Originally posted on July 15th, 2006. Edited and updated.
I posted a comment on Dr. Fuhrman's blog about his debate with someone on the Weston Price Foundation's board (Barry Groves). Comments are moderated at Fuhrman's blog, so I went back to see if my comment had been posted - it had not. But while there, I saw another article on a very similar topic. Both these topics relate to my earlier post on this blog.
Fuhrman's article is titled "The Healthy Way to Integrate Meat Into Your Diet". I just had to comment on that because everyone seems to be stuck in the mindset that if the vegetarian diet doesn't work well (as it so often doesn't), the reason is missing animal protein (fish, poultry or other meat). However, once again, my comment was "moderated" and I'm not sure if or when it will appear. Therefore, I'm reproducing the comment here:
The decision to simplify nutritional things into "plants vs. animals" is way too limiting. It skews interpretation of the research results. In the discussion above, no distinction is made between the various types of animal products. In the future, more sophisticated research will begin to give better answers by looking at the various types of animal foods in more detail. However, I want to offer some opinions that people can take advantage of right away.
Start with a predominantly plant-based whole food diet like Dr. Fuhrman recommends, and add a small amount of clarified butter (ghee) to it. (If you can tolerate milk, consider adding a small amount of non-homogenized whole milk too.) See if you get the needed "boost" in energy or well-being that you think you are missing from not eating meat. I propose that it is not the meat or fish that you are missing from your diet. Take a look at the article on my site for more details. (This is where the adversarial position between Dr. Fuhrman and the Weston Price foundation gets interesting because Price is one who has done interesting research on clarified butter as a dietary supplement.)
I would like to hear from people who have earnestly tried healthy vegetarian diets like Dr. Fuhrman's in the past without total success. My own experience is that no amount of B-12 or DHA or other vitamin supplementation, no amount of dedication, and no amount of sticking to the best quality whole foods would make the pure vegetarian diet work well - especially for someone who is an athlete or active person. I have seen this hundreds of times in all types of people.
At this point, most people assume that animal protein (specifically meat or fish) is what they need to add to the diet. I want to propose that this is an untested and unproven assumption. I realize that adding the meat (or even eggs) usually does the trick. However, I propose that adding ghee (and maybe non-homogenized whole milk) might do the trick even better. Few try that route due to the bias against animal fats in general. I think that's a mistake.
It could be that micronutrients found in animal fat (specifically butter or cream) are the missing ingredient. It may be instructional to look at old traditions that ate predominantly plant-based diets. The Ayurvedic tradition comes to mind. In this tradition, clarified butter is considered a very important supplement. It is even used as an ingredient in many Ayurvedic herbal supplements. Could it be present for reasons more than as a simple carrier? Weston Price's work would suggest so. (Here is one link that mentions his Activator-X.)
Let me hear from you if a vegetarian diet has failed you in spite of your best intentions. How many of you automatically assumed you needed to add poultry, fish or other meat to your diet? If you are willing to try a mostly plant-based diet again, this time try adding ghee (clarified butter) and a bit of non-homogenized whole milk. I propose that you don't need the animal protein, so don't worry about using a lower fat milk - it's more likely that nutrients in the animal fat are what you need a bit more of. I bet you will feel a lot better, and you will still have a diet that meets the guidelines derived from the China Study and the other good research.
CAUTION: don't get confused by the Weston Price organizations (there are several of them). Low carb, high animal protein diets are not healthy. Period. For another perspective on a healthy diet that includes dairy products, look up some of the old books by Paavo Airola.