What Happens When You Drop The Moderation Mantra?

EatingInModerationRuse2Rip Esselstyn, in his book My Beef With Meat, shared this email he received from a man who met resistance when he decided to change his diet:

“My wife’s and my results have inspired a few folks to give the E2 diet a try, and I’ve had to warn them that they are going to be surprised how many scientist friends they have that they didn’t know about.

It’s amazing, really, I never heard a word of concern when somebody saw me eat my fifth piece of pizza after polishing off a plate of wings and a few beers. However, one word that I’m holding off on the meat and lowering my fat intake, and they come out of the woodwork.

They all seem to have kept their non-science office jobs, but suddenly they’re evolutionary biologists talking about the shape of my teeth proving our omnivorous lineage, dietitians concerned about the exact percentage of my calories coming from protein, and biochemists who suddenly are worried about the details of my blood chemistry.

My advice? Smile, thank them for their advice, and ignore them like they ignored you when you were eating crap that was killing you.”

Does that sound familiar to you?  People coming out of the woodwork, wearing their evolutionary biologist hats and their biochemist hats to say you’re wrong?  Wrong for eating vegetables and fruits and beans and rice?  Saying you should eat chicken, and beef, and fish, and eggs, and cheese, and yogurt … in moderation, of course.   Sounds familiar to me.

6 thoughts on “What Happens When You Drop The Moderation Mantra?

  1. David D

    I haven’t had this happen in a long time. When discussing diets, people usually get quiet when I tell them that I hardly eat meat. Perhaps they are uncomfortable and don’t feel comfortable speaking up. Perhaps they realize their own shortcomings and know that their diet could be better (as could mine). Maybe I will ask the person the next time this happens.

    I do agree with the comment that no one, except my wife, ever says anything if I eat half the pizza or some other unnecessarily large portion.


    1. Bix Post author

      I’ve had that happen too. People will get quiet.

      Moderation… It’s such a subjective term. When I press the point, about how often someone eats, say, animal food, I’m surprised how they view moderation. There are eggs and cheese for breakfast, eggs and milk and butter in muffins and baked goods, yogurt for lunch, cheese and maybe some tuna or egg salad in a sandwich, cheese pizza for dinner. I’ve had people tell me they eat all that but are vegetarian and eat hardly any animal foods. On top of that are the “few bites” of meat for dinner and often lunch and breakfast too. When you’re eating a plant-based diet, I don’t view this, animal foods at all meals, as moderation.

      I think it means different things to different people, and varies based on what you apply it to. To me, when it comes to animal food on a plant-based diet … moderation is eating it for a special occasion, not habitually.


  2. LLoyd

    I cut back on beer drinking for health reasons, like weight and blood pressure. I now drink beer in moderation, meaning maybe once a month at home I’ll have a beer. A total prohibition would just lead to craving which would lead to binge beer drinking. Knowing that I can still enjoy a nice micro-brew occasionally makes the beer very special and enjoyable. So I can understand how moderation can be helpful.


    1. Bix Post author

      Once a month. That’s laudable.

      In my experience, high blood pressure and high blood glucose are two things people don’t take seriously. There aren’t many symptoms early on, so people just keep on keeping on. They are more apt to take a diuretic and ACE inhibitor and metformin than to change what they eat.


  3. RB

    When I talk to someone about a vegan that someone gets concerned that I can’t get proper nutrition. But perhaps the best thing to do is turn things around and ask how that someone knows he/she is getting proper nutrition with their current diet? How will they answer: it is the way everyone eats, the food commercials say so or the food has health claims on the box? If they think you can’t proper nutrition without meat or dairy ask why?


    1. Bix Post author

      When I read food labels and listen to commercials, I come away thinking meat and dairy are part of a healthful diet. When I read studies I come away thinking meat and dairy do not contribute to health. There is a disconnect between science and advertising.

      The craziest thing is when food labels make scientific claims. You will always be able to design a study, or interpret a study, or cherry-pick studies that support a bias. This, in my mind, is what is going on with GMOs. Unfortunately, this point of view places you in the category of Luddite, or alarmist or, irony-of-ironies, anti-science!

      The best retort to the anti-science claim belongs to a then 14 year old, Rachel Parent, who said this when a pro-GMO businessman confronted her:

      “I’m not anti-science, but I’m for responsible science and ethical progress. … Science that’s proven safe by not the very same companies that stand to gain by their approval.”

      – From: Televised Debate Between Businessman and 14-Year-Old On GMOs



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