Dr McDougall in Shocking Vegan Interview

McDougall

Let me start by saying this: Being a vegan is fine. I find the ethical arguments compelling and I’m impressed by people who manage to avoid animal products for ethical reasons. Also, I believe that most vegan food (supplemented by vitamin B12) is healthier than a standard Western diet.

That said, I was shocked when listening to a new interview with low-fat vegan advocate Dr John McDougall. A couple of days ago he was on Jimmy Moore’s podcast and, really, you have to hear it to believe it:

The LLVLC Show (Episode 686): Dr. John McDougall Pushes Starchy Diets For All

Here’s the problem:

Agricultural bliss?

Dr McDougall believes that everybody should eat a low-fat high-starch diet comprised of potatoes, rice, beans etc. and avoid meat, dairy and even olive oil. His main argument? Throughout “all of recorded history” every successful major civilization based their food intake on that kind of food.

That’s correct. It’s called agriculture.

Agriculture supplied the plentiful source of calories that allowed populations to grow big, starting 10,000 years ago or so. But that does not mean it’s healthy. Fossil records show a decline in human health and stature at the start of agriculture.

Furthermore, history did not start 10,000 years ago. Human evolution (depending on where you draw the line) has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years if not millions of years. Back then there was no agriculture.

Finally there were no vegan cultures, ever, during all of human history. People who completely avoided animal products for a long time died from vitamin B12-deficiency. So while agriculture supplied a lot of food it was never the only source.

Refined carbs

It’s quite possible that eating unprocessed starchy food like potatoes and rice, á la McDougall, is better than a standard American diet. After all, the refined carbs, processed food and enormous amounts of sugar are lost.

Jimmy Moore repeatedly tries to discuss this, but McDougall does. not. want. to. hear. it. He just won’t discuss that possibility.

Nasty personal attacks and hypocrisy

What’s really shocking on the podcast is the nastiness and the number of personal attacks. McDougall repeatedly brings up mr Moore’s weight struggles – “I’ve seen your pictures!” – as evidence that a high-fat diet does not work.

Then mr Moore tells him that he has lost 100 pounds eating like that and weighs less now than ever before in his adult life. McDougall’s answer? “You’re a study of one”, implying that it does not count, probably forgetting his own attack one minute earlier. Then McDougall repeats the personal attack again and again. I’m impressed that Jimmy Moore did not lose his temper.

McDougall’s next argument? “I’m a doctor and you’re not”, implying that it makes him right and mr Moore wrong. I wish life was that simple!

Low Carb vs. Plant Based

What shocked me even more was Dr McDougall’s repeated insistence that people watch a YouTube video called “Low Carb vs. Plant Based“:

It ranks among the most infantile things I’ve ever seen. Is this really the best argument Dr McDougall has? “I’m thin, you’re fat, therefore I’m right”?

PS

The vegans in the video are *extremely* thin, good for them. However, I wonder if they wouldn’t benefit from more high-quality protein, to put on some muscle mass. That may be a matter of taste though.

By the way I’ve met professor Loren Cordain and Dr William Davis recently and they’re in fine shape. Check them out on the Dr Oz show earlier this year: Cordain / Davis. And Jimmy Moore is thinner than ever.

And let’s not mention the high-fat badass #1, Mark Sisson, who was somehow not chosen to appear in the video. Update: But he was on “Vegan Island” with Dr McDougall six years ago. Check out his report.

More reactions to the show:

Controversial Interview Raises Ire, Rises To Top Of iTunes Health Podcast Charts

What do you think about it?

314 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Martin,
    I believe that many of the diseases of civilization are caused by the Western diet, that's high in sugar and refined starch, among other things.

    I'm not at all surprised if most (maybe all) people switching from a Western junk diet to a low-fat vegan diet will improve.

    Basically the Western processed food diet may be the worst ever in history. That's why "all diets work". Switch from the worst one to any other and it's an improvement.

