Episode-858- Lierre Keith on The Vegetarian Myth — 127 Comments

  1. For one thing not eating animals will not help them in the least. Hunting animals will keep the population under control and they won’t starve from over grazing.

    • I’ve heard this argument quite often, and I don’t know the origins of it. The entire ecosystem seeks stasis, and this includes the populations of animals. If we had to hunt to keep populations of various animals under control, we’d be overrun with badgers, possum, dogs, cats, and even people! We don’t have to hunt animals of a certain population to keep them under control. The population of that species will seek stasis – as long as it is indigenous to the area. We currently “control” populations of lots of species that aren’t hunted by encroaching on their habitat. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a tree-hugging person who thinks that all growth is bad. I have just heard this argument a lot, and I don’t believe that it holds up when you start looking at it earnestly.

      • Dan,
        With insects and those bugs who will eat them, nature cycles with population booms and population crashes. The pests get out of control, and the predator population rises in this graphed response–
        When the pest population is decimated, the predator population plummets due to starvation. In response, I’ve planted plants that provide food for pest predators ,so that that the predators are well-fed, healthy and are always there to devour the pests, but that is a human again is controlling population dynamics.

        In the same vein, where deer do not have enough predators, as show in scientific studies, they become damaging and over eating their food supply; however, in Northern California, deer were damaging forage last summer, lots of rutting damaging of what food that wasn’t eating, and I watched hunting lower the population this fall, and currently the deer aren’t destroying habitat, and the lack of deer is preventing the mountain lions from following the deer into neighborhoods. I prefer that mankind work diligently to inhibit the over-population/starvation cycle whether animal or insect populations. Stasis is reached through the boom and the crash of each population. Mankind avoids the negative decimation by habitat preservationand over-population by management. And yes, a area’s stasis can be too many ground squirrels.

  2. No F’ing way!

    thanks! I know of who she is. this should be great. even tho she is a feminist lol hahah. this is a great guest Jack thanks.

  3. It is interesting how she groups cultures into groups that mirror the same thoughts used by the environmentalist of today that want to take charge of our life. It is these groups that take away our lands, herd us into cities, forced to eat their diets, and insist that the government control all areas of our lives. It is funny, not really, how she blames corporations for all our issues and points to “hunter gatherer” as the solution. It looks like we are headed in that direction anyway. I like most of what she says minus her politics. Education is the best along as it is the truth. Looks like she is doing her own homework. Good show!

    • @Rusy, keep in mind the last thing Lierre wants is to herd people into cities. I also need to talk to her about global capitalism. I think we actually agree more than disagree, I think she may be using the wrong term. Chalk it up to her backgound. To me what she is talking about is actually global fascism and corporatism.

    • It’s a great website used to connect local consumers with local, grass based farms. I need to get ours out there!

      Please note, to be listed on there one must be 100% grass based on ruminants (beef, lamb, goats, etc) but you can use grain for poultry and pork. And many farms listed use gmo grains!

  4. Great show, Jack. Good job steering the conversation away from politics and onto the real substance. I have already checked out eatwild and found a few farms in my region; however, most are about an hour away. I’m not sure if the local regulatory market in my county is prohibitive to raising food the way it was meant to be raised or that my area tends to be more conservative politically whereas the eatwild site seems to tend toward more liberal territory.

    I do have a friend that raises beef on pasture (grass only) land and does not treat the cows badly at all. All of his animals have a great temperament, are incredibly curious, and are more like pets than food. I have had meat from several of his cows and bulls and can say that grass fed beef is awesome. Much more flavorful than the commercial beef in the stores.

    One thing that would be great is if you could post the daily diet that Lierre discussed at the end of the show. Some of what she said was a bit hard for me to hear as I was listening so I’m not sure if everything I took note of was accurate.

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Afton Field Farms outside of Salem Oregon is about an hour south of us. We make the trip once a year for half a (grass fed) cow. We get it frozen from the farm and put it in a chest freezer.

      Problem Solved.

  5. Jack, heres the thing thats not being discussed. Over 80% of the current agriculture is grown to feed animals first. If we all just ate smaller portions of meat with more veggies like the Japanese and I do then there wouldnt be any need for all the agriculture in the current scale or factory meat farms. This truth is being hidden within emotion and is misleading. There is no doubt that eating less meat and more veggies is better for you. I am a crop consultant and these are the facts…

    • @Ray, nonsense, seriously, nonsense. Old tired lie. If you don’t eat animals you are going to have to eat grain, the animals don’t need grain. Just because it is what we feed them doesn’t mean it is what they need.

    • I can’t reply directly to Jack’s comment, so I’ll reply to the topic:

      Actually, this is absolutely true. You can see it in every form of energy conversion. It’s a scientific fact.

      When energy is converted from one form to another, some usable energy is lost in the process. You get more energy (calories) from eating one pound of grain than you would eating the meat that was grown from one pound of grain.

      This is similar to the energy conversion loss that we see in solar (efficiency hits at the panel, battery, and inverter), petrol (efficiency hits at the refinery, during combustion, and transmission of power), and every other energy conversion. Unfortunately, you don’t get something for nothing.

      I’m not saying to not eat meat or that one diet is healthier than another. It’s just a fact that eating meat isn’t the most efficient form of getting energy from the source (grass, grains, etc) to calories inside you. Because of this, it is harder on the agriculture system to eat meat than it is to eat closer to the energy source. It follows that eating closer to the energy source is more sustainable. To say otherwise is to ignore the undeniable fact that some energy is lost in the conversion from one form to another.

      • @Dan the entire argument MISSES the actual point. If we ate mostly meat and if we didn’t subsidize grain to an artificial price we would NOT feed the animals grain. We would not grow much grain, ruminants are supposed to eat grass. Grass is perennial, we don’t have to till to grow it.

        Agriculture DOES NOT exist to support livestock it exists to support people. Whether we feed soy to cows or soy to people (and make them sick) we still till fields and destroy the land.

        50-million bison lived and roamed with not an ounce of soil tilled. We could likely raise 100 million cattle on 1/10 of the land with no damage to it with modern paddock shift methods. People cling to the lie here the same way many can’t accept that Pluto isn’t a planet.

        • I’ll ignore the unrelated hyperbole. It’s not an emotional issue – it’s one of logic.

          Agriculture exists to support the demand. Part of that demand is for livestock.

          Cows are fed grains because it’s more calorie-dense and takes up less space than fields of grass. Just playing with some rough numbers from Google, if we had 100 million cows eating grass:
          A 1200 pound cow eats about 2.5% of its weight in dry matter per day
          7 inch tall grass is about 1600 pounds dry matter per acre
          100 million cows would eat grass from 684,373,000 acres per year – that’s 30% of the land mass of the United States. Talk about a plague!

          Based on about 530 lbs of meat from a cow, that gives 176 pounds of meat for everyone in the US – about 8 ounces of meat per day per person, at the expense of 30% of the usable land in the US.

          Admittedly, these numbers are rough, but it shows that grass feeding 100 million cows isn’t sustainable and it only provides a small amount of meat. These are the numbers whether or not Pluto is a planet. 😉

        • @Jack,

          The Pluto example is not a particularly good one. It was and then wasn’t a planet purely by convention. The IAU created a new standard that excluded Pluto. And actually it is a kind of planet–a ‘Dwarf Planet.’

          While I have no problem with this definition of planets, it is arbitrary and just as easily could have been written to define things so that it WAS a planet. This is a matter of consensus definition, not of some absolute truth.

          Pluto is what it always was. Someone just changed (or clarified) the definition of what “Planet” means. It isn’t a matter of not “accepting” a fact about Pluto–it is a matter of not being aware of the scientific convention that came about which altered the definition of what a planet is.

          No one who thought Pluto was a planet in the past was “wrong.” They were simply listening to what science defined then. The definition was changed by a group of scientists, so cut the poor folks (like your wife) some slack. 🙂

        • @Dan –
          you’re missing a couple of things with your argument.

          First, grass is a perennial, which, with intensive grazing methods can be ‘harvested’ many time throughout a growing season (vice corn, an annual that can only be harvested once per season). So your numbers are quite a bit off as to the amount of pasture needed.

          Second, that annual crop you are growing (grain, corn, etc.) is depleting/destroying the soil nutrients, which to continue to get any yield are currently being replaced by fossil fuel fertilizers. Sustainable?

          Third, you’re assuming a calorie is a calorie. Which is true, and perhaps important in a lab. But completely beside the point when you’re ingesting food. Does 2000 calories of corn syrup have the same effect on your body as 2000 calories of grass fed beef? Would popping a multivitamin (with the ‘USDA recommnded’ dose of vitamins and minerals) allow you to be healthy while eating a corn syrup diet?

          Despite our hubris, our (humanities) level of understanding , about pretty much anything, is rudimentary at best.

    • @Insidious

      I do agree that you could harvest grass, and that you wouldn’t need that entire pasture. Again with some spitball Google numbers:
      Grass grows 2-6 inches/month (depending on type) if we split the difference and use 4 inches/month, it takes about 2 months to get to the dry matter weight I used in my post. Because of that, you could roughly divide the pasture area by 6 to get 5% of the total land mass needed to support the cattle. We’d probably need a little more than that because of growing seasons, etc. This is still a land mass larger than the size of California – and still just for 8 oz of meat per person per day.

