NPC Guardian headline
I was overjoyed to see yet another article grace the pages of the Guardian this week, extolling the vital necessity that everyone switch to a plant-based diet in order to 'save the planet'. This is, by my count, the fourth such article to come out of the Guardian's pie-hole in the last few months (oops, I meant the fifth). They seem to have their hearts set on getting everyone to go along with the dramatic fiction that ruining your health by giving your body the least ideal food is going to appease the sky gods halt climate shift and save the globe. Apparently, sanctimoniously dining on rabbit-food has the magical ability to change the climate back to a more stable, 'cooler' state. Just ignore the fact that the science this claim is based on is beyond questionable; if the Guardian says it's true, who are we to argue? Drop that steak, son. We've got a planet to save.

This article focuses on another 'study' with a misguided perspective on how to save the world - looking at modern animal farming practices and the problems they cause, and offering the only possible solution: doing away with animal farming altogether (or to at least cut back significantly on animal farming by shifting the population to a more plant-based diet). As usual, it frames everything in black and white terms, ignoring the fact that switching to sustainable animal farming practices has a net beneficial effect on the environment with the added bonus of making the meat healthier.

I've written about this rather extensively in the past (here, here, here and here, in particular). In one of my previous articles, which incidentally managed to bring out the ire of vegans in the comments like nothing else I've ever written, I mentioned that:
The problem is that those making the case that meat-eating hurts the environment consistently conflate meat consumption with factory farming (CAFOs). They are not the same thing, as Joel Salatin has repeatedly shown. As has Lierre Keith in her must-read The Vegetarian Myth. Yes, factory farming is not good for the environment, but to say that all meat eating supports and depends on this type of farming is incorrect. Farming that mimics how grazing animals naturally interact with the environment is good for the environment - in so many ways that humans will likely never be able to engineer from scratch. The same is true for monoculture farming versus polycultures - the former exploits the environment, the latter builds and protects it (and it's not without irony that the vegan diet essentially depends on monocrop farming).
Long story short: the answer to environmental woes, even including the red-herring carbon problem if you believe that nonsense, is to move animal farming away from CAFO operations towards sustainable methods. No, this doesn't produce more carbon, it doesn't divert more water, it doesn't take away vital resources from plants. It is literally all good.

The big push towards a plant-based diet isn't just coming from individuals, despite the many minions at the bottom of the pyramid putting a human face on the propaganda (*cough* George Monbiot *cough*). The plant-based push is a corporate endeavor, through and through, and it is a really big money venture.

An article published recently by the Nutrition Coalition titled '"Big Pasta" Cooks Up Self-Interested Nutrition Science', the author details how pasta giant (that's 'giant' like 3.5€ billion worldwide 'giant') Barilla, through its subsidiary Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCNF), pushes the plant-based diet narrative in a multi-pronged strategy. They put out publications, like the recently published Nourished Planet: Sustainability in the Global Food System, spend money on 'external research' aimed at influencing global nutrition policy, host multi-city international forums across the globe, and, perhaps most disturbingly, fund clinical studies, many aimed at promoting the health and weight loss benefits of pasta (you read that right). From the Nutrition Coalition article:
In 2016, the company funded clinical studies in the U.S. and Europe, research "aimed at assessing independently and with scientific objectivity, the impact of pasta consumption on body weight,"⁴ among other health markers, work emphasizing "the nutritional quality of complex carbohydrates provided by pasta, which act differently from many other carbohydrate food sources." Barilla co-funded research concluding that eating pasta as part of a Mediterranean diet is associated with lower BMI and waist-to-hip ratio. The study was observational, however - unable to demonstrate causality- and arrived at its conclusions only after extensive statistical adjustments.