    Replies: #16, #270
    Read more →
  2. Dan
    You know, there's another angle to this we should all remember--the rise of LCHF and the revelation of the good science behind it that refutes so much of the trendy-but-bad science that people like McDougall have been living off of for years (perhaps with good intent and just ignorance as their excuse--even "medical doctor" "qualified" ignorance is still dumb, y'know) means that many, many people who've been making a good living and a great deal of ego boosting fame out of that BAD science are now faced with a very real threat to their livelihoods and their egos. It is no different to note, as you've done on this site, the amazing hypocrisy of Coca-Cola sponsoring diet conferences than to see that a whole lot of McDougall's belligerence and attitude is because he's like any cornered animal--threatened, angry, and afraid. It doesn't make his position any more defensible or right, but perhaps it can help us to be a little less insensitive to his fear and anticipation of pain. Presuming, as we must unless we know otherwise, that he began his rise to prominence out of good intent and with honest motives, now that he's standing on top of, well, only slight joke re. the USDA intended, a "pyramid" whose foundations are crumbling and which he has to KNOW intellectually are at least threatened with utter collapse, no wonder he's so darned arrogant and angry! Granted, a more mature and self-enlightened person would have the grace that another one did in an earlier posting (sorry I forget the name) who told Gary Taubes "You were right, I was wrong." but most people aren't like that, alas. Basically, McDougall is in the position of the classic semi-joke statement "I'm not a brat! I'm NOT! I'm NOT! I'm NOT!" When "experts" with great prestige in the vegan/vegetarian community like him are this way, we certainly must expect even more nasty attitude from those lay people who've followed that misguided cause and invested not only money and effort into it but have, because like all such cults it demands and encourages this, invested a huge chunk of their self-identity and self-worth in it. I don't know about the rest of you, but I EAT a LCHF diet and feel better and am measurably healty for it, but I am NOT ANYTHING LIKE an "LCHF-ian" or an "LCHF-itarian" or whatever. My identity is based on my values and my character and not on my diet, but for Vegans and Vegetarians, that's not so. When you question what, to you as an enlightened sensible person, is their dietary science and choices, THEY HEAR you attacking them PERSONALLY. So let's not be too harsh on the sad case of Dr. McDougall, and let's remember this when we talk to less-famous folks who, like he has, simply got sold a bill of goods or wandered down the wrong path when searching for the truth.
    Replies: #138, #163
    Read more →
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

All Comments

  1. Patrick
    Ann, I'm not convinced that having a 4 chamber stomach makes a ruminent smarter than me, however, I won't dismiss the possibility!
  2. Kevin
    I'm very impressed with Dr. Mcdougall's books and diet. The info may be a little repetitive, but the recipes are very good and use easy to find ingredients. It's not boring to eat that way. There is a much wider range of veggies, fruits and grains than there are meats. To each his own, but I'd rather eat that diet than to court heart disease, stroke, diabetes and so on. We have a huge problem in healthcare costs in this country, to talk disparagingly of a diet that would help is irresponsible.

    Check them out on the Dr Oz show

    Yeah, no I don't think so.

  3. Joel
    Robbie, you didn't have "diabetic ketosis". Diabetic ketoacidosis dangerous state which can occur in type 1 diabetics due to lack of insulin.
  4. Jim
    "William
    April 25 2016
    Personal experience is the best teacher. Having been a vegetarian for 2 decades (age 29-51), I was an avid follower of the McDougall plan. I am athletic and in fact, a world elite masters athlete and 3x USATF National Masters Champion 400m sprinter, most recently in the 55-59 age group. My diet is part of a lifestyle that requires athletic performance, low body fat, and maximum strength / weight ratio. I can tell you straight out that for my needs, the McDougall plan is close to the worst possible diet for building strength and low body fat. There is NOTHING that will put fat on your body faster than starchy carbs like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc... ..."

    I am curious to hear more, as I don't believe your story, not one bit. The McDougall plan is practically a starvation diet unless you add lots of nuts and avocados or eat a ton of starch. You have to eat 2 kg of plain potatoes just to get 2000 kcal. That's a lot of taters. How could you possibly have been "soft" and fat on a high starch, low fat vegan diet, especially as an athlete!?