      I never said that feeding cattle grain is better. It’s just done now because it’s easier to bring lots of grain to cattle than it is to bring lots of cattle to pasture. I agree that feeding an animal its natural food is best. It’s just not easy or cost effective for the meat industry to do that. Nobody wants a $20 hamburger!

      I also did not say (or even mean to imply) that a calorie is a calorie at the expense of nutrition. Only that eating closer to the source is more sustainable. If you eat the meat grown from a pound of grain, you get less energy than you eating that same pound of grain yourself. Of course you should pay attention to nutrition and eat a variety of foods. Eating those foods closer to their source is ultimately more sustainable.

      • @Dan

        Your grass numbers are WAY off for intensive pasturing, there are quite a few resources such as:

        ‘Cost Effective’ (profitable) – Yes, its ‘cheaper’ to produce unhealthy meat, using subsidized grain, in inhumane conditions, that pollute the surrounding environment, using currently cheap/subsidized fossil fuels. Externalizing costs is a wonderful thing for the bottom line.

        Yes, fossil fuel grain is ‘more sustainable’ than fossil fuel grain turned into meat. While still being fully on the ‘unsustainable’ side of the line. (ie. if we continue to do it. we die.)

        Grass fed meat is SUSTAINABLE as in: we don’t die.

        It is much ‘cheaper’ to eat that one dollar hamburger, and die.

      • @Dan listening to stuff like what you write above is painful because people believe it so much. So is Pluto still a planet too? Dude the only cattlemen making real money right now are in the grass fed business. You don’t harvest grass the cows do. Yes it is cost effective especially now with new type of movable electric fence. One operation in west texas runs 1,000 head on 100 acres with almost no outside inputs other than water, you have to do that grain or grass anyway. One thousand cattle on one acre for one day and move, wash, rinse repete and this is exactly how grazing heards do it in the wild to protect themselves from predators.

        The stuff in your backyard isn’t “grass”, perennial prairie grasses that are 5 years old have root systems that can be up to 12 feet deep.

        Trust me just because it is what you have been told doesn’t make it true. It isn’t cost effective to feed cattle and pigs corn, it only appears that way. Do you even know the REAL cost of a bushel of corn with out the subsidy?

        Again let me just ask you if Pluto is a planet?

        • @Jack

          Does my beef guy rotate? Sure I’ve watched it. Is it intensive as I’d like? Nope.

          The tech and the method absolutely works. Provided all the conditions are right and nothing changes. But you do the math and it doesn’t work out. I’m hoping something comes along that negates the math. Its not so much a question of doing it the right way as it is population growth.

      • Not to beat up on Insidious but I wanted to add to your point that perennial grass is so widely misunderstood. The best case scenario is presented as fact.

        My beef guy tells me that he allocates two acres per head. That’s in the summer with hay trucked in. So the hay has to come from some pasture. Without returning the manure to that pasture its being depleted.

        After the first frost the perennial grass essentially goes dormant. You graze it at that point and you risk massive damage. Not to mention droughts etc. Perennial does not equal immortal.

        Don’t get me wrong, this is the only way forward we have right now. Grass fed and pastures influenced heavily by permaculture principles. And that will do for a while until population increases to some saturation point.

        Well other than changing the culture but I hold out absolutely no hope for that.

        • @Jason you know better than to try that. Your “beef guy” isn’t running high density rotational pastures. You know the technology exists and you know how it works man.

        • beat away!

          I’m not a grass farmer, I claim no expertise. Here is an expert talking about whats possible (Greg Judy):

          Now THATS something to get excited about, and promote the hell out of.

          Permaculture is ALL about the ‘best case scenario’ and increasing our knowledge and practices to ensure that ‘best case’ is an ever upward spiral. I’m sure your familiar with Joel Salatin. If not you need to check out his books about his ever increasing yields (lbs of meet per acre). Without external inputs.

        • about that video.. look at that grass! those healthy shining coats! the watershed!

          man i bet those cows taste good!


        • @Insidious

          I’ll take a look at that tonight. I was raised on a farm – although Dad did everything in just about the wrong (conventional) way.

          I’ve had some experience with mob-grazing/intergrazing, rotational and movable fencing. Its very possible to get way more sustainable than CAFO operations. The problem again is just one of sheer population or culture. I mean if someone can provide me with math that proves me wrong I’ll sleep a little easier at night re: my son’s future. When I do the math with best case its already dire.

          I’m familiar with Joel Salatin. I interviewed him in September of last year. Everyone should do what he does. But then again I think everyone should have the amount of land he does as well – just not enough to go around. By the way – Joel brings in chicken feed – he told me so and its in his books (he had trouble finding an organic source). That being said he was confident he didn’t need to but he did anyway.

      • I thought that the argument here was to feed 100 million cattle without resorting to “intensive” means. Even if I’m off by 100%, we’re still talking an area the size of Minnesota to feed that many cattle. Cattle are MUCH harder on agriculture than eating the grown food yourself. (Energy is lost in the conversion from grass to meat.) Also cattle are not a very practical food source regardless if they are grass-fed or grain-fed. Those two points are really the bottom line of what I’m trying to illustrate here. If you want real sustainability, reduce or eliminate your consumption of red meat.

        I’ll admit, I’m not a farmer. I don’t have first hand experience to know what it takes to raise cattle. I have a friend nearby in Arcadia who does exactly that, though. Based on what she tells me it sounds difficult to pasture them (which she does), but it’s only a supplemental income for her. It might be easier if it was something that someone did full-time. It’s one thing to do it with 1000 head, but the number you mentioned above is 100,000 times that.

        I totally agree with you about the fact that the grain fed beef is LESS healthy. While researching this topic today, I saw photos comparing grain-fed to grass-fed beef. I was amazed at the difference. It is cheaper for the meat industry to do it this way, though. They get to maximize profits, and we all pay for it in the long run.

        Jack, you’re losing me with your question about Pluto. Can you explain the parallel here? I’ll answer your question, though: When I was growing up, I learned in school that Pluto was considered a planet. The criteria for that classification has now changed, and it is no longer considered a planet. Does that help?

        Just because you’re telling me something, doesn’t make it true, either. As much as it pains you to hear my view on this, it’s equally painful for me to hear about how great grass-fed cattle are as a food source. I’ll admit that it’s BETTER than grain-fed cattle, but I still wouldn’t classify it as “good.”

        • ‘intensive’ refers to the way the cattle are grazed (confined to a smaller pasture and then moved to a new pasture when they have eaten the grass down to a specific height).

          we can’t eat the grass, and the ‘input’ is sunlight and water. So i’m not really concerned about the conversion efficiency. Nothing is being ‘used up’, in fact topsoil is being ADDED due to the manure and composting of trampled grasses (see Judy video).

          In fact, just watch the Greg Judy video and I think it will answer your questions as to why pastured meats are ‘good’ in the sense of ‘healthy for people and the environment.’

        • I’ll watch the video, but I would caution anyone about the topsoil being “added.” Sure, SOME top soil is being added back with manure, but the area after this process is nutrient negative relative to the beginning of the process. Some of the nutrients walk away with the cow and are not returned. Unless they are returned somehow (compost, etc.), eventually the area will be depleted. That can’t not happen. (Sorry for the double negative.)

          I believe that this happens at a slower pace with grass than with grains, but it still happens.

        • Thanks for the lively discussion about this, everyone! I appreciate and respect the different viewpoints. It’s good to think about these things, form your own opinions, and then act on them.

        • @Dan
          here’s a USDA page on beef consumption.. since consumption is the same as slaughter totals, we ate/used 34.2 million cows in 2010:

          so you don’t have to figure for 100 million.. =)

          However I’m a beef booster, as more GRASS FED beef = more topsoil.

          Whereas, more pigs = more exploding pig farms:

          and more oil derived vegetables/grains = dead end.

        • I think what would answer Jack’s question best would be to quote Shakespeare “What is a rose, but by any other name?”.
          Planet is just a name, we could’ve called Pluto a celestial body of trash, it wouldn’t have made a difference, its still made of the same atoms and molecules it was before its name was changed, but I get what Jack is saying, he’s trying to show a calorie should be seen as a calorie no matter what the source.

          I agree with allot your saying here, and I don’t think meat, or at least beef should be a big staple of the average humans diet. But what beef and meat is consumed should be produced sustainable with minimal input from humans, so meat becomes a less agricultural thing and starts becoming a sort of “assisted hunting”. We might even see that in vitro meat gains popularity because it wont take much more resources than say soy to produce the same amount of calories and protein, but then again I think people like Jack will not really be pleased with a “labratory” steak, with so called perfect nutrition, but it is the lesser of two evils and might see a big stunt in the vegan movement since its more ethical, easier(or will/can be) cheaper(again will/can be) and could be produced in much greater quantities( pounds of protein per acre) than any other form of protein. But even this needs to get the nutrients from somewhere so in the end we’ve just taken nature and made the production of her meat products more efficient.

