, if the surveys Herzog writes about are correct, that 3 out of 4 people who go veg for ethical reasons – will go back to meat-eating. They will still believe in the ethical reasons that motivated them to become vegetarian, but that reason was not enough to stop them from going back and killing animals again.
Health vegans seek out info to stay healthy – and thus plant-based
Interestingly, on VegSource and with the many medical doctors and programs we have seen and helped promote since 1996, the average age of people going tends to be in their 30s to 50s, and are people concerned about being overweight or having health problems they want to deal with. So this is an older crowd than the ones involved in Herzog's survey.
These health vegans we see usually adopted a plant-based diet to get well, and so they realized they needed to educate themselves about what a healthy vegan diet is. They sought out community and information about how to eat so that their health would improve, so that they could learn to make healthy meals quickly and easily, how to eat when they travel or go out, how to make sure they're satisfied with the food. They may attend a program or watch videos, read books, and hang out at websites with information and experts in order to make the diet and lifestyle work for them, and achieve their objectives.
This is probably why the many thousands of people over the years going veg for health we've personally seen or heard from – do not generally fail, but thrive. It also could explain why so many of the 20-something ethical vegans in Herzog's survey failed; they probably got little or no good health information from the source that encouraged them to go vegan.
I have seen it again and again when someone has been vegan for a long time and wasn't eating healthfully, if they one day decide to learn how to get exceptional health from a plant-based diet, they become supercharged as vegans, rather than failing and feeling bad about it.
The SAD diet is 35% fat and too high in saturated fat, added sugars and salt. Well the vegan recipes from AR dietitians are generally also 35% fat (just substituting junky soy replacements for meat) and still too high in saturated fat, added sugars and salt. There isn't going to be much in the way of health improvement on a vegan diet like that, compared to the SAD diet.
Bill Clinton adopted Dr. Esselstyn's recommended whole food plant-based diet proven to reverse heart disease. Clinton seems to be quite happy since the diet has reversed his disease. He's sticking with it. He says he eats a little fish now and then, which I don't have a problem with.
Like Clinton, the wonderful Alicia Silverstone, who went vegan for ethical reasons, eats a little non-vegan food having , which is also fine by me. And I don't care in any way if she or anyone else is eating cheese, anymore than I care if Clinton may eat a little fish sometimes.
This is why people like Norris and Messina shouldn't call themselves vegan RDs, but rather the vegan Animal Rights Activists. Because being an RD implies that you have learned about health, and that you want to help guide people toward health. But pushing a fat and salt-loaded vegan version of Chick-fil-a, or advocating your operatives not give people information about a healthy vegan diet because that's not in the interests of the animals -- doesn't cut it.
I'm talking about the vegan world. Messina and Norris are clueless when it comes to using a plant-based diet for health. They clearly don't know what healthy food is, but they are willing to go attack people who do, because they have an agenda to bring people to veganism by lowering the barriers.
People going along with that are going along with something that isn't very smart. Vegan Outreach admits in that quote that a healthier diet than the one they promote is out there -- "steamed tempeh and quinoa on a bed of arugala" (according to them) -- but only a small amount of people are really interested in health, they say, so let's promote vegan junk food because we don't really care about the health of people, we're more concerned about animals.
In terms of some "consensus" among dietitians as to whether the vegan diet is healthiest or whatever, I could care less. The ADA is a trade group, not a scientific group. They are sponsored by McDonald's, Coke, Hershey, the dairy industry and the rest.
I think we have different understandings of nutrition, Louie, and different standards for how to act toward other people. I have seen Messina and Vegan Outreach for many years go after the vegan MDs and dietitians who promote health, and try to discredit them or pooh-pooh their sucess in the eyes of their readers. It's time to call what Messina and Ball/Norris are full of: nonsense.
That you see an equivalency between one higher sodium Right Foods soup dish (which has 480 mg of sodium in 200 calories), and the vegan Chick-fil-a Sandwhich that Messina is recommending to readers on her Facebook page -- which calls for 3 cups of canola oil, or nearly 6,000 calories and 654 grams of fat, 13,953 mg of sodium, 373 calories from sugar, and that's without putting all the nasty ingredients into my Cronometer -- you can go ahead and tell me you agree with Messina that "we don't really know what's healthy and what isn't" -- but I do know what's healthy, and it is not the food that Messina is pushing.
3) They may try it all or nothing, and when they can't be 100%, they see a lot of "fundamentalist" vegans, the type who bash Clinton for having a little fish now and then, or bash someone for not living the vegan ethic completely, and so they are turned off by the fundamentalists who insist everyone be "pure." And the fundamentalists who claim they wish more people would become vegan actually cause the opposite due to their judgmentalism.
My point is that Messina and Norris try to place themselves as somehow the arbiter of health and science concerning the vegan diet. The level of "evidence" they use to try to promote their positions is, as you observe about this Psychology Today piece they put forward, very poor. The diets they advise are terrible in terms of health. They should stick to animal rights and using the compassionate argument to spread the good word, that's great.