Episode 74: House of Experiments

In this episode we’ll talk about many of the dietary and fitness experiments of Richard Nikoley with the man himself. Also, I have a new food documentary to bring to your attention, and After the Bell it’s an excellent TED presentation by Dr. Peter Attia that may change the way you think about obesity and the solutions to obesity. Topics covered in the Nikoley interview include eating crickets, resistant starch, milk and kefir, Leangains, and much more.

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Episode 75: Perfect Health Diet with Paul Jaminet

Today’s guest is Dr. Paul Jaminet, co-author of Perfect Health Diet. We talk about traditional versus modern diets, weekly versus daily nutrition, the importance of circadian rhythms, the new Perfect Health Retreat in Austin, TX, the real-world results of people applying the Perfect Health Diet approach, and much more. Additional segments include Dr. Loren Cordain in a roundtable discussion with T. Colin Campbell and Jo Robinson discussing her new book ‘Eating on the Wild Side’ in an NPR interview.

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USDA Announces Investments in Pollinator Health Research

This news is about a month old, but it just came across our radar this week and we thought it worth sharing: The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced $10 million dollars worth of grants intended to support research to help sustain healthy populations of pollinators. Why is this important? Well, from the USDA’s press release: “One-third of all U.S. crop production requires pollination by animals—primarily honey…

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Episode 76: Yoga of Eating with Charles Eisenstein

Today’s guest is Charles Eisenstein. He is the author of Yoga of Eating and several other books. We talk about how to properly use willpower; why diets don’t work; sacred foods; why it is essential for us to learn to trust ourselves when it comes to making food choices; how bringing our diets and our food into alignment with our needs can lead to even bigger changes in our lives. After the Bell, Alan Watts continues the discussion by talking about Man in Nature.

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Gene-Testing Company 23andMe Partnering with “Big Pharma”

Last Wednesday, July 25, genetics-testing company 23andMe announced that they’re partnering with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. From 23andMe’s blog (emphasis mine):

I hear regularly from customers that they want to be part of a solution that is improving health care. We all have some disease or health issue that we care about. 23andMe has created a research platform to enable customers to actively participate in research — to not wait for solutions to appear, but for people to come together and make discoveries happen.  By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs. Our genetic research — powered by millions of customers who have agreed to contribute — combined with GSK’s expertise in drug discovery and development, gives us the best chance for success.

Note the bolded phrase: “powered by millions of customers who have agreed to contribute.” This is technically true. Agreeing to 23andMe’s (typically murky) privacy policy does mean consenting to the company’s use of your genetic data however they see fit, but thus far that usage has been limited to, effectively, pattern analysis. Surely, few, if any, 23andMe customers realized they would be paying a company to then sell their data with the goal of developing new pharmaceutical drugs.

Genetics-testing companies like 23andMe are fairly popular in the Paleo world. In fact, this magazine has been considering publishing a roundup of such companies and services for some time. And while a great deal of good has undeniably come from these services (who doesn’t want to know their genetic heritage, for example, or whether they’re at increased risk for certain cancers, or even their body’s particular rate of caffeine metabolism?), and even from their sharing of genetic data (the recent use of data from GEDMatch to catch the Golden State Killer, for example), something tells me Paleo folks aren’t going to be too happy knowing their genetic data is actively being used to give Big Pharma an edge. Not to mention that, if you’re genetic data is being used in drug testing, you should be being paid for it, not the other way around.

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Equal Consideration: A Modern Hunter’s Investigation of “Animal Liberation”

I am probably the first person in history to pack two boxes of shotgun shells and a copy of Peter Singer’s seminal work on animal equality, Animal Liberation, in the same bag for a road trip, but as a thoughtful hunter and a writer, I thought it important to get to know the philosophy of people who oppose eating meat. To my surprise, I found in Animal Liberation an extremely compelling and logically sound argument in support of animal equality—one which, in many ways, agrees with my own philosophy about how we should interact with animals.

Singer’s primary argument is that it is morally wrong not to consider the suffering of nonhuman animals in the choices we make in our lives. He makes a particularly strong case against animal experimentation and factory farming, in which animals are simply a means to human ends and suffer greatly, sometimes even for trivial benefits to humans. His call for concern over animal suffering has indeed become mainstream since the book was first published in 1975, evidenced in part by the labeling of beauty products as not having been tested on animals and the ongoing movement toward ethically raised animal products.

Singer illuminates for the reader that the same reason why racism and sexism are immoral is also the reason speciesism, “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of another species,” is immoral. The principle of equality applies to all nonhuman animals in the same way it applies to humans, and does not “depend on intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or similar matters of fact.” It is this equal consideration of interests that, in Singer’s view, must define our relationship to other animals, because regardless of their abilities, all animals have an interest in avoiding suffering.

My question, then, is what about the cases in which human beings have a genuine conflict of interest with other species? Singer acknowledges this question in the book, but I think he underestimates the extent to which we are actively in conflict with other animals, and the consequences of truly equal consideration. We compete with wildlife for food, shelter and water. He doesn’t appear to consider things like the fact that when any new development is built, animals are displaced. It seems to me that equal consideration would mean a permanent moratorium on all human developments, because by his line of reasoning, it would be unfair to expel the resident fauna for human expansion.