          If I may ask, if we asumed a minimal meat diet, which meat(s) would you consider to be the “best” choices for such a diet? I personaly would think Fish and Chicken or some form of Poultry.

    • I dont know what could possibly be “nonsense”?? This is what I do for a living. You tell me what you dont agree with and I will show you the facts. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian and I eat meat but I eat it with moderation. IF we could double the size of current agriculture how much more food for humans would there be? If up to 80% of current agriculture is grown for livestock and everyone from Dr. Oz to your local MD are telling you to cut back on meat then why not eat just a little less and grow more food on those acres? The one comment you made was yes livestock doesnt need grain but guess what? thats what their fed to fatten them up! You really should know what your talking about before you post comments like nonsense cause some of us here do know what were talking about.

      • @Ray
        I’m not sure who you’re responding to.. so, here’s a response:

        – the problem with growing annuals (both grains and vegetables) is that growing them depletes the soil and destroys the soils microbial life [if you don’t believe this, ask yourself, why do farmers need to add fertilizer every year?]
        – growing perennial grasses allows the soil, and all of its microbial life, to thrive, and increases the amount of topsoil
        – ruminant grazing on grass increases the speed of topsoil creation, while also improving its composition (think poop)

        So, growing more grains and vegetables would result in a more rapid destruction of the remaining topsoil.

        I completely agree with you that growing grains and then feeding them to cattle is triple plus bad, as you get increased topsoil destruction, unhealthy food, and abused animals.

        So if we’re going to try and replace our current triple plus bad system, rather than replace it with something that is bad (more annuals) why not replace it with something good (more perennials)?

        As to dietary and propaganda choices, I fully support your right to do and believe whatever you like.

        • Yeah, I think it’s this simple (and I get my meat from a saltin/silvopasture producer that’s 1 hour and 45 minutes away):
          1. Animals are a part of the perfect system. They eat the perennial grasses and “pulse” them so the root die-off invites the subterranean microbes. The microbial activity makes the grasses grow faster and better and more nutritious each time.

          2.The microbes bring nutrients in the form of their waste by-products and also aerate the soil inviting more root growth and water absorption which in turn invites more microbial life and worms, etc.

          3. The ruminant poo feeds back what isn’t needed to produce a healthy animal in the form of a bio-available product to help the plants, microbes, etc.

          4. The more healthy perennial plants invite more wild animals into the land due to the abundance of organic matter, moisture, healthy plants, new insects and general wildlife.

          5. Raising animals the right way grows topsoil and actually improves the nutrition in the land while producing food that’s healthy while it’s alive helping to make healthy land and healthy food for people.

          6. Fattening up an animal on grains creates fat that isn’t healthy for people. This fat is carbohydrate rich foods and artificially created from petroleum inputs and isn’t the natural diet of these animals. So, the act of fattening up an animal is a negative act and is counter-productive to the purpose of creating food and or even just healing the land. It’s a practice that needs to stop.

          7. Even if you would need 100 million acres to grow the cattle the right way this would be spread out over the entire nation. Everywhere you have these animals (assuming you are working this system correctly) the land would be improving. This improves the food security of this country as well as it’s future fertility.

          8. If we grow any food without the assistance of animals, we are growing food outside of nature’s plan. It doesn’t work that way. The real way to heal the planet, animals and people is to make sure that animals are a part of the system whether you eat them or not.

          Thanks for this discussion. I’ve been researching this subject for a long time and have seen many systems in my time. The ones that are producing amazing results are the ones paddock-shifting animals on perennial grasses. All other systems are bringing in inputs and that’s not the way it works in nature.

      • @Ray….I’m also curious who you are responding too. I think maybe it’s Jack, but I’m going to jump in.

        We DO NOT have to use grain to fatten ruminants up (chickens and pigs are another story, but we could even argue doing pigs without grain, just takes more time – we can also greatly reduce the amount of grain used by pasture based systems). If we properly manage our pastures with high stock high density mob grazing, we can raise cattle just fine on grass. Sure it takes a little longer, but the meat is healthier, doesn’t require oil to produce and actually has nutrition in it. And oh yeah, it actually tastes good too.

        I agree that we could eat less meat, but it has to be more nutritious meat and that means grass fed, no grain. And supporting pasture based meat producers is how we do that. If we take out the corn equation that goes into HFCS, plastics, ethanol, etc. we could cut the “non-food” grain production quotient by what, 65%? Ethanol alone used up 47% of the corn crop last year. Now we take all those acres and do grass the right way for beef, lamb and goat. We supplement our grain animals (poultry and pork) with that pasture as well and further cut grain. No disease, nutrient recycling, no vacs, no antibiotics, no confinement feeding, no manure dumps into waterways, no chemical run off, no dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, support local economy, reduce health care costs, and on and on and on and on and on……

        Look, grain is oil intensive. Oil is a finite resource. We either figure out how to feed this country doing what I’m talking about above or we reduce the population.

        And, I know what I’m talking about – I do THIS for a living. Don’t get me wrong, this will take more Americans becoming farmers and decentralization of our food supply from multinational corporations. But that means we have more jobs, and good ones. We might need 20% of the population farming perhaps. But how is any of that a bad thing?

        Looking forward to hearing your thoughts Ray.

  6. I started listening to this show, and I was just shaking my head, but as I listened on, and while I looked up a few things I realized, allot of the things that she said, actually was true. Now I personally consider myself vegan or at least semi-vegan, I rarely eat meat and only if I have no alternative, I do however still eat cheese, the occasional egg(though I should probably eat more) and products that contain eggs and milk as I agree eggs and milk provide nutrition that is difficult to come by.

    Now I think what we have to remember is crop agriculture did not happen independent from livestock agriculture, one could say that both happen fairly simultaneously and collectively they led to a change in human biology, which could also be influenced by the fact that agriculture in its form caused a more sedentary lifestyle, thus people became shorter, their teeth fell out (due to a less “rough” diet). Now what I would like to mention is that not all forms of agriculture erode soil, what has happened here is we have assumed that the source of food for the “vegan” diet is the worst case scenario and based all our ideas on that. Veganism or rather, a more herbaceous diet can be just as sustainable as any other diet if done right, one does not need meat, but in the end animal products, will be needed for certain nutrients like vitamin K2.

    But in the end me and her agree for the most part and as long as people respect that their meat comes from something living and aren’t simply ignorant to that fact then I don’t care what a person eats. In the end the ethics of veganism is mostly aimed not at the use of animals but the use of animals without thought or emotion, treating them like objects.

    Thanks for the podcasts Jack, I only recently started listening, but you’ve opened my eyes to things and I’m really greatful!

    • I’m not sure if you’ve heard the term before, but I think that you’d qualify as a lacto-ovo vegetarian more so than a vegan. It’s probably healthier than straight veganism. Everything in moderation…

      • Yes, I have herd of the term but I also avoid allot of animal products mainly because I dislike how money driven and dispassionate the industry has become, though I suppose what would be best is a low meat diet with high levels of milk and eggs, mainly for vitamins and nurtients can then begotten from soy/nuts and various other forms. But to each his own.

    • @Caylen, I too am a vegetarian. I still eat cheese cause I love it, but I do not eat meat mostly because if I can’t kill it or have never killed it, I don’t believe I deserve to eat it. And like you at first I was shaking my head, thinking here goes another meat eater saying how great it is (I hear it ALOT) but I kept listening cause I like a challenge to my thinking. The more I listen the more I agree actually.
      Lately it was highly (almost a demand) recommended that I eat more meat based protein because I am pregnant. But I do not eat meat everyday. Occasionally I will have it twice a day but it is usually every other day. My body doesn’t like alot of red meat. I mostly get my protein through fish and chicken.
      I have to do more research on the topic, from both sides (a Harvard study just came out saying eating meat lowers your life expectancy) but in general I think it should be a balance between everything. Balance is key in nature’s food chains and ecosystems.

      • @Erin Lyn if you have adverse reactions to anything you shouldn’t eat much of it but I wonder what type of “red meat” are you eating? High quality grass fed beef or corn fed, sick cattle, it ain’t the same thing.

        Next I don’t think you have to eat beef as your source of meat to get maximum effect it is just a great source. Nothing wrong with poultry and many fish, not all but many are great. I will also ask that you consider this…

        If it is “almost a demand” to eat more meat while pregnant might your body be telling you something about the value of meat protein and the bodies need for it? I mean if vegan is as great as we are told should not it work just fine during pregnancy? As it doesn’t (your feelings are VERY COMMON) that should tell us something about he role of meat for human growth and development.

        Lastly on the study, you might want to look up where the funding came from, I’m just saying. Lots of studies say lots of things and ironically they almost always support the agenda of those funding them.

  7. Jack,

    Outstanding interview!!! I have to admit I came in a bit defensive just knowing a bit about her political views. But I have to say AWESOME!!! This is the kind of guest I love. Ones that make me think and check my own ways of thinking.

    Keep up the great work and the not-so-mainstream guests!