  5. Trevor
    Dr Weston Price, although half-hoping to find a vegan traditional culture in his world travels during the 1920s-30s, NEVER DID because any attempts went EXTINCT. Dr McDougall is a closed-minded, ignorant, arrogant bombast who cannot see that the masses subsistence-living on basic grains and pulses are dietarily dumbed-down and actually CRAVE animal products when they can get them!

    The solution: eat as much fat and protein as you can, plus carbohydrates in moderation, depending on your personal insulin response. Avoid feedlot meat, pork and modern seed oils. The ancients thrived on olive oil, even using it for ablutions. McDougall claims Roman soldiers eschewed meat before battle, which was nonsense; they would never have had the strength to build their empire as vegans!

    Mark my words: Dr McDougall is frail at 69 and will not see out the US average of 78.8 years. If you want to live longest, eat Japanese-style!

  6. Trevor
    The great, level-headed Mark Sisson puts us right ...

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/vegan-island/

    ... a type-2 diabetes outbreak in the making indeed!

  7. hank
    You don't put on muscle mass by eating "high quality protein". You put on muscle mass by having excess calories and hormones (and exercise obviously).

    The difference between female body builders and male body builders is quite large. But it's not because the women aren't eating as much protein. It's because they don't have the same hormones, and the ones that take steroids and various growth hormones they're able to get as large as the men(who are usually on juice too).

    There are plenty of vegan body builders who aren't eating anywhere near as much protein as a typical meat eater, such as Barney du Plessis, who are able to get very very large.

  8. meeko
    He wasn't rude, he was just frustrated, he sees the results first hand and is being told nuh-uh! That gets a bit tiring.
  9. Juan Bilbao
    All of the scientific evidence points to a wholefoods, plant based diet, being the most effective way to avoid, stop and even reverse (cure) heart disease. In my case, it got rid of my prediabetes and malignant hypertension.

    The longest living people groups in the world, mostly eat a plant based diet, not a low carb/high fat diet.

    You make a big deal over the B12 issue as if those on a low carb, high fat diet don't also have to deal with the same or similar mineral deficiencies. In our modern, highly industrialized world, we are all subject to, to various degrees, to mineral deficiencies. Not consuming enough of an important mineral.

    However, a plant based diet, is more nutrient dense. Potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A..So it dramatically effects your heart health, blood pressure.. Etc.

    Eating a wholefoods, low carb, high animal fat diet, is better than eating non-wholefood, highly processed, junk food, full of chemicals most people can't pronounce. But all of the evidence points to a healthy wholefoods plant based diet, being the most effective in preventing disease.

    After making a cost benefit analyses, eating a plant based diet is worth it, in spite of having to take some B12, every once in a while. Big deal. I'll avoid the clogged arteries, heart attacks, cancers, that people who eat meat, often get. I eat to live, I don't live to eat.

  10. Dr. Georgie, MS,ND
    Boy, you a great example of what called "insulin SENSITIVITY", which developed by consumption of CARBOHYDRATES, whereas fat will encouraged the development of insulin RESISTANCE.
    Dr. Cyrus and Robbi are type 1 diabetics who are also good example of diabetic who are on HIGH CARBO very low fat vegan diet. In fact, Robbi diet is 80% fruits and he has no problem controlling his blood glucose. Thanks for your story, and great to share your story that when you eat the RIGHT FOOD THAT PROVIDES THE RIGHT FUEL (carbohyrdrates for glucose) the body automatically heal and becomes healthy.
    Reply: #316
  11. 1 comment removed
  12. Auggiedoggy
    Back in 2007, LCHF left me with high cholesterol and angina. Tried plant-based (almost vegan) and saw improvements within a year in cholesterol (236 --> 180) and no more angina. An EKG test back in 2012, which was part of my annual checkup, indicated that I had a mild myocardial infarction at some time in the past. Came as a surprise to me! I also have bronchitis and was developing a raspy sound in my lungs from what I believe was my increased dairy use. So recently I dropped dairy. I breath better now and that raspy wheezing sound has pretty much gone away! I guess ymmv with LCHF, eh?