He cites as an example of conflicting interests the damage that rodents can do to to crops, but fails to comprehend the scale of the conflict, especially from big animals like deer. Wildlife damage to American agriculture is estimated to be $4.5 billion annually. Deer also cause $1.6 billion of losses each year in vehicle collisions. Without hunting, deer in good habitats like farmland can double their population every two years. One of their favorite crops is soybeans. Imagine what would happen to the price of soy-based vegan foods if we suddenly stopped hunting deer.

Singer appeals for us to find nonlethal solutions like birth control for these problems, but even if he’s right about this as something we have an imperative to strive for, what should we do in the meantime? This technology does not exist in a way that is either effective or affordable. Regardless of its possible moral superiority, birth control is not currently a viable solution to the problem of crop degradation and property damage resulting from our genuine conflict of interest with other animals.

There are parts of the book I disagree with outright. For example, Singer claims that humans are the only animals that kill for nonessential reasons and sometimes “torture . . . their fellow animals before putting them to death.” With regard to killing, this assertion is in direct conflict with the well-documented fact that male lions will sometimes kill and eat the former patriarch’s cubs when they take over a pride, or that chimpanzees conduct warfare against neighboring communities. With regard to torture, cats and killer whales are both known to toy with their prey for extended periods of time before killing them. In another section, Singer writes that “killing animals for food (except when necessary for sheer survival) makes us think of them as objects we can use casually for our own nonessential purposes.” While I agree and have witnessed that this can be the case, this correlation is not evidence of causation. I know from personal experience that killing animals for food does not cause objectification in everyone, and that one’s emotional relationship to the act of killing changes over time. In my many years of hunting, I’ve learned that killing animals and taking their suffering into consideration are not mutually exclusive ideas, but the author does not fathom this as a possibility.

 To his credit, Singer acknowledges many of the challenges presented by his argument and shows himself to be much more reasonable than I had assumed he would be based on the self-righteous zeal I’ve seen from some animal rights advocates. As strongly as he feels about reducing animal suffering, he concedes that determining “the wrongness of killing a being is more complicated,” noting the “widely different views about when it is legitimate to kill humans” in cases of capital punishment, euthanasia, and abortion as reasons he can’t come to a conclusive opinion on the matter. He also explains that, while he thinks it is best for us, the environment, and animals for all of humanity to become vegetarians, he “can respect conscientious people who take care to eat only meat that comes from” animals that have lived a “pleasant existence” and are “killed quickly and without pain.”

Like all ethical hunters, I take great pains to ensure that I do not cause unnecessary suffering in my prey. Like Singer, we find the act of wantonly or deliberately causing animals to suffer needlessly to be reprehensible. I love the challenge of pursuit and am often thrilled by its successful conclusion, but I do not take some kind of psychopathic pleasure in the killing itself. I am in complete agreement with Mr. Singer that “if a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration,” but I think we have to make our final choices based on the realities of the world in which we live. It seems to me that he’s right about the fact that all of the planet would benefit if humans became mostly vegetarian, mainly because of the large volume of greenhouse gasses emitted by animal agriculture and the inefficiency of its land use. It takes a lot of land to raise the crops needed to feed our livestock, not to mention the land they require for themselves, and the effect of shifting this land’s use to other crops could be large.

Still, even if we stopped buying meat in grocery stores, I think we are a long way from removing hunting as a means of effectively managing our conflicts with wildlife, and it would be wasteful not to eat animals we’ve killed in the process. Singer doesn’t acknowledge the existence of the kind of hunting I practice in his book, but I’m convinced that, upon careful consideration, this practice would fall within the range of “conscientious people” whom he can respect for eating meat from animals who’ve lived “free range” lives. I am already committed to cooking only with meat I’ve hunted myself, and while convenience has stopped me from taking the leap to vow never to eat factory-farmed meat when I’m out of the house, Singer has convinced me that most factory farming is immoral.

All in all, Animal Liberation is an exhaustive and well-reasoned piece of philosophy that is worth reading. Whether or not you agree with its conclusions, it will force you, as it forced me, to reconsider your choices as they relate to animal welfare—and I think we can all agree that thoughtful consideration of other beings is a good thing for the world.


References

  1. Conover, MR. Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts: The Science of Wildlife Damage Management. Lewis Publishers, 2002.
  2. Stoll, RJ, Parker WP. “Reproductive Performance and Condition of White-Tailed Deer in Ohio.” The Ohio Journal of Science. 86.4 (1986): 164–8.
  3. Singer P. Animal Liberation. HarperCollins, 2002.

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Episode 77: Not So Naked

In today’s show we start with a little Paleo Diet satire, and then we talk about: studies that say intermittent fasting is great for weight loss but could also lead to an increased chance of heart disease. Find out why Naked Juice isn’t claiming to be “all-natural” anymore. We also discuss stem-cell beef, which is making it’s debut soon. In the Moment of Paleo segment, I answer some questions like “What is Paleo?” and “What does Humans are not Broken mean?” After the Bell, we’ve got a fantastic real-food clip featuring Michael Pollan.

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Creamy Broccoli & Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups broccoli florets (about 2 large heads)
  • 1 TBSP ghee or butter
  • 1/2 medium-sized white onion, diced
  • 10 cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • Dash of salt and pepper

The Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Set aside.
  2. Place the broccoli in a steamer basket and steam until tender when poked with a fork, 8-10 minutes.
  3. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the onions, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the riced cauliflower and sauté for 3 minutes, or until the cauliflower just starts to soften. Remove pan from heat.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, coconut milk, eggs, and nutritional yeast.  Add a dash of salt and pepper, along with the cooked broccoli mixture. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour the casserole mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown on top. Let casserole cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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