  8. Great interview Jack! Lierre seems to have done a lot of research in the right direction! She has definitely inspired me to get more “vitamin A,D, and K2” into my diet.
    Did anyone take notes on the study done on the healthiest people in the world? was there a book referenced?

  9. I spent 10 years of my life getting weaker and weaker, having severe stomach issues after literally every meal, and progressively becoming more vegetarian; only to find myself getting worse. The moment I acted out in the Paleo solution, removing 90% of all grains, low bread, nearly no sugar or complex sugar and within 2-3 days, 10 years worth of stomach issues disappeared, and has not returned in the 3 months I have been doing this.

  10. here’s an amazing video by derrick jensen talking about overlapping issues. they write a lot alike & have written a book together. derrick is quoted all throughout her book. this is worth watching or listening to in the background…derrick was also interviewed on “peak moment”.

    I LOVE THEM, both have changed my life.

  11. Jack you stated that protein from a soybean and a cow are not equivalent in any way shape or form. Did you misspeak? If not can you support that statement with facts?

  12. I don’t believe very much science of any kind researches very deeply into nutrition. I believe there probably are good ways of getting protein from plants that we are not getting. Perhaps some people don’t get enough protein from plants, but people also eat alot of meat that I don’t think is necessary. I eat some meat, but not very much and many people in Asian countries live that way as well. A diet too heavy in meat could contribute to certain health problems .. If I don’t eat enough fresh vegetables and fruits I often don’t feel right after a few days. Also keep in mind that most all flavoring comes from plants. If you never ate any plants of any kind, most of the meat you ate wouldn’t taste that great ..

  13. As I also have mentioned before, higher amounts of protein may be needed because of cellular breakdown of the body related to stress because we live in a stressful world, but that is somewhat of a man made creation that things are like that.

  14. The problem with the thinking of the guest is that it seems that it has to inevitably lead to massive depopulation of the planet so that we can live ‘sustainably’. I’d love to see good evidence to the contrary but at this time, I don’t know that we really can sustain the earths population and live the way we want to live without agriculture.

    This does not totally invalidate what she has to say (nor should we simply accept the pieces that we like because it fits our thinking). I was glad to hear from this guest and to the extent that she is not advocating force to achieve her goals, I am glad to listen to what she has to say and take it into account.

    • If we use non traditional forms of agriculture such as aeroponics and such, we could have less resource intensive food supplies which could, if done right, translate to sustainable agriculture. In my opinion we need to use a mix of agriculture and other more “natural” forms of food production to meet our needs.

      • I think that is an awesome thought. I also find such approaches interesting. However, we have yet to demonstrate that such approaches can profitably provide the sheer bulk of calories/acre/dollar that we have achieved with big agriculture. I know there are assertions that things like aeroponics are better and at the same time cheaper but to date, I’ve not seen any full life cycle analysis to back this up but instead just seen things like ‘less water so cheaper’.

        In any case, if such and approach is really both cheaper and better, then instead of just doing it for ourselves or talking about it, someone should be getting rich while simultaneously producing more calories/dollar than the more destructive techniques. Hopefully someone will soon.

        I will say that these alternate techniques look like more fun for the individual and of course, anything that is both a little fun and provides local resources is a good thing for a lot of reasons.

      • So much for keeping an open mind. You ask of us but will not reciprocate. Cherry picking science and anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove anything, Jack. I won’t be renewing my subscription. Thank you for the good work you do but you should stay away from nutrition. Leave that to those of us who are athletic, successful, and not struggling with our weight and health. Outside of this subjet your podcasts tends to be fantastic.

        • @Doug, I had an open mind, I did the research and I reached a conclusion. And you know what this stupid silly nonsense about “I won’t renew my subscription” is just childish.

          I am also not struggling with my weight and I consider myself in very good shape at this point. I just put in 6 hours of work in the garden planting VEGETABLES. Get a life how open minded can you be if you can’t stomach to have someone disagree with you and act like an assclown in response and take your ball and go home.

          If you like email me your paypal email address I would be happy to refund every penny you spent on MSB. Seems to me like what you really didn’t like was a factual response. Keep trusting the government to tell you what is healthy dude, go ahead.

    • It’s actually not a bad article.

      Part of the recommendation in the conclusion is to avoid processed carbs (white flour, sugar, etc.) This alone has been shown to help people, and it’s probably the real key to the success of the “paleo” type diets.

      • @Dan another lie that people believe. A carb is a carb is a carb is a carb, there is no real difference in how the body processes carbs the end result is elevated insulin and AGEs. If you are MSB read Dr. Greg Ellis’ book that is free to MSB members. The science is so well documented you can’t even argue it when you know the full story. It is why I gave up and embraced the truth. The real shock will be how long the truth has been known if you read his book.

        • Funny how you say that but a protein is not a protein? Nice double standard there buddy. Still waiting to see how protein from a soybean is “in no way shape or form” equivalent to protein from a cow.

      • @MikeZ and mostly you can keep waiting I am getting bored saying the same shit over and over, believe what you want. Or go read Dr. Ellis’ Book.

  15. I’ve been a vegetarian for 22 years and am in perfect health. Getting good organic food and nutrition is key. Anyone on the SAD diet is going to get sad results and it won’t matter if they are a meat eater or not.

    • have you read her book? she wasn’t eating a SAD vegan diet. she started off macrobiotic.

      • .. She mentioned that she was a vegan for 20 years (8.35 minutes in the show). She may have also been on the macrobiotic diet at another time.

    • You didn’t say you were vegan though. That makes a huge difference. I’ve heard many stories of folks who were the most fanatical, committed vegans that ended up VERY sick because they were nutrient deficient.

      Building a diet on grain will make almost everyone sick. There are exceptions, but they’re few and far between. In my extensive experience, saying something like, “I’ve been a vegan for 15 years and I’m perfectly healthy,”, is akin to saying, “I’ve been standing out in the middle of this highway for 5 days and a car hasn’t hit me yet.” It’s not guaranteed that you’ll get hit by a car if you spend a lot of time on a highway, but the chances are more likely than not.

      Like Lierre said, food is a very personal thing. Although I’d love to change folks’ minds, in the end, all I can do is present them with the information (much like Jack’s “Pluto” analogy.) Like Robb Wolf says in essence, “I’d rather spend my time helping the people who want my help instead of trying to convince folks.” We can share the info, and if folks have minds that are truly open, they can make amazing transformations in their life and health.

    • This is very true. It is much easier to eat healthy as a vegetarian than a vegan. I’ve lived as a vegetarian/pescetarian for 14 years. From the posts I’ve read we all agree that they “American” diet full of sugar, is very unhealthy. I have seen lots of evidence that a vegetarian diet, a mediteranian diet, and a Japanese diet, although all different, lead to longevity and lower risk of disease. What I have not seen is scientific evidence that a good paleo diet is better than a good vegetarian diet.

      The lack of a clear “winner” may be because there is not much difference in outcome due to what they all have in common; a lack of excess calories.

  16. Lierre

    I’m so glad you are no longer a vegetarian. I’m glad you are healthier.

    While I support fully and completely agree with your diet and your take on nutrition I have some disagreement with the way you arrived at it and some of the historical context you used.

    First – there’s a lot of evidence out there that the egalitarian lifestyle that was the hunter-gatherer is a myth. From the Kalahari bushmen to the Aboriginal Australians war is a way of life. Its true that they didn’t enslave people – due to their lifestyle there was no need – but what there was a need to do was to kill the competition and keep population down. A harsh reality but agricultural vs. hunter gather is the difference between enslavement or death in many cases. Sure they are taller and stronger and better built than agriculturists – they killed all the weak ones. Jared Diamond usually does a good job vetting these things but he dropped the ball on this one by neglecting causal relationships.

    Secondly, the thought that agriculture and thus civilization was not necessary but something humans did willingly is dieing a slow death. The truth was that population and the overhunting of the megafauna forced paleo peoples to nurture crops, thus domesticating thus leading to agriculture. The thought that hunter gatherers were environmentalists and had no impact on the environment is pretty much negated by the extinction of Mastodons (though, being fair, the cause is still heavily debated).

    I agree with you that agriculture is the problem. But culture is also the problem. 58% of corn grown in the US goes straight to livestock. Direct Food – about 8%. In the last 40 years, 40% of the rain forest has been razed – not to grow row crops but to raise grass fed Argentinian and Brazillian beef. It absolutely does matter if we eat the grain directly or if we feed it to a cow. A cow can only convert one out of eight grain calories. We can convert at a much higher rate. Not that I support grain eating though! The right solution is to grow things we can eat on that land IMHO.

    Does this mean we don’t eat meat? Heck no. We have to eat more grass fed but essentially the population is coming up upon the point where the arable land (we lose 20,000 some square miles per year IIRC) won’t support the population with even grass fed.

    Pink slime and other food system horrors are not the result of poor practices or corporate greed but rather attempting to meet demand.

    My opinion – which is not popular in most circles is that vegetables in combination with sustainable meat (but less of it) has to take a priority. We either change the culture or we change the population.

    • @Jason,
      I’m a big fan of qualifiers such as ‘..based on the evidence we’ve discovered to date, some ‘experts’ believe.’

