Monday, April 18, 2011

Low Fat Raw Vegan vs Paleo.. The debate

Well folks, the debate took place on Friday the 15th April, our time, (down under), and I believe Kveta and I were one of the 1000 plus that listened in to the event live.

It was sort of entertaining, but I must admit it left me a little frustrated.

In his closing statement, Richard (the cooked flesh eater), claimed that Harley (the calorie counting vegan) was more debating against general omnivores than Paleo specific, but to be honest, Richard was doing exactly the same, debating more against veganism than Harleys more specific version of low fat, and raw.

Neither party really went overboard loosing their cool at any time, which admittedly surprised me with Richard, as when I briefly attempted a discussion with him over at his blog, his responses (and those of the bulk of the rest of his disciples) were generally quite primitive in nature, and consisted of a fair bit of name calling.

Richard gave a bit of an odd response to the question about whether he at all felt any moral qualms about his chosen diet, stating something about the rights for humans not coming from the fact that we can feel pain and suffer like animals, but rather that we can think. As if animals are themselves incapable of such, or as if every human is capable of such. Clearly neither is true.

He also very much showed his ignorance by stating his view that a vegan based lifestyle would destroy the earth and kill off animals by destroying their habitat. He clearly has neither an idea how much land is lost due to livestock farming, nor how much more environmentally sound an agriculture based predominantly around fruit tree growing has the potential to be. Perhaps he is comparing more a nomadic based lifestyle, of hunters and gatherers living in small tribes, something likely far afield from his own lifestyle choice.

The point was also made about Harley being too skinny in the eyes of a Paleo, but when Harley countered that his body weight and size was comparable to most other endurance athletes, Richard fully dismissed this, saying that his athletic prowess had nothing to do with the debate at hand.

Then there was that whole comparison he made of liver versus a bowl of fruit.. I mean yuck, who cares how much nutrient is in either (!).. one is dead and unappealingly disgusting, the other is vibrant, colourful and sweet..

Harley handled himself pretty well, but I do know that he has a tendency to exaggerate the truth at times. Not about his athletic fetes, I don't doubt those for a second, but he does state that he shares a flat with a paleo flat mate, and if it's the guy I believe it to be, then I don't think it's quite factual to be labeling him as paleo.

He also brought up the old adage about sticking a rabbit and a piece of fruit in with a baby and see which one it eats.. I used to like that one, but honestly, if you think about it, most omnivore parents would not give their babies living animals to kill themselves. They would kill and rip it open first. I would guess that an innocent baby would want to stick both items (the apple and the flesh) in their mouths, as that's how babies find out about the world.

Sure though, I will merit that the vast majority of humans don't have the heart to take a knife to a cows throat and kill it for lunch.

A little too much talk of triglycerines and the B12 critters (whatever they are) and their ilk for my liking, but I guess for many that's what they want to hear.

When Richard claimed that "the china study" had been debunked, Harley countered that, yes, by a 21 year old girl who he doubted the existence of. Personally I thought this a pretty weak response.. I mean, it's not that I myself have read the China study, nor have any great desire or intention to do so, nor have I seen the debunking response, but dismissing a debunk purely on the supposed age and gender of the debunker is a little unfair. (it may well be the debunk is weak by it's own merits, but if the author is genuinely a mystery, it may also be there was far more research put into it than Harley is aware).

And, this has little to do with his side of the debate, and is more about me wanting to be that small voice for fruitarianism, he also made that statement about not knowing anyone that eats just fruit (he knows Kveta and myself at least). But I guess he is entitled to believe that those of us that claim we do, are all liars, though I can't help but think still that Harley somehow feels threatened by the idea.. Also, I am quite curious to know where he get's his data from when he states so matter of factly that Ross Horne was not vegan.

Anyhow, Kudos to both parties for stepping up to the microphone and airing their view points. If you want to listen to it, here it is:

Listen to Harley vs Richard -

DurianRider vs the Animal Debate

Or if you want your own copy of the debate, then you can order one here:



Mr. Zed said...

Another amazing post Mango. I am very glad that you posted this.

"Sure though, I will merit that the vast majority of humans don't have the heart to take a knife to a cows throat and kill it for lunch."

And even less, to take a stone or their bare fists and bludgeon them to death. Because knives don't exist in nature, they're a product of civilization. The same with killing or hurting a person. I saw something in the Daily Mail today about what they do to rabbits that made me really sick.

Fruitarian Mango said...

Thanks Mr.Zed, I tend to try and avoid watching things with animal abuse in them. It's not that I don't care, or want to be ignorant of it, but I just feel I've seen it all already. I know how sick the world is, and it doesn't help anyone by me getting depressed about things that are beyond my control.

you raise an interesting point about knives being a product of sillyvization, and one that I'm not 100% sure I can fully agree with you on. I think that they exist in nature, the same way birds nests and spiders webs do. I mean, all 3 have to be in some way fashioned. The raw materials and skills are there for all 3 species to build things, because our creativity is often somewhat advanced to that of a bird, does it make us less a part of nature? In your mind, are creativity and nature in opposition to each other?

Fruitarian Mango said...

And if anyone out there is interested in seeing what Harley Johnstone (durianrider)'s crew made of the debate, they can read them here:

DURIANRIDER vs richard debate review

Or want to see what Richard Nikoley's croonies made of it, go here:

RICHARD vs harley debate

as predicted, both sides believed that the other party failed miserably, and both sides sang the praises of their respective gurus.

Mr. Zed said...

Thanks again Mango, careful they don't sue you for copyright infringement. ;)

"I think that they exist in nature, the same way birds nests and spiders webs do. I mean, all 3 have to be in some way fashioned. The raw materials and skills are there for all 3 species to build things, because our creativity is often somewhat advanced to that of a bird, does it make us less a part of nature? In your mind, are creativity and nature in opposition to each other?"

