Ask: “Why Did You Quit Meat?”
In my youth, I
thought meat meant good health and strength. I
reasoned this must be ideal food for my body,
because my body is made up of meat; just like
the body parts of cows, pigs and chickens;
therefore, these foods must contain every
nutrient I could possibly require. Logically,
could anything be better for building muscle
than eating muscle? This kind of faulty
reasoning caused me to suffer problems as
ordinary as acne and as rare as a stroke by the
time I was 18 years old. I am alive and healthy
today at 60 because 35 years ago I changed to
primarily plants for my foods. (It is not
too late for you.)
Meat Is Cat
Food—Plants Are People Food
Every animal has
an ideal diet. Meat is an ideal food for my
pointy-toothed carnivorous cats and my
powerful-jawed omnivorous dog. Cows and
cockatoos are herbivores, and would soon sicken
on a diet of meat. The same happens with people
when they consume a meat-centered diet.
Undeniable Evidence That Meat-centered
Diets Are Wrong:
Everyone Who Eats That Way Is Sick
people can afford to eat a diet with a
central focus of beef, pork and/or
chicken, and almost all do. Most also
have one or more risk factors that
predict premature death and illness:1
1/3 have elevated cholesterol
a 1/3 have hypertension
a More than 30% are obese
a More than 65% are overweight
a 10% are diabetic
of affluence are epidemic among
1/2 die prematurely of heart
a 1/2 of men develop
a 1/3 of women develop
a Over age 60, 30% have
a One in seven suffers with
a 60% complain of bad breath
a Most have GI troubles
(indigestion to constipation)
Meat Is Promoted for Its Good
According to the National
Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), “Red meat
plays an important role in a healthful diet by
providing more than 10 percent of the
Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for protein,
iron, zinc, niacin, Vitamins B6 and B12.”2
These nutritional facts are accurate for people
eating the typical rich diet, and will scare
many of them into including generous amounts of
meat—unless they consider the fact that
nutritional deficiencies due to protein, iron,
zinc, niacin, Vitamins B6 and B12 are
essentially unheard of in people who have enough
of any kind of food to eat. Do you know anyone
with “deficiencies diseases” caused from lack of
any of these nutrients? (Almost all iron
deficiency in people is due to bleeding, not
from dietary deficiency.)
National Cattlemen’s Beef
Association (NCBA) also fails to explain in
their promotional materials that meat fails to
provide sufficient amounts of calcium, dietary
fiber, essential fats, and vitamin C to support
the health of human beings. Nor do they mention
the problems caused by the “excesses” in meat.
Have you ever heard of illnesses due too many
calories, or too much fat, cholesterol, protein,
infectious microbes, and chemical contaminants?
With excess lies the problem.
People Don’t Like the Taste of
Advertisements for Pizza Hut’s
Meat Lovers'® Pizza,
Arby’s Super Roast Beef Sandwich®,
Wendy’s Buffalo Crispy Chicken®,
and McDonalds Double Quarter Pounder®
could lead us to believe that “the meat” is the
main attraction. However, it’s not the slices
of tasteless brown beef hidden in the center of
the Arby’s sandwich that people want—instead,
they salivate over the “green leaf lettuce and
ripe tomatoes, all topped with a zesty red sauce
on a toasty sesame bun.”
The human tongue has no taste
buds for the protein and fat—the ingredients in
the beef—but we do have taste buds on our
tongue’s tip which are excited by sugar and
salt—the ingredients that make up the lettuce,
tomato, sauce, and buns—these are what drive
repeat sales. My cats would enjoy the meat. They
have taste buds for amino acids (the building
blocks of proteins) embedded in their tongues’
surfaces; but the garnishes would be wasted on
What’s Meat’s Attraction?
If people have no
senses for appreciating the taste of meat, then
why is it so popular? Meat’s appeal is driven
by money and egos. Until recently, the high cost
of meat restricted it to the plates of the
wealthy. This is a status symbol—meat-eating
enhances class distinction. Consider the Beef
Industry’s most famous slogan: Beef—Real Food
for Real People.
