Wednesday, June 21


This is the clear message behind new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association, but you won't see that headline anywhere because the science is just too complex for most journalists to follow, and it's easier to grab onto the "cut trans fats" concept that's oh-so-trendy right now (we'll ignore, for now, the fact that trans fats occur in animal products as well as french fries).

It's pretty simple math, though: The new advisory "suggests that people derive no more than 7 percent of their total calories from saturated fat." OK, and... "The previous guidelines allowed saturated fat to make up 10 percent of one's daily calories" (though Americans generally eat 11 percent or more saturated fat). And where do we find saturated fats? Two places: Animal products; coconut and palm oil. That's it. Now, which of these two options do you suppose is negligible, compared with the other, in the average American's diet?

In some places, this is spelled out somewhat, in phrases such as "using soy protein in place of animal protein as a means of limiting saturated fats," but again most journalists fail to make it clear to readers that there's a simple, no-nonsense way to improve their health dramatically: Stop eating animals.

UPDATE 7/12: Sorry - as moonwatcher notes in comments, I overstated this when I said "that's it." Tropical oils are the only vegetable sources that are a significant source of saturated fat, and the other sources are low in their ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats, but not quite low enough to be called "negligible." Here's a handy graph of the saturated fat content of various food sources.

Tuesday, June 20


" Livestock feed ingredients shipped to nine states may have been contaminated with cattle remains in violation of a 1997 ban to protect against mad cow disease, a manufacturer said Tuesday. H.J. Baker & Bro. Inc. said it was recalling three livestock feed ingredients, including two used to supplement feed given to dairy cows. A sample tested by the Food and Drug Administration was positive for cattle meat and bone meal, said Mark Hohnbaum, president of the Westport, Conn.-based company's feed products group. "This is very concerning to us. This isn't something that happens to us," Hohnbaum said.

What, having the feed randomly tested? Well, unfortunately, pal, this time it did happen. Lord knows, of course, how much is getting through that isn't tested.

Monday, June 19


I've just been noticing increased labeling on deli salad bar items at Whole Foods, namely, labels that say "VEGAN." I haven't tracked the quantity over time or anything so I don't know if they're actually making more vegan options available. But there does seem to be a sort of coming-out-of-the-closet push in effect. I'm wondering if we may be seeing some of the fruits of John Mackey's conversion to veganism a couple years back. While I haven't heard much news emanating out of his newly formed Animal Compassion Foundation, there was the item last week that Whole Foods is halting the sale of live lobsters out of concern for their humane treatment. Of course the instant comeback is that if they're concerned, they could halt the sale of dead lobsters too, but we may be seeing some of the "baby steps" toward the revolution Mackey implies he's getting underway. It will be interesting to keep watching on this, even as it's frustrating for those of us who want everything to change NOW.