      After all, we won’t have direct evidence of what actually happened until we invent a time machine and can go back and take a look. =)

      With that qualifier, I have to point out that you make the same sort of ‘naked statements’ the interviewee did, without providing any additional evidence of the efficacy of your opinions.

      For instance, in your first point, while there is evidence of territorial disputes between hunter gatherers, but stating that hunter-gatherers killed off their weak members is quite a leap. Evidence?

      In your second point, where is there evidence of mega-fauna being consumed out of existence? Or the mastodon being hunted to extinction? Its possible, but species extinction does occur without human involvement.

      I don’t think feeding people pink slime was an egalitarian, selfless attempt by industry to increase the happiness of their customers by meeting their needs. Nor do I think rain forest is being converted to pasture out of the same selfless desire to ‘meet demand’. Its simply cheaper to raise beef in south america and ship it to the US, than to raise it in the US, even with corn subsidies. Especially ‘grass fed’ beef. Grass fed beef from South America costs 30-50% less than grass fed beef raised locally at our local supermarket. The local stuff has to price in the higher cost of living, higher taxes, rising health care costs, more regulation, etc. of doing business here.

      I agree with you that the way ‘we’ are doing things now is the problem, but I don’t agree with your hypothesis that the only way to be ‘sustainable’ is to reduce the population.

      The problem I see is trying to transition to a lower energy food system (current ‘factory style’ agricultural and farming methods are grossly inefficient and wasteful, and require a large energy/oil input) while energy is becoming more expensive. So the sooner we get started on making topsoil, the better.

      • @Insidious

        You are correct that we don’t have evidence on everything that happened back then. But are there not still existing hunter gatherer cultures that practice cannibalism and essentially attempt to hunt and kill any outside presence that comes in?

        Dr. Lawrence Keely at the University of Illinois has studied the warfare of hunter gatherer societies and his conclusions are much more harsh than mine. Steven LeBlanc’s book Constant Battles provides numerous examples of how warfare is a human trait. Its not caused by agriculture – Lierre’s statement that agriculture is young is apt. People can study it. People can’t study hunter gatherers so well so they use this phrase in their arguments a lot: We don’t really know. – Exactly.

        I’m not sure what evidence you are looking for you to believe that if a weak person and a strong person fight – the odds are against the weak person.

        No the evidence for megafauna extinction is circumstantial. But the cave paintings can be dated and when they show people hunting a mastodon and then 1000 years later – no mastodons, rhinocerous and then none. To the contrary there’s no evidence they were responsible hunters.

        I don’t think I ever said that pink slime was an attempt to be selfless by the corporations. But when you push demand to a point where the land can’t sustain it people start taking shortcuts. Its why we dump chemical fertilizers on farmland. Demand from an economic standpoint is not filled with emotion.

        And you misread my hypothesis – change the culture or change the population. The problem is that this issue is emotionally charged and a good deal of the population refuses to believe that they might not be entitled to rape the land anyhow they choose. Change the culture – grow your own food, waste none, eat lower on the food chain.

        But hey at least we can agree on your last sentence!

        • @Jason –
          Sorry about misreading your hypothesis.. It was the commentator before you that made the statement about population reduction.

          I agree that potential violence exists in all predators, including hunter gatherers, and that hunter gatherers will, and have, predated upon their neighbors, including cannibalism. However, these are non-nomadic groups, defending/holding territory.

          I think the point the guest was trying to make was the difference between a nomadic group and one trying to remain in a single location (not sure of the term). A nomadic hunter gatherer group has a need for security, but doesn’t need to protect, or take and hold territory. As soon as the group settles in one place, and starts ‘improving’ the land (planting crops, tending trees, building fixed structures, storing food/goods), they now have something to protect against other groups. So, first you get everyone pulling guard duty, then you get specialization and the rise of a ‘guard class’, then you get ‘armies’ as the amount of land controlled/to be protected gets larger.

          Then you deplete and despoil the land, and you have this large population to feed. So, now you need some new/better land. Which works great until there happens to be another group already on the juicy bit of land you’d like to move to.

          Anyway, you get the idea.

          I’m not buying your hunter-gatherers have better fossil remains because due to natural selection all the weak hunter-gatherers got killed off, because the same thing would have been happening to the agriculturalists. So, if the fossils are for the ‘best’ of both groups, the hunter-gatherers still win. =)

        • @Jason –
          I apologize for being a wise ass.

          The only, to me, important points touched upon by this guest are:
          – healthy vs. unhealthy diet
          – sustainable vs. unsustainable methods for supplying dietary needs

          all the rest is noise =)

          my beliefs, based on my experiences:
          – a paleo diet is healthier for my body
          – permaculture & grass fed meat are sustainable (do not deplete topsoil)
          – western style agriculture and ocean mining are not sustainable (diminishing biomass & diversity)

          sorry for being a ‘no it all’, i’ll be shutting up for a while and thinking about my favorite bible verse:
          ‘the fool does not delight in understanding, but only in speaking his own mind’.


      • @Insidious

        You have obviously never hunted a prime piece of land! Not all hunting land is equal. The land had to be guarded just like prime cropland. The only difference is that agriculture made it easier for the weak to pay for protection. So which is more likely to encounter adversaries – people who wander constantly or those who stay put? So your having something to defend argument makes sense but you are neglecting other aspects.

        On the fossils – man I don’t know what to say except read Darwin. You don’t have to buy my explanation. He doesn’t say the survival of the fittest, but rather the survival of the most adaptable. In the hunter gather society no one feeds you, you kill or be killed.

        • @Jason =)

          There are/were prime hunting grounds. But if you’ve read any of the descriptions of north american game even 200 years ago, scarcity was NOT an issue. A nomadic or even semi-nomadic group could roam a hunting ground, but there’s no way they could ‘fence in’ the game, or setup any sort of permanent defensive perimeter around said game.

          As for the weak paying for protection.. uh. So you’re a big fan of slavery and feudalism? 😉
          People should work to pay others to ‘keep them safe’? Slaves and serfs ‘paid’ for their safety with their lives, and weren’t ALLOWED to defend themselves from aggressors, whether their ‘protectors’ or those seeking to take the fruits of their labor.

          Wanderers would encounter more people than those engaged in a feudal arrangement (see the ‘dark ages’). But you can’t assume all encounters would end in violence.

          no. i am not making a ‘complete’ argument or enumerating all possibilities.. just some possibilities.

      • @Insidious

        Never took anything you said as wise-assed. Enjoyed the conversation!

        Your beliefs and mine align except for some very small additions – none of which I need to even mention again.

        I’ll take your lead and be quiet. LOL

    • @Insidious
      Reply button missing so excuse the bad order.

      Regarding game and feudal systems.

      No game did get scarce, remember our conversation about extinction? Whether through human reasons or not, megafauna went extinct. There’s mastodon fossils about 100 miles north of me right now and I’m in NA.

      You know I’m not a fan of feudal systems. I’m not sure why you strawman’d that one. I’m not arguing that agriculture wasn’t full of ills; just that hunter gatherer isn’t quite the panacea that many believe it to be either from a historical standpoint or from a sustainability standpoint. There’s ample evidence (and I can cite it if you’d like) that hunter gatherer went out of style because populations and changing conditions wouldn’t support it anymore. But then again WHAT IS sustainable? It’s a tough question and whether you choose meat, veg, or meat and veg the simple truth is that you and I eat oil. Even the deer I killed this winter probably ate corn somewhere that someone dumped a bunch of fertilizer and pesticides on. Sad – but true.

      I think Jack’s example he cited on this show of the egalitarianism of Native Americans was the best example of my point. Were the Native Americans hunter gatherers? Yeah kind of. Were they farmers? Yeah kind of. Of course there was still war – scalping and war paint weren’t European inventions. But the Native Americans were open minded enough to learn and adapt and THAT’S what brings about egalitarianism – not giving up one evil for another.

      • Sry about the strawman.. didn’t explain how i got to that one.

        you made the argument that paleo fossils are healthier than farmer fossils due to the fact that paleo groups killed their weak members, whereas ‘weak’ farmers could ‘pay for protection’ and therefore survive.

        which leads me to: ‘one could say that agriculture led to the creation of taxation (protection money).’ or you could say ‘modern society’.


        I’m not a romanticist, so there’s no need to convince that ‘..everything was great until..’ or that ‘primitive’ or ‘simple’ societies have a monopoly on virtue.

        But I would say that less complex societies have less complex problems to deal with. (Say ‘staying warm’ versus ‘destroying all life in the ocean’)


  17. In listening to this, she was talking about the “plight of the American farmer” and that the leading cause of death in Iowa is suicide?

    For Iowa – that is untrue:

    As for farm incomes – the last two years have been as good as they ever have been economically for the Iowa farmer raising corn & beans.

    I’m not disputing that there are other or better ways to farm, but I’m calling out some of the “facts” presented as being incorrect at best.

