The Glossy Magazine Myth – Part 2

Let’s just get stuck right in to this.

14. Pretend to give a little, take a lot: For others, going vegan can pay off, initially at least.”

I love how this makes it sound like going vegan is like making a deal with the devil – “sure, you can do this horrible thing, but at least you’ll get XYZ in return, so just bear with it.” What exactly is the payoff in going vegan? Oh wait, no, in the long run you don’t get anything out of it – ha, tricked you!

15. Insert anecdotal failure story:But three months later she regained the weight–and 10 more pounds. She partially blames her ‘very carb-heavy diet.’

I don’t think I need to spend too long on the first part of this one – I extensively fought the misconception of a plant-based diet as a weight-loss diet in Part 1, and I think it’s quite obvious that if you’re putting weight on, it’s because you’ve started eating too much or expending too few calories.

The second flaw in this anecdote they almost get away with. Almost. See, a carb-heavy diet can lead to weight gain, and vegan diets can be carb-heavy. Unfortunately, there is too much uncertainty in those two statements to link vegan diets to weight gain.

While weight gain/loss/maintenance does come down to calories in versus calories out, it can be easier to over-consume calories when consuming a high volume of carbohydrates. I know that a slightly lower-carb and, particularly, lower-grain and lower-starch diet agrees a little better with me. But again, vegan food is not a food group. Animal products are not a food group. Pick the food sources you want to consume, then manipulate the amounts of them you eat based on the energy and nutrients you want or need from them. Done.

16. Would you like some numbers with your ignorance?: “…a vegan diet may lack appropriate amounts of good fat (like omega-3’s and vitamin B12)…”

Erm… B12 isn’t a fat, it’s a vitamin. It is a fat-soluble vitamin though, so maybe you got confused. I understand.

Gold star for Ms. Girdwain for knowing that Omega-3 deficiency is a big problem though! Shame she failed to point out that actually, it’s a big problem for everyone and that actually the “typical North American diet” is one of the more poorly balanced diets in terms of Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio. So I guess that was just a yellowish shooting star rather than a gold star. Better luck next time.

17. Why do I bother?: “…notes one 2011 study…

Really? Can you really get away with statements like this these days, with no link or reference?

18. Déjà-vu: She ate mostly raw foods and also started to bike everywhere. A diet consisting mainly of fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, combined with the sudden rigorous exercise, helped her drop 25 pounds.

So this girl went vegan, went raw, and vastly increased her exercise (bearing in mind she was “prepared” to go vegan because she “read books on veganism and worked in a health foods store”).

Can you show me again where this is a vegan problem, and not a raw-food-diet problem or a sudden-exercise-regime-increase problem?

19. Refocussing the lens: She became consumed by near daily panic attacks. Rounds of testing with two different doctors revealed a deficiency of several vitamins and minerals. Her adrenal system, which regulates stress, had “burnt out”; her thyroid was malfunctioning.

So I already went over thyroid function and “adrenal stress” in Part 1.

What amuses me here is that Ms. Girdwain seems to be trying to make her reporting sound watertight by specifying that this girl sought out two different doctors‘ opinions – which is always a good idea – but then doesn’t tell us which vitamins and minerals, specifically how they impacted her system, what the “adrenal system” is and how it “regulates stress”, what exactly she means by “burnt out”, how the thyroid was “malfunctioning” – and how all of this, specifically, can be linked to a vegan diet.

To me, this is just a collection of random statements thrown together, with a couple of big words thrown in to make everything sound a little sharper. I’m afraid all the parts of the image which might actually have shown anything relevant are still fuzzy.

20. There’s more where that came from: Vegan clients have walked into my office with scaly skin because they reduced their fat intake too much…”

Vitamin deficiencies speed up tooth decay, and overconsumption of carbs produces a highly acidic environment in your mouth…

I love the image that has been created here of the leprous vegan crawling reptile-like into the office. Very sneakily done, very nice work.

I hope that by now, if you have read the rest of this, you know what I am going to say – this is not a vegan-specific issue. This is a low fat diet-specific issue.

Let’s move on, I’m getting bored of this.

21. Failing grace: “…this time conscientiously dining on grass-fed, organic fare…”

No, no, no and no.

This is not the time or place for the argument that “grass-fed” means virtually nothing in the world of animal welfare, “organic” means little more, but I had to just highlight this. It is not the same thing as being vegan. If you don’t care about animal welfare enough to make a bit of an effort to change your lifestyle, that’s fine – but don’t pretend you’re better than anyone else because you’ve paid a little more for a shiny label.

22. The emperor’s new diet: “…no longer deals with crazy cravings and now has “awesome” cholesterol–which she links, ironically, to a return to eggs and bacon.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if, by returning to a lifestyle where she had to think less about her food choices – because, let’s face it, taking responsibility for our own actions can get a little tedious at the best of times – this person found herself likely to gorge on unhealthy (albeit vegan) snacks to compensate, she ended up with a healthier nutritional profile.

However, I would be very surprised if her cholesterol improved specifically due to an inclusion of eggs and bacon. It’s a shame that, once again, Ms. Girdwain hasn’t offered any sort of scientific backup for this claim, because I would have been genuinely interested in the reasoning behind this link.

Sorry Ms. Girdwain, no gold stars today.

22 glaring errors in a 1050-word article – that’s an average of one mistake for every 47 words. And considering most of those mistakes were whole sentences, say about 20-30 words long on average, we’re looking at every other sentence being quite disastrously misinformed or ignorant.

So what now? Well I suggest you read the comments at the bottom of the article – never before have I seen the comments on one piece of writing on the internet all agree with one another – nor have I ever seen such an eloquent collection of criticism on the web!

I would love it if you could share any other reviews of mainstream press articles on veganism that you have written or read – if you can spare any time in between visits to the doctor, chewing raw food, or painstakingly planning all your next meals, and assuming, of course, that you are not brain-dead by now from the lack of nutrients resulting from your high-carb low-fat fad vegan diet.