This is known as a bandwagon argument—used
to appeal to a person’s desire to be popular,
accepted or valued—ignoring evidence and
relevant reasoning.3 The message
implies that food, other than beef, is not real
food, and that people who do not eat beef, are
not real people.3
If eating muscle
turned into body muscle then most men living in
affluent societies would resemble bodybuilders
without a noticeable potbelly—no point in
arguing the obvious. Scientific research
confirms that meat is viewed as a superior
masculine food.4 If the truth were
known, real men would switch to real plant foods
overnight. During a man’s reproductive years
meat-eating decreases ejaculate volume, lowers
sperm count, shortens sperm life, and causes
poor sperm motility, genetic damage, and
infertility.5,6 Meat-eaters are
likely to become impotent because of damage
caused to the artery system that supplies the
penis with the blood that causes an erection.7
Erectile dysfunction is more often seen in men
with elevated cholesterol levels8 and
high levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol9—both
conditions are related to habitual meat-eating.
Later in life, men who follow a meat-centered
diet face prostate enlargement (benign prostatic
hypertrophy) and prostate cancer.10,11
Beef—Real Food for Real Sexual Dysfunction.
Characterizes a Person
There are four
well traveled roads to eating a meatless diet:
health, personal appearance, the environment,
and animal rights. As a medical doctor, I have
mostly traveled the roads of health and
appearance for the sake of my patients. That
journey would have not been possible if I had
not changed my personal diet 35 years ago.
People have trouble seeing beyond their own
habits—ridding my dinner plate of animal foods
has allowed me to become sensitive to equally
important issues—the environment and animal
Many people would
rather die than give up their meat—and that’s OK
with me. But I find it unacceptable that some
of these same people would be willing to destroy
Planet Earth than give up their meat. According
to a report,
Livestock’s Long Shadow
–Environmental Issues and Options,
released in November of 2006 by the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization,
livestock emerges as one of the top two or three
most significant contributors to every one of
the most serious environmental problems.
The killing and
suffering of animals for human food might be
justified, if meat were necessary for better
human health, but the opposite is the case.
Informed people should not remain silent about
senseless suffering of food-animals.
We stand on the
brink of life-ending health and environmental
catastrophes. It is time we shed our
hypocrisies. Doctors interested in healing
patients of dietary diseases must eat a
plant-food-based diet themselves. People who
profess their love for animals must stop eating
them. A true environmentalist will no longer
contribute to the major source of planetary
destruction by feeding himself and his family
with products from the livestock industry.
Making meat-eating a social disgrace in this
generation, just like we did with cigarette
smoking in the last generation, is a fundamental
change that must take place in order to advance
our society to the next level and ensure our
information on this subject is found by
referring to my Hot Topics—Protein, Meat and
Poultry at www.drmcdougall.com:
Mulrow C, Kussmaul W. The middle-aged
and older American: wrong prototype for a
preventive polypill? Ann Intern Med.
2005 Mar 15;142(6):467-8.
4) Roos G.
Men, masculinity and food: interviews with
Finnish carpenters and engineers. Appetite.
5) Allen NE.
Hormones and diet: low insulin-like growth
factor-I but normal bioavailable androgens in
vegan men. Br J Cancer. 2000
6) Rozati R .
Role of environmental estrogens in the
deterioration of male factor fertility.
Fertil Steril. 2002 Dec;78(6):1187-94.
7) Feldman HA.
Erectile dysfunction and coronary risk factors:
prospective results from the Massachusetts male
aging study. Prev Med. 2000
8) Bodie J.
Laboratory evaluations of erectile dysfunction:
an evidence based approach. J Urol. 2003
9) Walczak MK
Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in
J Gend Specif Med. 2002 Nov-Dec;5(6):19-24.
10) Suzuki S.
Intakes of energy and macronutrients and the
risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Am J
Clin Nutr. 2002 Apr;75(4):689-97.
Divisi D, Di Tommaso S, Salvemini S, Garramone
M, Crisci R. Diet and cancer. Acta
Biomed. 2006 Aug;77(2):118-23.