    • To be accurate, what she specifically said was (30 :10 in the audio):
      “The #1 cause of death right now in farm country is suicide. OK – that’s how grim it is right now in places like Iowa and Nebraska.”
      I don’t think she was specifically stating “in the entire state of Iowa” – which is the statistic you cited.
      I don’t see those as being the same thing.

      Jack – absolutely loved the show today. Great guest. You always deliver!

      • I am in farm country and run ems – the number 1 cause of death here is not suicide but rather old age and accidents. For your statement to be true, there could be no suicides in Iowa’s cities and no other causes of death in rural Iowa that took more than 350 Iowans in 2009.

        I’d venture to guess that her statements about causes of death or the farm economy may have been true 20 years ago (and may again be true in the future), but they certainly haven’t been true for the last 3 years.

      • My point is that the statistics you cited simply show the aggregate total for the entire state, but make no distinctions between rural and urban areas. Therefore, there is no way to logically refute what she said using the statewide stats. A statistical “cluster” in rural areas would be invisible in the statewide statistics you cited. Even then, not everyone living in rural areas is necessarily a farmer.
        I just don’t think it makes sense to write off what she said about a higher incidence of suicides amongst farmers. There has been significant evidence to support the statement she made…and not just in the US.
        If you look at the actual words she used, I don’t think citing the particular statistic you chose legitimately refutes her statement.
        I live in rural Australia, by the way – and am currently training as an RN. Part of our curriculum at university included information regarding the high prevalence of suicides amongst farmers. It’s a serious issue.

        • Per my link, Iowa had 356 suicides in total in 2009 (the latest data I could find). Suicides were the 12th leading cause of death in the state.

          Iowa has a population of roughly 3 million residents ( split roughly 56/44 between urban and rural areas. More specifically (, if I’m reading this correctly, there are approximately 96,000 farmers in the state – about 3% of the total population (the number is farm owner/operators and doesn’t include rural support occupations).

          For her statement to be correct in Iowa, you’d have to assume that all suicides in Iowa were farmers (356). Assuming that the causes of deaths of farmers are proportional to population, you’d expect that the leading cause of death in Iowa (heart disease killing 6,912 people) would have killed 117 farmers. Using that benchmark to make her statement truthful, you’d need to see farmers making up 33% of all suicides in the state – that is something that _would_ be news. But it’s not. I think that the leading cause of death of farmers in Iowa is being very, very old.

          Now, having said that, I did some hunting and did find a Wall Street Journal article on the subject from 2009:
          and other articles from the 1980’s. Like I said previously – I think that her statement on the economics of farming in Iowa and the suicides was true during the farm crisis, but is not at this time.

          There are plenty of issues for rural Iowa to tackle – lack of opportunities for young people, declining populations, and the export of our children out of the community and out of the state – and had she used those as examples I’d have no argument.

          But her use of farmer suicides in Iowa – something easily researched and found to be unsupported by any facts that I could find – is troubling if you wish to believe other things that she stated as facts.

    • I’d also like to add that the statement she made should not be dismissed.
      I live in Australia. We have published statistics here that show suicide rates of 15-24 year old males in rural areas are “1.5–1.8 times more likely to end their life by suicide than their urban counterparts.”
      And there is definitely something going on with farmers. Here’s the resource if you’re interested:

      • @Oz

        The article you cited lists many different causes for the effect (suicide rate) you mention. None of them have anything to do with farming. Sexuality, lack of resources in these areas to identify the problem, loneliness – all attributed but no farming.

        Now if you want to study suicide by farming (particularly ingestion of pesticides) study Monsanto’s effect on India’s cotton farmers. Sad.

      • Actually, the report does specifically mention farmers on page 2: “There appears to be a causal relationship between drought related trauma and elevated proportions of at-risk individuals in
        agricultural communities, such as farmers and local business
        Or perhaps this article is more convincing – titled “Farmers much more likely to commit suicide: report”:
        We could argue this all day. My point is that I don’t think we should so quicly dismiss what the guest said – especially when we look at exactly WHAT she said.
        I wish you well!

  18. TSP is certainly a diverse outlet. Jack is doing interviews with GBTV and interviewing Lierre Keith in the same week. Nowhere else.

  19. invite lierre back to talk about “green” energy not really being “green”. that would be a show as important as health. really, how could mining a living landscape for rare earth minerals making the water toxic death and land unlivable for plants, people and animals sustainable?

    we’re not going into the future with “green” solutions, lierre is one of the few people spelling it out. as veganism & solar panels were thought to save the planet those things are only able to destroy it.

    those who can afford to buy rare earth mineral products are too far removed from a living landscape to even begin the connect those dots. this subject needs to be talked about.

    there’s all lot of awesome talk on TSP about making a better life…but it’s really only for those how can afford it. the people who’s land gets mined for solar panels(for our better life) (and such green eco stuff) how do they make a better life? CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT? how can we make a better life, not on the backs of those far away……

    i really love this show, these are just things i think a lot about

  20. I really like the debating between
    Insidious and Jason. I think I learned something just from that.

  21. Jack,

    Thank you

    Thank you

    Thank you

    Thank you


    for bringing on a guest who can explain so well the travesty of modern agriculture as well as the inherent evil of a grain-based diet. She did an especially awesome job explaining about ruminants. We humans are NOT ruminants, we’re omnivores and we are designed to eat meat. Our digestive systems are sitting there just waiting in eager anticipation for meat to fall into it. And the creatures called ruminants (cows, goats, etc) are supposed to eat grass NOT grain. Grain is supposed to be an emergency backup food during rare times of famine, not a year-round and life-long daily staple –not for ruminants and not for humans either.

    Thank you for such a perfect guest who explains it all so darned well.

  22. Good show. I thought Lierre said some thought provoking things, although I share some of the reactions stated by others here. Twenty 26 year vegetarian, because my body will NOT process animal protein. I got tired of being sick, so must defend the idea that not all people can live well on the same diet. I do better on fresh whole veggies, soy, and combining legumes, nuts, and grains in balance, and home grown eggs, and raw dairy. Even milked sheep. But I can’t eat just any legume, nut or grain, or dairy, so I imagine there are others who also just have to pick and choose for their own body chemistries. Glad both you, Jack, and Lierre found what works best for you. And please continue to have guests who challenges both our ideas and experiences. Again, Good show.

  23. I was somewhat put-off by Lierre Keith’s widespread denouncement of agriculture. She does mention pastoralism and permaculture as responsible ways forward, but permaculture actually stands for “Permanent Agriculture.” Perhaps the way forward isn’t through the blanket statements used. Just a thought.

    • @Eliza if you actually listened she qualified and was very clear by what she meant by “agriculture”. Also permaculture DOES NOT stand for permanent agriculture, not at all. It is made of two words permanent and culture, growing food is only ONE component of permaculture. Permaculture is about building a permanent culture, not just a permanent way to grow food. That would be like saying engineering is only about building bridges.

  24. @KAM, In response to the comments on Pluto, your point isn’t what I am getting at.

    Simply put the average person who was taught in school that Pluto was a planet today generally has a big problem when told it isn’t considered such any more. When told there are many other bodies they are more likely to say well they should be planets too vs. the reclassification. People actually get angry about this. The point is WHY?

    They were told this was true by authority, they where told it mattered, they were told to remember it and by that they are linked to the idea as fundamental truth.

    There are many such examples this is just one many listeners should understand.

    • @Jack,

      “They were told this was true by authority, they where told it mattered, they were told to remember it and by that they are linked to the idea as fundamental truth. ”

      Right, but in this case, neither is “fundamentally true.” They are both just agreed upon definitions. People being told that Pluto is a Dwarf planet are also being told by authority this is a “fundamental truth.”

      The “authority” is wrong to present it as such either way, and perhaps that is the underlying point. We shouldn’t accept definitions as “truth” just because an Authority states it.

      Why are they angry? I speculate that people see that as having the rules changed mid-stream on them, which makes them see it as “unfair.”

      So, if someone admonishes someone of our generation, painting them as ignorant or stupid for not realizing the Pluto isn’t a planet or for resisting this change, they bristle at that. Why? Not because they are so in love with authority, but because the authority is changing what is “true.”

      I think people are inherently resistant to “Truth” or “fact” being arbitrarily defined and changed.

      My point is that this isn’t people denying a Fundamental truth, but rather having a preference for what they are used to, over a definition that isn’t any more “fundamentally true” than the one they were taught.

      The lesson to learn is that Authority doesn’t equal truth.

  25. Thanks for the show I enjoy seeing a bit of cross-pollination between different ideologies. I feel that anyone who claims to know the best diet for all is, at best, being over broad. Just a little personal anecdote, I have been tweaking my own diet for well over a decade now from full vegetarianism to I’m-so-poor-I-have-to-survive-on-spam-and-potatoes. It has taken a lot of careful attention to my body but now I eat a lot of grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and never more then one serving of meat a day. I simply never get sick and my weight is very much under control plus I feel fantastic! Please know that in my experience simply paying attention to what you put in your body and how you feel as a result can make all the difference. Do not let someone else tell you they have a sure-fire diet for you. Each body is different.