Well, if you want to go all the way you could say that nuclear reactors and highly processed foods are "natural" because all of the materials needed to make them are available to us.

The way I see it is this: Right now I wouldn't be able to forge such weapons. If I had access to fruit all the time I strongly believe I would never ever forge anything in any way like that, I would have no need or want for it. So while a knife might be many times *more* natural than a gun, I personally would not describe it as *perfectly* natural. I also don't consider clothes as "natural". Little nests... I would consider natural.

I think that if we had brains big enough to forge knives on our own, then we would also have ones big enough to UNDERSTAND them and their perils and possible uses.

Fruitarian Mango said...

in Principe, i tend to agree with you. My issue is more semantic nature I guess. I tend to often react when someone makes claims of humans being somehow "apart" from nature. Like there's nature, and then there's humans who exist outside of it. Somehow it doesn't seem right to me, this distinction.

Even your explanation of well, if you know how to make a knife, then in some way, that would be natural. And the truth is there are people out there that would have that knowledge. I mean, even before metal, people made knives from sharp rocks, or dried animal bones. I agree, that given the conditions of the garden of eden, why would we desire or need a knife? but then, I guess some might argue for artwork or other such reasons..

I somehow find it difficult to accept that the only real species living outside of nature, is humans, though I do see your point about the nuclear power plants.

Actually.. a while after turning vegan back in the 80's I wrote this very short Poem on Nature, pondering this exact issue.. and even thought of the nuclear power plants you mention!

Actually, nowadays, I tend to think that nature is not quite as it should be overall.. not just in relationship to the way we as humans live, but also in reference to certain habits other species have.

Cosmic said...

thank-you for the review, amngo!


Sharky said...

Hi Mango. I listened to the debate, and it sounded to me like two guys speaking different languages. Richard may have had evolutionary biology behind his argument, but I found Harley's vision more appealing, despite his penchant for exaggerting, as you say.

Denise MInger is real, and the China Study is poor science, but of course one's chosen way of life involves much more than the current understanding of nutritional science or how our pre-agricultural ancestors survived.

I recall you posting on Richard's site, which is how I found your blog. His paleo crowd seems to take pleasure in "bashing" vegans, whom they consider to be morons. Definitely a smug, arrogant vive there.

I'll take a ripe banana over beef liver any day.

Sharky said...

OK, make that "arrogant vibe"--they see vegans as mushy-minded sentimentalists, easy prey before their keen logic and hard science.

Mr. Zed said...

Richard does not have evolutionary biology behind his argument. That is pop evolutionary biology, it has been well-known for many years that early humans valued fruit above all other foods: This old idea of "Man the Hunter" made popular in that famous book in the 60s has been replaced by the idea of "Man the Hunted" and "Man the fruit eater".

Mango, I agree that it's an infinitely "deep" question. "What is natural?" and "measuring" how natural something is is hard. But obviously this is not a drawback to attempting to attain a natural state. In theory you could have a perfectly natural state, where what we are evolved to work perfectly in matches our environment perfectly.

Chimps are known to sharpen sticks when there isn't much fruit around and they feel there is need to hunt. You could argue that this is unnatural. However obviously they are not on the pathological roller-coaster humanity is on, killing so much other life around in the possible and making our children's future possibly unlivable.

I don't believe it is possible for a Human to properly understand anything that is not natural. For example we don't understand what processed food is. Just because we say "oh I know that it's put under heat and undergoes some reactions etc.".... but inwardly deep down, we don't know what it is. I'll not make the distinction between the stomach understanding it and the brain understanding it because I believe they are really all one. Your body and brain is so complexly intertwined.

Sharky said...

Frugivorous forebears? Perhaps. But even if it's only a competing paleofantasy, I like it.

cyberryan26 said...

Mr. Zed, part of the problem with humans killing other animals around is simply because there's too many humans on the planet, so we have to invade other species' natural habitats to create more room for our expanding population. The solution to this is to stop reproducing. I, for one, am "active" with the voluntary human extinction movement, at , even though all it involves is agreeing to never procreate, or if you have already procreated, never to procreate again! The net result of this will be eventually no more humans, but the planet will sure as heck be beautiful for the last humans on Earth, as explained in detail in the website's pages.

Mr. Zed said...

Thanks for that link cyberryan26, I am really interested in it. However I don't know if I will take part in it, because we need people like us don't we? It's a complicated issue I know, but I would hate to think that good people were being naturally selected again. It makes me sad we are in such a horrible mess.

I've said many times that I would be in favour of releasing a virus that would kill all humans everywhere. This is surely the best chance for our animal relatives to survive in this world. Face it: Humanity is nothing but a big joke. We're supposed to be so advanced, and yet 99.9% of the time other animals are doing far better than us (when they're not being harassed and violently hurt by humans).

cyberryan26 said...

The problem with thinking "we need people like us," as explained on the website, is that there's no guarantee one's kids will accept one's belief system, and even if they did, if the only way one accepts a belief system is to be born into it, then one's belief system cannot be all that great. Not to mention, it may be too late to reverse the damage done to the planet, in which case, any additional procreation will be practically a death sentence to the future generations.

Mr. Zed said...

Write another article Mango, this stuff is like crack cocaine to some of us. :) (and I believe helps our eating).

Fruitarian Mango said...

Thanks Zed.. I admit, not much writing happening here recently, despite having a head full of thoughts as always.

Ron said...

Mango (do I have to call you that?)
I must commend you. Though I'm sure we don't agree on nutrition, you did as well as you could to offer an unbiased review of the debate. Hats off brother.