    Please note that I'm not vegan but do follow a very highly plant-based, dairy-free diet with only occasional modest portions of animal flesh, typically fish.

  13. Erwan
    Compare Vegan high carb diet with LCHF is a complete intellectual sham. The only honest comparison is High fat low carb vegan diet with High fat low carb diet. But because LCHF diets are heavily financed by meat lobbies, you will never hear about Vegan LCHF.
    Reply: #315
  14. patsy cincotta
    I have been following Dr. McDougall's diet advice for about three months and already my doctor has cut my diabetes and cholesterol meds in half. I have been on low-carb, high protein diets many times and never got results like this before. Everything I eat is a complex carb and full of fiber. The high fiber in the diet has almost taken all my IBS symptoms away - even though doctors told me before to stay away from fiber because it will trigger IBS attacks. Seems to me Dr. McDougall's critics ought to try his method before calling him almost a charlatan who has been "living off" his failing program. He's been a medical doctor for 40 years and deserves more respect than someone like Dr. Oz, who really is living off questionable methods to good health. At the old age of 77 I have finally found a path to better health. I only wish I had discovered it years earlier.
  15. Peter
    Erwan, It is very hard to have a true high healthy fat low carb vegan diet which is probably why it isn't talked about much.
  16. Thales
    Do you have any peer reviewed references to support your comment?
  17. Dane
    From Wikipedia: 'Ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person", short for argumentum ad hominem), is an argumentative strategy whereby an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.'

    Jimmy, you're off the hook.

    McDougall has probably killed more people than he has saved. Have you ever seen the audience sitting in front of McDougall when he speaks? The audience is almost exclusively flabby or obese
    people at some stage of metabolic syndrome. And if they continue to listen to McDougall, they will stay that way. The last time I observed an audience attending a LCHF diet seminar, most in the audience were lean, ripped, and looking pretty damn healthy.

    I tried McDougall's (and also Dean Ornish's) diet five years ago. I wound up with pernicious anemia from lack of vitamin B12, and almost had to go in for a blood transfusion. As a former pre-diabetic (now with normal A1c from LCHF diet, thank you!), I can tell you that starch makes my blood sugar spike through the roof. It was recently proven that the glycemic index of a baked potato is the same as a Mars candy bar. McDougall telling diabetics to eat a starch diet smacks of the current recommendations of the ADA, which advocates eating high carbs an injecting insulin. Wait a minute, eat high carb when your problem is carbs? Both of their recommendations are pure insanity.

    Reply: #320
  18. Rachel Townstone
    I’m just going to lay out the truth here. I have been on restrictive diets for years because of my IBD. My GI hates all sorts of things. I did FODMAP for ten years to help control my symptoms, but out of everything I’ve ever tried the McDougall diet took me into a rabbit hole of eating dissorder I couldn’t quite fathom. It took diet restriction to a whole new level. It was literally like joining a cult. A cult that demanded ever increasing vigilance and calorie cutting. A cult that shamed anyone “fat”. A cult that shamed the sick.

    It felt like every week a new food was to be ‘avoided as bad’ — I thought I was going to be Vegan. No fish or animal products, got it. But no olive oil, no fats, no yeast, no honey, no soy, no eggs (of course), no processed food of any kind, no avocaod, no nuts, no seeds. The foods that were left absolutely killed my GI.

    I kept wondering why we were avoiding the healthy foods as well as the processed foods, but was told they were also evil. Hmm. The list of bad foods was a mile long.

    I got sick and gained belly fat. I was in a FB group, I said - look guys I have to take a break from this or end up in the hospital (my GI was bleeding, I had no energy, I was in pain - feverish the works). I just wanted to be Vegetarian for a few weeks - just milk and cereal until I felt better with probiotics. I was roundly dog piled in an ugly attack. I put my health over the welfare of animals. I didn’t know how to stick it out. My favorite — “entire families have been cured of IBD following this diet!” — ??? Just stick with it. That’s hard to imagine honestly, not out of the realm of possibility, but if they have the identical illness to mine eating broccolli and cauliflower, loads of potatoes and whole grains would put them in the hospital along with me. Hmm.