  26. I enjoyed the show and agree with much of what the guest had to say, but I think she idealized native peoples in much the same way westerners sometimes have, since the Enlightenment myth of the “noble savage.” Native Americans lived in a very warlike society. Following the massive depopulation of their numbers by western diseases that penetrated deep into the North American interior, they conducted a long series of “mourning wars.” Competing tribes would attempt to reclaim their lost power by increasing their ranks through kidnapping — they would defeat another tribe, kill all the men and absorb the women and children into their society. And while they had no chattel slavery, whole tribes would be subjugated by their stronger neighbors and made to do their bidding.

    Native Americans did not have any “freedom” in our modern sense of the term. Orlando Patterson has written about how our concept of individual freedom was equivalent to “social death” for traditional peoples — outside of your tribe, you are nothing.

    I’m sure native life was preferable for many colonial Americans… it may even (like the paleo diet) be more amenable to our nature as we evolved to live, but there was no individual freedom or security in native communities, at least not by the standards of modern Americans.

    • Hi Benin,

      Can you cite any ethnographic studies that support your hypothesis about natives? No? Right, because it’s the same ethnocentric bull as the “Noble Savage” trope (the term, by the way, started from Europeans noting how the indigenous lived like European nobles). Lierre Keith, it should be noted, works heavily with indigenous activists and historians. She’s got an actual idea of indigenous history and contemporary life. Maybe before you point the finger at someone for idealizing other cultures, maybe check the sources of your presumptions. That’s one of the things they talked about, eh? Western depictions of natives have long been a source of propaganda and ethnocentric misunderstandings.

      As for your freedom comment, it’s utter rubbish. Just because someone’s idea of freedom and personal autonomy has more nuance than yours doesn’t mean they don’t have one. Someone can fit personal autonomy into a framework of communal responsibility.

      • incendiary_dan,

        I’m not really sure what part of my account you are disputing. War, kidnapping and coercion were commonplace in the interaction of native peoples — just look up the history of the Iroquois, for example. This is the accepted, well-documented history. Of course I wouldn’t say life was necessarily any better in Europe…

  27. Hey, just wanted to say great interview – I was familiar with her work before & while I’m sure many people feel good on a vegan diet, after a couple years of giving it my all I was not one of them (and yes, my type-A personality ensured I was getting all my macro/micronutrients. and no, I don’t eat white carbs or frozen soy nastiness.)
    I wanted to recommend the book Nourishing Traditions – it’s a cookbook/guide to living more like native peoples written by Sally Fallon. It is based off the work of Weston A Price, and goes deeply into things like mineral-rich bone broths, lacto-fermented foods (fabulous recipes for various krauts, kvass, etc), recipes for all parts of the animal, raw milk… and it’s so much more than a cookbook, it has so much information all throughout about how native peoples around the world lived & ate. Dovetails very nicely with survivalism & paleo, IMHO. I really think many of you would find it a fascinating resource!!! I was surprised she didn’t mention it (or that it hadn’t been mentioned thus far in comments.)
    Love the show, look forward to it everyday!

  28. Lierre Keith sounded convincing. I was tempted to buy her book. However, I decided to read a review of it by Registered Dietitian Ginny Messina at first. Mrs. Messina states that Keith misrepresented soy research by her husband, Mark Messina, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrition and Cancer in 2006 As an RD, Ginny Messina questions Keith’s understanding of basic nutrition. She also finds it odd that Keith relies on quotes from popular diet books, rather than primary scientific research. I dug a little further, and found enough negative critiques to discredit The Vegetarian Myth for me. Moderation in all things is best. I won’t buy it.

  29. I really enjoyed this interview. What matters ultimately is what WE DO: how we spend our money, where/how we live, and, yes, what we choose to eat. These choices are all shaped by our perception of what truth is.
    What my husband and I have tried to focus on is getting our property toward a closed system. Unfortunately, our pasture has been hayed continuously for 15 years without a scrap of manure, lime, or any other “input.” It’s exhausted. We have two heifer calves out there right now. Their job is to poop. Because of the poor quality of the forage, we feed hay and balanced pellets with kelp and minerals in addition to their unlimited grazing. Any minerals they don’t utilize are put down in the manure. We’ve brought in tons of mulch, straw, manure, etc. to make up for the biomass that has been taken off our place. We pasture our chickens around other areas of the property and spread their manure by moving their housing. So we restore fertility to our place by running inputs (feedstuffs and purchased carbon) THROUGH the animals. All the “waste” goes straight where it’s needed. I am happy to use these inputs while I create fertility and biomass here. Eventually, I will create enough fertility/tilth to grow enough feedstuffs to support the animals’ calorie/nutrient needs. Balancing this equation is the goal of the closed system. Someday we’ll get there. But on my piece of creation, it doesn’t exist yet.
    I am very much looking forward to milking our girls. I see the milk like a permaculturist sees water: keep it where it falls or as close to it as possible. I intend to 1. Let the calves nurse 2.. Skim the cream for our enjoyment (butter/ice cream, etc) 3. Make yogurt and cheese for us and for trade 4. Make clabber for the chickens and…pigs! If there’s any left after those priorities have been met, I will explore sales/barter. But my goal is to keep the calories on our farm, from one animal to the other. Cows are the key to this system because they magically transform grass and water into digestible nutrition for baby cows or other species. Long live the ruminants!

  30. @MikeZ (and others)

    when we’re talking about proteins, fats and carbohydrates, we’re talking about molecules. so when we say all ‘carbohydrate molecules’ have roughly the same effect on the body and blood chemistry (negative), does that make sense?

    now there are differences between different carbs that affect the speed or amount of effect, but the overall effect is the same (corn syrup molecules have a different specific effect than honey molecules, but overall, the same effect).

    so, for the a protein not being a protein, there are two components, do they have different specific effects?

    then there is the larger issue. does vegetable protein have the same effect on the body as meat protein? are they the same thing? i would argue that they are not. if you’re trying to talk like a scientist, a protein is a protein, by definition. but that’s like saying a calorie is a calorie. its only useful in a laboratory.

    what we’re talking about is FOOD. animal and vegetable tissue that we’re ingesting. and different tissues contain different compounds, minerals and vitamins. some contain healthy cells, some diseased cells, some toxic cells, all depending on the heredity, environment and treatment of the tissue producing organism.

    so a monsanto soybean, soaked in roundup, grown in china and shipped by slow boat to my local market, has a very different effect on my body than my local grass feed beef. even though they are both protein. and in fact, the protein contained in an organic soybean, grown in my backyard, will also have a different nutrient profile than a grass fed lamb.

    so the real question is: what does your body need for health? and: is it contained in what you’re eating? if so you’re vibrantly happy and healthy.. and if so, no more discussion is needed. =)

  31. i’m of course leaving out all sorts of stuff about digestion, nutrient uptake, etc.

    can your body assimilate the nutrients? how difficult is it to do so? what waste products are produced by the digestion process? what is their effect on the body? what nutrients are leached from the body due to ingestion of the substance?

    try something like for some expert opinions. or try 30 days Paleo and see how your body feels (Robb Wolf has all the info you need for free on his site ). you might be surprised.

  32. Wanted to share a technique for storing bone broth more efficiently in case anyone wants to drink it daily or just use it in cooking regularly.

    I make my 4-gallon stock pot of bone broth and let it slowly cook down to about half (day 1). Then I refill it and let it cook down again to half (day 2). I refill and let it come to a boil, then take out the bones and let it cook down to 1/8. I take this and strain it and let it cool and put it in ice-cube trays and freeze (day 3). Once frozen, I pop them out and store them in a gallon freezer bag. Each cube makes 1 pint of broth when added to water.

  33. I am a subscriber to the Survival Podcast and have been a paying member for almost a year. I have been a vegan for six years. I am what most consider an *extremely* fit male and am competitive at a semi-pro level in a sport and not only compete at home in the US but have represented my fine country overseas on many occasions.

    I do not supplement anything. No multi-vitamins, no creatine, no protein supplements. As much of my food as possible is grown locally, and when it is economically feasible, grown organically.

    Briefly commenting on the environmental impacts, you get less than 10% of your energy inputs returned when raising livestock. It is also tied to polluting gases, extremely inefficient water usage, excess antibiotic usage leading to superbugs, and so on.

    Simply because some people can’t develop a proper nutritional balance on a vegetarian or vegan diet does not mean it is impossible or even hard. It is one data point that a single person failed.

    In keeping an open mind – as your words ask of us – I sincerely hope, in the interest of keeping an open mind you tell the other side of the story with an interview demonstrating the other side of the story.

    • @Doug while I appreciate your support as a member is doesn’t really count for anything in a debate.

      First the energy argument is again so old, so misleading and so ever loving full of bullshit it isn’t worth talking about anymore. Simply put grass and many other things we can feed livestock like acorns, chestnuts, mulberries, over story fruit, etc GROWS BACK and their cultivation improves soil. Yes feeding people corn is more efficient than feeding corn to cows and feeding the cows to humans but cows should not be eating corn in the first place and humans should not be eating it at anything close to the level we do today.