Established media outlets such as Newsweek, New York Daily News and Business Insider reported on studies by Barilla-funded scientists without scrutiny, with headlines declaring that eating pasta is "linked to weight loss." A Buzzfeed article noted that since 2008, at least 10 peer-reviewed studies about pasta have been either funded directly by Barilla or carried out by scientists with financial connections to the global pasta giant. One of the scientists, David Jenkins of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, told Buzzfeed that Barilla had contributed $456,000 to his research between 2004 and 2015, as well as travel funding.
It might seem weird that a multi-billion dollar company splashing cash to make people think that eating pasta is going to turn them into Instagram models is going to be putting out books promoting environmental propaganda. But it's clear to see the confluence of interests here - encourage a plant-based diet under the guise of 'saving the environment' from dangerous cow farts as a back-handed way of encouraging pasta consumption. Barilla has fully jumped onto promoting the ecological argument, publishing a "double pyramid" which places an inverted pyramid depicting the (supposed) worst offenders to the environment alongside the familiar dietary pyramid. Of course, the inverted pyramid places all animal products at the top while grains, fruits and vegetables all sit in the bottom, least environmentally damaging spot. Only through confirmation bias this extreme could one ignore the severe environmental degradation of monocrop farming, GMOs, agriclultural chemicals, etc. I haven't read it (nor will I) but I'm sure they rely on the old 'calories-to-land use' slight of hand (calories being the most reductive and simplistic way of examining food value).

This is just one example of how big money is behind this promotion of vegetarianism/veganism. The network is vast, with some of the largest institutions contributing. But the point here isn't to draw some massive conspiratorial web of powerful players. It's to point out that the media headlines we're seeing, and the studies they're based on, are coming from moneyed interests who have an agenda.

The Nutrition Coalition article speculates that the rising trend towards low-carb diets, or at the very least, the eschewing of grains, is eating into the profits of big money interests like Barilla, or the USDA for that matter. From the article:
There's no doubt that Barilla faces market challenges in light of the fast-growing popularity of low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets. "Keto" is the fastest-growing diet search in Google, and as of 2014, the number of Americans who avoid pasta and other carbohydrates approached one-third, surpassing the height of the Atkins craze. The same poll found that 44 percent of Americans who are actively trying to lose weight avoid carbohydrates.
Whether or not low-carb/keto/carnivore trends are actually a threat to these Big Food interests is hard to say. It may simply be that getting more and more people to forego meat will lead them to inevitably increase the amount of agricultural products they're eating and that the increasing interest in meat-based diets aren't even on their radar. But to be sure, the corporate sponsors don't give one flying turd about the environment, despite their claims, but they want you to care and to buy into the guilt they're peddling and 'do your part' by replacing the most nourishing food you can eat with nutritionally void fillers like grains, legumes and vegetables.

While vegans still unironically position themselves as somehow counter-cultural, rebelling against the system, their movement is now entirely corporate and government sponsored, supported by media corporations almost unanimously. Recently Facebook joined up with child abuse advocates Raise Vegan, a magazine all about raising children on a vegan diet, launching a pilot-program to "bring the classroom to parents, in a push to encourage raising children on plant-based diets." The program is essentially an app designed to educate indoctrinate parents through 6-week courses run by "experts". It's good they're using experts - I'd hate to think of starting an intensive program of slowly malnourishing my child under the guidance of amateurs.

vegan vandalism

Attacking a small business owners livelihood. So rebellious. Fight the power, little vegan. Fight the power.
Yet the true rebels, if anyone actually cares to position themselves as such, are those working against this monolithic force trying desperately to achieve nutritional and environmental consensus. There's a reason any news article mentioning the diets of carnivores Jordan and Mikhaila Peterson, no matter how positive or innocuous, inevitably quote an "expert" telling people what a bad idea it is to go against the dietary dogma. Or any article mentioning Dr. Shawn Baker has to add the caveat that his medical license was revoked (despite the fact that he was specifically targeted, from his perspective; shades of Tim Noakes battle with bureaucratic tyrants).

Any time corporations, media, bad science, non-profits, policy influencers and government are teaming up to push a particular viewpoint, that's a pretty damn big red flag. Anyone thinking about this, like really thinking, would be able to see through the charade, or at the very least, start asking questions. Yet the programming is so thorough on this one, and tied to so many emotional triggers, we're unlikely to see many people escape the suck of this particular whirlpool. Too bad they're going to pay for it with their health.

vegan meme