    I really felt like I was in a cult devoted to anorexia and food obsession.

    During my flare up I ate nothing but cereal and milk for about 3 weeks until I was healed up enough to eat real food again regularly.

    The day I cut out whole grain I felt so much better, then I tried IF and felt even better and I’ve been doing kinda a Paleo thing I guess. LCHF mostly I suppose within my eating window and my GI so far is calm and nice and being great to me (that will probably not last forever, but I have loads more energy and feel good for the first time in years.)

    I left Facebook completely. I felt stupid - here was a diet that promises everything in the world, it’s the very definition of snake oil and if it doesn’t work for you — it’s your fault — not the diet.

    I didn’t stick with it too long. I read Taubes book, “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It” - excellent and put together better than anything I’ve seen from McDougall. I remember McDougall criticizing a lady who was on the diet for RA, she had been controlling it for a long time with a Vegan diet but had a bad flare up. He blamed her for it, said she had been using oils and lotions on her dry skin and that was the cause. (That to me was a big red flag)

    I turned out to be pre-diabetic and the whole grains and potatoes were really not healthy for me personally.

    I know some great Vegans, and people who lost weight, but for me personally, I truly feel like I dodged a bullet when I got out.

  19. sean
    I followed McDougal's diet 5-6 days a week and dropped 20 lbs. A1C went from 6.1 to 5.6 and cholesterol did lower.

    I don't know if I could eat like that forever, I love meat and dairy but the results have been excellent.

  20. Steve
    Perhaps you should have taken a B12 supplement, which is what every WFPB advocate does and would tell you to do. B12 is only produced by bacteria and so we used to get B12 from the dirt on our food and the water we drank (just like every other herbivore and frugivore) before we started to depart from our natural state of being.
  21. jo
    The Starch solution concept which Dr. McDougall got much info from Dr Burkitt can save your life and the lives of those you love. Period. I suffered for 10 years 24/7 and in the end the mutilators only wanted to rip out my whole colon. I refused and cut off all ties and all their drugs and found nutritionfacts.org then drmcdougall's starch solution, it saved me from death since I would never accept what the mutilators wanted to do to my body no matter how tortured I was day and night for 10 years.
  22. jo
    Everyone wants someone they can believe in and follow, people reject the Starch solution diet or the vegan diet simply because a lot of vegans are assholes, and Dr McDougall is not that friendly. Part of living is taking good info no matter where it comes from and using it and leaving the rest behind. There are assholes in every group of the world, don't take everything so personally or you will become a hermit nihilist offended by everyone, including yourself.
  23. jo
    I forgot one other thing, people say "Dr McDougall looks sick". People don't usually know that he was extremily unhealthy when he was a youth and was literally one of the earliest recorded stroke victims, he had a stroke at like age 18 or something, it permanently affected parts of his body, he still walks with a limp from it so obviously he can't exercise like most people which over 50 years can make you deteriorate more than others who were not debilitated by stroke at age 18 like McDougall. What people should really look at is how he is still alive 50 years after instead and attribute that properly to his findings of the starch solution method.
  24. Mark
    I'd like to also point out that Dr McDougall lived on a boat for 4 years, and he says that he wished he had been more careful with the sun because it aged his skin.

    Most of the "research" that has been done promoting this vitamin or that anti-oxidant, or what have you lack one thing that Dr McDougall doesn't. STATISTICS. How in the world can you argue with the statistics? And my experience has been this. When I stopped eating deadly organic extra virgin olive oil, Organic Earth Balance, and other oils, my hunger pangs reduced to almost nothing. Additionally, I have dropped a decent amount of weight. My energy level and outlook is very positive now. It has been conclusively demonstrated that what you eat effects your mental acuity.

    Animal fat has been demonstrated to cause all kinds of disease. You can argue all you wish, but but the statistics don't lie. Eat cows and you will eventually become diseased, if you aren't already. Those are the stats. Read 'em and weep.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Leave a reply

Reply to comment #0 by

Older posts