      Second Lierre is not a single data point, there are thousands of people with similar stories. People like you, on vegan for many years with no problems are the minority not the other way around. I get daily emails from people who have gone paleo and the results are almost always the same. I have heard hundreds of stories like Lieere’s and very few of the “I have no issues, I am healthy and I am vegan”, claims check out. I suspect yours 100% does though.

      I will also say my grandfather Andrew smoked camel no filters his entire life to the tune of about two packs a day. He drank like a fish, he ate anything and everything that wasn’t tied down. His doctor told him when he was 70 he wouldn’t make it 5 more years that way, if he wanted to live a longer life to clean up his act. I remember him telling me than with a cig in hand, a quart of beer in the other when he was 89, he added that “ya wanna know where the doctor is, he’s in the ground, dead and I am still here”.

      Such things are single data points. When crafting what should be looked at as a basic dietary standard we should no more use the handful of vegans that “do well” to craft it then we should use my Grandfathers diet and lifestyle. He died at 98, while his last two years were pretty bad it stemmed from a heart attack cause by two of his sons trying to take over his estate. When he realize what they were doing he collapsed on the spot. Even if he had died making it to 96 and being fully functional at that point is something few of us ever do. Does that mean we should all break out the Camels and booze?

      So when I examined the evidence and I did to the tune of thousands of pages I looked for the diet that did the best for the most people. Friends no matter how much anyone wants it to be it ain’t vegan. Specifically some of the most harmful foods are staples of many vegan diets such as soy, wheat, barley and corn. All of these should be eaten in extreme moderation. Basically get the sugar and sweets out of the old food pyramid and flip it upside down.

      Keep in mind all the eat grains, eat very low fat, eat complex carbohydrates etc. advice comes from GOVERNMENT backed organizations. So simply ask yourself how well the government has done with other places it has given us advice.

      ~ Prep sure but only for three days

      ~ Social Security from the Ben Bernanke himself – “We can guarantee the money will be there but not its value”

      ~ Freddie and Fannie are fine, there is nothing to worry about

      ~ “This new federal reserve system will make recessions and depressions a thing of the past” – Woodrow Wilson, 1913

      ~ “Leaving the gold standard won’t make inflation worse we will never purposely devalue the dollar” – A promise by Richard Nixon to the world, broken almost at once.

      ~ “There are definitely weapons of mass destruction in Iraq”

      ~ “Pink slime is simply beef, there is nothing different about it”

      ~ “GMO corn is simply corn this is no need to label it”

      ~ There is no such thing as the Bilderberg group that is conspiracy talk.

      ~ Derivative investing is going to be great for the economy

      ~ All these new regulations that squash family farms are part of a new policy we call it deregulation

      ~ The stimulus is for shovel ready programs (such as mouse habitat, a guardrail for a dam that was never built and a turtle tunnel in Florida)

      I could go on but let me just say with a track record like the above anyone trusting any of the nutritional studies funded and pushed and backed by government is quite literally taking their lives into their own hands.

  34. Jack, as a fellow beer lover, how have you dealt with that issue. If you reply “Moderation”, then , I will stick to Scotch..higher Octane…

    Good interview. I love my meat, but some days grow tired of it, so I make homemade pizza, but do load it up with seasoned steak…

  35. Great show Jack! I’ll even say it’s worthy of a Top Ten label.
    It brings up much to think about and research. The interview was very well done, you should bring her back at some later date.

    Long ago you asked your listeners for questions for an upcoming guest who was going to discuss the Paleo Diet. I wanted to know what humans ate before the invention of modern agriculture. After this interview, I have a deeper understanding of what humans were eating and how the methods of food production affect the entire food system; from the land to the people eating the food.

  36. I can’t even begin to address all the issues, questions and mis-information in this string.

    First of all, we should never, ever, mechanically harvest grass for hay – at least that should be the goal we are working towards. This is very damaging to the soil. And yes, Greg Judy freaking rocks man. He is doing high stock, high density mob grazing where you actually try and “waste” 30% of the grass by having the cattle knock it down flat to the ground. Why? That becomes worm food. Worm food becomes worm waste, i.e., topsoil! I won’t say we aren’t still using hay on our farm (we are), but with good management and time we will be grazing 365 days a year before long (in Indiana). Our hamburger is $7/lb, not $20/lb. We can feed this country high quality, nutritionally dense, beyond organic meat from all grass. It takes good management. Any farmer bringing in hay in the summer has either poor management practices, too many cattle or both.

    Lastly the caloric intake from grain vs. meat vs. giving grain to cattle is horsecrap. You need to look at the quality, nutrition and minerals/vitamins of the calorie, not just empty carbohydrate calories that turn to sugar. You get minerals from the soil. Minerals get brought up to usable form from the grass roots, get consumed by an animal and passed on to us thru the meat. Simple.

    I have to stop typing, I’m about to pop.

    • Sounds like its time for a show on soil. Where it comes from and why it matters.

      And by where it comes from I don’t mean ‘where you can buy it’. Topsoil, for me, is THE long term survival issue. If we get cold fusion working tomorrow, we can purify water and air, but you can’t ‘materialize’ topsoil.

      And no, aqua/airoponics and ‘vat grown meat’, even most aquaculture systems aren’t solutions, they still need OUTSIDE nutrients (taken from somewhere else).

    • Really like your post, I concur with everything you said, especially about stocking the land with what the numbers of livestock that it can support. The most important, profound book I ever read ( after my Bible) is Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, which shows how loss of top soil destroyed most civilizations.

  37. I just listened to this podcast, and I think it’s one of the best you’ve had in a while. I don’t do the paleo diet but I have cut carbs, especially processed sugar and grains, out of my diet. So a lot of this stuff is old hat to me. Still, I learned a ton from Lierre. For example, as big of an advocate of raw milk as I am, I didn’t know about everything she mentioned, nor was I aware that nuts could cause joint stiffness. I just shared a link to the podcast with my facebook friends… not sure if anyone who would benefit from the information will actually listen, but really, all you can do is lead horses to water, right?

    Thanks again!

  38. I know I am late to this party, though I did listen the day of broadcast. A couple of days after I posted a video from Lierre’s website urging my Facebook friends that are vegan/vegetarian to check it out. A friend of mine who works at the New York Times ( only name dropping for my point) immediately posted a link to a site that vegans use, totally discrediting Lierre and her research (to the vegan community). This guy I am sure didn’t listen but only looked up her name and countered with the link, strengthening his own belief and helping others that read to feel good about their choice. So I ended up doing more harm than anything, after reading this thread I am CONVINCED it is a waste of my time and energy to even attempt to debate this with “them”. It will only end with me losing my cool the way it seems Jack did on this thread. I want to debate them I believe, only out of pride.
    However I believe I will follow Jack’s advice on this one and simply lead by example, not debate on principle. I struggle a lot with having lifelong friends and just not talking politics, religion, or now food with because they are well paid, college educated, F’n idiots!!!

    • For many, diet is a matter of ‘faith’ (religion) and, as with any faith, to question its tenants is blasphemy.

      That which is true can withstand any examination. That which is false fears exposure.

      That which is true is therefore calm and rational, it fears no attack, and needs no converts, it is complete within itself. That which is false is shrill, strident and seeks converts to prop up its sagging ego, and refresh its certainty that it is right.

      The truth sticks.

      The lie must be repeated, and repeated, and repeated. The mind rejects it like a virus.

  39. @ Jack, Lierre spoke about how dairy was doing her some good and I know you have cut dairy out of your diet. My wife and I have been learning about how to eat according to our blood type. Both my wife and I are type O positive and dairy is not recommended for our blood type because our system does not possess necessary elements to properly break down the milk and could cause acid indigestion. The subject has been studied by Doctor Peter J. D’Adamo and his father, between them both there is about forty years of study and evidence to point to their conclusions. My wife and I have begun immediately to implement changes which include removal of as much wheat flour from our diets as possible and we have switched from cows milk to almond milk. With these and other changes we have noticed a measurable decrease in stomach upset (not eating the tums like before). His study points out that if we eat according to our blood type that our metabolism will have a much better chance to break down the food we digest and assimilate it to our blood stream much faster. He has good points to make and I would recommend it to anyone to look into. We met a gentleman who is 72 years old, had gastric diverticulitis and other medical issues twelve years ago and says he is now free of that and takes no pills or medication, has energy to spare and just completed a 9 month motorcycle trip from Florida out to Nevada and many other states in between and is planning for another trip in the fall. His personal testimony and witness were enough for my wife and I to investigate and we believe we are on our way to better health and through better eating.

    • @palmbaylou don’t know why you think I cut dairy out totally. I did for 60 days on the hardcore initial phase but I eat dairy now. In the form or cheese and cream and butter.

  40. Well it’s obvious that this comment section turned into a pissing match. Jack, thank you for providing the audience with guests that bring a different viewpoint than the typical American receives. I try to educate people about the benefits of grass fed meat, raw milk, etc. Some are open minded and some reject the “different” way of thinking. What it all boils down to is doing what you feel is best for your family. No one will ever convince other people to change their opinions if they don’t want to. Keep up the great work. I’d love to hear you interview Sally Fallon. And yes, I’m late listening to this podcast too 🙂